Triumph from Tragedy

By Chris Cull

Nobody grows up thinking they’re going to have a substance use disorder, but its not about the cards you’re dealt; it’s how you play them.

When I started using opioids, I was 22 years old and I had just lost my father to suicide after a battle with Huntington’s Disease.

My father, a paramedic of 27 years, was my hero. He raised me the best he could and always taught me right from wrong, including when it came to substance abuse. With his loss, however, it was almost as if everything he taught me didn’t matter any longer, as I was so lost in my grief. To cope with his loss, I started using Percocet to help numb me out just enough to get through my days without breaking down. As my tolerance for opioids escalated, so did my use. The two years after his passing were spent using up to five 80mg Oxcontins a day, to which I lost everything that meant anything to me.

It started with my girlfriend of 3.5 years who broke up with me after noticing the changes in my behaviour. My friends and family followed suit and then I lost my fathers house, which he had left to me. After the shock of the position I was in was abated, I began reflecting on my actions and realized I had to do something to turn things around.

After failing twice at trying to go “cold turkey”, I decided to go on Methadone maintenance therapy, which controlled my withdrawal symptoms and I was able to function somewhat normally. I also got a job at the local Walmart to start building back up. As I was soon to discover, though, rock bottom has a basement.

I was feeling low. I had spent all of my savings on drugs. I was unable to keep up with the utility bills and had to sacrifice eating at times to keep the lights on. After going two years without hydro and going up to five days without eating (on well over a dozen separate occasions), it would be an unexpected incident that would change everything.

One day, while working at my job as a cashier at Walmart, a customer came through and became so irate that he threw a sign in my face. I became sharply aware that I was better than this and quit my job that day . I started tapering off Methadone, which was a long battle. I started working toward my future, which has also been a long battle; five years later, I have ridden a bicycle across Canada twice, produced and directed a documentary film on my travels (documenting the Opioid Crisis), participated as a voting panel member on the 2017 Opioid Prescribing Guidelines for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain, and consulted for our last two Federal Health Ministers on matters related to the opioid crisis.

The point of the story is this:  you don’t have to become a victim of your circumstances.

Chris Cull is a keynote speaker and internationally recognized public speaker, as well as a filmmaker and the founder of Inspire by Example.  He has advised numerous institutions and organizations on issues around the prevention and treatment of drug abuse, including the Canadian Minister of Health, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and the National Advisory Council on Prescription Drugs. 

Finding Love At Any Age

It’s a terrible, anxiety-provoking feeling to wonder if you are running out of time, especially as a woman. Yes, women are more successful than ever, and getting married, having kids later in life than ever before, but somehow the older we get, the more that thought creeps in…at least, it did for me.

In my twenties, it felt like I had all the time in the world. Of course finding the right person will happen soon and, for now, I’m happy, having fun and focusing on my career.

The thirties were markedly different. After 30+ years of “failed” relationships, I was much more well-versed in disappointment and love ending than I was in knowing that the right guy was going to come my way. And for divorcees, starting over with dating in their 40s and 50s, that nagging question “have I missed my chance at the real true thing?” gets louder and louder with each disappointing date. Not to mention the fear of wasting time with the wrong person, or choosing the wrong one again. The truth is, these fears kill desire.

The more we doubt ourselves and our ability to find and recognize the right person for us, the further we trim our expectations for love, and tolerate less than we truly want. Often, it means a big question mark when we try to think about what is that we do want. That disconnection from what we desire is kryptonite to our feminine core, because desire is a vital component of our inner compass. It tells us when something is worth following or risking because it ignites a feeling in us that is a big YES!

Remember when life was a big Yes? When you knew what you wanted and what made you happy, and you did it without thinking? It was automatic. That is how life is meant to be lived – totally connected with what feels good and, consequently, what doesn’t, so that we avoid it. This is why I think kids live with such aliveness and exuberance: they live from desire and follow it, relentlessly. Pleasure is a lighthouse that calls to them, not some indulgence to feel guilty about or save for special occasions.

This is the key: that we find our way back to feeling good about desire and thinking about what we want. Fear can’t survive when we feel good. Notice the doubts (fear) and interrupt it – cut off the blood supply. Of course fear will pop up; that is human nature but we don’t have to feed it and follow it down the rabbit hole.

Instead find small ways to feed the desire, strengthen the relationship you have with your desires. Make friends with your desires for love and conspire with it to look for more and more evidence that you are, in fact, on the right track to love. You will definitely find more Yeses to follow, and the love can’t help but flow in. Plus its just way more fun.

In my world, we wouldn’t have desires that are not meant for us – that would be cruel and unusual! You desire love only if it is meant for you. So if you have a desire to be crazy in love with one of the thousands of ideal partners out there for you, then it is on its way and, on some level, they are already yours.

Reminds me of my fav Rumi quote, “Lovers don’t finally meet some day; they are in each other all along”.

Lead with desire, welcome it in and follow it.

Dating Expert and Relationship Coach Lesley Edwards is known for helping single women unleash their inner goddess to find the love of their life. Coauthor of Love & Coaching with Men are from Mars expert Dr. John Gray, Lesley is a top trainer for Mars Venus Coaching globally. Lesley is passionate about the kind of love that unlocks our greatest potential. Lesley’s mission is for women to know they are always supported and guided by wisdom and truth, greater than we can fathom. A conspiracy by the divine and their own feminine inner goddess to fulfill their deepest desires with ease.

Are you having fun at work?

It’s International Fun at Work Day (January 26)

One way of having more “fun” at work is to make it a goal to talk to strangers — YES, STRANGERS!! Talk to people in your workplace who you don’t know well. Make it a point to smile and introduce yourself. Make “small talk” by asking about their role in the company, how they are enjoying their work, etc.

You’d be surprised at how much others appreciate and enjoy this interaction!


You  will make THEM feel appreciated . The bonus for you is that you will feel more comfortable talking to people you don’t know, which will translate into making you feel more comfortable giving presentations and going to networking events.


By Bonnie Gross

National Handwriting Day … a celebration of legible cursive handwriting

By Elaine Charal

Keeping in the Loop

Ontario’s Curriculum from Grades 1 through 3 is abundant in concepts and ideals, but does not elaborate when it comes to specifics for teaching handwriting.  The Curriculum has a section for each grade about ‘writing’ but there is no longer an expectation that students will be expected to fluently cursive write by Grade 3.  The closest reference to specifics (which sounds vague) was to the effect that the process of writing is up to the teacher’s assessment in relation to the students (and they do not indicate whether students are to use printing or cursive writing).

While there are those who are quick to dismiss cursive writing, many parents and private schools are at the opposite end of the spectrum, believing that cursive writing is a necessary skill to be taught to their children.  Those who cannot afford a private school must turn to tutors or home schooling if they want their child to learn cursive writing.

Enrollment in a private school is not a guarantee that your child will learn cursive.  A coupe of short years ago, Handwriting Analyst Elaine Charal did two events for a private school in North York at a father/daughter evening, where the girls were about 15 years old.  The father’s writing was dynamic and full of energy.  The daughters’ writing was virtually the same (shades of the Stepford movie):  all strictly printed, with a dominant lowercase letter area and virtually no upper or lower loops. Each had an ‘immature’ look.

Many choose to print because they say it is faster than cursive.  Cursive comes from the past participle of the Latin word ‘currere’, which means “to run’.  In cursive handwriting, the letters all run into one another and the hand runs across the page, never lifting between letters. (dictionary definition)


Benefits of Cursive Writing

Hand-eye coordination is a major developmental feature of cursive writing,  creating new brain circuitry to evaluate what is seen and the speed and timing of movements.  This circuitry then becomes a lasting part of the brain and can be recruited for use in other hand-eye coordination tasks.

Letter and word recognition, comprehension and memory are shown to improve with cursive writing.  Research ascribes flexible handwriting movements to the evolution of human perspectives, thought and speech capabilities, and also to developing deep feelings of confidence and interest in the world altogether.   Letter and word recognition, comprehension, abstract thought and memory are shown to improve with cursive writing, therefore making learning faster and more efficient in areas from reading and writing to matching and music.

Written note-taking produces much higher rates of comprehension and information retention in lectures and group meetings.  Neural development increases and expands in areas of language, memory, word recognition and emotion with handwriting.

Knowing cursive writing enables students to read handwritten comments made by teachers on assignments or other materials written in cursive.

Typing on a keyboard is not the same kind of physiological process as handwriting.  A different part of the brain is activated for keyboard typing that does not have the rich connections found in the areas of the brain activated by handwriting.  Research has shown that neural connections are developed and strengthened when children write in longhand.  MRI studies have shown that, compared to handwriting, typewriting activated fewer brain areas used for language, spatial, visual and temporal perceptions in both children and adults and, in addition, handwriting has been proposed as a useful exercise to slow the cognitive effects of aging.

Research has shown that students who use cursive handwriting for a significant portion of their written work generate more words of higher quality and use better syntax than writers who print.

A study of college students taking notes during lectures showed that those who hand-wrote lecture notes outperformed those who typed notes during lectures.

It has been found that dyslexic students learn cursive writing more easily than the stop-and-start motions of printing because all letters in cursive start on a base line, and because the pen moves fluidity from left to right.

A few more advantages:  Cursive writing promotes manipulation and finger isolation skills.  People still judge the quality of written ideas by penmanship.  Cursive actually requires less carpal bone development than printing or even typing.

National Handwriting Day was started to re- introduce one’s self to a pen or pencil and a piece of paper. According to the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association, it is a chance for all to re-explore the purity and power of handwriting. Time to go practice!

Elaine’s “Power of the Pen” talk is perfect as a team-building activity — guaranteed to have everyone laughing and learning how to communicate more effectively with fellow team members and clients through knowing what the strokes of Handwriting mean.   Elaine’s talk is positive and fun:  Having received Handwriting Samples from your Team before the talk, Elaine will bring one-page Handwriting Profiles and make one or two positive, strength-related comments about each Team member at the end of the talk. Call Lori Dalton today at (416) 318-1503 to book Elaine for your next event!

Getting to know your customers

Businesses that take the time to know their customers see higher sales and greater long-term success than those who don’t, according to Marc Gordon, who is known as the “Customer Experience Expert”.

“It’s astounding the amount of information customers are willing to share with businesses they buy from,” says Marc. “All a business owner has to do is ask and listen. The feedback is essentially a roadmap for success.”

In his presentations, Marc shows companies how to attract new customers while gaining the loyalty of current ones. Here are three tips he shares on how a business can learn more about their customers.

Talk to them outside of a business setting. Nobody will give you an honest answer in front of co-workers. That’s why you need to get your customers out of the office. Take them out for lunch, meet them at a trade show or a golf tournament. Casual settings relax people and they are then more likely to share their opinions and ideas.

Create opportunities for feedback. A client of Marc’s who owns a steak house wanted to introduce new menu items, but didn’t know which ones would be a hit. Marc suggested creating a “President’s Club” where people would be invited to exclusive tasting events. For a fixed fee, customers would try the new dishes, plus there would be guest wine experts and chefs offering advice. Customers could join the club by signing on to the restaurant’s email list. The result was free press for the restaurant, a growing email list, an added source of revenue during slow times, and lots of customer feedback.

Be hands on. Too many owners stay in their offices, hidden from the day to day interactions with customers. Walking the floor, working the counter, and making visits with the sales team is a great way to not only learn more about your customers, but also make them feel valued and appreciated

Marc Gordon is a nationally recognized speaker, media personality, and consultant. Lean more about Marc and how you can have him speak at your next event by calling Lori Dalton at (416) 318-1503.

Unleashing Your Inner Goddess To Find Love

Unleashing Your Inner Goddess To Find Love

By: Lesley Edwards Dating Expert & Relationship Coach


Well it’s good but… this really all there is?

This good relationship (you love each other, your family loves him but you aren’t in love and you don’t know where exactly its going). This good job (there is flexibility and variety, even great coworkers and you don’t hate it, but it doesn’t rock your world). This good relationship with yourself (you know you are a great catch, really capable and smart, a good person, and even fun from time to time, but you are not sure you deserve “great”….. let alone amazing, delicious or extraordinary.


One of my early mentors Jairek Robbins opened my eyes to the ceiling of good. Where good is often the very thing standing in the way of great. Where it takes courage to give up the good and go for great!


Hearing Whispers of Something More

When it comes to life and love, so many women are hearing the whispers of something more….something great. More love, more excitement, more fulfillment and fulness. Something that has been calling them to re-examine their life, relationships or happiness levels. They may have even started to catch glimpses into their full potential, what could be possible and what might be in the future, but they haven’t quite figured out how to wrap their hands around it to pull it into their reality.

This new awakening is an exciting and curious time. We’ve started seeing so many other women shake things up and move toward a new path. While it is inspiring and noteworthy, it can also be extremely uncomfortable and unnerving. Naturally, we start asking ourselves, albeit quietly, “could I do that?” “do I have the guts?” “I couldn’t possibly take a risk like that….could I?” “what would it be like to really go for it and follow my heart”? Usually we get one of two responses.

The first “I’m not quite ready for that kind of change right now….why mess with a good thing….I’m fine and I’m going to focus on being more grateful for what I have now”, and the second “F*** it, lets do this! I know its gonna be scary from time to time, but now is the time….My time!” and she goes for it. I think we’ve all been in both places at different times in life, for me admittedly a lot more time in the former than the latter, yet both are equally important.

It is not that there is a “better” choice, we simply tend to choose #1 a few times before we jump in for #2; that is the process of life. We tend to wait until we have a lot of leverage, many “good” reasons to change, such that #2 becomes inevitable, and then we can’t not go for it. For example, move out, start a relationship, leave the marriage, start a yoga practice, leave the job, get engaged, end that friendship, start saving for a house, stop sleeping with that guy who only shows up every six months, stop having lunch at 3:00 p.m., start paying off the credit card, start the business of your dreams on the side….and so it goes.

These no-more-waiting lets-do-it pursuits often feel like tremendous milestones! Because they are. It really takes something, call it strength, resolve, courage, risk, bravery, heart and/or faith, to leap and declare “no more of _______, now is the time for _________”.


What Took So Long!

With the big milestone-type shifts, we often get a rush of relief and peace of mind that the “old way” is behind us. We’ve had this nagging feeling for quite some time that something wasn’t right; it was a long time coming. It may even have been something we had ignored or denied for a long time. Either way, we are READY now and all there is is to celebrate!!!

As a science geek, I got really interested in expediting this process, and getting to the celebration faster. Resisting delicious, positive change less and being more open to seeing those internal callings to shift toward love and passion, and feel really good.

So what is really going on behind the scenes? Our Inner Goddess is getting louder and louder. She is the voice of what we truly desire, and progressively gets louder until we listen! The most important part is not necessarily getting to #2 and saying “that is it! No more (of the old way)!”, the process of learning to hear and respond to our inner goddess is truly where the gold is. The more tuned in we can be to the messages, the less loud or destructive she needs to be to get our attention, and we stop missing out on opportunities to be found by our ideal guy.


So what is this Inner Goddess, anyway? 

Our inner goddess is the:

  • Feminine aspect of a woman’s psyche
  • Source of her beauty and power
  • Divine piece of her, made purely of source energy
  • Highest self and therefore your full (ever-expanding) potential
  • Unwaivering champion for your deepest desires
  • Shaper of your core values
  • Source of your wisdom and truth (deepest sense of knowing what is right for you).


For many of us, our Inner Goddess has been hidden and kept down with an unforgiving leash for most of our lives.

Instead we’ve been taught to strengthen and therefore galvanize our masculine strengths; they are, after-all, easier to measure. Logic, reasoning, protecting, providing, taking charge, making it happen, having goals, taking actions, producing results and being independent. And please note that these qualities ROCK; without them literally nothing would get done. Without a doubt, we need our masculine aspects in order to survive and do life. This is why we’ve been taught these skills and they have long been the major measurements of success in life and business.

Our masculine selves get power from challenge and these pursuits, which is likely why the education system (created for men, by men to prepare them for the work world), is heavily focused on practicing, sharpening and measuring these masculine traits in life. Now that women are such a large consumer of education and members of the work force, it is vital that we bring not only our masculine strengths, but also our inherent feminine cores to experience even more success and fulfillment.


Understanding our Masculine and Feminine

We also now know and acknowledge that the masculine skills are not the whole story for happiness in life.

If we want to thrive in life and especially love, we call on our feminine. The feminine part of us is perception, feeling, emotion, intuition, instinct and awareness, it is surrendering, allowing, relaxing, receiving, nurturing and being nurtured, love, connectedness and flexibility, creativity, creation, and deep knowing wisdom and truth. And our feminine grows from praise and support (not challenge).

My favourite illustration of the differences between the two sexual essences comes from David Deida, spirituality and sexuality expert, in which he describes the masculine as the boat and the feminine is the ocean. The boat uses directed, focused energy and a plan to navigate from A to B across the ocean, regardless of the conditions, to reach its destination. The ocean on the other hand is mother nature, moves in all directions, is passive (no goal in mind), and is highly flexible and changeable from calm to stormy regardless of the boat’s goals. There is immense power in both; we need both. Then, looking at life from the masculine, it is about challenge, from achievement to destinations, whereas the feminine is about process, the journey and finding support and encouragement along the way.


The Immense, Untapped Potential of the Feminine

The most inviting thing about the process focus of the feminine versus the specific, rigid plan solely dictated by logic and reasoning (the masculine) is that there are so many possible ways to get there. If you’ve ever heard of the concept of “releasing the how” and wondered what the heck they are talking about, you are in the right place! The feminine focuses on the good feeling of the desire throughout the process, opening to the unseen possibilities with the freedom of not having to “figure it all out” or commit to any one plan. At first, to our logical masculine minds, this can sound impractical, irresponsible even, but stay with me. There is awesome neuroscience to back this up! Did I mention I’m a science nerd?‎

OK, we know that even the top geniuses in the world only use maximum 10% brain capacity – that is frontal cortex, logic, reasoning and planning – as conscious thoughts. So that means we are not consciously tapped into 90% of our brains. Rather, the 90% is unconscious: breathing, digesting, receiving signals internally and relaying them elsewhere, and memory storage, emotion, feeling and perception of our world through our senses. These unconscious processes also dictate our patterns of behaviour, which become our learned autopilot responses to love and relationships, often blocking us from focusing on the right guys. Therefore this is the mother-load when it comes to unleashing our Inner Goddess, because she exists primarily in our unconscious and she knows who we deserve and deeply desire.

Most of our life training has favoured the “doing” skills of the masculine versus the “being and feeling” skills of the feminine. This is why a relationship can look so good on paper and we can “do all the right things”, but feel no chemistry. It’s because, in order to experience chemistry, sparks and connection, we have to be able to open our hearts and feel, even trust. All things we haven’t really been taught, and even have limited understanding of. Ever try measuring love, connection or trust?


In Love With Our Feminine

We wonder why we aren’t filled with passion, excitement and desire, or feel a little guilty for wanting more out of life when we have so much to be grateful for, because we simply aren’t fully tapped into the immense potential and truth feeling capacity of our own Inner Goddess. We’ve just been leaning a little too much on logic and reasoning for all the answers (when its only 10% of the equation).

We love with our hearts and bodies and feelings, not our heads. Remember a time when you completely connected with someone unexpected or surprising even – it defied logic and you didn’t know why, except for it felt so good to be around them. This is also why we fall in love, we surrender to it, release control, we go with it, flow with our partner. We don’t interview all the candidates, measure our hormone levels and decide this person is for me, therefore we will be happy…. No.  You experience being awakened (physically, mentally, spiritually, sexually, emotionally, and/or personally) with this person more than the others. You feel happy, in love, excited, turned on, energized, alive and once your core values and visions for life align, you choose each other and continue on the path united.


5 Steps to Tap Into Your Inner Goddess Today

Step 1: Get quiet to connect. She is the barometer inside of you that always knows what is right for you, but her voice is quiet if you haven’t been listening to and talking to her for years. Silent meditation provides the ideal environment to communicate with her.


Step 2: Clear your mind. Your Inner Goddess is of your unconscious, in the feeling centre of your body, not of the conscious mind. The best practice to quiet the mind and focus on the sensations of the body is to breathe deeply. Any breathing practice will do, just relax into taking deep breaths into your body.


Step 3: Ask her a question. Once you are relaxed and more aware of the subtle sensations in the body. Ask her “what is your message for me?” or “what do I most need to know right now?”‎


Step 4: Tap into your 6th sense. Since our Inner Goddess is unconscious, she doesn’t communicate using sentences like the conscious mind, instead she communicates in imagery, pictures, feelings, sensations or 1-3 words max. These require gut, instinct and intuition to interpret and translate.


Step 5: Trust whatever comes up. If you aren’t accustomed to listening to or interpreting your own intuition, gut, messages ask “what does that mean to me?” If you think that’s what she means, that is what she means. Trust it –  remember, it doesn’t have to make sense, it’s not coming from your brain or analysis. Strengthening your intuition will be your greatest connection to your Inner Goddess.

For more on the sneaky unconscious patterns that blind us from noticing and falling in love with our ideal partner, check out Lesley Edwards at