Boundaries And Why Every Relationship Needs Them

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the term “boundaries”, I often get this uncomfortable pit in the bottom of my stomach. It’s so often an unpleasant reaction to experiencing toxicity in a relationship.

The truth is that we often see them portrayed this way, implemented after a negative experience with a peer or colleague or friend or partner…
Really, though, boundaries are meant to be proactive as well. They’re meant to help build the foundation of a healthy relationship. And they’re great tools for each side of the relationship.

Not only do boundaries tell us what we value but they help us know how we can best support those we love. They show others how we want to be treated and- when enforced- help to build confidence and great social skills imperative to our self care.

You’ve likely been establishing light boundaries with friends throughout your life, without even realizing it. Maybe you’ve:

  • Asked that friends give you as much notice as possible, if they’re unable to show up for your plans

  • Asked that friends inquire whether you have the mental space to chat before unloading on you

  • Asked that important conversations be done in person and not via text or email

These are all types of boundaries that develop naturally throughout relationships.

Communicating healthy boundaries and expectations with your loved ones can be an important tool for ensuring a long and healthy (and mutually fulfilling) relationship- of any kind.

But how do I know what boundaries to implement?

How do I incorporate them into my relationships?

Won’t I be seen as confrontational or selfish by my peers?

Let’s talk about it.


be aware of your expectations and needs within your interpersonal life

Of course, these will differ between relationships and you won’t always have the answers, but knowing your needs and desires from those around you is an imperative step for establishing boundaries. Similarly, knowing what you don’t want from those relationships is equally as important.


Okay, this one might feel weird, but hear me out.

While some formal announcement of your needs and desires and expectations isn’t necessary, communicating them to your loved ones is key. Every single person inhabiting our beautiful world is unique. We have different experiences, personalities, passions, etc. And so of course our needs are all different! And as much as you know your friends and family, we aren’t all mind readers. How can we expect our loved ones to respect our boundaries if we’ve not taken the time to communicate them?


Although it can feel uncomfortable- especially for those of us who hate confrontation- setting boundaries isn’t mean and it doesn’t have to be negative. Often, we set boundaries because we love and value our relationship, but recognize we need to pivot in order to ensure the friendship lasts.

Maybe we’ve gone through a big life change and our needs or views are now different. Maybe we simply need a change of pace.
Whatever the reason, when we’re feeling a change needs to be made, it’s important to acknowledge that, reflect and establish new boundaries as soon as possible. The longer we wait to do so, the harder it becomes. Sometimes, that discomfort grows into annoyance, frustration or resentment.



For me, this is the toughest part. I’m fairly scared of confrontation, and I’m a recovering People Pleaser. My suspicion is that many of you relate.
Combatting this fear starts with re-framing your beliefs surrounding boundaries. Confronting what fears you have about enforcing these boundaries will help you overcome and challenge these (often faulty) beliefs.
Our Negative Thoughts Notepad was designed specifically to help you identify and challenge faulty thinking patterns and firmly held beliefs.

Re-framing the need to enforce your boundaries is a powerful tool in your tool box, so think of it like this:

Establishing and enforcing your boundaries is an act of love. Not only is it a form of self care, self love and self respect, but it demonstrates that you value the relationship and want for it to grow and evolve along with you.

Boundaries are merely invitations to grow and thrive together, and that’s kind of beautiful, isn’t it?

Alycia Dort
Finding a psychologist is kind of like dating

Having a well-educated, well-informed medical team is absolutely crucial when you live with a mental illness. They act as your guide through what can be one of the most difficult times of your life, they help devise a recovery plan,, and they oversee your progress.

In my own experience, the member of my medical team who has played the most weighted role in my wellness journey has been my psychologist. I have had my fair share of psychologists throughout the years; Thirteen,, to be exact. Some of them I saw for extended periods of time, some of them only briefly, but I remember every single one of them and how I felt whilst with them. A psychologist or therapist can hold a lot of weight in how you perceive the world around you, and so it is important to find the one that's right for you.

The difficulty with finding the right therapist is that it's not a 'One Size Fits All' solution. Much like finding a compatible partner to spend your life with, finding the right psychologist can take a few tries and it is imperative that you don't allow a less-than-favorable experience stop you from finding the right one.

Here are a few things to ponder while preparing for your search:

There are many different factors to consider when looking for a psychologist, and ultimately, it will come down to two things;

  1. What you are most comfortable with, and

  2. Chemistry

When researching psychologists in your area, first consider the basic characteristics of what you want in a psychologist, such as gender. Are you more comfortable speaking with someone of the same sex, the opposite sex, or are you indifferent?

The age group or generation of a psychologist may also play a role in how you interact with one another. Consider the characteristics of those you’re most open and comfortable with in your day to day life.

The second thing you will then want to consider is education and/or experience. Depending on the reason you are seeking a psychologist, this may play a large role in your search.; Especially if you have a diagnosed mental illness, as many mental illnesses have a specific array of skill sets pertaining to living a more functional life. 

Most psychologists have a particular area expertise or training.. Do you need someone specializing in therapy for ADHD? Do you require a practitioner well-versed in therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)? Or, perhaps you would work best with someone who has experience with soliders and Veterans. These are all factors that come into play in your search. 

Psychologists all have different styles of therapy, just as they have have their own unique personalities, experiences, articulation and vernacular. A bad experience with one psychologist is definitely not an indication of your experience with another, which is very important to remember should you feel discouraged. It is also important to remember that your unpleasant experience with a professional does not necessarily mean they are not a good psychologist, but more often that they are simply not the psychologist for you. I simply cannot stress enough that you can't allow that unpleasant experience prevent you from getting the help and support you both need and deserve. 

Before Your Appointment

A great tip to help ease your mind prior to your first session is to inform yourself. Most psychologists will offer a 10 or 15 minute consultation free of charge, either in person or via telephone. This is a time where you are able to ask any questions you may have and also get to know the psychologist. You will then get a decent indication of how you will feel during your session. 

Should your psychologist not offer consultations, do not fret! The majority of today's psychologists have their own websites, which will contain information about their education, experiences, expertise and any other information they feel you may want to know. Don't be afraid to ask questions, as well; This is welcomed by most, as they understand it can be a difficult process. Just like you want to find somebody who is best suited for your therapy, they want to be able to help support you, too.

Your First Appointment

There are a few things to know before your first appointment to make the process move along more smoothly. Typically, you should arrive 10-15 minutes early, if you can, as most offices require that you fill out paperwork on your first visit. If you will be seeing an independent psychologist, however, this paperwork may be filled out during the first few minutes of your scheduled session. This is also customary as they handle the paperwork themselves and often do not have a receptionist to aid in this process. 

Every psychologist will begin their first session by calling attention to a confidentiality agreement, which sets out the laws for which both you and they are liable. This includes the release of information. In short, this is to inform you that what you say to your psychologist is absolutely confidential, unless they have reason to believe you may cause harm to yourself, or others, or unless they are issued legal requirements for the release of information. There is much more to know included in this document, and you should be provided a copy to read through and sign. 

The first session is always more informational than the ones to follow. This is to ensure the psychologist is able to get to know a bit about you, your background, your goals, and anything else that may be pertinent to your therapy thereafter. Future sessions are often planned in advanced, or the psychologist at least has an idea of the route they wish to go. Don't be alarmed by the many questions; It is perfectly normal for the first session to feel a bit like an interview, but it should not feel like an interrogation! 

Finally, it is important to be up-front and honest with your psychologist. Your psychologist is not there to judge you or your experiences, but rather to help you work through the things that are preventing you from living well or functionally. They often provide the support you require, but you also play an important role in the success of your therapy. Withholding information from your psychologist only hinders your health further, and prevents you from progressing. It is normal to feel scared in confiding your thoughts and fears with someone, which is why it is important to find a psychologist that you both trust and respect. 

Remember that your health comes first, and that you owe it to yourself to find a psychologist that is going to empower you throughout your journey.

Leave a little kindness wherever you go,

Aly & Blue

Alycia DortComment
My top 5 creative reads

For the first time since Blue was born, I’ve been able to sit down and read. At least for a good 20 minutes or so. Reading from physical books is something I’ve missed greatly. Audiobooks are great, and they keep me focused while I work, but there’s something about sitting in the bathtub with a great book that just can’t be beat.

There is something motivating and empowering about a great creative read, whether that be instructional, motivational or otherwise. These first 5 books I want to share with you are educational and motivational in nature, but I’ll soon have a post with my favourite Instructional books.

All of these books can be purchased through Chapters Indigo or Amazon, and I’ve hyperlinked each title, but I encourage you to order them through an independent bookstore (support local!). If you’re here in the HRM, Bookmark and Atlantic Newsstand are two local shops that will order books in for you, if they don’t have them in stock :)

Without further adieu!

My Top 5 Creative Reads of 2019 (so far)

  1. Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

If you haven’t read any of his award winning books, and you are a creative spirit or entrepreneur, I highly recommend you hit up your local library! Show Your Work talks about the importance of inviting people along your creative journey, and how showing your work helps to build a connection with your community. Kleon makes a point of highlighting that every single artist makes “crappy” work, and that the sucky bits make up the majority of our work. It’s important to share the highlights, but it’s also important to show your progress in the world of social media. Not to mention, showing your work is a great connection tool between you and other creatives.

2. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

First of all, no, this book does not advocate plagiarism. The title isn’t exactly click bait, either, though. Kleon talks about how every creative person, no matter their degree of success or fame, pulls inspiration and elements they love from different artists. He talks about how your work as an artist is essentially a collection of many different elements you’ve “stolen” from other artists, to create something new and original. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this concept in her novel, Big Magic: No idea or concept is original. We don’t own ideas.

There is a distinct difference between (1) copying an artist’s work and mirroring many or all elements from their art and (2) seeing the way in which they paint hair and trying it out in your own work. Kleon also highlights the absolute importance of crediting concepts or ideas to where you found them. Where was the idea sparked? In example, the circle cheeks featured in many of my watercolor portraits were inspired by the Sleepy Eye mugs by Hinkleville Handmade.

In my opinion, this book is an ABSOLUTE MUST READ for any and all creative entrepreneurs.

3. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I know you’ve all heard of this one. No, it’s not for everyone, and it’s definitely a touch spiritual, but whenever I am feeling uninspired or creatively challenged, I like to listen to the audiobook version of Big Magic. If you’ve not read Big Magic, it’s about the magical journey of creativity. She talks about how ideas and inspiration are not stationary- how they ebb and flow. And how they may not wait for you to slow down and bring them to life.

She speaks of the necessity of creative endeavours and how you don’t need to consider yourself artistic to embark on some sort of creative journey. Your art does not need to be for anyone other than you. It’s easy to forget that in the wake of social media, but your creative journey can stay your own little sanctuary.

4. The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

This book was just what I needed a few months ago, and if you find yourself thinking “what the heck am I even doing? Who do I think I am?” Then you, my love, may find this is just what you need as well. Some of this book is a little poetic, but it’s much less spiritual. Instead, Luna has you explore your childhood, your passions… The activities and endeavours you’ve found yourself pursuing time and time again. While reading this book, I was able to uncover many childhood memories that were hiding below the surface of trauma. It helped me to uncover some pretty vital parts of my personality and creative journey, showing me that where I find myself now is merely another reflection of the creative journeys I’ve been pursuing my entire life. It’s very introspective, with activities and questions you’re asked to journal about throughout the book.

5. Mind Your Business by Ilana Griffo

Let me start by saying that I haven’t yet finished this one, but I’ve completed the majority of this workbook. Yes, it’s a business/entrepreneurial workbook, but it has some really valuable information and guidance. Best of all, it’s easily digestible. The way Griffin explains these exercises and business concepts doesn’t make my brain hurt, and that’s saying something! She breaks them down in a way that anyone can understand, and her illustrations serve as a great tool throughout. Highly recommend if you find that you’ve skipped a few parts of your entrepreneurial journey, or need a good refresher.

Alycia Dort
My First Week on Ritalin

For those of you who don’t know, I was recently diagnosed with ADD/ADHD,

It had never crossed my mind that I might live with the disorder. I had always blamed my Anxiety disorder for the myriad of symptoms that plagued my ability to finish work efficiently and without an anxiety attack or two.
My distractability, poor concentration, fidgeting, hyper-concentration and others could all be explained by either my Depression, my PTSD or my Generalized Anxiety. And so it wasn’t until Blue (my son) was a few months old that anyone had ever mentioned the possibility.

This is fairly unsurprising considering many women are left un-diagnosed, and therefor untreated.

When I look back, there were some pretty clear signs of ADD/ADHD throughout my childhood, albeit that hindsight bias is undoubtedly at work there. And so, after a process of about 6 months, I received funding to have testing done, and I was diagnosed with ADD & ADHD.

Today marks one full week on medication, and I want to share my experience and thoughts with you.

The first thing I noticed after starting my prescription for Ritalin was that the world became quiet. It somehow felt more calm, which I didn’t expect, given that Ritalin is a stimulant.

You know the electronics section of any department store, where there are about 30 televisions lined up side by side, and different programs playing on each one? Imagine the volume on each television was on, and each telling you about a different task or deadline that you need to complete… That’s kind of what my daily life felt like before.
I would be paralyzed with anxiety, didn’t have any grasp on where or how I could start any task, and couldn’t concentrate long enough to get any started. Then, add in a fully-dependent and stubborn little toddler into the mix. It’s no wonder I constantly felt as though I was operating with a critically low battery.

About 25 minutes after I take my prescription, it’s as though someone has come around and turned off all of the televisions.
An odd analogy, I’m sure, but it’s the only way I can truly describe the feeling.

I got more done from my task list on that first day than I would otherwise have (maybe) finished in 3 or 4 days. I didn’t have to put in the same mountain of effort into the tasks, either. I spent longer periods working and with fewer distracting thoughts and feelings. I still needed to occupy my mind by putting on a podcast to listen to while I worked, but I expected that.

Where the “smallest” of tasks seemed to occupy most of my energy and motivation, I could now do them with ease. I often found myself wondering if this is what “normal” people feel like most of the time.

I also came to the realization that what medication won’t do is increase your motivation to actually complete tasks. You still need to put in the work and find the motivation to start a task. But once you do, it’s far easier to focus on that task.

Because I’d fallen behind on a good amount of work and chores, I found myself using my Task Organizer each day to determine where I should focus my (newfound) energy and concentration. In turn, I actually felt EMPOWERED and CAPABLE; two things I hadn’t felt in quite some time.

Of course, it’s still too early to give a full review, but if this first week is any indication of the next three, I’m confident that I’ve Got This!

Alycia Dort
Dear Aly (To My Younger Self)

Dear Aly,

As I sit here and write this letter to you, I am 26 years old. 
I know you will find that hard to believe... You didn't think you'd make it this far. But you are so much more resilient than you think. And so much stronger than you feel.

I wish I could reach back to you and shield you from the traumas you've faced. Or shelter you from that excruciating pain, but I cannot. I remember it vividly, though it's more of a whisper now. 
I can promise you, however, that you pull through and- despite everything- you make it out alive. 

I know that you battle with the belief that maybe you deserved these traumas. Maybe you're a bad person and ultimately the one at fault. And I want you to know that this belief couldn't be farther from the truth. You have so much love to give the world... Leave some of it for your self. 

I won't tell you that there's a silver lining. I don't subscribe to the belief that everything happens for a reason. I don't believe that every event is a part of your master plan. But what I know with every fiber of my being is that how you fight your way out of that darkness has transformed you into such a beautiful person who helps to pave the way for others. You use your experiences as an armor to help connect and empathize with others... And this is your superpower. This is your gift. 

Some people will tell you that your sensitivity is a fault. They are wrong. Your sensitivity is what makes you who you are, and who you are is loving, and kind, and strong and passionate

I know you long desperately to belong to a 'real' family and I regret to inform you that this hasn't really changed. But you find your chosen family. No, it's not the same, but in some ways, it's much more beautiful. You have people who believe in you and support you and love you not because they share your DNA but because they love exactly who you are. 

I know when you look forward, you see a void, and so I will help by illustrating our storybook:

You have the most beautiful baby boy, and he is the love of your life. He's filled every void and space in your heart until you feel you may burst with love. The way he looks at you is something out of a fairy tale. To him, you are magic. 

You are an artist who designs stationery tools to help people prioritize what matters most- their mental health. You spend your days dreaming and creating and connecting with the community. It's where we're meant to be. 
It's funny, I know you'll initially be surprised by this. You've been conditioned into thinking you have to work in management or as a teacher or something more "secure"... But isn't this the path you've always been meant to take? 

Remember when you started the Kindy-One club in Grade 2, and facilitated a recess activity program for Kindergarten and Grade 1 students? You used to get into trouble for spending your allowance on prizes for them. 
Or in Grade 3 when you started making- and selling- seed bead animals? You facilitated workshops for the Kindergarten students on how to make them.
What about Grades 6 thru 7 when you made and sold your own beaded jewelry to students and teachers at school? 
You've always loved crafting and drawing and creating. 
You've always loved paving the way for others to succeed. 
And that's exactly what you're doing today. 

I know right now it hurts like hell, and that you simply want the pain to stop. I know you feel unlovable and completely alone. And I know that if I were there with you today, you would beg me to make it stop. 
But you are going to get through this impossible chapter that life has thrown you.

Nobody deserves to endure these hardships that you are facing, but you pull through. And that, my love, is magic. 

I love you forever,

Aly & your beautiful baby, Blue

Alycia DortComment