Before moving back to Ottawa from Savannah 4 years ago,  I felt restless, at times lonely even surrounded by my amazing group of friends. I often felt like something was missing. I frequently played the “if only” game… If only I could find a good boyfriend, get married, have kids. If only I could lose those 15 lbs. If only I could land that shiny new client. If only I could get a bigger house, with a bigger kitchen. If only I could acquire {fill in the blank}, that would surely make everything right.

I wasn’t necessarily unhappy but there was definitely something missing. It’s not like I moped around being a sad sack but I often felt a general malaise that usually hit me during those down times when I wasn’t surrounded by people or working.

I moved back to Ottawa thinking a change in scenery and a new adventure would help or maybe I needed to be closer to my family. Yes, perhaps family was the missing link. But none of that helped. Moving back to Ottawa, where I had to start over, yearning for the abundant social life I left behind, made it worse. Dramatically worse. I cried a lot for no reason. I was easily irritable. I missed my friends. I missed my hang out spots. I missed my condo. I missed Savannah. I missed readily available seafood (ha!).  Why, oh why, did I think moving back to Ottawa was going to help?

To add fuel to this downward spiral, I began experiencing debilitating back and leg issues within months of starting my new life here. That quickly put a stop to volunteering at Bluesfest, to rowing at the Ottawa Rowing Club {I love being out on the water}, to morning Bootcamp, to walking and biking, and it certainly didn’t help the social life I was attempting to build here. For good measure, let’s throw in a long, cold winter – the first winter I had experienced in 15 years. I was not in a good place and I regretted moving back. I was sad all the time. Sad, sad, winter, sad, sad.

I needed to do something. It didn’t help that I worked from home, surrounded by no one. Not a soul to talk to or bounce ideas off of. Not really ideal for someone as social as I am. So I decided to start networking and get involved in meeting new people in my community. On the day everything changed, I had a ticket to attend Ladies Who Lunch, a great networking event founded by Catherine Landry.  I woke up that morning having made up my mind that I wasn’t going to go. I wasn’t in the right head space. I was feeling pretty low. I called my friend Christina to tell her that I was no longer attending. She convinced me to suck it up and go anyway. “You know you always feel better once you’re surrounded by people!” She was right. I put on my big girl spanks and off I went. I didn’t feel good about it. I wasn’t my usual bubbly, extroverted self. I smiled, I said hello, I had conversations with people but inside I just wanted to be on my couch, in my PJs eating chocolate, and losing myself in a movie about someone else’s awesome life.

The lunch started and Catherine took the stage to introduce guest speaker, Kathie Donovan. Most of you will likely recognize the name. She was co-host of CTV’s Regional Contact. Not having lived in Canada for 15 years, I didn’t really know much about her. Her name sounded familiar & from the crowd’s reaction, I knew I was supposed to know who she was, so I took notice as she began to speak. At first I wasn’t really tuned in, then she started talking about finding happiness from the inside. I immediately perked up and listened intently. It was like she was up there to speak specifically to me at the very moment in my life when I needed it most.

She was teaching a course in  HAPPINESS!! I so needed to be a part of that. After she finished speaking, I ran up {probably like a lunatic} and told her I was absolutely, 100% attending her next weekend course. Not only did I verbally tell her that day, I emailed her twice leading up to it to make sure there was still a spot for me.

On a cold weekend in February, 8 strangers met in a small, cozy space. Seated in a semi-circle, Kathie began by asking us to take 5 long breaths, to leave behind our issues, and to enter this special place for a weekend that’s just about us.

Her first question to the group was “What does happiness mean to you?”

In almost every case, the answer is rarely that happiness is within ourselves. Before this course, people attribute happiness to outside factors – their kids, grandchildren, their spouse, etc.

This is meant to be an AHA moment, and it is but the moment doesn’t fully come until well into that first day where we start to learn how to get in touch with what we really want and what is our heart’s desire. The deeper understanding of this slowly starts to happen once you’ve truly allowed the information from the course to fully sink in.

We are so manipulated by clever marketing that some of us feel it’s impossible to measure up. We’ll never be enough if we listen to the external messaging and not the internal whispers because what we’ve simply forgotten is that we are fine just the way we are in this moment.

We seem to pay less attention to the life in front of us and more attention to either what is yet to come or what happened in the past. What kind of life are we living when we’re constantly competing, judging and dismissing, beating ourselves up about perceived past mistakes and living in fear of what the future “might” bring?

The simple truth buried beneath all of the anxiety is that we are lost and we need to find ourselves – literally find ourselves.

Excerpt from Kathie’s book.

Inspiration in Action

She explains that being happy isn’t something that magically happens once you’ve accumulated your desired possessions – it happens by choice. Wait, what do you mean? I can just CHOOSE to be happy and it will become so? Yeah, pretty much. Sounds simple enough and it is – once you become aware of your current state, once you “remove barriers that prevent you from receiving what it is you really want. When you alleviate the burden you’ve been carrying from your past or the anxiety you feel about what could possibly come in the future, you will start to attract what you want. You will be open to receiving your dreams in reality instead of leaving them to your imagination, across the barrier of your fears.” And to do this, Kathie has outlined a series of principles we must work through in order to get to the other side.Over the course of the weekend we explore all 8 of those principles, as well as spend some time creating a vision board. The 8 principles, or as Kathie calls them “Power Tools” are Gratitude, Courage, Surrender & Release, Grace & Illumination, Compassion & Kindness, Forgiveness, Vision Boards, Affirmations and Boundaries. You can further learn about these by taking Kathie’s weekend course or read about them in her book, Inspiration in Action: A Woman’s Guide to Happiness. Or both. I recommend both.

That weekend almost 2 years ago in February was the first step in finding my happiness. It was the jumping point to where I am now. I’ve had people notice a change in me. Those that knew I took this course have acknowledged that I am different, everything I say and do, my business, my relationships. Everything inside of me is different since taking this course. It was the shift I needed to find myself again. I remember feeling this way in college – so free, happy, doing what I wanted to be doing, living where I wanted to be living, excited about what the future holds, open to possibilities. Somewhere along the way we lose that. But we don’t have to.

That weekend we 8 strangers left as friends. We formed a bond – a special relationship that I’m sure we can all agree has had a meaningful role in our current selves.  The greater impact is on what Kathie built and continues to build. She has had a huge impact on my life and the lives of all who take her course.  I’m honoured to call her a friend and someone I can go to when I’m looking for strength and perspective.

I could honestly go on and on, but what I strongly suggest is actually taking the course or picking up her book. The next Course in Happiness sessions are September 6-7 at Valberg Imaging in Ottawa and September 27-28 in Brockville. The next Find Your Courage/Vision Boards workshop is Sunday, October 24th at Valberg Imaging in Ottawa. For more information on her book, the courses and workshops, please visit



For years, I felt like I was rummaging around in a big oversized purse, looking for happiness. I pulled out all kinds of ideas that I thought would do it but nothing seemed to work. Nothing seemed to connect me to the feeling of happiness. Then I was introduced to the law of attraction, which is described as a secondary universal law that states: what you focus your attention on is what expands in your life.

I read the book and saw the movie “The Secret” and joined the millions of people around the world who received a wakeup call. Happiness wasn’t in the purse, happiness was in me and I could connect to it through my thoughts and feelings. Sounds simple enough and it is yet it’s not. I wanted to know more; I wanted to understand why it is that we can so easily say what we want and yet we don’t get it. I realized that’s because we don’t get that we have to be available to receive what we say we want. I wanted to understand how I could be more open to receiving and I wanted to help other people be more open as well.

I started a development group and for almost two years, a small group of women met once a month to explore how to make ourselves more available to receive.  When I dissolved the group, I had eight principles and a big dream. I wanted to share the message that happiness is an inside job. I wrote “Inspiration in Action: A Woman’s Guide to Happiness,” started teaching The Course in Happiness and more recently started “Inspiration in Action” television on You Tube. The big dream is becoming a beautiful reality.

I hear from women who have taken my workshops that I make spirituality fun; I take that as a great compliment.  My target audience is women who are peeking around the corner of spirituality and want a no nonsense connection with true happiness as well as women who are already on the path and want to connect with like-minded people. We are developing a beautiful community of women who learn from and teach each other as well as lift and celebrate one another.


1. If you could tell people to do one thing that could potentially change their lives, what would it be?
Start a gratitude practice. Write down five things every day that you’re grateful for: your health, your heart, your family, your friends, your nose. That’s a great start. Writing it down makes it real, repeat every day to develop the practice and never ever stop. Developing a practice of gratitude (and it does require practice every day) opens your heart and creates space for you to receive what you really want.2. What’s your favorite smell?
Lavender. Beautiful, fresh, soothing.3. What do you do when you’re feeling low?
Usually when I feel low, it’s because I’m tired and need to get filled up. I’m a Cancerian and a home body by nature, so when I need to and when I can, I hang out at home and take care of myself.  Epsom salts baths, the company of nature and some TLC from my husband help. I work at having compassion for myself when I feel that way, feeling low occasionally is part of being human.I encourage my thoughts in the direction of what I’m grateful for instead of focusing constantly on what I “think” is the source of my feeling blue. I’m a big believer in affirmations, so I use them to remind myself of the beauty in myself and in life when I feel a disconnect; the connection comes back eventually.4. What is your favorite time of day?
I am a morning person. I wake up between 5 and 6 am and have what we call “coffee club” with my husband in bed. Then it’s usually a yoga class in the living room and meditation on the spoonk mat. What’s a spoonk mat? Google and find out. We’re addicted, they’re wonderful.5. Do you have a favorite restaurant in Ottawa? If so, what is it?
My favourite restaurant is Les Fougeres in Chelsea, Quebec. Jennifer and Charles Part have created an exquisite dine in or take away restaurant in the Gatineau hills, which is often rated among the top restaurants in the country. It’s my go to for special occasions and weekday suppers when I want something exceptional. They have a store for take away food and condiments, which is well worth checking out. The garden is gorgeous in summer and the view makes you feel like you’re in another world.6. What’s your favorite thing about yourself or what do you think others would say it is?
Awkward question…here goes….my favourite thing about myself is kindness. I do my best to be kind even when I have to put a boundary in a relationship, I do my best to do it with kindness. I think other people might say I’m wise; I like to think of myself as a good student, always learning and always eager to share what I learn.7. Favorite cuss word? You’re not allowed to skip this!
You’re not going to get me to say the old world Dutch or German word for copulate…..I have to watch myself because that little four letter word says so much. My second favourite cuss words are FRIK and FARG.

8. What’s your favorite social media outlet?
I am a student of social media, meaning that I am learning….alot. I love Facebook because I can share pics and fun experiences with my friends and I can share my message on my brand page:  I hope you “like” it.

9. What book or movie should we read/watch right now?
My favourite book in the whole wide world is “The Optimist Creed“. It’s not a must read for everyone the way the others are….it’s just my very favourite book because back in 1926 when Christain Laursen wrote his books, he was talking about the law of attraction. The Optimist Club is based on his creed….so this wisdom is hidden in plain sight everywhere.

She also recommends these:
1. “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington. 2.  “Instinct” by T.D. Jakes 3. ”Inspiration in Action: A Woman’s Guide to Happiness” by Kathie Donovan.

10. Name one person living or dead who has made a difference in your life and briefly explain how.
Max Keeping, who was VP of News at CJOH then CTV Ottawa for most of the 24 years I worked there. He was the toughest and the most tender boss I have ever had. Some days I thought he’d fire me because I was so reluctant to get in the cannon so he could shoot me out of it. He gave me the greatest gift when he made me co-host and co-producer of Regional Contact. He connected me with the amazing Joel Haslam and helped me to uncover my gift and my passion for telling people’s stories. He inspires me every day to do more, be more, have more and give more.

Kathie Donovan Kathie Donovan is broadcasting royalty in Canada’s capital.  Her career has spanned almost four decades on both radio and television. Former co-host and co-producer of CTV Ottawa’s Regional Contact, Kathie is now an author, facilitator, coach and presenter, marrying a few of her passions: people stories, spirituality and fun.FIND HER ON:
FACEBOOK: /2inspirationinaction
TWITTER: @empowerchicks
LINKEDIN: /Kathie/Donovan
PHONE: 1.877.718.4869


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