Faith, Trust and Puzzle Dust: The Universe Has Your Back

To be clear: I’m a goal junkie.  I love setting goals; the bigger and more bad-ass the goal, the more excited it makes me.  But commitment: it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.  And it’s not because I think I have a problem with it- or well, maybe I do.  I seem to have no problem committing to my kids, husband and other domestic things that make most people run for the hills.  It’s apparently with the goal setting that really trips me up. (A conundrum as you can imagine because goals and commitment go hand in hand.)  I’ve noticed in my life that I set out with great goals (put your hand up if this sounds familiar) and I really really want to achieve them.  They seem attainable, do-able and so inspiring when I set them.  I research them, I journal about it, I keep tabs…. But then something happens- let’s er, call it life.  I get in my head, things take longer than I originally anticipate and I get discouraged.  And confession time: I start working less hard, believing a little less passionately and moving towards my goals with less gusto.  And dare I say it, on one or two occasions, I may have even given up.  It seems to be a “thing” I do.  I give up right before my goals are realized. It’s the stupidest thing ever and it has literally taken me over 38 years to figure out my pattern.

And here’s the kicker of it all, looking back on old goals through the 20/20 lens of hindsight and my new realization, all my work and dedication were getting me where I needed to go.  I was doing the work, but my damn mind started playing tricks on me.  Its endless barrage of: Who are you to achieve this? Who do you think you are? This taking longer than expected. This isn’t for you. The list goes on and on.  The endless shit I allow my mind to tell myself is utter non-sense. It’s sad, useless and total garbage.  So maybe by seeing this pattern, I can nip it in the bud.

I thought I was aware of the ways around the head trash.  For years, I’ve been addicted to self-development books, Ted Talks, podcasts, you name it.  I would half-joke that they were like my armor in a world of negativity, faster faster faster, go go go, want want want. So why then is it so hard for me to actually absorb the information?  I can see potential in my colleagues, friends, family or even the folks on tv, BUT for myself, I am relentlessly putting myself down for not being good enough, rich enough, successful enough, calm enough- you name it, I’ve probably beat myself up over it.

And here’s another thing (wow these thoughts are coming fast and furious now), in saying goodbye to 2017 and making plans for 2018, I was ready to throw in the towel.  I thought about all those big hairy scary goals I enthusiastically set out last January and was giving myself a hard time over the things I didn’t achieve:  I started a blog that I didn’t post to as often as I “should” have, I didn’t drink as much water, I didn’t do yoga every single day, my business wasn’t where I wanted it to be, blah blah blah.

But as I muddled over a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle at Christmas, I let my mind wander to all the amazing things that I did do this year:  I started a blog (a good one 😉), I ate healthier and drank h2o more than before, I did yoga at least 5 times a week and have been even more active since adopting our puppy in May. My husband and I paid off our debts and bought a cottage (which has been a lifelong dream of mine) and even took trips to Las Vegas and Jamaica.  I tried yoga classes of all kinds and sought out far more experiences outside of my comfort zone than ever before. I gave to more charities and volunteered more, enjoyed enriching experiences and even took a singing class (which I’ve always wanted to do). Most importantly, I learned to love and appreciate my body.

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So why why why do I undermine all of my hard work?  I wholeheartedly believed that I would finish that daunting jigsaw puzzle.  I had no problem seeing it through to the end.  Thinking back after it was complete, I couldn’t even remember how all those pieces got there.  Sometimes it almost seemed as though, the pieces were guiding themselves and just fell into place.  Or metaphorically, the universe wanted me to complete my goal (the puzzle) and had my back the entire time.  I know it’s easier said than done, but what if I treated all my goals like I did that puzzle?  Knowing it would get done, dividing it into small chunks, not giving up when the going got tough, asking for help and trusting that the universe will help the pieces all fall into place.  Then before you know it, and before your very eyes, it creates a big picture, your vision technically, and all your hard work comes together and it’s absolutely beautiful.

Here’s a picture of the completed puzzle- I’m sure you wanted to see it.  😉

puzzle

 

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Love is the way. A plea to humanity

Today I feel so sad, so disheartened.  After another weekend of senseless loss and tragedy, I feel like the box to Pandora’s hell has been ripped apart.  I feel the fragility of humanity weighing me down.  The News gives me anxiety, the future scares me shitless.  I have kids and I wonder about the world they’ll be inheriting.  What will happen when I’m not there to shield them from the sorrow that seems so prevalent these days.  No matter how careful I am to protect myself from negative energy, it’s just always there.  My heart is breaking.  Yesterday I spent the day crying.  Thinking about the incredible loss of what seems to be everything- and I just couldn’t stop.  Maybe I’m naïve but it’s so plain to me.  It’s all about love guys.  That’s why we’re here: to love each other. To accept, acknowledge, appreciate, support and LOVE each other.

What in the heck is happening out there that we’re making it so damn complicated?  I’m sick of worrying about hate, injustice and grief.  Humanity is so beautiful with it’s endless rainbow of colours, voices, ideas and possibility.  What greater gift could you ever need? Life, nature, opportunity. It makes my heart swell when I think of it- but then it shrinks right back down.  Afraid of what we can lose (there’s a a lot at stake). Climate change, presidents and dictators, gunman and hatred- it’s got me all tied up in knots.  “What can I do?” I ask myself, pulled and tempted down a narcissistic path of pity, fear and paranoia.

It’s not like I don’t know, in a cliche sort of way, that life has it’s share of hardships for everyone.  But experiencing them, personally living through and playing witness to them, well that’s when it gets hard.  That’s when it gets painful and messy.  And yet through pain comes some of our biggest learning and aha moments.  Some of our most profound personal growth.  Pain is part of beauty- inside all the hurt, love is beauty and pain.  It’s so clear, but somehow, along way, the message has gotten muddied.

We have to clean up our acts (literally). We have to do better.  Better connecting, encouraging and loving on one another. Beauty and joy are all around- we just have to choose to see it.  Be aware of the daily miracles and send that frequency of positivity out to the universe.  The good is there. It will always be there, we just have to make sure we never lose sight of it.  Tune into the small moments in your life- those are what make up a lifetime.  Cherish those little gifts- it’s a present from the universe.  Love is everywhere.  It’s in my daughter’s laughter when she plays with her daddy, it’s the gleam of mischief in my son’s eyes when he knows he’s taking a risk, but that we will be there to catch him, to love him, no matter what.

Now here’s my plea: We must take this beauty, this fire, this promise of a better day, (a better way) and turn it into an evolution of growth, respect, peace and acceptance.  That little light of goodness is burning inside us all.  Take that light and beam it out onto the universe, care-bear style.  Together, we can make an endless rainbow of magic, light and community shining out for eternity, pushing back the dark, made stronger by love.

care-bear

walking among zombies: staying present in the time of social media

I admit, it’s been awhile since I last wrote and lately I’ve been feeling like a blogging fraud.  I was waiting for inspiration to strike, the most clever title and perfectly arranged pictures popping up at just the right time, my deep thoughts streaming from my fingers in a rush of wit, ingenuity and creativity. But, it wasn’t happening and the longer I went without posting, the worse I began to feel about it.   How had I already fallen off the proverbial wagon? I had started with such gusto and was just settling in the total fun and funkiness of a blog when this took hold.

What had happened to all the incredible ideas that I thought would flow to me now that I was doing yoga daily? Already five months in, I was feeling…. well, kinda the same. Actually to be fair, I feel leaner and more muscular and continue to follow through on this journey (a small accomplishment on it’s own).  But I’m still me. I goof up on a regular basis, I forget things all the time, my house is still a mess, I lose my temper when I feel overwhelmed or stressed and I often say the wrong thing.  Did yoga “fix” these for me? Nope. I guess I thought I would become enlightened and would suddenly be able to “solve” the universe’s problems, starting with my own.

I thought about this one one morning while my daughter and I colored and chatted. Lately, I’ve really been making an effort to stay in the present and give my friends and family my undivided attention when I’m with them. Too often, the siren song of our smart phones and social media platforms pull us away from what’s important. Some of my friends have started actively avoiding social media and I admit, at first, I thought this idea was a) impossible b) unnecessary c) weird.  But I began noticing that I was feeling anxious after being immersed in my social media. The mindless scrolling, the inundation of news and crisis, the distraction – the noise of it all. So I too began making efforts to reinforce more boundaries around my personal and professional use of social media. I quickly found the less time I spent online, the less time I wanted to be there. I understand that technology is an important tool with lots of neat-o features but all in moderation right?! So when I see kids out for dinner with their parents in front of ipads, it breaks my heart. Or when I overhear young students in my daughter’s class talking about their video games, it unnerves me.  When I see adults out with children, ignoring them while they stare at their phones, it worries me. Or teenagers waiting at the school bus stop, with their heads down, staring at their screens, oblivious to the beauty of the day, it concerns me. Everyone looking so disconnected, addicted, overstimulated and empty. Could this explain our culture’s current obsession with zombies? Is it that so many people can identify with the listless, non-communicative, trapped humans with no free will? It breaks my heart to be honest and worries me for our future generations.

So as I “dragged” my laptop outside on a gorgeous day to write, I wondered: does my new attitude towards the zombie-like effects of these glowing screens have something to do with my recent lack of posts?   The conscious effort to remain present, to be mindful of our precious time, to be curious, aware and engaged in this gift called life- could this be part of the blogging hold up? If I’m not in front of the computer as much and I feel less of a pull to be there, it’s likely to affect the amount of times I post. So problem solved, right? Not really.

Now the challenge will be to find the balance between these two worlds. I run an online global business so completely eliminating social media won’t work for me. I know I’ll need to put boundaries in place, such as where and when I check my social media, reduce the amount of notifications I receive, and set aside specific offline times to work. In essence, I must be smarter about my smart device.  I’ll continue to stay the course, remain present and not allow social media to control my life. And again isn’t that what yoga is really about? Living a life of mindfulness in a world of clutter and distraction. Coming back to my focus even when I am sidetracked or unhinged.  Recognizing that these are life’s lessons through which I learn and transform. Ultimately making me more flexible, less anxious, more aware, more engaged. And way more agile to fight off those zombie motherfuckers.

 

 

 

I Heart-Chakra You! A Tale of Unconditional Friendship

While out for an impromptu brunch with some of my oldest friends, I looked around the table and saw the faces of three of the most caring and genuine women in my life.  We’ve been causing trouble and bailing each other out through good times and bad, together since our primary grades.  Through all of life’s moments, from surprises, losses, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, families, arguments, advice-giving and ass kicking, we’ve been through it all.  Across countries, road trips, hang overs, rule breaking, tears, laughter: you name it, these girls have been with me every step of the way. We’ve held each other’s hands and raged together through some of life’s most agonizing and mysterious moments.  We’ve been there to build each other up and in all honesty, there for some of the tearing down.  And no matter what, we’ve said: “it’s ok. I’m here- I’ve got you.”  And it’s always been true.

On the drive home from brunch, a scene from Sex and the City, one of my fave shows of all time came to mind.  In it, Charlotte turns to her girl group and suggests that they be soulmates.  And without sounding cheesy, her words settled in my heart.  I mean, not only has this friendship stood the test of time, it really is worthy of a sitcom.  Every dramatic, gory, embarrassing and touching detail, we’ve got it covered. These women have truly become my soulmates. Through thick and thin (sometimes that’s our waist sizes), we’ve held each other up, motivated, encouraged, supported and loved.  I can’t think of a better definition of true friendship.

So what does this have to do with the chakras?  A chakra is an energy centre in the body and can be imagined almost as a swirling wheel. This invisible energy is an important life force that keeps us vibrant, healthy, and feeling alive.  The heart chakra itself, represents love, joy and compassion and is located in the chest at the heart level. In Sanskit, it’s pronounced Anahata which literally means “unhurt”.  Anahata moves love through our lives. It’s our sense of caring, feelings of self-love, empathy, kindness and community.

In essence, this friendship is like a heart chakra to me: a living, breathing, changing force of energy, love and positivity that flows through my life.  With it, bringing nourishment for my soul, healing for my hurt, gratitude for my blessings and an unconditional friendship like none other.

Here’s some pictures of us through the years… It was harder to find pics of us when we were really young, but these ones stretch back at least 20 years.  Pretty incredible when you stop to think about. Pretty incredibly blessed. ♥

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Cannonballing into my (dis)Comfort Zone: A Lesson in Leadership

I’ll be honest: lately, I’ve been struggling.  I came back from Jamaica with a fire in my belly but it was extinguished by the snow and grayness at home. I could feel my creativity and inspiration faltering and I didn’t like it one bit.  I knew I was feeling lackadaisical and complacent and it was showing everywhere.  I was tired and grumpy at home with my kids and husband, I was unmotivated and lackluster with my business team, and I was feeling bored and restless with pretty much everything.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, when my friend approached me about doing a training for a leadership retreat for our businesses. (For those of you who don’t “know” me, I’m part of a fantastic health and wellness company which has been a total blessing in my life.) Now, training to me is not a problem, but I knew that I had to change my attitude and FAST.  I have a team of friends and colleagues looking for inspiration and I sure as hell wanted to be the one to get them pumped up and ready to change the world.  But here’s the real kicker, Stacy also wanted me to teach a yoga class to the group.  Gulp!

Sure, I’m a trained Yoga Teacher, confident trainer and have no problem speaking in front of big groups, but for some reason, this request had me shaking in my boots.  As soon as I had completed my YTT, I took my certificate and figuratively ran for the hills. While my fellow graduates were out finding jobs and setting up their own studios, I was avoiding the teaching part of yoga at all costs.  Telling myself: teaching’s not for me, I have other things going on, and whatever other excuse I could come up with that would keep me safe in a comfort zone.  I responded with a “sure, maybe, let me think about it” type response, fully intending to fluff her off and get out of the yoga class.  But of course, the more I sat with it, the more I realized I wasn’t been fair to anyone with that shitty-lame, never try anything new or scary or uncomfortable attitude. How could I sit here and call myself a leader and coach people on how to step out of their comfort zones, be vulnerable, feel the fear and do it anyways- when I wasn’t prepared to take those steps?  So I agreed.

I put on my big girl panties and with my heart racing, I stepped onto the mat at the front of the group and taught my very first yoga class.  And you know what? It was awesome, incredible, empowering, exhilarating and EXACTLY what I needed!  I was so jazzed up about the success of the class that I could’t wait to do my training presentation. I had to take a serious leap of faith (out of my comfort zone) and trust in myself, but it was so worth it.  I was left feeling of accomplished, proud and pumped up.

Am I ready to step out and become a full blown teacher of this ancient, moving, freeing practice? Maybe not quite yet, but I’m taking baby steps to get there. There being along the path of discovery, awakening, leveling up, challenge, vulnerability and growth.  Sounds like a good path to be on- so I think I’ll keep blazing the trail and be mindful to stop and smell the flowers.

Now I’m off to change the world! Namaste fellow trail blazers and leaders. 🙂

Here’s a some pics from the beautiful leadership
retreat I was blessed to be a part of! 

Jammin’ in Jamaica: A playlist for world peace

I’m back from an incredible vacation in Jamaica, where the air feels cleaner, life isn’t such a rush and the grass seems a little bit “greener.” After a gorgeous week of ocean gazing, soul searching and absolute gratitude, I feel inspired. Inspired to spread love, tolerance, acceptance and peace.  I went with the intention of powering down my devices and leveling up my positive vibes and came home with a renewed sense of activism and responsibility.   Jamaica: Breathing life into me at every turn, reminding me to be a warrior and not a worrier and that “everyting is irie.”

With my ipod loaded with music, I practiced every morning on my patio overlooking the ocean.  I’ve always felt a connection to the water but waking up bright and early, to flow with her left me feeling so blessed- almost as though the ocean and  I shared a sort of intimacy.  It was magical! After, I’d head down to the beach feeling the waves of gratitude washing over me.  This life: it’s such a gift!

 

There’s so much going on in the world right now, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me scared. Looking out at the majesty of the ocean I realized it’s up to ME to change the world I’m in.   As yoga teaches us, we become stronger in times of crisis.  We must move through the fire and fear to get to the other side- it’s these challenges, obstacles and darkness that refine our true characteristics of love, leadership and light.

With my ear buds in and a rocking playlist, I thought about that.

Here’s some of the tunes and lyrics from my playlist that spoke to me (and of which, I sang out loud. Ask my hubby, it’s the truth.)

*Melissa Etheridge: I Need to Wake Up I am not an island, I am not alone, I am my intentions, Trapped here in this flesh and bone, And I need to move, I need to wake up, I need to change, I need to shake up, I need to speak out. Something’s got to break up, I’ve been asleep and I need to wake up. Now.
*Michael Jackson: Man in the Mirror I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life, it’s gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference, gonna make it right . . . I’m starting with the man in
the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways and no message could have been any clearer, if you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change.

*Bill Withers: Lean On Me Lean on me, when you’re not strong, And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on, For it won’t be long, ‘Til I’m gonna need, Somebody to lean on.
*Sly & The Family Stone: Everyday People Sometimes I’m right and I can be wrong, My own beliefs are in my song…I am no better and neither are you, We are the same whatever we do, I am everyday people. 
*NEEDTOBREATHE: More Heart, Less Attack The more you take the less you have ‘Cause it’s you in the mirror staring back, Quick to let go slow to react, Be more heart and less attack
*Steve Gold: There is So Much Magnificence in the Ocean There is so much magnificence,
Near the ocean, Waves are coming in, Waves are coming in, Halleluja

*Matisyahu: Sunshine Time to grow and be a man, Want to fly high like peter pan, No more never never land, So lose your backpack filled with sand, Come along and take my hand, We’ll walk together
*Jeremy Fisher: Come Fly Away I’m feeling restless but I’m tired, Don’t want to leave but I can’t stay, You and me need something more, It’s time to spread our wings and go
*Bob Marley: One Love One love, one heart, Let’s get together and feel all right. I’m pleading to mankind, Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right, Let’s get together and feel all right.

These lyrics may all be different, the sounds of the songs moving to a different rhythm or beat (kinda like mankind) and they all fueled a fire in me. Telling me: Who am I turn my head in a time where ordinary people can rise up and show the world a better way.  Sure it’s scary.  But I know I owe it to my kids, future generations and to myself, to speak up. To be an activist. To be the change.  Perhaps all this turmoil and angst is showing us the path to an even sunnier and beautiful tomorrow? Where our true colors, inside and out, shine like beams of light igniting a future of love and abundance for everyone.

Like my nail polish? It’s called “Something to Blog About” so I thought it was totally appropriate.
I obviously had Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About” on my playlist too!

 

The V word: Talking about Vulnerability

Vulnerable. Just saying the word leaves me feeling exposed. What does it mean and why does it have such a bad rep?  Online, vulnerable is defined as “susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.” Yet Brené Brown, trailblazer and pioneer of the vulnerability movement, says “It is the birthplace of everything we’re hungry for: innovation, creativity and change.” She claims it’s the one thing that can lead to living a wholehearted life of compassion and connection. Yet, in our culture of consuming, photo-editing and ‘busy’ as a status symbol, it seems we’ve forgotten why vulnerability is such an important emotion.

Vulnerability is what makes us human. It’s the core essence of life, the nitty-gritty, the chewy parts, the part of humanity that can bring tears to your eyes because of it’s rawness and truth. Vulnerability is letting the real and authentic you be seen and not giving a damn what other people think (or perhaps giving a damn and still doing it anyway.) It’s the courage to apologize, the chance to right a wrong, the bravery to change your path, to make a craft, to sing a song, the grace to tell the truth, to open your heart, the humility to put yourself out there. Maybe, it’s even starting a new blog like I did.

I’ll be honest, I thought blogging would be a cinch because I’ve always kept a journal . But here’s what I didn’t consider: journaling is something I’ve always kept private, my musings have never been on display before and now they will be.  So I’m faced with a dilemma. How do I release my fear of vulnerability and this perceived need to please everyone, to not piss anyone off or even that old familiar rat, having to be the best: the best blogger, the best writer, the best person?

But then I still my breath and listen to my yogi voice reminding me to take care, to let it be, to be honest with myself and others, and I know that none of those feelings of competition and over-achievement are necessary. I breathe in another glorious, delicious breath (oxygen is the best addiction!) and I let it all go.  I don’t need to have my shit figured out, nor do I need to become an all mighty healer or channel my inner psychiatrist. All I need to be is me. To be vulnerable in my writing, imperfect in my wandering and open to learning and growing everyday, knowing I’m never going to know everything, nor am I expected to.

So with that, I’m putting this blog out to the universe. It’s time.

Together we can sigh, cringe, laugh and cry at this beautiful ride we call life.

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and
powerful selves to be deeply seen and known.”

— Brené Brown

If you want to read more about how you can embrace your vulnerability, I highly suggest you check out some of Brené’s work: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

And of course, her Ted Talk:

 

 

 

Namaste mes amis!