This morning my father sent an email to my uncle, and in that correspondence, he sent a photograph of a jar of extremely clear maple syrup. The comment he put in there was: “this may be the only clarity we have for a while”.
Is this so?
What is clarity? We have lived in a world where we have been spoon-fed the idea of who to be and how to be. So often our own intuition or inner voice has been drowned by media surrounding us, and the society in which we live. The entire world is now experiencing something unimaginable even a few months ago; now it has forced us all to hide away in cocoons. By now many of us have overdosed on TV, explored the insides of books, and have played countless video games. Introverts are still in their stride; however, extroverts are wilting beneath the shadow of this isolation. We have drawn all the bubble baths we can possibly have in one week, but still, there is a hunger for something more meaningful.
What is the opportunity in this crisis?
The opportunity I speak of is connecting with your inner voice. I invite you to seize this chance while in forced isolation to really identify what your own voice is saying. Hear that inner wisdom, notice the clarity it can provide, and allow for it to adjust your perspective and priorities. There have been trends in our society of taking mindfulness classes and learning to meditate.
Some people involved in this practice of meditation have even gone to the extreme of travelling to isolated parts of the world to “gather themselves” in complete solitude. We are now in a collective “gathering” with our social distancing. So, what now? What clarity are you truly seeking for the other side, and how do you find it?
Consider unplugging for a while.
A caterpillar in the cocoon doesn’t get outside tutorials on how to be a butterfly or a moth; it happens naturally. Just as well you cannot learn about yourself from other people. Trust that you have within yourself all that you need to fully connect with your inner wisdom. Once the outside chatter has dimmed, more of you will emerge. As you get comfortable connecting with your inner voice, notice what forms of inspiration may come your way. What clarity does that create for you?
Getting to this place of inner connection is just as unique of a journey as you are. When you have made that connection with yourself, you will know it, and you will begin to fully step into the values that you hold most dear. From there, the clarity of your next steps for moving forward will open up to you.
The world will be a very different place compared to how we once recognized it as, and we will emerge from it also as different people. Who will you be?
**Note: Thank You to Lucy Kavanagh for your editing support on this article.
Humans along with all animals on the planet are hard-wired to respond to threats by freezing, fleeing or fighting. It is part of our natural survival behaviours. Sometimes fear is useful to us when we find ourselves in dangerous situations and these automatic behaviours just kick in. Sometimes they are a hindrance when our fears are deemed irrational, like fear of a dark closet or of leaving our house when there is no reason not to.
What we are afraid of can be highly personal depending on our life experiences. It can also be influenced by the fear of others. Presently there is a tonne of information flowing out there and it is difficult to be sure of what to believe and what to take seriously. We may have our internal red flags and sirens going off with no reassurance of what to attend to. Being a person who has come out of a religious organization that based their whole teaching on fear, I know how challenging it is right now to get a foothold on what to do. The temptation is to freeze and be immobilized.
What is fear? The Oxford Dictionary defines it as, “the bad feeling that you have when you are in danger or when a particular thing frightens you”
To keep fear from overwhelming me in a situation I think back to the Litany of Fear from Frank Herbert’s Dune:
"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
Throughout history, fear has been used to control or incapacitate a population. We have seen that in wars, religions and relationships. Fears become incapacitating in times of panic whether it is orchestrated or a natural response to a given situation. To no longer be controlled by fear we need to find ways to let is pass over, around and even through us.
So how do we flip this coin and have an appropriate level of caution yet keep our rational minds and humanity?
Be kind to yourself. Be considerate of others. We are globally in this together and together we can get through this. When we let fear bypass us we keep our heads and manage what really matters.
If you need someone to help you through this time please feel free to connect with me for an Additional Support Session.
So often Values and Beliefs are used interchangeably, but what is the difference between the two and why should it matter?
First, let’s tease these two apart.
Interestingly the online Oxford dictionary defines values as “… what is important in life”.
They define beliefs as “an opinion about something; something that you think is true”.
I find that a bit vague, so let's untangle it a bit more so that they are easier to identify.
Values, in the context of core or individual values, tend to be aspects that are important in one’s life.
In knowing my core values I can recognize when something has come up in life that is rubbing these values the wrong way or when people try to manipulate me through knowing what my values are. This knowing has saved me from a lot of frustration and disappointment and has given me power over my reactions to others who knowingly or unknowingly try to hurt or manipulate me. Hence the reason I help all my clients in my coaching practice uncover and connect to their core values.
When looking at beliefs, I can tell you I have run the gambit concerning religion, but beliefs are not just about religion or faith. They can be beliefs about our capabilities or how things will always be. 10 years ago I would have laughed at you if you had told me I would have a private practice, and be posting regular blogs online, let alone my business website! I never would have believed I was capable of that. That was a limiting belief. One that stopped me from striving to reach beyond to check to see if it was possible or not. To bring this out in an even clearer illustration. In the late 1800’s cars only went 10-30 mph because it was believed that the human body would not be able to survive speeds faster than a horse. These beliefs have a purpose. They are there to keep us safe from the unknown. Thank goodness for the innovative ones who choose to test the boundaries, and in my case, to those who asked me the questions that helped me challenge my self-made limits.
So why does it matter to know the difference between values and beliefs? I liked this one quote from www.difference.guru “Beliefs are assumptions people hold as true and that are related to past learned experiences. Values can affect behavior and character, whereas beliefs can influence one's morals and values. Values apply and are directly related to everyday life, while beliefs are often rooted in faith and religion.” When we have a grasp on our beliefs and values and dive into why they are part of our life, we have more of an understanding of our lives and therefore more control in our lives. Not to say that this is an easy, Saturday afternoon project. It’s not. It means diving deep and challenging things that we may never have questioned before. The benefit of doing that though is to know yourself, be more in control of your reactions and allow you to make decisions easier because you know what you are basing your decisions from. It also gives you the courage to test your boundaries and potentially live a life you may have thought were only available to others.
If you are interested in investigating your values and beliefs, feel free to contact me. I would love to hear your thoughts and input on values and beliefs!
I invite you to imagine a vehicle of any sort. It could be a car, truck, van, hovercraft, plane, motorcycle or anything. What makes these vehicles go? Fuel and an engine. In our own lives, motivation – our reasons why - is the fuel and intention is the engine.
Consider days that you wake up with an intention or purpose for your day. You have a clear idea of what needs to be done and you set out to do it. Now consider days that have no intention or set purpose. What is the difference between those two days in your experience? In general, on a day where you have a set intention more tends to get accomplished. Now don’t get me wrong, having free-flowing days are a great source of self-care. What I am talking about here is more the idea that things will happen without an intention or plan.
What do I mean by intention? Intention is an aim or plan, or what you mean to do. Interestingly enough intention is also a medical term for the process of a wound healing! In some thought systems, intention is where we focus our energy and focus, so going back to the idea of having a purpose, focus or aim. Wayne Dyer has a great quote that states, “Energy Flows Where Intention Goes”.
Like anything, the more detail and attention to put into your intention the more likely it is to come to reality. Just like an engine, it can be extremely complex or fairly straight forward. The necessity for each can be defined by what the actual destination is, the cost in energy that you want to spend on it. I will admit now that I am not a mechanic as my younger brother can attest to, but it is not hard to illustrate the idea of a life long ultimate intention as being the jet engine of intentions and doing self-care each day as the go-cart engine of intentions. Those ultimate intentions will take time to develop, vision and plan. It requires a significant investment in time and resources to fulfil. The daily intentions would require a few sketches and drawing on recycled resources to bring together to happen.
Both intentions will get you somewhere, but the jet engine can take you around the world. The go-cart one may take you around the concession.
OK, I will drop the engine metaphors. Consider this though. If you want things to happen in your life that far more can happen if you take a moment or longer to think about what it is you really want. What does that look like, what would actually change if this actually took place? Go into as much detail as possible and create that vision. Once the vision is complete you have something for your intention to anchor to as you work through your day. You will be amazed at the progress you get.
So, rev your engines and set your intentions!
If you need help with getting int the practice of creating and visioning your intentions, contact me.
Many, if not all of us, have been wronged in some way in our lives. It could have been for a betrayal of trust, physical, mental or emotional harm or a myriad number or combination of things. The pain that these events have on us leave a mark. The anger, pain and resentment are carried with us in our lives. We may even keep the emotions fresh by recalling the wrongs to us on their anniversary each year or by keeping it fresh in our minds on a more regular basis. In Frank Herbert's book Dune, the Fremen would morn the loss of people who had died several generations back to keep the pain fresh for those individuals who never experienced the loss using the phrase, “Never to forgive, never to forget!” What benefit does this do to hold onto pain and resentment, and even purposefully or inadvertently passing it on to the next generation?
I have not found any. If anything holding onto pain and resentment only damages ourselves. The American Heart Association suggests that anger and resentment increase the risk of heart disease and increases blood pressure, which can lead to other negative health effects. Type 2 diabetes is also linked to holding on to pain and resentment.
So what is the alternative?
Oh, I know that it is easier said than done. Also, I hear you saying that the person who wronged you doesn’t deserve forgiveness.
Well, forgiveness is not for the person who wronged you it is for you. I am not sure if you have heard of the saying “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” It is actually a quote attributed to the Buddha. Regardless of your belief system, this quote really does illustrate the effects of anger and resentment.
So what is forgiveness anyway?
The Greater Good Magazine out of Berkeley University defines forgiveness “as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.” They go on to say that this doesn’t mean that you forget what happened or agree with what happened, it is a release. This release allows you to move forward in your life and not have new experiences or relationships to be negatively affected by what happened in your past.
Now, this is by no means easy. Gandhi said, “Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong." It takes time, energy and determination to let go of something that has had a hold on you for a long time. The benefits of forgiveness though are worth the effort.
Lightness: You will find as you release the resentment that you physically start to feel lighter both in your body and your mind. You are no longer dragging the past along with you every second of the day.
Sleep: You sleep better. With the sense of calm that becomes a more regular part of your life, you will find that it is easier to rest and sleep. We also know from the article on self-care that sleep can boost your immunity so you are sick less often and less severely.
Social Connection: When you have left the resentment behind it no longer takes front and centre in your conversations with others. What you talk about becomes more positive, inviting and reciprocal. This helps to strengthen existing social connections and helps us to forge new friendships as well.
Time: You will have more time for the things you love or to be adventurous in trying something new. Letting go of the past transgressions of others actually frees us to live our future. It gives us the time to grow and be who we want to be.
Going about forgiving is an individual process. Some are able to just decide to release the anger and pain, then move forward with their lives. Others need more time and support to do so.
If you are looking for ways to release and forgive and would like more information, please contact me in the comments or calling 226-838-9772.
What would help you release your soul and find forgiveness?
Forgiveness Defined, What is Forgiveness? Greater Good Magazine, Berkeley.edu. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/forgiveness/definition
How many of us let our cars run out of gas or let our cell phone batteries die? I would hazard to say that very few of us do that unless we aren’t able to get access to gas or power. Now consider how often you run yourself ragged or get to the point of burn0ut and exhaustion. How often does that happen for you?
I know that self-care is a buzz word and for my parent’s and grandparent’s generation they would swear that they never did all the pampering stuff, but this is not a new concept. Taking time to be with friends, crafts, going fishing are all forms of self-care. The reason there is so much hype about self-care is that it is has a real and lasting positive effect on your physical and mental health. I recommend reading Self-care:4 ways to nourish body and soul put out by Harvard Health Blog.
Many forums out there will give you great suggestions of ideas of what to do for self-care, but they don’t always talk about when to practice self-care.
What is the answer?
As often as you can!
This article is really timely for me along with everyone else who may be reading it. I was raised with a strong work ethic that really focused on keeping busy and always doing something. Even when watching TV I tend to be knitting or crafting. With that, I tend to work long hours and although I admonish my clients to take time out, I can go days without taking a breath and doing things that recharge me. Having self-care as the focus of the week reminds me to have self-love. For the video that accompanies this article, there were lots of opportunities to engage in self-care activities to not only show you but also show me the fun and benefits of taking the time to recharge.
One question I have been asked is, how did you know when you needed to practice self-care? Well, I used to say, when I noticed my family walking on eggshells around me or when I started feeling ‘crispy’ around my figurative edges. By that point, I was in fact already drained and burnt out, not just crispy like well-done bacon. It takes a lot of time to recover when you drain yourself to that point and sometimes you never feel like you have quite reached that fully charged state.
Now I would say to aim to do something that recharges you every day. Other than the basics like getting 7-9 hours sleep a night, drinking lots of water and be physically active, there is a myriad of things people do to recharge. I recharge in nature, be it a walk in the woods or going for a snowshoe in the lightly falling snow. I have many hobbies including spinning, knitting, building and stained glass. Meditation and mindfulness are part of my regular recharge practice too along with so much more.
When I take the time to practice self-care and recharge every day I find that I am sick less often and if I get sick it doesn’t last very long, I have more energy and my thoughts flow easier. Stress seems to not have the same grip on me and stressful situations don’t linger for hours, days or months. I also find that I am FAR more productive than when continue to run the hamster wheel rather than taking a break and recharging.
I am going to put this friendly challenge out there for you and for me as well. List your favourite self-care activities and post them on your fridge. I invite you to do at least one activity from your list each day. It doesn’t have to be the same thing every day, you can pick something new each day or any combination that suits your fancy. This invitation is to try this for 2 weeks and let me know in the chat what you notice about yourself and about what others may say about you. This is our own social experiment if you are willing to try it out and see if something shifts for you.
If you wish to follow my progress I will add it to my days of gratitude through my Facebook Page. Please feel free to comment with your personal observations too!
Over the years I have read and heard many stories of individuals who have come through some extremely challenging times in their lives. One common thread to all these stories was a determination to continue on.
Determination is defined as “the act of coming to a decision or of fixing or settling a purpose.” (Dictionary.com) or “that which is resolved on, direction to a certain end, fixed purpose, decision of character” (Chambers Everyday Dictionary). The key here is focusing on a purpose.
So often when the rug is pulled out from under us in life, then the purpose in our life changes too. Where we focus on our purpose depends on our needs, which may have drastically changed. Abraham Maslow was an American Psychologist and in 1943 he published a research paper on the hierarchy of needs. Essentially it states that our purpose and focus in life depend on the needs that we have. If we find ourselves on the streets with nothing our main focus would be on the basis of finding food, water and shelter. Building self-esteem is all fine and dandy, but it is not important as finding warmth and food.
Inner strength can be found through our determination to get to that next place or stage in our life. It is what helps us to grow as an individual. How far have you come in your life? What helped you survive despite the odds? That is the strength that you can call on when you set your sites on the next purpose for your life. You have already proven that you have this because you are here.
The difference between determination and just wanting something can be illustrated in how we speak and think about things. A person who is determined will think or say “I will….. or … will happen. ” whereas someone who may want something without the sense of determination may say “I am going to try.. It would be nice if…” The language we say to ourselves is powerful. If you are on a healing journey now, notice what language you are saying to yourself. Is it the language of purpose and determination?
How does one cultivate determination in their lives?
What is your new vision?
If you need help in cultivating your determination, contact me to find out how.
Maslow graphic: https://www.thoughtco.com/maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-4582571
When your mind is whirling with all the responsibilities, is there a way of restoring calm and clarity to set the restart button? People can thrive on the excitement of busyness, and then there comes a point where our emotional control is exhausted.
I coach figure skating, which is a tough sport that requires dedication, effort, and determination to overcome fears. It can be empowering as you are the only one that can accomplish or fail. Failure is an opportunity to learn and persevere. Skaters are exposed as the centre of attention and this can be a valuable life skill. Some skaters thrive on this attention, and others will need to overcome anxiety and fear. Part of my job as a coach is to cultivate inner confidence and encourage each skater to discover their motivation for the person they may become. There will be something in this sport that will challenge them as there will not be instant gratification. How a skater deals with and
works through the challenge helps them to develop coping skills.
People can generate the mental whirl of repetitive thoughts with all the emotional baggage that is attached to this pattern of thinking. So, when there is an under-story which has triggered emotional exhaustion, I invite the skater to take a deep breath into their lower lungs to encourage them to be present. Then I ask question to find out what the possible trigger could have been that created the overwhelm, which could be something outside of the activity. Are they feeling sick, or hungry, or perhaps something happened to them that was unpleasant? Sometimes there is a realization around recent experience and interpersonal relationships. When one claims responsibility in the situation there is a sense of power returning. Being able to step out and see the big picture there is an increased ability to gain control and reset to attend to the present.
On the surface it was simply a conversation. Asking small questions and having the
skater consider how the outcome could have been different, we were able to shift the
mindset. The only thing in life one can control is our reaction to a situation. Once aware that a triggered a feeling, recognize it, pay attention and learn. We have the ability to be responsible for our emotional state of mind once we are conscious of it. This can change and outcome to one of grace, calm and clarity to an otherwise charged situation. The art of accepting others as they are, and accepting ourselves as we are, is a mind shift to strive for. This clears emotional exhaustion and can restart from a clearer, calmer place.
How often in your life has an opportunity crossed your path that had the potential to change your life? Did you jump at the chance and see where it took you or did you shy away?
Recently I was watching a show and one of the characters asked if the other had ever thought of leaving their tiny town. He responded that it was safer to stay in the place he knew then venture into the unknown. How often have you found yourself held back because venturing forward would put you into unknown territory? So often we don’t venture too far from what we are used to unless we are forced. We may also venture out if the pain and discomfort of the known is unbearable and we have the impression that the unknown could not possibly be worse. Neither of these scenarios starts off a new stage in our lives on a very positive foot.
It is normal to be resistant to change. So far, we have been surviving doing what we are doing. We know what to expect and who to expect it from. So why try it? Well, think of this. Think of your favourite dish or drink. How much you enjoy it and savour it? Now think about the time just before you tried it and someone offered or suggested it to you. In that time before did you know what you were missing? No. After you have enjoyed it can you imagine not being able to enjoy it again? I am sure you don’t want to imagine that. Before we experience something, of course, we don’t know what we are missing. Afterwards, we have always gained something. It can be the knowledge that, yes I tried it and I will tell that story to the end of my days, or that you have added something new to your life that brings joy and has expanded your horizons. It could also be both!
Now, this goes well beyond food and drink. This applies to anything in our lives. I remember a new director coming into one of places I worked, and he asked why we did something, and our answer was because we have always done it that way. He would then challenge us to find some other ways to do it. This was to flip us out of our comfortable boxes that we found ourselves in. It challenged the ways we were doing things. That didn’t mean that we scrapped everything and went with something new for the sake of doing something new. What it did do was allow us to expand our thinking and the way we saw the world. From there we could see where we could add or change things to provide more to our staff, volunteers and clients.
Our personal lives need this too. When we Take a Chance, we are opening to new possibilities. Yes, when we do this it brings on disruption and the need for adjustment, but what is gained? You gain a new experience that expands your thinking and who you are. It gives you a new perspective that may be beneficial in solving old problems. It allows you to challenge some of your deep-held beliefs and thereby start testing those other beliefs that still exist. It can give you the wiggle room to move closer to who you want to be and where you want to go in life.
One of my strongest experiences in this was a trip to Costa Rica. There were so many chances that I took on that trip and literally took a leap forward for myself. I had always told myself that I was afraid of heights and that any sport or activity that involved heights was a hard stop – NO GO – for me. I was on a business development retreat and our coach created an activity day that would challenge each one of us in some way. As coaches, we challenge our clients to move figuratively into scary territory, so this was a way to experience this literally. The activity was Ziplining over the tops of the rainforest. It wasn’t just one run; it was 7 runs that equated to several kilometres. I must tell you the first run was a blur. I was terrified! I was quickly attached to the second run before I could protest. By the fourth run, I had the courage to be present and really take in the view of the valley and the rainforest below. It was magical! I would have never seen the volcano from that vantage point, and it was like I was flying over the treetops! What I have now is the confidence to challenge those things I tell myself and try something new when the opportunity comes available to me. I also know that I will always come away with something amazing even if it is something I choose to never do again. Now, will I Zipline again? Yeah sure! Will I be scared? Yep!
So how do you know when something is worth taking the chance on? The guidance I was given requires answering two questions. Does it excite you or pique your interest? Does it scare you? If you say yes to both then it is most likely something that will have a lasting impact on your life if you choose to do it.
If you would like to have help to take a chance on any area of your life contact me for a Free Strategy Session to discuss how we can work together.
Since 1998 I have been involved with crisis response with distress lines and more recently with victim services. One of my responsibilities was training and mentoring volunteers to support people on some of the most challenging days in their lives. One of the biggest messages I tried to instill in the volunteers I trained, was “Seek to Understand – Avoid Assumptions”. Why is this important?
All of us have had unique experiences in our lives and from these experiences, we have created an idea of how the world and people work. Our view of the world is just as unique as our experiences. As my former volunteer trainees can attest, I love using the analogy of siblings. If you have siblings or close cousins consider the environment in which you were raised. In many cases, you generally had the same or similar environment as your siblings. Now consider times when you have been in a similar situation as a sibling. Did you make the same decisions? Were your reasons for your decision the same? In most cases, the answer was a strong NO. So if we are not able to have the same decision-making process as those who have been raised with similar values, and environment then how is it possible for us to KNOW what is going on for someone who has probably had a vastly different experience with life. We can’t. When it comes to being present from others, we can’t assume that we totally understand what is happening for them. What we can do is ask questions to understand. Get clarity on the meaning of words that they may change their tone on when talking with you. Just like we are the only experts for ourselves, each individual is an expert on themselves.
How often do we find ourselves in a heated chain of texts on social media or text? There is an added layer of complexity when it comes to communication in text and on social media. So often we just write and send, or passively read what has been written, without going and looking back at the context. One word can have a different meaning for different people and can cause a conversation to go off the rails very quickly. When we notice things have gone in an unexpected direction, what is our first instinct? In general, it is to stand our ground and even attack.
I am going to invite you to try out a radical idea. There is no guarantee that it will work every time. Whether a conversation was in text or verbal, what do you think would happen if you said, “I noticed the conversation is going in a direction I wasn’t expecting. I would really like to understand your side and figure out how we can get back on track. What does….. mean for you, because it means….. to me.” If you are not sure where it went off track asking what the other person wants you to understand and then getting clarification if it doesn’t quite jive with how you understand the world.
What would be your reaction if someone said that to you in a conversation? How would you feel? How would that shift your impression of that person?
When we take the time to seek to understand how others experience the world we expand our own horizons and are much more open to hearing other experiences of the world and life. This is a rare gift, not only to the person you are offering it but also to yourself.
Don Miguel Ruiz speaks about this in his book the Four Agreements when he states Don’t Make Assumptions. Essentially saying that we create our own drama because we are assuming how others think, feel and are. So much misunderstanding can be mitigated when we take the time to ask someone what is going on for them and finding out the deeper things rather than assuming or leaving conversations at the surface answers. For those who have read and thought about what is written in this book, you will know that although these concepts are simple, they are not easy to actually do. They take time and they take effort and patience on our part because not everyone is willing to try back. When we remember that the only thing we can do is to try our best and extend that courtesy, some amazing things have the potential to happen.
How can you seek to understand others as you move forward? Feel free to add your comments, experiences and impressions in the comments section or the chat.
Added Reading on this subject:
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBielOoXDuE&list=PLV6IVEQAlu9rC92-LFJ0EjViq-9BYGj-o