5 Life Changing (Yet Simple) Resolutions!

The new year is a time when so many of us start taking stock of our lives in efforts to evaluate where we want to make some changes. Most of the time we focus on external changes that we feel will bring us happiness, but what most of us fail to realize is that happiness comes from within. That is why I feel these are 5 of the most life changing resolutions you can make and, as a bonus, they are really simple to implement!

 

5 Life Changing (Yet Simple) New Year's Resolutions!

Prioritize Self-Care

 

Like so many others, we tend to put ourselves last. We give to our family, our friends, work and even strangers, but when it comes to caring and giving back to ourselves, we simply don’t. Sometimes it’s because we feel we are being greedy if we take time for ourselves, sometimes we feel we don’t deserve it, and sometimes we feel we don’t have time. Whatever the excuse, it’s this simple. If you continue to give to others and don’t care for yourself, you will eventually burn out. That may look like withdrawing, or illness or it may be feelings of resentment towards others. However it may show up in your life, it certainly will.

 

This year vow to yourself to take care of you! You deserve it! Schedule time for self-care and actually enjoy that time. Do things that recharge your soul and bring you joy! If you won’t care for yourself who will?

 

 

Take Time to Pause

We all lead busy lives and I understand that you may think “I don’t have time”. The thing is, if you don’t pause, life passes you by. Pausing means taking a minute to be mindful, to be in the moment, to really be present to the current experience. This is a simple thing that you can do at any point in your day. Take the time to just be, like a daily recess for your mind, body and spirit.
Vow to yourself that every day, at least once a day you will pause and be in the moment. Who knows, you may like it so much that you practice it more often.

Practice Gratitude

I have written numerous blogs on the importance of practicing gratitude. It is something that all of us can do and its effects are life changing. Gratitude shifts our mind from a feeling of lack and negativity to one of positive abundance. Who doesn’t want that?

5 Life Changing (Yet Simple) New Year's Resolutions!

 

Every day, take time to list at least 5 things that you are grateful for. Some days they may come quick, some days it may be a struggle. But stick with it and you will start to notice that it becomes automatic. All of a sudden you will start to notice you are not practicing gratitude, but living a grateful life and that is powerful!

Befriend your Inner Critic

We are our own worst critics! We are harder on ourselves than anyone else would ever be, and yes, there are protective aspects to our inner critic. But we do not have to take the negative messages that we say to ourselves as the absolute truth. We have a choice!

When you recognize that you are being critical try having a conversation with yourself. Recognize the message then choose to not believe it, let it go if it is not helpful! Don’t let your inner critic hold you back this year, move past the negative messages. They are not truth. Most of the time they are just fear!

5 Life Changing (Yet Simple) New Year's Resolutions!

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

This almost goes hand in hand with the inner critic. When we compare ourselves to others, we usually are either doing it in a way that minimizes us or degrades others, neither of which is helpful! Instead of comparing yourself, recognize that we are all different and we all have our unique journeys. The one thing we do all have in common is that we are all doing our best with what we have at any given moment.

Instead of comparing yourself try having compassion for both yourself and others. Know that you are doing your best and so are they! Don’t assume that you or others are doing things purposely to screw up or hurt you. I don’t think that anyone wakes up in the morning excited at the prospect of failing at life, we all try, but we all have our different ways. We all make our way through life the best we can.

5 Life Changing (Yet Simple) New Year's Resolutions!

This year, if you find that you are comparing yourself to someone else, stop and recognize that you are the best version of you and no one else in the world could do a better job of being you!

 

These are 5 simple things that you can implement today, but the effects are life changing. When you are able to master these skills, suddenly you may notice that your other resolutions are either now irrelevant or seem easily achievable. Whatever your 2018 brings, I wish you all a Happy New Year full of love, happiness and success!

Look Back Before Moving Forward!

As we approach the New Year I am looking forward to new adventures and new growth. I am also finding myself thinking of the past year and what I have accomplished, and I am reminded that it is important to celebrate our accomplishments and successes. Too often we just gloss over all that we have done, and we rarely celebrate it. Usually, when we accomplish something we just look towards the next challenge. I encourage you to take the next couple days to reflect back on the past year and recognize all that you have accomplished, these questions will help guide you, to celebrate you!

Looking Back before Moving Forward

 

What was my biggest challenge this year?

Reflect back on what was the biggest challenge you had this year? How did you handle it? Even if it did not turn out as you wanted, or things were not perfect, what did you do at this time to get yourself through? Celebrate the fact that you made it through and perhaps even learned something along the way. Pat yourself on the back. That you coped and survived, that is awesome.

What strengths did I realize?

Think back on your year, what new strengths can you identify? Is there something that you never thought you could do or something that you said previously “oh that’s not me!” but you did it anyhow? All too often we are quick to judge ourselves and minimize our strengths take this time to recognize your strengths, make a list of at least 30 strengths that you possess. These don’t necessarily have to be new strengths but maybe ones that you have minimized in the past. Congratulate yourself on your strengths, focus on the positive.

Look Back before Moving Forward

What have I accomplished?

Look back on the year and recognize all that you have accomplished. Again, this does not mean that everything had to go right or perfect, but chances are there are still some accomplishments, maybe even smaller, ones that you can celebrate. For example, you wanted a new career and haven’t found that yet, but you have updated your resume, taken courses that will help you get your dream job, or maybe you have stepped out of your comfort zone and applied for jobs that you feared. Whatever it is, the accomplishment doesn’t have to a big huge thing it could be the little hard steps you took towards your big goal.

 

What am I most proud of this year?

Ask yourself what you are most proud of doing this year. For me, I am proud of how much I have stepped out of my comfort zone. I really put myself out there both with my business and socially. I have really stretched and at times it has not been easy, but I persevered because I know it was the best thing for me. Be kind to yourself and recognize what you have done this year that you are proud of.

 

These are just a few questions that can help you celebrate 2017 and how you have shown up throughout the year. When you go through the questions, write it down, it is easy when we just do it in our heads to counteract the positive but when it is in black and white it is a lot harder to discount it!

For some of you this may be difficult (as it is at times for me). We are so quick to judge and criticize ourselves and we feel if we celebrate ourselves that we are bragging or being egotistical, this could not be further from the truth! If we are shouting from the rooftops how great we are then, that is ego if we are saying “wow, I am proud of myself because I have accomplished this, or handled this, or have these strengths”, that is showing ourselves love and giving ourselves a pat on the back, not bragging!

 

Bonus

If you do take this time to celebrate 2017 and how you showed up, your outlook for 2018 may be a more positive and it may change your perspective for your New Years resolution from “I need to fix this part of me because it is broken” to a much kinder more compassionate “I want to grow more in this area because I am worth it”.

Wishing you all the best in 2018 and I hope you have a wonderful New Year! Check in next week for tips to help you make and keep your New Year’s resolutions!

 

The Value of the Season!

The Value of the Season!

We all have different values that we hold dear to us, and when we live out of alignment with our values it causes us stress. With this in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to reduce the amount of stress over the holidays by writing about how to figure out your holiday values. When you understand what you value of the holidays you can have a more enjoyable holiday.

Many of us throw the word value around and really don’t understand how important our values actually are to us. We may say “I value family”, but then when it comes to spending time with our families, we put it on the bottom of the priority list – behind work, chores, and “have tos”. If this is the case, we usually feel a sense of shame or guilt for not spending time with our families, which we value because we are living out of alignment with our values and, for that, we experience stress!

This holiday season, why not make it easier on yourself and figure out what your values are? Then do your best to live within those values, honour yourself!

The Value of the Season!

Ask Yourself

How to determine your holiday values is simple. Take a few minutes to reflect on the past few holidays and ask yourself:

What brings me the most joy over the holidays?

When am I the happiest during the holiday?

If I had to give up something what could I absolutely not give up?

What does my dream holiday season look like?

Take the time to really feel into the questions, allow your imagination to go wild. Write down a few things that really stick out to you. You will probably notice that some common themes start to emerge.

Whether the answers revolve around such things as having family present, or having some downtime, to seeking adventure, or maybe even solitude…the possibilities are endless. Whatever the answer(s) may be, really tune into yourself.

Perhaps you notice that in all your answers your family is present, or that your answers all revolve around peace and quiet or downtime. Maybe they all revolve around adventure or solitude. Whatever it is, really tune into yourself.

 

Once you have a few common themes, take a few minutes to evaluate if this is a true value for you. For example, the value of peace is arising and when you check in with yourself, this doesn’t feel like something you would value. Ask yourself “Is this something that I really want or is it something that I believe that I need? Is this something that really matters to me or is it something that others say I need? Does this feel like a priority to me or does it feel like an obligation?”

Take this time to really check in with yourself. Does this feel authentic to you?

 

Yes or No

If yes, then you have your list of values for the holidays.  If not, then you have identified the things that are most likely causing you stress. You are doing these things out of obligation or out of belief that you need to be doing them. This sense of obligation has overridden your values and is causing you stress. If this is the case, you need to take the time to really evaluate what it is that you love about the holidays, use your imagination to identify your dream holiday season. What is it that you are doing? Who is there? What does it look like? What does it feel like?

 

If you can answer these questions and come up with your dream holiday season you will be able to identify your values. The following questions will help you to narrow in on your value:

Is it that you are surrounded by family or out at social events?

Are you following traditions or are you creating new memories?

Is it in a place that you know and love and feel comfortable or is it an exciting new place?

The Value of the Season!

Make it Happen

Once you have that picture clear in your mind, you can identify what is most important for you about the holidays. Now all you need to do is make the decision…then make it happen!

Knowing what you value most about the holidays can spare you added stress during the festive season. You can take steps to make sure that your holidays are in alignment with your values instead of fighting against them.

Wishing you a holiday season that is all you have dreamed of that aligns you with your highest values.

The Voice in my Head is Kind of a B&%#@!

The Voice in my Head is Kind of a B&%#@!

No, I am not crazy! We all have internal dialogue and what I have found is that most times this voice can be pretty nasty! I think the easiest way to gain more awareness of this voice is to look at it in greater detail.

 

Who is this voice?

Some call it our inner critic, some call it the voice of reason, some people even call it the realist. Whatever you call that voice, it is ever present and, in a lot of cases, holds us back. Whatever name it goes by and however it sounds to you, it is pretty much constantly talking throughout the day. It happily points out when we have made a mistake, how we have not measured up, how we could have done more. It is the voice of our ‘should have’s’ and ‘need tos’. Is this sounding familiar? It can often be found saying “Uh oh that wasn’t good enough”, “You need to be nicer”, “You should do this” and “You have to do this”.

When does it show up?

Well, as mentioned, it is always around and it has something to say about everything! Most times it is not pointing out the positive, rather it is chastising us for something or pointing out our perceived flaws and short comings.

It can be particularly loud when we are feeling low, it jumps on the criticizing band wagon and feeds on our vulnerability.

It also becomes really outspoken when we try to do new things or step out of our comfort zone. It tends to like the known and comfortable, so when we are contemplating something new it usually tells us “NO” and gives us a thousand reasons why “it won’t work” and “we can’t do it”.

The Voice in my Head is Kind of B&%#@!

What does it say?

The messages it sends are usually self-defeating and criticizing. Specifically, it says things like “You are not pretty, smart, friendly …. enough, you do not deserve happiness, success, fulfillment. You are a screw up, a loser, dumb, ugly, a failure, an imposter.” The specific words may be different, but the message is the same, generally in some way or another it is telling you, you suck!

Why do we have this voice?

So, the big question is, why do we have this voice? It is obviously not the nicest thing to have in our heads. The reasons we have this voice are numerous and unique to us. Its presence may be universal, but how it came to be, and our personal recipe for why we have this voice, is as unique as you are.

Oftentimes it comes from our belief system, our fears, our learned patterns and our perceptions. However, it came about in you. Most times its number one role is to protect us – sounds weird that a voice that degrades us is there to protect us. But the role of this voice is to keep us on a safe path, by either stopping us from stepping outside our perceived limits, or by saving us by preparing us for (its perceptions) of what others might be thinking or saying about us, kind of like a buffer.

The crazy thing about this is it keeps us playing small in our lives and most times it actually stops us from really living our lives. If you have ever worked for a hypercritical manager or have witnessed or experienced an overly critical parent, then you can see how this type of critical judgement keeps us stuck, most times in a life that is not all that it could be.

It is well documented that in order to support people to grow they need encouragement and that being extremely critical does not inspire people or motivate them, it actually does the opposite. Imagine if a child was raised being told that they were bad, a failure, not capable and all those negative messages that you tell yourself. Do you think that child would flourish? Of course not! They would be stunted in their development, not to mention they would be absolutely terrified of doing something new.  And really this is what this voice in our head does to us – it keeps us stunted in our development, too!

Now imagine the other side. What would we be capable of doing if we were supported 100% of the time? That would be amazing! We would feel free to risk and take chances and we would flourish!  If the message was you can rather than you can’t, you would believe that you could, and you would try and persevere because you knew you could. You would be unstoppable!

Sounds great right? Well, this is possible because this voice does not speak facts, but rather perceptions. And we do not have to take its messages as the truth. When you are able to recognize this and change this voice from self-sabotaging to self-promoting, then you have the power to choose a life that you love!

If you are interested in learning more about your internal voice and how to change it you can join me for a free online interactive workshop Beyond Belief: Take Your Life from Surviving to Thriving, Again!, where we will delve deeper into our inner voice and how to start changing it!

The Voice in my Head is Kind of B&%#@!

Is it a Message?

Have you ever had animals appearing in your life and wondered why? This is really common. I have had numerous conversations in the last week about what I refer to as animal messengers. My belief is that when we have different animals show up in our lives, they are bringing us a message from the Universe. I have had countless experiences with this and when an animal presents itself, I listen, because, to me, there is a lesson or message in their appearance.

Comfort from the Skies

I have held this belief for a long time but one of the most profound examples is the day that my husband passed away. I had returned home after leaving the hospital and was out in my backyard, still in a state of shock and really trying to process what had happened. As I sat there trying to ground myself, I heard this loud shriek. I had never heard it before and at first didn’t pay much attention to it, as I was consumed with my emotions. But it continued about every 20 seconds, and soon the shriek became my focus. It was frustrating and annoying, it just wouldn’t stop. The thought in my head was “Shut up, seriously I don’t need this”. The shrieking continued so I walked around my garden to investigate where it was coming from and at that point a bird flew from my neighbor’s yard to the rooftop across the alley. The bird continued to scream and as I looked at it I realized it was a woodpecker. Before this point I had never really seen a woodpecker, at least not that I could remember. I had heard them in the neighborhood pounding their beaks into the light posts but I had never actually seen them. I saw the long beak so, to me this was clearly a woodpecker!

 

Is it a Message?

 

At that point I couldn’t help but chuckle. See the thing is, my husband’s nickname was Woody and there, communicating with me in the garden, was a woodpecker. It was at that point I felt the grounding I was searching for as I realized he may not be with me physically, but he was still around. Since that day, I have woodpeckers show up in my life frequently and when they do, I know that my husband’s energy is around me and he is there to support me. I notice that the woodpecker usually shows up at the most opportune times – usually when I am struggling with something or just having a bad day. Now when the woodpecker shows up, it makes me smile and reminds me that I am supported. I am so grateful to the Universe for this sign.

I have shared the above story with others and when I do, the response is usually “I know what you mean”. I have heard countless people recount similar experiences of having an animal, bird or insect show up and remind them of a loved one that has passed. Their animal has shown up when they needed it and in some of the most bizarre places. This has only confirmed my belief that animals can serve as messengers for us. In this case, they are messengers that bring us comfort and a sense of connection to a loved one. What a beautiful message from the Universe and our loved ones!

 

Is it a Message?

What is Showing Up?

Prior to the woodpecker experience, I had already been aware of animals as messengers. I have always believed the Universe speaks to us in numerous ways so I try to remain aware and, when I notice a particular animal showing up repetitively, I get curious and investigate what energy this animal brings. A lot of the information available on animal totems come from Native American culture and there are many books and websites that have information on the different energies that each animal carries. So, when an animal enters my life, I look up what the message is and in every case that I can remember, the message the animal brings is exactly what I need. For me this has happened so many times that I do not question it, I just thank the Universe and take the message. An example of this is this weekend I was traveling with a friend through the prairies where I live and we saw three or four coyotes on the drive. Now, it is the prairies and it is not the rarest to see coyotes, but to see so many during the day is rather rare. Taking this as a sign, we looked up the energy of the coyote and, sure enough, it talked about bringing the balance between fun and work. This is something that I have been recognizing has been missing in my life. Therefore lately, I have been taking purposeful steps to increase the amount of fun in my life. I took the presence of the coyotes as a sign from the Universe that I was taking the right steps in restoring balance in my life.

Some of you may be feeling skeptical about this and that is OK. All I can say is try it out!

 

Is it a Message?

Be Observant!

It is really easy to test. First, be observant of your surroundings. If you have an animal that keeps showing up or that is drawing your attention, investigate. For example, perhaps lately you have been noticing more crows around you than usual. It may not be rare, but lately every time you are outside one flies by or you constantly hear them or, as I have experienced, they fly right in front of you so that you can’t possibly miss them. Take that as a sign. If there is a message for you, you will know it, you will just feel it! In my way of thinking, it is beyond coincidence that a specific animal is present at the exact time you are looking in that direction… like I said, to me I have no doubt it is a message. For example, I have deer that live in my neighborhood so it is not uncommon to see them around but there are times when the deer come up my driveway at the exact minute I am in my kitchen looking out my window. That is beyond coincidence to me! Even if it is an animal that is common to your area but suddenly you notice more of them or in different situations, then I challenge you to look up what message or energy that animal holds.

I by no means claim to be well educated in this area, what I do know is it provides me with another perspective on what is happening in my life at that time and that is always welcome. Here are some of the websites I use to decipher my messages:

What’s Your Sign

Spirit Animal

Spirit Animal Totems

But you can simply google “what does (animal) mean” and there will be numerous sites that come up. I have found that some do have different meanings, but after reading a couple I can usually decipher my personal meaning. I trust my intuition.

 

Try it! You may be pleasantly surprised at what you may learn. And what I have noticed is, the more I am willing to listen, the more messages I get!

To Forgive or Not to Forgive?

One of the most overlooked and important lessons we can learn on our journey in life is the lesson of forgiveness. I recognize this is something a lot of people struggle with, but I believe that when we are not able to forgive, we are unnecessarily holding onto negative energy. This negative energy hinders our ability to create a happy life. Really, our lack of forgiveness, in my opinion, robs us of our happiness. Most times we chose not to forgive and hold a grudge because we believe we have been slighted in some way but, the crazy thing is, most times the grudge we are holding is only hurting us!

 

To Forgive or Not to Forgive?

Why Forgive?

One of the biggest problems that I hear about forgiveness is that people feel that if they forgive someone then they are condoning what the person has done. This could not be further from the truth. When we forgive someone, we are not saying “What you did is ok”, rather we are saying “I don’t want to hold on to this so I am letting it go and forgiving you”. When we hold back forgiveness, what we are really saying is “I want to hold on to this negativity” and most times the other person doesn’t know or isn’t even affect by us holding a grudge, that means we are the only ones suffering!

Another reason we don’t forgive is that we are still feeling the negative feelings associated with the slight. We are holding on to feelings of anger, upset or betrayal. That means we are choosing to hold on to those feelings and that is not healthy for us. I do understand that there are things that may have happened that have hurt you deeply, but by holding on to those feelings you are continuing to harm yourself! As I have discussed many times holding on to negative feelings is toxic to our bodies, minds and souls. If you look at it from that perspective forgiveness starts to look like a better option.

On the positive side when you are able to forgive, you are releasing the negativity that is associated with the event. You are able to use your energy for more productive and positive things, things that bring you joy rather than reliving the pain. By choosing forgiveness we are also releasing all our judgements about the person that slighted us and are bringing more compassion and understanding in the world.

One key thing to remember about forgiveness is that we are not necessarily doing it for the other person, rather we are doing it for our own sense of well-being, and that makes it worth the effort! In fact, to experience the positive side of forgiveness we don’t even have to tell the other person we are forgiving them we can simply choose to let it go and forgive. If you do feel that you need to speak the forgiveness and share your feelings with that person, that is great too, but not a requirement.

Hopefully after reading this you can see that by holding a grudge you are harming yourself and that forgiveness is the path towards a happier life. If so, then you are halfway there and you have done the hardest part.

How to Practice Forgiveness

To Forgive or Not to Forgive?

When you decide you are ready to forgive, there are some simple steps that you can take to practice forgiveness.

Forgive Them.

Come up with a formal statement that you can say out loud to the person or to yourself that expresses your forgiveness. For example, “I forgive you (name) for (perceived hurt)”. It may be helpful at this point to vocalize your experience of the event, something like “I was really hurt when you said that to me”, or “I was angry when you did that”. Be sure when you are speaking about your feelings that you own them by using “I” statements.

If you are struggling with this, here is something to think about: Most of the time, our anger or perceived hurts come from people not living up to our expectations of them and not really what they did. An example of this is if we believe that our spouse should remember our anniversary because it is important to us, then we expect them to remember the date and when they don’t, we are upset because we believed they should have. Usually when this happens we start creating a story around how inconsiderate he is and how much he doesn’t care about our anniversary because he doesn’t care about our relationship. The fact is they forgot a date, that’s it. And honestly who hasn’t forgotten a date before?

Beyond that, if you take the emotions and the story out of it and look at the whole picture from a place of understanding, then you may recognize there were other factors involved, like he has been preoccupied with a big project at work or he is never good at remembering any dates. All of these reflections on the situation can help you get to the point where forgiveness feels easier.

Forgive Yourself.

This step may come as a surprise to you, but a huge part of forgiveness is being able to forgive our part in the situation. At first look we may feel like we did nothing, but we played a part in the situation no matter how small we had a part in it. In the example above, your part may have been knowing that your anniversary is important to you and he always forgets. You chose not to remind him or put it on the calendar. Or maybe your part was that you had unrealistic expectations and placed a lot of emphasis on him remembering and that set you up to have hurt feelings when he didn’t. However small, recognize your part in the event and forgive yourself. Formally state “I forgive myself for (your part)”.

Most times when we hold a grudge we are also holding on to negative feelings around our part “I should have known better”, “I didn’t listen to my intuition”. I want to make it really clear that this is not about blaming yourself, rather it is about recognizing how your choices influenced the event. When we can recognize our part from a non-judgmental place then we have the power to choose differently next time.

Learn the Lesson.

Now that you have forgiven, the last step is to learn the lesson. Whatever information you have gleaned from your reflection on the situation can provide you with a lesson to avoid future hurts. Like in the above example, knowing that your anniversary is important to you and knowing that he forgets dates regularly, you can choose to arrange the date yourself and send him an invite or maybe you choose to plan it together around the dinner table, or maybe you recognize that it is really not that important and you decide to just let it pass. Whatever the outcome, you are making the choice from a place of clarity and that is empowering!

 

To Forgive or Not to Forgive?

 

Once you have accomplished these three steps then you have been able to release the negativity associated with the event and you have practiced forgiveness. I know the example I gave here was a simple one, but you can use these steps for deeper hurts too. If you are a grudge holder then it may take some practice but start small and work your way up to the more significant hurts. If you regularly practice these steps they soon will become automatic and you will be able to forgive much easier.

Forgiveness may not always be easy when we feel we have been slighted, but the consequence of holding on to negativity is much harder in the long run!

Weathering the Storm!

For those of you who live in Southern Alberta you will understand where I am coming from. We just received an early, heavy winter storm and most of us were taken by surprise by the heavy, wet snow that blanketed our environment.  As I frantically worked in my backyard to save my tree from losing major branches under the weight of this heavy snow, I reflected on the fact that this tree and it’s struggle to hold the weight of the snow was similar to my experience in life in the past years.

I arrived home and went to my backyard and noticed that the single tree I have was majorly being pulled down by the weight of the falling snow. As the tree still had all of its leaves the accumulation was just too much weight for the tree to handle. I knew I needed to do something! I was feeling a sense of panic as it was still snowing outside and the tree was continually getting weighed down. I didn’t want to cut the tree… I had been nurturing it for years! I had rescued it from aphids’ infestations numerous times, brought it back from the brink, not to mention the countless arguments I had with my husband who wanted to cut it down. I had fought for this tree and I was not going to let it die because of this storm. This led me to the decision I had to cut off some of it’s beautiful branches in order to save it. I am someone who finds nature naturally beautiful and I do not like to mess with it unless I have to, so this decision was not an easy one for me.

 

Weathering the Storm!

 

When I took the shears to the first branch I hesitated… I really didn’t want to do this but I felt like I had no choice. I had to cut. So, I did, …. SNIP…. and the first branch fell to the ground. As silly as it sounds I felt bad for the branch that now lay at my feet I had taken away it’s source of life and now it was doomed. Taking that in for a second I turned to the tree, sucked it up and made another cut, all the while still feeling this sense of urgency as the snow was still falling. The next branch I took on was a huge one. It took a lot of strength and effort on my part to get this huge branch dissected from the tree but when it fell, the main branch bounced back up. This was a welcome sight as I now could see the good that all of this tree trimming was doing for the tree overall. So, despite how it was losing parts of itself, it was gaining a stronger foundation. I continued with less hesitation now. Soon my mother arrived with a saw and we ended up taking off some huge branches and every time we made another cut, the tree bounced back against the weight of the storm. After an hour, I had pruned my tree taking off some major branches and overall, I had saved the tree. I was cold and wet from doing this work in the midst of the heavy, wet snowfall. There was a sense of satisfaction as I looked at the branches laying on the snow-covered ground but also a sense of sadness for the parts of the tree that were now dying.

 

Weathering the Storm!

 

This experience really brought out a lot of self-reflection in me.  About how this tree is a direct reflection of my life over the past couple years. I too had been hit by a big storm, and in the midst of the storm and after the storm I had to make some pretty hard decisions on what I was going to let go of so that I too could survive. Even as I write this, I can see more correlations in this experience. It was like the universe had provided me with this opportunity of tree cutting to see my life play out and recognize that I had made the right decision. Trimming things out of my life that were dragging me down was the best thing that I could have done for myself.

When I started with trimming the tree and revaluating my life, it was not easy to let go of these old beliefs, these old patterns of behavior and these old stories. In fact, it was quite difficult at times. Most of them had been in operation in me for years and I had learned to accept them. They were functional or at least I had made them that way, but now I was given this opportunity to release them! They no longer served who I wanted to be – who I had really always wanted to be. This visual of the tree branches being pulled down by the weight of the snow was exactly how I was feeling in life I was holding myself back and weighing myself down by outdated stories that I kept telling myself. Just like with the tree, the first cut was the hardest but once I started and could see some improvement then it became a little easier. There were some branches that were really big as they were wound into so many aspects of my personality. These branches took a lot of perseverance and strength to let go of. Some of these things that I found the hardest to get rid of in my life took as much mental strength to let go of as it took physical strength with the tree.  And just like in my life, there were some branches I couldn’t do on my own. I had to put my trust and faith in others to support me and, luckily, I have an amazing support network that was up for the challenge.

 

Weathering the Storm!

 

Just like the tree, I was faced with something that could potentially have ruined me. But instead of just giving up, I grabbed the shears and started taking off the things that were holding me down. I am happy to report that my tree survived the storm just as I have survived the storm in my life. And both my tree and I are stronger now, probably stronger than we have ever been. As I stood there looking at the pile of cut branches and felt such a sense of accomplishment, I had saved the tree and I had saved myself! Sometimes the universe gives you a storm that looks devastating, one that looks like it could literally take you down, and in the end, it turns out that the storm was exactly what you needed. It was not something to fear or hide from but rather an opportunity to do some trimming!

I hope if you find yourself in a storm, that you take a second to realize that it may look bad at the moment, but it doesn’t have to be as devastating as we are anticipating!

 

 

5-Star Living

When I decided I wanted to pursue coaching it was for completely altruistic reasons. I had been in a helping profession for years and I had noticed the shortfalls in the system so I really wanted to help people on another level, a deeper one. A level where they could feel empowered in their own lives. What I didn’t realize is that it was going to change my life, too!

It’s Crazy!

I started out on this path a few years ago and, when I look back now, I can barely recognize the person I was back then. I have undergone such an amazing transformation, one that I never even realized was possible. When I started coach training, I was not only being taught how to help others, I also participated in the same activities. I was learning the same tools and having the same sessions as I now provide to my clients. In the beginning, I was under the impression that I was self-aware and pretty well educated in personal and spiritual growth – and I was – but now I have come to realize that I was probably only about 25% aware! There were so many things that I had just surrendered to as being a part of who I was, stories I accepted. What I know now is that theses stories, patterns, beliefs and thoughts were really holding me back in life and I didn’t even know they were playing out! Crazy, right?!

It’s amazing when I look back now on how I was participating in my life. I was completely oblivious to the potential and, to be honest, I wasn’t really in a bad place, I was enjoying my life… somewhat. So how do you know what you don’t know? What I mean is, how can we understand that something is not all that it could be when it is a part of the life that we live and that we simply accept as that…just life!

5-Star Living

 

You Don’t Know, What You Don’t Know

I had a similar experience when I was first diagnosed with thyroid problems. I talked to doctors and they told me that with my levels where they were, my thoughts and body were in a state of hyper drive. Which was evident in the fact that my hands would tremble all the time, but I was used to it and it started so slowly that I just became accustomed to it… it was me. The thing is, it wasn’t until I started on my healing with my naturopath and my mind and body started to slow down, my levels started to come into a “normal” range, that is when I realized how fast things were before. And that ‘s the same experience I had with coaching. Like I said I went in it to help others and what I got was never even in my frame of reference. One of the strongest examples of this was my level of confidence. I thought of myself as ‘confident enough’, it’s not like I was completely shy, and I was ok with that! But now, looking back, I would say that my confidence level was at 10% and now I am more like at 85%. Back then, how was I to know that there was more? Sure, I saw and read about others who had more confidence, but I just accepted that they were anomalies or had something special that I did not possess!

Happiness

The same can be said for my happiness. Prior to coaching (and prior to my husband’s passing), I would have ranked my happiness at 75%, what I realize now I was functioning at maybe 15%, and presently I would say I am more like at 90%. What an unbelievable difference! But again, how do you know what you don’t know? Oftentimes we just operate on auto-pilot and, because things aren’t necessarily in a state of chaos or trauma, we continue to operate on auto-pilot, as it is serving our needs. That’s the thing, it is just serving our needs. There is potential for so much more, beyond just the basics. It’s like the difference between a meal at a 5-star restaurant compared to a fast food joint. The fast food is meeting our needs and is ok we are surviving but…WOW…the 5-star restaurant, now that is living!!!   And that is something I think a lot of us don’t realize – we are living the fast food life when we could have the 5-star life! I realize this now and most days I enjoy 5-star living. There are times when I slip back into fast food living but I have the tools, awareness, support and vision to move through this with grace and a sense of curiosity.

5-Star Living

 

That is the beautiful thing about life. The more aware you become, the more options you have and the more you want to learn and grow. It’s a pretty cool place to be in, for sure.

Coaching was the opening for me to create this life for myself, but that doesn’t mean that was the only way. I do feel though that coaching with a good, professional, aware coach is one of the most empowering experiences one can have. I know I have personally watched clients blossom into a life that was never even on their radars previously. It is such an honor to watch them claim their power and move forward in life with a passion, conviction and purpose! One thing I tend to hear a lot is “Why did I not know this before?” And I agree! Why are we not taught this vital information? It is an injustice for sure!

 

Reflection

Looking back now, I can recognize there was always this quiet whisper from deep inside me that I wish would have been louder. At times it would whisper “there is more”. It was because of that whisper I think I sought out the people living the 5-star life.  These inspiring authors, teachers and speakers told me I could have it all but to be honest I never really believed it. I had participated in their courses and read their books and watched shows that would give me a glimmer of this life, but eventually that glimmer would fade. I did learn from them, but it just wasn’t totally clicking. I was usually left feeling that this was just the way it was in my life. I didn’t doubt they had created this life for themselves, but I believed that was their life, obviously not mine.  I am by no means saying these attempts at personal growth were a waste of time, rather I think they provided a great foundation for me. The thing that I was missing was I was often in my own head doing the work, therefore stuck in the same old thinking patterns and that is why (I realize now) I wasn’t able to take flight. I am so grateful to all of those authors, speakers and presenters for their inspiration and laying the ground work because I finally get what they were all talking about! What I realize now is that I really do have the power within me to live that 5-star life, we all do!

Though I ascribe to a “no regrets” life and I recognize that things happen when they are supposed to, I can’t help but wonder where I would be now had I known all of this in my 20’s. Perhaps the seeds were planted in my 20’s and they just didn’t start to grow until now? Either way, I am grateful for where I am!

I am not going to tell you it is an easy path but really, in life, is anything worth the time and effort really easy? If it comes too easy then we are robbed of the opportunity to really enjoy the spoils of our efforts.

5-Star Living

My sincerest wish for everyone reading this is: No matter how you find it, I hope you find the thing that catapults your life from fast food to 5-star! And I suggest if you hear that whisper, listen and seize the opportunity, it’s so worth it!

Expand Your Comfort Zone!

We all have a comfort zone and, if you think about it, it’s kind of like an elastic band. Inside the circumference of the elastic lie the activities, people and situations that we feel comfortable participating in and with. This would include things like work, our circle of friends, our usual hobbies or activities, our usual restaurants and even usual places we travel. The things that lie in our comfort zone are things that – you guessed it – we feel comfortable with. They are known to us, we understand them and there are really no surprises with them, that is why they are comfortable. These things are great, but on the other side of the elastic lies the rest of the world. The people we don’t know, the activities we have not done, the situations we have not been in, as well as the things we fear or have avoided. Although it is vital to have places where you feel comfortable, there is a whole other world outside of that comfort zone. That other world has the potential to provide us with some amazing experiences.

Expand Your Comfort Zone!

My Realization

Recently I became aware that my comfort zone was shrinking and the circle of things I found comfortable was becoming smaller and smaller. The big eye opener for me was when I went to leave on a trip to Arizona with one of my dearest friends. When I booked the trip, I was excited as I love to travel and explore (or at least I had). But in the last three years my life has been full of changes, so I found comfort and solace in my home and near surroundings. I had been on weekend trips and a few other longer holidays but not much in the last year. As the day neared for me to leave, I observed that I was starting to feel anxious. I didn’t think too much of it, as trying to get things packed and sorted for a trip can sometimes be stressful. The day I was to leave on the trip arrived and a swell of anxiety filled my body. I was in what I would equate to a small panic attack. I did my usual grounding exercises and tried to feel into the emotions… nothing was working! To be honest, it got so bad I even contemplated cancelling the trip as the thought of leaving was so overwhelming! Thankfully, I had made a commitment to my friend and I take those pretty seriously. That value forced me to continue with the plan, despite the anxiety. As I drove to meet my friend, I was flooded with emotions to the point I started to cry uncontrollably.  I used my self- awareness skills to try and investigate what was going on and to get myself grounded, but it wasn’t working. So, I resigned to let the tears come and I cried for almost the whole drive. I’m not really sure what I was crying for, but it was there so I let it flow. During this time, my thoughts were swirling with self-doubt, guilt, fear and anxiety. On one hand, I felt silly because I knew that I wanted to do this, but on the other hand the emotions were just so strong. I found the further I got away, the calmer I started to feel. When I did meet up with my friend (whom is a great support) I completely broke down again. The first hour and half of our journey was spent by her supporting me and me releasing and speaking all the guilt, fear and anxious thoughts I was having. Then just as quickly as the tears came they dissipated. I was now feeling relief. It was at that point I realized I had let my comfort zone get way too small and what I was experiencing was the result of finally stretching my comfort zone.

I say all that to state that we have a comfort zone for a reason. But when that comfort zone becomes too restrictive, it’s time to start considering making some changes and stretch your elastic!

Expand Your Comfort Zone!

 

Stretch your elastic!

Stretching your comfort zone can be a scary thing. That means we have to venture beyond the known, beyond the expected, into unknown, unfamiliar terrain and that is anxiety producing. I think all too often our comfort zones stay stagnant or even shrink because we get busy in our lives. On top of that, I think that so many of us are stressed and overwhelmed in our day to day lives that just thought of adding a little more is too much. But the thing is, just like me, if we let our comfort zones get too small then we miss out on some pretty amazing experiences.

Since my realization of my shrinking comfort zone, I vowed to stretch it out! The experience served as a huge eye opener for me! Since then, I have started pushing myself to get out more and meet new people. Trying new things and having new experiences is pretty cool! I am now feeling much more capable of handling the new and much less stressed me when faced with new opportunities.

Expand Your COmfort Zone!

What Now?

How do we do it? How do we stretch our comfort zone? It’s easy, depending on the type of person you are. You can take baby steps or you can really push yourself as long as you are trying something new. For example, it could simply be visiting new restaurants, trying a new sport, participating in new social activities, meeting new people, volunteering…anything that gets you trying something new. And if you are really adventurous you could travel to new places, take weekend adventure trips to new destinations, join that yoga or art class that you have avoided, write an article for your local paper or maybe really challenge yourself to face something you are afraid of like swimming if you have a fear of water, or joining toastmasters if you fear public speaking. Whatever level you choose to stretch your comfort zone, any and all will help!

 

Expand Your Comfort Zone!

 

The Result

When we stretch our comfort zones we feel a rush of exhilaration, a sense of completion, a sense of accomplishment and a well-earned respect for ourselves. Even if the activity is not all you thought it could, be you still did it and that is the important part! Each time I go out of my way to stretch my comfort zone I realize how truly strong and capable I am and I am inspired to try even more new things. Once you start you just want to keep going! And isn’t moving forward and finding your happiness the point of life?

So, if you have found that your comfort zone is becoming too restrictive, believe in yourself! You have the courage to stretch your elastic band! Remember, an elastic band stretches before it breaks, so go out there and stretch it…even if it’s only a little bit!

Top 5 Ways Coaching Moves You Forward

Coaching is getting a lot of attention lately. It is on the rise and, from personal experience, I can see why! This observation not only comes from my own personal experiences, but also from working with clients. What I have noticed is that coaching is extremely successful at moving people forward in their lives. Here are the top 5 reasons why I believe coaching is so successful at helping people move forward into a life that they love.

1. It’s your wisdom!

Coaching is not about telling you what to do or what not do in your life, rather it is about creating a safe place where you can explore yourself. Through thoughtful questions, a professional coach can listen beyond the words to hear your internal guidance or wisdom. What I mean by this is, coaches are trained to hear not just the words, but the meaning behind them. They grab those little pearls of wisdom that are hidden among the chatter that goes on in our minds. I once heard that our intuition (internal wisdom) is like a pebble dropping in the ocean. Amongst all the other thoughts that are running in our minds, it’s no wonder our intuition is so hard to hear. And that makes it difficult to hear. In coaching, the coach is trained (if professional) to listen past the noise and hear those pearls of wisdom and then feed that information back to you. So, when it comes to making decisions about your life, it is your own wisdom that is guiding you to the right choice. I have heard clients say, “But I don’t know the answer”, but in the coaching conversation with focused and thoughtful questions, the answers just come flowing out. Most people who experience this are surprised that they had that wisdom inside themselves. I believe we all do, we just need the tools to be able to listen past the other noise!

Top 5 Ways Coaching Moves You Forward

2. Fill your tool belt!

Coaching provides you with tools that you can use in the future. It gives you insights into yourself and your unconscious programming to help you recognize them in the future. These tools are priceless! You become truly unstoppable when you are able to listen to yourself and recognize the ‘tapes’ that play in your head. You have the power to choose to listen to the ‘tapes’ or to change them. It is like being given a manual to your unconscious that you can use when needed. Not only do you understand yourself better, but you start to see the world around you differently. You are able to gain new perspectives on yourself and the world and that is powerful!

3. Build confidence!

I think one of the biggest things is the doubting mind that we all have. We can talk ourselves out of pretty much anything. Even when we know it is good for us, we have a million and one reasons why it can’t or won’t work out for us. We start to question our ability to make good choices, but what is really happening is we are losing trust in ourselves. Coaching is so successful because it is a starting point to rebuild that trust. When you no longer doubt yourself, you are much more capable of facing the challenges of life head on because you know you are capable. This is an empowering step in the coaching process when you begin trusting yourself, you become more willing to take risks to get the life that you want.

Being able to trust yourself is the key to building confidence and when you have the confidence that you are fully capable of, again, you are unstoppable!

Top 5 Ways Coaching Moves You Forward

4. Based in the present, looking forward.

The very nature of coaching is all about moving forward! It focuses on the present and the future – where you are and where you want to be – instead of where you have been.  The only time we look at the past in coaching is to see if the patterns and beliefs you have learned in the past are still serving you. This is very different from therapy where the focus is around healing the past. In contrast, illuminates how the past is replaying in the present. I have heard numerous times from people “I don’t want to focus on the past, I just want to move forward”. That is not to say there is no value in healing the past if that is what you need, but if you are wanting to move forward then coaching is the choice for you!

5. It’s all about you!

Coaching is like a dance between the coach and client. There is no preset formula, as everyone is unique, and coaching honors that uniqueness. This means that things move at your pace and it focuses on what is happening in your world right now and what is affecting where you want to be. There are times when a client may be on a certain path or have a goal for a session, but when the conversation starts it becomes clear that there is something else unfolding that is more relevant than the planned topic. In coaching, the coach follows along with the conversation to get to a desired outcome, based on the individual. This means that what is relevant to the client is the focus of the session, so whatever is stopping you from moving forward is addressed in the present moment.

Top 5 Ways Coaching Moves You Forward

Life coaching really is all about moving forward. It recognizes the contributions of the past and addresses the situation in the present so that you are able to move forward to reach your goals. If you have never experienced it, it is hard to explain how amazing this experience is. For me, it is because of the wonderful coaches I work with that enable me to get out of my own way and create a life that I want and love. The insights I have gained into myself are truly beyond anything I ever thought possible and the personal power and confidence gained from this has been beyond my wildest dreams.