celebrate

And just like that the Sun Returns … AHHH!

And just like that, the clouds separate and the light returns! Ever had that feeling? Like when the sun appears, and you almost want to raise your hands up and sing “ahhhh”. I am having that feeling this morning and I wanted to share my experience. Over the past couple of weeks, well years really but most recently the past couple of weeks I have been getting guidance on different areas of my life and things I need to release and heal. I have been doing A LOT of internal work to allow and release what is arising and today … the sun came shining through! The times that I go through big transformational shifts are ones that are confusing, challenging, and require a lot of my spiritual, mental, and emotional energy. These times feel like I am on a roller coaster where one day I am up the next down, sometimes it is not even a day and I will flip and flop between the two fairly quickly. It is a very unsettling and uncomfortable time and for me anyway, leads to a lot of self-doubt and questioning. Anyone who has been through an awakening of their own can probably relate, this time in between is just that, a void where the old no longer feels comfortable but neither does the new (as it is new). And this flipping between the two makes you feel almost sick at times and definitely makes you question your own sanity on more than one occasion. I realize this will not speak to everyone but to those it does I want you to know you are NOT crazy, you are not wrong and there is nothing wrong with you but rather you are leveling up into a new version of you that can be scary and unknown and unclear. Thus, the flopping that wanting to return to something that you know and can understand, something that feels comfortable. But also, if you are like me there is a part of you that as much as you want to feel safe and comfortable again knows that your eyes have been opened to the new and you cannot return to not knowing, you have to keep pushing forward despite the uncertainty and uncomfortableness. I am blessed that I have been through this many times and can recognize what is happening but that does not take the roller coaster of emotions away it just helps me relax into them a little easier. I am further blessed with having some great energetic tools to help me release and move through what is arising. The flower essences and energy release points guidance that I use in my energy work provide a very logical explanation (well kind of, the best word I could find) to explain and give me clarity on what is being released. It is like they provide me with the puzzle pieces and I just need to put them all together to get the full picture. This last upgrade has been a doozy for me and I could through all the work, see that there was a golden thread that had weaved its way into every aspect of my life but I couldn’t completely put my finger on what this thread was about … then today it finally came .. the clarity that allowed me to release the pattern and beliefs that held it in place. Not to mention the healing that needed to happen for me to come to accept it and not allow it to control my life anymore. Thus the “ahhhh’ as the clouds began to part and the sun came flooding in. I wanted to write this as part of the healing and because it came to me as the sun figuratively was coming in, in hopes that for all of you who are on your journey, (which to be honest whether you consciously recognize it or not … you are), that you may find this helpful and if you are in the depths of a growth cycle and feeling that roller coastering sensation that you will now have a conscious understanding that it is completely normal … uncomfortable but normal and that you are not alone!   Much Love Tara

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Oh Deer!

I had an interesting experience the other day and as usual, it got me thinking! I was driving and to be honest, I was a bit daydreamy when all of a sudden, a baby deer ran out into the road. I slammed on my brakes and narrowly missed the baby. I was obviously shaken but my initial action surprised me. I just said thank you, thank you to the Universe, I assumed my reaction would have been “oh shit!”. Lately, I have been really working on affirmations around trust and a big part of trusting, for me, is feeling safe, protected and guided by the Divine. So, I was impressed my initial reaction was gratitude which I did feel, at that moment, that I was protected. So yay me! I recognized that this incident had got my adrenaline flowing so I literally shook it off to release the energy and did some deep breaths. When I had calmed my body, I was good! (This all happened within the span of a minute.) What happened next was confirmation on how powerful our minds are and if they are left misunderstood and operating under our awareness radar how much it affects your life. It also was an affirmation that the personal work I have been doing was paying off! Now let me remind you I was completely safe, I had literally shaken off the energy and was again driving. It was at this point my mind kept trying to bring me back into that state of fear and hyper-alert. It kept thinking about what ‘could’ have happened. That started an interesting internal dialogue. My mind, “you could have died” it thought, my response “yes but I am safe”. Next thought, ramping up the fear a bit “you could have killed the baby deer” (and to me that would be beyond tragic) and to make it more impactful this time it added an image of a bloody deer. My response again, “yes but I am safe!” This continued for a while where each time I would let it go, my mind would bring it up again. Trying to remind me I was ‘almost’ hurt and ‘almost’ killed a deer, and ‘almost’ wrecked my car. My mind as it naturally does also started creating scenarios where I totalled my car and tried to get me thinking about how would I get a new one.       I found this all really fascinating, I was the awareness behind the thoughts. I observed how my mind was trying to keep me in a heightened state, it wanted me to be fearful and it did not want to let it go. Observing this I kept telling myself “yes but I am safe”.         What this showed me is that even with all the work I have done on understanding my mind and working with it, its instinct is to keep me safe and not let me forget that I was in danger was still there, and probably always will be. Our brains are hard-wired for negativity, that is why they are great at pointing out dangers. If we let them run on their own with no awareness they are fear-inducing, it’s no wonder people are anxious. Had I not had the tools that I do to be the awareness behind the thoughts, I would have probably been replaying the horrific scene over and over and telling everyone, each time retraumatizing myself. My body would have been stressed and I would (to say it bluntly) be in shit state, ruminating and flashing back to it whenever I got in the car. But, because I understand my mind and have that awareness, I saved myself hours, if not days of stress. I was able to release the energy from my body so it did not get trapped and I was able to remain calm, truly calm, not just faking it! It was an interesting experience for sure one that reinforces to me all the work I have been doing is truly life-changing!

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The Value of the Season!

What do you Value for the Holidays!

We all have different values and when it comes to the holidays we all value different things! 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 helping you with your holiday values. When you understand what you value most over the holidays you can make choices that align with those values and 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 other “have tos”. When we do this, we usually feel a sense of shame or guilt for not spending time with our families.  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! 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 quiet downtime, to seeking adventure, or maybe it’s even solitude…the possibilities are endless. Whatever the answer may be, really tune into yourself. And most importantly don’t judge yourself for your answers!   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 for you 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 a belief that you ‘need’ to be doing them. This sense of obligation has overridden your true values and is causing you stress. If this is the case, you need to take the time to re-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 values: 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? 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 to make it happen! How do you make it happen? Well, that requires you to stay true to you! Set boundaries say ‘no’ to things that are not aligning with your values and most importantly be grateful and enjoy taking part in the things you enjoy! Wishing you a holiday season that is all you have dreamed of that aligns you with your highest values.

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What if Everything You Want is on the Other End of Patience

I have to admit patience is really not my strong suit I struggle to stay patient especially when I am passionate about something. This has been a big lesson, that I am still learning, especially with my business. When I started out building TSW Life Coaching I was passionate and felt in my core that coaching was exactly what I was meant to do, I just knew it and still do! The thing that I didn’t realize at that point is that I had my own growing to do and that would take precedence over my business. This was my journey and it has taken me a long time to accept that things happen in exactly the right order at exactly the right time and my only responsibility is to have patience and be aware. I have had so many instances of the Universe providing for me exactly what I need at exactly the right time that I can’t (even when I try to), deny that there is a Divine plan for me, there is for all of us. Where we find stress is when we try to control the situation, and we miss the opportunities along the way because we are so focused on the end goal that we miss the journey. Not to mention that we judge ourselves and compare ourselves along the way which makes the journey at points really miserable. In my example, I am a way better coach than I was because I have taken the time, despite how much of a struggle it was at times to build myself before building my business. The growth and insight I have received on this journey has allowed me to serve my clients at a higher more in tune level and that was the reason for the longer than originally anticipated journey. This doesn’t mean that I think my growth has stopped, I don’t think it ever does and that excites me! What I do think is that too many of us have a goal and all we do is focus on the end. Yes, it’s important to have goals but I think we need to focus on the journey as well and be patient and understand there are bigger things at play. In our culture we are all about doing, striving to reach for our goals pushing to make things happen, very masculine energy. There is nothing wrong with having goals and striving for them but when we only focus on the goal we miss out on life. We judge ourselves according to how close we are to the goal and we miss all the wonderful opportunities to grow along the way. We see this time as a necessary evil to reaching the goal but the perspective shift I have realized is that the journey to the goal is actually the steps needed to make the goal manifest. Even when those steps seem to be taking you in a different direction they simply are a new route to the goal that is even better than we had envisioned. From my life as I have said in working on my business I have been challenged to grow and learn more about myself. This growth and learning have resulted in me creating something even better and more authentic to who I am than I ever could have envisioned in the beginning. Once I accepted this and really tried to lean into having patience (as hard as it is at times), the more I realized that the journey has brought myself and my business to a better place. I guess the takeaway from this is set your goals but remain open to what it looks like to get to that goal. Be patient with the process and enjoy the journey along the way. Stop beating yourself and stressing yourself out because you are not getting to the goal as fast as you would like. Just trust in the journey!

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Cougar, Bears, Bobcats & Trust! What the Wilderness taught me about myself and the Universe.

Life always gives you what you need when you need it and this lesson in trust was exactly what I needed, and no surprise when I needed it! Last summer I had a desire to spend some time in nature with my dog. It’s like I was being drawn to the woods. I listened to this calling and took a week off from work, not really sure what I was going to do. I reached out to family to see if they had some suggestions on places where I could go, my uncle had a cabin that he said I could use. Perfect, I thought! I had never been to their cabin but things were falling in place so I trusted that this was where I should be! I took the leap of faith, packed up the car and the dog and off I went to my uncles’ cabin in the woods. When I got there it was gorgeous, it was in the woods on a lake … it was perfect! What I didn’t realize is that it was in a small community of cabins that were pretty much abandoned during the week. Which meant I was going to be pretty much alone out there. At first, this did not bother me, I had at this point in my life become very accustomed and comfortable with being alone. My uncle showed me around the cabin, which was built on a hill, the main part of the cabin was on the top of the hill and there was a steep staircase outside down to a basement/spare bedroom which was built into the hill. The basement/spare room was rustic, (like you could see the tree roots and tree trunks) in parts of the basement. Usually, this part of the cabin was locked with a padlock, as the only entrance to it was from the outside. My uncle showed it to me despite me objecting, as I didn’t think I would really need it, thank goodness he did, as you will see in a minute. During the walkthrough my Uncle also shared with me that they have cougars in the area he had seen tracks right outside the cabin at different times throughout the year, and that there was a grizzly bear that other residents stated lived just across the field, and that they had witnessed black bears in the area, oh and maybe some bobcats too! I am not that outdoorsy and more than anything I was concerned about my dog, who at this point was losing her mind because on top of all the dangerous animals there were squirrels and my dog loves to chase things, especially small rodents. After getting all settled in, I decided to take my dog for a walk. We ventured out with some apprehension as I had never been there and to be honest my dog is my baby, so I was concerned for her safety (as I often am). We took a walk and found a path to walk for a bit. It was nice, I soaked in nature. Feeling more grounded and mostly calm, because on my walk I had realized this was the first time since Woody passed away that I had been on a trip completely on my own. I had travelled on my own but always had people to meet up with or conferences to attend, this time I was completely ALONE! This thought was exciting but as with anything outside of our comfort zone was also uncomfortable and so I was also feeling a bit anxious. We (my dog and I) spent the rest of the day enjoying the lake and the woods… then returned to the cabin at night time. It was a bit nerve-wracking being there with Bramble in the dark as she was on high alert for squirrels and I was definitely on alert for any potential risks. Not that it felt overwhelming but just on alert! I went to bed in the QUIET absolute silence, which was nice but also made it obvious how very alone I was! About 2:00 am I was awoken by my dog. Once I got my bearing from being startled awake, she let me know she needed to go outside. I turned the outside lights on (giving the wildlife fair warning to disperse, at least that was my thoughts and left them on for a minute before we ventured outside). Bramble was of course on a leash because as mentioned she loves to chase things and I didn’t want her running off chasing a squirrel in the dark. We walked out the sliding door and as there were now moths and mosquitos swarming the lights, I turned to slide close the door behind me. Didn’t even have a second thought about it, it was a sliding door with a latch lock, no worries, right?!?! Bramble walked around outside well truth be told she hunted around, turns out she just wanted out to hunt squirrels! I pulled her back on her long leash and we turned to open the sliding door… it didn’t open! It was locked! OMG!!!! Sliding doors don’t lock, I thought so I pulled a little harder feeling more frantic and the anxiety rising! It didn’t open! OMG!!!OMG!!! OMG!!! I was alone in my PJ shorts in the middle of the isolated wilderness with bears and cougars and god knows what else lurking in the shadows, not to mention being eaten alive by mosquitos and I was ALONE! Absolutely, ALONE! My car was locked, the cabin was now locked, and I didn’t even have shoes on! As I sat on the picnic table fear quickly turned into a complete state of panic! What was I going to do? There were not a lot of options. I took a couple of deep breaths put a couple of prayers out to the Universe and I’m sure swore a couple of times. Fear had completely settled in now and as our

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Winter of the Soul

It has been a while since I have written, not for lack of trying. What I have found for me is if I force it then I am out of flow and nothing comes together and that definitely does not bring me joy. Therefore, I write when I feel I have something to say. Lately, I have been trying to come up with something and nothing is coming, which is rare as either myself or my clients are always in a state of growth and learning and the Universe is always there with new lessons. But lately, as I said, nothing has been coming together for me to write about and then it struck me last week, maybe that is the lesson (and the blog)! Sometimes we just need to pause, turn inward and reflect.  Although things seem slow and unchanging on the outside, I am sure there is a lot going on under the surface. This is like winter. In winter, Mother Nature goes into hibernation mode. I take that hibernation as a time to turn inward, to slow things down and really get ourselves in a healthy state for the upcoming Spring season. Previously, I have struggled with these times on my journey. They feel stagnant! Probably because in our society we focus so much on keeping our eye on the prize, basing our success and failure on observable measures of movement. We are taught that if we stop, take in the moment, take the time to turn inward that we are not moving forward… we are stagnant. But what is wrong with that! We need this time just as much as we do the blossoming of spring. They are both important! In this space of turning inward, the Universe has presented me with opportunities to heal past hurts, move through blocked emotions and look at new challenges. All of which are supporting me in becoming the best version of myself. Now that doesn’t sound like being stagnant, does it? My big realization is, we need to embrace the quiet times, we need to trust in the process. We need to understand that in life there will be times of quiet solitude where our souls recharge. I am positive in these times that things are going on quietly in the background, preparing us for the next chapter. And this work although not observable is just as important!       As I am sure I am not the only one who struggles in these times, I thought I would share some tips to help: Stop judging yourself by other’s or societies standards Be patient Trust in the process Use this time to really recharge your soul So, the next time you come to one of these winters for your soul, honour it, enjoy it! Spring is just around the corner.

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5 Life-Changing Resolutions for 2019

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. These 5 resolutions when practiced regularly are life changing! The simplicity of implementing in no way minimizes the positive effect they can have on your life.   Prioritize Self-Care Too many of us, 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 just simply don’t have the 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! It may come in the form of withdrawing from life, physical illness or feelings of resentment. However it manifests one thing is for sure if you neglect yourself, it definitely will!     This year vow to yourself to take care of you! You deserve it! Schedule time for self-care … and the important part … actually, enjoy that time. Do things that recharge your soul and bring you joy! If you don’t care for yourself who will?     Take Time to Pause (Practice Mindfulness) 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, it’s 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 times 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?   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. (read more about your inner critic here). 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 the truth. Most of the time they are just fear!   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 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.   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 2019 brings I wish you all the best for the New Year. My hope is that you are all able to live a life YOU love!

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Dear 2018…

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 of days to reflect back on the past year and recognize all that you have accomplished, these questions will help guide you, to celebrate you!     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. 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 grown in the area of self-love and how I have really embraced all the aspects of myself that have shown up this year (the good and the (perceived ‘bad’. I have continued to put myself out there both with my business and socially and have grown tremendously in this area. I have really stayed true and followed my path at times it has not been easy, but I persevered because I know it is 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 2018 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 and that we are better than everyone else, 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 2018 and how you showed up, your outlook for 2019 will 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 2019 and I hope you have a wonderful New Year! Check in next week for tips on New Year’s Resolutions!  

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The Spirit of the Season

I have been working with people for a long time and, for most of my career, I have worked with people who were living in poverty. I started to notice very early that, despite budgeting with them and setting limits on spending for the holidays, my clients would go overboard and purchase things that were way out of their limits buying gifts for family and friends. It wasn’t long until I realized that there was a lot more behind purchasing gifts than just the gifts themselves. For the most part, these clients were motivated not just by the Christmas spirit, but they had a deeper drive pushing them. This pattern of behaviour is not limited to my previous clients. I see this type of behaviour in all people from all walks of life. I have even noticed it in myself! When our spirit of the season is not about the feelings of the season and rather is motivated by some underlying energy, it can take our holidays from something fun and enjoyable to stressful, chaotic and even self-loathing. There are three motivating factors that I have noticed in myself and others that can wreak havoc on your holidays. Any of these sound familiar? Guilt I think this one can be especially true for parents. Guilt is evident when we Exhaustedly scouring stores for hours Fight with shoppers because we NEED that item Go overboard and have a million presents under the tree. Or by putting ourselves in debt to make sure you have everything on the list. In these cases, the energy behind the action is not just wanting a good Christmas, there is something more It feels more like a ‘need’, like you have to, or the holiday will be ruined. I think the guilt comes from personal perceptions of short fallings as a parent, wife, friend etc. Like my clients, they felt guilty about their kids living in poverty, so they compensated by overspending. For others, I think that the driving force is guilt around not being a ‘good enough’ parent, friend, or partner. They perceive that they have fallen short in some area such as too much work, too little family time, too strict, too preoccupied, generally not being a good enough parent, friend, or partner. This guilt fuels the insanity that is Christmas shopping for many of us. We are motivated not by the spirit of giving or the joy of the season, but rather feeling like we ‘need to’ compensate because we don’t measure up in other ways. Perfection Another driving force that I have observed is the need to make the holiday ‘perfect’. Some people NEED the holidays to be perfect, for whatever reason, and they won’t settle for anything less. The results are the same they may put themselves in debt, drive themselves crazy trying to find that perfect gift, run themselves ragged trying to make everything perfect. The thing is, the harder we try to make things perfect, the more we notice that it’s not perfect! Therefore we can either surrender or keep pushing and driving ourselves nuts. I have observed this perfectionism playing out at family dinners. People spend hours to set the table so it looks just right, spending the whole day prepping and cooking, fixing and adjusting, then collapse at the end of the night from exhaustion. Meanwhile, they missed out on the joy and fun of the day! If we are in this mindset, then I hate to tell you, but there is no such thing as perfect and all the energy you use to make it perfect could be spent enjoying the holiday instead! (Sound like you? Learn more about the problems with perfectionism, here.) Compensation This one is similar to guilt and can go hand in hand, but the energy behind it is a little different. From this perspective, gift giving is viewed as a time to compensate. For example, getting the right gift so that your children, family, spouse, etc. know that you love them because throughout the year you avoid sharing your feelings and yourself with them. This can be either a perceived shortcoming or actually not giving them all of you because your energy is focused elsewhere. Whichever it is, you take Christmas as a time to share all the things you haven’t said, how much you care, how grateful you are for them, how much you love them, how important they are to you. And again, you drive yourself crazy trying to find the perfect thing to express all those locked up emotions. The pressure on getting the gift is immense because it is no longer a gift, but the way to communicate your feelings because you haven’t or feel you can’t do it throughout the year.  That is a lot of pressure on a purchase! What we are really doing The ironic thing is if the energy behind our holidays is any of the above, what we are actually doing is spending the holiday doing exactly what we are trying to avoid. Our spirit of the season is not about love, and connection rather it is guilt-ridden, chaotic and stressful! Needless to say less than enjoyable. Now what? There is nothing wrong with wanting a good holiday or to find your loved ones gifts that bring them joy, but if you are finding you are killing yourself and stressing yourself out over it, then you need to ask yourself ‘why am I doing this?’. Then really check into the motivating energy behind your actions. If it is guilt, compensation or the need for perfection, then you need to ask yourself if this is really what you want from your holiday. If it’s not, change it!

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3 Ways to Honour this Remembrance Day

In honour of Remembrance Day, this November 11th, I thought it would be fitting if I shared 3 ways that we can truly honour the sacrifices made by so many for us to enjoy our freedom. The great thing is they are not limited to one special day but that we can carry out throughout the year. These three things are part of living an authentic life and enjoying the freedoms we have because so many sacrificed. Included with each suggestion is an action step that you can use to practice these lessons in your life.     Be grateful – Others sacrificed for all that we have. Gratitude is not limited to only the good times. It is also recognizing that no matter how life is going at the moment, there is always something to be grateful for. I think this is especially true where we live. There are so many freedoms that we have, and so many amazing people on this planet that are doing spectacular things that there is always something to be grateful for. As I have previously mentioned, I think that we focus too often on the negative aspects of both our lives and what’s going on in the world. When we talk about the atrocities, we feed the fear monster with stories of the anger, hatred and suffering going on in the world. Some of us even focus on the negative in our lives and spend most of our time dwelling in this dark places. This is not living a grateful life. This is living a life that perpetuates the belief that we live in an unsafe, scary, nasty world. Being grateful does not mean that we only focus on the positive or bury our heads in the sand. What it does mean is making a conscious effort to recognize what we have to be grateful for and there is a lot of it! Action step: This Remembrance Day, be grateful for all that you have and all that you are able to do. Try making this a day where you will openly express your gratitude for all the things you enjoy in your life. Tell your family why you are grateful for them, tell strangers who hold the door for you that you are grateful, tell that friend who always supports you, you are grateful. Whatever it is share your gratitude today … out loud!     Enjoy your freedom – become really free! Freedom is an interesting word… we say that we are free, but I think a lot of us do not actually feel free. We are bogged down by obligations, by commitments, by beliefs about how we should live our lives and we feel that we “have” to do this and “have” to do that. This is not really the definition of freedom. For so many people, freedom is just a word that has no power in their lives. They work in jobs that are not satisfying, they settle for relationships that they are not happy in, they wake up in the morning going “Ugh, another day”. Does this sound free? It sure doesn’t to me. Freedom for me is having each and every moment to choose happiness, to choose a life that excites you, to choose to live authentically. How can we say that we are free when most decisions we make are guided by stories that we tell ourselves about what life “should” be, rather than what we desire? We live in a society that, in theory, allows us the freedom to live a good life, but then we restrain our choices because we fear the consequences of stepping out of our comfort zone. We feel we need to work our butts off to save for retirement so then we can enjoy freedom. We struggle in relationships so that we are not alone because alone is undesirable. We work in jobs that we hate so that we are being a good member of society. We put off vacations because we have too many obligations. We don’t take care of our mental and physical health needs because there is no time for that “stuff”. Does this sound like freedom? I get that there are things that must be done, but wouldn’t it be liberating if the have to’s were the rarity and want to’s were the rule? Action step: Today is a great day to start living your freedom! Take some time in self-reflection today and notice one thing in your life that you are feeling (“Ugh, I have to do this”), and either find something about that thing that you can love, or change it. Here is what I have committed to doing. I strongly dislike doing the dishes they are one of my “have” to’s and I try to avoid them like the plague! So my agreement in the name of freedom is this – I know the dishes need to get done so I can either replace them all with paper plates (not going to happen), so I have decided that I will make a “doing the dishes” playlist on my phone and choose songs that I love that I sing and dance to and that will make this mundane chore a little more exciting and fun! Your ‘change to freedom’ item can be simple like mine. Or perhaps it’s something bigger like looking for a new job that satisfies you. If that is not in the cards yet, maybe you could find a hobby that you love that makes your long days more bearable.  Whatever it may be, choose something that you can do this weekend to honour those by living a truly free life!     Promote kindness – Make our world a better place. When we get stuck in our lives, we often miss out on the opportunity to make our world a better place. Kindness is one thing that we are all capable of doing that makes our world a better

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