Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tonight I'm Gonna Party Like It's.....

Word on the street is that the world was supposed to end today and yet here I type.  Millions of people poked fun at the rumored prophecy of Armageddon and made plans for tomorrow despite it.  I have to confess that I was amongst the skeptics.

That isn’t to say that “what if” scenarios didn’t creep into my mind, though….

What if the world were to end today?

 How many things in life would have a sudden sense of urgency to them and why would they suddenly matter?

I’m actually wincing right now.  The truth that lies between these words and lines is like a wakeup call.  It’s one thing to live a life full of intention but without action and conscious effort all you have is a neat little idea.

 A new year is synonymous with beginnings, clean slates and fresh pages.  I challenge you to go into 2013 with a different perspective on your life.  Examine it from various angles and explore areas that may have lain dormant for a while.
  • Are you where you want to be (geographically or otherwise)?
  • Are you excited about what you’re doing?
If your answer is “no” to either question then I boldly ask, “What are you going to do about it?”  Life doesn’t promise unlimited joy and euphoria but it does entertain the notion of endless possibilities often turned into reality for those of us what want it badly enough. 

Do you?

My wish this holiday is that you love more, hurt less, find joy, ditch anger, work hard and play A LOT!  Forgive me for the video clip but I couldn't help myself :) 
Until next time, friends……






Friday, October 19, 2012

My Message to a Little Cocoa Goddess in Training

A dear friend of mine recently requested that I write a letter to my three year old self.   I laughed and then cried at the prospect of completing such a task.  What are some of the things that I would want her to know?  I had to dive deeper than “look both ways before you cross the road” and “just say no to drugs”.  I wanted to honour what I’ve learned and offer the guidance that only my experience could provide.  This is a glimpse of what I came up with.  I hope you enjoy it.

1. Love will find you.  I promise. -  The “who, what, where, when and how” of it all won't be  necessary (at least not when you are dealing with the real, deep, inspiring, fulfilling and reciprocated kind of love that you are so deserving of.)
Don’t try to rush what promises to be good thing.
Anticipation can be like throwing away time better spent living.  Go ahead and travel, open up the doors to self-discovery, or simply enjoy moments with the people in your life who are committed to loving you right back just as you are. 
Forget what will be, what should be, and the “could be” contemplations running rampant in your mind.  Just explore what is for a while and all will be revealed in due time.

2. Some days your pants won’t fit and that’s alright - Don’t get bend out of shape about it because your true value and worth isn’t measured by the size of your jeans or the cups of your bra.  If you really want to quantify things, just ask yourself:
How full is your soul?
How many of your thoughts are positive?
How many times have you allowed faith and action to sustain you? 
How many dreams lie dormant within you and how many steps must be taken to awaken them?
Numbers like these embrace more of a one size fits all mentality.  Be cognizant of the importance to live from the inside out because later on it’s much more challenging to do things in reverse.

3. Always find time to play – Life will throw you some fast and hard curveballs. If you don’t know how to laugh and shake things off (and duck!) from time to time, you may just fall apart.  Get messy.  Giggle like a school girl.  Dance for the mirror and no one else.  Turn cartwheels if you feel so inclined.  There’s always time for recess (even a quick ten minute one) regardless of what grown-ups tell you. They could probably use a recess, too.

4. You’re enough – There will be times when you need to have a big ugly cry (that’s a guarantee) but please don’t shed a tear for what you perceive to be your own inadequacy.  I implore you!  You can’t be good at everything because everyone deserves a piece of the spotlight in this show we call "Life".
You (yes, you) are a star at so many things! 
I need you to find your niche and revel in it for a while.
Nurture your passions, grow with them and if there comes a time when it feels right to move on, heed the call with a heart of gratitude.  The world needs you, never doubt that (and ditch the naysayers that say otherwise.)  
5. Be conscious of your desires – The birthday candles that you’ll blow out and the stars that you’ll wish on from time to time hold a special kind of magic.  That magic is born from your sincere desire to make something happen.  For example, if you pray and pray for a day off from school,  you will probably get one….because you’ve contracted the flu. 
See, wishes don’t always come to fruition in the way that we expect them to, so be conscious of what you put out “there” because it’s quite plausible that you will get it.  Your beliefs will be the fuel that sets your dreams on fire. Trust me.

6. Communicate, communicate and communicate some more – Expression is your sweet spot and if you don’t share your voice, you’ll feel choked.  Later on in life it might seem like no one understands you and you may fall victim to your own pit of despair.  To avoid listening to ballads of angst and eating copious amounts of ice cream, please use your words and express your emotions clearly.  Doing so will benefit you and the people trying to decode you.  They’ll probably thank you for it.

7. Your heart will undoubtedly be broken.  Don't worry, you'll live. – It may seem like there’s not a Band-Aid big enough to protect all of the shattered pieces but you’ll recover.  I’m living proof.  I’m sitting here sending you this letter aren’t I?  Sometimes we think that our journey is meant to be shared with one specific person.  You may feel like he just “gets” you and you can’t picture your life with anyone else. 
While I hope this holds true for you, please know that you may have to kiss a few prince-like characters before you find your destined prince.  Each of them will have something to teach you about yourself.  While you learn, don't forget to stay true to yourself, respect your body and listen to your heart. (When in doubt, refer to #1 noted above!)

8. Forgive – 
Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die” 
– Malachy McCourt

You may be hurt, wronged, lied to, stomped on, chewed up or spit out.  The question is where will you go from there?  Moving forward with one light overnight bag is a lot easier than moving backwards with cinderblocks in a knapsack.
If you choose to stay angry, you might be the only one suffering (especially if the source of your animosity has moved on to greener pastures).
Drop the baggage and the blame.  You’re better off without it.

9. Enrol in the School of Life – Some of your greatest lessons with come from life experience.  Not someone else’s per se, but yours.  Oh, you’ll love to read textbooks, manuals and stories but remember to step away from the pages and step into the world going on around you.  Travel to learn more about geography.  Interact with people to get a better grip on psychology.  Explore the mechanics of your body as an interactive biology lesson or just set an example you can be proud of in your quest for leadership.

You’re a beautiful little girl and a really big world awaits you.  You won’t remember everything that you accomplish, but always be mindful that you will leave an indelible mark on someone’s life and memories.  Try to make it a good one.

I love you,

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Catch

You can go from rags to riches.
You can be the hottie that everyone wishes that they could be.
You can be the super mom that does it all, leaving everyone wondering, “How does she do it?”
You can be ANYTHING that you’re heart desires but here’s the catch….

It’s up to you to make it happen.

When it comes to bringing your ideal life into fruition, there’s no room for tales of woe-is-me or excuses stemming from your past.  
You own the policy on your life. 
We all have battle scars that we've acquired throughout our lives.  I used to look at mine as blemishes but now I treat them like badges of honour.  They prove that I’ve gone toe to toe with adversity and won.
Whatever hurt me didn’t break me and sometimes I need that reminder.

I recently found a list that I had written long ago of things that I wanted to accomplish in my lifetime.  After a quick scan, a smirk of satisfaction fell across my face because I could mentally check off several of the items I had noted.  As it turns out, I’ve kept my eyes on the prize (even on the most challenging of days) and because of that, I was able to enjoy the fruits of my labour.

I didn’t give up (despite the times that I wanted to).
I didn’t fall apart (even when I was walking on shaky ground).
I didn’t lose faith (even when I felt alone).

I chose to make things happen for myself and they did because I did the work, I shed the blood, I cried the tears, I whispered the prayers.  The work still continues and I'm grateful for the opportunity to dig in and exercise my free will as I see fit.

If you’re reading this and are mourning over lost opportunities, I have good news for you.  It’s not too late.

You’re not dead so there’s no reason to live a life that has no pulse.

There’s still time to make things happen for yourself.  The catch is that you have to commit to starting now.

Not tomorrow. 
Not next week. 
Not next year.  

Those timelines don't come with guarantees. What you have is now and I can’t think of a better time for any of us to start living fully, completely and with heartfelt intent.

The key to making this venture a success is to ensure that you’re doing it for you and you alone.
Living in accordance to someone else’s agenda will definitely extinguish any fire and passion that you generate along your journey.  Walking along someone else’s path only guarantees to get you lost.

 I came across a Nike ad that has helped to push me along the way and I want to share it with you:

The first step towards getting somewhere
is to decide that you are not going to stay
where you are.

 Everyone needs a reminder sometimes.  I hope that this post has been yours.

Until next time….


Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Lesson in Forgiveness

Forgive the one who hurt you.

The hands of Insecurity beat them down

And stepping on you

Made them feel tall again.


(Unbeknownst to them)

Your compassion has already made you

The bigger person.
 - R. Leonard

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What's On Your Plate?

Last night I curled up and watched a documentary called Food Inc..  It was insightful, disturbing, well researched and candidly proved why ignorance is not always bliss.  I heard about this movie a while ago while online one day and made a promise to myself to check it out.  It wasn’t until yesterday that I finally decided to settle down and press “Play”.

I’m still reeling.

Producer-director Robert Kenner took me on a radical journey through the evolution of modern day food and it left me wondering, “What am I putting into my body?  Why haven’t I cared this much before?”.  I (like many of us) have occasionally fallen prey to word doctored untruths promoted by some of the biggest names in the food industry.  Do low fat, healthy and all natural sound familiar?  These words are often highlighted in order to cover up underlying ones such as calcium carbonate, niacinamide and pyridoxine hydrochloride. Pretty packaging and catchy jingles have been created to detract our attention from what lies within the cellophane packages resting on supermarket shelves across our country.

If it walks like a chicken and clucks like a chicken, it usually isn’t.

That is just one of many alarming facts revealed in this film.  Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma) provide us with pertinent knowledge about what we are both ingesting and supporting with our hard earned dollars.  I couldn’t help but get a bit emotional when I watched as a low-income mother expressed her dilemma between feeding her kids much needed fruit or cost-efficient fast food.

I took a moment to pause and think of ways to ensure my son is fed good quality, whole foods now in the hopes of avoiding expensive health care costs later.

I appreciated that Food Inc. made me think.  There were several realities exposed and candid truth bombs dropped which made me squirm but I couldn’t press “Stop”.  I felt obliged to learn more about the politics, ethics and debate surrounding this controversial topic simply because knowledge is in fact power. 

I’m not an activist. I’m not a politician.  I don’t hold a PhD.

I’m a woman and mother now empowered with information that will forever change my life and possibly extend it, too.

This is a documentary fit for (and made for) human consumption. It doesn’t preach of vegan or vegetarian supremacy but it does speak to the magnificence of doing what’s right for the betterment of everyone.  I hope that you (like me) are now inclined to become aligned with the courageous people that lent their voices to the award-winning piece called Food Inc.

How can you effect positive change?  These are some avenues that I’m going to explore in my adventures:

1.      Check out the local Farmer’s Markets in your area – Get up close to the people that work hard to produce the food you eat.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the product and/ or service they offer.  Ottawa Organic Farmer’s Market offers a selection of Certified Organic Meats, Breads, Vegetables, Fruits, Olive Oil, & Skin Care  year round.

2.      Learn more about good food and the people supporting them – There’s seemingly endless information on sites such as Foodland Ontario which include topics such as restaurants that serve local food and seasonal food recipes

3.      Explore your city/ town! – A road trip is always fun or perhaps you want to stroll and see what’s in walking distance.  Mapquest, Google Maps and other online resources can be valuable tools in your search.  If you like meat, you might want to check out Ashton Glen Farm.  They produce organic, environmentally sustainable grass fed beef and pastured pork just outside of Ottawa near Ashton.  Looking for veggies and fruits?  Just next door in Shawville, Quebec, Bryson Farms offers organic produce and home delivery options.  I love the extensive information found on their site!

Feel free to share your thoughts!

Until next time…..

Thursday, September 13, 2012

37 Candles

I celebrated my 37th birthday last weekend.  I made a promise to myself that I would forgo any expectations as to how the day would evolve and just let it happen.  It was a beautiful day and I was embraced by loving friends and family.  There weren’t any parades or fanfare when I came into this world and it would be pretty silly to expect them now.

My, how much I’ve grown, how much I’ve changed, how much I’ve lived….

And yet there’s still so much more ahead.

While preparing to write this post, I came across the lululemon manifesto and was drawn to the part that read,

“This is not your practice life.
This is all there is.”

I let that resonate with me for a while and recalled times in my life when I’ve wished for a second “take”.  I promptly negotiated with the universe to give me another chance each time I had either missed an opportunity or had a less than favorable outcome to a situation.  More often than not things usually turned out to my liking but one of my biggest fears has always been taking these “do over’s” for granted and running out when I need one the most. 

A lot of thought and deep introspection revealed to me that my dependency on second chances is born from a feeling of uncertainty.  I’m finally starting to understand that:

We all learned to walk in order to get places.  Learning to confidently make choices and move forward in life shouldn’t be any different.

Just take it one step at a time.

Richard Bach once said, "We teach best what we most need to learn." and I am certainly not exempt.  Throughout the year one of my greatest wishes is to live life in a way that allows me to be open. 

Open to joy. 
Open to pain.
Open to change.
Open to success.
Open to the mistakes that I will inevitably make and
Open to the process.

With that said, I close my eyes and blow out 37 candles.

Until next time…..

Monday, August 20, 2012

Friendship Report Card: Who’s Making The Grade?

Let me ask you a question.

How would you rate the current state of your friendships?  By this I mean, if you looked at each of them individually and assessed how they make you feel would you give them a passing grade?

I commend the reader who can emphatically reply, “I have the most solid and fulfilling friendships in the world!”.   I also tip my hat to the person who says, “Hmm, I’m not sure.” because that kind of honesty isn’t always easy to face (let alone admit!).

Texting, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest (and the like) has done a lot to expand social networks in a short amount of time, so I find it ironic that so many friendships appear to be disengaging now more than ever before.   Is it due to a co-dependence on the written word as opposed to verbal ones?  Could it be a result of busy schedules and a lack of time being made for routine friendship maintenance? Perhaps our previously thriving alliances have run their course and it’s time to express gratitude  and move on.

Regardless of the reason, it seems like few of us are willing to talk about the proverbial “big pink elephant in the room” and because of this avoidance some friendships have suffered.  We don’t want to ruffle feathers, drudge up drama or risk disturbing what has worked for years.  I have to ask, if that is the case, what is your partnership really bringing to the table?

 If you can no longer relate, what’s the fate for your relationship?

A true friend doesn’t leave you feeling obligated to take their call.
When you’re in the presence of a true confidante, you won’t need to edit your story.
A true girlfriend (or “bro”, respectively) has an agenda to build you up and not break you down.

How do you define friendship and do the friends that you currently have reflect this definition?

Consider rating your friends with 1 being the lowest quality and 10 being the highest. Take a look at what’s needed to bring the 6’s, 7’s and 8’s to a 10.  Ask yourself (and maybe even the friend in question) if you’re willing to put in some effort to get it there.

As for the 1’s, 2’s, 3’s and 4’s?  Serious attention is required.  If your friendship has evolved into an acquaintance status, it might be a good idea to leave it there but keep in mind that there are some friends that are worth saving and getting back on track if it serves to benefit the well-being of the two people involved.  The choice is yours.

There are 24 hours in a day.
If you’re lucky, a minimum of 8 – 10 are spent sleeping.
Often times, another 8 – 10 are spent working.
How do you want to spend the precious few that remain?
Who do you really want to be spending them with?

I have some very dear friends that I don’t get to see as much as I would like to, but when we get together, we’re enjoying quality time that I’m happy to invest; my mind and soul are consistently, graciously and lovingly fed.  I can only hope that they feel the same and if they don’t I hope that I’m the kind of friend that they can talk to about it.

This isn’t a call to go on an “unfriend” rampage or to drastically modify your current dynamics if it doesn’t feel right.  It’s simply a reminder that the one thing that’s guaranteed in life is change and friendships aren’t excluded from this surety. 

Just a bit of food for thought.

Until next time….

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Start Fresh

Heartbreak happens when your heart goes somewhere that you’re too afraid to follow.  I’m in the mood to take the road less travelled.

I recently read something that said,” Worrying is praying for what you don't want”.  The truth found in that statement resonated deep within me. How many things have you talked yourself out of simply because you wasted time worrying about the potential outcome? 

I know. 
I’ve been there.

It’s easy to look over your shoulder and pass judgement on what you deem to be mistakes or missed opportunities in your past.   But check this out:

When you woke up this morning you were given the opportunity to start fresh.

You may not have tied up loose ends on old issues and you may not have received closure from something or someone that has kept you anchored in old stories.   Personal experience has told me that waiting until the perfect time to action things like this is just procrastination hidden under a disguise of good intent.
The unknown can feel like a scary vortex of seeming nothingness.  I battle with its power to dictate the choices I make every day.  Far too many of us seem to be terrified of living lives that don’t come with guarantees.

What will happen if you tell that special someone how you really feel?
What will change if you decide to apply for that new job with the lower pay but great potential?
How will it feel to run for ten minutes straight instead of walking for twenty?
Who will support you if you shared your secret?

I’m not sure… why don’t you find out? Take a chance on yourself and the possibility that things can turn out far better than you expected.  If it doesn't have faith that you won't break and try to look for the lesson instead of the damage.

I saw this image recently posted by Chris Guillebeau (via Buffer) and I had to share it with anyone that wants to challenge feelings of indecision.

I want you to consider how you would feel if you decided to pursue at least one of your dreams.  One little step towards the one thing that preoccupies your thoughts from time to time and makes you smile.  If the idea of actualizing it terrifies you and sends you reeling back into the comfortable entrapping of your safe existence then consider yourself signed on for a lifetime of “what ifs”.

It is my sincerest hope that you make a move towards a life less ordinary.

Until next time, friends….

Monday, August 6, 2012

What Do You Expect?

I’ve always been a “hard” kind of girl.  Work hard, play hard, love hard, fall hard…. (I’m sure you get the picture).  Things are often black or white in my world and grey has never been a hue that I’ve favoured.  The bar was set high for me to do things since I was born and the interesting part is that it was me that set the bar, not my parents.  I decided when I was ready to forgo diapers and I contributed to shameful amounts of paper waste while learning how to write my ABC’s to perfection.  I have always expected a lot from myself and that has evolved into a high expectation from other people.  My good intention for the betterment of mankind has become one of my biggest shortcomings which is why I’m trading in my expectations for a little more self-reliance and compassion.
“Anger always comes from frustrated expectations”
– Elliott Larson
When there are a lot of balls in the air and your hands are too full to juggle them, you’re presented with two choices: 

1) Delegate some juggling to someone that you trust or
2) Let the balls come crashing to the ground and deal with them later.

I think that the majority of us would be inclined to choose option number one but please take note if you are a Type-A personality such as me.  You can’t expect that people you delegate to will get the job done the same way that you would.  There’s no way that they can possibly replicate your brand of magic. They are not you and expecting them to be is just setting everyone up for failure.  This is one of the lessons that I’m learning lately because I’ve been a hot ball of anger for the past few days.  My desire to get everything done and please the masses (while admirable) has taken a toll on my resiliency and otherwise pleasant disposition.  I urgently needed to figure out what was going on, so I decided to reach out.

During a long discussion with one of my sisters, I was advised to let go of what I expect.  Her wisdom echoed that of Dennis Wholey who once said,

Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting a bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.” 

In other words, it doesn’t make much sense. Now I’m sure that there are exceptions to every rule (including this one) but in my case they were both right.  People are often trying to do the best they can with what they know and showing a little understanding to what you perceive as inadequacy can go a long way.

Our conversation forced me to review my current standards and the people that I expect things from.  A few emotional outbursts and countless tissues later, I’m beginning to see things a bit more clearly. When you’re tired or overwhelmed it’s sometimes easier to expect things from people.  It’s like opting to order takeout after a long day instead of cooking dinner. The catch is that you have to be open to what’s going to be delivered to your door.

If you’re anything like me, this can be a bit risky.  As a result, it might be best for you to just take a break, rejuvenate and get your butt in the kitchen.  If you think that you can do things better on your own, by all means do so – just don’t forget to thank the people that offer to help.

“When one's expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have”
– Stephen Hawking

I’m a creator of many things and it is my sincerest hope that I’ll become more mindful of when I am creating expectations.  I won’t beat myself up for initially having them but I will take a closer look at why they’ve been made.  Odds are after doing so; I’ll have to let them go.

Ahhhh… sweet freedom.

Until next time, friends….

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Words of Wisdom

"Life always delivers the creative energy you need to change into the new thing you must become."

~ Rob Brezsny

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Who Wants to Get Naked?

I thought that might get your attention.

I’m sitting at my desk listening to the soulful ballads of the incomparable Amy Winehouse while thinking about the long way that I’ve come in my life and how much further I want to go.  Some of my greatest lessons to date have been uncomfortable, liberating, empowering and rewarding - I wouldn’t change a thing. 

My pursuit to take life to the next level has been a slow and steady progression which has required me to peel back layers that have covered me up for years. When you live in a shell of yourself it's only a matter of time before cracks start to show in the veneer and when that happens, it's time to get naked.

 ·  Being without addition, concealment, disguise, or embellishment

My desire to reveal more of myself was born from an inherent need to better understand the mechanics of who I am (I’m a bit of a late-bloomer but better now than never…).  There’s nothing more embarrassing than when someone asks you simple questions about yourself and you stammer for an answer.  Here are a few of my faves:

What are three things that no one knows about you?
What are your biggest quirks?
Who has made the biggest impact on your life and why?
What do you consider to be your sexiest trait?

For the sake of personal sanity and development I made a choice to enrol in Me University.  In an effort to fully appreciate, accept and celebrate the woman that I’ve had the good fortune of becoming, I’ve embarked on the path to master the Art of Getting Naked.  Here's a bit of what I've learned:

Getting naked (in the context of this post) isn’t all sunshine and roses – Having all of your “not-so-great” qualities glaring and in your face can cause a different kind of pain. It requires you to call yourself out on some B.S.  about yourself that you neatly tucked away somewhere in the recesses of your mind.  While becoming up-close and personal with myself I’ve discovered that I’m a control freak, an all or nothing kind of a girl, a tad impulsive and often sensitive to a fault (just to name a few).  Instead of picking myself apart about what could be perceived as shortcomings, I’m choosing to love the fact that I’m imperfect.  Taking things a bit less seriously has dialled down a lot of the self-imposed stress in my life.

Getting naked is liberating – Imagine wearing a fur coat outside during a heat wave (ughh… I know!).  Now imagine taking it off and letting your skin finally breathe.  Feels good, right?  You probably wouldn’t even care who was looking at you because carrying around that massive bulk was making you miserable. I couldn’t agree more. Shrouding myself in the expectations of others and under my own confining ideals of who I thought I should be was bringing me down.  Showing more of who I am at heart has started to attract people and circumstances into my life that align with where I’m going.  It feels pretty damn good…

Getting naked is empowering – Eleanor Roosevelt said it best when she said, “No one can make you feel bad about yourself without your consent.”  Vulnerability kicks into high gear when you care too much about what people think and say or whethe they'll accept you once they know who you really are.  Strength is derived from knowing who you are and embracing it.  The people worth knowing will find you, I promise.

Getting naked is rewarding – When you work at it consistently enough, peeling back layers has a multitude of benefits - for yourself and others!  You may choose to start living your life a bit differently based on the things that you learn or you just might inspire someone to look within themselves simply based on the positive changes that they’ve seen from all your work.  The greatest gift for me has been the increase in my confidence.  I’m working hard and learning what I’m capable of in so many different ways.  You can’t buy that kind of self-assurance. 

I’ll wrap this up by saying that the heart and soul of me has always been around.  Those who have known and loved me for the better part of my life have seen it glimmer under the surface of self-doubt from time to time.

I can’t wait to show them what I’ve learned….

Until next time, friends.