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How to stay afloat in turbulent times

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Your vision is your beacon that guides you

Just yesterday, I had one of those moments that momentarily rocked my boat, so to speak. As some of you know, I live on Bowen Island, a small island just outside the city of Vancouver. It is a vibrant community teeming with entrepreneurs and creators. Most months I attend a mastermind meeting for women in business and what I heard at our gathering yesterday, at first caused me to tilt, but I quickly righted myself.

The topic of conversation at the moment was actually about the group itself. We were questioning if, as a group, we were clear about the purpose and vision of the group and if we were making best use of our monthly meetings. When it was suggested (by someone other than me) that we do some clarifying work around this, one of the members interjected, “I’m not going to spend two hours of my life on visioning.” I was taken aback by her comment. She didn’t want to give two hours to clarifying the purpose and vision for the group? In my Vision Program, I ask people to commit three months of their lives to clarifying their purpose, vision, and mission.

If anyone had glanced over at me in that moment, they would have seen me frozen in my chair with my eyes glazed and my mouth agape. “Well, there it is,” I thought, “people do not know how clarifying their purpose, vision, and mission directly impacts their life in a profound way.”

Of course, I understand where her comment was coming from – she is busy focused on growing her business and only has so much time in a day. I also understand that she couldn’t see how giving her short-term attention to this process would actually benefit her business and her life in the long run. It is obvious she is a woman of action. Action is great, however, if we are acting without clarity, our energy is scattered, and therefore our actions are ineffective, and thus our results are scanty. Having a clear purpose, vision, and mission is what gives our actions both power and direction. It is your reason for being, your reason “why” behind what you do. It is they way you align what you do in the world with who you really are. Alignment is the only way you can be of true value to others because when you are in alignment, you are inspired and flowing life-force energy through you, and then you actually have something to give.

It’s not news to any of you that we are living in unstable times. This is even more reason to be grounded in your purpose, to be aligned with your vision, and to be focused on your mission. It is what will keep you steady and moving forward in your life despite what is happening around you. When you have clarity about who you really are, you are not swayed by what others are doing. You do not allow the news of the day to drown you in negativity. You stay on course, true to what you are creating in the world. 

Ultimately, this is about being the captain of your own ship. If you just let the seas take you adrift, you may never find your way to fulfilling your heartfelt desires. If instead, you spend a relatively short amount of time in your life getting clear about who you are and what you want and why you want it, you then have a beacon that will continue to guide you on the course of living your inspired life.  

Don’t take action until you are inspired to act

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Inspiration comes first. Action second.

I began to write this post over a week ago. I stopped because I didn’t feel inspired. Today I feel compelled to share with you, so… here I go.

When we feel uninspired to do something, we tend to believe the solution is to apply more effort through action. We attempt to boost our energy by forcing ourselves to move, but this is operating from a state of lack – lack of desire, lack of energy, lack of ideas, lack of interest, and lack of clarity. To overcome this apathy, we goad ourselves by using motivating factors such as money or goals to incite desire, but the resulting action is short-lived. We may stick with whatever it is for a little while, but we lose interest quickly. This is the limitation of motivation. Without tapping into our true source of power, our actions are ineffective.

In contrast, when we are inspired, we are operating from a state of fullness – heartfelt desire, boundless energy, brilliant ideas, keen interest, and stunning clarity. It’s obvious that this is a much more advantageous place to engage from. Inspired action is also sustainable because as long as we maintain the feeling of being inspired, we have the energy to act.

Inspiration comes from alignment

Connection with our source of energy comes from focusing within. When we are in alignment with our inner being, we become an open channel to receive and flow energy into the manifest world. This is what it means to be inspired. We access a power that goes far beyond our singular capacity – we tap into the energy that creates worlds. When we learn how to allow this connection, we can create in our lives with much more ease and grace. All kinds of ideas occur to us, an abundance of opportunities present themselves, the right people appear, and the path ahead unfolds seemingly effortlessly.

How to align with your inner being

When you don’t feel inspired, instead of reacting with more strained effort, pause to reconnect with who you really are. You might want to:

Give yourself permission to stop being so “busy”
If you are being honest with yourself, you are aware that your constant “busy-ness” is not really achieving your desired outcomes, anyways. And if you are busy doing things you don’t really want to do, you are draining energy that you could use to do the things you truly want to do. It takes great courage, however, to stop for a while and take the time to realign, especially in a world that values doing over being. I promise you, however, if you take a breather, your life won’t fall apart. And if it does, perfect, it needed to.

Connect with your purpose, vision, and mission for your life
This is about being clear about why you are here and what is the impact you wish to have on the world. For you. Not for others, for you. You can only truly live your life for yourself, otherwise you become dependent on others for giving your life meaning. If you do that, your fulfillment will always be temporary because you have given others the power to giveth and also taketh away. When you connect with what your life is about for you, then you feel inspired and you have access to a constant stream of energy that allows you to be in generous service to others.

Understand your inherent value is not proportional to “what you are doing” in the world
Again, we live in an action-focused world that assigns value based on external measures. Does that mean if I stopped doing everything that I am no longer a worthy being? Of course not, that’s ridiculous. I am valuable, no matter what. And so are you. Liberate your activities in the world from proving your worth and simply be. Being you is the highest gift you can give to another, anyways.

Rediscover your experience of joy
Sometimes we need to do things to help remind us of our natural state of inspiration. Break away from your obligations and do only that which you truly want to do. Ask yourself what would feel good to do, not because it would result in any outcome, but simply because it would feel good. If you cannot do the things you want to do, just imagine them and allow yourself to feel good, anyways. Feeling good is the indicator of flowing energy. The more you flow, the more momentum you build, and the more inspired you feel.

Examine where you are creating resistance in your life and let it go
You can identify resistance by anywhere that you feel negative emotion. Those emotions indicate that we are blocking ourselves from receiving the natural flow of energy. Notice the thoughts are you thinking that create tension, fear, sadness, or anger. Find a way to look upon those same subjects from a different perspective that allows you to soften the resistance. The less the resistance, the more the energy flows.

Once you have done the work of aligning with your inner being, you will feel inspired. You know you are inspired when:
• You are buzzing with energy
• Ideas and opportunities are flowing to you constantly
• You want to take action, you can’t imagine not doing so
• There is genuine desire, not pretense
• Your next steps are obvious to you
• The timing feels right, you know now is the time

The next time you feel uninspired, before you jump into action, take the time to reconnect with yourself and allow the energy to flow. When you are inspired, then take action. You will be surprised and delighted by what happens.

2017 is the year of the “new story”

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Are you stuck in the loop of your old story?  

One of my indulgences over the holidays was to watch the entire season of the dramatic TV series Westworld. Wow. What a show. I love it when popular culture so closely mimics what we are experiencing in “real” life.

For those of you who haven’t watched it, the story takes place in a futuristic fictional land called Westworld, a theme park populated with lifelike androids called “hosts” who were created for the purpose of entertaining the “guests” by fulfilling their fantasies. The robots are programmed to live out the same set of events over and over for the continual stream of newly arriving guests. The robots’ memories are frequently erased so that they can repeat story loops without recollection of previous experiences. The basic premise of the show is that the “hosts” begin to become aware that the world they inhabit is not “real” and that they are living a story not of their own design. As they awaken to their own consciousness, they yearn to claim the power to create (and live) their own life.

Sound familiar? As I mentioned previously, the theme of 2016 seemed to have been “letting go of the old”. I became aware in this past year that I have been stuck in a loop of my old story. Sure, my life continued to evolve and I along with it, but I noticed I was reliving the same set of events over and over – different circumstances perhaps, sometimes with different people, but the same story. And a limited one, at that. Well, I finally awakened to the realization that it is time for a dramatic evolution of my own story. As a result, I have birthed new bigger and bolder desires for my life. Also as a result, I have become an expanded version of myself who is excited and prepared to live it. The theme of my new story for 2017 is: 

Let it be easy. 

Sounds simple enough, right? One would think. However, it holds two practices that are newer to me: allowing and ease. Until recently, I was convinced that what I desired – joy, prosperity, adventure – only appeared through the pathway of struggle and hard work. Bah. What a crappy old story. My belief in struggle and hard work created nothing but lack, fear, resistance, and exhaustion. Like I said, a crappy old story. My new story is that I will ease my way to joy. I will enjoy my way to prosperity. I will allow all that I desire to flow to me. And the whole time I will have fun. WAY better story. I’ll let you know how it goes.

What is your new story?

So how about you? What is the old story that you are going to shed like an outworn skin? What is the new story that you are going to embrace with all of your heart and your being? You have the power to create any story you desire. Are you deliberately creating the life you want to live? Are you allowing yourself to experience the grandest, most expanded version of what’s possible for you?

Let 2017 be the year of your new story.

I’m saying goodbye

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2016 was a doozy of a year, wasn’t it?  

We are not quite at the end of it yet, but wow, it has been intense. Many people have been through life-changing ordeals, myself included. If I were to summarize the theme of 2016 it would be “letting go of the old”. How your year went is likely a reflection of how willing you were to let go of that which no longer serves you.

We are sometimes aware of how we perpetuate limiting stories of who we are. What we are not always aware of is how pervasive these thought patterns actually are. Throughout this past year, I couldn’t help but notice. Any negativity or disparaging self-talk, usually a subtle background hum, became as obvious as having a leaf blower in my face. 

Like most everyone else, I had some aspects of my life that were not going well. The patterns were familiar to me. I had been dealing with these blocks in one way or another as long as I could remember, but this year they reached a critical point. If something didn’t change, there were going to be dire circumstances. As I focused my attention on my “problems”, I was still approaching them with the same consciousness as I had before, meaning I was not shifting my perspective. When you direct more energy towards anything, it grows larger, so not only was my situation not changing, in actuality, it kept getting worse, which increased my fear until the stress became unbearable. I knew I had to find a way to shift my consciousness, but I was afraid that if I released the tenuous grasp I had on the circumstances in my life, I would lose everything. And what happens when you send more water towards a dam without opening a relief valve? Yep, it breaks. I finally reached my own breaking point.

I awoke in the middle of the night, alone, frozen with terror – the muscles of my throat had seized shut due to the stress and I couldn’t breathe. The only way I could receive life-giving air was to let everything go. Everything. My thoughts. My fears. My hopes. My dreams. My home. My relationships. My finances. My business. I prepared myself to have nothing. I entered a state of complete surrender. That night, as I lay awake in the hospital bed (yes, I did call 911 for help and yes, I am aware of the symbolism) gazing at the ceiling, I realized I already and always have the ONLY thing that matters – my relationship with myself. In that knowing, I became free.

Although this situation was overly dramatic, it provided the catalyst for the shift I needed. In one fell swoop I let go of my old state of consciousness and embraced a new perspective. These are some of the new thoughts I’ve been thinking lately:

I give myself permission to enjoy life.

As my situation was deteriorating over the year, for a while I was still able to laugh. Eventually, however, my negative thoughts crept in and I allowed guilt to erode my joy. I questioned myself, “Who was I to be in such a difficult situation and still enjoying life?” So I stopped. What a mistake. I learned that I cannot be miserable enough to change the circumstances of my life for the better. So I went back to enjoying life, even when it is a sh*t show. 

I can feel good without needing to change the conditions of my life.

We are habituated to think that if we can just change the circumstances of our lives (e.g. to be in better health, to have more money, etc.), then we will feel good. The problem with this is that our feeling good becomes subject to the external conditions of our life, over which we have little control. What we do have control over is how we feel. After that night, the external circumstances of my life had not changed, yet I felt a lightness of being within because I had shifted my focus. As long as I maintain connection with my inner being, I feel good, conditions be what they may.

I am willing and able to receive.

One of the blocks I had been facing was my inability to receive. Receptivity requires us to be in an open, allowing state of being. The existence of any resistance in our thoughts and in our bodies limits our ability to receive. The visceral memory of my closed throat is enough to remind me how life-giving it is to remain open. To receive we must let go. Relax. It’s okay, the Universe has got your back. And mine.

I trust I am fully supported by the Universe.

I had been depleting myself trying to figure out how what to do to make my situation better. I learned that not only do I not have to “do it all myself”, I don’t have to “do it” at all. We live in a responsive and equitable Universe. It is such a relief to know that there is a much more powerful engine at work behind the scenes, an engine that is not my job to operate. My job is to focus on where I’m going, the Universe will supply the pathway to get me there. This makes life a whole lot easier.

I expect good things to come to me with ease.

I had also propagated the belief that good things only come to me through hardship and struggle. Ha! Guess what I created in my life? Well, I learned this couldn’t be further from the truth. The harder I worked to overcome obstacles, the worse things got. When I finally did let go – when I stopped trying to control or manipulate the circumstances of my life – was when what I wanted began to flow to me with ease. Once I discovered how easy it can be, I wouldn’t expect it to be any other way.

I am worthy.

Almost everyone maintains some version of a story about their “not-enoughness”. Typically, an event happens when we are young that causes us to develop a belief we are “less than” and if left unchecked, eventually we adopt this story as truth. But it’s a lie. For most of my life, because of my “not-enough” story, I tried to prove my worth through my work. I hoped that if only I could offer something of real value to the world, then my life would be deemed worthy. The catch is this requires external validation and there is no one who can ever proclaim our worthiness, only we can do that for ourselves. I finally recognized there is nothing I need to do to prove my worthiness, the mere fact that I exist is enough. I exist. I am worthy. That’s it. There’s no more story than that. 

Abundance is a natural state.

When I began to notice, really notice, the abundance of the world we live in, it became ridiculous to believe anything else was natural. First, I began with awareness of my own abundance, which seemed to be most prevalent in the form of lack. I had an ever-growing lack of energy, a lack of ease, and a corresponding lack of enjoyment of life. I also had an abundance of frustration and stress. Then I noticed the abundance of desirable things in my life – love, creativity, a supportive community, natural beauty, and adventure. Finally, I moved onto bigger things that I had been taking for granted – more than enough air to breath, more than enough opportunities for a variety of life experiences, and more stars in the night sky than I could ever count. If we remove ourselves long enough from the tiny bubbles we occupy in our minds, it is apparent that abundance abounds.  

I act from a state of inspiration only.

When we are experiencing circumstances we don’t want in our life, our tendency is to move into action to compensate for or to overcome our disadvantage. However, when we act from a place of fear, lack, or doubt, we create more circumstances that reaffirm our fear, lack, and doubt. Instead we are better served to act from a state of inspiration. Inspiration is the combination of all of the above factors. As we maintain our connection with our inner being, we feel good and stay receptive. In our open state we receive guidance in the form of energy and ideas – what to create, who to talk to, where to go, what are our next steps. Through believing our own worthiness and the inherent abundance of the Universe, we trust that what we are being guided to is the fulfillment of our heart’s true desires. We may not know where we will end up, but heck, it will be an amazing journey along the way.

Goodbye, 2016… Hello, the rest of our lives

We can cry because 2016 happened or smile because it’s (almost) over, however, I don’t believe the intensity is going to end as we move into 2017. More expansive energy will continue to flow into our beingness, which is a blessing, the question is where will we direct this energy? Will we continue to rehash, and thus, relive the old, limited stories of who we once believed ourselves to be or will we create new, empowered stories that allow for the ever-evolving journey of who we are becoming?

I know I’m looking forward to looking forward. See you there!

The life lesson I learned from writing a breakfast blog

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It all started with a trip to New York City. During my travels, I visited a number of restaurants that specialized in my favourite meal of the day – breakfast! NYC excelled in this arena. I revelled in the broad spectrum of breakfasting from hole-in-the wall joints to greasy spoon diners to modern comfort food cafés to fine-dining restaurants. These episodes caused me to bemoan the lack of places dedicated to the morning repast in my home city of Vancouver.

When I returned home, I would complain to anyone who had the misfortune to listen, “There’s nowhere to eat breakfast in Vancouver.” Until one day it occurred to me that I hadn’t even really looked. I decided to challenge myself and the city of Vancouver to a breakfast adventure and then blog about it.

Each weekend, I would search out a new place to eat breakfast. With regard to my blog, I made a decision right from the beginning: I would only write about the aspects of my experiences that I enjoyed. My reasons behind this were less altruistic and more self-serving than I want to admit. I had chosen to write the blog anonymously because, at the time, I was also a student of a holistic nutrition program. I felt self-conscious amongst my peers to be promoting a blog about eating sausages and syrup-drenched pancakes, even though those foods brought me such joy. (Eventually I moved passed this limitation in my own beliefs, thank goodness.) But because I chose to hide my identity, I felt it unfair to present any negative commentary via the internet. My beliefs maintained that if I wanted to be critical, then I must also be willing to put my name in front of my words. And really, there were already enough people who were restaurant “critics”. So my intention was not to offer my opinion, it was simply to share my adventures. I did not then comprehend the impact this decision would have on my life.

For seven years, I ventured out into Vancouver (and other cities I visited occasionally) and, in total, I breakfasted at 247 different restaurants. That’s a lot of pancakes. It was also extraordinary fun. I eagerly anticipated each new experience and appreciated the creativity of the menus, the variety of decor, and the bounty of friends who joined me on the journey. My determination to look for positive aspects of my experiences netted me some interesting observations. The most important being that the more I remained steadfast in my stance, the more positive experiences presented themselves for me to observe. In other words, when I expected good things to happen – good things happened!

Here’s what else I noticed: my reporting of mostly positive aspects bothered some people. Some of the comments I received can be summarized as, “Umm, love your blog, but, really? Do only good things happen to you? It seems as though you are not telling the whole story.” I was rebuked for having a Pollyanna approach to breakfast. It was more acceptable to expect bad things to happen. I’m not going to pretend undesriable things didn’t occur. Sure, I had some bland food. Yes, I was the recipient of some lousy service. Yeah, every now and then the floor was sticky. But my point is that I gave so little attention to these things, that they did not become significant as part of my life experience. The more I focused on what I enjoyed, the more enjoyment I received.

My takeaway from this fable is this: what we pay attention to is what we experience. So if we want more good things to happen, the key is to celebrate what good things do happen, anticipate even more, and ignore the rest. What is the life experience you are creating for yourself? Are you expecting good things to happen? Go on, set your sights on magnifying joy and just see what comes into your life. And remember, if you are going to eat those pancakes – savour every bite. Anything eaten in a state of joy only brings more.