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.

Nourishing your “life” deficiency

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I was surprised it had come to this. After years of working intensively to grow my business, I had become depleted. I was concerned as my business is to help people create their inspired work, yet I was feeling uninspired. I needed to address what was lacking in my life.

For the majority of my time, I work alone in my home office on beautiful Bowen Island, an oasis just off the coast of the city of Vancouver. It is a luxury for which I feel fortunate, but sometimes I long to be around the energy of other people. So every now and then I wander over to my local pub to do some of my strategizing. This particular afternoon was one of those times.

I was sitting at my favourite table near the window with my head down, scribbling in my notebook until the smell of sweet potato fries being delivered to the next table caught my attention. I looked up and commented, “Those smell good.” The gentleman who had ordered them kindly offered to share them with me. I said, “Oh, no thanks, I have them often.” “You live here?” he asked. I replied, “Yes, are you visiting?” He was here from Edmonton. As we continued our conversation, inevitably we began to discuss our work.

He was here on a “working” vacation as a folk musician recording an album with a local music producer. He had made the decision only recently to embrace his dream of being a musician. I was delighted to hear his story as I am an encourager of people living their dreams. In turn, I told him about my work and how I help people figure out who they are and what they have to offer the world. He was keen to know more.

He pointed at my notebook and asked me what I had been working on before we started talking. I admitted that I had been dreaming up what I wanted the next year of my life to be like and number one on my list was adventure! I confessed I had been so immersed in my business for years that I had begun to feel as though I was missing out on actually living in the world. This lack had resulted in a voracious craving for playing outside and having outdoor adventures. He commented that I must have had an “adventure” deficiency. We laughed about it being similar to a nutrient deficiency. Our bodies wisely know what it is we are missing and create a desire for the very thing we need to replenish ourselves. Having my head “in the books”, so to speak, created an imbalance in my life, and to compensate, my whole being had been yearning for what I had been missing.

To feel inspired again, I needed to integrate what was lacking into my work. I decided to create a series of workshops to focus on both the inner work of inspired living while also playing in the great outdoors. This is what is brilliant about one’s inspired work. It is the work that can evolve to meet your needs as they change. By finding a way to fulfill my own desires in my work, I was able to nourish the deficiency and replenish my joy for life.

Are you aware of there being something missing in your life? Friends? Community? Play? Money? Family? Love? What can you do to nourish your deficiency and incorporate more of it into your life and your work? Let us know in the comments below.

Are you being self-centred enough?

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Yes, it does seem counterintuitive, but true service happens when we are willing to meet our own needs first. Otherwise, we are serving others to “get” fulfillment instead of to “give” our gifts freely without expectation of anything in return.

In this video, I talk about how you can be in true service to others by allowing yourself to be self-centred enough to meet your own needs.

Question: Are you willing to let go of needing others so that you can be in true service?

The real reason people hate their jobs

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Most of us have jobs that are too small for our spirits.
~ Studs Terkel

Before I started my current business, I was working in a profession I grew to despise. It didn’t start out that way. In the beginning, I loved much about it – the learning curve, the creative aspects, and the people I collaborated with. But over time, I felt increasingly constrained by my work.

According to a variety of public opinion research, it is reported that anywhere from 50 to 80% of employees have some high level of dissatisfaction with their jobs. We don’t need an official report to tell us this, however, if we just talk to the people we know, we find out the same information.

In my current work, 100% of the people I serve are dissatisfied with their jobs. Of course, the reason for that statistic is because what I do is help people discover their inspired work and they are only coming to me because they have been unhappy in their job. After years of working with people struggling with this same problem, I have been able to distill it down to one reason why anyone hates their job:

Their job doesn’t allow for the full expression of who they really are.

If our jobs do not provide the opportunities to express our full selves, then we will never be satisfied. We tend to forget we are expansive beings. As we move through life, our experiences grow us, but if our job is unable to evolve with us, eventually we will outgrow it. If we attempt to continue in the same limited role, it will be restrictive.

In my situation, at first I blamed the work itself for my angst. With the benefit of hindsight, I now understand that the work wasn’t the problem, it was how I was choosing to show up in my work. It was easy to hide behind my desk, churn out projects, and complain about doing other people’s bidding. It was less easy to take responsibility for the fact that it wasn’t them holding me back, it was me who was choosing to play small.

When I was quiet enough to listen, I heard a voice inside of me whispering, “You have more to give. You have a message to share. There is something for you to create.” But because I didn’t know what this “more” was, I tried to ignore my inner guidance. We all know that never goes well.

Inevitably for me, playing small became suffocating. My inaction led to depression. I was desperate to free myself from my self-imposed shell, but I still didn’t know what my “more” was. I did know that to ever have a sense of fulfillment in my work, it needed to incorporate more of who I was. At that time I only had a dim awareness of the totality of my being, so I embarked on an inner journey of discovery to find out.

It took several long years to come to clarity about what I had to give and the message I wanted to share. It took even longer to bring my inspired work into the world. The satisfaction I receive from doing work now that makes best use of my gifts is tremendous. Inspired work is about more than just being satisfied, however. It is the work that allows you to express the fullness of who you really are. It is a dynamic container for sharing yourself with the world, and as you continue to expand as a being, your work grows with you.

The next time you find yourself hating your job, ask yourself where you are playing small. Give yourself permission to expand and bring more of who you are into the world through your work. When you do, I would then like to poll you on your level of job satisfaction. I bet you would change the statistics.

Before you say yes to more formal education

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Most people go about formal education a little bit backwards. Many choose a course of education in the hopes that it will clarify their career path. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen. First, you need to discover the work you are here to create and then choose education that supports you in the development of your work.

Question: Are you choosing education from a place of clarity and knowing what you want?