Grounding, Happiness, Learning, Lifestyle Design, Personal Development, Spirituality

How to Become a Better Human Being.

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Book Club, Creativity, Grounding, Happiness, Learning, Lifestyle Design, Mental health, Personal Development, Spirituality

Design your Own Parental Leave

wildflower (1)Welcome back from the long weekend, everybody!

A thought for you to meditate on today, as you go about your day.

Story telling versus story making.

Think about where you want to be in 5 years.  Are there changes you want?  I’m guessing the answer is YES.

So let me ask you this:  Will that future version of yourself, living that future life, still be walking around telling the same stories about yourself?  The world?  The way things are going?

Will you get there if you keep telling all of those old stories, that keep you where you are today? 

Or is it time to start writing some new ones?  How can you shift a little bit of your day?  Your thinking? The way you talk about yourself? What you commit to doing with a friend this week?  Start writing some new sentences.

It’s your story. Take the plot where you want it to, but remember to pick up the pen first.

Xo

Carina

 

Free Life Coaching Guides, Happiness, health coaching, Learning, Life Hacks, Lifestyle Design, Mental health, Personal Development, Spirituality, Working Mom

What Does a Life Coach Actually Do? Ask Me Anything about Life Coaching.

www.trajectorycoaching.org
Carina Huggins

Carina Huggins

BA, MSS, ACC, MBTI®

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I was chatting with someone the other day about being a professional coach, and they said to me, “so basically you listen to people’s problems and give advice?”

I stopped and thought about that for a moment. The answer that I gave?

“No, actually I don’t do either of those.” Hardly the reply my acquaintance was expecting.

We were having coffee, so there was time to explain.

I wanted to share this question tonight, because it was an opportunity to both clarify the art and science of coaching and address a common misperception. Two birds with one stone.

There are so many definitions of ‘coaching’ out there. Yes, there are some out there who solve problems, give advice and act in a consultant model (which are certainly excellent models) but what is it like with a professionally certified ICF coach?

Let me tell you, because it is an interesting distinction.

I don’t ‘listen’ to my client’s problems.

In fact, the actual problem doesn’t sweep me up the way it does for a client. Though I listen with my ears, as a coach, it is not serving you if I dive right in with you to the story and resonate with it, body mind and soul. When a client is working with a problem, they are swimming in it. I like the analogy of choppy water on a lake – A client is paddling, working hard, staying afloat, solving the problem, coming up for a gasp, and then another problem arises… from the same exact lake.

It’s not easy swimming in choppy water. A client’s problem can easily take up an entire coaching hour, and it is up to the coach to respect the client’s needs and goals for a session, have them know we truly hear them, but also know when it is time to gently guide them out of the water, and have them wade onto the shore. From the shore, together a coach and client can examine the entire lake from an outside perspective.

Coaching is like finally deciding to clamber out and sit on the shore after battling the waves. I always tell potential clients that they must be able and willing to step into the mode of “a human simply being” and approach things with curiosity and an open mind. To be with themselves and be with the coaching process. Be willing to put some things into practice and be willing to stay accountable. If they stay in “human busily doing” mode with a strong desire for benchmarks, outcomes, a fixation on the goals, they are basically out there still swimming in the lake, just harder and faster. They won’t trust me enough to come sit on the shore beside me. They won’t develop trust in the relationship or go dive deep in session.

But back to the lake…

I am not listening to my client’s problem. I am listening with my ears to a client and their problem, yes but I am listening on several other levels, as well. I am watching the subtle shifts in body language, eye contact, gestures and posture. I am quite literally feeling the energetic shifts in a conversation and the associated moods and emotions. A client doesn’t have to tell me when they move into sadness or happiness in a story, the change in the air and energy of a room is palpable. I may offer this as a gentle observation to deepen awareness and context of the discussion, particularly if we are working not just on a conversation and logic level, but an emotional and intuitive level.

As I listen to a client, I am not listening to their problem. I am listening to the person behind the problem. The helpful beliefs, the harmful beliefs, the statements that shut down future possibility, the statements that open it up. The vast background of emotions, moods, experiences, and beliefs that have made this neutral event in this person’s life a problem for them that is keeping them from where they want to be.

And giving advice? Nope. Definitely not that either.

I don’t give advice in a coaching session.

After 3000 coaching sessions, I know for a fact, that the only true expert, the only content matter expert in that specific client’s life is themselves. Only they know precisely where they truly want to be, and only they truly know why their ‘right now’ is not doing it for them. I don’t have to wake up with them every day. They have to wake up with themselves every day for the rest of their lives. I think about this all of the time, because I really appreciate how profound that statement is.

It is a catalyst for ownership, responsibility and accountability in clients. Try it yourself. Write on a post-it note, “I will wake up with you tomorrow, and every morning for the rest of my life. Love, me.”

Giving advice doesn’t result in someone crossing the bridge from where they are to where they want to be. It simply gives them a brief glimpse of the other side, described by someone else. They don’t see how amazing it is.

What makes someone walk over to the other side of the bridge and truly step into their new life, finally take action and get results? Well, I can tell you it is not advice giving.

I cannot walk that bridge for them and shout out from the other side “It is amazing over here you should join me! Just start walking!” (by the way, a lot of coaches do this.)

However, I can walk alongside a client over that bridge. As we step over the cobble stones together we co-create what the other side looks like. We partner in helping the client gain perspective, awareness, clarity and choice. And when they get halfway over the bridge and slow down or perhaps move backward, we can deepen practices, accountability and move deeper to remove final blocks that have held them back all these years. When you are moving forward, you develop ways to move forward, but you also develop ways to fight the urge to move backward, to where you came from. To safety. Security. Familiarity.

This is another important piece of coaching; the call of safety, security, familiarity is strong. It is literally wired into the brain. As a client moves into new possibilities for their life and new opportunities, the brain will use its best tools to convince a client to return to where they were. Coaching is a dynamic process and this bump in the road shows up in different ways depending on the client. Recommitment to the original problem and way of thinking, with even more passion, rescheduling a session or a lot of “I don’t know”s in a session. These to me are not obstacles but opportunities. It’s an exciting indicator they are moving well along the bridge and the best work is about to happen.

I don’t give advice.

In fact, you are giving me advice on your life, where you want to be and how it is going to happen, and why you need help. I’m asking you LOTS of questions precisely so that you are in that place of giving me advice on you. I’m simply a highly invested partner on this journey of YOU believes you’ll get there and sees how that is possible (even if you don’t yet.)

The moment you step out of yourself and take that outside observer approach you’ll find yourself stopping mid-sentence and realizing what you’ve just said – then, you’ll realize the incongruency of what you just said with what your future life is supposed to be.

And then you’ll look away, perhaps sip at your coffee and I’ll thoroughly enjoy that moment, because it is a magical one. When it comes to a client having a true moment of insight, or an “ah hah moment” I know at that moment, whatever has been seen in your inner perspective cannot be unseen.

I am here as a confidential, supportive, professional partner in your journey. I’m here to have the conversations that you don’t get to have with anyone else, that dive deep inside to who you are as a human being. Unlike therapeutic or clinical approaches (healing, recovery, issue resolution) my time is spent focusing on your elevation, enhancement and growth.

Coaching is an evolutionary, forward facing process. We have all of the information in the world to get us to where we want to go, but we don’t, do we? And that is what coaching focuses on. It gets us there, and then acts as a catalyst for flashes of insight which will ensure you’ll never see anything the same way again and you won’t go back to old patterning or beliefs.

On a personal note, I think that at this time in our lives, we are all in deep need of deeper conversation, deeper connection and more engagement with who we really are. In the 2018 world of humans doing, we all desperately want to be recognized and engaged with as humans being. We are deep. We are growing, and evolving and going through massive shifts. We want someone to bear witness, to support, and be a partner in this process. We should have someone who can be that. It is tragic to experience this rich evolution in this lifetime and not share it with anyone, collaborate with anyone or use our experiences in turn to serve others.

Maternity leave for me has been the CRAZIEST personal growth, evolution, awakening.  Truly on body, mind, intellect, soul, spirit, love – on all of those levels I was cracked wide open, rebuilt and vastly different (in a good way.) Early parenthood is an accelerated growth incubator and it is a gift in that ALL of the above is revealed to you.  It is a wild ride, and I engaged with a coach during it, because I wanted to make sure I was clear on my dreams, the life I wanted for my fam, and wanted to let a few self limiting beliefs go.  I also worked with a psychologist to heal some old wounds, and endeavoured to undertake a variety of “great maternity leave projects” to keep my focus forward facing and fun!

Amidst the surface level day-to-day life of humans doing, we are all hopping online to have deep conversations, listen to podcasts, read books and learn. Have you noticed the explosion in podcasts, following shortly on the explosion of blogs? We are all humans being – yet we do it silently, and alone.

In my gratitude practices (5 minute journal format) I often note down the internet – I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to write and share and express my own deep internal worlds.  Motherhood can be lonely, I have a 3 hour window where all of my three kids are happy and awake (9-12) and then they turn into pumpkins and it’s go home for nap time.  Did I mention I work full time? So there’s very little time (and sacred space) to dive deep into these conversations.  I don’t think it’s our fault that we mothers are left scraping the surface of connection with surface level conversations.  We don’t have the time and space to go there, yet.  But, when in just a few years, that place will open up again we will have SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT.

But in the meantime, I think it’s really, really important to talk now, endeavor to grow, enjoy the journey and have a partner in the process.

For a long time, I didn’t want to because of my own limiting beliefs and reference points, which I worked through and overcame with a coach. I can feel my old mind saying “Carina, this is a really long post and it’s way too personal” but my new mind says, you have a choice in whether to believe that or not, and you no longer do. You know the way to move forward is to share your deepest thoughts and insights and help people understand the profession.

I am here writing precisely because I decided to collaborate with a coach to dive into my deeper internal worlds and clarify where I wanted to go. I am eternally thankful for the rapid evolution and elevation it set me on.

I hope you enjoyed this deeper dive into the coaching profession. I write these from a totally authentic viewpoint of someone who was unsure what it was, went through being coached, and then became an Associate Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation.

I enjoy writing these because I enjoy sharing human stories and help people understand we are all connected and growing together.

To become a coach isn’t to figure it all out instantly, in fact, most coaches are on their own *fun* ( because it’s what they love to do) evolutionary paths. Every day they work through the same thing their clients do. Gaining some tools and insights, reframing, shifting their perceptions, priming their state, practicing awareness and choice. Even the greats like Tony Robbins or Oprah Winfrey do this. Every day.

If you are interested in gaining the tools, shifting your axis and a partner to work with the big shifts and evolution in your life, you are most welcome to shoot me a message.

And do leave a comment if this lands with you – or even better if you have an additional insight to offer that this sparked for you! Reading articles and engaging with others in the comments, let me tell you, has been (and still is) a fundamental part of my own growth path. My mission is to now serve others in their own growth.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Journey, Happiness, Mental health, Nature, Spirituality

How to Release the Grip of Grief and Sadness and Elbow Falls After the Flood

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On the weekend my husband, kids and I took a family friend out to see Bragg Creek and Elbow Falls.  It was a brilliant day out, filled with nature exploring and the joy inherent in watching people experience Kananaskis country for the first time.

With tired toddlers and growling stomachs, we decided to make one last stop at Elbow Falls before driving back into Calgary.

It is a powerful place for my husband and I.

This is where my firefighter husband recovered his first body.  As family cried, a helicopter pulled a body bag out of the frothing water below.

This is where I fell completely in love with the mountains, at the age of 10.

I was newly arrived in Canada. Elbow Falls is the first ‘mountains’ experience I had.  It is where my soul realized its LOVE for the mountains. I was obsessed with this spot. Every year for my birthday, my parents would ask me what I wanted and all I wanted to do was ‘be’ at Elbow Falls.  I just wanted to return there.  The forest.  The mountains.

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I can’t help but think, that nature offers us some pretty powerful experiences in the most unexpected moments.  Very often, to be in nature is to access our most pure form of ourselves.  Let me share with you a deeply personal experience and a ‘pivot’ in my own mindset.

We all know on some level that in nature, we depart from the churning thoughts of our day to day life.  Somewhere in nature, where we are swept up in simply being with the rich life around us, and using our bodies and senses, we quiet that helpful but irritating thing called the mind.

You see, we aren’t just lollipops… we are not stick bodies with giant lollipop heads that rule everything.

To be human is NOT just having a brain.  As a human you also own an emotional landscape, a physical landscape *and* that thinking landscape.  We move in and out of each domain all the time, and have our preferred ‘homes.’  Here’s a great diagram that explains it.  This is a model I use often with clients.

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So hold that model in your mind.  I’ll attempt to combine a nature experience with life coaching and personal story.

In 2013 there was a large flood.  Our city was underwater and our waterways were ravaged, even up in the mountains.

The great flood of 2013 changed the Elbow Falls of my childhood, which involved a large forested area with picnic tables and paths.  The river was adjacent to these lovely picnic sites and the falls were quite spectacular.

I hadn’t been back to Elbow Falls since the flood and I was quite floored to see how much the landscape had changed.  The picnic tables, forested paths of my youth were entirely swept away.  In there place was a huge flood plain strewn with rocks.

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Even the shape of the falls had completely changed.

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It was absolutely wild.  The only things that were similar were the large slabs of rock adjacent to the falls.  Even those had been pounded into a softer shape by the flood.

The forest I walked through as a child doesn’t exist anymore.

On Sunday, the reality in front of me was entirely different from the mists of my childhood memories.

Symbolically, that flood had washed away not only a forest but a piece of my childhood

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I couldn’t help but think how this has meaning in my life, in so many ways.  I wanted to touch on the insight this day had on GRIEF.

I used to spend a lot of time at Elbow Falls with my mum.  My mum is no longer in the physical dimension. She passed away during that great flood.

As I walked along the river with my baby, toward an old rock with special meaning, this hit me, I could feel emotion rising up within me.  It was coming. Oh shit.

You see, I used to deny myself emotion. I used to lock that shit up, push it back down and continue on my merry way. I learnt to do it from the environment I grew up in, the people around me. It was compounded by experiences were negative judgements and disapproval were laid on me if I showed emotion.  Hell, even society doesn’t want a crier, does it? Plus, our old primordial brain gets a bit stressed out and upset when we cry. It goes into fear and survival mode.  It screams at us:

NO! NOPE!  Distract.  Find pleasure.  BUFFER AGAINST THIS BAD FEELING (alcohol, food, whatever you like to use.)  Avoid this situation again (!)

I could feel it chattering.  I kept walking.

There was a very large slab of rock, upriver from the falls with special meaning. I was approaching it with a tidal wave rising inside of me. My mum and I used to sit on that rock.  From the age of 10 to 29 that rock has hosted a lot of memories.

I approached, heart in my throat.

It is still there, but everything around it is different. I clambered up and sat on the rock holding my baby, and my eyes began to prickle and sting.  I decided I couldn’t do backward counting anymore.  I can’t fake things anymore. I can’t deny my own emotions. I was just going to let go and go with it.

I haven’t had a grief burst in a long time.  I call them grief bursts because the sadness comes in like a cloud. It covers the sun and you can smell the rain coming.

The tears begin to flow, like a brief rainstorm.  But then, the cloud passes and the sun shines again.

Through much work, I have understood how to embrace grief and let it pass by me in this manner, like a quick rain shower, and move back into peace just as quickly. This took some deep work with a psychologist but it was well worth it. I recommend it to anyone who is still struggling with the long, pervasive grip of grief, to anyone who wants to just loosen its grip and get glimpses of sun.  Eventually you will live in beautiful sunny days with only the occasional rainstorm, and even then you’ll look up, hold your hand out and casually say “ah just a few drops, it will pass by quickly.”

I’ve learnt that emotions are like the weather. Ever-shifting, especially in Calgary (!) All of them are necessary, and a part of being human – but they do not control us.  They don’t have to control how we think, act, show up and live our lives. They are not permanent.

However, so many of us choose to make them permanent.  See the word I used there? CHOOSE.  We have a CHOICE.

Over the last few years I’ve CHOSEN to embrace grief as a passing weather event.  Even when I didn’t fully believe it, I chose to practice this approach with the faith that eventually something woud shift.  It did.

In 2018 I don’t deny myself grief and ironically, by opening my arms to it with loving kindness, it doesn’t return as often, or stay as long.

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Sitting on the rock, I thought about how I don’t fight life anymore.

I don’t avoid the hard and chase the easy anymore.

Pleasure must coexist with pain.  The only place things will be perfect, is in heaven, and to be honest, I don’t want to go to heaven yet, I have too much stuff to do here 🙂

Man did I cry my eyes out on that rock. I felt the feels. I felt my mums hand holding mine.  I cried for everything that had been washed away in that flood. I cried with the realization I am in a different place and time now, and life is always shifting and whatever else came up in that grief burst.

I cried as I felt the physical loss of my mum (though she was very much present right there in my heart that day.) . The last time I had sat on that rock was  with her, in the Autumn of 2012. We sat on that rock and pondered life.  Though we didn’t talk about dying. we did circle the topic by talking about having a purpose in life.  how a time stamp provides crystal clarity and purpose.  That she knew and had realized its about love and human connection and that all of us, ALL of us just want to be loved and accepted and appreciated and the best thing we can do is BE that loving, accepting, non judgemental person.

Gah.

ALL of that flowed through me like a little video loop in my minds eye.

That was hard.  But with great challenge comes great reward. 

Like a thunderstorm, a burst of emotion releases the pressure in our internal atmosphere and we return to normality

There is always a quiet place, where we feel at peace after big emotions.  if we can stop judging ourselves and let ourselves be with our emotions, we will just as quickly move back into peace.  We also have to practice noticing that peaceful place after an emotion burst. We can’t just become aware.  We have to practice it.

Driving back from Elbow Falls that afternoon, (my baby sleeping in the back after all that fresh mountain air) I was at peace.  When I got out of my car at the house 45 minutes later, I was not only peaceful, but I was back.

The sun was shining again, I was happy again.

Coaching helps us embrace emotions, and give them the room to flow through us, and out of us. We can gain this understanding and then practice it, and reflect on moments like the above with someone.  We can learn to shut down our brain and all of that irritating chatter and assessments that happen when we’re just trying to experience being human.  The brain and ego is not kind, and you know what, when I am crying, the last thing I need is a lack of kindness. I need loving empathy.  From myself.  Not judging from my ego.  So, you gain the ability to ignore that part.  Then, eventually, it gets the point and lets you do your emotional thing.

it is our job as a human to just be, to be with those emotions, to let them happen.

You can sit and read this blog, gain this coaching tool, but I encourage you to practice it.  When the next moment of grief or sadness arises, choose to embrace it with loving kindness.  Let it run its course.  Take the time to close down your thoughts and judgments around it.  Tell your own brain, “not now ego, it’s not about you. I’m going to experience this with love and kindness and NO judgement, so STFU.”

I invite you to do something different.  See what emerges.  If you do something different from what you’ve done before, I can guarantee you’ll get different results.

Einstein said it perfectly:

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Letting things happen on Sunday naturally, and then embracing a different way to go about things, really landed all of this home.

I cried on a rock at Elbow Falls and permanently changed.  I can’t go back now.

I can’t ‘unsee’ my new awareness.

Today I can officially declare, Grief doesn’t have a hold on me anymore.

I know it is simply a moving cloud in the sky of life.

Just like the sun must shine, the rain must fall.

But nothing is permanent.

The landsape of the Elbow Falls of my childhood was not permanent.

My mums life was not permanent.

I am not permanent.

My sadness on that rock was not permanent.

My way of seeing the world is not permanent.

Go with the flow.  Embrace that impermanence of everything.

This is a key teaching of Buddhism. Of life coaches. Of universal laws.

I just like to take these things and apply them and practice them in real life and then share what it’s like.

Know that we are always changing and evolving to a higher version of ourselves and this is a key practice to add to your toolkit on your ever-unfolding journey. 

I hope you’ll join me on this journey.

xo Carina

Grounding, Happiness, health coaching, Mental health, Personal Development, Physical Wellness, Sleep, Spirituality

What I’ve Learnt from Five Years of Meditating – Moms who Meditate

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My husband and I are always game for a challenge, and last month when my car was stolen, we saw it as a fun opportunity to try and get by with one car for a month. We enjoy challenges like this.  It definitely has been interesting and challenged us in many ways, most notably logistically.  You become an expert at logistics when you have 5 people going in 5 directions and one car between all of you, and you’re trying to get back into work after a year’s mat leave and you’re both kind of spontaneous people.   But I digress.  That’s another blog post entirely.

The reason I mentioned this though, is because it provides a bit of background for why I have had so much time for meditation lately:  I’ve been taking an hour-long train ride to work and am back on the meditation train (pun intended.)

Each time I get on the train, I excitedly open my favourite app, Insight.  I first downloaded the Insight meditation app last year and it was the third app I tried after Headspace, which I still love and use for my kids, and Calm, which I didn’t love.  Calm just didn’t catch on for me.

I enjoy the fun of hunting for and saving new meditations with different voices, approaches, topics and lengths.  Insight is like the facebook of meditation where you can follow people, and do meditations based on how much time you have, topics or even styles. You can follow people, or save individual meditations. I have a stash of meditations saved in my bookmark folder, and I choose them based on what I need.

Lately I’ve needed to ground myself and simply feel peaceful amidst a ton of chaos in external life.  In July I returned to work after a year on mat leave, had my car stolen, been diagnosed with a disease and had a major surgery.  So, it’s not surprising I’ve felt the need to pause.   What marked a major change for me in July, after years of meditating, is my first thought when I considered what I needed was – yes – meditation.  This is a shift.

I have moved from I should do meditation (and then remember here and there) to I am craving meditation (and make it a daily practice) 

(please note this is not a sponsored post, I genuinely love this app and it’s part of my daily habits, which makes it worthy of a mention, in this mama’s pursuit of an elevated life.)

I’ve been practicing (and exploring) meditation on and off since 2013 when I had my first baby and attended a mama meditation workshop.  From there, I was hooked, though I should have known it would be my jam way back in my hot yoga days, when I LIVED for savasana and spent the hour looking forward to that divine rest at the end 😉

As I shift into a daily practice that is now a habit that I crave, there’s a few things I’ve realized.  So I bring to you, the things I have learnt from five years of practicing meditation.

-You have to find the style.  I am picky about voices.  I hate bells and “unexpected sounds” in meditation.  I like deeper voices.   In the early stages, find what seems to resonate with you and soothe you.  We all resonate with different energies and that includes the energy that a voice projects, or the sound waves in a meditation recording.

-There are many styles of meditation:  Music or sound-based (like crystal bowls) walking meditation, nature meditation, guided meditation, mantra meditation, breathing meditation, even swimming meditation. As you go down the meditation road, you have no choice but to try them all on for size, find out what you like and don’t like and take note of the ones that seem to get you into a pretty deep state.  I discovered 2 years into the process, that I loved guided meditations.  These seem to be my jam.  I loved savasana back in my hot yoga days but found the silence too long for my untrained brain.  I still find long silences hard.

-It does get easier to get into a deep meditative brain state with practice, but you have to use it or lose it.  If I have meditated consistently (daily) for a good week, I’ll get into a deeper state faster.  If I haven’t done it in a while, it will actually take 2 or 3 separate meditation sessions to ‘get back’ to that zoned out state.

-Meditation opens up your intuition and creative brain.  In times of regular meditative practice I find myself much more creative, full of good ideas and able to think outside of the box.  There’s extensive neuroscience that supports this theory.  If you want a super interesting googling session, type “meditation “flow state” “creativity” “intuition” in that little google box and prepare to be fascinated (and probably up reading until 1am.)

-It is very  (we are talking profoundly) true that meditation enhances your ability to take a gentle approach to all of the events in your life, and it cultivates a kinder, gentler, quieter version of self-talk.  Meditation cultivates your ability to pause, take a step back, notice what is happening and be able to practice peace and non-attachment.  You find that you begin to treat yourself kindly and gently, as you do the events around you.

Meditation cultivates your outside observer, or spiritual side.  The eternal part of your soul that is watching the human experience unfolding before you (that is your life as you know it) with a knowing smile.  This is one of the main reasons I am so thankful that I discovered meditation.  It has been an amazing tool in tough times.  It has been a key in mental resilience and my eternal positivity.  It has let me handle some wild rides in this adventure called life.  I’ve used it a lot in the last little few years, particularly the most profound moments.

I did one in 2016, before saying goodbye to my father in law who was on life support in the ICU.   It helped me say goodbye with peace and love, without attaching myself to the human drama going on around me that was not of my own.  I was able to think and act with clarity and honour my emotions in the days following, without attaching to them or judging them.

I also went into meditation the night my mum passed away in hospice in 2013.  In that state, I was able to feel the moment her soul departed and sat up, waiting for the nurse to enter to let us know.   I’ll always see that as a special gift and one of the profound moments that led me deeper into exploring meditation and the spiritual side of things.    If you engage with the meditation journey, and stick with it, you will have a few profound moments.  These will be the proof that your mind wants. These will also be the truth that your soul has always known (that your brain may have ignored for a while.)

-Meditation has been the best tool for helping me ‘reset’ when I shift into a different environment or role. Meditating on the train this past week has helped me leave my work behind, re-ground, become peaceful and set a blank slate for the next part of my day:  Returning home a present and mindful parent for the kids (and not preparing dinner in a panicky get-it-down rush.) I do some of these exercises with coaching clients, particularly if they walk into the room with their energy and emotions from earlier events in the day.  Together we clear the space, the energy and their minds before engaging in coaching.

-Meditation before bed has helped with my nightmares.  I’ve always had an extremely creative imagination which makes for some absolutely wild nighttime dreams, many of which have been quite scary.  I go through phases of nightmares, especially when I feel my mental health backsliding a bit or my healthy lifestyle habits slipping.  Meditation seems to help before bed and prevent the wild and wacky nightmares.  I can’t explain why, but once again, I’m sure a bunch of googling and scientific research will reveal that!

If you’ve been fascinated by it, honestly give it a go.  You can’ t just lie on the floor and meditate with kids running around, so some tips from this mama to other mamas:

Sneak it in when you are putting your kids down, try the headspace app or a children’s meditation but go along with it as well as you lie by your kids.  you’re doing a great thing for them too!

Get over worrying about other people. If you do it at work, you’ll be somewhere with your eyes closed, and someone will look at you while you have your eyes closed.  Don’t worry about it.  It’s increasingly commonplace.   Remember that 15 minute break you never take?  Yes…  you know where I am going with that.

Take 10 minutes in on your commute before you “enter” the next stage of your day.  Or, even the next role in your day, ie: from employee, to mom.  From mom, to wife.  From awake, to asleep. It’s a really nice way to transition.  Meditation doesn’t just “clean the slate” of your mind and thinking patterns, it truly does reset your body, your posture and the energy you bring to your next interaction.

The next time you can’t sleep or have a toss and turn night, take 10 minutes and do one, I strongly recommend “bone deep sleep” (link below.)

To get you started, here are a few of my favourite guided meditations on the Insight app, as well as a link to the Mindful Kids youtube channel which has the most AMAZING relaxing music for the kids. We have two favourite videos from this channel which I’ve screen shotted for you (click on the picture and it will take you there.)

 

Insight App – My Current Favourites:

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Jennifer Piercy’s Bone Deep Sleep – A short Yoga Nidra Meditation for sleep

Youtube: My Current Music Favourites / Kids Favourites

This one in the evening or quiet time, the imagery is lovely to play on our tv in the background.

Mindful Kids Meditation Music Channel

 

This one for bed time (it relaxes all of us, not just the kids!)

Mindful Kids Youtube Channel
The Mindful Kids Youtube Channel – meditative bedtime music. Relaxation music for toddlers and young children. Meditation music.
Ankylosing Spondylitis Journey, Happiness, health coaching, Spirituality

My Ankylosing Spondylitis Journey – Understanding Energy and Dispositions and Our Pasts.

Recently Diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis_ (3)

Recently I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, but it was a long time coming and is but a small stage in my interesting journey understanding health (in all senses of the word) and pursuing vitality.

With my diagnosis I’ve been turning my coaching eye onto myself and so many things are connecting for me right now, especially as I listen to podcasts and hear others’ journeys with AS. I wanted to contribute to the blogging space with my own learnings and journey, and add my “me too!” to a few stories out there, especially when it comes to the connection between our own pasts, upbringing, and energy, and our pain.

I am seeing so many similarities between my own background and those of others on the AS journey, and I think that the more people share their story, the more they help others understand their own path back to health and vitality, and spark that creative problem solving process.  Everyone’s AS is so unique, yet many have similar strands and stories and themes.

Though it is important not to live in the past, gaining a bit of understanding about it can illuminate the way forward and help us write new chapters in our book, without getting stuck in repeating patterns or unconscious ways. We can intentionally choose different ways, and reject that which no longer helps us on our new path to wellness.

Today I wanted to write about something I am seeing emerge in people’s AS stories (not all stories, but it IS a common trend) and connect it with some things I’ve learned as a coach.

Energy, Dispositions and the Body’s Messaging System of Pain.

Today I wanted to talk about dispositions.  You can call it energy, or vibes, but those words don’t adequately explain it, because the word “disposition” also describes someone’s physical, mental, emotional, spiritual presence as well. Those of you who are into body language will find this an interesting one.  As a coach I  believe that we don’t exist simply on an intellectual level. We exist in a body, we exist in an emotional space, and we exist in a soul or spiritual space. We spend different amounts of time in each space.  Some people are deeply integrated on an intellectual and body level, or perhaps an emotional level and body level.  Others are not.  Everyone has unique combinations of where they spend their time and awareness. I USED to be strictly intellectual, no emotions, total logic.  My journey has been learning to embrace the other parts and integrate them all as a whole.

How is energy, disposition and posture important to Ankylosing Spondylitis? 

For those of us with AS, an important theme is the hard-charging, forward-pushing type. In coach school they called this the “resolute” disposition. I wasn’t entirely surprised when listening to podcasts, I heard many stories about AS victors talking about this aspect of themselves especially in their childhood and earlier years pre-diagnosis.

Forward momentumEnthusiasm, Striving, ChallengingPushing forwardCourage, High energyBut_High standardsInner + outer pressureexhaustionego

Someone with this energy is dynamic, driven, motivated, always growing, pushing forward and knocking down obstacles left right and centre.  Even as a child, they remember getting frustrated with homework they didn’t understand, having standards for themselves, maybe loving competition and they were noted for their enthusiasm and achievement in various areas.  They wanted challenging things.  They were also quite anxious at times.

This is a disposition that society looks upon favourably. Especially corporate environments.  Gogogo! Energy! Achieve!  Merit!  Recognition!  The ego loves this stuff.

I want to outline that we are born with innate dispositions but they can also be nurtured through our external environment – whether that is family, media, culture or society.

I myself had a fair degree of these inborn characteristics, but they were nurtured to the extreme, which led to an early life full of pressure, perfectionism, anxiety and high standards in every sense of the word.  I was a model student, involved and checked off all of the successful boxes.

Where the disposition piece gets fascinating is how it shows up in the body.  Our emotional, spiritual and intellectual environment doesn’t just exist in the brain.  The brain is just a funny little device connected to another 5-6 feet of body, and it is not separate from all of those other cells.

So how does this kind of forward-charging energy show up in the body?  I think we can all guess!

Common sense tells us this is someone who likes to move forward and upward in life.  Have you seen the body language and positioning of someone like this? Walking through the crowds with purpose, head pitched forward, getting stuff done.  Leaning forward, enthusiastically?

But what if you are also strongly pressured to be like this from the external environment? 

Disease means dis-ease. Not at ease.  Not in our natural way of being.

I think this is really when we get into pain and disease (disease means dis-ease, not at ease, not in line with our natural way of being.)

What if we are being pushed into this way of being?

What if we enter an unhealthy degree or an extreme of this disposition?

If you want someone to go forward, get shit done, and you were standing behind them, where would you want to push with your hands?  Right in the middle of the back.  The thoracic spine.

Funnily enough, this is ground zero of my pain.  The back is ground zero for many of us with AS.

I had some of these forward-moving qualities but then was pushed hard.  Then it snowballed, because I began to associate pushing hard and achieving with gaining attention and love from those I wanted love from the most (parents.) When you connect something intellectually, emotionally and physically it becomes deeply entrenched in the body.

I believe years of this has contributed to the disease symptoms presenting themselvesin my spine.

An interesting thing about healing the body and the complexity of Ankylosing Spondylitis, is that you become immersed in learning about different modalities and what each area of the body represents.  We learn that yes, we exist on different landscapes other than simply intellectual. There is something to be said about emotion, energy, the soul and spirit.  We learn that western medicine can’t always pick up on a clear physical symptom, and our clinical tools and knowledge are not quite there yet.  We learn that a large part of this journey is learning, and that learning is up to us.

As I began to untangle my thoracic spine pain on different levels, and what it may mean I learnt about other modalities and what they have to say about the spine.

I admit I haven’t learnt a lot, but I did become interested in the chakras.  The chakras are particularly fascinating, because they weave together the experience of pain in the body, but also the emotional experiences we have.

As soon as you start reading about the heart chakra, located around the same area as the thoracic vertebrae, things begin to connect.  Pain and personal story interweave.

The heart chakra is about loving not only others, but yourself. Many people with AS talk about their struggles to love and appreciate and be gentle with themselves.  The heart chakra is also about reconnecting with yourself.  Forward chargers are so connected with the external world, with ego, recognition, benchmarks, that they forget about that part so easily.  Again, I speak from experience in my teens and 20s.

Torticullis was a Turning Point:

Another story:  Earlier this year,  the disease affected my neck in a nasty way, which wound up in a few acute torticullis attacks that sent me to the emergency room – they were probably the most pain I’ve ever been in.  I really connected with Sky Denton (AS victor) and his story about being unable to sit up out of bed with neck pain.   It was such a low for me, and was probably a key incident that made me take my symptoms more seriously and advocate for myself in the medical system.

Again, I traced back through emotion, story, soul and pain to understand this area of the body and try and draw some connections.  How am I healing this year? Why am I experiencing massive pain in this area?  What might it be hinting at?

In eastern medicine, this area of the body ties in with the throat chakra. What does it represent?  Self-expression, having a voice, speaking the truth of who you are, authenticity.

This was an interesting discovery, because something that has been on my mind this third maternity leave, and something I am trying to embrace, is speaking my voice, blogging, instagramming and sharing my truth.  I feel a really strong urge to write and connect through story, and share.  Reading others’ blogs has been so, so important to my own self-growth and development that I want to give back – but it takes vulnerability and courage. The internet is a harsh place and we are all scared of being judged, or that troll waiting to hurt us with a stinging comment. I’ve been trying to follow the whisper that says “share your story” because it feels right intuitively, but not without trepidation.

I grew up in a family where my voice and opinions were disregarded even though I felt I had valuable things to contribute.  Over the years I learnt to suck everything up, not share things and protect my inner fortress, and that is a process I am learning to reverse now.  I’ve come to understand that the neck flare-ups this year are not tragic, terrible things but messages that I am on the right path, and that I am dispersing that negative, inflammatory energy through finally granting myself a voice and the authority to speak.  That torticullis attack was, in a way, saying “yes, you are on the right track with thinking about opening up, but  you really need to embrace it and DO IT”  Everything is unfolding for a reason, and nothing is a coincedence, and that friends, is the key lesson of the AS Journey.  It’s all meant to be, and we are meant to uncover the meaning.

 

 

 

 

 

Essays, Happiness, health coaching, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Nutrition, Physical Wellness, Spirituality

How to Handle Food Saboteurs and People Who Don’t Support Your Lifestyle Change

I’ve been on a pretty major health / lifestyle overhaul the past few years and it has been the most fascinating (and challenging) growth experience.

Last summer, I rejoined Weight Watchers. I’ve had success on it before and it’s a short, beautiful walk from my house.  The ritual of the weekly weigh in, the outstanding food tracking app and the algorithm that balances macros makes it a great fit for me. I am not a details person.  I’ve tried super dialed in macro diets and tracking with my fitness pal but it’s not for me.

It also lets me do my style of eating within it.  I try to eat gluten and dairy free within it, favouring lean meats, fruits, vegetables and nuts / seeds.  The WW algorithm favours these foods, which makes it a great match.

The highest weight I have ever been was last summer.  At 5’10 and pregnant, I topped the scales at 237lb, 70 lb above my normal BMI range.  After delivering, my weight stabilized at 220.  Though I was still on the cusp of overweight / obsese.  I wasn’t alarmed, and I refused to hate my body.  I’m not in that place anymore. It’s a gift of the 30s 😉 but I’ll tell you what, I really felt the discomfort in my joints.  That’s the first time in my life where I went past the overweight category into obese and holy shit, I was really, really sore and tired and inflamed.

I can very clearly remember the distinction between that weight and out of shape weight.  I’m thankful for the experience because I knew I suffered there. It was uncomfortable and in suffering we find our deepest whys and motivations.  When you suffer, you lock in your motivation on a physical, mental and emotional level.  It’s why nobody ever truly transforms until they have their “aha moment” or as Chad Fowler said to Tim Ferriss, the “Harajuku Moment.”

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My weight journey over 3 pregnancies between 2013 and 2018

Between the sickness of pregnancy and the short breaks between each pregnancy, I decided to just take enjoyment in food and I don’t really have any regrets about the journey to that place.  I figure there’s a time in life for gains, a time in life for losses. A time for suffering, a time for vibrancy.  There is just no way you can stay on a perfect linear trajectory.  Nature has seasons and cycles, so do humans.

very.single.rice.krispie treat I ate at good earth cafe, every afternoon was glorious.  No fuckin regrets at all.  Those little rice krispies fed my soul and gave me a small window of relief when I’d been puking all morning.  Every sip of the litres of OJ I went through while I was pregnant with my first? Divine, I tell you!

So, coming into the Fall of 2017 and Mat Leave 3, I knew that it would be about hunkering down and getting the hell out of obese / overweight.

And off to Weight Watchers I went.

I chose to attend the weekly meetings.  For the longest time, I didn’t want to because I find the demographic different and the tools they share a bit basic.  But it’s humbling.

An obstacle to learning that I often carry with me, is that I can research and learn myself, and I already know (and probably on a deeper level) a lot of the science they share, so sometimes I have difficulty granting authority to the leader.  It’s good to identify your obstacles to learning, because once you know them, you can quiet that voice, eat some humble pie and listen.  Everyone has barriers and obstacles to learning. My full time job is helping university students, who are some of the best learners around, overcome a laundry list of them.

At meetings, I remind myself that I am in the same body fat percentage as everyone else and it means I am NOT an expert!  Yes you have knowledge but clearly you are not applying it, so let’s get back to those basics, I tell myself.  I needed to relearn a few things, – mindful eating, portion sizing and eating square meals instead of grazing. I had to retrain my taste buds and sensitize them to sugar by depriving them for a while, and establish the habits and routines of multi vitamin and fish oil supplements, and water intake.

As much as I hate the 5lb awards and clapping and rah rah, I love the part of the meeting where we get into real talk – it’s the trials and tribulations discussion.  It’s like a live version of a talk show and the conversation goes deep.  I love the stories and feedback and advice everyone shares.  It’s inspiring, insightful and the different perspectives serve to break down your learning obstacles.

One of the most common topics that has come up over the last 6 months of meetings has been food saboteurs.

Weight Watchers has an internal instagram account called Connect, and today I got into a discussion about it with a fellow member who is having a hard time with the blatant and active resistance to change that her family is putting up, and their attempts to get her to return to previous habits.  I’ve been so lucky in that I haven’t had any actively disempowering behaviour or doubters, everyone has been so amazing, supportive and empowering in person.  But her story led me down the rabbit hole of thinking about how to approach this from a coaching perspective.

It made me think about some stuff I’ve been reading lately in Tony Robbins’ Book, Awaken the Giant Within, (it’s a classic of his and a big book, but a life changer!!!) It’s probably my #1 life changing book now, The Power of Habit is in a close #2 spot.

(Links to paperbacks below.  Please feel free to use these links to hop over to Amazon if you need to do a shop there.  Literally by shopping on Amazon by going through these links, you are supporting this blog.) 

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In Robbins’ book he teaches us that everything boils down to our innate human nature –  that we all just want to feel love and belonging, and we want to avoid pain. At the most primordial part of our brain, it is about seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.  Those are the dual forces that influence everything we do, think and say.

I realized that this insight applies to all people in our lives who surprise us by not being as supportive as we thought they’d be, when we are undergoing major upward growth and change.

And so, I present to you, my take on this situation, on the people who are *not* empowering you. Who are trying to pull you back… who are actively, or maybe passively disempowering you.  The doubters, the haters *gasp* the food saboteurs and more.

❤️

At the deepest level they act from a very primordial place in their brains.  Everything stems from love and our need for love. The need for belonging and love is a basic human need.

They fear that with your change, your love for them and relationship with them will change.  Ironically, by clinging to the past and trying to pull you backward to remain with them, with their ‘version’ of you, they are only reinforcing their own fears, beause backward momentum cannot compete with forward momentum once you’re on a path of evolution.

In the meantime, many more are embracing the new, evolved you.  Some of them are even inspired and raise up to your new vibration + way of perceiving and showing up in the world.

But …the parade gets rained on, beause that damn 20% are taking up the 80% of your thoughts, and often they are the closest people.  The ones that are supposed to love you the most, right?  Well, they do. It’s a funny kind of love.

Either passively or actively these types will fight your growth (food sabotage anyone?) to bring you back to their vibration – where they are, and where they see you as being. It is the only way they know how to be, and show up, and treat themselves (and treat you.)  

They mistakenly think it is the only place you’ll continue to love them from, and once you leave, your love leaves too. Remember, the old you, the old lifestyle had different expressions of love. We all have fairly stable love languages – mine is gifting – but in my new lifestyle the gift of a big meal out isn’t in line with my new values, and it often derails my goals – but it’s what gets offered by my family with genuine love. 

I often think about this now, because I a genuinely not a foodie and don’t like eating out, yet for birthdays and special occasions, restaurants always get suggested first.  It’s frustrating, and I try to divert and choose a different, healthy restaurant option more in line with my new lifestyle, but there’s definitely pushback, especially if you don’t want cake! But I can understand that they are just being who they are, it’s me who has changed and I have to gently advocate for my needs and new boundaries and also give insight as to why.  If you explain why, you may still face the pushing, and they’ll try and argue around your logic and then you just have to go to a simple, respectful “no, it’s not for me.”  

There’s also another subtle fear – the nonsupporters (they may not even be aware of these fears) are scared you’ll leave with your new improved life and at the same time, your success is precipitating some uncomfortable reflection on their own lives.  It’s a wonderful process that is happening within them, but they’ll probably be a bit mad and want to shoot the messenger (you and your shiny new life!)

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide to how much time you want to spend with people on their different levels (if they don’t want to be on yours,) and with a new, “level up” in your life, you may need to put some work into protecting this lovely place you are in and preventing a backslide. It’s not all shiny and rainbows and unicorns in a new healthy lifestyle.  You are still learning to let go of your urges, bad habits and self-limiting beliefs. I actually think it’s a reason why it bothers us so much when someone tries to reactivate our old habits.  You can feel that hot fire of anger.  It’s because you are fighting hard and “don’t they know how hard I am working?!”

It’s not your job to raise them up to your level, or stoop down to theirs, either.  You do you and they do them. All you can do is set a great example through your own actions, by you, for you.  You have chosen a different place to be.  Hold to it.  For sure, encourage them and let them climb up if they want to ascend to your level, but know they may not and would rather that you be with them, and love them, by climbing down from that crazy precipice above them.   

We are all different souls having a human journey in the larger, cosmic “level up” process.  Some are just not ready for level 10 in this lifetime, but you are. You know it.

We can defend ourselves with vigilance, but also with how much time we set aside for these people. the beauty of our day is we have hours, in the form of connection, that we can selectively hand out to our loved ones.  If your loved one absolutely cannot join you in your place and you have to join them in theirs, set the boundary, preserve yourself, say no to the cake and leave before the deserts and emotional conversations and familial patterns that trigger old habits.

And finally, don’t forget – direct your attention to the empowerers in your life.  if there’s many, wonderful nurture those relationships and do the same for them.  If there aren’t, open yourself up to new people and experiences who are being bought to you seemingly by coincidence.

There’s others evolving upward and climbing up to that new precipice with you – they are waving enthusiastically and saying hello to you right now from across the way 🙂

There is something magical when we vibe off of others and join in upward expansion and elevation of our lives. Look for, and welcome in the empowerers, especially the new ones that have arrived as part of your journey.

Rise up together, accelerate and choose this new, healthier life with new friends who will share your adventure and celebrate it with you.

And watch the pride, happiness and love flow.

xo.

 

Essays, Happiness, Spirituality

I Practice Stillness and Silence x How To Access Intuition and Creativity.

Stillness.

 

 

 

Silence.

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both of those come from a deeply grounded, gentle, peaceful place.  It’s a soft, quiet energy.  Truthfully, I’m not often in this energy state.  I’m often moving forward, growing, learning, pushing, goal setting, driving.

Even my posture reflects this momentum.  I gesticulate with my hands and constantly lean forward.  My centre of gravity sits above my toes, pushing me outward into the world.  I can be fast thinking, a flurry of ideas, often fast talking.  Snapping up all the world has to offer.  Discombobulated energy.  It’s fast and sparky and colourful and enthusiastic, but it’s also really loud up in here.

It’s why I am drawn to the people in my life who seem to have peace as their natural state.  They don’t know it but I call them my Monks.  I find myself settling into their energy level.  New age types call it “vibration” or “auric fields.”  Millenials call it “vibes.” Whatever language you prefer, right?

Have you ever noticed the posture of someone who walks with that quiet, gentle, grounded energy?  You find yourself coming away from one of those interactions all “zen.”  These people come in pastel and earthy colours.  Even if you are standing talking to them, in your mind’s eye it is like they are relaxing back in a chair.  They pause between words, thoughtfully contemplating everything and producing finished thoughts, which they have allowed to steep and develop before releasing them into the world.

 

When they talk.

 

I take in.

 

What they have to say.

 

And slow.

 

 

Myself.

 

 

Down.

 

How do they do it?

In 2018, I believe this is becoming a lost art, but it is one that we can practice and get back to. Shortly, I ‘m going to talk about what happens when you do this. It’s profound.

A quiet, slow, contemplative and mindful state is one that we can put ourselves into with a bit of work and a bit of practice. It’s not woo woo, it’s proper science.

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another.  You can’t take away or create energy, but you can shift it.

Why did a “natural state” become a “lost art” that we have to carve out space for and practice?  Why is mindfulness a movement and a technique that is taught instead of an innate way of being?

This is my theory:  Though the internet has come with many gifts and it is a great advance for our civilization, it has its downsides, too.

When did life get so loud and fast and intense?

The internet has altered how we negotiate two planes of existence:  The internal world (inside of us) and the external world (out there) that we go out and face each day.

Before technology, our internal world was ours.  We were left to our own thoughts.  The only encroachments on it came in a written, visual or auditory nature.  Conversation.  Music.  Sound.

In the 1890s these encroachments took the form of a daily ritual of reading a newspaper, or visiting among friends.  Those were parts of the day, but it was interspersed with activities that cultivate presence.  Work moved only at the pace of technology for the time.  There were also more opportunities for nature – which immerses us in silence, stillness and the present moment.

It is a little bit different in 2018, isnt it? It’s fast and loud.  The external world is always there.  It’s hard to separate IRL (in real life) versus IOB (in our brain) – I catch myself talking under my breath all of the time, and feel the flash of embarassment that my internal thoughts are bubbling out into the external world, that my brain somehow got the signals mixed.

The external world enters thousands of times a day via our rich environment of modern media and technology.  Everyone (and everything) out there is shouting for our attention and we are listening.  We unlock and access our phones a lot. Estimates vary from 80 times a day to 160 times a day. We peruse images on instagram.  Many do not move us… we scroll on by.  Many more do.  I can’t even estimate how many photos I look at it in “a sesh.”

I can’t help but think that 100 years ago, their instagram was the art gallery. In 1900 someone would stand in contemplative silence and stillness in front of a painting, letting it percolate in their inner world and move them.  We have art galleries in 2018 to be sure, but we move through them like an instagram feed and only briefly contemplate and let our own creativity arise – before we whip out our phone, take a photo, google, learn about it, share it and move back to the external world.

But it’s exciting and stimulating isn’t it, the external world?  When I put my phone down, I am buzzing with thoughts and ideas.  When I sat down to write this article, I thought about 3 other topics I wanted to write about.  It took me a good 10 minutes to focus and get into the flow.  Recently I’ve been trying to meditate in stillness and free write, and it’s been difficult letting inspiration bubble to the surface naturally, from the internal spring.

Simply put, the external world has more internal access points. It is shouting and clamouring for the greatest prize of all. Your attention.  And we’re hooked!  Its a thrill! We’re not walking to keep up with a handful of friends and family.  We’re sprinting to keep up with 500+ followers.

When you scroll through your social media do you ever feel the congestion on a psychic level?  It is a world that feels so loud once it passes through our eyes and ears, into our brain.  We have less time to think and reflect, to steep in our own creativity and insight.  We don’t let things spontaneously and naturally occur.

We’re so busy running around collecting outside ideas, thoughts and inspirations and pints for our pinterest boards.

As the outside world flows in with its heady energy, our inner world accelerates too, and we find ourselves managing, designing and controlling our lives at the same frenetic pace.

Money Tunnels

As I write, an image flashed in my mind. A money tunnel.  You’ve probably seen them on game shows.  People are placed inside a box, a fan turns on and you watch them grasp wildly at the money flying around them, delirious with excitment.  It’s quite comedic.

Have you ever watched people and their strategies in money tunnels?

The ones that are successful are the ones that are smooth.  They are in control of their energy and are grounded.  They take a moment to assess and come up with some kind of creative strategy, struck with some internal inspiration.  The ones that come out with barely anything are the ones who snatch wildly at everything, delirious with excitement and crazy energy.

Have you watched both types of people when the fan turns off and the air returns to stillness?

Both competitors want that money.  The wild grabbers continue flailing, stuffing money in their shirts and dropping bills as they do so.  They keep grappling urgently even when the buzzer sounds.

The smooth operators are different. Then know that when the fans turn off, the money will float down into their hands.  It will come to them and they calmly catch even more.

It’s such a good metaphor for us when we begin to talk about what we’re all doing on this crazy planet anyways.    

Take that quiet moment.  

Carve out time to slow down, to settle down.  For 30 seconds, or maybe for half an hour.

In that different place of energy, we are able to leave the external world for a bit and retreat inside ourselves.

True clarity and insight emerges when our inner worlds are unencumbered.  Those lead us to precisely what we have been reaching for and trying to grab at in our external worlds.

In silence, we sweep out the clutter and we are left with simplicity and our true nature.  It is there that we finally have the time and space to realize that everything is unfolding just as it should.  That we can’t control the universe, we can’t rush it.

It is all unfolding on its own time.

Did you ever know of someone who was seeking/grabbing at/working at/ finding a potential partner, who came up fruitless and frustrated?   Did you ever see the same friend give up, retreat backward and let go of their forward charge for a while?  Did they stop trying to force the hand of fate?  Did you ever see them meet the love of their life after they finally let go? We all know someone, don’t we? 

You don’t squat down and ask a flower bulb to burst up out of the earth and flower this week ~ we don’t expect that.  So it’s funny that we actually do that with ourselves, our own lives and the unfolding of what is to come. The external world totally gives us the impression that this is how we roll in life.  To some extent, yes, you carve out your own path, but we must remember that returning quietly to the internal world also has its merit.

If you hold something deep in your heart, it will come to you of its own volition.  You’re already set in motion things to bring it about, so let that urgency go.

Please know that you won’t be aware of the hints that things are coming, you won’t hear the little whispers of intuition, without the occasional space to do so in the quiet recesses of your mind.

The external world doesn’t have time for that shit .It is excited, noisy, forward pushing, demanding and energetic.  It tells you that A leads to B which will get you to C.

You’ll miss the quiet whisper, that the person you met by chance at your local park is important for some reason.  Turns out, they’re going to have a monumental impact on a career that you don’t even know is coming down the pipeline and is going to lead you to from A and B, through C to D, E and F.  You’ll miss the little nudge of “I am drawn to this activity.” Without quiet space to feel that nudge, you won’t even know a new passion is unfolding for you that will beautifully combine A and B, and then create a G, H and I.

Practice the art of silence.  Of slowing down.  Of stepping away from the rat race of the external.  Cultivate internal peace. Sweep out the clutter and just be. Let things come to you, and let things spring up from inside of you.  See what emerges.

 

 

 

Essays, Happiness, Learning, Lifestyle Design, Personal Development, Spirituality

36 Pieces of Knowledge I’ve Collected Over 36 Years.

1.) Treat all people as kindly as you’d treat a young child.

2.) Quick short blasts of cold air (or water) will bring vitality back to the body.

3.) Sunshine and fresh air is the most important vitamin to take.

4.) Let them eat dirt.

5.) Always make eye contact and say hello as you pass people. Who knows, maybe they will open a door for you, maybe they will decide not to rob you that day and choose the grumpy old man instead.

6.) Everything in life oscillates and moves in waves.  Up and down, back and forth.  Feelings, emotions, moods, fitness, body fat, you name it.  Everything in nature is seasonal.

7.) Consult the bristol stool chart.  You should have a healthy poop every day.  If you don’t, you’re not eating right for your body.

8.) If you would like to change your situation, decide to do the opposite of what you usually do in every decision that comes your way over the next 24 hours.

9.) Ask before assuming.  If it would be rude to ask, you shouldn’t be assuming in the first place.

10.) Judging is a spectator sport that won’t affect the outcome of the game.  You’ll just piss people off.

11.) Having children is the most advanced degree you’ll ever take.

12.) Keep dating your spouse.

13.)  Intentionally make time to laugh every day.

14.) Find 3 songs that can instantly change your mood and energy.

15.) If you use it everyday, spend the money and get a good quality version.

16.) Interrupt the patterns of negative people by asking them what they enjoyed or appreciated about today.  You have the power to engage in conversation, shift conversation or walk away from it.

17.)  Learn about the ego, its need for control and how it wants to separate you.  Learn how it shows up in you, what that is like, and how you can let it go.

18.)  Stress is the difference between expectations and reality. Adjust one or both.

19.) Every time you cross the threshold of a door into a new space or environment, ask yourself what energy you are responsible for bringing into the room.

20.) You’re only supposed to climb mountains, not carry them around on your back.

21.) People pick up more from our body language and energy than from our words.  Don’t just develop your vocabulary.  Seek to develop your body language and your energy.

22.) If it creates fear, it’s a sure sign you should do it because you’re touching the edges of invisible fence you’ve built for yourself over the years.  Hop over it.

23.) Never allow yourself to become stagnant.  Keep growing, expanding and experiencing.

24.) All cells in your body turn over and grow anew.  It’s never too late to heal your body.

25.) Feed the bacteria in your body.  They eat green stuff and vegetables.

26.) Walking is singly most underrated activity.  It is a gift.

27.) Never buy the nicest sports gear.  Start with the crappy stuff and learn with it.  When you get good, you have earned the right to good quality gear that you will appreciate 1000x more.

28.) Spend less time researching and buying gear, and more time just going out and doing it.

29.) There is a low, medium and high price point for any material object you could ever need.  Only choose medium or high price points for things that align with your desired life and values.

30.)  Everything in our exterior world will change.  It will all come and go.  Learn to love and take care of yourself, to find peace within you.  Ensure that you are never dependent on love or happiness acquired outside of yourself from others.

31.) It is only when your own cup is full that you can pour from it for others.

32.) Write out your absolute perfect day or future lifestyle.  Great!  Do those exact things today.  A daily practice will soon become a habit.

33.) Take a chance on your intuition a few times.  The more it proves right, the more you can trust it and hear it. When an opportunity presents itself and it seems uncanny, it’s a sure sign you should jump on it.

34.) Always maintain the curiosity and playfulness of a kitten with a ladybug.

35.) Learn how to put yourself in a disposition of lightness and laugh at yourself, so that you’ll never go down the road of taking yourself too seriously.

36.) The way you interpret life has been formed through a variety of people, places and events.  Though you cannot change your past, you can choose which interpretations are getting you where you want to go, and which are holding you back.  Only keep the ones that will write a beautiful future.  You are the author of your own life. Are the chapters going somewhere or the same over, and over again?

 

Essays, Happiness, Lifestyle Design, Personal Development, Spirituality, Working Mom

Struggling with Finding Your Purpose outside of Parenthood? Read this.

Early motherhood is busy.  There is a hell of a lot of stuff to do on the surface, and in the day-to-day. I said to my husband the other day that just managing the clothing (washing, putting away, picking up) of two toddlers and a baby is fully a part-time job that takes up at least half a day out of each week!

One thing that has been bugging me lately though, and if I’m being honest, giving me a bit of anxiety, is feeling like I haven’t hit my potential in life yet, that I haven’t found a passion, a calling, a purpose.  Don’t get me wrong, motherhood is amazing and raising the next generation is the most sacred, purposeful thing one can do – but as you know, my blog focuses on our lives, our questions outside of motherhood, because as much as we are “mom” we are still US.  I am still Carina, and Carina has her own interests, hopes and dreams that she tries to keep alive in the snatches of time that she has. I think it is so important to continue to do this and not get lost in motherhood.  I see this happen to way too many women, and they emerge but only a shell of themselves in their 50s, when their children leave home.

I absolutely LOVE my career at the University, but outside of work, and motherhood, I still feel like I’m not serving people in the way I can.  Does this make sense?  Do you ever feel like this as well? I’m hoping I am not the only one, the whole point of writing is to feel less alone and connect with others feeling the same way!

My actual full time job is coaching university students in this topic every day.

Most of my work focuses on the early stages of this proccess, because you truly need to be an expert in yourself and to know (and accept) some of your strengths and talents, before you embark on the purposeful life.  The 20s are exciting because you are just embarking on designing your own individual identity.  In your 20s, you are being exposed to new ideas, identities.  You are choosing to reject or accept things you held as truth growing up.  You are crafting your life.

I often use psychometric instruments like Strengths Finder, the MBTI or the Strong Interest Inventory as a ‘base’ from which we can pursue the goal of “know thyself.”  I work with students to shift their language and self-perception, to that of strengths and talents.  I want them to graduate with a minor in strengths & talents.  I love doing this.

Had I had this in University, I would have embraced my multi-passionate, inquiring nature and it would have saved me so much angst, as I blindly changed majors constantly and worried about picking a degree that would be looked upon well by the outside world.

But once you get to motherhood and your late 20s / early 30s, and you experience the profundity of carrying and birthing a child, mortality, etc. your inner landscape shifts a bit.  Whether you like it or not, you do become deeper, more spiritual, introspective and realize there is more out there to a meaningful life than going through the motions of parenthood, workerhood, domestichood, partnerhood, family hood.  Right?  You look up and think “there’s something else I’m supposed to do.”  This is documented in psychology and sociology textbooks.  It’s not just me talking, this is research talking.

I have been researching, studying and experimenting with this path to feeling fulfilled and like I am on track to my right purpose here in this lifetime.  My main goal on this third maternity leave is to heal my body and regain vitality, but I feel the urgency increasing too.  What can I do to serve others in the way I can?  I’ve looked up and asked “help me figure it out!”  In fact, at the full day meditation workshop I attended last week, I put it out there as my intention going forward as well.

 

I am slowly coming to realize that to figure out your purpose in life is to live your life, and you only really understand your purpose in hindsight, when it has come to fruition, and you can then craft a description around it. In living our best daily lives, and using our talents, we are actually slowly bringing about our purpose.

This is the most unsatisfying answer in the world, because it doesn’t align with our human needs to have answers, schedules, and be in control (the ego wants this.) This is why I (and probably) always feel so annoyed when you read an article and then feel like your question wasn’t answered.  It’s why my students have to keep coming back in for appointments because it is a process.

This approach to figuring out our purpose has no immediate answers,

only in hindsight do the dots connect, to illuminate your larger process.  It’s like looking at individual stars in the sky, but then connecting them all to see that there is a constellation there. 

The key here is that we have to focus on creating some dots (or stars in the sky) that eventually we can look up at, and realize that they all connect into a unique constellation. 

The dots that we focus on creating, can only come about by living according to some very important rules.  I’ve spent about a week crafting these rules based on deep research and hundreds of books as well as meditations, so I’m pretty excited to reveal them!

There is no schedule because things come about on their own schedule (the people, places, things you are meant to experience and learn that all connect to this mystical purpose you have here) and they sure as hell are not in your control.  99.9% of the major events that will set you on the path to your purpose are chance happenings or coincidences.   Things like this:

You meet someone randomly, in a coffee shop, and strike up a conversation.  That launches you down the path to a new career which happens to be your true calling.

You do some googling and by chance click on a link to a website which happens to connect with you on a deep level, you wind up taking an online course that takes you down a path of growth and deepening of your sense of who you are.

You simply embrace motherhood, stop the anxious “what is the meaning here” chatter, and are taken aback when your realize that all of the hobbies you have with your children, all of the things you add to pinterest, tie to your most important values which have a common theme.

You simply cannot predict these things.   But what you can do, is increase the probability and you can shift up the  time line a bit of figuring your shit out, so to speak.

If you start living your life right now, more closely aligned with the right forces, you will be on a faster track to figuring out the meaning of your life and the unique way you are meant to serve others (outside of partner and children of course lol.)

If you are uncomfortable with things just unfolding and are struggling to enjoy what life presents you, feel irritated reading this article, and admit that you find yourself wanting to be in control of what comes down the pipeline, there is another force at play.  That is the ego, which likes to be large and in charge and cares what other people thing.  It’s why we get so attached to particular benchmarks.  It’s why choosing a major is such a big deal for my students, because it is a way to show the outside world what your worth is (when really it isn’t the whole story.) . Ask yourself, why do I think I can control everything on a schedule?  Has my life been like that? Do I actually have proof of that or is it a need my ego has and keeps pushing for?  It’s an interesting exercise to do.

So now that I’ve got your mind ticking, I’ll keep you in suspense!  (Also, I really need to drink some coffee and get out of my house coat.)

This weekend I’ll reveal the rules that will help you fast-track to your purpose and feeling fulfilled.  Remember, these are dots, or stars in the sky to create, and the more you have, the more the constellation will start to form.

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