On the Other Side

These days, I find myself becoming increasingly vigilant about how I spend my time.  How about you?  I’m not sure if it’s because I feel like I have less time, or because I care more about how I spend it.  Whatever I do, I want it to count.  I want it to move me forward in a beneficial way, rather than being just an item I’ve crossed off my “to do” list.

By nature, I tend to spend a lot of time in my head.  Ruminating, reflecting, analyzing…it’s just what I do.  I know that I’m not the only one either.  The thing is, when we don’t allow our internal landscape to change, we run the risk of recycling through the same old thoughts, patterns and approaches.  If new thoughts aren’t introduced to expand or challenge existing ones, what’s your guess as to how that will impact the actions we take.  Round and round on the hamster wheel we go.  Is it any wonder that we’re not getting to where we really want to be?

Societal and parental conditioning can be powerful and pervasive forces that shape our lives.  Many of us may grow up following “blueprints” which outline what is possible for us, who we’re expected to become and how we’re expected to live our lives.  As well-intentioned as this may be, it can prove to be severely limiting and stifling of our true potential.  If our sand castles are not coming together and taking shape, perhaps we need to consider if we are playing in the right sandbox.

When a confronting type of thought does manage to slip in and pierce our awareness, it can cause other long-held, deeply embedded thoughts to shake loose and rise up to the surface for examination.  The waters we’re used to swimming in may become muddied, and the optics may not be as clear as we once thought.  Doubts may start to creep in, as we begin to question the merits of the mindset we’ve held.  We may find that our mind transforms into a mass of jumbled and chaotic thoughts.  Gone is the familiar, internal labyrinth we once traversed, where we intimately knew who we were, what we wanted and where we were headed — or so we thought.

IMG_6053In my experience, there’s nothing like going outdoors for a long walk, to clear out the cobwebs from one’s head.  I soon find myself seamlessly shifted from being inside my head, to noticing all of the fascinating things around me, clamoring for my attention.  For instance, I was quite captivated by the stocky branch in the photo below, which found a will and a way to defy the constraints imposed upon it.

IMG_6047There are times when our mindset, behavioural patterns and choices may be subconsciously driven by the rules, conditions and social mores we are influenced by.  If we don’t take the time to check-in with ourselves and honestly examine why we do what we do — or don’t do — we are forever destined to remain “fenced in” and held hostage to the dictates of others.  We will abdicate our sovereignty to live life on our own terms.

It’s critical to allow new ideas in and to explore all of the options we have available to us.  At least then, we can objectively determine whether our actions and choices actually stack up, in terms of the results we are after.  We can choose to remain fenced in or we can take some time to sit on the fence, do some research and weigh our options.  At some point, if we are truly committed to moving forward, we must make a leap of faith.  It is the only way we can discover our destiny.  The one that has been eagerly waiting for us to make our move.  Ready?  Let’s do this and see what’s on the other side!

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The Ultimate Gift

Time marches on.  Can you believe that the first month of the new year is already under our belt?  For some of us, it may have been a challenging start to the new year.  We may have dealt with unnerving change straight out of the gate, either through the experience of loss, or grappling with plans that needed to be fleshed out, to allow new arrangements to be put in place.

For others, it may have been an energizing and invigorating start.  Perhaps we took a chance on ourselves, made significant shifts and experienced some early rewards.  Regardless of which category we fall into, a fresh new start is possible for all of us.  As we welcome February in, we can choose to start with a brand new canvas, or continue to build upon the magnificent foundation we have already laid down.

If this past January was not the month we had hoped for, how can we ensure that February is different?  It can be helpful to reflect back and take stock of what occupied our thoughts, time and space.  Were our priorities reflected in this mix?  Did we nurture them with care and attention or were our best intentions hijacked by other concerns and distractions?  More importantly, are we even aware of what we have been prioritizing?

If not, the answer is easily attainable.  Let’s face it, we have an ever-growing to-do list and only a finite amount of time in each month to tackle it.  Some things will just not make the cut.  According to the third principle of life known as Makia in the Hawaiian Huna tradition, “Energy flows where attention goes.”  So, what did we pour our energy into this past January?  What were we passionate about?  What mattered to us the most, that we backed it up with a commitment of time and effort to see it through?

“Where attention goes, energy flows and results show.”                    ~ T. Harv Eker

Have you ever stopped to consider how you feel, when you direct your energy or attention toward something that continues to yield less than desirable results — or worse yet — is contrary to a  value that you hold deeply?  Feelings of inner discord and conflict may begin to fester.  The tension may eventually becomes so unbearable, that it forces a change in either our attitude or behaviour, so that balance can be restored.

If there are things that do not make us happy and we continue to put up with them, then that is on us.  We do not need to compromise our values or water down our priorities.  We do not need other people to change, nor do not we need to constrain their freedom.  We do not need anyone to placate or pacify us either, as that serves no one.  We simply need to adjust our own sails, to enable alignment with that which we value and want.  We will know when we have achieved it, when we start to feel good and congruent within ourselves.

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Our priorities are equally important as anyone else’s and deserve to hold their own space.  Just as others allow themselves the freedom to make choices that serve them best, we are entitled to do the same.  It is important for our true self to always show up and for us to speak our truth, even when we know it may cause others to bristle.  When we honour ourselves in this way, we bestow the ultimate gift of self-love and self-respect upon ourselves.

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The Gift of Illumination

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I absolutely adore the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.  After the build-up of anticipation and the frenzied activity, it is delightful to settle into a blissful state of just being.  No more Christmas cards to write, cookies to bake or presents to wrap.  Time to just exhale, be in the present moment and enjoy the pause.

One of the many things I enjoy about the holiday season are the decorations — especially the illuminated ones.  There’s something about light that infuses a sense of magic and wonder, transforming the ordinary to extraordinary.  There are many people who enjoy driving around different neighborhoods during the holidays.  They find pure joy in experiencing the creativity and artistry on display, through the use of lights.  I suppose one could say that it is a gift that keeps on giving, to all who pass by.

The gift of illumination can be offered to us in other ways, and at any time of the year.  Sometimes, we may be in the dark about someone or a particular situation.  We move through life, trusting that everything is as it appears to be.  Other times, we may vaguely register “red flags”, but doubt what we are sensing and dismiss them.

When we perceive a sharp “contrast” in any experience we have grown accustomed to, it tends to make us sit upright and grab our attention.  The more darkness we are in the midst of, the more pronounced will be the impact of illumination.  Consider what it would be like to watch a film in a movie theatre with the lights completely on or to watch fireworks during the day.  The greater the contrast, the more amplified the illuminated aspects become.

The contrast we experience may not always be pleasant.  In fact, it could be downright painful, turning our world upside down for a while.  It’s not easy when masks are dropped, true intentions are exposed, and illusions shattered.  The truth, once illuminated, can never be unknown to us again.  Once the cold, hard, concrete of reality has been poured onto our awareness, it sets up pretty quickly and strengthens with each passing moment.

It is very human, to want to focus on the person or incident, that unleashed a torrent of feelings within us.  When the view through our lens has been irrevocably altered, it takes some time and adjustment, to come to terms with our new reality.  The sludge that coats our emotions is not so easily washed away.  Thoughts of how things once were or what we hoped they would be, linger with a heaviness that will not readily dissipate.

When things appear bleak, we can always shine some light on the situation.  We may feel wounded and vulnerable, but we are not broken.  In fact, the balance of power has now shifted in our favour, if we are willing to recognize it.  When truth has been illuminated, we are graced with clarity of vision.  From this perspective, we are empowered to make better choices and more informed decisions.

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When the gift of illumination has been bestowed upon us, what we do with it, is up to us.  We have the power to dramatically shift the trajectory of our lives, in a way that will serve us better.  When things fall apart, we have an opportunity to build something even better, on a stronger and more reliable foundation.

We are free to open ourselves to a universe full of infinite possibilities, that can take us higher and farther, than what we may have settled for before.  When we free up our space and acknowledge that we are worthy of so much more, it will be filled with something even more magnificent, than we could ever have dreamed of.

Letting go becomes easier when you see not what you lose, but all that you gain in creating space for something new. ~ Renate Vullings

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Holding Your Own Space in the Flow

IMG_5704I recently returned from a vacation in the beautiful Dominican Republic and discovered that Christmas is a really big deal down there.  Apparently, Christmas trees and decorations go up as early as 3 months in advance.

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Every year that I put up my tree and pull out my decorations, it absolutely amazes me how exquisitely the space transforms.  A renewed sense of brightness, beauty and magic fills the room.  Life is sparkly and there’s a sense that almost anything is possible.  I could definitely embrace the idea of enjoying three months of joyful wonder and feeling merry.  How about you?

Row, row, row your boat,

Gently down the stream.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,

Life is but a dream.

Anyone remember this one?  Sometimes, as we’re merrily rowing our boat down the stream of life, certain things may be asked of us.  Things that we didn’t plan for or expect.  Things that we would rather avoid or escape.  These could be requests from family and friends, demands from a boss or other authority figure, or unspoken expectations dictated by a sense of duty or obligation.

As we consider what will be required of us, we may stiffen and feel a sense of dread overcome us.  It’s as if the flow we were in, is now being suddenly choked off.  Every fibre within the depths of our being instantly registers the reality of being stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Before we even realize it, an internal rebellion has been incited.  Our inner resources are immediately galvanized toward finding a way out.  An escape hatch, a loophole, an excuse.  Something — anything — that will free us from the trap we feel ensnared in.

Our mind is a powerful and creative force.  When we find ourselves thrust into scenarios we didn’t ask or hope for, we are left “unscripted”.  Our imaginations can swiftly kick into gear and begin creating montages of how things are going to play out.  Our “inner screenwriter” can become quite impassioned.  As we envision each successive segment of our story arc unfolding, layer upon layer of emotion builds.  When we replay these productions in our heads over and over again, they gain momentum and emotional force, if left unchecked.

Do we really know how things are going to actually pan out?  Do we notice that the very things we attempt to duck and dodge have a pesky way of finding their way back to us?  What if there are experiences we are meant to move through, as part of our personalized and non-negotiable curriculum in the school of life?

What if we are meant to sit in the Director’s chair and call the shots, deliberately determining the space we will hold, for whatever narrative we must advance through?  What if we chose to minimize the drama we create rather than build it up?  What if we trusted ourselves to triumphantly emerge on the other side, stronger, more awakened and aware, from any life experiences we must face?

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Spending time on the beach in the Dominican Republic, provided an education of sorts for me.  The waves of the Atlantic Ocean were rather rough, so I thought it would be better to stay closer to the shore.  In the near distance whenever I saw a huge wave forming, I would tense up and brace myself.  I would stand directly opposing the flow of waves and try to ground myself into the sand.  Standing so rigidly and in a location that allowed for the wave to build up its full force before colliding with me, it is no wonder that I was unceremoniously knocked down.

I don’t know about you, but this is not my idea of a fun and carefree day at the beach.  As I surveyed the stretch of beach before me, I noticed that several people had ventured further into the ocean and seemed to be enjoying themselves, frolicking in the water.  I decided to follow suit and was relieved that the water was only waist-high or so.

I noticed that people were standing with their backs to the ocean, facing the same direction as the flow of waves.  As the waves started to form,  people would jump up, as if to merge and sync up with the flow and inevitable forward movement.  When I tried it,  to my surprise, I was gently lifted by the ocean, moved forward and then softly brought to my feet.  Ahhh…much, much better!

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What’s Your Anchor?

As we journey through life, we acquire many things along the way.  We add new pieces to the patchwork quilt that is our life, as circumstances dictate that our patterns must change. Our chest of memories expands with the treasures of hindsight and wisdom, that experience graciously bestows upon us.

Some of these treasures may have been acquired effortlessly through experiences we welcomed with open arms.  Others may have exacted a heavy price, by first throwing us for a loop and then putting us through the wringer.  There is yet another category of “in-between” and unknown periods of time, that can be deceptively tricky.

There are times in life when we find ourselves treading a delicate line.  We’re not quite sure how we got there, or if that is where we are meant to be, need to be or deserve to be.  Do we continue forward, envisioning a path ripe with possibility and pure potential, or do we retreat, refusing to step into a dragon’s lair and confront the unknown?  When it feels like fate has dealt us a challenging hand, do we fold or do we stay in the game and choose to prevail no matter what?

When significant change is thrust upon us, it is natural to be reactive and to make snap decisions.  We instinctively want to protect ourselves and our loved ones and may launch a specific course of action, without clearly thinking things through.  Our emotions may be running high, as we seek to immediately squash any feelings of hurt or powerlessness, that may be welling up inside.

As powerful waves of change rock our boat and we feel as if we are being tossed around, we need to find our anchor.  We need powerful reminders of what calm and stability feel like, and the means by which we can reclaim them.  We need to be reminded of what is possible and of our ability to harness our personal power to make it happen.

Even if we can manage to create just a few pockets of peace and well being within each day, it is enough for us to experience a “contrast”.  We will begin to recognize how much better that experience is and will crave more of it.  We’ll soon begin making conscious choices and taking directed action, toward creating more of what we want, and less of what we don’t want.

IMG_5505Time can be our friend.  As we work on steadying ourselves and regaining our balance, we allow new information to be made available to us.  A clearer and bigger picture can come into focus and shift our perspective.  When we navigate from a place of centredness and peace, we increase the probability of a more desirable and effective outcome.  Regardless of the troubled waters we may find ourselves in, we have the capacity to anchor ourselves and set a new course, that allows for smoother and happier sailing ahead.

“Have an anchor so that life doesn’t toss you around.”  ~ Debby Ryan

 

 

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Round and Round We Go

IMG_4827With the changing of the seasons, my thoughts turn to the various cycles we experience in life.  There are times when we feel like we are blossoming, flourishing and everything is coming up roses.  There are also times when we feel like we are stagnating, withering on the vine or caught in the weeds.

Regardless of what type of cycle we are in, there are subtle shifts IMG_4825occurring on a daily basis, whether we are aware of them or not.  The thoughts we focus on, the experiences we have and the interactions we share with others, are all exerting an influence on us.  The currents of life are always flowing and transforming us.  This can be likened to jagged river rocks that develop a rounder, smoother surface over time, as they are transported by water and collide with other rocks.

When we’re in a positive cycle and the sweet nectar of life is flowing abundantly, we may take it for granted.  We may assume that this will always be the case and forget to savour and appreciate the good fortune that is shining down upon us.  It’s often when this flow is abruptly cut off, that we acknowledge how good we had it.  Sadly, it can be an attitude of gratitude that is realized too late.

When we’re in a challenging cycle and our efforts feel thwarted at every turn, we may wonder if we’ll ever catch a break.  Doubt may creep in and take root, making us question if we will ever break out of a cycle that is keeping us down and out.  Although hope may seem scarce, it is absolutely vital to staying in the game.

On the surface, it may not seem like our situation is improving for the better.  We may have a very fixed idea of what ‘improvement’ or a ‘solution’ looks like.  It may be based on a faulty perception of what we think is the answer to our troubles.  What we truly need, may end up being something entirely different.

So how do we discover it, especially when we are fixated on another outcome?  In my experience, it occurs through being placed in a holding pattern.  When I recognize that my present circumstances are not significantly changing, it compels me to stop and take a deeper look within.  I ask myself, what am I missing?  When our “scenery” doesn’t change and we stop grasping at straws, our focus narrows and enables fresh, new insights and possibilities to emerge.  When the bolt of insight hits, it is imperative to act upon it!  I have discovered that the road will open wider, when I do.

Have you ever hoped and waited earnestly for something to show up, only to develop a case of “cold feet”, when it actually does?  Perhaps we start to question the true merits of this ‘gift’ that has finally presented itself and proceed to dissect it, essentially stripping it of its value.  Holding a vision and boldly daring to dream it into reality is one thing, but stepping onto the opportunity train when it pulls in, and getting on board when it arrives, is another.

Life often moves in cycles.  Sometimes an opportunity may come around again and sometimes it may not.  Are we willing to take that gamble?  And if we are, how long are we willing to wait for the next time?  Do we even stop to consider where it would leave us, if the opportunity failed to materialize at all?

Stepping outside our comfort zones into the uncertain and unfamiliar can feel incredibly daunting and uncomfortable.  However, do we not owe it to ourselves to push through with determination and take our shot?  Someone or the other inevitably will, so why not us.  If we want to fly and soar, we must first be willing to spread our wings.

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Harness the Power of Your Thoughts!

IMG_5551Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.  Well…maybe not just yet.  Halloween is still a ways away and September is next on deck.  It’s a time of transition, change and new routines for many of us.  Is it just me, or are you also asking yourself, “Where did the summer go?”

I feel fortunate to live in a city like Toronto that is jam-packed with music, film, arts and cultural street festivals, all summer long.  There is always something interesting going on and you never know what you’ll come across — including a bubble machine!

Bubbles galore, everywhere!  How much fun is that?  C’mon…who doesn’t like bubbles?  They’re beautiful, light and airy rainbow spheres that introduce a touch of wonder and whimsy into everyday life.  Of course there are other kinds of bubbles that can also delight, and come in several different forms.  There’s the Aero chocolate bar, a bubble bath, a glass of bubbly, bubble gum, bubble wrap for your popping pleasure, bubble tea, frothy hot drinks and cold fizzy ones too.  Also, let’s not forget “thought bubbles”, which enhance our enjoyment of cartoons and comic books.

As I observed the bubble machine in action, it reminded me of the principle “thoughts become things”.  As we continue to focus on certain thoughts and they become dominant within our mind, we will invariably find ourselves responding externally to them, in a congruent way.  In other words, what finds expression in our external reality, is a reflection of our internal thoughts and dialogue.  Regardless of whether we are thinking positive, productive thoughts or limiting, self-defeating ones, we are engaged in the act of creating.  What we think about expands.  Like attracts like and we magnetize more of the same kinds of thoughts and experiences, that match what we are resonating with.

IMG_5464If we find ourselves in a negative mindset, this could prove to be problematic.  We could find ourselves sliding deeper and deeper down a rabbit hole and not even be aware of it.  When we set ourselves on a track of thought that does not serve us, it’s like growing thicker and deeper roots.  We become enmeshed and anchored in a “false truth” we have chosen to believe.  Unless we are mindful of the trajectory of our thoughts, we may not realize a shift is required to uproot a pattern of thinking that is limiting us.

As I paused and gazed at the bubbles being generated by the machine, I wondered how many of us take the time to similarly step back and observe our thoughts.  What is the content of our thoughts and are there major themes?  What are we projecting out into the world and giving wings to?  Are our thoughts serving us or are we doing a disservice to ourselves?  Do the thoughts we hold merit the prime real estate they take up in our minds?  Is the process of creating working for us?

In less than a month, I will be celebrating the first year anniversary of my blog.  Gosh, how time flies!  I remember the moment when the idea of creating a blog, crystallized into a commitment.  Before I knew it, the cauldron of my mind was bubbling over with thoughts about what my blog’s name would be, the content and tone I wanted it to have and the purpose I hoped it would serve.  Soon those thoughts found expression in my actions. They brought me into closer alignment with my vision, fueled by the feeling of what I was creating.  Each time I press the “publish” button, I feel like I’m releasing a new bubble into the universe.  Each post is a tangible product of my creative process — my observations, thoughts and choices.

Is there a creative spark within you just waiting to be ignited?  Is there an idea that keeps calling out to you, asking you to be brave, bold and adventurous in your pursuit of it?  What shift in thought can you make that will attract more of the same, and propel you forward in the direction of your choosing?  Whatever you decide, may you successfully harness the power of your thoughts and create the life of your dreams.

Thoughts become things.  If you see it in your mind, you will hold it in your hand. ~ Bob Proctor

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