Good Exploring, Little One

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I’m well into My Year of Creative Living and, at this point, I’m appreciating (and sometimes begrudging) more and more the crazy, surprising and delightful ride that creativity is taking me on.

For example, what started as a simple goal (Write A Book) back in January spurred me to enrol in an online blogging course in the spring; hire a writing coach in early summer; and, travel 2 1/2 hrs north to Georgian Bay for a five-day writing retreat, from which I’ve just returned.

With all this, I’m definitely still on the path to writing a book, but my “Writing Life” has broken open and here I sit with all these words in me, all these stories to tell, and what seems like not enough time and space to get it all out.

Side note: my two new mantras right now are: “Be Patient And Be Willing To Pass Up Good For Great” and “Progress Is Progress“.

The writing retreat, in particular, cracked me wide open. Something about being in the most beautiful setting imaginable (Georgian Bay, I <heart> you), in two small, quintessentially- Canadian cottages, surrounded by 12 other crazy-freaking-amazing writers has given me a brand new set of lenses through which to see the world.

Everything I look at appears to me as a touching and story-filled photograph now. Words seem delicious and rich enough to eat. On the drive home, I realized that Writing and I are now in a serious, committed relationship (the best kind of relationship too… the one that keeps me both grounded AND sky-bound). Like all good and evolving relationships, I know I’m in for some tumultuous times. But I’m ready for the ride.

One of the most vulnerable stages of the writing process is sharing our work with the world. Good thing I’ve had lots of practice with vulnerability and putting my shit out there! With that in mind, I want to share three things I wrote at the retreat.

The first is a quick ditty, based on the photograph above. And it goes like this:

I want writing to feel just like this little baby who is exploring and looking with fresh eyes at everything around her, with no concept of what being messy even means. This little one has no judgement of herself. And she is loved simply for existing. She follows her heart and her curiosity without any preconceived notions of reward or consequence.

She isn’t scolded for getting dirt on her bottom or tracking mess into the house. Instead she is praised and held and celebrated.

“What a curious little explorer you are,” they say.

“Look at what you uncovered, clever little girl,” they say.

“What have discovered today?” they ask.

With a chuckle and a coo, they brush the dirt and mess off her hands, legs and feet. No harm, no foul.

Good exploring, little one.

 

The second is a poem I wrote:

Sisterhood

precious wind

of sincere love

roots me

and I rise high.

 

Lastly, a Haiku I wrote:

Dandelions

First bouquet for mom

So proud to be the giver

Promptly thrown in trash

 

What kind of creativity are you exploring these days? Are you in a serious, committed relationship with painting, sculpting, knitting, wood carving, square dancing, jewellery making, cake decorating, comedy, poetry or some other lovely creative pursuit? If yes, please share it with me here or on my FB Page so I don’t feel so alone in putting my work out into the world! If you’re not ready to share, tell me where you are in your relationship… just starting, deep in the trenches or perhaps just flirting from afar?

 

 

Kick-ass Author #5 Who Writes About Shame, Vulnerability and Wholehearted Living (Who Is Not Brené Brown)

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As I’ve put together this short list of kick-ass writers over the last several weeks, I know I’m leaving out countless other amazing authors whose books also pick up on the powerful themes of shame, vulnerability and wholehearted living. In fact, I could probably make writing about other people’s books a full-time blogging job. I’m an unabashed devotee of books that inspire and nudge people to look inward and move forward. And I love connecting people to books.

But alas, this time around I’m committed to five recommendations only. So here’s the last in my series on Authors Who Write About Shame, Vulnerability and Wholehearted Living (Who Are Not Brené Brown):

 

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

This book is for you if: You feel you have something inside you that needs to get “out there” but don’t know where or are too scared to start; you have silenced or hidden your inner artist ever since that elementary school art teacher told you, “you’re not doing it right”; you are trying to solve a problem or express an emotion or amplify your life and think creativity might be the way forward. 

If you are thinking, “I’m not creative, this book is not for me” then you need to read this book. If you’re thinking, “I’m too busy with serious ‘real-life’ stuff to concern myself with creativity” then get yourself to a book store pronto and buy this book.

In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert takes a stand for all of us to live a creative life: To live a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear. She explains that creative living is what separates a mundane existence from “an amplified existence” (don’t you love that?) Creative living – in all its manifestations – is for all of us. Do you see how you need to read this book?

Big Magic is a great read, presented in nice, easily-digestable chapter “nuggets” that speak to overcoming the fear of stepping into the creative arena. Her book invites you to find all your “not enough” gremlins, look ’em square in the eye and then promptly kick them to the backseat.

 

She is like the friend who tells you, “My wish for you is that you don’t take too long to get over your fear and do what you really love to do.”

 

Gilbert challenges you to question all the stories you tell yourself about the way things are, nudging you to find a different, better and more daring story to tell. She speaks to self-care and compassion, giving yourself permission, and the occasional, much-needed smack upside the head (e.g. “Fear is boring.”)

What I love the most is Gilbert’s voice in this book: it feels like you’re sitting down with your best friend over a coffee/glass of wine, and she’s telling you the things you need to hear about expressing your creative self. She is like the friend who tells you,  “My wish for you is that you don’t take too long to get over your fear and do what you really love to do.”

As an added bonus, Gilbert launched her podcast, Magic Lessons, to continue exploring her ideas from Big Magic. It’s really worth a listen, especially Episode 12 which features an interview with Brené Brown herself!

Now, if you really want to get serious about exploring your creativity, check out my awesome friend and coaching colleague, Allyson Woodrooffe. Allyson helps people find their voice and live their truth through creative expression, and she is definitely someone you want alongside your journey to find your creative self.

To wrap up, let me say that I would love to hear about your favourite reads that touch on the themes of shame, vulnerability and wholehearted living. Send me your list on my Facebook Page.

And if you end up reading any of the five writers/books I’ve suggested over the past few weeks, please post a comment below or to my Facebook Page to let me know what you thought of it!

 

Kick-ass Author #4 Who Writes About Shame, Vulnerability and Wholehearted Living (Who Is Not Brené Brown)

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My next pick for Kick-ass Author is a bit of an outlier and not necessarily an obvious recommendation for someone interested in reading more on shame, vulnerability and wholehearted living, but it’s a plum!

I’ll start with a confession: I am a woman who, until this year, put her head in the sand when it came to all things financial. I had never once filed my own taxes. I could hardly tell you my bank balance on any given day. Amounts owing on credit cards were always fuzzy. I would be lost to tell you the general comings and goings of money in my life.

Turns out, of course, that my issues with money have little to do with money itself. Yup, you guessed it: it’s deeply rooted in shame, identity, scarcity and vulnerability. And, as I have been learning, this is an area that is deeply linked to personal feminine power. Surprisingly, it’s a shame trigger for so many women, whether they are high-earners or just making ends meet.

So, this is the brilliant book that has helped me face my fears and finally embrace my financial responsibility and personal power:

Barbara Stanny, Sacred Success: A Course In Financial Miracles

This book is for you if: You are looking to step into your personal version of greatness while taking charge of your financial well-being

This beautiful book hits on some pretty strong and universal shame and vulnerability themes that keep women playing small, pleasing others and giving their power (and financial freedom) away.

Barbara Stanny has written several books for women on finances, but Sacred Success is special among them. In Sacred Success, Stanny borrowed from the classic, A Course In Miracles, and wove its powerful lessons throughout, hitting on this critical message: for women, financial success is a Rite of Passage into our personal power. The book cover summarizes it perfectly:

“Instead of pushing women to pursue financial success in the traditional fashion, Sacred Success seeks to redefine power from a feminine perspective…You can be financially successful without sacrificing your soul or compromising your values.”

The links to Brené Brown‘s  work may not be as obvious in this book, but they are there. Stanny speaks about the ideal identities we strive for (by pleasing, perfecting and pretending), our shame triggers around scarcity and money that were planted in childhood, the importance of creating our own rules about money, and the courage it takes to look your financial situation square in the eye and say, “I’m in charge.”

Sacred Success is all about living authentically, claiming our personal power as women, and stepping into our own personal version of greatness. And, of course, getting our financial house in order once and for all!

I’m a big fan of this book, and wanted to include it in this list to show just how far reaching and insidious shame is in controlling our lives, and how the concepts of vulnerability and living authentically fit into the realm of financial success.

I’m making this book required reading for my daughter once she’s launched out into the world and finds herself searching for her own personal version of greatness.

Are you going to add this book to your summer reading list? Tell me! Leave a message below or post to my FB page!

 

Kick-ass Author #2 Who Writes About Shame, Vulnerability and Wholehearted Living (Who Is Not Brené Brown)

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While the concepts of shame, vulnerability and living wholeheartedly are central to Dr. Brené Browns research and writing, these themes are actually quite common in books. That’s because we are all drawn to ideas of rising up against the oppression of real or perceived limitations, and finding the courage (vulnerability) to radically live life according to our own rules.

My next pick for Kick-ass Author Who Writes About Shame, Vulnerability and Wholehearted Living is a perfect example:

Seth Godin,  What To Do When It’s Your Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn)

This book is for you if:  You’re a budding entrepreneur; you’re thinking of quitting your job to pursue a passion; you want to create art and put it out into the world; or, you long to get unstuck in any aspect of your life.

If I were translating this Seth Godin book into “Brené-ese”, I’d say this book is about showing up, being seen and living bravely. It’s about stepping into the arena, without armour or shame shields, ignoring the critics, the cheap seats and the box seats, while holding the value of courage to light the way.

You need to get this book into your library. Then you need to get a copy for your spouse. Another for your best friend. And then anyone you know who is about to graduate from college or university.

Why? Because this book is a trip.

First of all, Seth Godin is a master of witty, concise and inspiring writing. He is also, in his own words, someone who “mostly creates projects, many of which end up failing.” So he speaks from experience AND knows what is possible. Trust me, his writing will get you fired up, and “taking your turn” over and over, in new and different ways.

 

“When was the last time you did 

something for the first time?” Seth Godin

Secondly, this book is basically a piece of artwork in itself. Bright colours, provoking images and photographs, big fonts/little fonts, historical references and pop culture musings, stirring quotes and big questions like, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” and “Are you taking it seriously or are you taking it personally?” and “When did you lose your voice?”  It’s part-coffee table/part-self help book, rolled into one.

But it’s the way Seth Godin made this book happen that I love, as its creation is the very illustration of what he preaches in the book. Godin didn’t go the traditional publishing route with this book, which would have been easy for him as the author of 17 bestsellers. Instead, he asked his online community if they would be interested in pre-purchasing the book, sight-unseen (I was one of thousands who said ‘yes’). He got the capital to publish the book from the pre-orders, then published it and shipped it directly to readers. Now there are over 100,000 copies in print.

Godin wanted to challenge the status quo of the “vertical publishing world” where publishers decide what gets published and how it gets distributed, and instead went for a horizontal approach, getting readers themselves involved in the creation of the book.

You may not find the word shame or wholehearted in this book, but the message and the book itself is ALL the stuff Brené Brown talks about:  feeling the fear of vulnerability and doing it anyway.

Get a taste of Seth Godin’s work by checking out his awesome blog. And you can order What To Do When It’s Your Turn here.

Pick up his book and tell me what you think in the comments below or on my Facebook Page!

 

My Year Of Creative Living

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“Creative living…is about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.”  

– Elizabeth Gilbert

I was really struck by this statement written by Elizabeth Gilbert in her latest book, Big Magic.

I actually believe I was meant to read this statement when I did. I had been feeling a simmering of sorts for a while and when I read this sentence, I sat up and took notice. Yes!  This is what’s been simmering: a more creative life. I had been feeling a deep-seated charge inside to get more of “me” out “there”. I want to live a creative life. I want to live a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than fear. This will be my year for creative living!

It feels a little like the past couple of years have been serious years for me. Lots of deep work; lots of deep reflection; lots of quiet inward gazing. I don’t know what it is, but for me, 2016 feels like it has to be about living out loud. Letting go of seriousness and letting in fun. It’s going to be about testing waters and playing with expressing myself in new ways (read: not just by writing my blog). I’m taking a page from my kids’ playbook: if something looks like fun, try it.

Here was my first taste: I have a deck of self-care cards, which is basically a deck of 52 cards with different intentions and inspirational tidbits on them. I pick a card every so often to see what the universe wants to tell me at that moment. Back in December, I chose a card that said “Resurrect a childhood dream. Let your passion take flight.” Ok, sometimes these cards are dead-on with their messages and I’ll read something that resonates big-time for me. This card, however, fell flat for me. I kept thinking back to what I dreamt about in my childhood and came up empty. I couldn’t think of one childhood dream that I’d want to resurrect.

Later that day, I was searching online for a painting course at our local recreation centre when I came across a course description for tap dancing. My jaw dropped. THAT was my childhood dream! To tap dance! I remember pretending that my shiny black Mary Jane’s were tap shoes. I remember bringing those shoes to school and lying to all my friends about taking tap lessons. I dreamed about being the next Shirley Temple with the blonde curls and the cute skirts, charming everyone with my dimpled smile and mad tap skills.

Alas, I never took a tap lesson in my life. Until now.

So, okay universe… thank you for the message! I signed up that week. And I start in a week and a half. That got me to thinking: what else have I always wanted to try and haven’t? And with that, I came up with a list of 10 creative acts that are completely new for me that I want to try in 2016. They are, in no particular order:

  1. Tap dancing
  2. Playing the ukulele
  3. Writing a book (yes, a book.)
  4. Building something (out of wood, I think)
  5. Decorating a cake – like one that you’d want to buy in a bakery
  6. Painting an abstract painting
  7. Left-handed drawing/sketching
  8. Writing a poem (or a prayer or a song… whichever way it decides to come out)
  9. Voice training – to sing, orate or otherwise be in better control of my voice
  10. Write a series of jokes… like for a one-minute comedy routine, or something.

Let me say, for the record, each one of these things scares me. I mean, really scares me. Life would be a whole lot easier if I didn’t choose to do any of these things this year. But I am curious. And this IS a year of fun. So I’m doing it! I’m doing them all!

I’m going to take on one creative act per month (save for the summer, when I will practice some of those that are a bigger commitment, like ukulele-playing) and write about it here. And, you guessed it, the themes of vulnerability, shame, courage, connection and compassion are going to show up… because putting more of “me” out “there” is a big, new, scary arena with a whole audience of critics I’ve avoided most of my life.

So, welcome to a new chapter of showing up, being seen and living bravely. Onward, upward!

 

 

Shame Happens (or, How I Survive My Shame Storms)

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If you have ever heard me talk about The Daring Way™, you’ve likely heard me say, “I live this work.” Here’s a story to prove it.

Last Thursday morning, my kids’ caregiver texted me to say she wouldn’t be able to pick up my daughter and son that day after school. No problem. Whenever that happens, I’m lucky enough to be able to pick up the phone and call my parents to meet my kids after school and watch them until I get home.

Fast forward to 5:30pm that day: I’m heading out of my office to leave for the day and it suddenly hits me: I never made that call to my parents. Oh. My. God. No one was there to pick up my kids after school. I repeat: no one was there to pick up my kids after school.

If you’re a parent, you’ll understand the instant shame storm that came down on me at that moment. Not to mention the immediate panic and fear.

I called my house right away to find out what had happened between 3:30pm (when school got out) and 5:30pm (the moment I realized that I hadn’t arranged for my parents to meet my kids). What happened was that my 10-year old daughter, realizing that no one was there to pick them up, took charge of the situation: she walked herself and her little brother home (which is right behind the school) and luckily found the house unlocked (we had two workmen at the house installing some doors). My daughter found my parents’ phone number, called them up and told them that they were supposed to pick them up. My parents came right over and all was good. And I guess everything went so smoothly that no one felt it necessary to call me.

I hung up the phone and breathed a sigh of relief knowing that everything had worked out. In fact, it was wonderful to know that my daughter actually put into action exactly what I had told her to do if ever there was an emergency and they found themselves without a pick-up after school. Whew.

And then I began sobbing uncontrollably. My body took over and the tears just came rolling down my cheeks. I couldn’t have stopped if I wanted to.

Brené Brown often talks about how shame is a full-contact sport: we feel it intensely, all over our bodies. That’s what happened to me. My body knew it before my brain did. I wanted to roll up into a little ball and hide away. This is what I thought and felt at that moment:

  • I suck.
  • What kind of mother am I to forget something so simple AND so important, to make sure my kids are taken care of after school?
  • I hate my life and how busy I am! If I didn’t have to work at my stupid job, I would have been home and I would have been there to pick them up.
  • This is all my husband’s fault. If he did more at home and with the kids, I wouldn’t have forgotten this.
  • What will my parents think of me? What will those workmen think of me? And worst of all, what will my kids think of me?
  • I NEED a glass of wine, pronto.
  • I suck.

If this was two years ago, before my work in The Daring Way™, these feelings and thoughts would have lasted with me for days. Maybe weeks or even months. I would have blamed my husband. I would have blamed my job. I would have discharged my shame as anger toward my family. I would have numbed myself with wine. And I definitely would have continued to relive those painful feelings through my own negative self-talk.

But here I am, after a lot of Daring Way™ work, and my choice was to practice shame resilience instead. This is what I did:

I got in my car, and let the tears flow. There was no denying how I felt, so I just let myself feel it. I stayed present and mindful.

I then started to unpack what was happening to me:

  • I’m upset because I’ve been triggered. What’s triggering me?
    • Feeling like I’m not enough. I should be able to do it all, and I failed.
    • I am tying my self-worth to an identity I hold for myself as a mother: that is, I want people – especially my children – to think I’m Supermom (an ideal identity for me). I don’t want anyone to think that I am the kind of mom who would forget my children (an unwanted identity for me). The thought of being perceived as a mom who would forget about her kids is extremely painful
  • Deep breath. Ok, so now I know why I’m triggered. What is my truth here?
    • I don’t suck. I don’t hate my life. It’s not my job’s fault. It’s not my husband’s fault. I simply forgot to make a call.
    • I am human and I am having a very human, messy moment. 
    • I am a mom who does a lot of things right and also screws up. I am “every-mom”: I adore my children; I scream at my children; I give, give, give; I laugh and make them laugh; I am strict; I am tired; I forget things (but not as much as I remember); I am grumpy-mom; I am Ninja-mom; I give them vitamins, flax seed and broccoli; I give them pizza, ice cream and chocolate. I love ’em and they drive me crazy. ALL OF IT! 

Then I called my husband. I reached out and shared my story and feelings of shame. He listened, he talked me through it, and he reminded me how great it was that we got to test my daughter’s ability to handle situations like this.

When I got home, my eyes were red from crying, but I was done. I was back to neutral, back to “me”. I drove up to the house, and my kids were having a picnic on the front lawn. They had no sense of anything being wrong or out of the ordinary. When I told my daughter how proud I was of her for the choices she made, she beamed. I told her I was sorry that I had forgotten to call her grandparents to pick them up, and expressed gratitude for her, my parents and that everything had worked out.

Brené Brown explains in her book, Daring Greatly, the four elements of shame resilience:

1. Recognizing shame and understanding its triggers.

This means being able to recognize your physical reactions to shame. I knew when I was sobbing uncontrollably that something had triggered my shame. I stepped back to really look at what I was thinking about at that moment. What did I fear most? What messages was I playing over and over in my head?

2. Practicing critical awareness

This means reality-checking the messages. For me, I looked at what I was telling myself and got real about what I know for sure: I cannot be reduced, defined and measured against a single identity. Forgetting to call my parents does not make me a bad mom. I am much more complex than that.

3. Reaching out

This means owning and sharing your story. My go-to when I’m feeling shame is to call my husband. I know I can tell him, “I’m in a shame storm right now, and I need to talk about it.”

4. Speaking shame

In Brené’s words, shame cannot survive having words wrapped around it. Shame wants us to keep silent so that it can fester. It wasn’t easy, but not only did I tell my husband what happened, I also told him how I was embarrassed and mostly worried about what the kids would think of me. My husband didn’t gloss over it or judge me for having the reactions I was having; he listened and told me he understood why I was feeling the way I did.

Through all of this – every choice I made from the point when my shame was triggered – I had given myself a huge dose of self-compassion. I stayed mindful and didn’t let my emotions get the better of me. I made a choice to examine what I was thinking and to put it in a perspective that was caring and kind. I understood that everyone makes mistakes like this, and that we are all just muddling our way through sometimes. I reached out and asked for what I needed from my husband, which was to let me talk it out. And then, when I got home, I modelled for my kids exactly what I want them to do when they make mistakes: I owned it, but I didn’t beat myself up for it. And I expressed gratitude.

I wanted to share this story with you because it wasn’t until a little later on that evening when I realized I had actually “lived the work” that I so often praise. It’s coming to me a little more easily now, but I’m constantly reminded how much this work is a practice. Building shame resilience does not mean that you’ll never feel the pain of shame again. I don’t walk around in a constant state of zen with nothing affecting me. However, I am much more present to what’s going on for me at these moments, and I know what might have taken me days or months to get over now takes less time, and it’s less intense.

And the impact? Aside from my husband not getting blamed for a mistake I made and my children not feeling the wrath of my shame disguised as anger, I’m actively honouring my values around family, courage, connection and authenticity, and embracing a wholehearted life.

 

 

 

The Work/Life Lab, Week #49: Celebrating The Holidays, Wholeheartedly

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Welcome to The Work/Life Lab: 52 Weeks of Daring Experiments To Shake Things Up and Learn More About Yourself At Work and Life

Experiment #49: Celebrating The Holidays, Wholeheartedly

I will totally own the fact that this week’s Work/Life Lab experiment is inspired (well, borrowed really) from a recent blog post by the lovely Brené Brown. In her post, Brené recounts a Christmas when she let the “show” of the holiday season hijack her and her family’s enjoyment of it. She recognized that in her determined effort to ensure that “the show must go on”, she paid a very high price: choosing to please, perfect, and perform (in this case, finishing over 200 Christmas cards by herself) over honouring her values of courage, connection and compassion (courage to let go of the need for the cards to be perfect, connection to her children, and compassion to understand her kids’ immediate desires to celebrate the season in their own ways).

She has changed her tune since then, and I love her decision to choose the holiday over the show. So, this week’s experiment is going to ask you to do the same: Make the daring choice to give up the show in favour of the holiday. This means that as you prepare your list of all the things you need to do for the upcoming holiday season, answer the two questions Brené poses in her blog post:

  • Is this thing –  this activity, this gathering, this spending – is this a part of me/us, or just a part of the show?
  • And, does this show really need to go on?

As you look at all you have put on your to-do list, consider whether you are doing these things just to please others, so that you will feel more accepted by them or so that they will be happy at the expense of your own enjoyment. Or, whether you are doing it to achieve some sort of perfection, so that you can avoid any hint of painful criticism from family or friends. Or, whether you are just performing in the role of “She who makes all holiday things just so,” or “She who will not have the only house on the block without lights and decorations,” or “She who unselfishly bakes every delicious holiday treat from scratch,” or “She who will do everything and ask for nothing”. If any of these ring true, it’s time to choose the holiday over the show.

Scratch it off your list. Or modify it. Let go of your need to be perfect. Do something because it pleases you, not others. And give up the performance, because everyone wants to see the real you anyway (trust me).

Why do this? Because if you’re caught up in the show, you’ll miss  out on the true spirit of the season: giving, gratitude, connection, peace on earth and goodwill toward humankind. You’ll miss out on being and feeling authentic among those you love. You’ll “get through the season” living from your head, instead of savouring every moment living from your heart.

It takes courage to give up the show. Start slow, and maybe give up (or modify) just one thing on that list. And as you do it, let it truly go (that is, don’t give it up and then feel guilty about it). You’ll be giving yourself the gift of a more wholehearted holiday season!

 

 

The Work/Life Lab, Week #41: Amendsmaking

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Welcome to The Work/Life Lab: 52 Weeks of Daring Experiments To Shake Things Up and Learn More About Yourself At Work and Life

Experiment #41 – Amendsmaking

Ok, we’re all coming off the high of turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and giving thanks, yes? (For those international readers, we Canadians just celebrated our Thanksgiving.)

Gratitude is a powerful practice, and I’ve written about it in a previous post. I consider it a key mindfulness practice for living a wholehearted life in that has the power to slow us down (in all our busyness), bring us into the present moment (when our heads are so often regretting the past or fretting the future) and soften us up in a warm blanket of abundance (when those daily doses of scarcity messages can leave us feeling cold and alone). My family practices gratitude every night at dinner by going around the table and sharing with each other at least one gratitude we have for that day. In short, I love the power of a good gratitude, and a full weekend of it? Well, that’s just as delicious as the turkey dinner itself.

But today’s post is not about giving thanks. My husband and I were joking yesterday morning that in addition to a day to give thanks, we should also have a non-secular holiday focused on the practice of making amends. As  a kind of bookend to Thanksgiving… it would be called Amendsmaking. A weekend to make amends for the stuff we’ve screwed up over the year.

Big stuff, little stuff, honest mistakes and deliberate fuck-ups… we are imperfect humans and we screw up all the time. So just like there is always lots to be thankful for, there is always lots to be sorry for.

This week’s experiment in the Work/Life Lab is about deliberately and thoughtfully making amends over something you did or said that undermined your connection with someone. Whether it was just a minor screw-up or a big betrayal, think about someone in your life with whom your relationship has suffered a hit. Maybe it’s the fact that you haven’t done anything to nurture your connection in a long time (don’t we all have someone in our life that we’ve let fall by the wayside?); maybe it’s an awkward misunderstanding that keeps simmering under the surface of your interactions; maybe it’s even something unknown to you, but you just know your relationship isn’t what it used to be.

The idea here is to take deliberate action to rebuild a connection that has been weakened by something you said or did, or failed to say or do. And it goes something like this,

“Hey, I want to circle back with you on something I said/did (or haven’t said/done) and want to know how I can make amends. Your friendship/relationship/partnership means a lot to me and I want to make sure we keep our connection strong. Can we talk about it?”

Are you freaked out yet? Amendsmaking is a lot harder than thanksgiving. It will require you to be vulnerable, and that can be scary. Guaranteed, though, that the person with whom you are making amends will see you as brave and strong, or at the very least will be touched by you reaching out. And hey, if it was easy, then it wouldn’t really count as an experiment in the Work/Life Lab, right?

If this experiment seems too emotionally risky for you this week, then please just pick something small to address with someone. Perhaps just sending an email or picking up the phone to someone you haven’t spoken with in a while is enough for now. The key to making this experiment worthwhile is to express some regret for your action or non action, because it is in these moments of really opening up to vulnerability that you build stronger connections with someone.

So if you’re calling a long-lost friend, then the sentiment to express is, “Your friendship means a lot to me, and even though I can fall back on an excuse of being busy or living far from you, the truth is I value my connection to you and I am truly sorry for not being in touch sooner.” You get my drift, right? This is about practicing vulnerability and making amends for the purpose of building connections. It’s not about ignoring the issues around your relationships and just hoping that the act of talking to them negates your wrongdoings.

Good luck with this experiment, and remember that it is about healing, vulnerability, connection… all the good stuff in life! I would love to hear how this experiment goes for you. Please, please, please leave a comment here or on my Facebook Page.

P.S. If you are a subscriber to Sabrina Guerin Coaching or you enjoy reading these posts, I have a favour to ask: please pass this post or a link to my blog page to just one person you know who you think might be interested in my writing. In fact, it can be a great way to open your Amendsmaking with someone, as in “I read this post about making amends – here’s the link – and I want to try out this experiment with you!”  It would be a huge act of Thanksgiving  😉 if you would encourage a friend, colleague or family member to subscribe to my mail list or like my Facebook Page.

 

The Work/Life Lab, Week #33: We’re All In This Together

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Welcome to The Work/Life Lab: 52 Weeks of Daring Experiments To Shake Things Up and Learn More About Yourself At Work and Life

Experiment #33:  We Are All In This Together

I am sitting here, on Monday morning, trying to write this blog post. I want it published by noon today, so that it’s swiftly delivered to all those on my mail list. But I’m stumped. My brain is full. I’m not sure how to put what is in my heart into words.

It’s something about the fact that there has been (or continues to be) so much going on in the world that perpetuates the insidious “us versus them” mentality in our society. As in: there are “those suffering from a mental illness” and then there is “us”. There are “those who are <insert race/religion/culture>” and then there is “us”. There are “those who are uneducated and ignorant” and then there is “us”.

I’m stuck because there is nothing I could say with any more eloquence or wisdom that hasn’t already been said. But here’s what I know: “us versus them” thinking is borne from a place of fear and shame. We think that by separating ourselves from the factors that cause others to be different, we will be safe and loved and connected. This is a delusion. We are all vulnerable to being the “other”. So why not drop the fear and move to a courageous space that recognizes our shared humanity instead?  That is my challenge to you for this week.

For this week’s Work/Life Lab, I want you to practice the mindset of “We are all in this together.” By all means, make this your mantra for the week. Here’s what I want you to do: Whenever you find yourself…

  • Blaming (“My boss is making my life hell!”)
  • Gossiping (“Can you believe she’s wearing that?”), or
  • Judging (“I would never make that choice!”)

… simply stop, take a breath and say to yourself mentally, “We are all in this together”. I guarantee you will instantly feel it in your body. Just by letting go of the stress that comes with blaming, gossiping or judging, your body will give you an immediate reward of feeling lighter and at peace. But then comes the greater reward: your next thought, word or action will come from a place of love, not fear. And that will set in motion a whole wave of love, connection and feeling safe, for yourself and the world.

Make no mistake about it: we are all in this together. And it is your personal responsibility to make this a ride of peace and ease for all who surround you. Enjoy your week, everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

The Work/Life Lab, Week #28: Easy-Peasy

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Welcome to The Work/Life Lab: 52 Weeks of Daring Experiments To Shake Things Up and Learn More About Yourself At Work and Life

Experiment # 28:  Easy-Peasy

One of my favourite coaching questions is: “How can you have this be easy?”

It’s a powerful question because it takes you to a place of self-kindness, rather than a place of hardline problem-solving. It opens up a compassionate energy rather than keeping you in a blaming energy.

This week’s Work/Life Lab will have you exploring this question in an area of your life, be it at work, in your marriage, as a parent, with your friends, with your health, or even the relationship you have with yourself. Pick some part of your life where you are feeling a struggle, some tension or just plain stuck. Anything that makes you sigh in fatigue for having to face it.

Once you’ve pinpointed the trouble area, ask yourself, “How can I have this be easy?”

The trick with this, though, is to not actually do any hard-core thinking or problem-solving to answer the question. Chances are, you’ve already gone around and around in your head about what to do about this problem.

Just ask the question, “How can I have this be easy?” and let the question hang there. Close your eyes, take a breath and ask the question again, “How can I have this be easy?”

If an answer comes to you, then pay attention. Trust the answer that comes to you, even if it seems unworkable at the moment.  Don’t let the crazy-factor of your answer make you write it off completely. Investigate if there are some workable solutions in what you’ve come up with. Consider it this way: If the answer that came to you was indeed the only solution to the problem, then how would you make it work?

If an answer doesn’t come to you, then just go about the rest of your day. Let the question go and any thinking around it, and just let your sub-conscious mind do some churning. See if the answer comes to you later in the day or later that week. When it does, follow the same path as above… take the answer seriously, even if it seems unrealistic, and consider how to make it work. This answer came to you for a reason!

No matter what comes to you as an answer to “how can i have this be easy?”, you’re next move will likely involve either: a) giving yourself permission to do something (or not do something), or b) asking something of someone else. The former requires self-compassion, the latter courage. Dig deep to find either, and move toward easy.