Happy New Year! The one resolution worth having…

Happy new year everyone!  By now you’ve reflected on your year and what worked and didn’t. And as you get off the treadmill and sip your vegetable broth and try to avoid the lingering box of chocolates on your coffee table you resolve to make this year better. You resolve to get rid of defeating patterns and behaviours, you resolve to make your relationships better, to put up with less crap, and to give yourself more of what you need. You have goals. You will treat your body better and you will make more money or improve your job or take up a hobby. You set these targets with hope and positivity and are satisfied with what you’ve come up with.  These things you’ve chosen will make your life better. You will get there.

But at the bottom of your belly could be this mild sense of dread that at times you can harness and other times can overtake you. This sense of impending doom. This all sounds like a lot of work and build-up to more disappointment. Don’t you go through this every year? And now here you are again and on top of everything that didn’t work out….it’s January. Yuck. You look outside and it’s doom and gloom. You have overspent and it’s cold out and what’s to look forward to? For many of you no sunshine or no exciting holiday lined up.  Just these targets that are…let’s face it, not as exciting as you’d hoped – because there is so much pressure and so much work to attaining happiness.

The new year is often a confronting time for most people because there is nothing to hide under. No mulled wine or parties or chocolate to distract you or feed your addictive or escapist tendencies (except for Netflix maybe!). Now it’s just you. Yes you have these goals, but they only highlight what you lack, a certain happiness that lives somewhere in the future. Society teaches us to set goals and do whatever it takes to achieve this elusive ‘happiness’. That’s all good and well and I don’t completely begrudge this. It is good to set goals and take the necessary steps to achieve what we want in life. Life is fruitless without desire. And desire is a healthy driving force that springs us into action.

Ultimately what I have learned though is that happiness doesn’t sustain or satisfy us. Striving is good, but once we get the thing we want there is always another thing we want. We lose weight, then discover now our noses look bigger and our bums look saggy. We meet the soulmate of our dreams; we’re blissful until we realize they snore and leave crumbs everywhere. We get the ultimate job, and then become stressed by the commute and then have no time to spend the money we earn. Happiness is fleeting and temporary. It comes and goes like the seasons. We have no control of it and once we get it there is always the fear of losing it.

So I have decided this year that although I have some goals – some things that I am striving for that could bring me some happiness, my one and only resolution is to sustain the presence of joy in my life. Joy is different to happiness. Joy is the feeling that comes from a place deep inside of you even when circumstances are not favourable. Joy is a state of being. It’s embracing what’s around you and having gratitude for what is available to you, right NOW. Joy is having a really good sense of humour even when life is hard. Unlike happiness, joy is a choice. You have access to joy all the time even in the worst situations.

Bring joy to whatever you are doing, every moment, every day. If you have a long commute to work, find that radio station that works for you and start singing. Grumpy person in traffic cut you off? Laugh at how seriously they are taking themselves instead of getting embroiled in a silly war. So you’re exhausted and it’s Monday and you’re at a job you dislike with colleagues that you despise. Joy might be too hard. But how about acceptance? Smile. Bring people cookies! Feel a bit of joy that you can offer compassion and forgiveness to a situation that you don’t desire. Give attention to whatever task you are doing knowing that by accepting it and letting go of judgement, you are free, and that eventually the present situation is bound to change. People will notice and respond differently to you. Life itself will interact with you in a new way, showing you beauty in ways you never imagined.

Here are some things that bring me joy:  The comfort I feel when I drink a really nice cup of coffee, laughing from my gut with good people in my life, seeing the crinkles around my dad’s beautiful warm eyes and being grateful he is still around and I get to see him, peeling an orange – i love the smell and bright orange colour and all the textures, the sound of rain (even though I hate winter!), a really good hug, music, the feeling of satisfaction I have after I clean the bathroom ( love that awful clean Lysol smell)

And there are so many more. I invite you to see the sacred in everything you do. When you wash dishes feel the warmth on your hands, the smell of the soap, the gratitude you feel that you have four walls when many out there don’t. Your goals and resolutions for the new year will still be there and that’s okay….but for now, just take a deep breath. Let go and allow yourself to feel joy. Feel what this moment right now can bring you, and what you can bring to it.

Are you afraid of the dark?

Happy Halloween folks!!

I know I’m a little early…but I thought I would get a little seriousness in before we begin our indulgent festivities of eating (more) sugar and spooking each other out!

My favourite thing about Halloween is the costumes. I love the effort and creativity people put into them and the childlike wonder they tap into even as adults. In the last couple of years I have heard a lot of people say it’s their favourite celebration – more than Christmas. I ask why and many people say, “Well it’s because I get to be someone else. Or I get to be something I’m not.” I find this very interesting,…because I think costume is about people finally getting to display an aspect of themselves that wants to be expressed. We all have a little bit of a superhero, rock star, princess or demon in us. Halloween is just one night of the year where we give ourselves permission to unleash an aspect of who we are and ridicule it at the same time.

But what if we could do this every day? What if we could let ourselves feel the different archetypes within and not be attached to any of them, understanding that we can be different ones from moment to moment, and that this doesn’t compromise the essence of who we really are? What if we allowed others to do the same?

This sounds exciting, but I think we are often afraid to experience the darker aspects of our characters – the monsters in our closets.  We all have demons and darker parts of our psyche that we try to squash. We spend so much time trying to pretend they’re not there or running away from them. As a society we are condemned for expressing so called “negative” feelings such as anger, fear, lust or anything else that isn’t “good.”  As children we were told to “be good” and stop crying, shouting, or being inappropriate. We then learned to judge ourselves for feeling these darker aspects and then lie to others about how we feel – and then lie to ourselves in the process. But the truth is these feelings are there and are just being suppressed, which in turn leads to illness, crime, addiction, and all sorts of other harmful or deviant behaviour. The reality is that we are humans and so therefore we are here to experience duality – masculine/feminine, good/bad, light/dark, hot/cold, etc. Although it can be difficult sometimes, everything about life on this planet is about polarity – and our goal is to hold space for ourselves and each other while we negotiate our way through all of these experiences.

This isn’t to say that we should stay sitting in these murky darker places. Let’s face it, they don’t feel very good and we want to be positive, loving individuals surrounded by goodness. Yes of course. But that other stuff is still there. So let’s not swallow it. It’s a bit like trying to swallow your own vomit! Yuck!! So let it come out. Let’s give it some space to breathe before it gets out of control. Let’s examine it, let it be heard, send it some acceptance. The irony is that once we do this quite often the so called “negative” feeling loses its hold over you and slowly begins to dissolve. And then you are less likely to punish yourself or take it out on others.

I am always surprised when clients ask me, “Is it okay that I’m angry?” I think the more important question is, “Why are you angry?” Let’s go into why certain situations or people are triggering certain aspects of your being. Have you ever experienced the feeling of jealousy, and then named it, and then told the person? It’s amazing just to say to a friend, “I think sometimes I am really jealous of you because of….x,y or z(whatever it is).” It’s such an empowering thing to do. If it’s a good friend you can usually have a good chuckle with them about it, or they might be really honoured you had the courage to share that and offer ways to support you. But then you might be angry they are trying to support you, (or not support you, in which case you need to look at that relationship?) so then this is another layer you get to look at. What’s your anger about? Is it sadness? And so on… And yes this process can be difficult and painful sometimes. But this is movement. This is power. I’m not suggesting you always have to express your angst to the source itself. But at least come clean to yourself and try to get a safe support system.

Your path to empowerment begins as you stop being afraid of those deeper hidden parts within you. The evolved soul isn’t the one who only embraces “goodness” and light, but the one who acknowledges that we are all  on a path to wholeness. We are beautifully human and wonderfully flawed and that’s just perfect. We can all be a bit witchy and mean and we can all behave like monsters sometimes. At other times we are awed by our own capacity to give and inspire others. We must integrate all these aspects of ourselves with courage and love knowing we are all doing the best we can, and that these darker aspects bring greater depth and clarity to the lighter ones.

One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”― Carl Jung

So my suggestion for Halloween is this: When darkness hits, open that creepy closet that is your consciousness. Climb right in and see what’s there –  your old costumes, things you didn’t even realize were there that are just taking up space. You might be surprised that the lingering ghost at the back you were afraid to look at is just a harmless old sweater that stinks and should be thrown out like a dirty habit, but harmless nonetheless!

Vulnerability

Not long ago my friend gave me an amazing book by Brene Brown called ‘Daring Greatly.’ When I read it the first time it didn’t hit me so hard. My friend said, “Here, you need it.” Well I read it, and thought, yes this book is fabulous. But I’m good at being vulnerable. I know this because I’m good at talking about it and letting it be out there. So I thought maybe I could share some of this stuff with my clients.

Recently I re-read it and my experience was completely different. I cried and cried. What had changed? I suspect that it might be that I really opened my heart to what vulnerability really means for all of us. It means so much more than “talking about” our problems to come up with solutions. Brene defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.”

Brene started bringing up some questions for me that I hadn’t really been asking myself – and now I will ask you:

How willing are you to let your flaws, your shame, your guilt, your fat, all hang out for everyone to see the real you, and how willing are you to see everyone else’s? How willing are you to not ‘airbrush’ your life and the lives of those around you?

In an age where social media is a cover for any  real social interaction, how willing are you to call someone when you want to break up with them or ask them out on a date, as opposed to sending them a vague text?

How willing are you to really be honest with yourself or the people closest to you to say “I’m feeling insecure in this relationship but I don’t know where this is coming from” or “I’m know I’m acting like  a complete jerk right now but I’m not sure how to stop” or “I’ve been in a job I hate for ten years, why I am I not dealing with this and how much pain will I have to deal with if I realized I wasted ten years of my life?”

Brene discusses common myths we are taught by society – such as “go it alone” and “don’t be weak.” Phrases like “I don’t know” are deemed unacceptable so you lie your way through a life you don’t want to live, hoping no one will find out that you aren’t perfect. True success now means sucking it up and getting on with it. Suppress as much as you can, and then manifest illness in your body because you haven’t dealt with any of it. But don’t worry, there’s always a pill you can take (or several) to numb that pain! Well how about collectively accepting that we all have crap to get through?

What drove home for me Brene’s question of whether or not I was willing to be vulnerable was her mention of the definition of vulnerability in the dictionary: “capable to be wounded” and “open to attack or damage”. That sounds pretty scary right? Who needs that? But what people don’t realize is that that’s where all the really good stuff is. If you can sit with your pain and expose your wounds, it gives others permission to do the same. And then you really start showing up for yourself and others in exquisitely beautiful ways. You’ll start to notice shifts when you finally start being real with yourself, and then being real with other people, and stating, “You know what, I really don’t know” or “this part of me hurts right now but I’m doing the best I can.” Suddenly a sense of relief will pervade the room. Suddenly others will start being more real with you in ways you would never have imagined. And then you’ll start living who you are in new and exciting ways because you will have a platform from where to start which is visible and real.

Brene says “To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living. Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity.”

It’s from that beautiful place of vulnerability, you can ask yourself the question: “Am I willing to be hurt?” Because if you’re willing to be hurt then you’re willing to be vulnerable. And yes that means that you might be rejected – by that job you’ve always wanted, the person you have a crush on, the bank who might give you a loan to follow your dream. You might even be rejected by the shop owner who you decide you want to engage in friendly banter with. But it’s only when you are willing for all of those things to happen that your dreams can come true, that you can come out of your safety net and have truly remarkable things happen because you’re willing to take risks. It’s only from this place you can truly accept and be accepted by the person sitting right next to you.  It’s from this place that you cultivate enough faith in yourself to know that no matter what happens you will be okay on the other side of the outcome. You’ll come to realize how extraordinary it is to become a person who can live with the ups and downs of life and be okay with both, rather than living in regret or fear or wonder. You’ll experience a deep sense of peace even when some things don’t work out, because you’ll know you had  the courage to live your life authentically rather than on autopilot. And many times along the way you WILL experience the rewards of profound joy because you were willing to come clean with your pain and insecurities and take a risk anyway.

Brene starts her book Roosevelt’s speech, which is indeed very relevant:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the

man who points out how the strong man

stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could

have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually

In the arena, whose face is marred by dust and

Sweat and blood; who strives valiantly,

who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error

and shortcoming; but who does actually

strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasm

the great devotions; who spends

himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly….”

Brene puts it beautifully when she says “Give me the courage to show up and let myself be seen.” Use that as one of your mantras. Try implementing it. Chances are it will be difficult and daunting. But ultimately it will be awesome.

Start Close In

Today I am writing about feeling stuck, something we all have felt sometime in our lives! Quite often when we are on our journey to get the things we really want in our lives we become paralysed. We want that new job, but for some reason the idea of going out there and inquiring is terrifying, so we continue going to the same place everyday and hate ourselves for it. We want to lose weight to prevent heart disease but yet the very image of the gym gives us heart palpitations! So we hide under the covers with a bag of chips and loath ourselves even more for not doing anything. We create this cyclical tailspin of not really doing anything productive, and judging ourselves, and then being even more paralytic and unable to do anything.

We label ourselves as lazy because society teaches us to do that. But how about being gentle? How about loving yourself and asking what is keeping you in this state of fear? How about asking yourself what your body/soul really needs to gently start the journey in  a way that is manageable for you? So maybe you know you inevitably may end up at the gym in a month or two but right now you’re not ready. So what can you do today to get you moving? Go for a walk? Then tomorrow a longer one? Does that feel more manageable? Then maybe in a couple of weeks a little run? Then a youtube exercise video so no one can see you? Then soon you are ready to take on the gym and it doesn’t seem so bad…or not, who knows, but I’m guessing by this time you are feeling much better about yourself, and you are also being healthier. Same applies to anything else in your life, like finding a job. Maybe your one goal for today is just to look on the internet and see what’s out there, then another small goal is to make a phone call and you give yourself a week to do it. Instead of thinking really big right away, and putting pressure on yourself to make your movements and steps really grand, start small. Don’t skip steps -what’s your first step? Make your goals manageable and realistic so they actually work for you. Set yourself up for success.  Love yourself enough to do that. Don’t impose judgements, we have enough people in our lives to do that. Sometimes when we follow advice from others it makes us feel even worse because we know we can’t do what they have suggested. Then you have their judgements and your own judgements of yourself to deal with! Sometimes the answer is simple, and thing you need to do right in front of you – only YOU can figure it out.

I am posting a poem that I read in my last meditation circle – ‘Start Close In’  by David Whyte. It really moves me because it brings me back to that gentle space of self-love when I get overwhelmed or feel trapped by life’s circumstance. As you read it, try and reflect on your ‘next step’. What can you do today, or this week, to feel good about yourself and bring you into a place of movement?

START CLOSE IN

Start close in,

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
question,
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something
simple.

To find
another’s voice
follow
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
listening
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step you don’t want to take.

~ David Whyte ~

 (River Flow)

 

Almond milk, apple, banana and cinnamon smoothie!

My healing cafe proudly presents the Smashing smoothie full of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals!  An excellent way to start the day or finish one 🙂

Enjoy!

x

A bit of perspective…

golf ball prof

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 Beers.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else—the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your family and friends. There will always be time to clean the house and do menial chores. Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

— author unknown.

Anita Moorjani: Dying to be me

I have to share this YouTube clip on the incredible near-death experience of Anita Moorjani who had terminal cancer with only couple of weeks to live. In the clip she gives an account of what it was like being in a coma – how when she was about to pass over her soul made a decision to come back.

Of course many are disbelievers in the hundreds of near death experiences that have been reported throughout the years….but this one is pretty incredible. When she woke up she was able to give an accurate account of what had been happening around her both in AND out of the hospital room – things that were well out of her earshot. What’s even more remarkable is that her organs were failing and not only did she wake up, but her terminal cancer miraculously disappeared within four days. Anita explains that while she was on ‘the other side’, her father told her that it wasn’t her time yet – that she needed to come back because her journey wasn’t complete and she had a purpose to fulfill.

What’s so inspiring about this story for me isn’t the wow factor of how she miraculously healed, which of course is pretty amazing. What really affected me is the message she wants to send out about what she learned from being on the other side. Anita dispels traditional beliefs about God and heaven, and says rather it is an all-encompassing loving energy that transcends the boundaries of time and space. Experiencing the intensity of this loving energy gave her the clarity to see she had been living in the opposite energy for most of her life – FEAR, where so many of us live. Fear of not fitting in, not having enough, not being good enough, etc.

Anita reminds us to love ourselves: “Be who you are, find your joy and live life with abandon”. I think she’s right, many of us are so plagued with self-loathing and fear that we manifest all sorts of negative events and illnesses in our lives. Fear is an energy that results from feeling we are separate from Source and from each other. Ultimately Anita reminds us we need to remember that we are all connected – to each other and that same universal energy.

Anita’s parting words:” When you lose your fear of death, you lose your fear of life.  Life is a gift, live it fully, love it, love yourself.”