Ingredients to Create a Blissful Life #40: Knowing

Hello and welcome to week number 40 of Ingredients to Create a Blissful Life. This week, your ingredient is: Knowing

Some may call this intuition, some a gut feeling, but how many times have you been confronted by a situation where something just didn’t feel right? Or by a person who rubbed you the wrong way? You couldn’t quite put your finger on it, but something inside you knew that something was not quite right about the situation or about the person and set off a reaction in your body to let you know.

Read more

Ingredients to Create a Blissful Life #39: Glee

Heeheehee… this one is going to be fun!

Your 39th ingredient is: Glee

I’ve written this post ahead of time because when it’s set to publish I’m going to be in a private cottage on a private beach having some time to myself in between facilitating my very first ever retreats. How amazing is that??

This concept of glee is one that I thoroughly enjoy. It’s playful, energetic, and SO much fun!! The best examples of this are small kids and baby animals. Have you ever seen a little child twirling around and around, arms wide open, staring up into the sky and completely experiencing the moment? Or singing and dancing without any concern for who may be watching? How about baby goats or horses hopping and running around and having a blast? I can’t help but laugh when I see these things. Mmm hmmm, that’s the stuff I’m talking about.

Now, spinning around in circles for any length of time is not really something my body enjoys very much anymore and running and jumping around, probably not so much. But being playful, silly, and very purposefully NOT caring who may be watching? I’m in!

What does this look like for you? Playing with kids, pets, friends? Dance class? It may even be a bit quieter in your world and that’s ok too. As long as it gets you in touch with that bubbly, effervescent fun inside you.

If the weather cooperates for us at the retreats, my full intention is to spend some of our time on the beach. And if we get really lucky I’m hoping we can even play in the water a bit. At the very least, my hope is that we can find a physical way to express our glee because it’s one of those things that just feels better when it’s expressed physically, isn’t it?

So, my friends, while we’re off playing, my sincere hope is that you will find a way to incorporate even a little bit more glee into your life because it’s just so much more fun that way. Until next week.

What do you choose?

Ingredients to Create a Blissful Life #38: Rejuvenate

This is very interesting to me. I set up my writing schedule in January and picked the words for each week. For the most part I’ve stuck with the schedule, including this week. What’s interesting is how many of them seem to perfectly coincide with what’s happening in my life in their week and that in almost every case, that was not planned at all when I decided to create this series.

This week, your ingredient is: Rejuvenate

As I write this week’s post, I’m in the final planning stages for facilitating my very first retreat. In fact, when this publishes, I’ll likely be packing and preparing to go away to the private cottage on the private beach that I booked several months ago (long after January when I set this schedule) when some of my coaching clients first talked to me about running a retreat. Amazing what happens when we allow things to show up and follow the paths that present themselves. I am now running 2 separate retreats over the span of 10 days, with 2 delightful groups of women who are taking some time to rest, take care of themselves, and rejuvenate. AND I get a few days by myself in that same private cottage on a private beach to rest, reflect, and rejuvenate in between. How amazing is that?

A dear friend of mine reminds me “You can’t serve from an empty bucket.” But I think what happens is that many of us – particularly many of us women – feel like it’s our job to take care of everyone around us. We’re the nurturers and the care givers, it’s traditionally been considered “Women’s Work” and it’s so deeply ingrained in us that this is supposed to be our responsibility that we sometimes forget that no one’s taking care of us.

So what can we do? The very best thing to do about this is to make self-care a top priority in your life. I know this can be tricky. When people used to talk to me about the idea that I needed to take better care of myself I must have looked completely perplexed and more than a little bit frustrated because I truly had no idea how to do that and even more because I couldn’t figure out how I could fit a single thing more into my schedule. Sound familiar?

How did that change? I got really, really clear that I was creating illness in my body because of all the stress I was putting on myself and allowing others to put on me. Then I got really clear that I would be of no use to anyone if I dropped dead. Then I made a plan to start taking better care of myself. Now I’m not going to tell you that I’m perfect at this. There are times when things get very busy in my world and when that happens, I don’t always do very well with this. But I’m a whole lot better and more conscious of it than I used to be and that is progress in the right direction.

What do you do that rejuvenates you? Bubble baths are nice, so are walks in nature. Reading a good book, meditating, eating food that nourishes your body, moving your body in a way that it enjoys… I bet I could list a hundred things if I thought about it for a few minutes but it may be totally different for you so you can make your own list. Now, how much of that do you have in your life? Are you like the hamster running on the wheel and never getting anywhere or have you figured out how to step off and do the things that recharge your body and your soul?

I know people who put a lot of their value and importance on being needed by others. The truth is that I used to be one of them. Now, I’m conscious that there are people who depend on me and I do my best not to disappoint them, but I am now a top priority in my own life and I fully intend to keep it that way. I have a limited amount of moments on this planet and with the people I care about. I choose to spend them rather than letting them pass by without my noticing.

Now, I’m off to help some amazing and beautiful creatures learn how to do the same. Yippee!! How does it get better than that??

What do you choose?

Ingredients to Create a Blissful Life #37: Pride

Funny, when I opened this post to start writing and saw that this week we were talking about Pride, I immediately thought of a pride of lions. Interesting.

So, this week’s Ingredient to Create a Blissful Life is: Pride

When I follow the line of thought that includes a pride of lions, I suppose I’m picking up on the strength, confidence, and ease lions seem to have. They are at the top of the food chain and I’m sure they know it!

I recently went with a friend to an attraction called African Lion Safari near Cambridge, Ontario. She’d never been and we had a fabulous day. There is a bus ride you can take that takes you through all of the habitats to be able to see the wild animals who live there and of course one of the main attractions is the lions. There were 2 sets, the regular lions and the white lions. In both cases they were laying in the shade paying absolutely no attention to the hundreds of people who were driving by staring at them through the windows and that’s likely because they’re so used to it happening. But there really was a very quiet confidence about them, an air of strength and a complete lack of fear. Fascinating!

So let’s consider this. When I think of pride, there are really several things that come to mind. I think of my religious experiences and “Pride goeth before a fall”; I think of how my heart swelled when my son walked across the stage at his graduation, knowing how hard he had worked to make that happen; and I think of having pride in oneself in the way of confidence and a healthy self esteem. It can be a confusing concept can’t it? What comes to mind for you when you consider what pride means?

I had a conversation several years ago with a co-worker. I was griping about how my superior was trying to undermine my work and how frustrated I was because the changes I was trying to make would drastically simplify things. He asked me “How are you supposed to ever have any pride in a job well done?” and something shifted in my world. Up until then, I think I’d equated pride with boastful and full of ego. I honestly don’t think I’d ever considered that having pride in oneself might actually be a good thing. Funny how things can change in an instant, isn’t it?

So now, I’d say I really like the idea of pride because I associate it more with that quiet confidence than I do with something boastful and attention seeking. It does feel good to have pride in oneself and our accomplishments and if we’re not doing things that make us feel good, what is the point? For myself, I’ll strive toward having more things in my life like that please!

What do you choose?

 

Ingredients to Create a Blissful Life #36: Adventure

You know my favourite type of stories? I absolutely love it when there is something exciting happening. A quest or pirates, things like that. I’m sure part of that is the fantasy (and of course the magic!), but part of that is also your ingredient for this week…

This week’s ingredient is: Adventure!

It’s interesting, until 10 or 15 years ago, I didn’t realize how much I enjoy a good adventure. I remember exploring and being very curious when I was younger, but I’m talking about the “picking up and going where the wind blows you and not really certain if you’ll ever return” kind of adventure. Ever have one of those?

A dear friend of mine announced a couple of weeks ago that she and her family are moving across the country to pursue a business and lifestyle they’ve been dreaming about. I think most people would be sad that their friends are moving away. Me? I was excited and actually started wondering if it would be possible for me to go along. I’m certain I’ll see them again (we’re already making plans for my first visit), I’m thrilled that they’re facing risk and fear and the uncertain to do what they believe to be the right move for their family, and am just a little bit disappointed that it’s not my adventure this time.

You know the best thing about doing something like this? For me, it was learning that I’m much stronger and more resilient than I ever realized. It taught me that no matter where I find myself, I will learn and adapt and that’s an incredible gift! The confidence to know that I can stand on my own and that I will figure it out is something that cannot be bought – it can only be earned by doing it.

Now, not everyone is going to move to a different part of the world, some may never move away from the town they were born in. And it really doesn’t have to be even nearly that drastic. Adventure can be as simple as trying different foods, taking a dance class, even going to an event where you don’t know anyone. It can be going on a trip to someplace exciting for you and exploring. It can be whatever it is in your world.

So here’s what I’m going to ask you to consider this week. What gets your heart pumping and makes you excited by what could be possible? And when was the last time you did that? Would it be fun for you to have more of that in your world? If your answer is yes, what would it take to have more of that and are you willing to do it?

Is it about challenging yourself or like my friends, taking a huge leap and seeing where you land? Whatever it is, it is your choice whether you’d like to be quiet and peaceful or taking risks with your adrenaline pumping. Neither is right, neither is wrong, just a choice. And by the way, you can always choose something different. I generally land on the adrenaline pumping and risk taking side of things but not always. I really have no desire at this point in my life to jump out of a plane with nothing but a piece of material strapped to my back. But I might just love to explore being a gypsy a bit more while I’m here…

What do you choose?

Ingredients to Create a Blissful Life #35: Believe

Are you ready to bid farewell to summer? I know, many people don’t like this time of year but I must confess, I LOVE it! There seem to be cycles of starting and ending both at the same time and there’s something about the combination of those two energies that really gets me.

This week, your ingredient is: Believe

We’ve talked about a lot of things so far (34 to be exact), and every one of them excites me on some level. But there’s just something about believing that puts it right up there, don’t you think? It requires that we have faith and that we hope at the same time. There’s another yummy combination of energies that gets me going. Ahhh

If you’ve been following me or seen me speak, you already know that life hasn’t been very easy in my world. Here’s the thing though, if it had been I’m not sure this muscle would have gotten so strong. When you are living in utter poverty and there isn’t enough money to buy food for yourself and formula for your baby, when you have been beaten down and beaten down by people who are supposed to love you the most, when you have NO idea how you’ll find the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other, THAT is where belief is born and nurtured. If you don’t believe it’s possible for things to get better, what’s the point? And if you’re in one of those situations or another that is equally challenging, I promise you, things can get better!! You may have to make some different choices and change some of your circumstances, but they absolutely can.

So I’m going to tell you, I have arrived at a space where I can honestly say that I am grateful for every single painful, difficult thing that has ever happened to me. I believe that life is all about growth and change. I also believe that what has happened in your life – every single thing – has led you to the place you currently occupy. If you are at all happy with your life, your circumstances, or with the person you’ve become that requires that you acknowledge the contribution every situation, every person, every broken heart, every laugh, every tear, every single choice has played in leading you to here and to now.

I’m also incredibly grateful that I have been able to learn that I have the strength, resourcefulness, and intestinal fortitude to make it through anything and everything that will ever be thrown at me. That is a gift that allows me to face my world with confidence, with a smile on my face, and with a belief that many don’t have. How blessed am I?

So let me ask you, have you already developed the belief that you are special and unique and amazing and that fabulous things are not only possible but that you CAN have them? Have you faced enough challenges that you know who you are and what you’re made of? If you have then I am doing a big and wiggly happy dance for you!!

If you’re still working on it, that’s ok. When life gets tough we can get really tired and when we’re tired it can be really hard to see how strong and smart and resilient we truly are. You may not even know that’s there yet, but it’s a birthright that belongs to each and every one of us. Here’s the key – you have to choose it! It is something that everyone who realizes the truth can have but only those who seek it can find it.

So here’s the question for this week. Would you be willing to start to see what is amazing and beautiful and special about you so you can step into your greatness? Are you even willing to believe that that is even possible? There’s no right or wrong, remember. Only choice.

What do you choose?

Ingredients to Create a Blissful Life #34: Satisfaction

Hi again! August is almost over, in a little over a week, the kids will be back in school and “normal life” will resume for many. There’s a commercial from Staples that always makes me laugh. We got rid of TV a couple of months ago (and I confess, I am LOVING it!!) so I can’t say for sure if it’s still on, but you know the ones they’ve been playing for years. The parents skipping through the aisles buying school supplies for the kids who are going back to school with the Most Wonderful Time of the Year Christmas carol playing in the background. Brilliant marketing!

This week, your ingredient to create a blissful life is: Satisfaction

Now that, is a great word! As you may have noticed, I very rarely use actual definitions of words because I like to focus more on the feelings the words create for me and this is definitely one of those. Imagine how you feel when you’re utterly and completely sated. There is no sense of lack or of want and no thought of need. More of that please!

So what does it take to create satisfaction in your world? Is it a job well done, a happy family, a large bank account? Truth is, in my world, any and all of those things definitely help. But when I’m really, deeply satisfied it’s so much more than that.

I confess, I’ve been known to be something of a worry wart. LOL I still work on this and my latest technique is refusal. I know, sounds odd, but I am staunchly and adamantly refusing to give in to worry! You may remember that we had a VERY expensive day not so long ago. In fact, it took the majority of the funds I had set aside to take care of everything that needed to be taken care of. So, if I focus on that, my worry kicks in and I start to think about how most of what I had is gone, I don’t have very much left, what will happen when the bills come in… and I can very quickly start to spin in circles because I’m looking at the thing that causes worry. The space of “There is NOT enough”.

OR, I can look at my bank account and be incredibly thankful that I had the money available and it wasn’t necessary to take on thousands of dollars in debt to take care of things and know that although it may take me some time, I’ll replenish that and I still have lots of things I can do to make money and lots of things I could sell if I needed to not to mention piles of work on and around my desk as we speak that will be billed out when it’s finished. And of course, there’s always credit available if I need it. And by the way, the account isn’t even completely empty so how great is that?!

In order for me to achieve a level of satisfaction in my world, occupying a space of refusal really helps. How can you be satisfied with anything – relationships, work, home, possessions… – when you allow those other thoughts to steal your peace?

So here’s what I’m going to ask you to try this week. Pick one thing in your life with which you are tremendously satisfied. It really doesn’t matter what it is, all you need is to think about how you feel about that thing and get a really good sense of what that is for you. Now think of something that is exactly the opposite and don’t worry, if it’s something you’re avoiding or not dealing with, that’s even better. When you have it, get a sense of what that feels like. I’m not just talking about your emotions here. I’m also asking you to check in with how your body feels. When you’re thinking of the thing that’s satisfying how does that show up in your body? What about the other?

Once you have a really good sense of this, get into the space of dis-satisfaction and ask yourself this. “What needs to change for me to feel the same way about this as I did about the one that gives me satisfaction?” and here’s one of the hardest parts. DON’T try to figure out the answer. Here’s the thing. Our minds are limited in what they are able to perceive based on what we’ve experienced and what we know. There are millions of possibilities we have no idea are available because we haven’t experienced them yet so when we ask a question like this and leave it open, we create the possibility that something new and unexpected can show up.

Then all you need to do is pay attention to what happens in your world. It might take some time but something will show up. Then it’s up to you whether to grab onto it and act or ignore it. Neither is right, neither is wrong. Both are just a choice. For me? I’ll take creating as much peace and satisfaction in my world as I can find but you can choose whatever you like.

What do you choose?

Ingredients to Create a Blissful Life #33: Peace of Mind

Hello again! Here we are in mid-August and I’ve been taking some time to re-charge and get back in touch with me. I hope you’ve been able to find some time to do the same. If you’re anything like me, you don’t slow down often. Even while I’ve been re-charging I’ve been canning and pickling and cleaning and purging and taking spontaneous day trips and playing and spending time with friends… I’ve also been being as quiet as possible in the middle of all this activity and listening to my soul.

This week, your ingredient is: Peace of Mind.

Mmmmm… take a minute to just find that space. Funny, I actually find it easier when I’m doing something that doesn’t require a lot of thought or when my body is very tired. Regardless, see if you can find it and be there, even for just a moment.

How does that feel? Yummy, right? It can be tricky to be there when there are so many demands on our time, but try it again and see if you can’t find it in just a few seconds… It’s really not hard, it’s just a matter of focusing on that feeling that everything is fine and there’s nothing to worry about. If you need something to focus on, try a shady spot near a babbling brook where the only sounds you hear are the birds and the brook and a gentle breeze as it moves through the leaves of a huge willow tree that seems to have the perfect spot for you to rest your back against and close your eyes for just a moment.

Ahhh, there it is.

Now, come on back and allow yourself to consider what takes you out of that space. Is it your work, your family, your… ? Maybe it isn’t any of the specific people or factors that make up your life as much as it’s about the way you perceive them. Interesting. What happens if you go back into that lovely visualization again and bring your spouse with you. Let he or she share that space for a moment and maybe you’re lounging together at the base of the willow cuddled up on a blanket and just relaxing together… Now what if you add your kids and make it a picnic scene… Imagine everyone behaving nicely and getting along. Picture laughter and play and everyone occupying that same space of Peace of Mind. (If you don’t have a spouse or kids, substitute your friends, pets, parents/siblings/nieces/nephews – whoever is important in your world.) How did that feel?

Our lives have gotten so busy it’s easy to get caught up in the hurry of things and in that pace of “Right Now!“, isn’t it? There are a lot of things and a lot of people who want to tell us what we “should” and what we “have to” in order to be considered “Good Enough”. And only the people who are “Good Enough” get to be successful and have joyful, happy lives, don’t they? Isn’t that the world we live in? Or is it…

Stop, take a breath, close your eyes, and be back under that willow tree with the people you love the most. How many “shoulds” and “have tos” does it take in that space to be “Good Enough“? Ahhhh, there it is.

To have true Peace of Mind requires that we be aware of the outside demands, but that they don’t become our central focus. People talk about this idea all the time. Having your priorities straight, mindfulness, knowing what’s important. But whatever words we attach to this idea, it can be incredibly difficult to perceive what is required and even more difficult to put it into practice.

So here’s an idea: What could change in your world if for just the next 3 days, 3 times a day, you could take just a moment to breathe and close your eyes and be under that willow tree again with the people you love the most? Lounging, relaxing, playing, and enjoying them thoroughly. Maybe put something on your desk to remind you. A picture, a post-it note, write a note on the bathroom mirror, whatever works for you. And whenever you see that, stop, take a breath, close your eyes, and be back under that willow tree with the people you love the most.

What would it take for you to just give it a try and see what might shift? And once you get the hang of it, what if you made it a strategy you can use whenever you like to help you when the “shoulds” and “have tos” come calling and things start to feel like they’re going too fast? It happens to everyone and you can get caught up in it if you want. Myself, I’m not really a big fan of the heart pounding queasiness that happens when I start to feel like things are spinning too fast, but maybe you are. As always, it’s just a choice.

What do you choose?

Ingredients to Create a Blissful Life #32: Compassion

This post will be an interesting one to write. You may remember that there are certain ingredients I picked to coincide with specific dates throughout the year. This is one. The reason? This week marks the 15th anniversary of the day I married my husband, Dave Emmons.

Your ingredient for the week is: Compassion

I picked this word because I believe that one of the most necessary things in a marriage is compassion. Every single one of us has hard things to face in life, and every single one of us makes mistakes and bad calls in judgment. Our hope must be that the impact of those mistakes and judgment calls does not cause too much upheaval or discomfort to those we care about, but the fact is that it almost always does. After all, when something blows up, it is those closest to the blast who get hit by the worst shrapnel.

I think it’s safe to say that most of us marry people we believe to be good people (for the record, I also believe that the vast majority of us are, in fact, good people), meaning that we don’t go out of our way to cause others harm, we show kindness far more often than we don’t, and we generally take care of our responsibilities and treat our loved ones with respect. So when we or they drop the ball occasionally, it’s usually not the end of the world and that’s where the compassion comes in. We can look at them with understanding and knowing that whatever has happened does not typically represent who they be.

That being said, important to note that letting people off the hook who consistently behave badly and treat people with unkindness is not my version of compassion. That’s more along the lines of allowing yourself to be treated like a doormat and if that’s you, you might want to consider that there are people out there who would rather treat you with kindness and respect and start asking yourself why you’re allowing this. Which leads to an interesting point…

So what about compassion for ourselves when things don’t work out the way we hoped? Have you ever woken up and realized that what you have is not what you planned? I suspect most of us have moments like that and the choice we have in that moment is whether we are happy and satisfied enough with what we have created or whether we’ve gone off track somewhere and need to get back on. After all, sometimes what we have is far better than what we thought we wanted isn’t it?

But what if it’s not? One of the hardest things when you find yourself in that position can be allowing yourself permission to want the things you want, don’t you think? We have so many rules and ideas about what’s ok and not, what’s right and wrong, what makes us good or bad people… What if your desire calls you away from what is “acceptable”? There’s almost always a price to pay at that point and only you can decide what you need and what it’s worth.

It seems I have a lot to say on this subject and I’m in danger of going off on another tangent here so I’m going to stop making my point there. I’ll just ask you to consider that compassion is not something that is only meant to be given to others. Sometimes the person who needs the most compassion from us is the one we see looking back from the mirror. Giving yourself at least as much as you would give another? Definitely worth considering.

What do you choose?

 

Ingredients to Create a Blissful Life #31: Bliss

Can you believe it’s already August?? I don’t know about you, but this year is going by really, really fast!

Your Ingredient to Create a Blissful Life for the 31st week of 2015 is: Bliss!

Bliss is a funny word. It seems to bring up all kinds of things for people. A year or so ago, I was playing with some ideas about what I was going to call myself in this new stage of my life. Bookkeeper didn’t really fit anymore, Coach sort of fits but not really… what would I call my new role??? So I started to play with different ideas and asked people I knew to give me feedback. I got the funniest reaction from “Your Guide to Bliss”. A friend said that she wasn’t sure about “bliss” because it made her think of orgasmic sex. Naturally, I shied away from that.

It was later that I started to wonder why? I mean, I don’t expect anyone under the age of 18 to read my writing, let alone ask to work with me. I work with grown women. And how does it get better than orgasmic sex? And let’s be real here – if you’ve been following me at all, have you seen me talking about sex at all? Let alone in an x-rated manner?

What was interesting for me was realizing that I seem to have some judgments about what it means to be associated with that. The fact is that sex is a huge part of relationship and when things go wrong it’s very often part of the problem. We talk about it in my groups because it isn’t a blissful thing for many of us, if we’re having it at all.

At any rate, this post was not meant to be about sex – it’s about bliss. LOL

So tell me this. What has ever caused you to feel completely, unadulterated, absolute bliss?

For me, I get there more and more quickly anymore. If I were to tell you what bliss feels like for me, it’s very peaceful and joyful and effervescent. It usually happens when I’m taking time for me, I think because nothing is required of me in the moment. Interesting.

If you’re struggling to remember what bliss feels like for you or when you last felt it, you can start with the things that make you giggle. The things we do just for fun. Dancing, singing, creating, playing…

Next week, I’m running a workshop and one of the exercises I use is called “Finding Your Bliss”. Part of the exercise is about getting really clear on how we spend our time and it’s really quite astonishing. We wonder why we’re not happy but the fact is that many of us are spreading ourselves so thin it’s amazing we’re able to keep going at all. So the trick to finding your bliss? It’s really very simple. Make yourself a priority. (If you’re having trouble doing that, you can find information for the workshop at https://phoenixcoach.ca/3-huge-mistakes-busy-women-make)

I’m going to be really frank with you. I have no judgment about whether people choose to live in a joyful, blissful state or don’t. I am fully aware that people make their own choices and some are very comfortable living in places that are full of hard walls and sharp edges. I’ve done that! What makes me sad is the people who wake up and realize that’s happened and don’t know how to change it.

Bliss requires that we choose things that make our heart sing. It is so simple – maybe too simple? Try this. For one week, every day, just choose one thing for yourself. No other reason. Just one thing, once a day that is just for you and let me know what happens.

Or don’t… It’s your choice.

What do you choose?

 

Ingredients to Create a Blissful Life #30: Allowance

Wow, what a week it’s been! Apologies that this post is late, but once you read it through I’m betting you’ll forgive me! LOL This week, I’ve been reminded of several things and have become aware of several more and things are shifting, shifting, shifting… Thankful for dear friends who help me work through things when I get stuck.

This week, your ingredient to create a blissful life is: Allowance

I like this word. Really like it! For me, allowance is mostly about occupying a space of ease with whatever circumstances are happening in my world, but there’s another piece of it that I’ve been missing. I’ve been working through so many things and somehow, I got stuck in a space of “Expert” and got really wound up in the idea that for me to teach something, I must be perfect at it myself. Ick! Ever find yourself in that space? It’s very unforgiving and judgmental and some of those really nasty gremlins live there. You know the ones? “Who do you think YOU are?” “You actually think you’re good enough for that?” “What are you thinking?” UGH!

Luckily, two lovely friends reminded me of some truths I really needed to hear! To give you some context, this week (inside 24 hours) I experienced an infestation of carpenter ants in my bedroom that was discovered after waking up several times to them crawling on me, the clutch went on my car, and our 30+ year old air conditioner kicked the bucket. It was really not a good day, and these challenges only reflect part of what arose to be dealt with in that same 24 hours.

To add insult to injury, someone who was trying to be helpful kept insisting that I laugh my way through it all and I’ll be honest, I didn’t feel much like laughing and being told that I should be really did not help my mood. It was a lot to digest, it happened in a very short period of time, and I really just needed a bit of time to process. And I was PO’d! The things that happened that require repairs alone are worth roughly $4000-5000 and it was all in ONE day! That is probably one of the most expensive days of my life!

And here’s where I fell into the trap. I bought into the idea that I was supposed to be able to laugh my way through it and that I wasn’t supposed to be angry and I wasn’t supposed to need time to take a few deep breaths and let myself process because I’m the expert and I should know better, right? And when I bought into it, I made myself wrong for feeling how I felt, and that just made me even angrier – and not at my critics, at myself! You can tell this isn’t going in a very good direction, right?

The following day, a friend called and I told her everything that had happened the day before and how frustrated I was with myself and I realized just how deeply this was affecting me. I somehow had gone from a space of being angry that a bunch of really rotten things had happened all at once, to making myself wrong for feeling upset about that, to starting to feel like because I wasn’t able to laugh my way through it I’m a fraud and a failure and therefore have no business teaching you or anyone else about creating a blissful life. HOLY COW! That really went off course and fast, didn’t it? Amazing how quickly that can happen!

So here are the truths that my friends reminded me of. I’m really good at what I do, I’m giving people tools that help them cope with life – and I have learned those tools because of the things life has thrown at me so all of these experiences are actually helpful to the people I work with, and (this is a big one!) if I require that my life be perfectly blissful every minute of every day before I share the tricks and tools I’ve learned, that time will never come.

And the missing piece in my definition of allowance? Allowing yourself the space and time to process whatever is happening and feel what you feel so you can get to a space of ease with your circumstances. Ahhhh, now that’s better…

Here’s the thing. Happy is a choice. Bliss is a choice. They are always available to you. But the mistake is in trying to force yourself to occupy that space before you’ve arrived there. Sometimes, we are dealt a really crappy hand! That, my friend, is truth. And sometimes, when things are really crappy, we feel sad or angry or frustrated or overwhelmed or afraid or….. (here’s where the allowance piece comes in)… and it’s ok to feel all of those things for a while. In fact, it’s when we don’t let them process and try to deny them that we cause ourselves real harm. These things get stuck and they will just sit there waiting for another time to rear their ugly heads.

I do choose happy and I do choose to do everything in my power to laugh my way through life. What I no longer choose is to force myself to deny my other feelings in order to make other people more comfortable or to pretend that life isn’t sometimes really hard. It can be. And you can feel what you feel and move through it to release it, or you can push it down and deny it so it can come back to be dealt with another time. Neither is right, neither is wrong. They are both just choices.

What do you choose?

Ingredients to Create a Blissful Life #29: Excitement

Hello and welcome back! It amazes me that I wrote my list of subjects for Ingredients to Create a Blissful Life several months ago and yet almost every week as I’ve seen what my topic is, I’ve realized that the subject is very relevant to what’s happening in my world that week. Interesting…

So this week, your ingredient to create a blissful life is: Excitement.

When was the last time you got really excited about something? I have to tell you that excitement has got to be one of my favourite states of being and maybe because of that, it usually doesn’t take very much. LOL

You know the really good kind? Think of kids in the weeks leading up to a big vacation or Christmas morning. Mmmm, now that feels good. Do you feel free to express your excitement or are you concerned what other people might think? If you’re able to jump and squeal and wiggle with excitement, BRAVO! But if you’re like the vast majority of adults I know, that doesn’t exactly describe you. So I’m going to ask you to consider a few things.  Ready?

I don’t have an answer for this, but I find myself wondering at what point we are no longer supposed to express ourselves? I see all of these signs “Keep Calm and…” and wonder what’s so great about keeping calm? I suppose in an emergency situation not losing your head is probably a good thing, but we’ve taken it much farther than that. Not expressing our emotions is rarely, if ever, good for us and we know this because there are studies and papers and articles everywhere. I suspect that someone, at some point, decided that being a responsible adult meant that one must behave in a serious manner.

I’m wracking my brain right now trying to think of how that was communicated to me and I really can’t think of anything specific. Perhaps it’s one of those things that is never really said but we pick it up from watching the grown ups… I can’t be sure but somewhere along the line in my life and in the lives of many of the people I know, this is the message we received. I don’t even really have a concept of why it’s bad to be silly… funny thing.

For me, when I started to realize that being responsible and being silly weren’t mutually exclusive, things shifted dramatically. Something happened and I was just so excited that I couldn’t stop myself from giggling and wiggling and dancing and being completely joyful. And it felt AMAZING! Were people looking at me funny? Yes, but I simply did not care because I was so focused on feeling good that nothing and nobody mattered who wasn’t going to share in that with me. It was like the cork had popped and I was simply overflowing with effervescent, beautiful, silly, gleeful bliss. What a day that was!

Here’s the thing. Joy and excitement are contagious and when we are able to get out of our heads long enough to drop our judgments and realize how beautiful that space is, we can share that with the world. Would you rather spend your time with someone who is very serious and very responsible or someone who’s joyful and silly and still gets the job done? Marianne Williamson wrote a very famous speech that talks about our greatest fear being not our darkness, but our light. She shares that when we allow ourselves to be our brilliant, beautiful selves, we create a space where others are allowed to do the same. Yummy!

Think of a person you know who shares their excitement openly. Consider who they are and how you feel about and perceive them. If you believe they’re foolish, you may really need this more than anyone else. If you look at them with envy, there’s some hope for you. But if you are able to jump in with them and enjoy yourself too, you are on the right track. We all have responsibilities, we all have chores and projects and people who depend on us. The question I’m asking is this: Why does that mean we can’t have boatloads of fun at the same time? Can you imagine a world where people play instead of complaining? Where there’s so much abundance that no one needs to worry about anything?

The last couple of weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time on this idea of lack vs. abundance with my groups. Do you realize that humans are the only species on the planet that waste our energy worrying about whether or not we’ll have enough? We are the only creatures who hoard and take far more than we could ever use? (And please don’t interpret this to mean that I’m telling you not to save or be prepared. I am not saying that we shouldn’t be responsible.) Other animals and plant life don’t spend their time questioning their existence the way we do and that’s not all bad because if we didn’t, no one would come up with ideas to make things easier, but we often take this to an extreme that actually paralyzes us and stops us from being able to enjoy the fact that we do exist.

So let me ask you this. Have you ever not had what you needed? Ever, really? We live in a world where there is SUCH abundance but we believe somehow that we are required to do everything for ourselves. That’s where worry starts and worry kills excitement. What could change in your world if for just 3 days you occupied a space of complete and utter belief that you have everything you need and will always have everything you need? Where what you have doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you have it? Where no matter what happens, help will always be available so there is absolutely NO need to worry? Go ahead and try it and let me know what happens!

So what do you have to get excited about? Well, you woke up this morning didn’t you? Do you have work that pays the bills so you will have what you need? Do you have a comfortable place to lay your head and people to love? Those are great places to start! If you’ve ever had a dog, think about what happens when you come home. They are absolutely thrilled to see you! What could change in your relationships if you met your loved ones at the door with even one tenth that excitement? What could change if you put one tenth of that excitement into your job or planning for your future or any other part of your life? Why not try it and see? Worst case scenario, you’re no worse off than you are right now and you may have had a bit of fun. Best case scenario? More joy, more giggling, more fun, and more bliss. I’ll have some more of that please!

What do you choose?

Ingredients to Create a Blissful Life #28: Contentment

Hello again! I’m back with another ingredient to help you create a blissful life. Here we go!

This week, your ingredient is: Contentment

I’ve been pondering this subject because truthfully, I’m not really the kind of person who waits around for very long. Once I accomplish one thing it isn’t long before I start looking for the next thing I’d like to create. LOL At first, I thought that meant I may have trouble with being content because I get bored and like to be working on a project, and then I realized the two are not mutually exclusive.

Probably the best saying I’ve ever heard that I would relate to contentment is, “God’s in his Heaven and all’s right with the world.” Religious beliefs aside, I really like what this has to say. All is right with the world. I’ll have some of that please!

A common misconception I hear a lot is this idea of if/when this happens, then I can be happy. But what if it’s not about waiting? Hmmm…

I’m a dog person. We’ve had at least one for most of my life and I really don’t imagine I’ll ever go very long without one. They are very good company! Do you know how to tell when your dog is content? It’s that huge belly sigh. You know, the one that they give right at the moment they decide to fully relax? That one. When was the last time you had one of those big belly sighs?

So why is contentment so important? I think it takes a certain amount of belief or maybe even faith to ever really be able to reach that point. Whether it’s in your relationships, your higher power, or yourself (and perhaps in a combination of all three) it is very hard to be completely at peace without faith.

It’s funny, I was facilitating one of my coaching groups tonight and we were talking about something very similar. We were playing with an idea that I find very empowering. Imagine what it might feel like to be stronger, more capable, more potent, and more magical than you ever realized was possible. I have a figurine of a fairy in my sunroom and when I think of potency, she’s what I picture. Head held high, hair blowing, and she looks a wee bit fierce. I picture her in the middle of a huge storm and completely without fear.

I invite you to take a few moments and play with this idea yourself. What would it feel like for you? Would you be fearful? Of anything? I don’t imagine that fear is even relevant in that space, but that’s my picture and you may imagine something totally different.

So let me ask you, if that were really possible (and just so we’re clear, it is) would you choose it? Interesting to me how many people who become aware that more is possible don’t choose it. More peace, more strength, more love, more money… it doesn’t matter what the more is, they simply don’t make that choice. I confess, it sort of boggles my mind but it’s not up to me to worry about other people’s choices.

Perhaps that’s their version of contentment. For me, it’s more about knowing that I’m on the right path, moving in the right direction. That I like to be busy and working on something doesn’t mean I’m not able to achieve a level of contentment – it simply means I like to be busy and productive. Aha!

I’ve become very comfortable with not having to have all of the answers because I know that when I decide what things need to look like I’m actually limiting what can show up and I’ve learned that if I can let go and allow it, things can show up completely differently and much better than I’d imagined was possible.

And I know – beyond a shadow of a doubt – I can and will deal with whatever circumstances present themselves. How do I know that? Historical evidence. I always have so why would this time or the next one or the one after that be any different? Consider that for yourself. You’re still here, still alive, still breathing, right? So you’ve survived every challenge, every problem, every disappointment and heartbreak life’s thrown at you, haven’t you? And there is your historical evidence. You may actually be stronger, more capable, more potent, and more magical than you realized was possible… Heehee

And to be completely irreverent and politically incorrect, by the time you have any historical evidence that you won’t survive something, it won’t matter anymore will it?

So you can find contentment and peace and have belief that you will survive everything that comes your way or you can worry about every single thing that comes up. Happy/content is not about everything being perfect, no matter what people might say. It’s not about always making the safe choice, or about planning until you can’t have a spontaneous thought, and it most certainly is not about requiring yourself and your life to be perfect. Continue searching and waiting, or decide to have it now regardless of where you’re at? Your choice my friend, as always.

What do you choose?

Ingredients to Create a Blissful Life #27: Gratitude

Hi again, and welcome to your Ingredients to Create a Blissful Life post for the 27th week of 2015. I chose a few for the year very purposefully, and this is one. My inspiration this week is my mother’s birthday. Without her, I would not be here and I am exceedingly grateful for that. So happy birthday mom! Luv you!

Your ingredient this week is: Gratitude

Gratitude is such an amazing thing. It’s a practice that requires us to be mindful and purposeful in what we’re thinking about and it is one that I’ve made a regular part of my life. For most of my life, I’ve had trouble sleeping and since I learned this practice many years ago, I’ve tried to end my day with a prayer of gratitude for everyone and everything I have in my life. I’ve found that when I go to sleep thinking about all of the things I have to be grateful for I sleep better than almost any other time.

A really simple and effective way to start incorporating gratitude into your life is an exercise I’ve been asking my clients to practice and it’s worked incredibly well for some of them. One of my ladies showed up last week and we were all amazed and thrilled to see that she was absolutely glowing. The reason? She’d been practicing the gratitude exercises I’d asked them to the week before. Here’s the rundown:

  • Every morning, before your feet even hit the floor, say “Thank you” to whatever higher power you believe in for the gift of another day. It’s another day to love your spouse, your children, your friends and family; another day to work hard and play hard; another day to laugh and dance and play and smell flowers and taste delicious things and do all of the amazing things that we can only experience with another day on this wondrous planet. How does it get any better than that??
  • Create a gratitude journal and every night when you’re winding down and getting ready for bed, write down 3 things you’re grateful for – preferably things that you’ve experienced or were reminded about that day if at all possible. Even if it’s been a terrible day, just say “Thank you that I made it through today.” and that’s enough.

Both of these things can actually take less than 15 minutes a day and I promise you, they will change your world. As you go along, the most beautiful thing happens. We start to think about needing to find things to write about in our journal and that causes us to start to notice the most amazing things. The colours in the sky as the sun rises or sets that we’ve seen a million times but don’t usually pay much attention to. The laughter of a child. A simple act of kindness or a thoughtful word that we may have not even recognized but now we do. A hug or a touch that conveys someone’s love. Ahhhhh….

And how does this change your world? It’s simple really. One cannot occupy the space of judgment at the same time as one occupies the space of gratitude. That means that as long as we are being grateful, we don’t complain. And when we don’t complain we remain focused on the good things in our lives, and what we focus on grows.

When we focus on how grateful we are for having work to do and an income, we’re not as likely to find fault with our job and the people we work with. Focus on how grateful we are to have people who love and support us and we’re not as likely to complain about them. And I can promise you, if you have a relationship in your life that is particularly difficult and you’d like to change it, start considering all of the ways that person is a contribution to your life and you’ll start interacting with them differently and the relationship will very likely improve. Just think about how wonderful it feels to be around people who appreciate you and know that’s what you’ll be bringing to that person. How lovely is that? When we focus on how fortunate we are to have whatever we have in our lives, we realize just how lucky we really are.

So are you willing to give it a try? Like everything else, it’s a choice but I’m going to challenge you to try this for just 10 days and see what happens. I’d love to hear how it goes! Worst thing that could happen? It might not work and if that’s the case, you’re no worse off than you were before you started. But what if it does? What could your world look like if you were consciously looking for the good things and not focusing on the hard ones? Hmmmm…..

What do you choose?