The practice that saved me…

The practice that saved me…

Thirteen years ago, there was so much dissonance in my life. On paper, my life probably looked pretty good. I’m pretty sure I was the youngest person in management at a large telecommunications company. I had gathered the courage to leave a long term relationship that wasn’t right for me, and I had recently claimed my independence by getting my first apartment. The truth however, was something completely different. I was working long hours at a job that felt meaningless to me. Although I had made some bold moves in my life, I was feeling stuck. I struggled with emotional eating and gained 40 pounds. I was building my life around what I thought I was supposed to want, and I had never stopped for long enough to figure out what I actually wanted. I didn’t know how to turn it around. I suffered from insomnia, had little to no energy, and was very anxious.I felt very isolated and alone. I was a smart, ambitious woman who should be able to do whatever she wanted. How could I have let this happen? The little voice in my head had no sympathy for me. My own decisions put me in this place, and I should just suck it up and put a smile on my face. After all, other people had way bigger problems than me. Who did I think I was to complain? To want more for myself? Who was I to dream? What I had was reliable, and it wouldn’t be practical to reassess my trajectory this far in. Besides, other people would be affected if I switched routes...
“This job is not that important to me.”

“This job is not that important to me.”

Sometimes I feel like a walking contradiction. I do Crossfit and I eat chocolate every day.  I am a yogi, and I want women to get in touch with their anger. I am all about healthy self-care, and I also binge-watch Netflix with Keegan. (It’s all about balance, right?) Our current obsession is The Blacklist. It’s one of those high-intensity procedural dramas where the FBI has a special team that’s going around catching criminals in exciting and dramatic ways. Lizzie, the main character, is all-in when it comes to her career. She cancels date nights regularly and doesn’t seem to have a life outside of work. So imagine my surprise when, in an episode we were watching the other night, she said, “This job is not that important to me.” Huh? Could’ve fooled me. I mean, if it’s not that important to her, why is she putting all of her time and energy into it? It seems to me that it’s the most important thing to her. (To be honest, in this case, she actually even loves her job. I’m sure it’s what she would be doing if money were no object, but I digress…) We’ve all been there. Sometimes we can suddenly wake up and wonder why we’re so committed to things that really, in our heart of hearts, aren’t important to us. That’s when we know we need to call a time out. It’s up to us to align the way we spend our time with what matters most to us. We must insist on living our priorities. Otherwise, what’s it all for…right? When it comes to spending...
What Women Are Really Like

What Women Are Really Like

I’ve been told a lot of crap about women throughout my life. People have insisted that… Women are vicious to one another. Women can’t be friends. An office full of women is a chaotic nightmare. This has not been my experience. Instead… Women have shown me such deep compassion and caring – and they’ve taught me to do the same for myself and for others. Women have deep friendships based in empathy and understanding- not vicious competition. An office full of women is a creative, inspired, and often hilarious place.  The truth is that we are writing our own stories. We are trying to hard to figure it all out. We feel called to get it right. We insist on doing better. I love that about us. In deep conversation yesterday, a friend asked, “What if we just lived the questions?” I’m trying it on, and it feels good – expansive, open, curious. I often find myself rushing to answer, to figure things out, to nail it down. Today, I thought I’d try a different approach and just share my questions with you. No bold statements or grand conclusions. I would simply love to be in conversation with you. I’d love to live the questions together. On this International Women’s Day, I’m wondering… How can we create a culture that nurtures our wholeness? How can we come together in community in these busy times? How can we anchor our pursuits in our values? How we can we show up more fully for ourselves and for each other? How can we create a better present (rather than future)? I’d love to hear your thoughts, and...
She’s got skills…leadership skills.

She’s got skills…leadership skills.

Keira is a confident person. She’s in tune with herself. She knows what she wants and she articulates it clearly and specifically. If she asks for help and doesn’t get it, she asks again and even shows them what she means. When someone asks her to do something that she’s not interested in doing, she simply says “no.” Her tone is neutral – kind even. She’s just answering the request honestly. No drama. No passive aggressiveness. She doesn’t get pressured into it only to grow angry and resentful during and after the fact. She wants what she wants – without apology. Keira is my two-year-old niece, and her straightforwardness warms my feminist auntie heart. I delighted in watching her over the Christmas holidays. On Boxing Day, her dad played a little game with her. He pretended to sleep in the middle of the living room floor, complete with snoring sound effects. She brought him a pillow and covered him with a blanket – so thoughtful. So sweet. After a while (ok, it was only a few seconds – she is 2 after all), she wanted her turn. She pulled the blanket back and tried to get him up. Poking him did nothing. He was undisturbed when she yanked his arm with all her might. The snoring continued. Realizing that this task might require some outsourcing, she marched over to her uncle and said, “Help?” The adults were in mid-conversation, so her request wasn’t immediately addressed. She considered perhaps that she hadn’t been clear. She took him by the hand, pointed at her dad and said, “Help!” She then demonstrated...
4 Steps for Dealing With Difficult Family Dynamics

4 Steps for Dealing With Difficult Family Dynamics

Fam dram.   That’s my affectionate shorthand for family drama.   Do you have it? Is it keeping you up at night? Busying your mind and making you feel like crap? In so many respects, we are an all-or-nothing culture. We’re either bingeing or starving ourselves. We’re sedentary or signing up for bootcamps. When it comes to family, we think we either have to suck it up or cut them off, neither of which is a thoroughly attractive option.   If you suck it up, you’re out of integrity. (Doormat central.) You’re getting hurt over and over again, hoping others will magically wake up and change, see the error of their ways, understand the pain they’ve been causing you, and vow to never do it again.   How long have you been waiting for this unlikely shift? How long have you been holding your breath? How many times have you tried to talk yourself out of your truth, out of wanting something better?   I held my breath for years. I tried to ignore the comments that cut me to the core. I laughed it off. I kept coming back and hoped that someone would notice the look in my eye or read my mind. I had a secret hope that old unhealthy patterns would just vanish, and we could all be ourselves and have a good time. It was so draining to live that way. One day, I realized that nothing would change unless I did. So I decided to create the relationships that work for me.   You, too, can manage your difficult family relationships with integrity. You shouldn’t have to...
Envision Your Ideal Holiday Season

Envision Your Ideal Holiday Season

I used to dread planning the holiday season. There are so many competing interests, traditions are firmly entrenched, and expectations are high. Do you ever feel pressured to say yes, just to make other people happy? Do you leave your own expectations unattended while you hustle to fulfill someone else’s vision of a happy holiday? You might be tempted to just plan a vacation over the holidays so you can opt out of the madness – which is a great idea if that’s what resonates with you! But sometimes that’s just a fantasy about escaping some aspects of the experience rather than a real plan.   We often fall into this all-or-nothing thinking. Either do what everyone else wants, or take off and leave it all behind.   Just for today, I invite you to put all of that on pause, and consider what YOU want. (I can help you get clear on this – see below.)   I first started doing this for the holiday season a couple of years ago, and it changed everything. I wrote a page in my journal called “My Ideal Christmas.” I explored how much time I wanted to spend with family and friends, and in what context. I considered what elements of the season make me the happiest, and which ones just feel like an obligation. Then, the magic happened. Without any specific action on my part, the plans ended up very closely mirroring my desires. Family was around on the days that I had hoped they would be. I had alone time when I needed it. There was even a storm...
Let’s talk about boundaries.

Let’s talk about boundaries.

Let’s talk about boundaries.   Do you have them?   I used to not have them. Like, at all. I wanted to be everything to everyone. The first notable time I set a boundary in my adult life was with my ex-fiancé. Realizing that I had put all my dreams on hold to support his, I started to re-think our whole arrangement. At the time, I had a decent job and was paying for most things while he was in film school. (I even helped fund a short film or two). Deep down, I knew that our whole dynamic was off, but we had been together for 6 years and were planning a wedding. I didn’t want to make any rash decisions. So I took a baby step. I told him that I wanted to postpone the wedding so that I could use some of my money to buy a guitar for myself. I had dreams of being a singer-songwriter, and I wasn’t getting any younger. It only made sense that I put a bit of my budget towards funding my dreams too. Well, as soon as I said that, everything revealed itself. I’ll spare you the details, but needless to say, we broke up soon thereafter and moved on with our lives. I am so very thankful that I didn’t sign up for a lifetime with someone who was so resistant to the idea of me spending my own money on my own dreams. It’s natural to feel afraid that nothing better will happen. So many of us convince ourselves to settle because we’re afraid to take the risk....
It’s Time to Insist on Our Well-Being

It’s Time to Insist on Our Well-Being

I feel the message above so strongly. When I was in university, I studied International Relations and thought I’d head into a career in human rights law. I am passionate about justice and equality and dismantling the systems that would keep certain people’s well-being from them. We each have the right to be happy, healthy and whole. My quest was interrupted by a personal battle with depression and anxiety. When you feel stuck in your own head and heavy in your heart, peace in the world seems so far away. Even five minutes of peace in your own mind would be a gift. And so I began my journey inward. What I learned on my healing path is that the skills required to cultivate peace on a personal level are not so different from the skills that are required to cultivate peace in our relationships, households, workplaces, communities, and ultimately, in the world. We need awareness and the ability to see things as they are. We need a compassionate witness for our struggle. We need to allow our feelings to move through us, and we’ll come out the other side with a stronger sense of self and clarity about what matters most. We need to learn to stay connected to our values and speak up for our needs, even if they make others uncomfortable.  With the recent debacle that was the US election, I am reminded of this. We each have power. We each have work to do. In order to bring peace, we must first cultivate it in our own hearts. Because your experience matters. It’s time to...
My mother did a fire walk, and it blew my mind.

My mother did a fire walk, and it blew my mind.

My mother did a fire walk last month, and it blew my mind. She spent the majority of her life living by other people’s rules. One day, she woke up. She inspired me to write this poem in honour of her awakening. I want to share it with you because she’s within you as well – the awakened woman. We’re all at different points on the journey. Perhaps you’re just beginning to consider that this may be true. Maybe you’ve invited her to the dance of life. Perhaps you’re living  fully from this place, with deep self-knowledge, trust in your own desire, and courage to forge your own path in this world. I see you. Here’s to the awakened woman in each of us – the Goddess gliding across the fire. She traded egg shells for hot coals Made a date with her own soul Calling on Kali, she burned it all down Weeping a lifetime of tears Dated decades of careful performance Burned, turned molten and grey Revealing a rawness she had only read about in books Is this what it feels like to be born? She understands her power now. Her beauty. Her grace. The poetry of her choices, her life. Fear is merely a distraction Best overcome through courageous action So clear now under a September night sky For days, ember stains on the soles of her feet Tell the story of the sacred dance Looking in the mirror, she wonders, Who am I? Who is this woman who does epic shit? That’s when the deep knowing comes in. She was there all along Patiently waiting...
When Feelings Feel Too Big

When Feelings Feel Too Big

It’s amazing how often we sit in judgment of ourselves. Just because I teach this stuff doesn’t mean I’m over it. In the past two weeks, I’ve gone through a clear call to get back to self-compassion. Here’s what happened. I had a mole that started to look a little funny, so I went to the doctor, who referred me to the dermatologist. The dermatologist was a man of few words. He told me we would do a biopsy…and then he removed it without telling me what was going on or explaining what he was doing. I’ve never had a biopsy. I had no idea what to expect. When he was done, I asked, “So, you’ll let me know if we need to remove it?” “Oh no, it’s gone,” he replied. I was surprised and shocked, and as I walked out to the car, the tears started rolling down. I was so upset! I felt violated. And so I cried in my car for a while and called my best friend, who was super-helpful. (Thanks Jo!) I was confused by everything during that wave of emotion and she cut right  to the truth: “You’re angry because he did something to your body without telling you. That’s not ok.” A wave of relief washed over me as I began to understand why my reaction was so strong. I started to make sense of what I was feeling. When we’re in the midst of an emotional reaction, it’s hard to think clearly. Big emotions can feel scary, and we resist them by judging ourselves. “Why am I even upset in the first...