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Archive for February, 2009

Do Over Day

Today is “Do Over Day” in Canada. A day to atone for the mistakes we’ve made in the past by shouting them out as cautionary tales for others to heed. Yup…we have all had our days…am blushing right now just thinking about ALL of mine.

And as a nation, it turns out that we don’t like to talk about our bad days…or so says the Founder of the day: “It struck me that Canadians inhabit a maze of social conundrums,” says Reggie. “On the one hand we think of ourselves as an easy-going, polite, even mild, people. But there’s also a passive-aggressiveness in Canadians that is tempered, thankfully, with a collective deep sense of embarrassment about our many flaws. That’s why we decided Canada needed Do Over Day, a notion resoundingly confirmed by the over four thousand focus groups we convened for this very purpose.”

So very very cool. And while the day is not rooted only in the sharing of flaws, but also the sharing of joys, it got me to thinking: How great would “Relive Your Perfect Day” be? I’m not quite ready to share the days I’d like to “do over” for my grievous mistakes, but I will joyously share my perfect day….stay tuned for http://www.reliveyourperfectday.ca…

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I have a tickle in my chest. It’s not nervous energy, nor a nagging feeling, nor love (though I have that in great abundance). Nope, this is good old fashioned phlegm.

No violins are necessary….I pride myself on not being one who’s life shuts down with a cold. The flipside is that I don’t get people who refuse to take a reprieve from work etc when they are TRULY sick. It makes me want to be aware of the slippery slope that is the walk from stoicism to martyrdom.

It’s a dance that I’m all too familiar with…the idea of getting caught up in “doing the right thing…at whatever cost”. At first, people look at you with admiration for your courage, tenacity, strength (fill in the blank). This phase is one that I’m quite addicted to. Then those adoring looks turn to head shaking. I could do without that. What I love about colds (I never thought I’d write those words), is that they keep you honest. I’ve been on an emotional high for the past little while with no signs of letting up. But my body is saying “if you don’t slow down, you’re going to get the head-shaking of a lifetime…in the form of mucous” (BTW, I have many voices in my head…infer what you will…I choose to call them “perspectives”). So…I look at this upcoming day from two perspectives: “Wonder Woman” who can do it all without breaking a sweat and “Bubby Tanya” who nurtures and coddles. Wonder Woman will have me honour 7 of my 9 commitments today (one to a friend, two to family, three to clients, one to my business advisor) while Bubby Tanya will make sure I have a big helping of homemade chicken soup, go to bed early and “rest rest”.

I’ve heard said that you’re either moving towards or away from balance…and I don’t have the formula figured out in a real and practical way…but listening to my body is a pretty decent start.

And now I’m back off to bed.

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What fulfills you?

This is surreal….for real. I have just shared the last three days with some real people, real souls and real hearts – Life Coaches. And lordy Lord…we shared…and shared…and shared. We laughed, we cried, we zumba’d.

And now I type this out as I watch the Oscars Red Carpet (and have actual opinions on Angelina Jolie’s earrings and ask my husband if Marisa Tomei has had work done).

On Friday morning, our masterful CTI Leaders L.A. and Kelly challenged us to share with each other the following: what lights you up? What nourishes you? WHAT FULFILLS YOU???

What wondrous, magical questions. Can you sit with them?

If you’re wondering, many things fulfill me…depending on the time of day. But most recently, fulfillment has meant experiencing: Flow, Wisdom, Fearlessness, Faith, Spirit Guide,  Sunshine, Release, Harmony, Passion, Shift, Sofia, Catney, Queen Bee, The Sparkler, Jewel, Gypsy Wanderer, Fire Walker, Oracle, and Pema. I am richer, more connected and more alive. Thank you.

So…I return my attention to the Oscars. Because that’s what Om Shanti/Fire Walker would do. She’d enjoy the fluff and eye candy…without judgment of self or others. Angelina’s earrings belong on her ears and Marisa seems happy.

Pass the popcorn.

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We spend a lot of our time being told what to do and what not to do. And then we have children and get to be on the other end (then they hit 5 years old and we’re back on the receiving end again… but I digress).

I have a ton of respect for those who “do”. I live in an amazing neighbourhood in Toronto (Danforth East). It is culturally diverse, eclectic and some would say “up and coming” (though others suggest that this gentrification is unwelcome). Call it what you will, but this it ain’t no cookie-cutter ‘hood.

A source of frustration for residents has been the categorization of the area as being a mere sum of its parts. Where the media seems to see only vacant store fronts and thrift shops, residents see a gold mine of finds (John’s Hobbies, Royal Beef, Relish, Seb’s Cappuccino). Where some see unkempt houses, others see tree-lined streets, beautiful parks and helpful neighbours.

While many people tend to get frustrated and bemoan circumstances, others DO. I have the great pleasure of knowing a group of individuals who’ve said: “Enough. Let’s stop talking about what this neighbourhood doesn’t have and DO something about it”. Over coffees and wine in each others’ homes, bit by bit, the neighbourhood has mobilized…thanks to the Danforth East Community Association.

The results? A Farmer’s Market, revitalized storefronts, and a sense of civic pride.

These things don’t just happen because we want them to…it goes without saying that it takes a LOT of work. Case in point…two days ago (in the dreary days of February), a group of neighbourhood women carpooled their way to St. Catharine’s to attend a conference on organic fruits and vegetables, leaving kids and businesses behind in other people’s capable hands.

What of revitalized storefronts? Last fall a group of residents got together to help out a floundering shop…check out this article…it takes a village to raise a store.

And as for the aforementioned civic pride, please read DECA Diaries…the love child of Natasha Granatstein, a very very busy woman who chairs DECA and wants the world to know what can be done…if everyone just stops talking and DOES.

Many thanks for the inspiration.

No one’s interested in something you didn’t do.
– Gord Downey (Tragically Hip)

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Confessions of my sins

Late breaking news from the Vatican…of the seven traditional deadly sins (pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth), the top three for men are: lust, gluttony and sloth whereas for women it’s pride, envy and anger. [Insert audible gasp here].

This is classic show-down between George Costanza vs. Snow White’s Evil Stepmother (aren’t all stepmothers evil in Disney movies…and what’s that all about?) I’ll leave speculations about the male psyche to the side (though I do still giggle when I think about George trying to combine sex with a smoked meat sandwich), but will address these top sins of women. I HATE to admit that these ring true for me. I spend vast sums of money at cosmetics counters searching for that elusive smokey eye, disdain Gwyneth Paltrow’s willowiness and am quick to be angry if my server goes down or I’m cut off in traffic.

So there it is…in black and white. So what can I do…because I do like to challenge myself when confronted with my own shallowness? I will read Gwyneth‘s website without judgment (just because she’s insanely beautiful doesn’t diminish her intention to spread a little of that beauty around), stop making up new ways to curse at my computer (and yes, other drivers) and maybe even appreciate my non-smokey eyes and the network of smile lines that emanate from them.

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If you ever feel like you live in a cold, uncaring world, do yourself a favour and start a business. Preferably one you feel passionate about.

When I first started Board of Your Life, my friend Lisa gave me this piece of advice: “ask people for help”. I was mighty skeptical. What was in it for them? Why would they bother? What if they said no?

Turns out, she was right (and not for the first time) and I was wrong (ditto). Not only has everyone I’ve asked for advice been there with open arms, but I’ve also been approached by people I barely know. With genuine sincerity, they ask how they can help me. Amazing but true.

I was in Montreal last week, and while there, Lisa had a dinner in my honour. That was lovely in and of itself, of course, but the people who took time out of their insanely busy lives were awe-inspiring. One woman in particular was short on time, but not graciousness. Upon hearing about my business she asked: “How can I help? What do you need from me?” This is NOT a woman with a vested interest…just an interest in helping someone for whom she felt a connection (I guess).

Another woman I met shared with me her personal daily mantra: “how can I serve others?” How lovely is that?

This brings me to a question I often hear from clients considering going through the Board of Your Life program: “how will I convince people to be part of my Advisory Board?” If only all of life’s questions were so easy to answer….and here it is: “just ask”. If you get to the point at which you decide that you want their help in taking your life in a magnificent new direction…they’ll fall all over themselves to accommodate. Wouldn’t you do the same for someone you respect?

But I digress…being in the presence of those women in Montreal made me realize how self-limiting we can be if we listen to those rhetorical questions in our head (of the “what’s in it for them” varietal). The reality is this: if I’m asked for help, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve said no to a reasonable request. When it comes down to it, people are good, kind and want to help others. It really is a beautiful thing. And the kindness of strangers can always be relied upon.

PS – check out the Huffington Post’s series on “random acts of kindness

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On Thursday, I decided to treat myself to fifteen dollars worth of white tulips. They are beautiful. I’d love to say that I’m romantic and poetic enough to sit and gaze wondrously upon the miracle that is their creation, but really…who has time? But they are really beautiful…they’re a welcome shot of youthfulness and spring in our winter-stuffy dining room. Every time I pass them by they make me smile. I thought it was just me….but since Thursday, we’ve had many guests come through the house. Everyone comments on them…in particular, our daughter’s playmates. I heard one little girl tell her mother breathlessly “you should see the flowers they have!” Maybe the mother will think to indulge herself in a simple way too…or maybe not. But maybe seeing her daughter beam was enough to make her smile too.

Our favourite yogi, Eoin Finn, challenges his students to notice and enjoy the sensations of savasana and to “spread it around”. I love the sentiment…but I also love the potential ambiguity of the “it”. Clearly, he’s referring to the dual feelings of peace and vitality that a good practice will give you. For me, it made me wonder what “it” I would love to spread around. What is “it” that the world seems to be lacking, and do I have enough of “it” to give? So much of what I’d like to see more of are things that I myself sometimes lack: patience, serenity, generosity, selflessness, kindness (on bad days) etc etc. But maybe, just maybe, that’s where the work is…to give “it” away even if you don’t have “it” in abundance. Karma baby. Viral karma

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