Posts Tagged ‘joy’

You’ve been here often enough to know that I am ALL about gratitude. For rejoicing in the many gifts that I’ve been given and hopefully spreading that gratitude around. So, of COURSE, Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays of the year. What’s not to love? Cool crisp days, warm cozy homes filled with the smells of sage and onion stuffing, wine, family, autumnal decorations and a festive note in our hearts. images

Here’s the problem. We gorge. We overdo it. Too much stuffing. Too much wine. Too much pressure to pull it all off. Heck, even too much family (yup, I dared say it….now please read on for the reframe). What I mean here is that it’s a hectic, crazy blur. Look outside your window right now…do you see any life? NO, because everyone’s on their couch rubbing their bellies with the phones turned off and watching the Seinfeld marathon on TV Tropolis. It was all too much to handle.

There must be another way. A softer, more moderate display of our gratitude for what we all have in abundance. Other ways to tell family that we love them and that we care: more frequent (and shorter?) visits. A little less butter on the turkey skin (uh-huh…1200 calories per serving…we did the math). One less bottle of wine. A little more chatting and one less side dish.

I am grateful for much…and choose to tune into it all on a daily basis, rather than binging on it over one weekend in October.

And now, I’m off to make a sandwich and see what the gang in Manhattan’s up to these days…but will leave my phone on in case family wants to talk.


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Last week, I was contacted by a coaching colleague who was drumming up interest in a concert that she is putting together on October 13, 2009 in support of the Toronto Boys to Men program.  Julie likes to play “full out” and I believed her when she wrote about the performer that was headlining the concert: Scott Kalechstein. 437783422She wrote that she saw him in concert over ten years ago and described that experience as such:

“The room was ALIVE, VIBRANT, In MOTION.  The LOVE. LIGHT and LAUGHTER was magical, healing, profound.”

Sorry folks, but those are some of my trigger words (others are: yoga retreats, equality, kittens, Loire Valley, Lauren and Greg, popcorn and Donna Karan, but I digress). I had to speak to this man. Some due diligence first. A quick peek at his website revealed that he had performed for Deepak Chopra, Byron Katie, John Canfield and many others. Now I REALLY had to speak to him. I tried to e-terview him, but he would have nothing of it. He wanted to talk to me. In fact, he wanted to SING to me.

We chatted for a while about who he is and what he’s all about. He is a very funny comic, a laid-back Californian, an intuitive coach, a scarily talented song-writer and performer, and a fiercely proud father and husband. I asked the dopey question: “are [wife Venus and daughter Aysia] your happiness?” and was pretty pleased when he replied: “No, that’s called family. Happiness is an inside job”.

And here’s what he’s about:

I’m about looking fear in the face and saying “Excuse me but you lie. You’re not the truth”. And I do that in my own life and for others in my coaching, comedy and music. So I do that and I am that.

What has been your most thrilling performance to date?

It would have to be the first time that I did stand-up comedy because I was intimidated by that form of expression. I was going on the stage that Dana Carvey and Robin Williams had been on.  In fact, I opened for Robin Williams. I had so much fear and so afterwards, I was so proud of myself. I was high on that for days. This goes back to my commitment to not let the fear take over or be the truth about me.

What is the most thrilling performance that you’ve YET to do?

I imagine it’s about making songs in the moment…this is likely what’s most unique about me and what I’m able to create. I have a vision of being on Oprah and her saying “I’ve heard about you, do your thing” and there being tears. Lots of them…and joy.

You have enjoyed a fair amount of success…other than sheer talent, what else can you attribute it to?

I’ve been performing full-time for 20 years. I didn’t set out to do this, I just started writing songs. After college, I started to become fascinated by personal growth and while I was still just writing songs for myself, they became part of my expression. I had no real thoughts about sharing it with the world. That wasn’t the intention…the intention was on the personal growth. And given that that was my prime focus, the music was pure expression and therefore it was all just easy and flowed.

The real work has been in TRUSTING enough to let it be easy.

You’re a man of words AND actions. Whose words/actions do you admire?

Barack Obama’s actions and words in a fear-based society is pretty inspiring. There’s a kind of superglue regarding the amount of people stuck to keep things the way they are. But he’s putting in a lot of energy to change that. It will take time to manifest his vision.

Is there fear in creating the in-the-moment work?

Sure…my ego says this may be tough, but luckily that’s only one voice in the choir…before it used to be the director of the choir.

What is one word that governs all that you do?

JUST ONE WORD? Naw…I need more!

Okay, 5

Peace, love, ease, power and joy.

And out came the guitar. I was treated to the Scott Special: an in-the-moment creation centered around the words peace, love, ease, power and joy. It was magical to behold. This guy is seriously skillish and I was completely sold by song’s end. It was poignant, soulful, resonant and pure loveliness. I wish I had have recorded the call.

I get why he would rather sing than be interviewed.

What would you like the world to receive from you?

I’d love to know that I’ve helped people to have fun, find joy, refuse to give in to fear and to see how easy life can really be. It can flowing down the river rather than furiously paddling upstream.

I’d also like people to stop searching for the next thing. Make fun with right NOW your priority, because there will always be something else on the list.

Have fun today…it may well be your last day.

I am disappointed that I’ll miss the Toronto concert (I’ll be at Coach Buffet in Montreal) but if you are in Toronto on the 13th, you may want to check him out. It will be a unique experience…there will be laughter, love and motion…just like Julie experienced 10 years ago.

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Know people who are stuck in the nineties? Who really think that Melrose Place being on the air was the pinnacle of good times? That somehow they were part of that campy troupe of styling blondes saying drivel like “nothing like a cold chardonnay on a hot summer night” with zero trace of irony? Melrose Place is coming back…and I fear for those who think it will be the same. Because it won’t be. Not even close. The actors are different, the writers are different and here’s the kicker, like it or not, the viewer who’s been pining for its return is different.

Our ten-year wedding anniversary is coming up on Friday. It has been a beautiful marriage with lots of laughter and love on the one hand and some pain AND growth on the other.  There is so very much to celebrate and as life would have it, for lots of reasons, we aren’t able to celebrate it in the way we’d like to…we WILL make the space and time to do it up right, it just won’t be next weekend.

So it was with a LITTLE bit of a heavy heart that I went back to the scene of the wedding reception. You see, Coach Buffet Toronto is coming up on November 17th and we need just the right place for our unique venue needs: three distinct spaces for the one-on-one coaching, workshops, and mingling to happen.  I had not as yet found the perfect spot.

I walked in the room with a slight bit of uncertainty…I didn’t really know what to expect. Would I be greeted by the happy ghosts from 10 years ago…the jazz trio’s music wafting through the halls, the laughter and excitement that only a happy occasion like a wedding brings and the air of expectations for a perfect life?

In a way, I guess I was kind of afraid to go back…because I don’t ever want to live in the past. And as I walked through the virtually unchanged space, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror that I fixed my complicated ‘do in 10 years earlier. I am no longer that young bride filled with dreams of how happily ever afters work. And that’s good. What I saw in my reflection was a different woman…still confident in the inherent goodness of the world, a steadfast believer in the power of positivity, and filled with a different brand of dream, but slightly more pragmatic, slightly more wrinkled and a hell of a lot more empowered. And that is even better.

Our wedding day was a beautiful day. As is today. As will tomorrow be. There is no need to go back to capture that beauty.

So, I am happy, nay, thrilled to announce that Coach Buffet Toronto will be held at University of Toronto’s Faculty Club. A beautiful space with neither too much pomp, nor circumstance, but with the right peppering of Group of Seven paintings and a cool academic vibe.

Moreover, I am thrilled that 10 years later, my husband will be there with me, by my side. We are different now, and that’s good.

And for you hard core Melrose Place aficionados, that lousy smug Michael may not be back, but enjoy the new and different show.

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Last night we spent a perfectly lovely evening at the Beaches International Jazz Festival. The weather was ideal, the crowd was energetic and appreciative and the music somehow seemed better than we’ve enjoyed in previous years (in my humble opinion). Some nights are just like that.

One of the many musical highlights for us was seeing The Disease…a young “7-piece funk machine” from Toronto. They were (in the words of my drumming husband) “tight”. I don’t know much about that, but I do like to think I know talent. And they really had it going on. While they didn’t pull the same size crowd as other bands doing jazz standards, the crowd that they did have appreciated the talent too.

Ok, so you don’t visit my blog for musical critiques. Here’s what I really loved and appreciated about this group—they “felt it”. Every last member. I was particularly mesmerized by the guy on the keys – David Atkinson. He would not, COULD not stop dancing. He played on his tippy-toes for goodness’ sake! He couldn’t contain his jubilation…his sheer joy of doing what he loved doing. It was infectious and to me it epitomized that quote that we’ve all been e-mailed ad nauseum: dance like no one’s watching.

Now I know what that means…really means. Had that wildly talented young man put a cap on his groove, the notes would have been flatter, to be sure, but more criminally, we the audience would have been cheated out of a display of unbridled excitement, energy and joy. Which I know I really inspired me.

Kids do it. They run, jump, play, sing, dance and twirl with no concern about appearances (at least until pre-puberty, and then, I’m told, it’s hell in a handbasket). Why does watching kids sing the national anthem off-key bring tears to my eyes? Because it is sung with heart, intention and purity of soul.

It’s not too late for us as adults to do the same.

So, I challenge you: give like no one’s watching; worship like no one’s watching, play like no one’s watching; love like no one’s watching; cry like no one’s watching and laugh like no one’s watching. Go on and even let the milk pour out of your nose. Those that are watching will celebrate the moment right alongside you.

Thanks David, for the reminder.

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Years ago, while on maternity leave, I read in a parenting journal about the mompreneur phenom, Jennifer Torres, Founder of Salsa Babies.

Jennifer and her inspirations

Jennifer and her inspirations

Back then, I was a budding entrepreneur myself (cf: my fleeting attempt at product development). I recall reading that this powerhouse of a woman started her company with the purpose of staying home with her kids after her maternity benefits had ended and that her intention was to generate the same revenue that she was receiving from EI. No more, but certainly, no less.

I too, wanted to stay home with my daughter and also develop a business. When I read those simple parameters, it seemed viable and …inspirationally… attainable. I felt moved to set the same goal for myself.

Our paths have crossed a couple of times over the past year, and I’ve always wanted to hear more about her. Yesterday, we shared an hour of great conversation about business, balance, goals, dreams, and why folding underwear is a time suck. She is every bit as vibrant, dynamic, energetic and warm as you’ve imagined. And she has it together.

I was hooked the moment she uttered her opening remark:

I’ve learned to follow what interests you and what you’ve loved doing throughout your life.


Her story

Jennifer always knew that when kids came along, she’d want to stay at home with them. So, when she was pregnant, she took ESL certification in the hopes of finding a job flexible enough to be home with the babes. Nothing came up. While on mat leave, she asked her employers if she could work part-time when she came back…and they said no. She was miserable and felt pretty desperate at the notion of leaving her babies in childcare to go back to job that wasn’t overly fulfilling. It just didn’t seem right. (And as I’ve often written…if it doesn’t feel right for you, it probably isn’t right for you. But I didactically digress.)

One fine day a friend handed her a tissue and pointed out that she could maybe integrate her well-known love for salsa dancing into a business. Jennifer was resistant at first…after all…salsa’s about heels and less about babies. Or was it?

The Birth of Salsa Babies

The idea percolated in her head for a while…and when she found herself dancing around her house to soothe her colicky baby in the carrier, the idea really started to heat up in the most picante way. What happened to turn the idea around from a ho-hum one to being her life’s passion? In a word: RESONANCE.

Before long, her network of support rallied around her and helped her get her idea off the ground. A logo was created; a plan developed; flyers distributed; a web site launched; and, since then, thousands of new moms have shimmied their way to slimmer waists and happy babies. Thanks to Jennifer’s vision.

In some ways, Jennifer’s story is a study of what is possible is you simply believe in yourself. Is there any way she could have known that 8 years after the ESL thing didn’t pan out that she’d be co-writing children’s CDs, writing books and having appeared on TV more times than she can count? As she pointed out in our discussion:

My goal was not to be a million dollar industry…but now as I look back, I could have thought bigger. I just didn’t want to be too cocky.

Familiar, huh?


What excites me is the fact that she THOUGHT she was thinking small, but in fact, was setting herself up for success. A business idea aligned with her values, interests, strengths and abilities? A network of support and boundless energy and acumen? That to me is a fool-proof recipe for success.

Is she successful?

Well that depends on your definition, of course, but beyond the professional accomplishments noted above, Jennifer points to two things that she’s most proud of:

  1. The fact that she has built a business that enables (at last count) 30 licensees to be doing what they love (teaching salsa) while being with their kids. This wasn’t a goal per se, but what an amazing by-product!
  2. Her girls are looking up to her in a new way. Jennifer points out that in her lottery win dreams she always saw herself at home with them and acknowledges that this may well be the right path for many…but now sees how flat that could have been for HER. Her girls see her on TV and know that she’s doing what she loves and is happy. By example, her girls are learning the value of developing something for yourself:

My 8-year old daughter started a book club and was so organized about it all. She wrote up a proposal, did up a flyer, planned the space, talked to the principal and handled all of these other details. My husband looked at me during the flurry of activity and said: ‘that’s you!’

Like all success stories, there have been some bumps in the road. She has been targeted for her great ideas and has had them ripped off (in one case, a copy cat took words verbatim from her web site). And there’s no question…like most business-parents, Jennifer knows too well the constant struggle of maintaining that elusive “balance”. “How much TV is too much for the kids? What am I missing if I don’t spend the day with the kids? What could I have gotten done if I had worked today?”

At her annual licensees’ meeting, she delivers a segment about finding balance in being a business owner. Some good rules of thumb?

What’s next for Jennifer and Salsa Babies?

She has some pretty exciting plans for the company….market expansion, program development and some new offerings and packages. You’ll just need to stay tuned. Trust me…you’ll be hearing lots more from this beautiful woman who just bubbles exuberance and energy.

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After an amazingly powerful and invigorating final CTI coach training session over the weekend, I came home on Sunday night, collapsed on my couch with an exquisite glass of champagne proffered by my championing husband. We toasted the end of my in-class training and the new chapter of my life as a Life Coach. It was very very lovely to sink into it all.

And then, the pain crept into my shoulder. (more…)

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The ellipses in the above question aren’t stylistic. They are intended to allow you to fill in the rest. What do you want…now? What do you want…to do? What do you want…to get over? What do you want…in life?

Oooh…such fun! (more…)

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