Friday, 26 February 2016

Making Decisions you Love simply being a part of life, we find ourselves in the position of making decisions each day. Big decisions and small ones. Crazy ones, boring ones and scary ones. We may choose to not decide, which is also a decision in itself. Small decisions pass us by like cars- they're not a big deal, but they're still there.

It's the big decisions we often overthink and stress about. Maybe you're needing to make one as you read this. The truth is that at some point, we realize that we need to move the process forward.

When it comes down to making the decisions that empower us to become our strongest selves, I want to share with you some of the insight I've gathered along my journey.

The first thing I usually do before anything else when I need to make a decision, is slow down and get in touch with myself. Finding ways to connect to our inner voice is the key here and there are many ways to do this, depending on what works best for you.

Meditation and mindfulness (being aware of the present moment) is very effective.
Spending time alone in stillness, or even spending time in a calming space like a restorative yoga class can help us connect to ourselves.
Spending time in nature.
Going for a run.
Getting a coffee and sitting in a coffee shop.
All these are potential ways in which we can connect to our inner voice.

The goal is to create space to become present. There we will hear the whispers of our heart.

 Creating space also means setting boundaries with people, work and technology. When I need time to reflect and connect to myself, I put my phone on airplane mode so I simply won't see any notifications. It's about stepping back and having perspective.

By this point, the decision may become clear. Bam. We move forward.
It may also not, and that's okay. But usually something has come up and we need to get more clear. 
Writing is a great way to process our inner experiences and emotions, otherwise finding a professional or friend who supports our journey can be very effective. It's okay to ask for help.

So here we are. You took time to slow down and get present, you talked about it, but there is still hesitation.

This is the point where I've realized that it's crucial that we understand that there is no such thing as the "right" or perfect decision. We need to take the time to pause and reflect, but sometimes we need to act before we're ready. There is a bit of a balance we must be aware of. Constantly pushing doesn't work, but at some point, thinking doesn't either.

There will never be a point when the circumstances are perfect or there is no fear, which is why we must do the thing anyway.

We make "a" decision and then we make it "right." It's much more important that we are decisive over certain.
It is through the doing and moving that we learn and grow so there is only so much we can prepare and plan. There is only so much we can think about before we simply take the step and embrace the adventure and uncertainty with courage.

This is how we step into our power.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist've never thought I'd ever say this, but unlearning perfectionism has affected my life more than most things. In a good way.

I grew up thinking that in order to be successful, I needed to do everything perfectly and look perfect while I'm doing it. In my very difficult high school days where I was struggling more than ever to feel enough, perfectionism was always hanging around. And no matter what I did and how perfectly I tried to do it, it was never enough, because when perfectionism is in the car, shame is always sitting right beside it.

According to Dr. Brene Brown, shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – the very things that we all need.

Shame needs three key ingredients to grow- silence, secrecy and judgement. And let me tell you, the more I used perfectionism to hide and keep from feeling, the shame around my human struggles kept growing. It grew an grew, until I couldn't keep it all in control anymore. My breakdown in high school was both the darkest and most life-changing event in my life.

I had to re-learn how to live in a way that felt more real. I had to start speaking out, reaching out and owning my story. (naturally cutting shame right off at its knees). I had to start learning how to take down the armor (perfectionism) and embrace vulnerability. And let me tell you, that process wasn't easy. It took a few years to get back on my emotional feet and become the person I am now.

I learned some of the most important lessons during that time of struggle and found people who inspired me to be a truer and more powerful version of myself.

Most importantly, I learned to start living from the inside out, not the outside in. That is where I found myself.

Perfectionism is all about "what will they think?" It keeps us exhausted and hustling for people's approval. It tricks us into thinking that by being perfect, we can avoid feeling vulnerability, failure, hurt and disappointment, the very emotions that make us human. But the truth is that embracing and owning the very emotions that make us human is also how we access connection, compassion, belonging, love, gratitude and joy.

When I started diving into the work, books and writing of TED Speaker Dr. Brene Brown, I started developing a really solid vocabulary around the things I was learning through my experiences and personal growth. And by having a greater understanding, things started making more and more sense. My life changed.

Taking down the perfectionism armor will never feel comfortable, but it will let the light in, I can promise you that. Whenever we pretend that everything is okay, that we don't care or try to live up to an impossible standard, we lose the magic of what makes us human. Unlearning perfectionism is vulnerable- it's risky and uncertain, and it may start with very small acts of courage, but its where some of the most powerful, spontaneous and inspiring moments will surface.

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.
- Leonard Cohen 

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Find Your Calm Every Day"Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart."

I really love this quote because it helps us reframe our ideas around what it means to be calm or find calm. It takes the pressure off.
Oftentimes we think that we need to get rid of all the negative thoughts and challenges to be calm. Well good luck, because that ain't going to happen.
When we understand that we don't need to "get rid" of anything to find peace, we can finally relax.

The greatest skill and strength we can develop is the ability to engage in our imperfect, messy lives and find the space and calm in the midst of it all.

I'm not going to leave you hangin' to just "think" about what this would mean because there are actually practices we can develop and integrate into our everyday lives that create this state no matter what you are going through.

1 Drop the Resistance
If we just allowed ourselves to experience what we're experiencing right now without judgement, without labeling it as good/bad or right/wrong, we would find so much more ease. No matter what the emotion or state we are in, we always have access to ease. It's what we "think" about the experience that causes the resistance.
You are okay, right where you are. Everything is okay when you stop fighting it.

2 Practice Just Being
Take time to just be.
One of the challenges I find myself having these days is letting go of the need to respond to messages right away and check my phone for updates. They can wait.
Making my well-being a priority, making it a priority to get into a place of calm and connected-ness to myself first can be such a game changer.
Take time to be with yourself, with whatever you are experiencing, in stillness.
Greet yourself with unconditional love and kindness and allow yourself the space to process where you're at.

3 Make Peace with your Past and Let Yourself Heal
Often we allow our past to mean more than it has to. You are who you are now in this living, breathing present experience and you are constantly evolving and growing into greater awareness and potential.

Yes, our past is part of our story and in many ways has contributed to where we are now, but right now is your point of access. Choice, being, presence, power and aliveness are available to us in this moment, not in the past. Your past has no more power over you than you allow it to in this moment.

The only reason it keeps coming up now is because there is resistance. Maybe you need to forgive yourself or forgive someone else. Or maybe you need to let yourself heal or accept and honor the struggles you had in the past. Once we love all of who we are, we can relax into the now.

4 Trust Yourself
Many times, our fear of the future, of uncertainty and doubting whether we can handle a certain thing causes us stress in this moment. The "what if's" can be deadly.
Trust yourself that you'll handle whatever is yet to come, when and if it comes.
Fear is bullshit. It is a story we create in our minds to protect ourselves from uncertainty. Instead, we can learn to acknowledge the fear, but understand that it is just a feeling and not indicative of what will happen. You will handle what happens when it happens. You will know what to do and how to be.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

8 Habits of Strong Mental Health care really is a practice. It takes commitment, awareness and a bit of discipline. Each one of us is unique and what works for one person may or may not work for the other. But at the end of the day, we each need to do the work to figure out what we need.

Whether you are struggling with a mental health issue or not, mental health is something we all have and owe it to ourselves to make a priority.

Our sense of well-being is body mind and soul. It takes the integration of practices that nourish and allow us to connect to all three parts. Over time, I've found a certain set of strategies to have a big impact on my level of happiness and fulfillment each day. When times are tough, I've found that having a few core effective strategies that we practice consistently is a very powerful way to feel supported and nourished. Although simple, small steps done consistently is best when we are feeling overwhelmed, we may discover more effective strategies to add to our toolbox along our journey or find ourselves replacing old coping strategies with new ones. This is all part of the process. The more we know about ourselves, the better we will know how to live.
So be patient with yourself.

Now before I give you my two cents, I do want to acknowledge the fact that self care, like any other, is a journey. It takes both courage and patience. We may feel frustrated at times and look for quick fixes, but the truth is that the real power comes into effect when we slow down and give ourselves permission to take one brave step at a time. So again, be patient with yourself.

Self care is really about self love. It's about saying to ourselves, "I matter and I am enough no matter what. I'm going to make time for myself. I'm going to make feeling good a priority."

1 Take Time to Rest
Taking time to rest, and get proper sleep is so important. This might mean we turn off tech two hours before bed and take time to slow down or it may mean that we take 20 mins in the day to just lay down. Too often, we tie our self worth to how much we are doing, to how busy we are. Realize that you are worthy, no matter how much you do, and you may find it easier to give yourself permission to rest.

2 Spend Time with Positive Friends
We all know how energizing it feels to be around good vibes. It's fucking contagious.
Make it a priority to be around people who bring out the best in you and support your personal growth. This practice alone is live-changing.

3 Eat Wholesomely  
Eating for nourishment is all about balance. Most of the time I eat wholesome, unprocessed foods rich in nutrients. Small regular meals. However, some chocolate or a burger once in a while never hurt anyone. Just do what feels good.

4 Move
I'm big on running and spend time regularly at the gym but when it's sunny out, I rollerblade, bike and hike as well. Sometimes I dance. The key is regular movement. It's what makes you sweat, whatever that is. Then make it regular.

5 Take In Inspiring Content
The music we listen to, books we read and blogs we follow all affect how we feel. Positive content makes us feel good mentally, just like wholesome, nourishing food makes our body feel good. Be picky about what you choose to read, watch or listen to.

6 Take a Break
It may be a day to yourself or a short getaway. If you can, take time to travel. Traveling nourishes our soul and opens up our mind to new things.

7 Hire A Coach or Therapist
We all need help. Talking to someone who empowers us to embrace our emotions or find greater clarity can be very powerful. Coaching and therapy are different so take some time to ask yourself what you are looking for and hire accordingly.

8 Cultivate Self-Compassion
Along my path of personal growth, I've come across the work of Dr. Kristin Neff multiple times. What she has to say about self-compassion is brilliant.
Do you talk to yourself the way you talk to someone you love? You can take the self compassion test here: copy and paste the link.
Oftentimes we are hardest on ourselves. On my path, I've found that cultivating a gentle and loving approach towards myself has transformed the way I live, love and lead. If you want some specific exercises, Neff has some great ones up on her website.