Friday, December 31, 2010

Creating a New Vision for 2011

A new year, a fresh start, a chance to make peace with the year that is ending and to create a strong vision and intention for the year that is just about to start.

So what is your intention for the New Year? I lead an introductory session for the Pursuit of Excellence the other night and wrapped it around that question. What do you want to create in 2011? This is the only year you have, what will you do with it to make your dreams come true?

One of the participants was quite drawn to that statement and commented that it was a very powerful idea that this is the only year I have. I thought about it myself and agreed and yet, really, what other years do you have?

Most of us live our life thinking that we will have plenty of time to create a warm and loving relationship, to get healthy, to lose weight to create the financial abundance and truly live their dreams. How many of us actually do that for ourselves?

I mentioned in a previous post that we tend to focus on being loving and full of goodwill during Christmas and then forget all about it for the rest of the year. Then we wonder why our lives feel empty; devoid of love, joy and money.

What tends to happen is that when January comes – and the credit card bills – we fret and stress over the money we have spent, feel resentful of the people we have spent it on and close our hearts to the joy we thought we'd experience through our generosity.

So what is the antidote to the January hangover? Here's a thought; with every bill you pay and every cheque you write – let it go with love and trust that what has come to you, will come to you again. Money and love are not finite – they are infinite expressions of energy. Give one and the other one trots right behind it. It's up to you how much of each you feel you deserve.

Holding the vision for you to have an abundance of both in 2011.

Monday, December 27, 2010

What Child is this?

We spent the Christmas weekend with my brother and his family. The most charming addition to the family is my niece's son who had his first birthday last month. Christmas really is for children and watching this little being engage with all things Christmas and family was a real delight for me.

It has been a while since we have had real 'little ones' amongst us so this was indeed a very rare and lovely treat. He didn't disappoint us at all; he smiled and giggled while he tore a swath through his grandparent's house. Children, especially one year olds, don't know the meaning of 'no,' 'don't touch,' and 'watch your head.' They are on a mission to discover everything they can in the few short hours that they are conscious and awake.

While we all enjoyed his loveliness it was also pretty apparent that the parents were not always having a great time. The emergence of four new molars were causing more than a few sleepless nights for all concerned and the resulting sleep deprivation, that is a new parents norm, was readily apparent. When asked how they were, the common answer was 'tired.'

I think the thing we get to enjoy about the grand kids or a grandnephew in my case, is that we can appreciate their innocent joy at all things new without the sleepless nights. While their adventures are a wee bit exhausting for the few hours we are with them, we can go home, sleep in our own bed and enjoy an undisturbed night's sleep while reveling in the experience of a Christmas shared with a young baby.

Back home we turned on the TV to the news that that once again, people were being stranded by the snow. Snow has brought a whole new experience to people this year. Being thrown together with strangers is perhaps the ultimate Christmas test; can I still express love and caring with people I don't know? It sounds like many people on the Eastern Seaboard of the US have done just that. Surrendering to the inevitable and enjoying getting to know the strangers who share their predicament.

We may not always get the experience we want at Christmas but I do believe we get the experience we need.

It really is all about the child.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Silent Night, Holy Night

I like to think that tonight, Christmas Eve, will be a special night; full of reverence and quiet joy. I love Christmas and this year is no exception. I have, however, shifted my focus from the usual commercial excess to embracing the spirit of the season.

For me, Christmas was always about gifts; giving and receiving. This part hasn't changed; it is still about gifts. The only difference is that many of the gifts I am giving this year were not bought at a store; they were bought in the school of life.

From my grandmother I learned to cook and with this gift I am bringing some of the offerings from my kitchen to my family; gingerbread, shortbread, French bread, cranberry sauce and dip.

From my mother I learned to listen with compassionate ears and with this gift I bring my willingness to open my heart and listen to my friends and family.

From my father I learned to love work and with this gift I bring my appreciation and joy at being useful and earning a living through doing what it is I love to do.

From my brother I have learned the kindness and generosity of sharing hospitality and friendship with those I love and with this gift I open my home to my friends and family and share the warmth and comfort that comes with good friends.

From my sons I have learned to accept change, grow and develop my potential and with this gift I continue to take new steps forward into unfamiliar terrain and likewise encourage others to do the same.

And last, but certainly not least, from my husband I have learned patience and with this gift I have learned to slow down, to allow life to unfold and to feel at peace even when the world does not always look that peaceful or the way I want it to look.

What a gift to learn at last that patience is indeed a virtue.

Monday, December 20, 2010

It Was the Night before Solstice

It was the night before solstice and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse.

The Winter Solstice is tomorrow and trotting along right beside it is a big old full moon and a lunar eclipse. For those who are fond of observing the movement of the moon and the stars, this is a pretty auspicious time. Evidently, a lunar eclipse hasn't fallen on the solstice in over 300 years. I think that makes it pretty significant. It may not supersede Christmas as the main event but it does deserve a look-in.

When my kids were young I enjoyed Christmas as a wonderful time to share the spirit of the season with them and to enjoy it through their eyes; magical and joyful. These were certainly good times and I can reflect back on them with fondness and love.

Today, however, is a different story and my children don't live nearby. We share our magical moments at different times throughout the year. It isn't limited to one day of the year but rather when we are together. At these times we eat, drink, laugh, talk and share our lives with each other. For me, this is the true meaning of Christmas and the one that I want to keep extending and extending until it is a year round experience.

The lunar eclipse that accompanies this winter solstice is a great opportunity to look a bit more deeply at what this time of year really means. Sometimes it can be painful as we see the gap between where we are and where we want to be. That is the message of the full moon, which is why it can lead to highly charged and emotional outbursts. A good indication that something is not working as well as we had hoped.

This is a season of hope and of love. To experience one, hope, you need to be the other, love. These are gifts that cannot be bought.

John Lennon was right; all we do need is love.

Friday, December 17, 2010

T'is the Season to be jolly

Ok – maybe not jolly but at least slightly happier than usual. A lot of pressure this holiday spirit thing, no where to go if you aren't really feeling totally ho, ho, ho.

Living at the beach and more specifically, on the river, means that the blizzard that wound it's way through Southern Ontario has hit us very hard indeed. I was chatting with a friend yesterday about the possible implications for this storm. She and her husband were completely snowed in and I came to her rescue for a much needed shopping expedition (eggs, bacon, beer and wine – the essentials of life).

I opined that I thought that once the snow thawed we might be finding a few dead bodies in some of these houses about town. 'Enforced confinement due to hostile weather' could be the 'justifiable homicide' claim by the defendants. I'm sure this claim would find sympathy with anyone who has gone through such enforced isolation with a spouse.

Now, it doesn't need to be this way but I feel pretty certain that most people manage their primary relationship around the idea that each partner has their own life and a large part of it is lived separately. To suddenly be face to face with said partner on a continuous basis; 7 days a week, 24 hours a day for almost two weeks – well, ok - you get my drift here? Not always a pretty sight.

That said, I would say that the husband and I have done pretty well through this time of 'snow hibernation.' I think that may be because we have already gone through such a time. Over the past three years since moving back to Canada from the UK, we have spent more time together than in our entire relationship. We have learned to accept each other and our 'weird ways of being' – which do get increasingly weirder – by the way!

Today we are off again for a mini-break to Blue Mountain. It is our 15th wedding anniversary on the 23rd but we thought it would be fun to celebrate it now before Christmas takes over and we forget that we did actually get married after living together for five years.

Marriage isn't always jolly but it is easier to face the less jolly times with someone you love.

Here's to the next 15 years.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

We are in the second week of 'snow days' and Christmas is in full swing here at the beach. While I think it's a shame that we only think about 'peace, joy and goodwill' at this time of the year; I am grateful that we at least have one time of the year that we are open to the Christmas spirit.

We cut down our Christmas tree this weekend and then brought it home to decorate. This is the first tree that I have had since being back home in Canada. Unpacking the Christmas decorations – my own and my parents – was the start of the whole Christmas experience. It was a very nostalgic and at times very difficult exercise. I have always loved Christmas and my memories of Christmas with my parents was always a fun and joyful time.

Growing up and growing away from our family traditions has been one aspect of my life that has been difficult for me to deal with. Learning how to create my own traditions and to understand that Christmas is a state of mind as much as it is an 'event' has been a big part of my Christmas evolution.

Resisting the commercial aspect of Christmas has been my most recent effort towards keeping the spirit of Christmas alive. Rushing around, shopping for things that no one wants and feeling more stressed than loving is for me, the epitome of what Christmas isn't.

This year I am taking one day at a time. The weather is challenging all of the best laid plans and yet, I feel that my new mode of 'slowing down to the speed of life' is serving me well. Shifting gears and making the space for a whole new way of being takes time; time to bake shortbread, time to watch the snow and plenty of time to enjoy the Christmas tree and 15 angels that have found a home on its branches.

Christmas is a soulful time.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Hm – interesting words to that song – 'let it snow' – as if we have had any choice. Snow just kinda does what it does – as does all weather. We really don't have a huge amount of control in this department.

The end of the week and after being inside for most of the week – baking cookies, squares and shortbread – I finally managed to get out today and reacquaint myself with the world. One thing about living in a small town is this process does not take long. One quick twirl around the town – checking in with some local shops, an acupuncture and chiro appt, hair highlighted and gingerbread baked – all done in one day.

The ease and simplicity of life at the beach is in sharp contrast to life in London or Toronto for that matter. Nothing takes long and everyone is a known commodity. I was reminded of this today when chatting with my client who is also a friend and my acupuncture/chiropractor. I acknowledged the fact that I would be spending some time in the UK in the New Year to do some work. Something that I'm quite excited about; a really big venture out into the very big world.

She reminded me that while London has it's attractions and certainly the appeal of interesting work; here in Wasaga Beach I know lots of people – especially in the business community – and this makes it quite a warm and comfortable place to be. This is indeed true; relationships are quite casual and easy going - for the most part.

Building strong relationships in a small town has its challenges too. The same quality that makes it warm and enjoyable can also make it a wee bit claustrophobic. Creating space and having time alone is also a very needful thing.

For this reason, I rather like snow days – they are soulful times and are good opportunities to indulge in what the soul likes best – unstructured, creative and joyful time to just be. For me, that often means cooking and food.

So yes, let it snow – it's good for the soul.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Secret to a Successful Relationship

Spent the weekend with a really lovely group of people and was reminded of what I had learned over 26 years ago about how to create a successful relationship.

The workshop was called '2011 The Year of Your Dreams' and in the process of looking at what I wanted to create in 2011, we looked at what we had done already in 2010. The question was posed, 'What relationship did you enhance this past year?' Hm – my first instinct was – well, actually, my relationship with myself. As it turned out, the correct answer.

This past year has been a very challenging year for me as I have come up against a lot of difficult issues and experienced a lot of 'disapproval' that I have found quite challenging. I didn't realize how much I wanted people to like and approve of me until I was faced with the opposite. Ouch – that doesn't feel good.

Yet, the net benefit of facing these hard realities is that I have definitely enhanced my relationship with myself. I understand even more deeply how important it is to have this relationship in great shape – especially if I want to have a good relationship with a soul mate.

We can only attract as much love and approval from our friends and loved ones as we are willing to give to our self. The real challenge of a soul mate relationship is that it will mirror this reality almost exactly. While the tendency is to look outside of one's self and find fault with the other; it is really the other way round.

If I don't like what I’m seeing on the outside, it's probably time to look inside and see what I do not like about me. Not an easy thing to do but far less stressful and painful than trying to find the culprit out there. Cause it just doesn't exist.

A good relationship with myself is the only path to having a good relationship with a soul mate.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Living your Dream in 2011

The week of reflection is complete; a new vision for my life is emerging. I can't think of a better way to complete this period of 'slowing down' and introspection than to attend a workshop about 'Living Your Dream in 2011.' Timing, as they say, is everything when it comes to moving forward in life. I know that for myself, I'm not ready to move until I'm ready. The internal shift needs to happen first, then the external shift – or movement forward can happen.

This year has been a major year for me around completing in my role as 'Mother.' I'm still a mother, for sure, but the role is not so demanding. The boys are all settled with lovely young women and they all seem extremely happy; what else could a mother want for her children?

It's time to turn the attention back on to me – and that is what I have been doing. What is it that I want? What do I want to create in this latter part of my life? Feeling blessed and being guided to take small steps in the direction of my next vision is where I am right now.

In speaking to the husband the other night about the purpose of life he posed the idea to me that we are here to become enlightened – to realize the truth of who we are and to bring that awareness to our conscious mind. How we do this is our own personal mission.

This idea is not new to me but I have never-the-less thought that part of a life purpose is to 'make a difference' and to have an impact – to help people move forward. That has been my raison d'etre for a very long time. The idea that really all I'm doing is becoming aware of myself and what makes me tick is kind of novel.

I have been in the business of 'personal development' for over 20 years. It has always been my own personal development that has guided me in my training, coaching and facilitation – in never occurred to me that that was the idea all along. I can only pass on that which I have learned and mastered myself.

So, here I sit at the first rung of the next very big ladder as I take on the world of 'finance' – a place that I started my whole work and education process over 38 years ago. How ironic - I would never have dreamt that this would be where my life would ultimately lead me.

Living the dream by taking small steps forward.