2014 & 2015

Dear Friends & Family,

A couple of weeks ago I sat with a pen and paper and listed all my accomplishments in 2014. I was pleasantly surprised at the list because going into this exercise, I really didn’t think much happened.

And then I listed all the things that needed to be acknowledged in order to be released – the not so great times, the anger, the grief. That too was quite the list, but it felt good to get it out of my system. I felt as if it wasn’t weighing me down any longer.

Finally, I created a list of what I want to bring into 2015, what I want to do, feel, give and receive. The list is pages long, I must say, and it will be an exciting challenge to get them all done. I’ve also come to know that all I want to accomplish may not happen, because this is the way life goes, and I am ok with it. It won’t keep me from trying.

But one thing I have come to realize is that although this was done two weeks ago, and today is the last day in 2014, that my intention, the energy I gave to the exercise, had already set things in motion and so my resolve to let go, to bring in, to receive and to gift won’t begin tomorrow, the first day of 2015, because it had already begun two weeks ago.

So my friends, after this big shpeal, my point is this: Yes, January 1, 2015 is a good day to start to make changes, but the real change begins when you get real about making a change. And so when you fall off the wagon, which we all do, just pick yourself up and start again. Your intention is where you put your attention – is it the failing or the trying?

My darling friends and family, my wish to you is that the ending to your 2014 be peaceful and your 2015 be filled with abundance.

Love you,
Smartie

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Racing Towards What Exactly?

“Can you tell me, who called the race? / Can anyone stay in one place? / And when you get to the finish line /

Will you wish for more time?” ~ Katy Perry, This Moment

I remember listening to this song the very first time.  I was stressing out because my daughter, partner and I were behind schedule which meant that we weren’t going to get to Great Wolf Lodge as early as I had planned.   As part of my daughter’s birthday gift, I got her an overnight at the hotel, along with Katy Perry’s new CD Prism.  We were listening to it on the drive to Niagara Falls and needless to say that when this song played over the speaks in the car, it put things in perspective. I realized that I was in a race with myself and from that time onward, for the rest of the weekend, I was present and did not let my mind race ahead.  I made sure to be at my daughter’s birthday weekend.  We ended up having an awesome weekend.

GWL Niagara

Then a few days passed and I kind of somewhat lost the message.  I let life take over again and sometimes would get lost in the day-to-day routine and life would seem mundane but stressful at the same time.

Then I went away for the weekend down south.  I totally decompressed and really unwound. My biggest decision of the day would be where to have lunch and dinner, and if an afternoon nap was called for.  My eyes were really opened to the simplicity of the place, and I was able to get connected again, truly appreciate what was surrounding me.  I realized how blessed I truly am, and this brought forth a great deal of gratitude.  I was really present the entire time!

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Then a few days passed and I kind of somewhat lost the message.  I let life take over again and sometimes would get lost in the day to day routine and life would seem mundane.

Since then I’ve been running around trying to be a superhero and get as many things checked off my to-do list as possible.  I find that I’m being short with everyone, and have a sense of anxiousness in my chest.  I get really frustrated that people can’t read my mind and do things the way I don’t like.  I don’t like disorder of any kind and can’t rest if things aren’t put back in their place.  For example, if the dishes are on the counter, and not in the dishwasher, I feel that I can’t enjoy the movie I’m watching in the daughter, I feel them pull me towards them.  Or the emails seem to call me, tell me to write them to the people who are awaiting them.  Or as I’m laying in bed, I can’t seem to get my mind to slow down.  Am I being present?  Hell no.  But I can feel the conflict between my heart and my mind.  My heart is yearning to be present, begging me to slow down and be with things and people who bring me joy, that these things can wait, but my mind keeps telling me “get this out-of-the-way and then you can enjoy whatever it is you want to enjoy.”

So what is going on?  At times, I can master this being in the moment thing, and at others, I may as well be in a different galaxy than everyone else.  What the heck?

Then a few books came across my path and lo and behold I could see that there was a lesson that I needed to learn at this moment.  I had lost what it meant to live in the moment.  For the most part, I had stopped seeing the beauty in everything.  I didn’t take note of what was in front of me.  I forgot to look for the miracle in everything.  I forgot to    s l o w   d o w n.  My body was here, right now, but my mind was elsewhere.  I was constantly always trying to find ways to make more time by making myself busier.  What an oxymoron!

Slow Down!

Mark Nepo said it best in “Exquisite Risk – Daring To Live An Authentic Life.”We often feel compelled to sacrifice or postpone the seeds of joy in favor for a practicality that we hope will insure a secure future.”  Totally true!

He then went on to say “…reduced to Now, some deeper part of me began to live, holding nothing back.  It is a moment that changed my life.  And through that deeper part, I began to see that we are delivered through all these gifts and tensions until we are honed by experience into something more and more vulnerable and beautiful.”  Yep, totally true!  I had forgotten this lesson which was handed to me years ago.  This enabled me to get through the darkest times of my life.  And I forgot it.

Am I going to beat myself up over it? Nah, that wouldn’t be much helpful.  It would only make me feel crappy about myself, and I don’t want that.  I know better.  What I am going to do is I’m going to be compassionate and forgive myself.   There is an ebb and flow in life.  We make progress, then we regress a bit, and then make more progress.  I’d like to believe that I have just come out of the regression phase and I’m now entering into the progress phase.

So tell me, while reading this, how many times have you left me, or where you with me the entire time?

What Have You Savored Lately?

“Did you ever stop to taste a carrot?  Not just eat it, but taste it?  You can’t taste the beauty and energy of the earth in a Twinkie.” ~ Astrid Alauda

I hate carrots.  Really, I do.  And I feel guilty and like a huge hypocrite when I lecture my daughter in the importance of eating healthy when she returns from school with that little snack bag of baby carrots not eaten.  So I eat them, and hate every bite.

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Lately I haven’t been feeling my best.  I’ve been tired, drained, bloated and my complexion hasn’t been so great.  Although my skin hasn’t broken out in zits, it isn’t smooth and it has lost its glow.  I knew that I had to do something but deep down inside I didn’t have the will nor the want to start a new “diet.”  I’m so over diets.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I’m very much a believer in synchronicity and love all things awesome.  Last week I was speaking with a couple of friends and they both shared with me how they are now changing their eating habits in order to gain a more healthy life style and feel good again – for once and for all.  I thought to myself “good for them” and wished I could do the same (yes, I was off my rocker).  Then I had a dream last week, and in that dream I was eating.  And I was enjoying what I was eating.  I mean REALLY enjoying what I was eating.  I was making my own breads from scratch, and I was savoring every bite of my meal.  It looked like it was orgasmic!  I woke up that morning knowing what I had to do. I was on a mission.

The next day I decided to make my own french bread – gluten-free french bread.  I found a recipe online which looked good and simple to make.

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Then at lunch time, I turned to my partner and told him that I haven’t been feeling ‘right’ and that I was returning to a gluten-free lifestyle and I wanted him to join me. You would have thought that I must have said something really horrible by the look he gave me.  He thought I had gone mad.  You see, he’s a HUGE bread lover and it is a big part of his diet.  He was dead set against what I was saying and didn’t even want to hear another word about this.

Then the unbelievable happened, while having dinner with him and my daughter, I received the news that I gifted with two tickets to attend a seminar.  This seminar was on Wheat Belly (the author of this book was in Toronto to talk about the effects of eating wheat on the body along with Julie Daniluk who spoke about meals that heal inflammation).  We were having dinner when I received the news and it was a sealed deal for me, I knew this was pointing me in the right direction.  Thankfully he agreed to come with me and have an open mind.

The seminar was mind-blowing and I learned A LOT.  I’m not going to go into it, if you’re interested you can read up on the books by clicking on the links above.  What I did learn was to really appreciate what I put into my body.  This is now a lifestyle change for me, and the few days which I have changed my eating habits I’ve felt like a new person.  It’s amazing when you are really aware of what you’re putting into your body.

So this afternoon I decided to do a little experiment with my salad and soup.  I moved away from the table and especially made lots of room between me and the computer and phone.  I sat in my rocking chair and took my time with my lunch.  I really paid attention to every forkful.  I tasted each bite.  I found it amazing to feel the thick richness of how the olive oil coated each leaf of kale and lettuce, how the balsamic vinegar was sweet and tart, the nutty flavor of the sesame seeds and the coolness of the peppers and found it odd that although the bocconcini are bland, they really do have a subtle taste to them.  And surprisingly of all, I found out that I can really learn to enjoy carrots – I just have to make sure that I really chew them enough.  That bitterness will turn to sweetness if you really chew them.  Who knew?

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While sitting there, I realized that this is what “they” mean by being present and savoring the moment.  And you can chew your way through the bad stuff in order to reach the good stuff.  All this I learned from a carrot.

Have you heard about The Inside-Out Revolution? It’s awesome!

If you don’t drink rat poison, you don’t need an antidote. – Michael Neill

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Today you will hear many people say that all you need to do is think positively and everything will be ok, you’ll be happier.  This does help, up to a certain point.  There are many books available that discuss this, and their theory behind it is to live in the present moment.  This is true, however I always felt that there was a missing piece, a key per se, which goes a step further in explaining how to do this.

I found this book, The Inside-Out Revolution by Michael Neil to be an easy read and I was able to read this in less than one day while travelling.  The author’s writing style in very simple to understand and the concepts are easy. The book was built on the works of Syd Banks and George Pransky and is about mind, thought and consciousness which is believed to be the path to understanding how life works and to being liberated and happy.   I must admit that a few times in the beginning, the first 20 pages or so, I was tempted to stop reading as I felt that the author was rambling a bit, talking about how easy it is to implement this new way of thought but was not actually revealing how to reach this state. What kept me going was the fact that he actually kept stating to not give up, and give the book a chance.

What was shocking to me was that while reading this book, I had a huge epiphany when I read on page 31 “we’re living in the feeling of our thinking, not the feeling of the world.” I read it in just the nick of time and was able to side step a huge and impactful mistake which would have caused some serious consequences.  I realized right then that I WAS indeed living in my feeling of my thinking.  I was assuming that people were miserable and needed saving, when in fact, they were happy and content and didn’t need my help at all.  It was ME that was miserable.  When I understood this I was able to let go of my preconceived notions and sit back and enjoy life.  This lesson alone made reading the book worthwhile.

Although it seems that the concepts of awareness are simple and easy to do, they are impactful.  I am pleased that the author includes a section for further reading. I also like the fact that, even though the book is short and simple, at the end of each chapter the author summarizes the points of that chapter.

I found this book to be profound.  I highly recommend this book.

FTC Disclosure:  I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are unbiased and reflect my honest judgement of the product.

 

So, Where Are You At?

“Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.” – Oprah Winfrey

It is now mid-January, and I’m still doing well with my New Year’s Resolution.  This time around I intentionally chose to make a resolution which wasn’t based on depravation or self criticism.  This year I decided that my resolution would be to be kind to myself.  Whatever situation I am in, whatever it means to be kind to myself, that is what I plan to do.

And thus far it has worked.

It hasn’t been easy though.  As some of you may know, last year I gained weight.  Not too much, but enough to make me feel uncomfortable – about ten pounds.  I’ve been told that I still look good, and I’m sure these people who tell me this are being honest, and not just saying so, and I believe them.  But I just don’t feel right.  I don’t feel like I have been able to function at my optimal level.  I feel blah.  And this wasn’t intentional, but I decided join the quest along with the rest of the world to eat healthy and exercise at the start of this year.

photo by smartie knows

photo by smartie knows

With this new resolution in hand, my approach to shed these pounds has been significantly different than my many past attempts.  It has allowed me to not look at food as being the enemy, nor exercise as a form of punishment for allowing myself to gain the weight.  No.  Instead I have developed a wonderful relationship with food.  I’m now not afraid to have that piece of cake, or that spoonful of Nutella.  And I actually look forward to exercising, to the point that if I am not able to exercise first thing in the morning, I try to do little things throughout the day, such as jumping jacks as I’m sauteing vegetables.

How did I get to this point?  Well, let me explain this to you.  As I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t feeling comfortable in my own skin, and I found that my body was operating on a sluggish level.  I thought long and hard about when my body worked wonderfully and I noticed that it was at a slighter lighter weight and while I was eating well and exercising.  Not rocket science, I know, but it took me a while to figure this out.  However, I also had to think about the type of approach I would need to take which was in line with my resolution.  Clearly, depriving myself of treats. condemning myself to a lifetime of vegetables and fruit only and being militant about exercise was out of the question.  The solution I came to was to download an app which calculated the calories in the food I ate, along with an estimate of the calories I burned while exercising.  This allowed me to be creative with my meals, allowing me nourish my body with healthy foods, and also provide me with the opportunity to still enjoy treats, so long as I exercised.  As a result, I am now excited to exercise, look forward to it for many reasons – it feels good, it’s my ‘meditation’ time (I do it in silence), but most of all it allows me to eat more, because quite frankly, I simply love to eat.

photo by smartie knows

photo by smartie knows

Being kind to myself has also shown to benefit other areas of my life.  I have found that it has forced me to really slow down and take a long, good look at every situation that I’m in, how I’m reacting to it and what I can do.  I have a choice in the matter.  Being kind to myself so far has meant to take time off and take a break when I’m tired.  It has meant to take a walk at lunch time and de-stress from the morning’s work.  It has meant to speak up when someone was unkind to me (and even to other people as the injustice was horrible to deal with).  It has meant to say no to some people, and yes to others. It has meant to change plans at the last minute. And sometimes to just cry.

This process has been amazing because through all of this, I have found that what has resulted is that I have felt more at ease.  I keep having to monitor myself and try yo bring me back to center and now I don’t get worked up as quickly as I did before.  I am paying more attention to how my body reacts to things and I adjust accordingly.  Relationships with family and friends have improved as I’m not as stressed out and I used to be.  I now don’t mind anymore being behind that person who has ten price checks at the grocery checkout.  And being stuck in traffic – I now view that as a time to think and if I’m with my daughter, a time to talk as we likely wouldn’t have that much time otherwise.  Dealing with unpleasant people doesn’t affect me as much. I am now more patient, relaxed and kind with others.

photo from wikimedia

photo from wikimedia

I think I picked a good resolution this year which I will carry onto next year and years to come.  What is your resolution?  Where are you with it now?

Out With The Old And Go Painting

“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”  – Alfred Tennyson

It’s now 2013 and I couldn’t be happier!  I’m sad to see 2012 go, just like my daughter was last night, because it was such a great year.  It had its rough moments, downright difficult moments, but they were just moments.  Overall, the year was joyous!!  I had amazing experiences, great adventures, and I was surrounded by the people I love – who could ask for anything more? The fireworks shown brightly!

Fireworks light up Sydney harbour, Australia, during New Year celebrations

And now 2013 is going to be even better.  I wish for you the same thing.  My wish for you is to try new things, push yourself, change yourself.  And at the same time you’ll be changing the world around you.  My wish for you is to do things that you have never done before.  My wish for you is to not freeze, stop, worry that you can’t do something good, that you’re not good enough.  Who cares!  Don’t let fear get the best of you.  Nothing is perfect, no one is ever good enough, just do something!  Make mistakes, because you’re human!

Give this some thought.  Think about all the things that you wanted to accomplish in 2012 and what held you back. Then think about the brand new canvas that awaits you this year.  Imagine being a painter and painting the life you want.  Go Picasso! Paint your canvas!

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I’m going to share something with you, which was shared with me by a wonderful woman, and friend Claudia.  She does this every year, and I did this last year, to ring in 2012.  Now granted, I didn’t do it to its fullest, and this exercise was already powerful, but this year I will.

From Claudia:

A great way to ring in the new. I’ve shared it with a few friends who’ve loved doing it, so I want to share it with you. As the saying goes, “Well begun is half done”, so I suggest you do this either on New Year’s eve or New Year’s day to get 2013 off to a wonderful start:

Start with a 10 – 15 minute meditation in which you set your attention on releasing the old and opening to the new.

On a piece of paper, hand write a list of all the things in 2012 that you’d like to let go of. This can include old patterns that don’t serve you, grudges or resentments you’re hanging on to, fears that hold you back, or circumstances that you’d like to change. It can also include not-useful habits such as eating too much sugar or not exercising. Make sure your list is as complete as possible with everything that didn’t work for you in 2012. My list is usually a few pages. If it’s easy for you to burn the list, then you can do that. If not, you can tear the list up in many pieces. As you release this list, imagine letting go of the energies that are represented on your list.

Now, on to creation. Make a list of all that you wish to create for yourself in 2013. Include the habits you’d like to embrace, the external circumstances you’d like to create, and the internal experiences you’d like to have (joy, freedom, ease, love, peace, acceptance of all that is, etc). Be as specific as possible. Read the list out loud (whether you’re alone or with others). Speaking it out adds more energy to it. Feel each item as though it’s actually happened.

Put the list in a special place, as a symbolic offering for your coming year.

Notice how you feel after doing this ritual. I always feel cleansed, lighter, renewed, and excited about what’s ahead.

~

To all of you, I wish you a fabulous year ahead!!

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When I’m Most Susceptible To Idiots

“Never argue with an idiot; he will bring you down to his level and win from experience.” ― Brad Slipiec

I think I’ve figured something out.  Sometimes it takes me a while, but I know I’ll eventually get there, and things will change.  In other words, I had a huge light bulb moment today.

Christmas was good, I had a nice time with family.  The day after was ok.  We had a pj day and I tried to make the most of it with my daughter.  My butt was planted firmly on the couch while I tried so hard not to whine and complain about my high fever, aching body and splitting head ache.  I seriously felt like I was hit by a huge truck.  My daughter was a trooper even though we had to cancel our plans for the day.  In fact, she kind of took care of me, making sure that I rested, checked my temperature and drank fluids.  It was nice to be looked after for a change.

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But today was different.  Today I worked from home while my daughter was in tow.  She played in the backyard in the snow, while I sat at the kitchen table.  It was nice to see the kids through the garden doors, hear them playing while I worked away on my Mac.  I was still sick with a high fever, but I felt somewhat better hearing them, and getting cool, fresh air when they would throw the door open to tell me some exciting news.

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Then the chaos started.  I began getting text messages that were demanding, argumentative and unreasonable.  I found myself getting wound up while I tried to deal with this.  I was ready to set my phone on fire.  It was getting late so I called my daughter in for lunch, and found myself snapping at her, not being able to handle normal things such as her normal complaints about eating her fruit.  And I felt myself getting anxious, irritable and frustrated with everything around me.  The afternoon wasn’t turning out well and I was spiralling downward – fast.

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The text messages continued, and the more I tried to reason with this individual, the more outrageous the conversation would become, to the point when I was told that this would be handled in person, rather than text.  Fine by me, I thought.  I’m a firm believer that things should be resolved either in person or by telephone (voice).  Plus, I would then be able to share the evidence to support my point.

Well the ‘calm’ discussion I anticipated didn’t work out that way.  The in-person meeting was high-tension and high-conflict.  Something that I didn’t want to expose my daughter to, and luckily she was in the other room, out of ear-shot, or so I thought.  It was absolutely impossible to reason with this person, and when this person left, I found myself tied up in a tight knot.  What the heck was going on?

I went back to the living room and sat down next to my daughter.  She wanted to do something together so we painted a kit that Santa got us for Christmas.  Strangely enough, I found it extremely cathartic and felt my mood suddenly change.  I was thinking to myself about what had transpired, why I was so uptight, and then, almost as if an answer to my questions, my daughter says to me “Mommy, it’s only clothes.  Who cares.  Just let it go.” I was stunned.  I turned to her and said “Honey, you’re right.  It’s only clothes and not worth all the arguing.” And she said “Exactly.  There are other things that are more important – such as painting!”  What wisdom from a seven-year old.  God I love her.

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And so while I continued to paint I thought about why this incident had gotten to me so much, and I figured out that when I’m tired, run down and sick, I’m more susceptible to the antics of idiots.  I am more likely to engage in the stupidity game that they try to get me to play into.  They get the better of me, but not anymore.  I’ve learned their method of attack – hit them while they’re still down.  Does this happen to anyone else but me?

Then I read a friend’s status on Facebook “woke up feeling stressed, then I decided to count all the ways I am blessed. Then the reality hit me – I need to chill and let my worries be.”

Damn straight.  I do need to let my worries be.  I do need to focus on what I’ve been blessed with, and not get distracted by all the nonsense that gets brought to me by idiots.  Clearly this happens to everyone, especially when you’re not able to function at your fullest.  The way around that is to focus on what good there is in your life, on your blessings.

So I have figured out that at the end of the day I can hold my head up high.  I’m able to walk away from today’s incident knowing that in my heart I’ve been truthful and honest, and I’ve been loving and caring.  I have done no wrong to anyone, and I have not been hurtful.  As my daughter said “it’s only clothes.” There are way more important things that need my attention and it’s better to spend my precious time and energy on something life-giving, not life draining.  And idiots can be life draining if you let them be.