Slow Down: A mindful approach to living in a culture of speed.

Slow Down: A mindful approach to living in a culture of speed.

Think back on your day yesterday. If you were to choose a word to describe its pace, what would it be? Frantic? Rushed? Hectic? A complete blur? (Okay, that is more than one word). Now, think back on your last week. Can you see a theme emerging in how your days are unfolding?

When I am caught up in the busyness or distractedness of life, a lot of shame bubbles up. Why am I not a better ..............  (insert any of the following: friend, partner, coach, facilitator, business owner, sister, aunt, community member)? In all of the rush, it can feel like I am not enough, that I am somehow falling short or missing the mark in some or all areas of my life.  

 

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Why less is more: Thoughts on living a reduced life.

Why less is more: Thoughts on living a reduced life.

In late August I headed back home, along with my three siblings, to surprise my father for his 80th birthday. It was a surprise that lacked all the regular fan fair. Spouses and grandchildren were left behind (in the various provinces and states they call home). There were no balloons, no presents and not even a cake. The gift was our presence with each other; time spent together, live and in the flesh. For three days, we simply went about living together. We chatted over coffee, went for walks, ate good food and visited some of the local attractions in our home town (fish derby, winery, local park). It was just the six of us for the first time in more than 25 years, and this fact alone was enough to captivate all of us.

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Tick Tock: Why racing against the clock is killing us.

Tick Tock: Why racing against the clock is killing us.

Do you ever feel like you are racing against the clock? Have you ever find yourself bargaining with the universe, asking for another hour or two in the day? I know I certainly have, many times over. The truth is we have become a society that races against the clock. There are signs on the freeway that tell us how long it will take to get to the next intersection. We find ourselves staying late at work because we were unable to get any ‘real work’ done during business hours. The end result is that we are more depleted, exhausted and overwhelmed than ever before. We have more to do, and less time to do it in. In many ways, our modern society is at a crisis point, a time in human history that is calling (even begging) for a new paradigm—a new way of tapping into a more holistic and intentional approach to the world of work. 

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Go barefoot! An argument for ditching your shoes this summer...

Go barefoot! An argument for ditching your shoes this summer...

Last week, I headed out into the Canadian backcountry for a few days of hiking, camping and detoxing (from technology, that is). Our packs were loaded with everything we would need for a few days, and we headed up the trail to a series of lakes that would be our final destination. An hour into the hike, and after a brief discussion about the benefits of walking barefoot, our hiking shoes were off and we found ourselves navigating the trail barefoot (with fully loaded backpacks, I might add).

Now I must admit, when it was first suggested that we hike barefoot, all I could think about were the potential risks. I am, after all, a North American and former outdoor educator who is used to mitigating risk in the outdoors with protection and protocol. 

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Pay attention, be astonished.

Pay attention, be astonished.

You may recall the 2007 story of internationally renowned American classical musician Joshua Bell performing as a busker in Washington D.C.’s Union Station. It was a social experiment orchestrated by Washington Post writer Gene Weingarten to see if people would pay attention to a world-class musician playing in an unexpected location. For 45 rush-hour minutes, Bell gave an all-out musical performance. He played some of the world’s most intricate pieces on his 3.5-million-dollar violin and later noted that it had been some of his best work. Only six people stopped to listen to Bell that day and the musician (who is used to filling concert halls) made a total of $32.00. 

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On Being Fierce.

On Being Fierce.

Last week I had a phone conversation with a woman who is powerful beyond measure. She is a leader, a problem solver, and someone who others look to for inspiration and guidance. This woman’s vulnerability was palpable. She was clearly feeling worn down by the weight of overwhelm and exhaustion, brought on by staying too long at a job that demands too much. On the day we spoke, she had had enough. Enough of being the one to put out the fires. Enough of being there for everyone else. Enough of a system that didn’t recognize her humanity.

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Harnessing mindfulness: A lesson in slowing down

Harnessing mindfulness: A lesson in slowing down

Last week, I headed into the heart of British Columbia, on a rock climbing trip.

At the outset, the trip was designed around the desire to take advantage of the warmer and drier climate of B.C.’s interior as a kick-start to the climbing season. Now make no mistake, I am not really a climber. At least, in the past seven years (or so), my love for riding my mountain bike has far eclipsed my desire to climb on rock. But in a previous time, climbing was something I loved to do. I was drawn to the presence that it required. For me, the perceived (and sometimes very real) risk of falling allowed me to access a quality of focus I struggled to connect with in the rest of my life. 

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Feeling stuck? 5 steps for getting out of a rut.

Feeling stuck? 5 steps for getting out of a rut.

Do you ever feel like you are in a rut? Stuck in a pattern that feels old and out of date? The truth is that most of us, at some point in our lifetime, have felt like we are caught in a way of being that has felt limiting or even stifling to us. It can feel like we are in a holding pattern of sorts, a cycle of behaviour or experiences that don’t match the life we imagine for ourselves. We can feel misaligned or detached as aspects of our careers, our relationships, our lifestyle or simply our patterns and behaviours feel out of sync with what truly matters in our lives.   

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Why self-care isn't selfish.

Why self-care isn't selfish.

When I was a young girl, my mother had a specific tree just behind our house where she would occasionally retreat to when she needed a break from being a full-time mother, trapped on a 100-acre farm with four boisterous children. It was her place of refuge. For a few short moments, with a cup of coffee and her thoughts, my mother would sit quietly, hidden under the droopy branches of a spruce tree.

Usually she was able to slip away while we were out playing or otherwise occupied, but a few times I remember my siblings and I running around the house and the forest, trying to find that special tree and our mother who had taken her brief reprieve from us. 

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Tapping into the intelligence of our body.

Tapping into the intelligence of our body.

Last month I took a yin yoga teacher training course, despite the fact that I am an unlikely candidate for yoga training. After all, I own only one pair of yoga pants, I can barely touch my toes and for most of my life stretching has been low on the priority list. Yet there I was, for two weekends, immersed in learning everything I could about the philosophy, physiology and structure of yin yoga.

In Taoist philosophy, the yin yang symbol embraces the complementary forces of light and shadow, action and inaction, moving outward and inward. It is a symbol that reminds us of the balance that is needed in our lives. To embrace both of these forces is to recognize the changing (rather than static) and cyclical experience that is life. 

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