I am just returning from my yearly visit to Grail Springs and what an amazing experience once again. It always amazes me at the beginning, not knowing anyone and then finishing the week with new friends. What a group this year!
What I respect the most is when someone decides not to judge others and instead, work on themselves. A saying I use quite regularly is "judging yourself is taking the easy route, its working through it that makes you stronger." I met people who were coming in completely stressed out, feeling a little lost, being very self-critical and not knowing where to start. What I saw at the end was complete transformation- it was inspirational. To all of you (and you know who you are)....keep going! There is so much creativity, beauty and compassion in each of you- it was a true pleasure!
For years I have been told that in order to slow my mind down, I need to meditate. Sounds easy enough, right? I have tried sitting still in silence, listening to guided meditations and moving through yoga. Nope....nothing. I found I ended up putting so much pressure around what a "meditation practice" should look like that I was missing the entire point of why I was doing it in the first place. My amazing Reiki teacher talked to me about this one day and said that it doesn't need to be perfect. It can be anything that allows you to breathe and relax. Okay, there must be something I can do.
And then I found them- two things that work like magic for me! The first is colouring. I have written and shown some of my colouring projects in one of my earlier blogs and to this day, I still sit with a colouring book when I really need to relax and "zone out". Time passes when I am doing this and I find that I am no longer worrying about the tasks in my day or what I need to do next. I am able to just sit and be creative.
The second is walking in nature, and this is probably my favorite. I am typically walking with my dog Bo and nothing gets me out of my own head faster than being surrounded by nature. Something about the massive trees blowing in the wind, the long grass, the flowers and bushes, the animals running around and the amazing songs of the birds flying by. To add to all of those incredible sounds, I am usually talking out loud. Although I'm sure my neighbours think I'm a bit crazy (which I'm good with), this is my way of sorting out my thoughts while being completely calm.
When I saw this photo, it showed me without the use of any words, the kind of tranquility that is possible. The simple act of sitting in water, shutting our eyes and breathing is all we really need to do to find our own internal peace.
So, I'm about to do something I have never done before.....well, not exactly. I have talked for years. I have presented in a business atmosphere for approximately 25 years now and I have always loved doing that. But this is different. This is a topic and a path that I am so very passionate about, it is going to feel like a first for me!
On August 31st, I will be a vendor in the Ottawa Valley Wellness Show being held at the Renfrew Armouries. In addition to being a vendor that day, I will also be giving a talk called "My Self-Care Toolbox", to those who are interested in signing up. I am so excited to meet new people and share some of my learnings and stories with them. Through the years, I have worked with, mentored and established strong relationships with so many people (adults, teenagers and children), who have had issues or some adversity to overcome. We all go through struggles and hard times, however I wanted to concentrate on the positive: quick, simple, tools to help us get through those times. I'm typically a very private person and don't usually share too much, even with those closest to me, but something in me wants and needs to start making a difference. The sadness, hurt and anxiety is everywhere, and if I can help even one person learn to release in a healthy way, that means everything to me.
If you are in the Renfrew area on August 31st, I would love to meet you. Wish me luck!
As humans, judgement can be a very big part of our every day lives. I don't think we intentionally set out that way, but it happens a lot. We judge other people on how they look or dress, where they work, what their habits are and how they live their lives. At a higher level, we judge belief systems and other races. If all of that wasn't hard enough, we place judgement on ourselves so often that we may not even recognize when we are doing it.
Have you ever done something that you completely regret? Had an important meeting and completely messed up? Said no to a friend or family member but then "guilt-ed" yourself endlessly for days? We are human, so we have all been there. Even the most kind, compassionate and loving person can be awful to themselves at times.
One day I was at a reiki session with my teacher and she said something to me that shook me to the core. I was doubting and speaking negatively about myself without even noticing and she stopped me. She asked if I would ever speak in that way to a child or another person, which I answered- NO, of course not!! She said, "then what makes it okay to speak to yourself that way?". I don't think anything has ever resonated with me so much. If I can speak kindly to others, love animals with all my heart and do anything for friends and family, I am definitely capable of being kind to myself.
So today I would like you to look in the mirror, tell yourself how amazing you are, forgive the person that stares back at you and most importantly send them unconditional love. They also deserve your kindness.
I was recently travelling for work and was staying at a hotel for the night. I was getting hungry so I made my way down to the restaurant to have dinner. As I was waiting for the waiter to bring the menu, I was observing the other people around me. There were tables full of friends, families and co-workers, however I started to notice a trend. Every single table had at least one person who was on their phone. They were texting, scrolling through pictures, searching for information, but none of them were joining in on the conversation or paying attention to the people around them.
I understand that technology is a very big part of our lives and that it is important for us to keep moving forward, however I do sometimes wonder how much we are actually sacrificing because of it. Being on our phones has become a very unhealthy addiction and we are all guilty of it. Our face to face conversations are becoming limited and when they do happen we become distracted, wondering what messages or updates we may be missing out on.
As I was scrolling through Instagram one day (yes, I am guilty too), I found an amazing picture that summed it up for me. I can physically feel the complete chaos that surrounds this woman and the utter calm within her. My goal is to get to the point where I can forget my phone, look up and just enjoy!
I dare say that it is finally that time of year again! There is nothing better than waking up in the morning and hearing the sounds of birds singing their hearts out for us.
I am so blessed to live in the country which means some of my wake up calls are given by crows and ravens. Some people may think that the voice of these birds are very harsh, but I disagree. There is nothing that makes me smile more than hearing a crow or raven squawk. These birds actually identify with magic.
One day while arriving at work, I was getting out of my car and a very large crow was up above in a tree. He appeared to be yelling at me and would not stop until I looked up. I said "good morning" but went about my business as I had no idea what he was trying to tell me. I locked up my car, walked around to the entrance of our building and into my office. I took off my coat and was just about to get comfortable when I realized I had left my phone in the car. I laughed because I finally realized what the crow was trying to tell me. I made my way back outside and was pretty sure he would be there to say "I told you so".
When is the last time you looked up and expressed your gratitude for these amazing friends of ours?
Taking the time to be in silence is one of the most basic and important needs of our human experience. Reality and daily life is so busy, it can literally be all consuming. How many times have you run through your entire day only to realize at the end of it that you have no idea what you've accomplished or how you even got home?
Self-care is critical to our overall health and well-being. Contrary to what some people think or in some cases how they try to make you feel, taking care of YOU is not a selfish act. It is a very brave and pro-active one. If you allow yourself to become depleted, you will not have anything left to give. Silencing the "voice inside" will allow you to re-energize and fill yourself back up. It also helps your creativity and problem solving skills to flow with greater clarity.
Take a few minutes each day to look up at the sky, stare at the clouds, walk on the grass or just inhale deeply. Silence is indeed, golden.
Have you ever had one of those days when you wake up and have a sense that everything is going to go wrong? Your internal dialogue starts yapping on and on about how you have so much to do, not enough time to do it and that you won't do a good job anyway. Sometimes the conversations we have with ourselves can be the most negative and hurtful.
Animals live every minute of every day in the moment. You can leave your house for 5 minutes or 3 weeks, and they will react just as excited to see you every single time you walk in the door. They give you love unconditionally and effortlessly. Through their eyes, you are the most amazing, thoughtful and caring person alive.
As you go through your day, envision your animals looking up at you- I guarantee it will change the way you see yourself!
In October, I was blessed enough to spend a week by myself at Grail Springs in Bancroft. This was my second visit at this amazing retreat and it will now be somewhere I go to every year to regroup. Although I participated in a few of the activities such as yoga, hiking, group meals, and guest speaker evenings, I also made sure I spent some time on my own. I love to read, journal and just relax.
I have always wanted to establish a meditation practice, but no matter how hard I've tried, I have struggled. And then I found colouring. I remember when I was a little girl, how much I loved to colour. I recently rediscovered this passion and it has become my own form of meditation. I could sit for hours and let time pass, clearing all thoughts and just be in the moment. I look at a black and white picture and I can feel the colours I am going to use to bring it to life. Colouring animals is one of my most favorite things to do. I hope you like this one!
Do you ever have one of those days (or weeks) when you just feel "off" but you can't explain why? It wasn't until I started on my Reiki journey that I quickly learned there was an entire energy system running through my body that dictates whether I am well or not. This system, known as the Chakra system is critical to our physical. mental, emotional and spiritual health. Without getting into too much detail, each chakra is like a spinning wheel and when that wheel stops, it can really affect you.
So how do you keep your wheels spinning? Re-group- in whatever way works for you best. Take a walk, listen to your favorite song, dance, colour, do yoga, work out, find a body of water or simply sit in silence. Taking a few minutes to breathe in what is needed. Walk on the grass barefoot or hug a tree- as crazy as it might sound to some, it is the quickest way to "ground" yourself and bring you back to your centre.
Reiki is also a great way to get you spinning again!