01 Apr 2013

Choose Your Vices Wisely

No Comments Decision Making, Empowerment

Got a dirty little secret you would die if someone found out about?  Do you secretly love to do something that is considered wrong, bad, or weird?  Do you brag that you can’t start your day without a pot of coffee, or that you must go to spin class 5 days a week?  What is your vice?  What can you not live without?

When habits are considered good, like flossing your teeth, they are habits.  When they are considered bad, then they get called vices.  Vices are those things that we go to when we need a fix.  We get a temporary fix or relief from the sugar rush, or caffeine jolt.  We get a fix when we go for that cigarette, or pour that first glass of wine.  We normally feel relief when these vices are employed.  Even if it is temporary, vices provide us with a shift, or a pause from our norm.  We come to rely on the vice to help us shift because that is much easier than doing the mental work on our own.  When we rely on our vices we get out of practice at self-soothing, and become reliant on something external.

I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing.  Sometimes the work is just too much. If a vice can support you in moving yourself to a different state or altering your mood, is it really something to be avoided?  If a piece of chocolate after lunch gives you the strength to carry on, what is the harm?

The actual harm comes from our judgement. We often judge our vices as a sign of weakness.  Don’t get me wrong, some vices are not healthy and are not the habits that we would be best inviting into our lives.  But many of our vices are simply little ways to give ourselves a pick me up.  If we learn to use vices as a tool to support us, we then get to choose to become attached to things that work for us.  Have you ever thought about choosing your vices?  We trick ourselves into thinking we can’t live without them.  But the truth is, like anything, you do have the power to choose your vices.

How to choose your vices well:

1) What are three things that you ‘could not live without’?  Might be your favourite shampoo, the perfect latte or a particular brand of socks.  Notice the things you can’t live without and then ask yourself why you love them.  It might be the smell that reminds you of summer, the caffeine rush, or the way they feel on your toes.  When you use those things, do you stop and notice the pleasure that they still give you.  A vice helps you shift, it alters.  If you are failing to notice and appreciate that shift, your vice isn’t a vice, but rather a habit.  Are you choosing or just blindly doing?  If you are going to indulge yourself, isn’t it better to appreciate it?

2) Ask if your vice is working for you.  Just like remembering to appreciate your indulgence, it is important to ask yourself if your vice is working towards what you want in your life.  If a pint of ice-crème straight out of the container is more than a monthly occurrence, ask how that indulgence is working with respect to your health and wellness goals?  If it is, great. If it’s not, what is going on that this is your ‘go to’ for comfort?  Can you work on finding comfort in a different way?  Decide to choose your vices.

3) Use your vice well.  If you have decided that the truth is red wine is your vice, then decide to use it well.  Remember using it well means purposefully giving yourself the indulgence, appreciating the shift that it can help you make, and being full in the knowing that you choose this and it does work well for you.

Empowered people know what they need to do for themselves in order to have the capacity to cope with the daily-ness of life.  People who are clear about the little ways they have found to live life with more ease are more successful.   If your vice is giving you a way to completely check out, then I would urge you to take a deeper look.  What are you trying to avoid?  Look at what your vices are giving you permission to do or believe about yourself.  Is that what success looks like to you?

01 Nov 2012

Instead of fueling the flames…

No Comments Free Life Coaching Tips, Live your best Life

instead of fueling the flames...Over and over I have people talk to me about how they are just going to tell someone how they feel, or how it really happened, or their side of the story.  How often have you gone into a situation thinking you are going to change someone’s mind? How often does it actually happen?  When you find yourself ranting about the next thing you need to set right, stop.  Breathe.  Now ask, ‘what then?’.

Believing that sending that email, marching into that office, or setting the record straight with that speech you’ve prepared will accomplish something, is setting an expectation that is unlikely to get met. Often when people make a move like those listed above it is because something has gone wrong, and the natural knee jerk reaction is to fix it.  Totally normal, but also filled with the potential to be create more damage.  Instead of fueling the flames of this common form of miscommunication, stop yourself and consider the following…

1.  What then?
If you take the natural knee jerk reaction do you think you will actually get the result you are looking for?  If you are expecting things like an apology, or a retraction you are probably setting yourself up for disappointment.  The truth is, you do not have the ability to change someone else’s thinking.  So if you often find yourself thinking… ‘I AM going to change their mind’, stop. You probably won’t.

2. What do you actually want?
Here’s where things get interesting.  When your automatic response is to fix whatever went ‘wrong’, what you are really wanting is to protect yourself – your image, your identity.  Think about this, ask yourself what you really want.  I am willing to bet it is something along the lines of wanting to be understood.  You want that person to understand your pain, hurt, shame, guilt whatever it is that has got you so fired up.

3. Are you going to get what you actually want?
This is the kicker.  Are you seriously going to get what you want from confronting the situation?  If you can answer yes, proceed. With caution. However I strongly encourage you to think about the reality of the situation and the likelihood of the desired outcome. Are you really going to change your father-in-law’s mind, make your boss understand, or have your teenager apologize and mean it?

Letting go of the idea that you have the power to change someone’s mind is a very liberating shift.  It means you no longer have to storm around setting everyone straight.  It is not your responsibility to change everyone’s mind when something doesn’t go well. When you make this shift in perspective you will suddenly find yourself free to focus on what really matters and what you really want out of your relationships.

I have helped many of my clients break their ‘gotta fix it’ habit. The peace they feel as a result, is an incredibly rewarding change.

Coach Yourself:
Instead of using the same old approach to challenging situations, stop and ask yourself the questions above.  Consider how you can get what you really want by listening and asking questions vs. assuming and lecturing. Your goal should be to create clarity and understanding.

The rule to remember here: Ask, don’t tell.

31 Oct 2012

Inspiration can come from the strangest places

No Comments Do More, Grief

TrapperMy husband and I faced a day we had been dreading last week.  We put our beloved dog  Trapper to rest.  It was excruciating.  Grief is such a powerful, full body experience.  Going through it myself gives me so much more compassion for the suffering I see around me when grief is a familiar feeling.  I have been lucky so far in life, this I know.

My dog Trapper was one of the luckiest dog ever.  Trapper was born around January 1 2000 in the Turks and Caicos Island of Providenciales.  Derek rescued him from underneath a friends deck, trapped in a back corner that was over grown with bush.  At first we thought the noise we heard was a bird.  But determined Derek investigated and fetched out the tiniest puppy.  One look at Derek’s face let me know that we now had a dog.

How could you take a tiny 3 week old puppy away from his mother?  Well, on this island there is a special bread of dog known as Potcakes.  Some have owners, many do not.  Trapper’s mother was wild, and while we had dinner that night with our new found bundle of dog, she stealthily deposited 8 more puppies in the same spot.  Those puppies were eventually rounded up by our friends and taken to the island’s vet clinic.  Fortunately two from the litter were adopted by tourists from Minnesota, and sadly the other 6 were humanely euthanized.

My cousin referred to Trapper as our fur baby.  And he was!  We fussed, and mussed and took that dog everywhere with us.  He went on boats, and trips to the beach, and became the most pampered of pooches.  We left him when he was 3 months old for our trip off island to get married, and worried the whole time we were gone.  Trapper has been with us our entire married life.

My Dad sent me a text when I told him our sad news, the message said, “I am very proud of the Trapper legacy”.  Read more about The ‘Trapper Legacy’…

Taking him on as our pet changed both of us and caused a ripple effect to those around us.  Because I had Trapper, I immediately started paying more attention to the wild dogs on the island.  They were everywhere and horrifically often dead on the side of the road.  At night you could hear howling dogs and crying puppies in the bush around our property.  Packs of dogs going through garbage was a familiar site.   After we got married, I got a job as a Hotel Manager, and sat on the Tourism Advisory Board where wild dogs were a regular topic of conversation.  The number of feral animals was growing.  They were beginning to form packs, and became a threat to people jogging or walking on the beach.  Their main source of food was the abundance of garbage at the dump, a poorly kept facility, which happened to adjoin the airstrip.  Feral dogs in packs, would run across the tarmac to get to the dump from the settlement areas, and eventually, a Delta Airlines flight had to abort a take off because there were dogs on the runway.  Not good for an island the depends on tourism.  Several methods where proposed to take care of the problem. And at the time, people on the island were dealing with the problem in horrific ways including poisoning, shooting. When I got involved there was even talk of introducing a communicable disease like Distemper.  The government hired someone to shoot the dogs, but after awhile, the dogs clued in that Alco Williams in the green car was not their friend and would of course take off when he rolled up.  Alco became a great champion for those dogs, and eventually was empowered to run a humane trapping program that was much more successful, and better for Alco’s soul.

I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but me being me, jumped on the bandwagon for a humane response to the feral dog problem, which eventually led to me leaving my job at the hotel to take on the role of Manager of the newly reformed TCSPCA.  It was a departure from anything I had ever done, and put me completely out of my comfort zone.  A committed group helped me to lobby the government for funds to run a humane trapping program for truly feral dogs, and a free spay and neuter program for the dogs who did have owners.  This program ran in November 2001, and with help from a team of veterinarians from the US, we preformed over 230 surgeries and humanely euthanized approximately 640 dogs.  It was not a permanent solution but it helped.  It also established a credible voice for animal welfare on the island, and to my utter joy is still in operation today.

Running that project on the island required the coordination of many people, many of whom where my family.  It was all volunteer based, and the work of going into settlements where third world living conditions existed and talking to people, many Haitian, was an eye opening experience for my comfy Canadian upbringing.  Going to schools to give education talks where students had very limited materials in very crowded classrooms ignited seeds of activism in me that still burn today.  Being in completely unfamiliar territory and bearing the responsibility of the project outcomes is one of the most defining experiences of my life so far.  And it all happened because we found a puppy, who became my poster child for what a great pet a Potcake can be if they live in an environment in which “all animals are owned and cared for”.

In 2002 we packed Trapper into a crate on an Air Canada flight and brought him back to Canada with us.  Our island time came to a close when we moved back to await the birth of our first daughter Clara.  We worried and fussed about him, he barely had any fur, was scared of all the green grass that was seemingly everywhere, and growled and barked his head off when he ran outside to snow the first time.  But he adapted, grew some hair and lived 10 years with us in Kelowna.  My good old boy saw me through everything meaningful I have in my life.  He was protector of my girls, faithful guardian of our property, loved by friends, and in every way, a part of our family.

I really can’t think of who I would be had he not come along, but somehow I know I wouldn’t be the same.  His legacy of being the poster boy for Potcakes created a shift in me that led me from thinking about something to actually doing something.  He activated me in ways that are surprising and memorable, and make me laugh now.  His presence liberated me to be more and do more, this stretched me and gave me the courage and confidence to keep pushing for more in different areas of life.  Whenever I have come up against something I felt I couldn’t do, I would just look over at my boy napping in his favorite place and know that I have done way tougher things.  Inspired by what I did do because of what he inspired in me, I can usually find the space to take my next step.  Inspiration can come from the strangest places.

Now that he’s gone it feels as though that chapter of our life from so many years ago is really closed.  That is hard.  But I do know that because of him we have been enriched with so much good.  If this pain is the cost, then I would gladly do it all over again.  Trapper was always so worth it.

30 Aug 2012

Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened ~ Dr. Seuss.

1 Comment Goal Setting, Live your best Life, Motivation

Wow. Summer. I love summer, and I had such a good summer this year. I am very proud of myself, because that is exactly what I set out to do this year, enjoy every last bit of summer. {Be on Purpose this Summer ~ Tips to make summer last longer.}

And it is not over! I am determined to suck ever ounce of sunshine goodness, but there is no denying that the bounty of autumn is ready to be picked. Apples are nearly ready and school is upon us. September days are here again.

What are your September goals?  Have you gotten clear about what you want to accomplish by Christmas? Have you checked in with your New Year’s intention? Have you given yourself credit for the good you have created so for in 2012?

Fall is the time for harvest and when we prepare for the upcoming winter. We usually embark on the autumn months with a renewed sense of getting at “it”. Much like the New Year, September brings a new set of ambitions to complete before the snow flies. Learn my top six tips for keeping up with your autumn to do list. Forget about motivation and find out what it really takes to become an unstoppable you. Join me on September 5 at 6PM PST.

Even though I feel like moaning because summer of 2012 is flashing by, I am taking the time to be grateful and practice mindfulness of what I do want. I am smiling because it happened. What about you?

23 May 2012

Move on. How to Let Go Of Your Past

No Comments Fearless Living, Life Coaching, Live your best Life

Most clients that come to me have something that they need to let go of in order to move forward. Moving on is a process, but with the help of a skilled life coach, it is an achievable dream. If you find that you holding on prevents you from moving forward, then read on!

Funny enough, holding on to your past shows up in how you withhold from being spontaneous and sharing your thoughts freely. This could be anything from being able to say what you want to say, from thanking or expressing love, or hurt, or asking for help. When fear is running our lives we withhold to protect ourselves. We don’t say things that make us uncomfortable. We don’t like feeling exposed or vulnerable. So we hold back, we wait for the other person to show a card first. We hide, avoid, and keep quiet, carefully holding our cards to ourselves. Ask yourself, what is the ace you are holding on to right now? Make a list of five things you would like to say, but have not been able to. Could be anything from being able to say what you want to say, from thanking or expressing love, or hurt, or asking for help. Push yourself to get that list of 5 things you would like to say.

What made your list? Ask yourself what stands in your way of saying them? For each of your stifled or withheld thoughts or deeds, ask yourself, what am I holding on to here? Maybe you are holding out for that well deserved apology or maybe you don’t want to risk going first. Now, consider what it is that you are telling yourself in order to support you in hanging on to that. What do you tell yourself so that you can keep your cards to your chest?

Usual answers to this question are things like, “what’s the point? I have done enough already, I don’t know how, they are not worth it, it would hurt them” etc. Inside all of those kinds of responses lies an excuse of some sort. Excuses excuse us from taking the steps necessary to make changes in our daily life.

Think about a challenge you currently have in your life. It could be a work challenge, a relationship challenge or a health issue. What is your most common response or action that you take in reaction to that challenge? Do you blow up, or shut down, or procrastinate, or bolt. Do you hide, deny, or complain?

For the next week, pay attention to your common excuses. Do you blame your spouse, or put it off until next Monday? Do you give up?  What are your excuses? I challenge you to find three things that you catch yourself doing that might seem like an excuse.

This is a tricky assignment because what if some of it seems real and legitimate? What if, I can’t give up this job with benefits, or I can’t afford another sitter, or it was on sale, or I am too tired, what if all of those completely justifiable reasons are the tiniest bit truthful? If so, be willing to dig a little deeper, under all your perfectly logical reasons, lies a thread. That thread is a big old excuse that probably stems from a fear. Behind your excuses lies your key to uncovering where fear may be getting the best of you.

This week, pay attention to your excuses.  Can you find some common responses or justifications that you use often? Identifying how you withhold, and what you use to excuse yourself for doing so is an essential step in setting you free from your past, so that you can focus on your future.