authenticity 101

Taking a Pass on Perfectionism

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One of my bigger challenges in life is perfectionism. I am feeling very annoyed at this very moment as I have to re-write the entire blog that I wrote about perfectionism when my computer froze 10 minutes ago and my work disappeared. As you can imagine, this is no longer the original blog. There's really no way to recreate what I first wrote and I would make myself crazy trying to remember each word and phrase. Sigh. In a not so distant past, I might have attempted it.

The sign you see above is my artist statement poster for the Brené Brown "Gifts of Imperfection" art journaling e-course. The best part about that poster is that I made a big mistake when I was creating it. I was supposed to write "I am a creative being". Somehow I got carried away in my stamping ecstasy and there you have it - imperfection staring at me every day from my desk. The universe is sending me quite a signal these days about perfectionism. Time to let it go my dear.

Perfectionism truly is the enemy of vulnerability and creativity. There's really no way to be perfect at something you've never tried, so being more open to the possibility of failure as an outcome of daring greatly is appealing. And who defines failure anyway? I know I'm much harder on myself than anyone else would be. So I'm going to try things, see how they feel, enjoy them or maybe not. Then I can decide if I want to try them again. Creativity is not a narrow definition in my head anymore that says it has to be drawing, painting or sculpture to be artistic. If I'm doing something creative based on my values and interests from a place of self-worth, then I can just experiment and enjoy the process. It's a very exciting concept to think of creativity as simply enjoying our own unique gifts and creating whatever suits us. I am going to get in the garden, enjoy the art journaling assignments from my e-course, make more scrapbooks and continue to create the vision of my life.

I am a creative being. And, according to my poster, a creative person too.

Valentine's Day Vulnerability

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In honour of Valentine's Day, I wanted to post a little something about love.  I have just returned from a life-altering experience in San Antonio, Texas.  I was privileged to be training in The Daring Way™, an experiential methodology based on Dr. Brené Brown's research in the areas of shame and vulnerability.  You can see her TedTalk video called The Power of Vulnerability here. I could make this a very long post as I am super-excited about everything I learned but I'll keep it simple.  (If anyone wants to hear more about vulnerability and shame resilience, please contact me as I'd love to share.)

A clear outcome of the research by Dr. Brené Brown is that the only way we can truly love others is if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and believe that we are worthy of love and belonging.  It's not just a saying, it's not just a myth when we say we cannot love others before we love ourselves.   The feelings of not being good enough and the striving for perfection are where shame shows up and the voices in our heads say "you aren't worthy of love".  The bottom line is, we are all worthy of love just because we exist. 

So on this Valentine's Day, please remember to love and be compassionate towards yourself.  And then you will be able to extend that love and compassion out to your loved ones.  I tend to find being vulnerable in my parenting a big challenge and I need to really remind myself often that I am human and imperfect. Here are a few lines from "The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto" on Brené's website (and on the poster in our kitchen) that I am striving to implement in my parenting.

Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and loveable.  You will learn this from my words and actions - the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself. 

I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.

As a blended family with teens and multiple challenges, we are all stepping into vulnerable places and moments of self-compassion for our imperfect selves every day.  Happy Valentine's Day to you and your loved ones. 

Quotable


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A few months ago, I had a long chat on the phone with Jaclyn Law, who was calling me to discuss my thoughts on stress. My curling friend Karen had suggested me as a possible source and I accepted despite wondering if I was the right fit for the topic. We ended up talking about my favorite subjects which are having a vision, getting clear on your values and learning what to keep and what to let go of in order to live the life you want. It was a great chat and at one point, I stopped worrying about whether it was about the topic of stress at all. I was just saying what I believe leads to a healthy and authentic life.

Stress is of course part of our everyday lives, whether we care to admit it or not. There are going to be days where it is more present than others. Despite some very challenging times in my life in the past few years, I have managed to not become a full-on "stress-ball". That's what my daughter Isabelle would call high strung people (including me) when she was about 6 years old. I have periods of intense stress where I needed to really focus on a task or an emotional situation of course, but thankfully my everyday life has been set up, based on my values, to minimize stress. I know when I am starting to feel burned out by too many commitments and have improved my ability to say no politely without guilt. I know when my body is craving physical exercise and I need to go for a run which magically also clears my head. I certainly do not escape the effects of stress and too often react in ways that are not positive, but becoming more aware of what my stressors are is a step in the right direction.

Jaclyn's article appeared in the Spring/Summer 2013 edition of
Expressions, Inspired by Acura which is a print-only magazine for Acura owners. I was given permission to quote a few sections and I want to share some of what I said and how Jaclyn wrote about what we discussed in relation to stress. The title of the article is The Stress Test. Long term stress hurts your health. Find relief by living truer to your values.

Combatting the effects of stress is a good move, but consider going deeper and getting to the source. That means taking stock of your hectic life and figuring out what to keep, what to let go of, and what is in fact, missing. "It's about creating a vision for your life based on your needs and values and how you perceive the world, which is different for everybody", says Lianne Doucet, a vision coach and professional organizer in Toronto. It's stressful to be something you're not. That's the biggest stressor - trying to live up to others' expectations."

As a vision coach, Doucet helps people clarify their values and decide which commitments, responsibilities and possessions are most important to them. She advises clients to light their load by saying "yes" to things that fit their vision and "no" to those that don't add value.


It was really cool to see myself quoted, and I like how she interpreted what we discussed. Now I have to remember to take my own advice!

Taking a Stand


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I have always been interested in politics. My father was a city councillor in Sudbury when I was growing up and he also ran provincially one year as a Liberal candidate. I remember dropping literature during the campaigns and attending local community events where my Dad made speeches. As a student, I got involved with various committees and became Student Council President and continued on with similar roles in University where I was active on campus.

These days,I have become increasingly involved with my local Liberal riding associations. In the current political climate of our country, it can be daunting to take a stand and pick a party. We have become so very polarized and there are lots of ways to trash-talk every political party if we choose to. There are no perfect parties, and there are no blemish free records. Politicians are humans and no one does a perfect job every day. As long as I see a vision for fairness, equality, accountability and transparency then I will support a party that strives to reflect those values.

While I don't intend to bring politics into my work with clients, I find myself drawn more and more to taking a stand and being open about my choices. If I am to be authentic and live from my values, I need to accept that my party of choice is Liberal. Despite this proclamation, my NDP and Conservative friends and family still love me. We really can all get along, eh Milton?

The reason I felt compelled to write this blog is that I attended the GTA Federal Leadership Debate today. I found myself really looking forward to it, being completely present and focused during the event and enjoying the reception afterwards where I got to meet some of the candidates. I watched the previous debates and have been reading the candidates websites and emails to make an informed decision about who to vote for. Today's debate really solidified my initial gut feeling that I am going to support Joyce Murray. I was able to attend a small reception for her downtown after the big event in Mississauga and had a chance to chat with her. I like how she seems to be solidly rooted in her values and stating her policies and ideas clearly. I love how she handles herself during the debates as she is articulate, thoughtful, intelligent and humorous with a solid background in business and politics. I also support the idea of cooperation for the 2015 elections to switch things up. We need to do something different in order to unseat the Conservatives. I liked it when Nathan Cullen suggested it during the NDP Leadership Convention, and I like it again. There must be something in the BC water that makes people cooperative!

If you are interested in Joyce's platform, here is her website. I invite you to check it out.
www.joycemurray.ca

Here's another invitation. Whether you are political or not, actively engaged or not, Liberal or not, this leadership race offers you a chance to do something historic. As long as you are not a card-carrying member of another party, you can sign up as a supporter, for free, and vote in the leadership race in April. You can help pick the next Liberal Leader and that to me is really cool. You don't have to become a Liberal and once the leader is picked, you can simply unsubscribe from the emails that will inevitably start showing up and move on with your life. Or you might catch the bug and feel engaged for the first time in a political process. Either way, you will have participated in something quite unique in our country. Here is the link to the supporter sign up page. If you do decide to sign up, remember to do so by March 3rd, 2013.
www.liberal.ca/supporter

Setting Intentions


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Last year at this time I set my word of intention for the year as Curiosity. I found it very useful to have one word to stay focused on my intentions. I did spend a lot of time in 2012 figuring out what I want to be when I grow up! I got curious about my skills, talents, likes and dislikes. I did research, read books and tried new things. Thanks to a great conversation over lunch with my friend Joyce Curry (futureselfcoach.com) last March I realized how much I enjoy organizing so I joined the Professional Organizers in Canada, got educated and successfully passed the exam as a Professional Organizer.

This year, I’ve decided it will be
Growth. It’s time to say yes to new clients, new opportunities and new experiences. Growth can also play a role in my relationships, my spirituality, my financial assets, my creativity ... the list is endless really. It’s a big word and I am ready to grow into a bigger reality for myself and my career. As part of my growth, I have updated my website to reflect the organizing side of my coaching business. There are now before and after pictures, testimonials and information about how I organize. Please check it out!

Since the biggest part of setting intentions is to write them down, I have downloaded and printed Kristine Kane’s Word of The Year Discovery Tool. It’s a great way to get clear about my word for the year and the reason I chose it. You can find it at
christinekane.com if you’d like to set your own word of intention for 2013. (Thank you Dee for forwarding me the information!) I will be setting my intentions in detail for this year and reminding myself to grow and lean into new experiences and challenges.

I hope you take the time to choose your word for this year. I’m really excited about mine!