authenticity 101


When The Vision Becomes Reality Part 1

Family in London

I call myself a Vision Coach, which is not always easy to explain. Basically, I support people to explore and connect to their values in order to create a vision for their life. Although I have actual coaching credentials, my true qualifications lie in the fact that I practice what I preach and am passionate about visioning.

I struggle with the idea of blogging, wanting to protect my personal life and the life of my family from public scrutiny. However, in order to practice authenticity, I want to share how having a vision in my own life has led to incredible moments of vulnerability, self-awareness and complete happiness. The photo you see here is one such moment of happiness. Chris and I had been separated for over 2 years when this photo was taken. I was dating a lovely English fellow and he and I took my girls to visit his family in England. Chris flew to London to meet us there after a week, spent the weekend with us and then returned to Toronto with the girls so I could spend an extra week travelling with my new partner. This photo was taken one evening in a pub and I remember how thrilled I was to have Chris there with us so that we could enjoy the experience as a family.

So how did we get to a place where my ex would fly to England to spend a weekend with me and our girls? By having a vision for a healthy relationship and putting our kids first, then taking the steps to make it a reality.

When Chris left in 2006, I was devastated. I truly believe he was too. I knew he had been unhappy for a while, but was completely unaware of the depth of his despair over the state of our relationship. He had not voiced it in a way that reached me, and it wasn’t until he said he needed to leave that I realized there was something seriously wrong. In hindsight, I had disconnected from my own feelings and was living on auto-pilot. Neither one of us had found a way to say to each other what we were really feeling and our intimacy and authenticity had become non-existent. In having the courage to leave (I say this knowing how incredibly difficult it was for him to come to the decision) he forced me to look at what wasn’t working anymore and why. I had to self-reflect and take a long look at my own behaviour in the breakdown of our marriage. In that moment of feeling hurt, angry and rejected it would have been easy to be a victim by blaming, punishing and speaking ill of the man who left me. But I didn’t, despite being in a tremendously painful period in our relationship, because it went against all of my values of trust, honesty, love and commitment. Thankfully, he had those same values which we could re-build on. We found a way to love and honour, respect and commit to our family and our children even if we weren’t husband and wife through therapy, long conversations and loads of patience ... with each other!

Our vision for the future was to create a new relationship that included healthy, happy parents raising beautiful daughters together. This would be a very long blog if I described how many times we took one step forward and two steps back to create the relationship we have today. But in the end, being honest with each other, saying the difficult things with love and having healthy boundaries all contribute to an amazing relationship that we are grateful for every day. I no longer have a husband in Chris, but I have a loving and dedicated partner who shares in the challenges and blessings of raising our girls together. We truly have attained the vision we had for our family, despite its non-traditional appearance. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Did You Say Camping Wedding?

Camping Wedding

If there is any event in your life where having a vision is really quite important, it’s a wedding. No matter how big or small, casual or formal your ceremony and reception are, the day you get married should be full of good moments and feelings of happiness and love. The part we often forget though is that the months (or weeks in our case) leading up to it should also be fun and that we can’t get lost in the details.

Visioning has become such a big part of our life that when Phil and I talk about planning things, we start with the end in mind. What was the overall feeling we wanted at our wedding? That our guests feel comfortable and at ease in a casual natural environment that allowed for organic conversations and a moments of connection. Hmmm. That sounds a lot like sitting around a campfire. Which is exactly how we met each other. So we decided to turn our backyard into a camping retreat in the city. In the space of 5 weeks, we created a space which included a true campsite area with picnic tables and a fire pit on cedar mulch under a canopy of mature maples. We had a “glamping” lounge with rugs, sectional furniture and a chandelier for the non-camping crowd and our own backyard with a deck and a willow tree for the ceremony. Oh, and a 50’ by 30’ white tarp over our entire back yard, 30 feet in the air above the willow. The people who saw the “before” and “after” shots were incredulous that we pulled it off. They never could have imagined it.

The part that is hardest to explain about visioning is that
you don’t have to know how you will accomplish it. You just have to envision it and then take the steps to make it happen. The universe will support your vision as long as you have faith, apply your time and energy to the details of supporting your vision and do the work. Each step in the direction of your vision will bring it to reality.

When we first thought of using the back yard, we had to pause as our yard is tiny. It meant really scaling back our guest list which we were loathe to do. As we continued working through the details of how to make our vision a reality and accommodate our guest list of 140, we approached our neighbours with the idea of knocking down the fence between our yards in order to add extra space for our event. Since we were offering to re-landscape their space and pay to re-build the fences, they agreed. So our vision of a camping wedding in the city was suddenly completely possible as we had 3 distinct yards to create outdoor “rooms”. From that point on, hard work, lots of helping hands and a open mind to accept ideas from friends all came together to create our ideal wedding. The best part? Phil and I rarely disagreed. We tore down fences, built a deck, bought dishes and lanterns, put up a tarp, created an invitation, wrote our vows ... you name it, we did it. Together and with a lot of laughter and ease. How is it possible that planning the wedding was so much fun? I truly believe it’s because we were doing exactly what we wanted to do and we had a common vision that we kept in sight. We were doing this wedding for us, and it reflected our values and the things we cherish: our children, our families and friends, our home and our love of community and entertaining. And camping!

It really was magical. Everything fell into place, including the weather, and we have incredibly beautiful memories of our wedding. An event that reflected our values and even included my ex-husband. The fact that he was present and supportive of my new life was priceless and part of my vision for a healthy and loving future for my girls and new blended family.

So once again, I have proof positive that the “how do I get there?” is not important. It’s the “what do I truly want?” that’s crucial. A clear vision from a heart-felt place is all you need. The how to make it real will show up and you just have to be ready to do the work.

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