authenticity 101




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

LPC Leadership

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.

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.

Setting Intentions


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 ( 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 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!

Do What You Love


I remember reading a book many years ago called “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow”. I don’t necessarily agree that it is always possible to make money doing what we love but I do think that there’s a good chance we can create paid work for ourselves that reflects our preferences if we get clear on what we value and love to do.

I have always been fairly organized and love creating systems for keeping track of all the household items that take up space and energy in our home. I am blessed with an excellent memory and attention to detail that are very useful when doing de-cluttering and organizing. I have never been afraid of physical hard work, dust, dirt, bugs or piles of mystery items in the corner of a basement or bedroom. I love a challenge and the idea of taking a messy, disorganized and unhealthy space and making it orderly and functional is fun to me! That’s why I am thrilled to do it for other people who are not interested or overwhelmed by the idea of going through the boxes they have hidden in the basement and buried under out of season clothes and sports equipment. There’s a bit of the explorer in me and I love when my clients excitedly say ‘hey, I’ve been looking for that!” Hidden treasure can be as simple as a missing receipt for income taxes or the one shoe from a favorite pair that you couldn’t find.

So I am loving the organizing side of my coaching business and realizing how we gravitate to the things we are most comfortable with and love to do. I am naturally inclined to be organized and to think in a way that supports maintaining systems to stay organized. Working with my clients is very much like playing for me.

What I am not comfortable with or inclined to spend time learning is style and fashion. I really dislike clothes shopping and having to make decisions on what to wear. If I could wear the same shirt and pair of jeans every day I would. I definitely like to look nice, and want to wear fashionable things, but I find the process of keeping up with current styles, accessories, colours and seasons irritating and frustrating. So I just always stick to the boring basics.

In accepting the fact that not everyone is organized and wanting to spend hours sorting through their linen closet, I could also accept the fact that not everyone likes to shop for clothes. I let myself off the hook for not “trying hard enough” to like shopping. And I asked for help. My next-door neighbour and long-time friend Elizabeth always looks great. She loves to pick up bargains and can put together an outfit in minutes with the right accessories and shoes for a very reasonable price. So I asked her if she would be interested in being a personal shopper for me. She loved the idea! She came over and we looked at what I already had (which was pitiful to say the least) and talked about what I like, my comfort zone in relation to style and colour and my budget. Then she went shopping for me! She spent a week putting together a wardrobe of over 20 items that all mixed and matched, got me a couple of accessories and a pair of shoes that would coordinate and voilà! I am set for the summer. She managed to find almost every item on sale, and came in under budget. I was amazed and so grateful to walk into her home and have it all set up for me. That to me is priceless and I am loving getting up in the morning to see what outfit I will wear today.

She told me it was great fun for her and a wonderful challenge. So when I am in someone’s bedroom organizing their clothes and eliminating clutter to create order and serenity for them, I’m happy and fulfilled. When Elizabeth is out looking for bargains to get me a new mix-and-match wardrobe, she is enjoying herself and adding value to my life. We are doing what we love, and it doesn’t feel like work. So figuring out what you enjoy is the first step. Then you can decide if what you love doing is potentially of service to others. That’s where the money can follow if you choose to pursue your love as paid work. So get creative and go for it! The world may very well need what you have to offer.

Just Be Curious

The Girls

As a parent of teenage girls, one of the biggest challenges has been finding the balance between creating the boundaries for their safety and allowing for the necessary learning from mistakes. Of course there has to be structure and consequences, but there needs to be room for the pushing back and discovering their own set of values and who they are. It is incredibly hard to watch my children make choices that I don’t agree with, or repeat mistakes that they have already made and “should” have learned from. The temptation to launch into sermons and manage their lives for them is very powerful! Even with all that I know about each of us interpreting the world in our own way, the fear that their current choices will have an irrevocable impact on who they will grow up to be creates anxiety and an inability to connect with them in the moment. Living in a future based on conjecture is not a particularly efficient way to connect in a loving way with my children in the present.

As the month of January arrives, it is inevitable that we hear and read about resolutions. I’ve enjoyed reading some interesting blogs, namely Christine Kane’s ( and Brené Brown’s ( who both suggest the choosing of a word as an intention for the year rather than having resolutions. I thought about this and decided that my word for the year would be “curious”. When I am curious, there is no room for judgement. If I am truly being curious, I am open-minded, available to hear the answer and not simply wanting confirmation of something I already know. There’s room for dialogue, for new information and a new perspective.

As a parent, I want to give my girls a voice of their own and the opportunity to make their own choices. This means there will be some level of conflict and drama. I need to continually balance my responsibility as a parent to put in place age-appropriate boundaries and consequences while respecting and encouraging their growth and learning through trial and error. And I need to stay curious and flexible when the need for control shows up.

As I strive to be more curious this year, what will you strive for? What word would you pick to create a new perspective for yourself?

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