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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Life Throws Wrenches

Wow... Life has thrown a lot of wrenches at me lately. I am happy to say, I'm managing it all, though. I slipped last week... was late for events, forgot things, missed things, and had to compromise a bunch. And I managed it. I also managed to organize quite a successful Karma Yoga class. My heart is still full from the generous donations to the Single Parent Association of Newfoundland. Christmas really does bring out the beauty in people.

Oh, and I even baked Christmas cookies. Yes. Imagine! I have not been very 'domesticated' for quite a few years. As a single mom, I focused on career, raising my oldest daughter, and personal wellness. I cooked a bit... but baked cookies came from Nanny:) And our very small house (or apartments) meant very little need for much domestication. One year we did not have a Christmas tree. *Bliss* Oh... did I type that?

Ok... I digress... Christmas makes me nostalgic...

Back to the wrenches....

So I had a big intention to switch my website over to a new provider and redesign it... in November. My intention for December was to get caught up on some financial stuff I'm behind on. I have progressed a little bit on the website (it takes a while), but the financials are a bit messy. I know... this does not sound very yogi-like. Well.... it is. Yogi-like is not perfection. It is about becoming more aware of your true Self. And I have discovered a few things I don't necessarily like about myself.... like I tend to ignore things I fear... like my financials. However, now that I am aware of that, I work toward addressing things face on. I'm not perfect. I'm very imperfect, in fact. But I'm working on being more disciplined in this area.

What does this have to do with wrenches?

Well, I had these intentions to be productive in my business. Focused. So I can start 2017 fresh and clean... business-wise. However, all these things got in the way. The wrenches.

If you're following me on Facebook or Instagram, you probably know I'm renovating... and I bought a lemon for a house. When we moved into our new home in late August, we had dreams of doing a few renos and being all settled within a month. Lol! We are here for 3 1/2 months now... nothing is finished. In fact, with leaks and significant issues with plumbing and electrical, we are also into this a lot more financially than expected. One of our reasons for this move was to simplify our lives and our finances. That has not come to fruition yet. But we still believe it will. So the house and the renovations and the finances have all been pretty big wrenches.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on my Living Your Yoga Group Facebook Page about Savasana - Corpse Pose - and asked how people felt about it and the idea of death. There were varying responses. I began contemplating death about 10 years ago or more. I remember I bought a book about death... but I did not read it. Our society fears death and we tend to not talk about it and sugar coat it with our children. So, I'm trying to instil a healthy attitude about death in my children... and myself.

Funnily, the concept of death arose in my Yoga Nidra course a few weeks ago. Then, within a week, I had two funerals/wakes to attend and condolences to send to a good friend. Three deaths just after I posted about death. I could write a whole blog... or maybe a book... about death (not to mention the idea of death that came with depression). But I will digress again and suffice it to say, for now, that these were more wrenches in my plans.

I follow a few inspirational leaders and coaches and intentions are huge in those groups. In yoga, intentions are huge. In mindfulness, intentions are huge. I hold sessions called (Re)Create Your Vision where we design our intentions. Intentions are powerful. And I fully believe in them. They work.

But here's the thing. Life throws wrenches. Plans rarely go as planned. Intentions are not goals. Intentions are a way of being. Goals are concrete, measurable, and action-oriented. We can actually stick to our intentions and not meet our goals. Wrenches will delay or change our goals, while intentions can be held even when the wrenches come our way.

We can be happy and fulfilled and content when we do not meet our goals. If we do not fulfill our intentions, we may not be happy and fulfilled and content. (This takes practice, of course!)

My GOALS were to redesign my website and get up to date with my financials. My INTENTION was to work ON my business while balancing life and working IN my business. Balance. My intention was balance. My intention was also progression. And, if I really think about it.... my intention since January 2016 (I even wrote a blog post about it) has been FREEDOM.

Freedom from depression. Freedom from grasping. Freedom from inertia. Freedom from overwhelm.
For me, freedom is non-attachment. Detachment from my goals. Detachment from rumination. Detachment from limiting beliefs and fears. Detachment from expectations.

This is how we can be happy and fulfilled and content even when we do not meet our goals. When we can detach from outcomes, it will not upset our contentment when our plans go off track.

In the last few months, as I did not meet my goals, I continued to manage my freedom. And my balance. I still have a website to redesign and financials to complete. However, I progressed in my business in other ways... AND... I'm not feeling stressed. I have moments of feeling stressed, but I manage them.

Stress is all around me. I have moments of growling. Lol! But, overall, I've managed it all. I'm not in the hole of depression and I'm not entangled in anxiety. I'm feeling pretty free.

As we move towards the end of 2016, I realize this has been a big year for me. I may not have met my business goals, but boy, did I ever progress in my freedom. And that, for me, is what life is really all about.

So, yes, life throws us wrenches. It always will. It does not mean your life is no longer wonderful.

Because it is life itself that is wonderful.

To learn more about (Re)Create Your Vision or any of my yoga, mindfulness, or meditation programs, connect with me at

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Embrace Lost

I'm lost.  Lost in business.  A little lost in life.  I don't really know what to do next.

In one week, I had to postpone my retreat and cancel a yoga class due to low registration.  My other yoga classes are not full yet.  And I have received only ONE call in two months regarding a workplace workshop - and that has not been confirmed.

My typical approach is to work at it. Find solutions.  Determine what is not working and fix it.  And if it still does not work, find something else to do.  Offer another program.  Design a different workshop or retreat.  In fact, I did design another retreat and decided not to go ahead with it.  And I did design another workshop and decided to not offer it.

Because I feel lost.

Now, don't get me wrong, I filled my meditation and yoga courses in September and then filled another meditation course in October.  The retreats have been filled in the past, with incredible feedback.  I have had students in some of my classes cry tears of joy because it is the first time they've been able to release since a serious injury.  Someone told me last week I do important work and to keep going.  I received an email from a stranger the other day to tell me what I do adds value. I am grateful I can contribute.  I am filled with joy when I see that what I do has a positive effect.  I do receive gifts from students and they do tell me how wonderful their classes or courses are.  My workplace programs have gone well in the past, and I have had repeat clients. People have told me the work they've done with me has changed how they work and impacted culture.  Yes, things are working out.

I really do find and see the good and focus on it as much as I can.

Yet, I'm at a crossroads.

I really don't know what is next.

I fill my time with busy-ness to make me feel like I have a lot to do.  I don't know what else to do. Ok, Ok... there are things I could be doing.  But there is this unknown space enveloping me.

I'm lost.

Here's the thing.  When I'm lost, I tend to grasp at solutions and strategies and new ideas.  My mind is filled with ideas.  The result is a busy-ness that has no direction.  I get caught up in frivolous, meaningless tasks.  Yes, some days are filled with classes and meetings and I feel productive and good about what I'm doing.  But I have these days that are full... of nothingness... but busy-ness.

This time.... I have decided to embrace feeling lost rather than trying to fill the time.

Because maybe it's not lost.  Maybe it's just an opportunity to use the space to create.  Maybe if I allow free time, I will see the opportunities line up in front of me.

That's what I teach in classes sometimes.

Last week, I read something about being faced with difficulties and saying we are lost, when really we are just in the chaos or unknown that is normal, and it will pass and we will make it through.. so take it on.  Dive in.  Dive in to the unknown.  Allow the unknown.

So, I'm diving into that feeling of lost.  I'm embracing it.  I'm not longer avoiding it.  I took the time to commit to a Manifest Your Awesomeness Challenge by Jennifer Trask.  It is helping me embrace this feeling.  I took time to meditate.  I got organized.  I journaled.  I ate my breakfast and my lunch... on time.  And I listened to a few yoga podcasts.

Funny how we can feel so free when we just allow whatever is there to be there.

Feeling lost is like feeling out of control.  Embracing it means making conscious choices that make you feel good versus grasping at things to do.  Then you feel in control.  Free.  And eventually, you will feel back on track.

I'm lost and I'm embracing it.  I don't really know what is next.  The unknown, though, is part of the fun.

And how lucky am I that I have this opportunity... I have abundance of time (for now, anyway)... how many people can say that?

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Dance of Freedom

Last weekend, I attended a 5Rhythms dance workshop.  I have danced since I was four years old.  I love to dance. However, as an adult with adult responsibilities, dance slowly distanced itself from me.

Then, with injuries and other health issues, came a pretty sedentary life over the past few years.  I stopped running, snowboarding, hula hopping... I hiked a bit but not like I used to.  I dabbled in things, but was not able to keep up activity.

I was lethargic.  I was sore.

Think of stagnant water.  It becomes an incubator for bacteria and disease.  It does not flow.  It is motionless.  It becomes full of waste, foul smells, and unhealthy to drink.

Well, we are made of 60-90% water (depends on the research you're reading).  When we are sedentary, we become stagnant.  Like a motionless pool of water.

As did I.

Last year, I began moving again.  It's been a slow process full of ups and downs, but last weekend, I attended 2 1/2 days of dancing.  This was not ordinary, shuffle your feet back and forth and snap your fingers kind of dancing.  This was flat out, move, shake, rattle, and roll dancing.  And I did it for hours.  And hours.  In fact, days.

After Friday night, I felt free.  I was so happy I could burst.  Saturday, although amazing, was a little different.  When we dance, when we truly connect to our soul and dance, we move something else inside us beyond our physical body.  We move emotions.  We move energy.  We move whatever is stuck.  And all that began to move in me.  I felt the stuckness.  I felt the stagnant energy.

Release comes in many forms... for me, on Saturday, I shed tears, I felt temperature changes, I got the chills, I tingled, and I released with sounds... yes, breath... heavy, purposeful, forceful, and, well, growling and howling works, too.  (Try it... it is liberating.)

Saturday night I got a call from my Mom... my Dad was sick and we were bringing him to emergency.  He was really, really sick for hours, and we had a late night.  He is OK now.  My Dad and Mom have both been sick over the past two years, and I feel like a regular in the emergency room and hospitals.  But they are both fine.  Health is improving for both of them, and we're all pretty grateful for that.

Ok... so back to dance... Sunday morning, I was exhausted and could barely move.  My body was so stiff.  My neck and back were paining.  My heart felt heavy.  I sent a message to the organizer - I was not coming.  There was no way I could dance in this state.

Well, that was simply not going to do.  The organizer and facilitator of 5Rhythms encouraged me to come, participate or not, stay or don't stay, but come.

So I did.  I had intentions of sitting in a chair and meditating all day.

But that also was not going to do.

I was stiff when I started.  I participated and moved slowly and cautiously.  I connected with people. And because I could not move so much... I got still in my body.  My body WANTED to move.  But, it just couldn't.  Not in the way I wanted it to.  A whole lot of acceptance was happening.

That afternoon, we had a shamanic dance.  Visudha (the facilitator) told me to be soft in my body.... to keep softening it as the music played.  So unlike everyone else who was dancing and moving and giving it their all... I lay down and softened.  I had a lot of trouble relaxing.  It probably took me 30 minutes, and it usually takes me about 2 minutes:)

Something truly amazing happened once I found softness.  Stillness.  Connection.  I was fully aware of all the beautiful souls dancing around me, but I was lying there.  Still.  And I began twitching.  I began shaking.  I began pulsating.  I could feel energy being moved through me.  Tears squeezed out of my eyes.  My body would tense and then relax.  I knew I had full control, but I allowed whatever release to happen.  And release it did.

I had had that kind of experience before.  I knew it was a release.  It doesn't even matter what it was a release of... it was releasing all that is stored in our bodies so that I could find freedom.  And it worked.

The next exercise was more dancing, but one person at a time... flat out... release everything in you with movement and sound kind of dancing.  I figured I'd saunter up the room slowly and cautiously in what you call 'flow' movement.  You know... because my neck was so stiff and my body could barely move.  And I was feeling pretty calm.

Well... when release happens, your body softens.  When it was my turn, I began to move a little... do a little flow... and then it happened.  My entire body shook.  My head softened and swirled.  My body was more like an elastic band than a piece of wood.  I had NO idea how this was even possible given my current physical state.

At the end of the dance, I was out of breath.  It was a minute... maybe two... but I was panting like I just ran as fast as I could for as long as I could.  It was cathartic.  It was stimulating.  It was kind of astonishing.

Of course, like all retreats, I felt connected and grounded and joyful at the end.  I had new friends.  I had new skills.  I am in love.  In love with life.  I feel alive.  I have two feet in.

I knew I'd be in pain the next day, and I didn't care.  It was worth it.  It was more than worth it.

But I wasn't.  I wasn't in pain!  The next day, I had some stiff muscles in my calves... normal for dancing all weekend. But my neck and back had their normal level of pain.  Nothing more.  The stiffness and pain that had been there on Sunday morning had disappeared.  Yet, I was thrashing around and shaking my booty... and my head!

How was this possible?

The dance is an energetic release.  The dance, when truly connected to the soul, allows all that is stagnant to move.  The disease drains away.  The body moves more freely.  The body flows.  Just like the body of stagnant water once you allow it to flow.

We are not meant to be stagnant.  We are meant to find stillness in our minds... but our bodies are meant to move.

Do not be afraid to move.  Do not be afraid to allow energy to be released.  We are here once.  Do not give anything that keeps you stuck permission to hang around.

Of course, there are times we need to rest... to take care of illness.  Even in those times, we have choice in how we respond.

It takes courage to dance.  To move your body.  To be engaged in life.  To jump in with two feet.  It is your choice though.  You can choose to be stagnant and allow disease to fester.  Or you can choose to move... to dance... to jump in with feet... and be free.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Practice Makes Imperfect OK

Our move from 3500 square feet to 2500 square feet - 1/2 of which is being renovated, so we're living in 1250 square feet - has gone fairly smoothly.  We have slept in our new home for a whole week.  My five year old has settled in quite well.  My 22 year old has been patiently awaiting the renovations to be complete (they have not started yet) so she can move into her own apartment.  My husband has managed to balance work, moving, and spending quality time with our five year old.

But, I'm beginning to feel frustrated and unbalanced.  I feel like I'm wobbling off of a high wire.

We chose this move.  We were not forced.  We wanted a simpler life.  We wanted less space to clean. We did not want to purchase more stuff to fill the larger space we lived in.  We wanted more disposable income to have more experiences.  We chose this move.  Yet, I have found myself struggling at times with the small space, the less than modern house, the smell in the old basement, the boxes that cannot be unpacked because every inch of space is already full.

I'm practicing surrender... having faith that it will all work out... having a knowing that this is just stuff that doesn't matter.  I look out my windows and stare at the huge, mature trees surrounding my property and find peace.  Nature is like that.

I know we have a lot to do to make this space a comfortable home.  And I know it will all be OK. But I still find myself getting frustrated.  I have found myself stuck the last few days... not knowing what to do... my body aches and my life feels unsettled.  So I meditate and I feel more settled.  It will all be OK.

This is a process like anything else in life.  I find gratitude in the fact that my business does not pick up until the Fall so I've had a lot of day time hours to pack, unpack, sort, maneuver, purge, organize... and get stuck in my twirling stories and thoughts.  But I recognize those vortexes of thought and then I meditate or sit on the deck to be surrounded by the trees.  And I realize all is OK.

I also have drank a beer or two almost every night since we've arrived.  I have been eating fast food or processed food for almost every meal.  I have been staying up late, sleeping a little later.  I have been sore and cranky and I refuse to take a pill.  My husband somehow puts up with my crankiness.  I remind myself how love makes it OK.

Just today, I posted about humor in my meditation challenge group.  Yet, lately, mine has not been present as much as usual.  I'm tired and I don't know where to put anything.  I realize how convenient our space was before.  There was space for everything.  I had most things at a height that I did not need to bend to retrieve.  There was no clutter.  There was natural light everywhere.  Everything was new and clean. My physical space helped me have space in my mind.

But I still had to meditate.  I still had cranky days.  I still had all the imperfections I have now.

My meditation and yoga practice is helping me perceive this experience as just an experience - not good, not bad.  My practice is also helping me see more clearly that I'm imperfect.  Life is imperfect. No matter what your house looks like, no matter how much stuff you have, no matter what career you have, no matter who your friends are... you are still an imperfectly perfect human being... with human emotions.  We know these things on an intellectual level - but observing the experience of them is how we truly see into our higher selves.

We have an edge in our yoga practice... that place where we can find ease in our effort.  And if we go beyond it, we are no longer receiving benefit.  We may harm ourselves.  We need to accept that edge and love where we are... be kind to ourselves.  The edge may change, but at that moment, to receive the most benefit, we need to be OK with that edge.

My practice has helped me see my edge.  As the weeks of packing and unpacking have piled up, my edge has moved closer and closer.  My practice helped me manage it.  My practice does not get rid of it.

My practice makes imperfect OK.... and has shown me that I need to adopt a little more humor and love <3

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Little Attachments Must Stay. Big Attachments Must Leave.

"Will I leave the hook on my bathroom door?" asked my 22-year old.  We are moving house.  We're downsizing.  And many of the little attachments to walls, doors, etc. must stay.  One attachment that I am hoping will leave, though, is my big attachment... to this house we made a home.

We bought this big, beautiful house almost five years ago after returning from living in Singapore.  My youngest was four months old when we moved in and my oldest was almost 18.  We put effort into making this house our home.  We painted it warm colors and laid floors that were delightful to walk on.  We bought furniture that suited the space.  My husband poured hours and hours into planning and renovating the basement so that our oldest could have her own space and I could have an office.  And that space is wonderful.  We used our spare room for many visitors, including my mother-in-law, who was sick for many of the years we lived here.  My husband created raised beds in our garden for vegetables and we planted flowers and greenery in our gardens that are always pleasing to watch blossom.  I usually take a moment each time I drive into our driveway to take in the beauty of the garden.

We have wonderful neighbors.  My five year old is making friends in the neighborhood.  I just received a note from a neighbor down the road saying she was sorry we did not meet earlier.

I have worked in my dining room (Yeah, I know, I have a beautiful office, but I love the light in the dining room.) day after day with the patio door open, the light breeze flowing in, and the sounds of birds chirping filling the room.  I have worked on the patio, smelling the odours of grass and trees.  I have looked out the kitchen window as I cooked supper and watched my daughter playing in her sandbox.  I have practiced yoga on my sunshiny deck, in my spacious office, in my dining room, in my airy bedroom, and in my brightly lit living room.

I have wedding photos in this house.  We had birthday dinners, complete with decorations, in our dining room.  We cut down our own 14 foot Christmas tree to display in our living room with the big window and vaulted ceiling.  I had tea morning after morning with my mother-in-law in that same living room.  My parents, husband, oldest, and I sat in the playroom as my youngest entertained us. I had many cups of coffee or tea and glasses of wine with interesting, funny, and philosophical conversations while sitting at the island in the kitchen with friends and family.

Like most people, we've made beautiful memories here.  Five years worth of beautiful memories.

I have also had a strange five years.  I struggled with starting my own business.  I've had depression. I raised my youngest from infant to school age.  I've raised my oldest from high school to independence (well, sort of:).  I had a career change.  I got married.  My parents have been sick.  My mother-in-law passed away.  My brother became estranged from my family.

Although the last five years have been beautiful and meaningful and, in many ways, some of the happiest times of my life... I'm ready to move to the next chapter.

I knew this house was not a forever home.  It has served its purpose.  It has served it well.  Now, we move to a smaller house with a bigger yard.  There is work to be done to make it our own.  Purging is taking place.  But it is aligned with where we are in life right now.

We are looking forward to making new memories there.  My oldest will have her own full, first apartment to decorate and make her own.  My youngest will have a big back yard in which to play. The sun shines in our yard all day long.  The property is covered with big, old trees.  I imagine I will practice yoga on the patio, listening to the birds chirping and feeling the breeze from the trees.  I imagine I will watch my daughter play from the kitchen window as I cook supper.  I imagine we will have birthday celebrations, smaller Christmas trees, and visitors squished into a space somewhere. I imagine we will build raised vegetable beds and plant flowers.  I imagine we will meet wonderful neighbors.  I imagine I will work in my dining room (because I will not have an office:) with the patio door open.

I imagine we will make many beautiful memories in our new home.

That, I think, is what helps remove the big attachments.  However, I'm also taking time this week as I pack to feel the attachments and say good-bye to this chapter.  It's OK to feel sad.  It's also OK to feel happy at the same time.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

I'm 46 today and I'm on my 2nd glass of wine

Today it's my birthday.  I love birthdays.  I love celebrating others' birthdays.  I love celebrating my own birthday.  I like making it a special day.  I used to take a vacation day on my birthday all the time when I worked for someone else.  Now, I also take a vacation day.

Birthdays always make me reflect on my life.  And my death. I know that sounds so morbid.  But we live and then we die. And ignoring death does not make life easier or better.  But, I'm not here to talk about death.  I'm here to talk about life. My life.  I think.  Maybe it will resonate with some of you.

I have been at a crossroads in my business for some time.  I don't know which way to turn.  I know others feel that way too... I'm a Coach... I hear things like this all the time.  And I've been through this before.  But I know it is time to step up or step away.  And I'm truly unsure which way to turn.

So I decided to pour a glass of wine.

I'm drinking the wine as I cook for eight people for my birthday dinner, after which, I'm going to the beach for a fire, and I have the music blasting... of course.  This was my choice... to cook my own birthday dinner.  My husband had to work and wanted to order out.  But I got it in my head that cooking would be so much more fun (wtf?!).  My kitchen sink is clogged.  And I'm running behind. And I may have messed up the vegan soup.  I actually thought I'd get everything prepared and have time for a hike before supper???!!!

Now, don't get me wrong.  I started my day with a beautiful yoga class... taught by a beautiful friend and yogi, The Office Yogi at Nova Yoga.  Then I had a family visit.  And I enjoy cooking when it is not rushed.  And I was hanging out with my oldest daughter.  And I received and read a lot of beautiful birthday messages.  Life is quite good.  I have no room to complain.

But I think I will anyway.

In addition to the clogged sink, sweat running down my back from cooking (it is warm here!!!), no shower yet today, and adding a new ingredient to the soup that just might not work... I got an email earlier today that I did not get an interview for a job I applied for.  Yeah... a job.  I know... I'm an entrepreneur, so why am I applying for jobs?!

Well, I thought I was supposed to.  Remember I said I'm at a crossroad in business?  I thought it was time to get a job for a variety of reasons.  I have no intention of shutting down my yoga and meditation business, mind you.  But I figured a job in the right area would help me and my business... and an organization and the people in it.  So I wanted to help.  That's all I ever want to do.  And I applied for this perfect-for-me looking job.  And I got my declined for an interview email today.... on my birthday.

So I poured a glass of wine.

Actually, I shed a few tears.  Not because I did not get an interview (I actually know someone on the selection committee and I KNOW they will choose the best person the job).  But because I am frustrated. And it's my birthday.  And I'm cooking by myself and my sink got clogged up and, although I have a large number of acquaintances, I don't really have a lot of close friends to call upon on my birthday to have a glass of wine in the middle of the afternoon in the middle of the week.

Woe is me.

I do not turn to alcohol for avoiding issues.  But today... I decided to get over it and have a glass of wine.  In the afternoon.  I don't do that either.

I'm on my second glass of wine (they are small glasses).  I feel better.  Not because of the wine.  But because I allowed myself to feel frustrated and sad.  I'm still lost.  I still have no idea what I'm doing this Fall... with my business... or do I get a job... or do I go to school... or do I go to the mountains and meditate and practice yoga and secretly drink wine in my cave?

Whatever it is... I'm 46 today.  I'm on some sort of journey... called my life.  I do always try to make the best of it.  But right now, I have no idea what the best is.  So, I poured a third glass of wine.  And i think I'll enjoy the rest of the day and evening with complete unknowing what tomorrow will bring.  Or the next moment.

Maybe all 8 people will spit the soup out.  But we have wine.

Happy birthday to me!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Importance of Leaders Not Leading

Last weekend, I spent time with a group of amazing women. They are friends.  They are colleagues. They are part of my tribe.  I do not have another group that lifts me up they way these people do. For a few years, we all worked together - all passionate about improving workplaces through Human Relations and wellness and leadership.  These women inspired me, challenged me, and brought me joy.

My role was to lead the team.  And by that, I mean I coached a group of people to be the best they can be.

I had supervised and managed people before this team, but this was probably the first REAL leadership position I had... or at least the one in which I truly learned what leadership was.

I reminded myself daily of my role - to lead, to inspire, to positively influence, to listen, to care, to provide the space to allow my team members to grow, to provide tools and boundaries and clarifications, to lift the team up, to honor individuality, to influence creativity.. the list goes on, and at the bottom of the list was to manage the $4 million budget, evaluate results, and write reports. Those tasks were important, but those tasks were management tasks.  Without being a leader, leading the team, cultivating a culture... the project would not have been as successful.

My role as leader was to create leaders.  I hired them for their minds... for their attitudes... for their openness.  Of course, they needed to have certain skills, but I trained them in the skills they did not have.  And following this idea, the team performed in amazing ways.  The project was super successful, and it continues to be talked about as an example of excellence in HR, leadership, and team management.

I thought I did a pretty good job.  But, leadership is not a one person job.

My journey as a leader was one of self growth.  I learned a lot about myself.  I was far from perfect.  I made mistakes.  It was the people in the team that made it happen.  I was part of that.  I was not that.

Six years have passed since this project ended.  I reflect on it at times, and I believe the most important success factor was mind fitness.

Mind fitness is emotional intelligence, openness, mindfulness, and an acknowledgement that you are human and you are the same as everyone else, that you are learning and growing just like everyone else.  Mind fitness is the ability to be stable in the highs and lows, but to acknowledge that there are highs and lows.

I liken a Mind Fit Leader to a Warrior.  The Warrior is courageous.  Courage means understanding your fears and learning how to manage them, and move through life and work with them.  A Warrior is soft hearted, though.  She is tough in spirit, but gentle in heart.  The strength comes from within. The exterior is far from tough or rigid.

Leadership means creating boundaries, providing clarity, and stepping into situations to help resolve an issue.  In my Mind Fitness Coaching Programs, I help leaders do this.  But just as important as these concrete leadership skills, is the ability to allow your team to lead you.

My team taught me some of the most important lessons about leadership:

  1. I don't have all the answers.  I don't need to have all the answers.  I don't need to have all the skills.  That does not make me a poor leader.  Often employees look to their managers or leaders for the answers - even if they believe they know what to do.  This behaviour can be a result of low confidence or working in fear.  Either way, it is not the best way for an organization to be solution oriented, creative, or to operate at peak performance.  Over time I learned to rely more on my team for the answers.  When they did not have the answers, we worked together to find the solution. 
  2. I am wrong most of the time.  Even if I had the answers, they weren't necessarily the right answer for that specific situation.  My role as leader became one of guidance and accountability rather than telling people what to do.  I hired brilliant, creative, kind people, and I learned how to allow them to bring their best forward.  That resulted in them having the best solutions.
  3. Silence is good.  When the team first formed, I found myself talking a lot.  That was necessary at times because it was all new, there was a lot of training and learning happening. However, my team had a lot to say.  It did not take long before my talking was probably boring to them. They had ideas and solutions and so much to bring to the group and project as individuals.  So I learned how to sit back and listen.  Allow them to do the talking.  Allow them to create what comes next.  My role became ensuring we were staying on track and committed to the vision of the project.  So I got more and more quiet.  And I learned a lot.  I advanced my own technical skills because the team members had skills I did not.  And I also learned a lot about each person as a person.  It allowed me to connect to them and help them grow.  I had a lot of ideas myself... but as a leader, I had to learn how to be silent.  I'm still learning:)
  4. Mistakes can be celebrated.  There were times I had the answers and I knew I was right. But I also knew that if I always gave the answers, everyone would always ask me the questions. Just like a parent needs to allow her/his children to make mistakes, a leader has to allow her/his team to make mistakes.  Mistakes create the learning... and allow creativity to occur.  (Did you know Post-it notes were made by mistake!)  This is a lesson in patience, but the result is a knowledgeable, skilled, confident person.  When mistakes happen, they are to be acknowledged, and sometimes celebrated!  A mistake means someone tried something. Trying is better than avoiding or procrastinating.  Mistakes were not punished in my team.  In fact, punishment never happened.  Learning happened.  If someone was not doing their job well, discussions took place to help them do it better.  Consequences are always the result of good or poor performance, but as a Leader, I learned that if you had clear expectations and boundaries, compassion always could prevail.
  5. Be accountable for my mishaps.  I made mistakes too.  Many.  I learned that apologies are fine. Apologizing does not discredit you as a leader.  In fact, when they are genuine, they connect you to your team and cultivate mutual respect.  Apologizing for something that is not your doing, though, is not genuine to yourself.  So that doesn't work.  That might discredit you as a leader.  A leader does need to have confidence in their abilities.  Their intuition does need to be strong.  And a confident, intuitive leader knows when an apology is needed - and it comes from the heart.
  6. Arrogance is the ruination of a team.  Funnily, my role in this team was Leader, but the people I worked with every day taught me how to lead.  They taught me to come down off my high horse and be human.  The taught me that to be a great leader, I needed to know when to not lead.  I had my moments of arrogance.  Don't we all?!  We work hard to get somewhere and we are proud of it.  We want to prove we are worthy of this position.  But the thing is... we ARE worthy.  Arrogance does not make us more worthy.  Arrogance tears a team apart by tearing others down.  The only way to have a truly successful team is to lift each other up.
I am forever grateful to this amazing team who taught me to become a better leader.  They are my colleagues, my comrades, my friends, my tribe.  And they are Warrior Leaders.

Connect with Tina for a free Mind Fitness Coaching consultation at  

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Why Yoga?

Today is International Day of Yoga.

The United Nations General Assembly declared June 21st as International Day of Yoga in 2014. In one of the videos I saw of people around the world celebrating this day, the Prime Minister of India states that, "Yoga is health insurance with zero budget."

Isn't that important?  Our health.  Our wellness.  Our well being.  And reduction of costs.

Health insurance, absenteeism in the workplace, health care - it's all expensive.  Our systems focus on taking care of the symptoms.  Workplaces spend resources measuring absenteeism and developing and enforcing policies to try to reduce absenteeism. Health care, although wonderful, puts bandaids on wounds.  Of course, once an illness is present, the symptoms need to be addressed.  BUT... what if we had an opportunity to reduce sickness... reduce illness?

Yoga is a practice that is accessible to everyone at no or limited cost and could save money in workplaces and in healthcare.

Yoga is the union of body and mind.  Sure, yes, it's a physical practice.  But it's a physical practice that anyone can access.  There is advanced yoga, of course, and we see lots of pictures of yogis in pretzel like poses.  But there is also chair yoga, gentle yoga, and other forms of yoga that do not require the kind of flexibility you see in many of the images in the media.

No matter what type of yoga you practice, the physical practice allows your body to be more mobile and stronger.  The physical practice enhances digestion, circulation, and respiration.  The physical practice improves balance and flexibility.  If you are not flexible, yoga is a solution for you to become more flexible!  And, yes, yoga can help with weight loss.  It also improves athletic performance, and many famous athletes practice.

But there is something else to yoga.

Yoga brings mental acuity.  Calmness.  Compassion to self and others.  Clarity.  Insight.  Creativity. Focus.  Yoga brings harmony to the chaos in life.

Yoga is your attitude and your lifestyle.  A smile.  An act of kindness.  Cooperation.  Forgiveness.  Gratitude.  Silence. Integrity.  Contentment.  Vitality.  Devotion.

Yoga brings wellness and is an inexpensive way to help treat and prevent illness.

On this International Day of Yoga, I challenge you to find something in yoga that can bring wellness to your life, to your workplace, to your community.  Here are 12 suggestions:

  • Find a yoga class in your community or on You Tube and do it!
  • Sit for a few minutes in nature and enjoy the sounds.
  • Do a random act of kindness.
  • Contemplate on what is important to you.
  • Call someone who needs an ear or a shoulder.
  • Spend face to face time with your partner.
  • Run barefoot in the grass.
  • Forgive someone.
  • Focus on your breath for five minutes.
  • Complete a few sun salutations.
  • Join my Living Your Yoga Facebook Page
  • Sign up for my summer yoga classes at
    • Tuesdays, July 5-Aug. 30, 7-8 a.m. - Gentle Morning Yoga, Yoga Kula Coop
    • Tuesdays, July 5-Aug. 30, 12-12:50 p.m. - Lunchtime Flow, Quidi Vidi Lake, near bandstand
    • Tuesdays, July 5-Aug. 30, 7-8:15 p.m. - Mixed Level Hatha Yoga, Yoga Kula Coop
The list is endless.  I would love to hear what you find and what you experience.  Yoga is also about inspiring.  I am always inspired by my students' and yogi friends' stories.  I encourage you to share yours on my Going Om Facebook page!

Namaste <3 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Creative Return - The Turning Point from Depression to Passion

Last year, I realized I was experiencing depression.  I'd gone through burn-out, an identity crisis, many high stress life situations (good and not so good), financial crisis, and I was experiencing chronic pain with no solutions.  It seemed it all began when I made a huge step to change my life, leave my job, house and business, and begin traveling the world.  I started my life with my husband and had a second child.  My oldest was having worldly experiences and was happy.  Life was truly wonderful.  And my downward spiral was beginning at the same time my life was amazing.

I had come to that point in your life when you let your guard down.  Maybe I could no longer go on the way I was - go go go.... do do do.  I was present for my oldest child.  I was lucky enough to know that the years pass quickly so be present for every moment.  And I was.  And I'm thankful of that because I hear so many people talk about missing their children growing up.  I did not miss her growing up, and I loved every moment of it... most of which were as a single Mom.  Somehow, and with the help of my parents, I managed to be there for her for it all, have a fabulous career, and take care of my health. I didn't have much money, I put my dreams on hold... but I was happy.

It certainly wasn't a bad life.

We all know, though, that when we continue down a path that imprisons your Self, no matter how good it looks, we will eventually hit a wall.

My life had a lot of meaning.  I was a Mom and revelled in my relationship with my daughter.  I was in a leadership role in my work and had opportunities to work with amazing people and businesses to create change - personally and organizationally.  And I did.  But somewhere along the way, I felt I lost my identity and everything began to shift.  I lost my purpose.  I hit the wall... but I pushed through the wall for a few more years.  I was often exhausted and in pain.  I found myself lost in business and, frankly, lost in life.

I was lucky to have my husband and oldest daughter to help.  I did not have to get up and go to a job because my business income (as limited as it was) was not required to put food on the table.  If that had been the case, I probably would have been fired for low performance.  I had no idea I was depressed.  I fought it really hard.  And I probably never would have told anyone.  In fact, when my husband suggested I might be, I said I was not.  I tried to hide it as much as possible - from everyone.

I shifted my business a kazillion times... never quite fully committing to what I was doing and constantly making changes.  I was unfocused and simply didn't know what I wanted.  One day, I decided to go after the dream.  You know that dream you had when you were 20 but you knew you had to go to school and make money to survive, so the dream was put on the back burner?

That dream for me was having a retreat centre.  It was called A Piece of Peace.  And it's been sitting in my mind for over 20 years.

So I talked to a business advisor about how to make this happen.  She told me I'd never make money at it around here and advised me to not do it.

But, just like in the past when something was really important to me, the fire in my belly took over. Somehow, I drummed up the energy to organize a yoga retreat... and somehow I decided it had to be a yoga AND creativity retreat!  WHAT?!

I'm not a painter or sculptor or singer or designer of any kind.  But I knew deep down that creativity was key.  I just didn't know why.  I always enjoyed creative activities - I danced most of my life - but I did not KNOW anything about it.  So why did I think I had to have a creativity retreat?

Things happened that you couldn't plan... like... an artist approached me to hold a retreat and wanted to help.  I was still contemplating the whole idea and hesitated but finally gave in and said yes.  So I worked long hours designing, marketing, and preparing for this yoga and creativity retreat.  I had no idea if anyone would register, but I went ahead and booked the space and food.  I had many bumps in the road, but the retreat ended up being perfect.  It was the perfect size.  The perfect location.  The perfect people showed up.

Participants gave amazing feedback.  I was thrilled I could offer these people something they wanted. Needed.  Valued.  Some of them had deep insights - not that it is a requirement for a great retreat. And I found something too.

I found myself.

I had forgotten who I was.  I lost my purpose.  The time leading up to the retreat, I found me.  And I realized, I'd been depressed... for quite a long time.  I felt like I just opened up a window that had been stuck and I could finally get some fresh air.  It was a step towards healing.

I knew I would hold more retreats.  And I knew they would help people.  But, I still didn't know exactly how... even though I'd had this personal experience and others came to me telling me how the retreat impacted them profoundly.

My next Unleash Your Creative Spirit Retreat is May 27-29.  And I've been marketing it without really understanding the whole purpose of it.  The other day I realized what I found is what others can find.

A passion and zest for life.

It is not necessary to have lost your purpose or passion to attend this retreat because a dose of self-expression is good at any time.  But if you feel lost, overwhelmed, empty, or like you've hit the wall, this retreat can help to give you the space to realize your Self.  Creativity is a form of self expression, and when we feel lost, accessing that place where we can truly express ourselves can save us.

When I was in a state of depression, I felt I added no value to this world.  I knew it was silly to think this way, but I truly could not see it.  I knew people would be sad if I was not here.  But I did not believe I was adding value by being here.  I felt so strongly about this that I wouldn't dare tell anyone I felt this way in fear of what they would think or say.  I was not interested in people telling me I did add value or I just had to change my perspective.  I needed to go inside to create space and cultivate something... anything... that felt good again.

The process of creating the Unleash Your Creative Spirit Retreat itself cracked open my soul and cultivated a spark of something that felt good.  Although I was leading the retreat, the energy, participation, and feedback from the participants made me realize I did something good.  Although this feedback made me feel valuable... the best part of it all was the realization that my true value is simply being here... and taking steps to make things happen that ignite my soul.  And that passion will ripple outward, just by being truly me.

The Unleash Your Creative Spirit Retreat offers a step to ignite your soul.  If you are interested in this retreat, email  More details can be found on the Facebook event page for Unleash Your Creative Spirit ~ A Yoga and Creativity Retreat.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Yogi Valentine's

Since I first practiced yoga about 20 years ago, I knew it was something I believed in.  I wasn't quite sure why, but I knew.  Since then, I've practiced, read, researched, and completed my 200-hour teacher training... and I now teach, continue to practice, and continue to learn with training, reading, researching, and reflection. I still know very little, but I have a little bit of understanding about why I believe in yoga.

Valentine's Day has been a special time for me for many years.  As I've written in a previous blog post, Presence for Presents, it wasn't always.  I once rolled my eyes at all the stereotypical romance promoted for this day of love.  But I live in the 'love world' - that's what I call it - and that means love comes in many forms.

I'm that kind of person who finds joy in small things.  I always connected to nature.  I was told a young child told his mother that, "Tina is always smiling."  Of course, that was from a young child's perspective - I wasn't always smiling!  But, I was that person who generally lived in love... without trying and without knowing it.  Even in the workplace, I used love as a tool.  As a leader of a team, I did my best to use compassion in times of uncertainty or help me manage a difficult situation or empower my team.  I also turned to love when I didn't know what else to do.  I didn't really have a clue how to be a parent at 23 years old and single... so I decided I will simply love my daughter with every cell of my body and mind, and at least she would know love.  That couldn't be a bad thing, right?

This was the love world I lived in.  However, I was often (very often) without romantic love.  From others' perspectives, I didn't have much either.  I struggled financially.  I did not travel much.  I lived with my parents for several years until I could save a downpayment for a house.  I was rarely adorned with gifts at times like Valentine's Day.  I was single a lot.  I was often questioned about my single-dom and received looks of pity.  My response to this was usually that I loved my life as it was.

There were times over the years when I lost my sense of the love world.  If I go back and reflect on those times, I would probably see that every single time, I lost a sense of myself.  I forgot who I was. I disconnected from myself - the true source of love.

THIS is true love.  Romantic love is fabulous, and I'm grateful I have a wonderful husband to share that with (who DOES adorn me with presents and presence).  There probably isn't a better feeling in the world than the love a parent has for their children.  And I'm grateful I'm lucky to have the privilege to experience that love... and receive a child's love back in return.

But... I've come to learn that these things, as important as they are to me... are not where true love lies.  They could disappear.  Depending on them as a source of happiness is seeking love externally.

My source of happiness, I have learned over the years, is finding love for me.  That does not mean I need to pamper myself in the way many ads portray self-love.  Rather, for me, that means an unconditional acceptance of myself.  Really, you can get a weekly massage and a daily bath and take time to do all the things you love, and if you don't have complete self-acceptance, you still do not have self-love.

My Valentine's Day is every day.  Love is a practice.  If we cannot find love within ourselves, the external sources of love will never satisfy us.  We will always feel like we are seeking love.  Love and acceptance of ourselves is sometimes difficult, but like I tell my students, when you can become friends with all parts of yourself, the things you like and do not like, you can experience love... and then, and only then, can you spread it around.

As a yogi, I practice love everyday (practice meaning I'm not always successful).  However, I also love Valentine's Day and I definitely do chocolate and special activities.  Do these things make me happy?  Of course! The difference is that I practice not depending on them for my happiness.

"Only love of the absolute, eternal truth is the greatest."  ~ Naradi Bhakti Sutras 1.81


Friday, January 8, 2016

Bumpity Flow - An Imperfectly Perfect Start to 2016

Do you make New Year's Resolutions?  Vision boards?  Intentions? For many years, on January 1st, I wrote pages and pages in my journal about my accomplishments over the past year and my dreams for the upcoming year.  It was a pretty good system. I was celebrating all the things I did rather than beat myself up about all the things I did not do.  And I was creating my vision for the next year... how I wanted to live.  It worked for me.  I felt refreshed and ready to begin a new year with passion and purpose.  During that time of my life, I was very goal oriented, and I felt great accomplishing these goals.  I was happy and content.

Now, I have a bit of a different approach.  I have shifted from being goal oriented to living with intention.  I think they can go together.  I was living with intention back then - my intention was to live a healthy, adventurous life and inspire my daughter to do the same. My goals were very much related to that.  However, I was driven by my goals.  Now, I'm driven by how I feel.  I'm not so attached to outcomes - a lesson I received from my mindfulness practice.

My 2016 began with a 7 hour drive from Central Newfoundland back to my home, followed by a weekend of getting groceries, unpacking from visiting family, tidying around the house, getting my 4-year old back on a regular sleep schedule (not there yet), trying to fit in some work that I didn't get done during the holidays, spending the last couple of days of holidays doing holiday things with my family, and sorting out the next week of activities, work, and life in general. Monday, I had three yoga classes to teach and had unexpected things happen that caused some stress.  I was watching others set intentions and begin their inspired new year routines, while I was working at barely keeping my head above water.

By Tuesday, I was down.

Tuesday, my energy had waned and my head pounded.  Although I had also stopped my Christmas indulgences a couple of days earlier, I caved and ate chocolate and cheezies.  Yes, even after posting a photo of my yummy detox green smoothie the day before!  I really should have posted a photo of my chocolates the next day for true authenticity:)  

Before Christmas, I had planned out my January.  It was full and I was excited about it... still am.  I wanted to begin the new year being that stereotypical healthy yogi and energetic but calm mom.  I set my intention: "I am free."  But something wasn't feeling right.  I was not aligned.  One of my challenges in my new life is to not be so goal oriented.  In the past, it worked.  I was your typical Type A, I am woman, hear me roar, kind of gal.  It was not a bad thing back then - actually, I was quite successful.  But now it doesn't work.  My old habits seep in, though.  I have this underlying belief that if I don't DO DO DO... I'm a failure.  It's plastered all over social media too.  All these posts about determination, discipline, persistence, hard work, success.  Yada... yada... yada.  I believe that really depends on your definition of success.  

Some days it is easy to pull up my big girl pants and move through the so-called failures and challenges head first - be persistent and disciplined and keep moving.  However, some days, I need to slow down.  I need to rest. I need to reassess.  I need to surrender.  I need to be OK with the fact that moving forward like a bull is NOT the answer.  It may only makes things worse because what's actually happening is I'm spiralling.  Sometimes DOING needs to change to BEING... even in business... and even if that is perceived as behaviour of non-successful people.  When I know when I need to take action and when I need to simply allow things to flow, I am free.

2016 has begun as a bit of a bumpy ride.  It has not been horrible by any stretch.  But it did not go as planned. My energy is low.  My neck is sore.  My to do list is not done.  In the past, I would have ignored how I felt and pushed through anyway.  It may have even worked back then.  But now, that approach simply does not work... and I know it does not work.  So I observed my attachment to the goals I had planned for the week and began to detach.  I began to flow over the bumps, rather than resist them.  I wasn't perfect. But that was the perfect way for me to begin 2016.

Just because we begin a new year.... just because we set intentions or create goals... just because we have decided to make some changes... doesn't mean we won't fall back into old habits.  A new year is also a continuation of last year... and all the previous years.  We bring all of our experiences with us into the new year. It takes consistency to create change.  It takes an ability to flow through the challenges and continue to revisit your intentions and make conscious decisions to choose differently.  The repetition is what makes your intentions work.  

In yoga, we learn about the three gunas: tamas, rajas, sattva.  Tamas is a state of inaction and darkness.  Rajas is a state of action and change.  And Sattva is a state of harmony and liberation.  We need all three and oscillate between all of them.  That's how we grow.  The first week of the new year for me was planned as being very much full of rajas.  It ended up being full of tamas.  And, in the end, I believe I may have found a little sattva.