Category: Reading Nook

Becoming an Energy Wizard (a Strategy for Empaths & Highly Sensitive People)

This week I was at a party and a woman spoke to me about how she struggled as an empath, particularly in this world where so much is so distressing. She was deeply disturbed by the news and also had an activist’s heart. She wanted to make a difference but how could she when she felt consistently emotionally overwhelmed?

Here’s a strategy I offered to her and that I use myself. I hope it works wonders for you.

If you are an empath or a highly sensitive person, you already know the power of energy. You do not need to be convinced of it. You have experienced it. You have experienced the way your heart rate goes up, the way tears appear, the way you have a tangible reaction to the world around you.

This is not a one-way channel.

In the moment that you are receiving the anger, the heartbreak, the terror, the joy of a particular situation, crowd or individual, if you can find and stand your ground, you can send back love, peace, calm and hope through the connection between you. The experience will take on a different tenor, at minimum for you and perhaps for all.

Have you ever seen a fantasy film where an evil wizard or a dragon pours out fire in the direction of their foe and the good wizard responds with water or ice? Their magic connects and you watch the red glow and the cool blue meet and meld until one dissipates. Working your empath energy magic is like that.

Now, it takes time and strength to be an energy wizard. You need to tend to the practices and habits that keep you healthy and strong (e.g. good sleep, nourishing food, meditation). You also need boundaries and strategies for when the energy coming at you is too strong for your current state. But also remember that your sensitivity to energy is a super power. We tend to think of it only as a receptive power but it is also an active one. If the energy we receive can make a difference in our world, the energy we send can too.

There is a reason that so many creatives are highly sensitive people. We are tuned into the depth and breadth of what it means to be human. That is glorious and it is challenging too. Like a wizard, there will be days when we need to be alone, to be quiet and attend to our studies but there will also be days when we can use our magic to turn fear into hope and frogs into butterflies.

My Strategies for Handling My Biggest Project to Date

This month we are moving in with family, moving all of our things into storage and, at last, our renovation begins.

Oh, July, you will be an adventure!

During several recent events, people asked me how I was managing it all and whether I’d be sharing more about the renovation. In terms of sharing, I’m doing a lot of writing and picture taking behind the scenes but it’s all pretty raw. Perhaps that’s why the place I’m doing the most sharing right now is Instagram stories. It’s a quick place for me to share a photo and go, “Ack! Is this storage place going to be enough?” or “Omg, look at Scout on top of all those boxes.” I’m really loving being there and sharing. So if you want a daily dose of cats, the garden and the move, be sure to visit me on Instagram and check out my stories.

As for how I’m handling it all, I feel like I’ll have much more to say in a month but for now…

My Current Strategies for Handling My Biggest Project Ever

Be Devoted to Sleep. With so much on the go, it’s easy to become exhausted. I’ve been fiercely committed to getting to bed at a good time and trying to get 7 hours of sleep, no matter what. If I need a nap, I take it. If something on my to-do list needs to get cut, it’s cut. Sleep matters.

Eat Nutrition-rich Rood. I always find this is the hardest thing during busy times. This time I’m going to try and make sure that the fridge is stocked with simple and healthy choices all the time. I found this food prep video very inspiring and it’s exactly the approach I hope to take. (Yep, I’m just starting work on this one)

Drink Lots of Water. When things are demanding and I’m tired, it’s super easy to make one more cup of tea or drink one more cup of coffee. It’s all too easy to rev myself up while depleting my fluids. Not to mention that the heat has hit and I’m doing lots of lifting, shifting and moving. I’m reaching for water more often then not, maybe even with a few lovely berries for colour and sass.

Logs & Check-Ins. I start each day with going over the state of all of my projects, including the reno. I remind myself of what has been achieved and also what needs to get done. Throughout the day, I keep a journal page that lists not only my plans and tasks but also things that have happened and information I need to record, for example, “Building inspector called at 10:40 and said… Remember to email him about…” At the end of the day I review my page, noting in particular what didn’t get done so I am ready to tackle it the next day.

Communication & Relationships. Not only are there lots of moving pieces to a big project like this but there are also many people involved. I try to make sure that each communication not only moves the project forward but also deepens my relationship with the person involved, whether that’s a member of the family or the renovation team.

Remember the Dream. There have been many (and no doubt will be many more) reasons to stress and worry. There will be hard work and a thousand decisions and who knows what else. It’s easy to get caught up in it all and forget that above all else this is a blessing, an opportunity for us to create our home and make it a place we love. On the hard days I will remind myself that I believe it is worth the effort.

Remember What’s Important. From early on in our relationship, Justin and I made a decision that has served us well. If we ever feel ourselves getting edgy over something or other, getting a little heated about what colour to paint the walls or whether the couch should be on this side of the room or that, we stop immediately and remind one another, it’s not that important. It’s a colour. It’s paint. It’s a couch. It’s not us. What matters to us is each other. All the other choices will be just fine. It’s love that makes a home.

Remind me I said that when we’re picking lighting fixtures ;)

7 Tips for Saying Yes when Opportunity Knocks

Recently, I had an amazing opportunity arrive in my inbox. Because I participated in last year’s Luminato, a Toronto arts festival, I was invited to be a member of a small rehearsal audience for a highly interactive piece of theatre. It would involve one day in the studio with a brilliant established artist doing innovative work with active audience participation. I looked at that email for a while, weighing all of the priorities of my busy week, juggling all the pieces on my schedule, wondering if I could make it work.

Justin’s reaction? “Just say yes. You LIVE for this stuff.”

And he’s right. Creativity. Vision. Experiences. Engagement. Experimentatipn. I just couldn’t say no. Luckily I had the tools for saying yes!

7 Tips for Saying Yes when Opportunity Knocks

Some of the most amazing experiences I’ve had have come from saying a brave and unwavering yes to unexpected opportunities like this one. In fact, I’ve cultivated some habits that help me seize the moment instead of letting these chances slip into the realm of ‘maybe someday’. Despite being Sagittarius, I’m actually not that good at being spontaneous and that’s why I prepare for it! Let me share my top tips with you.

1. Know What Matters to You

Knowing what’s important to you allows you to recognize a good opportunity when you see it. If this had been free tickets to a sporting event or a chance to learn how to make sushi, it might have been interesting but it wouldn’t have rung out with that loud “THIS IS FOR ME” that means an immediate yes. Knowing yourself and what matters to you allows you to make quick and good decisions about opportunities as they arise.

2. Let Others Know Too

Let your loved ones know the truth of who you are so that they can recognize what matters to you too. This isn’t always easy. Our relationships aren’t always supportive of our dreams. That’s why it’s crucial to develop relationships with at least one or two people who will cheer on the yeses of your soul. Let your people know who you are and what you love. Tell a friend or two or all of them what you’re yearning for. Not only can they be your cheerleaders but they can also keep their eye out for opportunities that will fit you just right!

3. Be Devoted to Your Practice

One of the purposes of practices is to prepare you for ‘show time’. When you regularly show up for your art, for your life, for your self, you maintain a sense of readiness. An actor doesn’t wait for the audition to prepare a monologue. She has one, two, three in her back pocket, ready to go when opportunity knocks. Her voice is strong. Her body limber. She is ready to show up for the work when the work shows up for her. Be devoted to your work. Develop your skills. Be ready to say yes when the moment arrives.

4. Put Yourself in Opportunity’s Way

Have you heard that saying, “What you seek seeks you”? It’s true but so often when we want something deeply, we hole up at home, hiding our desires (sometimes even from ourselves), making wish upon wish that something would happen to move us towards our hopes and dreams. But how is your art, your love, your puppy, your job, your show, your friend supposed to find you? Go to a class or a meetup. Be seen! Sign up for a newsletter – and read it. (That’s how I got the dance audition.) Send a letter. Make a call. Start somewhere.

5. Failure Isn’t Failure

There are no guarantees when you say yes. Sometimes we think that the results should match the bravery or effort we put in but it doesn’t always work that way (at least not directly). You may audition and not get the part. You may go to class and get discouraged. But direct results aren’t the only results worth having! You’ve gained experience, wisdom and maybe even a great story. You’ve tuned your inner compass. I know it isn’t easy but use the experience to move you forward. Turn every experience into a win.

6. Learn from Experience

You can do that by letting all of your experiences grow you as an artist. Take the time to lock in your learning by journaling out all of your insights and observations (or talking them out if you have a friend, colleague or coach). If it was hard, release your feelings onto the page. Process it all. I always take time after a class or artistic adventure to go to a coffee shop and write, write, write. I don’t want to lose a drop of that learning. I want to think it through. Try it on. Turn it over. Take it deeper. Be clear on my own thoughts and reactions. Then I can put it down and rest, trusting that all that I’ve learned is steeping into my creative soul.

7. Develop Self-Trust

When you can trust yourself to show up, when you know that you can tend to your needs whatever happens, it’s easier to say yes to opportunities, even challenging ones. You learn to trust that if an opportunity turns sour, you can manage it and if it is extraordinary, you can manage that too. You lay the foundations of self-trust in your practice and you deepen it by taking it ‘off the mat’. When you risk saying yes to something you truly want and you play it out, you build a confidence that in time will become unshakable.

When it comes to these habits and your creative life, no effort is wasted. Whether opportunities show up or not, being clear on what matters, having supportive relationships, devoting yourself to practice, putting your energy out in the world, developing resilience, actively learning and building self-trust will serve you well. Start today.

You never know what is going to happen but what you will know is that you are ready to say yes.

Bonus Tip: Leave Room for Magic

We often fill our schedules to the brim, piling on more to-dos than can reasonably be achieved by a regular human person. When opportunities show up, instead of feeling excited, we feel overwhelmed. We only see two options available – say no or let something drop – and neither of those feels right or good. Instead, make it a habit to leave a little room for magic. Create some space on your calendar so you have flexibility. Pare down your to-do list so there is room for the unexpected. (This is good for both opportunities and emergencies.) Get out of the habit of overextending yourself so that you have energy and presence to share.

Trust Your Magic

Today and everyday may you rediscover your creative heart.

May you wake each morning knowing the day ahead holds gifts for you.

May you trust with unwavering confidence the beauty and magic of your unique soul.

May you bring your gifts to the world and may the world receive them well and wisely.

May you follow the path that brings you alive – Yes, even if it takes bravery. Yes, even if there is risk. Yes, even if you feel unsure, unworthy and unprepared.

Because here is what I know.

You are meant to be alive – vivaciously, rapturously, radiantly alive.

You do not have to know everything or be everything.

You do not need to prepare.

You have all you need for the journey.

You are enough as you are right now.

Enough to take a step.

Enough to make a start.

Enough to move in the direction of your dreams.

You will find challenges, yes.

But through them you will discover your bravery, your wisdom and your gifts.

You will rise and meet what is meant for you and as you do, you will shine.

You will come to life in ways you have never imagined and

You will light the way.

The spark of life is in you.

Nourish it.

Cherish it.

Follow it.

It will guide you well.

The Power of Devotion (or Changing Your Life One Choice at a Time)

As 2019 starts to find its rhythm, I’m finding mine as well. I’m working with a new schedule and it is rigorous. This past week I’ve done my best to work within it, noticing where I’ve designed something too structured and too demanding, making adjustments as I go. I haven’t made this schedule to push or punish myself. I haven’t made it so I will “rock my productivity” this year. I’ve created it to support me, to hold in loving care the things that matter deeply. My studio work is on the schedule. My practices are on the schedule. Tending to my home and my life is on the schedule. Time with loved ones is on the schedule. My writing is on the schedule. (In fact, I’m writing to you during that allotted time in the dark morning cold, watching the sunrise. Beautiful!) Art days are on the schedule. I am on the schedule.

With such a rigorous schedule it might come as a surprise that I love freedom. A wild heart beats inside this chest. I don’t like restrictions or enforced limits. I will change my schedule without hesitation or guilt when it is good and healthy for me to do so – but I won’t break from it lightly. I won’t abandon my priorities on a whim. Why not? Because this schedule isn’t a yoke on my shoulders; it is my root. The deeper my roots, the more wildly I can dance with the wind without getting lost or broken. I am tall and strong and graceful when I have ensured the strength and safety of my roots. I do this through devotion.

We can express our devotion to our true priorities in every choice we make.

This week I met with my sister Shannon, who is an integral part of this studio, and we chatted through the season ahead. Grounded in the studio vision, we worked on this season’s projects, getting into the details of scheduling, policies, procedures etc. As we spoke, it became clear the kind of rigour required to support the dream, not simply in terms of what we like to call “work-work” but also in support of the creative process. Showing up to create, to love, to shine requires a special kind of energy, one that needs to be nourished, cultivated and protected.

So this week, I practiced devotion. I said no to things, even things I love and look forward to, in order to tend to my root. I chose nourishing food over convenience. I chose water over caffeine. I chose yoga over Netflix. I chose sleep over choir.

It wasn’t easy but it also wasn’t hard. I simply chose, gently and repeatedly, in small ways, again and again, what mattered deeply.* Little choices made with devotion can change our life.

What are you devoted to?

Choose that this week. Again and again, choose that.

Five Around the Table

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Jim Rohn

Have you heard the saying “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”? It’s often brought up in the context of encouraging you to choose your companions with intention, to make sure that they are people whose presence uplifts you and brings out the the you that you aspire to be.

Do you have these people in your life?

When I was starting out as an entrepreneur, the greatest blessings were the women I knew who were striking out on their own too, solopreneurs who were bringing their work to the world with courage, integrity and passion. I treasured (and still treasure) our conversations and companionship. Just by being present and pursuing their dreams, they inspired and encouraged me to do the same.

I have also had times when I was surrounded by people who were uncomfortable with my dreams. Though we simply had different goals and priorities, judgement seeped into the cells of our relationship. I felt stifled and held back. Perhaps I made them feel the same.

It can take a while to find your people and perhaps when you look around your community, you don’t see creative folk that stir your heart. Where are the artists? The writers? The adventurers? Where are the wild ones? The rebels? The dreamers? The dancers? The iconoclasts?

Where are the people who uplift you?

While you look for them in your life and your community*, let me offer up a playful and positive way to create your own “party of five.” You do not have limit yourself to people you know, people who are nearby or even people who are alive! You can actively choose to spend time with 5 uplifting people by focusing on and engaging with their work and what they share. Think of creating a round table of people that move you – artists, writers, vloggers, singers, chefs, designers, poets, photographers, philosophers… anyone! Think of people you are drawn to, who fascinate you, who inspire you, who challenge you.

Think of 5 people who you would love to be the average of and spend this season with them!

It will help to choose people that have a lot of content on offer. Someone who has written plenty of books, creates YouTube videos regularly, has a podcast, etc. It’s most helpful when the content involves them sharing their thoughts, their philosophy, their personality. This makes it a bit of an approximation of having a conversation, of being let into their life. For example, reading May Sarton’s journals gives a sense of her life, her voice, her take on the world around her. As I’ve read them, I could almost imagine sitting in her home, sharing a cup of tea and looking out into the garden as I listened to her share her thoughts.

You don’t have to choose people who are edifying or educational. Simply choose people that, for whatever reason, lift you up, people that call out something aspirational in you. And yes, it’s okay to choose someone who gives you a little catch in your throat, who triggers a hint of envy, but only if hanging out with them doesn’t shut you down. If you feel smaller around someone, they are not one of your five. If they challenge you to step out of the shadows and claim what you desire, they are.

Consider how the five come together as a whole. Will spending a season with this particular group of five bring the energy you are hoping for? Are you feeling really focused and so want to pick, say, five photographers? Are you feeling like you want a balanced approach – maybe two writers, a spiritual leader, a yoga teacher and a chef. You get to decide.

Once you’ve chosen, spend some time with them each week. You don’t have to make a study of them (though you might). This isn’t about working or pushing or emulating. It’s trusting what my mom would call the power of osmosis. Simply let the beauty and truth that’s in their spirit awaken the beauty and truth that’s in yours.

Who will you invite to your table? Who is your party of five?

* PS Please know that these people might be right under your nose but in hiding. Often we keep the most compelling parts of ourselves quite private because we’re unsure where it is safe to share.  Open up your intuitive radar. Have deeper conversations. Invite people to coffee. Little by little you will find out who your people are.

Gathering, Reflection, Insight & Action – The Power of Working with Images

As a creative, I have always been drawn to images – art, photography, illustration, collage and now Pinterest and Instagram. When I am creating my Full Moon Dreamboards or my yearly Vision Cards or want to add some visual beauty to my Studio Yearbook, I delight in gathering from books and magazines, bringing together a collection of images that feels just right to me. It becomes an expression of who I am and what I love – and it is full of clues.

If we look a little deeper at what we love,
we will learn more about who we are
and can even discover ways to take action
inspired by our deepest spirit.

Sounds lofty, I know, but I’ve seen it work for years and years and years. In Planning Day, for example, as we start to envision the year we want to be living, we choose an image to guide the way. It may be something that’s a clear expression of our known goals and dreams or it may be a mystery. Either way, as we start to reflect more deeply on what we have chosen, we start to unravel new layers of meaning.

This year I choose a string of beads. They look handcrafted and each one is different, imprinted with its own symbol. The colours are natural but show some contrast and seem to move from light and neutral to a beautiful dark blue hue. I don’t know why I chose this picture. These beads aren’t really my ‘style’. Still, the image spoke to me and I knew there would be wisdom here, if I would only listen. I took time to reflect. The process starts so simply, just taking a moment to notice.

What do I notice about this image? What does this image have to tell me about my desires for the new year?

The details quickly give way to associations and insights.

  • A string of beads, all unique: that seems like a gathering of creative spirits to me, the beauty of each individual maintaining their uniqueness while still being in it together.
  • The fuzziness of the beads that are furthest away and the detail when they come closer makes me think about the progression of time. Perhaps it’s time to start leaving more of the past in the past and turn my attention to the foreground. There is plenty to pay attention to there.
  • There is a mix of light and dark. I could interpret that as good and bad but I love the blue so much that it doesn’t seem right. Maybe since the colours move from all light to more blue means it’s about depth, the depth of knowledge, experience and individuation that comes with being further along in my life. Maybe the more I let go of the past, the more I will move into that rich, deep blue.

All that from some beads on the page.

But reflection and insight are only the first steps. Now that I know that, what am I going to do? I think about the gathering of people I hope to create next fall, every creative heart a beautiful individual bead. I think about how I might actively release more of my past, particularly anything that’s weighing me down or holding me back. I think about owning my wisdom, the knowledge I have gained from showing up to my life and to my work. I consider that indigo is the colour of the third eye chakra and see this as a message to lean into my intuition even more. That has me recommitting to my meditation practice, which also feels right in the broad context of the image, which feels very spiritual to me.

Gathering. Reflection. Insight. Action.

We can do this with our Pinterest boards too. Considering our upcoming reno, I’ve been going through this process with my “Home” board and with my “Style” board too, looking for insight. A wonderful place to start reflecting on a collection of images is to imagine that you do not know the person who pulled them together. What would you imagine about them? What do their choices say to you about who they are? (You can practice with me, if you like. What does my Lifestyle board tell you about me?)

Try it. And once you discover some fresh insight into the truth of you, see what it inspires you to do. Maybe it’s time to gather your people. Maybe it’s time to put up your feet and read a book. Maybe you need to buy those train tickets. Maybe revamping your wardrobe is in order. The clues will be there.

For creative hearts, working with images can be a profound and powerful way to deepen our understanding of ourselves and point us in a direction that resonates with our hearts. Interpreting your gatherings is a learned skill, one you hone with practice. I guarantee you that it will offer up rich and varied rewards.

The magic is right there.