A photo of my shed that needs to be painted

Do you should all over yourself?

I should get my shed painted.

I should go work out.

I should get to bed or I’ll be tired in the morning.

I should eat better.

Or maybe it’s the big tickets items – I should leave my relationship, get a new job, tell the truth and so on.

I was very fortunate to take Louise Hay’s Heal Your Life® certification training a few years ago. One of my biggest takeaways was hearing Louise say “Don’t should all over yourself.” Why? Because I do it ALL the time. I have caused myself more guilt over the years than Hines has pickles (ohhh… I love an opportunity to use that old goodie).

Here is the phrase that Louise Hay uses to replace the shoulds:

“If I really want to, I can go work out today.”

“If I really want to, I can eat healthier food.”

“If I really want to, I can leave this relationship.”

It seems like such a silly difference, but I promise you this… if you practice switching the language around and saying this out loud, you will immediately feel the difference in your body and your mind.

When we say “I should” our body feels heavy and our mind feels guilt or dread.

When we say “if I really want to I can” our body feels neutral or strong and our mind feels empowered.

I’m a work in progress, but I am much better at this now than I have ever been. My latest example is with my shed… for months I would glance at it and say “I should get that painted.” When it finally dawned on me to change my words to “if I really want to, I can paint my shed” I was free from the guilt of not having done it yet.

Guess what? It’s now half painted… and if I really want to, I can finish it. 🙂

I spent years shoulding all over myself, have you?

A photo on the left of a trail in the woods, sheltered by trees. The photo on the right is the wide open beach.

Do you prefer the left or the right?

Which photo are you most drawn to?  Are you drawn to how the trees protect you on both sides in the photo on the left?  Or do you prefer the wide open space in the beach photo on the right?

This week my preference is to be protected in my happy bubble by those trees.  

But I love the freedom and the expansiveness of wide open spaces too.

Yup, this week I am betwixt and between.  I am not fully either of those things, and I surely need both of those things.  Let me explain.

I stepped out and participated in a couple of community events this week. The first was a community meeting to discuss the idea of The Whale Sanctuary Project choosing a location in Nova Scotia to build a sanctuary for six to eight Beluga whales who would be rescued from the entertainment industry and given a better home to live out the rest of their years. I was SO excited to go and listen to the presenters who came from California to share their passion for whales. But instead of feeling excited, I left that meeting feeling discouraged.

I was frustrated because there were a couple of people in the crowd who were loud, negative and rude to the guest presenters. I got so frustrated by one man’s behaviour that I actually asked him to stop talking and give other people in the room a chance to ask their questions. It wasn’t my finest display of patience. 

The guest presenter handled things like a pro. He was one of the most diplomatic people I’ve ever met. Instead of brushing the bully off, he said things like “every point of view needs to be heard, and every question is important.” I want to be more like him.

I went to another public event and listened to really discouraging comments from the crowd.  I read online comments (my bad) and witnessed the worst of humanity.  This week I kept encountering loud, negative and rude behaviour and it made me question why I leave the comfortable bubble of my life only to expose myself to things in this world that disappoint, anger and sadden me.  Enter all of the psychology and life teachings around that…  yes, got it.  Or obviously I don’t.  hahaha

So back to the photos.   

Do I want to stay in the bubble of my life that feels good, or am I ready to face the exposure of putting myself out there for things that I care about?

I haven’t got it all figured out, but here are some of the things I did to help navigate the way I am feeling this week.

The Untethered Soul

I got out a favourite book and re-read parts of it for inspiration. If you've not read anything by Michael A. Singer I highly recommend him. Click on the title to link to the book.

A long walk in the great outdoors

Nothing feels better to me than getting outside, especially on a blue sky day. Walking and laughing with a friend, breathing fresh air, getting some exercise... it helps ground me.

Watching Brene Brown on Netflix

I watched Brene Brown: the Call to Courage again on Netflix. It is SOOOOO inspiring, and exactly the thing for me right now. Click on the title to watch the trailer.

So where does this leave me?  Being human…  taking one day at a time.

I choose both photos.  

There are times when it’s important to surround ourselves with what is comfortable and to recharge our batteries…  and there are times to go out and risk being vulnerable, to brave the world and work on things that we deeply care about.

Learn more about The Whale Sanctuary Project.

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Watching the full moon rise at the beach

If I only knew…

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said
this over the years!  I can honestly say
that I have stopped wasting time suffering over “what ifs” – what if I did that
differently, what if I said this instead? – but I do still spend time
reflecting on my thoughts, words and deeds so that I can learn from them, and
share my lessons with others.

One of the things I wish I had understood
sooner in my life is that you have to look for joy on purpose. I
spent all of my twenties and thirties saying things like “I’ll be happy when I
have a good paying job, I’ll take a beach vacation when I’m thin, I’ll be happy
when I have my own home, I’ll relax when I’ve reached this goal or that
goal.”  Sound familiar?  It is fantastic to have goals; the trick is
to embrace life as it is today too.  In
my forties I started to be more purposeful about joy.  I made sure that I planned things that made
me feel good, and that I relaxed into those moments and really appreciated
them.  For example, I now have a morning
routine of making my coffee and sipping it on the front porch.  It is a purposeful way to start my day doing
something that makes me very happy.

I wrote a free guide called “10 Things I Wish I knew Sooner” that you can download by signing up for my monthly newsletter here.

What do you wish you had known sooner in your
life?  What sorts of advice do you find
yourself passing along to those younger than you at work, in your friends
groups, to your nieces and nephews?

Please share a tip by posting a comment and we can learn from one another through positive and meaningful conversation. 

Windows open on a Spring day, breeze flowing in, plants on the windowsill.

The Windows Are Open

Ahhh… it’s a Spring day and I have my windows open. How I love this time of year!

It feels like it was such a long winter, and while I realize we always say that, this year it’s true. The ice stayed on the lake a good month longer than normal, and the temps stayed cold.

But today is a new day. Today I put out the patio furniture because I doubt (or hope?!) there won’t be any late Spring snowfall. It’s porch sittin’ time people – the birds are chirping and it’s cozy with my coffee and a blanket.

What is your favourite time of year? Is it Spring when things are waking up and coming to life again? Is it summer when the days are long and you feel playful? Is it fall when the hot humid air of summer has become stifling and you’re ready for cooler evenings and the gorgeous colour of the leaves? Or are you someone who actually enjoys winter most – perhaps because of winter activities like skiing or snowboarding?

I’ve noticed something incredible as I’ve gotten older – I find myself looking forward to and enjoying every season. I used to resist winter and everything that came with it – layers of clothing, shovelling snow, warming up the car – but now I like the intense colours of a winter sunset, getting cozy on cold nights and watching movies, and I’ve started skiing again. I wouldn’t say I looooove winter suddenly, but I believe I am actually learning to embrace it instead of just suffering through it. 🙂

But back to Spring… I do looooove Springtime! I think it’s because I love change so much, and this time of year is fresh with newness. I can’t wait to start working in my yard, watch my trees and plants wake up, plant something new. It’s also getting closer to the time when I will get back into the ocean to bodyboard. My die-hard surfer friends have the right gear and they surf year-round, but I’m not quite there yet!

What does Spring mean to you? Can you spot your joy?

Pheasant in the driveway

The day a pheasant knocked on my door…

I’ll never forget this day! I was sitting at my desk at home and I heard someone come up the front steps and faintly knock on the door. When I got up to check, there was a pheasant sitting on my front porch! He gave me a quick nod and flew away.

I was so filled with joy that I shared the story with a friend… “this doesn’t happen when you work in the city…” I quipped. He sent me a link to the meaning of a pheasant as a Spirit Animal, and I almost fell off my chair! Seriously, this went from a simple joy to something very meaningful.

The pheasant knocked on my door as I was working on a plan for developing an online business. I was working on a brainstorming exercise to generate ideas based on my gifts and passions in life. Now read what a pheasant sighting means:

“The pheasant symbolizes using your gifts to achieve what you want. You have the power to make anything happen, and it’s up to you whether you will live your biggest dream or just be content daydreaming about it, doing something that gets you through each day but not really giving you a passionate life.

The pheasant totem also symbolizes being creative and productive by tapping into your passions. The things that you have always wanted to do will be the things that will propel you to do even greater things.”

Now come on! Is that awesome, or what?! It is a beautiful reminder to take notice of our surroundings, to be inspired by Nature, and to take a second to connect. Do you notice patterns of numbers like 111 when ideas are awakening in you? 333 when you need encouragement? Has a pheasant literally knocked on your front door?!