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Creativity, Lifestyle, Spirituality

Prince, the End of the Week and a Necessary Soulful Smackdown

“Yeah, everybody’s got a bomb, we could all die any day. But before I’ll let that happen, I’ll dance my life away.” ~ Prince

Music is powerful.

Every cell of my body will forever reverberate with excitement upon the very hint of When Doves Cry. Recognizing that its resonance partly has to do with nostalgia, there’s also a certain something to the song that I can’t quite verbalize. Something that draws me into every note and makes it ridiculously difficult (if not impossible) to remain still and not belt the lyrics on the top of my lungs. After all, Prince was a creative genius.

With his passing, we’re reminded that life is short.
Through his example we’re reminded to love without abandon and play hard.
To embrace our imperfections.
Indulge on occasion.
Flirt with intelligence.
Choose carefully when to ‘do’ vs. when to ‘be’.
To trust and forgive ourselves.
To laugh it off.
Sleep on it.
Stretch.
Dance.
Sing.
And move with intention.

With mad, mad crazy love, TGIF.

Authenticity, Creativity

Life, Art and Creativity: Getting Stuck and How To Find Our Flow Again

“I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks. And the way you feel. Life is art.” ~ Helena Bonham Carter

Along with art being present in everything we do and who we are, comes the need for creativity, fresh perspectives and inspiration – as it applies to all this day-to-day stuff. Whether we’re plugging away on an assignment at work or staring at a blank canvas with a paintbrush in hand, we need to plug into our creative nature to move forward. But sometimes, we just get stuck.

I can’t possibly recall the multitude of times I’ve sat in front of my laptop, staring at an open Word document, trying to squeeze something out. Just a paragraph, sentence or even a completely random thought, hoping to spark an idea and a narrative thread only to find myself completely uninspired.

But in these cases when we feel like we’re creating something – some concrete form of output – we often assume that these are the only times we need to tap into our inspiration or creativity. But what about the other times we need to get creative and fresh in our thinking?

I was in the grocery store the other day wandering around the produce section when I realized that I’ve been cooking pretty much the same stuff, with the same ingredients on rotation for a long while now. We can often stick to the same old, same old because it’s quick and easy. Couldn’t that use a fresh perspective?

Then there are the times that I bump into a difficult situation with someone. Disagreements and issues are inevitable when we’re dealing with other people but sometimes we get stuck on what to say, how to broach a difficult subject and what really bothered us about it all in the first place. Sometimes we can’t see what’s really bugging us and what we can do to communicate clearly and fairly. Couldn’t that use some creativity?

Here’s the thing though, when we get stuck on something – be that a creative project, a mundane habit or routine or even sticky situations with other people – the more we try to force an outcome or solution, the more we’ll find ourselves stuck.

Inspiration often hits us when we least expect it and when we aren’t replaying details in our head, overthinking every last detail.

We paint the most beautiful pieces of art when we literally turn up the music and get lost in the vibe or find that silence between thoughts where we’re not worrying about things and let that energy take over. We get inspired when we sit back, take a deep breath and just paint, letting the composition reveal itself to us.

We get inspired to change things up when we’re open to it. More often than not, when we set the intention to change something in life, we’ll see things pop up in our days that would suggest how to go about making that change. We might get ideas of who to reach out to, what to do differently and which options are available to us.

We understand how to deal with hiccups in our relationships with others when we step away from a problem and stop trying to ‘figure it all out’. When we gain some distance from our troubles, it’s often easier to see the crux of the issue and get a better handle on what’s what.

Getting creative and finding our flow happens when we open up to possibilities. It happens when we decide to surrender the thinking that we can dig up a solution to every problem as long as we think long and hard enough about it. Getting creative and finding our flow happens when we let go and let inspiration find us.

And sometimes (a lot of the time) getting creative and finding inspiration is about making progress. Sometimes it’s about uncovering a way to move ahead (not finding a way, but revealing it). And sometimes (a lot of the time) progress is about compassion – about being gentle on ourselves and the process. It’s often through this compassion that we begin to move forward and find our flow again.

Painting cred: Patrice Murciano.
Lifestyle, Wellness

7 Little Big Things I Do During My Day

There’s no shortage of advice available about what we can do to better our lives. From exercising more and watching less TV, to eating better and working less – there are easily a million things we could do every single day to feel good.

But really. Who’s got time for all that?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should chuck our ambitions to feel healthier, live longer and do more of what we love. I’m a huge proponent of understanding what we need to live fully and going out to do those things, but let’s be real. We get busy. Priorities shift. Things change and sometimes unpredictably so and often – beyond our control.

Sometimes we don’t want to do the big things we know will make us feel better because well, we’re not really feeling up to doing them in the first place. In this case, simplicity is bliss. Doing small things to feel good makes it easier to tackle the big stuff. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting our heads back in a place where we can create the momentum to get moving on our bigger goals.

Here are 7 little things I do to make big shifts in how I feel.

1. Cut the drama. Sometimes when I’m plugging away on my MAC, working through stuff in my head, getting shit done, even sitting to meditate, my face can reflect a level of intensity that’s a wee bit dramatic. When I catch myself doing my “I’m so super busy, nobody wreck my flow” face, I crack a real, honest-to-goodness smile. There’s a science to smiling. Once smiling muscles in our face contract, there’s a positive feedback loop that kicks in and our brain reinforces feelings of joy. You can actually create happiness in a situation where you might not have been feeling too peppy and I can feel the difference instantly.

2. Pick your battles. We all have things that trigger us. When someone does or says something that I overreact to (and I know I’m overreacting because I can feel a strong, visceral emotion bubbling to the surface) I check in with myself. I ask myself if how I’m feeling is really matching the words spoken or actions taken in the situation. I can’t control what others say, how they say things or what they do. What I can control is how I react to a situation. If it ain’t worth stressing out about (as most things aren’t) then I make the choice to lighten up. We associate our own meanings to everything we come into contact with. I can pick my battles and some just aren’t worth fighting while others don’t even need to be perceived as battles at all.

3. Melt like butter. When I’m stressed out or busy, I can feel it in my body. I get a furrowed brow, my jaw gets tight and my shoulders stiffen. When I’m in the thick of things, I remind myself to imagine every little muscle in my head, jaw, neck and shoulders melting like butter. I don’t have to stop everything I’m doing or put the world on hold. I can do this while walking somewhere or before a meeting, while sitting at my desk or pouring a cup of tea. My mood changes along with the shift in my body and all of a sudden, things don’t seem so hairy anymore.

4. Conscious movement. Most of our days can be spent on auto-pilot. We get through our morning routine without giving a single thought to getting ready. We get through familiar tasks with no memory of them at all. I try to take the most mundane actions of my day – the stuff I have to do anyway – and make a conscious effort to be aware of what I’m doing. I walk barefoot around my house in the morning and notice the sensation of my feet hitting the ground and the temperature of the floor. When I’m doing tasks that are easy and can be done with little thought, I pay attention to and appreciate the details.

5. Laugh. Just like smiling, laughing is an easy thing to do. But when we’re stressed or caught up in a misunderstanding, laughing and smiling are typically on the bottom of the list of things we actually want to do. Even though that’s often when we need to the most. It always helps me to lighten up about what might otherwise feel like a tough situation and find something to laugh about instead. The ability to see things clearly and find creative solutions increases when we don’t take other things, people or ourselves too seriously.

6. Check-ins. I try to check-in with myself throughout the day. When I’m in the thick of things, I check-in to how I’m feeling and reacting to things. I find that when I’m stressed out, I often feel light-headed. My thoughts get cloudy and I don’t have the same ability to concentrate and find solutions when I’m not present to the situation. That’s when I remind myself to get grounded. If I’m sitting in a chair, I feel my body in that chair – the surface of the seat, I feel my feet on the ground and my hands on the desk or in my lap. Finding what works to get you back in the moment can do wonders to help your mind from running in circles.

7. When all else fails. I dance. Now this can get interesting when you’re working in an office or somewhere you don’t have privacy. I have no shame in admitting that I’ve busted out in a random dance move in a public washroom on more than one occasion (this woman’s got moves). And you don’t need music blasting to dance – although it definitely doesn’t hurt – the point here is to move your body. Wiggle, writhe and worm the stress out of your body, however you want to move. Your body always knows what it needs – our job is to listen kindly, trust and respond.

What small things do you do during your day to lighten the load, tune in and appreciate the day? Leave your comments below!

Creativity, Spirituality

Channeling Your Inner Rock Star

I’m not a SuperBowl fan. Football doesn’t keep my attention – it just doesn’t rock my boat. I’m way more likely to tune in for the insanely-priced commercial spots (marketing and mass media messaging fascinates me) and the halftime show (if I’m feelin’ the performer). So when I found out that Beyonce was part of the magic, I was all in this past Sunday. Glued to the TV, I watched the woman rock a football field like nobody’s business.

There’s something ethereal about her that intrigues me. If you see her in an interview, she’s a pretty humble and soft-spoken soul. But you put that woman in the spotlight – the thick of her element – and everything changes. Something clearly takes over and she becomes a powerhouse, owning the moment. There’s something remarkable about it to me. Not to mention inspiring.

In fact, she can pinpoint when she first felt like she was clearly tapping into something outside of herself and named her alter-ego Sasha Fierce. She gives herself permission to play big through Sasha. When she taps into Sasha’s energy she’s strong, bold, sexy, powerful and has a clear vision of what she wants.

What would change if we gave ourselves the same permission – the permission to play big? 

Opening To New Possibilities 

When we give ourselves the permission to play big, we open up to big possibilities. Think about the last time you told yourself that something you really wanted to do/experience/be was impossible. How did that feel? I bet it felt kinda shitty, huh?

While analytical, logical left-brain thinking has its place in life, there’s magic in knowing when to throw caution to the wind and be bold. To dream. To take chances and do the things that scare us the most – especially when we know that we’ll look back in regret if we don’t try something out. And more often than not, when we take a step towards something we know we have to try – however small – other opportunities present themselves. Play big. Open up, see what happens and take a chance on yourself. 

Creating Presence By Being Present

When we’re present with every moment, we can see how things shift. We often live in our heads – going through our to-do lists, rehearsing past conversations and obsessing about details that really don’t matter at the end of the day – and this translates to our body language. I know that I’m stressing out about stuff and that I’m stuck in my head when I get clumsy. As soon as I drop something or cut my finger while prepping dinner, I check in with myself and ask if I’m being present with what’s in front of me. And every time, I can honestly say that I’m not.

Getting present with myself starts with getting into my body. Am I sitting up straight or slouching? Am I walking around with my chin up and shoulders relaxed, taking in the world around me or staring at the pavement worrying to myself? When I’m nervous, I tend to fidget so I check in when that starts to happen. Rather than fidgeting, I remind myself to be still, chill out and tune in to what’s happening around me.

Do you have an important meeting coming up? Wear something you feel good in. That feel-good attitude will come through. And ladies – bust out your favourite lipstick – never underestimate what a kick ass shade can do for shifting your energy. This isn’t about being materialistic or focusing more on the outside than the inside – it’s about recognizing that when we do things to feel good, that goodness oozes into our lives. Play big. Feel good, exude confidence and create a presence. 

Creative energy

As we constrain ourselves, we stifle our creativity. When we’re confronted with a problem at work or in our personal lives and get stumped on the solution, it’s often because we’re limiting our perspective. We get stuck in the situation when we need to be boundless to see creative ways out of a muck. There’s a reason why ‘think outside of the box’ has become so cliche. Try shifting your energy. When we’re faced with a problem, sometimes it helps to find something funny about it. When we take ourselves too seriously, we place undue pressure on ourselves to be perfect. Step back and see if things are as bad as they appear to be in the moment. And take a breather. The best solutions come to mind when we let go and let the answers come to us. The more we try to force a resolution, the harder it gets.

I can distinctly remember a situation where I was stuck. I had a rather sticky situation with a friend and no idea of how to communicate what I was feeling in a way that was true to me, set boundaries for the next time and helped her understand where I was coming from. So I let it go. I literally said out loud, ‘Ok universe. I’m done trying to figure this out. Help me here. I’m leaving this to you to send back to me with a resolution,’ and I let it go. I imagined myself crumpling my problem up like a ball of paper and throwing it up in the air. When my mind started to circle around the same thoughts, I just got present to what I was doing. And then it just hit me.

I was sitting on the subway, sitting with the flow of people on the train and the noises around me and all of a sudden, clear as day, I knew what I had to say and when it had to happen. My body filled with goosebumps (my personal sign that I’m tapping into my intuition) and I felt confident in what I would say. 

When we play big, we’re not afraid to tell it like it is and express ourselves.

I may not be Beyonce and I’m sure as hell not gonna sell out stadiums of people waiting to hear me sing. But, I do know that things change when I shift into a space where I’m willing to play big. And seeing someone take on the world with her passion inspires me to do the same – in the way I’m supposed to do it. So when I feel like I need a pick-me-up, you can bet Beyonce’s on full blast and I’m probably dancing. Now it’s not all unicorns, rainbows and sunshine. I’ve stumbled, made mistakes and had ‘wtf was I thinking’ moments too and sometimes playing big means that we screw up. But despite all the setbacks, blunders and doubts, I can honestly say that trying stuff that I never thought I could feels way better than wondering ‘what if’.