Wednesday, 17 March 2021

2021 - My Year of Home

2021 - My year of "Home"

I typically take the time to reflect on my previous year early in the year... when the calendar flips from December to January... A new year, a new word, new intentions and a renewed sense of wanting to just being better than I was the year before.

This year, however, it took me a little longer to work through my process of wrapping up the previous year and settling into a new word and its impending new intentions. Perhaps it was a trust thing? Afterall, in March of last year, everything did go to hell in a handbasket... We sure didn't see that coming.

This year, I let myself off the hook, I set down the pressure, offered myself a whole lot of grace and I took my time to figure out the meaning behind all the lessons hidden in 2020, and allowed my next right path to fully reveal itself when it was ready.

So, here we are on the day I celebrate my 50th birthday 🍀, and I am ready to share my path forward for the rest of 2021.

In January of 2020, I declared my word of the year to be "centred" and in doing so, I set these intentions...

  • less mindless scrolling and more intentional reading
  • less rushing and more stillness
  • less chaos and more zen
  • less pleasing others and more taking care of my spirit
  • less yes and more no
  • less feeling obligated and more feeling inspired
  • less of "what's going on out there" and more of "what's going on in here"
  • less meetings and more family game nights

You can read more about that here

When I made these declarations and set thee intentions in January of 2020, I had no idea what March of that year would bring. I had no idea that life, as I knew it was about to drastically change, that most of the world would shut down and go into isolation for over a year. In fact, when I review my intentions for 2020, it makes me shake my head a little in a bit of an "Oi... be careful what you wish for" sort of way.

For many of us, 2020 will always be looked back upon as a year of loss...  Loss of innocence, loss of livelihoods, loss of connections, and tragically the loss of many many lives... So many times throughout the last year I have asked "WTF? how did we, as a human race, become SO fragile?" Under that existential question to the universe existed my own fears, my own worry, and my own deep sadness about not be able to be around or hug the people I was missing so dearly. It has been so hard on us all.

And yes, our family was not immune to losses brought on by 2020. Our family suffered periods of unemployment, periods of uncertainty, periods of worry, periods of health concerns and periods of sadness at having to cancel some life milestone celebrations. and frankly... I am SO sick of having to make daily decisions about what is safe for my family. 

Our decision, as a family was to live by the rule - when you find yourself in a circumstance you don't like... You have two options:

  • You change your situation
  • or you change how you look at it.

While we knew we had very little power to change the fact that we were in a global pandemic, we knew our only solution was the second option.

With that in mind, we, at the insistence of my Rokstar husband, spent time looking for the good, seeking out and acknowledging all the things we had to be grateful for rather than choosing to only see the bad. We were quickly reminded that that periods of darkness and loss ALWAYS contain within it, some very precious gifts. 

Our kids got the hang of this quickly... They made it FUN... Through their example they made it so easy to see all the gifts hidden inside the adversities. We watched movies, we learned TikTok dances and we laughed.

We experienced so many beautiful moments of connection disguised as "family game nights".  

We ate on a folding table for nearly a month so our kitchen table had room for our huge quarantine puzzle...

We managed to celebrate our 2020 graduate in our own private way...

I became part owner of a brick and mortar retail store.

We read books on the beach...

We even managed to organize a socially distant outdoor concert
With our Beaumont Blues and Roots Festival Team.

We quickly got used to getting what was normally a weeks worth of sleep in one single night. We stopped rushing through our days and through our lives, and took time to really experience each moment. We slowed down, we tightened our family unit, and we noticed the birds that loved to hang out in our backyard. We gardened, and we painted and we finally got all those little jobs done around the house that had previously been put off indefinitely. We walked, we sat on the deck to drink coffee, and we got reacquainted with each other in ways we never made time for before.

Yes, there was sadness, and loss, and worry... There were periods of unemployment, cancelled markets, and some health glitches...

My husband spent a little time in hospital for a non covid related issue...

A month later, I spent a little time in hospital myself...

But as always, we picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and carried on.

We had a zoom Christmas with our family..

and we celebrated a quiet New Years in...

While I couldn't have ever imagined the intentions I set for myself at the beginning ot 2020 to have been fulfilled so fully in the ways that they were, I think I can honestly let the sun set on my year of "Centred", and open myself to set some new intentions for the year that is unfolding.

2021 is my year of "Home"

In my adult life - the past 32 years... I have lived in 14 different houses. 14 times the backdrop of my life and my life experiences changed... Sometimes it was a happy and welcome change, but sometimes it was not.

What I have learned is this. 'Home' has very little to do with the walls you reside in... It has very little to do with the colour of your decor, the tile in your bathroom, or the finish on your countertops... It isn't about being an apartment, a town home, a bungalow or a two story... All of that stuff is just a backdrop... it is finite, and it is so damn temporary. All that stuff could be sold, upgraded, left behind, burned down or taken away...

'Home' is actually the safe environment where you and your family thrives. It is a place of honesty, openness, and mutual respect. It is where we love, where we mess up, where we learn and where we lean. It is a safe place to test boundaries, to disagree, and to find our confidence. It is where we really see, really hear and strive to fully understand one another. It is the sturdy launch pad for big dreams. It is a place where we can each be fully accepted as ourselves ... without fear, without judgement, and with open arms. In it can be found the fiercest protector, those with the most enthusiastic encouragement, and the softest place to land. It is nurturing, it is kind, it is accepting, it is loving, it is supportive, and it is solid. 

'Home' is unconditional, it is infinite, and it is far greater than anything that could ever be contained by or confined within any walls... Home is what is important... and the house is just the backdrop.

These walls are my house... but these people... these people are my Home... and that exists in any time, and in anyplace and anywhere. Home is not dependant on walls or structure. Home is infinitely so much more than that. We have made this... we have created this for ourselves and our family.

However, somewhere along the way, in my own healing journey within the safety of this Home I have worked so hard to create... I have come to a shocking realization. I realized that over the course of my life... as I acted in response to shame, blame, feelings of inadequacy, self doubt, and fear, I have turned away, hidden, banished and rejected SO many precious parts of myself.

This lead to so many questions... How could I possibly show up fully for my family, for my marriage, for my business, or for my life... when so much of me is shamefully banished and exiled because those parts did not fit into the "please, perform, repeat" pattern I so eagerly lived by? Where is my Joy? Why can't I access it...? Why am I so damn hard on myself? Why can't I figure this out...?

I have been sitting with these questions for a lifetime... But with great intention for the past three months. How do I fix this? Why would I want to even try to accept all the parts of myself? How do I even begin? I am SO proud of the 'Home' we have created for our family... 

Which lead to the question... Is it possible that I need to create this ideological Home within me? A safe place for all these banished parts of myself? 

It was that question that set off the "jackpot" bells inside of me... I knew I had my answer... and I knew I now had to do this work...

This is the year I unlock the doors and let them swing wide open as I call all exiled parts of myself to come back Home. Home to me. I stand at this door, full of grace... and I welcome them with open and apologetic arms. I offer them safety and kindness with a loving heart. It is the year I create space within myself where all these parts can thrive, a place of honesty, openness, and mutual respect... a place where all these parts can be fully accepted, without fear, and without judgement... and all of me is welcome here... all of me is needed here.

  • the introverted and quiet parts
  • the loud and opinionated parts
  • the shy and unsure parts
  • the loving and affectionate parts
  • the self doubting and insecure parts
  • the angry, frustrated, and fed up parts
  • the fearful and afraid parts
  • the awkward, geeky and nerdy parts
  • the parts that seem to say the wrong things
  • the parts that know the right things to say
  • the shame filled and imperfect and disconnected parts
  • the dreaming, hopeful and excited parts
  • that parts that don't want to rock the boat and the parts that want to burn it down
All the parts that I know and all the ones I have yet to meet... It is time to come Home. The doors are open... There is a place for you here. It is safe for you here.

This is the year that I learn to peel back yet another layer of what it means to be fully comfortable living in my own skin. Where I continue to learn what it means to be fully myself. Where, instead of turning away from myself, I have the courage to turn towards and embrace all the parts of myself... Where we lock arms, become whole and fully step into the woman we are meant to be for our act two.... Knowing that the most powerful place we can be in is when we are fulling living within our bodies.

Creating my beautiful life remains my highest calling.

Monday, 3 February 2020

To my daughters...

To my daughters, my bonus daughters, my granddaughters, and those I think of as daughters… this is what I want you to know…
This world can be harsh for women. This is nothing new, but it is important to also remember that this is not “old news”… No matter how hard the ladies before you have fought for change, secured change, and embraced change… there is still a LONG way to go.
We STILL live in a time that judges a women, not by the hard work, grit and strength of spirit required to elevate their career to the level that they have earned the right share their talents on a world stage with millions of people watching… But by what they are wearing when they get there.
We STILL live in a world where people so easily choose to knock others down rather than lift others up… Where slut shaming is rampant, devastating and still a very big thing.
We STILL live in a world where people think “SEX” when someone dresses a certain way, or moves their body in a certain way, or smiles a certain way, or talks a certain way… or even climbs up a pole in a certain way…
and most alarming… We STILL live in a world where, as women, our harshest critics are not the “old boys club” fellas among us, but the other women we exists among… our sisters… Those who we are meant to align with in the battle to be seen as equals.
I want you to know that I want a better world for you. I want you to know that I want you to be YOU in all your amazing brilliance and sparkle and talent. No matter what that looks like.
I want you to know that I want you to always feel safe to share YOU with the world, I want you to feel safe being who you are, and heck I want you to feel safe dancing at a bar or walking down the damn street… NO MATTER WHAT YOU ARE WEARING…
I want you to be proud of your bodies, no matter your shape or size… and I want you to wear what makes you feel beautiful, confident, empowered and self assured.
But mostly I want you to set down your judgement and look upon your sisters with grace and admiration… with honour and respect… and with love and kindness… We are all one. We are all here just trying to live our best life… Let’s all just agree to give each other room to do that.
I want you to know that NO.MATTER.WHAT… I am, and I will ALWAYS be in your corner… cheering you on, holding you up and wiping the sweat from your brow when it is time for you to go in for another round against misogyny. I know this battle ground well.
I’ve got you… and all I ask is simply that you just have each other… Be better than the generations before you… Do better than the generations before you.
You will need thick skin, you will need a good poker face, you will need to learn how to bite your tongue, to hold your opinion, and save your energy for the times when you can REALLY make a difference…
You will need to learn that the battle isn’t won by trying in vain to change 1000 shallow opinions… the battle is won when you learn how to say “Fuck that!” and not let the bullshit opinions of others sway you from all that you are meant to be.
You are SO very loved.

Keep Shining.

Monday, 13 January 2020

2020 - My Year of "Centred"

Sometimes we are the rock
Sometimes we are the wave that crashes against the rock
and sometimes we are the lighthouse - a beacon of light while just weathering the storm.
~Coreena Kornel

What 2019 has taught me is that none of these roles, the rock, the wave, or the lighthouse, is more virtuous or brave than any of the others, nor is any of these roles more wicked or cowardice. I have learned that ALL of these roles are so incredibly important in our journey as we try to make a difference in this life, and to leave the world around us in a little better shape than we found it. 

I have learned that the natural ebb and flow of life assures that we will have ample opportunities to show up in each of these forms to wield the power that each represents, and to leave our mark on the things we care deeply about. I have learned it is up to us to decide what is truly important to us, to determine what we are willing to do for what is important, and to show up accordingly.

In 2017 and 2018 my "word for the year" was ChangeMaker.

In 2019 I assigned myself the word "Persevere". 

The lessons presented to me in these years have been life changing.

The past three years have presented multiple opportunities for me show up as the Rock... Here are a few examples:

  • Supporting my husband and family as we all grieve the passing of my father in law.
  • Being solidly there in support of each of my children as they find their own way in this life, allowing them to make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons as they go. 
  • Being the safe place and fierce supporter of my daughters as they learn maneuver through the cruelness that is sometimes synonymous with being a young girl in this world, while helping them unapologetically hold others accountable. 
  • Supporting my husband as he found his way back to peace after a long, bloody, ruthless, and well fought battle with the darkness called depression.
  • Holding sacred all confidence entrusted upon me, even with friendships or relationships that are no longer prominent in my life.
  • Standing tall as our family made lifestyle changes resulting from the harsh economic climate we are currently living in. 
  • Standing firm in the protection of the legacy being created in the non-profit organizations I am a part of.

I also got to be the Wave... 
  • All the times I spoke up and advocated for the Arts and for Entrepreneurship within my community.
  • Sharing previously unspoken parts of my story with a room full of people at a speaking event all while sharing alternate ways the conference attendees could show up and support those they love.
  • The time I stood, broken but completely unbowed in the presence of my abuser when the preference of many would be for me to never have spoken up at all.
  • Set an example for as well as acknowledge and celebrate with my children as they continue to make decisions for their lives showing that they are unwilling to compromise their own values - for anyone.

And the Lighthouse...
  • Setting an example of love, kindness, compassion and acceptance - daily - to my children.
  • Initiate the outside support required to see our marriage through rough waters.
  • In my capacity as a leader within a few community organizations I was required establish and maintain peace.
  • Using my words/experiences/ramblings to empower, inspire and encourage others who may be facing similar circumstances.
  • My continued desire let people know that they are loved by distributing Love Bombs at every market we attend.
In 2017 thru 2019 - in alignment with my years as "ChangeMaker" I amped up my volunteerism. I signed on to 5 different organizations, not because I just wanted to volunteer, but because I wholeheartedly cared about what each organization stood for. Through my volunteerism, I was an integral part of the planning and execution three major yearly events in my community. During this time of increased volunteerism, in my capacity of Chief Visionary Officer of Fearless hART, I managed to achieve a 28% growth in each of these three years.

In alignment with 2019, my year with "Persevere" I managed all of this while facing a turbulent time in my marriage, in a harsh economic climate, with a husband who was struggling with his mental wellness, and with a house full of teenagers who continued to rely on us every day...

Yes. I can honestly sit here and reflect positively on all these accomplishments over the past three years. We have been pushed and pulled and stretched in ways I would have never imagined. It is only by the grace of our good deeds, by the power of our commitment, and by the graciousness of our inner circle that we made it through any of this. These reflections leave me feeling SO tearfully grateful for the life I have, and for the people I get to share it with. 

But here's the thing... While always worthwhile, there isn't much about many of our growth experiences over the past three years that could be called "easy". There were trade offs along the way... as there usually is when we have really full plates. I think we all know that when we say "yes" to something and add it to our plate, we are, by default, saying "no" to something else... 

As I reflect on these accomplishments, I am also reminded of the fatigue, the self doubt, the anger (the sometimes rage), the fear, the resentment, and the sleep deprivation that often accompanied - and sometimes fueled - the drive and determination to achieve them.

It is no wonder I said goodbye to 2019 in the midst of a cold/flu virus and a series of debilitating migraine headaches, and said hello to 2020 with a little time in the hospital and a lot of time in my bed trying to get healthy.

I am so dang ready to claim "Centred" as my word and intention for 2020.

I am starting this year off physically, financially, and emotionally detoxed and ready to reacquaint with my own internal guidance system. This year will be more focused self-compassion, self-care and my own mental wellness.

It will be about removing some of the items on my overfilled plate by pairing down my directorships on various boards from five labour intensive boards to three that are manageable. It will be about stepping away from being part of organizing two major community events, and being wholeheartedly a part of organizing one.

I will be leaving these organizations and events with a bit of a heavy heart, but can rest assured I am leaving them in the very capable hands of some pretty amazing people/ I look so forward to seeing the amazing things they will achieve.

2020 will be my year of slowing down, digging deep, setting healthy boundaries, protecting and nourishing my mind, body and soul. There will be meditating, writing and creating all the new products patiently waiting for my time and energy. There will be stillness and contemplation and growth and yoga.

In my world, 2020 will be about:
  • less mindless scrolling and more intentional reading
  • less rushing and more stillness
  • less chaos and more zen
  • less pleasing others and more taking care of my spirit
  • less yes and more no
  • less feeling obligated and more feeling inspired
  • less of "what's going on out there" and more of "what's going on in here"
  • less meetings and more family game nights
... And laughter. In 2020, there will be WAY more laughter.

It needs to be said, however, that no matter my plans, declarations or intentions I am fully aware that things can change in an instant. I am not sitting here expecting a smooth and calm year because I declared it so. But I can say that with this new perspective, I will be better equipped for whatever may lie ahead.

No matter what, I will always be ready and willing to show up as the Rock, or the Wave, or the Lighthouse at a moments notice.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year, and I hope that your 2020 is absolutely everything you want it to be and a lot more.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Love Always Wins

In March of 2014 I received an email that contained words that deeply touched my heart.
"Coreena, You are not making cuffs, belts or guitar slings, you are making memories, and family heirlooms. You are making things that will be treasured by the recipients, for life. They will be the things that will be in Grandma and Grandpa's room. The grandkids and great grand kids will go in and play with them understanding the importance that is placed on them. They will be the things that little Johnny, or Mary will be playing with and loose outside, and everyone in the family will have to drop everything to help go find it, because they will see the sadness in the eyes at the thought of it being lost. After when it is found, yes they will find it, everyone will sit around while Grandma and Grandpa will hold it and rub it. They will take extra time rubbing the scratches and dents that look out of place, but hold special meaning. Everyone will sit and listen as the story of it is told again. My dad, mom, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin or friend gave it to them because they believed... (this is were your stories go in), and Coreena, it will have come from your hand and your heart."
The writer - my first cousin with whom I had lost touch until we reconnected through Facebook - seemed to peer right into my intentions and capture the essence of what I was trying to achieve through my work.

His words never left me, and they became the backbone of my "WHY".  I would refer this "why" when challenges came up in my life and in my business...  Times when I was really really tired, and I felt like I was swimming upstream.  Times when quitting or stopping seemed way easier than taking one more stroke to push myself forward.

Very recently I was reunited with a piece I had created a few years ago.  It needed a snap repair after being worn daily since it went to its forever home.  The wearer of this cuff described it as her "armor" and its sentiment resonated so deeply with her that she was sharing it with loved ones in their time of need of such reminders. 

Love always wins.

She warned me before she bringing it to me, saying that perhaps I might not want to fix it.  That it was very worn, and she would gladly replace it if I felt that was the route we needed to go.  But she used another adjective.  She said the leather was tough.

When I first held this bracelet with the failed snap in my hands, and my eyes went over all the nicks and the worn spots on its surface... I was completely overcome.  Tears welled up in my eyes at is pure and utter beauty.  It was THE most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

This tough leather armor bearing the truest sentiment there ever could be - seeing this lovely perfect soul through all the facets of her journey in this life.  It physically showed all the nicks and worn spots our spirits take when we make the choice - every day - to live our lives from a place of love.

Love always wins 

But what struck me the most?  The nicks and worn spots did not make this piece an eyesore.  The rust on the still secure snaps did not class this piece as something in need of being replaced.  The darkened weathered raw leather that showed through the off white top layer that had been worn away in places was not something that needed to be touched up. 

All those things contributed to its breathtaking beauty... just as the nicks and warn spots inflicted on our spirits during our journey on this planet are what makes us beautiful...  Especially when we choose to live in love.

As I went to work on repairing the failed snap, I did so in quiet.  I let the stories of the bracelet fill my heart, it has traveled far and wide acting as armor.  I imagine it has seen times of incredible love and happiness, times of anger and frustration, as well as times sadness and disappointment... All the while bearing the reminder that Love always wins.

As I was working I felt intense gratitude.  Gratitude to it for its impact on this lovely person and her amazing family, and gratitude for the confirmation to ME to continue choose love.  I am grateful for the tangible evidence of what my cousin articulated as he reached out to me with his lovely words, grateful that my "why" is tangible and valid, and I am grateful for the solid reminder that my intentions are being realized...  But most of all, I am grateful I get to do this work that I love so much.  It is truly an honor.

Love always wins.

I would absolutely LOVE to hear your stories!  If you have a Fearless hART creation that has deeply resonated with you, I would love to hear about it!

Please reach out and share in the comments below, or connect with me by personal message.  I vow to not publicly share your words without your permission.

With love and gratitude


Thursday, 28 September 2017

For the love of... Beaumont.

Before I share my thoughts on last nights forum, I wanted to take a moment to say a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to our outgoing mayor and council.  Your job hasn't been easy, and in many situations incredibly thankless.  Please know there is no greater gift that the gift of your time.  Thank you for your passion, your vision and your strong desire to do what is right for the citizens of Beaumont.  We are grateful for your leadership, for your sacrifices, and for your commitment. 

Last nights forum for Beaumont Town Council hopefuls has come and gone leaving many of us contemplating where our votes will go, and further researching candidates we were hearing from for the very first time.

Thank you to Beaumont Chamber of Commerce for organizing this event and giving us, the citizens, the opportunity to capture a glimpse of all those vying to be our representatives in the municipal level democratic process for the next four years.  I was enlightened and l appreciated all the different backgrounds and perspectives on the hot button issues in our community.

With the state of the world today I found myself, at times, fighting tears witnessing the beauty of what it truly meanse to be Canadian.  You do not have to be born here...  Neither English or French has to be your first language... and yet you are able to freely stand tall and proudly speak about the community you dearly love hoping to capture enough votes to be granted the opportunity to leave a positive impact on its governance as one of your legacies of this life.

I am so excited that there are so many passionate people who love Beaumont and want to do right by its citizens.  My take away from last night is that our future is SO bright.  There are 20 candidates hoping to fill the six seats in council chambers.

As an advocate for showing love for our community through service and volunteerism may those who aren't elected on October 16 find alternate ways to channel their passions for Beaumont and continue to positively influence our community through volunteerism.

We are at the precipice of change in our community.  We will have a new mayor.  We have a new Chief Administration Officer, a new fire chief and a new leader of our local RCMP.  We have only two incumbent council members on the ballot.  We are at an era of new blood, fresh ideas, and new beginnings.  Exciting, and terrifying all at the same time.

It is no secret I am a proud and supportive wife of one of the 20 vying for a seat at the table in council chambers.  To him I wish to say... as always it is my greatest happiness in this life is to sit in my front row seat witnessing your moments to shine.  I feel so blessed to be maneuvering this life with you by my side.  The example you continue to set for our children is immense and I am very grateful they get to call you dad.

Any whom I have had a candid conversation with regarding this election, know this is not my favourite situation to be in.  I am not a competitive person- at all.  I believe in loving and accepting all people first.  I believe in seeing people as beautiful perfect souls trying to maneuver this life in an imperfect shell...  I believe everyone is just doing their own 'next right thing', trying to make their time on the green side of the grass as meaningful as possible.

Words really matter to me.  I have built a successful business on the power of words and how they can influence, empower and inspire each of us to authenticity show up and walk in our truth each and every day.  

Simply put, I believe wholeheartedly in kindness - even when there is a disagreement.

But, when used as weapons, words can be my nemesis.

Some of the harsh words, judgments, and name calling I have witnessed in the early stages of this election have been very hard on my spirit.  As one who gains strength and energy from small groups having heartfelt and soulful connections, I knew my introverted spirit would have to armor up and I would have to clearly define my boundaries in order to protect my peace, so I could show up and authentically support the one I love most in the world to realize one of his dreams.

I have effectively used the Facebook 'block' and 'unfollow' functionality to shield myself from seeing things that would not add value to my role in this process.

Last night, after the forum, I sat at the end of a very long table at a beloved local establishment that, as serendipity would have it, advocated for 'positive politics' not that long ago.  I witnessed many of the 20 council hopefuls lightheartedly laughing, toasting, and sharing their thoughts on the grueling 2 hours they had just endured - together.

They opened up and reminisced about what questions they answered from the floor, presented to them at the mercy of the random draw by the moderator.  They consoled and related to their fellow candidates who got 'that' question and stumbled for a suitable answer.  They congratulated each other, they supported each other, they laughed... and they connected.  

For an amazing extended period of time, their disagreements on busing, garbage, relationships with neighboring communities, or rec centres were irrelevant.  It didn't matter that there were way more than 6 people sitting around that table - in fact the more who came, the merrier it got.  They all dropped their defenses and spoke about their human experiences, as humans.  They learned about each other kids, and jobs and hobbies.  They toasted a job well done by all for simply just showing up to express and be accountable for their opinions in a very public way.  As more would arrive, they didn't have to ask to join the table.  It was automatic, they were immediately welcomed and absorbed by this group.  There was a seat for absolutely everyone at the table.  People would stand and shuffle, another table would be added, then another, and then another.  They would then move chairs to sit by someone new, and chat and laugh and relate.  Designated drivers were determined, more spirits were ordered and camaraderie was established.  It was an incredibly beautiful thing to witness... 

I left that establishment after this impromptu gathering with a deeply seated feeling of HOPE instilled upon me by sitting at a table of passionate people with nothing but a strong desire to do a little good in our community.  THIS is the Beaumont I love.

There is SO much potential.  Beaumont, your future is so very bright.

So, if you are reading this, and if you are from Beaumont, or any other Municipality ready to undergo election, I strongly encourage you to do your own research and make your own informed choice on October 16. Make your opinion count.

Photo courtesy of Ealanta Photography

Saturday, 7 January 2017

2017 - My year as "ChangeMaker"

Well here we are.  The first week of 2017 has passed and we are all trying to get our bearings on what this means for us.  Some are looking at what that might mean politically, while others are hard at work implementing their plans and promises to see their resolutions through, despite the statistical odds to the contrary, and then there are some simply hoping to correctly write the year in the 'date' field sooner than they got that mastered last year.

This time of year for me always means reflection and contemplation.  2016 was my year of 'Quiet'.  I chose that word after my 2015 year of 'Grace' kicked the shit out of me and tested all that I knew about what "Grace" could possibly mean.  You can read about that here.

My year of Quiet was meant to be about introspection and self evaluation.  It was to be about figuring out how I truly feel about myself, and my place in this world.  WTF does all that really mean?  How can I, in my awkward free spirited uniqueness, fit in to this world AND feel comfortable in my own skin.  It was meant to encourage me to silence the noise and intuitively listen to the whispers from the universe... before they turned into screams...  It was about choosing to NOT drink from the fire hose of information I was bombarded with every day.  It was to be about listening, meditating, planning, and just figuring shit out.

My score card...?

Well, the things that made 2015 difficult, spilled into 2016.  Our Provinces economic downturn saw our income significantly drop and we had to face some really hard decisions.  Some we had a say in, and some we did not.  We downsized, simplified and decreased our living expenses.  That meant saying goodbye to our cherished home that we felt we would live in forever.  It meant fewer extracurricular activities for our children, it meant no restaurants, no concerts, no trips, and no family trips to the movies.

With regards to "Quiet"?  well...  Quiet meant pulling the covers over my head once in a while and blocking out the world.  Quiet meant ignoring the rings on the telephone knowing it was not a pleasant party on the other end.  Quiet meant an ongoing and constant battle of shame versus spirit. Quiet meant putting on a smile and a brave face whenever I was with someone other than my husband and a few of my dearest friends. Quiet meant getting really fucking real with the concept of "If I do not have all these things, all these comforts, all these possessions that make one "worthy" in today's world...  WHO AM I?  Do I like me?  but most importantly... am I OK with the person that is left standing there when there is nothing else shielding her from the prying and judging eyes of the world."

Quiet was my solitude.
Quiet was my best friend.
Quiet was my lifeline...

Quiet was putting on my big girl panties and pulling myself out of the swirling vortex of darkness that threatened to swallow me whole.  Quiet was leaning on my ever optimistic, always positive, and unbelievably supportive husband, grasping hands, and facing the shit storm while standing tall.  Quiet was crying with my kids as we held each other up to get through the disappointment of "no more chances", "no more options" and "not gonna helps".

Quiet was power.
Quiet was strength.
Quiet was courage.

2016 was the year of endings, but it was also our year of new beginnings.  Yes, it was a year of loss, but it was also a year of SO many gains.

  • My year of Quiet sees me with NO unread messages in my inbox accomplished only by the days of massively unsubscribing from all the crap that I never read anyway.
  • My year of quiet sees me 6 months free of cable TV.  I now only watch what I mean to watch...  and there is NO TV news.
  • My year of Quiet meant more yoga, more mediation, and less mental chaos. (I said less, not zero! ;) This will continue to be a work in progress.)
  • My year of Quiet sees me with a growing base of solid friendships comprised of real people who truly see me and my heart.
  • My year of Quiet has directed me to a group of amazing mentors that inspire me in my life and in my business.
  • My year of Quiet sees me more focused, more driven, more confident, more determined, and less concerned with what others think.
  • My year of Quiet sees me in a home with a walkout basement studio and an amazing view of the little pond behind my house.  There are SO many birds ... truth tellers ... whispering.
  • My year of Quiet has allowed me to bury my head, lick my wounds and tend to important family and life business...  But it also quietly fanned the smoldering embers within my spirit...

Goodbye 2016.  Even though you presented some very hard times, know that I am keenly aware of the beauty you possessed.  I am completely cognizant that beautiful things that ALWAYS follow periods of darkness...  I have the beauty in my sights..  You were a catalyst, you were lesson filled, and I am grateful...

My year of Quiet has revealed a path.

I move on to 2017.  My year of being a ChangeMaker.

I have learned to not predict too much what the year has in store for me by simply declaring my word of the year...  But today, as I sit here, I can give you a summation of what I hope it to mean...  while still remaining open to what twists and turns may come my way.
  • This is my year of making a difference in this world through my business as well as my collaborations with other artists and businesses.
  • This is my year of supporting my husband as he strives to make changes within our community.
  • This is the year of me cheering my children on while they travel their own journeys which always seem to be inately ingrained in helping, contributing, and leaving beautiful waves of goodness in their wake.
  • This is the year of lovingly using what I know, what I have learned, and what I can do to help light the way for others.

2017, I am rested and I am ready.

With love and gratitude.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Cool Down Contemplations

We all know that the current state of our Alberta Economy is bleak, and dire, and really freaking scary.  The Economic downturn has affected us, our friends and families in very big ways.  Every day we hear of another person who lost their job, and another who, after several months of trying is still unable to find work.  Our job markets are saturated with unemployed oilfield workers who just really need to find SOMETHING.  I feel this.  We lived this. I absolutely know the lasting effects of the deep hole that comes with being many months at a near net zero family income.  I have had to face the fear and explore the hard question "If I didn't have all this (material possessions), what am I?  Do I like that person, could I live with that person?  How then do I fit into this world?"  It was dark times.

My words today are not meant to be disrespectful, or insensitive to any who happen to be struggling with this right now.  But today, after an extremely heart touching and tearful meditation, I feel so compelled to speak MY truth.


I attend a Hot Flow Yoga class every day (well I TRY to go every day).  For those that don't know what that is, it is an hour long Flow Yoga class that takes place in a 104 degree (40 Celsius) studio.  

I typically shy away from all forms of exercise...  And I DO NOT like to sweat, so my love for Hot Flow is quite mysterious.  

There are many strategies one has to invoke in order to have a successful Hot Flow practice.  Nose breathing only, or you panic when it feels like you can't breathe - even when you are trying to catch your breath, nose.breathing.only!  It is fast moving, so you have to be mindfully present to listen to the instructor - everything else has to fall away, or you not keep up, and you might as well just go home.  You have to know your 'lefts' and 'rights' instinctively or you end up a wee bit closer to your neighbor than you anticipated and are comfortable with (remember there is lots of sweating).  There is the, always welcome,  "child's pose", your goto when you feel overwhelmed and just need a minute to catch your breath and not panic...   And the oh, so important, 'before hand hydration'.  

While I sweat more than I have ever sweat in my life while I am in that class, and I get sore muscles every time I attend, yoga is as much of an exercise for me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, as it is physically.  I know that I have that one hour - every day - where I am absolutely able to be mindfully present in the NOW.  It is the one hour every day where I can live the benefits of getting my body, my mind, my spirit and my breathing all working together to achieve something quite miraculous.  So many times I think to myself, "Wow, I didn't know I could bend like that".

At the end of your hour of stretching, bending and twisting, you enter into a final relaxation pose - savasana.  This pose encourages you find stillness as you relax every muscle that just worked so hard for you over the previous hour.  You honour your body for its hard work, and you honor your mind and your spirit by letting yourself be free of any thoughts (this is actually the HARDEST part of yoga for me.)

Today, during final savasana, the instructor guided us through mediation, and when we are at our most vulnerable and attentive state, she ended with 'food for thought' advice that left me in tears.  (Tears during savasana is pretty common, as during class, we often release the emotions we carry around in our muscles and joints.  Tears are our way of releasing those emotions.  But today, I wept)

Today's 'food for thought' advice was all about how hard we try to live up to societal norms and expectations. How we strive for acceptance and work so hard to appear a certain way, but in doing so, we forget OUR OWN truth.  How sometimes we make others opinions about how we should live our lives most important, we let that drive our bus, and over power OUR truth that lies within our own hearts.  This all hit home for me.

Jeremy and I are at a time in our lives where we are trying SO hard to financially catch up on some things, and to not get further behind on others.  Every day calls and emails come in...  We need money for this, and we have to pay that. School trips, dance school, music lessons, gas, bills, bills bills...  

The list is long, so long, and sometimes we have to deal with really cranky people whose job it is to convince you how much of a failure you are because you hit a bit of a rough patch.  They try to shame you into handing over some cash.  For me, the shaming part ALWAYS sticks, whether I can pay what they are asking, or not. Quite often I sit here with my arms open and my shoulders shrugged tearfully saying "How.the.fuck. am I going to cover it all.  There is just nothing left."  So there it is.  Our reality.

I carry that every where I go.  I hide the shame and I smile.  If I can't hide it, I don't go out.  It's that simple.  But the shame is always there.  the fear, the stress, the anxiety... it is always there.

Jeremy remains positive the majority of the time.  He wakes up early for work, brings me coffee and leaves promising me "Today IS going to be a GOOD day.  I feel it."  and quite often, it is so.

I retired from my career as a Structural Designer nearly two years ago to make my art business my full time job.  At the time we were able to live without my Engineering income, but then things changed.  So during this current time of struggle, I often think, "I need to get a job, I can help".  Ironically my specialization for pretty much my whole career was structural design in pipelines facilities, stations, and terminals.  ....ANNND there are just NO such jobs currently available in our province, nor will there be in the foreseeable future.

After today's savasana...  I sat in the change room cooling down before changing, answering a few clients emails and Facebook messages, and I was struck with a thought.  If they were still building and upgrading pipelines in our province, and if there were jobs available in my field, chances are, I would not be attending this yoga class.  I would not be answering emails and Facebook messages from my customers in a dressing room while cooling down, or planning how I would be spending my day, and figuring out what I could do TODAY to move my business forward.  I would be sitting in an office staring at a computer and a stack of drawings, or in a boardroom talking about schedules and deliverables...  

I would not have flexibility in my schedule.  I would not be driving my kids to school every morning shouting made up adjectives at them as I send them off for the day "Have a (groove-a-li-tious , fan-funk-ta-cular, rock-tastic to name a few) great day!"  I would not be in my house when my daughter comes home from school shout singing the lyrics to Adele's hit song when she enters.  I would not hear the excitement and endless chatter of their days events while they were still fresh.  I would not witness the subtle everyday ways in which they look after each other - that makes my heart burst.  I worked out of the home for most of their lives, and when I 'retired', it was with the intention that now I GET to be home with my kids.

If I did not have my home as my workplace, I would have missed so much.  Perhaps getting a job in my field would have been the easy way out of our situation.  But now that is not to be.  The Universe has spoken, it has forced my hand, as often it does when we get a little stuck behind our fear.  Sometimes things gotta get a little uncomfortable before we are inclined to make the changes we need to make.  

It's time to take things into my own hands and to move forward on my terms, in my 'called to' career, with me in the driver seat, knowing full well that I have everything in me, or the means to get it, to succeed...  That is my truth.

I don't know how all this stuff will shake out for our family, only time will tell... I do know, however, that it will be a while before we have many additional funds for life's extras.  That what used to be 'fun funds', now goes to pay the power bill, or to the grocery store for this weeks sustenance, because that's just HOW it has to be.  I know that no matter what, it will work out, and we will figure it out.

Today I am shining light on the shame, and saying "Figuring all this out really fucking sucks and I am done with caring more about what other people think, than what is in my heart.  I am getting crushed by the shame, and it need to STOP."

Because regardless of what happens, I have learned that it isn't money, or beach vacations, or houses, or cars that makes us rich.  THAT is my truth. RICH is SO much more than that.

I am squaring my shoulders, and standing tall in my glorious truth, and letting go of my debilitating fear of being judged...  And I know THAT is what will push me forward.


cool down contemplations