Join me for a Virtual Meeting sponsored by Mental Health Matters Wingham on Saturday, May 8th at 2 pm. Please see flyer for more information.
Join me for a Virtual Meeting sponsored by Mental Health Matters Wingham on Saturday, May 8th at 2 pm. Please see flyer for more information.
Owning our broken pieces to tell a new story.
How often do you listen to yourself? I don’t mean the voice that nags, but how often do you touch base with yourself by slowing down and listening to your quiet, intuitive self? Touching base with what I might call your inner voice—through meditation or through healing modalities like reiki or journaling—get you back in touch with your inner compass.
To work through self-destructive habits and patterns, just pushing them away isn’t usually healthy. All the raw and real and messy parts we’re composed of, in order to heal we can fall in love, in a way, with those parts and forgive ourselves for what we feel we have done or haven’t done.
We don’t grow much in the easy times, after all. But baggage holds us back. To focus on the realm of past memories is to live there, but there is a way of surrendering, of trusting in better ahead—not because we know the future but because we learn to face our days with a different energy. An energy that arms us with a quiet confidence to face up to what comes. Don’t we all deserve that?
As Elizabeth Lesser asks in her memoir Broken Open, will we be broken down and defeated, or broken open and transformed? Your pain—job loss, illness, divorce—can be moved through in a healthier way, but we can’t just wish for that to happen. Instead, we learn the tools and practices that map onto our authentic selves. You can be wary of the trendy and new and instead explore what is in alignment with you.
For me, it’s chi gong, an Asian healing art with thousands of years of history. I understand the power of daily ritual to quiet our over-analytical thinking and to make room for love and forgiveness, of ourselves, as we pass through the storm. Sometimes I say it’s about moving from thinking to more heart-based living.
The Japanese practice of kintsukuroi (金繕い) is a good metaphor here: broken pottery pieces are melded together with gold and silver laquer, making for an object that is all the more beautiful for not hiding its imperfections. If we can face up to our flaws and imperfections, and sometimes even embrace them, it makes us richer and more beautiful too.
There is a new story you can tell about yourself, one that depends on healing old patterns and making a daily commitment to excavate and fall in love with all the parts of you, not just the shiny new ones. Are you ready to begin?
Some of us may never work in an office again. Total career pivots and upright moves to new cities became almost commonplace. This much upheaval can feel unhealthy, but as with any change, how we handle it, shapes how it makes us feel.
In my role I coach people to craft their new stories. The outsized changes brought on by the pandemic are, if we’re facing into them the right way, a special opportunity. (Maybe you knew I was going to say that, but I really mean it.) This is a time to reflect, to regroup, and to ask yourself: Who am I today? What is my new story?
Being defined by your job is understandable—it’s been that way for a long time—but I argue that that’s just a small part of your life. A job pays the bills, it keeps you above poverty line, but it probably doesn’t define you faithfully. When the pandemic stopped the economy, in some cases whole jobs stopped and, in some cases, standard modes of working stopped. Hello Zoom!
You see, it’s never been about the job, though that can form part of your story. It’s never been about what society says is important; that changes all the time. This forced slowing down, this dampening of the distractions of consumerism and events, affords you the headspace to own who you are: the person behind the mask that the world sees.
That language from me may seem a little lofty, but we’ll get there, I think. You can even take the time to ask yourself as the world opens up, do I know my core values. Do I truly pay attention to what is really important to me?
This has been a difficult time and the pandemic has left an uncountable number of us depressed or chronically stressed. While moving through these states whether we wanted to or not, the upside, if you’ll let me call it that, came in the form of something simple: more quiet, reflective time to be with your own thoughts and space.
This overlooked rarity became less overlooked and less rare after shutdown shrunk our time-pressed, overbooked former lives, and I’m asking you to lean into it for the space it affords you to ask questions: What kind of person am I supposed to be? What kind of hobbies are for me? (Yes, hobbies, you aspiring baker, comic-book collectors, adult-coloring book lovers. Take time for it.) Who among our friends should occupy important positions of time and attention in our orbit? It’s never simply been about a job, whatever the world told you. It’s about your life and what you give attention to. It’s different for everyone.
Personally, I inject meaning into the global lockdown; I don’t see it as the result of randomness. The world stopped because we needed to pay attention—to the biosphere, to the culture, to the lack of diversity, to the uneven corporate hierarchy, to one-sided relationships and toxic friendships. We needed to wake up. If we weren’t paying attention, the universe stepped in with a little shake-up, almost as if to say that limitless corporate greed has limits and ignoring people who fall through between the cracks increases the store of human suffering.
In a way, when you move through the world inauthentically, either because the world is giving you confusing signals or because you can’t hear your own signals over the noise, you too are falling between the cracks. Without diminishing your feelings, I don’t care what job you have or what status you hold. It’s not who you are. I care about you taking this time to meet yourself, to own your authentic story. This isn’t about what your family, your neighbourhood, your culture or your office says is right. When you go quiet and listen to your intuitive heart-based feelings, you’ll be closer to what I’m talking about.
For a taste of knowing your story, take the time to watch Megan Macedo’s video on coming to terms with who she was and how she connected to her work. My brother introduced me to this special 13-minute exploration years ago, and I still share it with clients who are crafting their next chapter. (I still get teary every time I watch it).
Our world doesn’t look the same anymore, and it shouldn’t. We have lost but we have gained if we’re closer to what moves our inner compass. Vulnerability and pain can diminish us or it can take us to a new level of understanding.
We are all connected. And if you march to your own drummer anew, and I, in my corner of the world, know what makes me happy, and we both follow those threads no matter how divergent, our own healing helps each other. It’s a ripple effect.
Covid-19 happened to the whole world. Is this the time to wait for the return of the status quo or to figure out what really makes you happy? The job rarely defined you, nor did a dozen other modern-world values. What makes you feel good—be it a meditation at midnight, walks in the nearest forest, playing with your rescue dog, using kids’ paints for the first time in thirty years, or whatever your form of watching the clouds go by is—is asking you to pay attention. Heed the call of your need not the noise of the outside world, which will so frequently let you down.
Listen, if this unasked-for time of going inward has only served to show you how what satisfied you before, no longer does, the wisdom might just be to stop following the crowd and turn to what you want to do and be. When we pay attention to ourselves—something closer to our real selves—we receive new energy to heed what is better for everyone because we are happier.
As we tiptoe towards opening up the world, this will all have more meaning if you commit to integrate real, repeatable time to craft a new narrative of your own beautifully messy story. (The perfectionist tendency will chain you into doing what those around you are doing; reject it and go for messy.) We are so much more beautiful and raw and real when we simply march to our own beat, wearing our own clothes, hesitantly and then proudly someday. Those clothes always fit us the best anyway, don’t they? Now where did I put that unicorn sweatshirt with rainbows on it?
Looking for a cure for #BlueMonday? Take the time to perform an act of kindness for someone else and receive what is called a ‘Helper’s High’.
According to scientist and author David Hamilton, Kindness makes us happier: ‘When we do something kind for someone else, we feel good. On a spiritual level, many people feel that this is because it is the right thing to do and so we’re tapping into something deep and profound inside of us that says, ‘This is who I am.’ On a biochemical level, it is believed that the good feeling we get is due to elevated levels of the brain’s natural versions of morphine and heroin, which we know as endogenous opioids. They cause elevated levels of dopamine in the brain and so we get a natural high, often referred to as ‘Helper’s High’.
Think of it as a form of self-kindness to you and something nice for the recipient. It’s a win-win for both of you.
An interview on the importance of kindness, ho’oponopono and surviving as an introvert in an extroverted world.
Further to BILS’ strategic announcement in July and as welcome news for abused women, isolated seniors, and recent immigrants/war refugees in and around Toronto, BILS board chairman Vinay Mathur is pleased to announce two further strategic appointments to support BILS’ future plans. Applications from Farheen Lakhani and Steffi Black were proposed by Mathur, and accepted by BILS’ members during the non-profit’s recent annual general meeting in Toronto.
“We are overjoyed to have Farheen and Steffi join the board,” explains Mathur. “Both new directors have expressed strong interest in the work we do with abused women, as well as in honouring and acknowledging the great work of our counselling team in general. Between them we hope to improve BILS’ profile externally and its business relationships and process internally over the coming months”.
BILS’ assistance to Canadian women recovering from physical, emotional, financial and other forms of abuse since 1997 will need to increase if recent research is proven accurate. Just earlier this year the Canadian Womens’ Foundation communicated that 79 per cent of Canadians believe that sexual assault will continue at current levels for those women born after 1999. Already, only 30 per cent of abuse against women is ever reported to Canadian authorities, and women are four times as likely to be killed by their male spouse than men are by their female spouse. Equally, continued geopolitical activity by the United States and its NATO allies throughout the Middle East and other natural resource-rich areas of the planet will guarantee a continued stream of war refugees entering Canada, the USA, and Western Europe for the foreseeable future.
BILS is not the first altruistic initiative for Lakhani to be involved in, having previously helped recent immigrants via the Diversity & Inclusion Committee at Aimia, as well as championing womens’ independence and recovery in Thailand. In her own words, “Assistance-style services often focus on providing food and shelter to victims, but rarely counselling too. BILS differs from the norm by also providing clients with the necessary counselling to develop coping skills and abilities to not only deal with trauma, but also fend for themselves in the future. It’s a truly holistic program offering, and I intend to assist BILS in both measuring and communicating its astonishingly positive impact on the community.”
BILS’ second board addition requires almost no introduction at all. Steffi Black’s notable TV career spans almost a decade and saw her host, write, and produce on various Global TV shows for most of the 1990s. Since then she has launched her own life & career coaching company, as well as consulted for a myriad of corporations and other for-profit organisations to enable them to boost the mood, productivity, and genuine hope of their employee populations. Black’s acceptance onto the BILS board comes hot on the heels of her brand’s support of a global “spread the kindness” initiative just this month, promoting the beneficial effect of kindness and positivity all around the world.
As such it’s not difficult to see how and why Black fits so well with the BILS board’s intentions. However, Black’s affinity with kindness belies her tenacity when it comes to serving positivity. As Black says of her appointment, “I hope to bring a positive and proactive work ethic to help make the necessary changes for BILS to grow, as well as fostering a warm and connected work environment that ensures our programs and projects stay on the front line of serving the most vulnerable demographics within the GTA population”. Black goes on to explain that her choice to join BILS stems from her desire to make a difference, give back, and champion the great work of the counselling team.
Initially Black’s expertise is intended to be deployed in improving internal communications and process, and ensuring HR practices are up-to-date and forward-looking. From some point in 2018 though, it is hoped that Black will be able to assist BILS with both fundraising and outreach efforts, bringing to bear an extraordinarily widespread, optimistic, and women-dominated network that mirrors the ethos of many of the organisation’s program and project offerings. Indeed, a mutually beneficial arrangement may also see Black augmenting her own counselling skills as she seeks the opportunity to support BILS counsellors in their work more directly.
Radical changes to the BILS board during the last year are only the first stage of an organisational revamp intended to bolster the stability of the 46 year-old non-profit. As further recruitment expands and deepens the board’s expertise, additional plans to improve operational process, external communications, and even review the BILS brand itself are expected to come online. Further focus on IT and the honing of digital systems will be one of the soonest improvements to gain traction during the end of 2017 and first quarter of 2018.