What I Have in Common with a Heroin Addict

I was watching Oprah’s Prime Special on Heroin Addiction a few weeks ago, (can you tell I love watching Oprah yet?) and I had a huge AHA moment. She was interviewing Russell Brand and what he said struck me at my core. Now before I let you in on my AHA moment, I want to be clear that I have no idea what it is like to be a heroin addict. I don’t pretend to understand what it is like but what he said gave me a glimpse into that world and instead of seeing drug addicts as being very different and separate from myself, I now feel a sense of connection.

Here is what Russell said: ” Addicts are sensitive people who are aware that there is a spiritual deficit in our society, that we aren’t connected enough to one another. If there isn’t a conduit for spiritual loss, then you will use drugs because you can’t live with that feeling.” He continues to say that we live in a culture that constantly stimulates the idea that there is something missing in you, like you might feel better if you get a new pair of shoes, or you find your soul mate. Heroin fills that void temporarily. It annihilates all need for anything else. One addict described the heroin high as “God kissing you”.

Russell said that the reasons he did drugs in the past weren’t for indulgent reasons, it was to numb the despondency, loss, hopeless and despair he felt. He looked to solve his internal problems with external things. Does that sound familiar to you? It struck a chord with me because I tried to fill the hole in me with serial achieving and at one point, clothes shopping, trying to make myself feel better and that I was good enough. I didn’t go down the path of drugs. I went down a different path but the underlying reason for the behaviour of looking outside of ourselves for the answer, for the cure, the external thing that will make us feel whole and connected, is the same. Russell also said that addicts relapse if they don’t deal with their emotional problems, their inner gremlins and fill that inner spiritual void. I can definitely see that. The answers we seek are always inside of us. It is just finding our way to them that we struggle with. I would likely still be serial achieving and striving if I hadn’t connected with my true self and started listening to my intuition. I would also still be judging and condemning myself instead of loving and accepting myself. Now I am so fortunate to be helping people connect with their true selves and helping them feel whole instead of empty or broken in some way.

We all just want to feel accepted, loved and connected. I agree with Russell when he said that we should be treating addicts with love and compassion instead of judging them and treating them like criminals by throwing them in jail. The punishment route doesn’t appear to be working so why are we continuing to address the problem in the same way? The root of the problem, feeling alone, not worthy, or important is an issue that is running rampant in our society. The symptoms just look different – drug addiction, alcoholism, over-eating, shopaholism, serial achieving, people pleasing, etc. Please understand that I am not trying in any way to diminish the seriousness of addiction by comparing it to other behaviours. I am only seeking to point out what the similar feelings and beliefs are that are driving those behaviours.

Ask yourself if you are looking outside of yourself for answers in areas of your life? If you are, how does it make you feel? Do you want to change that? How do you want to feel instead? If so, what can you do? If you are having trouble finding those answers within you, I would be happy to assist you in connecting with them. Visit my contact page here and reach out to me.

Be well and know that there is nothing missing or broken in you even if you feel that way. That I know for sure!

Being Responsible for Your Energy

I was watching Oprah’s life class last night and something she said has stuck with me a lot today. She said “You are responsible for the energy that you bring into the room.” This is not new to me as I am very familiar with energy and the effects that it has through working with my clients. What it did do is had me reflect on my recent life and how this has played out. Even though I know the effects of energy, I am not perfect in how I handle the energy I am putting out all the time.

I especially notice the effects my energy has on my children. Kids are like little energy sponges and they are very in tune with energy that surrounds them. One of my mentors said “Energy is a baby’s first language.” There is a reason why parenting experts advise that electronics should be avoided in the hour before bedtime. The energy from them gets kids’ nervous systems revved up and it is more difficult for them to fall asleep. If I have let my girls watch too much t.v. during the day, they are much more irritable and far more prone to poor behaviour. Getting outside in nature changes their energy immensely. It grounds them and their improved mood and behaviour is proof of that every time. Same goes for me.

Recently, I started  meditating daily and doing yoga again. The change in the energy I am giving is reflected in my girls’ behaviour. They are calmer and have fewer tantrums. The fights between them don’t escalate as much and they  are able to settle themselves faster. I am not as irritable and am able to stay grounded when emotions are high. I am also able to be more present with them, which they love and it is so worth it when they say to me “you are the bestest mommy ever”.

It is a different story when I am caught up in my mind chatter and disconnected from my heart and intuition. I am easily irritated, uninspired, unmotivated and basically blah! I have a shorter fuse and tend to yell more at my kids (not very proud of that!). I am giving off negative energy into the room and my kids are affected by it. They start acting out, I get angry and frustrated which causes them to act out more and the cycle continues.

What I haven’t given a lot of attention to is asking others to be responsible for their energy that they are bringing into the room. I don’t think there are too many people that enjoy being in the same room with someone who is very negative. When my four year old is having a foul mood moment and is taking it out on her sister, I tell her that she can go into a different room until she changes her mood and then she can come back and be with us. I have taught her to take some deep breaths and release her emotions in a way that doesn’t hurt herself or others (we hit a lot of pillows in our house!). She is learning to calm herself and make the decision to change her own energy. It empowers her to know that she is responsible for her own energy and that she can change it if she chooses. I must say that I haven’t asked too many adults to be responsible for their own energy but I don’t see why not. Will have to see how it goes as I am sure an opportunity will present itself now that I have put it out there. It boils down to this – how much do I value the energy that I surround myself with? I certainly think I can do a better job of being aware of the energy I am giving off as well as the energy I am letting into my space. It is worth it!

Back From My Time Out

Wow! It has been a very long time since I last posted anything! This is the first time in quite a while that I have felt inspired to write anything. This past year has been very busy not only with family, moving house and work but also dealing with a lot of my “stuff”. This past spring, I experienced what I refer to as “burn out”. I felt exhausted, overwhelmed, uninspired, apathetic and anxious when I didn’t have any reason to be. It took me quite some time to accept the reality of where I was at, probably because I held the belief that I should know better.

I finally gave myself permission to take a step back, look at what was working and what was not working and decide what changes I wanted to make. I gave myself the summer off taking only 2 coaching clients at a time. That was a big step for me because I had to get to a place where I felt it was OK to do that and that the number of clients I had was not a reflection of my ability as a coach or a reflection of who I am. When I finally made that decision, 2 new clients appeared out of the blue. I knew it was the right decision because of how I felt (relaxed and at peace) and because of the ease of it all. I spent the summer having fun with my family, taking time for myself and finally looking into why I was feeling so depleted.

It wasn’t just being up in the night with kids having dreams. Turns out my hormones were not at an optimal level. Guess they were burned out too! I suspected they may be out of whack having had 5 pregnancies in the span of 3.5 yrs but didn’t realize the extent of it. I have also resumed treatment for some neck and back pain that were occurring more often. I stopped cycling for a bit which was very sad for me but I knew it was aggravating my neck and shoulders and required me taking a break. I finally saw a naturopath to get some answers about why I bloat so much almost every time I eat. I also got back to meditating and connecting with my higher self and intuition more regularly. It helps give me clarity about what is most important in the moment and helps me be more at ease. I had allowed this practice to be put on the back burner. It’s crazy really because the times I need it the most are the times when I let it slide. Oh well! Lesson learned yet again.

It has taken quite some time to feel back to “normal” and I still feel like there is a little ways to go. Hopefully what I have learned from this experience will help me be more aware when I start doing too much again so that I don’t have to go all the way to “burn out” before doing something about it. I let my ego get in the way which delayed me making changes for the better. Bottom line – looking after myself well is essential, not just an option. I am sure that I will be presented with situations in the future where I am reminded to take better care of myself until I really, really get it!

To be or not to be? I choose to just be.

Nicholas_T / Free Photos

On the last weekend of September, I went on a solo retreat. I packed a small bag and drove to Pigeon Lake which is approximately 45 minutes south of Edmonton. I had been looking forward to this time for weeks. I was so excited, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. What was really interesting was observing the responses I would get when I told people what I was doing. The first question was, “Who are you going with?” When I responded, “I am going by myself” there was a look of puzzlement on their faces. The next question was “What are you going to do?”. My answer was “I really don’t know”. Again, confusion masked their faces. I then explained further, “I am so looking forward to having time to myself where no one needs anything from me and I can do whatever I want, whenever I want to. I don’t have a plan. I’m just going to go with whatever I feel like in the moment.” The response was then “Oh, I get it now.” and I knew that they did get it as I saw them mulling it over in their minds what that would be like for them.

The realization that I had was that too few of us give ourselves alone time to relax and recharge. Everyone needs it, especially parents of young children who have very little time on their own. I will give myself kudos for taking time for myself but it is interesting that it only happened as a result of me becoming depleted. My husband was away for 3 weeks in Peru in August so I was single parenting as well as working with my clients. When he returned, September was so busy with the start of pre-school and having 5 birthdays on my husband’s side of the family. I could tell I was getting burned out because I become a little apathetic about things in that state. I don’t have a lot left to give and I stop caring as much. Deciding to take time to recharge made such a difference. I came home rested, a better mom, wife, coach and friend. Everyone benefitted from me recharging. I have more patience, more energy to do things and I am able to be more present. But why do I wait until I become depleted? Why not take a weekend away by myself more often? Some might say that I am being selfish and how can I leave my kids like that? I can understand people having that point of view but I feel that becoming more burned out, more impatient and snappy with my family, less grounded and less present is actually more selfish as everyone  suffers.

Another realization I had was something I talk to my clients about all the time but actually experienced it myself on this weekend away. When we slow down and become quiet, we can actually hear our inner wisdom/intution much more. We are able to be in a state of creation instead of habitually doing. I had absolutely no intention of doing any work that weekend. It was for rest and rejuvenation. I took a trail walk on Sunday morning by myself. While I was enjoying the quiet and the fresh air, I had thoughts flood my mind with the content for an upcoming presentation I am giving in November. I got really revved up and when I returned to my room, I wrote everything down so I wouldn’t forget. It didn’t even seem like work because I was so excited and inspired. It’s an example of how when we relax, ideas will come to us rather than sitting down and trying to force inspiration to happen.

My conclusion from the weekend – absolutely worth it and will do it again! Just being feels so good and is a necessary part of my life. It balances the doing aspect and allows the doing to be more fulfilling and successful. Just be! Try it sometime and see how it impacts your life.

It is Better to Give than to Receive. Really?

youngdoo / Stock Photos

I grew up believing that giving is more important than receiving. I still believe that giving is extremely important. In fact, I feel it is my purpose to give my unique gifts. That is what we are all here to do. What has changed is that I don’t believe giving is more important than receiving. They are equally important.

A few years ago, I had the realization that I was not fully receiving love from other people. I was blocking it instead of really receiving it. I was uncomfortable when someone was giving me love unconditionally. I would look away or avoid it because I knew if I kept looking at the person who was giving love to me, I would end up a teary-eyed, snotty-nosed, blubbering mess. Why did it have that effect on me? At the core of the issue was my false belief that I wasn’t good enough and I didn’t deserve to be loved that way. So instead of allowing myself to feel that incoming love, I blocked it out. What I didn’t realize was that I was also interfering with my ability to give fully. Unless I fully loved myself and fully received love from others, I wasn’t able to fully give it.  Life is full of opposites and polarities. The degree to which I feel sadness affects the degree to which I can experience joy. What I find really interesting is that we tend to label one of the poles as being more negative. Giving is far more noble than receiving. Joy is much better than sadness. The darkness within each of us is bad and the light is good. The kicker is that without the so called negative pole, we couldn’t experience the fullness of the positive. Without darkness, we wouldn’t know what the light is. The darkness isn’t bad. It is just the absence of light. Sadness is the absence of joy. To fully give, I must fully receive and vice versa.

I also blocked receiving compliments. Whenever someone would give me a compliment, I would downplay it and tell them they were crazy or pass on the credit to someone else. Not only was I losing out but I was also robbing the other person. It was like a gift was being placed in my hands and I was just throwing it back at them. That must have sucked for that person! Here they were trying to be nice and give me a gift and my refusal to receive it was like a slap in the face. I robbed them of the giving experience. So we both ended up feeling crappy. Once I had this realization, I began receiving compliments. It felt very strange at first because it was unfamiliar but I just took a deep breath and simply said, “thank you”. Now I am able to genuinely receive and it feels really good.

Moms are notorious for giving, giving, giving and not receiving. Even when help is offered, the tendency is to refuse it because they feel they should be able to do everything. Accepting help would be admitting failure in some way. What a load of hogwash! I used to feel this way but I am so glad I dropped that belief. Just recently, I received a wonderful gift from my lovely girlfriends. They paid for 4 hours worth of housecleaning! I’ll admit, my initial reaction was “Crap! Does my house really look that bad?” After the two minutes it took for me to get over myself, I happily received the gift. I hate housecleaning and because of that, it is usually at the bottom of my priority list. They knew this and they also knew that raising a toddler and a baby and running my business from home was consuming most of my time. It felt so amazing to have my house clean and tidy without me having to spend the time doing it! They also took my 2 year old daughter on a playdate giving me time to catch up on some unfinished projects. Look what I would have missed out on if I hadn’t allowed myself to receive those amazing gifts! I have even become better at asking for help. I used to let my pride get in the way but if you don’t ask, you definitely won’t receive. You may not receive even when you do ask but the odds are much better! Being a successful mom and an entrepreneur without me burning out requires more than just me. It requires a team effort. I am so grateful for the team of amazing people in my life. Together, we are going to rock it!

Perfectly Imperfect

Yep, that’s me and I’m proud of it. I wasn’t always this way though. I have spent a lot of my life striving to achieve in school, in my career and in sports. While achieving goals isn’t a bad thing, it was the reason underneath it that wasn’t doing me any favours. I was trying to be perfect and ace my exams because I thought it would make me feel worthy, that I was good enough. But it was a false sense of self worth I was getting and didn’t fulfill me the way I wanted. Once I realized what I was doing, it gave me choice about whether achieving was what I really wanted or what I felt I “should” do.

Perfection is a major roadblock to moving forward. “I’ll do that once I lose 10 lbs.”. “I’ll apply for that job once I take another course”. If I waited to be perfect before I did anything, I’d be sitting on my butt forever. Motherhood doesn’t allow you the luxury of waiting until you are perfect. Thank goodness! You are thrown into motherhood once you give birth to that bundle of joy and that bundle can’t wait until you are a perfect mother before you step up to the plate. It’s on the job training. Learn as you go. It makes me sad to see moms that feel they have to do everything perfectly and beat themselves up when they don’t. If only they knew how amazing they are instead of focusing on what they aren’t perfect at.

What the heck is perfect anyway? Whose standards was I trying to live up to? Who decides what perfect is and who made that person the one who knows? It’s crazy when I really think about it, that I was striving for something I’m not even clear on. And yet I know I’m not alone in this scenario. A lot of moms I have talked to feel like they have to be superwoman and excel at everything or what are people going to think of them? We tend to have these unrealistic unattainable expectations for ourselves. We are our harshest critics. Seriously, other people don’t care if I am perfect at everything I do. Beating ourselves up triggers our brainstems to release a cascade of chemicals that cause us to feel fear and anxiety. Talk about self-infliction! Being more gentle and forgiving with ourselves brings more peace and calmness into our lives. And if the self-infliction isn’t bad enough, every time I beat myself up, my children learn to do the same. If I am overwhelmed and stressed most of the time, my girls will feel that energy and learn that that is what is normal. Nobody benefits from perfection. I don’t want them to grow up thinking that they have to be perfect. That is an insane amount of pressure and it just sets them up for failure because it isn’t attainable. That alone has been great incentive to drop the perfection and just be me, warts and all (I’m talking metaphorically!) They just want the real me anyway, not some perfected version of me. So yes, they have a wackadoo mom but nothing compares to the beaming smiles on their faces when I’m being goofy and silly dancing with them. They love it! They will also know that mom is not very good at housework and arts and crafts but that is OK! Our imperfections are part of what makes us unique along with our strengths. Now that I have started to embrace my imperfections, I realize how much energy I was investing in trying to be perfect. It is exhausting! Have I embraced and accepted all of my imperfections? No, but remember I’m not perfect:) My life now has much less stress and is a lot more fun. I also still have goals I would like to accomplish but not to make myself feel deserving or worthy. I want to accomplish them because they are in alignment with my values and desires and because I want to make a difference. It has a completely different energy to it and it feels good!

Bottom line – life is messy! Dive into the muck and get dirty! It’s way more fun than trying to clean it up all the time. Letting go of perfection is one of the greatest gifts I have given myself. Could you imagine if everything in life was perfect? Borrrring!


Multi-tasking Momma!?

Multi-tasking is something I pride myself in being good at. There are days when I get so much accomplished and I feel really good about myself. Then there is my husband. It is a common male trait that they just aren’t great at multi-tasking. You know what I mean. They get so focused on what they are doing that you don’t exist. Trying to talk to him when he is engrossed in a project is pointless. He doesn’t hear a thing! There are times when I want to scream at him, “Can you not do two things at once?”

Despite me being frustrated, I have learned a lot from him. When he is focussed on a task, he is fully present with it. He is giving it 100% of his attention and is far more productive. With multi-tasking, I am getting a lot done but I am not fully present with any of the tasks. My attention is spread all over the place and I make mistakes or forget things. A classic example happened a couple of days ago. I was about to head out for my second ski of the winter and I was really pumped. It was a beautiful day and I was going to have some time to myself exercising in nature. I was rushing out the door to get as much ski time in as I could. At the same time, I was thinking about what I was going to do with the chicken I defrosted for dinner, the nursery school open house we were going to later that evening and a friend of mine that I had been meaning to call. I was half way to the ski trails, rocking out to the music in the car radio when the realization hit me, “Oh Crap! I forgot to put my skis and poles in the car!”. I laughed all the way home and was still laughing when I pulled up to the house. My hubby stuck his head out the door to see what was going on. He just shook his head and sighed as I told him what I had done. So in the end, I had even less time to ski but it was all my own fault. Now I could blame this on sleep deprivation as my youngest daughter is waking in the night a lot right now due to teething but deep down I know that my “monkey mind” is to blame.

My daughters are also a great barometer for me of not being fully present. If I am on the phone too long or trying to do a million things, they will both start acting out or my eldest daughter will nag me to death. One of my mentors said that kids nag because they feel like they aren’t being fully heard or understood. So instead of trying to communicate with her across the room while I am doing the dishes, I stop what I am doing, get down to her level, look her in the eyes and give her my full attention as she is talking to me. Once I have done that, amazingly the nagging stops. Imagine that! I realize that the time spent with my kids isn’t the important thing. It is the quality time spent with them when I am fully present, that is most important. Now I explain to my daughter when I have to get certain things done and then give her my full attention afterwards instead of trying to cram it all together.

Letting go of the need to get everything done on my to-do list has been huge for me. At the end of the day, my children’s health and happiness is more important to me than having a spic and span house with everything in its place. I still have my to-do list but I prioritize what really needs to get done and the other stuff can wait for another day. Do I still beat myself up over it? Yes, I do have my moments but they don’t happen as often.  I try to be fully present when I am working and fully present when I am with my girls. It is a challenge for sure as I work from home and I still have my scattered times but it is worth it in the long run. My kids don’t care if everything is in its place. They just want me and my full attention. There are absolutely times for multi-tasking that are necessary like when we are trying to get out the door but being stuck in habitual multi-tasking has its down-sides. I realize that who I am being defines me as a person, not what I am doing. Simplifying and not over-committing myself is the key to me feeling relaxed and happy. Being “superwoman” is a hat I have gladly removed because at the end of the day, superwoman wasn’t really being that super at anything.


The Common Thread of Loss

January always brings the excitement of possibility for the upcoming year. It’s a time for me to look at things with a fresh perspective. It is also a time of some sadness for me personally. This January 21, 2012 will be 9 years since my mom passed away. It is also the date I suffered my first miscarriage 4 years ago. As I have been reflecting on the losses in my life, I have been asking the question, “what do losses have in common?”.  I have discovered that the common thread of all losses is change. Loss of a loved one, miscarriage, loss of self-identity, loss of my independence becoming a new mom and loss of a job all have change in common. Loss can be sudden or gradual, like losing a loved one to dementia or a terminal disease. I remember when Mom was first diagnosed with cancer that I was afraid of the future, that I wouldn’t be able to cope when she was gone and how the heck was I going to get through watching her slip away. We don’t know what it is going to be like in the future. We can only know how we feel in the present moment and I really tried to just focus on doing whatever it took to give Mom the best quality of life that we could in that moment. It helped me cope.

Bottom line – loss changes you. Things just aren’t the same anymore. Your current life doesn’t match the person you have become as a result of the change. Loss changed my perspective. I realized after losing my mom, that something else was missing from my life. I have since discovered that what was missing was the real me. I wasn’t showing up as the real Glenda. I was showing up as the Glenda I thought I should be. It gave me the opportunity to really look at what was important to me and how I wanted to live my life.

Initially though, I felt very stuck and lost. I was stuck in transition, not wanting to let go of the past and afraid to take steps into the unknown of the future. I was resisting change big time. Why would I want to step out of my comfort zone? I eventually realized that my choices were to stay stuck and keep resisting change, which didn’t feel very good, or move forward and embrace the change that was being presented to me. I thought about what my mom would want for me; me being constantly sad missing her or creating my own happiness by living the life I want to live. I chose the latter and I am so glad I did. It has been quite a journey since my mom died. I filled that void I was feeling by nurturing myself, self-reflection and doing what I loved to do, things that brought me joy and peace. I made sure that I didn’t do too much because I realized that running around like a dog chasing its tail is trying to avoid feeling emotions and remaining in numbness. It is a way of not accepting the loss and change that has occurred. I discovered what I really wanted and what was missing in my life. I think she would be very proud of who I am today. She always was – she could see the real me when I couldn’t. As the Buddha said, change is the only constant. Grasp that and you have a chance at peace. It is funny though that people tend to look at change as a negative and fear change instead of embracing it.

Are there gifts that come with loss? Absolutely but I remember a time when I wouldn’t even consider them. I felt like I would be betraying my mom and her memory if I said that her passing was a gift. It really is just looking for the positive out of a sad situation. If given the choice, I would have her back in a heartbeat but that choice isn’t available. The gifts I have received are starting my journey of looking closely at myself and my life, discovering the real me and having an even closer relationship with my dad. It gives me great comfort knowing that even though Mom isn’t here physically, she lives on in me, in my brothers, in my nieces and nephew and in my girls. All is not lost.

Holiday Habits aka Traditions

With the holiday season upon us, I find I am having mixed feelings. This is only the second Christmas during the 18 years I have lived in Edmonton that I am not going to be with my family in Ontario. We have decided to stay home, as travel with a toddler and a baby at Christmas time is too unpredictable. I am sad that I won’t be with my family but at the same time, I am looking forward to creating our own little family traditions that are meaningful to us.

Holidays can be a very stressful time for people. I have been thinking about why that is and one of the big reasons is that people get caught up in people pleasing instead of staying true to what is important to them. People pleasing means putting your power and energy into worrying about other people’s opinions of you. Are the traditions I have mine or are they habits that I repeat year after year, increasing my stress level? Do they mean something to me or do I feel I “should” do them to make others happy or to keep up appearances? Who made up societal rules anyway that say what we should or shouldn’t do? I think we should just eliminate the word “should” from our vocabulary.

I have stopped worrying about what others might think of me and have chosen traditions that have meaning for me, that fill me up and give me joy. In this season of giving, I choose to give from overflow instead of giving from depletion. Giving from depletion ultimately leads to burn out. When deciding what is important to me, I ask myself the question, ” Does this make me feel lighter or heavier, happier or more stressed?” If I feel lighter, it is truth for me. If I feel heavier, I know it is an energy zapper that I don’t want.

I have simplified my holidays and got rid of the “shoulds”. I am making our own traditions that have meaning for us and have let go of the rest. I am going to have a peaceful and happy holiday season and I wish you the same.