Happy Wednesday Novel Lifers!! Ok, so in today’s post I am SUPER excited to share a concept with you that has made a difference in my life in the last few months. It’s the concept of One Degree. It’s a concept I was introduced to in my coach training but I just recently came across this article that inspired me to think about my ONE DEGREE changes and share them with you.

Anyway, here is the gist of the concept of ONE DEGREE. Take this example of a pilot flying off course:

Did you know that for every single degree you fly off course, you’ll miss your target landing spot by 92 feet for every mile you fly? That amounts to about one mile off target for every sixty miles flown. If you decided to start at the equator and fly around the earth, one degree off would land you almost 500 miles off target.* *http://www.irrefutablesuccess.com/2010/04/one-degree-off-course/

CRAZY, huh?! And it turns out that this is a powerful coaching metaphor because it points to the importance of how even the smallest change in our daily habits, decisions, and choices can have major impact and bring us to a completely different place or even state of mind. And this works, obviously, in both positive and negative ways. But, since it’s late February and I’m feeling a teensy bit beat-up by winter, I would really rather focus on the positive right now and I have a hunch you would too. 🙂

So, in an attempt to inspire you all to make one tiny, little ONE DEGREE change in a habit or way of thinking or acting, I want to share you with my newest habit: The Five Minute Journal. I spotted this wonderful little book  just before the holidays and immediately LOVED the simplicity of it. Yes, finally, a 5 minute journal!!! I can DO THAT! Right?! 

I mean, I have found LOADS of excuses to not journal over the years since having kids (almost 10 years ago!): too tired, not inspired enough, can’t find a pen that works, not enough time, sleep-deprived, too busy, not enough time, don’t feel like it, I can’t, I’m too busy, who has time for THAT?, oh I should, but I don’t feel like it right now, I hardly have any time to myself so I know I don’t have enough time to journal….can you see a pattern here? 😉

And I also heard Tony Robbins once say, “If you don’t have 10 minutes, you don’t have a LIFE!”. Yup, that right there gave me the freakin’ nudge I needed to think about “time” and “busy” a little differently and I decided to create, take, make (whatever word you want to use!) 10 minutes of my time/my LIFE (5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes at night) to start this journal and I am happy to report that after almost 2 months without missing one single day, it is my new habit! 

But here is why it is so awesome (the following is taken from their website):

  • Begin the day right: When you start the day on the right note, things automatically start to fall in place. Every day.
  • Cultivate Gratitude: Gratitude is the opposite of depression and anxiety. It’s the conscious experience of appreciation of the gifts in our lives and the results are tangible.
  • Introspection: Ending the day on the right note can be essential to a good night’s sleep, eliminating negative thought loops and learning more about yourself.
  • P I N this to pinterestAnd here is my take:
    • Gratitude: When I start my day thinking of three things that I am grateful for, I am immediately coming from a heart-felt place. My day begins in my heart, not in my head. and I am noticing how much more relaxed, appreciative and calm I am as I start my day. 
    • Making today Great: Then I consider what would make today great (LOVE this part!) and I become super intentional about what I want to DO today and how I want to FEEL. This is all about what we can control, in terms of our own behaviour, and how we THINK about things and not about “wouldn’t it be great if Bill Cosby actually went to jail or if ISIS disappeared?” (while those are certainly noble things to “wish” for). 
    • Daily Affirmation: If you like affirmations, you’ll love this part. Gets me focused on how I am feeling and, more importantly, how I want to feel!
    • What happened today that was AMAZING? At the end of the day, you get to review your day…Some days I have more to write about then others. And on days when I’m having a bit of a shit day, I am still thinking in the back of my mind about what “amazing” thing could be right in front of me. It shifts my perspective into looking for something positive as opposed to dwelling on the negative. 
    • What could I have done better? And this last question is turning out to be really juicy for me: This one is SO good because it asks me to consider my day, my actions, my thoughts, my feelings and reflect on where I fell short or how did I not show up for myself or someone else. This one holds up a mirror to myself and asks me to be real and it’s NOT F-ING EASY! But I always feel better for having written something down. 

    My journey started in an already good place when I began my journal writing on January 1st. This ONE DEGREE shift (10 minutes of my time dedicated to gratitude and living with more intention) has slowly taken me onto a different course with a destination that I am not yet able to see but the traveling in my day-to-day sure seems calmer, more purposeful, more grateful, a little challenging at times (NOT gonna lie, this journal stuff brings up your shit!), more disciplined, and more joyful! 

    Ok, so here is what I am dying to know!! What could a ONE DEGREE shift look like in your life? Earlier to bed by 5 minutes (this is another one I am working on!)? Or, perhaps, cutting out that third cup of coffee and replacing it with a green smoothie? Or perhaps spending 30 minutes less on Facebook? Whatever it is, I hope you find a small, teeny, tiny shift of ONE DEGREE that feels delicious to your soul and it ignites the flames in you to live your very own Novel Life.

    Keep on keeping on with this Winter!

    with LOVE! xo

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Have you ever had something happen to you or been in a conversation or experienced something SO PROFOUND that you knew, IN THAT VERY MOMENT, that your life would never be the same? If you are anything like me, I bet you can recall at least a handful of those “pivotal” moments. There aren’t that many. For me, one of those life-altering moments happened as I was sipping delicious Pacific Northwest beers in my favorite pub in Tacoma, WA (the town where I went to University to do my BA and subsequently returned to after a brief hiatus away).

I was hanging out with my boyfriend of 5 1/2 years discussing our future. We’d been through some rough patches over the last few years, but I was CONVINCED that he was THE ONE. We had even just been “ring shopping” (yup, for that perfect engagement ring) and were now settled into a comfortable conversation about THE FUTURE. Until….things got uncomfortable. 

Feeling antsy and excited about my life ahead of me I shared that I had dreams to travel, work abroad, learn new languages, explore! I was all pumped up on that kind of adrenaline you get when you DREAM of your future and how AWESOME it will be. The butterflies in my stomach were dancing and dancing!

So in my excited state, I asked my boyfriend (who would CLEARLY be my husband one day, right?!), “So, what are your biggest dreams? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” And I foolishly assumed he would want to the same things as me.

We were free of enough responsibilities that we could pick-up and move ANYWHERE. We were skilled enough that we could have gotten jobs doing any number of things. So, I waited with bated breath for his answer. On the edge of my seat, brimming with anticipation. And I got…

Nothin’. NOTHING. Not one dream. He was unable (unwilling?) to DREAM something for himself, for us.

I was crushed. I was stunned. I was angry. I was irritated.

“What do you mean you can’t see that far ahead? What do you mean you have no dreams? Can’t you see ANYTHING for yourself, for us!!? What do you want to do and see and explore in this world?”

NOPE. He couldn’t come up with anything other then the usual status quo, “I want to work. I like living here.”

And in that instant, my life changed. I couldn’t marry this man who had no dreams. It was as clear to me as anything (although I certainly DID NOT want to admit that to myself, much less to him. That wouldn’t happen until 6 months later).

I look back on my life as it was then with my boyfriend…filled with so much struggle to make something work that clearly wasn’t meant to be. My blinders were on, fastened as tight as could be, because I had this weird conviction that we were meant to be together. Until that one fateful moment. That one fateful question that changed EVERYTHING and gave me clarity. 

So my question to you is this…what are YOUR dreams? Are you living in such a way that you are headed towards making them come true? If not, why not? What or who or whatever do you think Is standing in your way?

For me, I ended up leaving the dreamless boyfriend to EXPLORE…I took a job across the country, had an incredible opportunity to travel around the world with my sister, met my future husband in Greece while on that trip, learned French, travelled some more with my new boyfriend (who has PLENTY of dreams, btw) moved to Montréal and… the rest is history, as they say. 

Some say I’m lucky that my dreams came true. I am. No doubt. But they NEVER would have been realized had I not taken the first step to make them a reality. And that first step took enormous courage to say goodbye to a life I thought I had all mapped out…until I didn’t.

Keep on dreamin’ people. Your right life lies in those beautiful visions you have for yourself. 

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It had been planned for months, our trip to celebrate my husband’s 40th birthday; just the two of us, a week away, in Europe. Woo hoo! What’s not to be excited about?! My in-laws were babysitting at our house. Perfect plan. But as our departure drew closer, a terrible and mean voice in my head slowly took over.About a week before we left, it started as a whisper…”you could die, you know?” I started to develop tension in my jaw, deep and painful. I stopped sleeping well and found myself consumed by the idea (or, was it a premonition, I asked myself) that we would go away on our trip only to never, ever come back again. And our children would be orphaned. A horrific plane crash, which has always been a constant fear of mine since I was 17 (thanks to a scary flight…but that’s another story!), that’s how it would happen.  And then the fear and anxiety continued to grow and grow and grow until the voice was no longer a whisper…it was present and with me all day and I WAS SCARED. It would cackle at me while doing the dishes, brushing my teeth, putting the kids to bed: “You’re gonna die!” In fact, I had been completely hijacked (no pun intended) by my fear…my usual happy and mostly joyful self had been pushed to the curb, stepped on and forced out to suffer in silence and with such FEAR. BLINDING FEAR, the kind of fear that sits in your gut and gnaws away at your confidence, trust, compassion, empathy, and love. It was all consuming.

In spite of my suffering, I appeared fine to my family…I hid it well. I did mention to my husband that I was feeling anxious about our flight, but he’s used to that with me. But I knew I needed help. My anxiety about flying had NEVER been this pronounced.  I was SUFFERING and felt completely in despair instead of being filled with the excited anticipatory fluttering in my belly that I wanted so desperately to feel for our planned vacation. I wasn’t ready to cancel our trip but I couldn’t bear the pain any longer. So I did what all good coaches do and I got coached. I ASKED for help(which I fully admit is not easy for me). And what happened next astounded me.
The tears came as I admitted, in what felt like defeat (because, you know, I am strong and have all my shit together!), to my fear. Huge droplets poured out of me, tinged with sadness, grief, guilt, fear, anxiety, regret…my chest heaving with gutted sobs. My coach held the space for me to release it all out and then we got to work. “What was the thought driving my fear”, she asked? After some digging and attempts at constructing a legible sentence between my snot-filled sobs…I got it: “As their mother, I am the ONLY person who can comfort my children in what would be their time of deepest grief and how selfish of me to go off on “vacation” and then DIE and leave them alone and not even be able to be there for them to support them as they grieve me and my husband.”  HOLY SHIT. HEAVY SHIT. I mean, I had even gone so far in my thoughts as to plan for the rest of their school year without us; I was that DEEP into my thought that we were not coming back and I would not be able to support them the way “a mother should”. Not to mention simply feeling really freaking sad about it all. And as soon as I said it (mind you, I DID NOT KNOW that this was the thought behind my anxiety), I IMMEDIATELY felt the tension release from my jaw. I IMMEDIATELY felt a sense of relief and that I could come back to myself…no longer hidden by my fear…no longer hijacked by the voice in my head.  My coach and I talked it through and she helped me to see how much PRESSURE I was putting on myself…to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders, in my heart. All the ‘shoulding” I was doing to myself about what a “good” mother does and doesn’t do. ACK! I left our session with relief, the kind that utterly exhausts you as it leaves your core. And I actually felt OK.

So when our plane took off a few days later and we hit major turbulence and I started sweating in places that don’t normally sweat, and the voice tried to creep back in to torment me, I held on to my replacement thought: “ I AM a loving mother and my children are loved.” This was the thought that felt good to me as I worked through my fear of not being able to comfort them if ever we did die (because what an unloving act that would be!). We left them with loving family members and they would ALWAYS have love around them. Would it be my love, our love…hmm, not exactly? But would it be LOVE? Yes. And as our plane flew off into the night and I sat there, breathing deeply while repeating my mantra to myself about LOVE, I also reminded myself that I want to live a life of courage and face my fears. I don’t want to NOT take a plane to go on vacation with my husband, so I can live in the safety of…WHAT? Life is here. Life is now. And I want to experience it with as much joy and appreciation as possible, while being thankful for the lessons fear and anxiety teach me along the way. And, taking a cue from my youngest daughter who loves to sing “LET IT GO!”, I am still learning one of my lessons which is to “LET IT GO” when it comes to my fear of flying and perhaps even my fear of LIVING life to the fullest (which include vacations without my kids sometimes!)…but the moments when I do and I am able to look out that plane window in absolute marvel as we soar above the clouds…I am so peaceful, thankful and I am OK. In fact, I even feel like it’s fun…a little bit.

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What do SNOW PANTS and SELF LOVE have in common? 

Depending on where you live, by the time we hit mid-Febraury we can start to feel really depleted by the cold and dark days of Winter. This Winter in Montréal has been one of the coldest and snowiest in years and everyone around me is complaining about it (the father at daycare, the teller at the grocery store, my financial adviser).  Even my four-year old is sick of Winter and asks nearly every morning now, “When is Winter going to be OVER?!”  And, last year you would have seen me doing to the exact same thing. Bitching, complaining, even feeling sorry for myself that I have to “deal” with Winter. But not anymore! Why?, you ask. Self-love. I really needed to LET GO of my “winter sucks” blockage if I wanted to live a happier life. Winter here lasts MONTHS, with our last snowstorm blasting through in April (and sometimes even in MAY, wtf!?). Anyway, I was TIRED of feeling TIRED by Winter. So, I took a real hard look at my habits, thoughts, and the actual things that bugged me about our longest season. And when I was able to specifically pinpoint my angst, I was able to take simple yet life-changing actions to change my routine. Here are two examples of my BEST CHANGES:
1. I light some candles upon waking to add warmth and cozy light to our dark mornings. And I continue this into the evening. Sounds SUPER simple, right? It is. Nothing “genius” about this act except for that the fact that it has completely transformed my outlook and how I feel. On days when I feel tired of the dark and/or COLD, the gentle and warm glow of a candle’s flame instantly brings me joy and literally makes me feel warmer. It’s my idea of having a mini-fireplace in my home.
2. Snow pants. It took me a while to learn how to dress properly for our winters (like 6 years but I am going on 15 years living here!) and I am pretty good with my down coat, Sorel boots etc. But wearing my snow pants on the really cold days is my new non-negotiable and I am SO MUCH HAPPIER. I am no longer cursing the cold but instead able to move through our snowy sidewalks with patience, as I am not constantly RUSHING to get inside because I am SO FREAKING COLD.
Regardless of Winter, what changes could you make to your routine that could alleviate your stress and add more joy, warmth, and coziness to your life? What are you holding onto in your life (for me, it was being angry at Winter for being…well, Winter) that simply isn’t serving you so you can be the GREATEST version of yourself? How can you bring in LOVE…that beautiful, delicious, satisfying and deeply contented feeling…to YOURSELF? Winter was NOT going to change her ways for me… needed to change my ways and take responsibility for my own WELL-BEING.  And, THAT, my friends is the essence of SELF LOVE; being empowered to give yourself what you NEED, WANT, and CRAVE.YOU deserve it. You DESERVE it. You deserve SELF LOVE. Got it? 😉
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So I have had short hair for many, many years…until recently. At the request of my darling daughters, I have been growing my own hair out for a while now. “We want to see what you look like with LONG hair Mama!” I gave in and have been, aside from a couple of crazed moments when I wanted to chop it all off, quite happy with the process and the way it’s looking…well, sort of.

You see, when I had short hair I was obsessed with my straight iron to keep my hair sleek and able to hold the”look” of my cut. My hair, and I am betting many of yours is the same, tends to get frizzed in humid weather and ends up looking like it has no style whatsoever, especially when it’s short. It just becomes a floppy nest-like wad of fine hair blowing in the breeze. UGH. Are you feeling my pain? 😉

ANYWAY, as my hair has grown out I have been easing off of my straight iron and been experimenting with waves. I love the look of these women with long, flowy, gorgeous hair that is all wavy and looks so effortless to wear. (I am sure I have a few pics of them on my Pinterest page in case you’re interested.) However, I told myself, “I don’t have hair like them and I never will. I need help.”  And, as such, I have tried, very badly I might add, to create waves by using my straight iron. Why is it that I can never seem to emulate my hairdresser’s techniques in quite the same way as when he demonstrates for me in the salon?! ARGH. I also went so far as to buy a curling iron and started experimenting with that. Again, ouch. Not much success. DAMN. So, for the last few weeks I have put my fancy tools away and have been simply blow drying my hair and calling it a day. Not thrilled with the result but, WTF, it is just hair after all. right?

And then one day, I had a thought. “What if I wash my hair, let it dry totally naturally, and see what happens?”

Guess what? I know you know the answer. Yup. Naturally wavy and kind of awesome hair (at least in my book of awesome!). WHO KNEW!? I certainly did not. I had NO FAITH, NO HOPE, NO NOTHIN’ for my natural hair’s capabilities. But the funny thing is this…as I have gotten older, my hair is changing and it has now, very thankfully, changed into waves. So the moral of the story? Trust that what you want, is already in YOU. Trust that you already HAVE what you want. You just have to give it space to come out and shine and make you smile. Imagine if we let our natural states and selves come out more often. What would we discover about ourselves?

Hormones, aging, and weather can be fickle and unpredictable things that influence our hair, among LOADS of other things, in large and small ways….but for today, I am darn thankful for my wavy awesomeness! And if you have read this far, you rock for having made it through a post about hair! thanks!!

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