Tag Archives: change

H I S T O R Y

This paragraph is taken from a page of my great-grandmother’s autobiography, referring to Montreal and Canada approximately one hundred years ago. Read it. We are still a country that embraces newcomers seeking safety, security and opportunity. 

I am P R O U D to be Canadian. And just in case there was any ambiguity on the issue, I think that the wave of intolerance that we are seeing, in the US and all over the world where economic hardship has been especially rough in recent years, is shameful and ignorant. That kind of small-mindedness and exclusion is, quite frankly, a feeble attempt at resisting change. The only thing we can count on in this life is that everything is in a constant state of transformation and evolution, and so to try to fight that is to fight a battle that can’t be won.

Things may change in our country in the years to come, but this excerpt from my grandmother’s mother’s life is proof that, even after 100 years, and some obvious blemishes on its record, Canada is still the true land of opportunity. 

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Absoluteless

imageI remember having a discussion with a friend of mine whose daughter was less than 2 years old and asking him what the best part of being a father was. He told me that he loved seeing his daughter evolve, day by day, bit by bit, and seeing what morsel of character or personality she would display. Every day was a new discovery, and with every discovery he got to know who his daughter was turning out to be. Her talents, likes, dislikes, and sense of humour slowly unfolded, and he never knew when it would happen or how it would manifest. All he knew was that every day was a new opportunity to see his daughter’s personality emerge that much more. I also remember having a very close friend 15 years ago who was truly in the inner circle. We were incredibly close, true friends…until he started behaving oddly. Behaviours I had never seen from him started to emerge, starting off as what I believed to be a one-off occurrence to occurring regularly. I remember thinking how out of character he was being, and ended up pulling away and allowing an awkward distance to settle in between us until the friendship ended and we lost touch permanently. I’ve since learned that with age and a sense of independence comes the unconscious assumption that we’ve got everything figured out, that our past experiences are so vast and varied that we’ve lived it all and can start to live in a world of absolutes. We know the people in our lives to be who and what they are, we know ourselves to be who and what we are and we’ve got a pretty good handle on the world we live in. And you know what? We’re wrong. We need to understand that regardless of how many of the highs and lows of life we’ve been privy to, there’s more to know. We never stop learning. We never stop absorbing and tweaking what we already know to be true. We never stop learning that truth is subjective and that it is changing. Until we’re simply corpses lying on a slab, we are changing and evolving and finding out more about who we are, who the people around us are, what the world around us is all about and how we relate to all of it. When we peg the people around us as simply being the sum total of who they’ve been in the past, we limit them. When we peg ourselves as simply being the sum total of who we’ve been in the past, we limit ourselves. When we peg the world around us as being the sum total, and nothing more, of what it’s been in the past, we forget the most important thing we’ll ever learn. The only absolute is this: there are no absolutes except one. Everything is changing. Everything and everyone is changing. We have to stop labelling and discriminating and trying to wrap everything up in a nice, tidy, gift-wrapped box so that we can put it on a shelf and refer to it as being what it’s been in the past so that we can feel a sense of stability and control. The greatest gift we can give ourselves, the people around us and the world we coexist in is the approach to life that my friend had (and most likely still has) with his daughter. Let every day be an opportunity for newness to unfold and manifest. In yourself and those you know best. Celebrate what you’ve never seen before, even if it makes you uncomfortable. That sense of discomfort is most likely rooted in your sense of insecurity at seeing a free agent in an environment you had already assessed as being familiar and dependable. Welcome the unfamiliar and be grateful that you’re around to see evolution occur. Don’t ever stop learning. Don’t ever stop wanting to learn and grow and develop and evolve. And don’t punish those around you for showing you glimpses of who they are now, not yesterday or last year. I’ve made that mistake and it cost me a dear friend, but I certainly won’t make it again…

Re(s/v)olution

calendarJanuary 1 is always a welcome day for the majority of us because it’s a real day off. Businesses close, the daily grind comes to a halt, and we nest (usually as recovery to the debauchery of the night before). The day itself has a cozy connotation to it, an insular vibe that breeds lounging around and getting the new year off in hushed tones. And, as it goes with that which we deem as easy or beneficial, we create the necessity to stain the calm of the break we get with the need to accomplish something, to produce, to not get to complacent. It’s resolution time.

As I mentioned in The Examined Life, every single one of us can identify at least one aspect of our lives where we’d like to see changes occur, and we pounce on that opportunity come the beginning of the year. It becomes our raison-d’être until January’s motivation turns into the slump that is February, and by March our sights have moved from where we were to where we’re going as we get ready for the prime months of the year. What started off as good intention ends up bleeding into the rest of the things that we start and never see to completion. And there’s a very simple reason for that.

You won’t be able to effect sustainable change simply because the date crawls past January 1. The concept that one specific day out of the year is better than another to start making the most out of the resources and opportunities that we have available is ridiculous. Every day that you can wake up and move is a potential platform for improving your life. But real changes, sustainable ones that don’t peter out with the arrival of the newest distraction, don’t take flight with simple hope and intention. The only time real change manifests is when you’re so fed up with the state of some aspect of your life that you simply refuse to let it continue on as it is. You may not know what the alternative will look like, but you sure as hell know that you’re done with what’s nagging at you, what’s begging to be seen as the instigator towards something better. The tables will only start to turn when you can no longer stomach sitting at the one you find yourself.

And so if you’re hell-bent on getting those resolutions sorted on January 1, make them revolutions. Set your intention to change that one thing that you’re sick of dealing with, the one thing that you recognize keeps rearing its ugly head over and over again. Change the one thing that you keep coming back to that has insidiously convinced you to believe it as being true, that has led you to redefine who you are. The patterns that you can’t seem to break free from, the ones that bring feelings of hopelessness and despair, are the ones you want to target. If you’re going to do this, you might as well do it big. Set your sights on the aspects of your life that, when altered or eradicated, will help you change the way you’ve been thinking and lead you to new heights. Create new patterns, ones that show you the benefits of surrendering to the fact that what’s familiar and what’s gotten you here can be tweaked and moulded to bring you that much further. The ground you’ve covered has been well-traveled, but the journey continues. And so go for that thing that will continue to propel you forward. Keep fighting for what’s right for you, and don’t take no for an answer. Have faith in the knowledge that you will be able to handle whatever life throws at you, regardless of how dire the risks you’re taking seem. You will handle everything with intelligence and determination, and you will land on your feet barreling forwards.

If you’re going to play the resolution game, make it more than an exercise. Get your hands dirty and dig deep. The payoff will last way longer than through the third or fourth month of the year, and will condition you to keep aiming high. It’s time to get your own personal revolution started.

From Unseeing to Undying

How much time throughout our lives do we spend focusing on, and occasionally agonizing over, trying to keep how we look, who we’re involved with, and where we are in our careers in a place of stability? How many minutes out of each of our lifetimes have we spent trying to avoid change, fearing that with the slightest release of what we deemed as being control, we would be moving closer and closer to some unidentified threat? As a species, and moreover, as Westerners, humans have more or less lost sight of the fact that we carry the divine within us, and it is through that connection to the omnipotent that we need to be living, always maintaining perspective on the daily dramas that habitually take over our lives, leading us into despair or into elation. Because we’ve lost sight of that fundamental touchstone, we have created massive aversions to any circumstances or series of events that bring about change. Change has grown to represent upheaval and stress, mainly because we have lost sight of its potential for growth and insight, instead choosing to believe that change will only bring us to a place where we will have to give more energy and attention than we’re prepared to give. When we spend our lives in jobs we tolerate, when we settle for the mediocre in how we accept to be treated by those around us, and when we lose sight of the energy that the food we consume infuses us with, it’s inevitable that we end up resenting the events that pop up in our lives that we haven’t in some way rehearsed for and mentally prepared ourselves for. We find these times in our lives to be tests…testing our faith, testing our patience, testing our will to carry on, trying to maintain the semblance of normalcy, regardless of the repercussions to our health, our bodies, and our relationships to those that care most for us.

The one thing that is a given, the one thing that is a guaranteed constant, something we can always bet on is this: everything that exists is in the process of transformation. Everything. From the buildings we live in, to the bodies our souls inhabit throughout this lifetime…from the relationships we do our best to treat with reverence, to the food that’s being preserved in our refrigerators…from the trees outside gradually adapting to the change in temperature, to the cells in our bodies that make up our beautiful forms…everything is transforming. If we were taught as children that the only thing we could successfully count on in this life was change, and that change was something we could embrace and welcome instead of avoiding, our lives would be drastically different…but, obviously, it’s never too late to change how we perceive things, to allow for that shift in consciousness.

This is what I’m putting on the table for all of you reading this: let’s start off by looking at what patterns we have of avoidance and aversion…what we shy away from because we’re afraid of where we’ll end up if we follow that option. That’s it. For starters…and then once we’ve identified at least one instance in which we have tried to stay away from something or someone for fear of where we might end up, let’s look at the situation again from the point of view of someone who embraces change. If we truly understand that change embodies possibility and opportunity, then what valid reason could we possibly have to resist that which brings us closer to a place of peace and truth? Looking at how we’ve approached life for years through new lenses often gives us the opportunity to break the patterns that never served us from the start, which, in turn, allows us to implement the changes that bring us closer to where we’d like to be, to our ideal selves. that is what this life is for: transformation. From ignorant to illuminated, from selfish to selfless, from unseeing to undying, embrace transformation. Love change. It will always be with us for a reason. Figure out what that reason is, and you’ve figured out the rest of your lives. Go on. The time is now.

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Morsels of Inspiration

How many of us are aware of our potential? Who among us has been lucky enough to have been able to tap into their talents at a young age and spend the rest of their lives developing those talents to be able to develop them into a career? Anyone? Right…

Like most of the people I know, it took me decades of self-reflection and realization before I came to a place where I felt safe enough to stop playing the corporate game that I was surrounded by and do my own thing…tapping into what made me happy, what I felt was the foundation for the peaceful life that I was periodically getting fleeting glimpses of and that I knew I wanted to make more of a fixture in my day-to-day existence. Making the decision to go ahead and drop everything was obviously petrifying, but it proved to be one of the greatest moves I’ve ever made for myself…here’s why:

1 ) The freedom of letting go of what we suspect is chaining us down, but which we have so far tolerated, is dizzyingly intoxicating.

2 ) The fear of the possible repercussions of letting go of all that has allowed us to feel stable and secure is oddly motivating and tends to result in never-before-seen rushes of productivity.

3 ) Once you clear out the proverbial room to make space for what you seek, it ends up materializing with little or no added effort.

4 ) As soon as you realize that all that stands in your way of achieving your wildest dreams is your fear of said realization, you start seeing the world differently. It’s safe to say that as soon as you know that you are capable of doing something, it becomes monumentally easier to do.

5 ) I didn’t quite grasp it at the time, but I had an inkling that tapping into what set me apart from the majority of folk around me would bring me to a better place, both professionally as well as emotionally. I cannot stress enough how important it is to assist others around us to cultivate their individuality…the greatest leaders of our time, regardless of the arena, have all unflinchingly believed in themselves and in their talents and capabilities. Never forget that what comes naturally for you may seem like an insurmountable goal for someone else.

6 ) As I took each step towards realizing my goals in that first year of transition, it became clear to me that as great as it is to keep visualizing the end result, the innate beauty and truth in life (that is always on display but rarely seen through our fog of delusion) became brighter and clearer…and always in the steps leading towards the goal. By the time each goal was realized, I understood that the goal may have been the catalyst for the journey, but it ended up being a byproduct of everything that was revealed along the way.

7 ) When you realize that nothing happens overnight, the sense of urgency to create the life you dream about living becomes a great motivator. We’re living this life right now, and no one is going to make the changes we’d like to make except ourselves.

8 ) When you share the changes you’re trying to implement with the people in your life, you will be humbly surprised at how much support and help will be unselfishly offered to you.

9 ) The process of deciding what you want to do and simply doing it can also bring up feelings of envy in others. Never take no for an answer and don’t let anyone sway you from doing what you know is good for you. Having that discipline and courage result in success will in turn inspire others to pay more attention to their own internal dialog.

10 ) Following your heart and your dreams allows you to come into focus for those who love you and truly see you. It helps define your character and puts that added spring in your step, confident in the knowledge that when we focus on managing ourselves instead of everything around us, we come back to the source of all that is, which can never be bad.

I know that all this can sound a little far-fetched, but I’m simply communicating what I’ve experienced and what continues to unfold for me as each day’s events present themselves. As we nestle into 2011, let’s all think about how we can move towards our own truths, to a place where we feel so capable and nourished that we need to share that blindingly beautiful energy with others….and hope they pass it on. This is how we will effect change in the world we live in – by living it, and leading with it.

Happy 2011!!!!