Read & Watch

My hour with Rosa

It was the only fish shop open in Toronto on Good Friday. I was waiting for my purchased red snappers to be cleaned by the fishmonger, lost in thought about how to cook them for the Easter dinner feast. I felt her energy before she joined me at the counter with her dozens of teeny fish. Sweet little old Italian women. You can already picture her, right? Four foot nothing, standing solidly in sturdy practical black shoes, nude stockings, midcalf skirt, black coat, short curly hair and glasses that amplified her loving eyes that have clearly seen their share of babies born and relatives passing. I asked her what she planned on doing with all those fish. She did her best to hide her surprise at the inanity of my question, but recognizing my lack of understanding about Old Country ways, she told me patiently, but in great and elaborate detail about the soups she would make, the frying she would do, the stocks. But most of all, the frying. Her Antonio, her son and her grandkids liked it best. And it’s Good Friday after all. (Here, she made the sign of the cross.) And just like that, I fell in love. She told me that this was her second trip to the fishmongers in two days as they had sold out of the fish yesterday…the day of a freezing rain storm. The day that saw me fall on my ass not twice but thrice on the slippy, drippy, trippy sidewalks. I asked if she had fallen. Just once, she said, but she was so short she didn’t have too far to fall, she laughed. She had no car, (judging by the thickness of her glasses and her age, I suspect if she ever had her license it had been revoked some time ago) so she took multiple buses and subways to get the fish. She asked where I lived, and I told her. Of course. So she asked for a ride to the subway. Her morning wait for the bus had been 30 minutes because of the holiday. I have never in my life been so delighted to say yes. But first, of course, we had to wait for her millions of teeny fish to be gutted and de-headed. Which, as you can imagine, took some time. So we talked. And then we talked and talked and talked some...

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Help me help others for my birthday?

For the last several years, I’ve done a big ol’ Board of Your Life sale on my birthday. I love birthdays, I love sales, I love Board of Your Life. It has made sense. But in truth, this year, not much is making sense. As I prepare to spend this delicious day with my husband enjoying yoga, some spa time, eyeing that pair of Louboutins, sipping a delightful cocktail on a patio in a gorgeous area of the city made for people-watching and later enjoying a meal lovingly prepared by my daughter, I continue to be struck by my massive good fortune. And the irreconcilable number of people’s massive misfortune. Millions of them. And though this thought is delivered with no small amount of shame, I will say this: feeling overwhelmed by helplessness often results in me doing little to help. Certainly, there are places where I deepen in with my time and resources on a personal level. Volunteer work and monthly charitable contributions and the like. And so in those weakened moments of helplessness I limply go to “I’ve done my part.” But I haven’t. Not by a long long long shot. And then there are times I just can’t even. And someone makes it stunningly easy for me to care, to help, to act. This time, it’s my friend Cath who belongs to a collective of women here in Toronto raising money to sponsor a refugee family from Syria and bring them safely to Canada. And to offer them a soft place to land. In her words: “The East-West Refugee Collective is a small group of neighbours, friends and friends of friends, who were horrified by the photo of little Alan Kurdi, the 3-year-old Syrian whose lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach a few weeks ago. We’ve come together to sponsor a refugee family from Syria. We can’t help Alan Kurdi, but we hope to help some other child like him. We have united with the members of Rosedale United Church’s refugee committee to put in a sponsorship application to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. They have 20 years of experience doing this and have kindly agreed to show us the ropes, and help us with the paperwork. We have committed to raising $35,000 for the family’s needs in its first year in Canada. And we’ve committed to helping them settle, both logistically and emotionally. We...

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Plant the seed.

It was 5pm on New Years Eve. A snowy, festive scene – the bottle of prosecco had already been popped, Lisa was assembling the cheese tray like a champ, the kids were playing Lego and the fellows were getting the Spotify playlist juuuust right. Present to my current joy but with an eye on the year to come, I followed my instinct to plant a couple of seeds that were germinating in my heart. Including reaching out to the Wonder from Down Under, Julie Parker of Beautiful You Coaching Academy. I knew we would hug in 2015. Just didn’t know how or when. Luckily…she did. An hour after I reached out to her, she invited me to come and deliver a keynote to a group of the most lovely, receptive and generous women I’d ever had the pleasure of meeting. In New York. In June. Of course. Inspiration Day was a dream of hers, planted long ago and tended to with love, support, determination, perseverance, faith and hard, hard work. Thankfully, it was all worth it. She writes in the most recent edition of her inspired COACH online magazine: And when on the day our divine guest speaker and former inspired COACH cover girl Tanya Geisler said… “We are all witness today to a woman’s dream coming true. That’s something I would travel across the world to see any day” – I burst into tears at the realisation she was speaking about me. It took me a moment amongst all the planning and doing and creating but I got there. Her planted seed bore fruit. The most exquisitely refreshing fruit ever. My seed bore fruit too. We most certainly did hug in 2015. Oh how we hugged. (Photo by Katya Nicholas) And sometimes, we plant seeds for one another. I was speaking with my friend and colleague Christine Francoeur. Feeling fried, tired, and weary, I was wanting something I couldn’t name. She said, my wish for you is to take a break. Go to the cottage. Write and make carbonara. Seed planted. I’ve never made carbonara before. Until last night. After a full day of writing. And what was I writing? No big deal… just the book that I’ve been holding in my heart for years. You know…the one the border guard wished into being? Oh. Haven’t I told you that story yet? Right-o. Last summer, on a long drive home...

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On doing the work. And trying. And sports bras. But REALLY? What’s under the fear.

In this cohort of my Step into Your Starring Role program, the brilliant participants are working through the module quite simply called “Do the Work”. Which is about, you guessed it: doing the work. Doing the work is never quite as simple as it sounds though, is it? (Unless, of course, it is.) I mean, we know what we’re supposed to be doing. It’s OUR WORK, after all. Writing. Speaking. Pitching. Running. Networking. Editing. Creating. Collaborating. Launching. Planning. Iterating. Connecting. Teaching. Leading. Learning. Promoting. Researching. Measuring. Painting. Performing. But sometimes we’re not really DOING the work…but rather, LEANING ON OUR INTENTION to do the work. You know…trying. And trying is GOOD. But sticky. (And trying to be good is funny…but I digress.) Back to sticky. For instance. I’m trying to get back into running. (Again.) What does working towards that intention actually look like? May be easier if I told you what it DOESN’T look like, in this case: hitting the snooze button checking emails meditating making the Kid breakfast All important things (even the snooze button…especially the snooze button?) But if the objective is to try to get back into running, then for me, these other tasks cannot happen first thing in the morning. If the very first thing I do once my feet hit the floor is put on my sports bra, you can put money on the fact that I’m heading out the door. ‘Cause getting 40 minutes of getting my sweat on is THE ONLY reason I’ll subject my beloved bosom to the vice grip of luon. So for me, doing the work looks like putting on a sports bra. That’s step 1. Then heading out the door. That’s step 2. Your turn. And here’s a simple way in: If someone asked you to host a webinar or teach a class on achieving the thing you’re trying to do, what would it actually look like? What would be first two steps that you’d teach? How about: Turn on the laptop. (Then find the file.) Open the document. (Then type the words.) Get out the flour. (Then start to measure.) Pick up the phone. (Then dial the number.) Light the candle. (Then tune into your breath.) Unroll the mat. (Then find your downward dog.) It’s not about the perfect conditions. (They’ll never be perfect.) It’s about finding your way in. It’s about following the instincts that honour the...

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Even the cards love Step into Your Starring Role

I am a big fan of getting outside perspectives. Generally, we can only see as far as the next obstacle. Also generally, we can only see into the dark as far as the flashlight of our mind will allow. From where you stand, you will see new possibilities for me. If I invite you to do so, your flashlight will illuminate my dark corners. (I sense it’s what we’re here to do for one another.) What do you think about this? How am I showing up? Here’s my plan…do you see any holes? If the feedback is resonant and feels right and true for me, (even if it feels tough…sometimes especially if it feels tough), I’ll integrate it and move forward. If it’s dissonant and doesn’t feel right and true for me, I’ll dig a little deeper, see where the disconnect lives, and try to discern where I’m willing (and not willing) to compromise and move forward. This is progress. It wasn’t always that clean (more on that another time). I’ve poured my heart and soul into my Step into Your Starring Role program. I know it like the back of my hand. I know its value, its power, its worth. And, like every former marketer who has fled the corporate world and has inexplicably lost the ability to write their own copy (ahem), I have struggled to find the words to adequately convey said value, power and worth. It’s not just about coming up with clever marketing copy. I’ve also been sensing the value, power and worth have been what I’ve ASSIGNED it. And that’s felt out of integrity. Because what I also sense is that the program is its own entity. Beyond the heart and soul that I’ve poured into it, I’ve wanted to understand: What does it know? What does it want? I’ve asked the program myself…but I keep getting my own words back. Time for some outside perspective. And not from someone who had done the work. (I have plenty of exquisite testimonials for that.) I mean really outside perspective. Oracle-like perspective. Enter Theresa Reed and her deck of tarot cards. On my behalf, she asked her cards what I needed to know about the program. The response: Eight of Cups – as people go through the program, they gather what they need to finally make the changes they have been seeking. This program encourages...

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‘Twas the night before Christmas Eve…

‘Twas the night before Christmas Eve, when all through the house, The cats were going apeshit, like they just saw a mouse. The wrapping paper was shredded and mangled and slobbery. It looked like this house was the scene of a robbery. The stockings weren’t hung ‘cause we hadn’t finished shopping But Nat King Cole was blaring, so we were she-bopping. The oysters were chilling on their bed of crushed ice (We forgot the Kid’s aversion, so she had fried rice.) We scurried and hurried to cook, box and wrap, Pledging tomorrow would yield ample time for a nap. But that’s most unlikely as our time’s far from free We’ll spend the day seeking solace down at Grandma’s tree. We’ll then join my family for Christmas Eve fun, Opening stockings with wine and boeuf bourguignonne. Christmas Day will be frantic (but playful at least) As we join Greg’s family for a loud holiday feast. In the remaining holidays we’ll reflect on the year, Counting up every last blessing, prayer and tear. 2014’s been one filled with sadness and joy Learnings upon learnings upon learnings, ahoy. As I integrate and plan and plot and scheme, I’ll carve plenty of time to allow for my dreams. Your dreams too, and the dreams of your people, (Apologies if that sounds overly sweet like a treacle). The next year promises to bring opportunities and new light, And I know so well it requires heart and courage over might. In a moment this sacred, I’m reminded of Luke, (Or Linus on-stage without fear of rebuke): ‘Peace on earth to my brothers and sisters, I say, Let’s dig even deeper to share good will every day.’ With deep love (and even deeper gratitude),   +++++   May your holiday be filled with respite and reflection. And may this quick and deceptively simple tool you find by signing up here offer you the precious gift of...

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