The Fire Starter Sessions…keep your extinguisher at the ready

If you haven’t already, you will be hearing a LOT from Danielle LaPorte. She is the screaming-hot doyenne of fire-starting businesses and truths.

FSSbadge_315x150I’ve been eagerly anticipating her Fire Starter Sessions (digital book-meets-video seminar) for some time and my happy inbox received it yesterday. I cleared my afternoon calendar, intent on devouring the whole tome over a pot or two of tea. Once I got settled in my favourite chair with cat and blanket on my lap, it became QUITE apparent that this was not an issue of a glossy mag to be flipped through, stunning as it may be.

Every page is rich, rich, RICH in intersecting resources, ideas and strategy. Glorious multimedia: audio, videos, workbooks, oh my.  And the words….poetry in power. Truth bombs rang in my ears long after I put it down. Like, say:

  • You can be modest and powerful.
  • Being well-rounded is highly overrated.
  • Face forward. We want to look ahead with you. Look backwards, and you lose us. The past is never as relevant as we might think it is.
  • Your most valuable currency is what comes most naturally to you.
  • Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have. Acting on generating those feelings is the most creative thing you can do with your life.
  • Money: more is more. enough is plenty. (Heck, she’ll even show you her fiscals, because, as she puts it: “We can‘t give or receive if we‘re in hiding”. BOOOOOM!!!!)

So. Enough gushing from me. Treat your business and yourself to The Fire Starter Sessions. You can buy it here (and I make some money on your purchase as an affiliate…her genius idea, naturellement) or there (I don’t make money and that’s cool too…quite simply, good ideas need to be spread around).

And IF you want to get to know Danielle better (and you really, REALLY do!), you can read the e-terview I did with her in November of last year. Back then she said it was one of her favourite interviews. I blushed, well, ‘cause that’s what you do when your girl crush compliments you.

Here it is again:


Danielle LaPorte is one of those people who makes you happy to be alive, you know? To celebrate living and being in truth, integrity and honour.

If you don’t know her (yet), she is (among many things) the creator of (a resource I devour heartily), author, speaker and commentator on the national CBC TV show, Connect With Mark Kelley. And oh so much more.

I’ve joyously connected with her several times (at her speaking engagements; a Fire Starter group in Toronto; and, an unforgettable phone session that I reflect upon frequently) and every time, I feel a touch more invincible, a bit taller and a hell of a lot more focused. She is gracious with her experience, her wisdom and her desire to help others succeed.

She hearts entrepreneurs and we heart her.

She generously (she’s like that) offered to be e-terviewed by me some time ago and, she is as much a woman of her word as she is a woman of her truth.


The Quintessential Questions

My belief is that the disconnect between truth and lies that we tell ourselves is the basic difference between holding oneself back and holding oneself higher…whether we’re listening to our own truths or our own lies. You write about white hot truths…in the most sublime fashion. And I’m curious:

What was a lie that you told yourself that was holding you back for a good long time (in coaching, we call these voices that like to keep us safe and small “saboteurs”)?

I used to think that I needed business partners. That to really take my place as a leader, a voice, a minister of my rockin’ truth would have been a bit uh, arrogant, that it was more “evolved” to be “collaborative.” Of course that didn’t do anybody any ultimate good. I’m a Lone Ranger, and once I owned that, I was of greater service to everyone. And I laughed a lot more. A LOT more.

Bonus points if you have a characterization of your saboteur (i.e.Nick the Nihilist who always says “no, you can’t do that”)

I used to have a super ego named Starshyne McBalance. In all her 80’s New Age wisdom she had me repress a lot of power and pragmatism in the name of harmonic convergence and “keeping the peace.”

How did you turf that mo-fo out but good?

I learned the hard way. I’d “spiritualized” (read: sugar-coated, denied, made crap behavior “understandable”) so much for so long that when it all came tumbling down, it was clear that I needed to put accountability and integrity closer to the top of my “things I most value in my self and fellow humans” list. And at that point, my New Age alter ego knew she had to fend for herself. She’s working in an Ashram gift store in Idaho, hiding from creditors.

What’s the whitest, hottest, truth that you know?

Everything is progress.

What’s the blackest, coldest, lie that most people that you meet are living?

That they’re not worthy.

Do you have a physical reaction to a lie? (Note: if I feel one, in myself or one unrequited near me, I have an urge for a cigarette…so blessedly, it is rare).

When I know I’m being lied to by someone else, I get really quiet, like a Panther. And then I decide whether I’m going to pounce or prattle off. I’m usually just stunned when people lie, it just seems so, so…antiquated and violent.

What do you BELIEVE to be true but are still working on validating?

I’m actually working on believing less. Deconstructionism. It’s fun.

Is there a tension between the white hot truth-teller that you are (so gloriously) for AND the fact that you are (at your core) a self-proclaimed introvert? Please separate that collapsed distinction for us who think you must be one OR the other.

I am both and that’s that. That’s where I am in my life, a new place of is-ness. Okay, but to unpack it…it has helped me to find other freaks like myself to identify with, Thomas Merton for one. He was a remarkably devoted monk who craved the solitude that monastic life guaranteed. And…he loved the adulation that his essays and lectures brought. He also took liberties with a number of his vows, particularly the one about celibacy. My kinda guy.

What is the one thing that ALWAYS makes you giggle? (note: for me it’s the word ”fart”. I am a hit with kindergartners).

My husband has this annoyingly-endearing way of kissing up to me after I just wigged out on him about something. Smoochie koochie stuff that gets me giggling every time.

There is one truth that will set us all free from our own lies. What is it, DL?

I’m going to lean on Krishnamurti for this one. “Truth is a pathless land.”

Structures, and our lives and psyches are fraught with them, get between us and our knowing so often. Fewer rules. Deeper feelings.


Accountability, giggliness, integrity, feeling, honesty, ambition, love, generosity, kindness, progress…these words make my heart sing. See why I dig this woman so much? You will too…just go and find her:
Twitter: @daniellelaporte
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Loving Mama Love

I’ve been thinking a whole lot about mothers.  About my own mother, about me as a mother and about a little squirrel mother.

Could be because Mother’s Day and my mother’s birthday is coming up. Could be because of a treasure that my daughter recently found:  rainbow-coloured bobby pins that were my mother’s. They live in a pretty gossamer bag and make me smile when I see them…not just because they are a riot of colours, but because I remember so well how happy I was when I saw that bag come out as a kid. It meant that she and Dad were going out for a night on the town. They did this often.bobby pins

The way she smelled faintly of Chanel No. 5 and the happy gleam in her eyes as she held on to a couple of the pins in her lips and worked her golden locks around the curlers. She would answer my questions about boys, love, hurt, empathy and dreams with patience and kindness and slip the pins into place. The finished product was always elegant and breathtaking. My mother was a true beauty. She made me feel the same inside and out.

On Sunday, Mother’s Day, my family and I will visit her commemorative tree down by the Beach. The one that says: Brenda Geisler, Requiescat in Pace – Lover of Life and Trees. We will fuss and plant and not say much. My daughter will provide much needed comedic relief (oh how I pray she doesn’t think she HAS to fill this role) and then we’ll all go for brunch together. And all feel the pain of her leaving us so young. She was 59.

God, how I’m missing her lately.  I remember strong and happy Mom. She’s been in my dreams almost every night lately, like she has something to tell me. I don’t know what it is but there’s something about softness and empathy. Maybe for myself and maybe for others. I am listening.

It’s trite to say she taught me so much…of course she did. About being a mother AND a caring human being.

That’s learning…and THEN there’s instinct.

hole number 2Yesterday, I learned about instinct from another mother. We have squirrels in the overhang of our front porch. Right beneath the master bedroom. The scritch-scratch and scurrying has been driving us to distraction for the past two and a half months. We *knew* when we heard a squirrel back in March that it was likely she was pregnant and needing a nest for her babes. So we left her alone. We gave her the 8+ weeks to nurse and get her babes ready to move on out and then hired the wildlife removal guy. He set up a “one-way exclusion door” (meaning the squirrels leave to get food and water and can’t get back in). Plan is as follows: mama leaves and the babies follow. Problem is, only one followed her out yesterday.  She has been ravaging a hole below the contraption to get back in. Her panic is one I know too well.

When my daughter was two and a half, she got locked in the bathroom by herself. I immediately set to ripping the door off with my bare hands. Literally. I didn’t even consider finding the proper  tools. My baby was in there and that was all that mattered. Luckily it was one of those flimsy hollow core doors. The real challenge was to tear the door off without causing her to panic. I remember precious little about those 4 minutes except for a roar in my ears and the sound of the veneer ripping …and the murmuring noises I made to show my babe how cool we both needed to be. She was cool. I just looked it. Inside, I was a raging bull calmed only once she was safe and in my arms.

I saw that quality in the mama squirrel. Nothing is going to come between her and her babes. Claws and teeth are her tools and the power comes from her heart. We won’t stand in her way and won’t rest until they’re all safe together.

Yesterday morning, the mother squirrel was a pest. Today, she is a kindred mama.

My mom would be proud of this post. She’d love the synthesized appreciation that fierce protection of your children is instinctive and having empathy is learned. Then again, she loved most things I did. That’s the kind of mama I am intent on being. To my daughter and to the world.

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Circumstance is a bully…

…and it wants to steal your lunch money.

It tells you crap like; “this is the way things are” and “I’m in charge here”.

At the risk of sounding like a subway ad, here are some possible circumstances to consider:

Don’t have the money to start your own dream business? Underhoused and overdebted? Friends keep walking all over you? Completely depleted of energy because of all you HAVE TO do in a day? Haven’t been able to bridge your relationship with your Dad?

Consider just one of these. How does it make you feel? Trapped? Small? Weak? Stupid? Powerless? That’s just how the circumstance likes it – it wants to make you feel you don’t have a choice in this matter and the sooner you concede is the sooner you DON’T get that knuckle sandwich.

That boxed in feeling you get when considering the situation is…get this…just ONE PERSPECTIVE on the situation.

There are others. Oh yes, there are others. And you can choose which one you would like to don to look at the circumstance. Don’t worry, I’m not actually suggesting that there ISN’T a problem to be considered. Just that there are multiple ways of looking at it and the sooner you recognize that the one you’re seeing right now isn’t the ONLY way, the sooner you get out of that tight cramped and scary place of helplessness and start exploring what else there is for you.

Oh, I know ALL too well why the current perspective is so compelling. You don’t necessarily WANT to see things from this helpless place, but can’t help it, right? You’ve been living it for so long, gathering reams of evidence that point to this “just being the way it is”, that it FEELS true, immutable and unshakable. Case closed. In fact, you’re pretty much doing the bully’s PR for him.

My suggestion? Deal with the circumstance just as you would a bully:

  • Stand up to it and declare in your loudest voice: I DO NOT ACCEPT THAT I AM POWERLESS HERE!
  • Take its power away by choosing another perspective. There are others for you to choose…many, many others. Plan action from there.

Can’t see them for yourself? Talk to a coach. THAT’S what we do… help you to see what might be possible from right here, right now and move you into action. (Email me for a sample session or for a referral to one of my fabulous colleagues).

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Intention-manifestation, as explained by a 6-year old

Yesterday, the babe came home from school buzzing from a hands-on woodworking workshop. “Buzzing” in part because she created something wonderful with her own two hands (see exhibit A) and also because she succeeded in keeping her thumbs unsmashed.

Exhibit A - the Bunny Project

Exhibit A - the Bunny Project

She told us that the workshop leader told them to “look at the nail, look at the nail, look at the nail”. This was important, she explained (perhaps a touch more dramatically patient than the explanation called for) because if you look at your thumb when you’re hammering, then your brain takes a picture of that and thinks that’s what you’re supposed to hammer. Not the nail. So by looking at the nail, that is what your brain takes a picture of and knows to hammer that. Got it? (She did too…see exhibit B…pretty fine nail work, huh?)

Exhibit B - Fancy nailwork (and no bloody thumbs)

Exhibit B - Fancy nailwork (and no bloody thumbs)

Hearing intention-manifestation being articulated by a 6-year old was pretty “cute” and all…and precisely what I needed after a day of feeling overwhelmed.

I decided to take this notion out for a run with me this morning. I focused on the horizon (literally) rather than the ground and shaved minutes off my run time. In that run, I also opted to get really clear about a couple of issues that were swirling around in my mind. Got home from the run, wrote them down, then squeezed the bejesus out of my little girl and kissed her unsmashed thumbs.

So…where’s your focus? Are you looking at the nail or at your thumb?

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In appreciation of feedback

I have a love-hate relationship with feedback. I often hate to receive it AND I love that it is a super powerful tool.

I suspect that some of this tension stems from not ever knowing exactly how I’m going to BE with receiving it. There seems to be a direct relationship with how close something is to my heart and how frightening feedback can be for me. To whit: how do I feel when I receive feedback on my accounting? Meh. Pretty low on the “threat level” colour spectrum…let’s say green. When I receive feedback on how we’re raising our daughter…hoo boy. Off the charts, ready to pounce, RED. How I’m running my business? Let’s say lower than how we’re doing with daughter but still high. Orange, if you will.

At my very, VERY worst, I become petulant, defensive and a bit sullen. My ego is bruised and I get sulky. I make excuses and suspect my chin juts out. Worst of all, I shut down and stop receiving what is being offered to me.

And that’s the sin. Feedback is by definition FEEDING you. Nurturing you. So that you can grow, expand and maybe even improve. It is a gift to be cherished, appreciated, admired and held. One that you ASKED for.

The trick, I am finding, is in recognizing that feedback isn’t a law to be adhered to. YOU GET TO CHOOSE WHAT YOU WANT TO INCORPORATE. Unless the person offering you feedback is a complete ass, they likely have your best interest in mind…and YET…are presenting with their own experience, knowledge and perspective. Their own fears, concerns and saboteurs may be showing up. What they are sharing with you is an amalgam of what THEY PERCEIVE to be the truth. And it may or may not be true for you. You are in choice. As ever.

A recent Daily Om validated this…when I needed it most.

Our own sense of the truth is the most important piece when taking in information from external sources.

You get to be the ULTIMATE AUTHORITY. That is some resonant stuff, right there, boy. I like that a lot.

When I am at my best with receiving feedback, I notice the twinges of defensiveness. I pause and listen for what’s underneath the resistance…is it ego? Is it what I’ve known I’ve had to do for a long time and haven’t had the courage to face? Then, I breathe. And listen some more. Then pause. Then thank the person for doing the hard, truth-telling thing. I then reflect on their gift and incorporate what I CHOOSE. (Added bonus: if I’ve really played my cards right, that person who has just given of themselves becomes an ally; a resource to continue to provide their wisdom as I refine, improve and expand).

I saw this in action last week. I was invited to sit on a panel and hear a group of young entrepreneurs present their business plans. My role was simply to provide feedback from a potential client’s perspective.

What struck me was not only to wide array of talent and skill in front of me, but the elegance and poise in which they heeded our feedback. Regardless of how their financials were prodded, their marketing plans poked and their distribution channels were scrutinized, there was no defensiveness, no “yeah buts” and only appreciation for the immersed learning. They GOT it.

Thank you, for being a reminder of grace and gratitude to:

Krystal – Her artistic sensibility comes through not just in her stunning ceramic work but also her photography, drawings and blog.

Tanya - The courageous, truth-telling poet who lives and hugs just like my mama taught me to: heart-to-heart. No other way counts.

Aileen – A designer whose work is affordable, accessible and as lovely as she is (I’ve referred her several times in the past week already).

Sarah – A hand knit artwear and jewellery designer whose whimsical and stunning work is getting around (sidebar: I intend to sport her wares in my first TV interview…stay tuned).

Stephanie – A jewellery designer who creates hand-made lampwork glass beads herself. Her work is weighty and substantial.

Julie – A super-polished business woman with the heart and soul of an artist, she co-owns an aerial-dance cirque company (how cool is THAT?).

Esther – A self-taught painter who you NEED to discover before her work is ten-fold the current price. And even then it will be well worth it.

Final thank you of this post goes to Lisa, for giving me some feedback on how I receive feedback. Received, integrated and well, WELL appreciated.


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Generous to a fault

A couple of years ago, my favourite yogi Eoin asked the question “what was a gift you were given by your parents”. My answer then was the same as today: from my mother Brenda, I was given the gift of appreciation (she of the “don’t postpone joy” maxim). And from my father, Richard, I was given the gift of generosity. It is impossible for him to make soup without bringing us some. Loaves of bread too. What he has, he shares. I think this philosophy is lovely and makes the world go ‘round. My world, in any case.

In recent years, I have been accused of being “generous to a fault”. It’s a funny turn of phrase, don’t you think? A compli-sult, really.  I’ve stewed thought about it plenty and I really struggle with getting my head around it.

Call me simple (actually, please don’t)…I see generosity as good. A core value of mine to be cherished and fostered, much like its kindness cousins compassion and empathy. So how/when does an abundance of what is good become a fault?

So I asked the twittosphere (a place of unbridled generosity, so I’ve found) this question:

Do you think it’s possible to be “generous to a fault”?

Responses varied from perspectives on the types of people in your life (and if they were “users” or not) to whether or not to “generous to a fault” means giving what you don’t have, or out of compulsion – not true generosity.

Hmmmm. Well, that certainly sparked some voices in my head.

I had painfully set aside a day to get caught up on my bookkeeping. Which was a grievous underestimation of how MANY days I should have set aside, but I digress.

What I noticed in the process was HOW MUCH MONEY I’ve been spending on my business. The mundane stuff: paper, toner, staples, blah de blah; the investment stuff: training courses, certification, hardware; the cerebral stuff: books, e-books, programs and then all the rest. And all the rest is the killer…piles and piles and PILES of receipts for dinners, lunches and coffee dates. All related to my business and all adding up to some impressive numbers (or depressive…depends on your perspective).

So the voices started hollering: “SEE? You ARE generous to a fault, fool! You can’t afford to be the big spender! Who do you think you are? What are you doing paying for everything? What does it give YOU?”

Do any of those charming voices sound familiar? And those loud sabotaging buggers, they really CAN make you feel small, right? Like the COMPLETE opposite of the intention of generosity.

Which is the point. Saboteurs (’cause that’s what they are) WANT you to feel small. That’s how they like you. Small and safe and in the mid-range.

And that, I have discovered, is really not for me.

I have HUGE respect for people who give of themselves with abandon (professionally and personally). It’s hard to do…you run the risk of being called compulsive. Your intentions are questioned. You also run the risk of giving it all away. Yikes!

I am loving the trends I’m seeing on-line. Generosity is finding its way into the business space. Top bloggers talk of giving your best content away. Delicious.

I have this kooky belief that if we all found our edge, stopped being so concerned about being so bloody moderate all the time that something magical would happen.

I have MUCH MUCH farther to go in my own journey of generosity. And I’m not talking about picking up the lunch tabs. I have wisdom, talent and gifts that quite frankly, I’ve been keeping bottled up. Hoarding them. So my new intention is to go to my own edge of my capacity to give. It may well be considered a fault, but we can just go ahead and add it to the pile, now can’t we?

What if you always gave the best of yourself? What would that look like?

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What’s your Stretch Goal?

Smell Spring in the air? I believe that’s the spring zephyr…or steaks being BBQ’d somewhere in the neighbourhood. In any case, doesn’t it make you want to give your body a good shake out of its hibernation and breathe DEEPLY? Try it with me. In and out. Niiiiiiice.

gcyslogoToday marks the “livification” of The Great Canadian Yoga Stretch’s website. I’ve been dropping hints about it and you can finally go see what this campaign is about.

The Twitter version: “In support of CNIB, inspiring Canadians to stretch their perceived limits through the practice of yoga”. Well, I don’t think that does too swell a job of explaining how fan-flippin’-tastic this campaign is going to be, but while I am the Volunteer Chair, I’m not the copy writer (probably just as well…there would be über-professional non-words like “fan-flippin’-tastic”).
Here’s what I am truly excited about:

  • The real mission of the campaign – it’s a national fundraising campaign during the month of May that invites all Canadians to declare their yoga stretch goal and raise $$ for CNIB’s programs at the same time. Could be a 30-day challenge for you OR finishing a 90-minute flow class by the end of the month. Your call.
  • The inclusive nature of the campaign…it’s for all Canadians:  all levels of yogic abilities – from couch potatoes to seasoned yogis; all levels of vision -  from sighted to partially sighted to blind; all regions – from St John’s to Vancouver peeps will be joining in on the fun.
  • Getting to work with my husband (he’s VP Fundraising, CNIB). Turns out, we DO work well together (this is good).
  • Like all good work, it ends in good play: celebration events across the country on May 30th will be well worth the sweat.
  • THAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT GOALS!!!! If you’ve been here before, then you likely know that I so adore talking about goals and how to make them smart. Goal setting is some of the work I do most often with my own clients and helping them to stretch themselves is the meat of it. So, getting to move away from that metaphor and into real physical stretching is kind of cool.
  • My own stretch goal thrills me (it’s a SMART goal, after all!) – elegantly going into a full, unassisted head stand. Note the qualifier “elegantly”. I am an intermediate practitioner at best and so this is NOT something I am comfortable doing. Which must mean it’s right for me.

While the landing page is live, we’re not quite ready to invite you to register (technically, this is a “soft” launch…let’s face it, we’ve got to eeeeeeeeaaaaaaaase on into this whole waking-up from winter thing). The site will be fully awake on April 6th…by then maybe you’ll have had the chance to consider your own stretch goal.

Until then, you can join us on Twitter and Facebook.


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In Support of Settling

Pretty odd title for a Coach who spends her days challenging her clients to think bigger, go  deeper,  and push farther in their pursuits, huh?

Bear with me.

This past Saturday, I tuned in to CBC’s Definitely Not the Opera. I always enjoy it and rarely have the radio on (living an iPod existence has seemingly eradicated the need for a stereo) so driving around doing errands afforded me this rare pleasure. I was pretty disappointed when I heard this week’s program title: “In Praise of Good Enough”. In fact, I had an almost visceral reaction when I heard that.  I mean, really: “good enough”? How lame. How pedestrian. How beige. Definitely Not the Opera was Definitely Not for Tanya this week.

But I persevered. Am glad I did.

It forced me to look at my own relationship with “good enough”. And why “good enough” has never been good enough for me. AND what the cost of that can be.

Let’s take this blog, for instance. I am no writer, yet I adore writing to my blog. It is for my pleasure (as I have discovered that I enjoy writing) and hopefully for others’ pleasure too. So why have I not written a post in over two weeks?

I have read somewhere and made a rule for myself along the way that each and every blog post MUST be truly profound, OR hilarious, OR transformative. And as such, this line of thinking has become a very compelling reason to NOT write when life is busier than usual. I mean really…how convenient is this?: “there’s no point in writing today…I have nothing to say that anyone will care about”.  So I don’t sit down and write, denying myself that pleasure AND feeling guilty about letting myself down in one fell swoop. Clever, huh?

This is a pretty common plight: our relationship with perfectionism is the very thing that can stop us from launching. And quite simply, stopping short is what keeps us stopped short.

In Linchpin, Seth Godin points out that he has written over a hundred books, most of which didn’t sell very well. And that Picasso produced over a thousand paintings, but most of us can only remember three of them. (Please do read the book for 236 pages of head-nodding goodness). He points out that the work is in creating and being fearless enough to launch. Whatever the outcome.

So today, I invite you to settle. Serve a dish that isn’t spectacular. Turn in a report that isn’t completely buttoned down. Assume your readers will forgive a less-than-transformative blog post and hit “publish”. Just this once, go for “good enough” with me.

And who knows? It may end up being the next Linchpin, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, or The Sound of Settling (wildly popular song by Death Cab for Cutie – ironically, the writer didn’t think it good enough to share with his bandmates and held on to it for a long time).

If this post helped even one person evaluate their own relationship with perfectionism and helped them to move forward, then that’s good enough for me. In fact, that’s fantastic.

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Untitled 1, 2, 3 or 4

Last night, my husband and I did what we were “supposed to do” to celebrate Valentine’s Day. We went out for a lovely meal at a lovely restaurant and didn’t talk about our daughter. Not even once.

As lovely (and outrageously overpriced) as it all was, we couldn’t wait to get home to slip into something more comfortable and get busy. No, not THAT kind of comfortable nor busy. I mean getting into our Lululemons and having at a blank canvas we’ve been meaning to tackle. Apparently, it’s what we do.

Inspired more by the restaurant’s abundant artwork than its food, we cracked open a bottle of MacLaren Vale and went to work, with no real plan in mind for what the finished piece would look like. After all, canvasses are pretty cheap and we knew we’d have fun regardless of the outcome. (Am really working on this non-attachment stuff).  I did my thing on one side and Greg did his on the other…and then we met sort of in the middle. An hour later, we were done.  We thought.

We stood back and felt pretty pleased with how it had come together. Here’s what we did.


Untitled 1

Then a funny thing happened.  I stood back to admire it as G held it against the wall, and then he rotated it 90 degrees. Huh. Different.


Untitled 2

Another 90 degrees.


Untitled 3

And another.


Untitled 4

Greg likes version number 2…something about it raining down happy goodness on the earth. Not bad.

I like version number 3. The upward motion feels aspirational. And somehow, 4 seems more pensive and sombre.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not really suggesting that this is art worthy of great discussion. We don’t purport to be artists (we didn’t even have palettes so we used a plastic cutting board and an unused cat litter pan to blend colours). But we like it and it looks good on the wall and that’s the end of that.

What I’m writing about here is perspective. One painting. Several iterations. Many different emotions. All good.

We strung the wire on the back so it can be hung any which way we like on any given day.

My Valentine’s Day gift to you, dear reader, is the reminder that you too are always at choice. You get to choose your perspective. It can be as easy as turning the canvas around if you so desire.

I hope that today you choose to have fun, play, laugh and love.


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Smorgasbord Surprise*

My business partner Lisa and I have a lot of fun collaborating. It’s why we do things like Coach Buffet and why most of our collaborations can be considered successful. So when we stopped having fun in the planning of version 2.0 of Coach Buffet and started getting grumpy about the whole process, we took stock, took note and took action. We recognized that we’d been working far too hard and laughing far too little. So Lisa hopped on a train from Montreal and we got busy with the business of inspiration.

The plan was as follows: do something fun and memorable on Saturday and integrate the learnings for a strategic planning session on Sunday. Sounds like a rip-roaring good time, don’t it? Yet, we trusted that it was exactly what was needed. The trick was to figure out what the “fun” could be on Saturday. We were on a budget and not feeling that a spa-fternoon would provide the inspiration that we were sorely lacking.

Given our love of food and cooking, we landed on a concept that was kind of like Iron Chef on speed. We were each to spend $50 on ingredients bought separately and come together to create a meal that night…giving no indication to the other party about what was being purchased throughout the day. My husband bought wine. Lots of it, just in case.

Our intention: non-attachment to the outcome. Easy, right? I could say we both trusted that it would be delicious, but that’s being attached to the outcome being delicious. It was perplexing as hell and made for some pretty complicated conversations all day.

In fact, it was hard enough to not be attached to my OWN shopping. I had a running internal dialogue like: “this speck bacon will be wonderful in a creamy sauce over pasta”. I knew all would go to pot (pun intended) once we mixed Lisa’s  ingredients with mine. So I had to shop based on inspiration alone and by selecting the ingredients that called to me….with no attachment to what they’d end up being a part of.

Hours later, we returned to my home, poured a glass of wine, surveyed our collective purchases, ooh’d and aah’d, and then started to make logical decisions. Four organized piles of delicious ingredients later represented four future dishes. We toasted our cleverness and donned our aprons, ready to cook. One problem. In our earnest to “get it right” and wrap this all up in a neat and tidy way, we had compromised the integrity of the exercise. The four to-be dishes were pretty much split down the middle…two dishes from Lisa’s pile of ingredients and two dishes from my pile. We were both creating our own dishes without REALLY integrating each others ingredients. We were playing the game with a tiny range of motion (as Seth Godin describes in Linchpin).  Damn.

Back to the drawing board. No more sensible dishes like mussels with wild mushrooms in a provençal sauce. No more sausage and mushroom tapas. Much to my husband’s chagrin, we deconstructed the piles and reassembled. This was much harder. And much, MUCH gigglier.

The culinary hits:

Try this at home

Try this at home

  • Dates stuffed with double smoked bacon, morbier (one seriously stinky cheese) and cashews
  • Frisée salad with blood oranges, tomatillos, mango stilton and curry vinaigrette
  • Papaya, lemongrass, chutney, limes and  mussels
  • Chutney citrus salad with oat cakes

The culinary misses:

Do NOT try this at home

Do NOT try this at home

  • Farmer’s sausage in red wine and pink peppercorn chocolate sauce
  • Dried big ear mushroom slaw with chilies (made worse by Lisa getting chili juice in her eye)

It was a truly enjoyable meal. What didn’t work didn’t matter. How about that?

As pre-arranged, we spent the next day applying the shopping/cooking experience to some future collaborations. We started to develop a new lexicon with phrasing like: “don’t be afraid of the chocolate sausage” and “don’t you start trying to make masterpieces with only your  ingredients”.  (Am glad for my husband’s sake that he chose to make himself scarce…we can be pretty insufferable, turns out). I’m also glad that Lisa and I took the opportunity to turn a phone chat that I’d booked with Dyana Valentine into a Project Intensive. She really helped us to synthesize what we were concocting. That is one gifted woman right there.

The lesson:

Truth be told, I am still digesting just how important this weekend was for me. But so far, here’s what I KNOW I’ve learned:

  • Non-attachment is hard. And not being attached to outcomes can provide so much more expansiveness that the mind boggles at the possibilities.
  • Collaboration only really works when you and your partner lean in to each other equally. Lean in too far and you push them away. Lean in too little and they topple you. Lean in equally and you can have a whole lotta fun.
  • Playing in the middle range is weak. AND it’s work to not dwell there (it occurred to us both that our dishes really could have been far more experimental than they were…there is still farther for us to go).
  • Don’t laugh at anyone for getting chili in their eyes…it’ll come back to bite you in the ass (or in the eye, as it happened to me).

Can’t wait to share with you what we are really cooking up (once it’s fully baked, that is).

PS – As a further challenge, Lisa and I have agreed to stay away from each other’s blogs for the next week so we don’t cross-contaminate our findings. Take a peak over at her site to see what she’s saying about the experiment. And if she accuses me of peaking in her shopping bag over lunch, don’t believe her. I really didn’t (though I really was tempted for a millisecond!)

* The title is a misnomer b/c I really don’t know what the “surprise” is. That the experience was hard and easy at the same time? Tasty and not? Still noodling that one around…

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