We use labels to describe each other based on characteristics, gender, roles, backgrounds, affiliations, etc. The labels are limitless but their impacts can be limiting. Depending on how identified we are with these labels they can restrain our behaviour, actions and growth.
The “Shy” Girl
When I was young, I could have been considered “shy” or “quiet”. An example that demonstrates this quality took place one afternoon while we were camping. My sisters and I wanted a snack so we jumped on our banana seat bikes and headed to the camp store. My older sister Heather and I were shy, so when we wanted to know the cost of a pack of gum, we immediately turned to our little sister. Janice was around four years old at the time. She is two years younger than me and four years younger than Heather, but was much less timid than both of us at the time. We quietly asked her to ask the lady at the counter how much the gum was. Without hesitation, she posed the question for us while we eagerly listened for the answer. We were a good team with Janice compensating for her older siblings’ shyness.
This “shyness” lasted through my teen years. I remember meeting my boyfriend’s parents and spending time at his house, where I spoke no more than I had to. At our wedding his parents reminisced at how quiet I was when they first met me.
Continue reading “Labels and limitations – the good, the bad and the ugly”
Social media is like our mind and mindfulness is the key to making it a friend
My family and I recently spent a beautiful summer evening on the lakefront in a nearby town. We had a picnic and took a stroll along the water, enjoying the warm weather and lovely sunset. I took some social media worthy shots. They depicted a happy family along with colourful scenic views. But they didn’t show the whole picture.
What they didn’t show was the unhappiness that came towards the end of the evening as the boys were getting tired and their mom was trying to eke out every last bit of relaxation and enjoyment on the last few days of her summer vacation. I love walks, nature and quiet evenings, however my thirteen and eleven year old boys don’t appreciate it quite as much. They’d much rather be playing video games with their friends or working on YouTube projects. While I don’t want to detract from the family bonding time and good parts of the day, the reality is there were tears, frustration and unhappiness towards the end of the evening as our interests and energy levels were at odds.
I’m fairly sure we are a typical family, going through natural challenges as we navigate our different interests and try to find balance. Oftentimes we don’t get the balance just right. In this case, we stayed up too late. I’ve learned over the years that tiredness is a big culprit of negative emotions that are hard to control.
My pictures didn’t capture this part of the evening.
Continue reading “Mindful media: Is social media friend or foe?”
Practicing mindful awareness helps me find time to do the things I love.
I recently listened to an impactful podcast with Michael Singer, author of The Untethered Soul. Episode 3 is titled Giving Meaning to the Time Between Your Birth and Death. It starts with a reminder of the simple fact that you were born and you are going to die. It’s a truth that we sometimes avoid but we shouldn’t. He suggests a basic question to pose to ourselves: What are you doing in between the time that you were born and the time you die?
It’s precious time that was given to you. It’s YOUR time. Not your spouses, your kids or your company’s. It’s your time. How are you spending the time you have on this Earth between your birth and your death?
Continue reading “Finding time with mindfulness”
When I stopped hiding parts of myself I found freedom and true happiness.
When I was a child I was on the shy side. There were moments when I distinctly remember wishing I could be invisible and not have any eyes or attention on me. I just wanted to blend in, shrink back, whatever it took to ensure no one would look at me. I didn’t feel like this all the time, just in certain moments.
There were also certain parts of me that made me feel different. I spent a lot of time in my adolescent years trying to hide these parts.
Continue reading “My hidden self”
Every day provides an opportunity to practice mindfulness. As we welcomed a kitten to our family and introduced him to his new home this week, he reminded me of lessons in change management and gave us an opportunity to practice mindfulness. Here’s our story. . .
How did a “non-cat” person end up with a kitten??
First of all, for those who have known me since my teenage years know that I have never been known as a “cat person”. I lived with cats growing up, thanks to my sister Heather, who brought home any animal she could get her hands on, and my post-university roommates, Janis and Kate. Mainly though, I accepted the cat’s presence in my house but kept them at an emotional distance. We co-existed. I saw myself more as a “dog person” but mostly as a “people person”.
As I’ve learned and I’ll talk about more in an upcoming blog, judging and labeling ourselves can be extremely limiting in our lives. With this in mind, I’ve dropped the idea of being a “non-cat person” or a “dog person”. Now, I’m simply a lover of all creatures. This includes cats, especially cuddly, kind and affectionate ones!
So when my good friends, Janis and Kate, recently brought home Ragdoll kittens that were extremely affectionate and cuddly, I couldn’t help but adore them. At the same time my thirteen-year-old son, Carter, struggling with finding joy in online school during the pandemic, started asking for a pet. That is when the stars aligned as we learned Janis’ new kitten had a brother looking to be adopted. Our family has not had any pets yet, and now, within a week of starting a discussion about adopting a kitten, we brought home little Jackie.
Continue reading “Change and mindfulness lessons from a kitten”
This spring I was reminded of the importance of awareness, curiosity and openness, which led to a mindset shift.
When the spring arrives, so does a subtle dance that my husband and I have when it comes to our lawn and the dandelions that seem to enjoy it. As the yellow plants start to emerge one by one, I find a quiet afternoon day and, with my garden trowel and gloves in hand I descend upon my backyard.
I start the arduous job of digging them up, one by one, being careful to get as much of the root as possible. I spend hours slowly and methodically combing through the backyard, foot by foot, extracting these “unruly, ugly weeds” from the lawn.
Continue reading “Dandelions and mindset shifts”
Despite practicing mindfulness for almost twelve years, I still need reminders to stay mindful. Even more important than these reminders is remembering the “why” – why am I doing this? Why is it good for me? Understanding the why can have a positive impact on whether or not we stick with healthy habits such as mindfulness, healthy eating and exercise.
Throughout my life I have read countless articles, attended numerous talks and heard time and again the importance of a balanced diet, regular exercise and getting eight hours of sleep. Even so, it’s easy to fall out of good routines with all of these things. And based on the industries that have formed around diet and exercise, I’m not the only one this happens to. I experienced a game-changing moment when my son Carter was 18 months old, about eleven years ago.
Continue reading “The secret to sticking with good habits”
A few years ago, I learned the power of a simple, well-placed question when combined with an honest response. It can quite literally change a life.
As a bank regulator, I ask questions for a living. We query bank leaders – senior management and Board members – about the business to understand and explore its safety and soundness. I know how powerful questions can be. Questions can create an opportunity to get at the root of a problem. What I didn’t realize was how powerful one simple question would be in my own personal life.
Continue reading “How a powerful, simple question changed my life”
When I was about to get married a common piece of marriage advice that I often received at bridal showers and pre-wedding events was, “Never go to bed angry.” It’s great advice. A similar piece of wisdom for anyone who chooses to embark on the goal of living a fulfilling and happy life is, “Never go to bed without being grateful.”
Gratitude is one of the key happiness superpowers that we have as humans. It’s one of the most powerful weapons we have in our arsenal to truly change our lives for the better. The importance of gratitude for happiness and well-being may not be new to you. I know I’ve talked about it in previous blogs, as well as in Good Morning, Life! – it’s part of my happiness formula! The amazing thing is that gratitude literally has the power to rewire our brains. It’s truly remarkable.
Continue reading “Happiness superpowers – part 3: gratitude”
In my last blog, we discovered that ordinary humans, like Avengers, have superpowers. I learned that trust is a superpower for happiness, and now let’s delve into another happiness superpower – CURIOSITY. And just like trust, the power of curiosity transcends all facets of life – at home and at work.
About three years ago, I was exploring different guided meditations to listen to during my morning train commute to the city. As detailed in Good Morning, Life!, I was in the midst of a journey to happiness. I came across a meditation that intrigued me called The Meaning of Life. What a bold title, I thought to myself. As if there is one answer! But as I listened that bold title didn’t disappoint. The meditation lesson outlined three main qualities that bring meaning to our lives and they are: loving, learning and being happy.
Continue reading “Happiness superpowers – part 2: curiosity”