I thought I wasn't free. Until the day I decided I was.
I’m writing this article for all of you creative souls who believe you need to study or take courses (or maybe even get a degree!) before you can paint or draw, write a book or create a play. For all of you who were told you weren’t creative and stopped trying. For all of you who have kept quiet at work and held back ideas and insights you’d love to share but don’t because you’ve judged them outside the confines of the acceptable. What I’m going to tell you now might make some of you a bit defensive. Especially those of you on the other end of the scenarios I’m describing – the mentors, bosses and experts who believe firmly in certain ways of doing things, rules that need to be followed, the importance of being realistic, and the past as the best guide to the way forward. I’m totally fine if you disagree. I’m putting this out there anyway because I believe that the best way for me to serve the world [...]
Photo – close-up of It is Rain that Grows Flowers by Bonnie Gordon Although most people remember childhood as being carefree, I never found that to be true for me. My desire to perform, and my anxiety about not performing, began at a tender age. My Dad had been deeply affected by his experiences as a young child living in Western Canada’s prairie dustbowls during the Great Depression. He believed it was his job to school me – pretty much right out of the womb – about the importance of getting good grades and securing a good job. Financial stability was all important. I was born with both a natural tendency to worry and a desire to please, and I absorbed Dad’s lessons like a sponge. For several decades, I actually believed that worry was fueling my success. I was wrong, of course. One of my favourite sayings from my formal life coach training is, “Worry is an emotion only pretending to be useful.” When I really started to watch my own [...]
As I sat down to write this article, I looked up for a moment to appreciate the tranquil view of Lake Ontario that I can see from my favourite writing spot. I stopped typing for a moment to watch a huge flock of black Cormorants glide single file just below the line that marks the intersection of water and sky. I continued to watch as the birds flew by in the hundreds. The Cormorants’ parade continued for over half an hour. I’m guessing that my house must be between these birds’ favourite feeding grounds and their overnight nesting area. As I observed the birds, the coach in me pondered why it is that I love birds/water/sky so much. The first answer that came to mind – and I usually find that the best answers are the ones that come to me immediately, before the active part of my brain tries to “figure it out” and pull me away from a deeper truth - was how peaceful, present and calm I usually feel when [...]
Creativity comes in moments where we stop worrying about the past or future. When we set down our plans. Where we truly understand that we have everything we need in the moment right now.
I was struck by a question posed recently by Susan Hyatt, a leader in the life coaching industry and the passionate and courageous author of Bare, an anti-diet book that focusses the reader on loving her body and living her life. I was listening to Susan teaching a webinar on marketing for coaches. Susan shared her belief with us that a coach’s first step should be to examine who she is. Susan’s question struck me as interesting and novel. Why novel? Because, the typical marketing advice I’ve received since becoming a coach is to start by defining our “client avatar” (an imaginary person meant to represent our ideal client.) The client avatar concept is useful because it helps us imagine how the people we want to serve are feeling and thinking. This allows us to write marketing copy that connects emotionally with our prospective clients. The theory is that we should focus our marketing and our coaching practice on our clients’ needs rather than what we want to offer. After all, we’re in a service business. Coaching is [...]
Every once in a long while, something happens that surprises me by moving me to tears – joyful tears, not the sad kind. Unexpected tears are like my body’s way of getting me to notice that something important has taken place. Something worth paying attention to. I experienced this just the other night. I was participating in a great little trade show hosted by the wonderful Tanya Shapenko at Verity, Toronto’s largest women’s business club. Tanya is a gifted jewelry designer. She specializes in creating exquisitely crafted pieces that feature pearls and diamonds. And she has an ability to create magic. Tanya exceeded herself that night. Just before our show began, Tanya announced that she had a special gift for each participant. Tanya rolled out a dish containing several oysters and she asked each one of us to choose one. Even though the oyster shells appeared to be a brownish grey, on closer inspection I could see that each shell had subtle, iridescent colours. I love colour and became absorbed in my choice. [...]
Do you have a dream about something you’d love to create in the world, but believe it isn’t possible? If that’s you, I hope you will read on. I’m sharing my story of G.R.A.C.E. with you in mind. I intend my story to inspire you to shift your thinking. To cause you to consider letting go of the reasons you’ve been thinking you can’t make your dream happen and to start focussing on the reasons you want to make it happen. And letting those reasons carry you forward into action. I’ve now taken action that commits me 100% to moving forward with my own vision. The realization of my dream is exciting, terrifying and fulfilling. I’m building The George Russell Academy of Creative Expansion on 8.4 acres in Prince Edward County. Construction is proceeding rapidly. G.R.A.C.E. includes a sundrenched meditation and yoga studio that is part of the circa 1866 farmhouse, and a brand new painting studio, art gallery and workshop/classroom space in a 1200 square foot building I designed. Building G.R.A.C.E. is, [...]
Why allowing yourself to fail is the best way to start feeling good Ever since I was little, I worried about failing. I remember going to my first gymnastics class in grade 1. Some kids showed up who were already good little gymnasts. Their parents had enrolled them in gymnastics the year before. Naturally, they were much better than the rest of us. I remember thinking to myself that it was “too late” for me to embrace the sport because I was already “behind”! Seriously. I just couldn’t imagine showing up in class and feeling OK about not being good in front of the other children. All I could imagine was a line of judging faces. It’s easy to laugh now at this idea of feeling behind in grade 1. But if you look at how we make decisions as adults, you might notice similar thoughts at play. The reason I was worried about being behind was because I thought my lack of experience would cause me to look incompetent in front of [...]
Do you like feel like you always have to get it right? Like over 200,000 other self-help junkies, I’ve been watching Mel Robbins’ free Mindset Reset video series. I’ve made a practice of always learning from the best people in my field, and Mel is one of the most booked motivational speakers in North America. One of the first exercises we did in her program was to write down our negative thoughts throughout an entire day to see what patterns emerged. As a twice-trained life coach, I’d already identified dozens of my own limiting beliefs and didn’t expect to discover anything new. But Mel asked the usual question a bit differently than I’d heard it before, and that difference was important for me. Mel asked us to identify a SINGLE limiting belief – a common thread behind all our thinking. Her conviction that we would all find ONE pervasive negative thought about ourselves motivated me to search for mine. What I learned really surprised me because I generally feel a lot happier [...]