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 mind and the worries tabled by my clients, I grew to understand that worry produces only two things: stress and wasted time. Worry is never productive.
For years, regardless of my academic and professional successes, I usually managed to find something to worry about. I worried about getting good grades. I worried about finding the right job. I worried about getting promoted. I worried about pleasing my clients.
You get the idea.
Since I was always worrying about the future, I experienced only brief glimpses of happiness. I would feel relief and pride at some accomplishment, only to quickly shift into thinking about the next goal and the next thing to worry about.
I share this little piece of my story because I have heard similar stories from numerous clients. I’ve discovered that so many outwardly successful, incredibly accomplished people are still striving for the next thing. They are still trying to measure up, succeed and win the approval of their family, friends, colleagues and peers.
They aren’t enjoying their lives “yet”, as they believe that they first need to change their circumstances – become even more successful, make more money, buy a house, have a nicer house, or, later in their careers, make enough money to retire early and have more time for themselves.
For five decades, I didn’t know relief was waiting for me in each moment. I didn’t understand the answer to a happy, successful life would never be to anxiously work towards my next achievement. I didn’t see there was an easier path to an amazing life and career.
Then at age 54, on a trip to Paris on a vacation from my job as an international tax lawyer, I experienced a beautiful and compelling vision of myself painting a canvas. When this happened, I felt a surge of joy, gratitude and overwhelming peace. Even though I hadn’t painted since I was a child and doubted my own artistic abilities, my vision started me on a journey of transformation. (See my story in the Amazon bestselling book, Ignite Your Life for Women, which came out earlier this year.)
My vision kickstarted in me a willingness to give myself permission to taste my own creativity. As it turned out, creativity was my road to becoming present and in touch with myself. And through this process, I didn’t just learn how to create art. I learned how to create a life I love. And I learned to love the journey.
When I started to paint, I felt like I’d landed in a strange and wonderful land. The experience seemed so foreign – in a good way. The feeling of being immersed in the creative process is the exact opposite of the feeling of worrying and planning with gritted determination.
Painting taught me to set aside my thinking mind and just focus on the magic of mixing colours, moving the paint brush through the paint and applying brush to canvas. As I dropped my busy thoughts, I discovered that ideas would naturally flow through me. I dropped “trying” and allowed myself to just fall into “being”.
The process was magic. So long as I didn’t think and just allowed the paint to flow, I found that the me who “couldn’t” draw was, instead, an artist who could paint a realistic painting of her daughter.
I realized that true creativity wasn’t a personal gift you either have or you don’t have. It is a universal resource that is available to each one of us when we are truly present.
I soon realized that the gift of creativity through presence was a skill that could be applied in every area of life. All of us are constantly creating. We are creating our lives.
Each day, we are faced with a choice. We can choose to effort, worry and strive as we try to create our future – and most likely continue to feel like we still haven’t arrived. Or we can choose to think differently, relinquish worry, become present and receive the gifts and insights that are naturally available to us, and so create our future in a seamless and satisfying way that allows us to enjoy the process and always feel like we’re exactly where we need to be.
Over the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to share the things I’ve learned with many wonderful clients – executives, professionals, consultants, entrepreneurs, painters, writers and photographers. All of them have known that there was something they wanted to create in their own lives – whether it was shifting their careers to increase their enjoyment and satisfaction, carving out time from their busy schedules for a passion project, creating more time to spend on activities they love, or taking their art to the next level. What they all shared in common was a growing feeling that something more was waiting for them. They all sensed an opportunity to experience life with more depth, joy, passion, purpose, fulfillment and authenticity. My role as their coach has been to help them become aware of their thoughts and actions, shift their mindsets, drop their limitations, connect to their hearts and become all that they wish to be.
It has been an honour and pleasure to watch my clients transform their lives. I’m thrilled to announce that one of my longstanding coaching clients, the amazing artist, Bonnie Gordon, will be the first artist I’ll be featuring at the George Russell Academy of Creative Expansion (G.R.A.C.E.) at 500 County Road 18, Cherry Valley in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada. (For those of you who have not been following me, GRACE is the art gallery, workshop space and yoga and meditation studio that I dreamed up and then spent the last year building with my contractor, the wonderful Ducon Contractors of Trenton.)
Bonnie’s show will be taking place at GRACE on September 20, 2019 from 12 pm to 5 pm, on September 21, 2019 from 12 pm to 7:30 pm and on September 22, 2019 from 12 pm to 5 pm.
I am thrilled that Bonnie’s paintings will be the first artwork to be shown at GRACE. Bonnie was an internationally renowned Cake Designer whose cakes were purchased by the likes of Louis Vuitton for important events all over North America, and were featured in high end fashion and decorating magazines of every description.
Over the past two years, I have watched Bonnie transform her life with grace and courage as she changed her artistic media from cakes to the more enduring medium of watercolour. Which is wonderful thing. Because Bonnie’s artwork is utterly unique, ethereal and breathtakingly beautiful. Just look at her beautiful work in the photo her painting I’ve posted here! Her paintings are definitely something to treasure for many years to come.
Bonnie has named her show The Soul of Flowers. When you see her paintings, you will understand why she has chosen that name and how very appropriate it is. I am convinced that many of you will see your own soul in Bonnie’s paintings. And you might feel encouraged to think about the ways you could creatively expand your own life. I’m hoping to see many of you there.
If you’d like to explore how to create the life you want, I’m regularly onboarding clients for my 12 week and 20 week Love Your Life Again one-on-one coaching programs. During our time together, I’ll teach you the tools you need to know to overcome obstacles, handle challenges, connect with your dreams and your heart and create your best life, whatever that might mean for you. If you’re interested in learning more about either program, sign up for one of my free personal strategy sessions. We’ll discuss your issues, see if one of my programs responds to your needs and determine whether we’re a good fit for each other. To schedule a free personal strategy session, just click on https://gracedcanvascalendar.as.me/schedule.php to directly access my scheduling page. Or visit my website www.gracedcanvas.com and click on the free personal strategy session button that appears in several places.
If you’d like to receive my monthly newsletter with coaching insights and information about my coaching programs, coaching retreats and other events I’ll be holding at the GRACE, please send me your email address by messaging me here or on Facebook or sending me an email to email@example.com. I’ve picked a monthly format because I personally dislike receiving frequent emails from anyone, so I wouldn’t do that to you!
If you’re interested in attending my Love Your Life Again 4 Day group coaching retreat from October 26 – 28, 2019 or my Love Your Life Again 3 Day group coaching retreat from November 23 – 25, 2019 or would like to schedule a half day Soul Painting Intensive (solo) or Full Day/ Overnight Creative Soul Intensive (solo), please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain more information. All workshops will take place at GRACE. The group coaching retreats are all inclusive. Attendees will be primarily housed 10 minutes away from GRACE at a beautiful lakefront property. I will be interviewing all participants in advance to ensure that the program will work for them and to curate the groups. There are opportunities for double accommodation if you’d like to sign up with a friend. Overnight Creative Soul Intensive attendees will be housed at GRACE.
G.R.A.C.E. is within easy driving distance from Toronto (2 ½ hours), Montreal (4 hours), Ottawa (3 hours), Kingston (1 ¼ hours), Buffalo (4 hours), Albany (4 ½ hours), Rochester (4 ½ hours), New York City (8 hours) and several smaller centres.