Creating Space: The How and Why

Creating Space: The How and Why

Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m on my yoga mat or spending time in nature by myself. How about you? What have you noticed when you create space in your life; e.g. when you sit still, stop doing and get out of your head and into your body? Feel free to add to the list below.

What happens when we create space? 

We feel:

  • Calm and relaxed
  • Playful
  • Free
  • More Joy
  • Connected to our “true” selves

We:

  • are open to new people and opportunities coming into our lives
  • allow negative thoughts and emotions to surface and be released
  • provide space for creative ideas to emerge
  • experience improved health
  • get clear on what is really important to us.

How can we create space? Here are a few ways I’ve found helpful. 

  • Spending time in nature
  • Meditating daily
  • Leaving my calendar “open”
  • Doing yoga 3 times a week
  • Painting
  • Journaling regularly

How can you start “Creating Space” in Your Life?

I – A good place to begin is by answering the following questions:

  • What fills me up? and 2) What drains me?

Here are a few examples to get you started

What fills me up?

  • Spending time in nature
  • Painting
  • Writing
  • Regular Yoga practice
  • Spending time with my grandbabies

What drains me?

  • So many emails
  • Feeling responsible for others
  • A totally planned and structured life
  • The “shoulds” in my life
  • Old programming that says in order for me to be loved and valued I need to achieve and perform.

II – Review your two lists/ answers to what fills you up and what drains you. Commit to integrating two or more items from “what fills you up” into your life starting tomorrow and start to reduce and eliminate two or more items that “drain you”. Over time, continue adding and eliminating things from your lists and notice how you feel and what your days look like.

It is important to do this in your own time, listening to your body. Remember this is not a race or an opportunity to say to yourself “look at all the new things I’m doing”. Rather, it is to assist you in getting out of your head and into your body; to becoming more consciously aware of what you do, how you feel, and what things bring you joy.

I’m doing an experiment this summer and have committed to “creating more space in my life” and to noticing what my life looks and feels like when I do this. How about you? Does this idea intrigue you? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and strategies you use to create space in your life. Feel free to comment below and to share this post with others.

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter to Mom: Celebrating Moms & Motherhood

An Open Letter to Mom: Celebrating Moms & Motherhood

My Mom was an amazing woman. Sadly she died too young at 62, after living with metastases from breast cancer from age 54. When she passed, I consciously looked at myself, and my life, and realized that I did not want to die young. I reflected on some of the ways I lived my life and decided to take better care of myself; instead of give, give, giving as my dear mother did, to start setting better boundaries. Gabor Mate in his book When the Body Says No cites powerful evidence regarding “cancer personalities”. He shares how many of his clients who die of cancer give to everyone else and tend to put themselves at the bottom of the list; and rarely if ever show anger.

My Mom was one of these people. She never had a negative word to say about anyone. She was the first one to be at someone’s home with a casserole when a friend or relative passed or got sick. She was creative; a poet and writer, and she did many crafts. She was warm, kind and thoughtful.

Thank you Mom for all I learned from you. You were so patient. You encouraged my creativity. You trusted me and let me find my way, even though I was quite adventurous and from a young age loved to climb on play structures and hang upside down on swing sets. You supported me when I backpacked Europe by myself even though I’m sure you had some concerns about it. Thanks for always being there! I appreciate when you advised me to start coming home earlier at night in my teens as Dad was getting upset. Thanks Mom for all the songs you taught me. Now with my own grandchildren, many of those songs “are coming back to me”. I love singing them to my four grandchildren under three. Who knew! …  Thanks Mom for loving me unconditionally.

Mother’s Day is coming up soon. It’s an opportunity to tell your Mother how much you care about and value her. Whether she’s still alive or has already passed, I encourage you to write an open letter to your Mom.

I invite you to share your reflections and comments below. Feel free to share this post with others.

 

How to Deal with the Anxiety associated with Change

How to Deal with the Anxiety associated with Change

Often when we’re facing a life change; it could be a job loss, retirement, separation, a health challenge; we feel anxious. Our heart begins to race and we feel like we want to run away from the situation. It is difficult to focus and often times we want to go back to the way things were. We feel overwhelmed by all that lies ahead of us, and are uncertain about our future.

When this happens, what can you do to get out of this cycle of anxiety?

Here are some proven strategies:

  • Take slow deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, keeping your mouth open and releasing sound when you exhale. Repeat this about five times and notice how you feel. This exercise releases oxytocin, the hormone that relaxes and calms us. When you have taken a few slow, deep, conscious breaths, you should begin to feel more relaxed.

 

  • Do body scanning on awakening and/or before going to sleep. Lie in bed and scan your body slowly from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. While doing this notice any tension or pain. If you do, breathe into that area and set the intention to release the tension or pain.

 

  • Spend regular time in nature. Find a special place you feel connected to. For me there is a place on the rocks by the ocean close to where I live. When I go there and lie on the rocks, I feel so grounded, relaxed and protected. Did you know that the Japanese have done longitudinal studies to show that when we walk among trees it reduces our heart rate, reduces our blood pressure and increases the number of natural killer cells our bodies produce?

 

  • Do mindfulness walking meditations starting with three times a week for 20 to 30 minutes each time. When you do this, instead of going for a walk and thinking about all that has happened or all you have to do, instead focus on your senses. Notice the wind on your face, the smell of the salt sea air, the crunch of leaves underfoot, the sound of the birds, the beautiful vistas that surround you. When thoughts come into your head, which they inevitably will do, imagine they are clouds and let them float by or imagine putting them in a bubble and seeing them float away, and refocus on your senses.

 

  • Repeat to yourself several times each day, “I am safe, it’s only change. “ (a favourite of mine from Louise Hay) Post this affirmation where you will see it, e.g. on the bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator door.

 

  • Move your body. Put on some music you enjoy and dance around your kitchen or wherever. Feel the music and let it flow through you.

 

  • Tap into and express your creative side. Do something creative that you enjoy. Perhaps it’s painting, drawing, playing the piano, gardening. It could be something you did as a child that you no longer do or something you’ve always wanted to try. When you tap into and express your creative side, you feel like a child at play, lighter and filled with wonder. This opens you up to exploring the positive side of the change you are experiencing, and to the belief that change is a creative process that opens us up to new possibilities.

I’d love to hear from you some strategies you’ve found helpful to reduce the anxiety associated with change. Feel free to post your comments below and to share this article with others.

The Power of Place

The Power of Place

I just returned from three relaxing and fun weeks vacation in Mexico. We spent two of those weeks in a magical fishing village, which made me reflect on and appreciate the power of place.

Have you ever visited a place and felt like you were “home”? Whenever I enter this pueblo, any stress I have instantly drops away. I feel relaxed, playful, open to possibility, “in the flow”. There is also a special sense of community in this town where locals and foreigners live peacefully together.

Some years ago, a woman from California started a children’s art and music festival that is still held every year in March. Over time, though her hard work and dedication, she gathered human and material resources and now the festival has grown to include a bricks and mortar community center with a library, computer room, recycling depot, coffee shop and a small retail space. It is a place that offers courses for girls and boys, women and men on everything from entrepreneurship, to environmental education, to sustainable development, The center has a truly welcoming atmosphere and is aptly called Entre Amigos (among friends). People who visit from largely Canada and the US often volunteer time to contribute to projects and help with fundraising.

A sponsorship program has been developed whereby Canadians and Americans (many of whom live there 6 months a year) sponsor promising local Mexican high school students to attend college and university.

Last year we attended a fundraiser for the local hospital where many talented local children performed music, dancing, gymnastics … . It was an animated community event. Every year there is a well-organized music festival in the local plaza (square) with amazing performers from around Mexico and a few from other countries.

What keeps my partner and I coming back to this magical place? It’s a combination of the welcoming and supportive atmosphere, the natural beauty, the strong sense of community and the positive bonds and caring evident among the locals and those who visit for periods of time. It’s also a community where I feel I can contribute and make some sort of positive difference. Plus I get to speak Spanish, and for some reason I have a natural affinity for Latin culture.

I have also experienced the power of place closer to home. When I’m feeling stressed and want to ground and unwind, there is a place by the ocean about 10 minutes from our home that I walk to. When I lay on the rocks and feel the sun on my body, any tension drops away and is absorbed by the rocks. I feel so grateful to live so close to this place of natural beauty.

Have you experienced the power of place? I’d love to hear your experiences and see descriptions of your magical places. Feel free to share those below and to forward this post to others. I also encourage you if you haven’t already, to find a place close to where you live that you can go to relax, reconnect and let your stress melt away.

 

 

 

The Power of Being Kind to Yourself

The Power of Being Kind to Yourself

I’ve come to believe that if I don’t truly love myself and treat myself with kindness, I’m unable to have a happy, fulfilling and healthy relationship with someone else.

February is celebrated as the month of love in many countries around the world. It’s often thought of in the context of romantic love. That said, this month has got me thinking about self-love and being kind to myself. I believe in the saying If you aren’t good to yourself, no one else will be. 

We often give so much to others that there is little left for ourselves and we feel depleted, exhausted and at times resentful. We think that if we say “No” that others won’t like us or we’ll be letting them down. I know for sure that when you set healthy boundaries, people sense and respect them and still love you, perhaps even more.

So What does being kind to yourself look and feel like for you?

For me it looks like:

  • Taking time each day to do something special for me
  • Meditating each morning.
  • Doing yoga 3 times a week or more
  • Walking in nature once a week or more
  • Booking trips and making time to visit my grandchildren every quarter
  • Truly being present with family and friends when I am with them
  • In yoga class, listening to my body and not pushing myself when I feel low in energy
  • Taking time to breathe and “smell the roses’ instead of constantly thinking about my “to-do” list
  • Listening to music I love
  • Letting my inner child come out to play regularly – through dancing around my kitchen, finger painting without a picture in mind, swimming, kayaking, hiking, cycling
  • When my inner critic begins to chatter in my head, saying a loud NO to it and stating “I’m not listening to you any more” and then reframing the negative chatter into a positive statement and saying it aloud
  • Treating myself to a massage
  • Treating myself to a pedicure

When I’m kind to myself I feel:

  • Relaxed
  • Playful
  • Fully present
  • At ease
  • Free of negative chatter
  • Grateful
  • Creative
  • In “the flow”
  • Fun to be around
  • Inspired

I invite you to answer this question and notice what flows out of you. I challenge you to begin every morning thinking about and choosing at least one way you wish to be kind to yourself that day. During the day notice how you feel when you are doing so, and also how others respond to you. Continue doing this each day for three weeks and notice what difference it makes in your life.

What I know to be true is that when we’re kind to ourselves magical things happen!

I’d love to hear from you and what you do to be kind to yourself, as well as what you notice when you intentionally do this. Please share your comments below and feel free to forward this post to others.

How to Connect with Your Inner Child & Why It’s Important

How to Connect with Your Inner Child & Why It’s Important

With all the gloom, doom and uncertainty in the world, it’s more important than ever for us to “let go” of our worries and to connect with our inner child. What do I mean by “connecting with your inner child”? 

Imagine what it was like when you had no cares or worries, when you felt loved, safe and secure and lived each day from a place of childlike wonder. I invite you to take yourself back to that time and place. What do you see and how do you feel?

I see myself playing with friends in nature; pretending we are pirates and digging for gold in the farmer’s field close to where I grew up. I see myself swinging so high and then jumping off a swing. I see myself running, jumping and feeling so free. I see myself swimming at the family cottage, back and forth between the docks. When I imagine doing each of those activities I feel light, carefree, empowered, creative, energized and curious.

So how can you connect with your inner child and with those feelings you felt as a child? One clue is when I play with my grandchildren. I now have 4, three years of age and under! On a recent visit I went for a walk with my 21- month old granddaughter. It was her first winter of experiencing snow and what it was like to walk in the cold. Initially she had a bit of trouble walking all bundled up in her cumbersome snowsuit. Before long she was almost running, so excited to be outdoors. I drew pictures in the snow and she kept saying “more, more.” I showed her how to blow snow off her mittens as it was too dry to make a snowman. I helped her make an angel in the snow. I tried to put myself in her shoes and see through her eyes of childlike wonder. It was so fun and energizing!

Another activity that connected me with my inner child was in the acrylic painting class I recently started. In the class the instructor encouraged us to try finger painting and to free paint without trying to paint anything special. It was an incredibly liberating experience! For several days after, I felt so connected to my creative side, easily designing a workshop and doing some writing. I felt like I was “in the flow”. My mind was clear and focused.

I really enjoy being in, on or by water. When I’m feeling stressed I find it therapeutic to walk to the ocean (which is close by) and lie on the rocks. When I do this I feel grounded and supported by Mother Earth. My worries fall away and I relax and feel embraced by this sacred space.

Here are a few suggestions of how you may connect with your inner child.

  • Try finger painting with no agenda and notice how it makes you feel
  • Is there a special nature place close to where you live? Visit it regularly. Bask in its beauty and notice how being there makes you feel
  • Spend time with young children; notice and try to reconnect with your childlike wonder
  • Spend some time at least once a week imagining a time or times when you felt loved and supported with no worries or cares. Feel those feelings and recall what you were doing at that time. Perhaps begin integrating those activities into your life. It could be a regular hike, walk, drawing …
  • Create a sacred space in your home; a place for you that is comfortable and contains a few special reminders of your childhood; e.g. rocks, shells … . Commit to spending time in that space initially for 10 to 15 minutes three times a week and notice how you feel when there and the cumulative effect.

I believe that if we all took the time to reconnect with our inner child and let her or him “come out to play” on a regular basis, that there would be less conflict, less stress, more creativity and more collaboration in our lives, communities and workplaces.

I’d love to hear how you connect with your inner child and what you’ve noticed from that experience. Please share your experiences below so we can all learn and grow from each other.

If you’d like to learn more about how to Tap into and Express Your Creative Side I invite you to read chapter 5 in my #1 Best Selling book “Learning to Dance with LIfe” – http://pamela-thompson.com/books/