defy limitationsDo you ever get sick of being told what to do? What if it is you, telling you what to do, and you don’t want to listen?

I understand that I am a recovering middle child, but sometimes my rebellion days creep into areas of my life that I don’t want to rebel in. I want to want the celery. I wish I wanted to run up hills, or to clean my blinds, or to write out Christmas cards, or… Not so, my friend, but this is where I have learned to tap into creativity to achieve my goals and avoid a life of rigid rules.

I first made the connection between creativity and goals when I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. Everyone’s cheerful solution to my limited food choices was to “just have a salad”.  Being the logical and grounded person that I am, both personally and professionally, I developed a rage towards salad.

Then, one day, my pity party was rudely interrupted by a thought: ‘what if this wasn’t a limitation, but an invitation?’  What?!  What if the new rule, “no gluten” was an invitation to experiment with other foods and recipes? Everyone who knows me knows that I am not a culinary diva.  However, I love a challenge and a chance to be creative.

Reframing limitation -> Challenge/Opportunity + Creativity = Possibility

I started playing with recipes, and I developed a mad crush on different soups. (Sadly, I must report, salads and I have not been able to resolve our differences, and for the time being, we have decided to part ways.) A whole new world opened up to me, and, three years later, I don’t miss gluten.

What we focus on determines our experience.

It is ok, and sometimes necessary, to acknowledge what will be sacrificed in order to achieve a desired outcome. Focusing solely on the sacrifice, however, will chew through willpower and create greater suffering. Instead, ask yourself the following questions to create a new inspired focal point:

What is my compelling “why”, for creating this change?

How can I make this change fun?

How do I want to experience this process of growth/change?

Who do I want to be in this process? What kind of parent, spouse, child, professional..?

If I applied creativity to this goal, what would that look like?

Outside of myself, who will benefit from this? Is that worth it?

cre·a·tiv·i·ty/ [kree-ey-tiv-i-tee, kree-uh-] noun

1. the state or quality of being creative.
2. the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.

Creativity is an infinite resource that resides in all of us. You can call on this resource to create a much more pleasant experience of growth or goal attainment. You can also use it to create new refreshed focal points that will carry you through the beautifully turbulent process of change.

Defy limitations through creative thought, not through rebellion. Results will follow.

 

Defy on, my friend.

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cuppingI don’t know about you, but up until a few weeks ago, in my world, “cupping” was something my husband does when the kids aren’t looking. Apparently, this is not what cupping is.  A girlfriend of mine invited me along to a cupping, which is a tasting of different coffees and brewing techniques.

In five and a half hours, I learned more than I thought possible about coffee and how to bring out its different flavours and attributes.  To be honest, I am a tea person and have always turned my nose up at coffee.  So, it was kind of like inviting a dog person to a tutorial on cats, but a strange thing happened…I started appreciating coffee.

Looking back, it was the Cupper’s, or rather the Barista’s, passion for coffee that captured my respect.  He talked about coffee like it was a lover that needed to be handled with respect and caressed with unbridled love.  Maybe I am exaggerating, but he definitely had a mad crush on coffee, and it gave me a newfound respect for the different aspects of coffee.

I learned about how a French press will bring out the body of a coffee, while the pour-over method allows the true flavours to come through.  Until that moment, the pour-over method was a bathing technique we use when we are camping.  I began to appreciate coffee, but more than anything, I began respecting his approach to coffee, and his ability to bring excellence to the simple task of brewing coffee.

Have I turned into a coffee drinker?  Not a chance, but a profound thing began happening.  I began to apply his remarkable mindfulness to my tea, to my cooking, to the fresh air that I breathe whenever I go outside. I learned that truly devoting 100% of yourself to a given task, no matter how simple or seemingly insignificant, brings an immeasurable return.

Thanks Coffee Guy.

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tantrumI am reading a book on exercise and how it impacts our mental health. As I turn the page from one scientifically proven point to another, there is an inner voice saying…yaddy yaddy yah. It is almost taunting the well documented information and filing it under ‘tell me something I don’t already know’.

Is this reaction really coming from someone that calls themselves a holistic health blogger? Darn tootin, while I jump on my runners and hurl insults at my yoga pants.

So what is this reaction really about? I haven’t exercised for a week, and it has been sporadic for almost two months. Oh, the shame and guilt.

The truth is I enjoy exercise. I love how it clears my mind, makes me feel strong and dilutes stress. I love exercise, but I haven’t made it a priority, and it has gotten lost amongst a long list of other responsibilities.

What my ‘inside’ voice is really saying

My inside voice is not reacting to exercise or what the author is saying about exercise. My inside voice is reacting to the guilt that results when I should on myself (My play on words amuses even me, as I read this line out loud for the eight time).

Overcoming Guilt

Inertia is one thing to overcome, but if you are also contending with shame or guilt, it is like trying to start a bike ride on an incline.

Ditch the guilt and lighten the load.

If I don’t feel guilty, I am free to get back to exercise because I miss it, not because I am trying to prove that I am healthy or that I am a good little girl.

Guilt = Resistance

How do you do this? By reframing.

Exchange what you are saying to yourself, which is causing the guilt, for something that will encourage you to take action.

Instead of: “I am so lazy. Why can’t I just get my butt into gear and go for a run?”

Try: “I feel better when I exercise. When is the next time I can fit twenty minutes in?”

Also, try an ounce of compassion, maybe even two. Learning to incorporate a new habit takes time, even years. Being patient with yourself, actually speeds up the process

Ahhhhhh. That’s better.

I think I will go for a run now.

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committmentWhen my honey and I have plans to go out, and the babysitter falls through, we don’t hang our heads and decide to stay home. We hit our contact list for plan B, and if that falls through, plan C. I think we have even gone as far as plan J (I come from a big family).

This is pure determination, flexibility with a splash of creativity.

In truth, we savour those occasional outings because we know they fuel our marriage and our emotional health, and they can supercharge the fun factor in our lives. In short, it is worth the effort to overcome the barriers.

So, why not apply this mind frame to goals?

So often we allow life to get in the way of what we want most because we give up too quickly.

No time, no worries…create a plan B or plan C that allows you to stay on track, while managing the ups and downs of life.

For example {this goal is exercise, but can be exchanged for any goal…writing, quality time with loved ones, creativity, nutrition, finances}:

Your A Game: get your sweat on five to six times per week for an hour, include weights, cardio and stretching.

Your B Game: get your sweat on three times per week for twenty to forty-five minutes. Give yourself a morning stretch for a few minutes and throw in weight bearing exercises like squats, push-ups, lunges, and tricep dips on commercial breaks or with your kids.

Your C Game: one biggie workout a week, like a hike, walk, or sweat session at the gym. Then, throw in the mini exercise boosts like hop scotch, a dance off, a wrestling match or running the stairs a few times. Do this once or twice a day and throw in the sporadic weight bearing exercises listed above a few times a week. We are talking about ten minutes here and five minutes there that won’t require a shower and beauty treatment afterwards.

I get that life is hectic, but neglect is a form of abuse and your life deserves some of your best love. You deserve some of your best love.

It is easier to gather momentum than to start from scratch.

It is easier to go from your C plan to your B or A plan when life slows down than it is to go from nothing to your A or B plan. Once a goal is a habit, you can adjust the volume based on priorities and responsibilities.

If you have small children or are a single parent, your C plan may be your best until the children get older. That is okay because you are doing what it takes to build towards what your goals.

So what is your A –B – C plan? Don’t let someone prescribe to you what it should be…make it fit for you, and make it fun!

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reframeMy 4 year old and I decided to go for a hike.  As we set out on our first hill, I could feel the burn.  I felt anxious that my daughter may want to throw in the towel early because ‘it was too hard’.  Then a thought crept into my mind: what if it is just me that feels the burn and associates a negative with it.

Parenting Experiment # 484: Reframing

“Hey Monkey, do you feel that burning in your legs?”

“Yah, Mom, right here,” she says, as she dramatically rubs her thighs.

“That is the feeling of your legs getting stronger.”

“REALLY!?”  The wide-eyed wonder stirred something in my spirit as I watched a belief being born, right before my eyes.

Two Truths, One Choice

In my experience, the burning told me I was out of shape and should have been doing this more often.

In my daughter’s experience, the burning signified growth and development.

Both experiences are true, but one encourages and feeds the soul and one shames.  Here is the beauty of it: I can choose which truth to focus on.  In my thirties, I can swap out my belief for my daughter’s and allow it to spur me on towards my goals.

By drawing into question the thoughts that I have mistaken as realities, I have the opportunity to reframe exercise, eating, meditation, love…

The 3 Key Ingredients for Reframing

Awareness – You need to be conscious of your thoughts as you are doing something.  Are they negative or positive?  What messages are the most repetitive?

Curiosity – Is this thought the absolute truth, or are there other possible truths?  Is this thought helping or hurting you? (Byron Katie does a fantastic job of reframing thoughts through questioning.  You can check out her work at www.thework.com )

Choice – Once you have identified an unproductive thought, you can then replace it with a truth that is supportive.  If you don’t love to exercise, then saying ‘I love to exercise’ will not have an impact.  You have to choose a truth like, ‘I love to feel strong’ and use this to replace unproductive thoughts that are discouraging.  Eventually, your thinking will become automatic, and you will find yourself looking forward to the chosen task.

I have used this fantastic trick to learn to love early mornings, running, healthy food and a variety of other, initially unpleasant, habits that I have begun to shape my life.

What are you putting off in your life that may need some reframing?

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freedom

‘Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.’ Anon

I love this quote. I love this quote. Did I mention that I love this quote?

I don’t love this quote because it adds legitimacy to nights when I have had an extra glass of wine and Sambo decides to entertain. I love this quote because, when I hear it, I can feel my soul sigh. I can actually feel my soul exhale. Tension is momentarily released from my mind and I get a moment of transformational clarity.

Sure I know how to laugh. I love to laugh, but laughing has become the intermission in my life and not the main event.

A few months ago I wrote a guest post for a popular blog.  I was thrilled.  The big day arrived and I check the comment section with unbridled glee…

Shot down.

The first three comments were refuting a metaphor I was using in the post and completely lost sight of the main point. I was devastated.

Not only did they misunderstand the post, they were challenging who I was and my parenting choices.

I wanted to hide under my covers and scrap the notion of becoming a blogger.

Women started coming to my defence and I was able to slowly emerge from my fog of defeat and humiliation…but then something happened. A friend made a joke about the situation.

She made a joke about the metaphor and the intensity that it evoked. Something cracked in me. I laughed so hard I had tears streaming down my face. Sure it feels good to laugh, but all of a sudden I had clarity.

I saw that these women were entitled to their opinion and many of them were probably speaking from the same judgement that was placed upon them.

I saw how much validation I was looking for, outside of myself.

I saw how serious I was taking myself and how much importance I was placing on one guest post.

I also saw that I don’t need to live with that tension…the tension of trying to be good enough. That tension of trying to be understood and valued for what I can do or what I know.

By realizing that there is not one shred of evidence that I need to take myself so seriously, I am free to be me. As awkward and blissful as that is.

What a relief.

Are you free?

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