Dream Holders

sunset-3689760_1920Years ago I went on vacation with my aunt, uncle and cousin. They rented a house near Seaside, Florida where we spent Christmas and New Year’s together. I loved everything about my time there.

I loved my yellow room and private bathroom, the young cat who would come running to me when I came down the stairs and settled on the couch. She would immediately get comfortable across my chest, almost nestled in my neck. She was sweet and smelled like the beach.

I was also deep into a book recommended by a friend of mine: Possession by A.S Byatt. I would take it to the beach and read for hours on a blanket. My thoughts started to borrow the tone of the book, so much so that I even wrote in that style to the friend who had recommended it.

There was some melody to it all, a rhythm that felt like a dance of the senses.

And I loved the area. I loved Seaside, Seagrove Beach, Rosemary. It was so welcoming and relaxing and I really appreciated the architecture of the villages built in that area.

I felt so comfortable there and wanted to share it, so I bought a nice card to send to a close friend of mine in Montreal.

Years later, I was given money for a vacation to a place of my choosing. As I was trying to decide where to go, the friend who had received the card reminded me of how special that place had felt to me and it all came rushing back. I was surprised that I had forgotten about it so easily and was so grateful that she was taking me back to it through joy.

I have been back many times since then and even managed to finally bring my Mom from France to discover it this past spring.

I do have a special connection to that area and if my friend hadn’t held the dream for me, I probably would have never thought it possible for me to go back there. It felt like a dream come true to be there with my Mom this year.

Another example takes me back to last year. I really wanted to make some progress paying off my debts and the banks were not being helpful. I mentioned it to a friend of mine who has a tendency to immediately get on the path of a solution whenever presented with any challenge. She sees the possibilities a lot faster than most which is truly a beautiful quality. She offered to lend me money at a very low interest rate. I was quite taken aback by such generosity because I knew my circumstances and I was so afraid of what would happen if for some reason I wasn’t able to fulfill my obligation toward her. My life had a lot of uncertainty in it. She saw clearly through that and didn’t seem to mind at all. She trusted me, our friendship, had faith in my future, my potential, my values and who I was…more so than I did myself at the time. So even though I wasn’t entirely sure, I decided to take the risk and trust her belief. Trust by proxy in a way.

 

One year later, I am days away from paying her back completely and my life has changed tremendously in that respect. She held fast to what she saw in me and knew of me. I held on to that beacon and it allowed me to believe as she believed as I saw things unfolding and that month after month I was doing it.  Let me say too that there were some months at the beginning where I was in no position to make the monthly payment. It never changed anything for her. She was fine with it, still trusted that all would be well. I was less relaxed about it, filled with guilt and doubt. But when things turned around and I managed to slowly compensate for those “empty” months and saw the progress, I was encouraged and my belief caught up with hers. By her not doubting, by leaving an open space, a non-judgmental space, free of fear, it allowed for something beautiful to bloom….I remembered my dream and how possible it was, how very attainable it was if I just believed in it myself, if, like she did, I looked at the possibility rather than the doubt.

 

Here, I want to add this friend’s point of view as well:

“What needs to also be said, is that you also helped me in allowing me to loan you the money — you assisted me in my journey of trust.  A trust I truly believed I would never hold again for another person. You allowed me to put “my work” into action and the experience reinforced what I believed intellectually, but wasn’t 100% sure — the belief was that I would trust again and that my faith had not been destroyed by actions of those in my past.  This experience helped me understand the word unconditional and kindness in its truest form.”

So I am deeply grateful for my dream holder friends. They keep the light on when I think I can’t find the switch. They keep my dreams in a warm place, they remind me that I once had them so that I may find my way back to them when I’m ready to make them come true and the journey is all the sweeter because of it!

 

Are you a dream holder for someone? Who in your life has been a dream holder for you? Feel free to share in the comment section if you’d like.

Most sincerely,

Val.

You can find me at www.thepowerofemotions.ca

 

 

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Golden Breaks

golden breaksA couple of years ago, a coaching client told me about Kintsukuroi (golden joinery) also known as Kintsugi (golden repair), which is the Japanese term for art of repairing ceramics with gold.

I like the poetry of “there is strength and beauty in the breaks”.

Times of adversity are a challenge depending on your circumstances, but I believe that what’s on the other side is golden and precious.

Many years ago, I had a burn out which also coincided with chronic back pain. Once I stopped being angry at my body and the world for what was happening to me, I started to listen. I decided to let my body guide me back to well-being and discovered along the way what a beautiful and wise instrument it was!

Having gone through the break, it was now sharper than ever and I was more attuned to it. As a result, I could be alerted a lot faster to circumstances that were not in my best interest and adjust my course to healthier choices.

It led to paths I would have never dreamed of. I taught tap dancing and revelled in the joy of creating choreographies. I went from being afraid I would never dance again to creating something that was part of the music, and gave it visual movement through the dancers. What a gift! I had no idea I had that in me. That break revealed that strength.

Another example is when my mom divorced my dad in the 70s. Back then, there was still a stigma that came with that. She was afraid of how it would affect my brother and myself and vowed, as if she had that power, that it wouldn’t. What I got to see was her determination to be independent, to build a career and make a difference in the world – and she did.  To this day, she remains a bright and powerful light that is very hard to ignore!:) That break gave her wings and she turned out to be more empowered by it than she imagined.

Another situation related to family was my grandma who lived well into her nineties and widowed as my grandpa died many years before. Like most men of his generation in Europe, he was in charge of the money for the household. Grandma managed to put away some coins that she would give us in secret (oh the fun of that!) but she was not the one writing cheques or paying bills. When he died, she was a bit at a loss as to how to do all of that, but once she got the hang of it, she was a new person! Withdrawing money at an ATM was like a game for the little girl that was still inside of her. It was a thrill to watch that transformation and see that part of her come to life.

So experience has taught me that we all face obstacles and go through challenging emotions that we tend to resist; it’s part of life. It has especially taught me that if you make it a point to remember the art of Kintsugi, when ready, you have the power to transform fear, sadness or anger into curiosity of what lies ahead for you. Difficult times will change you, no matter what. Being curious about what you’ll make of it changes your perspective and therefore opens the door to a future full of hope.

It feels a lot better and the world can add one more unique, beautiful work of art to its collection!

 

Val.

http://www.thepowerofemotions.ca

The Power of the Heart

heart-1381462_1920My friend E. suffers from Alzheimer’s.

I’ve been debating about writing about it for weeks, which in itself says a lot about the stigma that comes with this type of situation.

There is a lot that doesn’t get said, a lot that doesn’t get to be expressed and not just because the person with the disease can’t find the words anymore. That’s my experience and that’s all I am attempting to write about today. This is my perspective on what is happening and how, in spite of it, my friend never fails to touch my heart, to inspire me, to teach me something deeper than I could have expected and just leaves me breathless with the gift of the experience in light of such circumstances.

 

We knew something was wrong when she started repeating the same old, very old stories of her childhood and life journey. Why her brain would go down that path over and over was puzzling at first, then serious cause for concern, then seriously annoying. I know, it sounds awful and believe me, it came with a serious dose of guilt as well.

She’s been a friend for many years and a very dear friend at that. She’s one of my mentors, not so much by virtue of what she’s taught me out loud,  although she has done that too in some fashion, but much more in how she shows up in life – heart first and foremost. So because of that, I look for the gift in those stories. I wonder why she would choose these ones and not others. I thought maybe it said something about her, about what mattered to her, but as she once told me when I finally had the courage to ask if she had any idea the sheer amount of times she had told us those stories, maybe there was something in it for the ones listening over and over as well. To this day, which is why I will be given a chance to hear them again :), I have not found the answer to that. Somehow, I’m sure I will, once I get over whatever layer/filter is blocking my view.

 

She realized something wasn’t quite right when she couldn’t find the right words to express herself. When she was ready to talk about it, she called it “losing it a little bit” which was heartbreaking to hear.

As we grow from babies dependent on our mothers, gaining independence and empowerment day after day for most of our lives, it feels so strange to say the least to be losing what was gained, to feel like the river is flowing the other way now. Society and how most of us are taught to face it (or not) the cycle of life and death and the variety of forms it takes, in my part of the world, doesn’t prepare us to be at peace with the change in the current.

She has an amazing tendency to be grateful, cheerful, to look for the fun in most situations and to “drop into her heart” and look at the landscape and its inhabitants from there. This is how she overcomes language barriers, mood barriers – I’ve seen her shift people’s moods and demeanour in seconds with a genuine heartfelt smile on her face – and how she still manages to make me see light when skies are grey.

 

An example would be last night as we were on our weekly outing for coffee and conversation. Two young women walked toward us and wanted to ask us questions in regards to politics in this city or the country and were super nice about it. I tried to remain polite but honestly, felt protective of my friend and our time together, so I did mention at some point that they were interrupting our conversation.  Once I realized it was about politics, I quickly shut the door to a possible exchange by saying we knew nothing about it nor were we interested in it. But my friend, always wanting to speak from the heart, turned to them and genuinely thanked them anyway for coming over and asking us to be part of their survey. She was glad for the small interaction, glad to see people, happy to be seen and heard and considered a contributing member of society. These days such things mean a lot to her. I immediately felt ashamed for having answered on her behalf without asking, even though it came from a good place, but was it a productive place? Yes, my intention was loving, but I also robbed her of her power in that moment and that is what I am ashamed of. Her behaviour also reminded me that leading from an open heart instead of a protective stance feels so much better, whether you’re at the giving or receiving end of the exchange.

 

That’s one small example of the power of her heart.

I like to say that because of all the practice she’s had “dropping into her heart”, she’s better equipped than most to deal with her current circumstances. It brings her relief to hear that because she knows it to be true; she knows she can rely on that strength of hers. I am tempted to say “for now” but I truly don’t know what the future will bring and what form it will take. For now, I’m fine facing the present, embracing it even in all its uncertainty of the bridges that are still in her brain. I realize now more than ever that now is all we have and that what I can rely on is my intention to make those moments count, and our friendship, our bond, our love and our trust in each other that gives me the courage to go toward the unknown with her. What I get out of it on top of this precious, precious friendship is a chance to really touch the authenticity of vulnerability.

 

With love,

 

Val.

Morning Anxiety

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I am an explorer of emotions. I go through them and like a lot of us don’t always perceive the “negative ones” as very productive at first. However, experience has shown me that it’s all about perception, so I look for the hidden gift in those emotions, the transformative power that lies there. Once I do find it, I use it and get on the other side…oh my, what a view!!! And then, I can’t wait to share it so that others may realize the exploration is such a worthwhile adventure.

Here is an example of me dealing with anxiety one morning. Yes, it happens. 🙂

I woke up and within seconds, feelings of fear and guilt started engulfing me. Having had success in the past with my breathing space technique, I started looking for something that would improve my breathing.

It’s not always the same. Some memories, images or sounds work for a while and then they are not as effective anymore. That’s a sign that we’re forever evolving which is good. Weeks ago it was that picture of the girl and the elephant. Now it’s not as effective, though it does bring me peace, but not the kind of relief that I was in need of. That morning I wanted reassurance, support and some sort of advice, so I focused on the source I believed it could come from and how I felt about it. It’s important to note that I have no doubt whatsoever about that help and support being there for me. I am fully aware that sometimes I am just not able to hear or feel it, so I am the obstacle. Nothing else is in my way.

I kept repeating the name of that source silently and each time I felt the connection in my heart. That is where it was. I didn’t “will” it there. This is where everything was happening. As I thought of the name, a kind of rhythm came into place with my breathing and at the end of the breath, I felt it getting deeper and longer. In that space, I had relief, so I kept repeating the process. I relaxed so much into it that I went back to sleep. When I awoke again, I did it again, over and over.

After a while, it was almost automatic….my breathing was deeper and longer and brought great peace and stability in my body. Then I tackled some of my fears and had clarity about them. Again, it was not a decision to then tackle them. Clarity just “rained” on them. That is what it felt like. I could see now how to go about either expressing them to the people involved or finding the positive side of how to express something in other cases. Either way, I could see more clearly and the emotion didn’t engulf me. My head was above water and I was more empowered.

 

So grateful for the beautiful guide that breathing is!

 

With love,

 

Val.

You can find me at www.thepowerofemotions.ca

Breathing Space

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When things get hectic, chaotic, out of balance, and even scary, I find what helps many of my life coaching clients is to provide them with tips on how to find breathing space.

Breath is first. It is life, it is the rhythm that is indicative of whether we’re in a good-feeling place or one that is challenging. It’s also automatic; we take it for granted. The engine keeps running and we have no reason to think about it as long as it’s running or keeps us running. Its fuel, which is air, is all around. It’s free and there’s an abundance of it everywhere we go, so really all the more reason for us not to give it much thought.

We will, however, pay attention to our breathing when we feel a difference in our bodies and even then, unless it’s painful to breathe, we don’t consider it as a solution to feeling better. It’s quite normal, really. We’re usually problem-solvers. Most of what we create comes from a place where something needs to be improved upon, a problem to be solved, so unless the problem is painful breathing, our attention is not drawn there.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say the problem is you’re under pressure at work. You see the source of the problem as being at work, outside of you. It’s quite logical to think that finding a way to affect that source, to change it, get rid of it, get away from it is the way to go.

The reason behind wanting to influence what you perceive to be the source of the problem – something or someone at work – is that you want to feel better and therefore breathe better even though again, most people usually don’t think in those terms because of how automatic that function is in our bodies. You don’t realize your breathing is affected by how pressured you feel at work in our example, but it is, and it is good news because it gives you leverage.

Here’s why.  How you want to feel (eg, better, happier, more relaxed, more enthusiastic, more energized, useful, appreciated, supported, safe etc.) – often translates into the optimum breathing experience for you.  It just so happens that the optimum breathing experience also opens the door to feeling better. Consequently, it is absolutely within your power to start by directly affecting your breathing in order to make space for more enthusiasm, appreciation, joy etc. So reversing the equation is the key.

To that end, I suggest meditating on the following questions and keeping the answers in some kind of treasure chest that will be most useful on “rainy days”:

What gives you breathing space?

What increases your breathing capacity?

What brings you relief and soothes you when you think of it?  Images? Memories? Certain kinds of music? Exercising? Playing? Dancing? Singing? Painting? Travelling?

What transports you into a world that only brings fun, joy and wonder?

 

It’s a lot easier and more effective to affect your mood by realizing what creates more breathing space inside of you than to try to change the world around you. The side effect of that is feeling empowered by the whole process. A wonderful bonus!:)

 

Val.

PS: the picture illustrating that article is one of my breathing spaces. Its impact on me is quite magical. It only takes minutes for the soothing effect to take place, for me to feel calmer, to breathe more deeply and fully, for joy to come back in, to feel that inside smile that makes everything brighter and that feels like home. Then I remember who I am, what is important to me and why. I connect to love, kindness and reverence and remember that we’re one. Once I’m there for a few minutes, inspiration blooms like a flower in the sun.

You can find me at www.thepowerofemotions.ca

The Abundance of Appreciation

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I’ve been very fortunate to be part of a half hour show on YouTube for the past three years called the Appreciationist. It’s changed how appreciation shows up into my life. Having to think of a Moment of Appreciation for the show every week has my brain focused on those moments, looking for them as if it were a treasure hunt. It’s fascinating, definitely an eye-opener, mind-opener and it just brings the most beautiful wonderful feelings week after week; first when I experience those moments, and then when I get to tell about them, which makes them bigger, more intense, more meaningful. They’re center stage now, the stars of the show, not just a moment lost among so many others in my week. They’re being honoured and my heart gets a lift each time.
Every week, I also choose creatively which one(s) will make it to the show as I love variety and hope that it’s fun for whoever is watching and participating to hear that appreciation shows up in unexpected places or circumstances.
This blog is the perfect place to feature some of those moments that somehow stuck with me in those past three years. So here we go!

 

Simple

It’s Sunday morning and I go to my local Italian bakery to get some chocolate buns or “chocolatines” and peach nectar for breakfast. I love how Sunday mornings feel. We’re all relaxed and taking it easy and definitely more slowly than during the week so the result is a great sense of quiet and a feeling of vacation due to the slower pace shared by the many. As much as I appreciate not having the same schedule as most which gives me amazing freedom, I am so very grateful for times when we all take a break together and therefore create a more serene environment.
So back at the bakery, they’ve been there forever and I’ve seen the family grow over the years. It’s nice to see the resemblance in the kids and grand-kids and how they work the business together. Warmth fills my heart when they recognize the familiar faces of the “regulars” that keep coming back for great food and a warm welcome. Human beings connecting, silently saying “I see you, I hear you, I recognize you and appreciate your presence here today”. Simple.

 

Presence

I’m a little down and call on a friend of mine who’s one of my best sounding boards. She needs to get out of the house from time to time so I offer to go and pick her up, come back to my place and chit chat over coffee, tea and goodies. Those are always precious times, full of fun and wisdom. We share, we explore, we learn, we laugh and all of this with a deep sense of appreciation because that’s what my friend brings along wherever she goes. She’s always looking for what she calls “adventures” so everything has the potential of being turned into some fun experience, an unexpected gift and that makes us treasure hunters!:)
After picking her up, I decide to stop for gas on the way to my house. As I’m outside, pumping gas into the car and looking at the sky and clouds, I realize that already, the world feels lighter, more welcoming and full of possibilities…..and we haven’t even started talking about anything yet. And then it hits me. Her presence alone is uplifting! She doesn’t need to say or do anything. Her presence alone changes the colours and textures of the world in my eyes now. That realization brings such a sense of joy, gratitude and quite a bit of awe I admit. Magic.
As a life coach, I often tell people that in a society hooked on action, we tend to forget that our presence alone in this world makes a difference, even if we don’t do or say anything. Who we are, what makes us unique, our qualities, passion or interests, what and who we love and why is enough. It is our beautiful contribution. We matter because we are, period.
So that day, to experience proof of that in all of its subtlety felt like a great big hug from the universe reminding me that love, kindness and inspiration are always just a thought away.

 

Nothing Special

After a couple of years of being on the Appreciationist, as I said earlier, moments of appreciation pop up all over the place pretty much every day. That’s how the brain works. Point it in that direction and it’ll scan every inch of your experience looking for just that, appreciation and more appreciation. However, once in a while, and that is what happened that day, nothing special comes to mind at the end of the day. Just before I fall asleep, I make it a point as often as possible to look for the high points of my experience of that day, meaning how I perceived the events. And that evening, nothing special came to mind, but instead of being bummed out by that, it was a wonderful surprise to realize that I was happy in spite of nothing special happening that day. I didn’t need the high points, the magic of finding appreciation in small or big moments, I was just as content with my day and that, in itself, was my moment of appreciation.

 

Val.

www.thepowerofemotions.ca 

Who you are

img_0876Value who you are; the unique kind of presence you bring to this world and how precious that is to its expansion.

Embrace who you are. Let yourself be the full you, back yourself up, be your own cheerleader, your own loving and supporting parent who believes in you beyond any measure because your blossoming and thriving is the whole point and is what benefits you and this world the most.

So weigh your decisions according to coherence with what rings your bells and what feels balanced.

That way, inspiration is what will propel you forward and it will be a thrilling ride!

 

Happy Wednesday!

 

Love,

 

Val.