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Self-Care for a New Year: Your Vibrant Body

“Our body creates our soul as much as our soul creates our body.”

– David Spangler

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”

— Jim Rohn

Happy Beautiful 2017!

In this post, my intention is to share with you some of the holiday reading and viewing I’ve been doing over the past several weeks, and to recommend resources you may find valuable aids in a New Year filled with love, light, and new levels of embodied vitality.

Two weeks ago, as I began this series on self-care for MIND, BODY and SPIRIT, I described the mind as an activity, not a thing. With this post, I invite you to bring that same awareness to your perception of your body. In his book, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul (2009), author Deepak Chopra asserts that your physical body is a fiction. Your real body is energy.

Before I share on my recent return to Chopra’s work, I feel compelled to relate that my experience of developing a health “condition” many years ago, in my twenties, led me onto a spiritual path; and at that time, Chopra’s break-out book, Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind Body Medicine (1989), was one of the first places I went to for good news. I describe that significant turning point in my book, Birdlight: Freeing Your Authentic Creativity, when a long-ago diagnosis once viewed as sad and shocking, actually became my catalyst for greater levels of health, personal growth, and conscious creativity.

In Chopra’s teachings, he emphasizes the power of focused awareness in caring for and influencing the body. An endocrinologist by training and practice, Chopra scientifically supports his claim that not only can we improve our health with chosen mental and behavioural practices, but we can even positively influence our genes. (See the interview link below, where he discusses epigenetics.) Moreover, Chopra repeatedly emphasizes a crucial connection between our emotional states and states of bodily health.

As a high-performance coach in personal transformation, I regard SETTING STATE as a crucial factor in improving wellness and success in ALL areas of life. Our ability to generate our own mental and emotional states of being, a highly calibrated feeling-tone in the body – regardless of our present circumstances – is paramount to living at what mystic Hildegard of Bingen called “the green growing edge of our own becoming.” (Here I gratefully credit my coaching mentor, Mary Morrissey, for introducing that metaphor into my life …)

In researching videotaped talks by Chopra, I came across this less-than-high-resolution 2015 interview which nonetheless is quite helpful for its content. The discussion runs for approximately 20 minutes (mysteriously, and perhaps for emphasis, the final 12 minutes are a repetition of the opening). I highly recommend you carve out time for it, especially if the topic of quantum healing and mind body medicine is calling to you right now. This recording may be a gateway to further exploration, especially as you form resolutions for upping your game in life mastery and well-being this year.

For a slightly shorter dose of Chopra, here is a table of contents I created with running times. Take your pick of topics:

  • (0 – 2:00 min.) Chopra discusses his medical background, including the discovery of the “MOLECULES OF EMOTION.” He describes how emotional states influence our biology, noting the neurochemicals associated with feel-good states: oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, opiates, and endorphins. Chopra also notes the chemicals associated with sadness and stress: adrenalin and cortisol; and he makes connections between contractive emotional states and inflammation, as well as immune system damage.
  • (2:02 – 5:00 min.) Chopra explores the reasons why the Chopra Centre has grown, due to 1) developments in science, 2) the power of social media, e.g., the Oprah Winfrey – Deepak Chopra partnership, and 3) growing public awareness that Western medicine has tended to treat the symptoms and not the root causes of illness.
  • (5:00 to 8:10 min.) Chopra lists 6 SIMPLE THINGS you can do to improve your well-being right away. I recommend listening to this interview segment for the details; here is his list, in a nutshell:
  1. Sleep well
  2. Meditate daily
  3. Move (during the day, frequently, and ideally including yoga)
  4. Avoid processed food
  5. Create conditions for healthy emotions
  6. Stay hydrated (Drink plenty of water!)
  •  (8:15 – 9:38 min.) Chopra elaborates on THE SCIENCE BEHIND MEDITATION. Specifically, he discusses the influence upon enzymes, chromosomes and genes. He supports the assertion that meditation actually changes our gene activity and cell biology.
  • (9:40 – 10:50 min.) Chopra unpacks the Self-Directed Transformation Initiative (SDTI), including factors in addition to meditation such as a healthy diet, sleep, yoga, breathing techniques, and massage. I personally love that he explains how massage with certain oils positively affects bacteria which leads in turn to a reduction of inflammation in the body. ALL of the factors in SDTI have the power to positively influence genetic activity.
  • (10:51 – 12:52 min.) Chopra talks about some of the problems associated with present-day healthcare reform, and specifically his opinions on the pitfalls of “insurance going to the wrong things.”
  • (12:52 – 14:30 min.) Chopra focuses on STRESS, which he describes as the number 1 epidemic of our civilization. Number 2, he adds, is addiction. He discusses the biological chaos which ensues when we don’t bring awareness to our own stress levels. “The more you learn about yourself,” Chopra emphasizes, “the more you participate in your own well-being.”
  • (14:30 – 15:49 min.) Chopra reveals WHERE THINGS ARE GOING at the frontier of medical research. In this segment, he notes that only a rare 5% of disease-related gene mutations are “fully penetrant,” meaning you can’t stop them. With 95% of disease-related gene mutations, he adds, their expression is influenced by LIFE STYLE. He speaks specifically about the power of emotional states to influence such diseases as Alzheimer’s and cancer.
  • (17:10 – 19:37 min.) Chopra provides simple ways for decoding Eastern approaches to understanding the body. Specifically, he discusses the doshas and chakras as principles and points of awareness in the body. He argues we need both kinds of science in our journey of wellness: empirical science, which focuses on “what’s out there,” and natural, or experiential science, which focuses on “what’s in here.”
  • (19:38 – 20:31 min.) Finally, Chopra explains the work he is presently involved in. He explains how advances in technology are leading to significant advances in our potential to self-regulate and raise our level of health.

For so many reasons, Chopra’s teaching illuminates the tremendous power each one of us has to influence our own biology with our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. We shape this “earth suit” called the body, indeed the only place we have to live, for better or worse.

I can’t help but find Chopra’s work a glowing affirmation of the importance of the emerging field of life coaching. With specialized support, and a willingness to learn and apply, each of us can accelerate the process of reaching new levels of wellness and, in fact, greater results in ALL areas of life.

Another book I revisited over the holidays is Christiane Northrup, M.D.’s Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing. I love her thoughts in a section called “Self-Care During Menopause.” Northrup writes, “Your body was designed to be healthy for at least a hundred years and probably longer. Menopause is nothing more than a halfway point.” She goes on to emphasize, “Dementia, osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer are not inevitable – no matter what your mother or grandmother experienced.” Next is my personal favorite on her list: “Menopause is the springtime of the second half of your life.” Yes!

Here is Northrup’s key message, which applies to us all:

“The time and energy you are willing to invest in yourself now will pay off in spades for years to come.”

And so I ask you …

What amount of time and energy are you willing to invest in your own self-care and well-being in 2017?

What would you love more of?

What would you love less of?

What would you love?

And finally, what if answering those questions and taking action were among the most important things you ever did?

I look forward to bringing you the third post in this series, on self-care for your SPIRIT, soon …

In the meantime, if you want more help in making those New Year’s resolutions manifest, let me know. Helping you live into your Vision brings fulfillment to us both. I would love to see you thrive.

To Your Beautiful Dream in 2017!

 

 

 

P.S. For those who’ve expressed interest in attending the Vision Workshop originally scheduled in Toronto on January 14, please note that I have decided to reschedule at LucSculpture and Yuri’s Village in the spring. My 2017 public talks and workshops will appear on my newly revised website shortly. With that said, I’ve been working on a video series you won’t want to miss. Watch your inbox this month!

Self-Care for the Holidays Part 1

As I write this holiday message to you, the snow is falling here in the beautiful province of Quebec where I live, and where, for the first time in many years, I am absolutely loving winter. Up until very recently, I would not have predicted such a paradigm shift. Now I embrace it, albeit with a sense of humour. And irony. My husband still shakes his head and laughs to witness this change in me. On my Wish List for Santa? Snow pants.

In this moment, I am setting an intention to connect with the core sense of harmony, peace, and love that is our true nature. That being said, it’s a fact that for many, myself included over the years, the holiday season can so easily take a stressful turn. It can become so rife with to-do lists and obligations that we forget what it’s all about.

And so …

To make calm centeredness, joy, and inspiration WELCOME this holiday season, I am creating three separate blog posts devoted to generating full-spectrum health, wealth, and your highest state of being. In each of these posts, I’ll share suggestions, tips, links to motivational videos, and books that I feel blessed to have either discovered or revisited in 2016. Here is an opportunity to hit the pause button on overwhelm and press REFRESH.

Because I believe self-care is a holiday essential.

I also believe it’s an everyday-of-the-year essential.

And self-care is the last thing from self-ish, since caring for your MIND, BODY, and SPIRIT helps unleash the very BEST in you and me, and allows us to give and receive our true gifts. When you commit to taking care of YOU in powerful, core ways, you bless and prosper not only yourself, but a great many others.

The first in this three-part series is on caring for that part of you which determines so much else … Your MIND.

Taking charge of your own mindset is essential to creating a state of calm confidence and to making joy welcome. Your mind is really an ACTIVITY, not a thing. Regardless of your present circumstances, you can literally set your emotional state by choosing where to focus your thoughts. The act of consciously making that choice, again and again, is the supreme needle-mover in personal development.

In my coaching practice, I am frequently asked this question: Where do I place my attention when I don’t like the facts and feelings of the moment?

There are a number of longer answers to that question, and strategies specifically tailored to meet the needs of each unique individual seeking success.

Here’s the short answer. Gratitude.

Generating a state of gratitude in the early morning, and at a moment’s notice, is a POWERFUL daily practice. When you and I feel grateful, we raise our emotional state to one consistent with feelings of prosperity and the enjoyment of abundance. While coaching others in success and transformation, I often say that gratitude and abundance exist at the same vibrational pitch. We can learn to tune our inner dial to this energetic frequency (like tuning to a radio station) by consciously choosing grateful thoughts and allowing positive feelings to follow.

In singing the praises of a book entitled The Happiness Advantage, one of my amazing clients recently reminded me of the work of Shawn Achor, a Harvard specialist in the field of positive psychology. Achor studies the neuroscience and benefits of happiness. I have enjoyed getting to know his work over the past couple of years, particularly as Achor makes such clear scientific arguments for how important it is for us to A) take charge of our mindset and B) make it positive!

Here is a clip from a longer 2014 talk Achor gave on “Creating Lasting Positive Change.” It’s no surprise that the very first topic he focuses on is gratitude.

Tip: If you already have a daily journal practice, I encourage you to expand it by incorporating a gratitude list. If you don’t keep a journal, you can easily designate a light, simple notebook as your go-to place to list 5 – 10 things each day that you are grateful for. Keep your notebook with you during the day, so you can add to your list any time you wish, and read it over when you realize it’s time to turn up that inner dial again.

When you and I raise our emotional state to one of heartfelt appreciation and a higher awareness of abundance, inspired ideas and solutions often just seem to “drop in”.

We’ve all heard it said that the little things in life matter most. When we REALLY appreciate the little things, learning to delight in them and do them well, they ultimately amount to the big things. Nothing is too small to include in your gratitude list. After all, what is a successful life? It’s a string of beautiful moments. We build our lives not in years, but in moments.

In that spirit, here are links to a couple of seasonal clips – since movies and videos can help us quickly reset our dial to a place of expansiveness, appreciation, and even joy in those times when the to-do list begins to feel like it might “undo” us. Press pause on that thought, and focus on something, well, wonderful.

• 9 minutes of gratitude Frank Capra-style. Who can forget the ending of It’s a Wonderful Life? We all can. So here’s a reminder! And if you’ve never seen this film, I recommend you skip the clip and watch the whole thing this year. If 9 minutes feels too long right now, and you’d like something shorter and just as sweet, skip ahead to the next link …

• The opening scene of Love Actually, one of my favourite ruminations on what’s most important in life. A minute and twelve seconds. Love this.

Tip: Which movies do you love to watch at this time of year? Create your OWN feel-good list of movie beginnings, endings, and in-betweens. Start your day with it if you like. When you find links to clips you absolutely adore and would love to share, post them here in the comments section. After all, it’s the season of giving.

And while you’re at it, search YouTube for uplifting montages on gratitude. Here is a TEDx Talk by veteran nature photographer Louie Schwartzberg. His passion? Connecting with NATURE as a way of generating gratitude for simply being here, and being inseparable from the whole that is our experience of Life.

Those of you who work with me may have seen the film that Schwartzberg shot, entitled Gratitude, and narrated by David Steindl-Rast. I sometimes pass the link along in emails. This embedded video is a little longer, and contains more of Schwartzberg’s story and artistry.

Finally, I can’t resist ending this post with a poem by one of favourite go-to sources of inspiration, Mary Oliver. I discovered this piece, “The Swan,” on Facebook and recently shared it to my Birdlight page – deeply appreciating how social media brings us together, including octogenarians like Oliver who remind us we are ageless in our calling, our Life Force, and the creativity that is our birthright. Somehow, this lady always combines the topics of nature and gratitude in ways that speak to my soul.

The Swan
By Mary Oliver

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

On that note, happy holidays. The next post in the series will follow soon; until then, keep warm.

Love and light to you and yours.

In gratitude,

Birdlight: International Best Seller

BIRDLIGHT Freeing Your Authentic Creativity

 

My heartfelt thanks to all who have supported the highly successful launch of Birdlight: Freeing Your Authentic Creativity!

On Tuesday, the book reached #1 in three categories on Amazon.ca, and it hit the Best Seller List in the U.S., making it an International Best Seller within hours of its launch. By Wednesday morning, Birdlight had broken the top 50 of all books (in all categories) sold on Kindle in Canada, at #35.

I share this news in gratitude for the beautiful communities this work has led me to! I could not have done this without you.

This book came to me in an hour of darkness. It came as a series of thoughts giving way to light, a series of birds, a gift, not just for me, but for others like me navigating obstacles in the creative process.

We are, every one of us, powerful creators, and each day we have an opportunity to create by design. This book frees you to do just that.

One of my great joys in bringing Birdlight into form has been engaging with other creative souls who have each brought their own artistry and unique gifts to the work. Once a book is in print, there is no such thing as a “solo artist” behind it. This was a team effort.

To community and artistry, and to singing the song you came to sing.

Blessings,

robin-blackburn-mcbride

P.S. On my website you’ll find my new Birdlight Book page which tells you more about the book. There you’ll also find my FREE gift to you – an audio visualization excerpt from the forthcoming Birdlight audio book which will be released shortly after the paperback in 2016. Simply fill in the fields to receive your MP3 download today. Enjoy!

Birdlight Book Launch Today!

Birdlight Cover

It’s today!
Weaving memoir, folklore, drama, and poetry with the power of brain science to shed light on the creative process, this warm and friendly guide is a must-read for budding artists, innovators, and decision makers at any age and from any walk of life.
  • If you know in your heart that it’s time to finally act upon that creative calling you feel deep down inside…
  • If you tend to begin great creative projects but never finish them, stalling as your energy, enthusiasm, and vision fade…
  • If you ever see yourself as an “uncreative person” and you’d love to free the creative spirit that’s been locked up inside too long…

Then Birdlight is written just for you!

Today is the launch of the electronic version!

Here’s How You Can Help …

If enough people get a copy TODAY, there is a great chance of getting the book onto the best seller list, helping to spread its message of creative courage, confidence, and empowerment.

As a thank-you for supporting the message, on book launch day there is a Special Friends & Family Price of Just $1.30 CAD and .99 cents USD for the Kindle edition.

Remember this is TODAY ONLY – so please act right now; it’ll only take a minute.

Please click the image or link to get your copy now.

Click the Link:

Canadahttps://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01FSZHZJA

United States  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FSZHZJA

Thank you for your support in making this vision come true! I appreciate you.

 To Your Beautiful Creative Vision!
robin-blackburn-mcbride
P.S. Check out my new Birdlight Book Page for more info.
Here again are the links to order the book:

Why Birdlight is for You

I am delighted to share that tomorrow, Tuesday, May 31st, is the launch of Birdlight: Freeing Your Authentic Creativity.

Here is a short video I made for you, the third in the Birdlight series. In this one I talk about why this book is such a great fit for you!

Thanks to those who’ve sent me such lovely messages of anticipation and congratulations. Writing Birdlight has been a labor of love, and I can hardly wait for Tuesday’s Launch Day Special Announcement!

Here’s to Opening Your Gifts!

Warmly,

robin-blackburn-mcbride

P.S. I invite you to hop onto my Facebook page and join the Birdlight Online E-Book Launch event. It’s open now, with lots to check out and more news and pictures to come soon!

The 7 Birds of Transformation

 

What is this book is about? Why “Birdlight”? And why does it matter to you? In this second of three videos, I explain.

Birdlight: Freeing Your Authentic Creativity launches on Tuesday, May 31st, 2016. Look for the third video installment and more launch day details soon.

To Your Creative Vision and Fulfillment!

Warmly,

robin-blackburn-mcbride

 

Save the Date: BIRDLIGHT Book Launch May 31st

 


I am pleased to officially announce the upcoming launch of my book, Birdlight: Freeing Your Authentic Creativity.

 

birdlight

 

Weaving memoir, folklore, drama, and poetry with the power of brain science to shed light on the creative process, this warm and friendly guide is a must-read for budding artists, innovators, and decision makers at any age and from any walk of life.

  • If you know in your heart that it’s time to finally act upon that creative calling you feel deep down inside…
  • If you tend to begin great creative projects but never finish them, stalling as your energy, enthusiasm, and vision fade…
  • If you ever see yourself as an “uncreative person” and you’d love to free the creative spirit that’s been locked up inside too long…

Then Birdlight is written just for you!

 

 – SAVE THE DATE –

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

 

Right NOW, please mark it on your calendar.

On that date you will receive a message on how to support the goal of empowering as many people as possible to unlock their ability to consciously create by design in any area of their life, and in alignment with a clear sense of purpose, passion, and calling.

Details will be sent via email and social media posts on the 31st – Launch Day!

My vision is that a great many people benefit from this work and contribute in ways that make a profound and positive difference. THANK YOU for supporting me in making this dream come true!

 With best wishes, and warmly,

robin-blackburn-mcbride

New Vision

039

Two weeks ago, on a chilly spring drive from Toronto to Ottawa, I made the familiar journey out along Highway 7: last year’s high brown grasses still swaying, bare trees tight with their shy buds, and the sky a-swirl with birds. Countless crows and brown birds flapped in the blue, while above them raptors soared on whatever thermals they could find. In the past when I’d studied those larger creatures as they’d ascended into specks, they’d seemed like eagles to me.

Now I know better.

When I arrived at a Gatineau motel at dusk, raptors still glided effortlessly through my mind. I recalled a scene years ago in New Mexico, sitting out at the edge of the Taos Pueblo lands where I’d been enchanted by that same  particular species of high-flier. At the time I’d recognized them by sight, and not by name.

I had gathered up their feathers, briefly mislabelling them as “hawk”. On a twilight walk I’d discovered a whole flock perched silently in a towering birch tree. The eerie shock of beholding twenty pairs of massive shoulders, folded wings, and staring eyes, had left me wondering.

The world delivers messages to us all the time. This was one of those times when I did my best to receive.

I wonder if it’s been like that for you.

Are you looking to the world for messages?

Do you long for greater fulfillment?

Do you seek to rise above the old downward pull of the mundane, and soar to new places and beautiful experiences? Do you long for something more because… time’s passing?

That’s exactly how I felt when I collected those feathers in Taos.

In truth, so many wonders were about to occur in my life. Deep down, my intuition knew it – but the rest of me had NO idea of the scope of what lay ahead.

A jump for joy would have been in order; yet I was too confused at the time to celebrate. And I was scared.

Later, a friend identified my mysterious findings. She could tell the feathers by their silver undersides: “Vulture,” she said. “Birds of transformation.” And then she added brightly, “They pick the bones clean.”

There was my message.

It would take years to fully process the significance.

My encounter in Taos was both unsettling and charged with Life. I felt strangely elated. The vulture sightings led me to learn more deeply about the significance of that particular species of bird, as I am inclined to read augurs creatively when nature speaks. Undoubtedly, it’s why I’ve written a whole book on the connection between birds and heeding one’s true calling – it’s a book to help guide you in answering your call to create from your clear sense of mission, passion, and joy. Birdlight: Freeing Your Authentic Creativity launches later this month, on Tuesday, May 31st.

What I learned about the vulture years ago, is how it’s often misinterpreted as a foreboding animal. People associate it too narrowly and literally with death, when the animal is really a harbinger of the rebirth and renewal that accompany releasing one state of being for another. It symbolizes purification, and suggests both expansion and growth.

The vulture symbolizes New Vision.

One of the things that came to me as I embraced transformation in my own life was the discovery of a clear, deep calling to help others do the same. I couldn’t have made the changes I made without receiving the help of powerful coaches and guides along the way.

A Life Coach in Transformation, I now have years of study, training with the best in the field, and experience in supporting people just like you transform and say YES to becoming who they truly long to be. It was from this new and higher place that Birdlight came to me: a book in seven birds. For you.

Curiously, the vulture is not among them.

I’ll simply have to write a sequel.

To Your Vision!

robin-blackburn-mcbride

P.S. Want support in discovering and building your dreams?

In between my coaching and speaking schedule, I carve out a few strategy sessions each month.  If you would like a complimentary strategy session (Value = $250), simply contact me here.

P.P.S. Birdlight: Freeing Your Authentic Creativity launches on Tuesday, May 31st. Be sure to subscribe and like my Facebook page to “stay tuned” for my special (and surprise :)) Launch Day details.

 

A Person of Increase

Oaxaca March 2010 237

The term “person of increase” comes from Wallace Wattles who, at the turn of the 20th century, looked upon abundance and affluence from both a scientific and spiritual perspective. Wattles urges each of us to know and remember, “You are a creative center, from which increase is given off to all.” He advises to hold to “the unshakable faith that you, yourself, are in the Way of Increase,” and to let “this faith fill and permeate every action … Do everything you do in the firm conviction that you are an advancing personality, and that you are giving advancement to everybody.”

Wattles had studied the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson who, in an essay entitled “Spiritual Laws,” asserts that each one of us has our own vocation, a unique call. When a person heeds this call, “He has no rival. For the more truly he consults his own powers, the more difference will his work exhibit from the work of any other … By doing his own work he unfolds himself.”

“What attracts my attention shall have it,” writes Emerson, “as I will go to the man who knocks at my door, whilst a thousand persons as worthy may go by, to whom I give no regard.”

In 1980 came a knock at my family’s door.

The person standing there was an elegant, immaculately dressed 30-something woman named Monique Bordeleau who was dating my 40-something uncle, Derek. No sooner had she entered our house, than she placed an elaborately wrapped package into my hands. I can still feel the silk ribbons giving way to a burgundy snakeskin belt with gold links that fit my 15-year-old waist perfectly. The belt was wonderfully disturbing and exotic in my suburban environs.

Monique was French Canadian. She had lived abroad for years and, I could tell, she was “emotional.” My soon-to-be aunt delighted in her act of gift-giving. She exuded pleasure in meeting me and went on to say that if she were ever to imagine she’d had a daughter, with my permission, she would imagine me.

I was as startled by this stranger’s  affection as I was enthralled by her sense of glamour.

And while she relished pointing out her strategy in giving me the gift of the belt – shamelessly exposing it as a ploy to win my heart – my heart was already won.

Monique rocked my world.

When she and Derek took up residence together in a stylish Ottawa apartment, I found myself riding the train there from Toronto, alone. She offered a hideaway where I could feel both grown up and, at the same time, nurtured. With Monique I discovered the joys of eating pasta on fine china and silver, sleeping in a “suite” bestrewn with teen magazines, fresh flowers, bowls of fancy nuts and dried fruit, new pyjamas, sachets of bubble bath, and other carefully assembled toiletries.

Monique took me shopping on Sparks Street. She bought me Bandolino patent-leather pumps (again in burgundy), an Indian cotton skirt, and she spoke of Italy. She spoke of men, giving serious attention to my prospects. Monique talked about her childhood, her parents’ divorce, her most beloved and irreverent aunt, her mother’s death, various romances (including two former husbands), and recovery from cirrhosis of the liver. She and Derek were open about being recovering alcoholics.

I quietly adored the adult details Monique shared with me, pondering the complexities of a world I was about to enter while she smoked and laughed, swore in French, and treated me to bottomless cappuccinos.

Clearly, Monique was committed to my politician uncle. She embraced their life together. When my cousin Carole and I travelled by train to witness their 1982 vows on Parliament Hill, we took pride in our family’s own “royal wedding.” I wore a teal blue taffeta dress with puffy sleeves and a bell skirt, drank too much champagne (regretting only the picture with the Prime Minister afterward), and loved every minute.

Through the years the cards and presents continued, enfolding my own daughter’s life, too. Countless pairs of tiny shoes Monique described as “candies.” She offered a cottage to my former husband and me, for use in July. All the cards in her distinctive handwriting. The ribbons.

In our family, we all save Monique’s ribbons.

When my adult life unfolded with its own momentous chapters, including the array of obstacles that inevitably arise with growing, sometimes not growing, and growing again, she would always say, “Next bus stop, kiddo.”

And of course, nothing was ever perfect. That wasn’t the point.

What more can I tell you? For 35 years I’ve been grateful in this woman’s presence. Monique has been a person of increase for me, and I have not known anyone else quite like her. As Emerson would say, “The Soul’s emphasis is always right.” I see how in heeding a call, some people stand out as models for others. They burn brightly, not because they have titles or fame, outstanding track records, careers, expertise or vast wealth, but because they display unusual levels of generosity, attention to detail, and care.

Next week at Easter, I can still be glad as I board the train to Ottawa. To borrow words from G.B. Shaw, “a splendid torch” waits for me there. A light that cancer will never truly dim. And for a moment I imagine us walking on Sparks Street all day long.

 

robin-blackburn-mcbride

Is Your Dream Right for You?

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

– Annie Dillard

Our dreams require us to invest our most valuable currency: our time. Unlike money, which flows out and back routinely in our lives, time never returns to us. Once spent, it’s gone.

To spend time well, we must be clear about our purpose.

You and I must ensure that whatever dream we’re building aligns with who we truly feel called to be, and how we authentically feel called to contribute.

At the outset of dream-building, people often ask, “Am I worthy of my dream?” I offer you this instead: “Is my dream worthy of me?” If your dream is right for you, it will be worthy of your time here in this precious and unrepeatable life.

Even a long life is brief; how each one of us invests our minutes, hours, and days is paramount to our fulfillment.

As I enter the final stages of bringing a book into the world, I find myself returning to a core sense of purpose. When things are busy and new challenges arise, I remind myself of all the ways my own dream aligns with my inner Why. When that alignment occurs, I am willing to do what it takes to bring it into form. Do I do it perfectly? No. The point is not perfection; it’s focused action. It’s growth and expansion. It’s contribution. It’s that simple.

But it’s not always easy.

As much as we may love our Vision, we must also learn to be skillful in executing the steps to manifest it. Working with a coach not only helps, but accelerates that process.

My mentor once told me there’s no such thing as managing time. We must manage activities.

We don’t have to prosper in one area of life at the expense of all the others. We can commit to a dream and still be committed to living in harmony. Our health, relationships, time and money freedom, and career are all vital parts of a harmonious whole.

In that spirit, I offer you one of my favorite episodes of Marie Forleo’s Marie TV. Here she unpacks the “big rocks” metaphor beautifully to explain how to plan and schedule effectively. As my coaching clients know, calendarizing is an important key to making dreams into realities. I love helping people make desired changes and see measurable results through focused planning and action.

I also offer you a Business Insider article by psychologist Suzanne Gelb on strategies highly successful achievers use for maximizing efforts without sacrificing what’s most important.

And finally…

From my coaching home base, The Life Mastery Institute, here are five questions that will help you determine whether or not your dream is right for you. Use this list at the beginning of any new venture to ensure you’re on the right path; then, when challenges arrive, you’ll be willing to do what it takes to persist. The answer to each question must be a “Yes” for your dream to pass.

5-Point Test for Your Dream

  1. Do you feel passion for your dream? When you’ve chosen the right dream you will feel emotionally connected to your dream.  Thinking about your dream will give you an expanded sense of aliveness.
  1. Does the dream align with your core values? Your dream must align with your core values in order for it to manifest.  If your dream is in conflict with your values, you will find yourself blocked when it comes to bringing it into form. Part of you will resist.
  1. Does your dream cause you to grow?
  1. Do you need help from a Higher Power? Define that term any way you like. If you know all the steps to bring your dream to fruition, it’s not a big enough dream. Dreams are the Universe’s way of helping us grow and expand ourselves.
  1. Is there good in your dream for others? The Universe is always seeking expansion, and a dream that is aligned with your true self will always include some good for others.

Your mind may play host to a myriad of wishes, but you need to distinguish your deepest desire from whims and passing fancies.

You are endowed with the power to choose the dream that is closest to your heart, and by co-creating with Life itself, you can embark on a path that will manifest that dream.

To Your Highest Life,

robin-blackburn-mcbride

P.S. Want support in discovering and building your dreams?

In between my coaching, writing, and speaking schedule, I carve out a few strategy sessions each month.  If you would like a complimentary strategy session (Value = $250), simply contact me here.

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