Living Fully

Since starting my own business and taking the long, bumpy, sometimes tumultuous roads toward my dreams, I made a commitment to myself. I will live this life will FULL engagement. There are times, like today, that this is really hard. However, my true hope is that the words below will offer some guidance and support for you, when you’re having a day where it’s next to impossible to see the forest through the trees.

When saying living a life with FULL engagement, well what the heck does that really mean?

It means making decisions you know in your soul to be right, although what we know is right is seldom easy.

It means not ignoring subtle signs and clues and that powerful intuition of ours, and having the courage to listen.

It means needing to believe in something far greater than ourselves, and trusting the process… as hard, hurtful and fuzzy it may be.

It means that we would rather be alone than to settle—ever.

It means not shielding ourselves from the pain of loss. Just because we know something in our soul isn’t right, doesn’t mean that it’s not going to hurt… badly. But we know shielding ourselves and building walls around our hearts only prolongs the grieving process.

It means giving ourselves time to grieve, breath and witness the emotions that are coming from within us. To feel is to be human.

It also means that we don’t hook into these emotions are accept them as a drama in our life. It’s about feeling the emotions fully so they can pass, not so they can take over our life.

It means to take pleasure in the fact that a full range of emotions and to be with each is to be fully alive.

It means that we know we need to be vulnerable to achieve all our heart’s desire. To love fully and openly is vulnerable. We know we must allow ourselves to surrender to the highs and the lows, to just be in the moment.

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On Listening to the Universe

universe quote

There are times in my life when the universe speaks to me and I do not listen. Maybe I second guess myself, maybe I’m not ready to hear what she has to say, and maybe (likely) I’m not even aware she is saying something at all.

Then, there are times where I get overwhelmed by a feeling and she seams to be shouting so loud I have no choice but to sit and listen. This was how it went down these last couple of weeks.

A certain leadership program has been on my radar for the last four years; but at several thousand dollars it just wasn’t in the cards. A few of my colleagues have attended the program and I’ve been so inspired by how they have not really changed, but have become even more amazing versions of themselves. Owning their impact in the world and taking on some unbelievable projects in a way that would not have been possible a year previous.

As my inspiration from these people increased as I saw this new way they were participating in the world, my yearning to take the program grew exponentially (and yes, maybe a touch of jealousy). Then I asked the one question out loud I had been afraid of asking, “how the heck am I going to pay for it?”. Which I now am learning is much different than my usual answer of “I can’t afford it”. One is a question (open energy), the other is a statement with no wiggle room (closed energy).

A funny thing happens when I open finally open up and show the hand I had been holding so tightly (I can think of a million excuses as to why and they all boil down to one thing… fear), a possibility presented itself… they offer scholarship opportunities!

So excited about the potential opportunity I sat down to do my research. So many questions were running through my head. Would I be qualified? What were the requirements? How would I communicate my vision? Who else was applying? How many scholarships were being awarded? Was I good enough?

As I landed on the web page, one BIG thing jumped out at me right away. The deadline. It was 3 days away. And they only open up applications once per year. More questions flooded my brain. OMG should I apply? Could I really get my shit together in 3 days? Could I wait until next year? And if I did.. would it be any good?

If there is one lesson I’ve learned I’ve learned in the last 2 years on the journey toward my dream, is that when the universe speaks, listen. And this seemed pretty loud to me. I concluded that I would apply and give it my best shot. No, it would not be perfect. Would it be any good? Maybe. Maybe not. But there is no learning if I do not take a step. So I did.

You can view my YouTube video application here:

And if you feel inspired to cast your vote, (I am so grateful!) you can do that here:
Voting is open from July 8th-July 23rd 2014 http://woobox.com/iajo63

It’s definitely far from perfect. However, what I did learn in the process is that I can accomplish way more than I think I can. While it may be easier just to say no and “there’s always next year” saying yes and committing is so much more fun and I learn so much more. And as cheesy as it sounds, regardless of the outcome, I’m proud of myself for listening and taking a chance. Now not to let my competitive side take over and check on the vote count every 15 minutes 🙂

In light and love,

Kimberley

#abfloods: The Humanity that comes with Disaster

Image

I posted that quote just over 2 days ago on a personal page. Since then, Calgary (my home), along with many other parts of Southern Alberta have been flooded. As many as 75,000 people in Calgary alone have been forced to leave their homes. In High River, only an hour South and the hardest hit, the entire community was evacuated and a few people lost their lives. While it’s affected me personally, this blog is not about what’s happened, who’s been evacuated, and the damage that has been caused. It’s about what happens to people when these things happen to us.

Where 100,000 people are expected to arrive in 2 weeks..

Where 100,000 people are expected to arrive in 2 weeks..

I attend a boot camp most mornings. Every morning the same rotation of women fill the gym and we spend the next 40 minutes sweating. This has been my routine for 6 months and how many of them do I know? Probably two; and they teach the class.

Last week one of the girls introduced herself. She said, you know, I work out beside you most mornings and I don’t even know your name. That struck me. I pride myself in getting to know people, letting them into my world, but here’s a girl I share a (very small and sometimes intimate) space with most days of the week, and I know nothing about her.

The morning of the flood things were different. There was a completely different energy to the room. People were sharing stories and how they were impacted personally. There was so much raw emotion. All of a sudden I felt like I could see these people for who they were, feel their pain and identify with their struggles. I got past all of my own stuff, my own to do list, insecurities and judgments and truly saw them, maybe for the first time.

What happens to us when these emergencies happen? We let strangers into our homes. If they had knocked on our door last week, we would have peered out our window wondering if we should even answer the door for the ‘weirdo’ that stands on the other side of it. We’re reminded of the real, caring and compassionate human beings we not just want to be, but are.

Anyone who has been through a major emergency or natural disaster will (almost always) say how everyone came together. They helped and supported each other. They let their emotions show. They put aside their differences because something more important was happening. They started to build bridges.

So what’s available to us when we practice being more open in our lives?

I call this ‘life in full colour’. Not knowing what situation, opportunity or person we will meet. People, situations and challenges come into our life for a reason, what if we gave up control and danced (sometimes literally) in the moment?

When I was in Costa Rica last year, one morning a girlfriend and I took an early morning trip to the grocery store. Something we did often, and completely normal, until a handsome Costa Rican approached me and asked me if I knew how to Merengue. Before I could say Merng-what?, he grabbed my hands and took me for a spin, dip and all. As he explained the steps (in broken English) I couldn’t help but think, is this really happening right now?! But I went with it, and it’s one of my favorite stories from the trip.

If that same story had happened in the Safeway by my house, there’s a good chance I would have ran the other way, down the street, and into the police station. But I was travelling. My guard was down and I was open to all the amazing people and opportunities that presented themselves.

So how? Is there a way we can keep this feeling of community, support and openness long after the flood waters subside? There is. And it starts with you, and me.

Awareness is always the first step.

You don’t know what you don’t know. Then a shift happens. I wasn’t aware of my behavior during boot camp until the amazing woman next to me introduced herself. When was the last time you noticed how you were feeling/acting in a certain situation? It’s witnessing our actions/behavior/feelings and deciding if they are getting us closer or further away from who we want to be.

Being Open.

Being open takes courage. No one likes to be first. Sharing a hard story first is like being the first one on a frozen pond. There’s a good chance you’ll fall right through and freeze to death; but there’s also a good chance the water will be strong enough to hold you. And once everyone sees how much fun your having, they want to join in.

Being Authentic.

I describe being authentic as knowing who you are and what you stand for, having your actions match these beliefs, and being able to share the gray and rough pieces of yourself along with the bright and shiny.

I find we’re so afraid of telling stories of times we’ve failed because we’re worried that others will think less of us, but often the opposite is true! We’re human. We all make mistakes. The power comes when we can be open and share our experiences, especially the ones we’re afraid/embarrassed of.

Being Caring and Compassionate.

Seek first to understand and then be understood. That line is borrowed from one of my favorite books, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I think that’s what comes naturally during an emergency. They put aside themselves and focus on you. I want to help you. I care about you. I want to make things better for you. How would the world be different if we came from this place first not just during an emergency,but in our everyday lives?

The last point I want to offer is that these disasters are not going to stop. And it’s not just global warming that’s to blame. There are wars over just about everything; religion, politics, resources, money, power, terrorism. Mother Nature just offers a different angle. And we may feel like we can’t control these things, but I assure you we can. We can control who we are as human beings and how we treat our neighbors. What we let the world see of us and how we choose to participate in it makes all the difference.

If you or someone you know has been affected (in any way) by the #yycfloods #abfloods I would love to hear your story. There’s also free coaching sessions being offered by Certified Co-Active Coaches (myself included!). More information and how to sign up can be found at https://www.facebook.com/CoActiveCares?fref=ts

Also, if you’d like to donate to help those hardest hit a link to the Red Cross fund can be found here. https://secure.redcross.ca/registrant/donate.aspx?eventid=126477

And lastly, if you’d like to donate something even more precious, your time, a list of forming volunteer organizations and a ton of other information can be found here. https://www.facebook.com/CalgaryCleanUp #yyccares

Thank you Calgary. For not only being my home, but for the amazing people who live here that inspire me to be better.

Embracing Commitment

I want to share with you why I blog.

It’s a way to express my struggles and try to make sense of it all. I believe that as spiritual beings having a human experience, we’re all in the same boat to some extent. We all dream. We all have an imagination (whether we use it or not is a different story). We all struggle to learn the lessons and make sense of it all, forever in the onward and upward expansion of our lives. And hopefully, by sharing my journey, you understand that you are not alone in yours.

I also want to acknowledge it’s been some time since I’ve blogged. And to be honest, this post, I originally wrote almost a month ago. I’ve kept visiting, updating and editing. So much has happened in the past month and for some reason this post didn’t seem quite ready. Now, I understand it was me that wasn’t quite ready.

Up until last weekend this post was all about trust. Trust in myself and in the universe. It was going to be about my struggles to fund my dream (education in particular, and the huge expenses that seemingly come out of nowhere just to “test”). I was going to share some practices that helped increase the trust and tune into the right success frequency. Don’t get me wrong, this is still very important and I will still share in another post, but it I’ve come to realize it actually wasn’t what I was struggling with. The trust was part of a much, much bigger thing.

It was commitment.

I took a course last weekend that was all about exploring the different perspectives we hold and what can come available to us if we consciously choose a different perspective than the one that’s limiting us.

There were pieces of tape on the floor dividing the room into small segments and there was a sentence (perspective) in each of these segments. They said things like “limiting like a straightjacket”, “creates powerful intention” “a way to live my purpose” and “overwhelming”. The word commitment was put in the centre and we were asked to stand in the perspective that felt the truest to us.

Prior to this, I hadn’t consciously thought about my feelings around commitment and how they could be limiting me. I chose to stand in “other”. Commitment to me was elusive.

Elusive: (thank you Dictionary.com)

  1. Difficult to catch
  2. Preferring or living in solitude or anonymity
  3. Difficult to remember

I offer the definition because the word actually came to me before I had a good handle on what it meant. To me elusive was something you intend to incorporate into your life but it’s sneaky and always finds a way to evade capture. I liked the idea of commitment, but was it really for me? Because if it was, why did I have such a hard time following through?

By holding the perspective that commitment was elusive it made it someone/something else’s fault when I couldn’t follow through. By choosing to live this way I didn’t have to let anyone down (in theory), especially myself. What if I try to go for my dream and fail? What if I fall flat on my face? Well, what would happen if I didn’t go for it at all?

We were then asked to stand in the perspective that’s the least true for us. I chose “exciting and juicy”. Commitment to me was anything but exciting and juicy. It was filled with have tos and obligations. Missing out on y because I already committed to x. There was no spontaneity, no aliveness. I was then asked “what would be available to you if you took on this perspective?” For lack of a better word, I had an “awakening” (aka breakdown).

All I could feel was a tightness in my chest, in fact, I continue to feel it as I write this post. Over the past week that feeling and I are starting to come to terms with each other, it’s vulnerability.

All I could think of when they asked what’s available in the exciting and juicy perspective was intimacy (Dad if you’re reading this you may want to skip to the next paragraph FYI). Laying in bed with a partner, nothing to protect you, nothing to hide behind; only your soul and theirs. I get a knot in my stomach just thinking about it! That to me, is vulnerability.

Then I thought, what’s available to me when I’m vulnerable? What kind of relationship is available when I’m willing to be this way? What kind of life is available when I’m willing to be this way?

It’s scary shit. But it’s also beautiful. And powerful.

As you can sense, commitment now to me means something very different. Commitment to me is vulnerability. Its saying “I commit wholeheartedly to living the life I want to live, my dream”, which makes me intensely vulnerable. And finally, I’m okay with it.

Vulnerability to me means letting someone/something see all of the parts of you, not just the ones you allow them to see. It’s giving up control. It’s an exposure of the heart. It opens you up for hurt, pain, betrayal, and the sting of not getting what you want. But it also opens you up to a deeper love, joy, and sense of gratitude; and I choose the ladder. 2013-03-22-vulnerability

Overcoming the Inner Critic

Critics

We all have it. That little voice in the back of our heads, barely audible, that chimes in the exact moment we get excited about doing something new, something that’s probably outside of our comfort zone. It says, oh you can’t do that. You’re not skilled enough. You don’t have the education. You want to what?! Follow your dream? Expand yourself in some way? I don’t think so!

And that voice, coaches call it the Saboteur. Pretty fitting in my opinion.

When I was first setting up the company my saboteur sounded something like “you can’t make a living from this”, “you’ll wind up broke in less than a year”, “you will never make it”. Even as recently as yesterday, I was having a conversation with my coach telling her all the reasons why I wasn’t going to take that next big step, even though it’s exactly what I want. She called me on it. I definitely didn’t particularly appreciate at the time; but it’s what I pay her for.

Why is this? Why does it have such a big impact? And, how can we make it work for us instead? Here some tips that have helped me multiple times on this journey.

  •  Acknowledge it’s presence. It does exist and everyone has one. However, you are not your saboteur. 
  • Understand its purpose. Your saboteur exists for a reason; it’s to keep you safe. It’s the one that says “don’t touch that” when you see something hot or the voice that comes up when you start dating someone that you “know” isn’t good for you. Deep down it really does care for you and it’s designed to keep you alive. However, simply “surviving” is much different than truly living.
  • Personify it. Seriously. Give it a name. My Saboteurs name is Dolores. She nags, has Einstien-esque hair and crooked fingers. By personifying, you’re taking it one step further separating it from you. This may feel a bit like split-personalities (and I’m a Gemini, it comes with the territory). But I assure you, personifying your saboteur will not result in you being medicated… At least it hasn’t for me yet.
  • Shed some light on the situation. Saboteurs like to live in the dark of our subconscious. It lives in the background like the soundtrack of a movie. It’s there, but you’re not 100% aware of it. What if you gave it a voice? What if you said out loud all the things it was saying? The most amazing thing happens when all of a sudden you turn up the volume and put a voice to those thoughts… They start to melt away.
  • Have the courage to overcome. When I started writing down all the things Dolores said a couple things happened. First, I looked at my list and was overcome by emotion. If you’ve read any of my prior blog posts you understand this is pretty normal. But I had to fully embrace all those words and everything I was most afraid of. Not an easy thing to do. But as I sat with it a bit longer something else amazing happened. The super confident, courageous part of me started to rise up and totally discredit all those things on the paper in front of me. It said, “I can do this”, “I deserve this” and “I have everything inside of me I need to be successful”. I am enough.

So who are you? What are all the amazing qualities/skills/abilities/personality traits you do have?

Compiling this list is tough. Why? We spend far too much time listening to our saboteur and all the things we aren’t, we lose touch with all the amazing things we are.

The core of your being, your best self, knows better. It says- I am capable, I have the experience, I have everything inside of me I need in order to be successful. I am good enough, I am lovable, I am worthy.

When I ask people what is holding them back from that next step, 99% of the time the answer is “I’m scared”. Guess what, fear is actually a good thing. It’s a signal that says you’re heading into foreign territory. Fear is the boarder of the reality in which you’ve known. Of course you’re scared! If it wasn’t scary, it wouldn’t be worth it.

“Failure” (if you want to call it that) is the absolute best form of feedback. It took many hard lessons and ugly cries to realize this, but I’m serious. If you try something and it doesn’t work (after the initial sting is gone, Hagen Daas has never let me down) you say, ok, so that didn’t go as well as I had hoped. What about it didn’t work? The whole thing wasn’t a failure; there is always something within it (a choice, a behavior, an attitude) that didn’t work. You ask the right questions, you figure out what it is, and you try again.

And when the saboteur steps in and starts to shake your confidence, tell (insert name here) that while you appreciate them looking out for you, you deserve this, and you are enough.

Going with the Flow


Surrender (wind)There are times in my life when I feel like everything is falling into place. I make choices that are in alignment with who I want to be, meet amazing people and feel so much connection and power within things happening in my life.

Then there are times that no matter how great my intentions are and how hard I try to make things happen, they just don’t. And since I’m so passionate and hold the belief that I create the things that happen in my life, I end up forcing it. The result is feelings of disconnect, overwhelm, and way too many expectations. This, for me, was last week.

Outside the small town where I grew up there was this amazing river that we spent literally hundreds of hours on in the summer. It was long, shallow and mellow enough that we would grab our inner tubes and floating chairs (and maybe a few beverages) and float for hours.

For the most part the river was pretty calm and the trip down was smooth.  However, depending on how high the water level was there were always a few rough patches. If you surrendered to the situation and let the water take you, you would come out the other side just fine and have some fun with it. However if you resisted, your floatie would capsize sending you into the (glacier fed) river and perhaps even worse, spill your beer.

We had one friend, Jenalee, that seemed to no matter how hard she resisted would always find herself stuck. I really don’t know how she did it. It was like she was a magnet to the edge of the river and fallen trees. If there was an eddy, she would find it. Drink in one hand and desperately trying to get unstuck with the other. Poor girl, but honestly it was hilarious to watch and almost 10 years later it’s still a running joke in our circle of friends.

Then there was Callie. Callie was always in charge of the cooler, which evidently made her very popular. It was a tough job having an extra dingy attached and having to navigate through the rapids with the extra weight, but she did it with ease. She was also always the first one to initiate the topless tubing portion of our river journey. Callie had no trouble navigating around potential hazards (rocks, hitting bottom, eddies, young boys with binoculars). She was always in control, rarely if ever got stuck, and even with the cooler in tow was often the one to rescue Jenalee.

Looking back, Jenalee was re-active. She would let the river take her and only take action when it was too late and was overwhelmed.

Callie on the other hand never resisted. She was constantly aware of what was going on around her, and was proactive to correct her course.

After reflecting on my week, I’ve learned that I’ve been forcing my way through the rapids and getting stuck in the eddies. Instead of going with the natural flow, I’ve been swimming upstream.

I know my situation is common. We see a goal, get so excited and force our way forward. Forgetting there’s a natural flow to help us get there.

That’s the beautiful thing about surrendering. You’re not giving up. You’re just saying, it’s not supposed to be this hard. Instead of forcing things to happen I’m going to let the universe help me a little.

There`s something in coaching we call big ‘A’ Agenda and little ‘a’ agenda. Big A agenda has to do with your soul’s purpose. What you feel called to do not matter how hard, unlikely or illogical it seems. This voice still may be very quiet and hard to hear, but I promise you, it’s there.

Little ‘a’ agenda has to do with the voice in your head. This is the logical one. In fact, it rationalizes everything. It tells you that you can’t do something for a multitude of reasons. The time isn’t right, you don’t have the money, you’re not pretty/smart/educated enough. It’s filled with “should’s” and “have to’s”. This voice is designed to keep you in your comfort zone. It’s very easy to listen to and always present.

I’ve learned that when I feel overwhelmed I’m listening to my little “a” agenda far too much. I commit to things because it’s the “right” thing to do, not necessarily because I want to. Things that other people say I should do to get ahead, not ones I know are right for me.

A common question for a coach to ask is “Where do you feel that in your body?” This is a good way to immediately connect with where it’s coming from. If it’s coming from you’re gut, chances are it’s a Big A.

The other phrase I’ve heard people say is being honest with yourself. Which ironically, is the hardest person to be honest with.

This comes from recognizing what your big A is, and having the courage to admit it. Once you admit to it yourself, it’s not long before you can admit it to those around you. Then something amazing happens, you’re back going with the flow of the river. And after that, grab your floatie (and your beer) and enjoy the ride.

*Note all names have been changed to protect the parties involved

The Power of Letting Go

letting go

Someone once told me that in order to make room for new things in your life you truly have to let go of the old ones. Easier said than done…

For me, the scariest part of letting go is saying goodbye to something that has been a huge part of my life, shaping the person I’ve grown into. This became painfully obvious last week when I was back in my hometown for a little R&R before beginning the next leg of my journey.

I was only out of my last career for two days before I sat down to write my bio for a vision workshop. I tired, but the words wouldn’t come out… none that sounded good anyway. All I could do was stare at the blank computer screen. By the end of the day all I had to show for my efforts were a bunch of scrapped drafts. Why couldn’t I concentrate? Tired and frustrated I decided to sleep on it.

It wasn’t until my coach said, “Kim, of course you’re not going to be able to concentrate! You’ve just finished something that has been a part of your life for a whole decade and instead of allowing yourself time to feel that and grieve, you’re forcing yourself to the next door without closing the first.” I thought about that for a minute. Could that really be the reason I was having such a hard time.

Before I could process any more she asked me a powerful question, “What did that career give you?”

At first I didn’t understand. What do you mean, what did it give me? It gave me a steady pay check, benefits and three weeks of vacation a year. No, she said, it gave you much more than that.

It gave me support and connection. It enabled my growth in so many ways. It provided the perfect arena to realize and practice my passion. It allowed me to be a part of literally hundreds of young peoples lives. It allowed me to teach them something, that hopefully they’ll carry with them for a long time. And most importantly, it allowed and enabled me to arrive where I am now, on the brink of my next big adventure.

The thing with being unaware is there is no knowledge of a problem in the first place, only stuck feelings. Like an intense fog covering up a beautiful day. Once you ask yourself the right questions, the fog clears and all your left with is clear sky. Some questions that helped clear my fog include:

  1. What doors in my life are still left ajar?
  2. In what ways would closing them benefit me?
  3. What would need to happen for me to do this?

Once I was aware I could start the grieving process. This part was (and still is) very hard. I’m a very ambitious and impatient person. On the other side (as my family and friends can attest to) I am also a very emotional person. When my coach asked the question “What did it give you?” it helped transition the feelings of loss into feelings of appreciation. And appreciating the experience for what it was and what it gave you, is the first step towards healing.

Life is funny sometimes. Once I’ve learned something, and have the tools to implement this new learning, it likes to test. And not in the same nice package, because that of course, would be too easy.

I was tested literally two days later but this time in a much different way. Someone from my past whom I cared deeply for was in an accident.

We’ve been very careful to remain a friendship, which is why it shouldn’t surprise me that he contacted me, and really it didn’t. What did surprise me was my reaction to the whole thing. I realized I hadn’t fully let him go either.

Matters of the heart always seem to be much harder to sort through than leaving an old job, and of course they should be. The connection runs so much deeper. But the underlying message remains the same.

Letting go takes time. Appreciate the experience for what it was. Know that you would not have the courage to face today, if it wasn’t for the hardships of yesterday.

A while ago I was challenged to come up with 100 successes. No problem I thought. After struggling to get past 25, I couldn’t believe how hard it was!

If you are anything like me, you are constantly busy trying to figure out what’s next. We accomplish something and instead of taking a minute to truly appreciate the success, we immediately focus on what’s next. Isn’t that the whole point of accomplishing something, to feel the sense of accomplishment? Instead we put our head back down, look at our massive todo list and keep on keeping on.

It took me four weeks to finally record 100 successes. Some of them are obvious, some not so much. Some other people would call a success, while others would call a failure. One of them is finally being able to appreciate honest feedback. Early in my restaurant career, one piece of feedback would put me in tears for three hours (I’m not kidding, it happened). What matters is that you are able to see them and appreciate how far you’ve come.