Thursday, November 27, 2008

Just Begin

Our lives are so busy that we move from work to home to sleep to work again and barely have a moment to ourselves. So weeks and months and years go by and even though we have a niggling feeling that something isn’t right, we shove down the doubt and keep going.

Then we see a friend do something amazing like get a book published (who knew that she wrote?) or hold an art showing at a local gallery (he’s an artist…really?) and we wake up, really wake up, and wonder “how the heck did that happen?”

When so many of us just barely exist, there are a few vibrant souls who have embraced their passion and are living their joy. This can do either of two things: make us so jealous that we turn our backs on them and continue dying a little more each day or it lights us up and we finally, finally, finally pursue our own dreams.

I hope you are one of the vibrant souls or are on the way to becoming one.

One of the best ways to embrace your joy is to think back to your childhood. How did you spend your play time? What activity got you so involved that hours flew by like minutes?

For me, it was drawing. Drawing horses in particular. I never went anywhere without a pad of paper and a pencil. As I got older I drew cartoons and dreamed of my own strip appearing in newspapers around the world. My Grade 8 art teacher was a great encourager and I had total faith in my abilities.

Then I took art in high school and picked up the message that cartooning wasn’t “real art”. Whether my teacher actually said those exact words or I simply interpreted his reaction to mean that, nonetheless, I quit taking classes after Grade 9 and never pursued cartooning as a career. What a shame.

How easy it is to listen to criticism and take it to heart. Don’t listen to the negative—listen to your soul instead.

Pick up the crayons you once loved or the special kind of pen that dances across the page. Begin. And feel your spirit open up and the tension ease from your shoulders.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Got Fifteen Minutes?

As a single parent with three kids, a full-time job and all the responsibilities that come with that, finding time to pursue my dream used to be next to impossible. Working on my novel got shoved to the bottom of my to-do list every night and I’d go to bed bitter because I had so little time to myself. And to top it all off, I’m a very ‘all or nothing” kind of person, meaning that if I couldn’t dedicate myself 100% to the book then I wouldn’t work on it at all.

Obviously, something needed to change. The kids weren’t moving out anytime soon so that meant I had to do the changing, I had to re-adjust my expectations and accept the fact that even if I couldn’t write for hours every night, I could write for one hour. Or half an hour. Or even fifteen minutes. Yes, even fifteen minutes of working on my joy filled up my soul and lifted my spirits.

By dedicating myself to writing even those few short minutes, I was keeping my promise to myself. I was telling myself that I was worth the effort. And it worked. Some days I could bang out an entire page, sometimes only a paragraph, but no matter how little I wrote I was making progress—I was thinking about my book, planning what would happen next and even coming up with ideas for my next novel.

Fifteen minutes a day. That’s all it takes. Your dream is worth it. You are worth it. The clock is ticking….go for the joy. Now.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What is Joy?

If you’re familiar with the self-help section of your local book store you’ve undoubtedly seen books about joy and how to create your ideal life. My favourite is “How Much Joy Can You Stand?” by Suzanne Falter-Barnes, which is all about carving out time in your life to do your art, start your own business or perform in local theatre—in short, to pursue the dream that’s been nagging you for years.

But what does joy mean to you? Some would say it means winning the lottery or finding a soul mate and marching down the aisle. And while these are worthy dreams, I don’t think they do justice to joy. To me, true joy means following the path you know you are meant to pursue, the path your soul points out to you when you’re quiet enough to hear it.

Your dream is calling. Are you listening?

I am, finally.

I’ve always been a writer, one of those “nose in a book” kids who read all the time—even during summer holidays and weekends—so it was natural for me to take up my pen as a child (and later, my keyboard) and start making sense of all the stories in my head. But my art was never a priority. I was never a priority. Kids and work and the latest hit on television always took precedence over writing. I was tired at the end of the day! Or so I told myself, as another day ended and I was nowhere closer to finishing my novel, let alone getting it published.

Then I woke up.

Earlier this year I read a fantastic book written by my friend, Patrick Mathieu, called “What’s Your Expiry Date?” In it, Patrick dares each of us to live each day as if we knew it would be our last. How would you live if you had a limited supply of days? Would you climb a mountain? Paint? Dance with wild abandon? Call everyone you know and tell them you love them?

Well guess what? Everyone’s days are numbered and life is too short to be miserable. It’s time to start living your joy.

Now that I am in my forties, I am finally embracing my creative side. Writing will always light me up and I am happy to say that I have made my novel a higher priority in my life. But I also get totally energized helping others go after their dreams.

The whole time I was reading “How Much Joy Can You Stand?” I was wishing I could help others live their ideal life too. The thought of working hand in hand with positive people ready to move their lives forward excited me so much! Now as a licensed Joy Facilitator I am coaching others, encouraging them and guiding them towards the life of their dreams. This path electrifies me so much I’m having trouble sleeping at night!

You can download a free *pdf version of Suzanne Falter-Barnes’ book by visiting: and if you want an amazingly positive wake up call, don’t forget to check out Patrick Mathieu’s site at: It will change the way you look at your life.

Remember… a goal without a plan is only a wish. Stop wishing. Start living.