What Matters Mondays – Apr 25, 2016

April 25th, 2016 by admin Leave a Comment

Sometimes you are asked to volunteer at an event and you’re not completely sure what it’s all about but it sounds incredible so you trust your instinct and say HECK YA! And sometimes that event changes you in ways you never expected.

The event is called “BEAUTIFUL ME,” and it is hosted by the Plugged In Community Center Organization. It took place in St. Albert yesterday and I am still in amazement at what I was lucky enough to be part of.

The one day workshop was developed for at-risk, vulnerable or deserving young women, who could benefit from a confidence-building opportunity. It involves discovery of both inner and outer beauty.

The day began with groups of girls coming into Bellerose School with a hint of uncertainty, fear, anxiety and a bit of excitement. I think they were like me…not completely sure what was about to happen.

We started off by sitting in groups and getting to know them. We asked them to create I am…. and Beauty is…. statements. Then we just hung out and chatted. Some of the girls were so nervous that they hardly spoke, others began to open up and talk about their lives, and slowly a comfort level was beginning.

The girls then went to a hair stylist where they got their hair done. I stood back and watched the transformation happen. Not in their hair, but in the smiles that began to creep across their faces as they looked into mirrors and saw themselves. They began opening up and talking more to the stylists and the confidence began to grow.

From there they moved to the make up artists. Again, they got to choose how they wanted their make up to look. Many of the girls commented that they really had never known how to properly apply make up to look really natural. Added to the smiles, I began to hear laughter and conversations that were so meaningful.

Next, the girls got to choose a dress to wear for a photo shoot. As well, each girl was gifted a beautiful headband by Kloopsies and an infinity necklace donated by my incredible friends, Jenine and Lindsay, at Bella Maas.

The girls headed to four professional photographers and it was here where I was brought to tears. Girls who walked in timid, nervous, unsure of themselves and very quiet were all of a sudden swirling their dresses, laughing and smiling the most beautiful smiles in front of the camera. As their photos were printed off for them to take home, there was one that caught my eye. This young lady began the day completely silent, very anxious and without a smile on her face. She wasn’t sure she even wanted to be here. As her picture came out of the printer I was flooded with emotion. You could see a new confidence, and her smile was stunning. She shared with me that she really enjoyed the day! It was amazing!

After all of this…the girls came to see me and we talked about inner beauty. About finding your path, living your values and aligning yourself with what matters. We talked about changing our judgment to curiosity and compassion by looking at others through a values lens. At the end, each girl thought again about her I am statements and her definition of beauty and together we created this beautiful heart of their statements. Inner beauty is about being who you are, finding what matters and choosing each day to live by that.

Today I woke up so grateful to have been able to watch each of these girls embrace their own beauty…inside and out. I also feel incredibly grateful to have been part of a team of volunteers who shared their gifts so that they could help these young ladies realize their beauty and embrace a new confidence! I cannot wait to be part of this again next year!

 

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What Matters Mondays – Apr 18, 2016

April 24th, 2016 by admin Leave a Comment

What a better way to know if you are spending time with the right people than to notice how you feel when you walk away from them. Last week I read a great post by Lissa Rankin and it affirmed everything that my heart has been trying to tell me for a long time. In the post, she talked about how she started paying more attention to how she felt when she walked away from visits with the people in her life. Sometimes you spend time with someone and as you walk away you feel riled up, anxious, angry, frustrated, competitive, disconnected OR you can feel still. The scary part is that if you focus on spending time with people who leave you feeling still, you may question your own commitment, loyalty and friendship to the others. What she discovered is that as she started to pay attention…she began to create an inner circle filled with people who left her feeling still. And it felt right!

 

For me, I like to walk away from time with others feeling both still and grateful. Let me just clarify stillness…I’m not saying meditative stillness…I’m talking about the inner stillness, that calm, that peace, that feeling that this feels right. There are so many moments in my week where I walk away from coffee dates, visits, walks, workshops and I am overflowing with gratitude and stillness. Those days are my favorite days. These people are my tribe.

 

I have also noticed in the last few years that my value of connection is such a key to my happiness. But it’s not just about being connected. It’s about being connected to people who leave me with this stillness and gratitude AND it’s about being the kind of friend that leaves others with stillness and gratitude (something I continue to work at).

 

The bottom line for me is that not all people are meant to be forever friends. Some people come into your life for a while, make it more beautiful in that time and then as we grow and change…we both move on. However, sometimes we think they should be forever friends and we force the relationship to keep going even when it doesn’t feel good anymore.

 

Imagine if you could feel more stillness, gratitude and connection…

 

For me, it feels authentic when I acknowledge who fills my soul and I go with it. This is not about good people and bad people. They are all good. They just aren’t all for me and I am certainly not for everyone!

 

What would it be like if you started to pay attention to how you felt when you walked away from visits with your people? Is it scary or has your heart been doing what mine has for a while; trying to point you in this direction?

 

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What Matters Mondays – Apr 11, 2016

April 11th, 2016 by admin Leave a Comment

Connection is one of my top values. In order to have connection, you have to have vulnerability – risk, uncertainty and emotional exposure – you have to choose to be ALL IN knowing that there are no guarantees. Loving someone is one of the most vulnerable things you can do in your life. It is scary because love comes with heartache. Let me tell you my story…

About a year ago, my Rotary Club asked me if I would be the Inbound Counselor for a Youth Exchange Student coming to us from Switzerland. My instant reaction was, “Absolutely, I’d love to do this!” I work with youth, I love kids and I just knew this was something I was meant to do.

In August, Livia came to Canada and instantly became part of our family. She has lived in our home for the past two and a half months. It’s weird how fast someone who was once a complete stranger can feel like family. It’s weird how fast you can love someone.

Fast forward to last night…it was time for her to move from our house to another family. I was prepared, I told myself that I’d still see her each week, I told myself that this was always part of the plan, I told myself that each new experience was an opportunity for her to continue to learn and grow. But the truth is…it hurt like hell!

I laughed thinking that I was the counselor, when truly, it was me that needed counseling. Lol

So I did what I know to do. I cried and then I texted my very dear friend… and here is what she said, “It’s brutiful. When you can totally love someone knowing that they are leaving is wholehearted living (living and loving with your whole heart…choosing to be all in!). It’s much more beautiful than brutal.” And she was completely right.

My life is more beautiful because of having Livia in my life. It’s richer, better, more complete because she was and always will be part of it. I learned that I love playing crib even when I get my butt kicked, I learned that talking about hair and clothes (when you raise boys) is lots of fun, I learned that having whistling and singing in my house makes me smile, I learned that I can’t get enough of conversations that keep you sitting at the kitchen table long after the meal is over, I learned things about parts of our country that I didn’t know about because she was curious enough to ask, I learned that laugher fills my soul, I learned that asking for what you need is a gift, and most importantly, I learned that life is so much more than what is right in front of me…

Livia is the bravest girl I’ve ever met. Leaving her home, her family, her school life to travel across the world for a year takes tremendous courage and is something many people would never consider. I have been so lucky to witness each day of her journey to learn on a deeper level why it’s worth being brave. What she has learned, how she has changed as a person, what she is challenging herself to be and do in her life is something you do not learn in school. It’s an experience that changed both her life and mine.

If you ever get the chance to host an exchange student…DO IT! It will change your life! It will teach you things you never knew about yourself, it will expand your heart, it will help you to live with more gratitude, to live in the moments, to take chances and to live life with more intention and purpose. It’ll also hurt like hell…but it’s so worth it and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Being vulnerable is scary but it’s the way to true connection.

 

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What Matters Mondays – Apr 4, 2016

April 5th, 2016 by admin Leave a Comment

Everyone should have a LOVE NOTES file on their computer or on their phone. (Thank you Chantelle Adams for this brilliant idea you gave me years ago)

Self-compassion is something I struggled with for a long time. Anytime I made a mistake, didn’t hit a goal, or messed up, my first instinct was to beat myself up about it. “You should’ve done this, you aren’t good enough, you failed….”

When I began teaching the work of Brené Brown – The Daring Way™ – I realized that self-compassion is absolutely necessary in order to live a wholehearted life. I made a commitment to myself to slowly begin to change those negative thoughts to thoughts of kindness. My best reminder is to ask myself, “Am I talking to myself like I would talk to my kids?” This question can stop me in my tracks. Let’s say I’m driving to a meeting and I’m running late. My old thought process would be something like, “You are such an idiot. Why can’t you be on time?” But then I stop and think, “Is this what I would say to my boys if they were running late for something?”

And the answer is NOT A CHANCE! So it’s NOT okay to say it to myself either!

What I would say to my kids is, “You are human. You made a mistake. You are still an awesome person. It’s okay. Breathe and get there as soon as you can.”

Imagine if I could say that to myself. That is self-kindness!

Now, back to the love notes file. There are days when I still struggle with self-love & self kindness. That’s part of being an imperfect human being….and I’m okay with that!

On those days, I don’t want to spiral down into what’s not right, flaws and feelings of inadequacy (because that crap can consume you!). But sometimes I need the help of others to climb back out of that hole. Sometimes I can’t do it alone! That’s when I open my love notes file.

My love notes file is a folder on the desktop of my computer where I put emails, notes, messages from cards, kind words that other people have said to me or sent me. I begin to read them and within minutes, with the help of these amazing people, I am back to the true me. I am smiling. I am reminded of my greatness.

Just last week, I did a workshop for a group of young girls and when I was cleaning up after they left, there was a sticky note on top of my book. It said, “Danielle, I love who you are as a person.” In that moment I thought, this needs to go into my LOVE NOTES file because on a day where I am focused on my flaws, these words will remind me to focus on what’s right and awesome! It’s that easy.

Our self-worth should not come from others. Our self-worth should come from within. However, there are days when it’s hard. On those days, to be able to read all this kindness is the best medicine in the world. I can’t always do it on my own. And I feel incredible gratitude for those who send me these messages because it changes some of my days from scarcity to abundance.

What would be the first entry into your LOVE NOTES file?

 

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