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Saturday, 28 December 2013

Taking Things for Granted

Recent post on Facebook

The recent power-outage in the GTA and beyond demonstrated just how vulnerable we all our because of our dependency upon basic requirements. Just one ice-storm... and havoc reigned for so many people. It was compounded because it happened just before the Holidays, adding disappointment to the even more dangerous element of being without heat and other necessities. Even as I write this, there are still some without power in Ontario.

And yet, in the midst of this turmoil, we witnessed the incredible ability of the human spirit to rise above the chaos and reach out to those around them. We saw stories of people opening their homes to friends and neighbours - even when they were without power themselves; we witnessed a new understanding of the plight of the homeless (not all are in that situation by choice); we were reminded of the millions of people who do not have the means to provide vital services for themselves and their families and some have resolved to get involved in relief work.  

There has also been an outpouring of gratitude for the many linesmen who gave up their own holidays to work to restore power - even from outside the province - and this sacrifice includes the families of those linesmen, who had their holiday arrangements interrupted.

It's so easy to take things for granted - basic, everyday things to which we normally pay no attention. It is rare for people to be mindful of every single aspect of their lives, 24/7. 

However, events like the ice-storm call upon us to reflect upon the fundamental things that we need in order to survive, and the people and resources that provide these necessities for us. 

Many of us do find time for reflection and gratitude on a regular basis, not just at times of crisis. When we set aside a few minutes each day to reflect upon all those things that make life beautiful, we attune ourselves to allow more of the same to come into our experience, and we may be inspired to take action that will create change. 

Happy, Fit, and Free!

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Thursday, 19 December 2013

Two Ears, One Mouth


When I was teaching in Elementary School, I participated in something called TRIBES - a tool which helps to build a cooperative community in the classroom. I attended a two-day course along with other teachers to learn the philosophy and principles that would enable me to implement it successfully into my classroom. The difference this made to the students in my class was significant and impressive – and this overflowed into other areas, including academic performance, and behaviour management.

Basically, the TRIBES system had four ‘Agreements’ to which everyone (including the teacher) would accept and strive to attain. One of the agreements was – Attentive Listening.

At the beginning of the year, I would ask for a volunteer (usually a confident student) and would demonstrate two modes of listening. The students would sit in a circle, and the volunteer would sit in the middle with me, face-to-face. He/She would be asked to share something that they had done during the summer holiday.

During the sharing, I would look at my watch, look around the room, yawn, and lean back on my chair – in other words, I would not really be paying attention to the speaker. After a minute or two, I would ask the volunteer how they felt. Usually, they would indicate that they felt that what they had to say was not important – that I wasn’t really listening, and that I was bored. It made them feel that they didn’t want to elaborate on what they were sharing. They, themselves, felt uncomfortable and unimportant.

We would then immediately repeat the exercise with the same volunteer, but this time, I would maintain eye contact, lean slightly forward towards the speaker, and punctuate what was being said with a few encouraging, positive murmurs (uh huh, oh?, wow - you get the idea) – without interrupting the flow of the sharing. Without fail, there was more elaboration, more detail, and more animated sharing as a result, and they would always report that they really felt that I was interested and cared about what they were saying. They felt a sense of importance and had the experience of being heard.

During the debriefing session, I would then ask the students in the circle what they observed about me as the listener in both of the sessions, and we would discuss the effect of body language upon those with whom we interact.

From this, we would practice Attentive Listening – focusing upon our body language, and our attitude. I would hold up the ideal of listening with our ears, our minds, and our hearts – especially with our hearts - so that we could try to find out what the other ‘heart’ was trying to communicate.

I don’t know about you, but I have often felt that people I have been talking to have not really been listening. They may be looking at me with their eyes, but I can sense that their thoughts are elsewhere. Whenever I experience that, I feel a sense of ‘shutting down’ inside and it doesn’t feel good. I ask myself if I have ever communicated that same kind of disinterest when listening to others – and was not happy with my answer!

It is not easy to listen attentively – especially with distractions all around us. I may endeavour to listen carefully to someone, but then another person mentions my name, or converses with someone about a subject of great interest to me, and my thoughts divert away from my conversation. However, the moment I take my attention elsewhere, I have communicated (usually non-verbally) my disinterest in the person who is entrusting me with a part of their lives.

Internal distractions are even harder to control. How often have I caught myself thinking of what I want to say next in the conversation, instead of listening and valuing what the person is saying.

One of our friends had an incredible gift of making me feel important – each time I spoke with him. This was evident when, on occasions, he would be directly interrupted by a third person and would momentarily be involved with that person. However, he would immediately return to our conversation and repeat the last sentence I had spoken. Not just some general comment like, ‘So, you were saying……), but specific, ‘So, you were saying that….). It was so noticeable that he had really been giving me 100% of his attention. It felt wonderful to be validated. You can imagine how much respect I have for him. I strive to be more like him in this regard. It is not only children who need to feel valued.

Some people have a natural talent of listening – really listening – to people so that they feel that they are being heard. Some of us have to work at it but, once achieved, it becomes a wonderful gift to offer to others - the gift of being heard. 

I’ve often heard people say, we have two ears and only one mouth, therefore we should listen twice as much as we speak. 

Maybe it’s time for us all to listen more and speak less. We never know what we may learn!

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Friday, 6 December 2013

The Power of Forgiveness - and the Freedom of Letting Go

The world remembers a great example of forgiveness and reconciliation at the passing of this amazing person. Nelson Mandela stands as a beacon of hope in today's world. He had every reason to be bitter and angry at the society which imprisoned him and the unjust rule of law that pervaded that society. Instead, he made a choice - and that choice led to the eventual demise of injustice and the growth of tolerance and acceptance in South Africa and beyond. 

I have watched the movie, 'Invictus' several times.... and the part that always stands out for me is when the character, played by Matt Damon, visits the prison that held Mandela's body (but not his spirit) and comes to the realization of the enormity of the problem - and the solution embraced by Nelson. 

Nothing is more inhibiting of true inner peace and freedom than when we hold on to past hurts - real or imagined - and when we stubbornly cling to our resentments. At the other end of the stick is the total freedom and tranquility that can be ours when we allow ourselves to let go of those things that are no longer serving us - bitterness, resentment, anger, jealousy, hatred, etc. 

We often hear the words, 'Forgive and Forget'. It trips off the tongue so easily that it can just as easily be dismissed as a platitude. However, no matter how difficult it may appear, and how hard it may be to do, it is the only way to find our balance in life and to experience the joy that life has to offer. In the end, our lack of forgiveness often affects our own peace of mind more than the person towards whom that resentment is directed. The truth it, by harbouring and replaying these thoughts and memories in our mind, we hold ourselves in a place that is not healthy - and these can often manifest themselves in physical ways and in physical illness. It's hard work to hold on to this stuff, and it tells upon us, in time.

So... how do we set about letting go? 

Many of us have found that when we entertain negative thoughts and emotions - things that don't feel good when we ponder them - we tend to attract more of the same. In a world that seems to be based upon a law which states, 'That which is like unto itself, is drawn', when we continue to replay thoughts of resentment, we will encounter similar experiences which will intensify the sense of injustice. 

Conversely, if we choose to look for things that are going right in our life - or things around us that make us feel good when we observe them - then we change our point of attraction and begin to experience more and more things to appreciate. We are not very successful at ignoring thoughts. We don't do well when we say, "I won't think of that thing which I am thinking about". So we have to replace those thoughts with ones that feel good to us. When we achieve this, we will discover that gradually, step by step, we can improve the way we feel and our experiences will evolve to match that new point of attraction. 

Finding thoughts that make us feel good and giving them our undivided attention is the key to being in alignment with our true selves. 

Nelson Mandela is a beacon of light. He chose to focus on the positive and give that his attention and the world around him changed dramatically. 

As we approach the Christmas and Holiday Season, maybe it's time for us to let go of the past, forgive and forget by refocusing our thoughts upon things that please us and give us a sense of relief. 

Not only will our own world morph into something more joyful and free, our new alignment - and the example of our own peace of mind will be a powerful beacon that will influence others to find their own joy. 
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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Are we losing our selves?

Years ago, before Facebook and Twitter (circa 1996), I was encouraged to open an account with ICQ - one of the very first instant chat programs that was exciting the technological world available at our fingertips. It was a novel idea that you could chat back and forth without having to experience delays in the conversation that was inevitable by using e-mail.

At first, I got busy connecting with lots of friends and thoroughly enjoyed this new way of communicating. 

Until...... one day, I saw a post by a young man whom I knew in 'real time'. This individual came across as confident, self-assured, poised, and a lot more mature than I knew him to be in real life.  I knew him to be shy, retiring, and lacking in confidence. He was also a bit of a loner and didn't have many friends. 

My first reaction included a sense of relief that, at least, he could communicate on some level with other people. However, I couldn't explain it, but I felt that something was amiss - something was not real and that he was hiding behind a fantasy of his own creation. This became clearer as I began to notice that his 'friends' were people whom he had not met in real life. 

Wondering where this would lead in terms of building real friendship, I started to feel that this was something that would create a real problem in developing real, mature relationships with others, but hoped that some of his online confidence would overspill into his 'real-time' connections with those around him - that he would develop his online skills so that he could enrich his personal life in the real world. 

As I watched over the coming months, I noticed that he became more withdrawn, and even less likely to start a conversation with anyone around him. Instead of developing healthy interactions, he was becoming more of a recluse, and seemed more and more lonely.

At this time, I abandonded ICQ altogether, and didn't become part of the instant messaging community until a few years ago when I reluctantly opened a Facebook account. As well as the immeasurable benefits of Social Media, I also was aware of the potential effects of having an online presence upon my personal relationships and so I was very careful to continue to develop my relationship skills in 'real time' while connecting more and more with others on line. 

It's relatively easier for an adult to achieve this balance because, by and large, we have already developed the necessary social skills needed to enjoy personal relationships in the real world. However, for those who have not yet developed those skills, or have not been able to practice them, it may not be so easy. Although there may be countless Facebook friends or Twitter followers, our young people may be increasingly lonely in their real life. Substitution on Social Networks cannot be compared to the satisfying ongoing friendships that we can experience - and the personal growth that goes along with those relationships. 

This short video clip explains what could happen to many of us - adult and younger - if we don't find the balance between 'real-time' friendships and online connections. I've noticed that some of my Facebook friends spend a great deal of time chatting and posting..... and then, I reliazed that my own time on these similar activities was increasing. See the video clip here.

Consequentially, I now make a conscious choice when, and for how long, I will be on those sites. I usually have a purpose for being on - to check in with friends, say hello, share a few things, and then log off. The sense of freedom that I experienced told me just how much I had become addicted to the whole culture. 

If we can remember that all Social Networks are only TOOLS - then we can begin to place them in a context where we use them to enhance our lives, rather than allowing them to rule us. 
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Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Please Yourself!

How often we fall into the trap of trying to please others!

I grew up with the understanding that if I could please the people around me, this was a sign of success. I would find myself changing my behaviour to match the requirement of the person with whom I was interacting. I told myself that I was ‘keeping the peace’, ‘making people feel good about themselves’, or ‘being flexible’. It did seem to work for a time, but it was exhausting!

This starts very early for most of us. Our well-meaning parents and teachers smile at us when we offer behaviour which they find pleasing; and withhold their smiles when we offer something that is not pleasing to them. We love the feeling of approval when someone flows their love towards us…. and so we strive to repeat the behaviour in order to experience that flow once again. Before we know it, we have fallen into a pattern of being people-pleasers.

I believe it may have been Sir Winston Churchill who once said, 'You can please some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time.... but you cannot please all of the people, all of the time'. I have come to realize that you can't actually please even one person all of the time. 

Different people require different things from us. We find that we have to be willing to ‘jump different hurdles’ to meet with their approval. Problem: when we have mastered one set of expectations, they up and change their requirements!  When we continually accommodate our behaviour in order to make others happy, then gradually, piece by piece, we lose the reality of who we are. We can keep it up indefinitely, but at what cost to our own mental and emotional health and growth?

There is always the hidden dread that we may one day find ourselves in the company of several people, each requiring a different set of behaviours from me, all at the same time, in the same room. How would I react then?

Once I embraced my truth that I had not come in to this life to make the happiness of those around me dependent upon me, I found a sense of freedom. Sure, it meant that I had to give up seeking the approval of others but that, in and of itself, gave me a sense of relief. It also meant that I would sometimes meet with the disapproval of others, but it was more satisfying to live with greater authenticity.

Someone once said to me that other people’s opinions of me is none of my business. Since then, I have heard this advice often, though maybe in slightly different ways. The freedom that comes with developing a sense of self-worth that is not dependent upon the whims and expectations of others is something to be treasured.

I am attempting to incorporate the idea and adopt the attitude that, with regards to people’s comments about me, or my behaviour, ‘Praise and Blame – they’re all the same’.

If I can retain my equilibrium regardless of the conditions around me – including the opinions of my companions on this journey of life – then I will come to know that I don’t have to wait for any conditions to change in order to be at peace within myself. I will be able to maintain the alignment with the best that is within me, and will finally be practicing unconditional love. 


Solutions 4 U !

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Friday, 25 October 2013

Finding the Wonder in All Seasons....

Finding the Wonder in All Seasons

I haven't blogged for a while as we have had a lot of visitors over the last couple of months. So... here goes...

Today, we decided to go for a drive around the Deer Trail - it's about a 3 hour loop starting north of Elliot Lake and ending in Iron Bridge, after which we hit Hwy 17 for the return home. 

Although the leaves have mostly been blown off the trees, there was still so much to appreciate. I just love looking at the leafless trees when they appear as a silhouette against the background of the sky. Each branch and twig can be seen in every detail. The naked trees affords us a better view into the wooded areas that are prolific around here. We get to see deeper into the places where wildlife is active and are often surprised by what appears. 

Today, we were appreciating the small rapids on the Little White River and commenting about how nature is beautiful, no matter what the season. Just at that point, Mark became aware of movement in the corner of his eye, and spotted a black bear on the other side of the river. He stayed there for a few minutes, before disappearing back into the forest. I'm not sure that he saw us as bears have very poor eyesight (though we may have appeared as a couple of shapes to him). Nevertheless, he was no doubt aware of us, using his keen sense of smell. It's funny how that it was not while we were looking out for wildlife that we spotted him, but when we were focusing upon something else that we found pleasing. 
'Bernie' Bear - on the Little White River

It occurred to me that sometimes in other areas of life, when we are wanting something to come into our experience and we keep waiting and looking for it to come, it often eludes our grasp. When we relax, let go, 'go with the flow', and focus elsewhere - especially upon something that gives us pleasure - that's when things come to us. People often tell me that when they have lost something, they only find it once they have given up looking for it. I believe that this is because while we are focusing upon the problem, or the absence of what we want, we cannot be in the vicinity of the presence of what we want at the same time. Once we stop noticing that something hasn't happened for us yet, we allow it to ease its way into our experience. 

As a bonus, we saw also saw two more wolves this afternoon, and I can honestly say that I had a knowing earlier on that this would happen. I'm a happy camper!  And I'm gonna try to relax and let go more often!
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Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Spur of the Moment..... and being in the Right Place, at the Right Time!

Spur of the Moment..... 
......and being in the right place, at the right time!

It was Sunday lunchtime, and we were having a nibble at one of our local restaurants in Elliot Lake when Mark suddenly said, 'It's so nice outside, we should be going out somewhere'. Very quickly, we fell upon the idea of visiting Manitoulin Island - something we had wanted to do ever since we moved here in June. 

Now, it was 2:30 p.m. and it would be at least a 2 hour drive to get to our destination, but we rolled with idea and, after a quick visit back home to collect our energy bars, snacks, and water, we set off. It occurred to me that freedom of time which comes along with retirement is a wonderful thing. I knew that I didn't have to get to bed at a 'reasonable time' because I didn't have to get up early for work the next morning. After all, this was a Sunday! We just did it!

The journey to Espanola is familiar to us, having done it several times over the last three months. However, when we headed south of there on Highway 6, the scenery completely changed. Rocks plunging into lakes at various angles merged with large open spaces giving us a variety of vistas to enjoy along the way. 

Manitoulin is quite a large island, and so we had chosen a particular destination: Bridal Veil Falls. Ever since we had heard about it from those who had been there, it had been placed on our ever-increasing bucket list. 

We were not prepared for just how beautiful it was..... and the small village of Kagawong certainly lives up to its welcome sign: 'Ontario's Prettiest Village'. 

This was to be the first time that we had actually been behind a waterfall and it was amazing - a very different perspective. Although the water was a little cool, if we would have had our bathing costumes, in we would have gone!

After spending some time here, and in the village - where we admired some of the stained glass windows, we made our way south to South Baymouth to see where the Tobermory Ferry comes in. We nearly didn't go there because we were hoping to get back on to the mainland before dusk so that we could continue to enjoy viewing the areas which were new to us on the Island. However, we are so glad we did because it would put us in the right place at the right time... 

On the way back, we witnessed a spectacular sunset - one of those where the cloud formations just add to the overall effect. While stopping to take photos, we noticed a field with hundreds of sandhill cranes milling about. As we moved closer, they began to make noises which are now familiar to us (reminiscent of the veloceraptors in Jurassic Park!) and then took off in flight. Luckily, we had our phone in movie mode and we were able to capture them as they flew right in front of the setting sun!  It was a magical moment. 

We didn't get back to Elliot Lake until 11:30, and Mark was adamant in his desire to download all of the photos and get them posted on Facebook. So, we didn't get to bed until gone 2:00 a.m. - which didn't matter - because it doesn't matter any more!!!

As has been said by so many people, it is the unplanned events that sometimes bring the most joy. Our spur of the moment decision on Sunday was one of those occasions!
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Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Creating the Reality We Want

Creating the Reality We Want

(Composed at camp - August 19th) 

We’re just lighting the campfire at Rabbit Blanket Lake Campground in Lake Superior Provincial Park after another spectacular day. 

Mark lighting the campfire

It started off at 5:00 a.m., when we rose early to head up north of Chapleau to the Game Preserve in the hopes of catching some wildlife as they began to be on the move. We had seen a bear the night before, but no sighting of wolves – either last night, or this morning - though we did catch a wonderful sunrise.

Sunrise in Chapleau Game Preserve

(The next bit may sound a bit esoteric, so please feel free to reinterpret according to your own understanding!)

After breakfast, we left for Wawa taking the highway northwards. It was at this time, I began to realize that I had perhaps not seen wolves because I had mixed my thoughts of hope with thoughts of disappointment and so I decided to tidy up my vibration.

Inside my head, I told myself that I had taken action before doing the vibrational work of getting into alignment with what I wanted. At one end of the ‘stick’ was the presence of wolves, and at the other end was the absence of wolves. I had been vibrating somewhere in the middle so I realized that I could not have rendezvoused with them.

I started to tell the story of what I wanted – as if it had already been achieved. I said to myself, the Universe has absolutely no doubt about what I want, as I’ve been wanting to see wolves in the wild for many years. Therefore, it’s already done – it’s already in my vibrational ‘escrow’ waiting for me to be a vibrational match to it. So, all I had to do was to visualize it as already done, and find thoughts on any subject that would make me feel good, knowing that this would take me right into the vortex where I would rendezvous with my heart’s desire. I decided to share this aloud with Mark.

I had barely finished the sentence, when we turned the corner, and right there, ahead of us, was a beautiful black wolf crossing the road!!!  We did not have the camera ready, and it had disappeared into the bush by the time we arrived at the spot where it had crossed. I HAD SEEN MY VERY FIRST WOLF IN THE WILD!!!!

The Wawa Goose

After a brief visit to the beautiful town of Wawa to replenish supplies,we headed south towards our next campsite at Rabbit Blanket Lake. On the way, we turned the corner on Hwy 17 and fell upon Old Woman Bay. What a fantastic view that was – and with Lake Superior stretching out towards the horizon.

Old Woman Bay
Lake Superior Provincial Park
After setting up camp, we took a 10 minute ride back to Old Woman Bay and spent some time jumping the waves, collecting stones, and just having fun! The water was a little cold, but we didn’t notice it after a while. 

After creating an almost perfect day, we’re looking forward to a really good sleep under the gentle sounds of the wind in the trees at our campsite.

Tomorrow, we head south towards Sault Ste. Marie, passing through some amazing vistas about which so many people have told us.

Can life get any better than this? You bet!  The best is yet to come!!

Alan - the 'true camper' composing this blog on camp!
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Saturday, 10 August 2013

36.7 million dollars in the last 11 years...... A Butcher's Story

Quote from my business partner, Jimmy 'the Butcher' Smith:

"This is the only profession I know where you can fail 90% of the time and still become a millionaire!"

David Wood
David Wood, an international money-making expert and success trainer, gets up close and personal with Jimmy as he shares how at 84 he is still living a Kickass Life by helping others do the same. 

After being forced to retire because of an injured back, “Jimmy the Butcher” Smith had earned a grand total of $400.000 for 40 years of work. His wife suggested that he become a crosswalk attendant at a local school and accept the inevitable, that there was nothing out there for an injured 56 year old butcher.
Jimmy 'the Butcher' Smith

Jimmy stumbled across a tape that changed his life and the lives of millions of people! Today he and his two daughters have earned almost 30 million dollars, and last year he paid more in taxes than the president of the United States earned! (August, 2012). 

Over the last 11 years, he and his family have earned in excess of 36.7 million dollars. 

Listen to the full podcast:  Jimmy Smith - the Millionaire Butcher.

(For the actual interview, skip to minute 13).

(Courtesy of David Wood's website:

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Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Putting Ourselves First - A Path Leading to Love?

While the plane taxied out of the gate at Toronto Pearson Airport the other morning, on the small screen in front of me, they were showing an ad which showed a sullen child who was pouting no matter what toy was shown to her. After several attempts to encourage the child to smile, the parent had nearly given up when the girl looked up at a passing sales cart and saw a soft toy which brought about a change in the child’s demeanour.

The father immediately bought the toy, presented it to his daughter, and was rewarded with a smile and a joyful hug. The point of the ad was obviously to sell the toy to the watching audience.

However, I felt that there was also an underlying message that this child should be placated, no matter what. No way should this child be allowed to be unhappy. After all attempts to improve her demeanour failed, the pouting only stopped when she got what she wanted. The father jumped through all the hoops he could in order to please his daughter. It was a supreme example about putting others first, no matter what the cost.

In life, we often find ourselves putting others first – and there are occasions when this serves everyone involved. In fact, many philosophies and belief systems subscribe to this ideal. The word, ‘love’, is often defined as the action of putting others before ourselves. However, if we establish a pattern of living our lives for others – we may realize that we have fallen into the trap of being ‘people pleasers’. If this continues, we may be sacrificing our own joy and may even begin to feel a little resentful.

Minutes later, while nearing the runway for take-off, they were running through the emergency procedures and something caught my attention. When it came to the part where we were told that there may be a drop in cabin pressure, it was explained that masks would drop down to supply oxygen for each passenger. If you had a young child with you, it was imperative to put the mask on yourself first and then only after you had done this, should you put the mask on your child.

I remember the very first time I saw this, it struck me as odd that the parent would serve themselves first, before securing the mask on their child. Shouldn’t it be the other way round? Upon quick reflection, I realized that, if the parent became incapacitated in any way, due to the sudden lack of oxygen, then she would be in no position to help the child. Very quickly, it became obvious to me that, by putting herself first, the child’s safety and well-being was more likely to be secured.

It may seem incongruous to say that by tending to our own happiness, we are ultimately going to be more effective in what we have to offer others. Being ‘selfish’ enough to ensure that our own inner alignment is in place may be the most loving thing we can do for others.

The founder of Christianity is portrayed as teaching people to ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God, and then all these other things shall be added unto you.’ Elsewhere, he exclaimed that, ‘The Kingdom of God is within you’.

The Buddha also taught that, ‘The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart’; and elsewhere, ‘Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.’

It would seem that these seekers of wisdom had come to know that, unless we are in a good-feeling place ourselves, we will have very little to offer anyone around us. Inner Alignment is the most important thing we need to achieve in order to be in the vicinity of unconditional love which will overflow into the hearts of others.

Once we come to understand that we have not come into this life experience to be people pleasers or to feather the nest for others, no matter how close we may be to them, we will be free to seek first the inner peace and calm tranquility that can become the stepping off place for real change and loving transformation of those around us. When others witness our inner alignment, we are then in a position to influence them to their own alignment from which their peace and joy will flow.

Maybe we should have the courage to be a little more ‘selfish’, so that the world may become a happier, more peaceful place.

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Monday, 29 July 2013

Calm on the Surface.....

7:00 a.m.  - and I’m sitting quietly overlooking Canal Lake at our friend’s cottage on Paradise Road (aptly named!) in Bolsover, Ontario. Lori has generously allowed us to stay here for a few days before we head out for our annual conference in Las Vegas.

It’s so easy to slip into the Vortex of Appreciation when you have such peaceful surroundings and beautiful vistas to coax you into a good-feeling place. The water looks like silk – so smooth, still, and unruffled. The silence is mesmerizingly incredible.

And yet…. I know that under the surface of the water, life is teeming with activity. Beneath this seemingly tranquil scene, the busy-ness of everyday life continues, unabated….. new birth, growth, decay, and death – the natural and inevitable circle of life carries on…. unnoticed and yet ever present.

This leads me to reflect upon our own experience of life, and to realize that, no matter how busy we are, no matter what we are experiencing, no matter what is going on beneath the surface, if we can find a tiny piece of tranquility and stillness, we will put ourselves into the vicinity of a calmness where we can recover a sense of peace and well-being.

When I have made the effort to find a small amount of time - just 5 minutes will do it – to silence my mind, embrace the stillness, and connect with my inner being, I set myself up for a day where I can go with the flow and achieve so much more than I thought possible. I notice that, when I rendezvous with people, my timing, my words, my opportunities just fall into place – easily and efficiently.

In the movie, ‘Pretty Woman’, there is a scene where, on the way to an evening out at the opera, and before the evening event has happened, Julia Roberts says to Richard Gere, “By the way, I just want you to know that I had a good time tonight!”

With similar sentiments, I’m so appreciative of Lori for allowing us to experience this little bit of paradise…. and I’m so appreciative of the day I am going to have.

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Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Power of Laughter

Loretta Laroche is one of my favourite persons. If you haven't seen her, check her out on YouTube. Here's a link to one of them.
She shares a few strategies to relieve stress using humour.
Loretta Laroche

If I want a good laugh, I choose to listen to her. I think she has a gift for holding a mirror up to the silly side of our lives and helps us to laugh at ourselves.

I often find myself taking things too seriously - taking myself too seriously. Others have told me that this is true for them, too. I suspect that this is the case for most, if not all, people. When this happens, we tend to take offence more easily, we become prone to disappointing experiences, and can start a downward spiral which then affects other areas of our lives.

Back in January/February of this year, I found myself complaining about several things that, from my perspective at that time, were not going right. I felt totally justified because I knew that I wasn't making these things up - they were really true. The thing is..... the more I complained, the more life threw more things my way to complain about.

Then I suddenly caught on to what was happening and I decided to do something about it. After all, we can't control anything outside ourselves. We try that constantly, and just as often fail in the endeavour. I remembered something that I had learned several years ago.... that the only thing we can control is what we choose to focus upon and by paying attention to what we are feeling when we are focused upon something will tell us whether we are on track towards more peace and joy, or widening the gap between my desires and their fulfilment.

So, I deliberately (note that word) started to choose thoughts that gave me some relief - thoughts that made me feel a little better than I did before. To help this process, I started to watch snippets on YouTube of 'Just for Laughs, Gags - just before going to bed.

I believe that when we laugh, we let go of a bunch of negative stuff, which is why it feels so good. I did this over the next few evenings, and within 3 days noticed a shift at the core of my being. After a week, I began to feel more hopeful, and then I noticed that things around me started to morph into more pleasing experiences.

Within a month, we were in a position for me to retire, we sold our house in just 2 days with no conditions, we found a terrific place to live, and the income from our part-time business increased dramatically. It was as if the doors that had been shut for a long time, were suddenly flung open, one by one, and we stepped through them effortlessly going with the flow, heading downstream into a more joyful, pleasing experience.

Laughter was the key for allowing the shift to take place within. The rest just followed, piece by piece, as we watched things come together in ways that we could never have dreamed was possible.

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Saturday, 20 July 2013

How do our products compare to the recommended Heart-Healthy Diet?

How does an Isagenix System Compare to a well-established heart-healthy diet?

Isagenix products were evaluated in an independent, third-party clinical study performed at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) that demonstrated superior results across key measured parameters.

The 10-week study evaluated the effects of both dietary plans in combination with intermittent fasting, or 'Cleanse Days,' on body weight, body composition, cardiovascular risk factors and oxidateive stress marker in 54 obese women with a body mass index above 35. 

The two groups fasted one day per week. However, the Isagenix subjects consumed the herbal-drink, Cleanse for Life, whereas the subjects on the 'heart-healthy' diet plan receive a similar product to serve as a placebo. 

Subjects on the Isagenix system had a serving of Isalean Shake for breakfast and a serving for lunch and were counseled to eat a 400-600 calorie meal for dinner. They also took Ageless Essentials Daily Pack supplements as directed. The 'heart-healthy' subjects received instruction for a registered dietician on how to follow heart-healthy guidelines, which included limiting calories by 20 - 25 percent daily, limiting total fat to 35 percent, limiting cholesterol intake, and increasing intake of fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. 

Summary with the Isagenix system:
  • more total weight was lost
  • more body fat - especially visceral fat - was lost
Due to the successful weigh and viceral fat loss, results also showed a greater reduction in biological oxidative measurements, greater adherence, and was shown to be easier and more convenient. 

For further info about the comparison, check out: Predictable Weightloss.

To see the damage done by visceral fat, check out this short movie: What Visceral Fat Does to the Body.

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Friday, 19 July 2013

Early to Bed, Early to Drop Pounds

Early to Bed, Early to Drop Pounds

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Avoid temptation to indulge in fatty foods by getting to bed early.
Notice a surge in your food cravings? You may want to check your bedtime. In the first laboratory study of its kind, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania showed that otherwise healthy people who stay up late and don’t get a good night’s sleep are likely to gain weight from indulging in fattier foods during the late-night hours.
In the study, published in the journal Sleep, 225 non-obese people between the ages of 22 and 50 were randomized into a sleep restriction group or control group for 5 nights—the sleep restricted group slept from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. while the control group slept from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Because the study was conducted in the lab, the researchers were able to closely follow the eating and sleeping habits of all the participants. The subjects all ate the same meals at the same time each day, and they all had unlimited access to a fully-stocked kitchen.
The subjects who only slept four hours a night ate more than 550 additional calories than the control group and gained more weight. Overall, men gained more weight than women and African-Americans put on more weight faster than did Caucasians.
“People consumed a substantial amount of calories during those late-night hours when they would normally be in bed,” said study author and doctoral candidate Andrea Spaeth  in a press release. “Those calories also were higher in fat compared to the calories consumed at other times of day.”
Apart from just being up late and possible boredom causing the tendency to drift over to the fridge for unnecessary snacking, some research has found that inadequate sleep can increase levels of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates hunger cravings, while decreasing levels of leptin, the hormone responsible for feelings of fullness. Internal mechanisms aside, a good night’s sleep should always be a part of any weight loss or weight maintenance strategy. Not to mention a healthy lifestyle.
For starters, keep the high-calorie, high-fat food options out of your fridge—what’s not there can’t hurt you. In addition, some tips for helping to put your night-owl self to bed earlier are:
  • Turn off the TV and other electronic devices. The light from such tools many people use to relax to during the later hours are actually messing with natural melatonin production, and the ability to fall asleep. Try reading a book or listening to music or an audio book to help your body relax and get into sleep mode.
  • Reduce caffeine intake earlier in the day. Depending on the person, caffeine’s effects can linger for up to eight hours and affect the ability to fall asleep. If you know you’re sensitive to caffeine, aim to be caffeine-free by about 2 p.m.
  • Exercise earlier, not later. A known benefit for a good night’s sleep, exercise can also make it difficult for the body to wind down after. Try exercising in the morning or an earlier time if you’re a regular evening exerciser.
  • Enjoy a hot bath. Having a hot bath about an hour before bedtime can help the body and muscles relax. It can also increase core temperature, which upon leaving the bath the core temperature will drop and cause a natural release of melatonin, the hormone that tells the body to go to sleep.
  • Supplement with Sleep Support & Renewal. If falling asleep at a set, desired time seems impossible for you, or you feel the sleep you are getting isn’t the quality sleep that you need, try supplementing with melatonin. Our Sleep Support & Renewal contains safe and effective amounts of melatonin and is a fast-acting, spearmint-flavored spray with additional ingredients such as theanine and chamomile that have shown to promote a calm and relaxed state. The ingredients work synergistically to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep while also helping to improve the quality of sleep and increase total sleep time.
Contact me if you'd like more information. 

Spaeth AM, Dinges DF, Goel N. Effects of Experimental Sleep Restriction on Weight Gain, Caloric Intake, and Meal Timing in Healthy Adults. Sleep 2013;36:981-90.
Figueiro MG, Plitnick B, Rea MS. Light modulates leptin and ghrelin in sleep-restricted adults. Int J Endocrinol 2012;2012:530726. doi: 10.1155/2012/530726
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