The Art Of Reinvention

Chrysalis Emerging 5

Cartwheeling over one of life’s inevitable speed bumps and landing in a ditch, is the perfect time to hone the art of personal reinvention. We lick our wounds, shake our head and hopefully keep moving forward with a few curses streaming in the wind behind us.

Some people will continue trudging, head down, feet dragging, oblivious to the lessons at hand. The wise will stop, assess the scene and adjust for variables. Most of the time this is done with some foot stomping and a growl or two, but “Oh that moment!” when you surrender, adapt and look for new qualities within to reveal.

This is a beautiful rite of passage that comes with the human journey. The incredible fact that we can always become something else and find joy or satisfaction in new ways. What an amazing moment to savor, emerging from one form of yourself, shaking your wings and taking your first breathe from within the new you.

This is the time for new eyes, new opportunity and endless pathways ahead. Who will you be now?

I am always inspired by those souls who can be in a chrysalis of suffering, pain or loss, and emerge with new understanding or a new plan. To be the athlete turned painter, the builder turned angler, the scientist turned gardener. To see the possibilities spiraling out within any circumstance is true power.

How will you approach this new horizon? How will you reinvent and rediscover other aspects of yourself for the joy of moving forward and thriving in a new way?

Your Pirate Coach & Inner Peeps.

pirate arr

 

 

Many people ask me what kind of coach I am. I can say life coach, business, relationship or communication facilitator; all those are true.

My latest response is, I’m the Pirate coach. Here to stir up the pot, climb around your spars and rigging and sniff out the treasures. To inspire you to take charge, sail your own ship and make your life an adventure. (Not the cutting off limbs and walk the plank kindJ) I’m unconventional, authentic in all my wildness and a relentless seeker of joy.

When living my dream in Northern Nicaragua, I may show up for coaching in shorts, sun bleached and salty tangled hair, tank top, and my dog. While coaching in other parts of the world and in my Canadian home of Canmore Alberta, I can be in anything from jeans to active wear and a toque (wool hat for those of you outside of our boarders). Or dressed up all fancy if I feel like it.

I’m a meat eating beach bum, surfer, rum drinker and angler, bumping around in my sand filled truck. I eat healthy most of the time, but love beer and a burger after surfing two sessions in the am. I suck at Yoga and traditional meditation but that’s ok. It’s not me. I dance to the sunset blasting my IPod, I walk under the stars at 4:30 am, breathe; ponder my life and the world. I stretch what’s tight, train when the waves are flat or just lay in a hammock and bet on what gecko is going to get the big bug first.

We are all such individual universes. Ones crazy is another’s sane.

We each have our own rituals that heal us and guide us, if we allow ourselves to be all that we are, both light and dark. We continually reinvent ourselves throughout our lives, we change, we grow, and we lick our wounds after hitting the rough sections and hopefully celebrate with utter abandon when we are standing on the hilltops.

While leading group coaching workshops, as well as with private clients, a common theme that almost always arises, is the war with the inner self. The insecurity or the lack of self-worth, the inner negative dialogue, the discontent that sometimes rules our lives. Sometimes it’s the ignoring the dark that bubbles just beneath the surface.

We all have inner voices, an inner team if you will. Call them angel and devil, assign them a color, a name, we have parts of ourselves that make up the whole. Oh how they speak, act, and push you in crazy ways!

This subject has a few names in clinical psychology known as Voice Dialogue, Voice work, or Parts Work. During my first foray into this topic, I found the conversation utterly profound. It has given me tools for governing not only my inner world but I also continually introduce the concept with coaching clients, resulting in very cool self awareness and insight.

Who are your inner people? Do they come to mind right away or does the question make you pause and wonder?

I immediately knew that I have 4 inner people that sail my ship. (This may make you laugh, as I am a 42-year-old woman.) At the head of the helm, for random periods of time, is the Pirate. As you can imagine he can cause a bit of a ruckus. He’s wild and loud, says inappropriate things, and gets me into the occasional pickle. He does not like rules.

Yet he is also the adventurer, the fighter, the inner voice that drives what I call my male “grrrr”. He stood by me through many crazy world travels; he provides raw mental strength, passion and is a risk taker.

I used to be ashamed sometimes of when he was sailing my ship, yet when I looked at all he brings to the table I would never try to push him down, just have a different conversation or utilize him in a different way.

Shoulder to shoulder, I have the 18-year old boy. Needless to say they both get into trouble. This hooligan keeps me youthful, adventurous, a decent surfer and athletic accomplishments come from this part of me.

I have the soul on a holiday, a 5-year-old girl. Life is grand and she is here to savor it all and celebrate every day. Not wanting a plan to follow, just needing to play her life away. Not wanting to tidy up, wash her feet or brush her hair. She is the master de-motivator when work is to be done, as she just wants to have fun. But does she ever bring joy and absolute stoke with everything she does.

Last, I have the wise woman. She brings me quiet grace (although that does not seem to come over me much, as she is usually busy wrangling the other three). She can be vulnerable, self-judging, she is calm and reflective. She is intuitive, has her hands in the earth and is filled with nature and sunlight, but can also be a pain in the ass matron when the rest want to get out or she can be the only tether for acting properly in public. Sometimes she is face down in the dirt with the other three sitting on her back, yowling and cackling and planning an adventure.

My point is this. If we can reflect on our own inner light and dark, accept with love the voices that govern us, feed them or don’t, celebrate all that they bring or take away and then learn to harness what you need from them, so makes the inner war easier.

I have had a few times in my life when the Pirate and 18 year old were taking over. Then I realized I needed more ground, grace, and stability. So I mentally asked them to be my crew, as hey – they are great at that. I put the soul on a holiday and the wise woman at the helm. This helped me reel in a bit of the wild and harness the positive qualities to achieve certain goals in my life.

When I ride my short board surfing and its overhead high, I take the 18-year-old boy and pirate with me. When I ride my long board on a small wave and sunny afternoon, I take the wise woman or the soul. My body moves differently, my language changes, my cloths change. This results in a different experience in my world and in interactions with others.

Leading up to a tough conversation at work or with a loved one, I may take the pirate and the wise woman, for they bring different strengths to the table. One calm and reasonable, one with a strength and fire, who is not going to be pushed around.

Loving and accepting everything within you does not mean you have to accept and never change the dark parts of your personality or never toss the things you want to get rid of, but harness all parts of you, to live a more balanced and self-governed life.

I love hearing what comes up with clients when they ponder their people. Who needs to drive the bus for a while? Who needs some quiet time?

I had my own epiphany recently when a client asked me what the inner people were doing now? I realized for perhaps the first time in my life they all had one hand on the helm and are having a quiet rum together, balanced and all taking part.

Who are your inner people and what strengths or challenges do they bring? How can you use them differently, or put a different one in the drivers seat? What would change for you?

The Hamster Sleepeth.

img_5556

My husband and I had been enjoying an incredibly beautiful fall, walking in the woods with our pup and biking around town on days off. I barked out a laugh. “You know what I’ve been thinking? Absolutely nothing. Blank space. The hamster in my head is laying face down in the curve of the wheel, back arched, one leg dangling off the side, snoozing and drooling.”

This was a strange place to be. Especially for the personally motivated life coach, trainer, striver, traveller and seeker that I am. The status quo is for my brain to be in overdrive and at it’s peak at 3 am, stars twinkling as I plot and plan and dream of the next whispering horizon yet unseen.

This unknown territory began in the spring of last year, before I ended up in bed for two and a half months with a case of Zika turned into encephalitis. Five months of migraines and the stupids followed. The brain was turned to mush, ending in a slow drawn out recovery; hardly full of brilliant and complex thoughts.

I realized that for quite some time before that, I had been in between the chapters of my life. A space of unknowns, of questions, and a lot of the time – nothing. A moment of clarity bubbled up, that me (the usual loud mouth) had nothing to say and oddly enough had come to that elusive place of living completely in the moment and with no plan. Savoring the cup of tea, having an extra pint and listening to loud music on my Ipod into the wee hours of night, to choosing my new hobby of fishing and hanging out with my dog, over reading or growing my mind.

I found myself lying in my hammock pondering the width of my feet, to enjoying dinners of mixed languages with kids yowling with laughter at wrong words in different languages. To that moment when the only clear thought was “I don’t know.”

I spoke of it with friends and smirked at myself in my own quiet time. My husband smiled at me and a typical wise statement escaped his lips. “Vanessa, you realize that most of the people in the first world can only dream of attaining a place of the quiet peace you live in day to day. They dream of retiring and seeking the moment of the slumbering hamster. Yet here you are.”

Only a month ago I realized my brain had sped back up and THUMP, the pages dropped me over into a new chapter of my life. Even though lately the hamster is hot footing around the wheel of my mind, I now realize the gift of giving him snoozing breaks from time to time. I allocate siestas for him, and have somehow compartmentalized his workouts. Even though I embark on a new chapter, I take time breathe deep and feel my pups ears draping over my toes as I write this. I have to lift the computer off my lap just to watch her for a moment and take in the gift of a crazy animal that seeks out the comfort of drooling on my foot from time to time.

The reminder was that sometimes in life we need to allow for a break, to not know, to let the tides wash in and out of our minds, to clear space for new thought, and to rest up for the next segment. It really is OK not to be running full tilt all the time, and a blessing to have the “Hamster” take a good long nap.

Goals and Play-Doh

rainbow

 

 

 

As a life coach I highly value the decisive act of goal setting. It not only draws an outline for your life but the act itself makes an individual look within and take stock. I do not mean the casual thought of this is where I want to go, but a play-by-play segmented plan.

Many people find goal setting daunting. The fear of failure peaking over one shoulder or the giant end game crushing the other. The key is to make soft and attainable goals to go along with the big ones, as well as medium steps that are malleable.

A wise woman once shared with me her approach of goal setting: One month, three months, one year, and five years. I personally would take that a few steps further, by first approaching this exercise with a sense of lightness and possibility. Not overthinking the initial process, but writing your dream goals from the heart not with your hard lined reason – that can come later.

For those in relationships, the second step I would offer would be to rewrite your goals if you were completely on your own. JUST YOU. Not with a family, children, parents, pets, friends or a partner. See what comes up, you might have a surprise waiting for you.

At a pivotal time in my own life, I sat down to think of my goals. I first wrote things with reason, with my husband, in our current life. I hacked through it and came up with a decent roadmap, yet when I decided to unleash my innermost goals of what I wanted for my future I realized I had been compromising the life I truly wanted to live. Not because I was forced to, but because I had been caught up in a community, a marriage and a lifestyle, without realizing my inner needs had changed and were slowly eating away at my current happiness.

This was an insanely life altering process. When I wrote what I would do if I was on my own, a bomb went off in my heart and mind. I had written a completely 180 turn, as well as how I would pull it off.

This process was a thunderous reminder to never let life get away on me, as many of us know, can easily happen. It was a reminder for my husband and I that we were in a marriage, a union that takes compromise. Yet underscored was the absolute necessity for communication with each other about changing needs, as well as the act of taking chances within ones life. To pursue dreams as not only a unit, but to keep the passion alive within the individual we each fell in love with.

That crossroad in our lives sent us on a crazy ride building the next dream. The other major nugget I was reminded of recently? The dream changes. Due to necessary adaptation when the curve balls come flying in, or because of time and it’s continuous and eroding march forward.

Attaining those big goals doesn’t happen overnight, and usually through the process of trying to get there, we are morphed in the fire of our own journey. Time passes, we hit potholes or canyons and need to constantly adapt to the fluctuating ground we are scrambling upon. Hence the need for goals that are not carved of stone to crumble when life’s inevitable quakes shake our world, but objectives we can remold time and time again. Sure sounds better than dangling in the air by our claws as another dream falls away.

What if we approached goals with a childlike sense of wonder, of possibility? What if we shaped them with Play-Doh and let our imagination run wild. Color them with crazy hues, stick pipe cleaners out of the top, or roll them in the dirt. Goals that are in a distinct shape yet pliable enough to add on, take away or just plain reform into our changing needs and desires.

My invitation for you is to carve out, schedule, or set aside an afternoon or day in the next week or two to dream up or remold the next shape of your life. Sit down with your heart and mind and get your hands dirty.

Rock your inner youth!

1098487_10151794045547667_1238676949_n

I don’t know about you, but as a 41 year old woman, I seem to be in denial that I am actually getting older. Until I look in the mirror in the right light and exclaim “What the #$@!%!, where did all those wrinkles come from?” Incidentally my father in his seventies also has the same shocking moments of wondering who the old guy in the mirror is.

I am in a smaller class of women that chose not to have kids, my number one passion is still surfing, and I am occasionally still seen ripping turns around our mountain neighborhood on my electric Skateboard while listening to Eminem.

While talking today to a “sister of the cloth”, meaning a great friend who is as much of a punk as me, I exclaimed the frustration of societies expectations for people at a certain age. While yes my husband and I are incredibly successful in our own hand crafted world, we still seem to be swimming against the tide of others following the accepted norm.

As people in our forties and above, we seem to have to behave a certain way, reach the bar of an accepted level of success, or be at a certain phase for us to “fit in” to a mold. This expectation piles on the ever-building weight of being an “Adult.”

How can we retain our weightlessness of youth?

Stop caring about what other’s think of you for one. I am reminded of my most valuable lesson fitting this topic. Be all that you are and the other black sheep will find you, before you know it you have a tribe of like minded people, that celebrate you and all your quirks.

My invitation to you today, is to ask what are the small stories you can let go of in your life that trap you in your age?

Can you shift a mindset here and there, to one of a child and play? To create a lightness of joy and simplicity, even for an hour a day? Are there things you gave up over the years that brought you such joy in your earlier years, and would you want to add them back into your life? Think of the shift of mindset or step of action that would allow more freedom to explore happiness, connection, and possibility.

Crossroads of Possibility or Regret?

 

crossroad

 

Sometimes while listening to a great song that brings back memories of days gone by, I think about those blazing crossroads that could have taken me in a completely different direction in life.

I can pinpoint so clearly those choices I made that lead me to this exact moment. When you look over your shoulder to past decisions do you have thoughts of regret? Do they fill your heart with sadness, or like me an interested and pensive wonder?

My heart aches a little for all the possibilities within ones life. I like to picture the other road that could have spread out before me. To imagine how it would have played out. Would I have died young, or become something so different? Perhaps.

All of us if we live long enough have moments of decision that we live with forever. When I look back I am so thankful for so many roads I could have taken. I feel fortunate to be thankful for where I am.

I have always had the philosophy that there are no such thing as regrets just decisions that could have been different, and all the ones that may now feel wrong lead to our growth, learning, and our grand path.

Yeah I know I am forever the optimist, and yes you may think screw that, I regret what happened, the decision I made.

But did you learn?

Can you look back with new eyes and see how that shaped you, made you different? Will you forgive yourself  and  share that knowledge to make a difference on the planet for the better? Will you give back, or will you let those decisions define you and take you down the dark path that leads to self destruction?

If you are sitting in a place you do not want to be, remember you are at that fiery and momentous crossroad now. The one you will be looking back on, in the blink of an eye.

Make the choice for you, for where you want to be, for who you wish to become. Create a blazing trail behind you that you are proud of.

Health and the elusive Balance.

 

BAck

Health. Some of us have it, and those of us that don’t, yearn for it, covet it, and prey for it to wrap its sunny arms around us.

Some people abuse themselves for life, and live to a hundred – insert here a photo of a craggy farmer smoking cigarettes and drinking whisky all his life. He lived outside, worked physically on the land and ate home cooked food with ingredients found close by. Got in fights, broke bones and ate dirt.

Some people are health nuts their entire lives: No drinking, no smoking, taking their vitamins, eating organic and religiously go to their Pilates class or the gym. They had a plan but were so stressed about keeping to it, they die of a disease or in a car wreck on their way to their next appointment. Sometimes it feels like there is no rhyme or reason.

As a personal trainer, people always are always asking me about the latest trends, or what they should and shouldn’t do in terms of exercise and diet. My response back is, in the gym and in normal life:

What are you willing to change?

What will you not give up?

How much do you want it?

And is your choice sustainable?

Often people do not want to really work that hard, and will find an endless well of excuses. Others make mind blowing gains due to some inner fire or driving need. Maybe its divorce, health, vanity, babies, growing older, whatever the reason, the results vary greatly.

And it’s confusing. When I am lying on the floor with a back flare up for the third month in a row, worrying about getting better, about my husband, if I will ever heal, am I putting on weight, and taking a ridiculous amount of medications to exist, is a cheeseburger and a beer healthy? Damn straight it is. If it brings even a fleeting feeling of normalcy, or a ray of sunshine through the clouds and ticks my stress meter down an inch, hell ya!

My husband and I snicker together at the definition of “Health food.” Sometimes it’s mental health food. As long as it’s not all the time, and oh that sneaky word of “Balance” pops up again to bite you in the ass.

More and more as I trainer I ended up listening, and cheerleading my clients through a breakdown instead of crushing out a workout. This eventually lead me to go back to school for personal coaching, in attempt to better support them through the mental aspect of their health. Something so overlooked in a lot of our health goals today. Our awareness is getting better but we have a long way to go in terms of application versus conversation.

In this day and age of technology, of electronic stimulus, fast lives and little time off, it seems hard to find the magic balance of what will keep us healthy.

We are all wired differently, with a myriad of needs and wants depending on culture, sex, country, and economic stature.

Yet one thing is undeniable. We have the choice to govern our lives. We can recreate ourselves each day, but have to take the time to inventory our life, ask what is missing, what makes us happy, and what the heck we really want. Make a plan, that is constantly reassessed, then have the courage and tenacity to take a perhaps staggering step towards the goal. If it’s forward, it’s still a step in the right direction.