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Archive for February, 2010

Busy Work

Life is busy. I work full-time at a job I love and that occupies me for 9 hours every day. Then, home time. Work out, dinner, some freelance work, blog time, school work… and before you know it, time to do it all over again. What about me time? What about reading? What about time to learn a new recipe, write a poem, play my piano, etc? What about just a few minutes to breathe?

In today’s world, we are conditioned to be busy. Not necessarily productive —  I’ve learned that the two are actually mutually exclusive. But busy. We all text while walking while talking while emailing while driving while wondering… where HAS the time gone. Our ability to do a million things at once is rivaled only by our inability to accomplish anything on our ever-growing to-do list.

How do we combat this? I think the key is to spend less time doing and more time accomplishing. Some things aren’t negotiable – we all have to pay the bills. But have you ever noticed how much longer it takes you to get something done when you are actually doing 3 things at once? Or how you find yourself re-doing something that you thought you had previously finished? Try these simple experiments and see how much more/less productive you are:

-Only check your email 3 times a day at work – 1st thing in the morning, at lunch, and before you leave. Email is a time sink: simply checking your email can eat up 2 to 3 hours of your day, every day. Consider what else you could accomplish with those 3 hours!

-Do not spend your evening ‘surfing’ Facebook or Twitter. Treat it like email: check it once or twice a day (if necessary), and then close the site. Don’t simply to go another tab on your computer screen- close the window and sign-out completely. That will remove the temptation to cheat and continue checking back. Out of sight… out of mind!

-Do one thing, well; one thing at a time. Do it right the first time and then move on to the next thing. By only doing tasks once, you will save 1/2 the time you waste doing something over again.

Stop making ‘busy’ work for yourself and get busy doing. You might be surprised how much time you find to actually start doing things you enjoy!

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The Olympics been in full swing now for a little over a week and I am as excited and proud as the next Canadian, watching events day after day thanks to the miracle of television.

This year, with the Olympics in Canada, it seems as though all you hear is the idea of Canada “Own(ing) the Podium”.  As a competitive athlete for many years, a coach for several years, and a sports enthusiast for my whole life, I wholeheartedly disagree. I understand that the Olympics are about competition and that of course, there can only be 3 champions in each event, on any given day. But what about the athletes who train their whole lives, go to the Olympics, and happen to have a bad day? They are still there, representing our country. We should be so proud of them – winners, personal best achievers, and competitors alike.

Case in point: Mellisa Hollingsworth.  After she lost a skeleton race in which she was expected be on the podium, the interviewer put her on national television, crying.  It was an embarrassment; to see the media almost berate her for her loss, asking her questions like: “How do you feel ?” Seriously. How do you THINK she feels?! Unbelievable. On behalf of media outlets everywhere, to Mellisa and all our Canadian athletes; I am sorry for our behavior towards you. We, the real Canadian fans, are proud of you. All of you.

At least our athletes are there. At least our athletes are representing our country honorably and elegantly. Let’s be proud of who we are and of what it means to be Canadian. Let’s celebrate the personal bests being achieved. Let’s celebrate the victories over injuries which have allowed the athletes just to compete. Let’s celebrate the stories of our athletes who are doing their best.  Let’s celebrate the families who have sacrificed and supported to get their sons/daughters there. Let’s celebrate the spirit of the games.

The Olympic spirit is best expressed in the Olympic Creed: The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.

The Canadian media would do well to remember this.

Go Canada Go. I am, and will always be, proud.

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Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. One of the most prevalent ‘Hallmark Holidays’ of the year has arrived and I have a few thoughts about this day that I’d like to share.

Love the One You’re With

Contrary to popular belief, the grass is NOT always greener. I think that this concept gets forgotten, when things get tough or when the romance starts to wane out of a long-term relationship. Remember that romance is not the real whoo hoo factor in a relationship. The real importance is the knowledge that you are loved, you are safe, and you are respected by the one you chose and who in turn chose you.

Flowers fade, chocolates get eaten and cards get recycled- TIME is forever

To sound very cliché for a moment, the gift of time is the best gift of all.  Anyone can buy their partners gifts of chocolates, flowers, diamonds, etc. But how much time does such an exchange take? A few moments, or a half hour at most? Not everyone is thoughtful enough to plan a day with their partner; an entire day of time and new memories that will last forever. The gesture of gifts is nice- but consider the ‘time’ of the gift and understand – perhaps the gift is actually time itself.

Valentine’s Day is not just for couples

Valentine’s Day is often touted as a holiday for couples – and as such, single people get left behind. Not so. The day is a day of thanks and gratefulness to those you love; romantically and otherwise.  So remember that you are blessed to have special people in your life, whom you love and who love you. Take the time to remind your family, friends, and people who you care about that today, and everyday, they are loved.

To everyone reading this; Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope you get the time you need and the reminders you deserve to know you are valued.

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Animals are amazing creatures. At first glance, they sometimes appear simple. They eat, they sleep, and they play. To us, extremely sophisticated and advanced humans, their behavior sometimes seems trivial or simple. But after additional consideration, I’m actually starting to think they have life more figured out than many of us, myself included.

I am lucky to have had several good ‘animal’ teachers in my life.  Currently, I have two cats and I love them dearly. They have been with me for about 9 years and they have been through the good, the bad, and the ugly. To their credit – they have stuck it out.

Here are just a few pearls of their wisdom.

  • Do what you feel.

I think most animals live with this motto. They sleep when they are tired, play when they are feeling frisky, howl or cry when they feel unnerved, and eat when they are hungry. Too often, society tells us we should bottle up our emotions and not say or act on how we are feeling. And I am of the opinion that this leads to blow ups, mis-communications, and other unfortunate things. So do what you feel. Say whay you mean and mean what you say.

  • Be the picture of grace…even when you aren’t.

One of my cats is blind in one eye and the other one is klutzy. Regardless, they both love to run and jump all over the house. This includes up and onto window sills, etc. Often, they miss. I have seen them both fall down a few stairs, hit a wall if they misjudge a run, or leap into the edge of the window and ooze back down onto the floor. But not once have they yowled, cried, or slunk away. They pick themselves up very quickly, glance covertly around to see who may have noticed the incident… and either do it again or go and sit somewhere, all the while looking very dignified. I can’t count the number of times in my life that I have hit a (figurative) wall or fallen down the (figurative) stairs right when it was my time to shine. And often, after the fall, I slink away with my head down and my eyes lowered, trying to make myself disappear. So I now have something to work on – always do everything with grace, if even you have none. Eyes up, smile on… head held high. Wall after wall should be met with smile after smile… head up, and try again.

  • Learn how to sleep well, and to enjoy it.

Plain and simple – Get some rest. The cats do it extremely well… and often. Sleep. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul.

  • Forgive fully and often.

I have stepped on my cats’ tail more times than I can count; never intentionally of course! My little boy likes to run and sit underfoot, and lace his tail around my foot. I think he think it’s a game… but consequently he gets stepped on. And sometimes he meows a bit…but he always looks up at me when I scoop him up and apologize – and I know that I’m forgiven and it’s OK. And a minute later he is doing it again… he has forgiven me.

  • Love unconditionally.

Loving unconditionally is hard.  The cats do it exceptionally well. No matter how late we get home from work to feed them, or how busy we are with our own lives that takes away from play time or cuddle time, they love us. Deeply and unconditionally. We should all be so lucky to receive such love, and we should all strive to give the same.

Take a look at the animals in your life. You might be surprised what you can learn.

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I am getting more and more into the art of yoga. My latest attempt to better my body has come in the form of learning to do head-stands and other upside-down poses. In yoga, it’s called “Inversion” or “viparita karani”. Loosely translated, it means ‘opposite process’. It’s good for you because:

1. Gravity is hard on your body. Inversion works to reverse the effects of gravity.

2. Being upside gives you a whole new perspective on your body and your soul.

Okay, I made up that second point – but I think it’s true, in so many aspects of your life, not just yoga. It reminds me of my wedding picture, which is signed by one of my uncles, upside-down. It says “Always look at both sides”. Go figure.  I look at that signature every now and again, especially when things seem a bit more complicated than necessary.

Being upside down, whether it’s your body or your mind, forces you to look at things from another perspective. And sometimes, that perspective is just what you need to realize that it’s possible that you or your position might be wrong.  By inverting your thoughts, you start to see what you were missing because of a limited point of view.

We all do it.  A contradiction of thoughts or opinions arise and we immediately take the offensive or defensive position that we are right, just because, end of story. The next time this happens, turn the issue on its head. Take a good look at yourself, and at the other side of the situation. And realize that, when turned on its head, there might actually be two sides.

Don’t be afraid to invert your thinking. It’s good for the body (so they say…) and I believe that it’s good for the soul.

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