September 13, 2017

The revolution of travel

Why do we love to travel so much, and how can we get that same feeling of being “untethered and free on the road” in our day-to-day lives back home? Writer, director and former nomad Shebana Coelho has this to say on the topic — advice gleaned from a trip she took to Mongolia in 2007 and then shared in the short story “Snow in Mongolia,” published in The Best Women’s Travel Writing: Volume 10 (edited by Lavinia Spalding):

Mongolia changed everything — how I live, how I see the world, how I see myself. When you travel, you tend to cultivate a persona different from that of your everyday life. You’re open to everything, and you take better care of yourself emotionally. Because you know you’re out of your comfort zone, away from home, you work on letting go of whatever you can so that you can move with ease. . . .

At different points during my time in Mongolia, I remember thinking: one, what if I lived with the same persona I traveled with, and two, if I could manage here by planning only one step ahead instead of ten, instead of trying to see the whole road — well, couldn’t I manage my life like that too?

And that’s really what I’ve done since Mongolia — followed what calls. It’s led me . . . into a period of creativity that I would never have imagined for myself and that only came about because I was able to let go and fully follow what moves me. This has felt like a revolution. For me, it is.

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August 7, 2017

How to succeed: Fail copiously and spectacularly

Looking for the key to success? Apparently the secret is to rack up several previous failures, the more numerous and spectacular the better! I came across the following research summary in the book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. The boldface and italic emphases in the text are my own.

A few years ago, two management researchers became curious about what factors predict when a space flight will succeed. Going back to the first launch of Sputnik I in 1957, they tracked every launch globally for nearly five decades across thirty organizations — mostly governments but also some private companies. You might think the best odds of a successful launch would come after past successes, but the data from more than four thousand launches showed the exact opposite. The more times a government or company had failed, the more likely they were to put a rocket into orbit successfully on the next try. Also, their chances of success increased after a rocket exploded compared to a smaller failure. Not only do we learn more from failure than from success, we learn more from bigger failures because we scrutinize them more closely. 

If you apply this same finding to your own life, what is the result? The more times you fail at something, the closer you get to actually achieving it. And those absolutely spectacular failures that threaten to destroy you? They’re actually your best helpers, because they teach you what you need to know for next time (and force you to learn the lessons).

The next time you fail at something, celebrate that moment as another step towards your future success. You’ve got this. 🙂

August 5, 2017

The path to happiness lies behind Doors 1, 2, 3 and more

Have you ever been floored by some tragic or particularly challenging life event, only to spend your time pining for the way things were before? Here’s a new way to look at your situation, courtesy of the ever-wise Helen Keller:

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.

There is always more than one positive direction each of our lives can take. If a door to one of those directions closes, it’s OK to spend some time mourning that direction, but then turn and look around you. There are so many other versions of a happy, healthy you just waiting to come to life, if only you give them the attention they deserve. ❤

July 28, 2017

Observed on the street: Pillow talk

If pillows could talk, what would they say?

“Do more of what makes you happy.” Good words to lay your head upon and dream.

July 14, 2017

Where babies come from

I love this description of “where babies come from,” courtesy of Montreal author Heather O’Neill in her short story of the same name in her larger anthology Daydreams of Angels. Read this woman’s work if you have the chance — it is pure magic.

Back when I was a girl, babies were washed up from the ocean when the tide went out. You would see their little bottoms peeking up from out of the sand, and if you dug them up quickly, they would be yours to keep. You had to wake up and get to the beach very, very early if you wanted a baby, because there were always loads of girls at the seashore looking for them. . . .  Once the sun went down and the tide came back in, the babies were loosened from the sand and were swept back out to sea. Then it was pretty much all over and you had to go home empty-handed.

April 21, 2017

“Clang-clang-clang!” – it’s spring in northern BC

A sure sign of spring in Northern British Columbia: northern flickers hammering away on metal chimney pipes and lamp post caps!!

The northern flicker is a member of the woodpecker family, and, according to Wikipedia, woodpeckers often drum on trees or metal objects to communicate and declare territory. The louder the noise, the better, apparently — hence the metallic clang-clang-clang-clang “song of spring” in northern BC!

April 1, 2017

Let your passion lead you

Inspiration to follow your passion from filmmaker and adventurer Frank Wolf, who made a six-week, 1,800-kilometre canoe journey from Saskatchewan to Nunavut and wrote about it in the Spring 2017 issue of Explore magazine:

I quit my job to do this trip — another necessary loss [along with loss of comfort, loss of routine and loss of connection with those left behind]. I had a choice between stability and passion. Passion won out and now a summer of possibility awaits, future be damned.

And three days into the trip, when Wolf snapped a tendon in his thumb and could no longer flex the digit:

When you put months of time and energy into a venture like this, the loss of partial hand function is a relatively small price to pay. A tendon can be repaired later, but these remote quests are once-in-a-lifetime.

Pursue your passion, people. Move through the obstacles as they appear and keep striding forward to where your heart wants to lead you.

March 17, 2017

Let go of the need to “control” your life

In today’s performance-driven, dog-eat-dog world, we all need a reminder to let go, trust our intuition and go with the flow of where our instincts lead us (even if our minds don’t always agree with that direction). Rower Sara Hall has this to say on the topic in her memoir Drawn to the Rhythm:

The necessity for letting go . . . is hard to grasp and harder to execute because we humans, so gloriously smart, are so afraid to trust our own instincts. We have to control everything — our bodies, our lives, our relationships, our physical environment — and we often try to do this by force, by exercising the strength of our muscles and ego to bend the world to our command. We think if we get a grip on whatever challenges us — a good, hard, take-no-prisoners grip — we’re golden. But we’re not. Sometimes . . . the best solution is . . . to . . . [l]et go. . . .

Our endless struggle with ego and control, both within ourselves and in reaction to others, is a diversion that serves us ill. . . .[W]e squander our energy and our precious time on earth, and all of us must find the source of courage that allows us to loosen our hold and follow the calling of a greater imperative. Trust me.

February 23, 2017

Everyday synchronicity

“Synchronicity is just something that I expect as part of my work day.”

Author Gail Anderson-Dargatz spoke these words at a literary festival I recently attended on Galiano Island, British Columbia. Gail had just given a reading from her new book The Spawning Grounds, and she, fellow author Ann Eriksson and the audience were engaged in discussion about those “meaningful coincidences” that pop up every so often in life.

Gail suggested that we should expect meaningful coincidences in our lives every single day — in tiny doses, at ordinary moments, for small things as well as big.

What a refreshingly joyous approach to daily life!

Let’s all welcome an abundance of everyday synchronicity into our own lives. Start today!

February 3, 2017

Love is what you find at the bottom of a toy trunk

This completely quirky but totally true description of love is courtesy of Montreal author Heather O’Neill in her novel The Girl Who Was Saturday Night. (Read Heather O’Neill if you can; her work is brilliantly engaging.)

Love is like this small room where a child brings you to show you all their treasures. First the child shows you all the new toys that are bright and shiny and top of the line. But then she shows you all the stuff that has ended up at the bottom of the trunk. There are dolls with eyes that wobble, hair that is falling out of their heads, and dirt behind the ears. Their fingertips have been chewed off by dogs and they have been drawn on with ballpoint pen. It has been so long since they have been held or anyone has told them that they are lovely. They lie at the bottom of the toy chest, hidden and ashamed. You are either going to be disgusted by them, or you are going to be so filled with love for them that your heart almost breaks.

At some point, any long-term relationship will expose you to the bad, the sad and the vulnerable in your partner, alongside the good, the happy and the strong. That is the point when you find out if your love is real.