26 August 2011


Have you ever felt envy? Envy is not a very nice feeling to have. Envy is a resentful or unhappy feeling of wanting what somebody else has – their success, their good fortune, qualities or possessions.

We’ve all had periods in our lives when things aren’t going as well as we would like them to. For some of us, we might have several areas where this might be happening. I know that I have wished at times that I had the life that other people have had. It’s quite normal to feel this way – we must be careful however that we don’t let envy take over our lives and drag us into a painful pit.

Take a coin out of your pocket and look at it – on one side is heads and on the other is tails. Think of envy in terms of the coin. Picture envy as one side of the coin and love as the other side. You know that a coin only sits on one side at a time and if that side is the side of envy, the side of love is blocked. But fear not, there is hope – learn to move away from envy and toward love.


The first step is to acknowledge envy – don’t judge it. I’ve found that when I acknowledge that I have a problem, change is just around the corner. It’s what happens next that really defines who you are.

If you were raised in a family where your needs were not met, you may feel envious of your friends who appeared to have better lives. Maybe you look at other families and see them as loving and kind because of the things that they do. You may envy the fact that their friends dad shows up at their soccer games while you not only have to go alone but also have to find a ride. Maybe they have wonderful holiday get togethers while in your house things are less stable. This is often the case where there is a lot of alcohol abuse for example and it is made even worse if money that could be used for food is used to support a drinking habit. You might be envious of the family that seems to be more stable.

I spoke with a child recently who was envious of her best friend who had often taken vacations to Disney and other exciting places and she had never had a vacation in her life. In cases like this, we can see why people engage in envy. The list of things to be envious about is endless and can go on forever –your reasons are unique to you.

Acknowledge that you’re envious.


You’ve acknowledged that you’re envious and realize that you recognize that it is not serving you well and you are ready to stop. Like most change – it takes work, but this is work that will produce such positive results that you’ll be glad to do the work. I like to use a gardening analogy.

The Sumac tree is a tree in Nova Scotia that is a lovely piece of foliage and it is best planted at the edge of your property because it has a massive route system and tends to take over the garden. I had a Sumac tree growing in my front lawn very near my front door and it was unsightly. It had not been cared for and the roots were travelling very near the surface with small shoots every couple of feet. I decided to take it out.

When I started, the job was a lot more difficult than I thought. Every time I thought I had it all pulled out, another little plant would sprout up 20 feet from the original tree. I’d start again pulling it out.

Clearing envy out of your life is like taking out the Sumac – it takes work and you may not realize how deep or broad the envy has spread in your life. But after a bit, you see the progress and there are less and less instances of it. Keep acknowledging the envy, don’t judge and then pull it out.


“Nature abhors a vacuum.” I removed those roots, had to replace it with rich soil and grass seed while tending to and nurturing the new growth of healthy lawn. Envy is the same – you take it out, remove it from your life and replace it with love. Love is easy and involves caring for yourself and others in balance.

Look at the blessings in your own life that you may have overlooked while you were in envy mode – you may not have material possessions but there is so much richness in our lives that has nothing to do with materialism. Are you a good friend? Do you bring joy to others? Is your sense of humour bringing happiness into someone’s life. Don’t under estimate the riches you already have.

Envy is a poison that needs to be removed and replaced with healing, nurturing love. Take the time to acknowledge it, remove it and replace it with life giving love. You won’t be sorry.

18 August 2011

Promoting Women

The big news in our family is that my sister, Brenda, the first and only woman cement finisher in the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Union in Newfoundland was hired to work at the Long Harbour site. That in and of itself is a wonderful thing. Add to this the fact that she has been promoted to foreperson within a short timeframe and we have reason to celebrate.

This past week - the local union president along with the International president came onsite to meet her face to face and did a photoshoot while they were there. They could not confirm it but they speculated that there may not have been a woman foreperson in the BAC in Canada. If there has been - I stand corrected.

Promotions of this variety may be well received by some but not so much by others. There are people who will say that she is only a "token" and that she didn't get promoted on her own merit - I beg to differ. My sister is a fantastic people manager and well suited to the role of foreperson - she has a tremendous amount of respect for people from all walks of life and she knows her job. Just like any other person, male or female when they step into leadership positions, she will face challenges. But like all other workers, she can lean on her colleagues and co-workers to fill in gaps. That's the sign of a great leader - she doesn't need to know everything, she needs to maximize her resources.

To those who might want to be skeptical about her ability - my advice to Brenda and women in general is this "Choose to tune them out."

They will have very little impact on your life and you're wasting precious energy if you worry about what others might think. You have made history in NL. It's a big task and I already see you growing into your new role. You never cease to amaze me and like a lot of women - you're coming into your own and beginning a new journey. When others are winding down, you're just winding up. You're a fabulous role model for the girls out there who wonder if they can do it. Way to go gal.

16 August 2011

Managing Setbacks

One of the best lessons that I have had to learn in life is that setbacks are temporary - not only are they temporary, they can also come with valuable lessons. It is a tough lesson to learn and one that you will find very valuable. Setbacks are not the end of the journey in life even though people, myself included, may want to give up when you encounter one. They are temporary and if we can learn to manage a setback well - we can still achieve our goals and live a full and rewarding life.

The law of attraction states that your thoughts are powerful and they determine what you acomplish in life. We many all recall the story of the little engine who said "I think I can, I think I can." Even as children we were being taught that our mind is a powerful tool. Setbacks can produce negative thinking patterns and these are what interferes with our progress - not the setback itself but how we think about the setback.

A very clear example concerns losing weight - I've set a goal to lose 50 lbs in 2 years. I had a bit of a setback recently where I lost my motivation for a week or so. In past, I would have taken this slip from the wagon as evidence that I "don't have what it takes." or that "I'm never going to lose weight." or any number of excuses that would have lead me to quit the journey.

But in my role as lifecoach, I often tell people what I needed to tell myself - this was a setback, not the end of the road. I can get back up, learn from the setback, and move forward again. I know the steps to take to get back on course.

First, understand that setbacks are a normal part of the journey. The journey is not a linear path from A to Z. It is more like a series of advances and retreats and tweeking to get where you want to go. Setbacks often come with valuable lessons in life. Many a successful busines people have had to re-evaluate the path they were taking because of unforseen obstacles. Setbacks are normal.

Secondly, realize that setbacks are temporary and don't let your mind convince you otherwise. They're not here to stay - the cycle of life is always changing. If you start to let yourself believe that you "always" run into obstacles or that you are "never" going to achieve your goal - you run the risk of believing that you are helpless. I have first hand experience with this one - I can remember after I lost my drivers' license through vision loss - I had convinced myself that I "would never be happy again." That was a falsehood brought on by fear. This type of absolute thinking can lead to disaster and derail you permanently.

Finally, seek out resources to get you beyond stuck. If you're not moving forward, you may need help. Maybe a lifecoach or counsellor can help you to reflect upon your thought patterns and actions to see where it is that you're not working in your best interest.

Setbacks are a normal part of life. What we do with them makes the difference between success and stagnation - take charge of your life and take the necessary steps to ensure that you continue to move forward. Enjoy the journey...

8 August 2011

The Vision Board

We bring about what we think about - that's what the Law of Attraction tells us. We all know that controlling what we think about is challenging on occasion especially when we have something that is bothering us. The Law of Attraction may be easy to understand but not so simple to put into practice. Anyone who has ever worried about how something negative is going to turn out will tell you how tough it is not to worry. But that is exactly what we need to do if we want it to turn out well.

That is why affirmations and other techniques are beneficial. They help us to remain focused on where it is we want to end up. The vision board is one of those wonderful tools that we can use in our lives to remain focused. A vision board is really a collection of images and phrases that serve to remind us of what life will look like when our dream comes true.

I did a workshop recently with a group of 5 people where we used the techniques described in Joyce Schwarz' book "The Vision Board: The Secret to An Extraordinary Life." There was much to be gained by doing the board in a group setting - it allowed us to talk about and fine tune our goals. The clearer the goal is the better. Sharing our goal with other supportive people helped us to develop some passion and feeling around what we were undertaking.

Thoughts, feelings and actions are what determines where we are headed. The vision board process allows us to get clear images, share positive feelings and plan a strategy to get where we need to be.

I display my vision board in a place where I am reminded often and I always feel good when I look at it. That feel good feeling is what we are striving for. It's the feel good feeling that will help us to achieve - the thought alone won't do it. It's the passion and feeling that you have for your future that will help it to become a reality.

Try a vision board, they're simple, affordable and fun to do in a group.

3 August 2011

Losing your driver's license.

A gentleman contacted me today because he had lost his license because of Macula Degeneration (an eye disorder) and he wanted to know how I adjusted to that loss. I was in my early 30s when I lost my license. He said that I made it look easy and I didn't seem to worry about it. He thought that I didn't seem to suffer much because of not driving.

I was reminded that we can never tell what is going on inside a person by looking at them. It was not an easy transition for me at all. It still has a negative impact on my life.

We expect that as part of the aging process, we will lose our ability to drive. This is almost a normal transition in aging. When you lose your ability to drive early in your career, it has much larger implications in my opinion.

Vision loss cost me my career and it is the gift that keeps on giving because it still gets in the way of the life that I want to live. I have made choices that I would never have made had I still been driving.

I was not a casual driver - I was, like this gentleman, a person who loved to drive and who depended on driving for entertainment purposes. Being a single mom without a driver's license has meant that my daughter could not have the life that her friends had. We never had the freedom of spontaneous travel and running to the store to pick up something was not a luxury we enjoyed. Our lifestyle was greatly compromised without a car. I will add that many people have no car but we had a car and we knew what it was to lose that luxury or some might say necessity in this day and age. My quality of life is not at the level that it would be if I drove. I didn't tell him all of that - he was not ready for that yet. It would come in time.

It may look like I don't mind on the outside but on the inside it is a continuing battle to adjust. Loss of any type requires that we go through a grieving process - the same as we would with the loss of a loved one. Losing your license is often trivialized until you have to go through it yourself. There isn't an area that is not impacted by my inability to drive.

So I told this gentleman that he has to make a choice to be ok with the new life but that he doesn't have to rush. Learn to grieve and that means embracing what is being lost. This man was an active man who operated machinery and drove a motor home - he won't have the same ability and choices - sugar coating it won't help anyone. But he has to come to terms with the new reality and when he accepts himself for who he is now, he will start to see that there are options in life that will bring him joy again. This won't happen overnight - it is a process that is more like the waves that come in the ocean - sometimes gentle and other times ferocious.

I've heard it said that it takes 2 years to transition to a new place and I think that is right. When we don't get the help we need, we end up in places that can add to our grief. I would advise him to take advantage of programs like CNIB Adjustment to Vision Loss, professional counselling and connecting with others who have gone through the same thing.

Family members and close friends need to be educated on the impact of vision loss so that they can appreciate the transition and know what needs to be done to help him through the tough period.

Losing the ability to drive is nasty - but there is a world without it once we learn to accept ourselves.

1 August 2011

Roots and Wings

My daughter is getting ready to head out on her summer vacation, a vacation that her and her 3 BFFs planned without the help of parents - a sign that we have done a real great job of raising our children or that we have lost our minds. They had a few snags along the way and as parents we marveled at how they stepped up and problem solved. I know that I was real proud of how these girls managed to get the logistics looked after.

Someone once said to me "If we raise our children well, we work ourselves out of a job." I found that quite profound, thought provoking and very true. I cherish my daughter and being a mom has been a rewarding and sometimes trying experience. I have always felt that my role in her life was to help her to grow into an independent adult who could look out for her own needs. This past year, I've seen her blossom into an amazing young woman who is willing to try new things and who has established wonderful relationships in her life. She has also become more comfortable speaking out about something that she disagrees with and I see in that the forming of values that will serve her well in life. I enjoy this because in my own generation children were not encouraged to think critically and challenge authority.

I think that like most parents we want our children to make good choices. We may also want to share some of our wisdom with them in the hope that their lives can be a little bit easier than ours was. On that note, every time I try and teach my daughter a lesson through my own experiences, I am humbled. I learned in my Adult Education training that we learn by doing and not by listening and I've seen that in my own life and I see it in my daughter. Children may take all that we say as gospel and internalize it (or not) but when they reach a certain age, they really do have the capacity to do it on their own. My daughter will learn now from her own experiences, trials and tribulations.

My advice to her is to take risk but be prepared before she does so. I encourage her to not live a sheltered life because I think that we grow by stepping out of our comfort zones. Get out there and engage in life. There is no end to learning in life so take every opportunity to do so. Remain broad minded and have conversations with people that you might never normally speak with. Be fascinated and curious about everything - that's living. When you fall down, get up and continue on in life and always remember - that mama is here for you. Nothing you can do can ever break that bond.

To all of you parents out there who see that day coming when the apron strings will need to be cut - remember this. Our children are not put here to keep us company. We give them roots and then give them wings. Hugz