Many people dread turning the big 5–0. Well, I’m the complete opposite. I started getting excited about turning 50, the minute I turned 49! I mean, 50 — wow! At this point, I feel like I’m all grown up. I’ve accomplished a few things here and there, I’m wiser, I’m emotionally strong, I know what I want in life and can usually figure out how to get it and on top of it all, there’s still so much learning and growing to do! What’s not to love about that?
I had grand plans of travel and celebrations during my 50th year, because of course, those who know me know that I like to milk my birthday for as long as I can in any year, never mind a big one like this! It started with a trip to Fiji in February of 2020 and then of course — there was a crack in the Universe when Covid-19 rocked our worlds. Although I, like the rest of the beings on this planet, did not have the year I expected, I chose to embrace the gift in every single day and am grateful for the time I had to connect with myself and my children at a deeper level.
Reflection is a large part of my life. I believe that when we reflect, we grow. When we think back on situations or circumstances with a view of gaining a deeper understanding of what we are meant to learn from them, we take those lessons and integrate them into our Being and therefore into our lives. So, with half a century of lessons under my belt, I thought it was the perfect time to reflect and share some of my key life learnings in hopes of inspiring you to do the same.
What my head has taught me
Mindset is key to growth and fulfillment.
Our beliefs, thoughts and how we speak to ourselves feed into our mindset and our mindset dictates how we experience life and the lens through which we see it. It guides our perspective and our outlook. When we allow ourselves to open our minds to possibilities, to new experiences, to learning and move past fear, ego and judgment then we can truly experience life from a place of fulfillment and joy even when things aren’t necessarily going our way.
A large part of shifting our mindset is developing the acuity to perceive things outside of our egoic mind, release judgement of ourselves and others and recognize and move past preconceived conscious and unconscious biases.
Our ego is here for one reason and one reason only. To protect us — to build up our self-esteem and self-importance. Our ego loves to be right and this causes a disconnect because the ego provides us with a false sense of self. The ego will work to either build you up or tear you down. It’s what we learned about ourselves through experience, through others and through the self-limiting beliefs that have flooded our minds over the years. The ego is vulnerable and insecure and constantly sees itself under threat, so it wants to do everything it can to survive! The ego thrives on the past and the future. It has no interest in the now. It will be quick to remind you of your perceived failures and even quicker to project itself onto your dreams and ideas of the future.
I have done a lot of work on releasing thoughts of judgment, pausing to recognize my biases and settling my egoic mind and I have A LOT more to do. It is an everyday practice, but the good news is, when we are attuned to how these fear-based emotions work, we can let go of false self-image and superficial ego-dictated goals and desires, unwarranted bias and ill conceived judgments and take back our own narrative. When we remove the ego, bias and judgement barriers from our lives, we shift from being held captive to a fixed mindset to being free to explore through our growth mindset. When we see the world through this lens, we live it from a perspective of self. Taking ownership of our own lives. Knowing sometimes things happen that may be out of our control but recognizing that we are always in control of how we choose to respond. That’s the power of choice and the beauty of recognizing it by living with a growth mindset.
What my heart has taught me
Love is always the answer.
I was taught as a child to be tough, that crying was for sissys and love was not something openly discussed. I spent years building walls around my heart to protect myself from hurt and all the emotions that came with it. It wasn’t something I did intentionally, I just didn’t know any better. My beliefs drove my behaviour, as they do. It wasn’t until a recent women’s retreat I attended in Fiji that, I realized just how high and thick those walls had become. It’s funny, any of you Yogis out there will relate to this next part. Prior to this retreat, I was unable to do much of a back bend during camel pose, which is a heart opener stretch. I always knew it had something to do with my heart chakra but didn’t really know what to do about it. I would quietly assume the position, close my eyes and accept the fact my “bend” may just go as far back as me lifting my chin! Since investing the time and work into opening my heart this past year and pealing back the layers, not only is there a little more back in my bend, I’ve worked my way up to full extension. This was huge for me!
Now, you may be asking yourself, what the heck happened at that retreat? Well, the only way I can think of to sum up the week is by relating it to being engulfed by the biggest, warmest coziest blanket that you never ever want to leave because it makes you feel safe, protected, warm and loved. The week was filled with the most beautiful women, from master healers, spiritual goddesses and genuinely beautiful souls, each and every one radiating unconditional love from dawn until night.
Love, love and more love. The beautiful Kerryn Slater whispered these words into my ear while she held me as I cried following a very emotional release. Love, love and more love is what I felt as Joy guided me through a magical Reiki healing session and immersed me in one of her “Joy” hugs as only she could do. Love love and more love is what I experienced while sipping champagne in the ocean watching the sunset illuminate the sky with my new besties, Coleen, Sammi and Karen. Love, love and more love is what I saw in Romany’s eyes as she shared her story of magic and life with the beautiful souls in the room. Love love and more love is what sprang from the stage when Melanie, Diane and Kate shared their deeply sacred stories of sex, love and relationships. Love love and more love travelled through the Fijian breeze as women from all over the world came together to celebrate themselves, each other and the power of women everywhere. Love, love and more love is what emanated from my soul as I wrote about all of my insecurities to “love” and what it felt like when love wrote me back. Love, love and more love is what will guide me in my life from this day forward.
Life-long friendships were formed, deep-rooted fears faced, old scars healed, emotions released and a new relationship with love evolved. Upon returning home, I spent months working on continuing to open my heart and I still do so regularly. I’ve learned that love is and always will be the answer. We have 2 primal fears from which all others emanate — love and fear. Joy, compassion, gratitude, and peace emanate from love. Ego, jealousy, hatred, and self-pity emanate from fear. Love and fear cannot co-exist so where there is love, there is no fear and I’d much rather be living life from a place of love over fear, wouldn’t you?
What my emotions have taught me
Compassion is an inside job.
Compassionate living is about understanding that we are all part of a shared human experience. Recognizing that all humans fail, make mistakes, and lead imperfect lives. Rather than feeling isolated by our own perceived imperfection — egocentrically feeling as if “I” am the only one in the world who has failed or is suffering, common humanity takes a more connected perspective.
Compassion by definition is relational. It literally means “to suffer with”. When we are in touch with our common humanity, we remember that feelings of inadequacy and disappointment are universal. This is what distinguishes self-compassion from self-pity. While self-pity says “poor me,” self-compassion recognizes suffering is part of the shared human experience. The pain I feel in tough times is the same pain that you feel in tough times. The triggers are different, the circumstances are different, the degree of pain is different, but the basic experience is the same. When we understand this, we tend to be more compassionate towards ourselves and others.
Self-compassion is an inside job. We cannot give what we do not have. Until we can show love and kindness to ourselves, we cannot provide it to anyone else. Mindfulness is an essential component of self-compassion. We must be willing to accept and acknowledge painful thoughts and emotions to infuse ourselves with compassion. Often people don’t truly acknowledge how much pain they’re in, especially when that pain stems from their own inner critic. And sometimes when faced with life challenges, people get so caught up in problem-solving mode that they don’t pause to consider how hard it is in the moment. Mindfulness of our negative thoughts and feelings means that we don’t allow ourselves to get caught up in them but instead we can recognize that our thoughts and feelings are just that — thoughts and feelings — they do not define us nor do they make us who we are. Being observers as opposed to active participants of our thoughts gives us a chance to take back our own narrative and not let the thoughts consume us. This one can be a bit of a toughie, but the more you work on your EI (emotional intelligence), the easier this becomes.
I continue to build and exercise my compassion muscle regularly through mindfulness, meditation and affirmations. I intentionally infuse compassion into my daily life by supporting and encouraging others and practicing forgiveness of myself and others. And I constantly remind myself that we all have stuff we are dealing with. Just like you, just like me. Just like every other person on this planet. We are all doing the best that we can with the tools that we have, so remember to be kind, be forgiving and be compassionate. When we practice compassion, it not only benefits our overall health and wellbeing but the overall wellbeing of all of humanity!
What my soul has taught me
Embrace the power of Now
One of the biggest lessons my soul has taught me is to release attachment to outcomes and embrace the power of now. That’s not to say just throw your hands up in the air and leave life to fate, but it does mean that there is nothing you can do to the change the past and the future isn’t here yet. The now is the only thing that matters at this exact moment in time.
Often people believe the “whens” will change the “thens”. This stems back to the ego mind I just talked about. The ego feeds on the sense of lack or incompleteness of not being whole which can often lead to what they call “ego-gratification”, pursuing things to fill the perceived void such as possessions, money, success, power, recognition, and so on so it can feel better about itself. Thinking, “when” I have more money, “then” I’ll be rooted. “When” I’m in a relationship, “then” I’ll be complete. “When” I get promoted, “then” I’ll be happy or “when” I have a new car, a new house, a new cottage….well, you get the picture. On the flip side, we can get caught in the trap of focusing too much on the past as well. The “good old days”, “when things weren’t as complicated” or “when life was easy.” Sometimes we get so focused on the future believing that our happiness is contingent on when we achieve certain things or so consumed with the past and how things used to be that we forget to live in the present and savour each moment.
I read “The Power of Now”, by Eckhart Toll this past year and experienced a moment like none other. I was cleaning my house with the music blaring and as I bopped along, my mind was marinating on the last chapter I read the night before when suddenly I tuned into the song that was radiating through my speakers. It was “December” by Collective Soul and it stopped me in my tracks.
I closed my eyes and started to feel the music, really feel the music. It was like time stood still. There was no where I needed to be, there was no worry of the past and no stress of the future, I was simply here, in the now. As the words permeated through my heart and tears gently kissed the cheeks of my face, I surrendered to the moment. Today was the day. Today was the day the Universe spoke to me and although I’m sure it was not the first time, it was the first time that I chose to stop and truly listen.
As I absorbed the words “Just tilt my sun towards your domain, your cup runneth over again, don’t worry about, don’t speak of doubt, turn your head now, baby, just spit me out”….. I couldn’t help but feel these words emanating through my soul with such power. “Tilt my sun towards your domain” — representing the sun, the energy of light and love shining on me. “The cup runneth over” symbolic of the abundance in my life. “Don’t worry about, don’t speak of doubt” — affirming words as I focus my energy on getting out of my head and into my heart. “And baby, just spit me out” emblematic of all the letting go I’ve done and continue to do of those things and people that no longer serve me. And of course, the creator of this message — Collective Soul — need I say more?
This experience, this phenomenon was about more than simply being present in the moment. I’ve done a lot of work on “presence” and in fact, I write about it in my book — Your Extraordinary Self, but this took things to a whole new level for me. The feeling was almost inexplicable but if I had to put it into words, I would say the feeling is the difference between being present in the moment and just Being. So, well over 5 years after I discovered the art of “presence”, I have graduated from thinking about being present with my head to surrendering myself to the moment with my heart and soul. This moment in time, this 4 minute and 45 second song rocked my world that day and changed it forever. I have heard the song a hundred times before, but on this day, I truly heard it for the first time.
What Life has yet to Teach me
I’ve barely scratched the surface.
As a life long learner, I have accumulated a fair bit of knowledge over the past 50 years, through school, books and music. Through relationships, love and friends. Through business, mentors and through life itself. Then the strangest thing happened, I realized I’ve only scratched the surface! There is so much more for me to learn and so much deeper I can grow. Spirituality has been a part of my life for a few years now, but this past year, I really started to explore it on a much deeper level. I have a strong spiritual practice and continue to add to my soul library constantly. I learn something new about me and about life almost every single day. I continue to raise my vibration (I actually know what that means and how it feels now) and spend time Being instead of always doing. I have spent many of my past 50 years thinking, processing, and living from my egoic mind. I’m looking forward to spending the next 50 listening, doing and Being from the heart.
When we nourish all facets of our Being — mind, body and soul, that’s where the magic happens and when we effortlessly evolve into living our most extraordinary lives. So whether turning 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 or 90 this year, acknowledge yourself for how far you’ve come, be compassionate with yourself and others, become excited for another year of love, growth, experiences and vitality and if nothing else, always remember — there’s something special about every age and at every age we become more special. Embrace it, own it, live it and love it! And so it is.
If this resonates with you, check out my virtual masterclass — Your Extraordinary Self for more truths like this and an opportunity to connect with like-minded people all on their own journey of self-discovery.