Mind Map: Setting a Daily Intention

One element of my daily spiritual practice — and the thing that kicks it all off each and every morning — is setting an intention for the day, soon after I wake up.

(I explain what setting intention is all about, as well as other aspects of my daily spiritual practice, on The Soul’s Work Podcast, in Episode 7: Creating a Daily Spiritual Practice. Listen here!)

Truth be told, I ended up falling off the intention-setting wagon at some point, and I think it’s important to note that if something isn’t working for you in your own daily spiritual practice, don’t force it (or feel guilty about it)!

Sometimes I think we can feel pressured to jump into certain spiritual practices, because “everyone else” with any spiritual backbone seems to be doing it — yoga or meditation, anyone?

But that might not be what works for us. Or the activity itself might be something that resonates with us, but we need to tweak the way we’re doing it to make it work better within our day.

So, to make intention setting a part of my daily life again, I thought about what would motivate me to get back into this practice.

I’ve recently become a bit obsessed with mind maps, and seeing words and ideas in more of a visual form. So, of course I decided to start an intention mind map!

As you can see, my intention for each day branches out from the center “Intention” bubble (e.g. stay open to new opportunities and ideas).

The cool thing is later returning to the mind map to further branch out from the day’s intention bubble, adding things that happened as a result of carrying that intention with me throughout the day (e.g. saying yes to a photo shoot offer).

Is intention setting a part of your spiritual practice? How do you incorporate it into your day? If not, how could setting a daily intention help change the way you experience your everyday life?

Lots of love and self-love,
Janice ❤

My Happiness List

About three years ago, I got laid off from my job, ended a long-term relationship, and started a series of moves around the city. It was a time of some big unknowns and instability.

Knowing that these huge life changes could easily knock me off my feet, I created what I came to call my Happiness List.

(I talk about this Happiness List, and my other spiritual practices, on The Soul’s Work Podcast, in Episode #7: Creating a Daily Spiritual Practice. Listen here!)

The items that went down on my Happiness List answered the question: What do I need to make me happy (that doesn’t rely on anyone else)?

It’s not that I feel we shouldn’t derive our happiness from others. I absolutely think that cultivating happiness with others is essential!

But given that I anticipated a lot of alone time and self-exploration, I knew I had to get clear on how I could feel happy on my own.

And so, I wanted to share with you my happiness list, in case it inspires you to create your own!

Thing is, it doesn’t matter whether you’re single, in a relationship, an introvert, or constantly surrounded by people. We all need to be good with ourselves first and foremost before we can genuinely be good with others.

All right, here it is. The things that truly make me happy in life and keep my soul balanced and fulfilled:

  • Quiet spaces and time
  • Being in nature
  • Making intentional decisions based on what’s right for me
  • Understanding my spiritual self and what it needs to grow and be healthy
  • Making an effort to have a positive relationship with my family
  • Keeping negative energy out of my life
  • Being on my phone less
  • Drinking less
  • Keeping to my budget
  • Writing creatively
  • Making music
  • Self-reflection
  • Exercise

I do this as a journaling exercise and reflect on each item, asking myself: How is this present in my life right now? If it’s not, what’s been blocking that? How can I make more space for it moving forward?

This list is great for me to revisit at any time, but I do find that I usually do a Happiness List check-in when I’m feeling a lot of imbalance inside me, or a prolonged sense of frustration that I can’t really trace back to one specific event.

And when I am feeling that dissonance, it always turns out to be the case that there are several happiness items that I’ve been neglecting.

That’s my soul saying: “Hey! You haven’t been taking me out to nature recently.” Or: “We’re feeling drained because you keep saying yes to a million things, when what you really need is rest and alone time.”

What is your soul asking you for? How would you answer the question: What do I need to be happy (that doesn’t rely on anyone else)?

Let me know in the comments below, if you’d like to share! I would love to know your thoughts!

Lots of love and self-love,
Janice ❤

Honesty + Courage = Freedom

I have this life formula for myself, which is Honesty + Courage = Freedom.

So, first getting really honest with myself regarding what I want in life, what I don’t want, who or what is bringing me negative energy, and so on.

And then, secondly, summoning up that courage to take the oftentimes scary step of putting that honest revelation into action.

And I have always found, that no matter what the result or the outcome, letting go of that fear and taking the brave step makes me feel FREE.

With that in mind, I think it’s really worthwhile to explore fear. Because fear is often what keeps us trapped inside a box, held down, and restrained from doing the things that are actually what would bring fulfillment to our lives.

(Side note: Exploring fear is exactly what we did in Episode 3: Courage (& Fear) of The Soul’s Work Podcast! Listen here.)

And the crazy thing that always blows my mind, when I think about it, is that maybe at first it’s more so the external world — society and people outside of us — who are the ones trying to restrict us inside this little box.

Perhaps, they tell us: You should be this way. You shouldn’t do that. Don’t go for that dream, because it won’t get you anywhere. Blah, blah, blah …

And I liken it to them throwing us into a jail cell. (Not to be overly dramatic, but that’s gonna be our metaphor for today, okay?).

So, they’ve thrown us into this metaphorical jail cell, and they’ve locked the door behind us with one of those giant, old school jail keys. That’s the picture in my mind.

But as time goes by, we start to internalize those beliefs that the external world has been bombarding us with.

We no longer need anyone else feeding us those perceptions anymore (although, of course, that external pressure lives on!).

Because, for a lot of us, we’ve gotten to the point where we’ve taken ownership of those fearful beliefs.

They’ve become so internalized, ingrained within us, that we hold onto those self-limiting beliefs as our own thoughts.

And that, to me, is the worst kind of loss of freedom. It’s like when you’re in a mental prison inside your own head.

And so, even if our jail keeper slipped us the key through the bars and walked away from guard duty, we might just stay sitting in that cell.

Because we’ve been in there for so long, and we’ve come to believe that that’s where we should be, that’s all we know.

And it doesn’t matter that we’re now holding the key right in the palm of our hand.

Because we’ve become afraid of what will happen should we unlock that cell door, and walk out into what has now become an unknown and uncertain world beyond our little box.

So, I think that honesty is about coming to the realization that we do want more and deserve more than just staying in that little box.

And courage is like the next step, where we find the strength — despite how fearful we are of that unknown world beyond the jail cell — to take that key, unlock the cell door, swing it wide open, and walk out of that box, free.

So, Honesty + Courage = Freedom

And the good news — the amazingly fantastic news — is that we absolutely do hold that key in our hand.

Lots of love and self-love,
Janice ❤

P.S. Listen to “Episode 2: Honesty” of The Soul’s Work Podcast here. Then, follow up with “Episode 3: Courage (& Fear)” here!

Dear Fear …

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In Episode 3: Courage (& Fear) of The Soul’s Work Podcast, I share a letter that I wrote to Fear in my quest to develop a different, more compassionate, relationship with Fear. Here is that letter:

Dear Fear,

I want to apologize. I haven’t treated you so well for most of my life. Whenever you’ve tried to talk to me, I’ve reacted by resenting you, sometimes hating you, and wishing that you would just go away entirely. I’m sorry. You must have felt really rejected, maybe even abused sometimes.

‘Cause the thing that I realize clearly now is that you have only been trying to help me. Your intention has not been to ruin my life. You just want to protect me, to keep me safe, because you care about my wellbeing.

And I guess I kind of acted like that rebellious teenager, who butts heads and fights with their overbearing parent. But I understand that, like any parent, you’re just doing your job. You didn’t even ask for that job. You just got sent over to my brain for fear duty. And quite frankly, I didn’t ask for you either. But here we are, together. And we always will be.

So, now I want to have an adult, heart-to-heart conversation with you. Here’s the thing. There are definitely going to be times in my life when I need you. Like if I’m backcountry camping and a big ass bear jumps out at me in the woods, Fear, I need you step the fuck up. I need you to help me whip out that bear spray and go all Revenant on its ass.

But Fear, there’s a whole lot of other situations where you can stand down. At ease, soldier. ‘Cause we got our sister friends over here, too — we got Honesty and Courage — and they’re also here to help out when I need them.

So, during those times, when I ask you: “Hey Fear, this is one of those situations where my life isn’t being threatened. It’s really not as serious as you think it is. Here, have a seat in this comfy chair. I’d offer you some wine … to sedate you … but that might not be the best idea. So, here’s a warm cup of tea. Enjoy it.

And I just respectfully ask that you let Honesty, Courage, and I have a conversation right now. And you know what? I bet if you take some time to just quietly listen to what they have to say, you might actually feel comforted by their words, and realize that they’ve got this. We’re all gonna be okay.

Thank you so much, Fear, for being there for me, but also for giving me the space I need now to grow.

With love and gratitude,

Janice

(You can listen to Episode 3: Courage (& Fear) of The Souls Work Podcast on: Apple PodcastsSoundCloud | Stitcher | Google Play | PlayerFM | Please leave a rating and review to help others find the show! ❤)

2017 Reflections

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Happy New Year, friends! It’s been a minute since I last wrote here, but I’m excited to be back with this particular post.

Why? Well, because while I love reflecting all the time, the closing of a year presents an especially poignant opportunity to look back on all that we’ve experienced and learned over the past 12 months.

So, this is my 2017 reflection, inspired by Layla Saad’s #QuestionsFor Reflection on her Instagram account (@wildmysticwoman). (P.S. Learn more about this badass spiritual soul here.)

What did surrender & patience teach you this year?

Surrender taught me to let go of the expectations, questions, and worries about the future. You know, the ones we can’t predict, the ones that may or may not come true.

Instead, stay in the present. Simply do what feels honest right now. Taking that approach to life meant that surrender also taught me freedom.

Patience taught me to slow down during some big life changes (it’s still teaching me that)! Don’t be so hard on myself and expect that I’m gonna get everything “right” immediately — ’cause adapting to change takes time.

Again, it comes back to being in the present and focusing on what I have now, not just on what I hope to have in the future.

What did magic & mystery teach you this year?

Magic and mystery taught me to give in to falling in love, no matter how unreal and crazy it seemed. ‘Nuff said 😉

What did you decide you would no longer tolerate this year?

A huge thing that I’m continuing to stick to my guns about is saying no to things and people that drain my energy and waste my fricking time. Life is too short, y’all!

What experiences gave you the most pleasure this year?

Walks on the farm with Olive. Taking the sheep out to graze in the spring pastures. Witnessing gorgeous sunsets. Sleeping in my hammock tent, listening to the frogs sing nearby. Six beautiful days (and counting) of an unexpected romance. Hiking the fairytale Panorama Ridge Trail in Garibaldi Provincial Park. Moments by the lake on H1 at Killarney Provincial Park with my cousin Lilli. A two-night stay at a lovely ecolodge in Algonquin Provincial Park with my family.

How did you become more fully you this year?

I finally embraced what I believe is my calling in life: to be a creative, and to put my creations out there in the world.

That includes writing my first book, getting back into the singing life, and launching my soon-to-be first podcast, The Soul’s Work Podcast!

There’s a lot of vulnerability that is required to bare one’s creative soul, but I’m determined to take on the challenge come 2018!

What about you? How would you answer these questions for your own 2017?

Take a Moment

The call of work is always, well, calling.

Clanging its bell to remind you that the time is always ripe to make a few bucks.

After a couple of days of feeding farm animals, doing my online freelancing job, feeding farm animals again, going back to the online freelancing job, then going to bed exhausted but wired, only to have to wake up to do it all over again, I just couldn’t bring myself to experience life like this a third day in a row.

Even though I had told myself that I would grind it out — “just for now” — because, well, I really “should.”

The thing is that I know very well that it will always feel like making money is an imperative.

And that maybe if we just focus on that “for now”, it’ll give us the freedom later to live our lives the way we really want to.

But it never ends, my friends.

There will always be something more that you think you want or need. There will always be “bigger” and “better” waving their flashy arms at you from a distance, insisting that you don’t look too happy standing where you are.

Where they are though? Trust them, life is banging over there.

I experienced those feelings both when I was really struggling financially back in the day, and when I had a well-paying job and was living a fairly comfortable life.

It’s really not about how much you have or don’t have. It’s about that mindset we’re all conditioned to adopt that more is better, or that life is not complete without x, y, and z (variables which typically require — you guessed it — more money).

I don’t mind working hard at all. In fact, I wouldn’t not want to work.

But where I butt heads with the need to make money is when the other, ultimately more important things in my life begin to suffer.

Like singing.

Like doing my daily spiritual practice of journalling and reflection.

Like writing creatively for my website or book.

Like reading something inspiring.

Like taking care of my health by eating well.

Somehow, when I’m in the grind, I’m either too tired, too uninspired, or too distracted to think about those things, much less do any of them.

So, this morning, feeling tired and dazed, I decided to take care of myself.

I sang.

I took a long time to cook something nice and warm for this cold, rainy day.

I read some writings by Elisa Romeo, an author on the topic of spirituality (among other things) who I just stumbled upon.

And, well, I guess writing this post was me pausing, reflecting, and realigning myself.

What about you?

Do you need to take a pause, too?

Don’t worry, the work will always be there, waiting for you.

That moment you need to take, though? That will pass you by. Take it. 😉

~ Janice xo

Unveiled

I don’t indulge in many podcasts, but when I do get in the mood for some good talks, I love tuning in to The Motivational Millennial Podcast.

I find that I always leave with some newfound wisdom or encouragement to do better for myself, whether it’s related to work life or my personal development.

Well, today, I wanted to share my reflections on their finale episode for Season 1, which was all about the sometimes fear-inducing topic of vulnerability.

As Blake and Ivy mention, we typically regard vulnerability as an unfavourable state that should be avoided at all costs.

I even noticed that the thesaurus tends to paints vulnerability in a negative light, pairing it with words like unsafe, weak, threatened.

But then, one other synonym caught my eye: Unveiled.

For me, the idea of an “unveiling” conjures up the image of uncovering something special hidden underneath the shroud that has been masking it.

For example, an exquisite piece of art may be unveiled at the grand opening of an exhibit. The cloth that had been draped over the artwork was but a sheath to hide the beautiful masterpiece underneath.

In many ways, we live covered up under layers of our own mask — a mask stitched together with elements of fear, insecurity, shame, and guilt.

And the longer our magnificent artwork remains hidden, the more we forget what it looks like.

What were those brilliant shades of colour that brought our creation to life? What were the details in the drawing — the lines here, the curves there, the bold strokes, the faded etches — that made our picture whole?

The more layers we pile on top of our masterpiece, the heavier the shroud becomes and the more effort it takes to strip it away.

But there’s good news, if you take this analogy one step further. It also means that you — the authentic You — is completely separate from the mask you wear on top of it.

In other words, the mask — all of the negative self-perceptions you hold close to you — is actually not a part of who you truly are.

And like a physical mask, if you remove it from yourself, it doesn’t take anything away from you as person. If anything, the authentic You shines brighter. You have the freedom to finally be seen, unveiled.

You can listen to the podcast episode on Vulnerability to gain more insights into how making yourself vulnerable actually strengthens you.

In the meantime, have the courage to at least take a peek at what’s under the veil. Reconnect with the masterpiece that you are. Remind yourself of the colours and details that make you whole.

And if you’re feeling extra brave, fling that veil off altogether and celebrate the freedom of sharing your authentic self with the rest of the world!

Lots of love & self-love,
Janice xo

Super New Moon

Last night, I came across an article about today’s Super New Moon. You can hop over there to learn more about what a super new moon means physically, but what I wanted to focus on was what it means spiritually. The article says:

A New Moon signifies new beginnings and fresh starts. It’s the perfect time to turn a new leaf, set your intentions, acknowledge goals, and commit to your vision for the next 28 days.

Leading up to today’s Super New Moon, we may have been experiencing some turbulent emotions, given that this particular super new moon is happening within The Hyades star cluster.

According to the article, these stars give off a “stormy and bitter” energy that will affect the Super New Moon and, in turn, our emotional experience.

Admittedly, if anyone had been telling me about how the cosmos affect humans on such a personal and spiritual level a few years ago, I may have felt skeptical about it.

Since I’ve been at the farm, I have learned about the importance of the moon cycle and how it helps to inform us about when to plant, weed, harvest, and so on.

My farmer friend who I work with has observed the shifts in energy within plants when, say, the full moon is approaching. He also notices an energy spike within himself around the full moon. As for me, I probably notice more of an emotional shift during that time.

If the moon does have such power to affect the physical energy of other beings — including its effect on the earth’s tides — then, it’s not so far off to believe that it could affect our emotional energy as well.

We often separate the physical and emotional (or mental), perceiving them as two distinct spheres within ourselves. But the more you learn about the connection between mental health and physical health, the more you realize that they are very much intertwined.

Deep emotions might come up to surface in those of you who need to let go and cleanse old outdated belief systems.

This Super New Moon will also be encouraging us to review and assess the state of our mental activity and our thought processes.

I have definitely felt some seriously deep emotions this week, leading up the Super New Moon today.

I had a good cry when I was in the city earlier this week, while I was in the process of working through some long-standing core beliefs (or core wounds) that I know I must let go of.

I also found myself, for the first time, really contemplating another long-standing issue that I thought I was okay not confronting head on. But the more I delved into it, the more I realized that not doing so may actually be hurting my forward progress.

As for setting my intentions for the next month, I’ll be journalling more about that later today. But what I do know is that with six weeks left at the farm, I feel as though my recent return here from the city contains a new sense of energy with it.

What intentions and goals do you want to set for the upcoming 28 days? What do you need to work on letting go of so that you can start anew?

Old Soul

I wanted to take a quick break from writing my book to talk about being an Old Soul.

I recently started reading a bunch of articles on LonerWolf (a website created by two spiritual mentors), particularly the ones about Old Souls.

I’ve always believed that I am Old Soul — and have also been told that I’m one by others. I’ve always felt much older than I really am, and become easily emotionally drained taking in others’ emotions and suffering (I’ve also been told that I’m an empath, so that adds to the energy drain!).

I have carried a sense of weariness about the world that is beyond just deploring the hate and pain being experienced globally.

It’s a sense of not feeling like I even belong on this planet sometimes. This quote from LonerWolf’s article “10 Universal Problems Old Souls Experience” I think sums it up:

They long to find a place where they feel like they belong, a space filled with freedom and liberation.  This often results in the feeling that this world is not their true home.

Feeling like there’s nowhere in this world where you truly fit in can obviously result in some sadness. Everyone wants to feel belongingness in some way or another.

For a long time, I did find it depressing and kept “searching” for people or groups where I could feel a sense of acceptance.

But I think part of my spiritual journey is to focus on what’s going on inside me, to work on accepting myself as I am, so that no matter where I am in the world, I will always feel that I am just as I’m supposed to be.

Wanting to move towards the things that deeply fulfill and nurture my soul is a big reason why I am going down this new life path. It’s why I have moved away from a conventional path of “success” that really doesn’t mean anything to me.

The more I listen to what my intuition and heart tells me, the more I believe that I’m discovering the way my Old Soul self was meant to live her days while here on Earth.