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!

2017 Reflections

2017reflections_post

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?

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?

Vlog: My First Time — Go For Rejection!

So, I’m on this mission to seek rejection. Yup, the big, scary, embarrassing, soul-crushing R word.

This intentional search for rejection started with reading an e-guide, Motivating Your Millennial Mind, written by my personal transformation coach (more on that another time!), Ivy La Clair.

The e-guide gives an Action Step to overcome our aversion to failure: Try to get three rejections during the week.

Sounds scary, huh? But actually, according to the guide, seeking out rejection “is often referred to as ‘rejection therapy,’ and it can help failure, setbacks, or rejection not feel so personal or crushing.”

I recorded this vlog post in 2013, right after I had sought after something I thought would end in rejection — approaching another musician to work together on my first songwriting collaboration.

The outcome was a fantastic experience working with Adam Boddy, as well as our song For Simone.

Looking back now, I can see why I was so nervous about putting myself out there. By me asking Adam if I could write a song with him, it was as though I was saying: “Hey, I’m a good enough singer and songwriter to create something awesome with you.”

Thing was, I didn’t fully believe that was true. (Even if, objectively, it was.)

Now that I’ve worked on several collaborations, I have more than enough “proof” that I’ve always had the capability to be a great collaborator — to communicate well with my partner, to be adaptable enough to work with their contributions to the project, and to bring my own skills as a singer-songwriter to the table.

I guess the hard thing can be when you want to try something you’ve never done before, or something that you don’t feel you’re “an expert” in. (There’s no such thing as experts, by the way).

In those cases, it’s easy to think: Who am I to ask, “Can I be part of this?”

Dive In Past the Fear

Oh man, this post got way longer than I had intended, but, hey, I hope this might be helpful to someone out there!

I’ve had many deep desires in my own life — things that I think about over and over again, burning away my mental energy because I don’t actually act on them. I’m just too afraid to.

Some examples are: Asking an acquaintance to meet me for a coffee because I’d like to get to know them better, but thinking, “Why would they want to spend their time with me?”

Or asking a friend if I can sing at their event, but thinking, “Do I need to be a bit more polished as a performer? Maybe it’s too presumptuous of me to just ask if I can sing there.”

When I’m faced with these kinds of situations, I try to remind myself of the following:

The reasons why we shy away from pursuing what we want — fear of what people might think, fear of rejection, fear of failure — are often not based in truth.

And if we take a few moments to dive in past the surface, and rationally work through those fearful perceptions, we usually find that it’s worth taking that step towards what we really want for ourselves.

What do I mean by that? Well, let’s work through each right now and I’ll show you what I mean.

Fear of What Others Might Think

With respect to my fear of what others might think should I pursue *that* thing — depending on who it is and their (perceived) reaction — I remind myself of the following:

a) “Don’t take it personal.” Not everyone is going to like your flavour of tea. For example, I don’t enjoy listening to certain voices of award-winning, world-famous singers. It doesn’t mean they don’t have talent and many fans that do appreciate their singing. It just means that it’s not my personal preference, and that’s okay. We’d be a boring bunch of humans if we all liked the exact same things.

b) “That’s exactly the kind of opinion I don’t care about.” If someone’s reaction to *that* thing I pursue is over-the-top critical, attacking or patronizing, then I think: Why would I want their approval anyways?

If what you’re trying to do isn’t hurting anyone and is meant to bring positivity to your life, such negative responses are likely coming from people who have their own issues to deal with. Let them deal with it, and move on to doing you.

c) “Nobody has to experience my life, and the outcome of my life decisions, but me.” We all have parents, friends and other people in our lives who genuinely care about our wellbeing. (We also have all those other societal pressures that come from the rest of the world). But sometimes, we may not all agree on what “being happy” or “being successful” means.

When others get worried on my behalf because I’m choosing a path that strays from their definitions of “happy” and “successful”, I remind myself that I — and I alone — have to go through the day-to-day experience, actions and thoughts that are the result of my life decisions. Only me. 24/7.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t take other people’s suggestions into consideration. But at the end of the day, trust what your gut is telling you is honest and right for you. (It gets easier with practice, I promise).

Fear of Rejection

With respect to the fear of rejection — the fear that I’ll receive a “no” response to what I ask for — I remind myself:

The outcome of just going for it will likely never be worse than the outcome of not doing anything.

If you are continuously thinking about this *thing* you want to do, because you feel it will bring something positive to your life, then not attempting it, yes, guarantees that you won’t have to experience rejection, but it also guarantees — with 100% certainty — that you will not get to experience what you want.

That’s a pretty damn awful outcome, right?

Not only that, but there are other negative things that come out of not taking action on my burning desires.

For one, I waste tons of mental energy and precious time in my day simply thinking about the things I want to pursue, but am too afraid to. Trust me, just ’cause you avoid doing it, doesn’t mean it’s disappeared from the background. There it will be, haunting your mind for days, maybe even years, until you finally just give it a try.

Second, I reinforce, in my brain, that when I get these feelings of worry and fear in the face of potential rejection, the response should be: avoid and run away. The more I avoid and run, the more my brain is taught that this is how it should always respond to alleviate the worries and fear.

I truly believe that we can teach our brain the opposite — every time you approach fear head on and pursue what you want to do, your brain learns that the *scary feelings* are only temporary and usually make way for great rewards!

So, try it. Ask for what you want. Take that first step towards doing what you’ve been longing to do. Now, if you do go for it, there’s a chance that everything goes your way (awesome!), and, yes, there is also a chance that it doesn’t.

But in the latter case, there is still a positive outcome, for you will have gained some kind of valuable learning from the experience. The key is to seek out that learning, always.

And don’t forget: “Where one door closes, another door opens.” — Some wise person

Fear of Failure

With respect to the fear of failure — worrying that if I pursue *that* thing, I may not be “successful” at it — I remind myself:

Yes, I may “fail” — or, in other words, I may not achieve the level of “success” that I hope to in pursuing my dream, goal, etc. This is a possibility.

And it is just as possible that I might do really well — exceptionally well. I might grow as a person from the experience. I may contribute something valuable to others. The experience may lead to other, amazing opportunities that would not have otherwise presented themselves.

Unless you have a crystal ball, there is no way to accurately predict which path you will go down. And remember that your path may involve a mix of ups and downs, feelings of both failure and success.

Give it your best effort, stay open to learning, and surround yourself with people who will continuously encourage and support you in your new endeavours. The naysayers can go find another party to crash. 😉

Wherever the journey takes you, continuously reflect on the learnings you are gaining from the experience. No matter what you’re going after, there is one learning that will always be reinforced: That in the face of fear and uncertainty, you were brave enough to push through. You are a courageous person.

There are no failures in life if you take a lesson out of it, and use it to do better going forward.

Are You Ready to GO FOR IT?

Enough of a pep talk for ya? I know I feel like taking on the world right about now!!!

By the way, those two examples I gave earlier about things I wanted to pursue, but felt uncertain in doing? I decided to go for both “rejections.” The outcome?

The person I had asked to go out for a coffee was excited to meet up, and we ended up having an awesome conversation at a cafe together.

I contacted my friend about performing at his event and he replied, “Let’s book a date.”

That was it!

So, what rejection are you gonna go for this week? 🙂