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 ❤

Mind Map: Asian Female Identity

I just published a new podcast episode on The Soul’s Work Podcast, which is on a topic that I’ve really wanted to talk about for a while now: on the experience of identifying as an Asian female.

It’s a pretty complex subject, and it’s not like I have it all figured out. But what I do know for sure is how damaging the dominant representations of Asian women in media can be on individuals such as myself.

I know what kind of stereotypes exist out there about human beings who look like me. And I know how that can impact the way people perceive Asian women, as well as how Asian women can come to see themselves.

This post isn’t to rehash everything I said in the episode. (You can listen to the whole conversation here). Rather, I just needed to decompress here a bit, because thinking and reading about this topic leads to me feeling a really heavy weight in my heart.

It’s like the emotional turmoil I knew I’d have to go through writing my #metoo post. And it’s that feeling I get when having to digest anything about social injustice and oppression.

It’s not just because I am an empath who FEELS A LOT and feels the pain of others. But it’s also that I have been at the bottom end of that oppression many times over in my life.

So, it’s kind of having to reliving the sadness, resentment, and feelings of shame and low self-worth that all go along with those experiences.

Because, let’s face it, a lot of stereotypes and expectations about Asian women are not uplifting or empowering.

Regardless, my soul is calling me to speak on this, and so I will. We have a lot of work to do in changing the script. Let’s keep this conversation open. Let’s keep talking.

Lots of love & 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!

The Soul’s Work Podcast is Live!

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This week has been a pretty momentous one for me, having finally launched my new podcast, The Soul’s Work Podcast! *WOooOOOoo!!!* 🙂

This show is where I pretty much bare all about my spiritual journey, which includes sharing a whole lot of my past experiences in life. ‘Cause before the spiritual awakening, there’s usually a lot of shit, angst and turmoil that you’re mucking through!

I talk about what that muck looked like for me in Episode 1 (Introduction). Seriously, back then, I really couldn’t see a way out of the dark hole I felt I was in.

Looking back at that time from where I’m standing now, I just want to send my past self a whole lot of love and compassion. I definitely needed it back then!

Episode 2 (Honesty) is also up on my podcast website, as well as on SoundCloud. Here’s where we really start getting into our soul’s work!

Honesty has been the guiding principle in my life, ever since I went through some huge life changes almost three years ago: getting laid off from a job, ending an 8-year relationship, and having to move yet again (this all happened within the span of a month).

The future was so uncertain and unknown at that point, but having my life turned upside down by those events made me take a hard look at what was the truthful path for me to take. It was time to look honesty square in the face.

Episode 3 (Courage & Fear) is also coming soon! I truly hope you guys enjoy the podcast. I’d love to know what you think, as I’m just starting out with this new creative venture and am always up for improvement!

I was confessing to my coach Ivy the other day that I felt scared about taking some time off work to really focus on developing this podcast. It’s not like I’m rolling in money right now, but my gut instinct knows with zero doubt that I have to give this creative project my full attention, at least for a little while.

Ivy asked what my motivation for doing this podcast was in the first place. And I said — with some fierce determination in my voice(!) — that my soul was calling me to do it, plain and simple.

It was saying that I must share my story, my vulnerability. And I must do it now.

I’ve been deeply blessed to have had so many incredible experiences in life. Even the tough ones have gifted me with invaluable lessons to make me a better person and get me to the point of spiritual awakening.

And now, as I explained to Ivy, sharing my story with others is basically the main thing I feel I need to do now before I die. (Strong statement, I know! But the soul knows what it wants.)

Sure, I’ll have many more experiences from here on out. But if I knew my time was going to be up in a month, sharing my story, my experiences, my spiritual learnings, would be my last wish.

It’s not because my story is special. It’s not. But that’s kind of the point.

My story is strewn with a whole lot of sadness, anger, depression, escapism through alcohol, harmful relationships, self-doubt, hopelessness. Those things — unfortunately — are not unique to my life.

But while many of us go through those common struggles, we oftentimes feel alone, like we’re the odd person out, that everyone else is so much better off than us.

We stuff away our shame, anxiety, hurt, and sadness. We put up our guard, wear our masks, and drown our problems deep inside the bottle (or whatever your particular defense mechanism might be).

So, sharing my story means expressing my vulnerability — removing the mask — and letting others know that it’s okay. Someone else (me) has been there, too. And that amidst the struggle, there’s still hope. There’s always hope.

Lots of love and self-love, my friends. ❤

Janice xo

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

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?