This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter. Wow! What an awesome theme. One that reminds us that gender-balance is so important in all arenas…but can this really be achieved?
In my McGill days, as a student loving life in Montreal, I thought I could conquer the world. I knew without any uncertainty that I was going to be a powerhouse. I would slay at home, at work, and at anything I put my mind to. As a young wife, I also felt that way as well. I really felt like I could have it all : the career, the Pinterest recipes, the bedtime stories, the date nights and the cocktail hours with my girlfriends…no problem. As a mother of 1, I began to question the sustainability of this ‘have it all’ life. As a mother of 2, I realized that this was harder than it looked and I began to have second thoughts. As a mother of 3, I am often ready to shout ‘LIES! It’s all lies! Don’t believe the hype’ from the mountaintops!
So let me qualify this a little bit. I believe that woman can have it all. I believe that we are at a time in history where we can play at the social, economic, cultural and political tables as well as any person of the opposite gender. The thing is, I realize that we may not be able to have it all at once and we are certainly challenged in doing it if we don’t have solid support systems. Through my work as a coach, I know that the idea of ‘having it all’ can become overwhelming, and cause women to feel like they are failing.
Personally, it’s very rare for me to feel like I am ‘winning’ in all areas of my life. The mom hat, the wife hat, the entrepreneur hat, the daughter hat, the friend hat, the whatever hat…that’s a lot of hats! If I am winning at work and home, self-care takes a nose dive. If I am winning at self-care, with the kids and with work, well…those lunches are not as fabulous as I would like. The thing is…that’s okay. We are not playing a game that requires us to win or to lose. This game requires us to be in the moment and make the best of each moment.
Knowing what we now know, we have to be careful of the narrative we are perpetuating. We have to be careful of the images that we are portraying. Women, please be honest with each other. Please be kind to each other. Please be gentle with each other. Please be compassionate with each other. Every now and then we glimpse vulnerability in each other. It’s at this point, where we have to make a choice. Do we ignore it? Do we pretend we didn’t see it? Do we judge it? Or do we meet it with empathy and compassion, and do what we can to help that woman thrive?
When women support women incredible things happen. When this support is the kind of no judging, no competing, no intimidating kind of support, we help each other reach higher levels. What I know, is I thrive when I am supported by the women in my tribe. I am so blessed to have people to step in and step up for me when I need their support.
So as we lead up to International Women’s Day, where this year we focus on #BalanceForBetter I have a challenge for those who wholeheartedly believe that the world is a better place when women have a seat at the table. I challenge you to evaluate how you are supporting the women around you. Whether they are the women in your family, in your tribe, in your office, in your community or even the woman you don’t know struggling at the grocery store check out line: how are you doing your part for #BalanceforBetter?
Child, it's time to break the shell
This is the chorus from one of my favorite songs, from one of my favorite albums, from one of my favorite artists. India Arie’s Songversations album is full of all sorts of beautiful thought provoking songs. ‘Break the Shell’ is that reminder song for me that brings home the fact that the magic happens in that space of discomfort that is often filled with fear.
Fear is a natural and inevitable emotion. This is the first and most important point that we have to take in. The fear that I am addressing in this post is the fear that comes from when you are trying new things, or aspiring to hit higher heights in your personal and professional lives. Although I would be very happy to kick fear off of the growth train, I have learned that it is an essential and powerful emotion that is necessary. I venture to say that if you are never feeling any fear, you may not be playing big enough. Now, I am a little too practical of a person to tell you to throw caution to the wind and jump on the radical train, but I want to encourage you to examine your fear a little more.
Doing new things can be exciting. There will be failures. There will be discomforts. There will even be fears of failure and discomfort. The important thing is that you don’t allow these fears to dictate your pathway and your journey. Failures let you know what isn’t working and how you need to regroup. In order to grow, you have to push past the fear.
For those of you ready to try new things, build new relationships, and make changes in your lives, know that fear will be there. Fear can sneak in when you are saying ‘no’ to something in your life that is no longer serving your needs, or when you are saying ‘yes’ to a new opportunity…fear finds a way in. The key is not to allow it to paralyze you. Here are a few tips on helping you deal with your fears.
1. Separate yourself form the fear. Know that it is an essential emotion and that you don’t need to protect yourself from it. Accept it and then let it go.
2.Know that fear is universal. Sometimes we feel as though we are the only ones feeling fear. Everyone feels fear. It may look different for different people, but it is an emotion that creeps in for everyone.
3. Be mindful of your stories. Fear often comes as a result of what we have been telling ourselves. Be sure to check your thinking. Never discount the power of the mind as it will always show us more evidence of the things we want to see. When fear takes over, our mind searches for other stories to add to that narrative.
4. Understand your fear. Take the time to study it. Does it show up in particular situations? Does anxiety like to tag along for the ride? Notice patterns in it’s arrival, notice ways that you manage it that work for you, notice what doesn’t work, notice your triggers and make a plan.
5. Tap into your supports. Sometimes fear can become overwhelming. Whether it’s a friend, a family member, a fellow colleague or entrepreneur, or coach, have a safe space that you can talk about your fear. Stewing in fear sometimes allows that fear to grow. Having a good conversation can reduce it’s power, put it into perspective and allow you to let it go.
Exhaustion, in many societies, has become a status symbol. If you are exhausted, you must be making big movements. If you are busy, you must be extremely productive. Recently I have tried hard to stay away from “busy” as a way of life. As a recovering member of the ‘busy badge’ crew, I know how easy it is to devote time only to the things that meet the needs of our families and businesses and that only move us towards our personal and professional goals. Sometimes we just feel like we have too much on our shoulders to take a break, right? You will break when it’s all done, right? Wrong. There will always be more to do. There will always be more productivity that can be achieved in family and professional lives. So, this points to our need to hit the pause button and be intentional about the rest and play that we incorporate into our lives.
Full disclosure: I am new to the rest and play club! Although intellectually I have known the value of rest and play for some time now, it is only in the last couple of years that I have been truly intentional about incorporating it into my day to day. I am certainly not at the amount of rest and play that I would like, but I am getting closer.
In order to make ‘rest and play’ work for you, you first need to move past any limiting beliefs that ‘rest and play’ are wasting time. Sometimes it may seem this way, but in fact it is the opposite. When rest and play are part of your norm, you will feel more alive, more open, more imaginative, more creative and have higher levels of happiness and productivity.
‘Rest and play’ looks different for different people and across different life cycles. If you are moving towards making rest and play more intentional, there are a few things to consider finding an equation that words for you.
1. Consider your personality. The list of rest and play activities for extroverts and introverts can look quite different. If you are someone that has to make an intentional play and rest plan, this is a step you don’t want to skip, as choosing activities that are not in line with your personality may be the fastest way to cut out rest and play!
2. Be honest with what you love to do. The first thing is really to take stock of what you love to do at this point in your life. Make sure this list is about YOU and not about what you think you should like to do.
3. Be honest about what family fun looks like. Making a list of what rest and play looks like for your family is a great idea. For some families a hike may bring great joy, for other families the idea of a hike brings on crying children, frustration and anxiety.
4. Choose a timeline. Whether you are incorporating your rest and play into your life daily, or on specific days, have a plan. It is easy for rest and play to be put on the back burner or completely pushed off the to do list when it hasn’t been scheduled in.
5. Be compassionate and realistic. For my fellow ‘busy badge’ crew members, moving towards intentional downtime can itself bring on anxiety. Be compassionate with yourself and ease your way into it. Plan what is realistic and will bring you joy for you at this point in your life. Constantly adjust and re-evaluate as you need to.
Reading is all around us. Whether you are reading Facebook status updates, Tweets by your favorite celebrity, or chatting with a friend on What’s App, you are constantly reading. We live in a society that thrives on bite size chunks of reading. I have a question for you though, when was the last time you read a book?
In a world where we are constantly bombarded by notifications, where binge-watching is a stress reliever and where multitasking often seems like an essential, many have let go of reading for pleasure. We look for quick and efficient blog posts that can be read in less than 5 minutes and summary articles on professional development topics that interest us. The thing is, pleasure reading should be part of our personal and professional growth game! The benefits of daily reading go far beyond the obvious that are often highlighted to children and teens. Adding an intentional 15 – 30 minutes of reading a day can be game changing to one’s personal and professional life.
Here are my top 5 benefits to daily reading.
1. Increased Knowledge. When you are reading, whether fiction or non-fiction, you are adding tons of new bits of knowledge to your reserves. In addition to gaining knowledge in areas of interest, you are also improving your vocabulary. The more you read, the more words will be added to your written and spoken vocabulary. The knowledge gained will increase your confidence and will come out when you need it. Knowledge is something that can never be taken away from you!
2. Mental Stimulation. Focused reading is mentally stimulating. Think of the brain as a muscle. In order to build and keep a muscle strong you need to constantly exercise. When you add consistent reading into your daily routine, you will gain the benefits of this stimulation which include improved memory, focus and concentration.
3. Stress Relief. Reading can provide a breather from everyday life. Personal and professional lives will be stressful at times. A good book can transport you to another world, have you laughing aloud uncontrollably, and in many cases, even giving you a sense of tranquility or inner peace.
4. Readiness. In life, many things often feel like luck. But is it really luck, or is it when preparation meets opportunity? Daily reading in areas of interest keep you constantly prepared and ready to jump on new opportunities.
5. Increased Empathy. When we read about the lives of others, the circumstances they have been faced with, and the paths they have taken, it makes us more in-tune with the needs of others. In turn, this helps us to understand and work with or be with people that are different from us.
Take the time to make an intentional reading plan for yourself. Choose a time and devote 15-30 minutes each day to reading. Challenge yourself to make it a habit and get it done. Then sit back and enjoy the benefits that come!
2018 is behind us! Hello 2019!
‘Hello 2019’ has taken a life of it’s own and I am so excited to share it! This game changing session is a little different than our usual workshops at Learn and Lead. It really gets to the core of who YOU are and what YOU want in life.
After much creating, changing and molding, it is ready to go! I am thankful for the members of my tribe that have been my sounding board during this creation process. My pre-launch sessions have also caused me to change the format slightly. Therefore, this Saturday’s session has been cancelled. Anyone who signed up for the Saturday January 5th session will be offered a private session. ‘Hello 2019’ is best suited for private sessions or small intimate groups for maximum impact.
‘Hello 2019’ is now available privately in person at Learn and Lead, online as a one on one live session, or in small groups of 2-10 people.
Email email@example.com to book your session!
Christmas has come and gone and we are well on our way to ringing in 2019! This is a great time of year to review the past year and make intentional choices as you step into 2019.
2019 provides you with 12 New Chapters and 365 New Chances. Be intentional about your preparation! Also, consider joining me for 'Hello 2019' a game changing session that guides you in beginning habits, setting intentions, writing goals and taking actionable steps to the vision you have for your personal, professional and family lives.
This morning my early bird son slept in until 6:00 am. I felt like we had hit jackpot, as it wasn’t the usual 5:00am of the last few days!
Children are bursting with excitement. School is closed, and Christmas morning is around the corner.
Christmas is a great time for families and friends to come together and celebrate. It brings much joy, love and laughter. Amidst all the happy emotions, we sometimes find a little bit of stress and anxiety sneaking in because there is just so much going on! So how can we be proactive about dealing with the stress and anxiety that might find its way into our household?
Here are my top 8 essential tips for minimizing holiday stress!
1. Create a Schedule. Having a schedule during home time for children may seem like an absurd idea to some, but it is worth putting some thought into it! Scheduling outside play time, structured and unstructured play time, tablet time, and outings can help your kids to thrive and reduce behavior problems that peak when children are home from school with a lot of time on their hands.
2. Share Holiday Plans with Children. Children like to know what’s going on too! Although we sometimes like to keep travelling and other fun Christmas activities to ourselves until closer to the scheduled time in order to reduce the questions and excitement, when children know what and when to expect it, it helps to deal with potential stress and anxiety.
3. Pack Awesome Travel Bags. Travelling with children can be exhausting…especially young children. Although a lot of effort may be put into the packing clothes for the trip, it’s important to pack great carry-ons to keep your kiddos busy. Puzzle books, favorite toys, books and magnetic activities can make long flights or travel delays manageable.
4. Don’t Abandon Bedtime. When the holidays roll around it’s natural to reduce the rigidity when it comes to bedtime. Although you may be letting your children stay up later, please do remember that they still require a good night sleep! Sleep deprivation is not pretty, and it’s signs and symptom go far beyond just having a sleepy child. Children who are sleep deprived can be more irritable, hyperactive and less rational. If we couple irritability, hyperactivity and reduced reasoning with holiday candy and excitement, it may not be a pretty scene!
5. Don’t Force Affection. During the holiday time, children often see family and friends that they may not have seen in some time. Although this may be quite exciting for you, remember that if your 5-year-old has not seen a family member in three years, chances are they may not remember them. It’s tempting to push your child to give ‘Uncle Joe’ a great big hug, or ‘Aunt Monica’ a big kiss on the cheek, but be mindful that some children may not find this comfortable. If they do not feel comfortable and are forced, it may send the wrong message to them as it relates to comfort and giving physical affection. Perhaps encourage conversation, or high fives if your child shows hints that he or she is not comfortable with physical affection.
6. Healthy Snacking Habits. There is no lack of junk food during holiday time! Holidays are a great time to enjoy fun homemade delicacies full of lots of goodness. Just remember, that its’ a good idea to ensure that there is some healthy food incorporated as well! Pack healthy snacks in your bag for travelling or leave them out for snacking options at home. Healthy eating is key to dealing with stress and anxiety.
7. Focus on Giving and Gratitude. It’s natural for children to be excited about the gifts that they will receive. As parents, we must steer the ship to ensure that we also ensure that our children understand that Christmas should involve just as much or more giving and gratitude than receiving. Go out of your way to name your blessings with them. Model gratitude. Model giving. Give together as a family.
8. Take Care of Yourselves Parents! Holidays are filled with lots of love, joy, food, and late nights! Stress can build quickly. Take a pro-active approach. Have a self-care plan for yourself that encourages you to be intentional about how you take care of your mind, body and soul throughout the holiday season. This will ensure that you can truly be present and enjoy the magic of this holiday season.
Have a blessed Christmas!
I used to write for a fabulous online publication geared towards Caribbean Woman globally. The name of this publication was COCO Magazine. I wrote an article sometime in 2014 about “Raising Confident Girls.’’ At that time I was a mom of one, a mom of one little girl, and was determined to raise her in a way that would provide her with every opportunity. I was determined to not box her into girl colors, even though she went through a very ‘pink is my favorite color’ phase. I was determined to expose her to traditional boy toys, even though she enjoyed playing with her construction toys while wearing her tiara and princess shirt.
I wrote, “For my daughter's third birthday there was a bit of a social experiment that took place in my house. She was given a music set, a princess set, and a construction set. As she keenly played with all three of her new toys, I eagerly watched to see if she gravitated more to one than the other. After a day full of new toy excitement, she enthusiastically announced that her construction set was her favorite gift. I breathed a sigh of relief. I felt like we just had a little success in our household. In a world full of pink and princesses my daughter chose her construction set. It was a proud moment. The truth is that princess usually gets played a few times a week in our household, but I am thankful that somehow my daughter does get that pulling out her tools and playing construction is just as natural as wearing her tiara and fake high heels.”
Fast-forward a few years, and now I am the mom of two boys! In an age of #MeToo, glamorous lives on social media and reality TV and violent video games, how does one raise a well rounded confident child that understands the importance of compassion, kindness and empathy? Also, even though I am from Caribbean decent, I am a very Canadian momma! Being Canadian has very much shaped who I am, and I am raising children in the Caribbean and wanting them to be able to thrive in both their home/local community and as well as abroad in the Western World.
We see lots of debates about whether we should embrace boys playing with dolls, or if pink ends up being their favorite color. We steer boys away from traditional girl toys, activities or colors in fear of it being too ‘feminine’, whereas when we are looking at the development of girls, we encourage them that the world is open to them! As a mom of two boys, this was becoming a growing concern. If my son dresses in pink and wants to play princess, he will likely be judged, whereas if my daughter wears a construction belt, she will likely be praised. This has really caused me to question my thoughts on raising boys vs. raising girls. What should I be exposing my boys to in order for them to thrive? What toys, what activities, what chatter do I want them to hear in order to be able to grow up as responsible well-balanced men?
Thankfully, they have a great role model as a father. They have someone to look up to that provides them with a road map to being a man of integrity laced with compassion and empathy. So this, paired with perhaps the exhaustion of having three young children, has caused me to relax. It has caused me to relax and focus less on choosing the right toys and books and providing them with options that help them to develop their personalities. I hope these choices will provide them with opportunities to build and create while also teach them how to be empathetic, helpful and compassionate individuals.
So this week, we broke into some Christmas presents early. I gave my boys both their very own superheroes with matching capes. As a young child my mother had to send to New York for me to be able to have a doll in my image, and I am so thankful to be able to provide my boys with superheroes of their own in their own image.
I also returned to my original article on Raising Confident Girls and found that the top 5 tips that I provided there are the same tips that I will provide for Raising Confident Boys. Here is my revised top 5 list in which I changed ‘girls’ to ‘boys’ and which reminded me of the importance of these 5 E’s in raising well rounded children.
2019 is right around the corner! Do you have some New Year's Resolutions that you would like to try? Have you had trouble sticking to these resolutions before? Join the club!
The new year provides a new beginning. It's a great time to set goals and make plans, but it's important that you set up a support system to follow through on these goals. What does that support system look like? What if you have no one to partner with you in pushing you along? This isn't uncommon, and often when we set out to achieve goals and fail, it sometimes affects our desire to set other goals.
In Hello 2019, we will discuss a practical approach that you can make work for you. We will explore the hurdles that often cause us to halt, and strategies to be intentional about jumping over them and continuing on your way. You will learn how to include habits and intentions into your day in a way that works for YOU! The tools presented in this session will lay the ground work for success in 2019!
Hello 2019 will take place on January 5 at 2:00pm. The cost is $85 pp and space is limited. Hello 2019 can also be scheduled for groups of 5 or more friends, for couples and as team building sessions. For group rates, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We live in an age where it is so easy to get swept away with the daily demands of life. Staying present in the moment takes great effort. It takes just as much energy to be grateful for these moments. Our brains are hardwired to look out for challenges and threats in our environment. It’s a survival technique that is part of our being. The challenge with this is that it is extremely easy to get caught up in challenges and negativity and miss the special moments. When this happens, life is harder. We spend more time ‘surviving’ then we do ‘thriving.’
Many of us have an attitude of gratitude. We go through our days being thankful for what we have. However, having an active practice of gratitude is even more powerful than an attitude of gratitude. Making your practice central in your daily routine has great benefits. Active practices of gratitude have been found to have a positive effect on our health, happiness, energy and longevity. Who doesn’t want that? Strong physical and mental health are to be cherished and are seen by many as the ‘new wealth.’
As a teen I remember when Oprah began to talk about gratitude journals. She shared with her viewers how life changing writing 5 items of gratitude daily had been for her. In true Oprah style, I believe she may have even given out gratitude journals regularly. Fast forward to my early thirties, I needed a practice that would help to re-shift my thinking. Daily challenges of living on a small island, being an entrepreneur and managing and day to day life was feeling quite overwhelming, and for me to be at my best for my family, friends, students and clients, I knew that I needed to add something to my day to help me ‘reset.’ I began a practice of gratitude approximately 3 years ago. I took a few months break during one of life’s inevitable plot twists, but other than that I have been consistent. It is at the core of my morning routine and keeps me grounded. Each morning I write a list of 10 items of gratitude. They range from being as simple as a good glass of wine, to a non-kid interrupted conversation with my husband, to developmental milestones being reached by my children.
Like other gratitude lovers, I want to share this magic. I first suggested it in one of Learn and Lead’s groups on Facebook – Inspirations Turks and Caicos. As this 2-year-old video showed up on my feed on Friday, I thought…Yes! Let’s do this again!
So, I encourage you to get a journal if you do not have one and start with us this week. Everyday I will post a new reflection question here and on my social media accounts to get you going. This is to set the stage for your own self-directed path of gratitude. For those of you in Providenciales that do not have journals, we now sell journals at Learn and Lead. Feel free to swing by.
An active practice of gratitude sets us up for success. It can have a tremendous impact on your wellbeing and your overall quality of life. It encourages you to look out for the ‘good’ and the ‘positive’ in life. When we begin by doing this intentionally, it takes on a life of its own and before you know it, looking out for the positive moments becomes your way of being.
Don't forget to visit again for days 4-7!