“I am no bird, and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” ~ Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.” ~ Marcus Aurelius
“Everything that happens to you matters to me.” ~ Cassandra Clare, City of Fallen Angels
“Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” ~ Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
“Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.” ~ Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
What’s one thing you’ve been missing during this Pandemic pause? Most people say they’ve missed in-person time with their family, friends and community; I couldn’t agree more. It’s been a few years now since I’ve spent quality time with my brother, who is my only remaining immediate family. We’ve had two weekends together this summer; nothing spectacular happened and I think that’s what’s so brilliant. We enjoyed sharing stories from our childhood; both grateful to have made it to adulthood LOL and we appreciated the time we had together. It felt good; it felt like freedom.
During this Pandemic, we’ve all been invited to treasure the simple pleasures in life. We’ve had time at home to consider how we really want to live on the other side of this pause. One thing I know I want to diminish in my life is the feeling of chaos and fear that’s been so prevalent over the last many months. It takes clear intention and courage to step back from what’s going on in the world to examine how we want to live and to choose how we can make a difference. Each one of us can contribute to making the world a kinder, more compassionate place by being kind and compassionate toward ourselves and others. This can mean editing our friends list so that we feel safe and comfortable in our friendships. Where in the past we might have over-given or allowed people to take advantage of our goodness, we can set healthy boundaries and invest in caring for ourselves, so that we protect our emotional and mental wellness, while giving to others from what we have an abundance of.
Where we live and how we invest our time and resources can make a world of difference to the quality of our lives. When we’re young and building a foundation for our family, we have a long to-do list and while it’s important to stay on top of our responsibilities when it comes to taking care of our family and our property, there comes a time in life when we can relinquish many of these responsibilities in favour of a new kind of freedom.
It can be one of life’s biggest decisions to change not only our address but our lifestyle as well. Many people fear that they’ll lose freedom and autonomy when they make the transition into retirement living. The model for this lifestyle hadn’t changed much until a few years ago when The Wellings came along. The vision for The Wellings is truly community living with plenty of freedom and lots of choices. Folks can live in a rental apartment with a central atrium that makes getting together and sharing meals super easy. Some models of The Wellings have individual dwellings with a Clubhouse for socializing.
In my interactions with Wellings members, it’s clear that freedom has kicked in. While giving up what we know can be a daunting task, many Wellies have told me that they only wished they had done it sooner. No more honey-do lists, no more unexpected expenses; instead there’s more time for fun on their terms. The old model of retirement living didn’t suit them because what they wanted was to live the next chapter of their lives fully. It made me realize what a catalyst for change this new concept called The Wellings is. The mission here is to help people unlearn what they think they know to be true about retirement living and introduce them to a welcoming environment, where everyone is presented with opportunities rather than obstacles. The entire team at The Wellings wants to make sure that our need for independence is taken to heart while providing a safe environment for socializing, enjoying nutritious food, and exploring new or favourite activities.
We call it Carefreedom® living and we believe it’s where you belong if freedom and choice are important to you. Here’s where you can begin to explore whether or not this lifestyle is for you.
Imagine your best day filled with activities you love. How close are you to living that right now? Would you be closer if you didn’t have the worries of property tax bills, house chores and those pesky unexpected house expenses? Would you feel more connected if you had a community of people your own age to talk to, as well as share laughs and meals with? The people you’ll meet at The Wellings have upgraded their lives by letting go of certain restraints in favour of freedom. While we’re all unique and change is challenging for each of us in a different way, The Wellings members I’ve spoken to say it was well worth it; now that they’re enjoying their best day every day.
Accepting ourselves as we are is one of the great challenges we humans will undertake. We’ve been given a long list of reasons why we should not accept ourselves: we’re either not enough or we’re too much of something. We think we need what someone else has in order to be able to accept ourselves and be happy. It’s exhausting and fruitless work that will never produce the desired result.
“The idea of perfectionism is a trap….nobody is perfect; nobody has it all together.” –Kathie Donovan
I have great news. Accepting ourselves as we are is an ongoing process because as human beings, we are always changing and hopefully growing. At some points on our life adventure, we’re wrapped up in our work lives, often defining ourselves by what we do rather than who we are. The truth is that who we are is the underpinning of how we operate in our work lives, so it’s important that we learn about self-acceptance, so we don’t fall into the trap of judging ourselves as not enough or comparing ourselves with other people instead of appreciating the value we bring to a situation.
Often, trauma can leave us feeling unsure of ourselves. Unexpected experiences in our personal and professional lives can undermine our confidence and prevent us from embracing change. I know in my own experience when I’ve been sidelined by a life event, I’ve felt completely unmoored but over time, I found my way often with a little more wisdom to add to the pile, which ultimately made me feel more confident in myself.
I’ve come to really appreciate how resilient I am and I want to encourage you to do the same. In fact, I want to encourage you to see all the good in you, so you take the focus off of all the things you “think” are wrong. Indeed there’s no such thing as anything wrong with you and learning to accept yourself as you are is the superpower that will help reinforce that truth.
“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” -Dr. Seuss
There is only one of you; only one with your style, your shade of beautiful, your gifts and your personality. Isn’t that a cool concept to consider? Yes, we’re one of millions on the planet but there is only one you and that’s pretty special.
Too many people mourn the loss of their youth instead of appreciating the gift of getting older. There are challenges in every phase of life but there are so many gifts in this stage of life and I want you to encourage you to embrace them because not everyone has the opportunity to experience growing older.
Learning to appreciate that other people’s opinions are a reflection of them and have nothing to do with us really frees us to choose what we really want. Letting go of situations we have no control over frees up bandwidth in our mind to focus on what we can be in charge of and that comes back to our thoughts about ourselves and the values we want to uphold in our life choices.
As our body ages, one aspect remains ageless and that’s our character; that’s the driving force we should focus on because age doesn’t define who we are, our character does. When we’re clear about our values and make choices that are aligned with them, we can feel confident that our life is a reflection of what we truly want. I celebrate, educate on and promote ageless living because I believe that is truly freedom living. Out of this mindset comes compassion and kindness toward ourselves and others instead of judgment and we become powerful in the best possible way. We’re available to see that we have good qualities and we see the good in others too. It’s true that we’re so ready to accept our weaknesses and flaws but we’re not taught to accept our greatness, which includes our intellect, emotional intelligence, our capacity to be compassionate and kind as well as recognizing our physical beauty, flaws and all.
“You are the only person you can count on to make you happy.” -Kathie Donovan
Happiness and self-acceptance go together because we can only experience as much happiness as we feel worthy of having. Remember that experiences happen in all of our lives both positive and challenging but none of them defines us; it’s how we respond to the situations that happen and how we handle them that will determine how we feel: whether we feel powerless or empowered.
I want to encourage you, as I encourage myself to celebrate being perfectly imperfect. Don’t let anything from your past inhibit your life today. Every new day is an opportunity to begin again with a fresh approach that will bring great reward.
Here are a few pointers to help you accept your greatness:
1-Challenge the limiting beliefs you have about yourself and your possibilities.
2- Recognize your strengths and play to them every day because they’re uniquely yours.
3- There is only one you. Don’t compare yourself with anyone else.
4- Forgive yourself for any misunderstandings you may have about situations in the past.
5- Always be kind.
Did you know that friendship increases your happiness while lowering your stress levels? It also helps boost your self-esteem and self-worth. Click here to watch Nat and Kat help us find the benefits of friendship.
Some of the great treasures in life are health, family, time and friendship. We’ve said it here before: humans are made for community, we’re built to be social and this Pandemic pause has really challenged our inborn need for connection. In the soul searching we’ve all been invited to do over the last many months, I hope we’ve all learned the value of friendship.
There’s a sign in my kitchen that says “Every friend is a gift, a blessing; a reason to be grateful.” I love our family and I love my friends, who are family by choice.
Growing up, our little clan of five moved from one end of Canada to the other, as my Dad was transferred for work. As a result, we had to forge new friendships a few times as kids and that wasn’t easy. I don’t have those lifelong friendships some people are blessed to have but I also don’t spend a lot of time reliving the past. I’m open to nurturing new friendships as well as maintaining the connections that feel aligned with my values. I’ve also done the challenging work of editing out relationships that in some way are out of step with who I am today.
“Growing apart doesn’t change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I’m glad for that.” -Ally Condie
In order for us to be happy and healthy, especially as we age, our social circles need to be enriching, supportive and positive. Friendship to me is not only companionship: friends help us cope when times are tough and they challenge us to continue growing. In short, friendship is good medicine and science concurs.
Studies show that people with strong social connections have a lower risk of serious health challenges like obesity, anxiety and addiction. The longest running study on happiness by Harvard Medical School has found that “the key to healthy ageing is relationships, relationships, relationships.”
“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” –Thomas Aquinas
It’s challenging to maintain healthy social circles, depending on our life circumstances. It’s also easy to stop expanding our community, thinking that what we have is enough and sometimes it is. Geography and other priorities in life may mean that friendships take a back seat for a time. But putting in the effort pays off when it comes to friendship. Even when we can’t be together, staying in touch however we can, reminds our beloved friends that they are important and they matter in our lives.
Meeting new people is good for our mental, emotional and physical wellness just as editing out friendships that are not uplifting and supportive is practicing good self-care. There are a number of ways to expand our social circles through church communities, volunteering, through mutual friends, through work or by taking courses. Not every new connection will grow into a meaningful friendship and that’s okay. We’re still pushing out of our comfort zone and that’s what will keep us feeling youthful and protect against cognitive decline.
Friendship, when it works well takes effort. I used to joke that getting my circle of friends together back in the day was like herding cats. I’ve since learned that I don’t want to be a cat herder; I’ve learned that my phone is good for incoming as well as outgoing calls and I know that when a dear friend is struggling, it’s a privilege to be there however I can, to make sure that person knows I care about them.
“When the world is so complicated, the simple gift of friendship is within all of our hands.” —Maria Shriver
Friends make us feel that we belong; that we’re okay exactly as we are. Friendship provides a sense of purpose and meaning, giving us confidence and increased self-worth. In my view a good friend brings joy that fuels happiness.
Here are a few tips to help when it comes to making new friends and maintaining existing friendships.
- It’s okay to feel uncomfortable about making new friends. Prepare yourself with some engaging conversation points and you’ll feel more comfortable.
- Be a good listener. Ask creative and meaningful questions to learn more about your friends. Only give advice if you’re asked for it.
- Don’t wait for someone else to make the first move. Take the initiative and invite someone you want to get to know to meet for lunch or tea.
- Go for a walk. Talk with your neighbours; you never know a new friend could be one conversation away.
- Be trustworthy. Honour your word; if someone confides in you keep their confidence.
- Make your friendship a refuge from our chaotic world. Always be kind.
Until next time, I’ll leave you with some wisdom from a beautiful soul:
“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” -Audrey Hepburn
“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”
It always hits me in June, realizing that my Dad is no longer with me in the physical sense. Fortunately, Dad and I had a relationship that was a good one. He was a life force you couldn’t ignore, and he is omnipresent. My Dad wasn’t the best communicator by today’s standards, but I was a reasonable observer and always felt loved and supported. I was acutely aware of how he did things, how he conducted himself and lived in awe of how much he accomplished with less than a high school education. By the time he came clearly into my vision, I had observed that passion with hard work and charisma would yield a life that provided much for us kids and our Mum.
It’s no surprise I married a man with some very similar characteristics, and he might be considered the champion of my life. I have set a course for myself and find that when my true North is elusive, he’s there for guidance and encouragement. Kevin recognizes more of my strengths than I do, and he reminds me to look back at my life and take it all in. At that moment, I am sure I stand just a little taller. I couldn’t be in a better place!
SO, this June, I want to acknowledge the men in my life who have been champions for me and so many others. They are solid and fierce winners in all they do: husbands, fathers, partners, providers, sons, friends, mentors, BBQing kings, and jokesters. These guys love life and are often heard saying, “bring it on!” They are the ones I think of when I need a boost of confidence or a breath of fresh air. I love strong humans who live life as only they can, this includes my family and friends, and I am so proud to see many of us embrace our authentic power. I have a strong belief in empowering women to change the world, and it’s happening! In my world, strong masculine types have always been a part of my life and a substantial positive influence, often encouraging me to follow my passions and, in so doing, make positive change. Dad taught me early that it was okay to stand up for my beliefs and give more weight to those playing inside the arena I was in. Not all lessons were easy, but I am happy to have these remarkable men in my life and have fully embraced my male energy. Humanity is masculine and feminine, and we are better together. When I embrace the fact, I have both male and female energies to work with, it makes for a good formula to handle just about anything that comes my way. I hope that’s the case for you too!
Love you guys, and Happy Father’s Day to those of you who are Dads.
Join Nat and Kat for a conversation about the positive effects dads, brothers, and husbands have in our lives as part of this month’s focus on men living the healthiest, happiest life they can. Click here to listen.