Musings From Up Above

Truth Byte #36

You can have the life you always wanted.

I am sitting on an airplane.  All around me people chatter, meeting the strangers they will spend the next four hours with, while hurtling through the air in an airtight tin tube.  And I am that writer, with my laptop out on my tray table as people stuff suitcases into overhead compartments, gleefully continuing my people watching from the corners of my eyes and noting it all down for you here.

 

There are families and business people, and we are in one of those giant planes reserved for overseas travel.  I have a feeling this plane is on to China after this, judging by the languages on the newspaper stack at the door of the plane and the boarding announcements in Mandarin.

 

There is an anticipation in the air, the excitement of travel.

 

As I sit here, I am reminded of my first more-than-an-hour-long flight that I took as a teenager.  I was buzzing with that nervous excitement, trying to look cool and in control and wondering how old everybody thought my fourteen-year-old-self was and if I was wearing the right clothes for the journey.  A grandfatherly gentleman read the newspaper beside me for the half-hour that we waited on those poorly-shaped, dark-coloured chairs that every airport around the world seems to share.  The agent called for pre-boarding (back in the days, babies and their superhuman first-time mothers automatically boarded first), and suddenly, there was a swoosh of people clamoring into a line.  The grandpa-guy looked at the people bustling politely to get in line, and peeking up over his reading glasses he looked at me and whispered: “Last time I checked, it was assigned seating.”

 

We shared a grin, and waited until everybody was on the plane before calmly walking up and onto that vessel. 

 

One sentence, from a stranger, that stayed with me for over two decades, and has changed the way I see air travel.

 

Incredible.

 

So what does this have to do with having the life you always wanted?

 

What he taught me that day is that it’s all about perspective.  Everybody is getting on the flight.  Whether we huff impatiently in the line or stroll on at the last minute, it doesn’t really make a difference.

 

What matters is how we feel during the flight of this life.

 

Which leads me to gratitude.  The life you have today is the result of a series of beliefs and actions you have had over a period of time.  If it’s not the life you wanted, today is the day to pivot to new beliefs and actions.  Are you telling yourself how hard it will be to get that promotion/romantic partner/house/body/job/opportunity that you have always wanted?  Well, if you convince yourself it will be hard, it will be. And if you remind yourself that your seat is already assigned on the plane, perhaps you will stop grumbling.  In the end, the destination of this human life is ultimately death.

 

And I have been reflecting on death a lot lately as my elders pass away around me.

 

So the question is, how exactly are you going to spend this finite amount of weeks/months/years until you get to that destination? Are you going to spend it complaining and worrying and unsure, or are you going to chose, today, to begin creating the life you always wanted?

 

And I know that on hard days, that can seem like a tall order.  But it’s really not. 

 

Here’s why:

 

You already have some of what you always wanted!

 

You already have one or two or twelve or fifty-five pieces of your puzzle lined up.  If you have time to read this blog post, you clearly have access an electronic device, which means you have at least a little bit of disposable income, or at least a library card and membership.

 

And did I mention having the TIME to read this post?

 

If you smiled when I described that airplane experience because you could relate to the hushed rush at the boarding gate, then you have been on an airplane, which is a big deal! (Don’t believe me? Ask a fully grown adult who has never buckled up an airplane seatbelt what it means to fly.)

 

So now that you have admitted to yourself that you do have a few things, here’s the 8 obvious secrets for truly having the life you always wanted.

 

  1. Put pen to paper: what do you really want?
  2. Be grateful for what you do have, and reflect on that regularly.
  3. Tell people what they mean to you for no reason.
  4. Add more to the world – see where you can give rather than get.
  5. Celebrate the little joys, both yours and others.
  6. Keep moving in the direction of hopefulness and optimism.
  7. Give thanks when you hit your milestones.
  8. Take time to have fun and make sure to enjoy the flight!

 

These are my secrets.  They work for me.  I believe they will work for you too, because after all, we aren’t really that different, you and me.  As Ether Hicks says in her book Money and the Law of Attraction: “These processes are easy to understand and apply, but do not let their simplicity cause you to underestimate their power. Consistently apply them and show yourself the leverage of the power of aligned thought.” (2008, Pg. 58)

 

An easy way to achieve the life you always wanted is to use the phrase as a hashtag. Include #thelifeialwayswanted with certain incredible and/or mundane pictures of your life that you post on social media.  That way you are reinforcing that you are already there in many ways….and leaves room for this time-limited life to be even better.

 

If you are ready for a step-by-step guide on having the life you always dreamed of, stay tuned for my brand new online course, to be revealed in just over 100 days!  It’s the capsule- counselling model I have adapted over the last ten years adapted, but for people who don’t really need on-going counselling (or don’t really want to talk to a stranger about their problems!), are interested in personal development, and ready for real and lasting change in certain areas of their lives.  Sound like you?  Let me know if you want more info, and you will be the first to know the details! Email: connect@talktosaira.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If Santa Claus Were a Laughing Gorilla

Truth Byte #35

 “Laughter is everywhere, so don’t miss it.” 

 

I swim on Monday evenings.  Ok, let’s be honest, I don’t really swim.

 

Actually, my kids swim on Monday evenings.  And I have to take them.  So every Monday evening, I get into my sexy/mom bathing suit, swim one laborious lap in the slow lane, and then hang out in the hot-tub (which is only slightly hotter than a warm bath at home).  I spend that sweet half-hour people-watching and giving myself an island of demand-free time at our local family YMCA.

 

This Monday, I had quite a remarkable experience. 

 

As you can imagine, there isn’t really much new that happens at a community pool on a Monday night.  It’s moms and dads and babysitters in flip-flops or bare feet or jeans or imitation Lululemon yoga pants, texting furiously from the viewing section for the half- hour that they are kid-free.  Some of the newer parents video-tape their kids on their smart phones.  Teenagers flirt beside me in the hot-tub.  A lifeguard that’s half my age strolls along the edge of the pool, telling kids not to run.  Pretty standard.

 

But this Monday was different.

 

This Monday, I met a man that will be forever imprinted on my mind.

 

He emerged up the ladder from the slow swim lane with a deep belly laugh.  His dark brown body was covered with black, wiry hair.  And I mean covered.  His entire back was gorilla-styles. His big, round belly, was also covered in hair.  And the best part was that he had a top knot of shocking white hair on his head, and a long, flowing white beard.  This man must have been my grandfather’s age or older.

 

And he was laughing. 

 

His belly shook as he laughed and laughed.  There was no one around him, and I had no idea why he was laughing.  Then, out of nowhere, he reached his arms up to heaven, slapped them into a salute over his head, and bowed deeply, as if thanking God for the joke.

 

I watched, amazed, trying not to get caught watching, as this formidable man made his way to the change rooms.  He walked like a retired soldier, tall and disciplined, and yet he smiled the whole way there.  I went back to watching my kids, and lost track of him for a while.  Then I heard a beautiful, deep baritone humming a tune.  The man was in the hot tub, to my left, with eyes closed and humming the most incredible song.  It felt like something from the halls of ancient temple.

 

And once again, he was smiling uncontrollably.

 

I did not talk to the man, or even make eye-contact with him.  My half hour in the hot tub is my chance to disengage from the whirl of my world, and I am not really there to make friends, to be honest.  But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about him.  What I loved about him was he was just there, laughing and smiling and singing and connecting with his version of God through a local family YMCA.

 

He was happy.  Truly, genuinely, deeply happy, just swimming and hot-tubbing and living his happy life.

 

This man has got me thinking about laughter.  Why not just laugh out loud, for no reason that anyone else understands? I remember being a kid and falling into fits of uncontrollable laughter. I was often told to laugh more quietly. I was often told it was the wrong time/place/context.  I was often told it was unladylike.

 

That man has convinced me that all those words I was told were lies.

 

There is no wrong place for laughter, especially if you are a child.  Sure, there are serious places like hospitals and funeral homes and the house of that cranky aunt that doesn’t really like kids but likes your mom.  Sure, there are places that don’t really warrant a deep belly laugh, but those are just a handful. Leftover fear of being inappropriate in those handful of places shouldn’t stop us from laughing big the rest of the time.

 

There was a social experiment done where certain people were put on crowded trains and while watching some handheld device, started to laugh.  When they laughed long enough and hard enough, other people would start laughing too, even if they had no idea what the “planted” people were laughing about.

 

Laughter is contagious. 

 

It’s good for your brain, your body, and your relationships.  It bonds people and relieves stress.  It makes you feel good.

 

And if you do it in an unexpected public place, someone may just blog about it 🙂

 

Today, what if you found a way to bring in more laughter? It could be joking around with your family or watching a funny movie.  It could be looking at the fashion choices you made as a teenager (yikes) or watching cats do crazy things online.  Whatever it is, today you could bring the laughter back.  And you could be that crazy happy person that smiles and sings and swims, just living your life to the brim.

 

Ready to clear out that old yucky stuff that is keeping your laughter buried?

 

It’s your last chance to join us at our workshop on releasing Guilt and Regret in Calgary, this Saturday September 24 from 9 am – 5 pm.  And for those from “away” who have been wanting to get through some of what’s holding you back but haven’t been able to join me in person, keep an eye out for the big reveal of my online course coming in a few weeks! Finally, for weekly bouts of laughter, join me on YouTube for my talk-show called Today is Your Day, and like my Facebook page for more connection and inspiration!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research Notes from a Ten Year Old

Truth Byte #34

“Sometimes you just have to get shit done.” 

 

I have grown up in a digital world. 

 

Whatever I want to know I can find out with a click of a few keys.  I remember a time very different than this one. I remember in fifth grade I had to write a report on any animal I wanted.

 

I choose the blue whale. 

 

Something about the fact that it was the biggest mammal on earth and yet had not actual teeth just fascinated me.  So first, I went to my school library, and asked the librarian to help me.  She directed me to the card catalogue.  Maybe you remember those from your own primary school days. The dusty, musty smell of filing cards that had been touched by a hundred thousand grubby fingers.  Some were worn out and fading, while some had just been added, corners sharp and crisp.

 

After about half an hour of searching through the various topics related to the blue whale (mammals? oceans? sharks? killer whales? krill?), I finally found a reference to two books that contained information on whales.  So I went to the shelf where they were supposed to be.

 

One was missing in action. 

 

The other was a reference book on oceans.  So that meant instead of reading through it from the comfort of my home, I had to sit in the library and painstakingly comb through the hard-bound volume. I spent the next two hours reading through the table of contents and indexes, furiously (and slowly) writing notes with a ten-year perfectionist’s laser-focused determination, trying to find any and all information on the blue whale.  I came out of that research session, at ten years old, with five interesting (and not so interesting) facts for my report.  What a day.

 

The blue whale:

  • Is the biggest mammal on earth (already knew that)
  • Eats krill (already knew that)
  • Has a comb-like mouth to catch food instead of teeth (already knew that)
  • Carries it’s offspring in the womb for 10-12 months (new fact!)
  • Can reach over 30 metres long (new fact!)

 

When my 7 year-old son wants to find out an animal fact, he just asks Siri.

 

My Ph.D. dissertation research was equally daunting, with some materials online and others found in the hidden corners of reference libraries three towns over.  My experience of research has been grueling throughout my academic career.  But because of this, I learned an important truth:

 

Sometimes we just have to get shit done.

 

Sometimes, you just have to sit there and stare at the boring facts and find a way to make it fascinating.  Sometimes you have to just fold the first shirt in that mountain of clean laundry you have been avoiding (and moving from your bed to the guest room bed and back to your bed) just to start that laundry-folding-machine part of your brain.  Sometimes you have to dust the tops of your picture frames.  Sometimes you have to fire that client.  Sometimes you have to write a blog post at 9:30 pm on a rainy Tuesday night because that what you promised yourself and the people who actually are following, and waiting excitedly for the next nugget.

 

Sometimes you just have to.

 

Us Millennials, we HATE have-tos.  We like choices.  We like flexibility.  We like being “in the zone”, being inspired, and being excited.  But let’s face it.  Sometimes, we are just not.  We are not, and yet we have to show up and do it anyway.  We have to pick up our kid from school when he is sick even though it means a meeting with a really critical contact has to be postponed until next quarter.  It means we have to just suck it up and giggle along with the other bridesmaids even though we have no interest in their idea of fun and the bride knew us from when we were kids, so we don’t even have that much in common anymore.  Sometimes we have to suffer through the I-told-you-so talk from our aging parents when our incredibly interesting Arts degree isn’t really making a dent in paying the mortgage. Sometimes we have to go with our significant other to yet another function where we know no one and feel under-dressed and out of place.  Sometimes we just have to get shit done. And we don’t like it.

So today, I propose a new way.
What about, on those days when we are just muscling through, we look for the opportunity?

 

What if the grueling research project got re-framed as a character-building exercise?

 

What if the awkward social moments became a chance to practice forgiveness of others and acceptance of self?

 

What if that last minute blog/assignment/email became a chance to practice communicating with humour and irony in a way that will get the “totally get it dude” nod from the person who reads it?

 

Because if there is one things us Millennials are incredible at, it’s the re-frame.

 

So let’s re-frame this.

 

I have a Siri in my head.  Sometimes she is way off, and sometimes she scolds me along with the information she regurgitates, but sometimes I am glad I went through that knowledge acquisition process.  Because that means today, I can use words like “knowledge acquisition process”  Heehee.

 

What are you ready to re-frame?  And what are ready to just get done already?

 

Talk to you next week! (and join me for a workshop to get more of whatever that was….)

 

It’s your life, and only you can live it.

www.talktosaira.com

Flooding My Tapestry

Truth Byte #33

“Sometimes no is the right answer.” 

 

Life is not fair. 

 

I learned this at a tender age through a variety of stomp-your-feet-with-frustration experiences and it was reinforced by my nobody-really-cares-anyways writing purges as a teenager.

 

Life is not fair.

 

And yet, our lives unfold perfectly.

 

Seems contradictory, right?

 

And yet, it rings true.  Because when you look back over the life you have, the experiences you have endured, the betrayal, lost love, broken promises, and heartbreaks from friends, family, and the one who was almost-the-one, there are two ways you can tell your story: through the yes or through the no.

 

Let me explain.

 

Some of us, spend our lives complaining (either outwardly or inwardly) about how unfair things are.  Some of us have a hundred thousand examples of how we were wronged and misunderstood, and we build the intricate tapestry of our life story with these frayed threads.

 

From far away, our lives look alright.  But as soon as someone gets close to us, really close, they notice the mismatch.  They notice the gentle and persistent unravelling. They notice that we say we want something and yet push it away when we almost have it.  We feel pain quickly, but it takes us eons to forgive.

 

They notice how our mouths are saying something but our eyes are saying something else. 

 

In a nutshell, we are not aligned.  We present a pretty picture, but we are living our lives saying no to ourselves and others, and to Life itself. I would call this “living through the no”.

 

And then there are those of us who look at our lives from a completely different lens.  Our lives are more like a river than a tapestry.  What makes up our lives is the ever-changing bedrock of our past experiences, and the rough banks of our personal boundaries.  We know our lives change and evolve.  There is room for growth, movement, changes in direction, and there is no longer an attempt to keep still and stagnant and present the perfect picture to the world.

 

When people meet us, they may meet us during a still, soft point, so they sit on the rocks and admire all we do and what we represent.  Others may meet us during the rapids, where the only way through is a life-jacket and total trust.

 

We change, we grow, we burst through in unexpected ways. 

 

We see our lives as a series of twists and turns and ultimately, choices, that have created this incredible river of who we are.  We are patient with ourselves when things take a turn, and we celebrate others who have this river-gene.  I would call this “living through the yes”.

 

I spent the first part of my young adult life building the tapestry.  And it worked.  For a while.  I went along and quietly hated myself, and put on that perfect face to all who didn’t know me (and many who did).

 

I said no to myself, and yes to everyone else.

 

And then one day, with the help of loving forces beyond my understanding, my river-self burst forth.  She was unpredictable. She was passionate.  She was uncontrollable.  She made people uncomfortable (especially those who had no idea how to swim in their own emotions!).  And as I learned how to be as this new self, I forgot the need for no.  I would say yes to everything and everyone.

 

And that was dangerous.

 

I let a lot of people down.

 

I let myself down....a lot.

 

So today, I have a new way.  As soon as I start feeling the no bubbling up inside me, I voice it.  I don’t wait for the right moment or until I think the other person will be able to “handle it” better.  I don’t be nicey-nice about it and apologize for the decision I made.  I do try to be loving and gentle, but most people I know have a hard time hearing a no from me, so they are often wounded by it anyway.

 

I am learning to be okay with that.

 

It’s different from the no of before, the tapestry-self no.  That version of me said no to stay safe, and keep my life predictable.  That self said no to my own needs, wants, and dreams, while presenting a “yes-(wo)man” front.

 

This no comes from deep within me.  Sometimes it’s hard to hear it, but it’s always there.  It says, “Hey girl, why don’t you stop doing that for a while and try this new thing/person/adventure?” And when I listen to it right away, it’s like ripping a band-aid off.  And when I don’t, I whirl inside, creating anxiety and depression and illness and broken relationships.

 

I have learned that no is important.  That no is needed.  That no is critical for my health and my wellness and my relationships.  I have also learned I can say no and still be the river.  Actually, I can become a more enticing river when I am willing to change my course.

 

Today, I invite you to join me in changing course.  There are changes coming up to the work I will be doing and the ideas I will be presenting to you.  Sometimes you may love the floating ride, and some days you will feel like you are drowning.  Hang in there!  Only the toughest, most aligned will survive this river.  And honestly, not everyone loves to get wet.  If you are ready to dive in, join my mailing list, and let’s do this together.

 

It’s your life, and only you can live it.