Monday, January 31, 2011

Moving On

Some things just weren't meant to last. "A Work in Progress" was exactly that, a work in progress and a place for me to gather my thoughts while preparing for the launch of Go.BeAwesome.

If you've been a loyal reader, then your going to love Go.BeAwesome. If you're a new follower, thanks for checking me out, and I hope you stay with me!

Go.BeAwesome is my new site, I will no longer be posting at this address.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Finding Your Voice and Removing The Darkness

Have you ever met one of those people that by no one thing specifically, but with a general broad stroke bring you down, make you feel inferior or small? Maybe they shoot down your ideas, or present an alternative to your idea in such a way that instead of helping just makes you feel stupid? Maybe it’s their sarcasm or the blank stare as you speak to them that makes you feel incredibly judged or that what your saying is irrelevant.

How is it that some people have this kind of influence on us? How is it that as confident and secure people we can be impacted so negatively by these occasional (hopefully) interactions? Even more concerning is this; why is it that these are always the people we try the hardest to impress?

With varying degree, we are all seeking approval. We need people to agree with us to validate our choices, decisions or opinions. The worlds a scary place and we need some endorsements now and then to make sure we’re doing ok (no one is completely immune to this). On some level, when we seek approval, what we are actually doing is asking for permission to think, feel or do things a certain way.

Usually that encouragement/permission comes from those within our own tribe, who are people that share our way of thinking or have similar values and maybe even similar goals.

We can accept that there will be some that don’t see eye to eye with us. But it’s easy(ier) to defend your choices to someone “on the outside” of your tribe because push come to shove, you can agree to disagree. Your perspectives may be so different that arguing may just be moot, or perhaps entertaining at the very least.

But what do you do when someone on the “inside” of your tribe makes you feel like an idiot? Our tribes should be a circle of influence, but what do we do when that influence turns into intimidation?

You have to find your voice. Your voice is what’s inside you speaking on behalf of your internal compass. It’s your core. It’s what’s important to you and what you value most. It's the piece of you that still believes you are valid without someone else's approval. You are legitimate without having someone else's authorization. Your voice will remind you of how capable and deserving you are. Find it. Hold onto it.

People that walk around with negativity, judgment and use intimidation to control others have their own problems and impressing them isn’t worth the trouble or the stress it will cause you. Plus, changing your opinion or making choices only to please them will only make them look down on your further and their (negative) influence on you stronger.

I call these people the darkness.

I am convinced that I have a light to shine (as does everyone), something to say and something to share and I sometimes struggle with how to go about doing it. The last thing I need/want in my life is darkness taking over. No one needs that, or deserves that.

So I’ve learned to (and sometimes it’s worth re-learning) to recognize and then shut out the darkness when it shows up. Whether this person is within your tribe / circle of influence or not, if they are not adding value to your life, they are taking value away from it.

Find your voice. Ditch the darkness.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Creating A Small World After All; Without the Figurines or Roundelay

This week I've been in Toronto visiting friends and family in a big city that I used to call home. Arriving at Pearson International it isn't as much a giant international terminal as a familiar place where I catch a ride with my Dad back to my old neighbourhood where even though it's all very different now, nothing much has changed. The airport pick up is something so practiced that we don't even have to discuss a meeting point anymore. We've perfected timing the de-planing text message and the 'post A' pick up. It's as normal to my Dad and I now as it was when I knew exactly where he'd be to pick me up from school as a kid.

I don't create schedules and I rarely know where I'll be sleeping, but between 3 sisters, extended family and a city of friends, it all seems to work out in the end. Sometimes I forget I have to make sleeping arrangements and end up crashing on someones couch because it's too late to drive back to where I stayed the night previous.

When I hang out with friends, we pick up right where we left off 5-8 months ago and when we're done we say 'see ya later' like I'll be around again tomorrow. My family loves seeing me as I do them, I never over stay my welcome and leave before we have enough time to drive each other nuts.

When I'm in The Beach, I stop in at old favourites to catch up on email or do some writing. I walk the neighbourhood streets knowing exactly where the service is good, and who always burns their bagels. I know who charges for wi-fi and where it's offered for free but with a two hour limit.

While I was in town this time, I took the opportunity to go see an author I like speak. While I was there, I overheard a couple talking about their house in White Rock which is a sub-burb of Vancouver. They went into great detail to explain exactly where White Rock was and I was surprised for a moment that the person they were talking to had never heard of it. It took a second to register that I was in Toronto (not Vancouver) before the persons confusion made more sense to me.

The author we were listening to had a few photos on stage with him of his recent trip to Thailand where he did a photo shoot with some giant cats (not the house kept kind). I smiled at the familiarity of having just been to that part of the world and knowing exactly where that photo was taken.

Leaving the book store, I made a phone call to confirm having dinner with a friend of mine that was in town from Montreal. We tossed some restaurant ideas around and I loved that we both could have an opinion despite neither of us living here.

I've been very lucky to have had some of the opportunities that I have. I had parents that enjoyed travel and so I caught the bug early. I've lived in four major cities across Canada and got to explore some of it for the first time as a teenager road tripping with other teenagers when competing with my horses. This of course gave me some foundation applying for a job with professional riders that took me on the road to and from Florida every year. Following that, I had a corporate job that required extensive travel throughout the United States and as such, was able to see as much of the US as I could handle (and all on the company dime).

Even though the world is a very big place to explore, by exploring it, my world actually starts to get smaller. By exploring the big city, the whole city become my home. Then, new big cities became just as comfortable to me. I spread my wings to explore another end of my country, and after living in four major cities over the years, the traveling in between them has made an entire country feel as small as my backyard. The professional experiences I've had, be it driving a truck full of horses south on I-75 or picking up the tab for a magazine publisher after our lunch meeting in Dallas, have provided me with a sense of comfort and ability to adapt - wherever I am.

After experiencing the familiar feeling of knowing the place in Thailand where the authors photo was taken, I have found that as an adult, I have the same sense about the world as I did as a kid when I realized how much further my street goes after it curves at the end of my block.

My life so far has allowed my "world" in Canada to become a small place where I run into friends and family from coast to coast. I hope my world continues to get smaller and some day I can talk about my friends in Africa with the same fondness and familiarity as my next door neighbours. I hope that I concur any fear and anxiety of exploring new places by understanding that at one time, the street beyond my driveway was once overwhelming and to uncertain to venture upon.

The Sherman brothers had a catchy way of saying it...

There is just one moon, and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to ev’ryone
Though the mountains divide, and the oceans are wide
It’s a small world after all

Friday, January 14, 2011

Following Our Internal Compass

I was reminded recently of the necessity one needs to rely on the “internal compass” we all have. You know what that is, it's what's responsible for gut feelings and it's what gives us courage to head into the unknown. Too often we ignore the internal compass and get caught up in expectations or social standards, norms and status quo. A while ago, my mind's eye created a somewhat interesting depiction of the "path of life" in one of my regular attempts to make sense of my approach to life/goals/dreams etc. What I came up with was a bit of a cross between an episode of The Amazing Race and a game of Snakes’n’Ladders.

*Disclaimer: (it’s never good when you have to add a disclaimer) I want to point out that while I take one view on what path I want to take, I don’t by any means think the “Path of Life” path is wrong. I think many people are able to find happiness and be fulfilled on this path, but the truth is, many are not. My objective here is only to illustrate my belief in an alternative.

Path of Life theory:
Point A is the beginning, Point B being “Success”

I consider the beginning to be high school. Before that, our choices and ability to make choices are limited. At the beginning we stand (relatively clueless) at a trail head. There is a clear path well-marked and well-travelled. It’s a trail with clear signs, lots of other people on it and outhouses along the way ‘just in case’. There stands a sign that reads “This way to Success”.

The trail starts fairly easy but there are some ups and downs along the way. The good news is that they are the same ups and downs that everyone else will face so there’s bound to be lots of support and lots of people who understand your predicament. You’ll be perfectly safe.

Don’t worry about getting lost. There are milestones along the way for you to measure your rate of success, like little check points with envelopes that provide clues about the next destination. First you find your high school diploma. Yey! That one was easy, not far from the start, some rough terrain, you were overwhelmed by it at the beginning, but looking back, it wasn’t so bad. Right away, before we get to comfortable on the path, we’re given our first choice. You can either venture off the path towards adventure and a little bit of travel, or you can keep your eye on the ball and fast track to “Career”. Some of us that will chose a little travel and adventure here will get caught up in exploration forever deviating from the path, but most of us fall right back in line after a short stint in the unknown woods. For those that didn’t choose the adventure and fast track, we’re headed uphill to University. A few tough climbs, some life lessons later and you reach "University Degree". We spend a moment here wondering about that option back at the "High School Diploma" check point and wonder what it would have been like had we taken that chance for adventure. But we’re drawn back to the well-worn path for a few reasons: first, we’ve been told that this is the only route to reach our beloved “Success”, second, because chances are we would have gotten scared out in the woods without someone leading us and telling us exactly where to walk.

Back "on track”, we arrive at our first obstacle in a series of “Career” challenges. We work hard, apply what we learned in school, follow instruction and we are rewarded along the way with income, benefits and the security of our new “Career Path”. We truck along gathering bonus points and finding level warping tunnels in the form of holiday bonuses and promotions.

Whether your right in the middle of your career path, or maybe at varying cross roads, you come across “Marriage”. You collect that flag and move right on to take the “Family” route.

Many of these paths run parallel and close to one another, so many of us are able to jump across paths scoring a promotion on one path, take on the challenges the family trail has presented all while enjoying the brief mini-adventures of running free in the woods between paths.

With each passing year (sometimes faster, sometimes longer) you collect the flags as you approach the mile markers on the road to "Success".

Eventually, you get there. Congratulations, you’ve made through high school, spent X amount of years in University, got to see a bit of the world and had a little adventure while you got a job, and then another job. You got married, bought a house, had babies and managed to save enough money to retire happily. You’re here. Enjoy your success. All your friends are here, you all get to enjoy the same success since you’ve all travelled the same path. Way to go. Enjoy the party. (queue popped champagne and streamer cannons)

If that doesn’t sound right to you, you’re not the only one. What if you arrive at said “Success” and it’s not what you had envisioned? You followed the signs, went where you were supposed to.. but what the heck!? This isn’t what you had in mind at all. You never got to [INSERT ADVENTURE HERE] and you never went to [INSERT DREAM DESTINATION HERE] and you never got to [INSERT BUCKET LIST ITEM HERE]. Too late. You're at the end of your path. This game has no reset button.

Here’s my alternative. But buyer beware: the route to your own success is not easy. You can not follow the paths. You must hold a machete and bush whack your way through life. It’s a helluva lot more work and most of the time you feel lost. While you may come across the same milestones (Career, Love/Marriage, Family etc) you can not use these as mile markers to judge where you are on your route. There will be times when you fear you will never find success, but you must rely on your internal compass to guide you. Temptation to take the well-worn path will be great, but if it is your own custom designed success you crave, you must continue trailblazing.

Undoubtedly, your vision, dedication, perseverance and hard work will pay off and you will arrive at your destination. Be prepared though, there will be no party waiting for you. You will be the only one that knows you’ve attained what you so desired. The only reward you will have is that you did it.

People will not always agree with your choice to make your own path. They will not understand why you choose to in some cases, take the long way, or, in almost every case, the hard way. But you have to trust that the reward you seek is far greater than the criticism you face along the way.

That internal compass of ours is hard-wired to our destinies, but it alone will not get us there. We have only to follow it to our own success. When challenges arise, decisions need to be made, or you simply just feel lost, pay attention to your internal compass. It may not always be easy, but it will always point you in the right direction.

As per my disclaimer, I don't think that those following the "Path of Life" are miserable or unhappy and just don't know it. What I do think, is that there are too many people settling for being passengers in their lives because they either don't realize they have choices, or they are simply afraid of making them. Maybe question the path your on today...

Are you making your own choices? Or are you following the well-worn path?

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Legacy She'd Be Proud Of

One year ago yesterday, my relationship with my Mother changed forever. She died in Ontario surrounded by her family and the people she loved. I sat beside her and held her hand for hours until eventually, her time with us here, ended.

In the past few weeks, I've been thinking about this day and how exactly it would go, or more so, how it was supposed to go. Would I spend all day locked inside and weeping? Should I go somewhere private to remember her? I remember her every single day. I think of her every single day. January 9th would be no different in that sense, but I wasn't sure what I should prepare for.

A few strange realities over the holidays caught me off guard; her name kept being added to my mental list of gifts to buy and each time I had to remind myself that I didn't need to send a gift this year. I also panicked at the end of Christmas Day that amongst my focus and all the chaos of having 13 guests over for dinner, I had forgotten to call my Mom to say Merry Christmas. But hardest of all was the moment driving home on New Years Eve when I realized that one year ago that day, I had hugged my Mom, saw her smile and heard her say goodbye for the very last time.

The days in between Christmas and the anniversary of her passing, I can recall every move. It continues today as I remember the first morning I woke up beginning the experience of living a life without the woman who gave me mine. I struggled as January 9th crept closer and closer and I wasn't sure what I would be faced with or what I should be doing that day. I started writing a blog post about it a few days ago and it was very, very sad. I wrote about what my Mom meant to me, how close we were and how much I miss her. I wanted to write about her legacy and what she left behind. I was pages into the post before I had to stop. Partly because I could no longer see my work through my tears, and also because I just couldn't nail how to express just how special her legacy is. I left it unfinished and decided I would come back to it later when I was able to better articulate.

So January 9th arrived on schedule and I had made no "special" plans other than to meet up with a girlfriend for brunch. Without getting into details, I can say this friend is in a bad situation and really needs to find a way out. Trouble is, fear is controlling her right now and she's stuck. She's scared to move forward and scared to stay where she is, but if she doesn't act now, her situation will undoubtedly go from really bad to overwhelmingly worse. Part of the problem is that she's been convinced that she's powerless and she wouldn't be able to make a change even if she tried. We spent hours in that cafe talking about solutions and in the end, she left with a plan. More importantly, I think she has the courage to implement the plan.

Later that evening I met up with my BFF Kierstie (who I knew I would magnetically and universally be drawn to on this day). She asked how I was feeling and I honestly and truthfully told her I was feeling awesome! I was tingling with energy, I was jazzed from the inside out, I was smiling ear to ear, I was sunshine and rainbows! For no reason at all, a surge of emotion came over me and I was in the greatest of great mods. She just smiled and and non-chalantly with a bit of smirk said "yeah.. it's your mom."

I went on to explain what had happened earlier that day (in much more detail than I will divulge here). Knowing the details of the situation herself, she was surprised at our friends positive response and said "You may have changed her life today".

Now, I'm not sure about that, it'll be her own actions that change her life. But I did spend a good chunk of the day reminding her that she was beautiful, strong, capable, smart, that she had choices, that she was supported and that she was able make things better for herself.

Somewhere during our conversation back at that coffee shop my friend asked me "How did you get so smart?" and I told her "It's not smarts, it's what I believe. It's what my Mom made me believe".

In the end, I think she began to believe me and I hope she makes the choice to take action very soon. If it was in fact my advice or encouragement that made a difference, than I will have spent January 9th exactly the way I was supposed to.

My Mom was my biggest fan, my number one supporter and made darn sure that I new how loved I was. Yesterday, I made sure that someone else knows how strong she is, how beautiful she is, how in control she is of her own life and how brave she can be.

That's a legacy I think my Mom would be proud of having.


A great friend of mine lost someone very close to her many years ago and every year she posts the eulogy she gave at the service. I always thought this was a nice way to share a very special day with people that care about you, and about the person you lost that day. Below is what I wrote and read at my Mother's funeral.

One of my Mom’s greatest gifts to me was that she taught me how to dream. She taught me how to let my mind go to places where ANYTHING is possible. To be a pilot, an explorer, a CEO or to run away and join the circus, there were no limits on where your mind could go when you dream.
As early back as I can remember, we would talk about dreams and how important it was to have them. From her I’ve leaned the value in being quiet, because it’s during these times of solitude you let your mind go and explore a universe of possibilities. Sometimes when my mind came back, it would bring all these crazy ideas with it… I would always call her and say “Mom.. I got an idea…”. She never laughed at the absurdness of where my imagination went, or shut down even the stupidest of ideas. She never once told me that they wouldn’t happen, no matter how impossible or ridiculous they seemed. She just simply listened.
Once I learned to dream, it seemed to be her life’s purpose to teach me everything I needed to make those dreams come true. Perseverance, dedication, patience, a little planning and lot of hard work, and I KNOW that there isn’t anything that I can’t do.
She told me once that the most significant piece of wisdom she could share is that I, and no one else is the master of my own destiny. That my life is what I determine it will be. She said that every time I make a choice, I am laying another stone in the pathway of my journey. At anytime I didn’t like where that path was headed, I just had to make another choice, and change the direction.
There is no other way I’ve ever known then to know this.
It’s only been in recent years that I’ve discovered that some people can’t make their own choices. Fear controls so much in our lives. Fear of failure, of making the wrong choice, or fear of what others will think/say of the choices we make for ourselves. It’s because of my Mom that I do not live in fear. I am not afraid of anything. I know whatever “life’s little challenges” (she would call them) comes my way, I can face them with confidence, certainty and without fear of the unknown.
It was Mom’s gift to all of us, to have faith and believe in us, and give us the courage to become the people we have the potential to be. Everything I am, I owe to her.
Because of her patience, understanding, acceptance of peoples differences, calmness and empathy for others, I understand the meaning of being kind.
Because of every package I received, intricately wrapped and prepared with care, every card, letter or note she sent for absolutely no reason at all, I understand what it means to be thoughtful. 
Because of every example she set, and her ability to see a lesson in every challenge, I understand the meaning of a mentor. 
It was because of her unwavering optimism, that I have faith in the good in the world. 
Because of your beauty, grace, strength, ability to comfort, console, love and be loved, that I appreciate and enjoy the gifts in being a woman. 
Because of you, I know the value of a day, the power in laughter and magic of a smile.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Taking Stock

The past year for me has been about self-reflection and discovery. I've read a number of fantastic books and started following some incredible blogs written by people that inspire, motivate and provoke.

In "The Happiness Project" (Gretchen Ruben) I learned that it's ok to just Be Sarah. To make no apologies for the way I feel and to stop feeling guilty about not being someone that I think sometimes I should be. For example, I've stopped feeling like a loser for not wanting to go out (dancing, dinners, clubs, parties), and have embraced the happiness that a good book and a cozy blanket brings me. I honed in on some very simple things in life that make me very happy and have learned to amplify those elements in my life, like early mornings and routine. I love them both. I love having structure in my life and have built a routine around getting up early to enjoy my most favourite part of the day.

Outliers (Malcom Gladwell) showed me behind every great success is a series of great opportunity (plus 10,000 hours of hard work). He illustrates how small opportunities are available everyday, everywhere you look, but you must be willing to take action when you find them.

Smart Women Finish Rich (David Bach) gave me an understanding of personal finances plus the confidence and know-how to continue on my path to financial freedom.

Some of my favourite reading though is with the blogs I follow. Generally they are written by people with similar lifestyle goals and they write about their experiences on the path to achieving them. Alternatively , they are written by people who have already made an incredible life for themselves by unconventional means and write from more of a "how-to" perspective.

With all these resources, I've been able to paint a very clear picture of what I envision my life to be like and I have re-defined what I consider "success" . However, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all at the moment. I've got the knowledge, direction and permission (from myself) to live the life I want, but I still feel like something key is missing.

I have learned that I have the freedom to make my own choices. The freedom to set my own standard. The freedom to be as successful as I want to be.

I have all the tools, but I don't know what to build. Can you have too much of a good thing?

Many of the blogs and books I read are about how to live an unconventional life. This is a life without the confines of a conventional job and making your own rules to live your very own life. A life where you question your beliefs (to make sure they are truly yours) and challenge the status quo. A life refusing to be average.

I believe in all these things and I am working everyday towards creating a remarkable life for myself, but within all this advice, support, motivation and "ra-ra-screw-conventionalisum " I've found some conflict internally.

Looking for work: There are millions of people happy being employed by major corporations and are happy to leave their work at the office when they punch out at 5pm everyday, I don't believe I will be one of them. I don't want to become someone that works 40+ hours a week for 10 hours of productivity all for the benefit of someone else. I don't want my hard work and valuable time to get lost inside a corporate machine that doesn't appreciate either. So where does that leave me? Self-employment? What if I don't have a business plan? Or even a business idea? What if I haven't thought of a concept for my book yet? Is being a problogger something I should consider? And what if deep down I don't really want the responsibility of working for myself?

After much turmoil I realized I had just answered my own question. I don't really want the responsibility of working for myself. I finally came to that conclusion last night and immediately I applied my Happiness Project lessons and accepted that this is how I feel, and I need not apologize or feel guilty about it. There must be a middle ground.

With the relief that that decision brought, I took stock of a few other realities.

While I include traveling as an important part of my life, I have no interest in becoming location independent or escaping to a year long trip around the world. I will continue to explore the world in small savoury bites. I love where I live and will concentrating on making my life here something I don't need to escape from.

I also appreciate and understand the concept of minimalist living, but I have no intention of limiting my possessions to under 100 things, or selling all the furniture in my house except for a chair and yoga mat that I use for meditation. I have sold, given away or donated what I don't need or use regularly. I have de-cluttered and downsized and have seen how those actions can translate into taking control of what else you invite or dismiss from your life. Mass consumerism disappoints me and I think we all could benefit from a lesson in minimalism, especially when it comes to spending time on each other instead of money. However, with that said, I still look forward to buying a home and with an income secured, one of the first things I want is to upgrade my 1998 Honda with a newer more comfortable model (that's within my budget and is more fuel efficient). I won't win any points with the minimalist out there with that one... but hey, you can't please everyone.

Taking stock of how we really feel about something can bring real relief. Sometimes we get stuck and lose our forward momentum because something we think we want isn't really what we want.

Maybe John was onto something when he said "..and the truth shall set you free".

Have you ever come to terms about something you thought you wanted but were really just following a trend?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

With small actions comes great reward

I'm a self-described city girl. I have always lived downtown or close to downtown on a main street in a vibrant area. I like the energy, diversity, culture and people watching that comes with a busy neighbourhood. I always found some form of motivation or inspiration in the changing scenery of my downtown corner coffee shop by the seawall. I could hang out there for hours just letting my mind wonder as runners ran, cyclist cycled and before I finished my first latte, I'd hear conversation in three different languages pass by. The noise from beeping crosswalks, trucks backing up, buses stopping, sirens or the inevitable "disagreement" between an otherwise (I'm sure) lovely couple outside my window at 3am was never something I considered changing. It was all part-and-parcle.

I also started riding horses around the age of 9 and since then have spent many days, nights and weekends in a barn in the country. I clean stalls, scrub buckets, toss hay bales, fix fencing, lift heavy equipment and haul hoses. And oh yeah, I can drive a pick up truck towing a horse trailer and park it anywhere you need it.

I love having that kind of diversity a part of me.

But I hung up my chaps in 2003 after a couple of years working with members of the Canadian Equestrian Team. I travelled with them all over eastern Canada in the summer and spent the winters showing/training in south Florida. It was the first job I ever had that I really loved. We worked like dogs everyday of the week, and even though my gas and rent (or hotel when on the road) was covered, I think I only made $350 a week. Good thing I never had any time to spend it.

At some point, I got worn out and run down. Even though this was a job I loved entirely, eventually I decided that it was time for me to leave Montreal and "get a real job". 

Fast forward eight years.

I recently brought horses back into my life. After Ironman and six weeks of travel, I found myself a bit passionless (momentarily). I thought about riding again but didn't know where to start. I didn't know anyone in the horse world anymore, I had no contacts or horse network to get me started. And without an income, I certainly didn't have a budget to just buy a horse of my own.

I googled "horse riding, Langley".

That's all it took to get me started. After that, I found the barn that had what I was looking for and as it turned out, the barn was looking for me too. I took a lesson with a woman who coincidentally was looking for someone to ride her horse over the winter while she's in California. I turned out to be that someone and now I'm riding a few times a week.

Having left the barn in 2003 and not really being back in the saddle since, I had no idea how much I had been missing it. I look forward to my time at the barn every week. I love the quiet of the country and smell of winter air. I love the paddocks filled with horses and how my horse whinnies when he recognizes my voice. I love the cold air and the freezing finger tips. I love the warm blankets I pile on my horse to make sure he's well kept when I'm gone. I love dumping the dirty water buckets and hauling the refilled fresh ones down the aisles (even when I end up wearing most of it). I love the sound of opening grain bags. I love coming home still smelling like hay and wood shavings.

Bringing horses back into my life very well could have been something that stayed on my "someday" list for a very long time had I not done a simple Google search. It was that tiny step that lead me to such great reward.

I don't think that the riding I'm doing now is going to be life changing (but who knows), but it got me thinking about small decisions I've made in the past that lead to huge monumental events.

Looking back, I can point out a few significant events that ended up being momentous turning points in my life. For me, leaving the horses and getting my first office job in Toronto was one. Deciding to move across Canada to Vancouver on my own was another. Quitting my job with a booming young software company without a new job secured. My experience with the Olympic games. Completing the Ironman.  My first marathon in Honolulu HI. All these things brought new opportunity and change the course of my life. Each one was incredibly difficult, scary or seemingly impossible at the time, but how different my life would be if I hadn't had the courage to make these decisions.

*Leaving the horses to come back to Toronto was the first huge decision I made on my own. I remember crying over it as I told my bosses that I was leaving. I had always loved that job and the people I worked for so I was sad to say goodbye, but that's not why I was so upset. The truth was that I was terrified that I didn't know what was coming next or that I was making the right move.*

What I love about these events, is that for the most part, I can remember the day, even the moment, I decided to make them happen. These are defining moments that in a blink, can change your life. The thing about defining moments is that they themselves are not the monumental event. They are tiny. They are daydreams and small actions.

It was a morning in Florida and I was cleaning a stall when I decided I'd had enough of the horse life. I was exhausted and I was standing ankle high in horse s*#t.

My Mom told me about her friend Rudy who was running his 4th half marathon in Iceland and I decided then that if he (at the age of 50) could do it, so could I. Shortly after, (with zero running experience) I registered for the Honolulu marathon.

I was on a bus going to Mt. Tremblant in Quebec for a ski weekend with friends, and the girl behind me was reading Triathlon Magazine. I spoke with her about my marathon and she told me she was training for the Ironman. I thought only professional athletes did the Ironman, but she was just a normal girl. Before I got off that bus, I had decided that I too, would complete the Ironman.

Every huge milestone or event in our lives starts with a defining moment. It's just a tiny little moment. But it must be followed with a small action that seals the deal. A phone call, a conversation with a stranger, a (course or race) registration or just a google search... It all starts somewhere.

If your goals or dreams or passions seem overwhelming and too big to digest today, that's ok. You don't have to run the marathon tomorrow, or pack your bags to move to Italy by the weekend, or be the CEO of your own company right now. But you must take action.

Everyday daydreams about the impossible fill our thoughts and opportunities cross our paths in droves. All we need to do is reach out and grab one!

What were some of the monumental events in your life? 
Do you remember the defining moment that started it all?

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do - John Wooden