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On Growth, Reflection & Adventure

Ever had a plan that didn’t quite turn out the way you’d imagined it would? Me too. In particular the last 18 months have unfolded in ways I did not plan or expect.

I’ve learned that sometimes, I don’t know what’s best. Sometimes, something else that I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams, wants to live, wants to be expressed. And if I allow it, and don’t fight it because it isn’t part of my plan, if I can open up even just a little, to the possibility of something other than my rigid plan, I am rewarded with the magic of truly living.

Here’s the somewhat condensed version:

On Growth, Part 1:
My husband James and I sold our house and decided to rent for a while. Not a bad idea except that we had a dog, Zoe our 14 year old golden retriever. LOVE that dog! Anyway, it turns out dogs are not quite as welcome in rental properties, especially by landlords and strata/condo boards. Who knew? We moved 5 times in 6 months, trying to find a place that would permit us to bring Zoe. Upsetting, unsettling and exhausting pretty much describes it.

One day, we were talking about how unsettled and unhappy we were feeling. During that conversation, we started focusing on and talking about what we would love instead. And from that, the idea to spend the winter in Mexico was born. We sold a car and bought a small SUV so we could take Zoe, built her a ramp so she didn’t have to jump, gave our notice and started packing everything back into storage.

On Growth Part 2:
As I’m sure you’ve experienced, sometimes life’s plan does not align with ours. Such was the case with Zoe going to Mexico because a week before we left, my beloved girl had a stroke. The decision to say good bye to her that day was not a difficult one because it was so clear that that was best for her. Learning to live without her by my side however, has been anything but easy. But I did learn, am still learning. But that’s life, isn’t it? We learn to adjust and adapt because the very nature of life is ever moving and marching forward.

On Growth & Reflection:
Hindsight is truly a wonderful thing. Looking back I know without a doubt that the timing of Zoe’s transition was perfect for both her and for us. Traveling meant we didn’t have constant reminders of her everywhere, which was a blessing. Our first stop was San Diego where we spent 5 weeks which I am so grateful to have had. I love the ocean and spent every moment I could with it; walking on the beach, sitting in the sand, hearing the roar of the waves and watching the sunlight dance. I cried and grieved and ached and mourned. And I started to let go and heal.

On Reflection & Adventure
Healing doesn’t happen overnight – at least it doesn’t for me. But I was reminded that interspersed with the pain and grief, its okay to laugh and and have fun. And being on an adventure like driving to Mexico was a great distraction, filled with new opportunities, people, food, sounds and experiences.

Other than our first week, we had no concrete plans for what we were going to do or where we would stay. Everything fell effortlessly and easily into place. It was almost serendipitous how we met the right people who either had the information we were looking for knew someone who did.

I continued working with clients and got a real taste of the laptop lifestyle, which I completely fell in love with.

We were gone a total of 5 months, almost to the day, arriving home with a new perspective, a new appreciation for where we live and filled with gratitude for the incredible people, experiences, love and generosity that were bestowed on us.

The magnitude of my being able to say yes to this idea, this opportunity, this gift, is not lost on me. Some days I would literally pinch myself; I’m doing work I love, getting paid, while on extended vacation. In Mexico!

This is actually my life ~ talk about living the dream!

The photo was taken on the beach in Nuevo Vallarta during a baby turtle release as part of Turtle Protection Program. You can see the babies making their way to the ocean. So cool!

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The Road Less Traveled

There’s a famous quote from an equally famous poem by Robert Frost titled ‘The Road Not Taken’. The quote is this:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I spent so much time in my life trying to fit in, to be the same. I thought being the same as everyone else would mean I was acceptable, approved of and ultimately, loved.

Growing up, I wasn’t particularly athletic, academic or technical so in school I didn’t fit into any of the typical categories. Nor did I fit in with the popular girls because I was shy, insecure and didn’t think I was pretty.

OMG the crazy things I’ve done in the name of seeking approval! From dramatic calorie reduced diets, bizarre hair colour (and styles) and wearing clothes that didn’t suit me, to agreeing with things I actually found offensive and laughing at jokes that made me cry on the inside.

As I grew up (I’m talking in my 20’s and even into my 30’s) I learned to make friends with what makes me different and eventually to even celebrate them.

As I’ve said before, it takes courage to be who you are; to be authentically you. And that’s why these lines in this poem speak volumes to me. How many of us actually have the courage, the willingness to be dis-approved of, to stay true to and honour ourselves and take the road less traveled?

I recently started following a beautiful and incredibly heart-centered young man by the name of Preston Smiles. Check him out here: www.prestonsmiles.com

I bring him up because I heard him say “… if the entire world was blind, who would you be trying to impress?”

So let me ask you… does feeling not good enough stop you in life? Take a moment and notice without judgement, if you:

  • do/say things to get validation
  • apologize without sincerity and when you don’t mean it
  • dress for other people
  • not say something out of fear/worry what others will think

If you do, ask yourself how this serves you.  Is it working for you?

Sometimes we actually outgrow the feelings of not being good enough, but the habits associated with the belief, stay. And it’s those habits (some of which are listed above) that keep us playing small.

If it’s not a habit, make a commitment to yourself to get support in releasing that belief. It may have served a purpose as a child by keeping you safe, but it no longer serves you and will prevent you from being and doing all you are capable of, and here for.

We all have the opportunity to take the road less traveled. It’s called Your Life and it’s designed for you and you alone. If you don’t take it, it remains untraveled and the world misses out.

When faced with something that scares you, recall Preston’s words and imagine the whole world is blind. There’s no one to impress.

Now go do that thing and spill your brilliance into the world.

xo

Jumping

It’s The Inner Work That Creates Outer Results

I’ve heard it said that the best personal development course is to start your own business.

Boy is that the truth!

There are phenomenal high’s, and incredible low’s. But life in general is like that, isn’t it? Whether you’re an entrepreneur carving out your own path, at home raising children or climbing the corporate ladder, life will challenge you.

Below are tips and suggestions my own mentor recently shared with me that can help when navigating the more turbulent times.

  • Stay focused on your dream and take consistent action towards it. Keep it in your field of vision by writing it out and posting it in places you frequent; your car, bathroom mirror, closet door. And take some kind of action towards it every day. The actions steps don’t have to be huge, but move forward every single day and the momentum will grow.
  • Notice if you are bored in either your business or life. What has become mundane? Where have things become business as usual ~ whether its an actual business or some other area of life? What can you do to inspire, excite and uplift yourself? Can you introduce something entirely different from your usual routine that brings you joy?
  • Practice asking better questions. Questions that keep moving you toward your dream, growing and igniting possibility instead of keeping you stuck and constricted. Ask how could this work, or, who can help? Get organized, get clear about what you can let go of and what is non-negotiable for you.
  • It isn’t necessary to know how everything is going to come together before hand. Just start; go back to step one and stay connected to your dream.
  • Allow yourself time to soul search. It takes courage to be authentically you. Give yourself time and space to become familiar with what makes you, you. What are your preferences, your style your idiosyncrasies and your dislikes?
  • You do not have to reach crisis mode, burnout, drama or anger in order to take time to nurture you. Learn to recognize when you are headed in that direction and choose something different. Hint: the better you know yourself, the faster you will catch yourself and make another choice.

Grant yourself permission to live your life by your design. Your life belongs to you. Nurture you, get to know who you are and bring that to the world. It’s why you are here.

xo

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For the Love of Chocolate

Today I’m talking chocolate!

Before we get too far into this, (if this seems a bit strange and in case you don’t know this about me),  in addition to being a transformational coach, I am also a raw food chef. Food is a huge passion of mine and every now and again I feel inspired to write about it. Like today, about chocolate.

Chocolate has long been one of my favourite things in life.

I recall as a child, being sent on my bike to the grocery store to pick up a couple items. While I don’t recall today what exactly was on that list, I’m 100% certain chocolate was not one of them. And yet it was the only thing I came back with (in a variety of forms) as I spent every dime my mother had given me, on chocolate.

Yes, my love affair with chocolate started at an early age and I’ve been seduced by it in one manner or another for most of my life.

So, can you image my utter joy and knee slapping happiness when I discovered that chocolate is good for us??

You must understand however, that I’m not referring to any old chocolate. I’m speaking about the original nectar of the gods, raw chocolate, also known  as Cacao.

You might at this point, be wondering what on earth chocolate has to do with coaching and the other heart-based topics I typically write about. This, in part, is why.

I am about living. Living a life that is fulfilling, joy-filled, happy, healthy, abundant and by design. Part of what brings me joy is really, great chocolate. Simple as that. When I taught raw food classes, I got a lot of questions (and still do) about chocolate, so I thought I would share some information here.

All chocolate is made from the raw cacao or cocoa bean. The bean is the seed of a fruit of an Amazonian tree named Theobroma Cacao, which translates to “food of the gods”.  And with good reason.

Cacao beans contain no sugar and actual allergies to chocolate (as in pure cacao or cacao powder) are quite rare. It is more likely the allergy is to the dairy and or chemicals associated with processed and heat treated, mass produced chocolate.

Raw chocolate contains:

  • magnesium – important mineral for muscles and nerves – especially the heart
  • iron – critical for healthy blood
  • chromium – a trace mineral that helps balance blood sugar
  • Phenethylamine (PEA) – an adrenal related chemical that’s produced when we fall in love
  • flavenols – antioxidant compounds that help your body produce nitric oxide which is essential for healthy heart function
  • vitamin C – an important antioxidant
  • omega 6 Fatty Acids – an essential fatty acid we must get from food
  • tryptophan – an essential amino acid
  • serotonin – the primary neurotransmitter in the body
  • antioxidants – cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food
  • manganese – helps to oxygenate the blood
  • zinc – involved in many enzymatic reactions in the body

This is not a complete list of the benefits of chocolate, but it covers a lot of the highlights – just in case you needed more reasons to eat it!

Please note, this is only true of raw cacao powder or raw chocolate.

So what does raw mean? It has not been heated, or pasteurized. Nearly all commercially prepared chocolate and chocolate products are heated/pasteurized. Pasteurization occurs at very high temperatures and kills most if not all the benefits listed above. Regular cocoa powder from the grocery store is pasteurized. If you want the health benefits of chocolate for you and your family, choose raw chocolate, which you can find in most health food stores.

xo

ps: If you really want to delve into raw chocolate, I highly recommend David Wolfe’s book, Naked Chocolate.

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Leaning In When Life Throw’s You A Curve

Have you ever been on a particular path in life, perhaps it was to do with your career or a relationship, or even your health, and something unexpected occured? That unexpected something can literally knock you on your butt and you’re left wondering what the hell happened and what to do next.

That is a “curve” and if you are a living, breathing being, you’ve likely encountered them. They are an inevitable part of life.

Knowing they are inevitable, the issue isn’t about avoiding them as much as it is learning to powerfully manage your reactions to them. It’s about who you are (or who you become) in the face of them, instead of having the situation dictate who you are.

It’s where you lean in instead of leaning away. Leaning away is akin to avoiding, denying and resisting. It may buy you a little time, but in the long run it serves nothing and no one, least of all you.

Your ability to lean in when something unexpected happens is directly connected to knowing who you are. The truth of who you are.

Having a deep connection to the truth of your being nourishes you on all levels. It fosters compassion for yourself and others, strength of mind and spirit and leads to a place of peace. All ways.

When you have this deep knowing of and for yourself, the fear based questions of how will I cope with….or, I don’t know what to do about…or, why is this happening to me… simply aren’t there.

Instead, you ask, where and from whom could I seek support…..or, is there something I need to learn about……or, what can I take away from this and where can I make a different choice next time?

You learn to ask better questions because at your core, the truth of who you are, isn’t tied to or affected by external events, people or circumstances.

I heard Dr. Wayne Dyer once say that when you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice because that’s whats inside. It’s the same with people. When we feel pressured or stressed, our reaction say’s a great deal about what we’re holding inside.

Do you feel anger, bitterness and frustration? Or do you react with curiosity, love and compassion?

Neither is right or wrong. The question is, does it serve you to be in one state more than another? If it feels better to come from a place of love and compassion, work towards embracing more of that.

Anger is fear in disguise. Inquire within; what am I afraid of? When you understand what the fear is about, it dissolves the anger and you are one step closer to your truth.

Leaning in is about who you are. The next time life throws you a curve, see if you can’t lean in, just a little more.

xo

 

photo credit: wwwironandair.tumblr.com

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What Yoga Taught Me About Trust

Have you ever noticed that life delivers lessons in the most unexpected ways?

I had a sudden insight into a way of being I’ve had my entire life, in a yoga class of all places!

As I was fidgeting about, trying to get comfortable in a particular pose, the instructor came around and stacked a few yoga blocks under my elbow for support. She gently took my arm, positioned it on the blocks and said, “now you can let go because your body will trust it has the support it needs”.

As I allowed the weight of my arm to be supported by the blocks, my entire body relaxed and I understood for the first time what yoga was about.

And suddenly I got it!

All this time I had believed that I didn’t have the right body for yoga; it was uncomfortable, I didn’t see any benefits and it ended up being a massive exercise in frustration.

Well this was an entirely new experience! I discovered that when I’m supported I can let go and trust the process.  All this time, I’ve had it backwards. I thought I had to first trust, get it right and THEN get the support.

I also learned that my not understanding or being challenged by something, does not mean I’m stupid, incapable or that anything is wrong.

It simply means I haven’t yet found a way that works with me and/or it isn’t an exact fit. But with a little tweaking or a different approach, it can work.

It’s kinda like purchasing a piece of clothing off the rack when it doesn’t fit exactly (but you love it so you buy it anyway). You can leave it in your closet and be annoyed and unhappy every time you look at it or wear it, or you can have it altered so it fits your body perfectly. You find another way.

The point is not to give up. Giving up is easy. It’s also why most of us take our dreams, ideas and ambitions to the grave instead of putting them in the world. We become victims to our fears, frustrations and lack of patience, and we give up.

What if we told ourselves something different? What if the fear, the frustration and the hard work doesn’t mean you aren’t meant for your dream? What if it means you’re almost there – keep at it. Or, you’re close, but not there just yet. Try again with a different approach.

What if you stopped relating to yourself as wrong, I can’t do this, or I don’t know how, and started relating to yourself as, I can do this? Or, okay, this didn’t exactly go as planned but what can I learn from what I did? Where could I do it differently?

Growing, learning and developing yourself is uncomfortable and challenging. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong.

So, as I learned in yoga, get support. Get support so that you can relax, let go and trust that there is a process at work and if you keep at it, you will absolutely find your way.

xo

Want to know if being supported can specifically help you? Connect with me on a free {private} call and find out.

Sign up here:  http://annlotwin.com/discovery-session/

 

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How To Become Successful By Mastering Your Fears

How many times have you had the best of intentions to do something; complete a project, return a phone call, meet a deadline? Only to have something or someone catch your attention, and bam!  Your focus is redirected and you’ve been de-railed.

Completing something, reaching a goal, or meeting a deadline takes focus and discipline. It also takes understanding. Understanding that even though it seems that the world occurs through our 5 senses, the truth is, it doesn’t. The world, (our perception of it), actually occurs through the filter of our 5 senses.

Our brain receives information via our senses, matches it up with belief’s and scans our memory for a similar situation so it can tell you how to respond.

So what’s this got to do with fear? Everything!

Your brain is hardwired to keep you safe. That’s it’s primary role and it is an expert fear detector. In our day to day life, most of our fear is from an internal source (our thinking) rather than an actual physical threat. The problem is our brain doesn’t know the difference so it still works to keep you safe, in subtle but powerful ways.

That’s why we load the dishwasher instead of making the phone call, walk the dog instead of responding to the email or end up on Facebook instead of writing the article.

It’s called resistance, but it’s really just another name for fear.

Everyone has fear. And most of it is based on some version of not being good enough; fear of not being approved of or accepted. When your brain registers apprehension or fear about anything, it calls in reinforcements to “save” you, which is where resistance comes in. But what your brain doesn’t know is that your spirit, your soul, knows better. It knows the difference between fearing for your life and moving through a perceived fear, and into your greatest life.

The degree to which you are successful is directly proportionate to the degree in which you allow your desire to be greater than your fear. Even if its only a fraction greater.

The only difference between you and someone you see as successful, is that their desire was slightly larger than their fear. They attached themselves or focused on the desire, not the fear.

There isn’t any magic formula that makes fear disappear. But understanding it goes a long way in managing it. If you do not learn to manage your fear it will manage you. Here are a few things that I’ve found helpful:

  • stop pretending you aren’t afraid and ask yourself: what am I resisting? Or why am I resisting doing X?
  • start from where you are; keep your focus in the present; what is the next step?
  • consider what you are getting out of being resistant and let it go
  • keep visible reminders of what fear really is: False Evidence Appearing Real.
  • work to eliminate “can’t and “don’t” from your vocabulary. Become aware when you are using these words and immediately change them to “can” and “will” or “do”.

Chunk it down into manageable pieces ~ what’s one thing you can do differently today? Can you replace a negative thought with a positive one? Do that – do what is before you, in this moment.

Fear or some version of it is the only thing between where you are and where you desire to be. Fear isn’t going anywhere. It’s a part of life, but the amount of space it takes up in your life is entirely up to you.

Master fear and you will master your life.

xo

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How To Be Fully In The Present Moment

Being in the flow, the ease and grace of life is effortless. Our creativity is engaged, we are happy, make good decisions quickly and easily, and enjoy a sense of ease.

Being in the flow is actually our natural state of being. It’s when our mind and body are relaxed; we feel positive, our hearts are open and our energy is aligned with nature.

So why aren’t we in the flow all the time? What takes us out of this natural state?

The short answer is we do. There are 2 states of being that we relate to the world from: the way things actually are and the way we want them to be. The latter is influenced by the media, social status, culture and our families. We learn to judge ourselves and the world based on what we are told, and we learn it so well that we do it unconsciously.

Being in the flow is about being in the present moment, without wanting or trying to make it anything other than what it is, in that moment.

It’s when we are fully present and accepting of what is, as it is.

According to Deepak Chopra, in the movement towards enlightenment, where you are is the point of arrival. That, is being in the flow.

There’s actually nowhere to get to; our point of arrival or destination, does not exist outside the present moment. But our belief’s may tell us otherwise and it’s our internal struggle with what is, versus the way we want it to be, that takes us out of the flow.

If you find yourself struggling, annoyed or down right pissed off, here are a few suggestions to get back on track.

  • Give yourself a break! This is not about perfectionism so allow yourself to feel aggravated or out of sorts.
  • Do something else; something you enjoy. Take a walk, have a massage, go out and grab a coffee. Something that gets you out of your current physical environment and moves energy. This step is especially important if you’re rushing to meet a deadline. It may feel like you don’t have the time to do this, but trying to force yourself back into the flow is akin to getting blood from a stone. Ain’t gonna happen!
  • Get reconnected with why you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing. What’s the bigger picture? This alone can often be enough to get you back in the flow and the creative juices flowing.
  • Go to gratitude. As quickly as you can, write out as many things you can think of that you are grateful for, for 1 minute. Read them aloud and say a heart felt thank you after each one.

Being in the flow is your natural, inherent way of being, and if you find it a struggle, its only because you’ve forgotten that. The grace and ease associated with being in the flow comes from a place of being, not doing.

Practice choosing grace and ease no matter what is happening around you. Release any and all perfection, overwhelm or force you may be experiencing and go back to step 1.

As Deepak reminds us, there’s really no where to get to. You are already here. Allow it to ebb and flow as it will and you will soon find yourself more in the flow, than out.

xo

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How To Find Your Voice And Your Confidence

One of the key ingredient in implementing lasting change in anything, is confidence. Confidence stems from 2 key places:

  1. knowing who you are and
  2. having knowledge/skills/education about your particular line of work or zone of genius.

So what do I mean by knowing who you are? This can seem like a redundant point, but being clear about who you are is key in your being confident and ultimately successful.

Knowing who you are refers to having clear boundaries for yourself and others, your ability to make decisions and choices for yourself without allowing what others think to stop you, and your willingness to share an opinion or thought, especially when it differs from the majority.

It’s really about knowing what is true for you and giving it a voice.

The other aspect refers to having (or acquiring) the necessary expertise so you are accomplished in your chosen field. Education coupled with knowing who you are develops confidence.

So what do you do if you have the education but lack the confidence to go after what you want?

You build it. Confidence is a skill like anything else and anyone can develop it.

There are several steps to building confidence but the main one is repetition. Like anything new, to develop it you must practice it.  Repetition is key.

This is where most of us get caught because self confidence is an inside job. Say you are learning to play piano. Practicing the piano is easy – you just sit down at a piano and practice. How do you practice confidence?

  • Create a zero tolerance policy for negative self talk. Pay attention to how you speak to yourself, noticing how much negative self talk you engage in. Make a pact to only speak to yourself with love and respect. And don’t break it!
  • Create a positive mantra for and put it in several places so you see it every day. Repeat it each morning out loud before getting out of bed and again before sleeping. Put it on a sticky note in your car, on your bathroom mirror and say it often.
  • Avoid negativity of any kind (especially complaining). Surround yourself only with people that believe in you and provide positive, helpful feedback.
  • Write a letter to yourself when you are feeling happy and confident. Praise yourself for your accomplishments, goals and what you’ve created so far, in your life. Pull it out and read it when you are feeling down and less than confident to remind yourself of your strengths, abilities and who you are.
  • Make time to learn about you: what are your preferences, likes and dislikes? Honour them.

Confidence tells other people how you feel about yourself. It demonstrates leadership, promotes positive thinking in yourself and others and it attracts people to you.

It is directly linked to your faith in yourself and it is critical to your success . If you don’t believe in you, no one else will either.

Learn to tune out the critics on the outside but more importantly, tune out your own inner critic. Know who you are and grow your confidence.

It is key to living the live you’re here to live.

xo

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Learn How To Recognize What You Desire

What does love inspire you to do?

I have done some crazy and questionable things in the name of love. Things that at the time seemed like such a good idea and under love’s spell, they even felt brilliant.

And then time passes. It might be a few days or a few decades, but at some point, in looking back at my brilliant ideas I cringe and think OMG! What was I thinking?!

Do you have a similar story? If so, you are not alone!

At an early age, our desire for love and acceptance is linked to our desire to learn and understand who we are. It drives us forward in search of experiences and people that will bring us clarity.

That desire is as fundamental and primal as our need to eat and sleep.

To know who we are, we must look inward. But most of us don’t. We are taught to look out. And so we develop a sense of ourselves based on what our community and the world deems acceptable, praiseworthy and loveable.

We learn to adopt ways of being and attitudes that we think will grant us acceptance and love.

Developing a strong sense of self is one of if not the greatest foundational pieces we can ever develop. It is from this place, for both ourselves and others that we establish boundaries, preferences and respect. We become familiar with the truth of who we are.

Your sense of self or lack thereof affects everything.

The ironic thing is that as babies, we have it; we are abundantly clear when we want to eat, sleep or be held. There is no question about when we are happy and when we aren’t and we aren’t in the least concerned about whether or not it’s appropriate.

That’s the good news. We actually innately know what we desire and who we are, even as an infant. Our work as an adult, is to reconnect with that from within, from our inner place that already knows.

So where do you begin? One of the best way’s I’ve discovered is to pay attention to how you make decisions.

Not long ago I couldn’t make a decision to save my life. And that included what clothes to buy (what if my husband didn’t like it?), what to make for dinner (what if so and so doesn’t eat fish?) or whether to buy plain white dishes or patterned ones. It was exhausting! My days were spent second guessing myself and trying to anticipate everything for everybody.

I started to control and micromanage everything and everyone around me. All because I didn’t trust myself.

Trust stems from knowing who you are. I had very little sense of self so I didn’t trust myself to make decisions and choices that were good for me.

If you have difficulty making decisions or are in the habit of asking for outside opinions/advice, I have a challenge for you:

For one week, refrain from asking anyone else for their opinion or input ~ about anything!

Taking this on accomplishes 2 things: 1) it brings awareness to just how often you seek outside opinions (aka approval) and 2) you begin to recognize what you desire,  which leads to you actually trusting that you do know what’s best for you!

Now that’s inspiring!

xo