Just One Wrong Choice

I’m afraid of a lot of things.

I’m afraid of failure.  Afraid of a blank page, afraid of saying too much.  I’m afraid of being alone and afraid of not having enough space of my own.  I’m afraid I’ll never have it all, waste too much time, and I’m also afraid that I’m working too hard and not enjoying life enough.

Sometimes I’ve been afraid of making the wrong decision, so I didn’t make any decision at all.  Sometimes I made too many small decisions, trying to please everyone, and I missed out on what was really important for me.  I’m sure you can relate.

Our days are filled with tiny opportunities that can scare the life out of us.  Everything requires us to make choices – and what if we make the wrong ones?  We need to choose which phone calls to return, which connections to pursue.  We need to choose what outfit to wear to give off the right impression, heck, we need to choose what impression we want to give off.  We need to choose our cell phone carriers, our accessories, our best route to get there and which magazines to read on the way.  We have so many tiny choices, and every one of them seems inordinately important.

Just one wrong choice and everything could be ruined.

The problem is, most of these choices really don’t matter in the long run, and so long as we’re focussed on them, chances are that we’re missing out on the choices that do matter.  The choices that could make us fail.  The choices we don’t even realise that we’re making.

Like this morning when I made the choice to write a blog on this topic instead of another one.  Or yesterday, when I chose to make contact with a small group of important people who I respect and admire, choosing to ignore my fears of rejection and push for my goals.  These are important choices, which are easy to ignore or put off until we feel ready for them, and our handling of them can greatly impact our lives.  But there are more potentially damaging choices than these, even, lurking in the shadows.

There are choices we don’t know we’ve made. 

Choices like staying late at work every night, losing touch with the people we care about and the activities we used to do which made us happy.  Choices like ignoring our health, giving in to unhealthy lifestyles, or pushing ourselves further than our bodies feel comfortable with.  Choices like waiting too long to make a move. These choices are not active, but passive, and so do not feel like choices at all.  These are the things we choose not to deal with, and are typically the ones which bring us down most powerfully.

We must stay aware.  We must recognise the power that we hold to make or to not make choices in our lives.  When it comes down to it, choices can be terrifying to have to make, but not making them can be much, much worse.

Creatively Yours,

Today I Am Marrying My Best Friend

Opening Words and Greeting

We are gathered here today to celebrate one of the happiest moments in the life of Grant and Aleisha, for on this day they will affirm before us their desire to commit to one another through the vows of marriage. As we gather, Grant and Aleisha ask for your blessing, encouragement and life long support. They are delighted that you have chosen to witness this special part of their lives. Aleisha and Grant not only want their relationship with each of you to continue as individuals, but to take on an even more important dimension as a family as well, that their home may be a place of happiness and comfort. To this moment they bring the dreams that bind them together. They bring particular personality and spirit that is uniquely their own, and out of which will grow the reality of their life together. We rejoice in this outward symbol of their inner union, a union created by friendship, respect and love.

Legal Admonition

Aleisha and Grant, by your presence here today you express your willingness to enter into marriage with one another. If any person can show just and sufficient reason as to why these persons may not be joined in matrimony, let them now declare reasons, or else from this time forward, keep their peace.

Address to the Gathering

For Aleisha and Grant this is a special moment in the development of their relationship. Through their love for one another, their lives have become richer and fuller and they are both made stronger. Having found one another and established their relationship, they have come here to sanctify it and give it special significance by celebrating it here with you in this place.

Charge to the Couple

Grant and Aleisha, love is something beyond the warmth and glow, the excitement and romance of being deeply in love. It is caring as much about the welfare and happiness of your marriage partner as about your own. Real love, however, is not total absorption into each other; rather, it is looking outward in the same direction together. For love makes burdens lighter because you divide them. It makes joys more intense because you share them. May you trust each other, trust life and be unafraid. May you love each other and offer love and support to those around you.

Question of Intention / Question to the Bride and Groom

The decision to marry requires tremendous trust; trust in yourselves as individuals, and in the strength of your relationship, trust that you will be able, in your marriage, to deal with whatever the future may hold, for you each have become a part of the other’s world, heart and life. And so I ask you:

Grant, do you give yourself to Aleisha to be her husband? Do you promise to love Aleisha without limit, to trust in her love for you, and to nurture your love as it grows through the years? Do you promise to dream and make plans together, to learn and discover together, and to always show Aleisha how much she is loved by you? Grant: I do.

Aleisha, do you give yourself to Grant to be his wife? Do you promise to love Grant without limit, to trust in his love for you, and to nurture your love as it grows through the years? Do you promise to dream and make plans together, to learn and discover together, and to always show Grant how much he is loved by you? Aleisha: I do.

Affirmation of the Parents, Families & Friends

Ladies and gentlemen, would you please stand?

Aleisha and Grant have invited you here because they desire your support and encouragement.

Will you as family and friends do everything in your power to support Grant and Aleisha in their marriage?

If so respond loudly, saying, “So say we all!”

Exchange of Vows

Grant: Aleisha, every special moment in my life, every passionate victory and rare defeat, I have wanted to share with you. All the plans I’ve ever made, whether we were together or not, had you in them. You’re the person I want to share every great moment with. You’re the answer to every question. You’re the person I want to share my world with. 

It may never be perfect. But the things that are wrong, I’m willing to spend my life fixing together. Our problems are the problems I want to have. I have always been drawn to you. My life is better with you, and I am better with you. In you, I’ve found someone equally passionate to myself, and equally willing to nurture my passions. And I want that passion: even if it’s harder. Because in you, I have found my soul mate.

No matter what comes, I will be here. I will nurture your dreams; protect you; comfort you and share every good and bad moment. No matter what the years ahead bring, I will only live my days for you. Now and forever, you will be my greatest love.

Aleisha: Grant, when I first met you, I was struck by how it seemed that when I looked into your eyes, I could see the stars.  That when you spoke to me, every word had passion and purpose, and when I spoke you listened with your whole heart. 

When I first met you, I found in you the part of me that I hadn’t yet discovered.  Through the years – the many, many years – that we have known each other, you have been so many things to me.  You have been my shoulder to lean on, my co-conspirator, my one true love, and my best friend. 

I promise you today that in the many, many years to come, it won’t always be easy – that would be no fun.  I promise you that I will embrace every opportunity to learn with you, to dream with you, and to share with you in the most difficult and the most blissful of times.  I promise you that the challenges we face will always be important ones, the kind that make us stronger and more beautiful people. I promise to laugh with you and cry with you; to create with you a life of passion and purpose. I promise that my arms will always be a safe place for you.  I promise you my heart, knowing that you could break it, but trusting that you will not.  Now and forever, you will be my greatest love.

Words over the Rings

These rings in their unbroken wholeness are tokens of your union and of your love. They are symbols of the enduring trust and affection that you bring to one another. May they always remind you that your lives are bound together by dedication and faithfulness.

The Exchange of Rings

With this ring, I join my life with yours.

Aleisha / Grant, you have my heart this moment and always.

The Declaration of Marriage

May these two find in each other, the love for which all long. May they grow in understanding and in compassion. May the home that they establish be such a place of sanctuary that all will find there a friend. And may these two rings symbolize the spirit of undying love in the hearts of both of them. Grant and Aleisha, it is with the greatest of pleasure that I now pronounce you husband and wife.

The Embrace

Grant, you may kiss your bride.

Blessing

May you be generous and giving with each other.

May you work together to build a relationship of substance and quality.

May the honesty of your communication build a foundation of understanding, connection and trust.

May you respect each other’s individual personality and philosophy, and give each other room to grow and fulfill each other’s dreams.

May your sense of humour and playful spirit continue to enliven your relationship.

May you be “best friends,” better together than either of you are apart.

May your life together bring you both fulfilment and much happiness.

Signing of the Register

Hoisting of the Marriage Flag

Aleisha and Grant, today you have pledged yourselves to a relationship of caring for one another in mutually fulfilling ways. May your togetherness always bring you joy and comfort, and may your uniqueness continue to challenge you to live life with passion. We raise this flag in honour of your commitment here today.

Introduction of the Couple

I now present to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Grant and Aleisha Bonin.

Let us congratulate them on their marriage!

I Love This Time of Year

Throughout most of the world’s cultures and religions, this season is a time for celebration of the power of creation and perpetuation.

Passover is a celebration marking the story of Exodus, whereby the Israelites where emancipated from slavery in ancient Egypt.  In Christianity, Easter celebrates the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, a sacrifice to ensure humanity’s salvation.  Ancient Germans celebrated Ostara, the Germainic Fertility Goddess who became impregnated by the solar god, hoping to ensure crop fertility.  The BAHÃ’Ã faith celebrate New Years in accordance with the equinox.  Wiccans celebrate the balance and equilibrium of the equinox, in preparation of the new season for growth and birth.

Regardless of what your personal beliefs may be, the themes are universal.

Rebirth.  Renewal.  Freedom from oppression. 

This time of year is an opportunity to remember that change is not only possible, but it is inevitable.  The long cold of winter will bring rise to rain and storms, which will in turn help to nourish the flowers and grasses and ~ most importantly ~ our moods.

Another day will come for each of us; one that is filled with hope, love, support and possibilities.  We will be renewed.  This change ~ even if you don’t see it, or actively engage it ~ will happen.  What we must endeavor to do is consciously seek it out.  Embrace it.  Recognize that there are small, nuanced changes as well as large, unequivocal changes that could alter the course of your life.

As the season passes, we must strive to remember that we are always capable of growth, even when it seems that we are surrounded by death or decay.  In fact, it is through enduring these hardships that we are able to build character and conviction in our dreams ~ qualities which are most necessary in propelling us forward toward success. 

So embrace the rain.  Dance in it with me, and inhale the sweet aroma of earth because it is from that very dirt that your posies will bloom.

I love this time of year ~ not because it’s beautiful, but because it reminds me that life can be. 

Creatively Yours,

Self Important Gibberish Nonsense

As you may have noticed, things have been a little quiet around here lately.  I worked really hard on creating a new post last weekend, but nothing came out.  I wanted to give my followers ~ you ~ something special.  I wanted not to let you down.

The problem was, things were rather difficult for me last week.  I won’t go into details, but save to say, things snowballed quickly and left me skidding along the ice face forward.

I was feeling so much so quickly, but none of it belonged here.  Still, I tried so hard to create something worth sharing with you.  I stayed up late, when I should have been resting.  I stole away moments when I should have been focussed elsewhere.  I kept on pushing myself, but the harder I tried nothing useful would emerge from my scattered jottings.

Of course, this just added to my stress.  It hung around my neck as a giant disappointment, a personal failing I would never be able to diminish.

And still, I didn’t create anything.

In fact, my writing got worse.  I scribbled trite messages around a theme that felt so deeply important that it practically screamed “Self Important Gibberish Nonsense!”

I felt awful.  In fact, it wasn’t until today, just now, that I finally realised something and began to write.

I realised that the best thing I could give to you was nothing.  It was true for so many reasons!

First: everything I was writing was terrible. 

Seriously.  It was bad.

Second: I wasn’t taking care of me. 

I was pushing myself to do something inauthentic in order to fulfil my own need for perfection and worth.  I was trying to write something important, something about the experiences I was having but without being able to reveal its circumstance.  I was writing a message which could have been true had only it come from me and not my fear of letting you down.

I tell my clients all the time that they need to first and foremost care for themselves before they can ever hope to help another or make any outside positive changes, but I was ignoring that myself.

The truth was I needed a break.

I’m sharing this with you now, knowing that in doing so, I am leaving myself vulnerable.

I am sharing this with you now, knowing that those of you who are reading this might do the same someday.

It can be terrifying to let your guard down, knowing that others might judge you, but it is even more terrifying, I believe, to live a life behind a wall, never allowing others the opportunity to not judge you.

Creatively Yours,

Wake Up and Do Something

I am so tired today.

I couldn’t sleep last night and then was woken up very early this morning. I tried to go back to bed, but I couldn’t get comfortable. So, in zombie mode, I trudged out of bed and into the kitchen to make some coffee. I went for a walk but then crawled back into bed. I was restless. I got up again, but I felt like I couldn’t function, either.

I knew that I needed to wake up and just do something – anything – productive. I have a million and one things on my to-do list today, and while I recognise that populating my to-do list with a million and one things isn’t the greatest idea in goal fulfilment, we all know that sometimes that’s just the way it is. I needed to get myself motivated, to start my busy day already. The trick was to figure out how.

I’ve drank far more coffee already this morning than my doctor would recommend I consume all week. I’ve showered, I’ve eaten, I’ve gone for a walk, and still I just want to curl up in bed and sleep away the day.

I know you understand where I’m coming from here. I’m certain many of you are feeling exactly as I do right now at this very second.

Some of you might have braved the day and gone in to work, sorting through old emails and accepting all coffee offerings and hiding behind a plant on your desk. Some of you may have had no choice, and were awoken by your wonderful, smiling, youthful children – or your hyper-but-adorable Pomeranian – with a demand to go outside and play. Some of you might have fought the snooze and then were magically awoken on your sleepy ride into work and now you’re in the middle of some spectacular discovery (though I can’t see why you’d be reading this post right now if you were . . . get back to work! Quickly! CREATE!)

In your own way, each of you is finding some way to wake up and face your life.

Except those of you who aren’t.

Some of you may have succumbed to the desire for snooze and are cuddled up in bed with your laptop and a warm mug of tea, or some of you might be lounging out in the backyard with your e-reader and a big floppy hat. Some of you might still be sleeping in and don’t even know that I’m talking about you yet. (You know who you are.) I’d like to say shame on you.

I’d like to say that, because that’s what jealous people say, but the truth is, those of you who have chosen to take a “Me Day” have got it all figured out. You’re listening to your own needs, nurturing your body’s craving for rest and rejuvenation. You are doing exactly what all of us – given the luxury – should do.

Until you’re not.

See, the problem with following your stay in bed bliss is that it gets addictive, and once you’re snuggled deep within the cozy quarters of your duvet, it’s too late for you to realise this. You’re closer to the other side. All you want to do is sleep.

So be sure to indulge in yourself (just this once) and then be sure to indulge in your life. Amazing things await those who brave the day – be sure that you’re ready for your fantastic life both by being there and by being aware.

As for me, writing this has been my indulgence. Taking the time to thoughtfully and expressively put into words my feelings and experiences never fails to get me going and today has been no different. I will step forward bravely into my day (though just for safe measures I’ll have one more coffee on my way. It’s all about listening to what our bodies are telling us, right? My body says MOCHA!)

Sleep Well.    Live Well.    Be Well.

Creatively Yours,

Your Way

Resolutions, I’ve had a few.

“But then again, too few to mention.

I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption.

I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway.

And more, much more than this, I did it my way.”

It seems that I have always been aware that what was most important in life was to pursue what made me happy, what I loved, what felt right.

Growing up, I was supported in discovering who I was and what made me special and why, and so my life has always been about following my own path instead of trying to achieve what others might call success.

 “Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew

When I bit off more than I could chew.

But through it all, when there was doubt

I ate it up and spit it out.

I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way.”

Now that I am older, now that I have had the chance to make career choices and life decisions and oh, so many mistakes, what drives me in life is to help others to do the same for themselves; to inspire individuals to pursue what makes them happy, fulfilled and unique.

While it can be a treacherous journey (filled with choices and decisions and oh, so many mistakes!), I truly feel that it is the only way to ensure a life well-lived, as not only are you following your own true bliss, but in doing so, you also ensure that you become one of those remarkable people who impact the rest of the world around them in a positive way.

“For what is a man, what has he got?

If not himself, then he has naught.

To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels.

The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!

Yes, it was my way.” 

 Happy New Years to you ~ may you always do it your way.

Creatively Yours,

Occupy Your Life

What are the Occupy protests really about and what are they doing to create change?

The protests seem to be a response to a long-building slow boil of individual feelings of inequality which have become a part of a more communal consensus.  These feelings while generalised, are in response to larger activities such as those performed by Governments, which seem to favour those who are more successful, larger, richer, well-connected, and so on.  They are targeted at the “1%”.

The people who are dedicating their time to these movements, who have self-identified as the “99%”, apparently representing the feelings and needs of all of us “everyday folk”, feel that while they represent a group which is the majority, they are not being treated with equality.

The protests are doing their job, in a sense, arousing awareness of the fact that many people are unhappy with their current lot in life, and are willing to do something – drastic, even – about it.  However, the movements and their protests are so vague and large that they are not able to effectively create any change.

Perhaps that is okay, if only those protesting could acknowledge the role these demonstrations are playing and work with that rather than to force the protests into a greater role of affecting real, specific change.

This first step is useful in that it signals to others that efforts are going to be made to affect change.  Just as in our own individual pursuits of positive change, the next reasonable step should be to create sub groups for each of the specific problems or complaints and work toward specific actionable goals within each of those groups, utilising the passions and powers of those people directly involved in the campaigns.  In this way, some groups might begin to see ways in which to affect change, and some changes might actually be made.

However, as things stand currently, the large super groups are beginning to seem disorganised, immature and confused, and no changes are being made because no actionable requests are being made and no real discussions are being had.  Instead, this potentially powerful movement has done nothing more than confuse and disappoint the protestors and confuse and infuriate the protested upon.

And nothing positive is happening.  Both groups are becoming more exasperated with one another, further decreasing the odds that anything productive will come of all this.

What we must do instead is not to Occupy Wall Street, or to Occupy Toronto or to Occupy any place.  What we must do is Occupy Our Lives.

We must be fully present in all of our actions, choices and activities.  We must make conscious choices about the things we will buy, the systems we will support, the objections or affirmations we make, the politicians we vote for, the activities we engage in.  Large protests might make a fuss, but small actions made by everyone can and will make a difference.

As the majority, it was our voices, our choices and our actions which got us to this breaking point in the first place. Or, perhaps, for many of us, it was our silence, our absence or our inaction which got us here. How many of us can truthfully say that we are satisfied with our own levels of engagement in our own lives, communities and cities?  If we are the 99%, we had better start acting like it and take in the full power of this opportunity to create positive change and not just continue to be positively powerless.

Creatively Yours,