Helping Women Regain Power

Helping Women Regain Power

I was inspired to write this post after reading an excerpt from the Bloomberg Report that stated just two women were among this year’s 14 Nobel prize winners.

This is yet another example of how women remain underrepresented in the world’s most prestigious science awards, noting the lack of diversity in achievement status.

Last Thanksgiving I has the opportunity to split the day between spending time with my mother and my mother-in-law, who despite their ages are still so active in mind and body. I have the utmost respect for these women.

Neither of them had the opportunity to climb the corporate ladder as we now have as women in our generation, but they certainly embraced their power through womanhood; that is, caring for their families with incredible dedication. They gave up their own passions just to be a mother to their children and supportive wife to their partners.

I can honestly say that when it came time for me to make a statement to the world at 18, I wanted to feel empowered differently. Possibly because I did not see my mother as being fulfilled or joyful. I had the yearning to do it more and placed much of my energy into my career.

Looking back now, I see how this was a constant struggle for me. I would get disappointed constantly.

I should be earning more at this stage in my career

I should be spending more time with my kids, friends, or family.

I should look or dress differently.

I should be happier in my marriage.

I should be all of these things, but I felt like I was failing at everything.

It is our time to ask ourselves the basic fundamental question:

What do we truly desire in life?

And then focus intently on that while being incredibly grateful for what we have at this moment in time.

Remember that being grateful for what you have means owning your actions and decisions. This requires having healthy boundaries with yourself and others so you own the action you decide to take instead of feeling pushed left and right to do things throughout the day based, on what others expect from you.

Find out what makes you feel powerful and stand out in the world and claim it now. It might be your womanhood as a mother, or it may be an entrepreneur or a CEO in your career and then coming home to your family at the end of the day happily and joyfully, without disappointment doing so.

You can have both in this world. As a woman, you can leave your legacy in any of these ways and still have the peace and fulfillment you crave while doing so.

Please connect with me if any of you have felt this.

What Losing Yourself as a Woman Means to Me

What Losing Yourself as a Woman Means to Me

I believe most women can relate to a time when they lost the essence of who they are or what they stand for due to their external situation.

We begin to struggle and doubt ourselves and allow for the separation to continue; the division within ourselves.

We move away from the feminine part of ourselves (feeling into the emotion) and step into ‘doing’ something about it. That may show up as working harder at your career, getting more ‘steps’ in the day and spending more time in the gym for the body transformation, or taking over more chores in the house and being more of a mom.

What we don’t realize in all our ‘doing’ is that we distract ourselves from our feelings. For women, feeling is the secret sauce that we can claim as our power. It is what makes us magical and the likeness of a sorceress. Do not shy away from your feelings. Embrace them, and allow your feelings to walk beside you momentarily until you are ready to leave them behind. They bubble up for a reason, do not suppress them by your ‘doing’.

Yes, it does mean that we tend to hurt on a deeper level but this also means we are allowed to claim the highs with such exhilarant joy.

So, honour the times when you are deeply hurt and realize that your body senses that for a reason. It was nudging you to get in touch with yourself. Who am I? What do I stand for? What are my values? Do not coalesce and accept what is happening right before your eyes. This might mean having hard conversations with your partner and tapping into your values. You are not only doing it for yourself, but for everyone around you, including your friends, family and your children.

If you feel it, it is for a reason. Trust in it. Have faith in it.

Emotional Affair

Emotional Affair

Many of us would love to call ourselves trustworthy, but are we? And do we trust our partners? Do we even trust ourselves?

What if we find ourselves one day discovering that we have stepped into the chasm of betrayal by our partner. Now what? Would it be a deal breaker for you? Was it a deal breaker for you?

In my experience as a coach, I have seen couples’ relationships dissipate quickly – because betrayal was a deal breaker for them. However, 90% of my couples remained together.

There is no proven coaching formula to follow because, to be honest, it really depends on the individual/couple. For some, it gave them permission to end an already terrible relationship, but for many others, it is devastating because it shattered their reality.

The big question asked is always “Why? How could you do this?”. And the common answer is “ I don’t know”. I hear this answer constantly, which just injects more frustration into the situation.

Being trained in the Gottman Method of Couple Counselling has definitely helped me in my coaching practice, as the couple is taken through a series of steps to repair and regain trust. However, to me, it simply reiterates the need for each person in any given relationship to own their worth and identify as an individual, not solely as a couple.

Your happiness does not rely on your partner. You must always remember this no matter what stage of your relationship.

Because of this, I feel the more mature the relationship, the stronger the staying power to work on the relationship. In the newer relationships (~8 years or less) the quicker the relationship ends. I understand the newer couples have ‘less skin in the game’, meaning they may or may not have children at this point, or the time to prove their love for one another.

I have coached many couples through these hard times and the ability to trust once again is extremely difficult, despite truly wanting the relationship to work and deeply loving their partner. As mentioned above, for some it is a deal breaker. They know themselves well enough to realize they will never be able to trust this person again. This is where the real work lies; reconnecting with yourself and engaging on a personal journey of emotional growth and evolution.

I particularly remember one couple I worked with; the woman had ‘trust issues’ prior to stepping into her current marriage. Because she hadn’t done the deep emotional work on herself to trust another person again, she found herself in a second marriage with a husband who had an emotional affair. Rather than me ‘fixing her husband”, I worked with her. I helped her build herself up to choose to make the right choice, mainly by ridding the old paradigms of what she once believed of herself, which is always done in pillar 1. I helped her to reconnect with herself on many different levels in a way that she eventually started to honour herself once again and discover her own values. When her husband began to see her strength, he was more connected and committed to her.

I hope that none of you ever had their hearts broken because of betrayal. However, if you have please let me know if I can help.

I Start to Spiral

I Start to Spiral

I hear the following often: ‘ and then I start to spiral’.

In summary, women are telling me that they find themselves in a helpless and uncontrollable position. They tell me their mind takes over and thus so do their behaviours. The behaviours that follow are not favoured. Examples may be texting a person you do not want to text, yelling at your children, or emotional eating – just to name a few.

The cause of this ‘lack of control’ is simple. They have created a thought loop that stems from the subconscious.

I am not going to go deep into the psychology of the minds (conscious, subconscious, and superconscious) but just know that there are many stored memories in the subconscious, likely from childhood.

In step 1 of my transformational program, we look at these stored thoughts that continually cycle through the mind, which then become beliefs. We must realize that the more awareness we place on the thought, the more we believe it is true and the more it manifests into our reality.

In step 2 of the program, we train our mind to focus our awareness on other areas of the mind that contain a higher frequency of happiness, peace, and joy. By focusing on these energies more often, we begin to rewire the mind and our behaviour changes.

I can think of a few women in my program who, while in a new relationship, spoke of how they ‘spiralled down’ quickly because of their partner’s behaviour and their patterned thoughts related to low self-worth. We used the power of awareness (being conscious of the thoughts and beliefs about themselves in the moment of hurt) and thus quickly shifted their awareness to the higher energies in their minds. After weeks and months of practising this, they realized that it is indeed possible to re-engineer their thought patterns. Soon they did not allow their energy to drop suddenly based on a simple comment or behaviour from someone near to them. They realize they can preserve and covet their happiness at any given moment IF they became aware in the moment.

Step 3 of the program is focused on repetition. When we notice that our awareness is shifting to old patterns of thoughts and emotions that carry low energies (frustration, guilt, shame, jealousy, or self-judgement) we shift our awareness to thoughts of higher frequency energy (joy, love, harmony, peace, divinity) and our energy and behaviours consequently shift. We essentially are rebirthed and transformed. This transformational process becomes life-changing for these women.

The next time you find yourself ‘spiralling’ please refer to this post. If I can help you to free yourself from unwanted behaviours or break free from an unhappy relationship into a relationship that celebrates you and your authenticity, feel free to contact me.


My Trip to Europe

My Trip to Europe

I recently travelled to Europe, and if hearing about that sounds like something you’d be interested in, read on. I’ll tell you about the many highs and a handful of lows. If you don’t have time to read but are still interested, check out episode 25 of my podcast, I Think I Can.

Let’s just begin with the fact that I can get on a plane again and go across to Europe is something to celebrate. I began my travels in Italy – Tuscany, to be specific. I am not quite sure why I am so fond of Italy. My father is from the Netherlands, so you might think that I would be in love with Holland, but I actually prefer Italy. I was introduced to Europe at the age of 14 when I travelled with my sister to visit our Dutch cousins. I spent a good part of my summer there and had a wonderful time. Thinking back now, it was incredibly generous of our parents to send us abroad, not just in terms of the financial cost, but also because my sister and I helped out a lot at home. We lived on a farm and had two younger brothers who needed looking after, so, as you can imagine, there was always plenty of work for us to do.

As the daughter of a Dutch immigrant, I grew up surrounded by European culture. We often had relatives visiting from overseas, and thanks to them and my father I was immersed in the Dutch language. I loved hearing my parents’ stories about travelling abroad. And, of course, there were my own trips. I was 18 years old when I had a chance to visit Europe again, this time with my parents and a few siblings. We went to see my eldest brother, John, who was posted in Rome with the Canadian Foreign Service. Then, when I was 22 years old, I had the opportunity to work and live in Brussels, Belgium. Finally, when I was 30, I went to Europe with my husband, visiting Italy, The Netherlands, Hungary, and Poland.

This year, I returned to Europe for the first time in almost 22 years travelling alone. What sparked this journey? In part, it was the fact that COVID restrictions were finally ending, and I had the freedom to fly again. Many restrictions have been loosened, and the only time I needed to wear a mask was while in transit (on a plane, metro, train, metro, or bus) I also wanted to visit my brother. He’s retired from the Foreign Service now and has purchased land in the province of Arezzo, Tuscany. I was one of the few remaining siblings that had not yet seen his place. So, that was a big draw as well.

So why did I chose to travel alone?

There are a few reasons. One is that when you enter the second season of your life, something weird happens to you. You realize that life is passing you by and if you don’t start doing the things you have talked about doing, all those dreams and longings that you’ve been holding onto may not happen. I did consider going to Italy later in the year, when my husband would be able to join me, but after such a horrible winter in Manitoba I just couldn’t wait any longer. As well, something that I have on my radar is that eventually I’d like to be able to winter away from Manitoba. Thus, I need to start some early scoping out of different places that I could call my second home. Tuscany seemed to be a good one to add to that list.

I was also haunted by the idea of challenging myself. I knew my life had become too routine, too easy, and lacking the excitement it had in my youth. I hadn’t travelled alone for at least five years and, honestly, the idea of going to Europe by myself and navigating everything in a foreign language kind of scared me.. But as mentioned, my life was in somewhat in a rut. It was Groundhog Day every day – wash, rinse, repeat. I needed to bust out of the cycle, because I knew from experience that it leads to a dead end. I needed a change. I wanted to become a kid again and walk around gazing in awe at everything around me. And that’s exactly what I did.

I spent almost seven days in Tuscany with my brother and his partner. I was spoiled with beautiful walks, beautiful sunsets, fresh delicious food that awoke my taste buds from the boredom of my usual diet. My alarm clock every morning was birdsong. I heard a nightingale sing; I think for the first time in my life. I also met my brother’s neighbours, who soon became friends, and I was able to see what it would be like to live and work in a small Tuscan town.

“I wanted to become a kid again and walk around gazing in awe at everything around me. And that’s exactly what I did.”

via @luellajonk

After leaving my brother I headed back to Rome to rediscover what the capital of Italy had to offer. I was reminded of how ancient it is and saw what city life is like in Italy. I was able to see the Pope for the second time in my life at St. Peter’s Square (the first time when I was 18 at a Christmas Eve blessing). What I enjoyed the most was a tour of the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, places where I could easily spend a week viewing the art and curiosities. On other days I also visited many other churches, as well as all main attractions in the city centre. I left no stone unturned during my four days in The Eternal City.

During the flight from Rome to Lisbon, I took the time to reflect on my 10 days in Italy. I realized that I’d learned the following about Italian culture: These people love, love, love connection. I often thought how difficult it must have been for them during the Covid 19 restrictions. Their culture is one of connection. Also, they were very kind and helpful in stores, even though many of them did not know the English language very well.

I will never forget visiting Monte San Savino, which is near my brother’s house. We parked in a small piazza near the centre of the town, and before you knew it, my brother was trading familiar greetings with what seemed to be a massive number of locals. The local butcher and I are now best buds – he loved telling me all about his cows! All the meat is exceptionally fresh.

And, of course, I love their coffee culture, which, again, is highly associated with connecting with others and enjoying the moment instead of feeling rushed. Whether they are meeting a friend for their morning cappuccino or just chatting with the barista while sipping on a caffè lungo macchiato on a sunny afternoon, it is all so nice.. I did not see ONE Starbucks my whole time in Italy! What a breath of fresh air that was. You would NEVER see anyone walking around with a gigantic coffee cup or a travel mug, the Italians would rather sit and enjoy the pleasure of drinking coffee. Another thing to note is the pricing. It doesn’t matter if you get a coffee or sandwich near the centre square or in the suburbs beside a metro station. It is all priced the same and very reasonable. I am sure some shops do a better job than others making that cappuccino, but they all tasted great to me.

The fact that prices for food, drink and many goods are similar across the country feels like an important observation. It doesn’t matter whether you are shopping at a tiny old store on a hidden street or a big supermarket, it is basically all the same prices for food. This is even true of wine, and a $6 bottle is just as delicious as a $15 bottle. Italians believe everyone deserves fresh food of high quality. There is a huge middle class in Italy, and even if you are on the lower range of this middle class, they prove that it doesn’t take a lot of money to look clean and in vogue. It might not be Prada, but I bet it is still leather and not polyester. Their shoes still shine, and they are well groomed. Put it this way, they don’t leave the house wearing pajama pants and slippers. They have a lot of pride in themselves and in their shops as well. You always see shopkeepers sweeping their floors and steps and shining the counters.

It took me a few days to get used to eating as late as the Italians do. Dinner is typically served sometime between 8 and 8:30 pm. However, after I got into the groove of it, I started to really like this routine. It seemed to make sense to me in some ways. People have time to finish their workday, come home, unwind, cook, talk about the day, and share the beautiful food together. It often starts off with antipasti – ‘anti’ meaning ‘before’ ‘anti’ and ‘pasti’ meaning ‘pasta,’ so “food that comes before the pasta”. I enjoyed this as much as I did the actual meal. It usually consisted of salami, prosciutto, olives, artichokes, sometimes cheese, crusty rustic bread, and lots of olive oil. I haven’t yet mentioned the beautiful wines, but that is not hard to guess. I must admit, I very rarely drink, but when I do it is wine, and I did not deny myself of any on this trip. I will also miss the pizzas found on every street corner and in every restaurant. They were all delicious with their thin crispy crust and dollops of bufala cheese (so light and delicious) and perfectly herbed sauces and meats. I miss it all already {sigh}

There were a few things I could have done without while travelling. One of them was waiting, which is something that I always find challenging (but always worth it). This includes waiting at the airport to board the plane, waiting in traffic (only in large cities), waiting to eat, waiting for the seatbelt sign to be taken off so I can go to the washroom. Speaking of washrooms, mama mia, to be a tourist in Rome and need to use a public washroom is mission impossible. There are very few public washrooms (if any) so if you want to use one while out and about, you likely need to step into a shop and pay £1. Another less than fond memory would be the traffic noises, like garbage trucks early in the morning. There is always garbage around the streets. The trash cans are small and coming upon one is infrequent. I should note that I stayed right in the centre of Rome, so of course the noise would simply be expected in order to have a great location near all the attractions.

Okay now on to Portugal. Lisbon is an exceptionally beautiful modern European city. I am not going to act like a tour guide here, as I am not worldly at all. But I wonder if being the host site for the 1998 World Exposition led to huge improvements in infrastructure. The city streets, bike paths, sidewalks, metro system, and parks were exceptionally well maintained. It is a very artful city, with beautifully painted buildings done so tastefully. It is very different from Rome. Rome is ancient and thus many buildings are still crumbling… but that is also what allows for its charm.

As I said, you cannot really compare the two. The weather was exceptional in Lisbon – beautiful warm days in the high 20’s which they tell me is uncommon. Mid-low 20s is more normal. The people were incredibly friendly and helpful. The food was amazing – especially if you are a fish lover. Had my best tuna tartar ever. I tried the fried sardines and, well, it’s not likely that I’ll ever have that on my plate again. It was not that it tasted awful, it was just very different than tinned sardines – which I love!!

I could go on – but this is already a lengthy post so I will stop. However, if anyone reading this wants to know more in order to plan their own trip to a European destination, I would be more than happy to provide tips and suggestions.

And perhaps… I will be writing to you again within the next 6- 8 months documenting yet my next trip? One needs to follow their dreams…. until then arrivederci!