This week with Canada Day & the 4th of July happening, two holidays that celebrate freedom and independence, I've been thinking a lot about what freedom means to me.
Freedom is having the ability to act or change without constraint. It is the ability to think and do what you want without consequences. It is the gift of just being as you are.
Freedom can also be applied to choice. Having the freedom to create your own work schedule, freedom of creative expression, choosing who you love, where to live and what faith you believe in. Freedom comes in choosing courage over comfort, love over fear and living a life with intention.
I've been extremely blessed in my life with the privilege and citizenship that gave me the freedom to choose these things and where I felt able, safe and supported to make choices for myself that embodied freedom.
Others have not been as lucky. I am ready the book The Choice by Dr. Edith Eva Eger, a 91 year old Holocaust survivor who endured time in Auschwitz and lost both her parents and beloved to the war. She was robbed of all of her choices during that time except the ability to choose her mindset.
Her story is incredibly inspiring to me. It shows that no matter what situation you are - you always have the ability to choose.
This week, whether you are Canadian celebrating Canada Day, American honouring the 4th of July or from somewhere else in our big beautiful world, I invite you to reflect on freedom and what it means to you with the following journaling prompts.
1. How do you define freedom?
2. Where in your life do you feel free to be exactly who you are? Where do you not?
3. What can you do to be more free this summer?
4. How can you celebrate the aspects of your life that are full of freedom?
5. How can you support others in feeling free?
Ahhh summer, can you feel it in the air? The days are nearly at their longest, energy is palpable, and nature is in full bloom.
We as humans are a part of nature, so naturally, as the seasons ebb and flows, so do we. With the Summer Equinox coming in a few weeks I can feel the winds of change bringing in this fiery new season we anticipate all year long.
Summer brings in more energy which means that we are generally more productive or creative and also tend to want to socialize more. You may feel called to take risks, stay out late enjoying time with friends, travel, take advantage of summer Friday's at work, or indulge in happy hour on a patio. We are truly solar powered beings, so with more hours of sunlight, we take the sun's rays and turn it into energy we can use.
Have you thought about what you're going to do with the extra daylight hours?
If you're like me, I ALWAYS want to do ALL THE THINGS, and this get's magnified in the summer. I am all for taking advantage of this surge of energy, however it's helpful to be strategic in order to maximize the time you have, not get burnt out or overwhelmed and fully take advantage of all summer has to offer.
Make the most out of Summer
1. Set an Intention: There is so much we can take advantage of each summer; social events, celebrations, trips, that long list of things you kept putting off all winter. Setting an intention and creating a prioritized list of what you truly want and can realistically accomplish will help keep you focused on what is truly important.
2. Schedule in down time: A tricky one to do anytime, but it's extra important over the summer. This is our time to enjoy the energy, but also to recharge so we can carry forward this momentum into the Fall and Winter. The sun acts like a huge battery charging us up so make sure you get in some times to soak up the sun, relax, read a book and chill too.
3. Stick with your non-negotiable routines: I've talked about non-negotiables before + lately about morning routines to help me ground before the day begins. While you may feel relaxed during the summertime, don't let the important habits you have put into place fall to the wayside. Maintaining your healthy behaviours will help to stay on track and avoid a crash in energy once the summer ends.
4. Use Nature's Momentum: This time of year everything is growing and there is a budding life force pulsing through everything around us. Use that creative energy to work on your own projects! Try a new activity! Make new friends! Summer is a great time to grow your skillset both internally through externally.
Are you in the habit of prioritizing your own needs?
I play around with the concept of selfish/selfless all the time. We think that being selfish is bad, but showing up for yourself, asking what you need, and speaking your truth is the most important thing that you can ever do.
So let me ask you.. do you do everything for everyone else before doing the things you need for yourself? If that's true, it's OK, and recognize how important it is just to notice that this may be a habit for you.
Being an entrepreneur, this is something that I've had to learn how to navigate. When my business is built on supporting others, there is nothing more important to do in my day than take care of myself first. This past weekend I lead 25 incredible leaders through the 6th edition of SPACE Retreat and it was incredible. I taught people how to live in their 'zone of genius' that place that feels effortless AND propels you to success.
Facilitating these retreats are where I am in MY zone of genius zone - BUT - the day after I host, I always take a day to take care of ME and I make sure to schedule it in.
Now you might be thinking, this sounds great and all but what does this actually look like in real life when there are a million things to do, people to answer to and expectations to live up to?
Here are the strategies that I use.
1. Morning Routine - I can't stress this one enough. Waking up a few minutes earlier to have some quiet time alone and unplugged, is the most helpful tip to start your day. Leaving your phone on airplane mode until after you'd had time to tune into yourself is a game changer. Maybe this looks like a walk, a meditation, writing a few pages in your journal, enjoying a cup of your favourite hot beverage or some daily yoga stretches to get the day going, this is the definition of putting yourself at the top of your TO DO list. I recently wrote a blog sharing my morning routine, check it out here.
2. Speak up - When something doesn't work for you and compromises plans you've made, communicate it! People will treat your time with more value if you start to as well.
3. Give yourself permission - All these tips are great, but they will truly only make an impact on your life when you ALLOW them to. That's right, you have to give yourself permission to receive these benefits and to know that you DESERVE to put yourself first, and that it isn't selfish - but truly an act of LOVE. So write it out for yourself if you have to, put sticky notes all over your apartment to reminder yourself that YOU ARE ENOUGH and that you give yourself PERMISSION to take time for you every single day.
Ahh routines, something we love to hate them. I used to HATE routines. Going to the same office, wearing the same clothes... it was just not for me. I wanted to be all FLOW all the time. So I quit my job, moved to a new city, created a business in an entirely different industry and basically had no routine. I thought I'd LOVE this, but it actually DROVE ME CRAZY.
What I've learned over the years of being an entrepreneur is that the structure of routines actually helps me to create more flow and ease in my life, and has allowed me to live life on my own terms. I need both FLOW and ROUTINE in order to thrive. Routines provide the container through which creativity happens.
Routines are helpful due to their consistency, a trait that is key when introducing game changing habits into your life. Without consistency, nothing sticks. So naturally, when you allow yourself to enjoy the consistent routines in your life, you feel grounded, and are therefore more likely to find ease in what you are doing. Just like the centre of the Oreo, it wouldn't stay together or taste as good without the supportive cookie on either side.
This exactly why I created SPACE Retreats. You can expect them to happen consistently throughout the year, every 2 months, and follow a similar structure throughout the day. This allows the community to dream, grow, relax, and create. I've loved this community building routine, and it wouldn't be possible without my own personal morning routine, which has been one of the biggest contributors to my success.
My Morning Routine
Wake up between 7-7:30pm with alarm - yes I am guilty of keeping my phone next to my bed but it is ALWAYS on silent. I also think it is important to mention that bedding and sheets are white - there is nothing like getting into and out of a white bed - I personally just feel cleaner.
I meditate for 15-20 minutes. Sometimes I do silent meditations and other times I will go on youtube and do a guided one. I have really been digging Adyashanti these days.
Then I journal. Sometimes I will write a list of things I am grateful for and other times I just free write down whatever is on my mind.
I walk and feed Frankie and usually like to get my workout done in the AM. I have been loving Pilates at Studio Elevate lately. It is a great workout and I can walk there from my house.
I come home and shower and make a matcha. I have never been a coffee drinker, but I have been enjoying something warm in the morning. Ujido is the brand I have been using and it is delicious. I love making something myself in the morning as opposed to going out and buying it. I find it very grounding and a nourishing way to start the day.
I usually finish all that by 9:30.
What is beautiful about this process is that I can do some form of this no matter where I am. Maybe it's not always Pilates or the matcha is not always homemade but I try and get in some time for reflection, movement and grounding before starting my day - it makes the world of difference!
So you want the key to happiness? Are you ready for it?
It's found in this one simple word, gratitude.
We've all heard this word before, or been told in some way shape or form to count our blessings, give thanks and be grateful for what we have. I'm sure there are some eye rolls going on as you're reading this and might be thinking that the secret to happiness is really in this one concept we've known about our whole lives?!
Ok ok, not much of a secret but developing a strong gratitude practice is literally one of the best superpowers we have in our tool box to keep us high vibe and in our zone of genius. Gratitude can truly transform any situation from an ordeal to adventure. It alters our vibration and has the power to move us from negative energy to positive energy. It's fast, effective and has been a common practice among the top leaders in the world.
Are you ready to embrace your own attitude of gratitude?
Unlock your own path to feeling lighter, happier and more in flow by implementing the strategies below into your daily life.
I'm already grateful they resonate with you.
See what I did there ;)
1. Gratitude Journal: Take a moment either first thing in the morning or just before bed to write out 10 things you are grateful for. This takes less than 5 minutes and will instantly put you in a better head space to either start your day off of zen you out with a smile before sleep. Taking stock of all the great things in your life is a great way to reflect, focus on the positive and honour the blessings you have. Feeling super grateful and have more than 10? Awesome! Write as many as you feel called to. You'll be surprised how many great things are already in your life just waiting to be recognized.
2. Letter of Gratitude: Write a hand written letter to someone you've never properly thanked. This can be recent or from a time in the past. Writing gratitudes for yourself is wonderful, but sharing it with others takes it to the next level! Hand deliver or send via snail mail to have a greater impact than emailing or texting your gratitudes.
3. Turn everything into a gift: Life is always happening FOR you not TO you and turning everything into a gift is a great way to align with the belief. Instead of your normal morning coffee, think of the cup of java as a gift for you. Instead of a long commute, think of it as the gift of time to listen to an inspiring podcast, or sing along to your favourite song. The gift of laughter, the gift of a smile - the gifts are endless!
4. Internal Gratitude: Showing gratitude and appreciation for the externals of your life is hugely important, but it is equally important to turn the gratitude inwards and tell yourself you are grateful for YOU. Practice looking in the mirror and saying "I'm so grateful for you,". Saying it out loud and hearing it in your own voice will help you to solidify it internally and create a new neural pathway in your mind.
5. Gratitude is Contagious: In neuroscience we learn that 'what fires together, wires together', meaning that when you focus on something you start to become more aware of it and therefore see it more often. So, if you choose to focus on the positive things in your life, your brain will naturally start to pick up on more things to be grateful for. The more you practice gratitude, new neural pathways will form in your brain, making the act of seeking of gratitude effortless.
I just spent the weekend in Vancouver, B.C. with my incredible mastermind group and I am feeling inspired, fuelled and excited for all the new creative ideas that came out of this supportive and productive weekend.
What is a mastermind? It's when people come together from different business fields to support each other in levelling up business and personal goals.
My mastermind group gets together once a quarter to discuss our goals, dreams, struggles and ideas. We come together to guide each other through new ideas, to give perspective, to solve problems and to connect to a greater purpose. The unique perspective of each individual really helps the group to grow and helps each of us see things in our businesses that we would not have seen otherwise. This is a concept that I didn't know existed coming from the fashion industry, where competition is the dominant atmosphere. The competitive nature is something I did not take with me when I left the fashion industry. With a mastermind, it's all about collaboration, empowering others so that we can all rise together.
Although we are all in different industries, we are united by our authenticity, integrity and trust in something greater.
Masterminds speak truth to the famous quote,
"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
When you surround yourself with people who are doing (or being) great things, great things happen.
What does creating a mastermind look like? How do you find your tribe? It takes alignment in your own vision and goals to attract your vibe using the strategies below.
Are you ready to find your tribe?
Finding your Tribe
1. Get clear: In order to truly leverage the brilliance of a mastermind and connect in a meaningful way with like minded individuals, it's imperative to be crystal clear on your vision, goals and dreams. Take time to clarify what your WHY statement is. This is your purpose, your reason and the WHY behind what you do. Knowing this is crucial to being ready for support from others and in offering your own unique perspective to other potential mastermind members.
2. Find your tribe: Think of the people in your life who inspire you. These can be people you're friends with, acquaintances or new people you'd like to meet and connect with. Opening up the conversation about a mastermind can be as easy as saying 'hey, want to support each other so we can both grow in our goals?'
3. Structure your mastermind: In my group, we meet once a quarter and each mastermind member gets a chance to host in the city that they live in. So far, we've been to LA, Vancouver, and have Toronto and Puerto Rico to look forward to this year. We also have a monthly call to connect and stay accountable to each other as we take inspired action towards our goals. The most important thing here is consistency and accountability. We're in constant dialogue through a text chain, lifting each other up and providing support when needed. Because let's get real, entrepreneurship can be a lonely road of days behind your computer - so this way it feels like we are working together.
4. Commitment: Masterminds only work when everyone is committed to the work it takes to be involved in a mastermind, with time and energy, and committed to the growth of the others in the group. These groups work when there are defined expectations during meeting times, and a plan for the year to stay on track and accountable.
Your Voice: Is it loud enough?
Are you saying what you want to say or do you find yourself holding back?
With a partner? An employer? A friend?
Do you fantasize about how things 'could be' but you never actually communicate how you want them to happen?
Take a quick moment to evaluate, are things in your life going the way you want them to?
If the answer is no, that is okay. This is an opportunity to make a change.
Find a quiet space. Take out your journal (a paper and pen will do).
Now is the time to get real. What is that you are not saying? What do you wish was different? See if you can answer these questions without judgement but rather just by simply observing what comes out.
It is SO easy to get swept up in the day to day, the habit, the routine of how things are because that is how they have always been. But when you get stuck and don't speak up, you are denying yourself the true opportunity of what could be.
What does finding your voice look and feel like? It takes practice of reaching the edge of your comfort zone through these strategies.
Are you ready to be heard?
Finding your Voice
Feel your Voice: If you're going to listen to your inner truth you have to truly FEEL it. Take a mindful moment to tune into your voice. Place both hands around your throat and close your eyes. Say three things that you are grateful for, feeling the vibration of your words. Tune in and ask yourself, 'what is important to say today'? 'what can you say and to whom that will leave you feeling happy?' Observe what comes up and practice every day to develop a relationship with you truly want to say.
Get your vocal cords pumping: One of the best ways to practice saying what you mean is my belting out your favorite song. You can do it in the shower, the car, with music or without. Practice what it feels like to let loose and really experience how powerful your vocal cords are.
Observe your urges: Are there times where you are having a conversation but are not actually saying what you want to say? Notice them and write them down. Then write down how the scenario could have played out with you actually saying how you really felt. Painting the picture of how the situation could be allows you to get closer to the truth and re-approach the convo with a clearer direction.
One step at a time
More often than not the hardest part of achieving anything is starting. This can be true for completing daily tasks, reaching a goal or achieving a long term dream. Taking that first step can hold us back more than we realize.
It's easy to get caught up in HOW things will happen and we tend to look 10 or 20 steps ahead instead of focusing on the here and now. Our mind can spiral between to do lists and all the reasons why a goal may feel impossible to attain based on our future projection of the achievement. Do you know what happens if we give into this spiral? We often feel so paralyzed in the impossible, that we end up not doing ANYTHING on the to do list, taking zero inspired action towards our goals.
Can you relate?! If you're anything like me, a big dreamer, it can be so easy to feel the pressure and overwhelm from starting something new and working towards a goal that seems impossible to reach.
Well I have dreamed A LOT of things into reality, that once seemed impossible and I am here to tell you how I did it.
You might just achieve the impossible too ;)
Goal Achieving Strategies
Get Clear: Before you can achieve a dream or reach a goal, you have to first know what it is that you want. To be crystal clear about what it is that you want, start making a list of all of your ideas, desires and interests. Do this every day for a week. At the end of the week, take stock of what you've written. Was there something that came up multiple times during the exercise? Are there commonalities between what you desire? Once you have figured out what you want, be sure to ask yourself WHY you want it. Getting clear on the reason why will help you stay focused each day when you start taking action.
Stay present: presence is the most powerful too in getting what you want. Focusing too much on the future is a clear gateway to the spiral, but by continuously tuning into the present moment, you can stay clear on what action you can take now. Try taking 10 deep breathes when you need to refocus and ask yourself, "what is important right now."
Backwards Planning: We get so caught up in step 10 sometimes that we miss step 1, 2 and 3. Working backwards can help you break down the steps one by one and bring you back to the first step that is required to take along the path to achieving your goal. This is a great exercise in helping identify what you can do NOW, instead of future.
Trust: Starting something new and going for a goal requires trust and as you continue to take inspired action towards your goal, more and more of the path will reveal itself. You don't need to know the final outcome or the end result. Trust that you are capable of achieving the impossible and that the universe will have your back every step along the way.
Spring has Sprung
There's a lot of NEW right now - if you think of your year like quarters, we just rounded out Q1 at the end of March, welcomed in a whole new season with the Equinox and experienced a New Moon last Friday. The air is warmer, the flowers are growing, and the leaves are budding - all signs of a new beginning and cycle of growth and rebirth.
With all this swirling of NEW and refreshing for Spring, it's easy to get caught up in a few limiting mindsets...
One of those mindsets is the idea that we always need to be happy or that is it better when it's sunny. The truth is, we need the sadness and the rain in order to grow, transform and evolve. We need it to help our roots get deeper and our hearts to get stronger. We need it, because without it, we would never see a rainbow.
So even though Spring is here, and the days are getting longer and filled with more sunlight - it is ok if those rainy grey days still exist in the weather and in your mind - since those days (and moods) are a necessary step to growth.
April showers bring may flowers after all ;)
I have been thinking a lot about how to harness growth and use seasonal changes to our benefit. This is what I came up with.
Spring Refresh tips
- Take stock of what is currently working in your life and make time to celebrate the small victories! This is SO important to do in every phase of reflection as we often forget to focus on all the amazing progress we are making each and every day.
- Once you've celebrated YOU, objectively reflect on where you want to shake things up in your life this season... this will help you get clear on your intentions and determine your goals for Q2.
- Declutter your living and office space. If your external is organized, that gives way for your internal mind to declutter too. Channel your inner Marie Kondo and find the bliss in cleaning up.
- Get outside. Notice all the signs of spring emerging, growing, rebirthing + see how that bloom is reflected in yourself too.
- Embrace the rain! Rain helps things grow after all, so I invite you welcome in the rain and gloomy days. Maybe this looks like grabbing your rubber boots and splashing in some puddles, or allowing yourself to feel sad when it comes up and letting yourself release with a good cry. You just might see a rainbow after :)
Take care of YOU first
I'm a firm believer that by taking care of yourself first, everything else falls into place. This isn't about being selfish, but rather about knowing that your own self care leaves you feeling your best and when you feel your best you can give more to those around you.
We've all heard the same metaphor in different forms over and over again...
Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others...
Light your own candle so that flame can light many other candles...
Fill your cup up first, so you can give from the overflow...
But what does that look like day to day? In our fast paced society when it is extremely easy to say YES to others demands on our time and energy, how do we take care of ourselves first?
My answer, NON-NEGOTIABLES.
Non-negotiables are the daily MUST DO's that support YOU to be your best self. When you understand yourself well, know what makes you tick, what motivates you and what is really important to you, you can prioritize these non-negotiables to help optimize your energy and the impact you have on others in your life.
I break these down into micro-practices - small acts that I perform daily, because doing small things that you love daily create a big impact on happiness levels.
These non-negotiables can be in the form of 10 deep breaths when you first wake up, a daily sweat or an evening walk, a restorative yoga practice or reading a chapter from your book. Everyone is unique, and the idea is connect to your own uniqueness of what makes you feel your best.
This week I invite you to reflect on the following questions in the pursuit of understanding your own uniqueness and creating your own non-negotiables.
What is important to you?
What activities give you energy and make you excited?
What are your current daily practices? Are they supporting you to be your best?
What will you do today to take care of yourself?
Take some insight from your answers and implement them into your daily routine. Watch your cup fill up, your flame burn bright, your breath get deeper. Don't say I didn't warn you ;)
Samara Zelniker is a yogi, wine drinker, pet lover and travel junkie.