Category “meaning & passion”

How to Keep Going When Doubts and Fears are Holding You Back

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

I don’t think there is anything more liberating.

At least nothing I’ve experienced at this point in my life.

I’m sure it’s happened to some of you. Probably more times than you can count.

The freedom I’m alluding to here is the moment when you do something that a part of your mind didn’t believe was possible.

Interestingly, the word ecstasy comes from the Greek ekastis, meaning “to step outside of oneself.”

And when …

Are You Wasting Your Time?

“Life is what happens while we’re busy worrying about everything we need to change or accomplish. Slow down, get mindful, and try to enjoy the moment. This moment is your life.” ~Lori Deschene

I was on my way to work. At the time I worked at a bar. It was a Thursday night and my shift started at 8:50 PM. I was running late. I was in a hurry. It happened a block away from my job.

The green light changed and the world stopped. The next thing I remembered I was waking up in an ambulance. The paramedics asked …

Why My Chronic Illness Can’t Stop Me from Making a Difference in the World

“We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light.” ~Mary Dunbar

What is one eye-opening experience should everyone have?

I stumbled upon this question a few weeks ago and it got me into deep introspection.

The first thing that came to my mind made me feel both happy and sad. The smile faded as soon as it crossed my face.

Let me explain…

My Eye-Opening Experience

One eye-opening experience I had and believe everyone should have is spending time with poor kids.

I love children.

I’m …

What to Do If You’re Tired of Feeling Half-Alive

“Who you are is what you settle for, you know?” ~Janis Joplin

I spent several years in a state of light depression without noticing.

Why was it only “light”? Because I was functional: I went to work every morning, I managed to feed myself (mostly with convenience food, but still). My house was reasonably livable, though far from sparkling clean. And I wasn’t particularly sad, nor was I ever even remotely suicidal. It was simply like my life had been wrapped in a thick layer of cotton wool, with nothing much ever getting through to me.

Why didn’t I …

Why I Won’t Let the Fear of Failure Hold Me Back

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~Winston Churchill

I am scared of sharks. Often when I’m floating in the ocean on my surfboard, amazed at the vastness before me and my relative smallness in the world, my mind drifts toward what may be lurking below.

I know that I am more likely to get injured during the car ride to the beach or get struck by lightning when I get there than be attacked by a shark. I also know that, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission …

The Shy Person’s Guide to Making Your Dreams a Reality

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” ~Marianne Williamson

Light poured into the studio. We sat in a circle on the hardwood floor. We did some deep breathing and then the facilitator asked us to think about what we really wanted and didn’t have yet. She instructed us to speak it out loud in the present tense, as if it were already happening.

I was at a co-working space in downtown Toronto, and this was the daily opening where we set our intentions for the day and sometimes …

We All Need to Define “Success” for Ourselves

“There’s no such thing as what you ‘should’ be doing with your life.” –Lori Deschene

How often have you thought about what success means to you?

If you’re anything like my younger self, that would be almost never. It’s not that I didn’t want to be successful. It’s just that it wasn’t something I’d given much thought to. No one ever asked me about it or even encouraged me to think about success. I’d just absorbed it from the people and culture around me, watching how they lived and what was important to them.

From what I saw around …

Shine Your Light: You Have More to Contribute Than You Think

“Express yourself. There is nothing to fear. There is nothing to lose. There is just you being lived.” ~Marlena Tillhon

Writing is one of my biggest passions. I have always wanted to be a writer. But I have a fear of writing. Or so I thought.

I see writing as self-expression. It is an act of bravery to me. Allowing others to see my inner workings feels scary to me because I could look incompetent. They might think I’m wrong. They might think less of me. I could be ridiculed and not taken seriously. I may get rejected and feel …

Life Lessons from a Wanderer: From Lost Boy, to Carnie, to U.S. Marine

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ~Rumi

How did this happen?

I remember the wind tearing at the walls of my tent, bending the humble, graphite rods almost double. I was burrowed down in my sleeping bag, which was one of my sole possessions in life, along with that tent, a pack of books, some canned food, $200, and clothes.

I dug even lower and thought—what the hell am I going to do?

It was sometime in October of 1994. I was camped by a dry …

Why You Can Stop Searching for Your Purpose Now

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

For some of us, like me, the question, “What is my purpose?” creates a ton of anxiety and a feeling that our self-worth is being undermined.

It’s hard to escape this question because everywhere we turn, finding our purpose and living on a large scale seem to be the main themes of the day. The mounting pressure created by social media and the need to have it all figured out by a certain …

What Really Makes Us Feel Successful

“Congratulations on becoming successful and best wishes on becoming happy.” ~John Mayer

I was living the life of my dreams.

Or so I thought.

I’ve been very fortunate to have had some very awesome opportunities all over the world.

I’ve worked to help victims of human trafficking in the shady streets of Thailand, I’ve helped build a positive community with drug traffickers in the extremely violent favelas of Brazil, and I’ve cared for terminally ill patients who were picked up from the streets die with dignity at Mother Theresa’s famous House of the Dying in India.

I also got …

You Aren’t Stuck in Life: Commit to Change and Get Started

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” ~Mark Twain

We all have big dreams, big goals, and big ideas on what we think our life should look like, or how we think life will end up.

Some of us meticulously plan out our lives, envisioning and letting ourselves daydream as we think about all the stuff we’d love to accomplish. I’d wager that our plans include some pretty big things in life that would make us feel pretty proud.

The problem is, a lot of us have trouble reaching the potential we’ve set for ourselves. Time kind of …

My Ordinary Checklist for a Highly Successful Life

“In this world, an ordinary life has become synonymous with a meaningless life.” ~Brené Brown 

As I see it, there are two types of people out there.

There are those who read goal attainment books and feel inspired, and me.

The former will read the anecdotes about all those underdogs who beat the odds and managed to achieve wealth and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, and will say to themselves, “Wow! That could be me!” They’ll feel enlightened, invigorated, and revved up to make a change.

And then there’s me.

While I may initially pick up such a …

It’s Okay to ‘Fail’ on Your Way to Finding What You Want to Do

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” ~George Bernard Shaw

I would say it’s a safe assumption that most people aren’t quite sure what they’re doing.

What do I mean? I mean that most individuals—whether they look polished and presentable or haphazardly have their life thrown together—are generally playing a game called “life.” And they’re trying the best they can.

In other words, we’re all capable and have all experienced the highs and lows of what life has to offer. Unfortunately, that’s just part of the human experience. To try to ride the highs while avoiding the …

We Can’t Do Everything, But We Can Do More Than We Think

“There are plenty of obstacles in your path. Don’t allow yourself to become one of them.” ~Ralph Marston

I was sitting in a self-improvement course listening to the facilitator’s instructions. “I want you to come up with a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal,” she announced. “This needs to be a stretch, something where you really put skin in the game. You have seven weeks to reach this goal.”

The rest of her instructions trailed off as I thought about which area of my life I wanted to improve. I overheard a few of my classmates talking to each other about …

How I Stopped Feeling Trapped in a Life I Didn’t Want

“Stop thinking in terms of limitations and start thinking in terms of possibilities.” ~Terry Josephson

When I was in my early twenties I was lucky enough to spend about a year living just a few blocks from the beach in Virginia Beach, Virginia, but you know what I remember most distinctly from that time? Sitting at a red light on the way to work one day thinking: I feel trapped.

To put it simply, I felt stuck in a life I didn’t want.

I had a college degree I wasn’t using. I had a job that I dreaded. I had …

Feeling Empty? Here’s How to Find Joy (and Yourself) Again

“Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh 

“Who are you? No, really. Who are you?”

I stood at my bathroom mirror, towel twisted around my head, inspecting my own reflection. A woman I hardly recognized looked back at me with empty eyes. Empty mouth. Empty insides.

“Who are you?”


“What do you want?”


“What are you thinking?”


I sighed and reached for the toothbrush. The truth is, I’d been there before. That empty-sad feeling. The feeling of not quite fitting in. Not quite feeling fulfilled.  

Before, I’d brush …

What to Do If You’re Not Passionate About Anything

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” ~Unknown

I’ve always believed in the benefits of having a healthy, strong body.

I admit, as a young adult my healthiness was driven predominantly by fear. Fear of being fat. Fear of being sick. Fear of missing out at events (aka FOMO).

So, I went to the gym, I ran, I dieted, I had strict rules, and if I followed them I’d be okay… or so believed.

From my daughter’s perspective, I wasn’t much fun to live with. She …

How to Keep Going When Your Dream Seems Far Off

“Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.” ~Oprah Winfrey

I needed a bit of extra cash last month, so I took on a temporary events role working at a local design exhibition.

I’ve worked in events before, so I didn’t think much about it.

I just knew that I needed some money, I liked doing events, and a short contract had presented itself.

It seemed perfect!

So off I went to my first shift, feeling pretty good about myself and about life.

The first event was at a studio in a deserted …

If Only I Knew My Worth…

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ~Albert Einstein

Looking back on my past, I see that I have spent most of my precious time striving to improve myself instead of celebrating the very gift of being alive and healthy. For many years, I though I wasn’t good enough, and perfection was my worst enemy.

I considered myself pretty but not beautiful, somewhat smart but not truly intelligent. In other words, I thought of myself as average, not …