She’s Got the Power

Last week, I had the opportunity to teach a beautiful group of 32 12 – 15 year old girls at NAIT’s G-Force Summer Camp. The camp focuses on personal empowerment and I love the opportunity to not only teach hoop dance, but to use the hoop as a metaphor for teaching important life lessons.

This is my third year back at the camp and I’m always astounded at the girls’ wisdom. I started the workshop by asking each girl to share her name and one characteristic of a strong woman. Their answers were amazing and they even addressed some of my ideas of a what a strong woman is. To them strong women are empathetic, intelligent, they follow She's got the powertheir dreams, they know what they want, they are stubborn! (I think she meant someone who sets her boundaries and doesn’t give into peer pressure), they don’t care what anyone else thinks about them, they have high self esteem, they are loving, they are compassionate, they are beautiful on the inside,  they are brave and they ask for help when they need it. They listed more characteristincs, but these are the only ones I can recall. It truly fills my heart with joy to see that there are so many aware and awake young woman growing up in the world today. I’d like to think that I would have given an answer like theirs when I younger, but I truly don’t know how I would have answered. Today though, I do have some solid thoughts about what a strong woman is. Below are the characteristics of strong women we touched on in the workshop.

A strong woman only focuses on the three things she can control in her life – her thoughts, her feelings and her actions. A strong woman does not spend time worrying about what other people think about her or about what other people are doing. She chooses to create her reality, she explores her feelings, she chooses to be aware of her thoughts and will consciously choose to change them if there is any judgement of self or others. I asked the girls to pay attention to their thoughts during the workshop. To notice if any self judgement creeped in if there was a trick they weren’t picking up as quickly as some of the other girls. I invited them to shift their thoughts from self judgement to self love, instead of saying something like “I’m stupid and I can’t do this”, I invited them to shift to “I can do this and I just haven’t figured it out yet”. Our thoughts are so powerful and we need to choose them wisely. It is only when we are aware of the thoughts in the first place that we can choose to change them. When we accept where we are, we can redirect that misused energy to become more productive. We’ll likely figure out a trick faster when we’re not judging ourselves for not getting it right away.

Pony

Here’s me, expressing myself at a recent music festival and being brave enough to share it with the real world.

A strong woman is brave. She goes after what she wants, even if takes a lot of time or if she has to stand up against what others want her to do or be.  She walks her path and allows herself to be seen, even if it feels uncomfortable, she is committed to living her truth. She follows her heart. I shared with the girls that when you see a woman like this, you will likely be attracted to her because she is confident. As a teen, I wanted to conform but also wanted so badly to express myself at the same time. I encouraged the girls to be brave in the workshop and use the hoop as a tool to express themselves and the emotions they’re feeling. I encouraged them to find a healthy way to express their emotions in their regular life, because emotions are completely normal and they just want to be acknowledged and felt, not to be pushed away or ignored. I encouraged them to find something that makes them as happy as hooping makes me and use that as a tool for self expression.

A strong woman asks for support. She recognizes when she is struggling and asks for help. In my experience, this is a tough one for so many people, something I’m only starting to really explore myself. I think we often feel like unless we know exactly what we need,  we can’t ask for help. The truth is if we knew what we needed, we’d probably try to help ourselves. If we just allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and access the vast support networks we likely have, we’d be doing ourselves such a service. I think there can be a stigma around asking for help and I believe that needs to change. I asked the girls to not be shy to ask for help in this workshop if they needed it. I hope that this gave them the opportunity to practice asking for help in a small way so they could feel more comfortable asking for help when they needed it in bigger ways, like when they were feeling depressed, isolated or heartbroken sometime in the future. Many of the girls did ask and I can only hope this reinforces that it is not a weakness to seek support.

There are so many characteristics of strong women that I could write and teach about it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few. I love being able to start the dialogue about this topic so the girls can begin to explore and appreciate all the ways to be a strong woman. I think they are already well on their way.

❤ Nicole

Shifting to Balance

I’ve been a bad blogger!

I know it’s best practice to blog weekly but that is not something I can keep up with so I gave myself a more realistic goal of once a month. That seemed much more doable, and was for almost two years.

Then I missed a month. Then two. Then three. Now I feel all this pressure to write this epic post and I don’t feel like anything is good enough or interesting enough!

I know though, that I can glean a lot of lessons from this whole experience because this is just a reflection of how I act in other areas of my life. That whole mirror thing, you know?

I’ve got an expectation of what I should be doing, feel guilty when I don’t do it and then feel some resistance to getting started again because it feels too big and insurmountable.

But you know what?

I just need to start writing again. Get back on the wagon, so to speak. Baby steps. One step. Just one word. It’s not all or nothing.

How many times in life do we take an all or nothing attitude?

How often does that actually work?

I tried an all or nothing attitude and I ended up getting burnt out.

In fact, I’m still recovering from adrenal fatigue syndrome because I pushed myself too hard for too long. Working full time, building my business and still trying to have an active social life.

It became too much and I swung from one side of the pendulum (the crazy busy side) to the other (crash & burn). When I swung back to the non-busy side I guess my blog fell to the wayside, along with other non-essential activities that previously took up my time.

It all makes sense though, when I think about how my theme for this year is balance.

I realize that perfect balance is a myth and can never be truly achieved, it’s more like managing a juggling act or finding a flow or rhythym in life.

What I’m looking for, is a way to manage it all.

I’ve learned that I can still do it all if give myself more downtime.

At the same time, I realize that I can’t actually do it ALL, but I can do a little bit of it all if I cut out the non-important things. Reprioritize. Set boundaries.

I’ve started asking myself how something will make me feel before I do it, and if it doesn’t align with one of my core desired feelings, then I don’t do it. Simple as that.

My balanced pendulum

My pendulum is swinging back to centre.

You can explore your own core desired feelings, check out Danielle LaPorte’s “Desire Map“. It’ll totally change the way you plan your life, it’s already having a huge impact on mine.

My pendulum is finally swinging back to the middle after a few months of rest, reprioritizing and relaxation. I may be closer to finding that elusive balance than I thought.

And I guess I had a blog post in me after all.

❤ Nicole

Light My Fire

Once again I’m reminded of the importance of self care. I’ve been feeling off all week since I ingested some lemon essential oil. I know that this is a great detoxifier and added a couple drops to my water because I felt like I needed a good detox. The next day I woke up with an upset stomach which didn’t really go away all week. I didn’t have any other symptoms, flu or otherwise so I did feel like I was just removing a lot of toxins from my liver but they weren’t actually leaving my body no matter how much lemon water or green smoothies I drank.

All week I’d been aware that I was avoiding meditating and journaling and doing any of the other things that helps bring my mind, body and soul into balance. I was feeling lethargic and starting to notice a little bit of depression creeping in. This morning I woke up, still not feeling 100% though I finally felt ready to write in my journal, meditate and face whatever this was. 10 pages later, my stomach is no longer bugging me. What my body was trying to release was not just physical toxins, but past traumas and anger. After journaling I cleared away all that I was holding onto with a smudging ceremony and was inspired to draw a flame with my oil pastels. I felt it was important to create a visual image I could use to remind me that I am powerful.

ImageAs I was drawing and colouring, I realized the flame is such an important representation of my power. My flame is always burning, but sometimes I choose to let other people dampen it. I will now choose to remember that I control how bright my flame burns because when I give my power away, I become lethargic and unmotivated.

As I coloured, I allowed my inner flame to grow inside of me and to burn brightly. The more I did this, the more motivated I became to spend the day creating. I spent some time hooping and working on the Yin Yang Hoop Dance workshop I’ll be offering at Spin Milk 4. I spent some time rearranging “my room” as I like to call it. It’s a spare room that I have set up for meditation, journaling, yoga, hooping and whatever tickles my fancy. It’s my self care oasis. I reorganized my bulletin board so I could hang my flame on it and see it on a regular basis. I was inspired and motivated to blog about my experience and after this I’m still feeling inspired to go to the grocery store and pick up some ingredients to create tasty dehydrated snacks!

I know how important self care is yet sometimes choose not to make it a priority. Today is just another reminder that taking care of myself is a practice and I’m not perfect at it, but when I choose to take care of myself first instead of distracting myself with mindless activities or doing responsibility type stuff, I’m much better off for it. Self care makes me come alive and invites me to step into my power as a creator. The flame reminds me to keep stoking my inner fire so I can shine my light out to the world.