Owning your power

I haven’t posted in quite some time (sorry about that!), but this morning I had a revelation that warranted sharing….

The last little while has presented our family with a variety of challenges. It’s just general life events (man this whole ‘adult responsibility/decision making’ stuff is a blast isn’t it!), but all of those little things can add up and begin to wear you down.  This morning both my husband and I had reached our limits.  We were frustrated, upset, and I personally felt powerless. Many of the issues we’re dealing with are beyond our control, and a lot of things in our lives are unknown right now.  Having patience in a sea of uncertainty is a feat in and of itself without all of the other little things springing up here and there…

But I realized as I battled those feelings of frustration, fear, anger, and doubt that I was giving my power away.  It felt like I was walking around with my heart outside of my body, or my brain not inside my head!  As if someone was leading me blindly.  But I gave them permission to do that. I basically held my hand out.

Thankfully after a bath and some meditation/mindfulness – I’M BACK!
By allowing other people to dictate my reaction I was giving them all of my power.  I may not be able to control other people, the outcome of a situation or a decision that is made BUT I have complete power over my response to it.  I’m not saying one shouldn’t feel those initial reactions of frustration or doubt because they are natural (and ignoring them may cause them to fester etc). However by letting go of them, focusing on what is within your spectrum of control, and manifesting the desired outcome we can better handle everything that comes our way in a more positive and productive manner.  It’s not easy, it takes mental and emotional stamina – but in the long run it is a more sustainable attitude than being ‘beat up’ by the people and situations around us.  We waste a lot of energy thinking of probable outcomes, things that could possibly go wrong, or fearing the worst… While one shouldn’t be blind to what may occur we need to save our strength to deal with whatever happens when it actually arises. And by cultivating a good attitude and nurturing a state of mind that is open, ready and free of clutter (yes… those voices…) we can conquer whatever challenge may come along.

After all, as they say in Desiderata “Many fears are born of fatigue, and loneliness”… and one of my favourites:

“The block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak becomes a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong.” – Thomas Carlyle

I have been fortunate to have been introduced to meditation and mindfulness through my yoga practice, teacher training, and then through my own interest (and courses/studies I’ve pursued).  My experience with it today just reminded me of the immense benefits of this type of daily practice.  And here’s a quote that summarizes it beautifully.

“Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.” – Tich Nhat Hanh


Have a beautiful day dear friends xo

Try Easier

In today’s class I shared some wise words that a dear friend shared with me many years ago.  I’ve held them in my heart and tried to put the concept in place… it’s a challenge to change our habits but a very useful skill to have.



Do you ever feel frustrated as you try to get something accomplished? Those “little buggers” known as inertia, “brain fog”, anxiety and a host of other maladies seem to hold us back from realizing our true potential.

Occasionally, as I begin to write, (or begin any new creative task) this often happens to me too… So how do I handle this “writer’s block” effect?
First, I “clear the space”.  I turn off all the “noise” on my desk. Usually, I get into my easy chair and relax (not my normal office chair – but one that’s “comfy”).

Then, I turn on some of my favorite music – calming, inspiring, music that “stirs my soul” like Steve Roach. (Steve’s music also appears in Dream-Minder).

Now, “the stage is set”. And it’s all perfect, right? Not always…
I get writer’s block like any one else, but what I’ve learned is to not force it. Instead I take a step back from it and ask “What am I inspired to write?” And in almost all cases, the creativity opens up…

But my books haven’t yet been finished… I’ve probably been trying too hard.  So several months ago, I was led to a very cool new book called “Accidental Genius” by Marc Levy.

Marc tells a story by Robert Kriegel – famous business consultant and “mental coach” for world class athletes.  He writes:
“Kriegel was training a sizable group of sprinters who were battling for the last spots in the Olympic trials. During a  practice run, Kriegel found his runners to be “tense and tight” – victims of “a bad case of the Gotta’s”

Levy continues…
“Conventional wisdom would have dictated that these highly skilled athletes train harder, but Kriegel had another idea. He asked them to run again, only this time they were to relax their efforts, and run with about nine-tenths their normal intensity.”

Of this second attempt Kriegel writes:
“The results were amazing! To everyone’s surprise, each ran faster the second time, when they were trying “easy” And one runner’s time set an unofficial world record.”

“Fine for running”, Levy says, “but does that idea hold up in any pursuit?
Kriegel continues:
“The same is true elsewhere: trying easy will help you in any area of your life. Conventional wisdom tells us we have to have no less than 110% effort to keep ahead. Yet conversely, I have found that giving 90% is usually more effective.”

Conventional wisdom… Is it possible that by buying into that conventional wisdom stuff – that we’ve duped ourselves…?

Have we lost touch with our Hearts and our Spirits by trying too hard? If we’re so in charge of our lives, why do so may of us not realize our Dreams? Why is it that so many people give up on what really matters most to them? Could it be that they’re trying too hard?

What would happen if you made the choice to “try easier” in your life? How could that affect:
*    Your Job
*    Your Financial Life
*    Your Social Life
*    Your Family Life
*    Your Health
*    Your Spirit

In what part of your life are you trying too hard?

Will you allow yourself to “Try Easier” today – so that this part of your life has the chance to open up and just BE? In other words, as our quote today by Amelia
Barr, reminds us:
“. . . it is always the simple that produces the marvellous”

You deserve to live a simpler life, with less stress. A life that makes you feel light, energized and passionate…

In short…
YOU deserve to live your Dreams…  Today!
Why wait for something to happen when you can re-light the torch… the torch of passion that kindles within you right now as you read this…

So, take a moment and…

B  r  e  a   t  h   e  . . .
step back from your “reality” and Dream . . .

As you do, you’ll re-connect to YOUR “childhood imaginings”, and re-claim your Spirit and be well on your way to Living Your Life’s Dreams… B r e a t h e, and take a moment to Dream today my friend.  And So It Is….   by Paul Bauer


Perhaps Paul’s words resonate and impact you as they did to me.  If so, play with going with the flow, giving over to YOUR incredible abilities and trusting that by letting go and trying easier (in lieu of forcing or fighting) we can actually get even further. 

As always, I welcome your comments, questions and feedback!  I hope you have a wonderful day!
Blessings ~ Erika

My Nanna is 90!!!!

Today is my dear Grandmother’s Ninetieth birthday. It is an incredible accomplishment and another exciting highlight in a wonderful life that is far from over!  My nanna, Eris, is a kind, generous and feisty woman. She is the kind of person that when she wants something, it happens.  She makes it happen – through determination, dedication or perhaps sheer will.

I was blessed as a young person to have my grandmother come and live with us.  I was very lucky she was around, especially during high school when she would make my dinners (according to the latest dietary requirements), drive me to practice, and help me remember my apparatus when I was on the way to overseas competitions (TRUE STORY: I’m in the airport waiting to go through the security check, and my nanna casually asks “Are you not doing the hoop at this competition?” After some gasps and sighs my parents quickly drove home to retrieve the hoop – and thankfully we only live a short drive from the airport and I was still able to make my flight!).

I’m so grateful to have such an incredible person related to me, and to be a role model of what a strong, brave and kind woman is.  My dearest Nanna I wish I could be with you today, but thinking of you, celebrating the tremendous ninety years you’ve had already and wishing you many more joyous birthdays to come!



I never had the privilege of meeting him, but for the number of times Malcolm has spoken about him I feel like I’ve meet Harry Parker many times.  He was an incredible coach, and a wonderful man.  It is always tragic when the life of someone so gifted is cut shorter than everyone would hope, but his wisdom and passion will exist forever in the hearts and minds of all those he taught, inspired and who’s lives he impacted.

Coaching (or teaching as Harry said in the video below) is one of those blessed professions where you have the ability to make a huge difference in other people’s lives.  And with the best teachers/coaches, more often than not, the greatest impact has very little to do with the subject matter.  My favourite teachers and coaches have helped me in every aspect of my life, become a better person as I picked up those skills/knowledge.  I have seen the impact that Harry has had on my husband, and I know the greatest legacy is to honour those teachings by one’s every day actions.  So Harry, thank you for the role you played in helping shape Malcolm into the incredible man, athlete and rower he is today.

Harry Parker: Why We Row video
Row2K Remembrance Article
Harvard Crimson Article
Harry and Abigail: Doubles Race at Head of the Charles 2012

I’ll always be…

No matter what age I am…
No matter where I am in the world…

I will always be …. Daddy’s little girl.

This picture captures my dad perfectly.  So in love with his family.  And though I am not always the best at showing it (sometimes it comes through as tough love right?!), I always hold a special (very big & very full of love) place in my heart for my dad.  He, like me, wears his heart on his sleeve.  You’ll see us crying together at something (yes even a commercial), and always quick with a love and a hug.  We’re not perfect, but we’re a lot the same – which is why I think I’m often a bit too hard on the guy (sorry about that papa bear).  But through it all, he’s always been my biggest supporter and number one fan.  I can’t thank him enough for all he’s done for me…. but I’ll love him forever and a day to try to show him.  Thanks for being you daddy!


Every day should be…

I think every day should be Mother’s Day…
Where would we be in this world without them?  I have heard a quote that describes motherhood as having a piece of your heart walking around outside yourself – or something to that extent.  As I approach this stage of my life, and having been so far from my mother and family for the last few years this day is always bittersweet.

I miss my mom.  Pretty much every day.
But I feel so blessed to have such an incredible, passionate, loving, caring and inspiring woman as my mother.  Below is a picture of me as a little girl. As you can see I bore a striking resemblance to Little Orphan Annie.  When I was little I hated my curly hair. I would beg my mother not to blow dry it after my shower/bath because it was straight when it was wet.  My mother, to make me feel better about my crown of ringlets, got a perm.


She’s that kind of lady.
I hope to be like her one day. I hope my children will think of fondly of me as I do of her…

This loving message is also being sent out to the mothers who aren’t my mother.  My incredible Mother-in-law who accepts me like her own child.  My coach who nurtured me both as a gymnast and young woman.  For my aunts, great-aunts, cousins, sister-in-laws, and friends who have supported and loved me, and been incredible role models of powerful, strong, and capable of anything women.  I love you all.

Happy Mother’s Day to each and everyone of you. And to you…

SirtonHowardWedding_0679 copy

The Dove Ads: Good or Bad?

The New Dove Ads: Sketches of Beauty are the latest buzz in cyber space.  If you haven’t seen them take a peak below or through their website here.

Many people, women especially, responded with positivity saying things like it hit close to home, and brought them to tears.  I myself felt this initially as well.  But there has also been some negative reaction as well.
Please take a moment to read this fantastic blog, with some very thoughtfully articulated points. (click on the fantastic blog part!)

So how do you feel now?  
I think they both perspectives have validity.  I try not to take anything as purely one sided.  I think what makes someone beautiful is that they love and accept themselves and their physical body is only one component of that.  It is unfortunate that racial/cultural equality wasn’t shown in the video either… and that the company has also done blatantly sexist videos for their other products (axe).  BUT, I will still support something that gets us thinking about being kinder and more loving to ourselves – even if it isn’t perfect.  After all isn’t that what they’re encouraging us to do?

Advertising is a tricky thing.  Someone’s facebook status said she wouldn’t even look at the video because even if it had a good message in the end it was still an advertisement.  Yes, even though there is no product placement.  But what is my blog?  Isn’t it advertising me?  Isn’t it just a way to share my ideas, beliefs and put a little bit more of ‘me’ into the world?  Some advertisements are creative, thought-provoking, emotionally stirring.  Some you could argue are even art.  But do we discount their validity, their effect, their power because they are advertisements?

While I would be happy to do without “them”, our world is so connected to marketing and advertising that I wonder whether we can exist without them (I mean we can but how could we stop it).  Until the time society is not driven by consumption and therefore steered by marketing campaigns I will gladly support companies that strive to put even a little consciousness into their ads.  Perhaps, just as we take steps to better ourselves, they are also taking baby steps to improve their way of thinking/acting?  (or maybe my rose coloured glasses are just permanently fixed to my face?!)


The man with a turnip for a head…

With a little extra day time hours on my hands, the internet becomes a great abyss (and a great time waster).  But I am thankful for it from time to time when I come across little jems like this: The Man with a Turnip for a Head.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a production company called hitRECord.  It features video, image, audio and text from online collaborators – and when you upload something you can share in any profits made.  A pretty cool concept, and a nice way for someone to use his notoriety to promote others!

Take a peek at this wonderful little short narrated by Gary Oldman.

So what’s your turnip?
I think we all have turnips whether they can be seen externally or not.  We have our little hang ups and things we tend to obsess over.  What causes these sensitivities may be a variety of reasons… I now have a knee that doesn’t bend the same.  It’s not a big deal – except if you want to be a dancer or squat a lot of weight (aka live my life).  But I’ve had to accept that it’s who and what I am.  And by integrating my turnip I empower myself to overcome any disadvantages (perceived or actual) it may cause.

If you’re into crossfit there are some videos going around that showcase this.  A man in a wheelchair doing burpees, or a woman who broke her leg doing one-legged burpees!  But there are many more: like this man with brain cancer who won a marathon while pushing his daughter in a stroller! These are examples of people who own their turnip, and don’t let a situation own them… we all have choices to make in how we deal with what happens to us in life.  If we honour the things that make us vulnerable they won’t zap our strength.  And in doing so we then become open to accepting differences in others.  We all want to be accepted and supported.  Treating yourself and others with kindness and grace is how to achieve this.  Some people have no trouble showing compassion to others yet cannot demonstrate the same thinking to themselves.  If you don’t appreciate and love yourself, how can others?

Embrace all that makes you YOU.  It creates a rich tapestry that weaves together your strengths, differences and unique qualities and makes you stronger as a result.

Have you hugged yourself today?

This is a beautiful and touching TEDx talk.  Grab a cup of tea and sit down and be reminded what life is about…

It’s true that helping others is one of the most ‘selfish’ acts …nothing is quite so self-serving as the act of service to another.  What have you done today to aid another?

The crap or cone technique is brilliant.  Our thinking creates our reality.  What do you want to choose to focus on?  What do you want to attract in your life – 31 flavours or more poop?  It may seem silly, it may seem simple.  But in fact if you can master this – letting go of the negative – you will be happier, healthier and way more successful.

One of my favourite daily emails says Thoughts become things…. Choose the good ones!

The definition of me

How do you define yourself?  Do you use your job (a teacher, doctor, lawyer, stay-at-home)? Do you use your hobbies/passions (yogi, crossfitter, runner, knitter, scrapbooker)? Do you use your family (mom, dad, sister, brother, cousin, aunt)?  Do you use your accomplishments (success, failure, graduate, Olympian)?

Success definition

The concept of defining oneself has come to my mind a number of times in the last year.  Things started to hit home when I came to London for the Olympics and was surrounded by everything that alluded me.  If you’ve read my earlier posts you know that while a small part of me is saddened by the fact that I didn’t make the Olympic team (twice), you will also know it’s likely the best thing that ever happened to me.  But accepting that also meant accepting the fact that I could never call myself an Olympian – although in reality I was pretty much everything but.  In London I would also be Malcolm Howard’s wife.  Being Mrs. Howard is always a source of pride, yet to be known through someone else somehow diminishes one’s own accomplishments and identity.

It’s the same when you go to a party and meet new people and everyone starts out with “what do you do?”.  Often I feel like replying “what don’t I do?” How can you be defined by one thing.  Exactly, you can’t.  The definition of me is always changing.  As life evolves, I learn and grow and evolve too (one hopes!).

I thought about this as my husband and his teammates prepare and begin selection for the 2013 Boat Race.  These men have given years of their life to their sport, just like I did (way back when).  They put other aspects of their lives on hold, and risk failing in other areas like their education or personal lives because of the high demands required.  And so many things can go wrong.  They can get injured, sick, or those other ‘demands’ might get too demanding.  Achievement often means every star is perfectly aligned.  I first realized that as an athlete, and now I see it repeatedly as a coach and supporter.  People who could and should win, don’t.  And sometimes the people whom you never thought would be in the picture suddenly come through because everything came together at exactly the right moment.  Is it timing? Fate? Luck? Perhaps.  Maybe it is our destiny. Or maybe it is just life.  Some things go for us, some against us.  And in those times when life seems against us, and we feel like a failure – that is when we must learn, and grow, and evolve.  Winning is easy.  Not achieving what you want, but acting like a winner is TOUGH!  Seeing someone else living your dreams means you must swallow your ego and appreciate their journey.

But there’s that magical word. Journey.  Just because I took the entire road to get to the Olympics but can never call myself an Olympian – does that make me less than someone who can?  No.  And anyone who thinks it does has obviously never walked that line.

The next time you stare down your dreams and do everything in your power to achieve them – know that you can already define yourself as a winner. As strong. As courageous.  As a success.  Regardless of the outcome.