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

Daily Challenge

Just over two years ago I signed up for a ‘program’ called the Daily Challenge. It’s an online site that is free to sign up for, and daily it sends you different tasks to do – with the emphasis being on your physical, mental and spiritual health.  It’s been a wonderful community to join (much like the incredible communities I’m lucky to be a part of: gymnastics, dancing, yoga, crossfit, rowing etc) and I’ve valued the support and friendship I’ve gained.

Today the challenge was: List 3 “gifts” you’ve received from friends or family that have helped shape who you are.

I really enjoyed answering this… and thought I would share my comments. I’m very grateful for the incredible people I get to call my family and friends, and who I get to explore this life with.  Thank you one & all!

♥ LOVE. The knowledge that I’m loved unconditionally, fully supported and cared for beyond words has allowed me to explore, make mistakes and ultimately thrive. Love truly is all we need!
♥ Wisdom. My family and friends may not know everything, but they learn with me and encourage/inspire me to find out the things I don’t know… we need to constantly learn in order to grow and evolve.
♥ Laughter. After all – it’s just life. If you can’t roll around on the floor busting a gut what are we here for? It’s the fun along the way that makes it all worth while and I’m so grateful that I have such wonderful people to share this ride with!

Live with gratitude. Grow with love!

Feel Good News: March 19

Wow. Talk about Terrific Tuesday!
This is going to be a smorgasbord of things to make you FEEL GOOD, find GRATITUDE, SMILE, LAUGH, and hopefully radiate more HAPPINESS.

Thanks to my wonderful sister in law, it was brought to my attention that tomorrow is actually the first UN International Day of Happiness!  Visit the website and sign the pledge: I will try to create more happiness in the world around me.  Let’s help happiness spread like wildfire (or perhaps like contagious laughter) and share some good feelings, good deeds and good actions in your community.  Use the #happyday hashtag on twitter… and then keep going!  And make every day a happy one for you & those around you!!!

One of my “keys to happiness” is GRATITUDE.  If you find yourself struggling to find the joy in your life, discovering the little things you’re grateful for may help to open that door.  To combat depression and seek happiness this is exactly what Hailey did when she began her 365 Grateful project.  As a photographer she captured images of little things in her day that she loved and was thankful for.  It has subsequently become a book and is in production to become a film!  Visit the website to learn more, and to unleash the “extraordinary power of gratitude”.

From time to time I think we all struggle to find the joy in life.  It’s often due to the stresses of our every day lives.  Pressures and deadlines in our jobs, being overwhelmed by our to do lists and the lack of time to get things done, and the want for more down time (or in my case currently – too much down time).  I find myself fighting the flow of life.  Like a fish trying to swim upstream I waste so much energy trying to be happy.  When in fact, I think that deep down our true nature is one of happiness.  I believe that as children we come into this world with a certain understanding of ourselves and of life.  I believe it is this knowledge that feeds our intuition and instincts.  However our challenge in life is that we experience and are taught things that may veer from this innate truth.  That is why I love and appreciate children so much.  Some of the things they say reveal their understanding and how they see the world.  Watch this video and take a peek at some of the incredible insights of this nine year old:

Can you let go of your head and trust your instincts?  Listen to that voice deep inside and know your truth…

Finally, this is a feel good video that may move you to tears (ok it may just be me and my ‘over active tear ducts’).  Before I moved to England, I had the privilege of working with Special Olympians in rhythmic gymnastics.  It was such an incredible opportunity that filled me with love and helped my heart grow bigger than the grinch’s!!! This video was taken from Dale Lowe’s blog.  Kitchener, Ontario will host the Special Olympics International Tournament over the next few days and this video (taken last year) shows an incredible example of the spirit of sport and what true sportsmanship is!

The motto this year is “Yes I Can”.
You can too.
You can be grateful. You can be happy. You can share your joy and inspire others.  You can do good deeds and help others.  You can trust yourself and know that you are a part of this incredible web of life and the universe.  You can make a difference. You can be the difference.


Feel Good News: Sunday March 10

Perhaps you live in North America and the clocks went ahead (and you missed Justin Timberlake on SNL).  Perhaps it’s just a little dreary outside and they’re forecasting snow (and you live in England and missed Justin Timberlake on SNL).  Maybe you live far from a friend or loved one and while you aren’t a worm and don’t communicate through snuggling you still wish you could cuddle up to someone or hold hands like otters…

Ok those last few things may not make a whole lot of sense – but read this article, smile, pretend to be a worm or an otter or the little boy with the Princess and go out and have yourself a good day!


Feel Good News: February 11

This video is pretty incredible.  A 15 year old who’s family friend died of Pancreatic Cancer decided to research and develop a new method for diagnosing cancer for a Science Project.  He developed a paper sensor that could detect pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer in five minutes for as little as 3 cents…. and he fully admits that at the beginning of his project he didn’t even know he had a pancreas!  

We have so many resources as at our finger tips… How will you use your knowledge, talent and power to make a difference in the world?

Do one thing a day that scares you

Fear is defined as an unpleasant often strong emotion.  We resist unpleasant feelings, and yet these are often the times where much growth, learning and development happen.  Here’s a video of a young boy overcoming his fears to much celebration.  I think we would commend not only his talent but foremost his strength and courage.  We admire it so much in others… so the next time you are fearing an activity perhaps instead of thinking of the unpleasant outcome recognize that you may be inspiring those around you.

Don’t let your fears stand in the way of your dreams.

Presence: the best gift

Basil adds the final touch to our tree!

Basil adds the final touch to our tree!

For the past few years, Christmas has provided me an opportunity to write a note to those close to me, reflecting on the year and sending wishes for the upcoming New Year… However this year, Christmas has come and gone and alas, no message.  While I love cards, I’m horrible at sending/mailing Christmas ones.  I do appreciate the internet for it’s ability to reach across the miles – especially since the last few years have taken me here, there & everywhere.  So as the time to write a note diminished, and my guilt for not doing so increased I had a realization.  Perhaps the lesson of that experience is: to go with the flow.  I am big on setting high expectations (for myself, situations, and often others as well).  Perhaps it was as I was running in the sunshine yesterday, or laughing with my niece on video chat, or even as I lay savouring (also known as attempting to digest) all of the delicious tastes, sights & sounds of the day that this realization dawned on me… perhaps it’s just a simple way for me to feel better… or perhaps it’s the knowledge that we all have a choice.  I can choose to feel angry/sad/upset that I didn’t accomplish what I had set out to do in my mind. Or I could instead, choose to fall asleep sending thoughts and wishes of love and fondness to those whom I wish I had been able to write or speak to…

Yesterday was the second Christmas I’ve spent as “Mrs. Howard”, and the first time that Malcolm and I hosted Christmas.  It just happened to be in Oxford, England – and we were hosting other rowers from the crew (who didn’t go back to North America) as well as some of their friends and family.  This could be perhaps one of the reasons why the note didn’t get sent out… but it is also the reason that Christmas felt so special this year.  First of all because Malcolm and I were together, and secondly because our little flat became a home as we welcomed other friends who were far from their homes.

This year, the role of Santa Claus (for me) was played by the UK Border Agency!  They gave me an early gift of seeing some of my family and friends as I returned briefly to acquire my Visa.  Then just as I was fearing it would take longer than expected and I would be in Canada for the Holidays, my visa was issued and passport returned!  I headed back to my UK home, just in time to prepare our little flat for the Holidays and for Malcolm’s return from their training camp.

Christmas to me this year (and all [adult] years to be honest) is never about the presents, and always about the presence. It is easy to take for granted the people you spend so much time with – your family, close friends, co-workers.  While we love these people so much, we can easily get on one another’s nerves, or take our frustrations out one another… but geography has given me perspective.  I have so many wonderful people who care so deeply for me.  They support me immensely, each in their own way.  They enrich my life with their love-stories-talent-perspectives-generosity-kindness (I could go on and on).  They love me for all of the beautiful-horrible-interesting-boring-lovely-awful things about me… and each time life takes me away from them I realize more and more how very precious each one of those relationships are.  I am so grateful to each of you.

Another Christmas lesson I learned this year is to appreciate the little things.  For example, I was in the kitchen baking and watching a Christmas movie when I heard the sound of music.  I paused the movie, but the sound faded out.  I continued on until I heard it again.  This time I peaked out our front window and saw a group of carolers!  I threw my jacket and shoes on and rushed out just to hear the tail end of a song.  A kind man and his daughter informed me that I had happened across our street’s annual carol sing, and then welcomed me to join in… and so as if in a fairy tale I walked along a sweet English road, surrounded by kind strangers and candle light, singing music celebrating this special time of year.

Caroling combines the joy of music, fellowship, and the spirit of the season!

Caroling combines the joy of music, fellowship, and the spirit of the season!

All of these small lessons and realizations have helped me see and appreciate the wonder of this time of year, and of the people I get to share it with.  Perhaps they will help you too… And so my (after) Christmas wish for you is to treasure those close to you, and reach out to those whom you wish were closer; to find beauty and joy in the simple pleasures of life (a song, a dance, a hug, a word); to recognize that all of the gifts you need you’ve likely already been given; to be open to what the universe might be suggesting (if we can listen closely enough); and finally to stay hopeful.  I think the poem Desiderata said it best:

With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

May you and those you love find peace and happiness this Holiday.  And may the coming year bring you new opportunity, courage, strength, faith, joy, and bliss!  Much love, from our little family to yours!!

xo Erika (and Malcolm & Sir Basil)

Kindness will keep the world afloat!

A friend posted this video, and it started my day with a beautiful smile, hope and an intention to share kindness throughout every step of my day.  This video illustrates the boomerang effect of the way our good deeds and actions truly come back to us (often times twofold). How will your kindness come back to you?  Experiment today and encourage others to pay it forward.  It takes less energy and effort to be kind!

Our kindness will keep the world afloat, and if we all work together we can surf on the (huge) ripples our actions create!

The Earth without Art is just EH

I believe that beauty is all around us. I believe that anything is possible if our minds are open and we think creatively.  I believe that we are rich if love and spirit are abundant.

Life and people continually amaze me… watch this video and see why every thing can be a treasure. Everything is an opportunity for greatness, learning, passion and growth.

“The world sends us garbage. We send back music.” ~ Favio Chavez

Feel Good: A shot of greatness

From a young age until I was twenty I competed in Rhythmic gymnastics.  As an elite athlete “flow” was that elusive goal you strived to achieve, which would produce your peak performance at just the right time.  It’s incredible when it happens.  It’s made even more incredible when the situation and circumstances surrounding it happening are magical.

Take for instance a teenage Austistic boy Jason McElwain, who became an inspiring hero to his teammates and school peers during one special basketball game.

I saw a version of this video on Facebook earlier today, and wanted to help make sure stories like this continue to be shared.  We all have the power to achieve our dreams. We can make magic. And most importantly we can empower each other to reach heights we only imagined possible.

Believe. Strive. Achieve.
(and inspire those around you!)