365 Opportunities

Tis the season… you know Champagne, Resolutions, Life-evaluations. That sort of thing.
Since I aspire to those things on an almost daily basis, this will and won’t be one of those kinds of posts.  New Year’s resolutions seem a bit funny to me.  Once a year goals are wayyyyyy to few and far between.  But it does seem like a convenient time to look back at the year that is soon to pass… perhaps it’s because generally speaking we finally have a bit of time off!

I feel that way too.  In fact I did a lovely Gratitude exercise today at the end of my little Yoga Session where thought over everything/one I was thankful for… It has been quite a remarkable year – for myself and my dear husband.  There were many firsts, many moments that took my breath away/made my heart swell/brought tears to my eyes (ok a lot of those!)/and that I learned and grew from!  There are things I never would have imagined – announcing at the Olympics or being in Oxford to name a few!  None the less these opportunities and adventures are what make life so rich and interesting.  Being open to them and listening to the lessons of the universe is what helps me live fully, learn immensely, and feel so deeply!  To be open is one of my missions in life.  (And it is always on top of my resolution list – that is if I had one!)

This year, my wish for you is to OWN YOUR POWER.  You are in charge of your destiny.  You command your happiness.  Each day is an opportunity.  Each moment a choice.  Perhaps this may seem like an over-simplification but I believe if you’re not happy with the choices you have made – the life you are living – you have the power to change that.  You may feel like you don’t have the will power, resources, ability or strength. But you do.  If you look around you, or search the internet you will see incredible people taking charge of their lives.  There’s the old adage: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  How badly do you want it?  How much do you believe in your dreams?  Do you think you are worth it?

I hope you know that you CAN be everything you ever wanted.  It may not happen over night. It may not happen easily.  But then again, the best things in life never do – do they?!  So keep your dreams close to your heart.  Listen to the universe for clues, signs and support.  This is your year… and even though there are hardships and disasters, disease and misfortune – all around there is also kindness, beauty, love, friendship.  We have a choice with what we focus on.  And in doing so what we attract to our lives.  What do you want to draw to you with magnetic force?

It is our choices, Harry, that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
~ J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)

What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

And so, as this New Year and its 365 days of possibilities hover on the horizon I wish for you a few simple things: love, peace, faith, challenges, opportunities, learning, growth, laughter, triumph and BLISS!  Two questions for you… what’s in your heart? And what are you doing New Year’s Eve?


(I’m having a fun little party a la moi – which means me+Basil+a bottle of bubbly = 2013 here we come!!!)

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Here's to an amazing 2013!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Here’s to an amazing 2013!

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!

I believe…

Deep within my heart I believe that people are good.  I believe that our nature is one of  peace, hope and love.  One need only look at children to see the innocence and caring they display.  Or how we treat animals, or those who are sick or injured.  Being good to one another simply feels good. Loving creates more love. Generosity creates more giving.

In the aftermath of today’s tragic shooting in Newton, Connecticut it’s easy to become pessimistic and expect the worst in others.  I am in no way trying to downplay the heartache, sorrow, and dispair in regards to the lives that were devastatingly lost; however I urge one and all to remember that one bad apple needn’t spoil the bunch.  During many of the most difficult times in history, there have been numerous touching and beautiful acts which stand out as beacons of light and hope amongst the darkness.  If you need to be reminded about some of the best of these please click on the link below – just maybe grab a tissue first!

Events in 2012 that restored our faith in humanity

Every moment we live is a chance, a choice, an opportunity.  We can plant a seed of goodwill, support one another, be patient and kind, show love and generosity, and inspire others to do the same.  What legacy do you want to leave?

We often diminish our value. People tend to think that their lives are not important, or at least less important than others. We see others and appreciate their intelligence, ability, beauty, accomplishments. Yet what if we saw ourselves through someone else’s eyes?  You are an incredible, powerful, capable, talented, and full of beauty, potential and love kind-of-person!  Be what you want to be. Be the good. Be good to others. And together, let’s create the kind of legacy that doesn’t make people question what kind of people we are – but instead remark what kind people we are!

Tell those you love how much you care for them.  Hug them as often as possible.  Light and love ~ eh.

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!)