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

Welcoming the New

As we greet a new year we reminisce about what was and dream of what is to come.  We often make ‘resolutions’… but I saw this and agreed whole-heartedly with its sentiment.



Letting go and letting love in (and be my guide) are really the two principles I try to live by nowadays.  I find resolutions, goals, and that kind of evaluation is best done on a daily basis.  Listening to your gut and turning up the volume on your instincts is challenging in today’s world, but more and more I find myself working on this.  There are many rights and many wrongs… and many right nows.  Finding a balance between one’s heart, head, and the practical realities are challenging but that’s the joy in the day to day.  And by letting love be your guide; beauty, grace, bliss and laughter find you at every turn.

This year will bring about some exciting changes for our little family.  While it can be challenging not knowing where the future can take us, trusting the universe and going along for the ride can lead you to heights and discoveries never imagined.  I can only dream about the wonders (and the struggles) that awaits us – and am equally eager for both!  Each day and in fact each moment present us with opportunity.  Embrace that chance – nurture your strength, talent, courage, resolve and make the most of each experience.  Leave your mark by inspiring others, encouraging greatness in those around you, sharing kindness, and recognizing that the smallest ripple each of us makes together creates an impact greater than a tsunami.  You can be, do, think, feel, and share anything – what will it be today?



Wishing you and those you care about a blessed 2014.  

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!

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!


Taking on the World

Today I woke up to a lovely little inquiry from a dear friend, and so this blog post is for you Alana, for you and for your athletes who are ready to take on the world!  But this also goes out to my Turquoise Ambition girls who’ll be shining bright at Westerns!

Competitions, performances, and tests are these incredible things we love and sometimes may love to hate.  It’s the time when we have to put everything together, the days-months-years of work, sacrifice, dedication and passion.  Since I was a young girl I loved performing. I loved sharing what was so much fun with others as it made it even more enjoyable.  And then there came a time when competitions were less fun and way more stress.  From that time I have worked very hard to get back to that original mindset… and these are some of the things I do.

1. You have the same job to do. 
What you are doing (your routine, the skill you are performing) does not change whether you are in practice, at a local competition or at the world championships or Olympics.  The only thing that may be different is your mind and how you are seeing it.  So choose how you see it.  Use your mind to visualize your home gym or a comfortable environment.  Or begin now to visualize where you will be performing.  Trust your muscle-memory.  While you need to be aware and calm enough to assess what’s happening in that moment, you need to rely on your auto-pilot to a certain extent… as Nike says: Just Do It. No more. No less. Exactly as you’ve practiced day in & day out.  You don’t need to be better you just need to be YOU.

Remember pressure doesn’t actually exist, it is just your perspective. Change your mindset if it’s not working for you.  But know too that nerves are a good thing – they help give you that edge. Make them work for you too!

2. Trust.
When the mind believes the body can achieve!  In moments of doubt we change the way our mind and body perform an action or skill. Doubt leads to hesitation which throws off your timing, speed, power etc.  When you believe in yourself and commit fully you’re able to do it ‘like you always do’ and are calm and aware.

You must trust your teammates and your coaches implicitly.  And if you begin to question yourself remember their faith in you.  Do it for one another.  Friendship is a powerful motivator. Know that together you can do more.

When we dream alone it is only a dream, but when many dream together it is the beginning of a new reality.” ~ Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Depending on your personality and tendencies you may live more in your head, your heart or your body.  But often our thoughts and feelings can lead our actions astray…. If we ‘feel’ nervous we may begin thinking negative thoughts and our behaviour follows suit.  However if we act with confidence, faith, strength – all of the qualities of a champion we are cultivating winning thoughts and feelings.  So stand up tall, chin up, shoulders back, strong core, be proud, eyes focused & centred.

4. Be a conduit
When I have experienced flow (or peak performance state) it feels as if the performance is coming through me.  All you need is within you, so how can you ‘get out of your own way’ and let that skill, talent, strength come out?  You don’t need to force it – trust your training, and give over to all of the work you’ve put in.

5. Enjoy
Attitude is everything.  When we’re having fun we can do all of the things I’ve mentioned much easier – trust, flow, let it happen, go for it.  And at the end of the day, and in many years down the road the joy, the fun, the incredible memories you made is what you’ll remember…

We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.” – Henry David Thoreau

Courage is the capacity to confirm what can be imagined.” – Leo Rosten

There is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – Winnie the Pooh


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?!)


International Day of Happiness: 30 Minutes of Wonderful

DOH aim

Today is the first International Day of Happiness as resolved and declared by the United Nations.  It is a concerted effort to collectively change our way of thinking and acting so that we may create a happier society (and world) through bringing happiness to others.  Check on the website to take the pledge, find out how you can nominate a happy hero, send Cheers or learn Actions for Happiness.

A year or so ago I had the privilege of watching a documentary on happiness called Happy.  This incredibly moving film inspired me on many levels as it interviewed and examined peoples’ lives and experiences in different countries and cultures.  For 72 hours, they are renting the film for only $2.99!!! I highly recommend you watch it.  (click on Happy to go to the website!)

Finally, there is an idea that has been germinating inside of me for a little while.  One of my favourite films growing up was Steel Magnolias.  In it, is one of my all time favourite quotes:
I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful, than a lifetime full of nothing special.

And so I’m kickstarting my THIRTY MINUTES OF WONDERFUL project!
I am challenging myself (and you) to do something that makes you happy, feel joy, bliss and is wonderful for thirty minutes EACH day!  Take pictures of it, write a comment to me about it, encourage your friends and family to join you!  And remember variety is the spice of life.  Maybe your wonderful will be singing or having a dance party in your kitchen or living room, perhaps it will be trying a new recipe, or picking up the phone and speaking to a friend or loved one.  Maybe it will be getting your sweat on – hitting the gym, the yoga or pilates studio or busting out a killer wod!  Go down the slide with your kids, make crafts, paint a picture, write a poem, take a picture, snuggle your pet!

The aim is to:
* Set aside quality time for you and for feeling good each day
* Make it a decided and focused task (put away the electronics – at least some of the time)
* Choose things that make your body, mind, and soul grow and shine
* Connect with others and share your happiness and pleasure in what you’re doing
* Slow down and learn to appreciate the incredible things that fill your life
* Expand your horizons by trying new things
* Smile, laugh, love and overflow with bliss!

Please join me on this new adventure!  I hope to expand this project to another area of my webpage – but please bear with me (my tech director is currently busy with a big boat race hehe).  I would love to hear from you with your comments, ideas, suggestions and of course how YOU spent your Thirty Minutes of Wonderful!  Email me at erika@erikahoward.ca

Today I’m going to dance class and will enjoy exploring movement and music with some pretty wonderful people – and then some wine and laughs with good friends!  Bring on the bliss!!!

Find your happiness, share it & see it grow...

Find your happiness, share it & see it grow…

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.