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.  

Love & Light to you this Christmas


The Holidays are a magical time of year. Amidst the hectic rush of festive preparations and a busy social calendar there is always more kindness, love and joy in the air.  And by tuning into that – the love of family and friends, sharing time with people you care about, creating fun new memories, and showing how much people mean to you through word and deed… these joys of the season can remain in our hearts so strongly the entire year through.

On that note I hope that you and those you love have a restful and blessed Christmas.  May the light that fills your hearts and home shine brightly after the twinkling tree is taken down… and may you take this opportunity to savour the precious time we have, and seize the opportunities this coming year brings.

As my own family blossoms, I reflect back on this year filled with so many exciting memories, and look forward to what the future holds.  Many of you know the best gift for us will arrive in a couple of months, which has me dreaming about next Christmas and how wonderfully different it will be.  Life is change, and I feel grateful for every step that has led me to this point (even the times I stumbled).

In what is likely our last Christmas in Oxford I feel grateful for the opportunities we’ve had here; the incredible people we’ve met, worked with and become friends with; and how living in another country has opened up our hearts and minds.  It has been challenging to be apart from our family, friends and loved ones for the last two years.  But the power of love is that it stretches miles and often strengthens when tested.  Our lives have led us around the globe, and because of that pieces of our hearts are scattered across the continents.  I hope wherever you are in the world you smile, and feel the hugs and love this message brings – and hopefully life will enable us to cross paths again soon!

May this Christmas bring bliss in the simple wonders and miracles of life.  May your love and passions be renewed, and your faith restored.  And may you find peace (and perhaps some relaxation) during this time.  I hope the coming year finds you hungry, curious, brave and full of love & laughter.

Finally, while we’ve been experiencing some lovely rain and wind in England, many of my friends and family have been challenged by mother nature and a doozy Ice Storm.  In the midst of hardship what has come through most strongly is the kindness and generosity of others.  And so I leave you with this… and a reminder that all we need is love, and we have so much of it to give!

1470379_629178527144822_766947816_nWith much love ~ Erika (Malcolm, Basil and the little “Howard-to-be”)

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!

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.


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.

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!



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!