The “Feel Good Challenge” Full Circle

25 03 2014

Wordle: Full Circle

We’ve had a busy couple of months and for those who have been following the “Feel Good Challenge” and participating in their own version of it, I invite you to share your experiences, thoughts and ah-ha moments – it would be a pleasure to read your comments.

On our end we’ve come full circle. How many time’s have I heard myself say out loud “No one can control how we feel but us…”; “I’m 100% accountable for how I feel and what other people do, say and believe about me is none of my business…”; “it is our choice to live as victims of circumstances or recognize that we are the creators of our own lives…” the list goes on and it is from this space that I assess the latest “great idea” introduced into my household – “THE FEEL GOOD CHALLENGE”.  Time for full disclosure, I feel like – for lack of a better word – a hypocrite!

hyp·o·crite [hip-uh-krit]  ( according to


1.  a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.
2.  a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.


The original intent behind the “Feel Good Challenge” was to raise awareness on my offspring’s behaviour toward each other and diminish the squabbles and fighting. What folly to think I could control this – it’s all my ego’s fault  😉 . Sneaky little ego; she even had me believing that I was doing my marriage a favour in extending the challenge to myself and my husband. What else is there to say other than … LOL!!!!

I hereby declare that the moment of truth has arrived; I know I cannot control how my kids treat each other or anyone else. I can’t make anyone more altruistic, or empathic especially if I use bribery as the driver! Needless to say I’ve been humbled by this trial and feel very vulnerable in having written about it for the whole world to see and judge. For whatever its worth, the “Feel Good Challenge” has taken on a life of its own for each member of my family and at the very least has taught me that as long as I live my truth and have the courage to speak from that space I can transform how I feel about any situation; and sometimes speaking my truth means staying very quiet. The girls still fight, and I choose whether to react or not, I select to engage or disengage, and I am aware of how I enter the playing field. So for the readers who can relate to being perfectly imperfect, much like myself, I look forward to growing together and thank you for bearing witness to the wonder of my imperfections.


The FEEL GOOD Challenge – status update

14 01 2014


challenge noun

: a difficult task or problem : something that is hard to do

: an action, statement, etc., that is against something : a refusal to accept something as true, correct, or legal

: an invitation to compete in a game, fight, etc.[1]

Well folks the FEEL GOOD  Challenge was accepted the morning after the proposal was forwarded.  Both girls wanted to take part and shared their tracking system for the “FEEL GOOD” success rate.  It’s been about a week since we started and no surprise that it has been an enlightening journey thus far!  My precocious daughters continue to keep me on my toes with their insights, observations and manifestation of their truth.  When I repeated to the girls how the reward for taking part in the challenge was to be revealed in 2 weeks time, my younger daughter, to my absolute delight, declared that she did not think a reward was necessary at all given that the “real” reward was going to be in just feeling good about herself and making her sister feel good…(pause for effect here – now start the fire works )



After this little exchange, I had already declared a premature victory, patted myself on the back and was almost ready to declare the mission complete; well, not so fast.  Despite the  wisdom expressed by my profoundly astute 9 year old, I also noticed that there wasn’t a huge change in the girls’ behaviour toward each other.  Not only has the bickering continued, but I also noticed that the brilliant “FEEL GOOD” challenge was bringing up feelings of injustice and hurt.  The girls were complaining that they did not have equal opportunities to make each other feel good.  They also felt that they weren’t setting each other up to succeed when they made attempts at showing a kind gesture to the other, since neither was acknowledging efforts made by the other.  After a family meeting to clarify the intent of the challenge once again (see above definition), we decided to forge ahead but from a different perspective.

Thanks to the keen insights of a veteran parent who read the previous blog post and took interest in this “FEEL GOOD” challenge, I realized that the frustration I feel when the girls argue is much more about me than it is about them.  My deeply held beliefs taught me that sisters are supposed to be best friends and they should support each other, not hurt each other.  Having had a tumultuous relationship with my own sister growing-up (whom I now love and respect for the woman she is), I’m ultra sensitive to this dynamic between my own girls.  But what if the bickering and fighting serves a greater purpose, as my wise elder suggested?  What if the fighting between the girls, although it hurts me, is actually creating a stronger bond that will stand the test of time for their relationship and the relationships they will forge with other important people in their lives?  I can still own the truth of my experience, without holding the girls to judgement about how they are choosing to interact with each other.


So it is from this new perspective that the “FEEL GOOD” challenge continues AND has expanded to include my husband and I.  We decided it would do us good to practice what we preach and now my focus has inadvertently shifted from the girls to my own efforts to make my husband feel good 🙂 and it already has become much more fun!  More to come on this as the challenge continues….

Do you want to be a Princess?

8 11 2013

Video courtesy of ABC News – You Can’t Be a Princess!

It’s been a few weeks now that my attention is drawn to how we continue to cultivate and nurture stereotypes between boys and girls even in my very own enlightened and progressive society.  For those readers who have daughters, have you ever stopped to take notice of some of the overt and subliminal messages we send to our girls?  There are so many platitudes we typically and dare I say irresponsibly use:

  • You are so cute!
  • What a sweet heart!
  • How adorable are you?
  • What a pretty princess!

Of course rarely are such statements made with ill intent, whether it be from family members, friends or folks we meet at the grocery store.  Regardless of the intent though, I believe such statements do reinforce stereotypes that detract from the essence of the person that is the child.  When we make superficial comments based on outward appearances are we noticing how smart, bright, strategic, creative, innovative, energetic, strong, or fast our girls are?

What about our boys?  If our girls are considered pretty princesses are boys handsome princes by default?   Not really, it seems that we hold a whole bunch of other stereotypes for them in the name of “boys will be boys!”   When was the last time you heard someone acknowledge a boy for his calm, gentle, artistic, or stylish nature?

I tend to live my life based on the belief that all people are equal and interestingly the Universe of late seems to want to prove me wrong!  Noticing how prevalent many gender stereotypes still are, even in the immediate surroundings of my evolved community, has created a direct challenge to my belief in equality.

I was struck by an observation my daughter made recently when reading a text for homework.  The text was in French and used the masculine context, which my daughter picked up on and questioned – why the reference to men and not women?  “Pourquoi ça dit avant l’apparition de l’homme et pas la femme?” Hmmm, why indeed! I was conflicted in searching for an appropriate response.  Was there no other text that could have conveyed the same information in a gender neutral way?

Following this interesting exchange with my daughter, I heard about a new game this week that was being played at a local elementary school.  In this game, young boys were enjoying themselves by taking female classmates “hostage”, lining them up against the schoolyard fence and running into them.  The matter was addressed but how does one explain how this can be happening in places where there are focused campaigns, programs and communications on anti-bullying?

Personally, as a girl growing up, I have generally felt encouraged to be myself.  I also had strong female role models to draw from and never really considered myself a feminist.  Now with two daughters of my own, I feel very protective of their freedom, their rights.  I wanted to stand up and cheer the mom whom I overheard telling her daughter after someone declared how cute she is, “remember what I say, it’s not how cute you are but how smart!”  As the future unfolds however, will this same empowering mom be able to guarantee that her daughter won’t be passed up for a job opportunity because she is either pregnant or on maternity leave; even if she is the smartest, and most qualified candidate?!

Gender stereotypes have the insidious power to shape the beliefs we form of ourselves and subsequently influence our behaviour and our interactions.  As parents we can inspire our children to live stereotype free by having the courage to stare our own labels in the eye and choose something different.  In taking a breathe, consider….

  • What adjectives do you typically use to describe boys or girls when you are speaking to them?
  • How do you define yourself as a man or a woman?
  • When were you encouraged to be yourSELF? How did it feel?
  • What will you do to encourage others to be themselves?

We all have the capacity to look beyond the braids, ponytails and baseball caps to see the real person beyond our own stereotypical filters, if we choose to.  Given that we also know that we become what we believe ourselves to be makes us accountable as parents to connect with our truth and be wise in the messages we communicate to our children and ourselves.  So my challenge is to build on my belief in equality by focusing on cultivating a more kind, good, generous, smart, bright, strategic, creative, innovative, energetic, WORLD through the children I encounter.  What’s yours?

The blessing is in the breaking!

23 09 2013

I recently heard this quote from bishop T.D. Jakes and it really struck me.  Having hit a breaking point a few months ago I didn’t quite see the blessing at the time and am still keenly aware of the feeling of despair, fear and hopelessness that threatened to swallow me as I stand in a very different space today.  As parents we can all relate to times when we survived a point of breaking in our lives; a broken heart, a broken promise, a broken dream, broken trust, etc. and most of us would not be where we are without having pulled through the tough times.  We have learned that we are stronger than we believed ourselves to be and this as a result of being faced with tough challenges that caught us off-guard.

How do we teach our children to find the blessing in the breaking?

I know that if I dawn the “Mommy fix-it” cap, when my children are broken or on the verge of breaking, what I want to teach is likely to back fire.  I did not get through pain and grief by having someone fix it for me.   I got through by accepting the pain, by sitting in it long enough to decide when it was enough!  Yet, suffice it to say, my perspective gets a little skewed at times when my kids are the one’s struggling with a situation, hurt or faced with adversity.  When it comes to my children, I momentarily forget that somehow, some people seem to land on their feet even through the most trying circumstances and some of them even flourish!  All I want is to take away their pain or prevent the breaking from happening in the first place – and then I wake up 🙂

I know that for me to teach my children to find the blessings in the breaking I have to challenge my own beliefs of my children’s intrinsic ability to survive and flourish in the eye of the storm.

So consider:

  •  What beliefs are you holding about your child’s ability to cope with adversity?
  • How do you feel when your child comes home broken on the inside from an incident that happened in the school yard?
  •  What is the conversation you have with yourself when your child is distraught over a conflict with a good friend?
  • What is moving inside of you when you observe the hurt and disappointment in your children due to a misunderstanding between siblings? 

Rather than brace against the inevitable breaks that will cross our paths as we live our lives, as a family that practices Tae Kwon Do, we are learning to push through the barriers we face and stay open to the blessings of obstacles overcome.  So remember parents, the moments to share are the one’s when we were down and out and rose again.  The toughest and ugliest situations we faced were the one’s that transformed us from the inside out, those very situations that we can now pull from as a testament of what we are capable of overcoming.  So naturally our kids can do the same! 

Thank you T.D. Jakes!

TKD Exam 26 Apr 13 005

The Working Mom – moving from “GO” to “flow…”

9 08 2013

As I look ahead to almost a full forty years on this magnificent planet, I’m noticing significant changes in how I choose to BE.  Having lived the majority of my life on the “GO” dial, I know what busy is, and learned to be very comfortable there.  I was raised to value independence, hard work, and sacrifice for family.  Earning the respect and approval of others was a very strong motivator for me.  For years I told myself that my self-worth came from how practical I was in the volume of my accomplishments and how well I achieved what I set out to do – depth and meaning were secondary considerations.

I got my first part-time job at the age of 16 and have not looked back since.  Every time I made a career change it was to improve on either the salary or working conditions or both.  Only once I was in my twenties, did I begin making career choices to align more to who I was and what I enjoyed and even then I was still primarily driven by the values I held from an early age – I was still on “GO”.

The values began to slowly shift once I gave birth to the girls and it became harder to be on “GO” all the time, not that I would have admitted it to anyone, least of all myself.   I wore my values like a life jacket in a turbulent ocean; they were what I knew to stay alive.  I wasn’t looking for land or a coast guard; as long as I had my life jacket on I knew I could stay afloat.  I didn’t understand what Oprah meant by, “You can have it all.  Just not all at once.”

They say wisdom comes with age and in my thirties I am wisening to the realization that staying afloat is not enough.  I am learning, primarily from my children, that “GO” will not cut it, and I’m not as good a multi-tasker as I thought I was, and prided myself to be.  I’m noticing that the hopes and dreams I envision for the girls are contrary to how I am living my life.

So I have decided to press the pause button. Now as I look ahead to welcoming my forty years of wisdom I am focusing my energy on “flow” and reclaiming mySelf.  Next steps, model what it is to be in “flow” with my life and be grateful for the blessings of every life lesson that has brought me to here.

If I can do that for me, we all get to smile about it! How cool is that for a working mom moving from GO to flow?!

How FIERCE are you?

20 04 2013


It’s been a while since my last post, with life happening too fast for me to gather my thoughts long enough to write things down.  Before starting this blog I remember hearing from friends and colleagues one common piece of advice, “Always make sure you add value!” Having gotten into the habit of writing on a weekly basis it was difficult to stop, and the difficulty was in feeling I was letting my readers and myself down.  I knew I needed time to regroup after starting a new position at work, with different hours and expectations.  I needed to re-establish a “routine” for myself and channel the energy to sustain it.  So after my little hiatus, I feel the surge to write again and this after a week that I consider to have been one of the most mentally, physically and emotionally challenging that I’ve experienced in a while.

Our family has been training in the discipline of Taekwon Do for a few years now, and this weeks training was so full of life metaphors I’m not sure where to start.  I think the four of us have been pushed to confront many of our own internal adversaries this week, as we were confronted with real life “opponents” in the sparring ring, and a slue of challenges as we trained for our next belt level.  There were tears, sweat, bruises, aches and pains.  More than once I found myself asking “Why are we putting ourselves through this?”  Life is tough enough without the added self-imposed extracurricular struggles we’ve choosen to willingly pay for!  By Friday, we were all feeling it and no surprise that chores were not done, homework was incomplete and migraines were being suffered.

I also noticed that the girls were focusing a lot of their attention on what wasn’t going well.  With statements like, “I’m not good at…”, “It’s hard…” “These things always happen to me!”  It was like we were all in a bit of a negativity vacuum, and getting continuously sucked in.

All I wanted to do was shift their focus and mine.  We were feeding off of our mutual energy and not in a good way.  How do I get us all to recognize how truly FIERCE we are?  Fierce to confront challenges and grow from them.  This entire journey for me is about growth – I don’t have to wake up at 4am everyday to knead dough, that will become the bread sold to feed my family, like my grandmother did.  I am grateful, I don’t have to leave this country to find safety, work or opportunity like many others past and present. Beyond physical growth for survival, we continue to evolve to become more aligned, more centered, and more connected.

Why do people run 42 km races, start new businesses, take on extra courses, voluntarily care for those who need assistance, end dysfunctional relationships, speak in front of large groups…’s all about personal growth.

So girls, think of sparring as a metaphor, and your opponent being your fears and self-limiting beliefs.  With each punch and with each kick you score a point in your favour by dealing the blow and confronting the challenge.   With every block you conserve your energy to focus on the next move forward.

Find what works for you and share it – that’s what makes us fierce! And how do we recognize and remind ourselves how fierce we are?  A little help from wise friends goes a long way!



Coaching Kids to Deal with Change

24 02 2013


Have you or your children gone through a significant change in your lives?  How was it handled?

I believe even in their short life spans, my children have already learned that change is constant.  Having switched schools twice in the last 3 years, we have had quite a few conversations about how the affects of the transitions have impacted them.  We were very open about the decisions to move and the reasons behind them and made the girls a part of the process.  We knew that there would be a sense of loss regarding friendships, teachers and the overall familiarity of the environment they had come to know so well.  In retrospect, I believe that because both girls have had previous experience with loss they also had an increased ability to cope with the recent moves to their new schools.

I’ll never forget the time we came back from a weekend trip to find that one of the girls’ guineas pigs had died.  My daughter was devastated and inconsolable.  It broke our hearts to witness her pain and not be able to protect her from it.  Following that came the time when my older daughter learned from her teacher that Santa Claus was a myth.  This was another huge blow and lesson in trust, loss and she learned that things are not always what they seem.  She was livid and broke the news to my husband on their way home from school in the presence of her younger sister.  We were all shocked.  Then, only months after this life altering news, the girls experienced the death of their grandfather.  They had managed to visit him during his short hospital stay and knew he had become extremely ill in a very short span of time.  They were present the morning I got the call from my brother and knew what had happened.  They attended the wake and funeral and dealt with their loss as we dealt with ours.  We talked about it and cried together – again there was no hiding from the pain and reality of another significant loss and another change to their lives.

In those instances there was little that we did to prepare oursleves or the girls for the changes they experienced, since we as parents did not / could not anticipate what was about to happen.  We did speak very openly about our feelings and theirs and encouraged them to express whatever they felt; sadness, and disappointment, even rage.  There were accusations and we did our best to stay calm, always leaving space to allow the feelings to be owned so that they could also be processed and allow space for new feelings to emerge.

Looking back I know that these harsh life lessons have been the true teachers for the girls to deal with more change that they will inevitably encounter as the future unfolds.  They are learning that they are different in every breath, and every moment is a new experience; an invitation to live fully.  The past is unchangeable since, as my daughter put it “there’s no magic clock that can make us redo something that we already did”. 


So can organizational change management theory apply to real life change situations?  Here are some common steps to facilitating change that I’ve adapted from the 9 to 5 version some organizational leaders use with their employees. The basic fundamentals are straightforward and transferrable:

  1.  Break change down into small steps. The big picture may seem overwhelming.  Be sensitive to where your kids are at and break things down into smaller pieces that they can grasp more easily.
  2. Provide guidance and training. There will be doubt and uncertainty.  Your ability to acknowledge and address the discomfort will have a direct impact on how the change is adopted.
  3. Allow time for practice. There’s always an adjustment period for any change and comfort comes with time and patience.
  4.  Learn with your kids.  Be honest about your own challenges with the new situation.  Getting to common ground regarding the change can help diffuse the tension.  If one child is having an easier time than another, ask for their help to share how they’ve managed to deal with things.
  5. Encourage and reward progress. Don’t wait until it’s too late, acknowledge progress as it happens.  A good day can simply look like more smiles than tears – it’s a start!
  6. Sympathetically deal with frustration.  The better your self control, the lower your stress and greater your ability to deal with your children’s angst.
  7. Maintain confidence in your kids’ success. You are their cheerleader and their champion.  Let them know you are routing for them and believe in their success.
  8. Help get them started.  Set them up for success however you can by stacking all odds in their favour.  (i.e. if there is change in one area focus on increasing stability in another.) You will all benefit and grow from the experience.


Although change and loss are symbiotic, it’s the loss of the familiar and fear of the unknown that create the most anxiety.  The girls know this and as a coach I can remind them that they have lost, and continued to thrive in a new reality.   And, no matter how frightening change may seem, we need it in order to evolve.


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