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Inspiring People

Big skies know big things. So let’s go to Big Sky Country. Together.

I’m away from the city for a short while as I spend time with family, count stars, eat cherries, write words, breathe clean air and sing by the campfire. 

In a word: glorious.

Usually, I settle into the pace up here quickly and familiarly. This time, I can’t help but notice how I’m resisting said gloriousness. Too much going on, in my world, in THE world, back “home” to…relax. Which is about as counter-productive as it gets.

But I’ve finally recalled the structure that brings me to my actual home. A simple and sacred structure: I look up at the big sky.

Every time I feel the weight of the things I read from my computer screen, I look up at the big sky.

Every time I feel the pull of guilt of things not done, I look up at the big sky.

Every time I feel the pang of worry for things to come, I look up at the big sky.

Every time I doubt and fret and sweat and panic, I look up at the big sky.

And every time I feel like I am avoiding the weight of the things, the pull of guilt, the pangs of worry, the doubt and fret and sweat and panic by LOOKING at the big sky? I blink hard and I look up at the big sky again.

And she says:

Sweet Child, do what you can, but more importantly, do what you must.

Be brave enough to look at your shadows. Don’t try to douse them with light. Look at them for what they are.

Be with the weights and the pulls and the pangs and doubt and fret and sweat and panic.

They are here to be heard. They are here to bend you, shape you and to help calibrate your next steps. They are here to teach you, but they are not here to define you.

You can no more unsee the injustices by tuning out the world than you can deny the privilege of your very existence. So don’t. See them. Feel them. Choose to do better.

Don’t short cut your way to your purpose.

When you feel weak, get stronger. You know how. You’ve done it before, you startlingly magnificent creature, you.

When you are faced with the next battle, don’t seek comfort. Seek courage.

Don’t look for proof. Feel for truth.

Trust the love you feel in your cells.

When you are ready to make the leap that transcends your story, jump high and hard and with all of your fracturedmended heart.

Big skies know big things.

It’s under big skies that I remember all that I’ve ever known. Which brings me right back home. Wherever that may be.

I want the same for you. Join me under the big skies of Alberta this September.

We’ve crafted a unique, intimate, big-heart-opening one-day retreat in glorious Athabasca, on September 15th. This day is for anyone who wants freedom from the Impostor Complex so that they can step into their Starring Roles. In their leadership, in their life and in their life’s work.  

Think wide open spaces. Crisp NORTHERN air. The immersed experience of sweet relief when you finally walk towards and claim the role you’ve been desiring. Soul connections. Prosecco. And big BIG clarity. 

We’re keeping this one-day retreat very small this time so there’s even more space for processing, being and feeling the wisdom of the big sky. Register by August 12th and receive two bonuses: The Step into Your Starring Role Playbook and an hour of coaching with me – additional value of $600 USD. 

Looking for a larger group experience? Join me at the beautiful Yoga MCC in Calgary for a powerful workshop with like-minded healers, seekers and leaders. Three ways to play: a quick shot of activation on Friday night (16th), a full day workshop on Saturday (17th), OR both. While there will be plenty of time for integration, we’ll going strong and deep. (It is a yoga studio after all.)

I do so hope you’ll join me in Alberta.

Until then, look up at the big sky and feel her wisdom cool your furrowed brow.

Love,

TG


Anne Lamott and the Impostor Complex

There she was in her dreadlocked glory. The truth-telling trobairitz from San Francisco, pissed off at the customs border lineup here in Toronto. (She called it the “punishment line”.)

Riffing with her signature reverence to (and irreverence about) faith, creativity, grace and surrender, Justin Trudeau, what Jesus would think of duct tape (spoiler: she thinks he’d dig it), and doing your anger, doing your grief and doing your life. It was an evening honouring Henri Nouwen, beloved theologian, and writer of deeply respected texts. Namer of the "God-shaped hole" and "twilight of your soul".

She was fabulous. Of course.

She’s Anne Lamott. A name synonymous with fabulous. But what makes her so fabulous? Her unflinching ability to stand in her authority.

Even as she called herself out for feeling like an impostor on occasion. Talking spirituality under the soft and kindly gaze of Nouwen's projected images. With nuns in the audience. Lots of them. She noted that ALL creatives feel like impostors from time to time. Well, you KNOW I couldn’t agree more. Creatives and parents and spiritual teachers and students and leaders and and and.

But you know what else I heard her say?

That she has made peace with her Impostor Complex. Not that she has surrendered to it, nor has her 62 years on the planet made her magically impervious to its sting.

No. I heard that she, whether consciously or not, uses the three strategies I speak to all the time when it comes to dealing with the Impostor Complex. The three strategies that EVERYBODYtalks about when it comes to dealing with the Impostor Complex, whether consciously or not.

It's like this. Overcoming the Impostor Complex starts with breaking it down into its three essential elements.

1) Our Impostor Complex tries to set us up for failure – meaning that its goal is to keep us out of action.

Solution:

Meet the critics head on. External AND internal.

We see Anne doing this all the time. On social media. In her writing. She speaks to her process. Her insecurities. She names her pain and opportunities for growth. And finds out what her critics are here to teach her. This is deeply wise.

2) Our Impostor Complex has us question and doubt our capacity.

Solution:

Show yourself what you CAN do. (You have done so so much.) Bolster your authority thesis. Track your wins. What have you delivered, sold, created, survived, healed, won, finished, saved, fixed?Believe you're a badass.

She is clear about what she has done. She is clear about the places in which she is masterful. She is confident in her authority. Sure, the critics may get her down. She is Anne Lamott, after all. (And YOU…are YOU. Blessed be.)

3) The Impostor Complex likes to keep us alone and isolated. Like no one else could relate to us and our fears and worries.

Solution:

Get social. Assemble your cast. Plant the seed and watch your people show up.

There they were, in the front row. Her people. Cheering her on. The same people she told us that “prayed on” her when she was in a puddle of tears in the customs line. She told us what I tell you: Ask for help. And ask again. Your people WANT you to succeed.

Overly simple in theory, perhaps. But oh so worth it to do the work. Bottom line is this: if Anne can do it, if I can do it, and if SHE can do it, then I promise, you can too.


climbing back into the box

climbing back into the box

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Remember Paddington Bear?

The marmalade-loving, welly-wearing bumbling sweetheart found by the Browns at Paddington Station with a “please look after this bear” note?

Yeah. He was my main squeeze. Literally. I was given him at the age of five. Maybe six.

I loved that he was soft and gentle and sartorially splendid in said yellow rubber boots (that you could actually take off!),  jaunty red bush hat and blue duffle coat. I loved that he loved elevenses and enjoyed two birthdays a year, “just like the Queen”.

But most of all, I loved our adventures.

We had a big cardboard box that transported us everywhere. We'd fly to the mountains of Nepal, the badlands of South Dakota, the outback of Australia and the moon. Obvs. At the end of every adventure, we’d cry “tally ho to Darkest Peru”. (Neither of us knew what the hell it meant. Which was more than fine.)

It felt cruel and unusual to hoard such delight from my loved ones, so Paddington and I would often reenact our adventures on the stage that was the living room after dinner.

Into the box we would climb and regale (ahem) our audience of friends and family with the sights, sounds, smells of our escapades and keep them rapt with our witty repartee (he was the naïve sillyheart to my sage straight man). And, always knowing how to keep ‘em satisfied, we’d ask them to shout out where they’d like us to go next. To Marrakesh! To Mimico! To Miami! And we’d see what we could see and get ourselves into scrapes, as only a bear and a little girl in a box could.

When it was clear that the audience had had too much of a good thing (my mother's wrap it up gesture and the guests' glazed-over countenance were the telltale cues), we’d “tally ho to Darkest Peru”, take our bow and retreat to my bedroom where I’d remove his boots, hats and coat (long since lost), and we’d rap about the performance and plan for the next day’s adventures.

In short: my parents were the most excellent kinds of parents.

They fostered my uniqueness, encouraged my creativity and celebrated my desire to express what was mine to express.

They engendered in me an inherent belief that whatever was being created in that box was good and valuable and worthy of witnessing. No matter how rambling, drawn out or, if I’m being brutally honest, entirely aimless it was.

I was worthy of their time and attention.

I’m thinking about my mother in advance of mothers’ day, as I always do. Missing her and her unconditional love. And I’m thinking about the kind of love my father had, and still has for me. And feeling completely and fully blessed.

And. This.

Even with the creative colostrum of support they nourished me with at such a young age, somewhere between that last “tally ho” and now, I had lost that innate sense of worthiness. I started to believe that there were rules I would never be able to fully grasp. That I was missing the heart of the artist. That it wasn’t my job to do. That creativity was for others.

Somewhere along the line, with the compositions, then essays, then theses, then proposals, then pitches, then video scripts, then sales copy then editorial calendars, then posts all written from a deep and earnest desire to be useful and helpful and heard, I lost the delight, the flutter, the adventure and the wonder I felt in that box, with my beloved bear by my side.

No where is this more apparent than in my book writing process.

I currently have 63,129 words written for my book on the Impostor Complex. Good, thoughtful, smart, helpful, useful, insightful words.

Words that defend the answer to the question: Who am I to write this book?

(The question is both internal and external. Agents want to know. Publishers want to know. But more viscerally, my own Impostor Complex wants to know, sneeringly derisively in the asking.)

So yes. Every last word is good and smart.

But I’m writing them from the wrong place. I’m writing them from my bubble.

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It’s from my BOX that I need to write from.

Back to where I knew that innate sense of worthiness.Where I knew the enduring power of what’s possible.Where I knew that my heart had more to say than my head.Where I knew that joy wasn’t a nice-to-have. It was everything.

So that’s where I’m going now. Climbing back into the box. Ditching many of the 63K words and starting fresh.

Undefended. Leading with my creativity. Knowing that this is where the magic happens. And where there is magic, there is flight.

(Say hey to my newest writing partner, and oldest pal, Paddington.)

 


My Hour with Rosa

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It was the only fish shop open in Toronto on Good Friday. I was waiting for my purchased red snappers to be cleaned by the fishmonger, lost in thought about how to cook them for the Easter dinner feast.

I felt her energy before she joined me at the counter with her dozens of teeny fish. Sweet little old Italian woman. You can already picture her, right? Four foot nothing, standing solidly in sturdy, practical black shoes, nude stockings, mid-calf skirt, black coat, short curly hair, and glasses that amplified her loving eyes and have clearly seen their share of babies born and relatives passing.

I asked her what she planned on doing with all those fish. She did her best to hide her surprise at the insanity of my question, but recognizing my lack of understanding about Old Country ways, she told me patiently, but in great and elaborate detail about the soups she would make, the frying she would do, the stocks. But most of all, the frying. Her Antonio, her son, and her grandkids liked it best. And it’s Good Friday after all. (Here, she made the sign of the cross.)

And just like that, I fell in love.

She told me that this was her second trip to the fishmongers in two days as they had sold out of the fish yesterday - the day of a freezing rain storm. The day that saw me fall on my ass not twice but thrice on the slippy, drippy, trippy sidewalks. I asked if she had fallen. Just once, she said, but she was so short she didn’t have too far to fall. She laughed.

She had no car (judging by the thickness of her glasses and her age, I suspect if she ever had her license it had been revoked some time ago), so she took multiple buses and subways to get the fish.

She asked where I lived, and I told her. Of course. So she asked for a ride to the subway. Her morning wait for the bus had been 30 minutes because of the holiday. I have never in my life been so delighted to say yes.

But first, of course, we had to wait for her millions of teeny fish to be gutted and de-headed. Which, as you can imagine, took some time. So we talked. And then we talked and talked and talked some more.

As we got into the car, I turned on her seat warmer and she scoffed that her butt could take the cold. It had endured far worse, she assured me. I well-believed her. (But kept the warmer on just the same.)

I learned about her Italian home in Bari. Her good man. Her son and his decent wife (who’s Sicilian, but that’s okay, you see). About her 11 sisters and brothers. About what she knew to be true from these 89 years the good Lord has graced her with. (It’s only love that matters.) And about other things I think I’ll keep between us.

Just before she got out of the car, I remembered to ask her what the name of the fish was. "Acciuga" she said. "I don’t know in English. Look it up on the phone."

She got out of the car, said she loved me and that she would look forward to seeing me in the next life. I said the same.

I miss her already.

The truth is this: Angels are everywhere. And when they speak, we need to share their words.

Like:

It’s only love that matters.

Yes.

That’s just true.

Love,

TG-Signature-1-2.jpg
 

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Help me help others for my birthday?

For the last several years, I’ve done a big ol’ Board of Your Life sale on my birthday. I love birthdays, I love sales, I love Board of Your Life. It has made sense.

But in truth, this year, not much is making sense.

As I prepare to spend this delicious day with my husband enjoying yoga, some spa time, eyeing that pair of Louboutins, sipping a delightful cocktail on a patio in a gorgeous area of the city made for people-watching and later enjoying a meal lovingly prepared by my daughter, I continue to be struck by my massive good fortune. And the irreconcilable number of people’s massive misfortune.

Millions of them.

And though this thought is delivered with no small amount of shame, I will say this: feeling overwhelmed by helplessness often results in me doing little to help.

Certainly, there are places where I deepen in with my time and resources on a personal level. Volunteer work and monthly charitable contributions and the like. And so in those weakened moments of helplessness I limply go to “I’ve done my part.”

But I haven’t. Not by a long long long shot.

And then there are times I just can’t even.

And someone makes it stunningly easy for me to care, to help, to act.

This time, it’s my friend Cath who belongs to a collective of women here in Toronto raising money to sponsor a refugee family from Syria and bring them safely to Canada. And to offer them a soft place to land.

In her words:

"The East-West Refugee Collective is a small group of neighbours, friends and friends of friends, who were horrified by the photo of little Alan Kurdi, the 3-year-old Syrian whose lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach a few weeks ago. We've come together to sponsor a refugee family from Syria.

We can't help Alan Kurdi, but we hope to help some other child like him.

We have united with the members of Rosedale United Church's refugee committee to put in a sponsorship application to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

They have 20 years of experience doing this and have kindly agreed to show us the ropes, and help us with the paperwork.

We have committed to raising $35,000 for the family's needs in its first year in Canada. And we've committed to helping them settle, both logistically and emotionally.

We will find them housing, help enroll their kids in school, fill out OHIP forms, sign up for English classes, buy coats and mattresses and take them to the CN Tower."

east west collective R5IF THIS feels like a cause YOU can deepen into, you can support these women’s efforts my emailing me here. (I will put you in touch with them. This is all kind of new and little fluid, so we’re going super low-tech here.)

If you feel like you’d like to support the Collective’s efforts AND have been wanting to work with me (on a issue of clarity, business or mindset expansion) I’m making it super easy for you.

Email me to book a deeply discounted session for $200 USD (my Spotlight Sessions are normally $400 USD) with the proceeds going to the Collective. I can only offer a small number of these (12 in total), so if feels good and right, I highly suggest you email me soonest.

You’ll receive my auto-responder saying I’m out for the day (birthday shenanigans and my VA is also away from the office), but WE PROMISE to be in touch September 29th with a PayPal invoice and the link to my calendar for a session to be booked by end of November. (Like I said, super low-tech.)

Once my birthday is over OR the 12 sessions are booked, they’re gone.

And if this doesn’t feel good and right for you, I get it. I totally get you too.

But may I make a birthday wish? That you find your own way to deepen in to what matters to you. To care, to help, to act.

All love. x/TG