(photo cred: eric moniz)
After a crushing breakup in the early 2000s, I traveled to Japan, away from everything I knew, to teach English for a year. The pain caused me to want, with the strongest desire I’d ever known, to find a reliable way out of suffering. I wanted an answer I could count on from within. It led me to search for answers from my own personal source of guidance, inner being, higher power, spiritual self - whatever you want to call that source energy that we are an extension of, and always connected to, that provides wisdom, navigation and inspiration. I wanted to find it, connect to it, know it, and understand it to feel in control of my happiness. I wanted sustainable inner support. And, ultimately, I wanted to learn the mechanics of transformation.
Over a serendipitous and dedicated journey since, I’ve come to know that true freedom comes not from depending upon conditions around me to change so that I can feel happy, but the opposite - feeling satisfaction before the thing I think will make me satisfied comes into my life. I’ve learned (and am always still learning) to think and feel better first, manage my focus, energy and emotions into a good-feeling place, and know that this influences my world and brings the magic. I've learned it's thoughts first, then things.
Over the past twenty years, I’ve grown through the unparalleled teachings of experience. I’ve learned practices and tools to buoy my journey, correct my course, create balance and converge with my spirit. Essentially, I found a way to make my mind my friend.
When I discovered that I didn't need anyone else to change in order to feel better, I found true freedom. (Always working on it!). You can't look at things that are horrible and feel good, but you can practice looking at things that feel good, and the horrible things show up less and less. And the solutions come through with more ease. It's about directing your focus and aligning with your guidance, which affects what you receive, perceive, and how you experience the world. This is when you close the gap between where you are and where you want to be, and step into your powerful nature, into who you really are and who you want to be.
It didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen without a ton of work and dedication. It didn't happen without learning how to relax and be kind to myself. It's a practice, an art, a skill set. When I really started to chill out, I began to connect to my guidance consistently. The conscious blending of physical and non-physical feels amazing and comes through sensations, thoughts, ideas, inclinations to act, to move and more.
I certainly don't have it all figured out. It's evolving process, and there's always more to expand into and refine. But, I feel like on some macro level, my purpose has been to go through this challenging, empowering, emotional and real-world journey, and come through it feeling happy with something of value to contribute.
I hope these words have helped to remind you of the goodness of your soul, the power of your mind and the depth that's always there for you in the silence; the profound wisdom and expansive love streaming to you at all times.
You have important and exceptional talent to share and deserve to live a fully expressed life while pursuing your creative path
More about my journey...
After years of formal academic training where I received Bachelor of Physical & Health Education and Bachelor of Arts (Psychology Minor) degrees from Queen’s University, I went to Japan to teach in their public school system. From there as I embarked on a focused effort to find my freedom from pain, and venture into joy, I visited Cambodia, where I spent time at Angkor Wat deepening my love affair with photography, finding beauty through a lens, traveled to Bali and experienced chakra healing, journeyed to Nepal where I studied Tibetan Buddhism and meditation at Kopan Monastery with Geshe Lama Lhundrup, did a week-long fast and colonic cleanse in Thailand where I first found yoga and was introduced to Byron Katie's powerful process to undo stressful thoughts that cause suffering. I ended up going to her 10-day School for The Work near San Diego on a scholarship a couple of years later, after being moved in-person by her workshop intensives.
Fast forward to a blustery winter night at a coffee shop, where I could be found most days working on a Master's degree in a small, lakeside university town. An acquaintance walked in. Her face was red, she was sweaty and I asked, "How are you this broiling right now??!" She told me a new hot yoga studio had just opened across the street. "It's amazing. You should try it!" In short, I did.
As I immersed myself in the practice over the next few months, going once or twice a day, I heard a quote:
Teach what you need to learn.
I'd been crying for two weeks straight in one particular posture. Camel pose (ustrasana) - a backbend. Every. Single. Class. It was an obvious connection between the physical and the emotional, and I was fascinated.
I wanted to know what was going on.
I was releasing pent up emotion, feeling so much better, my body was changing and I was instinctively going back for more. I wanted to learn more about the relationship between body, thoughts, emotions and energy. I was intrigued by the connection - it went beyond my academic training and was more aligned with perspectives I'd experienced in my travels.
I ended up transforming so much, becoming so curious about why the shifts were happening, so interested in the practicality of it, and struck by seeing so clearly who I was, that I decided to teach it so I could learn it.
Also at that time, I had been trying to contribute to creating more peace in the world by dissecting it on paper - I spent a lot of time studying militarism and nationalism as part of my graduate work - yet I had a growing awareness that critically focusing on problems and analyzing them, as prescribed, without an equal emphasis on solutions was not paving the way to a brighter future.
I also had a sense that peace in the world begins within, and I definitely wasn't feeling peace as I researched. Finally, I had this feeling that what was at the root of the social suffering I was struggling to unravel was something deeper, intangible, non-physical and perhaps not yet understood by science, or defensible to an academic committee. Consumed by these thoughts, I stepped onto the mat everyday, began to lighten up and consciously find, know and feel peace in my body and mind.
I'd read a quote by Confucius years earlier:
To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order; we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.
So, after a few epiphanies, expedited by the yoga, I dropped the Master's degree. I realized I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I then signed up for the next teacher training. Rather than just read, write or talk about it, I wanted to do it, feel it and know it in my heart and cells. Within days I was offered a full-time job teaching at the studio.
I completed the 9-week Bikram Yoga teacher training in LA later that year (2005) and that became my full time career for over a decade where I taught thousands of classes and students while deepening my own practice.
As a random aside, during undergrad, after a summer of tree planting, I became a forest firefighter for a couple of seasons in northern Ontario. This satisfied my yearning to ride in a helicopter, wear a snazzy jumpsuit with my last name on a badge, operate heavy equipment and fight fires. But what's most significant is the way it came about. It was so full of synchronicity that it remains a personal anchor, along with how my yoga career came to be, for understanding how thoughts become things and recognizing that touch of magic when people, circumstances and events orchestrate in truly incredible ways to fulfill a desire.
Speaking of synchronicity, in the midst of the first year of graduate school, I put formal studies on pause, moved to San Francisco (to follow love) and landed a job with an active travel company based out of Berkeley. It was my dream job at my dream company. I'd applied earlier that year to no avail, but decided to go visit the office since I was in the area - like a little pilgrimage. When I walked in everything was right - the vibe, conversation, people, circumstances - everything. They'd done their hiring but happened to need one more Canadian. A week, 3 interviews and a bike test later, I was hired.
I ended up leading biking, hiking and multi-sport trips through the Canadian Rockies over two summers and through Belize during winter months. I remember driving through the Rockies, tears streaming down my face, music blaring, in complete awe of the mountains and in peak, blessed appreciation. It was another example of the world conspiring for me and I truly wondered how these components could come together in ways that were beyond rational explanation.
From snorkelling in the Caribbean to driving a Jeep through literal rivers, exploring caves, sierras and glaciers, to careening down mountains on a bike, even being on a chartered flight that landed in a corn field (because it was too foggy and the plane didn't have radar!), I sought adventure, growth and creating connections. And, after years of exciting exploits and serendipitous coincidences, I started to take a more consistent and focused journey inward. I wanted to feel better more of the time, not be so reactive to conditions I couldn't control and understand what those synchronicities were about.
Fast forward to 2007, I decided to go to the clinically-studied Hoffman Quadrinity Process in Napa Valley. The Process is "a week-long residential and personal growth retreat that helps participants identify negative behaviours, moods and ways of thinking that developed unconsciously and were conditioned in childhood". It was an incomparable experience that changed me at a neurological level and gave me unprecedented insight into my self.
This inner journey continued with countless experiences, workshops, trainings, reflections, teachers and re-certifications over the years.
In 2014, accompanied once again by auspicious events, this time inspired by heavy bass, I emerged from my disciplined yogic path into techno. I stepped into the electronic music community in Toronto and started a blog, interviewed artists, wrote event reviews and found more of myself through the music and the collective vibe. This led to many trips to New York, Miami, Mexico and Montreal where I immersed myself into this underground world of dance music.
Along the way, my exploration of how the inner affects the outer has remained central and constant. This intense desire, to be deliberate about what I'm creating, to be aware of what I'm feeling and to know the nitty gritty of how it unfolds, is constant.
Fast forward to today, through this wild maze of a journey so far (!) and I'm loving this experience of clarity, knowing how this energy, emotion, attraction, thought thing works and how to apply it to my life purposefully.
I studied the fundamentals of life coaching with the Co-Active Training Institute in 2010, and decided in 2019 I was ready to take the leap to create a coaching program that helps clients feel better from the inside out. I had to get happy first, understand how I did it, sustain it and practice how to teach and communicate it. I now help people to navigate the world with more predictability and conscious control by assisting them to train their emotional state on-purpose and understand how what they think and feel affects what they attract.
I've also launched a new publication, NONPHYSCL, that helps readers understand the connection between thoughts, emotions, energy, attraction and what comes into our lives.
My dream back in Japan was to be happy and to know how I got that way. I wanted it with everything I had and it's so incredible to be on this side of that desire, truly living the dream. A place I didn't know how I'd get to but always knew was possible. A stable, content, appreciative, joyful place where there's always more to learn and contrast to spur growth. A place where I'm genuinely excited for what's next by virtue of my broadening perspective, internal compass, and an understanding of the power of emotion and how thoughts become things.
The road has been an ever-evolving mosaic of academic study, intensive training, international adventure, practical teaching experience and consistent, inquisitive immersion at the intersection of mind, body, emotion and spirit, and I'm so excited to continue expanding in this exhilarating way, and to teach others along the way.
It didn’t happen overnight. And it didn’t happen without a ton of work and dedication.
But, I know that if I can shift my mindset, and you want that for yourself, you can do it too.
I know that if I can learn how this inner state connects to real world experience, you can too, if that's your desire.