Self Improvement

Why & How to Create a Conscious Relationship

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I’ve written before about the concept of conscious uncoupling, and the powerful and positive effects having the right mindset can have during the dissolution of a relationship. What I want to focus on today, however, are the ways in which you can create a conscious relationship with your new or existing partner. No matter the stage of your relationship, whether it is new or familiar, you will be amazed at the positive impact committing to growing a relationship filled with mindfulness, mutual respect and authenticity can have. Ready to shift your mindset and bring true consciousness to your relationship? Let’s dig in. 1. Commit to Total Union & Kick Judgment to the Curb

I encourage my clients to view a relationship as the union of two separate, complete and fulfilled beings. You are not a half and your partner is not a half. Rather, you have joined to create something bigger than the sum of its parts. In order for such a partnership to reach its full potential, it’s important that you see yourselves as full beings outside of the relationship.

You are joined with your partner on a journey to find, grow and sustain happiness. Of course, judgment will arise. You will both make mistakes, but just as you would forgive yourself, it’s critical that you develop the ability to communicate first instead of jumping to judgment. A powerful question I share with my clients when they are feeling disappointed with their partner is "WHY do I think that I did that action/said that comment?" By doing this first, it opens up different parts of your brain and you are more easily able to enter into discussion.

2. Actively Look for Ways to Grow the Relationship

The best and most mutually rewarding relationships never stop growing. Both partners continuously look for ways to grow themselves and the relationship as a whole, recognizing when they’ve fallen into routine and committing to approach each experience with a learner mentality. There will always be something new to learn about your self, your partner and your relationship together.

Make the conscious choice to treat every situation as an opportunity to learn something new about your partner and foster a stronger sense of connectedness and understanding. Support each other in following your passions, make time for one another and never stop finding new ways to develop. Remind yourself to stay curious, playful and invested; and encourage your significant other to do the same. Within relationships, you both change over the years and so be open to adaption and shifting with your partner rather than focusing solely on how things once were. 

3. Practice Self-Awareness & Choose to Be in the Relationship

It can be easy to fall into routine and develop a sense of expectation or entitlement when in a long-term relationship. You’ve been together for so long that you’ve come to expect them to be there at the end of the day, to listen to your problems and support you at every turn. However, it’s so important to practice self-awareness and remind yourself that being in a relationship is a conscious choice on the parts of both individuals.

You don’t owe your partner love or support, you choose to love them and support them. They don’t owe you a comforting shoulder or understanding gaze; they choose to offer them to you. Shifting from expectation to awareness and appreciation will have amazing impact on your relationship and your life. Developing the ability to deeply appreciate and acknowledge the words and actions of others will allow you to feel a greater sense of love, happiness and will make you more present when speaking and acting yourself.

4. Sustain Your Self as an Individual & Recognize Your Partner as the Same

As I mentioned, the most rewarding unions happen when two equal and full individuals come together. While you work to foster your relationship, don’t forget to take time and put forth the effort to grow and sustain yourself as a unique, expressive individual. Your passions, present and future goals are just as important now as they were before. Your relationship will only grow stronger the more self-assured and fulfilled you become as an individual. Make this a priority, my friend.

And, in the same vein, remember to recognize your partner as a unique individual as well. He or she must also make the time to grow their passions, focus on their own development and become the best version of themselves that they can be. Support your partner on their journey, but still remain balanced with your own dreams and desires.

5. Do All Things With Love and Focus On Who They Are

Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary or achievement, or find yourself in an argument about something trivial or otherwise, try your best to approach the situation with love in your heart. Remember that everything you say and do has the power to impact. Your words can build your partner up or tear your partner down, both having lasting effect. Do all things with love – even when it feels challenging. Pause and really consider your words before they exit your mouth. I know, there's the heat of the moment stuff, but at the end of the day everyone (including yourself) is looking to be seen and appreciated for what they have done and contributed to the relationship rather than feeling like the focus is on all the things they haven't. Take time to focus who they are vs. who they aren't.

You, your partner and your union will thank you.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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6 "Single" Stereotypes That Got it Wrong

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If you’re single, there’s a good chance that your couple friends and family can sometimes find it hard to relate to you. Perhaps they’ve offered to set you up with someone they know, made a comment or asked a question that made you feel awkward, or regularly check in to ask if you’re “still single.” This is because your friends and family, like many people within our relationship-focused culture, have grown to believe certain stereotypes over time. Sure, there may be downsides to being single, but there are a whole lot of upsides too. This post talks about exactly what – the six stereotypes about being single that got it totally wrong. 1. It’s So Hard Cooking for One

Cooking for yourself, and just yourself, can be incredibly enjoyable. This is your chance to be adventurous, explore different cuisines and never have to compromise on the menu. Love pineapple and olives on your pizza? Do your thing. It’s 100% up to you! Plus, with so many cook-at-home subscriptions and grocers offering options that cater to those seeking smaller portions than the traditional four-person household, it can not only be enjoyable but affordable as well.

2. You Can’t Enjoy Traveling

There’s no denying that traveling on your own is different from traveling with a partner, but that doesn’t mean it’s not just as exciting or fulfilling. In fact, traveling on your own can be the most rewarding experience of your life if you approach it with the right mindset. Take the opportunity to go somewhere you’ve always wanted to, step outside your comfort zone and make lasting friendships and memories. Not only that, but you’re gaining life experience and amazing stories to share with your future partner.

3. You’re a Workaholic

Being single doesn’t equate to being a workaholic or lacking in life balance. Actually, it’s pretty likely that you have a more balanced life and greater time for your passions than many couples do. You set your own schedule, only have yourself to answer to and have the complete ability to do what you want. Want to pour yourself into your career and land your dream promotion? Want to commit to living a mindful life and take off on a yoga treat in Bali? Want to live a totally balanced life that allows for rewarding work and personal time? It’s your call and no one else’s.

4. You Just Don’t Know What You Want

There’s a preconceived notion that a single person may be single because he or she doesn’t know what they want, or because they are being “too picky.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting the bar high and refusing to settle – and this can be difficult for those in a relationship to understand at times, as often sometimes people define success in life by finding a partner, getting married and having children. Remind yourself that it’s not that you don’t know what you want. In fact, it’s just the opposite. You want to live your fullest life, find the right partner and do it in a way that makes you happy.

5. Happy Couples Annoy You

Just because you’re single doesn’t automatically mean that you dislike happy couples or no longer want to hang out with your “couple friends.” Sure, feeling like the third wheel can be a little challenging at times, but you are a mindful adult capable of determining whether or not you like someone based on their individual actions. You see a couple as two equal partners, not as a single being. Some people in relationships may rub you the wrong way, but it’s not because of the fact that they’re in a relationship. You don’t breathe life into stereotypes.

6. You Must Be So Lonely

Have you ever heard the phrase, “I’ve never felt so lonely than when standing in a room full of people?” You see, anyone is capable of experiencing a sense of loneliness. Those in relationships still do experience loneliness from time to time, sometimes more emotional than physical, but still just as valid. And, being single doesn’t mean that you’re sitting at home by yourself. Many of my single clients take full advantage of their autonomy by trying new restaurants, spending more time with friends, following a passion or hobby they’ve put off and by filling their time with the people and things they love.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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4 Ways to Transform Your Relationship Through Mindfulness

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Whether you’re looking for a relationship, just beginning a new relationship or have been with your partner for years, you’ll be amazed by just how much you can totally transform your connection by applying four elements of mindfulness. Mindfulness is just another way of saying you are being more present and aware and mindful of your self, your actions and those of the people around you. Let’s talk about the four ways to transform your relationship with mindfulness that you can also easily apply to your everyday encounters and begin practicing immediately. As with all things, practice makes perfect. And, dear friend, mindfulness is no different. While certain methods might feel a little weird or awkward initially, I urge you to continue. It’s only with dedicated practice that the power of mindfulness is truly unlocked.

1. Mindful Meditation

Before you write off meditation as “too new age” or “a fad,” take a moment to hear me out. Meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting in a circle making “mmm” noises. Don’t get me wrong, group meditation can be a powerful experience, but it’s probably not the easiest idea to wrap your head around if you’re a meditation newcomer. And that’s OK! What I’d like you to do, instead, is to simply find a calm and quiet place in your home to visit once a day. Give yourself 10-20 minutes to sit, rest, clear your head and take deep, steady breaths. Think of it as decompressing the brain - often it will feel that way!

If you’re like me and appreciate a gentle, guiding voice then I’d recommend downloading a meditation app, like Insight Timer or Headspace, to help you get started. There are many meditation apps available that offer a range of guided styles, types of sessions and session lengths.

You can do solo mediation or even invite your partner to join. Either way, you’ll bring the benefits of taking time for yourself, allowing your mind to clear and really hitting that “reset” button to ensure you’re living in the present, into your relationship. Mindful meditation is also an effective way to decompress after the workday, or going into the weekend, allowing you to focus on your relationship, in the now, without negative thoughts or distraction.

2. Mindful Speaking

While mindfulness involves living in the moment, it also involves taking a step back and developing the ability to recognize behaviour in our selves – and to change it. If you’ve ever found yourself blurting out something you wish you hadn’t, or feel as though in the heat of the moment you have “no filter,” you will likely benefit from speaking more mindfully.

As with meditation, mindful speaking requires practice. Starting with your very next conversation, whether it’s a phone call with your mom or a text to your boyfriend, really observe the intent of your words, the language you use and the tone in which you communicate. Seemingly insignificant habits, like beginning sentences with “You always” or “You never” can actually have major impact on how your words are received, interpreted and reacted to. These words will shut down the conversation before it even gets started. The only direction it can head is toward an argument.

Recognizing that each word you use carries power and creates an effect will allow you to begin phasing out words and phrases that lead to negative experiences, as well as become a better communicator with the ability to clearly express yourself in a positive way. We can feel pressure to get our words out but take a breath, review it's potential consequences, and then speak.

3. Deep Active Listening

I’ve spoken before about the importance of active listening, not only in romantic relationships but also in all relationships, and now I’d like to explore how you can take that one step further. Deep active listening is more than showing acknowledgment that you hear and understand someone. It involves practicing great empathy and really allowing yourself to step into the other person’s shoes and try to feel and understand as they do. It’s one thing to hear about your partner’s good or bad day through the lens of your own life, and it’s another – more effective – thing to envision experiencing it as your partner. Picture their day, what has been going on prior to the conversation, step into their shoes.

Remember that, as with all active listening, you are not simply listening to respond. You are listening to truly and authentically understand and appreciate. Doing so will help you develop stronger, deeper relationships and evolve to be a more compassionate, informed human being!

4. Act With Purpose

Last but not least, I want to talk to you about living, and acting, with purpose. So often people find themselves entering “autopilot” mode. It might be on the drive to the office, on the phone with a parent, folding laundry or even during intimacy. Part of being mindful, present and living in the now is doing all things with purpose.

Let’s say that you’re walking to a restaurant for lunch, simultaneously flipping through your news feed or checking emails on your phone. You’re probably walking slower than you would had you put your phone away, and you might even bump into a few people or walk right by your intended destination. This is because, in this moment, you’re not acting with purpose. You’re doing what so many men and women have – believe it or not – learned to do. You’re multi-tasking.

You’re hungry so you’re walking to grab lunch, right? By being on your phone, you’re allowing yourself to be distracted. And, given the nature of social media, it’s fairly likely you’ll come across an article or post that makes you unhappy or stresses you out. So, now you’re not only feeling physical discomfort (hunger) but you’re feeling emotional or mental discomfort, too!

Whenever you have the opportunity, make the conscious effort to singular task. It’ll take practice, yes, but will also feel much more rewarding. Carry this same practice into your relationship. Instead of chatting with your partner about the day while putting away dishes or folding laundry, sit with him and focus on just the conversation. If you’re in the bedroom, really be in the bedroom – try to not allow your mind to wander into what you need to go and do before you go to sleep or where you need to be first thing in the morning. Phones don't belong in the bedroom so leave those tempations plugged in elsewhere in the house! The gift you can give your partner is your undivided attention. That's what you want. That's what they want. So give that to each other.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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How to Identify Synchronicity and Harness its Power to Guide Your Love Life

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Have you ever sat thinking about how great a recent date was, only to hear your phone buzz, look down and see that your date has texted you? Have you ever thought, “I’ll give my online dating profile one last shot, and then I’m deleting it,” only to strike up a conversation with a great match the very next day? These meaningful coincidences, or synchronistic events, can offer intense affirmation and encouragement. But, is there really such a thing as coincidence? Do you know how to identify synchronicity and really tell the difference? Many have studied the occurrences and impacts of synchronicity, and even more have surely experienced a synchronistic event in their lives at some point or another. Robert Perry is one example of a man who’s devoted much of his career to studying synchronicity and is celebrated for “A Course in Miracles.”  He believes there is immense value in learning to identify, and seek meaning from, powerful coincidences that can guide your life and love in a positive direction.

Like I mentioned, many have already experienced at least one of these events. You, my friend, will likely experience many more in your future. So, let’s talk about how you can identify the coincidences that are worth examining further and deciphering for meaningful guidance.

1. You Feel a New or Sudden Spark or Awareness of Desire, And Then Poof – It’s Fulfilled

I often hear from couples that met online about how they were this close to deleting their profile when they received a message from the other or saw their partner listed as a match. For one reason or another, they felt suddenly compelled to communicate and meet offline – even though, just hours before, they were ready to give up on online dating altogether.  This intense awareness, coupled with fulfillment coming shortly after, is something greater than your regular old coincidence.

When you feel compelled to say “yes” to a night out with your girlfriends or give speed dating a try, even though you’d typically much rather spend your night inside with pajamas and Netflix, it could very well be a sign that something truly meaningful is about to happen. This sort of synchronicity could happen in putting an offer in on a house you have a gut feeling about, applying for a new job or booking a spontaneous vacation. All I ask of you, friend, is to be open to what comes next!

2. You’ve Been Questioning A Decision and Receive Unexpected Affirmation

We’ve all been there. At some point, we make a decision and wind up feeling unsure as to whether or not it was the best move. Sometimes, particularly for those who have taught themselves to identify synchronicity, affirmation or validation follows. I was speaking to a friend who recently turned down a job that just didn’t feel right, even though on paper it looked fantastic. Not even three months later, the company pulled out of Canada and its existing employees were, sadly, laid off. Another friend of mine, who longed to explore more vegetarian restaurants and get to know fellow marketers in her new city, joined a book club on Meet Up – even though the idea was intimidating to her. When she arrived, she sat down at an empty seat and discovered the two women on either side of her were also vegetarians and both worked in marketing.

I firmly believe that we’re meant to be where we are, but that we have to be open to following our gut. When you long for chance, seek it out. If you had a great date, but didn’t feel a spark, don’t beat yourself up about moving onto someone new. Maybe the spark wasn’t there because it’s waiting for you in your next date. And, when you feel it, you’ll know you made the right choice.

3. You’ve Noticed Someone New and Continue to Run Into Them

When you notice the same person, be it at your local coffee shop or on the bus, across a number of days or weeks, it may be the universe guiding you towards one another. This can happen to reconnect you with an old friend, a new business contact, or even a soul mate. When your daily routines and actions bring you together to the same place at the same time, on multiple occasions, you owe it to yourself to take action. Go up and introduce yourself, or offer a smile and wave. While you feel like you’ve spotted this person so often recently, it could be some time before your paths intertwine again – if ever!

The next time you experience what you think is “just a coincidence,” take pause and consider the possibility of it being something more – more meaningful, more powerful and more guiding. Follow your intuition, open yourself up to signs and say hello to that charming stranger on the bus. You’ll be amazed at what synchronicity has in store for your life.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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How to Use Everyday Colour Theory to Take Your Love Life From 0 to 60

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Everybody has a favourite colour. Whether you love how it looks on you, enjoy seeing it on the walls and furniture around your home, or simply feeldrawn to it for an inexplicable reason – you’re not alone! In fact, colour is incredibly powerful and has the ability to dramatically impact your mood, feelings, outlook and experiences. In today’s post, I’d like to chat with you about how you can even use colour theory to improve your love life. If you’re wondering, “How the heck can that be true?” I encourage you to keep reading! Step One: Identify Your Goal

The first step to applying colour theory to your love life, and life in general, is to realize what it is you’re looking to accomplish. Is your goal to boost your confidence on your next date? Is it to seem more approachable, more powerful or wiser? Or, are you looking for a way to create a more calming, love-inviting atmosphere in your home? Different goals call for different colours, and even different shades of colours, so identifying what it is you’re looking to accomplish is a hugely important step.

Step Two: Understand Which Colours Are For You

Like I mentioned, different objectives call for different colours. So, let’s talk about the colours you should consider for a few common goals. First up? Confidence! If you’re looking to not only make yourself feel more confident, but also to appear more confident to your date, then yellow might just be the hue for you. Yellow is a colour that we psychologically associate with optimism, high self-esteem, friendliness and confidence. While vibrant yellow may not “work” for everyone, chances are there’s a variation on yellow – say, mustard yellow or muted pastel – that will.

If you’d like to appear more feminine, nurturing or even sensual, then consider reaching for something in pink. Unlike its counterpart, red, pink tends to come across as a very approachable colour. While it may not be the best choice in a job interview or business meeting (blue would be a better choice there as it communicates intelligence and efficiency), it can work wonders on a date or even as an accent colour in a bedroom.

If the idea of dating feels slightly overwhelming and you’d like to create a calmer, more peaceful home environment for you – and potentially a future lover – then you may want to consider hues of green or orange. Green has calming, balancing and refreshing effects on a psychological level. Orange, similarly, has a calming and comforting effect. Like pink, it can also be associated with sensuality and passion!

Step Three: Inject These Colours Into Your Daily Life 

Feeling confident on a date is fantastic, but feeling confident on a daily basis? That’ll set you up for success time after time. Once you’ve established your goals and identified the colours that’ll help you achieve them, it’s time to inject these colours into your daily life.

I encourage you to do a little shopping to add more of the colour to your wardrobe. If you already have some of the shade in the mix, it’s time to bring those items to the front of your closet and be sure to wear those pieces more often! Also, consider bringing the colour – or colours – into your home for a more environmental and regular impact. Whether you choose to repaint your walls, add a few throw pillows or pick up a new piece of artwork for your favourite room – know that the change will almost immediately begin to impact your mindset in a positive way. Plus, when you’re at your home with a date or future partner, having what we’ll call your “power colour” around you will give you a fantastic boost of happiness and confidence. Your date is sure to take note!

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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How to Break Through Other People's Negativity

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Like many of you, I consider myself to be a pretty intuitive person who can quickly pick up the "vibe" of someone and know where they are at. After all, I’ve made it my life’s work to help others achieve fulfillment and happiness, find authenticity in all pursuits and build rewarding relationships. I truly feel for my clients, empathize with wherever they may be in their lives and look to empower them to evolve. If you, yourself pick up on the energy of other people, you may know by now that we tend to be extra susceptible to a little something called “transfer negativity.” The term “transfer negativity” is something I’ve began calling the down, blue or generally crummy feeling that pops up after spending time with any person, or in any environment, that is highly critical or negative. While, over the years, I’ve learned techniques and practices to maintain my, what some may call empathic abilities while also maintaining a positive mind and spirit, it truly is something that comes with practice. Otherwise, you may feel your positivity overshadowed by negativity created and transferred by outside environments.

You may have heard others referring to themselves as "empaths" and this is just a fancy term for "easily pick up on the energies of others".

Whether this all brings to mind a hostile work environment, toxic friendship or the memories of a failed relationship, I promise that there are steps you can take to combat transfer negativity and get back to positive, uplifting thoughts.

1. If You Can Remove Yourself From the Environment, Do So

We’ve all experienced, or at least heard of, a job that just wasn’t the right fit. Maybe nobody ever replied to your sunny, “Good morning!” Perhaps you simply never clicked with your coworkers or were left hungering for greater fulfillment and meaning. The reality, while unfortunate, is that not every job is suited to every person – and sometimes, you’ll be happiest and healthiest to recognize a bad fit and pursue something greater. I know for myself, I have had to get better at recognizing where a positive attitude is not considered an asset and just move on.

Leaving a job, especially a long-term, secure job, can be a scary thought. Many people are creatures of habit and the idea of willfully walking away from security, stability and a scheduled paycheck takes guts. But, as I’m confident you’ll find out, it’s also worthwhile because for your next opportunity, you will be much more in tune with the importance of positivity in the workplace. If you’ll feel more comfortable job hunting prior to giving your notice, then cash in a few vacation days and hit the pavement with your resume in hand. You can do it. You deserve the job of your dreams.

2. Know That Your Friendship History Doesn’t Obligate A Future

Have you ever been hurt or disappointed by a friend, only to convince yourself that you need to make up because you’ve, “been friends forever?” While all relationships, romantic and otherwise, do have their ups and downs – it’s so important to take pause to reflect and ensure you really do experience more ups than downs. If a friendship isn’t mutually rewarding or leaves you feeling anything other than happiness, it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship.

Who you were when you first became friends may be very different from who you are – who you both are – today. Time changes people, needs and desires. While you and your friend may have fulfilled each other back in the day, your individual goals and lifestyles may no longer be the same. Your mind, soul and future friendships will thank you for recognizing a toxic friendship and taking steps to recalibrate.

3. Recognize Your Power to Choose Positivity

While your environment and those around you can be two major drivers of negative thinking, it’s important to acknowledge and accept the power that you, yourself, have to block negativity out and practice positive thinking. Some find that reciting daily, positive affirmations helps to set the tone of the day and offers the opportunity for positive reinforcement throughout the day. Others regularly practice using positive language and uplifting words – not only when thinking to themselves, but also when in conversations with others.

A happy mindset and positive outlook are conscious choices that you are fully capable of making. When negativity starts to creep in, or when you feel drained at the end of listening to a negative rant or spending time in a gloomy situation, get yourself to a calming space and hit your internal “reset” button. Take some deep breaths and get yourself centered again.

4. Surround Yourself With Other Positive People

What do you do when you’ve removed yourself from a negative environment, stepped away from negative people and reset your outlook? You begin to actively seek out amazing environments and positive people. You’ll unknowingly begin to attract spectacular experiences and relationships into your life. Like attracts like, after all!

As you spend more time in better environments and with people who truly feed your soul, your protective negativity barrier will strengthen. You’ll most likely even end up inspiring and motivating others to live more positively – whether you realize it or not.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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How Welcoming the New Year with Tidying Can Bring Love to Your Life

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So often around New Year's we become completely focused on feeling like the only single person in a world that seems filled with couples. The unsolicited advice on why we haven't found someone yet doesn't help either. So given all of this, wouldn't it be nice to encourage a totally different approach to our love life as we welcome in the New Year? I truly believe it’s the perfect time to go within, create quiet space on your own and wind down a year… and then welcome a brand new one. Often when I work with clients, we "clear the clutter" in order to invite love into our lives. It’s an excellent opportunity to take care of the things in your life that are causing you stress in your world. Annnnd, hint, hint, what I'm really getting at here is when your "to do" list doesn't seem so gigantic, you are more likely to create time to make your love life a priority. :) 1) Clothes & Laundry

I know, you might be thinking, "Christine, really? Laundry?" It's about cleansing, so the first step I encourage you to do is take everything out of your closet and drawers and really look at it. Which pieces make you happy? Are there some things you might wear after a good dry clean? You want to get your closet to a place where you love everything so if you don't love it, give it away or prep it for consignment. This brings me to laundry, the consignment pile can be washed and prepped. With items that you want to keep, divide them into categories so that you don't have lots of duplicates or to just double check that everything fits well and is in good shape.

2) The Kitchen

Something as simple as reorganizing the kitchen cupboards can make way for a strong sense of lightness in a person’s life.  Feeling as though you have less to do when you arrive home at the end of the day will keep your chore list from weighing you down and will allow you to say, "Yes!" more easily to new opportunities! When making your way through your kitchen cupboards, be sure to only keep the items that you regularly use. Have you never, ever used a mixing bowl but can't bear to part with it? Commit to using it at least once a month. If a month later you still haven't used it, then it's time to reconsider. Another tip I once read about is to make sure that every single ingredient, dish and appliance is within reach. Everything in your kitchen should be easily accessible. If it isn't, you're surely not going to use it - now or in the future. Group items in your fridge that you don't use very often and try to keep them separate from the items you use regularly. And, dear friend, don't forget to tackle the freezer - a great place to let go of things we haven't felt inspired to use. Create space!

3) Purge What Doesn’t Bring You Joy

Marie Kondo, famed Japanense organizing consultant, regularly emphasizes the importance of discarding belongings that do not “spark joy.” As you walk through your home or make your way room to room, place your hands on every single item and ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy?” If the answer is no, or if you can’t make up your mind, it’s time to say goodbye to that item. Wherever you live, there are donation centres that would jump at the chance to bring your items to someone in need. The items that no longer bring you joy or spark a true feeling of love will surely bring those feelings to someone else. Kondo advises to act quickly and swiftly and not let a friend or family member look through your “discard bags” as they’re likely to talk you out of cleansing all that you’ve chosen to. So many women have fallen in love with this method of choosing what stays and what goes, so why not you?

4) Make Getting Ready Exciting

You know that sense of excitement you get when you try on a new lipstick or get to wear a new dress or pair of jeans that make you look amazing? Bring that spectacular, “I look goooood” feeling to your every morning by creating a closet and “getting ready” space that works with you – instead of against you. A squished, messy and overfilled closet is much more likely to bring about feelings of anxiety than excitement. So, when you think about having to pick out an outfit for a date or find something to wear to grab a drink with friends, it’s no wonder you may be tempted to say “No, thanks.”

By cleansing your closet, drawers and “getting ready” area and allowing all of the items left to breathe and own their own space; you’ll make getting ready exciting again. You’ll rediscover your personal style and the clothing and beauty products that make you happiest.

5) Say Goodbye Without Guilt

Guilt is one of the strongest reasons we hold onto items from the past. Perhaps you bought a t-shirt or skirt that you’ve never worn. Does tossing it without having even worn it once make you feel guilty? Maybe your mother gave you a vase or dish that you know you’ll never use. But, does handing it over to someone else make you feel guilty for getting rid of something you received as a gift?

Guilt is not a reason to leave your home cluttered or to hold onto anything that doesn’t expressly bring you feelings of joy. Remind yourself that the things you no longer love (or perhaps never loved to begin with) will bring happiness and delight to someone else. And, dear friend, know that your happiness is so much more important than finding valuable storage space for something you neither love nor plan to use.

Doing these seemingly small but impactful things helps clear up space in your life, mind and heart so you won’t feel as bogged down as you start 2016. You’ll feel less inclined to decline a night out or weekend away because you took the time to focus your energy on you in order to set yourself up for success.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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Why Being Too Laid Back and Just “Going With the Flow” Can Actually Be a Problem

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Lately, I’ve noticed a theme with female clients. Really, it’s a theme that stretches far beyond my own clients and is becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s society. Many women, in and out of relationships, are striving to be seen as that calm, cool, “oh, that’s okay” person in the eyes of their significant other while compromising their true selves. The thing is, there's a danger that comes with being too laid back. Before we venture on further into this topic, I’d like to point out an important distinction that there are lots of people who really are, just naturally, very laid back and are perfectly satisfied with their lives and relationships. In this post, I'm speaking specifically about those who wish to be perceived that way at the cost of their own well-being. It's for the women who aim to be seen as always cool, always laid back and as just going with the flow – even when, inside, they know they’re sacrificing what their heart desires.

When I say I’ve noticed this theme as of late, I should note that I’ve especially noticed it amongst strong, independent women. After a day of killing it in the boardroom or jetting across the country for a speaking gig, they arrive home to their personal lives, leaving their opinion, needs and desires at the door. They want the man they are dating to say to their friends, "I'm dating this woman who is great, she's so laid back about everything" and then hear of how cool his friends think you are for that. I swear it sounds like I am taking this out of a page of the high school chronicles, but it's out there.

Why is this happening and what sort of effects can it have on a woman and her relationship?

This “laid back” and “go with the flow” type of attitude is near constantly encouraged in mainstream movies, television and literature. Think of the last time you watched a romantic comedy. It is generally the aloof, detached woman who captures his interest. Talk about mixed messages!! No wonder it's confusing.

Now, I’m not saying that women have decided to base how they behave in relationships off of romantic comedies, but I am trying to show you just one example of how this type of thinking has become so incredibly mainstream. Media has focused on the extremes.

The problem with trying not to ask for “too much,” and thereby not asking for what she truly needs or wants, is that dissatisfaction is sure to continue to build on the inside. If she rarely voices her needs or desires on the outside, there’s nowhere else for them to go. Naturally, this can lead to extreme resentment of her partner – even though her partner may have no idea she’s feeling this way. It’s a slippery slope and, while initially she may be trying to maintain a calm collective for the benefit of her partner, it can wind up hurting him and the relationship. I've actually seen this as a major cause of some break ups.

Another problem with this kind of behaviour is that it often goes hand-in-hand with completely ignoring major warning signs or big issues like money problems, infidelity, addiction, manipulation and the like. If a woman feels or believes that she’ll be better received, liked or appreciated by letting things go time and time again, bigger and bigger relationship issues can sneak through the cracks without the attention they need and deserve.

So, how does a woman in this situation find her way out of it?

Rebalancing in a new relationship may be easier, as you may have just recently met and there's room for you to shift a bit and shed old habits. In a long-term relationship or marriage, on the other hand, you may find it a bit more difficult expressing yourself and voicing your needs and desires. However, chances are you have history, rapport and trust that will help you and your partner navigate through you shedding your “too laid back” skin. Just be careful to avoid waking up one day and suddenly announcing you are not okay with all the things he thought were just fine. Approach the topic with the desire to build a stronger understanding.

Before doing anything, I encourage you to take a half hour to yourself and truly evaluate your current circumstances, decision making process and the way you interact with the opposite sex. Maybe he’s your new boyfriend, a guy you’ve gone on a couple of dates with or your long-term partner. Whatever your individual case may be, really think on it and allow yourself to recognize how and when you just say “OK” when you’re actually feeling something entirely different on the inside. Starting there will allow you to more clearly recognize the behaviour you wish to change and will help you find examples to share. Then, it’s up to you to step outside of the laid back comfort zone and express yourself. Start with really small things to build your confidence in becoming "laid back AND having your needs met/opinions heard". For example, if the fact you would really rather stay in with him this Friday night rather than go out, just say it or if you'd rather he didn't always reach for his phone during a romantic walk together, then express it. Come to think of it, if you haven't already, visit my homepage and download my Inspire Authentic Communication worksheet and audio. I assure you that your relationship, partner and self will be thankful you did.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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What Exactly Is Conscious Uncoupling and Where Did it Come From?

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In the spring of 2014, Gwenyth Paltrow published a blog post to her website, Goop, that started the divorce discussion of a decade. As media picked up her announcement, and the unusual term, millions of people thought, “What is conscious uncoupling?” And, moreover, how is it different than a regular old divorce? To answer these questions, we have to look back at the creator of the now famous two words, Katherine Woodward Thomas.

Katherine created the concept of getting “un-married” when her very own marriage of ten years began to unfold. Her then husband, who she’s now amicably dubbed her “wasband,” was not only her partner in life for ten years but also the star subject of her relationship book. The subject matter of which was all about attracting true love and building a solid relationship.

Not only was she floored by her marriage heading to divorce (this would be her second divorce), but she couldn’t imagine going through the judgment of friends and family, people taking sides, one partner attacking the other or the overall shameful feelings that come with the idea of failure. She decided that this would not be a “traditional divorce” in the sense that society has grown accustomed to. It would be something more meaningful, loving and serene.

If you think of how most relationships end, it’s generally because one or both partners are at fault. They’re blamed with having done something – or not done something. Our instinct, as humans, is to identify the problem. When in a relationship nearing its end, partners tend to try to find the problem in the other. Katherine’s concept, on the other hand, encourages partners to acknowledge the larger issues and focus on moving forward. If it’s been decided that a relationship’s over, there’s no point in overanalyzing every action or word ever said in order to assign blame. What’s important is moving forward in the least damaging way, to both parties, possible.

Fundamentally, consciously uncoupling comes down to authentically appreciating the good in the relationship and working to ensure both partners are happy, ready and able to move forward in life and love. Where extended families or children are involved, it’s about continuing to foster a sense of family – even if there is no longer a relationship status or binding tie in the eyes of the law.

For most, the idea of witnessing – and actively taking part – in the undoing of a union is tragic. Even Katherine herself admits to being devastated and has been quick to acknowledge that she wouldn’t have considered her husband a “friend” during the divorce proceedings. Instead, she refers to their relationship as having had a “friendly atmosphere.”

If you’ve been through a divorce, are currently divorcing or are recently separated, it’s not too late to consciously uncouple. It can be done with both partners actively participating, or just one partner. At the end of the day, it’s all about how you feel about and approach the situation. Only you can control your feelings and actions, and you do have the power to begin again without anger, resentment and pain.

As it turns out, while Gwenyth was following the principles set forth by Woodward Thomas, it was Goop’s editor who titled the blog post “Conscious Uncoupling.” So while, in reality, Gwenyth was unfamiliar with Katherine’s work at the time that she wrote her blog post, her celebrity power has shed an incredibly bright light on the fundamental problems with divorce and, now, an increasingly more widely adapted alternative.

If you’re wondering how it could ever be possible to face divorce, and particularly the more difficult aspects, with such a positive mindset, you might find this quote enlightening:

“So much that was beautiful and so much that was hard to bear. Yet whenever I showed myself ready to bear it, the hard was directly transformed into the beautiful.” - Katherine Woodward Thomas, Consciously Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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How to Say "Yes" to Love, Even if You Haven't Met Anyone Yet

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One of the most common reasons people give as to why they stop dating or close themselves off from love is, “I just never seem to find anybody right for me.” Spending time and money on online dating, speed dating or even just the emotional spend of meeting people through friends or family can get old fast when you feel that it just “never works out.” If you feel this way, I want you to know that I completely understand where you’re coming from. It’s in our nature to avoid doing something if we know it didn't work out last time around. But, should we really be treating finding love the same way we treat finding the right hobby or sport? You guessed it, friend. The answer is a resounding, "No!"

Something I talk about quite often is that, in love and life, it’s so incredibly important to keep an open mind and open heart. Lately, I find that I can't say it enough! While it might sound corny, I truly do believe that things happen for a reason – and always in their own time. There are some things that we simply can’t force, rush or make happen simply by planning. Love, and I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this, is one of those things.

So, how are you supposed to stay open to the idea of love when things haven’t been going your way? Why should you say “yes” to love if you feel that you never meet anyone right for you? These are both incredibly valid questions. In fact, they're the reasons I’m writing this post today. I want to give you some real, actionable ways that you can begin opening yourself up to the possibility of love starting today. I think you’ll find that when you open your mind and heart, that’s when the real magic starts to happen. So, let's jump into it!

1. Leave the Story in the Past, but Take the Lesson with You

Everyone, at some point, has experienced a bad relationship. It may have been romantic. It could have been a friendship. Or, it could even have been with a coworker. When it comes down to it, something went wrong and things didn’t turn out. What I really, really want you to do is to leave that negative experience in the past and not carry it with you on your journey forward.

While failed relationships can offer great opportunities for learning, it’s important that you recognize the learning for what it is and only take that forward in your life – and that you leave the rest in the past. It’s natural to want to protect yourself and to put up walls or barriers, but when you start building more and more of these walls you eventually become entirely closed off. And that makes it even harder for fantastic, new people to make their way into your life.

2. Be Ready for Love by Loving Yourself

I’ve written before about the concept of “like attracting like.” If you’re self-critical and so focused on all the reasons why someone else wouldn’t like you, you’re not opening yourself up to meeting someone – and certainly not allowing for a relationship to truly flourish. It’s been said time and time again, but you honestly do have to learn to love yourself before you’ll truly be comfortable putting yourself out there and saying “yes” to love with another person.

I’d encourage you to browse through some of my older posts to read the different ways you can foster greater self-acceptance and self-love. I believe you’ll find that when you are your happiest, most authentic self is when you’ll attract the right people into your life.

3. Give Yourself a Break

Something I know can be tough to deal with is societal pressure – and this absolutely includes pressure from friends and family. This "pressure" that I speak of may come in the form of them asking about why you’re single. It may come in the form of a comment like, “If you want a family then you better settle down soon!” These types of comments aren’t always meant to be hurtful. In fact, the people saying them usually have no idea the negative energy the words can carry. These types of thoughts have been engrained into people’s heads by way of societal pressure and what society defines as “normal.” The thing is, there is no real “normal.”

We live in a world that’s evolving faster than ever before. More women are building careers and working full time than ever before. Industries are changing, booming and collapsing at rapid speeds. People aren’t living in one place for all their lives and are traveling more than any previous generation. Everything, and I mean everything, is moving faster and in new and different ways and we're all just along for the thrilling ride. There are so many factors at play that didn’t exist in the past. And yet, for some reason, the expectation as to what a “societal norm” should be really hasn’t caught up. And, hey, that's really not a bad thing. Norms aren't a healthy, beneficial way of thinking - so let's leave that all in the past and push forward.

So, friend, I challenge you to kick any and all pressure you've been feeling to the curb. Rushing into a relationship with someone who may not be a truly genuine fit for you, just because you want to start a family by a certain age or tick things off of a "to do" list, likely isn’t going to fill your heart with joy in the long run. Given that we only have one life to live, I encourage you to give yourself a break. Just slow down, take a breath and allow yourself to make the most out of this crazy, incredible life you’ve been given. And when that true, overwhelming love finds its way into your life, the rest will fall into place from there.

4. When You Feel a Spark, Fan It!

The last point I want to share before I close off today’s post and let you return to your much-deserved weekend is that, when you feel a spark, you mustn't be afraid to fan it and see what happens. Don’t let yourself get caught up with what “might” happen – good or bad – and just go with it. We, as humans, tend to spend a lot of time over-thinking and analyzing things. What we need to remind ourselves to do, however, is to let go and really allow ourselves to experience and feel. So, I'm encouraging you to do just that!

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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How to Persevere When Your Plan Doesn’t Unfold Perfectly

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  I speak a lot on my blog, in my newsletter and with my clients about the importance of leaving some wiggle room in any plan. Having a game plan is important and helps keep you on track and pushing in the right direction, but it’s inevitable that something somewhere along the line isn’t going to unfold as perfectly as you’d like. And that’s OK. Heck, sometimes that’s when you really strike gold and find an even better path to fulfillment and happiness than you could ever have dreamt of.

With all that being said, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that speed bumps and U-turns on your road to living an authentic, fulfilling life aren’t discouraging. Sometimes the bump’s not so major and it’s easy enough to keep jugging along. Other times it’s a much larger wrench that gets thrown into things and it can feel as though you’re never going to achieve what you’re trying to, or you may even sit and wonder if you’ve made a huge mistake trying in the first place.

Friend, I want you to know that taking steps (even backwards steps) on the path to living the life you are called to live is major progress. It’s more than a lot of people on this planet wind up doing in their entire lives, so take a moment to celebrate your very intention to take the journey.

The universe is never going to stop throwing you curve balls. It’s also never going to stop presenting you with prime opportunities to leap forward and experience an abundance of happiness – it’s all about being ready for when it happens and not pumping the brakes on your momentum. To help you persevere when times get tough and stay motivated, I really want you to take note of the following three tips and do your best to put them into action.

1. Have an Attitude of Expectancy, But Don’t Allow Pessimistic Thoughts

Acknowledging that life’s filled with opportunities and obstacles is one thing. Assuming that no matter how hard you try, you’re never going to get anywhere is another. Move forward in life and in your goals with an “attitude of expectancy.” Expect obstacles, but focus on how these speed bumps will push you to seek creative solutions and be even better. Expect greatness of yourself, even if that greatness is getting your butt to the gym once a week or doing a little DIY juicing.

If you can visualize overcoming a problem and achieving your goals, you can make it happen.

2. Be Authentically Positive

I urge you to seek out the positive in situations and do so authentically which in my books, means dropping what feels fake positive and moving toward what feels genuinely positive. When you build a new relationship, encounter a new experience or find yourself dealing with a dilemma – truly look for the positive elements. When you put this into practice on a regular basis, you’ll find yourself feeling happier and forming stronger bonds with others, developing a greater self-appreciation and will be able to more easily envision your future achievements and have confidence in your goals.

3. Know When to Ask For Help

Knowing when to leverage the skills and expertise of others is a sign of exceptionally great leadership and entrepreneurship. If you’ve hit a roadblock and feel as though you can’t trek forward alone – don’t! Reach out to a fellow college alumni, dial up your mentor (or find a mentor!) or even bounce some ideas off a friend. Humans aren’t programmed to be entirely independent all of the time. We need discussion, collaboration and interaction. In fact, we greatly benefit from interacting with our peers.

I’m going to end this post with a quote I like and feel is especially relevant to this post. It goes, “The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” As you begin a new day, chapter or venture, I encourage you to keep this in mind. Recite it, write it down or just let it run through your mind every once in a while. Every step is worth celebrating and every speed bump should remind you that you’re moving.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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How to Become a Juicing Master at Home: Cold-Pressed vs. Vitamix and Beyond

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You might be wondering why I'm writing about juicing. Well, I like to write about personal, relatable experiences as often as possible and this one has been on my mind for weeks. I have been trying to master the art of juicing and creating awesome smoothies for months now and have made a ton of mistakes so decided to look into what I might be missing in the equation. One of the big things that happened is I went into a local juice spot and didn't really look at the prices until it was too late and I found myself paying $14 for one-single-juice! In my mind, I could've purchased at least 5 bags of spinach or 6 bunches of kale so I concluded, I need to figure out the at-home version and also figure out what's better for me in the world of juicing (little did I know there's lots of different ways!) “Juicing” is a term that’s become incredibly popular in the last two years. While it’s been a way for many to ensure their bodies receive the nutrition they need for much longer than two years, it’s gained huge mainstream popularity more recently. With home juicing and mixing machines readily available, and becoming increasingly affordable, why would you subject yourself to a $14 bill at a juicery anymore? (oh and I am loving the entrepreneurial spirit around all the juicing spots popping up, I just want to balance my budget with juicing at home too!)

Looking after yourself from the inside out is something that’s super important to me. But, I know there must be a way to do this for less money and from the comfort of home. So, I did a little research and want to share with you today how you can start becoming a juice-making expert yourself to balance out the days you treat yourself at a juice cafe.

With the right equipment (and a certain amount of patience), you can absolutely recreate most of your favourite juices at home. When I say “the right equipment,” it’s important to understand the difference between things like a “juicer” and a “mixer.”

When you purchase juice from a juicery, it’s usually cold-pressed – particularly if the price point seems high. In true juicing, there are two juicing methods: centrifugal and cold-pressed. The first, centrifugal, is more like your traditional mixing machine like a VitaMix. It uses a fast-spinning blade to pulverize fruit and veggies and extracts the juice. With that being said, it’s not the exact same as throwing everything into a blender and calling it a day. For myself, it's a two step process where I drain the VitaMix creation through a cheese cloth to just enjoy the juice. The second, cold-pressed, involves a slow pulverizer and hydraulic press. This method is more popular with specialty juicing companies or those offering juice cleanses.

With the cold-pressed method, it’s often said that the process doesn’t create heat. However, natural heat is created when anything is being crushed and grinded. To truly maintain the label of “cold-pressed,” the standard rule of thumb is that the heat created does not venture over 50 degrees Celsius.

When it comes down to which method is better, you should consider a few things like ease of use, maintenance, end nutritional value, shelf life and how much juice you can make at once. A cold-pressed juicing machine tends to be more expensive (to both buy and maintain), takes longer to use and produces smaller batches. However, the nutritional value also tends to be higher and the juice itself can last longer.

With a centrifugal machine, like Vitamix, you see larger batches, slightly lower cost and better ease of use. While the end result may not have asconcentrated of nutrients, you are still fully capable of making delicious, nutritious juices that are much more packed with healthy ingredients than your standard grocery store OJ.

For me, I think I'm going to stick with Vitamix at home and then treat myself to a coldpress juice now and again. There's less clean up with a vitamix and the cheese cloth really does do the trick.

Once you’ve chosen your machine type and are ready to get going, you’ll be glad to know there is an endless supply of juice recipes online. From those that teach how to emulate popular juice cleanses like Blueprint Cleanse to easy, everyday juices featuring nearly a single ingredient – you’ll have a blast learning, growing and treating your body to a healthy dose of delicious whenever you wish.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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Nemophilist: One who is fond of forest or forest scenery; a haunter of the woods.

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I’ve written before about my love for nature and its unparalleled ability to calm, soothe and rejuvenate. Whether it’s a day spent by the water or an afternoon spent wandering the woods, nothing helps you realign your goals and hit “reset” like Mother Earth. If you have recently felt overwhelmed, anxious or without direction, I’m hoping this post can offer you guidance and get you back on a path towards healing and joy. Since I’ve been drawn more than normal to the forest lately, let’s start there.

There’s something very powerful about being reminded of how small you are as you bob and weave throughout trees so tall they create a canopy, blocking out the sun and immersing you in wildlife. Many forests are home to plant life that began growing hundreds of years before you were born, a welcome reminder of how easy it can be to get so caught up in the craziness of right “now” that we forget it’s fleeting.

Breathing deeply and trekking through even your local park is a surefire way to bring things into focus and give current problems better context. Come the end of your journey, you’re sure to feel more relaxed, at ease and with a better grip of your next move. In the city, I currently live in, Toronto, I've found a nice route within High Park that takes me in and out of a few 'foresty' trails.

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Another element of nature I love is water and, specifically, large bodies of it. If you’re able, I encourage you to travel to the sea or ocean. Salty air, natural formed cliffs and hardly being able to make out what’s beyond the horizon is an awakening experience. I could spend hours sitting by the water watching it ebb and flow.

If you’ve been having trouble sleeping or city life’s got you down, make sure you take a break but without making it too complicated. My view is if you make it too complicated, you won't prioritize it. Lots of cities have local "beaches" whether they rest on a lake, river or ocean. If you have the time, take a drive to a nearby town or community where water is a bit more accessible. Whatever you do, try to leave some time that is free of planning and "doing" and allow yourself to simply enjoy the sounds of the water and its rehabilitating abilities.

Last but not least, I’d like to talk to you about simply stepping outside and enjoying the bright warmth of the sun. If you live in an area of the world with four seasons, you can go a long time without really being able to enjoy the sun. Then, once summer comes, we sometimes get so wrapped up in vacationing plans and the day-to-day that we forget to get outside and just enjoy the warmth.

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Water1

Now, I’m not suggesting you go and lay out under the sun until you’re red and crispy. Maybe you’ll sit under the shady canopy of a tree. Perhaps you’ll be on a patio. Or, maybe you do want to lounge out with some SPF and soak up the rays. Whatever you do, know that the sun has been an element worshipped by people for centuries. Sometimes, all you need is a 15-minute break to a quiet place out under the sunshine and you’ll feel brand new and ready to take on your day. If you spend a lot of time at work under fluorescent lights and struggle to break away from the grind, you’ll likely find this to be especially true for you. Take a beat, take a breath and allow nature to heal you, friend.

With summer drawing to a close, my mind is already racing to think of all the ways I can continue to enjoy nature once the temperature drops. If you’re a nemophilist and love the forest, or are someone who’s drawn to all types of nature, I’d love to hear how you plan on embracing the cooler months.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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How Your Happiness Delights the World Around You

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We’ve all heard the saying, “A smile is contagious.” But, when we’re so immersed in our day-to-day lives, it can be easy to forget the powerful impact our smile can have on not only ourselves, but the world around us. Can you think of a time you saw someone smiling or laughing and it made you do the same thing? Even if it was just a small "corner of the mouth" smile. Contagious! :) There have been times in my life and particularly in the last 2 years, where I literally wanted to tell a person or even a stranger how much their smile meant to me. It sometimes seemed odd that I didn't share their impact but often, I just quietly accepted the gift and noted the impact. Knowing that a lot of people are shy to share the impact, I try to approach my interactions with others like "you just never know what is going on in their life so a good approach is a genuine smile and kindness."

When you are living a truly authentic, grateful life and seek to recognize the privilege of your life, this radiates from within. Your friends, family, coworkers and even strangers on the street can sense you are on a journey of seeking peace within. Your happiness and even your desire for happiness affects them. Here’s how, and why, it works:

Your Happiness Expands Your Thinking and Tolerance Levels

When you are in a positive mind space, you are more likely to practice a greater level of tolerance and acceptance than when you’re thinking negative thoughts. Your mind is more open to new experiences, cultures, people and ways of life. I believe lack of tolerance has a major affect on the global levels of anger, hate and war.

Your Happiness Inspires Others to Live More Happily

When other people see you smiling, laughing and enjoying life, it encourages and inspires them to look at how they can do the same. It's rarely an overnight switch but think of times you have left interactions with a positive person and have felt better about your current situation. If not better, than maybe a shift in perspective will eventually lead to better. We all need people in our lives to inspire us to look at things differently.

Your Genuine Nature Draws People to You

Nothing is more attractive than genuine happiness. Your authentic smile draws people in and your positive, upbeat attitude welcomes new friends, acquaintances and even relationships. In fact, over the years, I've had many clients comment on how being genuine is increasingly important in new and lasting relationships. It's like you can fully relax around someone who is being genuine. Many of us feel vulnerable when we are being genuine but trust me, it's the best place to be and draws like-minded people to you.

Your Happiness Comforts Others

Everyone loves having a friend they can depend on when times get tough. Your ability to seek out the silver lining and bright side of things provides comfort and reassurance to those around you. When you yourself are then going through a rough patch in your own life, those same people will be there to offer the same comfort and reassurance to you. People want to be there and support someone who routinely lifts them up in life.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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How to Discover Happiness in Your Everyday Life… Starting Today

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Happiness. It’s the goal we strive for and how we measure self-achievement. You may believe you’ll be “happy” once you get that raise you’ve been after. Perhaps your happiness rests on buying a new house or trading in your car. It might mean a certain salary, number of friends or the freedom to travel as you please. Or, maybe, it’s in a strong relationship with an amazing partner. Whatever the cause, chances are that you, too, are chasing happiness. The thing about happiness, however, is that it’s the product of making a conscious decision to experience the feeling. No amount of money, no beautiful home and no perfect partner can truly make you happy if you don’t choose to be so. The same can be said for the reverse – I’ve met many fantastic, over-the-moon happy people over the years that are incredibly humble and content to live within small means. It all comes down to choice.

In this post, I’d like to share with you a few ways to make the conscious effort to live more happily. You might be surprised at how much happiness is just sitting there waiting for you in your everyday life. Read on, friend!

5. Take Inventory of Your Surroundings

When you woke up this morning, was it in a reasonably comfortable bed with covers and a pillow? Were you able to choose from a closet of clothes and brush your teeth with clean, drinkable water? These simple, basic things are so often taken for granted when other people are quite literally praying for them. You are incredibly fortunate, probably more than you’ll ever know, and have the unique opportunity to choose how you spend your life.

For 3-5 minutes a day, I urge you to sit on your bed and stay quiet. Take a mental inventory of the many fortunes you’ve experienced throughout the day – from a meal at lunch to a safe and reliable way to get home. Look around you, right in your very own room, and take inventory of your belongings and ability to feel at ease in your own space. I’m betting that you’ll begin to appreciate your surroundings and start to feel happier.

4. Go Exploring… on a Trail or in Your Own Backyard

Nature has the remarkable ability to remind of us our smallness in the world and yet motivate us to see the beauty in nearly everything – including our own lives. Head out to the local trails for a relaxing walk or even just toss on those gardening shoes and head out to your own backyard. Allowing yourself to focus on nature and your surroundings will free up space in your mind for positive, happy thoughts. It’s pretty hard to focus on anything negative when there’s so much beauty and life surrounding you!

To kick it up a notch, slip in a comfy pair of ear buds or grab a portable speaker and listen to your favourite tunes. An upbeat, happy song will help make the most of the experience and have you feeling energized and ready to conquer just about anything in no time.

3. Tidy Your Space

Remember back when you were in high school or university and found it difficult to concentrate in a messy space? How we keep the spaces around us strongly impacts how we feel inside. A messy, cluttered room can leave you feeling anxious and down. A clean, tidy space can have the opposite effect. If you want to re-energize and start feeling upbeat, I recommend doing a little cleaning. Once the clutter’s cleared, you’ll start to feel happier and more accomplished almost instantly.

If your life’s simply too hectic to keep a clean house, consider hiring a cleaning service to come by even once every couple of weeks. The delight and surprise you’ll feel when you come home to a clean house at the end of the day can make all the difference sometimes! Just be sure to carefully review the cleaning rates ahead of time because a big bill will have those happy feelings flying away just as quickly as they arrived.

2. Sleep More

This one’s so simple. Just sleep more! Our bodies are under a ton of stress on a daily basis, both conscious and subconscious. Sometimes, we simply don’t get enough REM sleep and deep, restful Zs to help us fully recharge. When you start the day feeling sleepy and irritable, you can bet it’s not going to improve as the hours wear on. So, why not put in a little effort and try to catch a few more winks?

Hit the hay earlier during the week and allow yourself to hit “snooze” a couple of times come the weekend. The world will keep turning while you enjoy an extra thirty minutes of sleep and you’ll awake feeling more refreshed, and happier, because of it.

1. Talk it Out

Have you ever heard the expression, “Just let it all out?” Sometimes, people just need to vent. This is when it’s great to have someone in your life, like a friend or family member, who you can call up or meet with to talk it out. Was your week especially tough and you really feel as though you need to get a few things off of your chest? Do it! And, if you don’t feel as though you have anyone you can call up right this moment, consider leaving a comment on this post so I can hear your thoughts.

Friend, happiness is waiting for you. In fact, it’s really already here – it’s up to you to see it and allow yourself to feel it. If you have any other tips you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments section! I’d love to hear from you.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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The Power of Travel & How it Helps You Grow

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While travel is often regarded as a fun way to escape everyday life and experience new things, the benefits it offers to your mind and soul reach far beyond just that. Travel can be a liberating experience; an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and experience life as you never imagined. It can be a teaching experience – a chance to immerse yourself in a new culture or different way of life. It can also be an eye-opening experience and one that leads to great personal growth, change and even re-evaluation. Let’s look at just a few of the ways that travel is so powerful and how it can help you grow.

1. Strengthen (and Challenge) Your Relationship

We’ve all seen at least one movie or read one book in which a couple heads out on an adventure, only to wind up questioning everything about their bond along the way. In a sense this is true, as travel puts both partner outside of his or her comfort zone and challenges you both to experience different challenges, obstacles and joys. However, travel can be an excellent way to strengthen your relationship. You’ll have to work together to find your way, challenge yourselves to overcome language and cultural barriers and will have memories – good and bad – to look back on for the years to come.

2. Learn Patience, Understanding and Acceptance

Nothing teaches patience quite like exploration. You might find that you miss a bus, your train is delayed or your flight has been cancelled. Perhaps you’ll struggle reading a local map and take a while to make it to your dinner reservation or find your way back to where you’re staying. Depending on your travel destination, the situations will be different but the need for patience and understanding will remain the same.

To truly build your patience, understanding and appreciation I would encourage you to travel to somewhere that you do not speak the language. As a society, we’re generally very used to getting what we ask for. Experiencing difficulty communicating with words and having to rely on patience, understanding and acceptance will help you grow as a person and develop non-verbal communication skills like never before.

3. Change Your Perspective… or Get Some

How you view the world does impact how the world views you. Most often, our perspective on life and all that it encompasses is highly dependent on those we choose to surround ourselves with, our upbringing and our cultural experiences. To truly develop your own perspective, or break away from the routine and find some to begin with, I encourage you to travel.

Visiting a remote village in South Africa or a bustling street in Thailand will allow you to see how other people view the world, daily life and you. Watching people in routines similar to your own, but carried out in immensely different ways, is a highly rewarding experience. You’ll quickly learn how fortunate you are to have such easy access to things such as clean drinking water, delicious foods and even somewhat dependable public transportation.

4. Meeting new people!

Travel is a unique bonding experience. Chances are you’ll come across all sorts of people you would never have met in your everyday life. Travel has this fun ability to take different people from completely different upbringings, with totally different views, and create an incredible bond. This can be especially true when you choose to travel alone.

There are tons of travel tour groups that can create planned trips for small or large groups of people. There's also niche tour groups, but most commonly the groups are based on age. If you’re craving a change, are looking to do a little soul searching or just need to step outside of the norm – consider a group tour. I know that sometimes when I travel, I go partially with a group and then partially on my own. You'll walk away with spectacular memories, strong new friendships and immense personal growth. You may be surprised at the new friendships you build or even the opportunity to meet a new romantic partner. Truly, anything is possible!

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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P.S. The photo above is from a recent trip to Sedona. Isn't it beautiful? Be sure to follow me on Instagram for travel adventures, everyday words of advice and more.

Is the “7 Year Itch” Real… Not Just in Relationships but in Life?

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There’s often talk about the “seven year itch.” The idea is that, when you’re in a relationship for seven years, you start to second-guess yourself at the seven-year mark. Maybe you begin itching for a change. Perhaps you’re compelled to re-evaluate your relationship (and yourself) with more scrutiny than before. While American data points to the seven year itch being quite real for American marriages, I’d like to discuss the possibility of the “itch” being more about one person and his or her life than the relationship as a whole. Let's look together to answer the question, "Is the 7 year itch real?" once and for all. Like I mentioned, American data (specifically the financial data compiled by Credit Donkey) shows a clear trend: the majority of divorces that happen in the USA actually occur in the eighth year of marriage. Then we have Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, who created a theory in which humans physically and mentally change every seven years. If one person in a partnership is on a different, or even the same, seven-year development cycle, it makes sense that things may get a little rocky – especially when the changes happen to be large.

Now, friend, I’m absolutely not saying that every relationship and every marriage will become intolerable and result in divorce after seven years because we all know that’s not the case! What I am suggesting, however, is a need for both single people and people in relationships to better understand their personal growth, development and goals. This will help us not only better navigate through life, but it will make us better communicators and partners as well.

Speaking from personal experience, I can look back at my life so far and easily identify periods of change. And, you know what? They happen about every seven years. Who you are at 21, just coming out of your teenaged years, can be vastly different than who you are at 28 – just about ready to enter your 30s. Who you are at 35 is likely different, again, from who you are at 43. It’s natural and healthy to grow a little restless and to experience a change in your outlook and goals. Also, who you are at 21 vs 43 can be very similar but it might just look different. In my own life, I can definitely see that the quest for adventure was there at 21 and still is but it just looks different now.

Think of your immediate group of friends for a moment. It’s likely, much like I do, that you know at least one person who hates the idea of change – perhaps they’re even scared of it. They likely find great comfort in things staying exactly the same and waking up each and every day to the same routine. If, one day, they were to wake up and begin to crave great change, without even understanding why, I’m sure it would be unsettling. Their life perspective would shift, their relationships may become strained and their personality may evolve.

Now, think back to your group of friends – or even family members. Again, much like I can identify this personality trait, you likely know someone who regularly seeks change and grows restless extremely quickly. Perhaps this person doesn’t really know what they want and figures they won’t know ‘til it’s right in front of them. Perhaps they’re afraid of their life becoming “stagnant.” Whatever the case, imagine how this person may feel if they had a partner with a similar lust for constant change only to find, one day, that one of them now just wanted everything to slow down and settle. Naturally, it would create challenges.

What I recommend doing regularly, not just every seven years, is sitting down and really connecting with yourself. Ask yourself these questions:

“How happy are you...really?”

“What could you be doing to lead a happier, fuller life today?”

And, if you’re in a relationship, ask yourself these as well:

“Why do you love your partner?” (asking "Why" brings you closer to the positive feeling of all the reasons you chose your partner)

“How could you reinforce (or remind!) yourself and your partner the positive reasons you chose each other?”

"Can you identify the areas of growth and frame them as that, as opposed to seeing change as a negative?"

A strong understanding of not only who you are right now, but who your partner is as well, is necessary for success. But, you also need to leave a good amount of space for changing and evolving. Just as you’re not the same now as you were seven or fourteen years ago, it makes perfect sense that who you’ll be – single or as a partnership – is bound to change seven years from now. The key is being able to see the positive in that –the space for growth as a partnership instead of growing away from the partnership.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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5 Things Mindful People Do Differently Every Single Day

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In a world filled with increasingly long work hours, constant high stress situations and feelings of disconnection, it’s really no wonder the concept of practicing mindfulness has shed its “new age” skin and become a mainstream phenomenon. The thing about mindful living, however, is that it’s anything but new. If you look at how your parents have lived their lives, or better yet, how your grandparents lived, it’s obvious that society’s loss of mindfulness is quite recent. If you’re seeking a natural, easy-to-follow, rewarding and effective way to combat anxiety and feel more connected to both yourself and the world, read on. This post is all about five things that mindful people do different every single day… and that you should start doing too.

5. Mindful people allow themselves to disconnect from the digital world.

In between texting and blogging and checking emails and surfing the web, all that we see and experience online gets logged in our brains. The amount of time we spend watching TV and online does impact our quality of life, mental health and overall mood. Mindful people know that it’s important to break away from the digital world; to go offline for periods of time.

With this precious offline time, reconnect with an old friend over coffee (and don't document it online, haha!), read a paperback book or take your furry friend for a longer walk then a quick jaunt around the block.

4. Mindful people allow themselves to experience nature.

Nature is a remarkable thing. It has the ability to calm, nurture and re-energize us like very few other things are capable of doing. Mindful people understand the need to reconnect with Mother Nature and often go on morning walks, evening jogs or weekend hikes. Allowing yourself to feel small in comparison to nature’s sprawling wildlife can do wonders to repair your mind, body and soul. Reconsider replacing the treadmill with a park in the warmer months!

3. Mindful people pay attention to, and care about, what they put into their bodies.

Your parents probably told you, at some point or another, “You are what you eat.” Science is proving, more and more, that this statement is truer than we probably thought. Mindful people are conscious of what it is that they eat and how they fuel their bodies. When you fill your body with junk food, for example, you can’t expect to feel a “lasts all day” energy. When you take time to plan meals, incorporate “feel good” foods that are packed with nutrients, however, you can literally feel the difference.

2. Mindful people understand the value of not multi-tasking.

As society pushes people to do more and more for less and less, multi-tasking has become a seemingly holy grail of skills. But, is it really? Studies have proven that those who allow themselves to “unitask” and focus their energy on a single task at once actually get far more complete in a day. Multi-tasking can lead to distraction; poor time management skills and, ultimately, lessened productivity. Though it definitely has it's place, we just need to watch it's not always present.

Instead of focusing on juggling a million things at once, make an effort to boost your time-management and prioritization skills. This will allow you to tackle tasks in order of their importance and get more done, rather than juggle double the tasks for twice as long.

1. Mindful people allow themselves to feel their feelings before reacting.

Our world is full of distractions. It’s like the saying goes, “If you want something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” It’s not difficult to find a distraction when you feel sad, angry, lonely or anxious. In fact, it’s incredibly easy to avoid a particular thought or stop yourself from experiencing a certain emotion. But, mindful people don’t do that. Instead, they allow themselves to truly feel their feelings.

If you don’t allow yourself to experience your anger, upset or confusion you won’t enjoy happiness near as much as is possible. You also won’t push yourself to solve the problem that’s causing you to have the negative feelings. You need to acknowledge and feel your feelings before you can properly react.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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You Miss The Man You Wish He Was… And Why Those Feelings Will Fade

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There’s a country song that has a lyric that’s always stuck with me. It goes a little something like, “you miss the man you wish he was.” The lyric is about feeling hurt, lonely and nostalgic following a breakup but being able to acknowledge that what you’re feeling is more about whom you wish you had been with as opposed to the person you really were with. What I find many of my clients find, however, that it’s moving on from a break up that is truly the hardest. The other day, I was speaking to a woman who had recently gone through a break up and was feeling really down about it. I asked her what exactly it was she thought she’d be missing out on in her life without him in it. She paused for a moment, then another moment, and then she realized she was stumped. She discovered she was far more attached to the physical attraction she had for him then the actual unfulfilling relationship. If you can accept that breaking up with someone certainly doesn't mean you are automatically not attracted to them, it can make things easier. Think of all the people you have been attracted to but have not necessarily been in a relationship with, now your ex is one of them. Aside from her attraction, she also re-discovered there was nothing in life she couldn’t experience without him they just now looked different. In fact, her new experiences could turn out to be better than she had imagined.

Transitioning from always having someone around and being “one half of a whole” to being single and entirely self-reliant can be difficult. That, I can’t deny. However, I believe that often times people get so caught up in the strangeness of that feeling that they start to grow falsely nostalgic; sometimes even considering trying to get their ex-partner back. Anyone feeling this way needs to remember that it’s natural and OK to feel these feelings. What’s so important, though, is that the feelings are acknowledged and recognized for what they are – romanticized nostalgia.

As time goes on, particularly when we’re feeling blue, we tend to romanticize past events and relationships. Memories make way for nostalgia and we easily begin to confuse moments of upset and disappointment for feelings of normalcy, routine and even comfort. When moving forward in life without someone we used to interact with constantly, we can feel off kilter or unlike ourselves – even when nothing about ourselves has changed.

If you’re considering a break up or have recently gone through one, I encourage you to give it time.  If you want to spend an entire weekend in bed crying, I say go for it. Don't judge yourself, just let the tears flow. The sad, crappy feelings will fade and stick around for shorter periods of time. You will find excitement, confidence and love again. What’s most important right now is that you allow your heart to feel what it’s feeling, but to remind yourself that you are just as capable, spectacular and worthy of love as you’ve ever been – if not more so.

There are many ways to mellow a hurting heart and speed your path to emotional recovery following a break up. One of the most rewarding activities I can recommend is yoga. While yoga is an incredible work out for your body, it’s also an exercise for your mind and inner self. Surrounding yourself with calmness and other people seeking fulfillment and serenity will help you achieve those goals as well. Try doing one thing a day that you love, big or small. Everyone is different so for some it might be time with loved ones and others it might be going for a long bike ride or eating your lunch away from your desk and out in the park. This will help you on your journey to achieving your “new” normal.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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How to Be More Authentic in Every Aspect of Life

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A well-known poet, E.E. Cummings, once wrote, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” To truly live as your truest, most honest and most authentic self does take courage. It’s easy to fall in line with the pack, to just go with the flow and compromise to satisfy others. To stand behind each and every one of your thoughts and actions can feel more difficult. Living an inauthentic life, however, rarely leads to happiness. If you feel that you are ready (and needing) to make a change in the way you interact with others as well as yourself, please keep reading. Once you have made the decision to stop molding your thoughts and actions after those of the people around you, and to allow your authentic self to shine, nothing is more important than consistency and repetition. It will take practice to avoid exchanging your true feelings for the feeling you think you should feel based on others’ opinions, so you must be ready to fully commit for this to work. If you do, I promise that you will feel a level of happiness, self-assuredness and purposefulness that you never imagined was possible.

Now that you’ve committed to making this important (and rewarding!) change, it’s time to take action. The top six steps to living more authentically in every aspect of life are:

1. Practice Self-Awareness and Forgiveness

Gaiam Life blog describes so well the value of self-awareness in living an authentic life. It says, “Authenticity starts when you set the intention to be genuine. Then, there must be an awareness of what that looks and feels like, and a willingness to act in accordance with your genuine nature even when it feels vulnerable.” Having the ability to recognize inauthenticity in yourself, and to acknowledge that the way you life your life directly impacts your happiness with that life, requires a level of self-awareness that many people refuse to allow themselves to experience.

Forgiveness, in my opinion, comes hand-in-hand with self-awareness. Recognizing fault in yourself, or even just a need for change, can leave you feeling crummy. You may feel that you’ve lived an inauthentic life for too many years and regret not having put in effort to change earlier. It’s okay to feel that way. Forgive yourself and move forward. Many, if not most, people go their entire lives playing different roles in different situations – never actually allowing their true selves shine. The fact that you’re seeking greater authenticity, at any point in life, should be celebrated. :)

2. Re-Evaluate (and Redefine) Your Values

In order to live more authentically and to ensure that every action you take works towards celebrating your true inner self, and achieving happiness, you need to take a serious look at your values. What did, or does, your “inauthentic” self value? Maybe it’s money. Perhaps it’s brand name clothing or the envy of friends. Is it your name on the door of a corner office? Or, is it the love and affection of people you’ve never even met? Ask yourself why these things matter. Challenge yourself to re-evaluate your former values and decide which, if any, belong in your new authentic life.

Once you’ve done this, ask yourself what you truly value. Is it the love of your significant other? A feeling of self-fulfillment?  The ability and means to travel? Chances are, your “new” values may very well be connected to your former values. The difference you’ll likely find, however, is in the way you describe the values and the aspect of the value that now matters most to you. What financial success would enable you to do, for example, will likely become more important than financial success in and of itself.

3. Catch Yourself and Grow

Just like quitting smoking, cutting back on salt or sticking to an exercise regime – living a more authentic life is nearly impossible to do “cold turkey.” Rather, it takes time and plenty of practice. When you feel yourself doing or saying something inauthentic, note the situation and circumstances. This will allow you to better catch yourself the next time and may even show you a pattern you were unaware of before. For example, do you feel the need to play a certain role with a certain person? If so, there’s likely a reason that particular individual brings out your inauthentic self. You may find the need to work out differences with family or friends or to seek new friendships in your life altogether.

4. Seek Genuine Company

It’s often said that you are the sum of those with which you surround yourself – or at least the average. Once you’ve made the conscious decision to seek authenticity in all aspects of your life, it’s important to surround yourself with people who genuinely want to see you succeed. If your friends or coworkers leave you feeling jealous, down or tempted to shift to inauthenticity, you may no longer feel that those people serve your mission of genuine, authentic happiness. It can be incredibly difficult to evaluate your current relationships and make a decision to seek new company, but sometimes it’s necessary to move forward in your “new” version of life.

When seeking new friendships and relationships, look to people who have similar values to those that you set in Step 2. Seek self-aware, caring and authentic people. Finding truly exceptional relationships can take time, and it may feel that there are a limited number of people who share your values, but I assure you that the effort will be worth it.

5. Create a Daily Practice

Living authentically, in and of itself, is a daily practice. In all honesty, it’s a moment-by-moment movement. To rejuvenate your mind, body and soul, it can be helpful to establish a daily practice or ritual. The condition of your body affects that of your mind. Your ability to get a good night’s sleep affects your mind. Living authentically takes strength. It takes a clear conscious and refreshed state of being. Consider taking up yoga, meditation or another activity you feel calms and refreshes you. Having a ritual or practice to look forward to, each and every day, allows you to check in with yourself and evaluate your progress. After all, authentic living is a process and movement with no finite finish.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

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