Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

August 3, 2010 by  
Filed under BLOG, Karen's BLOG

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Who's the fairest of them all?

Who's the fairest of them all?

The past year has been a challenging one for me. First, I left my secure, high-paying government job as a communications manager and launched a writing consulting business. While I’ve been doing reasonably well and love working from home, I am not yet used to the irregular paycheques and the insecurity of worrying whether business will dry up.

Next, I separated from my husband, after ten years of being together (seven years married). It took a tremendous amount of elbow grease and support from my girlfriends to negotiate a separation agreement, buy and set up a new house, while staying on top of my business duties and being a mom to two young children. Thankfully, our separation is amicable and my ex and I share custody of our four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter, who seem to be adjusting well. Still, we worry about how our decision to live happier lives separately will impact our children.

And then in March, I found out my 61-year-old mother has Alzheimer’s. For someone who never cries, I have gone through many boxes of Kleenex, mourning the loss of my mother as I knew her and the loss of the wife my father knew. I am usually very good at seeing the positive in seemingly negative situations, but I have really struggled to understand what good could come from such a terrible disease.

With so many challenges in front of me, I figured I could use a little help and boost of encouragement, so I enlisted Mary’s help and began coaching sessions with her in June. My main goal is to find meaningful work that has flexible hours and pays well while allowing me to help and inspire others. My other goals are to finally learn how to believe in myself, and to have the kind of romantic relationship I believe is possible.

It’s kind of funny that despite having numerous work and academic successes, I still doubt myself. I worry about whether my dreams can come true – can I really publish a book? Can I find the money to buy a cottage on a lake and start a mind-body-spirit retreat? Is it really possible to be artistic and creative, help others, and still make a good living? Is the romantic relationship I envision really possible, and would someone like that want to be with someone like me? I imagine many people have similar doubts. It’s easy for me to see someone else’s potential and know they can succeed, but it’s quite another to see my own abilities and trust in myself.

So Mary asked me to start a gratitude journal. I actually already use one, but she wanted me to focus on what I love about me, since I’ve been feeling a bit unsure of myself lately. It felt a bit awkward at first – saying “I love me” seems kinda silly. But the neat thing is, I really feel that focusing on what I like about myself has been shifting my perspective. I, like probably every other female on the planet, tend to see my flaws when I look in a mirror. I see the things I don’t like and want to change. It’s a useful practice to instead see with different eyes, looking for what’s good and positive.

Mary also told me that what others experience about us is more than just what we look like. They experience our entire person – our personality, warmth, smell, touch, energy. There is much more to a person than meets the eye. I think this is an important message particularly for women, since we tend to obsess so much about how we look and whether we’re “good enough.”

Anyway, the neat thing was that after doing what Mary suggested, I noticed I felt much better about myself. I also noticed that as I felt better about myself, others seemed to notice me more. I got unexpected compliments from people out of the blue. And I landed two new contracts. I suspect these were more than coincidences, and proof positive that our attitude – including towards ourselves – really does shape our reality.

I hope this week your mirror reflects back to you a positive view of your own wonderful qualities.

Welcome to Karen’s BLOG

August 3, 2010 by  
Filed under Karen's BLOG

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Karen Allen

Karen Allen

Hello to my old and new friends on this crazy ride we call life!  

I am a 35-year-old single mother of two young children, an entrepreneur, writer, and spiritual seeker. I love learning about the mind-body-spirit connection and applying what I discover in my daily life. I also enjoy sharing my experiences with others in the hopes of helping and inspiring them in their lives – so welcome to my blog!

I grew up on a stretch of Trans Canada Highway in (very) rural New Brunswick. I spent much of my childhood climbing maple trees, helping my father in his garden, and riding my bike around our 300-acre property. My three siblings and I didn’t have much by way of material things – our clothes were hand-me-downs and we didn’t even have a VCR until after I left for university – but we always had enough. While I know some of my friends felt bad for me that I had less than them, I never felt that way: I had home-grown organic vegetables, a baseball diamond and bonfire pit in my backyard, a beach only a few kilometres away, and tons of room to run and play and breathe fresh air.

At 17, I left home to go to university and get an undergraduate arts degree. Then I met and married a wonderful man, who died of cancer only a few months after our wedding. At 22, I moved to Ottawa to pursue a Master of Journalism, went through two years of gruelling depression, and came out the other side with a degree and a new lease on life. I climbed the ladder of success in communications, made new friends, remarried, had two beautiful children, and bought a four-bedroom single home in Kanata. To many outside observers, I “had it all.”

But I couldn’t quite shake a niggling feeling of restlessness and discontent. While my husband was a good man, I wasn’t happy in my marriage; and while I made good money, I wasn’t doing something that made a difference in the world. So I started soul searching, reading and learning about the mind-body-spirit connection. I took courses in meditation, yoga, “Collapsing Your Barriers” and “Your Life Purpose” and met wonderful new people like Cara, Mary and Leslie. Then last year, I took a leap of faith and a leave without pay from my job to start up a writing consulting business. Also last year, my husband and I decided to separate, after many years of trying to make two incongruent puzzle pieces fit.

If you had told me twenty years ago that at 35, I’d be living in Ottawa, self employed, widowed and divorced, I would never have believed you.  It’s funny the twists and turns our lives take. As someone who likes to have a plan, I’m discovering you can’t always know or plan what’s coming next. So here I am, very un-tethered and feeling uncomfortable with the uncertainty about where my life is headed, what I’ll end up doing and who I’ll end up with. I had made a goal in January of “no resistance / go with the flow,” and boy, the events of my life are certainly giving me ample opportunity to practice that mantra!

I’m looking forward to chatting with you more in the weeks to come about my spiritual adventures!