Author Archives: Laura

Big L is moving on

Well hello, stranger. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you here; almost a year. Since then, I’ve always known I would eventually write this post, telling you that officially, I’ve moved on from Comfortably Uncomfortable.

As Wee C has already shared, she has a 2.0 version already up her sleeve. One about conversation and connection, which, if you know her at all, you know is absolutely perfect. As her idea evolves, it will gradually wipe away any traces that I was ever here, and that’s perfectly OK by me.

That’s the beauty of the type of things we wrote and thoughts we shared – they were temporary. Momentary, even. That’s what made them so real.

While I don’t know if I’ll ever author a post on this blog again, what I do know is that I’m going to give blogging another go, this time at a site that is, if nothing else, distinctly me. Not because of my circumstances, but because of who I am at the core – a woman who loves bold moves, soul-full and healthy living and good jams. Hopefully, that doesn’t ever change! ūüôā

It’ll still be personal (it’d be tough to write a worthwhile blog that isn’t), but my hope is that it’s useful, inspirational and fun for everyone who stops by.

Hop on over to http://www.mynameisbigl.com anytime…I’d love to have you!

TTFN! It’s been real and for that, I thank you!

-xo

– Contributed by Big L

Photo credit

Give a Girl a Chance


Today, hundreds of bloggers are writing about one, big idea that we want YOU to think about:

By investing in girls in the developing world, we can make an incredibly effective investment in eradicating poverty, creating thriving communities, and slowing the spread of AIDS.

This idea is called Gift Effect and it represents the unique potential of 600 million adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and for the world.

First of all, their website is awesome and their videos extremely compelling (my personal favourite is the one above), so as far as social mobilization, cause awareness and persuasive communication goes, Girl Effect rocks. They are, in my humble opinion, a brilliant example of best practices and the exact type of inspirational thinking and execution this world needs more of.

But the point of this post is not to raise awareness of Girl Effect as an organization. It’s to raise awareness of their cause: GIRLS. Specifically, girls in developing countries around the world who, if given an opportunity, can break the cycle of poverty for their family, their village, and possibly even their country. That’s because, just like the young girls you know in your own neighbourhood, they’re full of promise.

Their eyes are bright. Their imaginations are big, active and wild. Just like the girls you know, their giggles are infectious, their spirits fill the room, and their dreams of achieving success, raising a healthy family one day, and being unconditionally loved are very much alive.

If given the chance, these girls can become as much of an influential, passionate, loving, and accomplished woman as you want your daughter, niece or granddaughter to be. And I want to spread the word about their potential and their need for one reason: gratitude.

I was given a chance like the one they need. And because of all that it has allowed me to do, be and explore, I’m extremely grateful. I was educated, supported, believed in. I was allowed to remain single for as long as I wanted. I had access to a doctor. And, having children was an option, not a rule, that I could exercise if and when I was ready.

As a result of all of that, I have a university degree, my own business, my health and vitality, and a support system of colleagues, friends and family members. I’m about the run a half marathon, spend Thanksgiving with my family, experience an authentic and joyful wedding, and launch a website that I hope will make a positive impact on others’ lives. I know that I have a voice and a brain and that those two things can take me wherever the hell I want to go, if I work them hard enough.

My life is rich. I was given a chance. I’m extremely grateful.

Recently, I have encountered some professional hurdles. It has been a “character-building” year, we’ll say. There have been some major realizations happening, my conviction and confidence is being tested, determination is being demanded, and my ability to problem solve, respect myself and trust others must be proven.

But guess what? Whether we’re communication professionals or farmers, whether we’re working our networks or our farm, us girls? We’ve got a lot of fight in us. We have the capacity to figure shit out, if you give us a chance.

My life has been full of chances, and if I had to guess, I’d say so has yours. In honour of the chances you’ve been given and the chances I’ve been given, it’s time to pay it forward. It’s time to spread the love.

Here’s what you can do:

1.) Donate. $1, $10, $100, $1,000. Whatever you have is more than what they do, so the amount matters not.

2.) Spread the word. Share this post on Twitter and Facebook, and/or share a link to girleffect.org, and/or like the Facebook page.

3.) Watch the video above. It’ll expand your mind, for sure, and maybe it’ll inspire you to go back and do #1 or #2 as well.

– Big L

The Girl Effect Blogging Campaign is being spearheaded by Tara Sophia Mohr, a life coach, motivational speaker, and author.

Your Living Space as a Reflection of Yourself

Today, we have a special treat! We’re thrilled to welcome Doniree as a guest blogger! YAY!¬†Her post today is especially timely now that the seasons are changing and we’re heading into those few months when, let’s face it, most of us will be spending more time indoors and at home.¬†But, as Doni points out, if your space feels like you, this doesn’t have be a bad thing. If you like the ideas she has to share, please show Doni some love by leaving a comment.

What if your living space was a living reflection of – or better yet, extension of – exactly who you are and what your values are? What if you felt supported by your home? What if you walked into a welcoming oasis of clean, clutter-free, and comforting every time you walked in your door? I know what a wonderful feeling it is to feel as though your home is a seamless extension of your personality and dreams, and have compiled a few simple steps to get you started.

Set priorities and de-clutter accordingly

Sure, a clean and clutter-free home help reduce stress, but what if we took it one step further. Let’s not just de-clutter, but what if we’re intentional and clear about the things we do keep?

One of the best ways to set clear intentions and goals for yourself is to first identify your values, and then filter everything you’re doing with your life through that filter. Is this job in line with my values? This relationship? Am I spending my time in a way that clearly expresses what my values are and how important they are to me?

On the same token, and perhaps just as powerfully, we can run our possessions through that same filter. Does this thing/item/collectible serve me and what I’m working towards? Is this just taking up space or is it moving me forward?

Applying the same value-filter to your things as you do your thoughts and actions can be a really powerful way of telling the Universe exactly what you want, what you don’t, and what you value.

Create a vision board

… or better yet – turn your space into a living, breathing vision board.

On that note of “putting it out there,” creating a vision board is an excellent way to keep front, center, and visible the things you want out of life. One step further, you can decorate your apartment in a way that supports these visions and values. If your life list includes a trip to Greece, what about using Greek imagery and photography as artwork in your place? If growth and vivid life are your values, keep bright and colorful plants or flowers in your space to serve as a reminder of things that grow and bloom.

Keep it clean

I believe that blank spaces (shelves, cupboards, table tops, etc.) leave room for new things, new ideas, and new opportunities in our lives.

Once your space is clean and filled with things that bring you joy and support your goals, keep it that way! It’s so easy to accumulate new stuff (we do it all the time!), so as you bring in new items to your space, ask yourself if it’s supportive of your style and your goals. Where does it fit? Will it have a home? Will it add to or take away from your style and decor as you have it?

How we keep our living spaces is so important, whether you spend a lot of time at home or just a little. We all need a place we can unplug, unwind, and relax – and a clutter-free, intentionally decorated apartment makes that so much more pleasant.

Doniree Walker is a freelance writer/blogger based in Portland, Oregon. She spends her free time frequentingPortland’s farmers’ markets, training for her first 5K, and daydreaming about the places she plans to travel. She blogs at doniree.com and nomadicfoodie.com, and you can follow her on Twitter @doniree. Her clients include UMoveFree, a service helping renters find Galleria Houston, TX apartments.

{Photo credit}

Spreading wings and creating new things!

– Contributed by Big L

Guess what? In yet another unexpected twist here at Comfortably Uncomfortable, I have some news, too.

As you already know, Wee C and I have come a long way since our very first post over a year ago – both individually and together. Our 30 Things journeys have ended and our lives have continued to shift in dramatic ways ever since.

We’re gaining momentum, having epic moments of realization, and can feel the rudders of our ships churning beneath us, sending us in new directions.

(See? Where that nautical reference came from when I know nothing about boats is a mystery in itself!)

Yes, life is most certainly full of surprises and unpredictability – both good, bad and indifferent. And while Wee C’s life and its changes over the last two years have looked dramatically different from mine, our ability to thrive and survive through comfortably uncomfortable moments and circumstances looks an awful lot the same.

Now, as we often do, we’re taking that shared experience and mutual growth, and making it work for us in completely different ways.

For Wee C, that looks like taking a break and living a little more privately for a while. I’m confident it’s the right thing for her to do right now.

For me, that looks like spreading my wings and creating a brand new nook on the Internet that I can call my own. Considering how much I’ve been enjoying the process so far – and I’ve only just started – I’d say it’s the right thing for me to do right now.

I recently signed up for an amazing e-course that’s teaching me how to build a website all by myself. And I will soon be knee-deep in learning stuff about HTML and CSS, with the intention of building a little hang out where you can visit (like a tree house! weeeee!).

This new place will be a blog, yes, but my real intention is to be a source of inspiration for people. Through the content, design and visuals I’m planning, my website will simply be a feel-good place to be.

Before 2011 is out, I’ll be sending my creative project out into the world. And when I do, I’ll likely be retiring from my post here, as the co-author of this blog. But in the meantime, I’ll still be kickin’ around, and happy to share bits and pieces of the process with you, here, where it all started.

For example, see that image up there? That’s the colour palette I’ve chosen for the site.

What do you think?

5 Things That Are Stirring My Soul, Lately

– Contributed by Big L

Oh, HI. This is my welcome back post. Or, it possibly is. After six hot and heavy months of writing at Stratejoy, I was planning on taking a self-imposed blogging break until at least September. But alas, I loved Wee C’s post last week and now I wanna write one!

So I’m taking a break from my break to give you this:

5 Things That Are Stirring My Soul, Lately

1. Wedding* planning – ¬†I’ve organized a number of events over the last several years and in doing so, have discovered that event planning fills me with fury. Thankfully, I’ve been able to hold the event-fury at bay this time around, mostly because every aspect of our wedding is “do-it-yourself” (meaning we’re in control!) and it’s playful and creative to the max. We’re being real. Which also translates into me having a hella-good time! I get to be super crafty and experience the satisfaction of putting a big vision into practice. I’m starting to see it really come together and basically, it’s going to knock everyone’s socks off!

2. Creative writing – A big chunk of my time lately has been spent on a creative storytelling project that is really quite special. I get to interview about 25 people who were involved in building a completely ground-breaking, year-round, $8 million facility that will host residential camps for children with chronic illness. It will literally¬†be a game changer for families in our region and I get to take people’s spoken words and have complete creative control over how to turn them into written words that will move and inspire a broad audience. My writer’s soul is guiding the way. It’s a beautiful thing.

3. Blender experiments – I love smoothies and I love when I have ingredients kicking around that allow me to put a bunch of things together and see what happens! I concocted something delicious recently and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it a few times over.

Try this: 1/2 cup pineapple tidbits in their juice; a tablespoon of greek yogurt (optional); 3/4 – 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk; a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter; 3/4 – 1 cup frozen mango chunks; generous sprinkle of cinnamon. Blend it all up until smooth, and voila!

4. Life list – I’ve been toying with the idea of creating a list of the things I’d love to experience. There would be no timeline and no consequences if they’re not all tackled, but there would be a heck of a lot of joy and satisfaction as each item that was accomplished. At first I thought, “I haven’t a sweet clue what I’d even put on such a list!” but then once I sat down and thought about it, all kinds of fun and interesting things came to mind! It’s been a¬†motivating and insightful little exercise – you should try it!

5. Brainstorming with myself – Oh, you should see the pages of my notebook! I’ve been jotting words all over the place – big, messy, scrawled words, outside the lines, with arrows between them, and underlines, and question marks. Why? Because I’m digging into some visions I have. Visions for sharing and inspiring folks like you in a more conscious, organized way. Visions for selling stuff, be it a book, a series of journals, ‘get real’ note cards, or crafty type things. Visions for building a personal brand, not in a formulaic and sales-pitchy way, just in a find-your-voice-and-share-your-distinctness way. Stay tuned, there may be follow ups related to this one!

I could keep the list going, I’m sure, but I’ll focus on celebrating these five things for now. What’s worthy of celebration in your world lately? Maybe today’s the day you should take a moment to reflect on how much you looooove it.

[Photo credit: That fancy photo up there is my Dad’s. Love it!]

*As an aside, can we talk about how in less than three months, the big day will be here? I’m filled with anticipation, nervous about what’s left on the to do list, anxious about the money that’s left to spend, but mostly really excited to put those rings on and smooch!

Intention, it’s a beautiful thing!

– Contributed by Big L

Coming Soon!

I’m among a select group of beta testers for the next “strategy for joy” product being launched by the one and only Molly over at Stratejoy. It’s called Joy Juice and her teaser about this coming-soon product can be found by clicking here.¬†¬†(And I strongly encourage you to get excited about this puppy, because it’s going to be delightful and uber affordable!)

In a nutshell, it’s a year’s worth of prompts for finding, reflecting on and celebrating joy in your life. Today, I responded to a prompt that asked me about my intentions. Intentions for my year, week and day. This one was especially timely for me, since I’ve been struggling to get clear on my intentions for the last three or four weeks….when I realized that I was well into 2011 and wasn’t feeling nearly as Gracefully Unique as I had originally hoped.

Rather than journal my response, I decided to get creative. I combined my goals for the year, my recent realizations about what conditions make me feel at my best, and my even more recent decisions about what is most important to me this year. And here they all sit, in one colourful, inspiring reminder:

Click Here to see Laura’s intentions, all of ’em!

Step 2 for Being Gracefully Unique: Be Authentic

– Contributed by Big L

In this post, #2 of 7 about being gracefully unique and honouring my values, I’m thinking about how to be authentic.

Authenticity – that feeling of being YOU and bringing the good, the bad, the ugly and the wonderful to the table – is one of the biggest, most important in achieving my goal of having a gracefully unique year.

This clip is an awesome interpretation of how to feel uniquely YOU in any given moment. (As an aside, Garden State is one of my favourite movies – and movie soundtracks – of all time. If you haven’t seen it, you should.)

I may not always make quirky moves and sounds in the run of a day (although sometimes I do!). But in order to feel alive, fulfilled and authentically ME, I want to honour my truths, needs and preferences as much as I can. I want to do things that make me feel GOOOOD, like:

  • Run
  • Practice yoga
  • Avoid dairy
  • Avoid sugar
  • Avoid pop and too much caffeine
  • Laugh
  • Dress the way I want to and have fun with clothes
  • Stretch and shake – get that blood flowing!
  • Drinks loads of water
  • Avoid meetings before 9 a.m.
  • Avoid answering emails on weekends
  • Spend time with my Mom, Dad and Hunny
  • Have girl talk with my favourite girls
  • Send an email or letter to my favourite far-away girls
  • Express anger and let it out, rather than bottle it up
  • Go for a walk in the sun
  • Sit outside, preferably downtown somewhere
  • Push back on a demand or deadline that doesn’t work for me
  • Let something go
  • Be honest with someone
  • Ask questions
  • Do one less thing today than planned
  • Say no to shackles and opt for soul stirring
  • Sit in silence for a while
  • Write a love letter, even if I don’t send it
  • Share positivity with someone
  • Cook something delicious and healthy
  • Hug and kiss
  • Learn something
  • Go somewhere new
  • Brainstorm…even if its with myself

What do you think? Is this a good list? What else should I add? What are things you do to feel unique and honour your truths? Help a sista out!

Step 1 for Being Gracefully Unique: Feel Creative

– Contributed by Big L

My ideas for blog content have been lacking lately. Between business changes, wedding planning, weekly blogging for Stratejoy, and the dreaded end-of-winter BLAHs, I don’t have any brain juice left.

In typical me fashion, I spent a bit of time yesterday problem solving my way out of this jam. The result is that I have an idea for a seven-part blogging series. Here it goes:

Remember in January, when I wrote about my themes for 2011? I was so excited to tell you that this year, I want to be GRACEFULLY UNIQUE.

Well guess what? We’re almost three months into the year and I’m not feeling especially graceful OR unique. Crap. I even have a seven-page plan, outlining how I can nurture each of my seven values, which in turn, will keep the graceful uniqueness flowing. Except, I haven’t looked at it once since I wrote it. My cup of graceful uniqueness does not runneth over.

For each of the next seven weeks, I’m going to write about one of my values and my ideas for a bunch of little ways I can nurture it more. My hope is that by verbalizing each one, I’ll internalize it more. I also hope that you’ll have some additional ideas I can throw into the mix.

Let’s get started!

#1: Creativity

To feel creative and nurture my inner artist, I should express or participate in creativity every day! Ways to do that include:

  • Draw, colour or paint something
  • Creative writing
  • Read an inspiring book
  • Edit a photo or video clip
  • Make a collage or vision board
  • Work on wedding invitations and decor
  • Visit an art gallery
  • Watch live theatre
  • Write and doodle with markers
  • Dance
  • Visit a craft store
  • Sing
  • Make a scrapbook page
  • Brainstorm about something
  • Attend a concert of some sort
  • Watch a good movie
  • Paint pottery
  • Take a workshop of some sort
  • Go take some photos
  • Make a craft
  • Read fiction
  • Flip through my motivational books or coffee table books

There it is, team. Value #1 is creativity; being creative allows me to feel gracefully unique.

Ideas for how to action the value, keep it top of mind, and embrace it more fully are so, so welcome. Bring it on.

{Photo credit}

Different lives; same struggle

– Contributed by Big LÔĽŅÔĽŅ

How do we learn to be as laid back as these two?

I realized recently that a few important woman in my life are in strangely parallel places right now, myself included.

Wee C has been reflecting on the importance of unconditional love and is starting to discover that the most important person you can give it to is yourself.

My dear friend and mentor Maggie has been blogging about being on the road to contentment. Again, seeking peace and calm within herself in a way she never has before.

My wonderful friend Krista is trying to learn how to focus on being instead of doing, another version of the same uphill battle.

And next? Enter my Mom, Valerie. A woman who is even more focused on outputs than I am. A woman who, just like the ones mentioned above, has been working hard since she was a kid, pleasing others, serving others, and being better than average all of the time because, well, there is no other option. A woman who has multiple reasons to give herself permission to be, nurture, breathe, and self love, but has no idea where to start.

Wee C, Maggie, Krista, my Mom and I are in our 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. From the outside, the stories of our lives are very different. On the inside, our struggles are very much the same.

In today’s post, my Mom shares what this struggle looks like for her:

I woke up today with the intention of being very productive. But then again, I wake up every day with the same intention. That’s what I do. I DO.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when I am totally unproductive. But the thing is, I feel guilty about being unproductive. Being unproductive = wasting time. ¬†And just to be clear, journaling (or blogging), reading for enjoyment and/or self-improvement, exercising, chatting with family and friends does NOT qualify as productive. Not for me. I can’t even enjoy a long bath for God’s sake! I need to read, or plan, or solve. My entire life is based on productivity!

AND to add to the weirdness: I have coached business owners, students, and busy Moms; I have delivered workshops and seminars; I have facilitated support groups…all with the same goal: to encourage others to find the time to look after themselves, to be with family and friends. I often say, “Time Management is not about doing more, it’s about doing what is important”.¬†Big¬†sigh. It’s not that I don’t know this shit; I just don’t¬†practice what I preach.

The only time I ever give myself permission to be unproductive is when I am not well. Which, coincidently, is often: I have experienced debilitating migraines, cancer, mono, long bouts of radiation-related colitis, fibromyalgia, etc. etc.

But, why¬†can’t I give myself permission to be unproductive¬†and¬†healthy at the same time?¬†I am 54 and I have worked since I was 14. To be honest, I didn’t always have a lot of choice. I had responsibilities. But my life is different now. I don’t have to put in a 60-hour workweek. My Girl is all grown up; she doesn’t¬†need¬†Mom like she used to…she is in a loving, stable relationship with a wonderful young man who is¬†always¬†there for her.¬†And I am in a great relationship too, with a man who actually¬†encourages me to only work part time! He wants me to look after myself!

But how do I change a lifetime of productivity and hard work?¬†How do I do all the things I enjoy, like reading, and writing without the guilt? I want to blog! I want to write a book! I want to spend more time looking after me; to rest, meditate, eat better, cook instead of buying frozen meals, exercise, practice Qigong everyday! I want to work part time and be OK with it. I don’t know how to do those things! ¬†I don’t know how to change “My Program”!

My Girl tells me I need to just start. So that is what I am going to do. This blog post is my jumping-off point. I woke up this morning with the intention of being productive. But instead I am sitting here at 3:00 (in my jammies I might add) writing my first blog; something I have wanted to do for months!

I am surrounded by boxes (I just moved and should be unpacking), I have no clean clothes (I should be doing laundry), I have emails to send, and client work that’s due, my bed isn’t even made (gasp!) but for the rest of the day (and evening) I am going to be unproductive and be OK with it. Not because I am sick, just because I choose it. I will read. I will call my aunt to chat. I will snuggle with my cats. I will drink tea. I will watch Oprah. I will be unproductive despite having work to do, and I will be OK! Damn it!

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know how it goes.