Inspiration: March 3

Inspiration March 3: Life In Limbo

I particularly resonated with this episode of The Lively Show, which led to some big aha moments for me around arbitrary goals set by my ego and how I can manifest good stuff more effectively.

This is so good: 43 things learned in 43 years. One of my favourites: “Examining your motivations with radical honesty is a lifetime commitment. And it’s as painful as it is rewarding.”

I’m back to using Asana to keep track of my to-dos and loving it! Also still loving Trello and Workflowy for other purposes, but Asana has re-captured my heart, especially the calendar function.

My friend Sonja introduced me to Alanis Morissette’s podcast this week and I have been loving it! Think: super deep dives into ideas about relationships, mindfulness, and psychology. Really good stuff.

I don’t go to bed quite this late, but can relate wholeheartedly! My whole life I’ve struggled to get up at the same time as everyone else.

Notebooks are good places to have bad ideas, and good ideas for that matter. I love my notebooks.


Home is Toronto! The last couple of weeks have been really, really good ones. I feel like I’m starting to find my flow here in the city, make some friends, and spend more time with my family than I have since high school! It feels amazing. I’ve been home at my mom’s little hideaway for a few days and it’s so lovely to do my work in the sunshine with the puppy beside me, and then go for walks in the valley in the late afternoon. Being here is always beautiful. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

 

Book Club: January + February

Book Club 2017: January + February >> Life In Limbo

I love to read, and I love to talk about the books I like best with other people. Every couple months here on the blog I choose my favourites from what I’ve read lately and write about them. As always, you can see everything I’m reading on my Goodreads profile. You can also check out what I’m reading in real time at #stephlovestoread on Instagram.

My reading life took a bit of a back seat in February as I focused on some new career opportunities and – let’s be honest here – watched way too much TV in the evenings rather than curling up with a book. For that reason, it’s been good motivation (and lots of fun) to be part of a book club again: so far we’ve read Homegoing and The Happiness Equation, and this weekend we’re meeting to discuss Sapiens. All three have been great, and it’s always nice to deepen my love of reading by joining a group to talk more about books!

I read several good books over the past couple months and thoroughly enjoyed all of them! To keep things short, I’ll just mention my top 4 recommendations here, but you can always follow along on Goodreads.

Book Club 2017: January + February >> Life In Limbo

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

It’s no secret that I love Mark’s writing – he’s made many an appearance in my inspiration posts. I listened to his new book as an audio book at the very beginning of the year and really enjoyed it. He always shares a lot of interesting and counter-intuitive ideas that I haven’t heard many other places before, and his book was no exception. I really like how realistic and practical he is, which sets his book apart from other self-help stuff. Don’t let the aggressive tone of the title put you off (he explains more about why he uses the F word so much here) – despite the impression the cover gives, it contains lots of helpful advice and perspective shifts for just about anyone (aka: not just white, male entrepreneurs).

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

I’ve read many a book about World War II, but never one quite like this one. I think what I liked best about it is how the author really takes her time telling the story, in the sense that the book spans several years worth of time for the characters. She doesn’t really skip over parts, nor does the book describe details in excess, so what results is this really beautiful depiction of their lives, each getting its due but not lingering. Any section of the book could have easily been its own novel because it was so interesting and rich, but instead she weaves them together to do something even more evocative: show characters who are not solely defined by their experiences during the war. So many books about wars are only about that brief moment in the characters’ lives – in this book, she puts the characters fully into context, so you experience along with them the slow creeping up of the war and the growing hatred of that era. Getting to ‘know them’ before the travails of war is also a powerful narrative tool, because you get a true sense of the indignity and horror of ordinary people being ripped from their lives. Oh, and it’s a beautiful love story. This was a terrifying book to be reading right around the time of the U.S. inauguration and in those first scary weeks.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The best thing I can say about Jandy’s books is that they make me physically feel things. Reading them is so much fun that it makes me giddy – it makes me feel like I’m the one falling in love, not the characters. I read I’ll Give You the Sun in December and it made my list of Best Books of 2016, and as soon as I finished it I put this one (her first novel) on hold at the library. What else can I say except that these books are fun, lovely, and highly romantic. I can’t wait for her next one to be released! It’s meant to be coming out in 2017 at some point.

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

A chilling thought experiment about what might have happened had the Southern United States not abolished slavery while the Northern States did, had they compromised to avoid the Civil War. It follows the logic that the North was motivated to preserve its human values while the South wanted to preserve its ‘business interests’. It’s pretty sickening to imagine, though it also serves as a stark reminder that history could easily have gone a different way, not to mention the fact that slavery was not abolished particularly long ago, all things considered. It also doesn’t feel all that far-fetched, which is of course appalling and sad. I think it was well-written, even if I disagree somewhat with the idea of a white man writing about the experiences of people of colour – it made me wince a couple of times.


You can see all my book recommendation blog posts here.

What’s the best thing you’ve read lately? Tell me your recommendations! 

 

Inspiration: February 24

Inspiration: February 24 >> Life In Limbo

I went to my first Creative Mornings event today and it was so great! If you have a local chapter I would highly recommend checking it out. Great energy, a great talk and a lot of fun to do something productive that early in the morning.

Finally started listening to Call Your Girlfriend with my own Long Distance Bestie (hi girl!) and it literally feels like listening to my own conversations with her. If you like politics, feminism, friendship, and all things that are good and funny, listen.

In case you somehow missed it: NASA has discovered planets that could support life!!

Revisiting this piece about how to read more because I need to be reminded!

Full disclosure: I have not yet made the time to watch this TED playlist for physical and emotional self-care but I like knowing it’s there when I’m ready.

I also liked this list of responsible and ethical brands – both global and Canadian which might make it easier for me to make good choices.

Also if you’ve never listened to the No Coincidence, No Story episode of TAL, you can do so here. I listened to it again this week and got chills all over again. Life is beautiful, y’all.


Wow, this was a big week. I feel tired, but happy. Things are flowing (so much abundance!!!) and I’m feeling so incredibly happy to be exactly where I am. After those years away, it feels amazing to be building community, spending time with my family, seeing my people, trying new things, making stuff and exploring new things. I’m incredibly grateful and asking: could every week be this wonderful? I think it could. I hope you have a wonderful weekend! xo.

 

3 Tips for Believing In Abundance

3 Tips for Believing in Abundance >> Life In Limbo

When I had been living in Korea for about 3 months, I lost my job. I’d moved across the world, made some friends, started to get the hang of teaching, and settled into the city a bit when my principal told me they were closing the school. I could move to another city two hours away, or I could get out of my contract and find a new job and place to live, since the school also provides you with an apartment.

I distinctly remember going to the bathroom and hyperventilating. I was terrified. I was in a relatively brand-new country where I knew approximately 5 people, didn’t speak the language, and was still figuring out how to feed myself properly, let alone navigate the process of paying my bills and sorting out my visa situation, which is also tied to your contract with your school.

And yet. I had chosen the word abundance that year to guide me, even though this was a moment that felt like the exact opposite. It was a moment that felt scary and isolating and panicky. But sitting in that bathroom stall ugly crying, a thought somehow came to me. An abundant thought: I’m going to make this work on my terms. This was nearly three years ago now, but thanks to the magic of technology I actually just found the message that I sent my friend Dylan in that exact moment to prove that this thought came to me, Divine-intervention-style. Sorry about the swearing, mom:

Abundance Abundance Abundance

Not all of what I envisioned in that initial set of messages turned out to be true, but I did go to the Philippines, and I did leave at the end of March like I had planned, despite the fact that 9 month contracts were practically unheard of in Korea. I found a new school that I liked far better than my first, where I got to interact with the kids more and do things in my own way. Despite all the fear-mongering from fellow expats that “I’d be lucky” to find another job in the same city, my new school was only a ten minute walk from my old school. I moved to an apartment literally two blocks north of where I’d been living, with bigger windows. I was still walking distance to the friends I’d made and to the beach I loved.

In short: I made it work on my own terms. I got everything I wanted, and then some. In the end, the second situation was so much better than the first.

I’m telling you all of this because I really, deeply believe that the way we think about things matters. What we believe to be possible has the power to shape our perspective, our behaviour, and our outcomes. I don’t have the science to back it up – I can’t tell you statistics or show you graphs to prove this point. I can only say this: I know people who don’t believe abundant things are possible, and abundant things don’t seem to happen to them. I believe in abundance, and I’m regularly bowled over by the beauty of the universe and how many opportunities show up for me.

3 Tips for Believing in Abundance >> Life In Limbo

In case you struggle with these ideas, here are three little things I’ve found to be true when it comes to abundance and manifesting that help me stay positive and optimistic:

1. Give It Time

Gabrielle Bernstein has this beautiful quote that has always stuck with me: “The universe is always working on our behalf, just not always on our time.” Another way I’ve heard her put it is: “The universe has your back, just not always on your schedule.” My belief in abundance does not mean I expect everything to be perfect right now. It doesn’t mean that I think things are going to happen on my idealized timeline, in the exact way that I want them to, or at the precise moment that would be most convenient for me.

It make take way longer than you’d like for exciting opportunities to show up in your life, or things might happen “too fast” or “all at once”, which can also be overwhelming. None of this means that exciting, amazing opportunities aren’t out there waiting for you or about to fall into your lap. It just means that you can’t predict exactly when or how they’ll happen for you.

2. Notice Other Narratives

The truth is, the world is full of bitter, cynical, angry narratives of scarcity and fear: “There aren’t enough jobs to go around. You’re an entitled, stupid millennial if you think you’ll be able to do work you believe in and get paid for it. Good luck finding a nice apartment in this crazy real estate bubble!” We don’t have to look very far to get bombarded with anecdotes that “confirm” these statements: there are people who will practically line up to tell you about all the terrible things that have happened to them or why they can’t have what they really want or why it’s naive/unrealistic/idealistic for you to think or want X, Y or Z.

Which is why it’s so important to actively seek out other stories. Specifically, to surround yourself with the kind of stories that are about beautiful, positive, too-good-to-be-true-but-it’s-true! experiences. The kind of stories that make you think “wow, I didn’t even realize that was an option. I never even knew things could happen that easily, quickly, or effortlessly.” I’m lucky to have a few people in my life who think this way and live their lives from a place of possibility – and they’re always excited to share with me when something amazing flows for them.

If you don’t have those people in your life, find them online or in books. I love Marie Forleo, Mimi Ikonn, Jess Lively and Sarah Von Bargen because they always show me new ways of thinking about the world and remind me of what’s possible.

3. Stay open

In yoga school we learned the phrase “minimum one thousand possibilities.” It’s meant to remind you that in any given situation there are over a thousand ways that something can play out, or over a thousand options you could choose. It’s a helpful idea, because as the author Steve Toltz asks of humans: “Why is free will wasted on a creature who has infinite choices but pretends there are only one or two?”

In every moment we have infinite choices and infinite possibilities available to us. To believe this is to believe in abundance. For me, this means staying open to the idea that the ideal outcome could take many different shapes (minimum 1000 shapes!) and still feel abundant to me. It won’t be perfect (nothing is), and it won’t be exactly as I had envisioned, but it will tick almost all of the boxes and flow in such an effortless way that it feels ‘meant to be’. Or as some manifesters say, “This or something better.”

My current apartment, the business I started this year, the new job opportunities that are coming to me: all of these things don’t look exactly as I’d pictured them, and they all have their quirks. But all of them flowed to me easily and naturally, met or exceeded my expectations, and felt completely abundant.

This is the difference between scarcity and abundance. In scarcity, we think there’s no way to get what we want: it’s too hard, there’s not enough, it’s impossible. With an abundance mindset, we believe that we can get what we want: it can be easy, there’s more than enough, and it’s possible. It might not look exactly the way think it will, and it might not happen right away, but it’s possible.


I absolutely try to live my life from a place of abundance, but I feel like I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to manifesting, limiting beliefs, and the power of our thinking in shaping our reality. So, if you have resources please share them with me! Do you have tips on believing in abundance and banishing the scarcity mentality? Do you have a manifesting practice or favourite teachers who help you think this way? Please share in the comments below! I’d love to read what you have to say.

PS. If you liked this article, you would probably also like My Favourite Mantras, How to Live More Intentionally, Abundance Ideas, and the post I wrote right after I lost my job in Korea!