Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Thoughts on Life

I've been a busy little bee for the past few weeks, and am acutely aware of my lack of posts for my risk blogging challenge. Although it appears that I'm a little behind, you can be sure I have not fully failed - and I will not accept defeat!

The truth is, I've been doing a little bit of private soul searching when it comes to risk, and have been working with a great life coach (Grace Cho from Seismic Coaching) to help define the direction that I would like to take my life in.

Through my short time in working with her, I've already begun adjusted my mannerisms and the way I converse with myself regarding big life matters. I've started to eliminate those "should" feelings that come so naturally to me, for whatever reason. "I'm not living the life I should be" or "I should be doing _____ with my time, instead of ________" are commonplace in my private mind, but I'm finally beginning to see that "should" should be a 4 letter word!

I'm beginning to question the origin of these emotions and self-taught thoughts, and understand why I've grown to become so plagued by them. I'm also learning to counteract them, with thoughts of inspiration, potential and hope for the future. So far, Grace has taught me to really believe we are all born just the way we are meant to me. We aren't meant to be fixed, or adjusted, we are meant to experience life with the plus's and minus's we are given, and we should never feel that we are broken and in need of fixing. We are just in need of growth.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Mentor I Haven't Met Yet

Who out there in the world would be the best mentor for your ideas and goals?

The prompts certainly are doing an excellent job in forcing me to figure out the way I view my life! I wish I could say that they get easier as you go along, but that has most certainly not been the case for me. Each day I sit down on my computer to focus on the new prompt, and each day I let out a big sigh when I realize I don't know the answer. It's like it would be enough of a challenge just to write the post, let alone actually figuring out how I feel about it. 

I don't currently have any mentors for my ideas and goals, at least none that I actively know of. Truth is, I've always had a bit of trouble relating to others when it comes to my own personal thoughts and challenges. When I receive motivation from others, I feel it's more like "oh of course you can do it," which has always struck me as a little generic. I have trouble believing them because I feel like they hadn't heard the whole idea yet, or weren't listening when I shared my doubts. How would they know if I could do it, if they hadn't yet heard what I was so afraid of? As a result, I started doubting the whole possibility of having a role model/mentor that could really shake things up for me. I wish I could say that part has changed, or is changing, but there really isn't much progress to report on this front. 

So, I guess you could say I'm taking applications. I'm sending it out to the universe that I'm looking for a mentor who'll grab me by the shoulders and say "Hey Shannon, you've got a really amazing talent here and you can't let that go to waste." Because really, that's all it really comes down to for me. Some sort of specific validation that there's something here inside of me that's great. Not just that 'I'm great' or that 'I'll do great.' Something specific that I do that makes someone else go "hey, there's no way she should give that up."

Is that really too much to ask?

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This month, I'm taking part in the Monthly NaBloPoMo Challenge, hosted by BlogHer. See all my March posts on Risk here. To find more blogs that are participating, please click here

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Eeney Meeney Miny Mo

If you didn't have to be concerned about money or expertise, what would be your ideal job?

I've always wondered how many people actually know the answer to this question off the top of their heads. Is it one of those things that you read and then run with the first idea in your head? Or should you really, really look deep inside your soul to find the answer. Like I discussed in my personal post yesterday, I've been known to have a touch of a self-esteem complex. As a result, it's tore down a lot of the dreams and "ideal" scenarios that I've come up with over the years. It usually doesn't take too long for my brain to tell my heart that it's not really possible, it's too big of dream or too wild of an idea to ever come into fruitition. Pretty quickly, I have myself convinced that not only that I can't do it, but it's not really worth it anyways; before you know it, I'm back doing ordinary and average things. 

So, it goes without saying that I'm not really one of those people that can answer this question quickly. It usually starts off with a grand idea - like that I would love to open a boutique store and be surrounding by beautiful and inspirational things every single day. I would work with my hands to build handmade items, to sit on the shelves amongst other unique items from like-minded creators. It would be a happy place, where I'd build relationships with others, and together we would cultivate kindness, joy and happiness without our own little community. I'd be surrounded by others who live and breath the benefits of stillness (of the heart and the mind), and encourage balance between work and pleasure. 

Somewhere along that imaginary journey, though, I find a way to cut down the dream. I get discouraged about the path to get there, because I can't see it clearly enough to know where to go. My brain tells me that there's now way it would ever get to that point, for I am not great enough to achieve it. And well, if it's just going to be a tiny shop with me making crafts nobody will really want to buy, what's the point anyways? It's a dangerous trap that catches me on a number of occasions. 

But it's coming around. With a little work and a lot of soul searching, things are bound to start looking up. 

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This month, I'm taking part in the Monthly NaBloPoMo Challenge, hosted by BlogHer. See all my March posts on Risk here. To find more blogs that are participating, please click here

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

When Life Gets in the Way

What is getting in the way of you reaching for your dreams?

I used to think I would always be able to reach any dream I set my mind to - even if I hadn't figured out exactly what it was yet. Somewhere along the way, though, I somehow lost faith in myself. I lost faith in my determination, in my motivation and in my ability to manage my time. It seemed the more I got older, the more I started feeling like life was just too much to handle. Even the simplest things were too hard, and the smallest tasks were overwhelming (let alone trying to juggle a handful of things together).

I wish I had one specific thing to blame for getting in the way of reaching my dreams, but I don't. The closest I have is my thoughts. It's hard to say (or even just admit to myself), but the majority of my lack of dream-chasing is largely due to my lack of self-esteem. Trust me, this isn't a pity cry or a 'poor me' statement, but I feel if I don't start admitting it - I won't be able to start fixing it. 

I have difficulty seeing the promise of my future. I feel like whatever I do just won't be good enough. Regardless of what anyone else thinks, it somehow still won't be good enough for me. The worst part is, I know it's ridiculous, I know I shouldn't treat myself like that or view myself so low, I know I should believe in my dreams and my heart and my wild ideas. But I'm limited. 

It's so true that you will always be your own worst critic, I just wish I knew how to tone down the dial a little. I'm always trying to be this person that I should be. I want to be happier, and funnier and more carefree. I want to embrace life and laugh, dance and smile more. I want to wake up inspired and happy. I've been spending a lot of time reflecting on my life lately, especially with the big changes coming up in the next few months, and I've been forcing myself to be ok in the silence. I've been considering stillness, and paying attention to my thoughts, hesitations and intuition - and I'm learning a lot. It's been a messy process, some of it good, some of it bad, but I keep telling myself at least I'm making progress. Because if I don't start now. If I don't force myself to start waking up and experiencing life in a better light, I'll be in the exact same space 10 years from now. 

And that is pretty much the only thing I'm really scared of. 

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This month, I'm taking part in the Monthly NaBloPoMo Challenge, hosted by BlogHer. See all my March posts on Risk here. To find more blogs that are participating, please click here

Friday, March 8, 2013

Now Leaping Near You

Do You Always Look Before You Leap?

Short Answer: No

Next Question: Should I?

Quite Possibly

I feel very strongly that this post will show just how much of a walking contradiction I am. I love the idea of risks, and I love surprises, but I also like to plan. I like things planned, and concise. I like to know how my day will end before I wake up in the morning. I keep a schedule and write lists to keep me both motivated and on-track. I've also been told I take life a little too seriously (from a personality test we took through our pre-marriage counselling so I think it's pretty legit). 

As a result, when it comes time to make really big decisions, like buying a car, quitting a job or listing our house. I usually leap. Without looking. Thing is, I feel so bogged down by my self-generated stress from day to day life, that when the big life-changing decisions come along I'm pretty good at throwing caution to the wind. Sometimes I feel that I'm so drained from micromanaging my own life, that it's easier to pick some things by doing the "eeny meenie minie mo" thing. Although with the big things, I just feel that one way or another things will just work out. If the house isn't meant to sell now, it won't. If we sell and are left homeless, we'll figure it out. If I quit my job, we might struggle for a bit but I'll be able to keep us afloat by taking on various tasks, projects, etc. Hell, if an opportunity dropped in my lap to move to a different city, I'd probably seriously consider it for a day or two and make a decision. 

Sure, I've jumped into things that I probably shouldn't have. I've lost us money in business ventures that were horrible ideas, I've taken vacations when we certainly shouldn't have, I jumped into relationships that were horrible for my soul. The transition periods out of these instances were painful and difficult - but growth almost always is. And I like it when my heart + soul grows. 

I feel that if you go too long without learning, you feel stuck. It isn't my nature to continue along mostly smooth seas just living a relatively predictable life. I also have this opinion that life is what you make it, and I although I struggle with worry and hesitation for smaller things (should I got back to school, should I take on more clients, should I open an online store), when opportunities arise I rarely shy back from them. I take it as a sign from the universe, regardless from what might be waiting for me on the other side. 

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This month, I'm taking part in the Monthly NaBloPoMo Challenge, hosted by BlogHer. See all my March posts on Risk here. To find more blogs that are participating, please click here

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Going Big?


Discuss your experience with the saying "Go Big or Go Home"

I've never really been one for the 'go big or go home' mentality. Like I've mentioned in my other risk posts, I am a fan of risks in general, but I'm also a fan of reasonable risks vs. possibly unreasonable. My mister, on the other hand, is a firm believer in 'go big or go home' so suffice it to say that this area is a bit of a struggle for us. 

A few years ago, we had the opportunity to go on a mini vacation to Las Vegas. I love the Vegas. It makes me uber happy every time I visit there, mainly because of the hot summer sun and long hours drinking caesars by the pool. The spouse, however, felt that if we were a) going on vacation and b) going to Vegas, we needed to make the most of it by saving (and then spending) HUGE dollars on fancy meals, spa treatments and a better hotel room. I was just happy to even be going, let alone staying at a decent hotel and just couldn't understand his dissatisfaction with an ordinary vacation. I finally talked him down from his grandeur expectations of our first visit together to the city of sin, and realized he felt that way because he wasn't sure he'd ever get back. He wanted to make the most of it, since we were there, just in case. 

Coincidentally, we have been back a number of times since our first visit (and this summer will be my 5th trip - as a joint stagette), and we have enjoyed ourselves every time, even on a budget. To be honest, I think each trip we spend a little less than the last, and enjoy it a little more. He's come to realize that to me, just getting there is going big (because we could have spent our days off more locally) and going bigger does not always guarantee more happiness or enjoyment. 

Usually, when I think of going big, it commonly involves feelings and thoughts that involve money and our financial stability. And it's usually a decision based on "is spending an extra $XX on going big going to be worth the financial setbacks I will incur over the next 12 months." Because as awesome as it might be, going big is rarely cheap. 

That being said, our difference in outlook has helped me understand that sometimes, we don't really know 'if we're going to make it back.' While vacation choices are relatively small in the big scheme of things, it does make me think more about applying that to other areas of my life. Like spending time with my grandparents. Family camping trips. Our wedding day. Those are times I'll be a bit more lenient in actually going big instead of going home. Just don't expect a $30,000 wedding - just like my vacations, I'm sure my 'big' is much smaller than most.

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This month, I'm taking part in the Monthly NaBloPoMo Challenge, hosted by BlogHer. See all my March posts on Risk here. To find more blogs that are participating, please click here

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Risks vs. Choices

What's the riskiest thing you've ever done. How did it turn out?

I got stuck on this one. I feel like even though I've taken my share of risks during my 27 years on this earth - I feel like I haven't risked enough to have a good answer for this one. Sure, I've ended friendships and relationships, I've quit jobs, I've moved towns, I've spoken my mind and held my breath. I've even jumped out of planes and off bridges. I've befriended an enemy, I've fallen in love with the wrong person and walked away when I thought I deserved more. Even still, in retrospect, they all seem on the smaller scale. Even in hindsight, I don't even feel that they were risks, so much as choices. During those points of my life, I felt I was making choices more clearly. Not like clear as in "always making the right decision because I'm so clear headed" but free of what other people wanted, what they expected of me or general feelings of guilt. It was me, listening to the voices of my inner spirit guiding me along the path, with no kind of human interference to get in the way. 

I think when you make choices and change directions based on what you "might like to do" it isn't so much of a risk, but following the path you were meant to take. It's your way. But I also think that things become a whole lot riskier when you take into account your whole world, especially as it grows. Funny how quitting your job to travel the world is an opportunity when you're a single gal, but if you're married with kiddies all of a sudden that opportunity becomes a risk. There's more to loose. There is a risk to quitting your job when you could loose your house. Not so much of a risk when you're 21 without a home, car, kids or spouse. 

Which leads me to try to think of an occasion where I made a decision that actually involved risk. Where I could loose big. And there it was standing straight in front of me: the mister. 

When I met the mister, it was back in 2007 and I had been single for about 10 months. At the time, I had just moved into my new apartment with a friend of mine, out of my parent's place where I had been staying. It was October and an old buddy of mine stopped by to say hello and check out our new place. Since he was also living with a friend at the time, he brought him along with - and as we now know, that was the beginning of the end for me as a single woman. 

The situation was less than ideal. Having been on many first dates during that 10 months, and not very many seconds, I was convinced that love was just not in the cards for me anytime soon. Although our immediate connection swept me off my feet, I mostly just felt saddened that it wasn't meant to be. At the time, he had no idea I felt that way. He was engaged. 

Now before you get ahead of yourself, don't go thinking that my "risk" involved sneaking off to back rooms. There were no cheaters to be had here... but there were lots of really confusing emotions and some really big decisions. 

Although now isn't the time or place for the full 20/20 story, I will tell you that the riskiest thing I ever did was wait. I'm not a patient person (by any means), but something in my heart, seated deep in my soul, told me I needed to be patient. It assured me I wasn't going to miss out on anything big by waiting. I wasn't going to pass other opportunities by, by waiting.  That waiting would be good. for. me. And so I did. I waited for group opportunities to come up, I waited for invitations to friend movie nights, I invited our mutual friend to my birthday celebration (who brought the mister along with him). For the first time in my life I felt that just maybe things might work out without me trying to control the reigns. I don't particularly like talking about our 'how we met' story, because I am very much aware that my happiness did, ultimately, come along with someone else's pain. 

The first day I was officially introduced to him, I knew. I knew there was a bond there so strong. A connection that I have never experienced with anyone else, that it would be impossible for us to continue our paths without crossing again in the future. I also knew, however, that this connection, this feeling that I felt, meant that there was a possibility my heart could break in a way I've never felt. I phoned my closest friend as soon as he left the front door. It was the only time I started a conversation with "I'm in trouble." At that point in time (and still today), I felt that he was my future, and if I didn't chose my steps carefully, I would have everything to loose. 
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This month, I'm taking part in the Monthly NaBloPoMo Challenge, hosted byBlogHer. See all my March posts on Risk here. To find more blogs that are participating, please click here

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

When Risk Pays Off


Name a time when a risk you took paid off

This April will officially mark 3 years since I launched my self-employment business 3 Squares Business Solutions. The dream had been a long time in the making and although I had dabbled in various writing and assistant "gigs" previously, April 8th 2010 was when I officially bit the bullet, whipped out my credit card, and purchased my very first webspace. I had no idea what I was doing, and no idea what the future would have in store for me; all I knew was that I had a lot to learn and a lot of work to do!

At the time, I was still employed full time as an office director within a medium sized company. A job which, at times, caused me to feel extremely overworked, highly stressed and very out-of-balance with the person I thought I was. 

For me, the motivation to become self-employed was 3 fold:

1. To Build Something For Myself: I am the type of person who takes a responsibility and runs with it. If you put me in an unorganized kitchen to bake a cake, I'd end up spending any downtime organizing it. In retail, when there were lulls of no customers, you'd find me refolding sweaters or straightening racks. It's not because I feel that I'm supposed to, it's because I like to be productive. I actually got told I wasn't needed anymore while helping out at another retail store, because I didn't stand around and socialize with everyone else. However, as I've learned from adult experience (and my short retail stint at Bootlegger), this type of personality can be both a blessing and a curse. After pouring 4.5 years of blood, sweat and mental exhaustion into my then-employer, I woke up one day and realized how little I had actually accomplished for myself. If only I was able to harness all of that drive that I had for someone else's company, and focus it towards my own. 

2. To Help Reduce a Large Tax Bill: Due to an HR error made on my payroll account, which occurred near the beginning of the year and was only discovered near the end, I was left with a very large tax bill to pay in 2009. Essentially, it was discovered that somehow my employee account was set up with the highest deduction status instead of the lowest. As a bit of an explanation of what this means, I would have had to had a ton of children, single parent status, a few adoptive kids, taking care of an elderly individual, had alimony payments, on disability etc etc. Since I was NONE of those things, the income tax deductions were severely lower than what I should have been paying. After doing my taxes in 2010, I nearly suffered a full blown mental breakdown. If there was ever a time to start a business where my expenses may exceed my income in the first year, this was the time to do it. 

3. To Get My Well-Being Back: As each stress-ridden day passed, I was sure I could actually feel myself slipping away. I remember the person I was during the beginning of that stage of my life fondly. I had just finished almost a full year of laying on the grass, patio and coach soul searching through every avenue possible. I meditated, I wrote, I kept a gratitude journal AND an art journal. My head was clear, my convictions strong and both my soul and my body were well nourished. Fast forward a few years, and suddenly I found myself beaten down and uninspired. It got to the point where my self-worth WAS dependent on my paycheque. I listened to my others talk about how you couldn't retire at 50 if you spend a year travelling, pursuing writing or anything else humbling or creative for that matter (and therefore all of those things became a waste of time). And after a while I started to believe it too. 

In order to get back to the person I wanted to be, I knew I needed a change. I needed something that would allow for flexibility, for times away, for travel and for growth. I knew I couldn't be the best Shannon Beth I could be while confined to the restrictions of a 9-5 box. 

It's now (almost) 3 years later, and although it hasn't been an easy road by any means, I'm so thankful that I took the risk that I did. In March of 2011, I gave my employer 3 weeks notice and prepared myself to take the leap into full on self-employment. Coincidentally, my last day at my regular, consistently paying job was April 8th - which I didn't realize was exactly 1 year from my "official" start date until I renewed by webspace account. 

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This month, I'm taking part in the Monthly NaBloPoMo Challenge, hosted byBlogHer. See all my March posts on Risk here. To find more blogs that are participating, please click here

Monday, March 4, 2013

Do Great Risks = Great Rewards?


Do you believe the saying that with great risks come great rewards?

Although I believe that great risks have the ability to yield great rewards, I think we all know a little too well that great risks don't always provide us with great rewards. Let me begin by saying I am a usually optimistic person. I may let life get me down, struggle with low self-confidence, and occasionally worry where the next pay check is coming from (being a freelancer, its unavoidable), but for the most part I believe in sunshine and buttercups - and that life has a way of working itself out. 

I am a scholar of the secret, I practice gratitude and I know deep down in my soul we are the creators of our universe. I've lived both carelessly and safely, and although I wish I could say I've gotten the balance down pat, I'm currently sitting just a little too far on the safe side at the moment. As a result, I second guess my decisions, I overanalyze opportunities for change and I shy away from possible seismic shifts that have the potential to turn my life upside down. I think I can mostly attribute this self-created safety net to a number of probably not right (but not quite bad) decisions my significant other and I made regarding the purchase of our home, a new car, and a few vacations within a short period of time. Those willy nilly days of our past hold some of the most amazing memories for both of us, and as a result we still somehow feel indebted to them (both financially and emotionally), years later. Like the great risks we took together when we jumped in with both feet paid off with great emotional rewards but poor financial rewards. Even though the bills are paid, and we disagree with consumer debt, we still feel like maybe we were given too much fun. 

So, we started feeling like maybe we shouldn't take too many risks. Maybe we should live like we should and start climbing the "American Dream" ladder. Maybe we shouldn't take too many risks because it might hinder our development in building something bigger for the future. In going back to the prompt at hand (and what I mentioned above), yes, I do believe that with big risks can come great rewards. More than we ever expected. I also believe that big rewards don't really happen unless you take big risks. When was the last time you seen an investor make an extra $10,000 from a product he didn't invest in? Or a woman receive a job offer for a dream job that she didn't apply for? It sounds so simple, but like I mentioned in yesterday's article, risk taking is just one of those things that maybe we need to reminded of to do. 

This world is so much bigger than we know it to be, and honestly, we aren't going to experience that mind-blowing "holy crap the world is huge" moment until we start taking a few risks outside of our comfort zone. Myself included. 

"There comes a day when you realize turning the page is the best feeling in the world, because you realize there is so much more to the book than the page you were stuck on."
- Zayn Malik 

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This month, I'm taking part in the Monthly NaBloPoMo Challenge, hosted by BlogHer. See all my March posts on Risk here. To find more blogs that are participating, please click here

Friday, March 1, 2013

When is the risk worth... the risk?

Do you think it's better to play it safe or to take risks?

Naturally, I like risks. I like the thought of risks, I like daydreaming about risk, I even like getting ready to take risks. Growing up, I've always been the type of person that thought of risks as exciting adventures, and not knowing where you'd turn up was half the fun. Unfortunately, as I got older and managed to acquire things like mortgages and car payments and dog-owning responsibilities, risks became significantly more difficult to take. When you grow up, it seems like there's always something out there preventing you from taking that leap (or even just a baby step) towards your dream. 

Sometimes I wish I was 20 years old again, without responsibilities or so many bills. Maybe that way I could cram as many risks as possible into that small window frame of time when you really are free. Then I remember, though, that had I done that, I may not be where I am today. And I kinda like it here right now. So it's a catch-22. 

Needless to say, there really isn't any excuse at all for us to stop taking risks as we get older. Sure, there's more at stake,  but doesn't that normally mean there is more to gain as well? Nobody expects a 30 year old to sell their home and take off to Austrailia, or a 40 year old to quit their job to go work on a cruiseline, but who's to say that makes it a bad idea? I want to know that, at the end of my time here on this beautiful earth, I've explored every inch of my soul, rejoiced in possibility and experienced the follow-through to many of my own possible risks. 

So, in closing, I think it IS better to take risks. Get out there. Explore. Wish. Make silly mistakes. 

I think we all just need a few more reminders from the universe that living this way is ok. It's accepted in the big scheme of things. And that we all need to let go a little more than we do. 

<3 Shan

This month, I'm taking part in the Monthly NaBloPoMo Challenge, hosted by BlogHer. See all my March posts on Risk here. To find more blogs that are participating, please click here.
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