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An evening of inspiration with the Lunagals

I would like to invite you to An Evening with the Lunagals: two of my favourite female changemakers who are visiting from Vancouver on Thursday, February 18.

Madeleine Shaw and Suzanne Siemens – the Lunagals – have been using business tools to create their social change goals since long before ‘Social Entrepreneurship’ was a buzzword.

Eventbrite - Lunagals: An Evening with Madeleine Shaw and Suzanne Siemens

The Lungals are best known as the founders of Lunapads, a pioneering natural menstrual health product line and web retailer that they’ve built into a 7-figure business over two decades. Lunapads is currently in the running for the SheEO Radical Generosity venture, and I can’t think of a more deserving company!

In addition to empowering women to #DitchTheDisposables, the Lunagals have supported the provision of sustainable feminine hygiene supplies to over 14,000 girls in 18 countries as Directors of United Girls of the World. Their passionate and “playfully disruptive” work has earned them recognition including the recent 2015 Vancouver Board of Trade Wendy McDonald Award for Entrepreneurial Innovation.

But my personal connection to these two inspiring women is the reason I am so thrilled about this opportunity to share their stories with my community.

lunagals shecosystem-poster.pngJust over a year ago, I was newly back in Toronto and searching for greater alignment in my life. I came across an organization called G Day: a community-based rite of passage for adolescent girls, founded in 2013 by the Lunagals. After a conversation with Madeleine, I stepped up to volunteer as Community Leader (as well as MC) of G Day Toronto in November 2014.

Thanks to the dedication of an incredible team, G Day Toronto gathered 250 Girls and Champions for a magical day of celebration and empowerment last April.

G Day was an opportunity to really step into my power.

It took courage and a great deal of emotional honesty to pull it off, and the Lunagals supported me every step of the way with a blend of intuitive trust and no bullsh*t professionalism. It was the first time I was able to really show up authentically at work, giving me a taste of a feminine paradigm for the working world that centers around work-life integration.

With over 50 women on board as volunteers and presenters, G Day also connected me with a community of heart-centred female entrepreneurs like the Red Tent Sisters, my Dance Our Way Home mentor Erica Ross, and Leigh Mitchell from Women in Biz Network. Seeing what these women are capable of when our forces combine – and seeing how happy everyone was to share space, if only for a day – inspired me to create more opportunities for us all to shine. Truly, G Day Toronto is where the seeds of Shecosystem were first planted.

That’s the power of the Lunagals’ magic. Who knows what could giant beanstalks could sprout from your attendance at this event!
Please join me for an intimate meet & greet with the Lunagals (and wine & goodies!) at 6:30PM followed by a conversation moderated by Marysa Czarski and an audience Q + A.

Learn how Madeleine and Suzanne’s unique co-leadership practice and values-based business model has influenced their key decisions, attracted investors, garnered media attention, supported them as working moms, and taken them as far afield as East Africa. Learn more at www.lunagals.com.

As a valued friend, I invite you to use the promo-code SHECOLOVE to save 20% off the ticket price.
Eventbrite - Lunagals: An Evening with Madeleine Shaw and Suzanne Siemens

Thursday, February 18, 2016
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
The Foundery
376 Bathurst Street

Dear Self: Having an Oh Sh*t moment? Read this first.

This morning I went to Creative Mornings – which you probably know is consistently one of my favourite events in Toronto. The speaker, Shannon Lee Simmons of New School of Finance wondered: What does it mean to be a boss?  So she did a bit of research in preparation for her talk.

Of course any serious research begins with an instagram hashtag search. Simmons was puzzled by her findings: is working #likeaboss about having fancy pants? Working from the beach? Shenanigans with cool coworkers? Joking aside, she determined that the sweet spot of bossdom lies at the intersection of enjoyment, purpose, financial stability, and a sustainable future. Basic enough formula…right? Sure. but Shannon also admitted that she has been in the #likeaboss zone for about 4 hours of her entire career.

If a successful entrepreneur like Shannon’s bossdom is so fleeting, where does that leave the rest of us? It leaves us exactly where Shannon has spent most of her career: taking risks, facing the fear (or as she called it the ‘Oh Shit moment’) that arises every time she takes a leap, and then struggling onward and upward until the next ‘Oh Shit moment.’

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Acknowledging this pattern, she wrote a letter to her future self, to break out at the next ‘Oh Shit moment.’ (Her letter is here, and it’s great). I left Creative Mornings and headed straight to my coworking space (a.k.a. not the beach), where I pulled out the laptop and started writing a letter to my future self. I asked myself, what does my future scared, stressed, depleted, anxious, paralyzed self need to hear?

And I came up with this formula to help you write your own letter:

  1. Reassurance: Remind yourself how awesome you are. That it’s not the first time you’ve felt like this and you’ve always survived. That you are your own best teacher and problem solver.
  1. Reframing: Look squarely at the fear, shame, or whatever negative emotion you are experiencing and reframe it as a positive thing, something that will lead to growth.
  1.  Recommitment: A call to action. Encourage yourself to go for it and commit to moving through the fear.
  1. Relax & Recharge: Bring it back to wellness – encourage your future self to get out of her head and into her breath or body. Literally move through the fear.

And of course, sign off with love.

Here’s my letter. I know I will bust this out over and over again as I take risk after risk to grow SheCoSystem. Because it’s huge. And scary. And will lead to lots of awesomeness if I just keep staring down the Oh Shit moments and moving through the fear.

Dear Future Emily,

You’re doing it again: jumping off yet another cliff into the wild unknown. First of all, remember: you’ve done this before and you survived. And not only did you survive, you grew. And if you act in alignment with your soul in this moment, just as you did before, you can feel confident that this unknown leap will land you somewhere good. Remember how it feels to act from your inner Wild Woman. Remember that you have an incredible support system including the people around you, the natural environment, the healthy habits and creative practices that nourish you, and the whole damn universe itself. Look at how much you have accomplished and how many people you have touched – you’re a resilient, amazing being! 

You might be scared shitless at the moment, but listen to that fear. What is it telling you? Are you legitimately afraid, or are you letting fear keep you too small and too safe? Remember the motto you’ve relied on before: fear means go. You weren’t content with the status quo and it’s better to feel afraid, anxious, or overwhelmed than to feel depleted and dead inside. Remember what you’ve told your students for years: discomfort leads to transformative growth. I know it’s hard to take your own advice, but you know these things are true. Acknowledging your fear and vulnerability is a courageous act, and the growing pains you feel as your comfort zone expands are totally natural. Your authenticity and Just F’ing Do It attitude attracts supporters, mentors, helpers, and collaborators. Don’t be afraid to let them in, and don’t hesitate to draw on these resources – they WANT to help.

So go for it. Leap with two feet. Commit to growing, to challenging yourself, knowing that when something feels not good enough, you must do something about it.  The status quo was draining you, and you’re already on your way to fixing that leak and refuelling yourself. Stick with it.

Now: pause and take ten deep breaths. Inhale abundance, exhale gratitude. Seriously, DO IT – let’s do it together, even if ten breaths feels like it takes an eternity and you don’t have time. Fuck it – make time. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Roll your shoulders back. Stand up and shake. Get up and grab a glass of water. You’ve got this.

Love you up to the sky, down to the ground.

xo

Present Emily

ARE YOU PART OF A THRIVING SHECOSYSTEM?

I told you I was done playing it safe and small. I told you I was ready to create something. Well here it is: after months of visioning, researching, and dreaming, it’s time to let you in on my next BIG thing.

After hearing myself go on and on about ‘holding space’ and ‘creating safe space,’ I’ve decided to create a real, physical, bricks and mortar space that reflects the values I hold dear. I want to unite the ecosystem of working women so that we can all become more resilient and radiant.

I am going to start a coworking space designed from a feminine paradigm that values self-care, sisterhood, holistic wellbeing and showing up authentically in our working lives.

It will be an environment where working women thrive – personally and professionally.

The SheCoSystem, as I’ve named my evolving project, is modeled on my core belief that just like everything in our natural ecosystem, working women thrive on interconnectedness. The more we come together, collaborate, share, and learn from each other, the more resilient we become as individuals, businesses, and as a community of working women. SheCoSystem will facilitate this connectedness by providing a collaborative, engaging, accessible and supportive workspace for the mobile workforce. It will be a hub for our city’s existing women’s networks and a purpose-built home for women’s events.

So that’s the plan. But it doesn’t start with bricks and mortar; it starts with community. That’s why I’ve joined forces with Women in Biz Network to host weekly events:

 Coworking, Wellness & Mentorship Meetups

Emily Antflick coworking meetup

Join us every Tuesday morning from 10-12 in Studio 106 at Artscape Youngplace on Shaw Street.

We have our own private, light filled room with fast wifi and strong coffee. Every week a group of women meet up to cowork and engage in self-care. After a quick check-in, we get down to business – each woman focussing on her own projects, occasionally turning to the group (or to our in-house professional mentor) with a question, an insight or a helpful resource to share. Then we take a purposeful break to dance, stretch, meditate, or learn together.

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Pay as you go: $8 WIBN Members/ $12 Non-members

Monthly pass: $30 WIBN members/$36 non-members

 

Join us to create a new coworking space and community hub for women in Toronto. This is your opportunity to be a part of a the conversation and help us shape the space to suit your needs and values.  Join us to become a founding member of a vital new community, investing not only in your own business but in the future of women’s work in Toronto.

You are a part of the SheCoSystem if:

  • You are a woman who wants a workplace where you can show up in an emotionally authentic way without feeling fear or shame
  • You value holistic self-care and recognize that your business will thrive only if you take care of your physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing
  • You want a purpose-designed home to host your workshop, meetup group, club, or event
  • You are a wellness practitioner looking for a space to offer your services
  • You are looking for a safe and all-embracing space where you can take risks and work in integrity
  • You believe that growth can arise from serendipitous connections
  • You are passionate about lifelong learning and personal development
  • You love to collaborate and share your success – and vulnerability – with like-minded others
  • You want to prove to the mainstream business world that the full expression of the feminine is a viable and sustainable way to work

Want to know more? Contact me and I’d be happy to tell you more about the vision – or just show up next Tuesday to help co-create the SheCoSystem to suit your needs.

Psst – Here’s a peek at our space and the wellness portion of last week’s Coworking & Wellness meetup!

A Wakeup Call from Aphrodite

I drove down to the studio through the drizzle. It was the first really cold, creeping fall drizzle; the kind that gives me double chills. First from cold, second from fear of the long winter ahead.

My phone had been buzzing all day as one woman after another cancelled her attendance for that evening’s Dance Our Way Home session. I felt dejected as I imagined myself dancing in a nearly empty room. The studio would be cold. I wondered how I would hold space for a warm circle of sisterhood with only two or three participants in the room.

When I arrived, I tried to center myself by drawing a card from the studio’s Doreen Virtue Goddess Oracle deck.

Aphrodite. Looking divinely beautiful with her flowing red hair and emerald gown.1359001230_aphrodite

I read the affirmation at the bottom of the card, and immediately felt reassured that no matter how many people showed up, the session would be just what it needed to be. It said:

“Awaken the goddess within you through dance, self-care and appreciating your divinity.”

And just like that, the goddess in me and let out a big yawn, splashed some water on her face, and got down to business. I put on some warmup music and started dancing and setting up the space. The people I had originally expected may not have showed, but others did – one sweet surprise after another.

As the dance journey began, the music and the last of a deep fuchsia sunset coming through the stained glass window transported us to a place where we were free, free to breathe deeply, to sigh, to roar and leap and spin and do whatever our bodies needed to do to warm up that late September night.

We danced with our inner Wild Women until our faces glowed with sweat and joy. We each embodied Aphrodite in our own uniquely beautiful ways.

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As I packed away the candles, stones and colourful silk scarves at the end of the night, I was aware of a complete shift in my sense of purpose. The message on the Aphrodite card was undeniable.

Fall and winter are happening whether I like it or not, and the inner goddess does not hibernate. But she also doesn’t spend the cold months shivering, still and isolated. She keeps herself awake by gathering all the other goddesses around her to dance, create, and nurture themselves. And when they come together, even on doubly chilly days, they reflect each other’s radiance. That’s enough to keep us all warm.

Since that day, I’ve been all about hosting events to bring women together. From talking circles to a weekly coworking & wellness meetup, fall is full of opportunities to authentically connect with like-minded women and build a sisterhood that will sustain us through the winter. 

Join me and make sure your inner goddess stays awake!

How can I trust in the unknown?

We were walking along a trail in Rouge Park in early May. The park was buzzing with spring’s eagerness to emerge – ferns unfurling their fibonacci curves, trilliums driving home some Ontario pride, little green fingers stretching up through the soil. I spotted a tree growing sideways up the edge of a ravine, and I couldn’t help leaving the path to run along its trunk, balancing in the tangle of horizontal branches.

I was a month out of a relationship and a career, and I was as fragile as the spring buds. But something else was starting to emerge. Something that expanded my chest and sharpened my inner vision. I climbed down from the tree and said to my friends:

TypicThere is so much WILDNESS in me that’s busting to get out…

I didn’t really know what I meant at the time, but that word would not go away.  Wildness. 

It was more than climbing trees and foraging for fiddleheads (but that was part of it). When the word wildness popped into my head and wouldn’t leave, I decided to work with what it represented. As I read and thought and talked and wrote and meditated and danced with the idea of wildness, I began to realize that wildness is the ability to courageously express my authentic, soulful self.

I also realized that too many of us women are out of touch with our wild selves. Occasionally we get a taste of our wildness or feel a longing to rediscover our inner Wild Woman. More often we drown out the cries and cravings of our wildness with air conditioning, makeup, mind numbing routines, cycle controlling hormones, processed food, codependency, distraction…we slouch politely through our lives behind the socially constructed barriers that keep us from hearing the longing of the wild soul.

I decided to play with an idea: what if I created a retreat where the intention is to try to hear our wild voices again?

In order to do that, I had to really step back as a facilitator and make space for each participant’s’ unique Wild Woman to emerge. I set out to design a retreat based on a feminine paradigm that values co-creation, creative collaboration, and an open hearted trust in the mysterious unknown.

With a background in formal education, I am used to working with specific learning objectives and detailed lesson plans, so learning to let go was a challenge. But a knowledge that is deeper than my degrees kept reminding me that the greatest lessons arise from the white spaces.  

Rediscovering my wild soul

required me to surrender control,

to move beyond predictability. 

My mission was to create a container that would encourage people to open up and contribute creatively, take the lead, and expand their personal boundaries. My responsibility was to hold space that was stimulating enough to spark new ideas, yet safe enough to allow women to take risks. I also wanted to bring participants to the edge of discomfort, allowing each woman to question whether her comfort zone serves her or whether it blocks her wild soul from expressing itself. Finally, I had to be open and vulnerable in order to allow these women to reveal their own vulnerability.

The most creative things in the world

happen in the spaces between the

heads and hearts of women who just get it

I sensed that these wise women would find their way to my retreat. And they did.

SaraElisabethPhotography-WildnessWeekend-4704When the ten Wild Women who took part in the retreat first arrived on Friday evening, we  first took time to drop into our breath and our bodies, giving ourselves permission to leave behind the highway and the busy week of work and urban living.

We then started with an exercise around setting intentions, because intention is what separates sacred retreat time from our mindless everyday flow. It was a provocative activity, where rather than simply meditating on her own intention, each person was asked to look at a list of words that another woman generated through a free-writing exercise, and then create an intention for someone else – without even knowing whose words she was reading – and read it aloud to the circle.

The intention that each woman received was surprisingly resonant: testimony to the common emotional ground shared by everyone in this sisterhood. This opening exercise reinforced the appropriateness of my own intention:

How can I trust in the unknown?

As the co-created retreat unfolded over the next two days, I asked myself this question countless times, both to comfort and to inspire me.

I called on it each morning at breakfast, when we set an unconference style agenda for the day.

I leaned heavily on it on Saturday, when I stepped back to allow the participants to lead their own programs – some planned, and others completely spontaneous.

I repeated this question all the way to the closing circle, where I chose not to tie everything up in a neat, pre-packaged closing, but to open the circle again to whatever each woman felt she needed to share or facilitate in order to bring sacred retreat space to a close.

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It feels strange to reflect and evaluate my facilitation of this program. The metrics of success are less clear, because my role was so amorphous.

Do I measure it by the elated exhaustion I felt on Monday after holding space for nine others all weekend?

By the honest and gracious feedback that is trickling in from the participants?

By the fact that I was vulnerable enough to facilitate a tie dying activity in the midst of a full on ugly-tears breakdown (as promised: I’ll cry or your money back)?

By the sheer feat of turning a vague idea into a concrete experience in 3 months?

I still have a lot to process, but on the whole I think I did OK.

Ahem, we did OK!

So in the spirit of co-creation, I’d love to know what you kinds of events you would like to take part in in the coming months. 

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Dreaming Wildness Weekend into Reality

I learned a new word today: KOMOREBI – an untranslatable Japanese term that refers to the quality of light when the sunshine is filtered through a canopy of leaves. Last Tuesday I floated in this dappled light for a few hours, dreaming about Wildness Weekend.

Still buzzing from a full moon long weekend love-fest at my family’s cottage, I drove out to the venue to spend some time exploring and visioning, and the komorebi combined with a sprinkling of warm summer rain soothed and entranced me. I immersed myself in this daydream to give colour and texture to my retreat planning process. Walking alone through the tangled forest, gorging myself on wild berries (3 different species!), journalling on the rocks, the retreat started to come to life through my five senses.

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On this particular day, the part of my wild soul that was speaking the most loudly was more lily than lion: it was all about gentleness. Gentleness loosened my shoulders, softened my gaze and slowed my steps. Gentleness shushed my inner critic and allowed me to slowly, softly, move toward what feels right for this retreat.

I am thrilled to be partnering with Heidi Kutzelnig of Epicurean Wellness who will be feeding our bodies and souls throughout the weekend with her creative and nourishing food. Heidi is a Certified Holistic Chef and Nutrition Consultant, as well as a truly courageous and empowered wild woman. Case in point: when I called her to talk over the menu last week, she had to call me back because she was in the midst of rescuing a baby squirrel. I don’t know what I’m more excited for: her apricot gazpacho, her polenta bennies, or her presence in our circle!

And speaking of circles, the participants who have already registered for this co-created retreat are bringing a wealth of offerings to share with the group, from Wisdom Circles to yoga classes to theatre games. This is where it gets really interesting as a facilitator. Unlike my past life as a high school teacher, the goal is not for me to create a neat lesson plan with every minute accounted for. The goal is to build a skeleton and allow the participants to flesh it out with their intentions, their spontaneous inspirations, and their many gifts.

It is a challenge for me not to overplan, but I absolutely trust that the spaces I leave open will be filled with something more glorious and nourishing than anything I could plan on my own. That is the whole point of this co-created retreat. My personal challenge is to quiet down the perfectionist in me who craves certainty and schedules. It is about gently telling her to be open to the mystery, the richness of possibility, the spaciousness of the unknown.

I cannot wait to see what arises in the spaces between us.

Wildness Weekend is almost full, so if you are considering coming, register soon or get in touch with me if you have questions, ideas, or just want to go for a dreamy komorebi walk someday.

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Catch & Store Energy: Making the Most, to the Max!

August is here. The month of my birth, the waning blue moon, the plump pears weighing down the tree in my back alley…

August means that Wildness Weekend is just a few weeks away, and every day my dreams become clearer and more concrete. July was all about absorbing inspiration – through books, coffee dates with collaborators and mentors, workshops, time alone in nature, and always, dance and movement.

I’m a longtime student of Permaculture, and lately I’ve put my Permaculture Design Certification to use in an unexpected way as I cultivate my inner garden. As a total winterphobe, I start to get anxious this time of year as back to school sales herald the coming of the freezin’ season. I’m trying to allay these fears by thinking about the second Permaculture Principle: Catch and Store Energy. 

I’ve been making hay while the sun shines, on a borderline manic quest to make the most to the max (#MTMTM) of these long days and the opportunities they provide to take in new ideas, cultivate new friendships, and find the spark for new projects. I’m stockpiling this inspiration to feed me through the dark days when it’s a bit harder to come by.

I offered my first Dance Our Way Home session early in the month, holding space for women to take a couple of hours out of their everyday urban realities and get wild through a healing freestyle dance journey.

And the most beautiful part? Each woman had a breakthrough that was totally unique to her. Here’s what some of them had to say:

“I finally got reconnected with my soul! This was exactly what I needed after weeks of mind chatter and lots of mental work.”
“This space gave me such a divine and profound moment of releasing and just feeling my feminine goddess. It felt so good and safe and now she’s out…Better watch out!”
“Emily authentically facilitates connection with self, other, nature & universal divine. Her wild spirit creates a space for freedom and self expression, that anyone would be grateful to bear witness to.”

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The participants’ feedback affirmed my sense that we’re all craving connection with our wild essence, and facilitating this connection for others energized me and turned up the volume on my own inner Wild Woman’s voice. I’ll store that energy for a long time – and I hope to offer more DOWH sessions soon.

Here are 5 other sources of inspiration that I’ve drawn from this month:

1. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ exploration of the Wild Woman archetype in Women Who Run with the Wolves A no-brainer, I know, but I have to share how much I am loving this book. From Baba Yaga to the Inuit Skeleton Woman, Estes draws the wild woman out of our planet’s timeless myths and her analysis resonates deeply. I’m looking forward to sharing some of her ideas at Wildness Weekend.

2. People, Nature and Music at Boreal Festival This annual canoe trip/music festival takes a couple hundred house music lovers up to Muskoka for a bush doof unlike any other. I connected with lovely new people in this free-spirited tribe and felt right in my element dancing til dawn, paddling and swimming in Moon River, and sleeping under the stars. Boreal was unforgettable, and the organizer, Justin, led from the heart in a way that really earned my respect. I bought my tickets to his Harvest Festival today (Sept. 18-20) – come!

3. Coworking at the Centre for Social Innovation I recently joined as a community member, and have been spending lots of time at the CSI doing my own work and learning about the coworking movement. I have big plans in this field, and I am so lucky to have a well of inspiration right up the street from my apartment. More broadly, I am inspired by the folks who populate Toronto’s coworking map. July was full of meetings with people in the industry who were without exception eager to share contacts, lessons and encouragement – I just had to reach out.

4. Embodying Emotion at Layah Jane‘s Deep Waves 5 Rhythms  The last session I went to was in late May, and doing the waves again last week showed me how much has shifted since I wrote about my spring thaw. My dance felt light and open as I skipped and cartwheeled. The words that kept coming up were JOY and SIMPLICITY. I’ve been devouring Gabrielle Roth’s Sweat Your Prayers, but nothing compares to getting into the studio and moving through flowing-staccato-chaos-lyrical and finally, resting in stillness as spontaneous images of flowers and indigo skies flood my inner vision.

5. The Teachings of my “Disengagement” At this time last year, I was booking off the August long weekend for my wedding. The universe had other plans, and my relationship ended with love and mutual understanding in the beginning of April. I’ve done (and continue to do) the work to move through the pain and to reflect on everything I have learned from the breakup. As I walked down the dock at my cottage on the night of the Blue Moon, a dizzying wave of gratitude unexpectedly washed over me and I just stood alone and laughed and cried and watched the mercury ripples dance all around me. I may not have been in a wedding dress this weekend, but I am madly in love with my life, and that will do just fine.

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Inspiration is easy to come by in the summer, and these hay bales are stacked in my soul.

As August bathes you in its warm rays, make sure to get out there.

Wake up early.

Stay out late.

Feed hungrily on whatever inspires you.

Take it all in and store it somewhere you can access it on a cloudy day – in a journal, in your instagram feed, in a friend’s memory, or canned in your pantry.

Make the most…to the max.

MORE CREATIVE THAN I THOUGHT

I remember learning about adjectives as a kid, having to pick the ones that described me. “Creative” was always one of adjectives ones I chose – and like kids everywhere, I never stopped creating. I directed my siblings in plays, brought secret societies to life in living room forts, choreographed Disney tunes and filled notebooks with the adventures of cartoon bunnies. People were – and often still are – always praising my creativity.

For a while this label stopped feeling natural to me, as my inner critic told me that by society’s definition, I was not a capital C ‘Creative. It said, “Maybe you once held creative potential, but what did you do with it?”

I didn’t end up working for a creative company or selling my photographs, I didn’t publish poetry or even design logos. I downplayed the role of creativity in my life and became intimidated by the people who were actually making money off their Creativity. When people called me creative, I shrugged it off.

Sure, I wrote spoken word poetry, designed multidisciplinary experiential programs, took photographs, painted, blogged, organized theme parties, cooked feasts, founded social groups, nurtured gardens, developed innovative lesson plans but….

full_CM_PK_AWB.001Yesterday morning I biked down to Liberty Village to be among the city’s real Creatives. For a few years, Toronto has hosted Creative Mornings – a free monthly breakfast lecture series for the creative community. Whenever possible, I attend these talks for the spark of inspiration that always comes from opening my mind to someone who is in a totally different field than mine. What I will get out of it is always a mystery, but I have never been disappointed.

Every time I attend a Creative Mornings talk, I sit quietly and dash as soon as it ends. I feel like an impostor. Because, you know – not a Creative. I don’t even have tattoos or a funky haircut.

Yesterday’s Creative Mornings talk – featuring Yvonne Bambrick – was the first time I actually felt like I belonged. Bambrick spoke about her ‘creative journey’ as a community organizer, event coordinator, and cycling advocate.

Wait a minute…those aren’t Creative jobs.

OK so Yvonne is also a photographer (like me, she wears many, many hats), but that’s not at all what she highlighted in her talk. In fact, when she went over the things she has learned over the course of her ever-evolving career, the number one lesson was about broadening the definition of creativity.

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Hearing this, I was suddenly very aware of how differently I was behaving at this morning’s event. Yet another outer demonstration of the inner shift that has been taking place over the last few months. I was talking to everyone around me, not quietly eating my everything bagel – seeds in my teeth be damned! I engaged in the conversation on twitter. I was no longer self-conscious about being called out as a non-Creative interloper. I was one of the last people to leave. I realized that lately I am more comfortable considering myself creative.

I approached Yvonne when it was all done to thank her for putting into words what I’ve been feeling for the last few months. “I am more creative than I thought,” she remarked during her talk, as she spoke about rethinking the definition of ‘creative skills’ to encompass all of the ways she has problem solved, integrated and innovated in her work and her life.

Creativity is not a gift that is only given to a special few. It is an innate human trait that we can all cultivate. Some have to work harder than others, but that says less about your innate capacity for creativity than it does about your fears, self-judgments and the mental habits that keep you safe.

If you’re having trouble recognizing your own creativity, here are a few ideas and questions to get you thinking:

1. Broaden your perception of what it means to be creative. Think about how you express yourself in your daily life. What small choices do you make every day that dictate how you present yourself to the world?

2. Own any novel patterns, products, concepts, or processes that you have put out there as your creative oeuvre. Remember that creativity does not equal art. How have you combined interesting ingredients to come up with something new?

3. Do you allow yourself to daydream? If not, give yourself permission to try it ASAP. Go for a walk or just lie around on the couch. Then pay attention to your daydreams and notice where your mind goes when you are idle.

4. Creativity is often driven by a sense of purpose.  Think about ways that you have tapped into your values and worked with a mission to solve a problem – no matter how big or small.

5. Examine your relationship with change.  When have you made a change, embraced a change, reacted to change, thrived on change? Reflect on the times in your life when you have made positive changes of any size. What unnecessary boundaries have you broken? What perceptions have you challenged?

6. Think about times that you have harnessed inspiration from an unexpected source. Whether it is nature, another person, a piece of music, or even your own failure, creativity comes when we can recognize learning opportunities everywhere and grow from unlikely inspiration. What creative ways have you translated the random things that inspire you into your life and work?

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Reframing it this way, I can once again own my creativity as an essential part of my being. If you look at your own life through this broadened lens, I bet you will see yourself as creative as well. You will recognize the fact that you create prolifically on a daily basis. And I’d also bet that the more you own your creativity, the more creative you will become. 

Today I am alone at my cottage having a lazy, rainy summer day. How have I been creative today?

  • I sat on the dock and daydreamed while I watched a bass hovering over its eggs, and then daydreamed some more while weeding my garden.
  • I sliced asparagus differently than I ever had for my omelette.
  • I pickled garlic scapes and cooked rhubarb with rose water.
  • I picked and arranged a sumptuous bouquet of peonies and wildflowers.
  • And I wrote this post.

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If you’re looking for an undeniable reminder of your creative self, come to my Wildness Weekend: A Co-Created Retreat for Heart Centred Female Innovators. Your wild self can’t help but create – it is her birthright and her essence. Info and registration here. 

Wildness: A Dance Our Way Home journey

DOWH Session (1)

Last week I completed my training to facilitate Dance Our Way Home – an award winning holistic dance practise created by the magnificent Erica Ross. As part of the certification process, I’ll be offering a series of PWYC sessions this sumer beginning with this first session on July 9 at Temple 23 in Liberty Village.

I am so excited to share this practise with my sisters (and eventually brothers too…) and am beyond grateful for everyone’s love and support as I walk this new path.

P.S. If you are unable to attend my Wildness Weekend: A Co-Created Retreat for Heart-Centred Female Innovators in August, this will give you a little taste of what it feels like to connect with your inner wild woman!

xo

Emily Rose

Poem: Embracing the Divine Feminine Within Creates Balance and Deeper Knowing

IMG_1022 This poem was written in response to a Soul Card that I drew from the deck on my Dance Our Way Home facilitator training – the task was to explore one of the DOWH principles (created by the magnificent Erica Ross). The principle I was assigned was:

EMBRACING THE DIVINE FEMININE WITHIN CREATES BALANCE AND DEEPER KNOWING

Come my dear one

Sit in the shade of the date palm

Rest your burning feet in still pools

Taste honey on your parched tongue

Lay in my lap and let me comb your matted hair

And anoint your holy temples with scented oil

I will not displace your god, I will make love to him

I will not slay your dragons, I will become them

I will not drown out your cries, I will listen to them

There are more questions than there are answers

More roads than destinations

Needing is knowing

Wounding is healing

We can only make sense of contradictions

So sit, be still inside while you body moves

Shine your shadow on me

Call me in silence, approach me in stillness

Ascend into canyons to find me

Or burrow into mountaintops

I am subtle

I am irresistible

You know me well, come home