Everything is Temporary

Guatape, Colombia

Guatape, Colombia

Last night I had the chance to listen to Shari Hughson give a talk on the importance of taking care of ourselves – particularly for female entrepreneurs. Shari, at the age of 18 built her first business, became a nurse, received her MBA, lived off the land for 7 years, built a multi million dollar business(es), traveled the world and today she is currently inspiring young entrepreneurs at Smith School of Business at Queen's University for the Master of Management Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Her talk made me cry, laugh and brought to light so many beautiful parts of being human that we fail to talk about with one another.

The one big take away that I want to share with all of you today is:

1) Find a place where you are OK
2) Everything is temporary

We live in a world where there is constant pressure to be way UP on TOP but that’s not realistic or sustainable. Life is an adventure of big mountains and deep valleys. If you feel you’ve fallen in that deep valley – don’t push yourself trying to get to the top of the mountain. Find the flat terrain where you can walk easily and be OK. It’s OK to be OK.

The extra climb up to the top will only happen when you’re in shape and ready. 
(*Disclaimer: I was wheezing quite heavily in this photo)

Everything is temporary. No matter where you are right now – on the mountain top or in the deep valley – this IS temporary. Allow this sentiment to liberate you in the tough times and motivate you in the good times.

Friends, be kind to yourself, be kind to your neighbour and continue to Spread Your Awesome.

#BellLetsTalk

    Travel the World in 10 Minutes

    IMG_3518CityofKingstonYGK.jpg

    In just a matter of ten minutes, I felt as though I had travelled the world.

    This past year I have worked closely with the Kingston Community Health Centres, Kingston Immigrant Partnership and the City of Kingston to celebrate the "Meet Your Neighbour" Project. This project allowed me to spend time connecting and hearing stories from individuals that have immigrated to Kingston. The project was created so that we could highlight individual residents of different backgrounds through personal profiles and portraits.

    IMG_6589CityofKingstonYGK.jpg

    This photographic journey opened me up to several new and inspiring members of our community and I am so excited to share each one with you.

    Here is a sneak peek of the beautiful individuals I was able to spend time with. The full collection is hanging in the Royal Way at Kingston City Hall for the next two weeks. This is open to the public and all are welcome :)

    IMG_3866CityofKingstonYGK.jpg

     

    A special thank you to Paul Robertson, our City Curator, for working so closely with me on this project. Thank you to Sunita Tayal Gupta, facilitator for Kingston Immigration Partnership and Ruth Noordegraaf, manager of immigrant services at the Kingston Community Health Centres for bringing this project to our Kingston community and showcasing the beautiful pockets of diversity.

    IMG_6451 2CityofKingstonYGK.jpg

    Lastly, a special thank you to all the individuals that shared your story with me. I feel so blessed to have worked with each one of you.

    Keep on and continue to #SpeadYourAwesome!

    Not Everyone Likes Pineapple on Their Pizza

    Pineapple

    A late night chat with one of Kingston’s finest, Sean Kelly, reminded me that not everyone is looking for what you have to offer. Not everyone shares your taste. Not everyone wants a slice of your pineapple pizza.

    But, there are people that do. And that is what is important.

    Understanding this can profoundly change the role you play in this world.

    Do we find some days that we are watering down ourselves just to reach a greater audience? If so, you might risk not reaching anyone.

    Over the past year, I have had the chance to work with some incredible innovators and game changers in the creative industries. One thing I have learned is that each one of these leaders shares one thing: authenticity.

    They have a beautiful ability to be confident - both personally and publicly - in what they have to offer the world. These individuals of impact have accepted and embraced their blemishes and failures. Yet they continue to push, improve, be grateful and share their process with those that are willing to listen.

    These are the people that are spreading their awesome. These are the people that are positivity changing our world.

    These people are happy.

    We all have something beautiful to share with this world. The hardest part is to recognize it but, once you do, your life will change. It will be blooming with opportunities and other pineapple people ☺ !

     

    Get out there friends and #SpreadYourAwesome

    I Love You

    #BellLetsTalk

    #BellLetsTalk

    I remember when I was 5, I would cry at the kitchen table before going to bed.  I was scared that I would never wake up and miss out on everything in life.

     

    What a sad and silly thing for a five year old to think, right? However, I have realized over time that these worries at a young age are normal but they can easily manifest into bigger things, bigger problems when we get older… UNLESS we learn to admit and embrace these worries, embrace these struggles, embrace who we are at the very core. Let’s be honest, we all have a little mess. We all have our battles. We all have our misfortunes. We all have moments of loneliness. We all have hurts somewhere tucked away.

     

    To my family, friends, therapists, counsellors and mentors, you have given me strategies and tools to take life one day at a time. But most importantly, it has been your love that has been the greatest gift of all. Thank you.

     

    So, today and everyday, make a special goal to embrace your pains and allow yourself to be open to others’ love in your life. Rejecting suffering will only make your pains stronger. 

    Together let’s talk. 

    You are never alone.


    I love you.


    #BellLetsTalk
    #SpreadYourAwesome

    happy days

    Cambodia

    Cambodia

    How is that those with so little are so happy?

     

    We might not have what we want or what we think we deserve. Let your mind leave those thoughts and choose to focus on the awesomeness of your life. Celebrate in the simple yet beautiful parts of your day. Be grateful for what you DO have and share it with those around you.

    Happy Saturday! 

    Thailand

    Thailand

    #SpreadYourAwesome

    Once Upon a Time

    Abandoned Farms  

    Abandoned Farms  

    There may be days when you feel like this abandoned farm. 

    There may be days when you feel alone.

    There may be days when everything seems to be falling apart.

     

    But remember it is through these struggles that we find our strength to overcome our obstacles and discover solutions. Solutions that will beautifully impact the next chapter of our lives.

    Embrace the fallen down farms in your life and continue to find and share your awesome with the people around you this weekend!

    The Stillness in Sickness

    Lake Ontario

    Lake Ontario

    It is interesting how easily we take our health for granted. However, the minute we become sick, our world stops. Our sole priority is to nurse ourselves back to being healthy.  So we try to patiently rest and give ourselves the best care. Nothing else seems that important when our health is being jeopardized.

    One of my greatest fears has been to get sick for an extended period of time. I'm terrified of the thought of not being able to be out in the world creating, connecting, collaborating. However, this past holiday I got one of the seasonal bugs and have spent almost 8 days cooped up in my loft. Each day I wake up praying that I will be back to my healthy self. In the grand scheme of life, 8 days is but a blink of the eye. However, when you're use to being on the go, one week feels like eternity.

    But for the first time, I don't feel so bitter and stressed about being sick. Of course I'd like to be healthy but, I've also realized that it will not last forever and that I will be back to my old self. My body is telling me that I need to slow down and take a step back. Hours of laying around and resting have brought me a great sense of reflection and surprisingly enough, peace. I would love to enter the new year feeling vibrant and energetic yet I am somewhat grateful for this calm and peaceful entrance into the new year. It has given me a full week of reflection and solitude - allowing  me to calmly make goals for 2017.

    Perhaps you are reading this and are going through a seasonal sickness too. Know that it is temporary and this time could be used to reflect. Allow yourself to appreciate your healthy life and set goals that will make your life less chaotic, less distracted and more about the important things in your life. These moments are reminding you that you are human and that sometimes we need to slow down. 

    Use the still moments of your sickness to find your peace.  

    And keep spreading your awesome... 

     

     

     

     

     

    Getting Lost in the City

    I've left home for a while and am currently working, traveling and soaking up the beauty of Belgium...

    Follow my adventures here on INSTAGRAM @claire.bouvier + @clairebouvierphotography

    The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.
    — Saint Augustine

    Choose to Change

    Photo + Body Art by Tasha Proud Photography

    Photo + Body Art by Tasha Proud Photography

    Death, heart breaks and others’ misfortunes can take a major toll on our lives. The sadness and disappointment can make it almost impossible to be motivated to celebrate any of the good things. Last week was a particularly hard one for me – despite all the wonderful moments. It’s incredible how easily the sadness and loneliness can creep in and demotivate you. Weaken you. It’s hard not to play victim and think that the world has it out for you.

    There will be sad times but we do not have to be sad people.

    We have a choice to stay sad. We have a choice do something about it. I have a wonderful mentor in my life that would always say, “Don’t wait until you feel like doing something. Do something to change the way you feel”.

    So simple yet so hard.
    But oh, so effective.

    There will be ups and downs and more ups and then downs. But remember, we are human and we are all in this together. We’re here to help one another. Thank you to all the beautiful souls in my life that continue to remind me of this.

    Continue to spread your awesome and know that you are truly awesome! 

     

    Traveling on a Budget

    It's all about getting outside your comfort zone, jumping in the car and driving down the road. You will discover some of the greatest adventures right in your very own country... AND on a low budget! 

    I am so grateful to have spent a weekend with a group of wonderful women as we explored and enjoyed Montreal on a budget. 

    Continue to be creative, curious and remember to keep spreading your awesome!

    #spreadyourawesome

     

    Ask Yourself the Right Questions

     

    Do you get nervous before an interview?

     

    As I was getting ready today to head to my interview with the local TV station, I started to think about what it is that helps me prep for an interview. Above is a stream of thoughts as I bumbled through my afternoon to get ready.  

    Thank you CKWS for spreading so much local love! 

    A Song for Cambodia

    Tribute to The Killing Fields

    Tribute to The Killing Fields

     

    Your smiles have been buried in the ground
    Your story still haunts this forsaken town

    You took everything 

    You come 

          but you were never here to stay

    Look into my eyes.

    empty
    cries.

    Stories untold
    Secrets withheld

    Memories knotted in mysteries

    Maybe i won’t tell 

    But I won’t forget
    But I won’t forget
    But I won’t forget

    dear God, please help me forgive
    this debt.

     

    Something on the other Side

    Accepting the Here and Now

    It's easy to drown in worry about what we think we might not find and yet so hard to let go of what we think we've lost.

    Keep moving forward. 
    Push through.
    There is something on the other side.

    Keep careful watch.

    There will be magic.

     

    After the Darkness

    Child in the Streets of Cambodia

    Child in the Streets of Cambodia

    The night is quiet. 

    The streets are empty. 

    But I cannot sleep.

    As the rain pit patters on my window, I find myself unsettled in the darkness. My mind is exhausted with thoughts and images of today's tragic attacks. The sadness of Brussels weighs heavily in my safe and quiet loft. 

    My heart feels heavy.

    Maybe yours does too. 

    Social media platforms and news outlets continue to push content and bombard with updates. It becomes overwhelming. You might feel helpless and confused.
    I do. 

    Questions lead to a place of blame. Blame leads to resentment and then what? 
    I don't know.

    In the quiet hours though, I have come to learn that despite the destruction and disaster, there needs to be hope. Where there is hope, there is love. If we stop hoping, we kill the light. And then love grows cold. We grow cold.

    And more than anything, love needs faith. The foundation of truth. If we have faith that there is good, we will find in ourselves an abundance of hope. 

    As you read this, feel the weight of tragedy and embrace its pain. But hold onto your hope. Have faith there is good
    and love.

    Love.










     

    Super Team Secrets

    Secrets to the Super Team

    Secrets to the Super Team

    The Two Secrets to Create your SUPER Team
    both at home and work

     Why is it that Google has been ranked by Fortune as one of America’s top workplaces? What is it that makes a place like Canada’s Shopify so desirable to work at?

    Workplaces like google and shopify are considered some of the top places to work because they dedicate a lot of attention, money and time to “people’s analytics”. They are always trying to increase workplace happiness and productivity.

    In the last few years, I’ve been particularly interested in learning about the studies conducted for optimal workplace happiness and productivity. Perhaps you’re reading this and feel completely disconnected from the office worlds such as google and shopify and that’s okay! However, the results from these amazing studies can also be applied to your personal life and to your home life.

    Imagine if I could tell you right now the two secrets to having the best team, the best family, and the best relationship? Well, heck, here we go…
     

    Psychologists over the last ten years have devoted special attention to answering the question, what makes a “SUPER TEAM?”. You might be assuming it would be comprised of superstar individuals but interestingly enough, not at all. According to Duhigg's book Smarter, Faster, Better the super team is essentially composed of average people that work collectively in order to take their individual “averageness” to team “superstar-NESS”.

     To have a super team you need the following:

    1) A SHARED VOICE  

    2) A SOCIAL SENSITIVITY

    The Claire Closet Camp

    The Claire Closet Camp

    A Shared Voice

    Any team can become a SUPER team when every person has equal speaking time. This is important because each person needs time to be validated and respected. Their speaking time provides individuals to share their thoughts without feeling embarrassed or the fear of being punished. When there is an imbalance of talking time, team members become isolated and others become less respected. However, when each team member has the chance to speak, there is equilibrium and a shared vulnerability that effectively fuels the camaraderie in order for the SUPER TEAM to form.

     Social Sensitivity

    The second secret to the SUPER team is when team members share a heightened sense of social sensitivity. This means that you can easily read others’ facial expressions and react appropriately in that moment. Being socially sensitive is a powerful tool. For example, if you can sense someone is feeling left out or confused, those with a heighted social sensitivity would notice and subtly give him or her the attention and encouragement needed for them to feel validated and respected. When you have a team of empathetic individuals there will always be a subtle, yet driving force of needed harmony.

    Have you ever heard of The Reading the Mind in the Eyes test? This test developed by Professor Cohen at Cambridge University and has the ability to see if you are able to read the emotions of others. “The ability to read the emotions of others is linked to social intelligence which, in turn, is linked to performance on team-based problem solving tasks.” Take the test and see where you score: http://socialintelligence.labinthewild.org/mite/

    Queens University Soccer Team

    Queens University Soccer Team

    REMEMBER the most important point is that THE TEAM LEADER must set the example. If the team notices your vulnerability and empathy towards your team members, it will be positively echoed by your teammates.

    So, if you want to create your SUPER TEAM.

    1.     Give each member EQUAL SPEAKING TIME

    2.     Encourage your team to become more AWARE OF OTHERS’ FACIAL EXPRESSIONS

    Like anything awesome, it cannot happen overnight. However, start to nurture this newfound ideology in the teams that you are a part of. Overtime, I will guarantee there will be a little more awesome coming your way both in your work and home life.

    Let me know how it goes and keep spreading your awesome!