Push Your Boundaries

LEAVE your Comfort Zones

I've always believed those who leave their comfort zones will find an unexpected beauty, a new opportunity, a connection that leads them to something greater. A happiness that is found outside the worlds of mediocrity. 

Traveling has always forced me to push the barriers of comfort and interact in a new way with the world. The nooks and crannies I find, strengthen my sense of curiosity and in return, heighten my creativity. 

If you have the chance, explore a new a place. You don't have to go far. 

Push your boundaries of comfort. 

#SpreadYourAwesome

@Claire.Bouvier

 

 

Travel the World in 10 Minutes

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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.

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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 :)

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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.

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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

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... 

 

 

 

 

 

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! 

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.

 

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!

Motivation for a Monday

 Motivation for a Monday

Motivation for a Monday

Are you just waiting to die?

Or

Are you aspiring to become someone better before you die?

Early this morning, I made it to my home gym and sleepily jumped on a bike. Instead of music, I decided to peddle and listen to Charles Duhigg’s new book Smarter, Faster, Better. Both enlightening and inspiring!

If you are feeling like you are just trudgin’ through life with no purpose or motivation, read on. Take hold of this week and bring back the awesome it deserves! 

1.    Do you have any control in your work life?

Your motivation will exponentially increase when you have some control in the work you are doing. The idea of knowing you can make a change will motivate you to be better.

2.    Do you ask yourself WHY before you start a task?

When you need to accomplish a task (big or small), ask yourself why you are doing it. This process will link your small task to larger aspirations. This linkage will motivate and inspire you to do it with light feet and maybe even a smile.

3.    Do you surround yourself with people that inspire you?

When you surround yourself with inspiring people, they will set a higher bar of expectation. They will motivate you to be a better person. Soon enough you will be that person to someone else.

4.    Do you set goals for yourself?

Try and give yourself two minutes on Friday to set goals for the following week. You can do this on your own, with your family, in your relationships etc. Take ownership of your week. Having set goals will give you a focus that will simplify your busy brain and give meaning to your week.

If we don’t know our choices are meaningful then we start to drift off the path. We need to constantly ask ourselves WHY. Questioning the small tasks will give value to our emotional well being and eventually impact the greater world out there. Your self-motivation will continue to flourish.

Take control this week, ask yourself WHY and SPREAD YOUR AWESOME in the small tasks of life. Thanks Mr. Duhigg for the inspiration. 

Here’s a big hug.
Happy Monday,

Claire

Rock the REAL.

chiang mai

 

When we make the conscious decision to accept ourselves just as we are then the awesome of life begins!

So much time is wasted on focusing on our defects, limitations, and fears. Sometimes we might even convince ourselves that we don’t deserve to be loved. All this thinking and worrying is dangerous and will exhaust us. Eventually it could blind us from accomplishing the awesome.

The secret to more energy is accepting ourselves simply as we are.

This might be one of the toughest challenges of your personal life. It is for many. Particularly myself. I couldn’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with my mother, my therapists and dear friends about the importance of truly accepting myself. That includes ALL the blemishes and the beauties. Once we remove this worry, a huge weight is lifted. And this is where we will discover a newfound energy and appreciation for life.

Sometimes we refuse to admit our defects and weaknesses. We hope they might simply disappear or they won’t cause us too much pain. But eventually they do.

If we cannot accept ourselves it will be hard to accept others. And this is a tough and lonely life to live.

Today’s standards of being successful can easily weigh us down when we are constantly trying to keep up in our online and offline worlds. It can be particularly damaging if we pretend to be what we are not.

So, start by thinking differently! Start talking to yourself. The REAL you. This is so important. Keep your good sense of humor, it will be so much more fun.

As I write this here at the Hong Kong airport, I’m still laughing at what happened earlier this morning. I obliviously stepped onto a moving walkway (flat escalator) while it was moving the opposite way! Before I realized what happened, I was thrown backwards (backpack and all) and a whistle was blown to alert me by the security staff (too late!). The busy Hong Kong travelers all stopped and stared. Despite my utter embarrassment, I knew I had to appreciate this moment and at least laugh at how I managed to not see the gigantic sign in front of me…

It’s so important that we learn to accept, love and celebrate our REAL selves. Remember, love is free! Start by loving the awesome you and this will gush into the world around you.   

Today, I’d like to give all the women in my life a big hug. Continue to accept the awesome YOU and spread that to those around you. Remember, we’re all on the same team. Let’s work together. Let’s WIN together!

Happy International Women’s Day from the hustle bustle of Hong Kong!

 

Find Your Freedom

 

Solitude can be incredibly therapeutic. Lately I’ve dedicated time to thinking, reading and contemplating on the many mysteries of life. However, sometimes the loneliness creeps in and weighs me down. But it’s been in these lonely moments that have challenged my sense of freedom and has provided me with revelations and comforting perspectives of what it is to be truly free.

We live in a world where we have so many options within our social, political and economic realms. It’s natural to think that the more options you have in your life, the more freer you will be and therefore, happier. If we just have more job options, more vacation options, more house buying options we will be freer. Infinite lifestyle options can be a wonderful thing until we start to become afraid of choosing the wrong option. We are scared to commit. And when we stop choosing to commit, we stop living and growing.

I like what J. Phillips writes in his book on interior freedom. He says, “one cannot become free unless one accepts not always being free”.

There are times in our lives where we are dealt unfavorable situations. We did not have the opportunity to choose. But if we learn to embrace these weights of loneliness, heartbreaks, tragedy, anxiety and so forth, we will open up a new and beautiful part of who we are. Creating this new peaceful space in your interior life will unravel a magic and a wonderful sense of true freedom. This will also allow you to open your heart so you can receive unlimited amounts of awesomeness. 

Give yourself the awesomeness you deserve. 

Find your freedom at the end of this February. Tune into your interior and embrace it this week.

When you can, share this new found awesome with the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fancy a Funny Face?

 Mekong Delta

Mekong Delta

This beautiful man in the photo works incredibly long days working on the Mekong.  Every time I looked back at him, he would respond with a funny face despite how exhausted he was. His cheerfulness was beautifully contagious.

Perhaps the world is pushing and pulling you in different directions.

Life feels topsy turvy. 

Nothing seems to make sense. And you're exhausted.

Take a breath.                 (but actually)       

And make a funny face. Look in the mirror and make a ridiculous face.

Suggestion: Best to warm up to the idea when you're brushing your teeth.

It's so easy to get caught in the present moment. So give yourself a reset. Make a funny face. At the very least, you'll make yourself laugh and loosen the tense muscles in your face.

Give life a little bit of goofy. 

Make that funny face and spread that awesome.

 

 

Share Your Sorrows

 Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Deep down we feel a deep need to share our insecurities and our fears. When we are brave enough to do this, we nervously wait and hope that the world will be generous and support this courageous act of vulnerability.  I applaud those that have been brave enough this week to share in these personal obstacles of life. You have selflessly opened yourself up to the world in order to help others and break down social barriers that have paralyzed many of us.

Thank you for your bravery.

I challenge all of you to live everyday with this beautiful sensitivity. Let all your relationships humble you and comfort you. We all walk around with different weights of life. We all have moments where we feel lonely and misdirected in this busy world.  Continue to share your sorrows and seek support.  We are all in this together.

You are never alone.

 

 

 

 

Leap into Another World

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Leaving the comforts of your home can be scary. The 'unknowns' make us feel uncomfortable and can prevent us from exploring new places. But the world is an exciting place with even more exciting people. 

Trust in the unknowns. Leap into another world. 

Let the world give you something new and wonderful to take home with you.

It will continue to surprise you and give you gifts for the rest of your life. 

Grab it While You Can.

grab it while you can

Set time aside and remove yourself from the digital world.  Soak in your environment without electronics. Start to train yourself to be more observant with the little details around you. Sitting quietly and watching will give you a package of amazing benefits and wonderful surprises as you move through your life.  

Learn to slow your life down and enjoy its wonderful subtleties. In the quiet you will discover beautiful moments where answers to your questions will be revealed. 

In this moment, appreciate the revelation and go for what you want in this life.

Grab it while you can.

Anything can happen.

 

 

Show the Way

catch me if  you can

You have an idea. It excites you. It energizes you.

BUT.

You don't know how others will respond to it. Will they like it? Is it worth trying? We could easily spend all day worrying about the outcome. But that's a waste of your energy.

Remember, you've got something. Something awesome. Start running with it! 

 Fast.

You will be amazed by your followers. Your passion will excite them and they will want to share in your idea and be a part of the story you are creating. Don't be afraid. Stop overthinking and start running. 

They will follow.

You just need to show the way. 

 

Crawl in Curiosity

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Wherever you are in this world, know that you have an amazing ability to bring something awesome to this place. Deep down inside we all have the desire to find our purpose in life. You might have talents that you are aware of and you might have a few ninja talents that you had no idea that you possessed them.  It’s interesting how much time we spend focusing on our weaknesses and our fears when really we need to start embracing our strengths. So. It's time to embrace and share the talents you have and discover the talents you had no idea you possessed. 

Take a leap of faith and crawl into the unknowns.

These unknowns will welcome you to new worlds of opportunity. These opportunities will gently force you to experience something new. These new experiences will invite you to try something different. It will be along this journey that you will be connected to your deeper sense of self AND give you something beautiful that you just might not have found if it wasn't for your wonderful sense of curiosity and courage.

Be curious and keep spreading your awesome.