How to Survive Buying a House.

Buying a house involves a lot of running around, paperwork, meetings, texts, calls, questions,legalities and other bullshit. Doing it for the first time is something like going on a trip with a destination but no map, where you have to rely upon people you meet along the way to direct you towards where you want to go.

It’s stressful, but stress isn’t necessarily bad. It’s how we grow, as I have said.

However, doing all these things with your spouse can be recipe for arguments, conflict and other unnecessary drama. These are avoidable.

Here’s some little tips I have gathered along the way so far how to not go completely bonkers.

1.) Breathe

2.) Laugh when things get ridiculous

3.) Ask questions

4.) Take time off work

5.) Nausea = growth

6.) Stay hydrated

7.) Don’t panic

8.) Laugh when you realize you’re panicking

9.) Stress can feel like anger. Do cardio instead of yelling at your kids. Everyone will thank you.

10.) Text your girlfriends, like, A LOT.

11.) Remember to eat.

12.) Turn your phone on vibrate so you don’t throw it against the wall.

13.) Celebrate each little step.

14.) See the opportunities, rather than looking for the problems. There are tons of opportunities.

15.) Ask for help

16.) Write stuff down – the biggest lie you tell yourself is “I don’t have to write that down, I’ll remember.” You won’t. WRITE IT DOWN.

17.) Scotiabank is right – you’re richer than you think.

18.) Tea. Lots of tea.

19.) Sleep

20.) Laugh some more.

What My Landlord Taught Me About Letting Go.

Hello, my name is Stephanie and I am a recovering control freak. 

My head brain likes to know all the variables so it can predict the outcome of any and every situation. When it encounters a surprise situation, like say, our landlords wanting to sell our home, it kicks into overdrive. It starts with all the worst case scenarios, like how we are going to end up living in a card board box on the street because rent in our city is currently insanely high. It follows this up with every possible negative thought about how I have been irresponsible and could have been more prepared for this.  This continues until, at some point, it starts working on solutions. 

This last step could take days or weeks to arrive at. 

And we only have five days. 

My wonderful brain is doing it’s best to do its job as it sees it, trying to keep me alive and safe.  Trouble is, safe is boring. Safe is stagnant. Safe isn’t growth.  

Growth is inherently dangerous, because it is partly destructive. A seed can’t become a tree without destroying all of its former self, right? It kicks off its casing, and digests it’s own insides to manifest its potential.  Caterpillars are the same.  They literally liquify in order to become butterflies. 

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Well, someone is selling my cocoon. 

In all fairness, we had intentions of making the move to buy our place within the next year. Somehow, the universe has offered us the opportunity NOW, and the opportunity is time sensitive. As in, you have five days to get your shit together. 

Yikes. 

Remember all those survival behaviours I was talking about earlier? Ya, we have no time for those now. What I need in order to create the best possible outcome for all concerned is a clear head, a calm body and a definiteness of purpose. 

I also need to surrender. Let go. Trust the process. 

This is scary AF, and also amazingly empowering. 

See, surrender is a practice. It’s a muscle, and like any other muscle it can be trained and strengthened. This goes for all habits, by the way. They are just muscles, and they get stronger the more often you use them. 

I intentionally practice using these muscles everyday in my morning routine. I meditate, which is a practice in letting go, over and over again. I have probably meditated for over 10,000 minutes over the years, likely more, and those 10,000 minutes have been spent letting go. Over and over. Noticing where I am holding on, and letting go. I practice it with my kids, letting go of controlling them and opting instead to control myself. Surrendering to what I can’t control and attending instead to what I can. Letting go of the nasty woman at the store, letting go of the annoying neighbour, letting go of my angst over politics, letting go of that client who is being difficult. Just letting go. Over and over again, each time the muscle getting that much stronger. 

And now it’s go time. 

I know I have made improvements because I am not freaking out. I am curious about the feelings I am experiencing and I am harnessing the calm I have cultivated to have through this with self control and optimism. I can’t control the outcome, but I can control who I am through the process. I can control what I believe, and what I think, and how I respond. I can control my alignment with the best outcome. 

And I can trust. 

I will let you know how it goes. xoxo Steph 

Tech Support

We all need support.

In this case, I needed tech support. I tried to figure it out on my own, oh how I tried, but in the end I had to ask for help. My website had been down for a week, and ignoring the problem had not made it go away. Surprise surprise.

I didn’t want to ask for help. I wanted to be clever and figure it out for myself like a big girl. It can’t be that hard, right? Ha. Was I wrong.

So I had to bite it and contact tech support.

I had spent a couple of hours this past week tinkering around in the back end of my blog trying to figure out what took the wonderful tech person on the other end of the chat less than five minutes to fix.

Do you see what I’m getting at here?

In trying to be clever and do it all myself I wasted a weeks worth of blog traffic and gave myself a few more grey hairs when I could have asked for help a week ago and saved myself the trouble.

The moral of this story is ASK FOR HELP. You’ll save yourself so much time.

It’s ok to need help. Ask for it, let others shine, and then you get the chance to be grateful, and possibly witness what looks like a miracle to your not-tech-savvy eyes.

All this to say you can now find my blog at stephanierenaud.ca as I am now a blogging big girl and have removed the ads and the “.wordpress” from my web address 🙂

Movin’ on up.

Xo Steph

How to Get Shit Done (even when you don’t Feel Like It)

Regular blogging is critical to growing, maintaining and engaging your audience. Full stop. If you don’t blog consistently, your audience won’t stay with you. 

One of the biggest mistakes new writers make is to wait until they inspired to write. 

This is a recipe of sporadic publication, stress, pressure and a disengaged audience. 

So, how do you write even when you don’t have anything to write about? 

Easy. 

You schedule it in. 

I know what you’re thinking, “But Steph, I don’t have time! I have kids, dogs, husbands, parents who need to be taken care of, a house to clean, a job to work, a bake sale to prepare for, sports and activities to chauffeur to…. Etc etc etc.” You get the picture. 

I respect that you are busy. You are a biz owner, a parent and generally an adult whose life is full of adulting all day every day. 

Let me ask you this; Do you watch Netflix? Spend 15 minutes or more a day scrolling mindlessly on Facebook, instagram, twitter, snapchat, reddit or etc? 

Then you have time. You are just choosing to use it in a different way. 

You have what a teacher of mine calls an “energy leak”. 

The easiest way to deal with that is to make a plan. 

I use a Passion Planner, but you can use any calendar you like to make a plan and get your shit together. 

What you are looking to do is build a habit, which means scheduling writing time in regularly. I recommend everyday if you can manage it. I don’t know a single person who can’t manage 15 minutes a day at their keyboard. If you would prefer to handwrite it, that’s awesome too. And if you really do have no time to sit down, dictate your ideas into your phone and schedule one day a week to get that shit down into text. 

Put it on the list. Make it non negotiable. Write because it’s time, not because you are inspired. As you do this, your brain will become used to producing ideas at this rate and will begin to cooperate with you more regularly. I am not saying it will cooperate all the time, this is still creative work we are doing here, but it will get EASIER. 

Getting it done requires DOING it. You have to take action. That is where the magic is. It’s scary, and there is a very good chance you will overthink, over analyze and generally resist hitting publish, but there it is. Feel the resistance, get the ideas out, and hit publish. 

That’s how it’s done. 

Any chatter you have going on in your head right now is what we call “resistance”. It’s normal, it’s human, but it’s not a reason to not take action. 

This is one of my fave talks from Mel Robbins because she unpacks why this happens and how we can overcome it using a simple but powerful tool. I use it often, which is why I get so much more shit done now than I ever did before. 

 

Love this? Have you used this technique before? Did it work for you? Need some more support? Come and join the WRITE NOW Facebook writing community for connection, accountability and awesome tips to grow your writing.

CRAZY in a World Gone Mad

CRAZY.

**image credit – Richard Bebbington**

Let’s unpack this word, shall we? 

We are gonna get really cozy with crazy between the pages of this book, you and I, and so starting at the beginning with some definitions is in order. That way you know and I know what I mean when I use the word crazy. 

The word “crazy” was born in the English language in the late 16th century, and has no roots in any other language. It means “full of cracks”. The use of the word has increased slowly over time up to the present day, where it is now at the highest rate of use. 

Let that sink in. We modern people use the word crazy more than at any other time in it’s history. 

Let’s pivot a bit. I will return to this idea later. 

Crazy means cracked. 

What is the implication of that? Cracked means broken, imperfect, wounded, unstable, fragile. In calling someone crazy, we are implying in a very fundamental way that they are less than, and therefore dismissible. 

It is understandable, from this perspective, that one would want to reduce the likelihood of being seen as any of these things. No one wants to be weak, imperfect, UNSTABLE. This would imply more deeply that you are then unreliable, unworthy, even unemployable and therefore a drain on society. 

Yes, I WENT THERE. 

I went there because, let’s be honest, a lot of people either live there, or live in fear of living there. Maybe that’s you. I know it has been me. It’s not a pleasant place to live. It’s isolating and scary. It’s deeply, profoundly lonely. It’s disempowered. It’s no way to fucking live. 

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This isn’t the only way to see it, and trust me sisters, this shift is POWERFUL.

From an esoteric perspective, being cracked is not these unsavoury, undesirable things. The cracks are where the light gets in. We create holes in our homes for light and air, necessary elements of the sustaining of life. Without these holes, or cracks, life could not exist within our homes. Our spirits are the same. 

As we work to create the impenetrable edifice of our outer selves, our soul starts to suffocate and shrivel, unable to breathe, to grow, and to thrive. This is why living our lives to please other people makes us feel so dead inside. 

We need the cracks. The cracks are what helps our soul to breathe. Without the cracks, we would have no lessons, no sense of what we can endure and survive, no sense of our own strength, our own power, our own unbelievable fucking resilience. We would have no tenderness, no compassion, no empathy for others. It is to the extent that we have suffered that we can hold space for another who is suffering. It is to the extent that I know pain that I can be with someone else in pain. 

My own pain is what cracked me open. 

AND

Without pain, there can be no joy. 

We cannot know the breadth of joy without knowing intimately the depths of pain. On a dualistic plain, one needs the other in order to be known. Up needs down, light needs dark, cold needs hot, heavy needs light and joy needs pain. 

In pushing away crazy, shunning it, we are pushing away our own pain, our own imperfection, our own capacity to know joy. 

This book is an invitation to flip this on it’s head. It’s an imitation to embrace your crazy, to see your crazy as part of being human, a symptom of the precarious position humanity finds itself in at this time. It’s an invitation to see your crazy as, dare I say it, AN ASSET. 

Consider this your permission slip to be imperfect, fragile, unstable, BROKEN. 

This is your invitation to embrace your crazy. 

Consider yourself called

** This is an excerpt from my work in progress, shared with you. Any feedback, reactions, comments or commentary is welcome and encouraged. I write for me, yes, but I write for you too. Please let me know what you think. xo. Steph **

The Bravery Block

Confidence or courage?

Which do you need to be a writer?

Let’s start with some definitions

Confidence, according to google is a sense of self assurance arising from a belief in ones own abilities or qualities. Courage is defined as the ability to do something that frightens you.

In practice, you need a measure of both to take ideas out of your head and put them in to words, and then put those words out into the world with the express purpose of their being read.

It seems like an act of arrogance doesn’t it? To believe that your words and ideas are not only valuable, but also sought for and needed by others. To act on the belief that you do indeed KNOW and that your knowing is worth the paper and ink used to print it, not to mention the money that might be paid by your readers for the privilege of owning them.

As writers, we believe these things about ourselves at some point along our journey (ok, at many points along our journey, let’s be honest) but I want to invite you to stop and consider the words of your most beloved author. Do you believe them to be arrogant for putting their ideas into words, onto paper and out into the world? Do you begrudge your having had to pay money for the privilege of owning their work? Quite the contrary. I know that there are some works that I have read that have been positively life changing for me and I am floored by the courage I believe they must have had to create them with the intention of other people reading them, and maybe even changing their lives.

So why do we doubt our own value? What stops us? In the beginning perhaps it is confidence. We have no track record, and so we are doing something we are entirely untested at and the gremlins GET LOUD in an effort to stop us doing something that is potentially mortifying. The etymology of that word is fascinating, obviously rooted in “death” with the root mort. Our subconscious is keeping us safe, or it’s trying anyhow. It knows that in order to become the writer you are, parts of you have to “die”. We fear death. Helloooo lizard brain. Oldest and most primitive human emotion – FEAR.

This is where courage comes in. As you start to put your words down and out, you will need to call on courage. You’re afraid. That is a GOOD THING. It means you are on to something that is going to foster growth. Being afraid, doubting yourself, is not a shortcoming, but I really am beginning to believe that failing to act because of it IS.

As you move through the fear, you begin to carve new neural pathways into your amazing brain. This takes energy and effort, and feels like fear and resistance. Push against it. Lean in. Every time you do this, you will get stronger, and your confidence will grow.

In the end, the answer to how to create confidence is to have courage and act. The more you do, the more confident you will become.

Fear is my Super Power

Everyone asks successful people, what’s your secret?

The secret is we are scared ALL THE TIME.

It’s not a weakness.

In fact, it’s the only time I can be brave.

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I talk about this all the time. So many people claim to value courage as a quality, and yet fail to recognize that courage is not a lack of fear, but action despite it, maybe even fuelled by it. It influences the courageous action. Note that it doesn’t LEAD, but it fuels.

Like the combustion in an engine, the driver leads. We lead. The fear is the fire in our bellies driving us to create the momentum that is moving us forwards.

Feel the fear, and do it anyway.

Fear is my superpower, and it just might be yours too. If you feel the fear in your belly, and are terrified to take action in the direction of your dreams, light that shit up and get moving.

What are you afraid of doing? Tell me in the comments, and let’s shine some light on this truth.

Xo – S.

Why TEDx Windsor 2019 is a MUST ATTEND.

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TEDx Windsor 2018, the first event of it’s kind in our city, went down last weekend. Here’s why TEDx Windsor 2019 is not to be missed.

At TEDx Windsor 2018 we had the chance to;

  1. Connect with amazing local Thought Leaders

If I didn’t see you at last weekend’s first annual TED x Windsor event, you missed out. Our city has been quietly evolving from the bottom up and this even is just one little sign that we are on our way to becoming a brand new city for a brand new Millennium.

From six time award winning cinematographer Sarorn Sim to renowned cancer researcher Dr. Lisa Porter, podcaster and speaker Heather Chauvin to teachers driving innovation in education Jeni Van Kesteren and Laura Briscoe, among many others, the line up of speakers will blow your mind. You are guaranteed to walk away with new questions, people to follow on social media and an excitement for the future.

  1. Meet your new tribe 

Do you ever find yourself craving to meet new people who are pumped to talk about big ideas rather than the latest gossip? This crowd is for you. Meet people that will enliven your tribe, challenge your thinking and enrich your life. This event attracts thought leaders, big thinkers, and change makers from every layer of the city. Passionate about innovation in education? Connect with the dynamic duo from London, Ontario who are pioneering curriculum blending from Math and Art, creating the program “The Art of Math”. Geeked about the power of gratitude? Hook up with Keka DasGupta and disrupt the world with gratitude.

  1. Connect with people who are into big ideas 

Big ideas, innovation and seismic shifts are going to characterize the world of tomorrow. Meet the people who are hatching those ideas now and get on board with the latest ideas, groups and movements in the city and across the province.

  1. Find new big ideas to groove on.

Disillusioned? Bored? Losing hope? This event is guaranteed to light you up and get you out of your funk. This year we learned about Hugging Fearlessly, Disrupting the World with Gratitude, and Dandelion as a superfood just to name a few. Next year is sure to bring it to the next level.

  1. Learn the stories behind some of your favourite thought leaders

Love a local thought leader and want to know more about them? Recommend them to speak at the 2019 event! An avid follower of a local thought leader? Come hear them speak live and get the chance to chat face to face during the breaks and at the after party.

6.  Two words – Axe Throwing.

Learn how a music theatre student went from west side story to masterminding a chain of Axe Throwing Leagues across the country.

7.   Got Cool Free Stuff

Did I mention the red bag full of cool, free stuff from the sponsors of the event?

8.   Supported Windsor’s Evolution From Blue Collar to Thought Leader. 

Windsor was once a blue collar town, proudly manufacturing the cars that moved the modern world. Then 2008 happened, and that all changed. Be part of the emerging new city as passionate Windsor Lovers work to help us evolve into a green, grateful, sustainable thought leader for the new millennium.

TEDx Windsor 2019 isn’t scheduled yet, so keep your eye out for announcements and calls for volunteers, sponsors and speakers. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this game changing day of Ideas Worth Spreading.

** Brought to you by the tireless efforts of Tina Huynh, Jacques Berge, Megz Kubis and Tracey Pistagnesi, **

Follow TEDx Windsor on Facebook and Instagram for updates!

The Truth Is…..

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We cannot create message without a little mess.

Your passion will piss people off. In fact, you will WANT your passion to piss people off. There is a saying – the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. If you are pissing people off, that means you have gotten their attention. Underneath anger is fear. It’s ok to piss people off, in fact, I encourage you to embrace it. You cannot wake people up or lift people higher without pissing a few people off. And sometimes, it’s those people that you piss off that need your message the most.

Be afraid to piss people off.

And then do it anyway.

Maybe even with a little bit of glee.

Because what is magic without a little bit of mischief

xo, S.

Your Pet Neurosis

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I am an avid meditator.

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you will know this. I have been cultivating a daily sitting practice for about four years now and let me tell you this shit has changed my life.

I have worked with a variety of different kinds of practice, primarily a silent, seated, open eyed method which is my favourite. I read and listen to whatever I can get my hands on about practice, as I am always eager to find news ways to deepen mine and cultivate more goodness from it for my own benefit. It’s really all about me primarily. Yes, it helps my husband and my kids have a better mom, and it improves my writing practice as I am able to see my creativity more clearly, which helps my readers as I am able to produce better content, but the truth of the matter is that I practice for myself.

I headed out to kill the second half of my exercise minutes this evening and I was listening to The Rich Roll Podcast episode where he interviews Dan Harris, the author of “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics” and an anchor on CBS news. A lovely and enlightening conversation as usual, and towards the end Dan mentioned something that was suggested to him by one of his associates Jeff Warren as a way to create space between yourself and your neuroses, which incidentally you become very familiar with the longer you cultivate a meditation practice. He suggested naming them after the people that they remind you of. So, for example, I have a worrywart in my head that shows up pretty regularly. I could very easily name her Elenor for my beloved Nana who was a world champion worrier. My anger I could most certainly name after my Dad (Hi Dad!), and the list could go on.

I am going to embrace this and experiment with it this week. I will let you all know how it goes 🙂 I am sure I will have a list of neuroses to introduce you to by weeks end 🙂

Check out the podcast here, it’s definitely worth a listen.

Xo – S.