5 Random Habits for More Joy in Your Life (That I Learned the Hard Way)

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"Long afterward, she was to remember that moment when her life changed its direction. It was not predestined; she had a choice. Or it seemed she had. To accept or refuse. To take one turning down the crosswords to the future or another."
Evelyn Anthony

1) Operate with loving intentions and pure motives. Always. Doing something solely for applause, appreciation, or accolades hardly ever turns out well. People can smell insincerity a million miles way. Likewise, when we do anything from places of either reluctant obligation or straight-up manipulation, disaster typically ensues. You can rarely go wrong with being genuine and generous.

2) Be selective with your secret sharing. Not everyone deserves to hear our hurts and heartbreaks. People have to earn the right to know the hard, sad, and scary things. Over-sharing with the wrong ones just leads to shame, regret, and a big old vulnerability hangover. And, the same is true for divulging our biggest dreams, bravest aspirations, and most brilliant ideas. In both cases, safe landing spaces are sacred.

3) YOU are forever and categorically your first priority. If you’re not adequately nourished, rested, centred, healthy, hydrated, strong, and sane, you’re doing a mammoth disservice to the people in your life who rely on you for love, guidance, and support.  

4) Remember you’re just not that important. Of course you're an infinitely worthy being deserving of every beautiful and glorious thing that life has to offer, but our egos have tricky ways of distorting our significance. On the one hand, we take things far too personally in situations that have next to nothing to do with us. On the other, we can tend to get all precious and think we are irreplaceable. As a result, we stay in places and resign to circumstances that make us totally miserable.          

5) Don’t spend time with jerks. Jerks keep us small and dark and fearful. You simply can't make space (or excuses!) for anyone who dulls your shine or dims your spirit. When we dedicate hours and energy to those who constantly disappoint, wound, or frustrate us, we seriously undermine the levels of devotion and attention that should be wholly reserved for those in our lives who truly deserve it. 

"It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth - and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up - that we begin to live each day to the fullest, as it was the only one we had." 
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

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Calling all heart-centred, soul-driven, and success-seeking women! The first-ever Rise by Design intensive is happening on May 25-27, but doors are closing soon! If you're looking to step into the biggest, best, and brightest version of you, you should consider joining us.   

 

 

 

In Her Words: A Spotlight on Sisterhood & 5 Inspiring Examples of Why You Should Decide to Rise

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I know I’ve said this a million times in a thousand different ways lately, but every day I deepen more fully, forcefully, and faithfully into this:

When women are seen,celebrated,and supported,they expand their capacity to create extraordinary lives, families,businesses,organizations & communities. 

And this categorically includes me. Over and over and over again. Hands down and head humbly bowed.

I can unabashedly and full-heartedly shout it out to the world that my tribe of soul sisters are the sole reason I continue to rise, shine, and thrive with courage, integrity, and energy – even in the moments when I’d really prefer to be hiding myself away from the world.

I’m beyond blessed to be routinely seen, celebrated, and supported by the five goddesses below. Every one of them came into my life via Rise by Design over the last few years, and in about a billion different brilliant ways, these Super (S)Heroes light up my life - in addition to all of those whom they love, lead, and serve - on the daily.

As the doors for the spring sessions of Rise by Design are currently open for a few more days, I reached out to these five powerhouse females to share their experiences of the course, of me (not gonna lie, THAT felt scary and super vulnerable), and the personal transformations that have transpired as a result of our work together.

Suffice it to say that I was fully unprepared to receive all of their loving, thoughtful, and immensely generous reflections. Some pretty ugly happy crying may have ensued...

Mind blown. Ego shattered. Soul nourished. Heart filled. Life’s work affirmed.

So, what follows below is a synergistic feminine lovefest of epic proportions, as well as a glimpse into what can emerge when you intentionally immerse yourself into a conscious community of brave, lovely, and exceptional women.     

Kelly Bode, Partner/Owner of WMCZ Lawyers

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Kelly is a corporate-commercial lawyer and partner at WMCZ Lawyers in Saskatoon, the current Chair of the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, and one of the most dedicated, creative, astute, and articulate women I know. Her presence is always a present to me, along with the many others who experience the joy and pleasure of sharing space and time with her. She’s kind of like the gift that just won’t stop giving and I’m entirely privileged to know and love her as I do.  

In her words…

“It is not conjecture to say that Jami has and will continue to single-handedly change the face of leadership in our great city. She is the source of many ripples undulating throughout our community – when one woman has benefited from her training and becomes the leader she has always longed to be; it does not stop there. The enlightened approach and way of interacting, the connection, the power created in that one leader is passed on and through to others and has led to more women supporting one another in more meaningful ways than I have ever witnessed. Thanks to Jami, I and all the other women who have experienced her work, have a network of amazing women who truly want the best for each other and the other women in their lives.”  

Jackie Reimche, Founder and CEO of Freedom Holistic Nutrition

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Jackie is non-diet holistic nutritionist who’s primary passion in life is to teach women how to eat and live so that they can be the BEST version of themselves, instead of relentlessly chasing after the smallest version of themselves. She is tirelessly committed to the vision that every woman should have the resources and support to feel fierce, free, and fabulous and she unapologetically walks through her days as a true warrior of this mission. Jackie also happens to be one of the most genuine, gracious and generous women I have ever known and my life is infinitely brighter because she shines her light in it.

In her words…

“I was feeling stuck and alone in my business when I saw an ad for Rise By Design. As I read the description, I just knew I had to take the course. It seemed like a bigger investment than I could make at the time, but instead of overthinking it, I took a deep breath and clicked on the “Sign Up Now” button. Little did I know that “click” would forever change my life. 

Rise By Design was exactly what I needed to help me breathe clarity and purpose into not only my business, but also my personal life. It also helped me develop more confidence and courage to do the things that I want to do. Jami has a gift of truly seeing each individual woman sitting in that room, and bringing out the best in them. She creates a safe and sacred space where life is shared, skills are learned, and connections are created. It's the experience that we have all been looking for. 

One of the best parts is that your work with Jami doesn't end once the class is over. You are then initiated into a community of brilliant and authentic women who have followed Jami's lead and are working to connect and collaborate with each other. 

This experience was truly invaluable and more than I could have hoped for.  I believe that every woman would benefit from this much needed course, because when we are all being fiercely true to who we are and what our passion is, our families, communities, and the world will benefit. I cannot recommend this course highly enough!  Let Jami work her magic in your life. You will never regret it.”  

Shannon Richards, Ambassador of Love, Light & Awesomeness

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Shannon is a community igniter and happiness alchemist dedicated to encouraging others to live a life of passion and purpose. Through movement, meditation, laughter, and sunshine, she unconditionally broadcasts love, hope, and sincerity to all of us who have the opportunity to bask in the frequency of her glorious glow. Shannon is the persistent and preeminent ambassador of awesome who proliferates infectious goodness and gladness everywhere she roams. I regularly stalk her on social media and conveniently book events at her workplace so I can “accidently” fall into her arms for one of her legendary hugs.

In her words…

Rise by Design was just the launch pad I so desperately craved. Jami is amazing at holding space and creating a safe environment to encourage deeper reflection. Being a part of Rise by Design helped me to release things that were no longer serving me which then gave me the freedom to envision a bigger life fuelled by my desires. I highly recommend this course for all women interested in levelling up in their personal and professional lives. What are you waiting for?"

Lana Wickstrom, Separation Specialist

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Lana is a visionary advocate who inspires, educates, and expertly supports families and individuals to move through the tremendously deep life transition of separation and divorce with dignity. She is also a renowned community and business leader recognized and much loved for her addictively effervescent personality that unfailingly lights up any room she enters. Without a doubt, Lana is among the most ferocious forces of enlightened feminine leadership that I’ve encountered and I feel infinitely blessed to call her a treasured friend.      

In her words…

“Jami has honed an unparalleled capacity to tap into the exceptional energy that rises from empowering women to become aware of their unique strengths and distinctive necessity for connection, community and celebration. Her contributions include gifting us new language from which to express ourselves, shifting us towards differently measuring our own value and self-worth and encouraging us to reassess boundaries for others and ourselves. Jami has been a vital contributor to the creation, development, and ongoing success of my own business, which she masterfully recognized needed to be a radical departure from what I initially perceived.  Because of Jami Young, leagues of women, including myself, show up and make a difference in the world in bolder and less traditional ways.”

Dawn Wotherspoon, Founder and President of ClubMynx Inc.

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In all that she does, Dawn endeavours to create spaces where women elevate and celebrate themselves and each other. The mission of ClubMynx is to support and empower women by providing uplifting movement and wellness experiences. Dawn is a consummate and conscious leader who consistently creates and nurtures a dynamic community that is characterized by a deep sense of belonging and sisterhood. She is also a poignant and powerful space-holder who brings grace and a lasting sense of serenity to every interaction. Since meeting Dawn, I have had the deep privilege of calling on her in a variety of ways to support me in creating containers of depth and substance.    

In her words…  

“I have had the privilege of participating in several of the leadership programs that Jami has offered, including Soul Stretch, Free to Be Seen, and Rise by Design. The content of these programs was phenomenally uplifting and empowering, and evoked a very real transformation in my leadership abilities, as well as my confidence and courage as a woman. Jami has a remarkable gift for delivering her messages and guidance in an authentically supportive way that has inspired many of us to have the bravery to step forward in our true power as women leaders. Her message of collaboration and the value of sisterhood is such a refreshing approach to doing business today.

In the decade that I have been a self-employed entrepreneur, I have attended and participated in a variety of business trainings, accessed numerous leadership resources, and have benefitted greatly from the insights of many incredibly successful mentors and business advisors. Although all have been a tremendous support for me along my entrepreneurial journey, I can without a doubt share that the ideas, concepts and trainings that Jami has guided me through this year have been some of the most impactful to date. She truly has helped me transform into a more confident and courageous leader, which has subsequently affected the hundreds of women I serve within my business as well. She is an example of someone shining in her true light, and I respect her immensely.” 

THE DOORS FOR THE SPRING SESSIONS OF RISE BY DESIGN ARE NOW OPEN! 

Another trip around the sun: 22 random things that made it mostly gorgeous, slightly grueling & broke my heart wide open

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  1. Gallivanted around Paris with one of my besties and kissed the Eiffel Tower again after 20 long years. 
  2. Started saying NO ten times more than I say YES. Because it’s often the kinder response. Because boundaries are love-painted fences
  3. Danced with my beloved in the front row of a Michael Franti concert on our 4th wedding anniversary. It was fun, beautiful, and super special. Thanks again, A. (On the exact same date in 2013, Troy and I gleefully refused to enter the reception until our 300+ guests were on their feet and passionately moving their fabulous selves to “Say Hey (I Love You).”
  4. Became increasingly allergic to insincerity, pettiness, and unsolicited opinions, while gaining even brighter clarity around this: gossip is always gross AF – even when you try to dress it up with: “I just care so much about her that I really needed to share this with you…”    
  5. Made fresh flowers a non-negotiable, weekly budget line item. Daisies and tulips from Sobeys are the bestest. And, I’ve seriously come to adore the inevitable checkout conversations that typically begin with something along the lines of: “Who’s day are you making so special with all of these!?!”
  6. Rather than an annual ritual, took up the practice of writing more regular love-letters to yours truly. Me, myself, and I are in a much healthier, solid, and better place with each other because of it.  
  7. Belted out Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” LIKE. A. BOSS. at a Karaoke bar in Madrid.
  8. Tended to my first online trolls, which was shocking, hurtful, reaffirming, and invigorating all at once. It’s just what happens when you shine your light – a welcome invitation for some and a forceful repellant for others. P.S. I WILL CONTINUE TO USE UPPER CASE LETTERS HOWEVER AND WHENEVER IT SUITS ME.
  9. Embarked on a sacred pilgrimage to Glastonbury, England and experienced all of the mystical, healing, divine feminine goodness of the Chalice Well. It’s been nearly 9 months and I’m still integrating, embodying, processing…
  10. Declared to the world that it's my soul-level preference to be deeply loved rather than widely liked. In the process, I found my place in my tribe and it feels like home. 
  11. Went on a precious and harrowing journey with my grandmother. Had the deep, heart-bending privilege of walking alongside her as she vulnerably recounted the experience of losing my grandfather – her cherished life partner and soul mate of 65 years – in 2015. There were lots of raw and tender moments. We wrote it all down and her submission is going to be published in an anthology later this year.  
  12. Relentlessly reckoned with my capacity for reverence, compassion, and ability to hold space. Un-friended, un-followed, and unattached with wild abandon. Cut a ton of cords in countless ways that hurt so good.   
  13. Adopted permission-based communication with a vengeance. “Are you open to some feedback?” and “Would you be willing to hear another perspective?” are my new favourite questions. 
  14. Spent nearly a week locked away in a private villa in Spain with five of the most queenly women on the planet. We circled in sisterhood, strategized around our respective empires, and solved all kinds of world problems.
  15. Had my Akashic Records opened for the first time in this life. As it turns out, I may be kind of a big deal as a result of some pretty meaningful contributions to the suffragette movement.
  16. Witnessed all kinds of courageous, clever, and conscious badassery from my 15-year old son. Proudly watched him pull off an epic drag performance to Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way,” in front of a few hundred kids, parents, and teachers at his high school. Listened to a stirring slam poetry piece he penned and performed about the heaviness and darkness that can accompany the reality of living our deepest truths in the world. Happily supplied entirely unhealthy snacks for the sign-making party he hosted for his teenage buddies the night before the Women’s March.
  17. Called full-out BS on “the hustle” and “the grind” and made pleasure a prominent priority in every area of my life.
  18. Leaned completely into the truly blessed reality of my Canadian-ness. I grieved the loss of Gord Downie far harder than I could’ve ever expected, wholly embraced a human Prime Minister who is infinitely imperfect like the rest of us, and reluctantly had my very first bite of poutine.   
  19. Luminosity. Collective effervescence in all of its glorious, glossy goodness. The women, the wisdom, the wine. All that it was. I still can’t even.   
  20. Was a passenger on the most epic mini road-trip in upper-state New York with two of the coolest people in the universe that totally re-ignited my love of Pat Benatar and Skid Row.
  21. Cooked tofu for the first time, which was a little traumatic for this carnivorous diva. Ty’s vegetarianism has been a welcome “growth opportunity” for our family that has inspired an awakening of the culinary creator in me. I seriously had no idea I could do so much with eggplants, almonds, and avocados. 
  22. Fully realized that it doesn’t matter who I be or what I achieve, I’m always going to be too much or not enough for someone somewhere. Too loud, too proud, too shy, too hard, too soft, too glam, too drab, too cozy, too careless, too mediocre, too over-the-top. So I focussed on staying in my lane and driving through this year with pulsing hope, unrelenting compassion, and unapologetic audacity. It was the best ride yet.  

BONUS: Thanks to Jorja (AKA the 6 year old, gender-bending, rock 'n rolling superhero that currently lives in our house), I had the opportunity to listen to Queen's, "We Will Rock You," approximately 273592 times. So, Team Spectacular (our humble family title) for the win - we truly ARE the champions - at least when it comes to Spotify.  

How to know who deserves your energy, affection & attention

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When they actively search out and create opportunities to make you feel safe, seen, supported, and held. 

YOU’VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE.

When you have zero reluctance to reach out in the throes of a morning meltdown, a midday breakthrough, or a midnight epiphany.

YOU'VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE. 

When their presence in your life feels like a gift. 

YOU’VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE.

When your wishes, worries, cares, and concerns are received in warm and deep confidence, sealed in an airtight and waterproof vault.

YOU'VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE.

When your humanity is honoured and witnessed in a space free of assumptions or judgements.

YOU’VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE.

When they're willing to gently nudge you out of those dark and ugly places we all go sometimes with unrelenting kindness, curiosity, and compassion. 

YOU’VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE.

When they won’t stop sending you love-drenched notes of encouragement to stand taller, fuller, and freer.

YOU'VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE.

When they magically appear on your doorstep with wine, soup, and chocolate in the moments that feel messy, muddy, and tough. 

YOU’VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE

When you know with unquestionable certainty that you’re a priority, rather than merely an option.

YOU’VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE.

Keep them close, love them hard, and show up fiercely. 

When your blazing and bright heart is met with cutting indifference.

NOT YOUR TRIBE.

When you allow the softness of your feelings to land and they're echoed back with loud and hollow disregard. 

NOT YOUR TRIBE.

If you have to work to convince them of your value and intrinsic worthiness.

NOT YOUR TRIBE. 

When criticism quickly and easily arrives in the places where only celebration should live, bloom, and flourish.

NOT YOUR TRIBE. 

When they choose to have conversations about you rather than with you. 

NOT YOUR TRIBE.

When they make you the mirror for their insecurities or smallness.  

NOT YOUR TRIBE. 

When goodness and generosity are answered with stark and thoughtless silence.  

NOT YOUR TRIBE. 

When vulnerability and tenderness are greeted with cold insincerity.

NOT YOUR TRIBE.

When you speak your truth and it's received with doubt or disdain.

NOT YOUR TRIBE.

When your unshakeable authenticity, genuine intentions or rock solid integrity are called into question.

NOT YOUR TRIBE.

When your light starts feeling dimmed, dulled, or extinguished.

NOT YOUR TRIBE. NOT YOUR TRIBE. NOT YOUR TRIBE. 

Notice fully, send heaps of grace, and then promptly move on. 

Why We Need To Stop Romancing the Grind

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As the sun starts to set earlier and the evenings take on that telling chill of autumn, I’ve been doing my best to make the most of these precious last few weeks of our waning summer – nightly nature walks, beach days with my babies, backyard bonfires, picnic work sessions, and patio wine dates with girlfriends. 

Yet in this deliberate attempt to bid a fond farewell to the long and leisurely sun-kissed days with gratitude, it’s been really difficult to disregard the frenzy of fall that’s been descending all around me over the past month.

Many of my lady loves who were so easefully and gleefully drinking prosecco in their flowing, flowery dresses at the end of June have transformed into wide-eyed raving lunatics with the onset of school supply scrambling and the mad rush to register the babes for swimming, skating, and soccer.    

Through it all, I can’t help but think we should be going about this differently. And by “this,” I don’t only mean the change of seasons or the transition into another school year, but our lives in general.

I’ve said this before, but so many of us are on auto-pilot these days – programmed to be perpetually pushed forward by pressure and other people’s priorities, while very rarely giving ourselves the space and permission to be properly pulled and more gently guided by pleasure.

And in the meantime, we’ve also somehow acquired this wholly destructive and wildly unhealthy tendency to romance the grind, becoming willing slaves to some hollow sense of satisfaction that seemingly derives from crossing off all kinds of endless items on our infinite to-do lists.  

We’ve become mavens of, and martyrs to, the dangerous myth of productivity – the more we can do, acquire, and achieve on any given day, the better human beings we believe we are. And so then we measure our worthiness and assess our love-ability via homemade cupcakes baked at midnight, volunteer hours logged, emails answered, thank you notes sent, projects piloted, and online courses completed. 

Yes, these are all important, worthwhile, and enjoyable activities, but when we start to make our value contingent on our outputs and routinely trade in our wellbeing for superhuman levels of accomplishment, there’s a big problem (if you’ve ever grabbed a fistful of almonds and your fourth coffee at 3:00 pm as your first meal of the day, you know what I’m talking about).

HUSTLING ISN’T A GOOD THING & BUSY IS NOT A BADGE OF HONOR

At least a couple times a week I hear some version of the following from the women in my life. Almost without fail, a girlfriend, student, or client will say something along the lines of:

“Things are sooooo crazy right now! I’ve got a million things on the go and I only had like four hours of sleep last night.” And almost always these sentiments are expressed with an undertone of pride, as though exhaustion is an accolade and being “busy” is a badge of honor.

Moreover, nearly every single day I see some social media post from a mama or girlboss idealizing “The Hustle,” and I can’t help but inwardly shudder. 

There are essentially two definitions of hustle: to hurry or to swindle, neither of which being particularly desirable or admirable ways of operating in the world. So knowing that, it’s pretty safe to say that your children, customers, friends, and loved ones would likely wholeheartedly prefer that you take your time with them in most cases and/or also abstain from deliberately pulling some game on them.  

And from a business perspective or task completion standpoint, “haste makes waste” is not just a tired cliché, but rather an enduring truth. While I rail against perfectionism at most turns, I’m no longer a fan of the idea of “done is better than good.” Anything worth doing is worth doing well and with care. If it’s not, you should seriously reconsider why you’re doing it at all.  

The outcome of any effort emerging from a place of energy, enjoyment, and genuine excitement is dramatically different from anything forged from the forces of fear, obligation, and overwhelm. As Eckhart Tolle writes in A New Earth, “Whenever there is enthusiasm, there is a creative empowerment that goes far beyond what a mere person is capable of.“ 

So rather than glorifying “the grind” and “the hustle,” it’s more important that we devote ourselves to creating the optimal conditions for enthusiasm to thrive. As Mark Nepo puts it, “Enthusiasm is not a mood that can be willed or forced. Rather, it is a ripple that follows the stone. It can only be felt after we immerse ourselves in life.” 

When we prioritize self-care, artistic pursuits, nourishing experiences, and rejuvenating rituals, enthusiasm more naturally emerges and we organically evolve into exponentially better mothers, lovers, leaders, and entrepreneurs.

Everyone around us reaps the tremendous benefits when we make peace, pleasure, and play non-negotiable in our lives. And while this may come as a surprise, the activities you "indulge" in your downtime often translate into improved and highly-leveraged results in business. For example:

  • Making the time to read fiction or poetry makes us more imaginative and engaging writers when it’s time to pen a marketing campaign, sales copy or a blog post. 
  • A massage or a float takes the edge off stress, which leads to sharper focus, increased patience, and a sense of calm.   
  • A vigorous walk releases all kinds of good endorphins enhancing our capacity for problem solving, innovation, and ingenuity.
  • Vacation time and weekend getaways remove us from daily routines, subsequently offering up fresh and new perspectives on our relationships, circumstances, projects, and priorities.

Ironically, all of those things that you currently "don't have time for" are actually where you should be directing a huge chunk of your hours and efforts. 

FOCUSING ON “TO BE,” RATHER THAN “TO DO”  

In business, success is always more about how we serve rather than what we sell. In life and love, how we show up is arguably more important than how often we show up. So rather than creating an arbitrary list of all of the things you want to accomplish, consider instead taking the time to reflect on the aim, intentions, and mindset you want to bring to your work and relationships this week:  

Ease-infused expansion vs. ego-fueled endurance.

Purposeful presence in lieu of anxious attention. 

Thoughtful elegance over knee-jerk urgency.

Creative liberation as opposed to compression-packed creation.

However, if you still feel compelled to make a to-do list, please put one of these three things near the top of your the list:

1) get rid of that book you're entirely not enjoying, yet continue to pick up night after night after night in the quest for that short-lived, empty rush of completion. Painful page-turning is not a good use of your time. 

2) buy yourself some flowers instead of wishing someone else adored or appreciated you enough to do so. You are so WORTH IT. 

3) cancel every coffee, lunch, engagement, and appointment that is not critical or doesn't totally light you up. It's really the wiser and kinder way to move forward. 

xoxo

On being deeply loved vs. widely liked

A couple of weeks ago... 

I was riffing on the idea of high standards by digging around in the conceptual/philosophical dirt of it all. At the time, I’d promised to circle back around in order to paint a picture of what that actually looks like in life and business for me.

Again, I’ll reiterate that I’m really not shy about the fact that I can be painstakingly particular and intensely insistent at times. Likely not shocking for those of you who know and adore me anyway, but included in my husband’s arsenal of loving nicknames for me is, “Uptown.” (I doubt there’s little need for much clarification on that. :)

However,there remains a critical distinction between our surface,superficial leanings & our most sacred, soulful imperatives.

It’s that path I intend to continue to go down here…

Over the past few years, I’ve developed pretty high standards of how I spend my time and whom I spend it with. In many ways, this has come from learning to centre myself in the understanding that it’s often better to be deeply loved than widely liked.

While both would obviously be delightful and preferable, when we try to be everything to everyone, we ultimately end up as nothing to nobody. Or, as Aesop so wisely surmised in his legendary fables, “In trying to please everyone, (s)he pleased none.” 

So, it’s really become this precious principle that now guides the lion’s share of my choices in terms of where I invest my heart, sweat, and hours. Outside of a few minor exceptions, this means that my calendar is only filled with projects, people, and plans that really light me up.

Yet, at the same time, while I’m very consciously creating a life and business that feels spacious, generous, and fulfilling, I also joyfully work my ass off to ensure it stays that way.

In my work, I routinely strive to go out of my way to create optimal and special experiences for my tribe, consistently searching for opportunities to rise above and beyond in terms of thoughtfulness, service, and impact.

This can mean happily engaging in weekend text chats, taking unscheduled phone calls, or adding in extra sessions when I don’t feel we’ve arrived at where we wanted to go. I’ve taken to hosting “gratitude gatherings” to bring women together for connection, collaboration, and celebration. Sometimes impromptu love notes, flowers, or other surprise treats reveal themselves as the most fitting and honest expressions of my deep appreciation for the people I call into my world.

But all of this loving goodness is deliberately partnered with some pretty solid boundaries that keep me out of resentment and wholly in my integrity the majority of the time. And this is where my markedly high standards come most fully and forcefully into play – within and beyond my business.

Because I show up so wholeheartedly to my work, I invite clients and students to consistently arrive in our relationship in the same way. If there’s a noticeable disjuncture in terms of the levels of respect, consideration or commitment, closing the circle on the engagement is not something I’ll hesitate to do – of course, always without judgment, along the warmest of wishes and no hard feelings.

The quality and equality of that energetic exchange has simply become a non-negotiable for me, which is so truly in the most genuine and very best interests of both sides.

If patterns of no-shows, unanswered emails, ignored invoices, and other expressions of disregard begin to emerge, it really dampens the vibe of the working relationship, negatively impacting the levels of enthusiasm, trust, and affection I can bring to the table. When that happens, I’ve found that I’m just not capable of tapping into the soul-centred and full-spirited energy that I’ve come to fully rely on in order to bring forth my best ideas and biggest contributions.

And really, nobody can - which is why I teach and preach this with adamant animation to my clients just as often (um, if not more so) as I live it.

From a different perspective, when it comes to the more creative side of things, such as writing, speaking or facilitating, I no longer desire to expend endless amounts of energy aiming to impress or win people over. For years, I was overly consumed with chasing approval and acknowledgement and it was downright exhausting. 

Now I choose to stand tall in my own stuff, trying to shine my light in the most authentic and earnest ways I know how. Inevitably, my particular brand of brightness will attract some and repel others.

And that’s more than ok with me. These days, I’m just aiming to land where the love lives; there’s someone for everyone and that’s quite simply not going to be me in a whole lot of cases.

In my personal life...

Much of the same is true and my high standards typically make themselves seen in the following ways:

I avoid gossip, drama, and small talk like the plague. I tend only to dine, dance, drink, dream, coffee, and conspire with people who are inclined to do the same.

I’m wildly dedicated to philanthropy, volunteerism, and community service. At the same time, I’m also fiercely protective of my time, energy, and dignity.

When we choose to divert minutes away from our babies, beloveds, besties, or businesses, we should take good care to make damn sure it feels exceptionally impactful, important, and rewarding.

In the times I’ve felt compelled to un-attach myself from individuals or organizations unable and/or unwilling to offer up some pretty basic respect, reciprocation, or appreciation, it’s been with a very certain, but still heavy heart.

At the end of the day, at the bedrock of the layers of high standards I stand on are these grounding sentiments from the always eloquent and incitingly articulate, Dr. Maya Angelou:

“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” 

Whether it’s personally, locally, or globally; and whether we’re marketing, managing, or mentoring, I can’t help but think that the very best we can do is to consistently aspire to be a deeply loved priority rather than a widely liked option.

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THE DOORS FOR THE WINTER SESSIONS OF RISE BY DESIGN ARE NOW OPEN! 

How to be a leader when you don't feel like being a leader

Anyone else having “one of those weeks” lately?

It’s been a bit of a rough ride for a lot of the women in my life recently and I know all too well what it feels like to be in this space.   

Even if it’s not your current state of reality, you likely know exactly what I’m talking about:

Everything feels hard, everyone is pissing you off, and everywhere is a place you really don’t want to be.

But if that doesn’t sound familiar, maybe this will:

The days seem dictated by an endless to-do list, emails are going unanswered, people are trampling all over your boundaries, deals are falling through, things are tense with your significant other, and every single task takes about a million times longer than it normally should.

And the nights are not much better – maybe even worse. You spend hours upon hours tossing and turning as your head incessantly swirls with ALL OF THE THINGS. The quiet dark tends to create optimal opportunities to obsess over the minutia, dwell in the past, and catastrophize the future.

From dawn to dusk, sun-up through sun-down, you just can’t shake some feelings, which typically play out, spiral, and circle back around as some version of:

Uninspired. Unmotivated. Unimpressed.

Undervalued. Unsupported. Unappreciated.

Unseen. Unheard. Unwanted.

For a few or more days, you’re pretty much teetering on the edge of becoming entirely unglued. And then it passes.

Something shifts, there’s a sigh of relief, and you’re back to business as usual. (And if it doesn’t, reaching out to a helping professional might be suggested.)

It’s not a whole lot of fun in the meantime. Totally get it. And I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been there more than a time or two. 

The truth is that no matter how successful, centred, and secure we  are, we’re all going to inevitably land in this place from time to time. As Pulitzer-winning poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay has put it, “Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.”

The trick is to have some solid strategies in place in advance to get ourselves back into the light more swiftly and surely as possible.

Baby, It’s Not You, It’s Me

The starting point typically has to do with radically transforming your foundational mindset and perspective – ideally in a time when you’re healthy, strong, sane, and settled.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll hit the repeat button on my trusty stand-by about what it means to show up in your life, work, and the world as a leader:

Leadership is not a position, it’s a constant, conscious, and very often, courageous decision.

At its core, personal leadership is the unconditional, full-spirited acknowledgement that you are 110% responsible for your own life, without excuse or exception.

Leadership is neither a title nor a standing; it’s absolute ownership of your capacity to make smart, hard, deliberate and enlightened choices in response to every experience, emotion, person, and circumstance you encounter.

What this means is that in every moment, it’s completely within your power to step into leadership, or not. That should sound like good news for most, but in reality, this can often be a hard pill for some of us to swallow; when the going gets tough, it can feel far easier to pass the buck and blame, deflecting or denying our role in any given negative situation.

If you’re not convinced of my take on this, I’d invite you to consider Oprah’s thoughts on the matter (and watch the fantastic short video that the words are linked to):

“YOU are responsible for YOUR life. And if you’re sitting around waiting for someone to save you, to fix you, or even help you, you are wasting your time. Because only you have the power to take responsibility to move your life forward. And the sooner you get that, the sooner your life gets into gear.”

And the sooner, I would add, that you might begin to be recognized and regarded as a leader by others. If you’re someone who is able to fully embrace, embody, and exemplify this truth with some consistency, chances are pretty good that people will eventually begin to turn to you in good faith for guidance, support, encouragement, and expertise.

You must be able to lead yourself before you really have any business leading others; until you’re standing solidly in your own sovereignty, your shoulders simply aren’t strong enough to lift up others. 

At this point, you’re probably like, “Um, thanks for the soapboxy leadership lecture, Jami, but how do I actually make this actionable and useful in my life?”

I’m getting there right now, I promise!

Enter in The Feminine LeaderShift.

In the darkness, or when we’re at our worst, we’re typically in the mode of command, control, compete, compare, and criticize.

In the light, or when we’re at our best, we’re typically driven by connection, contribution, collaboration, celebration, and compassion.

It’s actually in the space between these two states where the opportunity for genuine leadership emerges.

Leadership lives in the moments when we consciously decide to engage our agency and activate our capacity to choose a different way of being. Here’s how it works:

1) Moving out of command and into connection.

In the darkness, we tend to descend into a domineering and solitary headspace. Often we will gravitate towards isolation in order to increase our productivity and indulge our perfectionist leanings. However, rather than retreating from the world, the Feminine LeaderShift would implore you to instead opt for some fresh air, commune with nature, have lunch with a girlfriend, or pull your child out of school for an impromptu adventure.

Connection is truly the best elixir for heightened creativity, the solution for “stuck-ness,” and the cure-all for complacency.

2) Stepping away from control towards contribution.

When we’re stressing over how rent is going to get paid, how we’re going to meet a tight deadline, or how we might respond to an unhappy client or customer, many of us automatically fall into fear. We move into scarcity and out of service, rejecting abundance in favour of the fervor to please, prove, perfect, and perform. 

Rather than lingering in lack, actively seek out opportunities to be generous, to give back, or otherwise make a difference in a selfless way. Write a cheque to your favourite charity, volunteer some time at an organization, or gift some of your products and services. As Francis of Assisi has so beautifully said, “For it is in giving that we receive.”

3) Releasing competition to make space for collaboration.

One of my favourite sayings is, “A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.” As I see it, the more blooming that occurs, the more stunning and glorious the garden. The same is true of the world

In her brilliant 2013 article, Shine Theory: Why Powerful Women Make the Greatest Friends, Ann Friedman wrote, “When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her. Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better.”

Truer words have never been spoken. When you encounter someone doing beautiful and brilliant work in the world, your aim should never be to overshadow it, but to figure out how to best bask in the glow.   

4) Trading in comparison for celebration.

Relatedly, so many of our heartaches and headaches come from letting the successes of others act as a distorted fun-house mirror of all of things we ourselves haven’t achieved, accomplished or experienced.

But instead of being a Bitter Betty about somebody else’s drool-worthy vacation, the incredible publishing deal, the aww-mazing blog post, or the hard-earned community award, be a Queen about it: send flowers, write a note, offer up a loving comment, or share a post. 

You can never, ever go wrong with the currency of celebration. Even in the event that it happens to go unnoticed or unacknowledged by the individual, you’ve earned yourself some serious clout with the gods of good karma.    

5) Rejecting criticism in favour of compassion.

When people stand us up, let us down, waste our time, or hurt our feelings, we generally do one of two things (or, often both):

      i.         We get all up in our egos and berate their thoughtlessness and/or incompetence

     ii.         We get all up in our own self-worthiness and berate ourselves for not being good enough or important enough to deserve something different or better from these individuals

The enlightened alternative, and the way of the Feminine LeaderShift, is to gently re-wire our default responses to incorporate inquiry, along with a little more kindness and humanity - for both ourselves and others.

We never really know what’s going on behind the scenes with other people and on the flip-side, we can often bring a lot of our own baggage into any given interaction. Be thoughtful enough to consider in advance that something entirely unrelated to you and the current situation might be happening.

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Why high standards should be holy and not haughty

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time in circle with six rather spectacular women. We’d come together on a frigid January weekend with the aim of breathing some life into our biggest dreams and deepest desires by doing some soul stretching work together over the course of a couple of days.

As we communed in a cozy candle-lit space tucked away from the world, our conversations gradually and naturally grew bolder and braver as the hours went on. Sheltered from the demands of the day-to-day and untethered from the stifling limitations that so many of us routinely contend with, we decidedly dared our way into the depths of what lies beneath.

And we very simply had to go there. Because after years of being intensely influenced by the media, the magazines, the patriarchy, the parents, and the friends, getting to the core of what we truly long for in our lives and work sometimes requires some rather relentless unraveling.

The reality is that over time our passions, preferences, and predilections can become so firmly entrenched in the expectations of others that a good amount of ruthless excavation often needs to occur to in order to bring them back into the light.  

Since our gathering, one of those digging expeditions in particular has continued to steadily saunter through my thoughts, begging for some deeper attention. And it was around a conversation we dove into around the topic of “high standards.”  

HIGH STANDARDS VS. HIGH-MAINTENANCE

To begin with, I very happily admit that I take great pleasure in some of the finer things in life – good wine, high-end handbags, luxurious vacations, exquisite bouquets, and 5-star restaurants. But I just as equally (if not more so!) find enduring delight in truck stop breakfasts, dandelions picked by my daughter, a killer discount, and out-of-key sing-alongs around a roaring fire.

Simply put, I totally dig decadence, but I also bow down to sacred simplicity.  

Over the last few years, it’s not a big secret that I’ve become progressively unapologetic about liking what I like, wanting what I want, and also asking for those things on a more regular basis. However, my ever-increasing refusal to settle is not at all a matter of living in defiance of anything or anyone, but rather of living in greater alignment and deepening devotion to the truth of who I am. And this is all about staying holy, not being haughty.

As Robert Louis Stevenson puts it, “To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to keep your soul alive.”

And given that most of us are generally pretty interested and invested in keeping our souls alive and kicking, this seems like super solid advice.

High standards shouldn’t have anything to do with being high-maintenance, nor should they be a function of arrogance or entitlement. If we’re going about it in the right way, having high standards is very simply a matter of being completely conscious of what’s sacred and meaningful to us and then subsequently going about the hard work to generate the experiences and relationships we most want to have in our lives.

When it comes down to it, our most important needs, wishes, and wants should be rooted in our intrinsic worthiness and serve as divine expressions of who we are. As such, there are bound to be times when clashes are going to occur in the face of another’s intrinsic-ly worthy self.

However, when we work to make reverence and reciprocity the mainstays of our relationships and if we’re continuously cultivating our capacity to choose compassion over condescension, it’s always entirely possible to find compromise without caving.

Being soulfully selective is a far cry from being superficial, superior, or insufferably snooty.

There’s a vast difference between heart-centered discernment and self-centered demanding.

At the end of the day, the aim should always be enlightened insistence, not obnoxious expectation.

The moral of the first part of this story is that you can almost always have your cake and eat it too - as long as you’re willing to do the majority of the baking, occasionally opt for a gluten-free recipe, and consistently invite other people into your kitchen and to the table.  

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THE DOORS FOR THE FALL SESSIONS OF RISE BY DESIGN ARE NOW OPEN! 

You are not meant for crawling.

“Too big. Too much. Too soon. Too edgy. Too expensive. Too risky.  

Unlikely. Unrealistic. Unreasonable. Unachievable.  

I don’t see it. We’re just not there yet. It can’t be done.

You’re SOOOOOOO cute! 

Are you sure? Are you crazy? Are you f-ing kidding me?” 

AND SO CAN GO THE MANY RESPONSES TO OUR PASSIONS, PLANS,AND PROJECTS...

Rolling eyes. Furrowed brows. Tilted heads. 

Polite nods. Uncomfortable chuckles. Exasperated sighs. 

Nervous apprehension. Naked condescension.

Different varieties of discouragement,disregard,or even disdain that seem to fly in the face of our dreams, desires, and wishes.

So we opt to shrink and settle, deciding that the space of the world is somehow not ours to occupy.

We stir and stew in silence, feeling shadowed by the successes of others. 

And instead of standing tall in the truth of who we really are, we kind of crawl through life to stay out of the light we don’t think we deserve. 

But, as Rumi has said, "you are not meant for crawling." He wrote:

You were born with potential.You were born with goodness and trust.You were born with ideals and dreams.You were born with greatness.You were born with wings.You are not meant for crawling, so don't.You have wings. Learn to use them and fly.

Your moment has arrived. It’s time to fly. 

Stop apologizing for your aspirations.

Consciously commit to your curiosity.

Listen intently to your longings. 

Be bold and brazen with your big ideas.  

Stretch your soul.

Make art out of your life.

What's the worst that could happen?

THE DOORS FOR THE FALL SESSIONS OF RISE BY DESIGN ARE NOW OPEN! 

Manifesto of a Supernova: A Reminder for Unapologetically Shining in the World

The vision I’ve imagined for my time here is pretty simple.

I want to show up to life with all of the bravery and loveliness I can muster in service of making the world a slightly brighter and more beautiful place. That’s it, that’s all.

Perhaps it’s not particularly revolutionary, but taking a sacred stand for your truth on a regular basis can be easier said than done. 

Being the fallible and fragile human that I am, it’s infinitely easy to lapse into that place of fear, scarcity, and self-doubt where the efforts to bring my vision to life can seem either downright futile or overly indulgent. And it doesn’t take long before I can start sliding down that slippery slope of comparison and inadequacy, incessantly worrying about judgment from others.

At this point I’ve gotten pretty damn good at talking myself down from the ledge before I jump back into that safe place where I’m not constantly being called upon to be more visible and vulnerable. Yet, I’d be lying if I said that I don’t still struggle with being wholly seen in my raw authenticity. So it’s really become a matter of deciding over and over again that love is bigger than fear and entirely trusting that my message can serve as medicine for others.

Enter in the MANIFESTO OF A SUPERNOVA. It’s at once a soulful statement of intent, a daily affirmation, and a declaration of devotion. And it never fails to drop me fully and firmly back into my message and mission in rapid-fire time:  

Now more than ever, the world urgently needs more women who are awakened, enlivened, and emboldened.

At this time in history, our planet is positively aching for more mothers, lovers, and leaders who are unapologetically walking in the blazing brilliance of their light.

Choose the path of the feminine supernova.

Be guided by gratitude and surrender to bright faith.

Trust that there’s clarity in chaos; it’s where the lessons and blessings live.

Playing small is an insult to the universe and a slight to your divinity.

Decide to rise at every possible opportunity.

Light begets more light. Your shining is a liberating force for others.

For me, this manifesto has served as encouragement incarnate and pure motivational magic. There’s unequivocal power in making the time and space to distill the most heart-centred wishes you have for yourself and the world.

As you ease into the articulation of your own soul story, I highly recommend you consider penning a personal purpose-driven proclamation. I wrote this particular one for more universal adoption, so try it on for yourself to see if it fits on your journey towards luminosity. Shine on, bright one!

A few footnotes for deeper understanding...

BRIGHT FAITH

I used to love the idea of “blazing truth,” but when I recently became reacquainted with the idea of bright faith, it resonated so deeply.

According to author and Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg, bright faith “is a state of love-filled delight in possibilities and eager joy at the prospect of actualizing them.”  She says, “Bright faith goes beyond merely claiming that possibility for oneself to immersing oneself in it. With bright faith, we are lifted out of our normal sense of insignificance, thrilled as we no longer feel lost and alone. The enthusiasm, energy, and courage we need in order to leave the safe path, to stop aligning ourselves with the familiar and convenient, arise with bright faith.”

CLARITY IS A GIFT OF CHAOS

Hard times, heartbreak, and hurt feelings suck, but more and more, I’ve come to see that these things happen for us, and not just to us.

The darkness we walk through across our lives intensifies the infinite light that burns within us. While our brightness may dim in times of desperation, devastation, and despair, the embers of our true essence are never wholly extinguished. As I’ve said before, I wholeheartedly think that dissidence, strife, and struggle can be powerful teachers if we’re open to receiving the gifts they offer.

I truly believe that personal leadership requires us reframe our “baggage” as precious cargo that we carry with us on our journeys home to ourselves. And while it may seem counterintuitive, our deepest fears and biggest hurts can present our most profound opportunities to lead and to use our lives as powerful forces for change and recalibration in our homes, communities, and the world. As Nietzsche has said, “One must have chaos within oneself to give birth to a dancing star.” 

REFUSE TO PLAY SMALL

When you commit to unabashedly lighting up the world with your purpose, passion, and truth, you illuminate the path for others to follow. However, when you actively opt out of using your natural gifts, talents, and strengths to be of service in the world, it’s an insult to your divinity and much like giving the middle finger to the universe.

For me, this reality came into glaring focus when I came across the following quote from Marianne Williamson in 2013, which radically transformed my outlook on life and ultimately altered the trajectory of my life forever:

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

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THE DOORS FOR THE FALL SESSIONS OF RISE BY DESIGN ARE NOW OPEN! 

 

 

 

Embrace Your Interruptions

“I’m broken,” a woman recently confided in a workshop. “I’ve been broken for a while now and I don’t know if I can be fixed.”  

My heart immediately descended into instant aching mode.

I briefly closed my eyes to lean into this raw share and drew a deep breath to ground myself in the moment. I bowed my head, gave the words the space to land, and then proceeded to look up to join her fully in this truth.

But as I raised my gaze to search her stare for that sacred meeting ground, I was abruptly taken aback and found myself awkwardly tilting my head in confusion.

Something was totally and completely off. 

While she had spoken with a conviction that rang earnestly, those soul windows of hers were serving up a wildly different version of the story she was sharing with the group. 

See, there’s a requisite darkness that dances full on with genuine desperation and despair, with true brokenness. I know it well and have seen it more times than I care to remember. Despondency and hopeless resignation dig out a hollow void in the eyes of the beholder that can swallow you whole in a second - one glance can feel much like diving into a frigid pool of pain. 

But there was absolutely none of that going on in the woman looking back at me from behind those smart, rimless frames. As in zero, zilch, nada.

Instead, there was an undeniable fire there, lighting her from the inside out. The flame was faint and slightly smothered, but I could see it fiercely fighting to burn brighter and be felt. My skin actually prickled at the white-hot heat she was emanating, surging at a frequency somewhere between inviting and intense.

While she may have wholeheartedly believed she was broken when she said it, this woman wasn’t at all shattered; she was simply simmering. What she needed was some stoking and stirring, not any kind of saving, fixing or mending.

In the moment, all that I said was, “You’re not broken, you’re just interrupted. And that’s not a bad thing.”

We live in a culture that is fixated on fault and failing, along with the fast and the furious. We’ve absorbed the notion that if we’re not achieving, we’re atrophying. In the absence of action and accomplishment, our worthiness somehow hangs in the balance.  We’ve lost the capacity to sit with uncertainty and have radically discounted the tremendous value and beauty of just being.

But here’s the thing: Ideas insist on incubation and creative babies won’t be born whole and healthy without that critical gestation period. Foregoing the essential recovery time between marathons is a certain invitation for injury.    

Our standstills should be savored. Intermissions are opportunities to revel in spaciousness. Disruption doesn’t preclude devotion.

Make space for grace in the grit.  More heart, less hustle. You’re not broken, you’re just breathing.