A Time to Dream, A Time to Do

There is a time for dreaming and a time for doing.

The art is in knowing the difference.

When it’s time for change and setting goals the call comes in different ways. Some calls ask first to be dreamt into existence. Dreaming is part of an active creation process. It’s a fun place because you live in the world of possibilities.

Something marvellous forms itself in your vision. You imagine new twists and turns — a new development in your story. You have a new excitement about life. Anything can happen if you’re open to it.

Wake Up and Get Ready

Other calls come with a to-do list already attached. You go from step one to step fifty and, voila, you’re there. You organize yourself, then learn the path, and refine the skills you need to succeed. Things like math or music or web development are like this.

When you’re young you learn many skills to become a ‘better’ adult. The cool thing about skills is that they can circle back to dreaming again — different skills let you express your vision in unique ways.

The two approaches call for very different mindsets and practices. Your brain will be wired to favour one over the other.

The wise ones learn to cultivate both.

Learn to Dream

One of the best guides I’ve found for creating the practices that will stimulate creativity is Todd Henry of the Accidental Creative. The short version of his ‘rules for a creative life’ are:

  • Keep your focus to three creative priorities. Let your ideas marinate.
  • Build relationships that spark your creativity and hold you accountable. Don’t think friends – think mentors, friendly competitors, inspiration.
  • Manage your energy wisely – leave buffers between events to absorb and be present to what’s happening. Keep burnouts to a minimum.
  • Be really choosy about the stimulus you take in from media and social media. Garbage in, garbage out.
  • Trust your instincts.

Practice Make Perfect

If it’s the skill of learning skills that you need then don’t look any further than Canada’s singing astronaut, Chris Hadfield.

His memoir, An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth, is a hymn to the joy of preparedness, over-preparedness and obsessive attention to detail. Of course, riding what is basically a large bomb into space will do that. His rules for success are:

  • Sweat the small stuff.
  • Plan and test. Fix what went wrong. Plan and test that. Do it again and again.
  • Figure out what could have gone wrong but didn’t. Make a plan and test that.
  • Make a checklist for all the plans that worked, all the plans that didn’t work and all the plans that might not work.
  • Practice, practice, practice the all the skills on every checklist.
  • Don’t trust your instincts.

All Together Now

Now, for a moment, let’s think about how we could use these two complementary mindsets to the goal of losing weight.

The creative part of the process might look like this:

  • Scope out Pinterest to find new and innovative ways to cook spring vegetables.
  • Learn to make artisanal bone broth to stimulate your soup making.
  • Practice different ways of eating – vegan, paleo, Mediterranean – to see what gives you most energy.
  • Find forums of similar people and find out what they’re doing.
  • Explore different ways of eating, like mindful eating, to see how your habits affect your weight.

The skill-based part of the process might look like this:

  • Sit down on Sunday night and make your meal plans.
  • Use an online tracker with reminders as an interactive checklist.
  • Plan for the times during the week when your plans will not work.
  • Write a checklist for all your plans so you don’t have to make it up on the spot.
  • Make a lot of ‘if this happens, then I will do that’rules for your behaviour like ‘if I’m home late from work, then I’ll cook one of the frozen meals I made on the weekend’.

How could you apply these two approaches to something you want in life?

Posted by Deirdre Walsh


Find Peace and Balance Through Mindfulness

Find Peace and Balance Through Mindfulness

I tried a local hot yoga studio twice or so a couple of years ago. It was full of promise – young, hip owners, a reclaimed space with exposed brick and high ceilings, close to home. It all added up to a much funkier experience than we’re used to in our suburban ‘hood.


I knew that I was going to be struggling in the back for a while, but I had no idea what was in store for me. The class was filled with amazing devotees ready for some hard-core yoga. There was a small-time local celeb ready for the heat, wearing a tiny outfit that I will never be able to unsee. It was serious yoga for serious people.


Still, I was willing to be the neophyte in the back, ready to take the pity stares as part of the yogic lesson. That is, until one of the young, hip owners came over to adjust me and then informed the class, in a Valley-girl kind of nasally tone, that how we are on the mat is how we are in life. I had a sense of being nagged on the mat – not what I was going for. The peace and balance I was looking for evaporated and was replaced by irritation.


I wasn’t loving the delivery, but I knew she was saying something very important. 


How we are is how we are

How we are on the mat is how we are at our jobs, is how we are with our friends, and on and on. The amount of mindfulness and care we bring to the things in our life is pretty consistent across the board. Sure, we can pull out some fresh energy and motivation when something is new or really important to us. But for the routine daily habits of our life, we almost always bring our own mix of attention or distraction, and frustration or patience, and self-compassion or inflated demands to our routines.


To bring peace and balance to our day we can start with just about any area of our life.


Peace and Balance Start with Mindfulness

A powerful way to begin is with mindfulness. Mindfulness is about using conscious effort to shift your thoughts towards what is going on from moment to moment. It moves us away from thinking about the past or the future and toward being present to what’s happening right now. It is closely aligned with meditation, but you do not have to meditate to be mindful. The saying “Stop and smell the roses” captures the idea of mindfulness very well.


There are four main parts of mindfulness:

  •     Paying attention
  •     Living in the moment
  •     Simplifying
  •     Being aware of your breathing


Eating is as good an entry way to balance as any other.  It’s something we do every day and it’s also an activity that carries a lot of our emotional baggage for us. I’ve stopped being surprised by how engaged people by are by what they eat, when they’re eating, and who was with them. A mindful way to peace and balance in your eating is to focus your attention on gratitude. You can be grateful for the people that brought your food to the table. Or simply to the fact that you have the nourishment that you do. There are a hundred ways to bring mindfulness to your dining.

What brings a sense of gratitude to your meals?

Image: Adam Krowitz. Licensed under Creative Commons

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