Does Your Outside Reflect Your Inside?

Does your outer appearance reflect who you are on the inside? This is a question I asked myself this summer and of course, I turned it into a journaling exercise. There was a chart involved. It’s how I do.

You may remember that my friend Salma and I went on a bit of a shopping spree last spring; that whole shenanigan got me thinking a lot about how I show up physically in this world. Over the last few years I’ve covered some ground emotionally and perhaps even spiritually, but my physical self always gets put on the backburner. Sound familiar to anyone?

To be fair, I don’t think I ever really did pay much attention to my style. Shopping for clothes and accessories was never a priority and definitely not something I thought of as fun. It wasn’t until recently, as I’ve gotten to know myself better that I’ve realized: what I look like on the outside is not really reflective of who I am inside.

If you want to try the exercise I did, grab a piece of paper and write down the different settings you might find yourself in. For example, some of mine included: girls’ night out, date nights, attending a poetry reading, and teaching a workshop. (I didn’t bother with the ‘home’ setting…I mean, I think I’ve pretty much nailed that one.)

Then I imagined that I had access to any type of clothing I wanted and wrote items down under each setting.

Under girls’ night out and date nights I had: tulle skirt with jean jacket, big jewelry, Tieks (which no, I don’t own, but drool over their Instagram feed all the time), fitted tank tops and the like. It just so happens that I have a dress from Forever 21 with a tulle skirt and fitted bodice that I have only worn once (to a gala night/fundraiser) and though I love it, I could never think of where else I would feel comfortable wearing it. Well, according to my heart’s deep wishes, I would love to wear tulle when out with girlfriends or my husband…because it’s romantic, it’s fun, it’s girly and classy.

A couple weeks after writing this down, it was my best friend’s 40th birthday -a really special night, not just because it was a milestone but because she lives thousands of miles away from me and we haven’t celebrated birthdays together in over a decade. She happened to be in town and was having a dinner with her friends and siblings. This was my chance to pull out the tulle…but I have to admit, I hesitated. My husband couldn’t understand why.

Him: You like the dress, right?

Me: I love it.

Him: Okaaayyyy…so why don’t you wear it?

Me: I don’t know.

The thing is, I did know. I knew I’d be the only one wearing tulle. Maybe I’d look too dressed up. Maybe I’d look like I never got out much and was wearing the fanciest thing I had (this is half-true).

I figured, though, it was time to suck it up and really live up to the authenticity I so truly value. I’ve been making changes in so many areas of my life but, admittedly, the ones that people can see are the toughest changes to make. I did my whole mental exercise of, “On my last day on Earth would I have wished I wore the dress or played it safe and wore black pants?”

I wore this:

fashion, tulle skirt, forever 21, be yourself, let me out creative, taslim jaffer, jean jacket, authentic, dress,

And I felt wonderful.

It might seem like a tiny thing to someone else, but to me this was big. And so much easier than I thought.

I really must buy more tulle and go out more. 

And you know, this is art. Expressing oneself through fashion, hair, and whatever else provides the outlet is pure art.

As another step, today I got my hair cut. And not just trimmed; there was a fairly decent mountain-esque pile of hair under my chair. If you check out my Instagram feed, you’ll find my before and after pic and you can tell me what you think!

So, I’m taking art to this physical level and really being more conscious of how I am expressing myself. Not because I care what people think or because I want to fit a certain mold or look like I’ve got my stuff together, but because I’ve been given a canvas and tools and colours and creativity.

And there’s a lot that each of us can do with those things.


A Tender Moment With A Lasting Impression

“Mama! Come, come! I just found the mossiest tree! You will love it – you LOVE mossy trees!”

I followed my 5 year old son to the edge of the forest, he on his too-small bike with his Spiderman helmet leading the way. Already I could feel myself filling with emotion. I do love mossy trees. I love their coats of green life upon life, identifying the trees as perfect homes. I love the warm look, the springy, soft feel. I also love them in a way I can’t describe in words. Sometimes there’s no reason why the soul is drawn to what it is. Nothing we understand. That’s how I feel about mossy trees.

I guess my kids have caught on to that.

At the edge of the forest, my son jumped off his bike and grabbed my hand. “It’s up here,” he murmured as he kept his eye on his footing, making his way up the slight incline. Surrounded now by cloaked giants, amusement set in. Which one was the mossiest? Which one had jerked my son’s thoughts away from his play and to his mom?

Unsuccessfully navigating around spiderwebs, I held my breath and pulled silk from my arms, praying that the inhabitants hadn’t accidentally found their way down the back of my shirt. We ventured onward, stepping over roots, and ended up on the mulchy trail.

“Here it is, Mom! See! I told you it’s mossy!”

My reaction was perhaps a little over-done as I gasped and clapped my hands and smiled up to my eyes. It was indeed mossy, just like the dozens of other trees, several spiderwebs back. But this moment deserved a bit of fanfare. It wasn’t just the sight of the tree that was awesome; my son had been immersed in play with other young boys, pretending to be guardians of this sacred space, building forts for the ‘good guys’ but something whispered to him his mama’s name when he came across this beauty.

hold hands, mossy trees, sons and moms, let me out creative, a tender moment with a lasting impression

The countless times I gushed about these twisted trunks and carried on about loving these beasts, my son was absorbing bits and pieces of my sparkly soul. These bits and pieces made their way into his heart and all over this forest. And these bits and pieces will outlive me. This, I know.

There’s a fancy word for this and it’s ‘legacy.’ My legacy – a part of it anyway – will live in moss-covered trees. And I am so good with that. I may never make a huge impact on the local or global community. But my kids know the things that are important to me. And as we grow together, I will keep sharing those parts of me.

Mamas and Papas! As you get to know your children for who they are, make sure they know who you are too. Among the directives and schedules and responsible things, add some soul. Marvel out loud. Share your hopes. Spill your dreams. And do. Do the things that make you happy – little silly things, big bold things.

Sprinkle the bits and pieces of your sparkly soul over everything.

5 Reasons Why Being Authentic In Business Kicks A$$!

We’re being encouraged all the time to be ‘authentic’ but what does that really mean? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, authentic means ‘real, genuine’ and ‘true to one’s own spirit or character.’ And beautifully stated by Maya Angelou, “Authenticity is simply telling the truth to yourself and others.”

If we combine all that, authenticity is telling the truth about your genuine self, being true to who you really are at your core. In spiritual terms, we call that core your soul. You really don’t get more original than that.

Who you are at your soul level is your truth, and when you live from that place of truth and conviction and character you create a life that is healthy and fulfilled. But making decisions from your soul-state isn’t just about who you hang out with or which type of yoga you prefer or the hobbies you engage in.

[Tweet “Authenticity is invaluable in the business world.”]

Here are 5 reasons why being authentic in business kicks a$$:

1. Nobody else’s grass is greener. Sure, their grass may be green and they’ve got this gorgeous garden – but you feel pretty awesome tending to the garden you WANT to be tending. And that’s what you’re doing. You’re working on something that gives you incredible fulfillment, something that stems from your beliefs and the gifts you bring to the world. You’re filling a need that you want to fill and you’re doing it because you can.

When other people achieve their business goals, you either don’t notice because you’re too busy getting your hustle on, or you do notice and want to celebrate them. You no longer compare yourself to others because…well, you know there’s no comparison. Apples/oranges. That kind of thing. Less time wasted wishing for something you don’t really want, and more time spent connecting with the ideas that are true to your own spirit.

2. At the end of the day, you will never feel like you wasted your time; you will never regret showing the world who you really are. Do this, even though it might creep you out: Imagine yourself on your deathbed and ask yourself, what would you regret more? Spending time on a purposeful business idea or hiding behind doubt and uncertainty?

One of the top 5 common regrets of the dying, according to Bronnie Ware who worked in palliative care and wrote a book about it, is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” A life true to myself…what does that mean? An authentic life. All of it. Business included.

Yes, you will work your butt off to go the self-discovery route, create your products and services by continuously checking in with your Self. Yes, you will have to figure out how to market and show the world what you bring is needed. But that time and energy is going to be spent anyway. Might as well make an investment you will think is worthy at the end stages of your life.

3. Imagine a business that is really an extension of who you are. Everything you care about, everything you value, everything you believe in. The things you find fun. The gifts and talents you were born with. All rolled into one profit-making venture. Sounds like a dream, right? There are way too many quotes about dreams come true for me to spout here. Do you think it’s worth investigating why so many human beings say the things they do about chasing dreams?

If there is a chance that you can make every workday feel like a Friday, would you take it? If there is a chance you could wake up in the morning and be as excited about a Monday as you are about a Saturday, would you take it? Being authentic in your business does that for you, because you aren’t putting on a charade or a mask and acting like someone you’re not. There is nothing our spirits want more than to be free; nothing we want more than to be in harmony with ourselves.

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Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.” Your business consumes a large part of your day. Align it with what you think and say; make it an extension of who you are.

4. The difference you make to this world when you are standing in your authentic power will drive you, inspire you and leave you feeling incredibly fulfilled. Sure, there will be tough days and ‘what the heck am I doing?’ days. Then you re-root yourself in your genuine Self and you make a decision that propels you forward. And you want to do it! Why? Because: the difference you make to this world when you are standing in your authentic power will drive you, inspire you and leave you feeling incredibly fulfilled.

Whether your niche is technology or fine arts, law or education, small business or corporation and everything else in between…figure out how you can make a difference to your community in a way that lets your spirit shine. It can be one of the best things you leave behind.

5. People are drawn to the person behind a product. Any business is about relationship building. And much of the time, it’s pretty easy to see the difference between a masquerade and the real deal. Be who you are in your business simply because the connections you make this way will be long-lasting, honest, and mutually beneficial. Isn’t that what you want in a client or customer? Isn’t that what you want in an employee?

And if you’re being ‘real’ in your business, it’s easier to be real in other areas of your life (and vice versa). Which means you will be attracting the same kind of long-lasting, honest and mutually beneficial relationships in all those other parts of your life, too.

Bottom line: Any business is a lot of work from conception to execution. When we are authentic in our business, that work becomes a lot more satisfying.

Which of the points above resonated with you the most?

My Journey To Authenticity

For the past 3 years, there has been a large shift in focus in my life toward authenticity.  We hear this a lot:  “Be authentic.”  In a nutshell, be authentic is the same as “be yourself” or, according to Merriam Webster, “true to one’s personality, spirit or character.”

Well, I’ve been on a journey to living my most authentic life and let me tell you, this one word is heavy and rich.  What began my journey to authenticity was a conversation I had with an intuitive woman I didn’t even know.  A colleague of mine ‘randomly’ told me about this woman in an off-handed manner on a day that I most needed that spark of hope.  I had just gotten back to the office after yet another visit to a medical doctor who had no answers for why I was always feeling unwell, nauseous and lethargic.  The cycle of feeling ill and feeling sad was perpetual; I didn’t know anymore if I was always sad because I was always ill or if I was always ill because I was always sad.  It didn’t matter.  All that mattered was that it had to stop.

I was able to hide this part of my life from my colleagues well; I could push through the day at work but then crashed on the couch in tears and no appetite when I got home.  No appetite for dinner or for anything else enjoyable.  So the fact that my colleague told me about her encounter with this intuitive woman without even knowing my situation took me aback and I heard myself ask for the name and number before I even knew I wanted to.

You can form your own conclusions about the role of an intuitive, his/her skill or whatever.  I’m just sharing my own experience because it truly was a catalyst to at least understanding what it means to truly be who I am.

Meeting with this woman was like a door opening and revealing all kinds of wonderful treasures about a person I knew little about:  myself.  She taught me several things in the short time we were together.  She taught me about the connection between my emotions, my mind and my body.  She reminded me how much I love all kinds of art and especially writing.  She said out loud what I already knew:  that I was not living my life’s purpose.  By this time in my journey I had already remembered how much I used to love writing.  I just didn’t know that by not engaging in it I was actually feeling it in my body.

She taught me that my body is my best friend which was an important lesson for me.  I had started to loathe this complex, mysterious body that seemed hell-bent on keeping me in a place of sadness.  I then changed the way I looked at the situation and realized that by keeping myself in a place of sadness I was affecting my body.

I left her office with new ways of thinking that set me on this journey.  In this post, I’m going to briefly look at what living authentically means to me.

  • Living authentically means not lying – to myself or to anyone else.  Relationships are only real if they are open, honest, forgiving, understanding and most importantly cherished.  I must treat myself with the same respect that I treat others.  That means that if something isn’t sitting right, I talk about it.  If it involves another person, I talk about it with that person.  If it is something I am doing (like maybe I’m bending over backward for someone who doesn’t treat me with respect) then I have a chat with myself and change my actions.  This is not always easy – speaking up has never been easy for me.  But I have seen what happens when people keep secrets, leave people out, talk behind people’s backs and disrespect people and I want no part of that, nor do I want to pass that down to my children.  So I have made a pact with myself and have even formally made a pact with people in my life with whom I have needed to move forward in our relationship – it went basically like this “You don’t keep things from me, I don’t keep things from you.  You got something to say – good or bad – say it to me and I’ll do the same.”  Fake relationships are a sure-fire way to kill your authenticity.  I started by honouring my relationship with myself and went from there.
  • Living authentically means respecting my body’s needs and rhythms.  My body needs fun, energy-boosting exercise and deep stretches.  My body needs to be in bed by a certain time and is most productive at a certain time.  I can alter my rhythm occasionally but if I want to really honour myself I need to follow the pattern I am most aligned with.  I can’t expect to get the most mileage out of a vehicle if I trash it or don’t feed it the right fuel.  Work in progress!
  • Living authentically means being my biggest advocate.  This doesn’t mean I have to do everything on my own.  This means I have to ask for help when I need it.  I do this very easily now.  This is why I can do the things I want to do and still be sane.  For me, certain things are non-negotiable.  These are:  writing, sharing my messages through coaching/workshops/speaking, non-profit work and raising my family.  All of you can relate to the notion of a full plate.  Mine’s quite full but I have chosen to enjoy every bite in front of me.  The trick is that I’m the only one who knows what I need to be able to manage all of it and make sure nothing goes sliding off the plate or gets lodged in my throat as I try to scarf it down.  So I ask for help and it all gets done.  Having authentic relationships in my life has made that easier.  I can now trust that when I ask someone for help, they will tell me honestly whether they can help me out.  This eliminates my fear of people resenting me or shaking their head at me behind my back.

This is not an exhaustive explanation of what authenticity means to me but I’m done for now.  For me, living authentically is an active work in progress about remembering who I truly am in my essence and living it – just being quirky, flighty, emotional, crazy ME!

I’d love to hear about your journey and your thoughts on authenticity!

And So It Begins…Your Creative Path

Yay – you’re here!  Thank you!  That officially makes you a part of my dream – a path that’s been paved by innumerable events, big and small, and that I have only recently begun to recognize.  You know when you’ve been driving on auto-pilot, going the same route to and from school or work every day?  At some point on the drive you go, “Hey!  Where am I?  How did I get here?  Oh right…that’s where I’m going.”  Yeah, it’s like that.  Only, recognizing your creative path is a lot more exciting!! 

This blog is about ME helping YOU find your ME so YOU can be YOU!  And if you can wrap your head around that, you’re off to a great start!  In other words, I want you to let your “me” out by remembering and releasing your creative Self.

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