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About Cecilia

I am a Life & Clutter Coach and IST Practitioner. I LOVE helping writers, creatives and entrepreneurs just like YOU, make their homes and lives into supportive containers for their creative AND personal lives.  

Cecilia's sharp, crystalline insight has kept me on track in my creative life, my business life, and my emotional life for the past six years: she's a triple threat!

 - Sarah Selecky, author of Giller Prize nominated This Cake is for the Party

Tuesday
Sep032013

Do you want to write?

It's the first day of school!  The first real day of Fall (officially still summer, but definitely Fall).  Fall to me means new stuff to learn, new classes to take and of course new back to school outfits!

Do you want to write? 

I'll be honest, for a long time I never, ever, ever wanted to write anything ever.  I'm serious.  I feared writing more than most things. 

(Well, not more than the Peanut Monster, the feature monster in a recurring dream from my youth.  It was about a monster who wanted my peanuts.  Lesson?  Eating peanuts is DANGEROUS!  My sister and brother are deathly allergic, I wonder if it's related?)

My fear of writing was so great that I just didn't do it. 

Essay due?  No problem, don't do it, you're "bright" and have "potential". 

If you really, really can't get out of it, get drunk, write it late at night and don't worry about how terrible it is.  It can't be good, because you left it to the last minute. 

That was me and my relationship to writing, that is, until I met Sarah Selecky. 

I took my first course with Sarah as a dare to myself. 

I was going through a phase where if something scared me I had to do it.  I'm not talking about hanging out naked with black widow spiders, I'm talking about hugging strangers and putting up online dating profiles.  

That dare began years of working with Sarah and my relationship to writing.  

It's true, my series of drunken painful one night stands with writing, became a relationship.  An honest and true long term relationship.  

Has it always been easy?  My goodness, no.  Do we still fight?  Always.  Do I love writing?  Yes I do, through of the turmoil, I really do.

I love it because it's real.  I love it because it wakes me up to the world around me. 

I love it because it forces me to notice the details, like how right now it seems quiet, but if I listen I can hear the wind in the maple tree outside my office, someone raking the leaves, the squeak of brakes, hammering, kids playing with water guns, my dog breathing in the hallway and a plane overhead.  

Do you want to write?

If you do, I have something very exciting to share with you.  Sarah Selecky has a writing course starting very soon called The Story Intensive

It's based on her very popular Story is a State of Mind (a self directed online course) but for those of us who need a little more structure and accountability with our writing. 

It's an online course, and you'll be part of a small 8 person group lead by a TA.  There will be feedback and support.  New friends and a new relationship with writing.   

Sarah knows her stuff.  She's a Giller nominated author who taught writing courses for over 12 years in her living room before moving her living room online.  

She's a matchmaker, if the lover you seek is writing.  

The Story Intensive has a lot of bonuses including live calls with Sarah and an exclusive video Master Class with Margaret Atwood (that's right, Margaret freakin' Atwood, she who hasn't taught since the '70s and who may know a thing or two about writing).  

I love Sarah and I love what she has to teach.  Working with Sarah changed my life.  It's not often I can say that about something, but it's true. 

She taught me how to turn pain into beauty, how to allow the perfect metaphor to fall in my lap like a cat looking for comfortable place to nap.  She gave me writing.  She gave me myself.

Because I love Sarah, writing and YOU, if you sign up for The Story Intensive through my affiliate link, you'll get a free one hour coaching session with me worth $125.    

Registration for The Story Intensive closes Thursday September 5th at 12pm EST and there are just a few spots left. 

Click here to read more about the program and register. 

If you've been thinking about it, just do it.  Working with Sarah literally changed my life and continues to change my life daily.  Now's your chance to let her change yours.  

If you have any questions at all, please let me know and please feel free to pass this along to any of your closet writer friend.      

Love,

Cecilia

oxo

p.s. If you're reading this and you're not on my list, you should really get yourself on it!  Just pop on over here to get on!  All the cool kids are doing it!

p.p.s. My friend Samantha and I are facilitating an amazing meditation workshop in Toronto this Fall called Pathway to Clarity, October 5-6.  It would be so sweet if you could come.

Friday
Jul262013

Slow Down, Let Go

Happy Summer to you!  I'm having a really great summer reconnecting with friends and enjoying my warm weather uniform of skirts and cute dresses. 

I'm sorry I haven't been in touch for awhile, I've started at least a dozen letters and blogs to you over the past weeks but something is stuck.  So instead of beating my head against my writer's block, I decided to take the pressure off and just post a little something.

You may know that I facilitate groups for people with eating disorders at Sheena's Place.  This summer (my 9th summer at Sheena's - holy cow!) I'm facilitating a meditation and healing group and I'm just loving it.

This week I recorded a simple breathing exercise for my group, and I thought you might enjoy it too.

It's called "Slow Down Let Go" breathing and it's a gem that I keep in my back pocket for times when I'm waiting for the never coming street car or have chosen the wrong line at the grocery store.  Four words to get you back to centre and give you a break from your worried thoughts. 

I found a version of this exercise on an Oriah Mountain Dreamer audiobook called Your Heart's Prayer and have used it ever since.

It's my summer gift to you, because if this isn't the time to slow down and let go, I don't know when is.  I recommend downloading it so you can get offline, but it's also always here if you need a little reconnect during the day.

Try it floating on a lake as you merge with the water.  Try is as you walk through the woods listening to the buzz of this year's cicada emergence. 

Slow down...  Let go...  Ah... 

 

 

Oh, and if you're more in a dancing mood than a slowing down and letting go mood, check out the song I sang with choir!choir!choir! this week and see if you can see me singing and dancing like a loony (it's not too hard to pick me out).

 

 

I'd love to hear how your summer is going, let me know.  Oh, and if you have a friend who is always anxious and running, pass this along, it might just help.

Love,

Cecilia


p.s. If you're reading this and you're not on my list, you should really get yourself on it!  Just pop on over here to get on!  All the cool kids are doing it!


p.p.s. I don't know about you, but I love a summer project.  I have four coaching spots this summer if you want to get unstuck and reconnected to what makes you shine in the world this summer.  Just email if you're interested.

Tuesday
Jun112013

Unfinished Business - My Clutter Secret

Before I get into this week's topic, which is a must read if you're a procrastinator, I wanted to let you know that my friend Annette Kurtz, a Space Clearer and Clutter Clearing expert is going to be in Toronto this week, June 12-18, 2013.

Annette trained with THE Karen Kingston, author of the book that literally changed my life.  Yes, I'm talking about 'Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui.

She will be seeing clients and giving a FREE talk - "Clear Clutter for a Fresh Start" - this Thursday, June 13th at 7pm in Toronto.  Click here to RSVP for the talk and for more info, I'd love to see you.

In honour of Annette's visit, I thought I would give you a window into my personal clutter clearing process as I prepare for her to space clear my home next Wednesday.  

It's always best to clear clutter before a space clearing and because of that I'm being faced with the fact that I still have quite a bit of clutter to clear.

Sure, I've cleared out my closets and drawers countless times and can honestly say that I love most of the stuff in my house. 

But it's not the physical clutter that I have issues with, I spent years clearing that.  The clutter that is the gum on the bottom of my shoe is the most insidious never ending type of clutter there is.

Karen Kingston calls it Unfinished Business.

I call it the "Oh s**t!" category of clutter.

Unfinished Business includes all those things that you forgot to do, meant to do, want to do, should/could/might/need to do.  And of course all the things you’ve been procrastinating.

All those things around your house and life that make you say:

"Oh s**t, I forgot I have to ______"

"Oh f*** I was supposed to _____"

"Oh fiddlesticks, if I don't _____ I'm going to be in big trouble!" 

It's the email you need to reply to, the craft project you need to finish, the button that needs to be sewn on, the shoes that need to be returned because they didn't fit, the guitar that needs to be sold, the dry cleaning that needs to be dropped off/picked up, the room that needs to be painted, the couch that needs to be recovered, the taxes that need to be filed, etc...etc...etc...

Here are a few examples of unfinished business that I've tackled since I booked my space clearing consultation: 

  • My hall closet had a mattress hanging out of it, wouldn't close, the shoe rack was broken and my beloved Animal vacuum cleaner was relegated to the hallway because there wasn't room for it in the closet.  I took everything out and put it back in such a way that everything fits with some room to spare. Yay!
  • I've replaced all the burnt out light bulbs.
  • I bought herbs and vegetables to grow in my garden

There are however many, many other things on my mental list that may or may not get done before Annette comes so I'm going to go ahead and apply the Three Step process to tackling Unfinished Business and you can too!

Three Steps to Tackle Unfinished Business

Step One - Make a list!

The first thing you want to do is get a sense of what's on your list. 

Often unfinished business isn't on any list which is why it can drive you crazy.  You remember that you have to email your sister in the shower when you can't do anything about it, and forget when you're sitting at your computer.

Take a few minutes RIGHT NOW and brainstorm a list of stuff you want/need/should do.  All those things that make you say "Oh s**t!". 

I'll do it too! 

Here are some of the things on my list:

  • redesign website
  • update testimonials on website
  • update offerings on website
  • email Sonja
  • paint apartment (except front room, that's done!)
  • weed or replant the unexpected proliferation morning glories in the garden
  • throw out the moldering morning glory seeds  on the counter (I obviously didn't need them anyway)
  • plant the herbs and veggies I bought

Step Two - Cross it off BEFORE you do it!

After you've made a list of your unfinished business the first step is to go through the list to see if there's anything you can take off right away. 

Sometimes the best way to deal with unfinished business is to decide that you're not going to do it. 

If you don't want to do it, don't have to do it, feel like you should do it, are not likely to do it, etc...

CROSS IT OFF!

Let me give you an example.  In my last place I got one of those wooden doors with eight glass panes for the front room.

The door came with plastic on the glass so that one could paint the door and not worry about getting it on the glass. 

I intended to paint the door so I left the plastic on the glass and there it stayed for one month, one year, two years... 

Every time someone came over to visit they would say "New door?" and I would say "Yeah, sure.  It's new...ish".

As I prepared for my glorious debut on reality television -- Dinner Party Wars, Season Two, High on the Hog -- and was looking at my house through the camera lens -- scary when you live in an old rental house, you'll see if you watch the episode -- and I took an honest look at that door. 

Was I ever going to paint it?  Did I even want to paint it?  For years, literally years, I had come home every day and said to myself "Oh s**t, I need to paint that door!" and yet everyday was another day that I didn't paint the door. 

I decided to liberate myself from the door and I decided, yes decided that I wasn't ever going to paint it.  I got out my x-acto knife and took the plastic off.  Never again did I come home to that door begging me to paint it.  It was off the list!

So do yourself a favour and cross if off!

Here's what my list looks like after crossing things off:

  • redesign website 
  • update testimonials on website
  • update offerings on website
  • email Sonja
  • paint apartment (except front room, that's done!)
  • weed or replant the unexpected proliferation morning glories in the garden
  • throw out the moldering morning glory seeds (I obviously didn't need them)
  • plant the herbs and veggies I bought on Saturday

Note - Redesigning my website has been on the list so long it's making me feel silly and tired.  I'm taking it off and I’ll put it back on only when I have a solid plan to get it done.

Step Two and a Half - No really, CROSS IT OFF!

I can hear you trying to talk yourself into keeping things on the list even though you’re not going to do them.

As they say in Cuddle Party, if you're a maybe say NO. 

If you're not sure you want to do it or not sure when you'll get around to it, take it off the list. 

You can always change your mind later, but taking it off will clear some mental clutter and free up some space in your mind.

This happened with painting the bedroom in my old place.  I'd wanted to paint it for five years but hadn't got around to it so I decided to cross it off the list. 

Having it off my mental "Oh s**t!" list was so liberating that it actually freed me up to paint it. 

I woke up one day and decided I could paint one wall and I did. The next week I painted the other three. 

Here's what my list looks like after really crossing it off:

  • redesign website
  • update testimonials on website
  • update offerings on website
  • email Sonja
  • paint apartment (except front room, that's done!)
  • weed or replant the unexpected proliferation morning glories in the garden
  • throw out the mouldering morning glory seeds (I obviously didn't need them)
  • plant the herbs and veggies I bought on Saturday

Note - I’m not sure when I’ll have time to paint the rest of the house, so I’m going to do myself a solid and take it off the list.

Step Three - Do it or Date it!

Once you've made your list and weeded out the things you don't want to do or aren't going to do, it's time to do it or date it

This means, if it's a small task just do it, and if it's a bigger task choose a specific day and time to do it and put it in your calendar.  

In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen suggests that if a task is going to take two minutes or less it will take less time to do it then it will to schedule it.

NOW is the time to go do the smaller things on your list and cross them off.  Yes, right now!  I’ll do mine too. 

If while you're doing it and dating it you come across something that you don't really want to put in your calendar, or that fills you with dread, it's not too late to cross it off.  Seriously, just go for it, you won't regret it.

By doing it or dating it you will let go of massive amounts of mental clutter.  Hooray!

Here's what my list looks like after going through and either doing it or dating it:

  • redesign website
  • update testimonials on website - Monday June 17 12noon-3pm
  • update offerings on website - Monday June 24 12noon - 3pm
  • email Sonja
  • paint apartment (except front room, that's done!)
  • weed or replant morning glories in the garden - Thursday June 13, 10am
  • throw out the mouldering morning glory seeds (I obviously didn't need them)
  • plant the herbs and veggies I bought on Saturday - Thursday June 13, 11am

Note - Emailing Sonja and throwing out the seeds were small tasks so I just went ahead and did them.  The others have been put in my calendar with dates and times. 

~~~~

Wow, I feel so much better after doing that!  It was hard to cross some of the things off that list but I'm relieved to know that I can say no now and always change my mind later.

Remember to celebrate!!  I'm going to celebrate by singing with my choir.

How did it go for you?  Let me know in the comments below and please share this with your friend who is always talking about that door she's going to paint.  ;)

Love,

Cecilia

ox

p.s. If you're reading this and you're not on my list, you should really get yourself on it!  Just pop on over here to get on!  All the cool kids are doing it!

p.p.s. If you live in Toronto don't forget to RSVP Annette's talk, Clear Clutter for a Fresh Start this Thursday June 13th at 7pm.  RSVP and find out more here: http://clearclutterfreshstart.eventbrite.ca

p.p.p.s. If you're interested in booking a space clearing or coaching session with Annette you can contact her through her website here. She has a few slots left for this week and will be coming back at the end of the month to see more clients.  I can't wait for her to space clear my place!  Such a beautiful and transformative ritual.

Wednesday
May222013

It’s True. You’re Human.  

Shadow 28 by Catherine Mellinger

It’s true. You’re human. 

The way your mind won’t shut up when you close your eyes to meditate and breathe.  There’s nothing wrong.  You’re just human. It happens to Pema Chodron, Oprah and Deepak Chopra all the time.

The way you eat too much, not because you’re hungry, but because you’re sad, or lonely, or angry, or because you just really, really, really want another human being to give you a hug that lasts longer than 30 seconds. 

The way you obsess about the smallest details, like the shoes you’re wearing to your best friend’s grandfather’s funeral. Nobody cares about your shoes, but it’s uncomfortable to think about being at a funeral so it’s easier to feel stupid for wearing the “wrong” shoes.

The way your heart breaks every time you see a baby or a teeny tiny puppy with a pink vest on, because you want to have a small thing to care for.  A new fresh small thing that needs you more than anything else in the world.

It’s true.  You’re human.

My father courted my mother with a story about a lonely hippopotamus.  (Among other things - recorders, hundreds of letters and a yellow VW bug included.)

In his story, read at the University of Saskatchewan’s Arts and Letters club, a lonely hippo sits on the side of a lake, always alone.  Every day the hippo watches a group of animals across the bay whopping it up and having a grand old time, always together. 

One day the lonely hippo gathers all his courage and sets out on a journey to join the other animals.  He has a terrible time making his way through the swamp and tangled vines in the forest.  By the time he arrives on the other side, all the animals are gone and our dear hippo despite all his efforts is still alone. 

So, the lonely hippo turns around and heads back the way he came.  This time the swamp and vines seem to help rather than hinder his journey through the forest and back to his side of the lake, where he settles back into the familiar mud of loneliness.

We all feel like that lonely hippo at some point.  Alone, separate, watching all the other animals partying it up on the opposite side of the lake without us while we wallow in the mud.  

Outsider.  Alien.  Other. 

Human.

Is there anyone who loved high school?  Is there anyone who is blissfully happy all the time?  Is it possible to never crash or lead a truly charmed life?

Illness, death, birth, job loss, affairs, insecurity, uncertainty…

Obsessed with those stupid “wrong” shoes. 

Picking the scabs you shouldn’t, not keeping your hands to yourself, buying the chips when you already feel fat.

Worrying, worrying, worrying, worrying, worrying, worrying. 

Always. Worrying.

Born to worry, born to second guess. Born to contain your breath in that little space under your breastbone.  Tiny little breaths pretend breaths.

“If I don’t breathe I can disappear,” breaths. 

We all breathe this way. You’re not alone. 

Always breathing, never breathing.

It’s true.  You’re human.

Not knowing what to say, what to write, how to understand, how to support.

Not knowing.

Going over the same scene in your head, over and over. 

If only you had said something different, worn something different, cut your hair, put on makeup, trimmed your beard, plucked your eye brows, cleaned your bedroom, did the dishes, sorted that box, made the cardboard fort, sang karaoke, made the speech, asked for the raise, asked for what you’re worth, asked for the date.

If only you really danced. 

Really and truly danced like no one was watching, including YOU.

It’s true.  You’re human.

And you know what?

You're not broken, you're not defective, there's nothing wrong. 

You're just human.  That's it!  What a relief!

Love yourself not despite your humanness, but because of it. 

I love you, and I love myself too.

My mother, upon hearing the story of my father’s lonely hippopotamus saw his oh so human lonely animal and decided that the only thing she could do was to love him too. 

What else is there to do but to love the black gooey human mess we are and dance until some of the sludge slides off. Then love it some more and keep on dancing.

Love,

Cecilia

p.s. I would love for you to share this with your favorite human. 

p.p.s. My dear friend Samantha Keen is giving a free talk on The Art of Falling in Love on Monday May 27th in Toronto.  You should come!  More details and RSVP info here

p.p.p.s. Samantha and I are putting together an amazing weekend meditation workshop called Pathway to Clarity, June 22-23.  Nothing has helped me more than this work and I'm so grateful to be able to share it with you.  Find out more here

p.p.p.p.s. If you're reading this and you're not on my list, you should really get yourself on it!  Just pop on over here to get on!  All the cool kids are doing it!

p.p.p.p.p.s. I love you!

 

DANCE!

 

 

Wednesday
Apr242013

I love my Vacuum Cleaner!

This morning found me doing something a little odd. 

Before my shower, before putting on pants even, I was vacuuming. 

My bed. 

Why?  Because I have a dog, as you may have heard.  A black dog.  Who sheds.  A lot.  

But that's not new, I've had a dog for a long time and my bed has been as furry as Jon Bon Jovi's chest for years now.

What is new is that I got a new vacuum cleaner last night.  I am so excited about this new vacuum that even before I opened my eyes I was thinking about all the things I could try it on.

My new friend has been a long time coming. 

About a year ago my old vacuum lost one of it's wheels.  It still worked in a hobbly annoying kind of way so I kept using it and started dropping hints that a new vacuum cleaner would be nice.  To myself, to my mom, to my sweetie. 

While I was away in March, it lost another wheel, 2 out of 4, which solved the hobbling problem but began a new set of issues, floor scratching, poor suction and general vacuum malaise. 

Thus the purchase of Animal, my new super powerful and adaptable vacuum cleaner. 

My friends think I'm a little crazy, they don't understand why I am SO excited about my new Animal.

I'm excited because vacuuming can be downright magical.

It's kind of like clutter clearing.  Clutter clearing can be a chore, or it can be a life transforming process. 

Vacuuming can be a chore or it can be the fastest way to transform the energy of your space. 

I learned this trick from my Space Clearing friends, Karen Kingston and Tracey Stanton and I've never looked at vacuuming the same way since. 

The rush for a new vacuum became critical in the last couple of weeks because I've started to see clients in my home office which means that my house needs to be clean, not only on a physical level - black dog, lots of fur, everywhere, all the time - but on an energetic level too.

Before and after each client, I give my office a quick vacuum. 

Before, to set the space for the clients session, and after, to clear the space for the next activity. 

That's a lot of vacuuming, but it's a joy, especially now that I have a new buddy to help me out.

You can do this too! 

  • If you have some friends coming over, vacuum for your friends. 
  • If you want to have friends coming over vacuum with the intention of having friends over. 
  • If you've had a fight, vacuum up the harsh words.
  • If you were sick and now you're feeling better, vacuum up the energetic kleenex and sniffles.

I'm serious, go try it!  And if you hate vacuuming no matter how magical it can be and you would rather someone else clean your home, just set the intention before they come. 

Happy Vacuuming!  And if you would be so kind to pass this along to one or two of your dear friends, me and my new vacuum cleaner will do a little jig, in our underwear.  ;)

Love,

Cecilia

ox

p.s. If you're reading this and you're not on my list, you should really get yourself on it!  I send out a fun and useful email just about every week.  Just pop on over here to get on!  All the cool kids are doing it!