Why PG Families should join the Re-Make it Challenge

Every so often, I remember the childlike wonder side of myself and I think, um, this time, I am going to jump in with both feet. I think part of the reason I was meant to have kids was to remind myself that life isn’t so serious.

Leading the Startup community over the last couple years, I have talked about how we need to “play” our way into being creative and innovative.

Well, the opportunity has come up again… not just for me… but this time for my kids and family too.

The city I live in (Prince George, BC) has a RE-Make it Challenge coming up.

Normally my life with my kids and my work are quite separate… but for this event, they are joining together.

Why would I do such a crazy thing?

Because I believe it is so important to build family community as much as it is a city community.

Growing up, I wasn’t a Harper, but a Lee-Young.

There were 4 of us siblings (6 including my parents), but then also many, many, many cousins. We had our own song… “I’m a Lee-Young, you’re Lee-Young, wouldn’t you like to be a Lee-Young too?” (Sung to the Dr. Pepper song for those old enough to remember it!) We had crab apple wars with the neighbours as Lee-Young’s versus XYZ neighbour, we had lip sync concerts and other improv family community building activities (they weren’t called that of course)!

Creative play together, building that camaraderie and team is important for cultivating the roots we need as adults to feel that no matter how much we may think we are messing up, we still have a team/family to come back to.

This is why I think it is important that we are doing the RE-Make it Challenge with our kids… It isn’t about winning or losing, but about doing something together and cultivating that family community together.

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Just in the process of saying that we want to go, we have already learned a few lessons.

And well, I think more families in Prince George should join us too!

Why? Because of the following reasons:

Team Building

This one is an obvious one. Even in the process of choosing our name we had to create a family meeting and vote. I lost my choice of “Awesome Sauce” as a team name to the kids… but for the sake of the team, I am going to learn to give in and not control everything. Working on the “challenge” with your family will build more team building opportunities where your kids get to learn how to work with others and choose their battles.

Cultivating Creative Minds

Where else do you get a challenge that gets you tinkering for the sake of tinkering. Not to complete a lego instruction set or follow a check list to get to your destination, but to creatively brainstorm your way to get to your final product through testing, trying, and seeing what works.

Developing the ability to PIVOT

Okay, my Startup community makes fun of me for using this word too much. But the more we go through life expecting that we ALWAYS need to PIVOT in everything we do, the better we are able to cope when things don’t go 100% our way… which is most of life!

Instead of, “it’s the end of the world when…. (enter in your latest drama from family, work, relationships etc)”, we get better at saying instead, “Okay, now what? How do we re-jig, problem solve, pick ourselves up and do what needs to be done with what we have been given?”

In the Re-Make it challenge (watch the video), once your team brings in your final presentation, you are given a curve ball on the night of the finale. This is a great way to practice how to re-think everything you thought was meant to be a certain way!

Number One Reason – Family Roots

Now all those reasons above should be enough, but for those of you with kids… especially ones as young as mine (5 & 6)… The number one (BIG FAT) reason is that I know I have a small small window with my young kids to be silly, get them excited about dressing up with their parents, and do something that stretches both their brains and creativity while at the same time building strong roots with them as a family unit.

Will you join us? Sign up here… It’s FREE! 

See you there!

Still not convinced… watch the video:

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April 2014 – Cultivating Joy, Dreams & Learning Lessons from Others

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My word for this year is presence… being present in what I do. LOVE this pic of landing in Victoria. Amazingly after only being in the North for 5 years, I have already forgotten that other parts of the world are not under a blanket of snow this time of year. I loved getting away for both the energy shift, but also to remind myself to be present.

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This picture was taken just outside my beautiful hotel. Love the detail, the color and how it wasn’t the center piece (just one of many rings around the many trees in front of the hotel) but how it still mattered. Often times I catch myself thinking I must lead in order to make a difference, but I think supportive roles and being the background (or the ring around a tree) is just as important to the beauty of the bigger picture of life. Perfect reminder for my first trip to the Women’s Council.

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Pitter patter of excitement when I saw the parliament. Fear…but it was the excitement kind of fear.  Amazing to meet such incredibly talented yet humble women. Mary-Anne’s words “they are just humans” really helped bring my energy level from freak out to breathe!

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Felt quite a pull to politics for the first time as a tool to make a difference (don’t worry, that passes by the end of month… will share more next month!).

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LOVE this pic! Mack presented to his class his “talent”. SO SO SO proud of him and his courage (at 6years old) to present this to his class. His talent is rock climbing (he’s wearing his harness and chalk bag etc).

The more I am a mother and the older I get, the more I realize the importance of having things we are passionate about. Not because we will do them for the rest of our lives… but because it is important to cultivate that JOY for something. Hopefully he will climb for a while, but either way… it is magical to see my shy little boy open up like a flower when he talks about something he loves to do. #proudmama #lovehisschool

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My dream class started!

There are absolutely no accidents in life. I am very grateful that I said YES to teaching this. It brought me back to this blog… but also to being very conscious of the life I am living. As I turn 40 the next month, this is the perfect year to be hyper conscious of my dreams, goals and stories. I love how I need to re take the course as I am teaching it. We SO teach what we most need to learn. Gratitude for the students that said yes, and that are there to hold the energy of what I send out to the Universe.

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Another example of PURE JOY!

I have learned SO MUCH from being a mother about myself.

Funny how when I say, “time to practice piano”… Reese always tries to make an excuse… I stay quiet and continue on with what I am doing… then she grabs her stuff, drags herself to her piano and plays. Then as she gets better, I no longer have to tell her to play… she gets up early and plays by herself.

This happens until she gets a new song/challenge… and the cycle repeats itself.

I see so much of the beauty of life the same way… We are excited about the concept/idea (she chose piano!), things get hard after the shine wears off at first (we whine a bit), even if you want to do them. They also take practice (lots of it) and we have to go through the yucky bits that don’t sound or feel good, but if we can stick to it, when we get good at it, we love it and we feel such a sense of accomplishment. I can feel how proud of herself she is when she can play with both hands…and she knows it sounds good too. Having those mini successes are so important throughout our lives. She celebrated with a sticker… me, a glass of wine! :)

My two year old guru is still teaching me at 5!

This biking photo above is her biking at the pump track. She was freaking out about not wanting to try the ramp at first…then after watching other kids and her brother do it a few times she tried it and LOVED it. Pure Joy!

This month has been a huge one for learning lessons from others. We have had so many friends and stories within our community that have been great teachers for us. Being conscious of the lessons is very important. Here are some of them:

Our amazing photographer had a premie baby and is going through a hard time right now. Her experience made Mick and I think about the time that Reese was in the hospital when she was 2 months old for RSV… different than Nicole’s story, but with very similar elements.

SO LONG ago now that I actually barely remember the details… but I remember the fear, the worry and the “how are we going to move past this feeling” or why is this happening… but we did! I know Nicole is probably having a hard time emotionally and spiritually too…but it really is true that hindsight is 20/20. This too shall pass and as you go through it, you will pick up the lessons you need for your next journey.

The way those hard times strengthened us as a couple, slowed us down to be in the moment with our kids (still remember for 30 days both kids were on ventilators and steroids nightly… but we held them and sang to them), to be grateful for the little things and the big things… And amazingly we made it through.

Another story that hit home hard was a big apartment fire in our city. At first I thought, “Oh that is sad, hope everyone is ok”… until one of our kids’ daycare worker facebooked her list and said that one of the families effected was from the daycare. The family had just moved to PG 2 weeks prior from Toronto and didn’t have their home insurance set up yet. They also had an infant and a toddler. Even typing it right now gets me all choked up… because that was us not long ago. We moved here 5 years ago, so lost, alone and this city rose up to embrace us.

Small gestures that are reasons we still live here now… We had the YMCA bring us into their family.. literally.. me crying hoping we could get into the only daycare (after visiting SO MANY!) we wanted our kids in… they said yes! We had a doctor (in a city and province that everyone said you can’t get your own family doctor) saying to us, “your family can join our practice”. To a group of business moms saying we will join your group that you are starting and helping me develop a support circle here in a new city. And then to mentors that came out of no where, offering to help me in my career in exchange for absolutely nothing… just for the joy of watching another person grow, develop, step into her fears, fall a few times, but get back up again stronger. Communities matter.

Anyway… I was brought to tears so many times this month for the gratitude in the orchestration of my life. The life that has given me struggles to strengthen me, but also joy and love to motivate me to hang in there.

As I move into my 4th decade next month, I am so excited to have that deeper trust and hope that I can hold this quote (even in the tough moments): “Life is happening for me, not to me!”

Here is a letter I wrote to the mother that we donated all our stuff to. I love that ultimately no matter how introverted I may feel we are, we are all connected and that we all need each other to shine light when we can’t and to help others when we can.

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Jumpstart Your Life Through Art

Final Square Jumpstart

I am very excited to be teaching a live course at Two Rivers Art Gallery in Prince George. I have actually taught all my creative courses online only… so when Carolyn from the gallery asked if I would be interested in teaching one live, I jumped at the chance.

The class is already half filled and the perfect size. However, with my busy schedule, I know the mountains I have had to move to be able to teach for 5 whole weeks. The chances of teaching another one again is very very very slim! So I knew it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t properly share this with my list and my friends.

I hope you’ll join us:

How do you nurture the dreams and big thoughts inside of you? We all have them within us…

Sometimes we are so scared for them to come out. Firstly, the fear never goes away…

But what if you could create the space? A space for your dreams to still bloom, despite that fear…

Welcome to Jumpstart Your Dreams through Art by Shauna Harper!

Jumpstart your dreams through this 5 week course.

This isn’t an art class…

Instead, this is a creative process where Shauna shares how to stop looking outside of ourselves and start looking within to create the safety net to dream, to celebrate, and to trust our own wisdom. She will share:

  1. Tools to dig deep inside of yourself to let the dreams bloom.
  2. How to refuel and fertilize those dreams with your own wisdom and stories.
  3. How to celebrate and honour your journey so far… no matter where you are in this moment.

The structure of the course is a combination between her storytelling and hands on mixed media art instruction.

PS. All participants must be willing to go on a personal journey using the power of art and creativity. No experience necessary… just an open heart.

In the end, it is often not even about the art or even the dreams coming true but more about who we become as we allow our dreams to bloom.

About the Instructor:

Shauna Harper is a born dreamer, storyteller and artist. In her day job, she is a digital marketing strategist and managing partner at Live Work Communications in Prince George. However, the spirit of her artist warrior side is always present. The side that wants to attract others who believe that everyone is innately creative and that when we trust our inner voice (aka intuition or our heart)…the next step is ALWAYS shown to us. She has lived the past 14 years with this open heart (and with fear as its partner). The tools she teaches in this course are tools she uses to put that tiny, yet loud voice of fear inside at bay, as she steps courageously into living a life with intention and purpose.

  • Register at Two Rivers Gallery. CLICK HERE
  • OR CALL 250.614.7800

Lessons, Lessons, Lessons… again

I swear, I have been through these lessons before… but, I got an opportunity to re-learn them again this past weekend.

  1. The Universe always delivers me what I need most.
  2. SOMEONE must believe that I learn best when I feel terrified and vulnerable.
  3. It matters to share my story.

I guess how I ended up at the conference would be the best way to start…

About a year ago I met an amazing woman called Deb Leroux while eating a hotdog during a break at Startup Weekend Kelowna.

To be honest, I was quite zoned out most of that startup weekend because we had just finished ours in Prince George. It wasn’t until a woman, Deb, came in as a mentor to give us advice on the company the team was creating. I had written a few inspiring sound bites from her and knew there was an energy about her.

Bumping into her at the outdoor BBQ lunch led from one conversation to another and we stayed in touch over the year. It was one of those mutually beneficial relationships where we both uplifted and inspired each other to dream bigger.

When I told Deb that due to an emergency trip down to the Okanagan I could be at her BC Women Lead conference, she was ecstatic! Minutes later, I got a text from her asking if I would speak about being appointed to the Premier’s Women’s Economic Council.

With everything going on, I probably should have said no. Firstly, because the council still had not had their first meeting and there wasn’t much to say. Secondly, because I was the last woman on that list that should be speaking on behalf of the council. And lastly, I was just excited to be a participant at the conference… no need for the stress of being a speaker.

But on that day, with everything else that was happening with family, I was reflecting on the loss of one of my mentors. It was probably one of the reasons we had decided to go down to the Okanagan. Life seems even more precious when we lose someone. MaryAnne passed away at 59 and I could feel her energy pushing me into speaking and taking the stage.

I had gone to her after the provincial press release had come out with the other names of the other women that had been appointed to the council. You can hear more about the journey in the speech below if you’d like.

What you WON’T hear is why “SOMEONE must believe that I learn best when I feel terrified and vulnerable”. Because that was what I was thrown into the day of the event.

Everything was great in the beginning of the event. I got to meet Pamela Martin… someone I watched and had a great deal of respect for when I was growing up.

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She was inspiring and poised as she told the room about her journey in broadcasting.

I was also able to connect with a few people I had met previously and was also able to meet some new people in the room.

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My speech was only going to be 10mins and was after lunch … after the keynote. Well, had I known how good the keynote was going to be, I would not have been so relaxed over lunch.

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She was a consultant from the Humphrey Group. I had taken their Taking the Stage program before, seen their videos and loved what they did for women all across the world.

But when Diana took the stage, I had no idea how different it was going to be from the video! She commanded the room, was charismatic, FUNNY and captivating. OF COURSE SHE WAS… that’s what she was paid to teach! For some reason, up until that moment of sitting in my fear, I never thought about that.

Anyway, I looked right over at Deb and mouthed the words, “YOU WANT ME TO GO AFTER HER!!!!!” (Yes, it is possible to whisper in all caps and with 5 exclamation marks). So for the next hour I sat in petrified fear that I needed go up there and speak after Diana.

That’s the reason for lesson number 2: “SOMEONE must believe that I learn best when I feel terrified and vulnerable.”

Murphy’s law has it that when I am feeling good and comfortable… something comes out in left field… just to stretch me a little bit more outside of my zone.

Anyway, luckily, after the first few minutes of catching my breath, walking away from the podium that felt like a jail and ditching my ipad notes that weren’t helping me since my fingers were all sweaty, I managed to speak from my heart.

The amazing part is that after I spoke, so many people came up after me to tell me they were inspired by my words and for the courage I showed to go after Diana. So that’s where the last lesson comes into play… It is SO important to continue to share your story.

Life is good :)

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The picture of me with all the other speakers that day. It was just after my speech… so it must be me trying to find my pulse. :)

March 2014

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There are many Chinese celebrations throughout the year. So when my hubby has one for his own heritage (Irish, Scottish, Canadian) he hangs onto it. Love this pic of him and GUINNESS (yes, named after the beer!) posing. One of these guys looks happier than the other – for sure!

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The internet, combined with the dollar store, make it so easy to be creative. There are a million FREE downloadable St Patty’s day designs and illustrations. Then throw in bottle of green dye and you have a fun night out.

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We celebrated with good friends and their kids. Everything is always better shared.

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What does no make up look like at 39? I’m turning 40 this year. I still feel like I am not ready to turn 40 even though I am excited for what the new decade has to bring. I always thought of the number 40 as someone that has it altogether… or perhaps it was an age of older parents. Regardless of what I think, I guess I am going to be turning the number :) .

I am no longer getting ID-ed at the liquor store and no longer do people say… “Really? You are almost 40?” Also I am starting to see all the wrinkles around my eyes and forehead etc. I know age is in your heart and not physical, but it doesn’t stop me from looking at these features.

While away (where I took these pics), I saw this video on a project DOVE (soap) did:

It made me realize that I needed to celebrate at every age how I look as it really does ripple into how my kids (and especially my little girl)will see themselves in the future. Also, I started laughing, thinking that one day, I am going to think 40 is really young… like I now do about 30 and 20. Age is so relative.

Here are some more pics that I took while I was in that energy of appreciation for who I am and who I have become.

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So March ended with us making a trip down to the Okanagan. We were swamped at work and thought we weren’t going to be going anywhere for Spring break. It is funny how priorities all shift when family comes into play. My mother-in-law ended up getting sick so we cleared our schedule and made the trip down.

Nothing happens by accident.

Love the serendipity of how things get orchestrated. It became a working holiday (laptop in tow), family time, lots of relaxation but it also meant I had a chance to be a speaker at an event I thought I was unable to attend.

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On a walk around the property we were staying at, I took the picture above. It was a random walnut shell that someone had chucked out – A heart symbol… just to remind me that we were meant to be here and of the energy of love.

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One the great things on this trip was being able to sit outside and work. The kids played around the yard and house as I typed away at my laptop. It being snowy and -10C at home made it even more special to be out in the sun with our hoodies on.

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I even added a glass of wine around lunch time to celebrate!

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And then a family time break too! I will share in another post my speaking moment at the BC Women Lead conference. That was a whole journey that deserves a post on its own.

 

February 2014

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We live up North in PG still and love it there.  But any trip I get to make it down south to Vancouver is always a treasure… especially the beginning of Feb. We are still under a deep freeze in PG, so seeing this (pic above) in Vancouver makes my heart sing – LOUDLY!

I was down for the CYBF (Canadian Youth Business Foundation) conference as a speaker. I LOVE connecting outside of the city with others passionate about growing the entrepreneurial ecosystem. This trip was well worth all the connections and also what others are doing in their own cities across BC.

The HIGHLIGHT of this trip was meeting Amanda Fenton and sitting through one of her creative facilitations. She has a way of harvesting conversations from a large diverse group that is engaging and inspiring at the same time.

I used to find people like her and get inspired… then I’d jump to the “I WANT TO DO THAT TOO!” – Hence the scattered yet inspired trail I have often lived.  I found myself reflecting on my personal growth at this conference. Instead of jumping to the “I WANT TO DO THAT”, my mind has now shifted to “how can I bring someone into doing this for our group!”. To me, I see it more as a sign of growing and being more sure of what I bring to the table. Hoping to bring her up to PG (and the North) in the future.

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(ABOVE PIC) Amanda writing down the key points from one of the “harvests”.

IMG_7696Oh joy joy joy when I see this pic of my girl lion dancing. Prior to coming to a smaller community I often wondered whether my kids would get the cultural exposure of being (half) Asian.

Over and over again, I have found a richness that I never knew could be this intense with life in a smaller town. I am very grateful that our city has a Chinese association and our kids get to participate in the lion dancing. Besides exposing them to the culture, the welcoming and loving community has been important to me too.

I realize more and more as I get older that I only know how to go into DRIVE/hitting the gas mode. I love bulling through things… even when it is about enjoying and relaxing… “Eg. Ok, let’s relax for these 2 days of the month.. ok and… GO! ”

So being in this smaller community has at least turned off a lot of the distractions and turned off a lot of the choices. This may seem bad to people that love a lot of choices. And I probably would have argue this if I still lived in Vancouver… however, for me (and our family) this means that when we do something here we are so grateful that it is available and we really celebrate it and give it all our energy.

I am beginning to see that it isn’t even the THING you do, but the way you do, the people you celebrate it with and the connections you make. Oh… and the little moments like seeing my kids dance with their daddy at the end of their last lion dance performance. #lovelovelove

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That been said….. having beautiful accessories don’t hurt either! Yes, the more shallow side of me :) . Hubby bought me for Valentine’s Day (after me dropping hint after hint about PINK being the new Turquoise this year), this beautiful handpainted wooden bracelet.

I am probably one of the more conservative people when it comes to my wardrobe. At least I feel that way. I like classic pieces that will last the test of time. But for the accents… well, that’s another story. I have a SUPER FUNKY girl screaming to get out. So I’ll put on my black “something or other (insert skirt, shirt, dress, pants)” and then all I need to do is put on my funky boots or my necklace that makes me sing and presto! … I feel like a million bucks!

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The joy of the Olympics was the next February highlight. The Olympics is the ultimate illustration that success is contagious and that “high tides rise all ships”. Our family was quite aware that we were not AT the Olympics or an actual athlete (or even know one personally that was competing for that matter)… however, we watched and celebrated the wins like it was us winning.

Seeing the joy in the kids when Canada would win was so beautiful. Love the connection of the human experience. Here’s a pic of us getting up early to rally the Men’s Canadian Hockey Team to Gold.

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Loved this month for sure!

January 2014

I am finally going back 3 months to recap my first three months of 2014. Part of my creative journey is about being in the moment and celebrating at every point.  It always amazes me when I look back over the years at the things I have done and the place I was in at the time.

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Decided to do this for 2014… Capturing 1 image a day for 365 days. I’m always online, so for this project, I decided to make a physical book and print the pics. Love how technology makes it so easy! $40 canon photo printer allows me to print straight from an app on my phone wirelessly … Doesn’t get easier than this! Inspired by 365grateful.com

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Another thing we did to bring in the new year was put MORE pictures up around the house and also grab my art work, dust it off… and hang it around the house too. Can’t believe I have had these tucked away for so long. Amazing what a few bright painting do for the energy of our living room.

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Throw out perfection and insert joy now was the mantra. I have been waiting to get these pictures mounted or framed. Instead, I got out a big piece of paper and pinned it to the wall going down our stairs. I taped up the pictures and then took my lovely jiffy markers and scribbled all around them. Yes, a little messy and not that designer-like look… however, I love seeing the joys of our adventures.

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This pic was one of my pics for my gratitude days. Great little reminder that everything is exactly as it should be.

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We ended the month of January with celebrating the life of Barkley, our dog that passed away last year. And of course we cuddled our new addition, Guinness … (pic below)

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We define our own limits

we define our own limitsThis is a must watch video! Blind skateboarder, Tommy Carroll, has been skating since he was ten, but has been blind since the age of two.

This is a video campaign by the “be brave, be safe” promotion of protective gear. We all have our “secret weapons”. Thanks to protective gear he was able to learn incredible tricks.

It really proves that we define our own limits. Watch and share…

Disconnected – Ask, How can I serve?

Recently I have been quite emotional around my “TIME” on earth and the “What ifs?”… what if this happens or this. What if I never get to make the “impact” or leave the legacy that I always thought I would before my time is up.

As you might of read from my earlier posts, my friend Christine had the rug pulled from under her recently when her 2 year old daughter was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. Then just last week, one of my old school mates, and the close friend of one of my best friends, passed away from cancer at the young age of 37 – three days before her 38th birthday. Exactly the age I am. Continue reading

Resilience -not perfection- is the key to happiness

The word “resilience” keeps on coming back into the forefront of my life. It started a few weeks ago after my son didn’t adjust to Kindergarten the minute I dropped him off. It’s funny how we have these picture perfect versions of how we think our lives should go.

All the mummy stuff came up of course, but I was intellectually able to talk myself down from throwing myself a pity party to realize that it wasn’t about me :) … but instead about wanting to protect him from the pain of new experiences that aren’t comfortable.

Then a few weeks into school, he of course not only adjusted but also loved it. And a message in his journal came back from his teacher that said, Continue reading