September is here, and with it comes the start of a new school year. If you have school aged children, this year’s return to school likely looks a little different. For me, it was about sending my youngest off to university. Even if the back-to-school bustle is a distant memory for you, this time of year always feels like an opportunity to start a new chapter, get organized, and set yourself up for success.
For me, it all starts with getting my thoughts organized, setting my intentions, and looking for inspiration.
One of my greatest sources of inspiration was Mr. Choy. Roland Choy was the father of a dear friend. His calm, thoughtful presence had an immense impact on my life. In 2015 I had the pleasure of spending many mornings with him. Every connection gave me the opportunity to learn; to see a different perspective; to grow. During our time together, I scribbled down reams of notes, and relayed them back to him, to be sure I had correctly captured the spirit of his message. When I need a little inspiration, I often go back to these notes, full of gratitude for our time together, and for the wise words he shared with me.
This year, I’m easing into autumn with a series called “Back to school with the wisdom of Mr. Choy.” Throughout September, I will be posting a daily message based on our conversations. I’m looking forward to sharing some of my favourite quotes, thoughts and insights; they always bring me comfort and perspective, and I’m looking forward to sharing the gift of Mr. Choy with you.
‘Happiness is what comes when you cease to desire or crave perfect.’
I always come back to this quote when I think about my time with Mr. Choy. With his permission, I had spent months making notes, hoping to perfectly capture the essence and spirit of his words, before sharing them with the world. Of course, chasing perfection is futile and exhausting, and I could never quite get there. When he passed, I connected even more deeply with the truth of this lesson. What could we accomplish if we gave up the idea of perfection? How much happier, more creative, and more at peace would we all be if we stopped trying to be perfect? Today, on our first day of ‘school,’ I invite you to ask yourself...what could I do if I let go of perfect?
Post 1/18 - September 7th
'When you live in unconditional love there is nothing to be afraid of.’
This is a simple statement, yet for me it contains multitudes. If you live from a place of unconditional love - for the people around you, and for yourself - you can let go of so much fear. Fear is often the thing that holds you back...fear that you won’t be good enough, or won’t be liked by others. If you could hold unconditional love, that fear would disappear. You would be content with whatever you have to offer. And when you have unconditional love for yourself, the fear that others might not love you loses its power. Today I invite you to experiment with this idea of unconditional love.
Post 2/18 - September 8th
'What the universe offers is available to all of us.'
When I reflect on this quote from Mr. Choy, it am reminded that the universe offers more possibilities than I could ever imagine. Too often we get caught in comparing ourselves to others, to see how we measure up. With everything the universe has to offer, this idea seems too small. We all have our own unique gifts, and there are infinite possibilities for how we can use them. What gift are you going to use today?
Post 3/18 - September 9th
‘It is sad we don’t believe in magic until we see it. Ironically, we can’t see it until we believe it.’
There is magic all around us ... if we take the time and space to notice it. Hiking the Bruce Trail has been one of my great pleasures. It gives me the opportunity to slow down and notice my surroundings. I am constantly amazed by the incredible beauty of nature. Today I invite you to slow down, and make some space for magic. Let me know what you find!
Post 4/18 - September 10th
'Once you know yourself, you have the inner confidence to relate to anyone. You set the standard you go by regardless of the intellectual level because you no longer feel superior or inferior.' Do you struggle with imposter syndrome? My guess is that many of us have experienced it at some point - the feeling that we’re not good enough ... despite experience, achievement or accolades. Mr. Choy shared this pearl of wisdom about the importance of knowing yourself. When you know, understand and accept yourself (yes ... even with all the bumps and bruises) you’re able to show up with a calm confidence. From this place you are grounded in your values. What have you learned about yourself recently? What allows you to be 'calmly confident'?
Post 5/18 - September 13th
'Free will is how you perceive it. The biggest gift you can give yourself is to let go of the anger.'
Anger can be a powerful emotion. There are times when a riotous anger can motivate us to make change and take action. More often though, anger ends up taking over and making us feel stuck. The next time you feel anger rising within you, I’d invite you to ask yourself…will this help - or prevent me from - acting in alignment with my values? Is this anger serving me, or is it time to let it go?
Post 6/18 - September 14th
'The truth is always the same.'
Mr. Choy’s wisdom is timeless: he described the truth as ‘unchangeable’. We, as humans, want to alter the truth based on how we experience a situation. We are who we are based on our experiences and values. Our values act as filters through which we perceive the world around us...but filters don’t necessarily give us the clearest view of reality. Imagine what it would be like to see the world unfiltered! How can we open our minds, recognize our biases, and look at things from a new angle?
Post 7/18 - September 15th
'When you still your mind, you are.'
I can’t help but think that Mr. Choy would have navigated the pandemic beautifully. He had such a calm and peaceful presence...and the ability to just ‘be’. It can be difficult to still your mind, especially amidst uncertainty, but it creates space for self reflection and understanding. What’s your favourite strategy for slowing your brain down?
Post 8/18 - September 16th
'Be nice and be strong'
What a perfect thought to end our second week exploring the wisdom of Mr. Choy. It’s such a simple statement, but as I read it today, I find myself thinking about how ‘nice’ and ‘strong’ can mean so many different things. Nice isn’t always about telling someone what they want to hear; sometimes it’s kinder to tell a hard truth. Strong doesn’t necessarily mean pushing yourself to exhaustion; it takes great strength to set a boundary. As we head into the weekend, I wish you niceness and strength...however that looks in this moment.
Post 9/18 - September 17th
'Balance your energy. Believe in a state of wellness.'
These days ‘wellness’ is a multi TRILLION dollar industry. Today's quote from Mr. Choy reminds me that wellness is something we can all access from within. He began each day with a prayer, starting with three deep breaths. This daily practice allowed him to connect and transform into stillness - he described it as a moment of protection by the unknown energy around us. Today I'll be honouring Mr. Choy with three deep, intentional breaths. How will you create a moment of wellness for yourself?
Post 10/18 - September 20th
‘Go with good intentions. If you give freely you will receive.’
I remember Mr. Choy telling me that if we ‘smile and treat everyone with sincerity and honesty, the rest will come.’ We often judge others by their actions, but when the table is turned, we hope we'll be judged by our intent. As you set your intentions for the rest of the week, I invite you to ask yourself - 'how will I ensure that the impact of my actions are aligned with my intent?'
Post 11/18 - September 21st
'I’ve been searching and it’s been right here all along.'
Have you ever looked for your glasses, to realize they’re on your face? Or felt around for your phone while LOOKING at your phone? Moments like this make me laugh, and remind me of this lesson from Mr. Choy. How many times are we not able to see what is right in front of us? How often do we tell ourselves, ‘once I accomplish [X] I’ll be happy’? Happiness does not come from the outside. It comes from within, and it’s been right there all along.
Post 12/18 - September 22nd
'People meditate to find themselves, to find peace. If you know yourself, you are in constant peace.'
Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? So how do you get to know yourself? It is a continuous journey that takes time, patience and compassion. Many of us focus on 'doing' rather than 'being'. In doing so we miss the opportunity to stop, pause and reflect which is where we learn and grow...and hopefully find some peace. How will you make time to stop, pause and reflect?
Post 13/18 - September 23rd
‘The path of potential is infinite.’
Have you ever stopped to think about how much has changed within your lifetime? From the advent of the internet, to lifesaving new medical treatments, and phones that fit in your pocket. Many of the technologies we now take for granted weren’t around 30 years ago, and would have sounded ludicrous to our great grandparents. It was human creativity and innovation that made these advances possible. And yet we constantly convince ourselves that we shouldn’t pursue our dreams, and can’t achieve our goals. We have so much potential. What dreams would you pursue, if you believed that anything was possible?
Post 14/18 - September 24th
‘When you are present, there is no place you are not.’
With September drawing to a close, we’re approaching the end of our ‘Back to School’ series, drawing inspiration from Mr. Choy. Earlier this month, as my eldest headed back to university and then my youngest moved into residence for his first year of university, I couldn’t help but marvel at the passing of time. It feels like yesterday I was dropping them off at kindergarten; it feels like just yesterday that I was having coffee with Mr. Choy, and scribbling down his words of wisdom. Throughout the past 18 months, we’ve all noticed how strangely time can pass. It can drag on forever, or go by in a blink of an eye. We’ve also found new ways of showing up and supporting each other, even from a distance. How will you be present - for yourself and for the people around you - this week?
Post 15/18 - September 27th
‘If you are mindful you see it.’
Mr. Choy would often speak about mindfulness, and believed the foundation of mindfulness is connecting to your breath. Being aware of your breathing allows you to stay focused on the present, and as he would say, 'If you are mindful you see it'. When you are mindful, you can see things more clearly - both literally and figuratively. Let’s practice being present, mindful, and aware, so we can appreciate what we have. This week, I invite you to ask yourself: ‘How can I mindfully set myself up for success, while staying open to new possibilities?’
Post 16/18 - September 28th
‘Nothing is unknown. When you allow it to happen, the known will become known.’
For me, this quote from Mr. Choy is about intuition. How often do you reflect on an experience and wish you would have gone with your gut instinct? Today, with the help of Mr. Choy I invite you to trust your inner wisdom.
Post 17/18 - September 29th
‘There is nothing I need. I am enjoying the moment. If I go tomorrow, I am ok. There is nothing left undone.’
As we reach the end of our month with Mr. Choy, I am - as always - in awe of his calm wisdom, and deep inner peace. May we all be so content when our time comes. May we live our lives in a way that allows us such clarity and tranquility. May we enjoy the moments we have, and be grateful. I would love to hear how this series impacted you. Share your story, your favourite Mr. Choy quote, or your own piece of wisdom in the comments!
Post 18/18 - September 30th