Were you brought up to believe that working hard is the key to a successful life? That was the vibe for me. As the descendent of Germans, Hungarians, Irish, Scots and Ukrainians, putting in a solid effort was the only option for my pioneering ancestors.
During World War II, my grandfather walked/escaped with his family from the Ukraine to Berlin. His mother had a baby on the way (adding to her other 5 children), as they hid in barns and begged for food to stay alive. In Berlin, he met my grandmother (who had survived her mother’s death and then abandonment from the rest of her family), wooed her, married her and then convinced her to join the rest of his family who was leaving Europe behind for the unknown jungles of… Paraguay.
It was a large Mennonite community who boarded boats and made their way to a basically uninhabitable piece of land in Paraguay, called the Chaco. Other groups had tried to make a life there but had left after only a few weeks because the conditions were so harsh.
However, the Mennonites were determined to make it work and that’s where my mom was born. They built villages out of nothing and survived all sorts of harrowing adventures. Giant lethal snakes in their hut, killer ants, having to make butter from scratch. (Being German, my granny absolutely had to have butter, and so she would shake a jar of cream for 6 hours to make that happen. You can see where the hard work comes from.)
Eventually, they got word that they were being allowed to immigrate to Canada, which was their original dream. And guess where they went? Right into the arctic temperatures of Saskatchewan. Once again, they rebuilt their lives by working hard and they did the same thing when they moved to Ontario and started their own business.
Hard work was a way of life for my grandparents and they didn’t have the luxury of asking if there were other options.
Fast forward to my life. In school, I had an incredible work ethic. It was simply ingrained. My parents never told me I had to get all A’s, or win awards, or be the captain and VIP of my sports teams. I imposed all of that on myself and met all of my goals by working hard.
*Not a photo of me, but it's pretty close. I even have a beret.
When I went to University, I was successful because of my hard work. Then I got married and worked hard at that. As a highschool teacher, I worked exceptionally hard. Once we had our kids, I worked hard at that too. When I entered the world of personal development and spirituality, I made sure that hard work was my approach.
Perhaps you can see why it was absolutely essential that I create a brand and business that centered around self-care! One can only be so hard on oneself before that oneself collapses from exhaustion or has some sort of crisis.
From working with all sorts of clients, I’ve discovered that many people share this approach to life. Work hard now, play later. (Maybe. If there’s time. Which usually, there isn’t.)
It has gradually unfolded in my consciousness that life doesn’t have to be all about hard work. It doesn’t have to be so intense. In fact, what if sometimes, you made time for easy things. (I know, it sounds revolutionary. And it is!)
Over the past few years, I’ve cultivated the habit of actively choosing for some parts of my day and week to be easy. To do things that are fun. To be less intense. And guess what? When you bring ease into your life on purpose, the stuff that you previously had to work so hard for just starts to show up, even though you didn’t put in a ton of effort. It’s kind of magical.
A few weeks ago, I was guiding some clients through my Sacred Success Sunday Review, and I mentioned the tendency we have to be intense, and how it’s so valuable to also plan for and allow ease in your life.
One of the participants had an epiphany. She said, “Oh my gosh! You’re so right. I’ve just realized that I’m intense about everything. I just read a book that I liked and I decided to do a whole study on the author. I went and got everything they’d ever written from the library. Now I can see I’m even being intense about my leisure time! I’m taking all those books back today.
So here’s the invitation. Over the next week, consider these questions. Where are you being intense in your life where there could actually be an opportunity for ease. Do you have to work so hard at everything? Do you allow things to ever just be easy? And if you do, are you able to embrace the ease without guilt? You may even want to do a little journaling with those questions. I bet you’ll discover some interesting things about yourself.
And if you’re looking for more ease and less intensity, consider joining in this month’s Self-Care Masterclass: Balance is Out; Harmony is In. You’ll discover a whole mindset shift that will allow you to experience so much more ease without the guilt. Details are here (and we’re doing a sliding scale again this month to make it accessible). It happens this Friday, and if you can’t make it live, you’ll get forever access to the recording.
We have the privilege these days to make choices about hard work, intensity and ease. It seems to me that to make everything in life “hard” is not really honouring those who came before us. Their lives were about survival so that they could make things easier for us, so that our lives could be better. To fully receive that gift, we need to make conscious choices to allow the ease that they wished for us. Where can you invite in and plan for more ease?
With intense love and effortless courage,
Creator of Courageous Self-Care
Enjoyer of more and more ease
Also passionate about butter, especially when it’s made into a croissant
PS - Curious about how to make your life more about ease and less about hard work? Especially if your results would still be like you were working really hard? Join us for this month’s Self-Care Masterclass: Balance is Out; Harmony is In. You’ll learn how to go from intense to easy in a really fun and informative class. Click here for details.