When Life Feels Precarious: 12 Essential Skills

The trees in question (and a mutual friend)…

The trees in question (and a mutual friend)…


When my now 13 year old best fur friend Lily was 6 months old, I started thinking about how I should find a nice little farm with lovely people where she could roam free the rest of her days—and give her the hell away before I fell any more in love with her. I wanted to give the slip to future pain.

One of the most challenging things to settle with is the idea that the things we love will end. Impermanence sucks. Not a fan.

It showed up this week to get my attention in the form of a gorgeous group of trees that sits just outside my window.

Through the years I’ve seen these trees in every kind of light, every season, every time of day. I watch squirrels on kamikaze missions leaping fearlessly from bough to bough chasing each other around on wild adventures; birds in flight weave expertly through their open spaces; deer and elk brush against them on their way to wherever.

Everyday when I’m coaching, I turn sideways in my chair to include them. My window is right at ground level, so it feels like I’m sitting on the forest floor in a circle of communion with them.

Over time they have become steadfast guardians, wise teachers, cherished friends. Family.

So it knocked me sideways when I got an email from my condo association saying they are implementing a “Firesmart” program this spring that will involve removing all conifers within 10 metres of the residences. That 10 metre radius would include not only these trees, but also approximately 20 more that surround my home.

I freaked out.

Here’s how that went, and where I got to:


Okay, so this situation hit me over the head with a reminder that we can do a lot to cultivate the energy we’re bringing to unexpected, unwanted happenings—so that we’re creating our world instead of the other way around.


Skills to get you back home

  1. Put a hand on your heart and a hand on your belly, take a couple of long deep breaths with extended exhales, and say, “Even in the middle of this shit-storm, I am ok.” Repeat this until you start to feel the truth of it.

  2. Shift from problem to predicament focus. A problem can feel like something that needs to be fixed or solved or overcome. A predicament calls you forth to meet it with courage, grace and trust that you will find your way through it.

  3. Ask good questions: Instead of, “What can I do about this?” see what opens up with, “Who am I being, and what am I bringing to this situation? What do I need to connect with and draw on in order to stay steady, clear and expansive as I navigate forward?”

  4. Don’t buy into drama, it’s a dead end that will bring nothing of value.

  5. Feel everything. Your experience matters.

  6. Attach to nothing, especially your story.

  7. Are you worrying about things that haven’t happened or arguing with things that have? Stop it. Get yourself back here.

  8. Look for tightness in your being. When you feel constriction in your body, it isn’t showing you ‘something is wrong’, it’s showing you you’re believing something that’s not true. Find the thought you’re thinking that’s causing anxiety.

  9. Don’t blindly agree with the thought (fear wants you to). Instead, investigate it with courageous, clear curiosity. In this moment, can you absolutely know that it’s true?

  10. Keep moving with the energy and flow of life. What’s here now?

  11. You have everything you need to handle whatever shows up. Yes you do.

  12. You’re not alone. Open to the wisdom and love that’s here and wants to help.

*A little amendment: I say in the video that the ‘thing’ is not the source of our joy and love and happiness, the relationship is. What’s more accurate is that we’re generating these feelings from the inside. We are the source of them, so they’re always available—whether the external form continues to exist or not.




If you’re curious, here are links for the Eckhart Tolle and Michael Singer teachings I reference in the video:

Listen to A New Earth: “Finding Who You Truly Are” (Chapter 7) from Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations in Podcasts. https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/oprahs-supersoul-conversations/id1264843400?mt=2&i=1000430075827

Michael Singer: Staying open to the magic of life by releasing your personal conditions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73-2PggJJW0&feature=youtu.be