Toronto Songwriting Guild 2015 Showcase

Toronto Songwriting Guild (TSG) is back at it and I’m really excited to be performing with this fabulous group of creative souls on Thursday March 12 at Amsterdam Bicycle Club in Toronto (54 The Esplanade). TSG is an inspired group of songwriters dedicated to sharing and nurturing the craft of songwriting. We’ve shared many belly laughs and epiphanies over the years while helping each other find that perfect lyric or hooky ear candy. If you are in the Toronto area and love live music you don’t want to miss this show. You can be sure there will be an amazing variety of talent, heart, soul and passion.

tsg2015

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Goodbye, little buddy. You had a wonderful life.

Anyone who has loved a pet, knows the crushing sadness that comes when they pass on to doggie heaven. It’s almost impossible to escape the grief that closes in and clings to us, demanding attention, despite any distractions we attempt to engage in. Sometimes we act a bit like a zombie, just going through the motions; cleaning, shovelling, organizing, Netflix. We attempt to do anything to try to lessen the blow. But maybe we are not meant to escape it. Maybe, in honouring the pain, we honour the love.

Percy

Isn’t it amazing the bonds between four-leggeds and humans? We are oh so different and yet the love we share is palpable. Our canine/human relationships deepen over long walks, cuddles, throwing frisbees, laughs (they’re laughing at us too, you know)… Until you realize your heart is utterly and inconsolably tied to this little pooch who looks at you, always, with unconditional love and affection.

And maybe that’s why we feel such a void when they move on. What other being will ever love you the way he did? What other being will you love like you loved him? The answer is none. And yet in time, we remember what is true even though it seems hard to believe at the time: the pain eventually eases. Eventually it won’t hurt so badly.

Percy

I’ve been consoling myself when possible with thoughts such as “He had a really wonderful life. He was so loved.” I want to pick myself up and feel better immediately but it’s like wearing lead sandals and trying to run a marathon. I must do what I’ve been taught to do by wise folk; sit with it. Feel it. Don’t try to change it. Just allow it to speak to you. And most of all, be extremely gentle and loving with myself. Much easier said than done.

I know it will eventually get easier because I’ve loved and lost before. When time sweeps in and eventually dries the tears, I know I’ll be left with memories that will make me smile, not sink. Little Percy will occupy a warm and fuzzy place in my heart forever, just like his predecessor, Turbo does. Now there’s two of them in there, keeping each other company. Percy

When the pain starts to fade I know I’ll remember the laughs he gave me and I’ll remember the good times we shared. I’ll remember how much I loved him and I’ll remember how lucky I was to have him in my life. But most of all, I’ll remember how he made me feel.

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Half way in…Half way out… (30 Days of Self-Love & Appreciation)

heart on beach I’m about to wrap Day 15 of 30 on this adventure of self-love. I’m half way in and half way out. But at this point, I would say I’m more in than out. Maybe that’s what happens when you stick with something – the desire to keep going grows exponentially. I’m hoping that’s the case anyway…

(If you’re curious about how my ritual of writing two pages a day on self-love and gratitude got started, here are two previous posts: Day 1: Face to Face with Resistance and Day 8 and Counting)

Lately the randomness of my reflections has been surprising me. It’s obvious I’m writing quickly and not stopping to think! Maybe I was desperate for new ideas yesterday because I wrote “I love and appreciate my nostrils.” Whatever! I’m not writing to try to look or be brilliant. I’m writing to… wait, why am I writing? Oh yes… I’m writing so that I can say this to myself more frequently, more deeply, more sincerely:

ILoveMe

I want a richer, deeper, brighter, bigger, purer, more loving stone ripplesLOVE pointed inwards at me, from me. I want to feel big bear hugs often for myself and so much self-compassion that it’s overflowing from me. I want to feel lighter and so full of love that there’s an inner glow that carries me along. Not to say that life isn’t full of ups and downs and opportunities to explore our own “stuff”. (Sidenote: When we own our “stuff” our “stuff” doesn’t own us!). I guess what I’m saying is I want the gasoline tank of self-love full more often. And when it slips to empty, I’m not having a fantastic time. I’m crotchety and miserable. Not fun for me or anyone (just ask my spouse). When you have enough on the inside, the ripples flow outwards. And then someone catches the vibe and they feel compelled to ripple out their beautiful love. And then someone else catches the ripples and they start rippling…. You see where I’m going with this? John Lennon and I may be dreamers but we’re not the only ones. It’s time to fill up our engines. And what’s very cool is, after 15 days of writing two pages/day, I can feel my gasoline tank expanding and increasing capacity. I’m waving at the little inner-voices that say I’m undeserving or not good enough and driving right past them. Sometimes they’re still shouting loudly but I’m learning to not listen. Hasta la Vista baby!

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Day 8…and counting (30 Days of Self-Love & Appreciation)

Well, I just finished Day 8 on this self-appreciation and self-love mountain. I’m happy to say I haven’t fallen off track with my intention to write two pages of kind thoughts about myself every day for 30 days straight. Although I had a close call last night.

(If you missed my first post about this self-love-torture ritual and how I began by digging my heels in about it, here it is: 30 Days of Self-love and Appreciation – Day 1: Face to Face with Resistance)

8Last night I was more than half asleep on the couch and my eyelids were feeling like anchors. Then it was as though something poked me and said “Ayns, you forgot to do your gratitude list!!!” Agh!! I think if I hadn’t started this blog I probably wouldn’t have done it because the pillows were definitely beckoning me more than the pen. But I wanted to tell you, dear reader, that I did it lol. So I got up and grabbed the pen and wrote in large letters to fill up the two pages more quickly. (Sidenote: Did you ever do that in school? Remember when the teacher said “Write two full pages” and you wrote them in huge letters to get it done faster?). What I rambled off last night was pretty uninspired but hey, I did it and no teacher’s going to tell me to re-do it!

It may be too soon to tell if this exercise is having any real benefit for me. But there are good things happening in my life right now and I feel passionate about a few projects that I’ve wanted to become engaged in for a long time. I’m also feeling quite happy lately and more peaceful than I have for a very long time. Perhaps the exercise is feeding my soul or maybe I’m just enjoying post-holiday bliss and the excitement of a fresh new year. It could be all or some of the above. One thing I know for certain is that the exercise isn’t having a negative effect! 😀

I’m also surprised that I haven’t yet run out of things to say that I like about myself. Once I start it’s like the pen is writing by itself. I haven’t felt as awkward over the last few days as I did on Day 1. I wouldn’t say I’m used to sending kind, loving remarks to myself, but it doesn’t feel as foreign as it did at the beginning.

Will check in with you again soon. Thanks for keeping me accountable! 😉

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30 Days of Self-Love and Appreciation – Day 1: Face to Face with Resistance

For the last few months I’ve had a bit of a gnawing feeling that I should be writing in a gratitude journal.  For me, this is a journal strictly devoted to my appreciative thoughts.  I began picking lovely nuggets out of my life and filling two pages sporadically with simple things like “I’m grateful for the beautiful, open sky” or “I love my warm winter boots.”   It felt good soaking up the warm, fuzzy feelings that surface when I looked with new eyes at what I love in my life.   Today though I woke up thinking I should go where I’m not quite sure I want to go… inward, to self-appreciation and (gulp) self-love.

GratitudeI’ve mentally committed to writing two pages a day for 30 days about what I love and/or appreciate about myself.   But I must admit, I feel a bit uncomfortable about it.   I’m hoping to share my reflections at least 4 or 5 times over the next 30 days on this blog.   My first day’s rambles are below.   If inspired to join me, I’d love to hear about your experiences with love, gratitude and appreciation of self or life.

Reflections on Day 1: Face to Face with Resistance

I’ve begun. Today I put pen to paper and heart to page. I began to think about what I’m grateful for within myself. I felt awkward, like a toddler learning to walk. I do not know what I will find within myself for 30 days that I love about myself. And I think maybe this exercise is a bit embarrassing. Maybe it will create within me an enlarged ego that repels others and seems superficial and silly. These thoughts rattle around my mind tempting me not to begin. 

But I feel the gentle coaxing within myself that this is the time. I need to do this for myself. I need to nurture my heart. I need to extend loving kindness to myself. And I need to make a ritual of it so that this life-giving, loving energy can become a habit and not an afterthought that is casually dismissed and makes no impact on my life.

And so I am in this new resolved mental space, deciding that I will write.  Even if I barely scrape the surface of love for myself, I will write every day.  One word at a time.  “It doesn’t matter what you write, just that you write” I hear within me.   “Here there is no perfection. You are just working the energy within you. Oiling the chain. Unclogging the vessel. Turning the soil.”   flower

So why is this so hard? Why am I making it hard? I don’t have an answer at this time that I’m willing to hear. And I know that’s the reason I need to go there fast – toward loving myself, that is.

I am choosing to reclaim me.   “This is just the beginning” I think to myself, “do not be afraid of what is within you.”  

I believe that all good things come from a love of self and an enduring faith in what you have to offer. When you love yourself all things are possible. When you love yourself you can love others, truly, richly, deeply. Perhaps there is no limit on the amount of love you can feel – and why wouldn’t that include a deep love for oneself that can continuously be shaped and added to?  

During the exercise  I felt a bit like a machine trying to find things to love and appreciate about myself.   Looking over my findings, some of my words hold no vibrance but some flicker with tenderness.  Regardless of the outcome I’m glad I did it.  Day 1 has been checked off.  I’m not sure these next 29 days will be a walk in the park but I will see where this exercise takes me. 

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Receiving the Great Stream of Abundance

I’ve been pondering the idea of Receiving over the last few months. It started when a friend, who is also a great teacher, energy healer and profound wise person, went into the hospital. He realized at that time that he had forgotten – or had avoided – a big life lesson: to receive. He had been so focused on ‘giving’ to others, he had forgotten to receive for himself. He told me that his first few weeks in the hospital he was highly uncomfortable receiving care from nurses, doctors, friends and family. He said he didn’t know how to accept their care. He was astounded to find himself crying for weeks upon discovering he had forgotten how to receive.

Why is it that many of us have trouble receiving? “It’s better to give than receive” we often hear. Giving can often feel absolutely incredible when we are giving from a place of really wanting to give. But can we remember that receiving also feels just as good as giving when we are receiving from a place of Love and Thankfulness?

I realized in meditation the other day that I had a big block about Receiving. I knew something was up when I felt resistance to the idea of allowing money, support and financial well-being into my life. My mind knows that I can only help the most when I am “full up” and when I am in a state of abundance and owning my power. This is when I have the most to give to others – and to myself. But my heart needed to be heard on this subject. And some old, outdated beliefs that were hindering my ability to truly accept abundance with all of my being needed to be released and transformed.

waterfallI asked my inner self what was going on and it said there was fear there in my heart. I was afraid of “taking” from another, of “sucking the stream dry”, of hurting someone else if I was to take anything from them. As I focused on this block in a relaxed state with my eyes closed, I gave it a visual. To me it felt like this resistance and fear was looming in front of me like a big black rock. Then I asked Heaven for help with releasing this block and that any lessons I needed to learn be given to me. As I sat with this uncomfortable energy, I received an impression that I had not been honouring “the other” or “the external world”. I had not been trusting that the “outside world” can take care of itself and can be filled up with Goodness and Resources and Flow and Abundance and that I AM NOT IN CONTROL OF WHAT HAPPENS OUT THERE and this flow is in BOTH OF US. Looking at myself in this way I realized that I had been viewing myself with more power than I actually have. I had not been honouring that Great Force Outside myself. It was time to Honour Others’ Connection to the Great Stream and their Power!

That message went straight to my core and I felt relieved, humbled and grateful to have heard its truth. It made so much sense. Honour the power in others. Honour the power in yourself.

And so I take away the message: If I block up the channel due to fear or doubts about another’s Power then I’m doing both of us a disservice. When I KNOW that the Great Flow of Abundance honours both of us, I trust in another’s ability to give and my ability to receive from a place that is good for both of us.

Shakti Gawain writes in “The Path of Transformation” that when you invite more abundance into your life you are channeling more energy. Many teachers and healers have blocked this flow for fear that it is ‘selfish’ or not ‘spiritual’ to be abundant and they have closed off the material world and its gifts. But we are living in a material world! Perhaps we are moving into a time when we are merging more conscious spiritual energy into the material world and remembering it is all Energy and Flow and there is joy and goodness in accepting and flowing greater abundance. IMG_2815

I have decided I am choosing to view Abundance like Health and Happiness; there is enough to go around! It is up to each of us how much we choose to let in and let flow. If you are not feeling the flow as much as you would like, do a little digging into where the blocks are. If something isn’t working as well as you’d like in your life, start on the inside! You have the power to flow abundance – and by flow I mean toward you and away from you – from a place of true authenticity in your heart. From a place where this channeling feels like the Highest Good for You and Others.

I am choosing to Trust in Infinite Supply, for myself and for others. And I’m choosing to consciously live inside The Great Flow.

Thanks Universe, for helping me integrate this lesson everyday!

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5 Steps to Feeling More Relaxed and Grounded

IMG_2815I am 17 days away from realizing a long awaited dream: to release an album.  The songs coming out on this CD I’ve watered and nurtured for a very long time.  I feel like I’m both a mid-wife and a mother; coaxing myself to birth these songs and to enjoy the process.  I feel nervous, excited and amazed that this is finally happening.

Now that I’m on the cusp of this dream, I’ve been fluctuating through every emotion on the spectrum; intense anticipation and excitement (take what you know of ‘excitement’ and times it by 10,000), anxiety and fear (“how will people react to my songs?”) and hope (“maybe everything will turn out okay”).  Then I loop back around and repeat them all again.   It’s a ride that’s for sure.

To keep more relaxed and grounded, I’ve been cozying up to these ideas:

1.  No Junk Food

I love chocolate.  LOVE it.  I usually enjoy a good sweet treat at least once a day so abstaining is challenging for me.  But sugar definitely does not help me relax so I’m saying goodbye to my little treats for now.  For the last four days I haven’t had any refined sugar and I do actually notice a difference in my energy.  I feel calmer and more grounded.  I hope I can keep this up until the release.  Perhaps then I’ll reward myself with a big piece of chocolate cake (or maybe I won’t want any by then…).  Unlikely – but who knows!

2.  Make a Decision

Choosing to make decisions is a powerful choice that can help you feel clear and confident about moving forward.  We may be afraid that if we make a decision we might disappoint ourselves if we don’t fully commit to it or change our mind.  But making a decision is a way to exercise your free will – your power and control over your life.   This morning I listened to what my heart Penwanted (and asked my mind’s fears and doubts to step aside momentarily).  I wrote down a few decisions that I chose to commit to.   It felt empowering.  Remember that to decide to relax is a choice too.  Whatever your decision, don’t forget to make it in the positive (i.e. “I now decide to eat well” or “I now decide to relax deeply for the next half hour”).  Tony Robbins’ book Awaken The Giant Within has some great ideas about how powerful making a decision is.  Of course you can always change your decisions down the road as circumstances or desires change, but deciding to commit NOW will start your engine that drives you onwards.

3.  Morning Pages

Where would I be without Morning Pages from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way?  It may not seem like a lot to those who haven’t tried it, but spilling your gutsartistsway every morning on three pieces of paper can leave you clearer, more relaxed and more in tune with yourself than you might think.  Morning pages help you take your emotional temperature.  They help you discover things you didn’t realize bothered you.  They help you know what you want.  What will you discover when you write them?  All you need are 3 pieces of paper, a pen and to get up a little earlier.   For me, the benefits of Morning Pages are worth far more than the few extra zzz’s.  (See my previous blog posts for more info about Morning Pages).

4.  Quiet Time

ReikitreesStep away from the noise, in your head and in the world (and on the internet!) and enjoy uninterrupted solace.  Find a comfortable, private, quiet space and close your eyes.  Then breathe deep, relax and repeat.  It’s amazing what a few moments of quiet and stillness can do for you.  You can tap into your deepest self, your spirit, your unique quality of energy in your veins.  You may remember there’s no need to be anywhere other than where you are.  If you are interested in taking your quiet time a step further, I recommend Ask Your Guides by Sonia Choquette to anyone wanting to improve their connection with their Angels, Guides or Highest Self.

5.  Be Good to Yourself

So often we remember how to treat other people compassionately and forget to be this way to ourselves.  Be kind, loving, gentle and sweet to yourself.  Treat yourself like the beautiful magnificent miracle being you are.  It’s hard sometimes if we are prone to negative self-talk.  But just a little self-awareness can help you transform that into compassionate-self-talk.  Send yourself the love you deserve.  Do something nice for yourself – right now.  Know you deserve it.  Because you really do.

I’d love to hear what you do to keep relaxed and centred, please feel free to comment if inspired.

xo Aynsley

P.S.  In case you’re in or near Toronto April 21st, would be thrilled to have you join me in celebrating my dream.  http://hughsroom.com/2013/02/aynsley-saxe-cd-release-party/

CD Release Party AynsleySaxe.com April 21 Hughs Room

@AynsleySaxe         Facebook.com/AynsleySaxeMusic

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