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Tag Archives: freedom

Finding My Focus With a 10 Day Blog Challenge

Have you ever had a great idea that really inspires you and then when it came to making it a reality, you come up with all kinds of excuses that make you get in your own way of the focus you need to make it happen?

Yep, me too.

As a way to help me find my focus, I’ve joined a 10-day blog challenge with Natalie Sisson, the Suitcase Entrepreneur and this blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 1.

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What Are My Excuses?

Since starting my Beachbody coaching business, I’ve come up with all kinds of excuses as to why I’m not able to put more time and effort into building my health and wellness business.

Excuse #1: There’s so much to do around here. (Procrastination)

With a full time job, 3 big dogs, a side-hustle with my fiance, and a house to maintain, I feel like there’s not enough hours in the day to allow me to do the work required to build my business and I get to every other chore possible before getting to the work.

Excuse #2: I’m So Tired.

Some days I just don’t feel like putting in the effort necessary to build my business. I know what I need to do, I know how to do it, but for some reason I go into lazy piggie mode and use the “I’m so tired” excuse to let myself off the hook for “one more day.” On top of that, after spending 8 hours a day at the office, plus traffic stress getting to and from work, I would rather spend my time with my man or outside with my dogs than add more screen time to my day.

Excuse #3: Rejection Sucks

This is my go-to (and probably the one that freezes me up most of the time). Being told “No,” is tough and so deflating, especially when you KNOW that what you’re trying to help the prospect with is something you KNOW can be successful for them.

Between procrastination, being tired and hating rejection, I’ve built up 3 REALLY nice walls for myself that block me from building a lifestyle of freedom and location independence.

Sometimes I’m Productive Though…

Occasionally I find my focus and I have a spurt of productivity and when I do, I see great results! It’s really odd how I just tend to get in my own way with an “I can do it tomorrow” attitude.

I’m really looking forward to learning from this blogging challenge over the next 10 days. It may be just the kick in the pants that I need to get out of my comfort zone and out into the world of “Freedompreneuring!”

Join the Blog Challenge!

If you’re interested in joining the 10 Day Blog Challenge, there’s still time! You can join right up until the last day of the challenge! *Click* the image below to join!

Join Natalie Sisson's 10 Day Blog Challenge

“Yes!” Will Change Your Life!

When was the last time you said YES to something new? When was the last time you said NO and regretted it? These two little words have the power to change your life!

Life changing opportunities come in all  shapes and sizes and usually show up when you least expect it. It could be something as simple as accepting an invitation from a stranger to go for coffee, or it could be more complex like taking on a new health and fitness challenge. Either way, you never know where an opportunity may lead. That cup of coffee may turn into a life-long friendship or even the love of your life, and that new fitness challenge may turn out to be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself. Like Forrest Gump’s mama used to say, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Everything You've Ever Wanted is on the Other Side of Fear

New things used to scare me. I used to think that routine was what I needed to live a comfortable life. Then several years ago my life went through a drastic change (heartbreak can do that), and I learned how VERY wrong I was! While building myself and my life back up, I made a promise to myself that I would say YES! when opportunities came knocking. It was uncomfortable at first, but through this commitment to get out of my comfort zone, I’ve discovered so much about myself and about the life that is possible for me!

YES’es That Have Changed My Life:

I said YES!

“Yes!” will change your life!

Life is too short to pass up new opportunities. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Maybe you won’t like it? Maybe you won’t have fun? Maybe you won’t be successful?  But…

WHAT IF you LOVE it??? And…

WHAT IF you achieve MAD SUCCESS??? And…

WHAT IF you EXCEED your goals and expectations???

You will never know unless you get out of your comfort zone, take that first step and say, “YES!”

YES. It’s a powerful little word. “Yes!” will change your life!

So my advice to you: Just Say YES! :)

Remembrance Day 2014 – My Family Connection

Remembrance Day 2014. A time to reflect on all of those who suffered through the wars of the past and present and all of those who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of others. On this Remembrance Day 2014 I remember the sacrifices of my family and those who fell so that we may have freedom.

My Family Connection

Oma, Opa and Dad - 1943My dad was born in the Netherlands during WWII. He doesn’t remember it because he was just a baby. My grandparents rarely spoke about the War. I can’t even imagine the horrors and atrocities that they experienced and the loved ones that they lost.

What I do know is that my grandmother lost her brother to a lineup in a concentration camp. My grandfather (who I never met) was a minister and was one of the few people who were permitted to travel around freely to perform religious services.

When my grandmother passed away in 2012 we found letters that my grandfather had written to her during WWII; they were sweet yet heartbreaking. We also found permission letters from the Germans allowing him to travel by bicycle at certain hours to perform religious services, but curfews were strictly enforced. My grandmother also had a collection of underground newspapers that could have gotten her into a lot of trouble had anyone found them at the time.

The untold history that we lost with my grandmother two years ago is incredible, but I can understand why it’s not something she spoke about. I can’t imagine what she experienced during those years and I admire her strength to get through it. I am so thankful for all of those who gave their lives so that we may live in peace.

A Visit to the Anne Frank Huis in Amsterdam

Visiting the Anne Frank Huis in Amsterdam drove the reality of WWII home for me. Being in the house where Anne Frank and her family lived in secret was such an emotional and humbling experience.

Anne Frank, 1929 - 1945

Anne Frank, 1929 – 1945

I first read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl years ago and I still remember the impact it had on me. To imagine myself in Anne Frank’s position, at age 13, living in the attic of this house with eight people while in constant fear of being discovered is simply unimaginable; and to be standing in the very rooms where she wrote her diary was surreal. What I find most admirable though, is that Anne was still able to enjoy the simple pleasures and beauty of life. If you haven’t read The Diary of  a Young Girl, I highly recommend it, you can find it here.

Anne Frank Huis, Amsterdam

“We cannot change what happened anymore. The only thing we can do is learn from the past and to realize what discrimination and persecution of innocent people means. I believe that it’s everyone’s responsibility to fight prejudice.” ~ Otto Frank, 1970 (Anne Frank’s father)

 

Amsterdam-16

Amsterdam-17

The world was such a different place back then. I am so grateful for all of those who had the courage and strength to give their lives so that by the time I was born, less than an hour’s drive outside of Amsterdam, my family had the opportunity to live in a better world.

It gives me chills to think of the history that my grandparents lived through. On this Remembrance Day 2014 I remember the sacrifices of my family and those who fell so that we may live a life of freedom.

Lest we forget.

Happier Than A Billionaire – A Must Read For Costa Rica First Timers!

Happier Than A Billionaire by Nadine Hays Pisani

During my first visit to Costa Rica last fall, the friend I was visiting handed me Happier Than A Billionaire: Quitting My Job, Moving to Costa Rica, and Living the Zero Hour Work Week, by Nadine Hays Pisani. He said that it was a great introduction to anyone visiting Costa Rica for the first time. He was right! I had already been in the country for a week, so it was a lot of fun reading about many of the things that I had encountered during my introduction to Costa Rican life.

The book is a hilarious true account of an American couple (Nadine and Rob), who had had enough of their rat race cookie-cutter American life. They were not happy or inspired by their day to day lives anymore, so they sold everything and moved to Costa Rica! I laughed out loud at some of the hilarious experiences Nadine talks about in the book, from encounters with bats, to suicide showers.

What I loved most about this is that I saw so much of myself in their story. Just before my trip to Costa Rica I had done the same thing. One day I simply decided that I had had enough. The next day I gave notice to my landlord and over the month that followed, I sold all of my furniture, donated a bunch of stuff I never used to the thrift shop, and boxed the rest up and put it into storage before hopping on a plane to Central America.

So now, here I was, reading about this couple’s crazy adventures doing exactly the same thing! Nadine and Rob had more of a plan than I did at the time, but after aching to do this for the past five years, I was so excited and happy that I finally got the ball rolling!

Sunset at Playa Ostional, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Sunset at Playa Ostional, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Now I follow the Pisanis’ journey online from Canada, as I continue to set my life up to live a location independently myself. Soon I will be off to Central America again. Costa Rica is the first place I have traveled where I have felt truly and comfortably at home. It’s such a beautiful country! There’s so much life, nature at every turn, beautiful sunsets, the people are wonderful and the food is delicious! Not to mention that I LOVE the language! I have always wanted to be fluent in Spanish, but taking classes in Canada is nothing compared to learning where it is the mother tongue.

I keep Happier Than A Billionaire at my bedside and read a passage from it when I need a little escape from the cold rainy days of a Canadian spring (which is often). Between the book and looking back at the thousands of photos I took of sunsets, jungles, volcanoes and beaches during my visit, I get my fix. But it’s never quite the same as breathing that tropical air, feeling the hot sun on my face, or hearing the waves crashing on the beach… Costa Rica, I will be seeing you again soon!

So if you’re going to Costa Rica, and you’re not quite sure what to expect, or if you want a fun book to read on the plane or on the beach when you get there, pick up Happier Than A Billionaire: Quitting My Job, Moving to Costa Rica, and Living the Zero Hour Work Week! It’s a light and funny read and who knows, it just might inspire you to create a tropical dream life of your own!

The book is available on Amazon. You can also follow Nadine Hays Pisani’s journey online on Facebook, where she shares beautiful images of her daily Costa Rican life.

Have you read Happier Than A Billionaire? What did you think?

Digital Nomads: Goodbye commute, hello world

Back in October, I took the leap of becoming a Digital Nomad and 2014 is the year this becomes a reality.

I watched this video made by oDesk today and it has inspired me once again to believing that it’s all possible.

Digital Nomads: Goodbye commute, hello world

My nomadic adventure began with a month-long trip to Costa Rica at the end of 2013. I had sold and donated all of my things and Costa Rica was the perfect place to unwind and leave my old life behind to be inspired by what life has to offer outside of an office.

I spent the month traveling around the country, exploring, photographing, learning Spanish, eating well and working out. It was truly an amazing five weeks that I often go back to in my mind when I start to have doubts about the path I’ve chosen and it brings renewed confidence.

After my return from Costa Rica, I began work on a new project and after MUCH hard work on the Olympic Spirit Kickstarter campaign, the adventure and travels will continue, thanks to my many generous supporters. In less than a week I fly to Europe, spend a few days with family and then 10 days from today I land in Sochi, Russia to capture the Olympic Spirit as the world celebrates their athletes! I can hardly believe it!

Through this project I will share the Olympic experience with my amazing Kickstarter backers and others through social media and this blog. Once the Games are over, the stories and images will be compiled into a book documenting the Olympic spirit and will be available for sale. I invite you to join me and share in the experience from wherever you are!

Napoleon Hill’s wrote what has become my mantra:

What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.

This project is living proof!!

With gratitude,
Mariska

The Tropical Hangover

The Tropical Hangover…

I’m feeling it. I’m feeling it baaaaad!

It’s been a week since I spent my last full day in Costa Rica. I started that morning like every other morning: on the beach with a kickass workout. After my workout tho, I had a bit of an emotional moment while cooling off with a swim. I stood there, water waist high, and looked out at the ocean. I closed my eyes, breathed in the tropical air, listened to the waves and tried to imprint that moment into my mind.

I didn’t want to leave.

Costa Rica Sunset in Tamarindo

My time in Costa Rica had an impact on me that I did not expect. I’ve done a good amount of traveling over the years, and of all the places I’ve been, I’ve never felt at home like I did in Costa Rica. It seems I’m not the only one with this feeling. In Tamarindo, where I spent about half of my time, there are a ton of expats. People who have realized that a simpler life is where their happiness lives. Most have sold their homes and possessions and transplanted their lives to this beautiful paradise.

You don’t need much to be happy. This became abundantly clear during my time there. I left Canada with one suitcase and a backpack for my camera gear. I probably only used about half of the stuff I packed. I could have packed carry-on luggage and had everything I needed. This really showed me that I don’t need much to be completely satisfied in life. Some of my must haves: sun, beach, heat, fresh foods, and daily workouts. All of these things are provided by the location and cannot be packed in a suitcase! Everything else can be bought when I get there.

I returned to Vancouver last week to -10 degrees celsius. My body is still in shock a week later. The cold dry air is sucking the tan right out of my skin and has me moisturizing at least twice a day. All I can think about is getting back to that life where I spent my days in shorts and tank top, or some days I wore nothing but my bikini all day! Now, I have to layer up just to take out the garbage. “No me gusta!”

So now my only thought is:

“Get back there as soon as possible!”

Time to get my ducks in a row and make that happen! But first: The Olympics! 

The Less I Own, The More I Crave Simplicity

Moving DayBefore my trip to Costa Rica, I moved out of my Vancouver apartment and sold or donated most of my possessions. What I had left, I moved into storage at my parents’ place and I got on the plane and forgot all about it all for five weeks.

When I returned from Central America, I began unpacking some of my boxes, and as I unpacked, I wondered WHY I had kept so much stuff. I really don’t need 8 dinner plates, 8 side plates, and 8 bowls; I only two of each (maybe four). I don’t need all these kitchen gadgets that I use once a year; all I need is a wooden spoon, an egg flipper, a can opener and… yes, a corkscrew (hehe). I’ve owned my Cuisinart Food Processor for about 5 years now and have probably used it as many times. WHY was I holding on to it? I love my Cuisinart Blender, but again, why do I need something so big, when a Magic Bullet with just one cup is all I really need for my smoothie pleasure? (And, it’s a lot more portable!)

Then there’s my closet. Wow. So I’ve spent the last year working hard getting fit and am now in the best shape of my life, and have lost weight. As a result, nothing I wore before fits me anymore. So WHY am I holding on to my “fat” clothes? (No, I was never really “fat” but I was definitely bigger and those clothes simply don’t fit anymore.) So again, WHY have I been keeping my old clothes? Just in case I’ll fit into them again? No. Not gonna happen.

So as I’ve unpacked, I’ve purged even more stuff. I have boxes of kitchen stuff, bags of clothes, and more boxes of other random items that I have found some reason/excuse to keep “just in case” I will need them someday.

So now, as I spend some time in the home where I grew up, I see why I’ve held on to so much stuff. I’ve been conditioned to keep stuff. I’m seeing things around the house that have been there since I was a kid. Stuff that has been replaced, in some cases, twice over, but the original (and its two replacements) is still around and was never thrown out. I’ve been conditioned to keep things “just in case.”

Live Simple

Costa Rica was an eye opener for me. It helped me realize and understand that I don’t need much to be happy. The less I own, the simpler life becomes. I went to Costa Rica with a suitcase and a backpack, and still I packed far too much stuff, half of which I didn’t even use.

So the more I realize that I don’t need all this stuff, the more freeing it’s becoming to purge it. The less stuff I own, the more I crave a simple life.

Maybe the Life I’ve Always Wanted Is Buried Under Everything I Own

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Photo: © 2009 Mariska Richters Photography – Mayan Riviera, Mexico

I’ve been preparing myself of this journey over the past year. I have slowly been letting go of my attachments to physical possessions and have either sold, given away or donated many things. The funny thing is that as much attachment that I may have felt to these things at one point, (convincing me to keep some of them for years,) I haven’t missed a single item I’ve purged. Which brings me to wonder:

Maybe the life I’ve always wanted is buried under everything I own…?

 

I’ve found that in the past, I’ve attached my happiness in life to “stuff”. I’ve told myself, “when I finally have this, I will be happy!” But the truth is, that once you have that one thing, you only end up wanting the next thing, expecting happiness to come each time.

Through this process, it has become clear to me where my happiness lies. My true happiness appears when I am spending quality time with quality people, having quality experiences, doing amazing things. It’s not about that next pair of shoes, or piece of art for the wall, or driving a nice car, it’s about truly enjoying the time I spend and the people I spend it with.

As a result of slowly coming to this realization, I’ve purged many things and it has felt so freeing! I’ve been through my closet several times, and each time I come out with at least one garbage bag full of clothes, shoes and accessories to donate. Sure, there continue to be certain items that I have convinced myself I will still “need”, but even those will eventually make it to the donation bin.

One thing I know I will miss on this journey is my own bed. I have the most comfy bed in the world! (Oh yes, it is even more comfortable than yours!) I mentioned this to my mom and she said something that really resonated with me; she said, “It won’t fit in a suitcase!” And that is how I will be looking at things moving forward. If I can’t find a valid reason to put it in my suitcase and carry it with me, then I don’t need it!

So I challenge you! I ask you to consider the following questions, and leave your thoughts in the comments below:

  • How much of your stuff do you truly need?
  • If you got rid of some of it, would you actually miss it?
  • Would you even notice its absence?
  • Would your life feel incomplete without it?
  • Is this stuff actually making you happy, or is it some kind of place-holder for something you have yet to identify as your true happy-maker?

Living a life you love is not about stuff. It’s about the amazing experiences you have with the people you care about.

I challenge you to disconnect yourself from possessions, and make the effort to spend more time with the people you care about. Because at the end of the day, when we leave this life, we can’t take the stuff with us, but we can leave some quality memories behind with the people we enjoyed our life with.

Be free. Feel alive. Live a life you love.

 

Little People

I spent last week on Vancouver Island, and spent some good quality time with my almost-three-year-old nephew and godson.

I love the simplicity that life carries for children. Their constant questions and curiosities, innocence and trust, freedom and imagination. These are truly things to admire in the little people all around us. We, as adults, should all aspire to rediscover these things within ourselves. I believe that if we could recapture even a fraction of our childhood, we might see the world through completely different eyes…

With that in mind, I hope you enjoy the following images and I invite your feedback and comments. Enjoy!

 

Cache

Father & Son 32

Children at Play 9 Children at Play 8

Child at Play

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Emily & Megan 11 Emily & Megan 21

Emily & Megan 25