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Tag Archives: Live a Life You Love

How To Follow Your Gut

Have you ever thought about doing something when you got this weird feeling that maybe you shouldn’t? Like you KNOW it’s a bad idea, but you can’t explain how you know it? That strange feeling that in retrospect, you usually kick yourself for not following it and saying to yourself, “Why didn’t I trust that feeling?”

Call it a gut feeling, intuition, or a sixth sense. I’ve learned to trust this feeling. It’s usually when I resist that feeling that things turn out badly. Like the time I left my backpack in my car (even though “something” told me not to), and I came back and the car had been broken into and the backpack was gone. Or the time I thought I could quickly run in somewhere to drop something off and I thought (against my gut), “I’ll just be a minute, I won’t get a ticket.” Sure enough, I came out 5 minutes later and had a parking ticket. (d’oh!) Or another time when I left my bike in the carport unlocked, was late for work and against my intuition, I thought, “It will be fine.” Came home: bike gone.

From these incidents (and others), I’ve learned to trust that “feeling.”

My intuition doesn’t only warn me about bad things though, it also gives me a GOOD feeling when I am doing something right for myself. From the moment I made the choice to move and hit the road, I’ve had this amazing feeling that I’m finally doing what’s right for ME. My intuition hasn’t flared up once in a negative way. Life just seems to be flowing and everything is falling into place at the right time. It’s been the most amazingly empowering feeling, and I want MORE of it!

When you’re having these “feelings” trust them!

Follow your gut instincts

Long Beach, BC, Canada – © 2010 Mariska Richters

How to Follow Your Gut:

1. Ask yourself questions, and trust the first answer that comes to your mind.

The next time you are faced with a decision, even something as simple as which fancy coffee to order at Starbucks this morning, take the first one you land on. Our minds are constantly a whirlwind of thoughts. That little voice is always trying to tell us something, or convince us of things. Trust your instincts and go with whatever your first response is. It may seem scary at first, but once you start exercising this regularly, it will become easier.

2. Clear your mind.

Whether you meditate, do yoga, go to the gym, or just go for a run to clear your head: do it! Our heads are full of repetitive thoughts that need to be cleared out regularly. Find a practice that you are comfortable with and maintain it.

3. Trust your body.

When gut feelings hit, we tend to have physical reactions. Trust your stomach if it flips or you get those “bad” butterflies. Trust your body when it resists you wanting to do certain things. Your brain and your heart know when something isn’t right, and may warn you physically. Trust it.

4. Keep a journal.

Develop your intuitive confidence by writing down any gut feelings you have. Keep a record of them and then later look back and see how often you were right. As you learn more about your intuitive feelings, your confidence to follow them will grow, and you will have a better sense of when you are being led in the right (or wrong) direction.

5. Be creative.

The right-brain hemisphere is the center of nonverbal, intuitive, holistic modes of thinking. So to keep this side of the brain more active, we need to be and stay creative. I use photography as my creative outlet. We all have our own ways of expressing ourselves creatively, from drawing and painting, to dancing, to brainstorming and visualizing. Whatever it is, keep it up to exercise the right side of the brain.

Trust your gut. Follow your instincts. Live a Life You Love!


Live Your Dreams and Live Them Now!


We often forget how short life is and how fragile we are. It’s not until we are faced with the loss of someone important to us that we are reminded of what’s really important. This week, brought this back for me while supporting a friend through such a loss.

About two years ago I went through a similar experience. I faced the sudden and unexpected loss of a friend. Processing the array of emotions was one heck of a roller coaster ride. I experienced denial, anger, frustration, a lot of sadness, and eventually acceptance.

I value the lesson I learned from the experience, although I wish I didn’t have to lose someone in order to learn it. I came out of the process with a renewed appreciation for the people I care about. I started to notice that I was sweating way too much of the small stuff and not being present to what was important and right in front of me. I had far too much attachment to material possessions. I was holding on to the past and this was holding me back from LIVING LIFE NOW!

This experience was the initial realization that I had to transform my life, and choose my happiness. I had to start living a life in the present, and appreciate every moment. Once I let go, there was nothing in front of me but possibility. No one knows how much time they have, so make the most of the time you’re given.

So, to borrow the words from a friend, and to pay tribute to those that we’ve lost, let this be…

“A reminder that life can be short; so live it with love, passion, emotion, and adventure. Live your dreams and live them now!”

Clean Up the Clutter, Clean Up Your Life

Preparing for any extended trip can be stressful. Add a move into that, and the stress escalates. This is the second time I’ve moved right before traveling. You’d think I would have learned the first time that this isn’t the best idea.

My last extended travel was a couple of years ago for a 2 month trip to Thailand. I had to have my house moved pre-trip. I did something very similar to what I’m doing now, and moved everything into storage to save on 2 months of rent costs while I was gone. Because really, it makes no sense to pay rent when that money can be spent in much more exciting ways like travel!

This time, things are a bit different. I’m not moving stuff into a storage locker here in Vancouver, but rather I’m selling or donating all the big stuff (furniture etc) and I’m storing the rest with family. Although my Craigslist experience has been a frustrating one, things are slowly selling off. My TV now lives on the floor, I hang out by candlelight in the evenings, I eat my meals at my desk, and my patio is standing room only. There’s still a pile of stuff to sell, but it will all happen in the next week. It has to!

It’s funny how we get attached to stuff. I’ve been working on this purging thing for probably about a year now, and I can honestly say that I’m not attached to much anymore. The more I get rid of, the easier it gets. It all just feels like stuff. Stuff that if I really wanted it again, I could buy it again.

The experience of watching my things go out the door has been freeing. Each item I’ve sold has given me a little bit more breathing room. It’s a great feeling to free myself from the shackles of possessions. It’s almost like any attachment I’ve had to my past goes out the door with it, creating a clean slate to recreate myself and my life.

Some people do spring cleaning, I’m doing a life cleaning. Scrubbing away all the unnecessary crap that just ends up being put on a shelf, shoved in a corner or stored in a box. If I haven’t used it in the past year: Gone! I love it!

I’m sure you also have a bunch of stuff that you could live without and not even notice. So why not do exactly that? You will love the feeling of decluttering your life!

Clean up the clutter! Clean up your life!

Leave the Past Where It Belongs

Leave the past where it belongs. Move forward. Live a life you love. © 2010 Mariska Richters -  Lovina, Bali

© 2010 Mariska Richters – Lovina, Bali, Indonesia

With my upcoming move and ongoing purge, I threw away over 3 albums of photos from my previous life over the weekend, and have been deleting more from hard drives. I’m not really sure why I’ve held on to them for the past 5+ years… They lived mostly sealed in a box. A box of memories that I barely revisited.

After going through this box though, it doesn’t even feel like it was my life. It’s funny how time will shift your perception of the past. Things that were so important at one time are completely foreign now, meaningless even. The life I dreamed for myself then is not even close to what I am imagining now! Back then it was the “formula” life. Now it has grown into something so much bigger, more inspiring, and more exciting!

This is not to say that I don’t value those times, and the people I knew and lessons I learned. I’m using those lessons and experiences now to grow into the my future self. I know what I don’t want, which brings me closer to what I do want.

If you remain stuck in the past, you will continue to live into it and long for something that is not attainable. Leave the past where it belongs: In. The. Past. If you don’t, your future will never inspire you. If you live into a new future that you create for yourself, you have a clean slate to work with and create whatever you want in your life!

If you feel yourself reminiscing and constantly thinking about what once was, you will not be appreciating what is. And if you can’t appreciate what is, then you can’t live into the amazing life that could be. Resisting the change and avoiding the influence that the past has on us, is what keeps us stuck there. Trying to change the past is impossible, and therefore pointless.

It’s not until I realized this, that the reality of it hit me. Once you put the past behind you, you open yourself up to infinite possibilities of reinventing yourself and your life!

Leave the past where it belongs. Move forward. Live a life you love!

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s Thanksgiving. Families are coming together from far and wide for turkey dinners, wine and quality time. Many will go around the dinner table stating what each person is thankful for.

Although I will not be with my family this Thanksgiving, I love you all and I have plenty to be thankful for:


I’m thankful for my health and that I’m in the best physical shape of my life and am able to continue working at it to improve even more.

I’m thankful for my family and the love and support they have always provided in whatever choices I’ve made and whichever path I’ve chosen.

I’m thankful for the children in my life. My niece and nephew, especially, for reminding me of the simple pleasures that surround us everyday. The teach me more about love and patience every second I spend with them. Children are an amazing reminder that life can be so simple, and it’s all about love and human connection.



I’m thankful for the love, support and encouragement of my friends. Especially those who are not afraid to have difficult conversations. I’m thankful for their honestly, their integrity and their strength to tell me the things I may sometimes not want to hear. I’m thankful to have such amazing people in my life and look forward to growing my friendships further.

And, of course, (and risking sounding like a “crazy dog lady”) I’m thankful for my best friend in the world, my Roxidoo! I’m thankful for her unconditional love, her excitement every time I walk in the door, her cuddles and her adorable smile. She keeps me warm at night and active outside in the day. She gives me that daily reason to get out of bed in the morning, especially on those days when I just don’t feel like facing the world.


None of the things I’m thankful for are actual “things.” Although most stuff makes life easier and more convenient, stuff is not what truly matters. The things most people tend to be thankful for are the intangibles in life. Health. Love. Friendships. Family. Which begs the question, why do we have so much stuff? Why do we attach our happiness to things? Why do we have this warped belief that acquiring that next “thing” will finally make us happy?

What makes you truly happy? What are you thankful for this thanksgiving? Now, I invite you to look around at your stuff. How much of it is on your Thanksgiving list? How much of it do you really need? And how much of it could you get rid of with very little impact on your life and your happiness? I’m willing to bet that your thankfulness lands on the intangibles, just like mine does.

Happy Thanksgiving! xo

Thoughts Become Things

Halfmoon Caye, Belize 2009

Halfmoon Caye, Belize ~ © 2009 Mariska Richters Photography

Do you ever have those days when everything seems to line up perfectly? When you have great parking karma – you get both a prime spot AND there’s over an hour in the meter, you get to the coffee shop in the morning and there’s no lineup but then one forms right behind you – perfect timing, you hit every green light on the road and arrive at your meeting early?

Have you ever noticed that the only times these days happen is when you’ve woken up on the “right” side of the bed?

I believe that the law of attraction is responsible. You attract what you think about. If you think about traffic, you will get traffic. If you’re in a hurry and trying to get somewhere fast, there will be some obstacle to slow you down. If you expect someone to be in a nasty mood, that’s how they will appear to you. The same goes for positive experiences: if you relax and think about finding a great parking spot, one will show up for you, even if you have to be patient and drive around for an extra minute.

YOU set the theme for your day. Your thoughts become things. Only you can choose how the day will occur to you, and then you live into that choice. If you choose to think about bad things, bad things will show up for you. If you choose to think about great things, great things will show up for you. It’s ridiculous how simple and easy it really can be to have an awesome day! Just CHOOSE it!!

So the next time you’re having a day where it feels like nothing is going right, I invite you to examine your thoughts. Have a mental checkin with yourself and identify whether your thoughts are focused on what you want or on what you don’t want. The more you think about what you don’t want, the more it will show up for you. If you’re thinking about what you don’t want, you subconsciously look for it. And vice versa for the positive things. So think positive!

Your thoughts become things!

Controlling the Little Voice in Your Head

After my last post about fear, I wanted to talk a bit about the Little Voice in your head. You know, that little devil on your left shoulder (she sometimes has a twin on the right shoulder), who is constantly chattering and making you doubt the things you want to do? It usually crops up when you are about to embark on something new, something exciting, something you have never done before. It’s the Little Voice you hear saying, “What Little Voice? I don’t have a voice in my head.” Yup, that’s the one!

I call mine my “Saboteur”.  I named her this because she always pops up at the worst possible times to sabotage my thoughts,  ideas and inspirations. She makes herself known when I’m making choices that will bring me personal growth. She doubts me. She tells me I’m not good enough, or smart enough, or strong enough, or brave enough, or pretty enough. The list goes on… She is the one who convinces me NOT to do things that I want to do. She convinces me that my fears are real.

The purpose of the Saboteur is to protect you. It’s self preservation. She wants to stop you from doing things that will hurt you or bring you down or break your heart. Her goal is to keep you in your comfort zone, where she knows you’ll be safe. The problem with this is that it stunts personal growth and holds you back from many of the amazing opportunities life has to offer.

So here are a few things that I’ve learned to do to keep my Saboteur at bay:

Filter the Chatter

The great thing is that as soon as you identify the Saboteur talking, you can shut her up. Filter through the chatter and identify which parts are really you talking and which parts are the Saboteur doing her thing. Usually the Saboteur will be the one filled with doubts, while the True You is the one saying, “I can totally do this!” Be selective of the chatter you allow yourself to believe and ignore the rest. The Saboteur will try hard to come out on top, but you need to be stronger than her.

Change Your Self-Talk

“Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead.”  (P!nk, F**kin Perfect) This is so important. If you are constantly feeding yourself negative self-talk, you will do nothing more than bring yourself down. Tell yourself how great you are! Look in the mirror and admire yourself, rather than be critical about the tiny things you don’t like that nobody else probably even notices. Recondition the Little Voice to be a positive one, rather than one that feeds you constant self doubt.

Remind Yourself of Past Accomplishments

When your Saboteur tells you that you can’t do something, remember a time that you accomplished something big! Remind yourself that challenges are there to overcome, and that the last time you ignored your Little Voice, you achieved a big win and did amazing things that made you feel empowered!

So I’ll leave you with this, if you don’t like the story that your life has become, tell yourself a better one! And don’t let your Saboteur get in the way of that! You deserve to live an amazing life! Live a life you love!

If You Don't Like the Story Your Life Has Become, Tell Yourself a Better One

© 2010 Mariska Richters Photography
Sanur, Bali, Indonesia


If You’re Not Scared, You’re Doing It Wrong

Diving in Thailand

How do you know if you’re doing the right thing by leaving everything behind and jumping head first in to a new life? The simple answer is: you don’t. But one thing I can tell you for sure is that if it doesn’t scare you, you’re doing it wrong.

When I think about all the things that I’ve done and the things that scared me most, it’s exactly those things that have helped me grow and become stronger and more confident in life. For me, some of these things included solo traveling, scuba diving, moving to a new city where I didn’t know anybody. Each of these events in my life freaked me right out!

Scuba diving was an especially huge fear for me. I’ve never liked the water, I can’t stand the cold, I hate having my face in the water, and the thought of going 30 meters below the surface of the ocean was simply paralyzing!

But, I did it!

And with that certification I went to the Blue Hole in Belize and swam with sharks, I did a liveaboard diving trip in Thailand and dove a shipwreck in Bali. Scuba diving has introduced me to an entirely other world! It has been an absolutely amazing experience and it was so empowering to stare a major fear in the face and overcome it.

From that fear-facing experience I learned that if something doesn’t scare you, then you’re not on the right path. If you’re not challenging your comfort zone, you’re not playing a big enough game. If you’re not even a little scared, you need to think bigger!

Fear of the unknown is something that stops so many of us from exploring amazing opportunities that life has available to us. Your comfort zone is exactly that: a comfortable place for you to hang out and float effortlessly through life. This may be enough for some, but it’s not enough for me. Hence my commitment to creating a life that that inspires and challenges me.

What are some of the fears that you’ve overcome?

If You Want to Do Something, Do It NOW!

One day I will ____________________.


We all have “One Day” dreams. My list is long, but a few that land near the top at the present moment are:

  • Travel more
  • Enjoy more sunsets
  • Learn to speak fluent Spanish
  • Create a blog featuring my travel photography
  • Build a life in the tropics
  • Have a successful online business
  • Be fit and healthy
  • Learn to surf (this one is a big fear of mine)
  • Live happily everyday!
  • etc…

It’s becoming more present for me everyday that the “One Day” mentality is a dangerous one. We plan to do amazing, inspiring things while time is passing us by. It’s pretty standard that by the time people feel they are able to do the things they’ve always dreamed of, they have worked for the man their entire lives, with the standard 2-3 weeks annual vacation time, and by the time they retire, their bodies are no longer able to do many of the things we’ve always dreamed of.

This realization has been just another drop in the bucket that has started this journey for me. I have watched so many friends and people around me take the plunge, while I have sat back and watched with envy. No more!

If you want to do something, do it NOW!

If You Want to Do Something Do It NOW!

Everything is temporary. Youth is fleeting. Our long-term health is unpredictable. Time is passing us by while we wait for “One Day” to come. We are not getting any younger! If you have a wave of inspiration to do something, go DO IT! Take action! Make it happen!

The only difference between you and the person you perceive to be living the life that you want, is that they took action and to create that for themselves. You can do the same!


Yes, it’s scary; I’m freaked right out, not gonna lie. But if you’re not scared, it’s not the right thing! If it’s too easy, it’s not the right thing. Fear is the universe telling you you’re on the right path. I’m not talking about mortal fear, but the anxiety and the nerves that come along with the unknown surrounding what you want to do. It’s healthy to challenge yourself. When we get too comfortable in life, we get bored and start dreaming of the things we’ve always wanted for ourselves. So, go DO IT! Live your life for you!

What are some of the things YOU have always wanted to do?

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


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.