Advice from a Sloth (Costa Rica 4)

Five weeks ago today, I returned from Costa Rica. This amazing business trip was an experience which needed to be digested and the learning and wisdom needed to be integrated into my life in many different ways.

Coming back to the cold climate and a much more hectic lifestyle was one adjustment. Over the last five weeks, I often thought of the sloth which we met along the side of the road and who took a long long loooong time to make its way down to the ground from the top of a tree.

The encounter with this charming mammal made me want to hold my breath in awe. It truly felt like two different worlds colliding. This mesmerizing animal seemed to move in slow motion. We as humans, on the other hand, rush around so much that we often forget how to take it slow.

I have been contemplating what advice a sloth would give us—if it ever cared enough to impart its wisdom.

1.You’ll get there when you get there

December is the time of the year when we seem to review the old year and assess our satisfaction level with how far we have come. It can be useful to focus on our “wins” and accomplishments. It motivates us to strive for the next goal. At the same time, we often forget how arbitrary certain goals or time limits that we have imposed on ourselves are. If looking back and evaluating your successes is making you feel that you have missed a mark or that you are not where you wanted to be “at this age” or at this point in your life, remember that you’ll get there when you get there. Life is not a race after all, even though it might appear that way at times.

2. Relax and Enjoy the View

We are often in such a rush to get somewhere, to grow up, to finish school, to get the dream job or to build a business, to get through traffic to work every day, to fall in love, to get married, to buy a house, to have children, to get the children through different hurdles like school or university, to get them settled and so on.

One day, we might realize that we have focused way too much on completing each goal instead of on enjoying the journey itself. What if we adopted more of the “Relax and Enjoy the View” philosophy? What if we developed a sloth’s eye perspective from high above in the crown of a tree and remembered that there are different vantage points, and that life is about finding joy in each moment?

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3. Get a good grip and hang on tight

When the tropical rainstorms of life come down, the sloth would probably tell us to just hang on and wait for the sun to come out again. There is great value in strength, trust and resilience.

Life changes inevitably happen. Someone we love dies, we lose a job, we can’t have children when we try, we move one too many times, we finally have children, our spouse breaks our trust, we get a divorce, our teenager gets mixed up with the wrong crowd, our elderly parents need us, someone else dies… Any of this or more might happen. All we can do as life throws us a curve ball is to trust that we have the strength to hang on, and when the storm is over, we will utilize all possible resources to pick up the pieces. Some branches will have broken off in the storm and we need to find new ways of getting from one tree to the next.

4. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is highly underrated in our culture. If we don’t get a reasonable number of hours of deep and restful sleep, usually 7-8, depending on the individual, we are affected in several ways. We might put on extra weight, tend to feel more depressed and have an increased risk for inflammation in our body, diabetes, heart disease or a stroke. We need adequate sleep for a balanced hormone level, for maximum brain function, to problem solve and to have positive social and emotional interactions with others. Sleep helps to heal inflammation, balances our hormones and metabolism and lifts our mood.

5. Remember to Hang Out with Your Kind

Considering how precious time is and how fast it passes, can we make time to just hang out with our friends and family, especially our children or grandchildren, and be truly present with them? The past is over and the future hasn’t been written yet. What would it be like if we brought the energy back in that is flowing into ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, and just allowed ourselves to be here right now, in this moment in time?


Does that sound tempting? If you are in need of a bit of a sloth experience, here is a short meditation to help you to pause, to slow down and to just be present.


If you enjoyed this meditation you might want to check out other short meditations here.

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An Unusual Anniversary

Today is an unusual anniversary for me. A year ago today, I fractured both ankles. For six weeks following, both my legs were in casts. I was first bound to my bed and then to a wheelchair until I had learned to walk again. It was one of those experiences that give you a completely different perspective on life, on yourself and on others.


A year later, I hope I have discovered all the messages this incident had for me. I have written and shared many of the insights. There were lessons around being caught in love and caring when we fall , living in the now, vulnerability versus autonomy, gratitude and heart coherence, empowerment, and taking care of one’s needs. So-called accidents are not coincidences. Their timing and exact details happen for a reason. We have to ask, what does the injury or illness prevent us from doing; what does it allow us to do? In what way is our body speaking our mind? Which of our needs have we not been taking care of?

The end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 was a time of many changes for me. My oldest daughter was moving out, which shifted the family dynamics. There was also a lot of disruption and emotional upheaval stirred up in our core family through our extended family.  On top of that, some professional changes were unfolding. I had moments of confusion about where I was going and how to meet everybody’s needs. “What ifs…” came up and the question of “Who am I in the different roles that I am playing?”

The accident happened just a few weeks after I taught the Shadow Energetics workshop, created by my friend Darryl, for the first time on my own. I originally felt that I had to fill big shoes, as Darryl is a powerful teacher with a catching laugh and fabulous sense of humour. I have meanwhile taught the four-day workshop—or part of it—several times and have learned not to fill his shoes but my own. As much as the processes I am teaching have remained the same, the class is filled with my stories, my own sense of humour, and completely new media to present everything differently.

With some of the other lessons, I took my sweet time to learn them fully, for example the lesson of noticing when we over-function for others and thus end up feeling unappreciated. A clear reminder of that came up for me around Christmas. We can’t please everybody. In fact, there are people who never can be pleased because they feel so deeply unlovable that there is nothing anybody else can say or do to change this. They are insistent on telling their victim stories, which give them attention and are oblivious of how they affect others. All we can do is send them love from a distance and allow our own life to be in balance.

Balance is something

Other lessons—like fully living in the present and enjoying each moment—I am certain will come back time and again. Life is this wonderful balance of looking ahead to the future and co-creating our tomorrow but still living right now free of cares, just connecting to our true essence.

When I come across somebody in a wheelchair or a walker, I make an extra effort to connect. Being physically disabled can be a life of looking in from the fringe and can feel quite lonely. Even with a temporary disability, I was treated differently; people avoided looking at me and even spoke to the person pushing the wheelchair rather than me. I can only imagine how challenging this must be for others in a more extended situation than mine. Every person, who smiled at me or talked to me while I was out and about in the wheelchair made my day.

What remains for me a year later is a deep sense of gratitude for my amazing family, for my body which carries me so well through life and a huge joy at being able to enjoy this spring time outside. I watch each flower blooming, each bud sprouting on the trees with true delight. Here is another spring, another round to learn and grow and be present with each glorious moment that unfolds.


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Piece of Advice for My Daughter

My friend Crina was sharing a lovely blog with me in which a mother gave her daughter 32 principles or lessons on life as she is moving out to go to school. That made me wonder, if I could only give my own daughter one piece of advice, what would that be? What is it that I have learned that has made a fundamental difference in how I experience life?

Sometimes clients resonate with a part in me, like a tuning fork will trigger another equal one into vibrating. That might be a part that I needed to see in a mirror, or a message I needed to hear. Other times, I recognize a part that I haven’t connected with in a while but have integrated or made peace with over the years.

Lately, a few of my younger female clients have shared about the part in them that feels that the “clock is ticking” in regards to reaching their goals. That part used to speak to me very loudly as well when I was in my twenties. The story that part would tell me went something like, “You only have so much time to make it all happen, to finish your education, start your career, find the perfect partner, get married and have children. You better hurry and make it happen or you will be too old in no time.”

Piece of Advice 2

That part wants us to have a plan for the future and to focus on reaching it. It is undoubtedly a useful part. Yet, if we over-identify with this part, it can also put us in a place of anxiety and of constantly living in the future. We miss out on the present moment. We deprive ourselves from living right now, from experiencing and enjoying the magic of today. That magic is not just present at whatever age we have decided our life will surely be perfect, but continues to be constantly present during our twenties, thirties, forties and so on.

The one piece of advice I would like to give my daughter as she is starting out on a new adventure is to honour the part in her which is focused on the future, while not forgetting to live fully right now in the present. The voice in us which is aware of the passing of time and the need to “get ready for the winter” like a squirrel, is only one voice on our committee of advisers, only one voice on the panel of our internal board of directors.

How would it feel if we just moved into a place of trusting that everything always unfolds perfectly? Our career will take the twists and turns it needs to take for our personal growth. We will learn from each of our partnership(s) until we decide to start a family. Children will come in their own time and in their own way, some biological, others as adopted children or stepchildren. What would our experience of life be like if we—instead of feeling we have only a limited time to make it all happen—relaxed into everything unfolding with ease and grace?

Piece of Advice 3


Life Coaching


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Vacation Away From My Planner Self

I had planned that my first blog back from vacation was going to be about the differences in parenting styles in different countries. Then my friend Grace Attard planted a different seed in my mind with a Facebook post I read at 4:00 a.m. this morning—because unlike planned, I had trouble sleeping. And after reading that post, all my planning went out the window.

Yes, you guessed right. I am a planner. I like to think ahead and plan. And, of course, I have family members who mirror for me the opposite energy that I am not always in touch with, the spontaneous energy. When I am challenged with their approach to life, I like to say they are incapable of planning or unwilling to plan even a day in advance! I get infuriated how they can feel okay about “flying by the seed of their pants” without worrying about any consequences. But I do know very well that they just have a different view of life in general and specifically regarding the merits of planning.

There is a voice in me that feels there is such a thing as “wasting time”. That same voice also says that you can ensure everybody is happy by planning ahead and ensuring that no obligations are forgotten. It says planning is an effective use of the limited time we are given. It also says that people who plan are bound to be more successful, make less mistakes, be financially better off, be happier, and so on. While that might sometimes be right, it isn’t necessarily always the case. Sometimes spontaneous last-minute gut-decisions turn out better than long-term planning.

When it comes to vacations, I have learned that the best moments, the ones that stay in your memory forever, the ones that we still reminisce about years later, are the ones that were not planned. When we were in Amsterdam and we suddenly found ourselves maneuvering through a sea of bicycles just after we arrived by train. Or when we were in Paris and we stumbled upon the perfect little art exhibition, much better than lining up to get into the Louvre. Or when we were in Barcelona and we happened to come across the perfect charm for my mother’s charm bracelet, in the city she loved so much. Or when we stood in the centre of an ancient stone circle in England and the energy was incredibly strong. Or when in Brussels, the waiter photo-bombed our picture and made us laugh. And the list goes on.

Vacation from my planner self - rock circle

And then there was the summer when I took a trip to Quebec City with my closest girlfriend and our daughters. I got so sick with a sinus infection on the plane that she had to take care of me and the kids for the first three days. Even an unplanned negative event like that, I deeply cherish because the experience was filled with love. It was filled with acceptance and going with the flow.

My favourite childhood memories are also those of spontaneous little moments. I have that memory of my conservative, self-controlled father showing us kids how to do a cartwheel in the backyard of a little cottage in England where we were vacationing. For just a short moment in time he let us see a completely different energy from him: the energy of spontaneity, non-sense and joy, prompted by the fact that we were on vacation.


Ironically, the woman sitting next to me on the plane last night was reading the book “Wait. The Useful Art of Procrastination”, which shows that I ended up in the seat next to her after switching with another passenger not by coincidence but by synchronicity. As I am reading over her shoulder “…if you don’t know how to manage time, time can rule you like a tyrant”, I wonder what an appropriate way of managing time might be. The author Frank Partnoy also writes, “Time is a slippery concept, and we are often wrong about it…”

Wait - bookcover

I have been ruled by the feeling of not having enough time or of not having used time efficiently. That is a slippery concept because it is a completely subjective experience. As I am sitting on the plane, the question arises if I should be using my time efficiently and should be working on my computer—like I had planned—or if I should be reading for work (also planned), or if I can give myself permission to watch a second movie. I could have forced myself to stick with the original plan but the vacation feeling was still lingering in me, so the movie won over the other two options. Having made that decision, I then had the choice to feel like I am wasting time or, in other words, like I am procrastinating doing my work. Or I could really enjoy the time I had on the plane. I believe in the first case I would have allowed time to rule me like a tyrant.

At the end of a wonderful vacation, the lady next to me and her book gave me another reminder to not always ask whether something is a “waste of time” and to see the value of not always operating according to plan.

Vacation from my planner self - CLOCK

A vacation for me is a vacation away from home, from work, from obligations, but most of all it is a vacation away from my planner self. A perfect invitation to live in the moment, to “wing it”, to allow wonderful surprises to unfold. It is an opportunity to just live in the day, to see what we come across as we embark on a little adventure.

When have you last taken a vacation away from your planner self, or your perfectionist self, or your pleaser self? When have you last enjoyed the moment without asking “What is on the agenda next?” “Is this situation perfect?” or “Am I making everybody else happy?”

And by that I don’t even mean a literal vacation. Let’s all give ourselves a vacation day or at least a few vacation hours each week when we are able to shed our planner self and completely live in the wonderful magical moment of everything that is possible.

Angelika Baum

Life and Belief Change Coaching


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Going Inwards

Have you ever had a day, or even a week, where you wondered why the whole world seems to have lost their mind? A day when you couldn’t believe that one silly thing after the next happened?

I did. One issue after the next came up and I was shaking my head at why it always all seems to happen at once. My best friend Claudia just laughed when I told her. She reminded me of what I knew but had forgotten this week: “Relax. It is not the world, it is you. Do you feel centred this week? Truly centred and strong? How many “energy strings” are leading away from you right now?”

She was right of course. The world mirrors for us what is going on inside. Life has been too busy lately. Busy in a good way, yet still out of balance. Life flows best when there is a balance between being extrovert and introvert, between doing and just being. And as much as she was not saying anything I don’t know—in fact I point energy leaks out to my clients all the time—I seemed to have forgotten my own teachings.

Why did I forget? Because sometimes life is so exciting, there are all those opportunities tempting us, all those connections to make and all those experiences to have, that we can forget to bring the energy back in and re-charge. We are so eager to be part of something and to feel the aliveness which comes from the experience of being in the middle of things that we sometimes tend to forget the peace that lies in the opposite of doing.

 Weeping Willow 3

I meditate daily but when life is extra busy I need more than that. I need more sleep and I need alone time. The “world gone crazy” showed me that it is time to re-charge, time to unplug from all social networks, time to cancel activities, time to go out and sit under my favourite tree, time to connect with the Universe outside in nature, time to re-focus on myself, time to collect all the energy back and to go inwards.

I unplugged for an entire day yesterday and can’t wait for the next day to “unplug”. As a reward for just being present in the moment, for being spontaneous and going for a walk, the Universe had a little surprise which made my day. Close to the sailboat harbour in Oakville down by the lake, a special rock collection is growing.

Rocks 3

According to a local person passing by, it all started with a bucket a child left behind. Somebody wrote “bucket list” on that pail, left a marker behind, and people wrote their dreams and thoughts onto rocks and put them into the bucket. When the bucket became too small, people started adding rocks and piling them up around the bucket.

Some rocks hold wishes and intentions sent out to the Universe, others drawings, and the best ones—or so I feel—have quotes or reminders for others written on them.

Rock The Next Chapter

Rock Your Opinion Of Me 1

Rock Be YoruselfHave you lately considered your bucket list or what is really important to you? Make it fun and inspiring. We get so caught up in our lives, so caught up in our hurts and stories. Go check out this rock collection and add your own dreams, thoughts or quotes. Or perhaps you want to start your own rock collection and meditate on what is truly essential for your personal and spiritual growth.

Rock Make Time 2


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“I just can’t meditate!”

A couple of years ago, I used to teach a meditation class. These days, I only lead a meditation for our monthly PSYCH-K® practice group or the occasional networking meeting. Last week, I was given the opportunity to guide the meditation at one of the amazing Wild About Wellness meetings Simone Usselman-Tod organizes for health-care practitioners in Burlington, Guelph and Hamilton. Afterwards one participant said to me, “I really liked what you said about meditation because I have learned something new…”

What was it that I had said before starting the meditation? It was really quite simple and the answer to a concern I have often heard from meditation beginners. I have heard people say many times: “I just can’t quiet my mind to meditate. I don’t know what to do to shut my thoughts off!”

Meditation has nothing to do with doing. In fact, it is the exact opposite of doing! Meditation is just being in the moment. Meditation means letting go, letting go of all thoughts that go into the past or the future. It means gently bringing and keeping your attention on what is right now in this very moment in time, being present with whatever shows up.

Meditation Tia OshoDoing the dishes or pulling weeds can be a meditation, as long as you are fully present with what you are doing. Or, as my good friend Lisbeth Fregonese said in a radio interview the other day, “Maybe you are meditation walker, a meditation swimmer, or a meditation jogger.”

Walking, running, swimming, roller blading, riding your bike, dancing, singing and so on can all be meditative. All that is required is that you allow yourself to be fully immersed in whatever you are doing. Embrace mindfulness. Allow your mind, body and spirit to be in rhythm with the walking, running, or swimming. For me writing is meditative. When I allow the thoughts to flow through me and onto the screen, I am not thinking or feeling anything else.

meditation Osho 1One of the biggest distractions which prevents us from fully being present is our phone. Do we really need to be constantly available by phone, e-mail or text? What if we turned our phone off when we are having dinner with our family or when we are on an outing? What if we even turned if off for an entire Sunday to be fully present with the sunshine, to enjoy our back-yard, our loved ones, whatever we are doing? What if we gave ourselves permission to be fully present with our children, our partner, our family or friends? What if we allowed ourselves to give our full attention to whatever we are doing in each given moment, instead of constantly multitasking? What if we opened up to being mindful in each moment in time?

When we are totally here, no yesterday pulling us back with feelings of regret or resentment, no tomorrow pulling us forward and making us anxious, we feel calm, connected, and centred. When we think too much of the past or the future we are wasting the present. Yet, the present is the only thing which is real.

Meditation river Osho

Osho gives a beautiful metaphor of how to quiet your mind which I used to like to read out to my meditation class participants:

“Thoughts settle on their own accord, you need not jump amongst them, you need not try to put them right. It is as if a stream has become muddy… what do you do? Do you jump in it and start helping the stream to become clear? You will make it more muddy. You simply sit on the bank. You wait. There is nothing to be done. Because whatsoever you do will make the stream more muddy. If somebody has passed through a stream and the dead leaves have surfaced and the mud has arisen, just patience is needed. You simply sit on the bank. Watch, indifferently. And as the stream goes on flowing, the dead leaves will be taken away, and the mud will start settling because it cannot hang forever there. After a while, suddenly you will become aware – the stream is crystal-clear again.”

Another misconception people have is that—unless they have a certain amount of time—they do not need to bother meditating. It is not necessary to sit and meditate for an hour every day. Once you start meditating you might want to meditate for an hour because it feels so good but even allowing yourself to be still, relaxed and mindful for ten minutes at a time makes a big difference.

Meditation cup Osho

Angelika Baum

Relaxation, Meditation, Subconscious Belief Changes

Angelika wide picture for blogs

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Our Vacation Self

Have you ever noticed that we seem to have a “vacation self” and an “every day self”? What happens to us when we go on vacation?

I remember my surprise as a child watching my responsible and serious father turn into a happy and relaxed human being when he was on vacation. I have one photo from the early 80’s in which he is doing a somersault in the backyard of a cottage in England we vacationed in. Up until today I am stunned by his transformation back then.

Just having returned from vacation myself, I noticed how I too, seemed to have a “vacation self”. My vacation self is not one that is doing somersaults—I would probably break my neck-–but certainly is one that is different. I am more adventurous. I am also more generous with my finances and with my time. On vacation it always feels like we have plenty. The day stretches out wide open in front of us to do with it whatever we feel like.

I also noticed how I am drawn to things I used to do. I found myself looking at Ravensburger puzzles. I haven’t puzzled in years. I remember fondly how it always felt like the world around me was just fading away when doing a puzzle. I didn’t end up buying a puzzle but I noticed that I long for some “puzzle time,” time to myself in which I can just let the world fade away.

And we carry souvenirs home with us, seashells or pictures or other knickknacks to bring back a bit of that feeling of being away on vacation. We bring all those mementos home in our suitcase in order to remember who we were able to be when we were away.

Most of us find it a bit hard to go back to work—no matter how much we love what we do—and to our everyday life. Some sort of grieving seems to be going on, grieving that the vacation is over. Yet, I wonder if we are also grieving for the person we are on vacation, the person we could be.


I wonder what would happen if we gave ourselves permission to be more like that vacation self every day, be more present in the moment and enjoy the gift each day is.

What if we asked, “what makes my heart sing” on a daily basis?

What if we found time to do all the things we love, just as if every day was a vacation day?

What if we allowed ourselves to be generous, relaxed and happy all the time?


I found this quote in a little café when on vacation:


Yesterday is history

Tomorrow is a mystery and

Today is a gift

That’s why we call it present.



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What I can learn from my dog

Do you have a dog? We have a part-time dog. We are fortunate enough to dog-sit on a regular basis and are able to be a part of the life of this amazing creature called Teika. She is a beautiful two-year-old sheltie.

Whenever she leaves after a visit of a few days the energy in the house is noticeably different. We miss the tap tap tap tap… tap tap tap tap… of four little paws following us around curiously. We miss her head appearing around the corner and her brown eyes gazing up to us trustingly. We miss her playfulness. Most of all,we miss her loving energy.

She is always up for play, or for a walk. When it is hot, she finds a place in the shade to plop down and just relax. She has never once said no to being lovingly caressed. She knows how to give and receive love with an open heart.

She is never upset about something that has happened in the past, and never worries about the future. She is always fully present with us, right here, right now.

That ability to just “be” in the present moment without “baggage from the past” is the greatest gift she gives us. She teaches us to let go and fully enjoy life. She truly lives in the moment.

Being in the moment is true freedom. The past only has the power over us to the degree we allow it to have power over us. If we live in regret, resentment, un-forgiveness or anger we are stuck in the past. If we allow anxiety to take over it’s because we are worrying about the future.

What if you could completely let go of the past like your dog? What if you could relax feeling that your future is going to turn out perfectly? What if instead of racing towards some imaginative finish line you could slow down just like your dog and be truly present?

Do you want to live more in the moment and let go of everything that does not serve you anymore?


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Being in the Glorious Moment

My friend posted this on Facebook and got 50 Likes for it.  It really hit a cord with people. Why is that?

Why don't we splash in puddles


When she later told me the story about splashing in the puddle, I felt anxiety rising in myself as I wondered if I would have jumped into the puddle to end up all covered in wet mud. I never jumped into puddles when my kids were little. What is all that fear about?

Reluctance of jumping into the puddles seems to me to be symbolic for being afraid of life. Nothing terrible is going to happen if we jump into the puddle, yet nonetheless, we do not allow ourselves to be free and truly playful. We do not give ourselves permission to be completely in the moment and enjoy life like children still know how to do.

We complain about the heat, the rain or the snow instead of enjoying being hot or wet or cold. We run inside when it rains instead of realizing how perfect each moment is. It is perfect to feel life with all our senses, to just be right here, right now. Jumping in puddles is a form of meditation, of letting go of everything that is not real—the past that is over, and the future that has not happened yet.

There are so many different ways of being in each glorious moment. Connect with nature, be completely present with somebody, read, write, paint, be creative, sing, dance, feel, meditate… the list is endless and very personal.

What is on your list? How are you going to be in the moment today?

I went home and told my 12 year old that next time it rains I want to jump in the puddles in our backyard. Her reply was, “I am not doing this with you. That’s for 5 year olds!” With sadness, I realized that I have already taught my own children to judge and consider what is “appropriate” instead of what it means to enjoy life.

In what ways are you fearful to fully enjoy life? What beliefs might you have to let go of to be completely immersed in each glorious moment? What holds you back from fully embracing joy and happiness?