Julie Tkachuk

Live Your Dream


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Lessons Learned from Difficult Relationships

Posted on 24 May, 2019 at 13:25

Relationships have been both the bane and joy of my existence. I have suffered tremendously in them, yet I have also experienced great joy as a result of my connection with others.

My greatest teachers were the people closest to me – my parents, partners, children, close friends and bosses. And each of them has taught me something wonderful. For example, my two children have provided me with opportunity after opportunity (and in ways that tested me for all I was worth) to become more patient and giving. Partners have taught me that there were times I needed to get closer and times I needed to say goodbye.

One thing I have noticed in relationships is that we all perceive life through our own filters. When I speak publicly, people in the audience often approach me after my talk. Often, at the same presentation, more than one person comments that my talk was meant specifically for him or her. One person would say they loved my message of “living in the present moment” while another said I spoke about “lightening up about things.” I probably addressed both points, but each participant heard and remembered what resonated with them.

We do the same thing in our relationships. If we tend to feel hurt when criticized, we will be overly sensitive to the innocent comments of others. Not only that but we will likely attract or be attracted to people who criticize us. We bring out in others what we expect to see.

At one of my very first jobs I worked as a secretary for a small consulting firm. I had only been there for a few weeks and all was going well. Then one morning, as I was sifting through the new work from my in-basket, I found a 20-page handwritten document with a sticky note attached to it that read, “Please type.” Upon closer examination I realized that the document was a university paper written by the son of my boss. I was stupefied and amazed that my boss would expect me to type such a thing. On the other hand, I was both nervous and scared about saying anything to him. Never before had I stood up to someone in authority. So I sat with how I felt for most of the morning. I took a long walk at lunch and mulled things over, trying to figure out what to say and how to say it. I had no idea that my decision would have such far-reaching consequences.

It has been said that we teach people how to treat us and time and time again I have experienced the truth of this statement. On more than one occasion I have said nothing when I should have said “no” and my consequences ranged from mildly uncomfortable to extremely painful. I now fully understand that silence, for the most part, is considered to be consent.

Because each of us looks at life through the filters of our own lenses, that capricious thing called perception is often a slippery slope. Think about how two children growing up in one family have such different memories of the same upbringing or how two people going through a divorce have completely opposite recollections of the events that occurred. We each see through the color of our own lenses. Some people’s glasses are rose-colored; others are very dark. That being the case, when do we speak up? And how do we all get along? We speak our truth all the time. And we allow each person to experience their own reality. We cannot create someone else’s life experience for them anyway – that is their job. So, our task is to say what we mean, concern ourselves with ourselves and do the only work we can...our own.

Eleanor Roosevelt said that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. I have often said that the word “inferior” in that sentence could be replaced with any number of other words and still be correct. You could substitute the word with “angry” or “sad” or even “happy.” Yes, all any of us can do is focus on what we, ourselves, are thinking, saying and doing.

With knees shaking, I walked into the office of my boss, looked him in the eye, and said, “I don't think that my job duties include typing this report for your son.” His immediate response was, “My father's secretary used to type my school reports.” From some strong, confident place within me I heard the following words flow from my mouth: “I am not your father's secretary.”

Never again was I asked to type a school report. Instead, over the course of the decade that I worked for this company, I was promoted many times, given increasing responsibility and I received great financial bonuses as well. Not only that, but in all the jobs I have had since then I have never been asked to do anything that I felt was incongruent with the position I held.

When I decided to leave the position, a woman I’ll call Brenda replaced me. After I had been gone for about a year, I was in the neighbourhood of my old office and stopped in to say hello to everyone. Brenda called me aside and asked me how I could have worked for such an abusive man for so long. She told me that my old boss yelled at her often, watched the clock like a hawk to see if she returned from lunch on time and basically treated her very badly. Here we were, talking about the same man, yet we had totally different experiences. How could this be?

As far as relationship challenges are concerned, I have found that my answers were always found within. There are, after all, no demons on the outside. And even when it looks as though one appears “out there,” some serious reflection always revealed that I created the enemy in my mind long before he or she showed up in my life. For example, my own feelings of unworthiness have served as the magnet for any and all my previous less-than-desirable relationships. My own inner critic, and inability to speak up for myself, always showed up as someone willing to tell me my beliefs or actions were wrong and how I “should” think or act instead.

Personal development is the key to healthy relationships. After all, your relationship with yourself forms the basis of all your relationships with others. The more I worked through my own issues and got to know myself better, the better my relationships became. As I became more honest with myself, I became more honest with others. My willingness to show my vulnerability has strengthened my relationships and made them more real and deep.

Give thanks for the difficult people in your life. Look within to find the cause of the relationship “problem” and then address the issue with the person who is providing you with the opportunity to learn more about yourself. And always, keep in mind that some people look better walking towards you while others look better walking away.

How you view yourself, others and life will create your reality. Work at eliminating any old limiting beliefs you have and begin to see all of your experiences through crystal clear eyes. Perceive each of them as an opportunity to learn, grow and become the best you can be.

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face...we must do that which we think we cannot.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Copyright © Julie Tkachuk

Published in The St. Albert Gazette on September 25, 2004

Create a Life That Has Meaning

Posted on 12 March, 2019 at 13:15

Leadership expert Warren Bennis says, “We must think carefully about our paths before we set out on them, for by the time a person discovers that his path ‘has no heart,’ the path is ready to kill him. At that point few of us have the courage to abandon the path, lethal as it may be, because we have invested so much in it, have become so successful at it, and to choose a new path seems dangerous, even irresponsible, and so we continue dutifully, if joylessly along.”

All we have to do is watch the news these days to see that the path we are on is, quite literally, killing us. An escalating sense of powerlessness and insecurity can be seen around the world as everyday events such as flying in a plane, going to work and opening our mail take on new meaning. It has become glaringly obvious that we must change paths, and we must change paths now. To effectively deal with the problems that have been created, each of us must do three things. First, we must find a path that does have a heart. Then, we must walk that path. Finally, we must walk it as leaders.

So how do you find a path that has a heart? By doing what you are passionate about or becoming passionate about what you do. By recognizing that your work is more than a job. By understanding that you don’t do anyone a favor, least of all yourself, by just showing up at work or at home and believing that is enough. By seeing your interactions with the people in your life as an opportunity to grow, learn and work with greater integrity.

When you find this path, you walk it by teaching, writing, supervising, investing, administrating, speaking, acting, etc. with a greater sense of purpose. Walking your “path with a heart” may mean creating a more harmonious environment in your classroom or workplace, writing a letter to your member of parliament, standing up for someone who is being ridiculed by others because they are different, investing in stock from businesses that operate ethically, starting a recycling program at work, joining an organization you believe in or facilitating workshops on higher living skills. Find what you are passionate about and become part of the solution.

Finally, learning how to be an effective leader is done by learning how to be an effective person. Be committed to change. Be unwilling to settle for anything less than the best in yourself. Live up to your own vision of excellence and use your unique talents to the fullest. Learn how to communicate effectively with others and show them that you care.

Warren Bennis also writes, “Our parents, our schools and our organizations all inadvertently conspire against us when they focus on the development of a career, with the rest of life merely an unanticipated consequence of the career, or even when they stress the how-to’s of a career rather than the why’s.”

Our education system, corporations and mass media are powerful tools for change. We could use them wisely and with integrity. Children could be taught higher living skills as well as textbook facts, corporations could place a higher emphasis on people instead of profits, and the media could be used to educate and uplift rather than instill hatred and fear.

Become a leader. Think about the changes you wish to see and then take appropriate action. Live peacefully with your family. Work harmoniously with your co-workers. Teach your children to live with integrity by doing so yourself. Take your best self to work and bring that same person home at night. Speak out in the world. Become an advocate for conscious local, federal and global partnership based on honesty, integrity and mutual gain.

Copyright © Julie Tkachuk

Published in The St. Albert Gazette on October 27, 2001

Finding Your One True Love

Posted on 1 February, 2019 at 16:45

“Kissing is a means of getting two people so close together that they can’t see anything wrong with each other.” – Ren Yasenek

February is heart month. When I think of the heart, I think of love. Yes, I know it is a muscle. Yes, I know it needs to keep beating and pumping blood for me to stay alive. But maybe it’s our love muscle. Maybe our ability to give and receive love determines the condition of our heart muscle. And if so, judging from the high rate of heart disease, it seems to me that we aren’t taking very good care of this most necessary of body parts. However, I don’t want to write about the body. The message I do want to convey is the importance of love – of others and of the self.

As a marriage commissioner I see love at its best. Young couples swooning over each other. Middle-aged couples excited about their wedding preparations. Older couples happy to have found a companion. Yet I once saw a billboard that read, “Great wedding. Now invite me to the marriage.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m in love with love. It is truly a splendiferous thing. I cry at romantic movies. I believe in marriage. But somewhere along the line, between the first date and the double-digit anniversary, we often go astray. Or maybe we don’t even get to the starting gate. Why? Too often, I think, it's because we search for love in all the wrong places. What are the wrong places? Anywhere outside of yourself is the wrong place.

We look for evidence that someone loves us without giving any consideration to the fact that, first and foremost, we need to love ourselves. I’m not saying we should be islands or that we should be totally independent. I don’t think being either of those is a recipe for a healthy, balanced life. What I am saying is that we are the only person capable of fulfilling all of our needs all of the time. We are the only person that always (hopefully!) has our best interests at heart. We are the only person who knows exactly where to scratch our every itch.

Now I don’t know about you, but I certainly wasn’t taught the value of loving myself in my first family. I wasn’t taught this in school. When I was growing up there were no self-help books to assist me. No, I learned the hard way. I learned to look after myself by first looking after everyone else but myself. Somewhere in that huge contrast of overly caring for others and totally ignoring myself, I found my way. Actually, I’m still finding it. I’m a work in progress, just like everyone else. But I have learned some things.

I’ve learned that it is better to say no sometimes and risk ticking others off than it is to do something with absolute resentment. I’ve learned that I feel better when I focus most of my attention on what brings me the most joy rather than focusing on what others do that I don’t like. I’ve learned that it is far better to honestly say what I want and need rather than attempt to control, manipulate or guilt others into meeting my needs. I’ve learned that somehow, when I speak my truth and then relax and allow, my good comes to me in ways I often find truly amazing. As I’ve learned these things, I have been able to open my heart to giving and receiving in far healthier ways.

So, I’d like to wish you a happy heart month, a happy Valentine’s Day and a happy Random Acts of Kindness Week. Just remember to take care of your heart. Romance yourself and be kind to yourself – every day. And always keep in mind these comical but wise words of Fred Allan: “The last time I saw him he was walking down Lover’s Lane, holding his own hand.”

Copyright © Julie Tkachuk 

published in The St. Albert Gazette on February 15, 2006

Relax and Allow What You Want to Come to You

Posted on 17 January, 2019 at 10:20

Quite some time ago I purchased a small gift for a friend. It was something I also wanted and had thought of keeping for myself. But this friend and I were meeting for coffee and I decided I wanted her to have it. I was excited about giving it to her because I knew it was something she wanted. She was very happy to receive the gift and we both laughed loud and hard as she immediately handed me a box that contained the very same gift. Our small but meaningful gifts to each other were the “easy” buttons produced by Staples. Press the large red button and a man’s voice says, “That was easy.”

The two of us often discuss the difference in our results when we do one of two things: 1) attempt to control something into being, or 2) allow events to occur in their own manner and time. Having spent many of our earlier years trying to push people and circumstances into place, we have become committed to letting events unfold easily. I must admit that I am not 100 per cent successful at this yet, but I have certainly come a long, long way. I used to get upset when plans got cancelled, contracts were postponed, or people didn’t do what they said they’d do. Now I understand these things occur because something is not right, ready, or a fit for me. Here’s a recent example.

A cousin of mine and I had agreed to meet in Calgary. A few days of R&R felt like just what we both needed, and I was quite looking forward to the trip. But when my cousin and I spoke again, I found out that the relatives whose home we were going to stay at were experiencing some marital difficulties. My immediate response was that the last thing they needed was company. Shortly afterwards I realized a greater truth: the last thing “I” needed was to be someplace where the energy was full of tension and stress. Instead of calling and cancelling my plans, however, I decided to relax and allow. Lo and behold, the night before I was to leave for Calgary, a storm blew in and created poor highway driving conditions. The solution presented itself. I called my cousin and we postponed our trip.

Time and time again, synchronicities like this have occurred when I have taken my hands off the wheel of my life. There truly is a natural order of events and when I surrender to the Power greater than myself, things I experience and receive are far better than anything I could have controlled, manipulated or forced into being. I have a quote on a sticky note that I carry forward each week in my appointment book. It comes from the Abraham-Hicks material and it reads, “When you give up trying to control conditions and you instead just go with the flow of what feels best to you, then the conditions take care of themselves.” And they do, with absolute ease.

Now I’m not saying that we don’t take action and move forward. What I am saying is that we do so when it feels right and that when things aren’t working with ease and harmony, we step back and re-evaluate our actions and plans. I know for myself that each time I have so desperately wanted something to work and have pushed and contrived to make it so, both the experience and I have gone “splat.” Which reminds me of a quote from Isaac Newton: “To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.” To me, that means whatever I am pushing for will push back just as hard. Like when I pushed for my children to behave a certain way, they pushed against my expectations with an equal or greater will. And when I relaxed, they did too. Be easy on others. Be easy on yourself. Relax and allow the people, places and things that you want to come to you.

After our gift exchange, my “easy” button friend and I commented on how, when we unconditionally gave away that which we ourselves wanted, we both received what we wanted. So freely give away what you want. Give friendship. Give love. Give time. Give money. Before long, you will hear yourself saying, “That was easy!”

Copyright © Julie Tkachuk

published in The St. Albert Gazette February 17, 2007

Miracles Happen All the Time

Posted on 20 November, 2018 at 17:10

The things we receive often come to us in ways that boggle the mind. Miracles we call them, occurrences that have no logical explanation, events that contradict all known laws. Yet Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, published in 1984, defined miracles as, “A divinely natural phenomenon experienced humanly as the fulfillment of spiritual law.” To think that miracles only take place occasionally is a mistake. Miracles are a natural phenomenon and they happen all the time.

Individuals often share with me stories of synchronistic events that occurred in their lives. One of the most wonderful I have heard was from a man who was doing some plumbing repairs in his home. When he discovered that he needed a new part, a specific O-ring to be exact, he made a few phone calls. He lives in a remote community and quickly discovered that the O-ring was not available anywhere locally and would have to be ordered. There was nothing he could immediately do about the repairs, so he decided to go fishing. While out on the lake in his boat he caught a rather large fish that he brought home. While he was cleaning and gutting the fish, he felt something hard inside its intestinal tract. When he cut it open, what he found was the exact O-ring he needed.

Chance? Coincidence? I don’t think so. The odds of that specific O-ring being found in that particular fish’s stomach was, quite simply, a miracle. I have told this story to others and some of them say it’s fabricated. However, I have seen, and experienced first-hand, far too many miraculous events to agree. I absolutely know that miracles are everyday occurrences.

Trish, the sister of a close friend, was diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis was not good. After a large tumor was removed, she underwent a round of radiation treatments followed by a half-day operation to reconstruct her face. Her doctor did not offer much hope and didn't feel the cancer hadn’t been completely removed. Yet my friend and her family continued to ask for prayers of healing from around the world. Then, just before she was scheduled to go for the next series of radiation treatments, Trish went for tests. When the doctor phoned her he said, “I’ve never made a call like this in my life. You are cancer-free. Carry on with your life.”

There are “large” miracles and there are miracles that we take for granted. Events such as the birth of a child, a breathtaking sunrise or the blossoming of a flower are no less miracles than those seemingly larger demonstrations. Furthermore, when we consider the things we don’t even think about such as the astonishing number of functions performed with precision every day by our very own bodies, we can see that we truly are surrounded by and immersed in miracles all the time.

What about the times when everything looks like it’s going wrong? Where are the miracles then? Over the course of my life so far, my knees have hit the floor many times. Yet today, when I look back, I can see that everything that has happened occurred for my highest good and my personal growth. My mother’s unavailability due to her experience with multiple sclerosis made me strong and independent. Had I not overcome my fear of public speaking decades ago I would not have developed the self-confidence to do the work I do. Overall, I have learned to trust that there is a higher order of events that transpires and that even when it looks like all is lost, it isn’t.

Begin to look at things from a higher perspective and a grander vision. Start to see each day, each opportunity, each experience and each event as the miracle that it is.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.” – Albert Einstein

Copyright © Julie Tkachuk

published in The St. Albert Gazette January 17, 2004

How to Live Richly

Posted on 18 November, 2018 at 13:25

When you want to know how much money you have, what do you do … look in your wallet, check your bank balance, or make a list of your assets? Since we live in a world where most of us gauge the level of our prosperity by what we have right now, those would be the most likely responses. But what if you looked instead to the invisible supply? What if you shifted your perception about money and could see that its supply is unlimited?

If you look at the world around you, you will see that there really is an abundance of money. All that you want to happen is that more of it comes to you for your own personal use. And it will not do that if you have limited beliefs about money such as “it’s hard to come by” or “I never get ahead.” Start paying attention to the things you say about money. If you hear yourself speaking limiting phrases about your finances, immediately change them and affirm “money comes to me freely and easily” or “my financial prosperity increases each and every day.”

So where will your additional money come from? If your first thought is for your boss to give you a raise, think again. While you may get an increase in salary, try thinking on a grander scale. Expand your horizons about where money can and does come from. Open yourself up to different avenues of income. Then watch for new opportunities and be prepared to act on them when they arise. A promising investment may present itself or you could be offered a lucrative part-time job.

Not only watch for new opportunities but also create new avenues of income for yourself. Even if you work “for” a company, the truth is that you are selling your services to the marketplace. That means you are an entrepreneur. So, if you want to receive more money, look within yourself instead of outside yourself. Your net worth has far less to do with your current salary or your tangible assets than it does with the combination of your skills, talents, experience and passions.

The work from which you will profit the most is the work you are most passionate about. Ultimately, the amount of your wealth is related to the amount of time you spend doing what you are brilliant at. So, do what you do best?

Do not concern yourself with what others are doing, or how they are doing it. Comparing yourself to others or copying what they do will not create success. Focus on what you do brilliantly, and you will immediately feel more energized and fulfilled.

Next, define what the term “wealthy” means to you. To one person it may mean living in a large house and having a gardener and a chauffeur. To another it may mean living simply, off the grid, with few possessions and responsibilities. Make sure, however, that you are willing to accept the consequences of your version of wealth. If wealthy means being able to stay home to raise your children, the consequence may be giving up a second family income and possibly doing without a new car every two years. Conversely if wealthy means earning a six or seven-figure income, becoming the CEO of a large corporation would likely result in a substantial increase in responsibilities. Basically, there is no one definition that is right or wrong. Just make sure that you choose what is “right” for you.

Keep in mind that if you want to receive more money, you may have to give more. Allow your dollars and good to circulate. Do more than is expected of you at your current job. Loosen up your purse strings and spend more freely (but not to the point of being reckless). If you hoard your money, count every penny you spend, or worry every time an unexpected expense comes up, your consciousness is one of “there’s not enough.” And that mindset is sure to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Know that new ideas create new avenues of income. Remember that the supply of money is unlimited. Claim a greater income for yourself and allow it to come from both expected and unexpected sources.

Finally, because what you focus on expands, focus on what you do have. Focusing on and worrying about rising costs will not help you prosper. Wallace D. Wattles wisely wrote, “Things are not brought into being by thinking about their opposites. …And no one ever got rich by studying poverty and thinking about poverty.” So, spend your time focusing on increasing your income and looking at the good you are receiving. Instead of complaining about your lack of money, upgrade your skills, have a garage sale, give thanks for the lunch a friend buys you and appreciate the unexpected refunds or gifts you receive.

Ultimately the only obstacle to your richer life is you. So, get your negative ideas and your belief in lack out of the way. Decide that you are willing to experience something greater. Stop trying to control how and when money will come. Watch for new ideas and opportunities and allow more abundant good that you could ever imagine to flow into your life.

Copyright © Julie Tkachuk

published in The St. Albert Gazette October 11, 2005

Strengthening Your Personal Power

Posted on 13 November, 2018 at 14:15

As I walked down a street in my middle-class neighborhood one sunny afternoon, a woman approached me and said, “Could you give me 35 cents for a phone call? My husband beat me up and I’ve been stranded here all morning.” As I reached for my wallet, I noticed something white on her finger. When I asked what was wrong with it, she replied, “It’s broken.” The “something white” was her knucklebone protruding through her skin.

Another woman who was a friend of mine many years ago was standing at her bank withdrawing cash from an ATM one evening. As she began to press the buttons, she heard someone else enter the lobby. A rather large man had come in and he stood so close to her that she could feel his breath on her neck. She turned around, look directly into his eyes and assertively stated, “You’re in my space!” The man backed off immediately.

Both women are just over five feet tall. Both are in their mid to late 40s. So why is there such a remarkable difference in their experiences? The answer: personal power.

Power is not something outside of us. It is not something we get from “out there.” It does not come from our job titles, our bank balances or our positions in society. It is something we develop, and it can only be found within.

It took me many years to feel powerful. My role models were women who were locked in the stereotype of dependent homemaker. And women were not alone in the prison of stereotypes. For generations men were saddled with total responsibility for their family’s financial wellbeing.

I am thankful that today we all have the opportunity to move beyond the stereotypes of the past. Women are now assuming managerial positions, more men are stepping into the role of primary caregiver, etc. … and everybody wins. Never before have we had opportunities like we do today. Yet because we still have a long way to go, the following are some ideas to assist you in developing even greater personal power.

Be Accountable – The power you have to create a fulfilling, authentic and empowered life lies in your ability to control your own thoughts and emotions, no matter what is happening around you. Being powerful means responding to events, not reacting. So instead of looking at your current experiences and feeling like you have no power to change anything, begin to look at your life from a more positive, proactive approach.

Live Authentically – To live authentically means to be you, right down to your toenails. Value yourself exactly as you are while still being willing to grow and learn. Be clear about what you desire and live your own truth. Take the time to determine what is important to you, discover what your dreams are and then do what it takes to make them a reality.

Take Action – When we want something, we tend to either wait for it to show up at our door or we go out and attempt to hammer it into place. While the latter does make things happen, it is best to decide what it is you want, watch for opportunities and then take inspired action. When opportunities present themselves, consider them carefully. Just because something stumbles across your path does not mean it’s right for you or even good for you. Be discerning and above all, listen to your intuition.

Be Loving – When you are empowered, you are not afraid to love others. Since our sense of power and our ability to speak up are interconnected, loving powerfully involves being vulnerable and communicating honestly and openly. Communication is an intricate process of being able to listen and being understood. Work at developing both.

Father Leo Booth said, “We associate spirit with positive and creative energy. This energy gives us the power to live, work and create. Spiritual people are positive and creative human beings. They know, deep inside themselves, that they have the power to create the difference in their lives. They have looked within and found what can be called their 'yes' to life, and this 'yes' shines forth in their attitudes and actions.”

Let this positive and creative energy flow through you and say yes to life by living more powerfully each day.

Copyright © Julie Tkachuk

published in The St. Albert Gazette June 7, 2003