2018- Day 2

Good morning,  from the river,  on this second day of January 2018.  We are into the New Year, guns still blazing, ready to approach and conquer our intentions, goals, aspirations…Right? 

I don’t know how you feel about it, but I gave up on setting resolutions a few years ago.  Mostly because if I wanted to accomplish something, why wait until the New Year to do it?

In fact, about 10 years ago I began setting personal goals on my Birthday each year. These are less ‘goals’ and more like things I want to experience, or learn about; things that speak to my soul or inspire me, things that create space or quiet, activities that fulfill me on a deep personal level.  Some of these have included;

  • Learning about Football – The NFL – specifically the Cowboys – LOVE them!
  • Learning how to cook clean eating recipes – Thank you Tosca Rena!
  • Trying out  pottery – I suck, but have about 8 bowls with circles on them…
  • Giving painting a try  – Not bad – although paint nights are alcohol fueled fabulousness! ( I was THAT girl who spilled her drink TWICE and ran out of paint…)
  • Teaching myself how to sketch – I adore this past time!
  • Becoming a member of a Board – I am, Community-Living Trent Highlands
  • Becoming a community volunteer – I am, CanoeFM – on-air radio host beginning next week!
  • Raising my voice on issues close to my heart – I have and most recently participated in the Women’s March in 2017! (awe inspiring moment)
  • Swimming with sharks – did it this past May and it was EVERYTHING I had hoped for! (although my girlfriend Margie might tell you different)

What I am getting at, is that a New Year doesn’t necessarily mean you need to set hardened goals to accomplish. And in fact, EVERYDAY is an opportunity to stretch and bend ourselves towards personal fulfillment.

We have an entire 365 days in a year to set about what we need to make our lives more fulfilling – why do we need ONE night to throw that into action?

A few years ago I read a blog ( I don’t remember who or where, I apologize) about setting an INTENTION for the year ahead.  I LOVE this!  

An Intention… how yummy does that sound?

And so for the past two years, I have found myself gearing  my thoughts  and setting a quiet intention (meaning; thinking about what I need to reach a more fulfilling life) for the year ahead. 

In 2016, my intention was a one word guide-post – INSPIRATION- to find it, create it, be it for myself and for others

For most of that year, this was my homing beacon….to look for it in every crevice I could and to use even the most miniscule of moments as opportunities for learning gratitude, fullness, spiritual grounding, quiet reflection and even joy. As I was learning this new skill of intention setting, I used my journal to reflect back what I was learning and how I was feeling challenged.  It served as a useful tool when gaining insight about what I had learned and where I wanted to go next.

In 2017 , my intention was to  ‘show up’ to my life – BECOME PRESENT – in every moment I could, in as many conversations, moments, experiences as possible.

This bad boy intention was a challenge to keep, but keep it I did!  In reflection ( and I have done A LOT of that!) I showed up to some of the most challenging moments of my ENTIRE LIFE.  I took responsibility for how I showed up ( not purposefully but in hind sight I am glad of it) and stood and held my space with a compassionate and vulnerable heart. This intention was overwhelming at times and found me buckled to my knees on several occasions, but it TAUGHT me the value of being present to myself and where I was at emotionally, physically or spiritually, as well as doing so for others.  It taught me the value of being vulnerable and open in the most difficult of moments but also in celebrating those exciting, giggle filled adventures that made this past year a duality of experiences – extreme highs and extreme lows.

In 2018, my intention is to BE BRAVE! (thank you Brene Brown)

This intention is based on the need for me to face my fears of inadequacy, claim my space on this planet, and OWN how I feel, what I believe and how I choose to show up in this world.  This intention is being set to help me release a deeply felt inner shame that has been with me a lifetime and it’s time to let it go.  All of this work is done in harmony with becoming a member of the College of Social Workers, completing my Life Coaching Certification and creating growth opportunities for both myself and others in the most genuine and vulnerable way I can.  This intention is banishing the fear of failure.  For what I have learned over the past two years of intention setting is that you get what you ask for.  Just be prepared.


I am studying

I am practicing all the skills I have learned along the way around self-care

I am committing to my mission in life –  be of service to others 


There we have it my lovely one.  An intention set.  What about you?  Do you have something you are profoundly looking to enhance, or bring more of into your life?  How do you think you can make the most of the days ahead?

Quite possibly you have already set your resolution or intention, you may even think all of this is nonsense and if so, fair enough.  But if you have read this far into this article, I think you just might be seeking a little more from life.  And if that is the case, I am so excited for you!  I cheer you on and encourage you to practice, practice, practice the intention you have set.  Because it truly is learning a new skill if you are committed to making long term changes in your life.  Journal about it, get help to walk you through it, tell everyone in your inner circle about it.  Make it a living, breathing part of every day.

I wish you nothing but fulfillment for 2018.  Be gentle with yourself and kind with others, for that is the ONLY thing that matters with this brief dance we have on this planet. And if you can take a way a little piece of insight or give a little forward to another, then that is simply a beautiful thing!









Finding presence…& rising again


As I sit riverside this morning I find it exceedingly ironic that the song  ‘Who knows where the time goes’ by artist Fairport Convention, is playing gently in the background.  A groovy little ditty that I am completely unfamiliar with, but find soothing and haunting as it predisposes me to feeling a tad melancholy and wistful.

This morning, as I write, the mist of the river gently sways in the dappled light, and the autumnal dance is in full procession here in Northern Ontario,  And as I reflect through my melancholy,  I take your hand and guide you into the recesses of my mind and all that I hold dear during this season of glorious change.

This is the season for me.  The one that I look forward to all year long.  It marks MY New Year, as I am an October baby.  And to all who are familiar with my inner world, this is the season of change for me.  This is the time that I reflect, get quiet, turn in and take a sober look at the year that has past, and then turn my head gently toward the coming months.

As long as I can remember I have set a golden flame around personal accomplishment and goal setting, and have set it alight in the month of October -with quiet hope for the year ahead.

However, this year is different.  For not only am I reaching a MONUMENTAL birthday (yup, 50th!…this is where you tell me how young I look for 50 and where I laugh and feel grateful for your keen ability to present dishonest information in a loving manner) but I also feel myself leaning more towards looking behind me, than I do to looking ahead.  Why?  Probably because it is a BIG YEAR…..but the 49th year of my life has found me saying a load of goodbyes, in turn causing me to look back.


My goal this past year has been to ‘show up’ which involved clearly laid out ways of getting there such as;

  • Being present
  • Leaning into life a little bit more and taking my foot off the gas pedal of any given day
  • Looking people in the eyes and really hearing them and caring for them
  • Loving people a little more through clearly executed & purposeful acts of kindness
  • Chasing adventure and spontaneity a little more

And guess what?  I did ALL OF THOSE THINGS….but best laid plans, the power of God and the Universe’s profound artistic delivery of giving you EXACTLY what you need found me staggering through loss after loss as I kept up my goal of being present through;

Ensuring nothing was left unsaid to my Mother-in-Law (who raised me for 30 years, was my mentor/Mum/challenger/truth-teller & #1 fan) as she left this world

Saying goodbye to a dear Haliburton friend and supporting his wife (my fellow tribe member) who provided us with 17 years of love, kindness, debate and propriety in a world that no longer honours those PHENOMENAL character traits

Guiding my children (and their friends) through the throes of devastation at the untimely loss of a teenage friend created by intolerance & hatred in a rural Northern community

Holding space for said community as I unexpectedly and with zero preparation , officiated the funeral of said teenager

Supporting my family as we lost our ‘therapy cat’ of four years unexpectedly and during the post-funeral kid-fest of support at our home

Remaining present to one of my lifetime friends grief as she and we said goodbye to our ‘Mother Murphy’ through song and tears of gratitude for all that was

Listening to one of my long time loves, compatriate, tequila-affair partner in crime, unconditional giggle mate and loving friend say goodbye to us as he rode in an ambulance (sirens shrieking) in complete calm and with dignity and grace to a potentially life-threatening and ultimately life-taking surgery

I showed up!  I did……I told my Mum-in-Law EVERYTHING I felt.  I wrote her emails, told her the truth of how she affected my life.  Watched her light up as I informed her of the miraculous and beautiful things she had said and done over 30 years – for I remember everything….always.

I held space of those I loved, those I love, those I don’t know but shared a communal love with

I listened through tears

I sang to my darling friend as he lay in hospital – never to return to us

I swam into the abyss and darkness of hollow grief over and over again

Yet I still rise.  And that’s the beautiful thing about life.  It is only by going through our challenges that we can find ourselves on the other side, a little lighter in many ways but forever scarred in others.

So….what is my goal for my 50th year you may ask?  What have I learned through year 49 that I can carry forward into the next?  Well, that is private.  This year, this one time,

I will hold a quiet challenge for myself that includes showing up, but focuses on making my time on this planet matter just a little bit more.

I suppose the lesson learned encompasses the old adage ‘ don’t look back you aren’t going that way’.  However, if we don’t stop to do that.  If we don’t take the time to consider and pontificate our personal journey’s on this planet, and how we can do a little more to make this world a more beautiful place – then what’s the purpose of life?

I’m hopeful that this Thanksgiving weekend gives you time for pause my lovely one.  I hope that you can count your blessings, but also consider how you can provide them for others.  Shine on my beauty. xo





Change, choice and chasms…

Change is inevitable…have you heard that before my lovelies?

                               I have


And it’s true. Oh so true.  And I don’t like it very much. In fact, I flippin’ HATE it. ( and I am not ashamed to say that often times I throw myself a good old pity party involving carbohydrate overload, disconnection through distraction and hitting ‘play’ on an old worn out tape that reminds me I’m not good enough and life isn’t fair).  It feels like just when I get my feet under me on one part of my life, or I become a master of navigation in another….BOOM!….life happens.  Changes occur.  And over my lifetime, it is not just those enormous changes like birth, death, house fires and the like, but those little ones I see reflected not only in my daily life, but in the lives of my children that cause me to check in, readjust my sails and become a self-compassion warrior.

I watched my oldest son last night, rather uncomfortably, talk through College choices with his Dad.  And the stress was palpable.  Stress related to change.  Fear.  The unknown.  And we know that our job as parents is to help coach, support, encourage and allow for all of the emotions related to this monumental phase in our sons life. And, as parents, we believe that supporting change is a part of the job description.

But as an individual, do we do the same for ourselves?  Do we support, coach, encourage and allow enough space in our own daily lives to get still enough to navigate our way through it. Do we even have our own job description of how to practice self-care?


We allow the chasms of life, those busy crevices of task lists and action items to drive us through our days.  And when change happens, big or small, we simply hope that we are resillient enough to manage without much work.  And that’s the rub.  Because those little chasms can become ENORMOUS.  And from what I’ve learned, (watching my house burn in 2014) if you don’t take care of yourself, your shifts of life and your needs through them, you will have absolutely nothing left to give when the major life changes occur.  Those big ones; death….loss….endings….unplanned beginnings.

So what’s the road map for this navigational strategy?


And the work looks and sounds a lot like practicing RADICAL SELF CARE on a daily basis.  It’s checking in with ourselves through mindfulness practices, knowing ourselves so intimately ( and no…not that way :)) that we become WARRIORS OF SELF-COMPASSION every single day.

                                                               It’s not selfish

                                                            It’s not indulgent

                                                         It is 100% necessary

So where do we begin?  It begins with finding the quiet every day.  It begins with an introduction to yourself, your feelings, your bodily reactions and an acknowledgement/acceptance and love of them. (that’s a key bit right there lovely)   It begins with making yourself your #1 wellness priority, so that when the road gets bumpy you are knowledgeable enough about what you need that you are able to take care of yourself well enough to navigate change successfully.

 It doesn’t matter how it begins, the only thing that matters is that it begins.

One lovingly small step at a time.

Here’s some ideas;

  • Find a space that you can claim as your own, that you can retreat to daily for some quiet
  • Get outside and fill your soul with what speaks to you – for me it’s always an elixir to get near water, trees, nature….
  • Find ways to gently move your body every day to just feel how it is doing – and perhaps answer the call through a gentle stretch, booking a massage, doing a pedi or, if it fits for you a 5km run/Spin class/Weight training
  • Write it down! Create some art!  Get it out of your mind and onto something that releases your emotions – just check in with your emotions
  • Dial into how you feel…take a mindfulness course.  Work with a Life Coach or therapist. Watch youtube videos or TedTalks with Brene Brown or other motivational speakers – our bodies are barometers for how we are feeling, learn how your body reacts in times of joy/stress/anger/sadness
  • Dial in.  Dial down. Get curious with who you are and what you need

And introduce yourself to yourself…


And for the sake of utter transparency; this was not my go to lifestyle in 2014 and the years preceding it.  I ran fast.  Filled my world with busy chasms of to do lists.  Felt entirely inadequate and my adage was ‘ do more, be better, go faster’.  A Social Work graduate yes.  Dialed into my own need….absolutely not.

It was not until I ran screaming out of my house on March 28th, 2014 and watched my home become engulfed with flames that I realized ( about four months afterwards) that I was in trouble.  Needed help.  Wasn’t coping.  And this blog, my business Grow Optimism, and my career as a speaker and Life Coach began.  I’ve been ‘there’ – lost in the abyss.  I continue to go there.  I lose my way, but continue to learn to find my way back through the assistance of my ‘Golden Guru’ (therapist) and my belief that life is a journey of learning and growing and is worth every icky and delicious part of it.  And it is this journey that I am on, that I believe we are all on, that I want to share teachings and provide support for.

Please let me know how it is going…leave a comment.  Follow me on Facebook at Grow Optimism Consultants – Nancy Brownsberger


If you would like some Life Coaching time….reach out through email at brownsbergernancy@gmail.com.  I am available for a free 15 minute consultation over the phone….LET’S GET TOGETHER ABOUT THIS THING CALLED LIFE.

Falling into Quiet – the season for soothing your soul…

It’s a beautiful day riverside my lovelies….but first, allow me to introduce myself to you.

My name is Nancy Brownsberger and I am a number of things, but for the purposes of our burgeoning relationship I will simplify who I am – I am an optimist.  A sometimes broken down, sliding in sideways, hiding under the blankets optimist.  But for the most part I am a joy-seeking, truth-telling Life Coach/Group Facilitator/Keynote Speaker and Social Worker, with a propensity to see the world from a Polyanna-perspective.

Today, the first day of Fall in the gorgeous Haliburton Highlands, Ontario – I have the joy of sitting riverside, and the opportunity to reflect on my Optimism.

For today my lovely – it is quiet.  Today is the hiding under the blankets kind of day, where I force myself out of bed, push myself to show up and and consider myself successful for having put one foot in front of the other without losing my shit on someone or breaking out into a cold sweat and panic attack.

Yup – the duality of life.

You see, I have just recently lost one of my dearest, oldest and loveliest lifetime friends.  Preceded by the loss of two matriarchs, one therapy cat, one good friend and inspirational guru, and the suicide of one of my boy’s friends ( I have two lovely teenage boys putting me through my paces!).  And my soul hurts.  I find myself trying to rise up and push forward and simply can’t.

I often teach others about my old adage ‘go faster, do more, be better’ which used to be my fail-safe response to life when I found myself under  extreme stress.  However, in 2014, I found myself running out of my house which was engulfed in flames, and the next year of my life found me in a delicious therapeutic relationship with my ‘golden guru’ who walked me gently through the recovery of PTSD and a host of other yummy nuggets found deeply embedded in the recesses of my soul as an adult adoptee…..and I learned another way to manage this thing called life.  And that is why I began Grow Optimism.

So now I understand that when your soul gets tired.

When life gets a little too much.

We have only ONE OPTION – RADICAL SELF CARE.  And the ingredients for this recipe are simple;

  1. Get quiet enough in your life/on a daily basis to be able to listen to your body and mind – what’s it telling you?
  2. Create a daily road map that helps you answer the call of those own needs, as you can

If you need to nap – do it!

If you need to eat – dig in!

If you need to laugh, cry, dance, scream, hug – let it rip!

And set up some super healthy boundaries around ensuring you get what you need.  We all have our daily responsibilities, so finding the time and making this your #1 PRIORITY is essential.  (When I first returned to work following the house fire, I would jump in my car at lunch and find a quiet space to sleep….literally sleep….because I was so exhausted and needed it).

This is your guilt free pass to finding a better way to soothing your soul.  Because you know what?  Soothe your soul and finding joy becomes a little bit easier over the long haul.  It means putting in the work.  But it is worth it lovely one.

And most of all – don’t forget to love on yourself.  ‘Cause you’re amazing, and beautiful. You’ve got this!

Nice to meet you……I hope we can hold onto each other and walk each other through life a little bit.  xo