The Zen Joy Project

Many years ago, I was sitting in an airport waiting room along with other travelling-waiters. I noticed this woman sitting across from me, and I was struck by her peaceful nature. Her young kids flanked either side of her. Her one son laid his head on her lap, and she slowly stroked his hair. Her other son, laid his head on her shoulder. All around her the impatient energy was palpable in the air. No one wanted to be waiting in this holding cell of anxious travellers. Yet, it appeared there was no other place she would rather be. Her energy was one of joy, peace and gratitude. ZEN JOY. It was one of those life moments you carry with you in your memory bank.

I inwardly vowed that one day…I too would find that Zen Joy. Not from any external sources, but truly from within.

Now, I should tell you, at that point of my life, I was struggling with so many inward battles. None of which were known to many who loved me. I was neither zen, nor was I happy. But I pretended to be.

Airport Mom was the first person who introduced me to the possibility of true inner happiness. It’s not to say that she didn’t have trials and adversity in her life, I also understood that she most likely dealt with the same tricky balancing act all of us Moms face.

After that I was acutely aware of that energy when I saw it.

And then I met another Zen Joy girl in Jamaica. Amanda…

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This time I was more determined to figure out how she carried such zen joy, so I had a long conversation with her. She was very thankful and grateful for her job. She traveled two hours there by bus, worked her shift at a 5 star resort for very little money by Canadian standards, and traveled two hours home. Repeat. Yet, she was so ecstatic for this amazing opportunity to work and she did so with joy. She was surrounded by privileged travellers complaining about room service options and wait times for dinner reservations. I will always remember her and her infectious smile. What a beautiful soul.

Through out the years, I have encountered more Zen Joy people.

I met a girl at the gym named Michele, who incidentally is now a good friend of mine; she attacked each workout at the gym with so much energy and joy. It always stood out to me. And now in getting to know her, I understand that she has overcome a lot in her life, and she truly appreciates the blessings in her world. She strives everyday to work on herself and raise her kids to be stellar people. She exudes authenticity, positivity, and gratitude. She lives passionately and vivaciously. She’s also brutally honest with herself and with others. A character trait I have come to appreciate and need in my life.

An enthusiastic woman named Patti came into my world at life’s perfect timing. She’s an amazing Zen Joy person. Every. Single. Day. she works on her character, heart, body, and soul. She gives freely. Loves deeply. Is so empathetic to other’s emotions. One day as we had unexpected time together, she presented me with a hand-knitted infinity scarf. What she said to me will always live in my heart. “I thought of you with love within ever inch I knitted of this infinity scarf”. When I wear that scarf I feel loved! ha! How amazing is that, and what a gift to my soul. Thank you.

And then there’s Linda Lou, another Zen Joy woman who gracefully traveled into my heart at perfect timing. Oh my, if you have the privilege to be around her energy, you WILL smile and feel joy. It’s impossible not to. She uses her time to uplift others. In fact, we will be working together; and she will drop everything to march up to another just to tell them something she genuinely appreciates about them. ha! It’s fascinating to watch honestly. And then she marches back to me and continues to work with every ounce of energy she has.

There was one more instance of a Zen Joy person that stands out within my mind. I was going to Farmer’s market one day, and this guy rode by on his bicycle. He was so happy, ear to ear smile! He walked around the market, talking to people, and I immediately saw his Zen Joy in how he treated others. He took the time to visit, laughed effortlessly, and looked people in the eye as they talked. I often give people nick names if I don’t know them, I called him Beautiful Jesus. He kinda looked like Jesus and his energy truly was beautiful. ha!  I don’t know how Beautiful Jesus is so zen and full of joy; but in talking with other Zen Joy people, I have noticed a common theme.

Their lives are not without adversity and tails, quite the opposite. They have grown in grace and beauty because of the problems in their lives. They perceive it differently, grateful for lessons learned as they navigate the storms in their lives (which they understand will pass).

They live with sincere gratitude.  A thankful heart. They know that nothing is guaranteed in life, so enjoy the good times. And if good times are few and far between, create it.

They see each day as an opportunity to live passionately and with joy. A gift.

They understand this life needs to be lived out-loud, using their voice wisely to uplift and encourage and not complain and discourage.

They CHOOSE joy. They laugh freely. Give more than they take.

They are at peace with who they are as people. Authenticity rains within their spirit.

I waited a long time to blog about these Zen Joy people, because I was only going to do so when I felt like I too was becoming a Zen Joy chick myself. I’m so grateful to say, that while I may not encompass that every single day…I can feel that zen hugging at my spirit often now. And Joy is something I feel often. My smile is one of gratitude for every shred of happiness I encounter in my day.

When you spend some time in darkness, the light is so sweet. Oh man is it sweet.

I wish for you Zen Joy, and if you are at a place you don’t feel that…I hope you will open your eyes and heart to the possibility of it. It does not come from “things”; nor does it come from others. It’s all you my friends. And within your control to feel it. Perception is your reality.

From my Zen Joyful heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

 

 

More Beautiful for Being Broken

I haven’t posted in a while, but I sure have learned a lot in the one hour of quiet time I’ve etched out for myself within my day.

I have journalled and read a lot, it’s been a cathartic process.

This last week, I have felt a shift within myself; I’m not sure how it will translate into tangible changes within my life, but I do know I’m changing. After years of being stagnant within different facets of my life; I’m so thankful that change is happening in several areas. So I’ll leave you with this morning’s journal entry:

January 26, 2017

It occurred to me today that after going through this year, I have no other choice than to drop the mask I’ve worn for years and stand in my truth. I am drawn to other mask-smashers/truth-standers. The ones who admit their faults, are brave enough to live out loud, vulnerable to admit they are struggling and don’t have the answers, and humble enough to seek help. Divine intervention…I understand that term in my way now.

These special people carry a certain energy within how they relate to others and how much they give and receive. I have learned they come in all ages. Some figure it out at an early age, and others like myself, take more time. But it is undeniable when I meet one. We can quickly connect and relate to one another’s struggles even if they differ. They no longer seek validation from the outside world. They are not afraid to sit within their pain, understanding the necessity for it.

Not to say it’s easy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. No more numbing it or masking it with anything.

I’ve become defiant within my right to feel whatever feeling comes my way through this process. I was once afraid to feel anger, loneliness, weakness. You have to feel that to rebuild an authentic strength. I own my pain. I welcome it in and nurture it like my child. It is mine to learn from and grow within it. And I know God loves me just as I am, in whatever stage of broken humbleness I am. Come as you are.

I read about a process called “Kintsugi“:

Kintsugi (金継ぎ?, きんつぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as Kintsukuroi (金繕い?, きんつくろい, “golden repair”),[1] is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered goldsilver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique.[2][3][4] As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

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ORIGINAL IMAGE FOUND AT LOVEUMENTARY.COM/THE-ART-OF-BEING-BROKEN

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This process of transforming broken into beautiful really resonated with my heart. Pride has often gotten in my way, but I’m learning a new version of pride. The one that arrives softly and humbly as I understand the process of letting go and starting over from the bare foundation.

I will let tears flow freely if they arrive, I will laugh often as I appreciate the sweet irony of this beautiful life, I will embrace change as I understand it is necessary, and I will walk the path of alone because I know I am never truly alone because of my faith and the blessings within relationships I have come to honour and respect deeply.

I have a voice, even if it is unsure and full of self-doubt at times. It will grow in strength if I build upon it, just as I know how to do in the physical body.

I am not failing just because I am not where I “expected” to be at this stage. Maybe I’m exactly where I need to be.

Eyes wide open.

Vulnerable within new experiences.

Humble and hungry for knowledge.

I can see pain within others, especially the ones who aren’t ready to feel it. Who are running from it, numbing it with external factors. Clinging to their masks like life-preservers.

If this is you, I want you to know that you will not drown. Quite the opposite. You will rise up within authenticity. Be brave my friends. You’ll be OK. You are more beautiful for being broken.

For years I never allowed myself to feel hunger, or pain or anger for that matter. I feared and pushed away the very elements where I would find myself again. As I let go of material possessions, relationships, the ability to control my environment…even time. I found my strength and awakened a part of me I lost.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

On Courage and Labels

When I decided to tackle my food issues, it came with a lot of shame. I was also fighting the inward battle of having a label. The only label I wanted to attach myself too, was my name. If I admitted I had a problem with emotional eating and took the steps to deal with this publicly (because it’s pretty tricky to hide when you decide to change your whole lifestyle), I not only feared I would fail miserably at it, but also didn’t want those around me to have any verbal opinion about my weight. The knowledge that others noticed my weight gain was embarrassing to me, it was something I wish I could have hidden. I masked it with humour and sarcasm.

This was my inward struggle, only I carried the evidence of it on the outside. I wanted my privacy as I dealt with it all. I hermitted as much as possible, and shut myself off from the world. I remember after a few months, and down 50 pounds…I ran into a friend while shopping. She was visibly stunned and asked if I was OK. By this time, I had worked on my inner confidence and was ready to share this experience with others. But it took a whole lot of emotional work to get there. It’s hard to describe the range of emotions that surface when you make any huge life change. But if you are reading this, I’m sure you can relate in someway, because it really is part of the human condition.

It was actually pretty self-indulgent to believe that I was the only one who was dealing with inward struggles; if only I had shared more I could have softened or removed the shame label from it. Hind sight is a funny thingy however, and I can only see that now that I’ve put in the work. Which is why I openly share…which is prettttty uncomfortable at times. I’ve committed to living whole-heartedly, so I will use my voice to share just in case there are others out there who feel alone within their struggles too (even if my voice isn’t always one of confidence).

Here’s the thing, change is (and should be) an integral part of life. There is nothing to fear my friends! Embrace the uncomfortable. Have the courage to be vulnerable within it. Share. Find like-minded people who are also striving to be better and grow. If you surround yourself with people who don’t put value on personal growth, it can give you permission to also be complacent. Sorry, but that’s true. Find your tribe! 😉

Growth is inevitable when you decide to work on your issues.

I still struggle with labels. Single mother. Obese. Fit. 40. Divorced. Personal Trainer.

I struggle with it because I don’t want to live within a box. Check here for category you fit within. In thinking more on this, I realize that judgement of any kind (which hitches a ride with labels), inhibits us from actually getting to know others because we go into it with a preconceived idea of who another is based on their check-box.

When you put yourself in a box, it’s hard to evolve within it.

So as New Year’s approaches and I look ahead with excitement to work on new goals and challenges, I want to be mindful to live outside of labels and self-imposed limitations.

I don’t really identify with being a “single Mom” because I have a huge circle of support. My village of love. I realized I had so much help if I let go of my pride and simply ask.

Ok, I am 40. ha! This is a number I’ve come to adore. I levelled up to a new decade of wisdom.

As for fitness and the category I fall within that, I look at it as a quest to feel my best physically, mentally and spiritually. When I run, I feel alive and free. When I lift, I feel strong and empowered. When I stretch I feel centered and so verrrry zen.

For me, it’s about using exercise for clarity, inner pride, and peace of mind.  It’s about viewing food as fuel. Pick your fuel. It’s about finding those elements that bring pride and joy into my life.  A world of positive, I cans, and I wills. It’s about authentic relationships built on acceptance and support. When I train, it’s really about encouraging another to push outside of their comfort zone and not only reach their potential but surpass it. How amazing is that?

Rather than setting a New Year’s Resolution of losing weight, I’m going to shift focus onto personal attributes I want to work on. Character traits:

Integrity

Strength (of both mind and body)

Inspiration…setting an example of healthy lifestyle for my children

Courage to live whole-heartedly

Who do I want to be? It’s completely within my power to be exactly that.

A life of balance, happiness, health, pride.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and go into the New Year with excitement to tackle some goals of your own. 🙂

I have grown so much as woman this year within the forced changes of life. And this photo below is empowering for me; a visual representation because I know how I was feeling in both photos (the small photo right was Christmas Eve one year ago, and the other Christmas Eve this year). Last year at this time, I was full of fear of the unknown. This year, I’m excited about the unknown and it’s possibilities.

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From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

10 tips on Staying Sane Through a Divorce

Further to my last post (which was pretty heavy, I promise this one is back on track with the uplifting), I was thinking about all the helpful tips and advice I received from others who have traveled this path as well.

So if you are on this road too, here’s some tips that just may help you too.

1: Put on lipstick everyday.  This is just an euphemism for getting up out of that comfy bed, getting dressed in whatever clothes make you feel awesome, and walking out the door with your head held high. There’s a saying to dress for the job you want. It’s kinda like that, but it will make you feel put together. Trust me, it helps. This tip came from a very dear friend courtesy of her divorce attorney. lol

2: Watch this: http://www.littlethings.com/truth-bomb-mom-good-enough/  So good.

3: Listen to amazing music, the kind that lifts your spirit and you can’t sit still. Your shoulders dance on their own. Music is pretty healing to the soul.

4: Surround yourself with uplifting people.  I have the most supportive, uplifting circle of friends and family. And believe me, when you go through this, you won’t have to wonder who your true friends are. It will naturally evolve. The ones who want to walk out of your life will, and let them. Wish them well. Never chase anyone.  Aaaaand you will make new friends…like-minded ones because you are finding yourself and becoming more authentic. I recently had coffee with a new friend who reached out to me, once a stranger, simply because he wanted to surround himself with uplifting people. He told me I carried that positive vibe, and that’s how our friendship started. Though the power of positive. And we only talk about positive uplifting thingies every now and then when we need a pick-me-up. So go find those people who make you feel awesome, and make them feel awesome too.

5: Give Zero Fucks what anyone thinks of you. Seriously, that time has past…there is nothing more humbling than going through a divorce and the stigma that goes along with it. lol Spend time every. single. day. on your goals and aspirations for your future. And then trust your inner instinct. The haters are going to hate. That’s just how it is. This was a fact before you got divorced. So let it go…
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6: Give it a year. Oh man, I heard this from so many people, and at the beginning a year sounded like 10 years. It’s so true though! Trust that within one year’s time, you will feel better. You will have a confident handle on your new normal. And you will have fought to etch out your very own life built the way you want it. You may not be there now, but you will be. You will be OK. Better than OK.

7: Give yourself permission to nap. This was a hard one for me, because I felt like I was failing and couldn’t understand why I was so tired all the time. But you have to understand that this process is the most emotional draining process I have ever met. So be gentle with yourself. Rest when you can. Don’t feel guilty about it. And then get up and put on lipstick 😉

8: There’s a time to hermit, and there’s a time to get out and have fun. You’ll know when it’s best to do either one. Trust what you need. But whatever you do, weave some fun into your life. You need to laugh just as much as you need solace. Remember there’s a season for both.

9: Reach out to others, ask for help when needed, and talk about it. Your loved ones want to be there, and if they haven’t reached out in the way you thought, it doesn’t mean they don’t care. Many people don’t know what to say, or what you need. So be blunt about what you need. Talk. Talk. Talk.

10: Start saying No. You are in a different season of life, you can’t give to others like you used to. It feels selfish, but think about your energy reserves like a gas tank. You only have so much of it for the day. Use it up on where you NEED to. Your kids, your career, life tasks, the essentials in life. And whatever you have left, make sure you give to yourself too. Staying on track with my fitness was essential in this process. It empowered me. Made me feel alive, even when I was numb.  You will get back to a place where you are able to give again, but give it time. And everyone around you will just have to deal. lol

I wish you much healing, self-love and discovery through your journey! Be kind to you. You got this. 🙂

From my heart to yours,

Christine

The Post that took a Year to Write: On Divorce

On Separation and Divorce

November, 2015

I don’t know where to start this post, because within these words there is much heart-break and grief. This path I’ve watched many go down; empathized with, cried with, and yearned to understand…has not prepared me for actually walking this path myself.

If a friend or family member confided in me their decision to separate from their marriage, I would always meet the pain in their gaze with an “I’m so sorry, What happened?”. Now while I was always very sorry, I should have said: “I’m sorry for the pain you are going through right now, I wish you peace and understanding and I will fully support your family in whatever decision you make.”  What I didn’t fully comprehend at the time, was that their decision to separate is not one anyone makes without a whole lot of soul-searching and thought. Sometimes it’s the only decision left to make. That doesn’t mean they aren’t hopeful for a reconciliation, or maybe they are hopeless. And it certainly doesn’t mean the good memories within the marriage aren’t cherished.

The details are no one’s business, but if you love that person…their hurting heart is the only thing one should be concerned about. Anyone going through this simply wants your unconditional support and love without judgements.

I know separation is different for every couple who has gone through it. Some are filled with anger and bitterness. And others, speaking for myself, are filled with resolute sadness that you just can’t seem to verge paths and walk the same one.

There is moving forward within my home, even through the sadness. There is communication and positive co-parenting in my home as we try to prepare our children for a new normal.

I’m unapologetic about this point: I do not see this as a failure. I see it as accepting him as he is, and accepting myself as I am and realizing two people have grown into authentic people who are vastly different yet still deserving of the same respect to be who we are.

I have no idea what my future holds (and I will admit I’m scared); but I will always do my best to create the most peaceful and loving atmosphere for my children. I have learned that sometimes…that means creating two loving and peaceful atmospheres.

I look forward to writing more and finding me through it all. I wouldn’t take anything back from all the years we spent together, all the good and the difficult too. I respect it all.

I know I need to honour this pain. No masking it with anything (especially food, which I have done in the past). I need to sit in it. Feel it. Go through it one day at a time. Grow within it. And have faith that at the end of it all, I will find peace. I will find me again.

So as part of the process, I’ve decided to write a summary of monthly experiences as I’m going through it. I share this because I have learned a very important lesson. Divorce is often a taboo subject within conversation; but now that I’m here, I have had many authentic conversations with others going through it who had once kept their thoughts within. And on the flip side, I’ve also encountered judgement and withdrawal of support.

I am slowly gaining confidence within my voice. Long ago I promised myself that I will always share the vulnerable stuff if it will help another move forward as long as I’m sharing my personal experience and not another’s. And oh my…It’s not easy to be vulnerable.

I started this post while it was still fresh, and came back to it at the end of each month.  So here is one year of grieving, dealing, moving forward, and finding me as I start over.

November/15: I slept through as much of November as I could, awakened by the pain of heart ache, fear and responsibility. I couldn’t talk to anyone, closed my door to friends and family, didn’t answer my phone. I gave all my energy to my kids. I looked for a job, and stumbled on a cool opportunity. A role to play a Mom in a marketing video for a Town Christmas event. It was actually empowering to play a role when I was unsure of my own. Small step forward.

December/15: I isolated and cried through December and refused to look at the Christmas tree adorned with years of ornaments; each with their own story of a lifetime of memories built on a foundation that crumbled away.

January/16: I worried, planned, thought and wrote while sitting in the same chair through much of January. I closed my door and my heart to everyone. My best friend Darina was my life line and encouraged me out of that stupid chair.

February/16: I picked myself up in February with the constant that has sustained me and gave me daily purpose: Fitness and uplifting others. Onwards and upwards. I got a job! An amazing job that fits my personality perfectly. Even though I may struggle behind closed doors with the weight of this transition, I am able to channel it into happy, positive, and uplifting at work. It’s authentic joy within purpose and my smile couldn’t be any bigger while I work. I also continued photographing happy families and respected their connection even more. I took to Facebook to announce our divorce because it was like a cruel groundhogs day of awkward face-to-face encounters with friends who didn’t know. It was more awkward for them as I fumbled with words. It’s very hard to maintain any dignity and grace within this process. I’m trying.

March/16: I poured myself into work and my kids. I am a better Mom! I’m tuned in and there is laughter and a whole bunch of active chaos in my home. I dance while I cook again. Not great dancing mind you, but I realize I do love to cook. My kids are amazing little/big people. They are everything to me and the reason I will always strive to just be better. I’m so sorry for their pain, and I will do everything I can to make their world safe and happy. And happiness is not found within “stuff”. Simplifying has been a blessing. I turned 40. Not a fun day lol, but my friends invited me over and surprised me with a birthday celebration. Thank you.

April/16: This is the month of high-highs within my career and finding Me again…and low-lows as we start the divorce mediation process.  I can’t explain the range of emotions sitting across a mediation table from your former partner you once shared a life with.  Six months ago, he would have been the first person I called to vent/cry/talk about a life-changing experience like this. So odd.  Divorce feels like a death. One day they are there, the next day they are gone. I learned painful lessons about letting go of friendships that are not serving our best interests. Yes, both sides. Within letting go, I realized my ex-husband and I are dealing with the break down of our marriage with as much respect as we can even through a whole lot of pain. I wish those who I once shared my heart with could separate that we are two people both deserving of understanding and support. I was raised to be a good friend…loyal to a fault. Cutting people out is not in my nature, but why hang onto someone who flippantly sensationalize the details of our divorce within their conversations. That’s not a true friend. So let go and let God. I know some of those people will find their way to this blog post. I wish you well.

May/16: The month of financial disclosure within the mediation process. Finding documents that were once filed away with different intentions. A snapshot of the life we built together for 23 years, reduced to numbers and graphs. The weight of preparing it all was wearing on me daily. A task I could not run from or procrastinate away. I counteracted my stress with runs in the sun and strength training.

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June/16: The month of showing up to old experiences and traditions alone. For example: a baseball game that actually fell on my day off. I was surrounded by parents there together. I felt like I had a spotlight on me: “I’m here alone!” I found a weird strength within it as I was questioned by a parent on where I had been for other games. “I was working” I told her. She turned to her Father (who asked me if I even knew what number my son wore on his jersey)…”See, she wasn’t here because she was working, I’m sure she wanted to be.”  Like I owed her an explanation for my absence; her mother soul needed to know that I too had a mother soul and not one of absence for my own selfish needs. I became defiant within my confidence that I was a great Mom. I sat a little taller in my chair and cheered a little louder.  Near the end of the month, my daughter and I shared a picnic blanket and lunch at the end of the school wind up. It was a peaceful hour under the shade of a big oak tree.  This was also the month I found my voice in an unexpected way, a TV interview for Global about losing the weight and keeping it off. I wanted to turn it down as it scared me. I knew I HAD to do it because of the level of fear I had. The result of the interview brought many like-minded people into my world, and new clients at the studio where I train. Very thankful.

July/16: I travelled to my happy place in July to visit friends who are my chosen family. Us 5 friends (“PACCS”) get together for 1 week every year doing nothing which is everything. We laughed until our stomachs hurt, uplifted one another through tears of love and support, and sat in comfortable silence (and we drank great wine and ate amazing food). I woke up daily knowing exactly who I am and what I want in life. I was confident in the relationships I want to work on, the ones who give just as much as I do. And understood the ones I needed to let go. I found my peace and zen within friends who know me better than I know myself. This was also the month of our wedding anniversary. Sixteen years. It was a very tough day and I was a mess. I grieved. The next day, I woke up with purpose, straightened my crown and went for a  long run in the sun.

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August/16: Our first family holiday where I was without a partner. It was both healing and difficult. It started with returning to my home town for the fair. I saw many people from my past and most visits were great. I also ran into people I’ve known for years who pretended they didn’t know who I was. Let go. Head held high. The kids had a blast. So amazing to see them smile and laugh. We went to the lake to see my big loving family. I felt alone at times within groups of family whom I love. It’s not their fault at all, it’s something I need to work through. All of these firsts are hard and part of the process. I woke up earlier than everyone else everyday to read and sit on our family dock overlooking still waters of the lake I grew up on. Within the haunting beautiful sounds of the loons, I recalled good memories of my childhood, and understood the importance of building new memories. I was lost in healing reverie. My kids had the best time and spent their days laughing with their cousins exploring the beach with their toes in the sand. Oh, this is worth everything. When I returned from the lake, I felt the weight of anxiety fall on my chest like a lead vest. I had a hard time breathing through it some days. I found solace in writing, reading, praying, and talking to friends and family. There were also amazing days of peace and happiness. The kind of peaceful joy that comes from working through issues I wanted to run away from. I lived authentically. August was healing, painful, joyful, and full of old and new. I found my worth within God’s grace.

September/16:  With the changing of the leaves, September brought with it a lot of renewing of my spirit. I got into photography again full force, an area of my heart I put to the side for a while so that I could do it right with a thankful heart. There were months I just couldn’t dive into capturing other’s family love stories while I was struggling to figure out my place within my own.  But I found my love for capturing love once again. It was beautiful, empowering, promising, and soulful. I forgot how much I adore photography, how did I forget that? The kids started school and with that, came routine and balance within the hectic pace of busy.

October/16: October, full of editing, training, and learning. It’s my busy season, and there is much purpose found within intentional busy.  I’m so thankful for my career(s) and the people I’ve met through both. I realized that through my work, I am in constant contact with people who are bettering their life through health/fitness, and within capturing their love story though photography too. It’s ridiculously empowering and inspires me to work hard and keep my values and goals in check. I adore and respect these people who have come to be my friends. Their spirit feeds my own. It’s a crazy positive momentum of amazing. Through the overwhelming of a long to-do list, I found motivation. Who do I want to be? Go be that. Integrity is key.

November/16: It’s been one year. As much as it feels like 10 years of living encapsulated within 1, it also went by fast in many other ways. My days are long, not a lot of time for dwelling on anything. As I write this, I am scared to hit publish on this post. It is not my place to speak another’s story, and there are many lives intertwined within my own. My empathetic heart is overpowering; but a wise woman at the studio advised me to start living out-loud…exactly who I am on the inside. This is my truth. Scars and healing.

When I look back on this year, I have learned so much about myself and others. I can wholeheartedly say I have changed for the better. I have learned to accept others for who they are, and sometimes that means letting go. I have learned the power of surrounding yourself with positive people and influences. Within being authentically who you are, you will attract like-minded people. Words can’t describe the level of thankful I am for all the like-minded people in my life, living whole heartedly. Just trying to be better. Every. Single. Day. Not for rewards or accolades of others, but because that is what we are meant to do in life.  To grow in grace and character. Thank you so much for your impact on my life.

I hope that in sharing this, others going through this process will understand their feelings are valid, you are not alone, and most importantly you will be OK. Find YOU again. Hold your head high. Pay no attention to what other’s think about you, you know who you are within, and who you want to be. Now go be that. Live wholeheartedly. There is beauty in the breakdown. 🙂

From my healing heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

Body, Mind, and Spirit

Yesterday, I skipped my Miracle Morning to focus on my editing stack. I got a lot of work done, which was great, but I got wrapped up in the overwhelming thoughts about all the work I have in front of me and lack of time to do it all.  There’s a limit to my energy some days.

I decided the very thing I needed was a workout. The momentum of negativity had already started within my mind, and it traveled right to my workout. Everything annoyed me…especially that dude who rests on a mat for 5 minutes in between sets taking up 1 of 2 squat racks during the busiest time at the gym. I attempted to channel all the negativity into a tough workout, but even that was not doing it for me. I avoided everyone because I knew if I opened my mouth negative would pop out of it. lol

Once I got to work (personal training) however, everything turned positive once again. I was so uplifted and empowered by the drive within others to better their lives. To show up. Lace up their shoes. And get to work. Their fighter spirit ignited my own.

So it got me thinking about balance, and the importance of working on all elements “Body, Mind, and Spirit”. Every. Single. Day.

I missed working on my Mind in the morning, so working on the body didn’t have the other two components behind the effort. I didn’t get to working on the spirit until later in my day, but it sure did make everything turn around for the good.

So today as you attack your day, I want to encourage you to find ways to feed all three elements.

Body

Are you eating for fuel?: Complex carbohydrates to give you energy/fibre/vitamins and nutrients for your day. Protein to support muscle growth and maintain the muscle you already have. Protein also repairs muscle after your workout…we are literally made of protein so it’s essential. Healthy fats such as Omega’s which are vital for not only your physical health but also your emotional health too.

Are you moving your body every single day? Our bodies are designed to move. Think about what happens to a car that is left to the elements and never used. Our bodies are our vehicle. Keep it moving! When I was learning about exercise through my personal training certification, one fact I will always is remember is this: If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

The other day at the gym I met two older gentleman who really inspired me. Bob and John, friends since 1960 and both close to 80 years old. As they spun on the exercise bike (and I was resting under a vent that directed cold air onto my overheated face), they told me they both had many health challenges they were facing. Hip issues (and surgeries), knee injuries, etc. And here they were at the gym spinning away and laughing through it. They both told me how important it was that they take control of their health and keep moving to the best of their abilities; despite their limitations. Just. Show. Up.

Mind

Are you challenging your mind beyond the scope of what you find comfortable? Learn and grow as a person daily. Just be better. We have that choice. We can choose monotony, routine, same old thoughts every day…or we can choose to grow and expand our minds. Challenging old tired belief systems that holds us back from moving forward. Read, journal, write, learn.  There is no finish line, just more to learn. There are people all around us with a whole lot of knowledge and life experience if we just listen.

Spirit

What feeds your spirit? Maybe that’s going for a walk, phoning a friend, reading a good book, taking a nap, having a long bath, yoga, treating yourself to a massage, retail therapy with a friend, contributing to others through volunteering, listening to good music…whatever that is for YOU. Do it. Every day.

On music…I’ve always loved Sia. Plus she’s weird and she authentically owns it…which I enjoy a ridiculous amount…

Now taking care of your spirit can be tricky when life’s responsibilities pile up. I have learned to leave the dishes in the sink sometimes and just lay down, or call my girl Darina (she’s my person I’ve adored for all of life’s most important events which ironically has happened at similar times in our lives). It feels selfish, wasteful when there are so many other things needed to be done. But remember it’s just as essential to your happiness and health.

Balance.

It’s within our power to shape who we are and how we feel every day. Choose wisely…

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I hope you have a great day!

From my heart to yours,

Christine

Your Morning Motivator

This week I’ve struggled with staying motivated. If you struggle too, let me help you out today. 🙂

During my Miracle Morning, I was writing/thinking about ways to give to others. I realized one simple way I can contribute to the happiness of others lies within the energy I carry.

I think there are two types of people (and I’ve shifted between both):

Energy-Givers and Energy-Suckers.

We all have the power to give positive energy to others simply in the way we carry ourselves. The words/ideas we choose to give voice to. How we deal with adversity. We can give literally give the gift of positive energy to another person. Just think about how you feel when you spend time with someone with an infectious laugh, it’s impossible not to laugh too. It’s contagious. 🙂

Just as we can give it, we can also take it away.

Have you ever woken up happy and uplifted and throughout the course of your day dealing with negative people, your mood slowly shifts? Discouragement seeps in, and even the smallest annoyance in life transforms into anger. That shift in energy is then transferred to another. It’s a virtual wave of negativity.

The exciting news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. If you want to change a negative environment, you can right this second.  All it requires is a shift within your perception and mindset. THAT is within your control.

On the heels of Thanksgiving, I’m starting this day out with gratitude. I’m grateful for so much in my life, but most importantly the hard stuff. As I look back on the toughest times in my life, I’ve realized it’s uniquely prepared me for this stage of my life. From my day-to-day living with a gracious heart, to raising my beautiful children (who were born with a sense of good and wonder), and within my career which means the world to me. Everything I’ve learned, I can now transfer it to living an authentic life.

Even on the bad days, I will greet it with a smile because I am very aware how much another person’s kindness, positive energy, and uplifting attitude helped me during my darkest of days. It really is a gift. There are no words to adequately describe how much small acts of kindness touched my heart during times of struggle.

It’s a shiny patch of sunshine within the darkness. And because I deeply appreciate and understand what others gave to me, I can now be that shiny sunshine if I want to. That’s ridiculously amazing.

I think because I spent some time grieving in silence, I can instantly recognize it. So I smile. Big crazy smiles. ha! I can clearly see another’s strengths, pain, desire to just be better, doubt that lives within their abilities…all of it. And I know that I can at least remind them of their worth. There is no one on this earth more worthy than another. We are equally deserving of happiness and pride. Isn’t that the heart of the pursuit of life?

So today I choose to be an Energy-Giver to all I come in contact with. To start a small ripple of uplifting that can transform into a tidal wave of positive. You never know how that energy can transform and take momentum. If you ever doubt this, just think about how someone else helped you move forward when you were stuck.

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I hope you all have a great day 🙂

I hope you choose to smile even if your heart is hurting.

I hope you choose to rise above whatever adversity you are dealing with.

I hope you recognize your worth. Your strengths. Your natural gifts of talent.

I hope you feel gratitude every time you look into the eyes of someone you love.

I hope you give the gift of positive energy.

And when you do, Positive OUT becomes Positive IN.

There’s  a whole lot to smile about.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

The Prescription for Change

Through out the years, I’ve made it my mission to focus and learn about how to instil long-term change within my life. I’ve learned a lot from brilliant authors and speakers. When an idea strikes a nerve, I write it down. So here I am writing today about change.

I was reading “Awakening the Giant Within” by Tony Robbins.  One area that hit home for me in relation to making a change NOW is this question:

Am I a walking contradiction?

“Change is often a Should and not a Must. The only way we’re going to make a change NOW is if we create a sense of urgency that’s so intense that we’re compelled to follow through. The greatest leverage you can create for yourself is the pain that comes from the inside not the outside.  Knowing that you have failed to live up to your own standards for your life is the ultimate pain. One of the strongest forces in the human personality is the drive to preserve the integrity of your own identity.” Tony Robbins

I think the reason this really resonated with me is that I’m working very hard on my character and growth right now.  I set aside an hour daily to read, write, learn, grow so I can be the best version of myself. So my kids have a better role model and I can be proud of the life I’m creating.

Having spent this year in fast forward growth, my integrity is very important to me. I know exactly who I am and the way in which I want to continue to grow as a person.  The idea that some of my actions in life do not line up with my character and the high standards I set for myself does not speak of integrity. It’s important to recognize the areas of inconsistencies between my character and my actions.

I just had this discussion with my son the other day in relation to Integrity. What does that mean exactly? To me, integrity means my actions align with my words. I do what I say I’m going to do. My loved ones can count on me. I align my choices with who I am as a person. I let my actions speak louder than my promises and words. I asked my son a few days ago a very important question: Who do you want to be? Go be that.

So how do you change something right NOW?

Change occurs when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain associating with change. Our brains are hardwired to associate pain and pleasure to every action and behaviour.  We have to condition our brain to make these pain/pleasure associations differently.

It all starts within the mind.

What do you want to change today?  Whatever it is, ask yourself some important pleasure/pain questions.

Pain Q: What will it cost me if I don’t make this change: mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, financially?

How does staying within a destructive behaviour affect my children or those I love most?

Pleasure Q: If I make this change today, how will that make me feel about myself?

How will it change the way my children/loved ones view me?

Say for example, you want to change patterns of emotional eating. Obviously you must be placing much importance on the pleasure that brings you and not enough importance on the pain it creates in your life.  Reverse that. Focus on the pleasure you will receive in taking control of this area of your life. How will that affect your self-confidence and pride? What will it do for your spirit if you are released from the pain created through choosing to emotionally eat?

Feel the pride that comes from knowing that you are a person of integrity who aligns your actions with the standards you set for living your beautiful life.

Again, the question I asked myself this morning (I encourage you to ask yourself as well): Am I a walking contradiction?

The strength of my stubborn spirit will not let that be my reality. Oh noooooo.

Today I choose…

Happiness

Pride

Integrity

Confidence

Hope

Optimism

Self-Assured Grace

Hard-work

Dedication

Tenacity

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It truly is within all of us to make this choice. We have the power to change today. Embrace it with excitement! You can literally change your life right this second.

How ridiculously amazing is that?! Have a great day!

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

The Disconnect within Connection

We all crave connection. It’s a fundamental human need. That’s why there’s so much time spent online. Facebook, twitter, instagram. It’s a virtual world of human connection. We spend more time on our phone virtually talking to others than we do actually connecting with another person face-to-face. What’s ironic is by searching for connection in this way, it creates a disconnect in life.

I hear this a lot and I’ve also convinced myself of this from time to time. I’m too busy to workout and eat right. It’s not that we don’t have time, it’s that we don’t use our time wisely.

I used to think that I used food as a tool to numb. I think it’s more accurate to say that I used food to feed a feeling of emptiness. One that could have been fed by healthy elements.

I took some time to truly think about the ways I feel full and content within mind and spirit.

Connection

How often have you tried to have a real conversation with someone who is looking down at their phone while you talk? It’s impossible. It makes the other person feel undervalued. Through that disconnect, it sends a message that their time is more precious than yours.

Put down the phone, you will not find true connection there. One thing I’ve learned through getting to know others at the gym, is that if I take the time to listen to others within authentic conversation, there’s no end to the life lessons that can be learned. I love going to the gym at the time when older people are there, because through every conversation I’ve had with them, I’ve learned something. They could be falling into the trap of sedentary life if they choose, but they don’t. They show up, work hard, and slow the hands of the aging clock with heart-healthy activity. They are not distracted by the binging of notifications from their phones. When they talk to me, they look me in the eye. They listen. They understand that time is fleeting and precious and they use that time to their advantage. They understand what it is to be connected to another person through being truly present within conversation.

Exercise

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I realized one day on my run that I have never felt more alive than within that uncomfortable moment. My lungs were screaming for air, my legs felt like they had weights attached to them, the cold air whipped at my face making my eyes water. Yet within the physical discomfort, I was never more aware of my strengths and abilities of my body. I’m certainly not aware of that as my body sinks into the indentations of a couch. 😉

Our bodies are designed to move, run, jump, lift. If we challenge our muscles they will grow. If we exercise our heart, it will beat more efficiently with strength and determination. What’s more alive than that? There is nothing “alive” about losing muscle mass as we age, and clogging our arteries with fried foods. We are betraying our bodies if we give into complacency. Get moving. Feel alive!

Eat foods that transform into energy. Isn’t that amazing: that you can fuel your body to perform at its peak. It’s within our power to choose our fuel. It takes just as much time to eat crappy food void of nutrients and vitamins as it does to choose vibrantly coloured food full of life.

The Uplifting

You know what feels amazing? To uplift another person through genuine appreciation. To truly recognize the light within another’s spirit. To ignite a fire within their soul through recognition. To see their worth and celebrate it. To give more than you take. To make others laugh and feel amazing about who they are as people. THAT is gold. You want to feel uplifted? It starts in giving. Not receiving.

Positive Out, Positive In

I say that phrase an annoying amount, because I believe in it with my whole heart.  Negativity is exhausting. It’s soul crushing. Nothing grows within a negative environment. It’s an energy sucker.  Maybe you are searching for positivity right now. Well let me be a little source of positivity within your day and tell you that to attract positive you have to put it out. Every time a seed of negativity tries to implant within your mind, cover it with positive. It takes practice especially during times of adversity; but there is always something to be grateful for in life. Something good to see through wounded eyes. A little ray of sunshine within darkness. If you focus there, on the good…it will grow and spread.  Whatever positive you put into this beautiful world, it will come back ten fold.

Spirituality

I have found my worth within God’s grace. There is no one I need to seek validation from, because He’s the only one I need to seek. I have turned my back from my faith from time to time, but I have found so much peace and joy through the power of prayer. His grace is sufficient for me.

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Authenticity

One good thing that has come from my life falling apart, is that I have gained a sense of confidence and clarity of purpose within rebuilding my life. I wore a mask for a long time, and as it crumbled away, I had no choice but to stand within vulnerability and own my life. Yup, here I am… scars and all. Perfectly imperfect. I no longer care what others think about me. I can’t begin to describe the freedom I have felt as I leaned broken but wholeheartedly right into authenticity. I know exactly who I am. I will not judge you. I will stand beside you with empathy, understanding, and compassion. If you judge me, that’s on you. It doesn’t make me feel bad about myself. Not one bit. Peace 🙂

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This year, one of my goals was to experience true joy again. Now it’s a tough goal to pinpoint when I’ve actually reached it. I can confidently say that I’m well on my way. I have realized that joy can be found within life’s ordinary moments if I become present in the right now.

Joy lives…

Within my children’s laughter.

Within the trails of amber on a fall day as I run to clear my mind.

Within embarrassing awkward moments that naturally fall into my lap as I am in fact awkward (which I’ve learned to own).

Within the pride I see in another’s eyes as they persevere through a tough workout.

Joy is present and abundant within a conversation over coffee with a good and pure friend.

Joy in the little things. Joy in the everyday. Joy in the anticipation of a tomorrow full of promise.

I smile a little more freely each and every day. Laughter comes right out of nowhere. And that’s ridiculously amazing my friends.

I hope today you find some time to truly connect with another person and feel alive in all you do.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

The Road of Discomfort

In my last post, I talked about my quest to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

This week has carried with it a whole lot of uncomfortable. From long runs along golden fields of canola to finding my voice when I normally keep silent. I tackled tasks I have put off because of the pain involved within remembering a life that was. I opted to sit in the pain and work through it.

The day after I decided to embrace uncomfortable, I set out on a run. I have focussed on strength training lately and not cardio, so I decided this week I would focus on cardio (which I find to be very uncomfortable). Given my long break from steady state cardio and an old IT Band injury, as I laced up my runners I thought to myself: “I bet I can’t run 10K anymore”.  Immediately I was annoyed with myself as I knew I had to do it.

Now, the only way to ensure you will run 10K, is to run 5K away. You have no choice but to run back. 😉  I decided to take an unfamiliar route and seek solace within the childhood memories of gravel roads, fields of gold, and the quiet of the country.

So I set out on the road of discomfort with motivational speeches setting my pace. Click here if you are interested in some motivation for your day.

The first 5K was no big thing but a chicken wing. It was on kilometre 7 when the familiar IT Band ache set in. It was +30 and I could see round balls of bugs hovering in the heat wave of dust over the road. But still, there was no turning back, either way I had to get home. I decided to just slow down to a walk when I needed to and to take that time to think about my goals. What are the facets of my life that are holding me back from reaching them?

In those last 3 KM’s I found more clarity than in recent memory. I was (and am) the only thing that will prevent me from reaching my goals. Change is required within the mind before it translates to action.

It’s time to go to work.

Leave the past behind with the respect it deserves, and focus on rebuilding my authentic life.

I will use this precious gift of time wisely and to my advantage.

I will focus on the good, the positive, the uplifting.  Faith.

The only thing within my control is my attitude and perceptions. My perception is in fact my reality.

I choose to look at my bad days as a chance to build character and live within grace and gratitude.

I choose to move forward down this road of discomfort with courage, perseverance, and unyielding tenacity.

I will use my God-given abilities for good with the respect of my purpose on this beautiful earth.

I will let go of control where there is none.

It’s funny how uncomfortable can manifest beautiful certainty. I will remember that run for all of my days. It may have been slow going, but I did it!

I learned more about the strength of my spirit in that one hour than I have in months. What a gift, and one that I wouldn’t have experienced had I not taken the road of discomfort.

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When you find yourself at a cross-road, I urge you to take the more challenging route. You never know what you’ll discover.

From my heart to yours,

Christine