New Year, New State of Mind.

I’m editing a set of photos from the “Beauty from Within” project I shot before Christmas (click here if you wish to view the photos). It’s an amazing project where the girls are shown that the true measure of beauty comes from within.

As I was editing the photos, I realized that my frame of mind in regards to my own body image isn’t the greatest at the moment. Christmas was filled with amazing food!  I certainly had my fill and after days of over-indulgence I was down about it.  Guess what my friends, the amazing foods that accompany Christmas is a great part of life!


I started back to my workout routine yesterday, but what I realized as I was trying to channel inner strength to finish a 5K run, is that my mind was clearing with ever laboured step I took.

I felt inner strength that had escaped me since my last workout. There it is…the power of a great workout, it just clears the mind!

During that workout, I had the clarity of mind to remember that with the New Year usually comes a panic to make resolutions and goals.  The trap that comes with New Year resolutions, is that they can be extreme and hard to maintain as part of a daily lifestyle.

With that said, this year I’m resolving to shift my focus to a state of mind brought to me by the amazing women and girls from the “Beauty From Within” project.

Beauty from Within.  It’s not about fitting into a pair of jeans, or worrying about bathing suit season as I have in the past.  For me, it’s about using exercise for clarity, inner pride, and peace of mind.  It’s about viewing food as fuel.  It’s about finding those things 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.

I also realized that little changes can produce big results if they are carried out consistently. It’s a lifestyle…meaning, it’s carried with you through out your life.

I would encourage you as the New Year approaches to take away the panic to lose “X” amount of pounds or to be a certain size so you can work on the outer appearance.  Instead, focus on using exercise and healthy eating to build up your pride and peace within.  Focus on the amazing balance that comes from positive changes that affect the three elements: Your Mind, Body, and Soul.   Enjoy the ride and the pride that accompanies each positive step forward to a healthy and happy life.

Progress, not Perfection.

Happy New Year from my Heart to Yours,


Insights from my Dad

I just got off the phone with my Dad.  He’s back home on the farm, and has lots of help with his cattle and chores. While we talked, three neighbours beeped in on the line to talk to him, as well as a “lovely Hutterite lady” who Dad said probably wanted to sell him something. He wondered out loud what he could purchase from her…maybe a blanket.

I’ve never had the opportunity to hear first-hand insights from someone I love that has gone through something as life altering as cancer. I stopped everything I was doing, sat down, and really listened.

This is what I learned from my Dad today, and it is written in my Dad’s voice.

“You go through something like this, you begin to heal, and you think what am I doing this all for?  I don’t need much.  All the things that were so important that I have, I realize I don’t really need them.”

He also has a new understanding of what my sister struggles with daily as she lives with MS, and he realizes what a lonely world it is when you are at home dealing with health issues.  He’s taking the time to slow down and to take the support and love others have given.

As Christmas approaches, it’s easy to get caught up in the material part of Christmas where I am on the quest to find the perfect gifts for loved ones. I will shamefully tell you in fact, that I’m going to start the bulk of my Christmas shopping tomorrow.  For some reason, I just can’t get into the swing of things this year, but mainly because I don’t want to go into busy malls and join the other frenzied shoppers.  Rather than obsessing about the gift I find, I want to be conscious of the actual act of giving with a spirit of gratitude.

After talking to Dad, I have a new appreciation for the events that surround Christmas. Tomorrow is the school Christmas concert for my younger two.  Now that my oldest is in Jr. High, I realize these next few years are the last of the Christmas concerts!

Christmas is a magical time of year for kids. The excitement they bring into the season is infectious.

I am so thankful to God for my Dad’s healing, and for all the new insights he has brought forward. I am really looking forward to spending time with family and friends this year. I’m going to slow down, take the time to visit, and take it all in. This year marks something different for me! I come from a large family, so potluck is the way we roll and we usually travel to Vermilion for Christmas. However, this year we are spending Christmas day in Leduc, and I am cooking my very first complete Christmas meal (insert nervous laugh here).

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from my heart to yours,


Respect, Empathy, and Understanding

“You deserve very little credit for being what you are” Dale Carnegie

When I read this quote, it took awhile to sink in.

Let me start off with a story.  I was waiting for my Daughter at school a few weeks ago.  The day was unseasonable cold…-36 with wind chill if I remember right. My mind had wandered and was consumed with worrying about Dad’s surgery. I didn’t even notice when a Mom passed by me pushing a stroller along with her other (not happy) daughter whom she had picked up from school.  The reason I can tell you she passed by me is because I only noticed her after she said to me “thanks a lot for helping me with the door” in the most sarcastic of tones. She slammed the door behind her and huffed away with a trail of whirling snow in her wake.

At first I was taken aback. How dare she be so rude to me when I didn’t even notice her in my bewildered state!  Only moments later did I realize however, that I was preoccupied with worry, and perhaps she too was having a bad day.  I happened to be there at the height of her frustration.   I wish I could have found her after I had time to process it all, because I wanted to tell her “Forgive me for not noticing you, I was preoccupied.  I remember the days of fighting to get out the door with babies and running around. I hope your day gets better.”  Years ago, I would have thought that reaction was passive, but now I realize it’s because I understand her frustrations.

We are all a product of our environment: how we were raised, our past, our present, and the experiences that we have gone through, make us who we are today.  So to me, the quote above means just that.  I am also trying to not take things personally!  I don’t believe the woman would have been so sarcastic on a different day had she been in a different frame of mind.  Again, it’s releasing expectations on others.

Kindness, respect, empathy, and understanding go a loooong way.

I had two choices over that situation, I could have carried that annoyance home, or I could have tried to understand where she was coming from.  I believe most people just want to be heard, to have a voice, to be understood, and wish for others to empathize with their situation.  When someone vents to me, it’s rarely because they want a solution. Most often it’s because they want to be heard.  Another area that I need to work on is listening!  Truly listening.

The only way I see to avoid getting bogged down by daily annoyances is to not let them annoy you. Just let it go! Understand. Relate. Empathize.

Life is too short to be filled with anger.  It’s all about perspective.

Peace! 🙂

Wishing you a day full of understanding…from my heart to yours,


For the Love of Energy Givers

There comes a time in life, when you realize what’s truly important, and it’s usually on the heels of a life-altering event.  I’ve also realized that one quickly forgets the lessons learned during these times when life goes back to normal.  So, I’m taking some time today to write them down so I don’t forget!

You are the one who allows people to treat you a certain way.  If you are being mis-treated, then you have the control to change it. Set some boundaries, and be honest.   This can be especially difficult for softy-people-pleasers like me.  So, I often have to decide if I’m doing something out of guilt, or because I truly want to.

I will no longer waste time on judgemental and negative people. I just won’t because time is precious!  I will focus all of my energy and heart on those that love me for who I am, and that give me the same as I give them…which is understanding, kindness, and support.  I do understand that I need to be a good friend to have good friends.  It’s not about me.  It’s about honest and authentic relationships, where I focus on giving more than I take.

Everyone has a different kind of energy they give off.   I believe that there are two types of people in life, energy-givers and energy-suckers.  I want to be an energy-giver and I try to be conscious of that as I used to be an energy-sucker! That sucks! I love energy-givers.  They make me smile and want to break out into spontaneous dance. I’m truly thankful for them!  There is no telling how much time we have left on this earth, so I want to make the most of it.  Why waste any of it on negativity?  A life full of joy and purpose is there for the TAKING!!! (that deserves three exclamations and an ALL-CAPS)

I may not always agree with other’s choices, but who am I to tell anyone how to run their lives?  It’s their life!  They are the one in control of it.  There is something very rare in finding a network of support who will hold you up when you fall and bring with them a spirit of accountability rather than judgement.  They make you want to be a better person, but it’s by way of example…in how they live their own lives, not in how they think others should live their lives.  I hope that makes sense because it’s a big ah-ha moment for me!  Accountability is different from judgement.

So for my girlfriends:

I don’t care what you look like.

I don’t care what your house looks like…in fact it would make me feel better if you didn’t clean it before I come over.

I don’t care if you are sporting pyjamas, yesterday’s hair do, and your mascara has made a run for it and travelled down your face.

I don’t care if you have a bad-mom day…we all have bad-mom days.

I don’t care if you don’t have a filter, it’s something I lack as well. We can both say inappropriate things at the wrong time.

I don’t care if you want to lose 10, 50,100, or 150 pounds.  I struggle with self-image often.

I don’t care if you are broke and can’t come out for a cocktail. Hopefully we can make time in our busy schedules that I can bring the cocktail to you. I will most likely bring it sporting pyjamas, yesterday’s hair do, and mascara that has made a run for it and travelled down my face.

There comes a time in life when you stop caring about what others think & you focus on the amazing people who are there without judgement & enjoy exactly who you are…as is. If I am there for my friends without judgement, then I should accept the same for myself. Isn’t that refreshing!?! Yup it is!

Tis the season for a Christmas Song…

From my heart to yours,


Moment of Clarity

My father underwent surgery for prostate cancer and is doing great!  He is an incredibly strong man, and a real fighter.  Even through his pain, he still comes out with his one liners that makes everyone in his presence burst out laughing. Thank you for your prayers and your notes of encouragement.  It is greatly appreciated and I was overwhelmed with the kindness and support you have shown to my family.

When I returned home last night from visiting Dad in the hospital, I had this incomplete feeling. Like I needed something to make me feel better. I went through some possible options in my head one of which was a bag of chips in the cupboard.  And then it hit me, I needed to work out.

At 9:00 p.m., I went downstairs to my make-shift gym and though I was physically spent, I pushed through a workout that was full of physical pain.  But with every running step I took on the treadmill I thought, “my father is in pain right now, so a little physical pain from running is no big deal, suck it up, push through it.”  I poured out all the frustration I was feeling in that moment into exercise.

It was one of those moments that I will always remember because even though it’s coming on 6 years since I changed my lifestyle, it was then that I truly knew I have actually changed my outlook on life.  And it struck me suddenly that part of moving forward is pushing through the pain. It’s quieting the negative self-doubt. It’s about saying “I can” when my head says “I can’t”.  It’s challenging the patterns of bad habits, and realizing that I have control over my actions.  I can either deal with stress in a negative way, or a positive way.  It’s all in my control.  My determination is in direct relation to my thoughts.

So often, we don’t truly challenge ourselves.  We accept the things we wish to change, and don’t take action.  Why?  What have we got to lose?  How can a person feel pride without challenging one’s self?

So, if you are ever faced with one of life’s trials and you doubt your strength, challenge those defeating thoughts.  Hold onto the good, the positive, the uplifting and just be strong because you ARE strong.  The strength of the human spirit knows no bounds.

Often I feel like maybe I should just keep all these thoughts inside, as they may come off as preachy.  I don’t have a right to tell anyone how to live their life. I have come to appreciate how different we all are, and I enjoy all kinds of personalities and outlooks on life!  Especially those that just have the tenacity to be exactly who they are and make no apologies for it.  But, I guess I feel the need to voice them as I have come from an entirely different lifestyle where I didn’t feel any of these positive things.  It’s hard to contain it, and I felt so alone and trapped years ago.  I wished I had someone to lift me up when I didn’t know how.

Anywhooooo, I just felt the need to tell you how strong, amazing, and powerful you are.  So often, we don’t even realize our true potential…huge, huge, potential.  🙂

I’m off to the hospital to visit my Dad.  I’m thankful for the time I’ve had with him, even if it’s to sit by his side as he sleeps.  Honestly though, he hasn’t done a lot of sleeping while he has company…he has too much to say and he’s mighty thankful that he has the opportunity to say it.

From my thankful heart,