The More Jody Podcast “When Rape Steals Your Voice”

I’m a writer, not a talker. Except that one time I talked on The More Jody Podcast

Jody, who created The More Jody Podcast, is  a kind, gracious, tenacious, driven, compassionate woman. I met her years ago through health and fitness and immediately felt this connection to her.  

A couple of months ago, she asked me to help her formulate some questions as she was interviewing women who had been assaulted. She wanted to ensure her questions were not intrusive and were delivered with care and safe exploration.  

It gave me so much to think about for my own healing (which sparked the last couple of posts here).  After much thought and prayer, I sent her some questions she could ask. About a week or two later, she asked if I would talk on her podcast.

I realized if I was going to do this, I would have to answer my own questions. ha! My initial reaction was pure fear to speak out loud. I can write, but when I try to share vocally, my words get stuck in my throat.  I gave it a lot of thought…I felt in my heart-of-hearts if my voice could reach even one woman to also find her voice, it’s worth it.  

So here it is… 

https://anchor.fm/morejody/episodes/22--When-rape-steals-your-voice---a-conversation-with-Christine-eq2vdg/a-a39kbfg
When rape steals your voice – a conversation with Christine More Jody Podcast
Thank you Jody for providing a safe place to share.  You are making a difference in this world (and in my world too)
 
From my heart to yours,
Christine

Dear Christine at 15…

I found my very first diary. The cover is graced with two white doves etched with gold tipped wings hovering over an ocean lit by moonlight. With each turn of the aged pastel pages, a sweet scent lingers which lives in the recesses of a forgotten room in my brain. On the inside cover was my best attempt at handwriting my name along with the year 1989. I received this diary for Christmas. On New Years I chronicled my adventures in babysitting. I made $25 for a 7 hour shift. I vaguely remember the parents getting home at 3 a.m. and trying their best to steady themselves on drunk ankles. ha!

I chronicled little and big moments from 13 to 18 years old. Some days my handwriting was scrambled and scrawled, and other days it was intentional with pretty cursive. The margins were filled with doodles and drawings. Hearts followed by broken hearts.

As I read some of my more life altering entries, I felt compassion, sadness, and a deep feeling of empathy as I knew how my story would unfold.

In those 5 years of teenage dairy entries, I wrote about friends passing away, moving (running) to a boarding school, my Grandfather’s death, being used and cheated on, feeling like an outsider in social circles (I drew a photo of my body with arrows to the areas I hated), smoking/drinking/sneaking out, my parent’s separation/divorce, and the hardest to read: being raped.

The journal entry for the rape started and ended with this sentence…

“I hate myself”.

The entries after were a spiralling of self, full of confusion and a complete lack of self-worth. My writing was full of shame and blame and wanting it all to end.

Thirty years later, I am a Mother to a teenage girl the same age. As I read the words of 15 year old me who was trying to articulate rape, I felt the love I have for my daughter. Within the recount, I remembered things I had pushed down. Among the hardest words to read were:

“I let a lot of people down.”

“I did a really dumb thing” (by putting myself in that position.)

“He started kissing me and pushed me to the ground.”

“He was around 20 years old.” (I must of wrote that understanding he was an adult and I was a teen)

“How am I going to tell Mom and Dad?”

“This is awful. I never meant for it to happen like this, my first time was supposed to be special and with someone I loved. He hardly even knew my name.”

“When I got back I threw up 3 times all over the road.” (I do not remember that)

“I hate myself.”

Signed Christine (at 15)

As a Mother, what would I want 15 year old me to know? That question spoke to me the entire time I read that diary. I almost felt like I was invading her privacy by reading it, like she was not me. What an odd feeling…

Dear Christine at 15: You are so very loved and worthy. You did nothing wrong, and I’m proud of you for sharing. You will never let me down, my love for you is never-ending and without conditions. Please allow those who love you to lift you up. When you speak aloud and share with those who are safe to do so, shame can’t abide in that same sacred space.

Now, in saying that, I’m not sure I would have been able to accept that love. I blamed myself, and stuffed that shame with food, partying, running away, outer silence/inner turmoil, alcohol, etc.

As was evident by an entry after, written by my childhood friend, I had a supportive loving network. I must have let my friend read my diary a few days after the rape. Side note: I forgot how much I trusted my childhood friends…enough to let them read something so intensely vulnerable. There were other entries from more friends in the years after. I think this is when I learned to share by writing.

This is my last page of the rape entry, followed by her letter to me…

When I read “Don’t ever cover up that picture again.” I had a memory flash of covering up my photo, blocking my face. I couldn’t look at my reflection. She poured her love and acceptance over me. She is still my friend today, we meet yearly for a family photo session. I forgot why I feel such a connection and kindred spirit with her (beyond the obvious fact she too is P.S. cool and I love her). When I closed my photography business in 2020, I felt it on my heart the importance to continue to document her life for her. I didn’t remember she wrote me this until I read it today. Thank you Merrilyn for the gift of your friendship and whole-hearted acceptance.

I’m still sorting through all of this, the healing thirty years later. I know I’m finally doing the work, this has been my gift of isolation within 2020 and 2021. I took another big step a few weeks ago and spoke about Shame on a podcast. I am nervous to hear my outside voice, but I’m proud of myself for pushing down the fear and doing it.

I was listening to a podcast from Brene Brown where she quantified how she knows its safe to share something traumatic in a public forum (like a podcast, blog, book, post, etc.), and it has stuck with me. This is not an exact quote, rather how I perceived her words…. If my healing is dependent on another’s response, then it’s not safe to share publicly. I will share with a person who’s earned that trust.

Today, I’m in a position to talk about this more openly as my healing is not dependent on your response. I feel like this is something so many women carry within, the shame and blame, the feeling of unworthiness.

The idea that another woman may also be feeling this way guides my spirit to speak. To write about it. To be honest and transparent that I’m still working through it and I don’t have all the answers yet as to how I will reclaim this part of my spirit.

I want you to know…

You are worthy.

You are loved.

You are not broken. You are healing.

You are brave.

I am so sorry for what happened to you.

You did nothing wrong.

You have nothing to feel shameful about, sharing erodes shame.

As you speak and share…that shame will meld way to open a powerful space rooted in love and compassion. There is beauty in the breakdown. I’m so very proud of you no matter what stage of healing you are in. Vulnerability is incredibly courageous.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

The Radical Place Beyond Self-Acceptance

I am reading a book called “The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love” by Sonya Renee Taylor and oh my have I been challenged to invite difference and understanding, not only within how I view my body, but EveryBODY. If you have a body, than this book is for you.

If you read my previous posts over the past decade, there is a theme of self-acceptance. Within Sonya’s powerful words, I’ve been challenged to reassess the ideal of self-acceptance, because there is a beautiful radical place beyond that…and that is self-love. How did I never understand or know about this place?

You see acceptance is not an actionable word. It’s passive. It just is. To accept something doesn’t invite freedom, power, or love. When I accept something, it’s usually because there is no other choice if I want to move forward. I accept begrudgingly. I accept that I am 43. I accept that I have cellulite in all the areas. I accept that there are lines and paths on my face which trace my memories and my stories of both pain and joy. The years of feeling have etched a map and I hope to have more laugh lines than frown lines.

But to LOVE myself as is? Radical Self-Love at that?

How would that change my life?

How would that change another’s life?

How would that change my view of others?

How would that change how I treat myself and others?

How would that change the way I Mother?

How could that change the world?

I am going to walk off this path of thought and go down a different trail (I promise it meets up eventually). I have been thinking about my Why as it relates to health and wellness. There is so much dark, ugly, and gross when it comes to the Fitness/Beauty/Diet industry. An industry built on selling the belief that you must change yourself. Insert some sarcasm…It is simply audacious to believe you could actually love yourself without the cream, the lashes, the nails, the outfit, or the shake you drink to shrink. You silly girl, drink the kool aide, you’ll feel and look better if you do.

Back in 2003 when I finally did the work (or I should say started the work) to sit in my shame, and to find ways to process it all without bingeing on food, my Why was To heal. The result was weight loss. I started fuelling my body with love-yoself-high-energy foods packed with vitamins and nutrients, moving for strength and mobility, and reading/writing/sharing to fulfill my spirit.

I struggled with the attention as it related to my physical appearance because it wasn’t about that. “You always had a pretty face” or “You look so good now” further impacted the message within that I was not worthy unless I took up less space. And to be worthy, I must fit into an ideal which was (and still is) impossible to even obtain much less maintain. Nor did I want that.

I love going to the gym, and getting lost in a workout. My ideal hour is spent lifting heavy things with music streaming in my ear holes. I prefer to work out solo, it’s a form of meditation for me. I lift to feel uplifted. It empowers me, makes me feel amazing, and boosts my mood every session. I do not lift to lift my ass; which is why it’s truly hard to search for different workouts online without the Why being attached to aesthetics.

This is also the reason I choose not to chat about diets as much as possible as it triggers something within that feels really uncomfortable and my shame voice lifts her little hand to take over my mind chatter. Most “diets” usually come with a magical promise of how much weight you can lose within a specific time frame (usually short term). There is no data or disclaimer attached about what it will do to your body long term. How much it will impact ALL parts of you: Body, Mind, and Spirit. How it will deplete your energy, your stamina, your esteem, your worth. How it will create an insatiable feeling of never enough. It will not tell you that no matter how much you diet, your image will always appear flawed and distorted as you analyze your reflection in the mirror. It will not support you, or love you…this new you. Because the WHY is to be something other than you are. The message: You are not enough without shrinking yourself.

So my friends, this is how I make decisions lately. I listen to my Whys. It helps me to sort the clutter. To make choices about what I read, who I listen to, what I eat, how I move my body, how I protect my daily peace.

My why is to heal.

My why is to weave all parts together Body, Mind, and Spirit.

My why is to find this beautiful place that is Radical Self-Love.

What is your why?

Will you walk with me to this new place?

It’s actually not a new place at all, it’s an old place we were born into. As kids we loved the shit out ourselves and others. I was googling words to describe such a place and my thesaurus recommended Utopia; however, the definition is a place of ideal perfection. This place is not perfection. I want to seek imperfections. I want to celebrate difference. I want to invite understanding. I want to know how others navigate life in their body. I “want” is an invitation to change. I will change as I explore and open my heart and mind.

I am just scratching the surface of learning (as I’m sure you can tell). I am truly grateful to Sonya Renee Taylor for articulating her thoughts into written word, which are now spinning and weaving pathways within my brain. Thank you Sonya.

Dive Deeper my friends…

Listen: Brené with Sonya Renee Taylor on “The Body is Not an Apology”

Explore and Read: The Body is Not an Apology Website (where you can purchase the book, and read further)

From my heart to yours,

Christine

Deprogramming Forced Politeness

I was raised to be polite. To give more than I take. To look for the best in others. To help my neighbour. To turn the other cheek. To have stellar manners. Say please and thank you. To forgive. To love others.

While all of these traits have moulded my character and values; in talking with a friend this week, I realized one has done harm to my spirit.

Politeness or rather Forced Politeness

There is a difference between manners and politeness. I am a woman and a Canadian sooo double double polite.

Now that I’m prettttty seasoned at being 40 something, I have been working on my intuition as I ignored it for much of adult life. You know that feeling you get when something feels off, and you don’t know why.

I have delved deep into the Why’s lately.

Why did I believe I was without choices?

Why didn’t I say something?

Why didn’t I put up boundaries?

Why did I think it was better for me to be uncomfortable than the very person who caused it?

I’m going to throw out a couple of examples of how Forced Politeness has effected my life in a negative way.

Example number 1: At a professional work place, I asked an older man if I could help him, to which he replied with a wink: “You sure could, but I can’t say out loud how I’d like you to help me.” I ignored it, and remained professional. Later, as he was leaving, he said:”God has given you a beautiful body and I’ve enjoyed looking at it.”

I just stood there with my mouth open, stunned and shaking with anger inside. First of all, he was an elder and so my brain thought: “maybe he doesn’t know in this era you can’t say things like that, he’s a senior citizen.” Secondly, I was at work and professionalism is important to me. I didn’t trust the words that were about to escape my lips.

Example number 2: There was a man at my gym who repeatedly ignored physical boundaries, he stood too close, interrupted workouts to ask nonsensical questions, and continually scanned the room. When he was done his workout, he would sit on the ledge of the boot rack for many minutes/sometimes a full workout time. He just sat there, large and in charge looking at his phone with his legs dangling down blocking the boot cubicles. He would not leave or motion to move when he saw women approach looking for their boots. This in turn forced women to ask him to move so they could gather their shoes. He wouldn’t get down; rather he would move his leg just enough to get your boots out of the cubicle. Sometimes I would politely ask him to move. Other times I would just stare at the cubicle and then at him so he would move. He did this for the entire time I went to that gym. If he was in the gym; he disrupted my workout, my inner peace (the whole reason I was there).

Forced Politeness.

I am doing the work on Deprogramming that shit because boundaries and speaking up are necessary.

I will not teach my children to ignore their instincts when something feels off, uncomfortable, or wrong.

I will not force them to hug another hello or good bye if they do not want to.

I do not want my children to be in a situation where they feel unsafe or uncomfortable; but stay because they are worried about being impolite.

I talked to my daughter about it today. She agreed that forced politeness has caused her to silence her voice. I asked her why she would not speak up within these experiences, and very simply she told me she didn’t want to make another person feel uncomfortable. Ugh my heart

That is not OK. We would rather sit in the discomfort for the sake of another’s comfort; when their very actions do not show respect for our boundaries.

I don’t have the answers my friends…not yet anyway. But I’m writing about this today because I am going to change this. It’s important not only for my own peace and safety; but for my children’s too.

Please share with another and keep the conversation going if you too feel impacted by Forced Politeness. Share with those you feel safe to do so with.

And one day I hope my inner power will shine brightly enough that I feel confident to share with those who make me feel uncomfortable…even if my voice shakes.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

A Note of Encouragement and Understanding

A Note of Encouragement and Understanding

A friendly reminder to practice self-compassion and reduce your stress and expectations on yourself

We all wear many hats.

For me: Mom/Banker/Partner/Daughter/Sister/Friend/Caretaker/Bill Payer/Meal Planner/Grocery Shopper/House Cleaner/Cook/Driver/Laundry Doer… and on and on it goes.

I’m mediocre at many of these roles.

Stellar at others

interchangeable depending on the day

But you guys, this Covid-Stuff is no joke on metal health.

For ourselves, our children, our loved ones.

I have just been feeling so tapped-out in my energy, and super protective on where I give it because my day ends on fumes.

My previous standards for myself are vastly different from the standards I have today within how I conduct my life.

I need to work.

I need to pay my bills for the home my kids and I live in to feel safe and secure.

I need to feed my kids and myself. Shop frugally, batch cook so we don’t order out and actually eat some vitamins and nutrients for health.

I need to sleep 8 hours.

I need to wash the clothes we wear, and dole out the jobs where I can in my household.

I need to stay connected to my partner and our extended Brady Bunch family.

I need to communicate to my friends and family I love them, and hope they don’t take my lack of interaction as anything other than the position I’m (we are all) in. My fear is they will think I’m overdramatic because we all have our own issues and balance is illusive to most.

I feel like I’m successful and failing all at the same time. I provide stellar customer service to the best of my abilities, my kids are taken care of, I sleep like a rock most nights…immediately as soon as my head hits the pillow. I do not gym anymore, my pants are tight. I have not had a hair cut since January. I drink too much wine. I rarely socialize. I have lost touch with my friends. I can’t financially afford to do much more than skip the dishes once in a while; and project a free movie onto an at-home theatre. And go camping. Because free with fresh air and family. Couple of Dickie-birds and one stone.

I finally shared how I was feeling with a co-worker. I looked down while I talked because I thought I would cry if I met her eyes. When I finally did look her in the eye, she had this beautiful expression of understanding and care. She said a sentence I will always hold to my heart.

She said this with so much care and empathy…

“We have to wear masks all day at work; and yet we wear another mask. Thank you for sharing how you are feeling, because I thought I was the only one”

I forgot how simple a gift sharing openly with another truly is. How it immediately drops the shoulders and connects one another. How it bonds and frees all at once.

I’ve  played her words over and over in my mind since, because I don’t want to wear a mask on how I’m feeling. I want to share openly when I’m able, and give myself permission to do what is necessary for my immediate little family.  My energy needs to go there. I will practice self-compassion for the rest.

My worth is not dependant on doing all the things perfectly. To be a certain size. To always wear a smile. To pretend I’m not struggling. To give when my spirit is unable.

I will give all I have to the work I do; but when I leave I will feel all the feels.  I will breath so deeply when I finally take off my required bylaw mask. I will blare my music I love most all the way home. I will write. I will read. I will be quiet because I need that for my soul. I will not weed anymore. I will be gentle with my heart as I process missing my son.

I will always love those who are in my circle; I send out nothing but love and positivity whenever you trace the vines of memories in my brain.

That’s all I know today. I hope my co-workers words also give you permission to evaluate what’s necessary, what is for another time, and to share how you’re feeling with those you feel safe and connected to.

Be gentle with you, this is a season that will pass. Do what you have to do today to get through it.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

The 3 Sentences my Kids Need to Hear

The first time I wrote a blog post, there was a generic heading “Hello World!”  A coming out of trepidatious opinion within a kismet of understanding of another’s blog world.

You are not alone.

I feel much the same feelings as I write this post.

“Hello World. It’s me Christine. Writing something that is incredibly hard to articulate, yet I’m pretty sure others can relate. I’m raw with layers of regret and shame interwoven into the complicated fabric that is Mothering.”

I do believe we all do our very best given the tools we have. And I have been grappling with the loss of time with my son who graduated this year within Covid-learning-from-home and left my nest for another nest. He left so gradually I didn’t even realize he left; which brought me to a whole new level of sadness.

This is the hard part to share, because it’s intensely personal to my family and my heart. Through my grief I traced it back to the root, and I’m sharing because I know Mom shame is all so destructive and common.

You see, when my son was 4; he had a seizure on the driveway while I was carrying in groceries. I missed it.

While I was packing groceries away in my fridge, my neighbour’s son witnessed it, who alerted his Mom, who alerted me. We had (continue to have) this nice little protective U-shaped community of mothering one another’s most valuable treasures.

I’ve never come to terms with missing that moment. I feel like maybe I would have understood better if the fall he took off his bike caused the seizure, OR he fell because of a seizure. I didn’t witness it; so I don’t know. And when the doctor asks you questions, and you relay back to him the account of your sweet neighbour 5 year old’s eyes…Well, that’s just heart-breaking and too much pressure for young kids to detail.

As a Mom; it’s within those moments you seek clarity and compassion from your circle of friends who support you over coffee as the brow furrows, and the shoulders rise. You serve the shame, and they ease the pain with a “Oh hun, how could you have known that would happen?” The easing of Mom hearts melded with guilt yet paved with compassion.

Fast forward to further seizures in the year that followed, he and I would travel for tests at the U of A. A spider web of wires over spiked adolescent hair weaved with medical goop to gather results. The tests were extensive and thorough with a diagnosis of Epilepsy which also affected his sleeping patterns and learning. I switched modes from Mom to advocator in his school as his teacher often asked “are you ensure he is getting enough sleep as he’s often tired.” With the help of the principal, we contacted the Epilepsy Association who brought in a puppet show to the school to educate those around him. This furthered labelled him. I realize that now.

And so began our journey of son wanting to explore, and Mom needing to implore protection. The various vehicles of play: Water, biking, unsupervised playground visits were all now dangerous. Even a bath was out of the question.

You see it just wasn’t fair to him…he wore a light in his eyes, a natural problem-solver, a seeker of exploration fuelled by a wild imagination.

I wish epilepsy was never his childhood reality of 4 pills a day and a Mom always at bay. I literally stalked him for much of his childhood.

When he was a teen, on the direction of his doctors,  we weaned him off the medications as it can be something children outgrow. After an intense monitoring year, he was still seizure free. Thank the Lord.

You see, I thought that would be our hurdle to overcome. I thought that would allow us to breathe and relax into a different dynamic between me and my amazing son.

Yet, those early years created a dynamic that I am now trying to repair. Today, he’s a young adult. Graduated. He’s spreading his wings, and leaving my nest. The sadness I feel is within grieving moments I wish I had given him as a child, carefree and without such stringent monitoring through my fear.

While I could not have changed his reality; I could have changed my approach to it. I’m really sorry for that.

I had a conversation with my trusted friend and confidant around the campfire the other night. I told him all I was feeling. I poured out all the shame and pain, and within the complex layers of mother guilt; he could relate as a parent and shared his own shame. Huh, apparently shame is not boxed into one gender or generation…Mothers, Fathers, Grandparents, Great-Grandparents, *insert pivotal role in a child’s life here. Yes, we can all relate.

As a society, it’s hard to talk about shame, but it’s actually the freedom from it. We need to talk, share within commonality, express compassion to one another, and create an atmosphere safe for the parent-confessions.  As Dr. Jody Carrington says “Drop your Shoulders”.

And it dawned on me so clearly at that moment by the fire; I never related how I was feeling to my own childhood and further to that…my parent’s childhood. The common thread of parenting. I am not going to blame my own childhood for any of my parenting choices, but what I feel convicted to do is own my role and shift the cycle.

Stay with me here…

As much as I can sit and lament about my son leaving my nest and choosing his father’s home, I realized my Mom felt the same way with me. She can relate to that gross feeling of abandonment (it even feels gross to type it). You sit and wonder within the missing. Will my child see the love, effort, pain, and sacrifice? Will they forget me because I’m quite possibly a huge pain in their ass (quite probably)?

I nag.

I probe.

I ask too many questions.

I worry incessantly.

But I love feircly.

If you are a parent, you have made mistakes.

We are all children of parent(s) who made mistakes.

Our parent’s parents made mistakes.

While we can look at it as the cycle of blame-the-parent or the ex-partner who you share parenting roles, there is one element I am embracing and changing for myself.

I clearly need to seek self-compassion for the shame I feel within my mothering; but also within my own childhood choices of spreading my wings as I left the nest. Sometimes I showed one parent more compassion than the other which was a purely selfish need of a teen choosing the path of least resistance and seeking approval of whichever parent dolled it out more effortlessly.

But here’s my fireside revelation…the note I wrote in my phone. The thing I need to say most to my son (and all of my children)…

I’m sorry.

I love you.

I’m here for you.

It really is that simply, and a straight-from-my-heart-starting-point to drop our shoulders. Spoken in love and understanding.

Ok, I’m learning my friends. While I understand my choices, reactions and circumstances at the time of my children’s experiences through out their childhood (and my young parenting life), it does not negate the fact they did not deserve to shoulder that. I’m so sorry you had to deal with feelings that are hard to process, but I’m here for you! Never forget that. 

Remember the day you realize your parents are flawed individuals and are just trying to do their best? For me, that day swiftly arrived when my own experiences mirrored that of their parents. Ahhhh, I get it now.

Through my shame (which can be oh so devastating depending how I work through it)  I am seeking responsibility for my part. I made mistakes within my parenting. I will not blame that on the situation I was dealing with at the time. While I did the best I could with the tools I had at the time, hindsight and wisdom through experience has allowed me vision through new eyes. It does not denounce the pain my kids went through. So “I’m sorry” is something  that I am learning carries with it a lot of power and freedom from the shame and blame. And I truly mean it.

I’m sharing this today because I believe we do not talk about this enough, parent to parent. Let’s talk about our sadness, fears, looking back through the years now that we’ve gained wisdom and clarity. Pass on the lessons.

I need to share this with my son as well when the time is right. And I will. He’s been very open with his trials, and we have had times of awkward laughter when we don’t know how to communicate (yet an unspoken commonality of feeling). Perhaps frustrated, yet with a whole lot of love and care for one another’s heart. I understand his need of space and time to find his way, to connect with all sides of his family without guilt that he’s “choosing”  (I needed the same).

I love my children to the ends of this earth, even within the shame…we have that common thread.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

15 Years at Goal-Hindsight is 2020

Today is Year 15 of Reclaiming Life

It seems very contrite to write a blog post about being at a “goal weight” given the landscape of life we are all currently navigating. The “Covid gain” is pretty insignificant and natural as we change our everyday lifestyle habits.

What I’ve found necessary to stay healthy and mentally sane, is to focus on all 3 elements: Body/Mind/Spirit, which is a prevalent theme in my writing.

Last week I shared about creating a Contingency Plan; It’s been a go-to-sanity-saver and has provided much needed structure and stability during a time of change and uncertainty.

So, in keeping with yearly tradition on this anniversary date, here’s what I’ve learned in Year 15

~I can live on much less than I thought; I’ve streamlined my finances and really examined what’s necessity and what’s a luxury.  I have cancelled services, unsubscribed, decluttered, shopped less, sold some things curb side pickup, and simplified.  I channel that feeling I get when it’s completed…before I even start, because otherwise it’s overwhelming. One baby step at a time. You know you’ll feel amazing when you tackle that junk drawer, filing taxes, cleaning out the garage; feel the feels like it’s done already and then don’t hesitate to just start. The momentum takes over 🙂

~When I was a little girl, we had 3 huge gardens. And I helped my Mom and sisters garden all through my childhood. I vowed to never garden again; although I attempted to a few years running when my kids were young.  The whole process just didn’t feel gratifying nor therapeutic and weeding was a chore I decided was best left to the Farmers and the green thumb-ers. I am shocked to tell you that I have found so much peace and purpose in tending to growing things.  Like who even am I now?!

~If you have a desk job, you are over 40, and you’re not moving as much…your body will freeze up like the tin man by the end of the day. Chair yoga actually helps; especially, “Chair Pigeon Pose”. If you google it, a plethora of resources for seniors comes up. Legit cool for anyone who sits in a chair all day.

~Co-Parenting and blended family time during a Pandemic is tough. It just is. There’s a whole lot more to think about when you involve more than one family in cross-over time. I’ve talked to many in the same boat, or different boats, but all feeling the same way.  Whether you’re working full-time, laid off, working part-time gigs to make ends meet, staying at home all day caring for kids while in insolation, insert situation here…

Oh but wait there’s more!

Now let’s add schooling from home to that equation. Yet, as much as it’s a challenge for us parents (because let’s face it kids are already more scholarly than most of us); the kids are the ones who deserve all the kudos. For kids/tweenies/teens, their school life/friends/social activities are their whole world.

Oh but wait there’s more!

Then you add to their shoulders going back and forth between 2 families (or more cross over for blended families) and you have this grey area of “what’s right”.  You are forced to have very uncomfortable discussions with no real road map to follow. I have no advice here other than, if you understand this part, I’m sorry and I get it.

~I thought I was an introvert. I am an extrovert professionally, but I truly thought I enjoyed an intense amount of introversion recharging. That is until I couldn’t go see my family and friends like I used to. I think we are all realizing maybe “who were thought we were socially”, may not be our truth. It took a pandemic to realize it; and to sort out the importance of human connection. Now, if you are someone who has embraced their introversion, that’s cool too. If anything; I’ve found it interesting we are all figuring out what’s important to us. Won’t it be sweet to remember and act on all we’ve learned when life progressively gets more social?

~I don’t need a gym to workout; but I do need a plan Stan! For a while, I didn’t move as much as I did in the past, and that truly paid a toll on my mental well-being.  A reminder that moving even a little lends big results to my sense of health, well-being, and pride.

To finish this off:  Here’s a couple home workout plans you may find useful.

My at-home workout (3X week strength)

Download “Interval Timer-HIIT workouts” from your app store (there are other apps that work equally well). The ad. version is free and you can customize your intervals. I edited the Intermediate HIIT workout to include 16 sets with a 5 minute warmup/cool down.


The first “round” I choose 3 full body movements, all strength focussed. Side note: if you don’t have weights, use your own body weight, or soup cans/household items with a little weight to them works.

This will be my low interval of 1 minute. Three movements done in sequence; repeated for a total of 3 sets.

For Example:

  1. Squat to press
  2. Reciprocating chest press
  3. Reciprocating row with Tricep kick back

In between each 1 minute strength, your interval timer will beep a 30 second “high interval”. This is where I do my burst of cardio. Choose whatever is your jam! My choice is kickboxing; but since I’m at home alone, I will often dance it out.

Once you’ve completed your 3 sets of 3 strength along with your cardio high interval, there’s enough time for another superset. I choose 2 strength movements as my 1 minute low interval and for my 30 second high interval, I focus on core.
For Example:

  1. Alternating Lunge with bicep curl
  2. Alternating front raise (I kneel on a bosu for extra core for this)

For the 30 second high interval: Plank, knee up (variation of plank/mountain climber)

Do your strength movements for 3 rounds.

I have one minute left over for a plank before my 5 minutes of stretching.

I find this interval session so adaptable and easy to increase in difficulty or make easier for low energy days. You can make it muscle group specific or do a total body routine. I do this 3 times/week.

For a detailed exercise data base grouped by muscle group, check out American Council of Exercise: https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/exercise-library/

Free Youtube workouts (follow their channels for more):

YouTube Mr. and Mrs. Muscle: Most of the free workouts are bodyweight and all have modifications.

I stumbled on this awesome lil space friendly workout the other day by Cambira Joy (love her energy)

My current read (Thank you Darrell for recommending more than once I read it, it’s a nugget of perfection): The Five People You Meet in Heaven
By: Mitch Albom
Have you read it?

Every year on this date, I post a photo of then and now to remember the path. This year, my amazing son is graduating. I’m so sad for him that he does not get that right of passage grad celebration this week-end. I’m really proud of him for how he’s handling it all with smile on his face. And as always, there’s playstation to keep him connected 😉 Happy graduation son. Love you!

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

Love over Fear…even within a Pandemic

I took the Prince of Darkness (my dog) for a walk today. I value a good walk since the entire day minus as few minutes are spent inside. As is the case for you too. We are all in this.

Life has changed for the world in fast forward. As is a collective reality and not just my own…I was thinking back to just over a month ago. I (we) hugged people still. We shook hands. We sweated around others in a gym. We walked down crowded streets and browsed shops. We brought tea to a co-worker with a cough. We grocery shopped for a week’s worth of items. We went for a drink with a friend.

On March 1st I was in Banff. Alberta was not on lock down then.

On March 13th, I booked a pedicure for my birthday. And for the first time; I actually seconded guessed my decision for human contact that wasn’t necessary. I ended up cancelling it and then wondered if I was being overly-cautious. And I felt bad for that amazing spa as it’s their business which I wanted to support.

A week later, I went into my room for 2 weeks in self-isolation away from my kids; and we all made do in the same home as much as possible. What a foreign feeling to fear hugging my kids, to be near them. It took me longer to disinfect the kitchen after cooking; than it did to heat a meal. I mostly ate eggs. And I ate once a day. Fear diet you could call it.

On March 23rd, I went to a converted school gymnasium to get a test for Covid19. We stood more that 6 feet apart. One-by-one we inched closer to the door, not sure what a converted gymnasium would look like. The woman in front of me reached the front of the line and realized she forgot her ID in the car. She screamed through her mask that she refused to go get it unless there was assurance her place in line would be held. I told her I wouldn’t go in until she returned, and the nurse smiled warmly at me. We understood her abrasive demeanour was just fear speaking.

I finally entered the gym, and my eyes adjusted to the light of a scene that looked straight out of a movie. There were distinct sections, one for disinfecting: wash your hands, put on a mask, and then arrows directing to a section of socially distanced chairs. A man in a mask wiped down chairs previously occupied.

The nurses were like disciplined soldiers. Donned from head to toe in protective gear; disinfecting on repeat. Transferring calm to fearful eyes who presented their ID. After paperwork was completed, and each person held their ID up to be checked from across a table, we sat in the next section awaiting our names to be called. You could hear a pin drop. I scanned the room and wondered each of their stories. There was a pregnant girl down the way. I thought of my niece who was also about to have a baby and felt for her…the stress of it all (side note, he’s here…and he’s beautifully perfect and safely at home with Mom and Dad)

The testing stations were partitioned off, but I could see one lady getting tested with a swab swiftly reaching to the back of her nose. I immediately regretted watching it; because to see it was worse than the actual feeling. A lady in front of me took out her phone, as is customary when us humans have to wait any amount of time over 30 seconds. The nurse instructed her to put it away, and she had to get disinfected all over again. While the whole scene was unfathomable to my mind; I was so impressed with the organization of it all.

The waiting for the results was the worst, but thankfully my test came back Negative. I had the regular flu in unfortunate timing.

As soon as I came out of isolation, my kids went to stay with their Dad. And I’ve been fortunate to see them for a couple of suppers. They talk about a buddy family, and for many of us…buddy family’s are modern families. And the waters are muddy there. Two sets of families, with another set of families. All of whom want to protect their space. Which is the right thing, but it doesn’t feel good in the heart.

This is not my normal; to be away from my kids and I’m processing the lonely. But, within my loneliness…which pressed me to for a walk today…I had a revelation.

We must choose Love over Fear my friends.

While none of us have ever experienced this series of events in our lifetimes before; we most likely HAVE been through adversity which comes with lack of control. A moment when life knocks the wind out of you, and you have no idea how long you’ll be in that state. Or if you’ll ever get through it. That unknown/loss of control of environment...that’s where fear breeds more fear.

I remember this fear feeling. It lived within my spirit navigating life through my divorce. It took me a very long time to learn to choose Love over Fear. To realize it’s a choice.

To create equanimity within my day.

I forgot that skill when I was locked in my room. I spiralled hard my friends. Like grossly hard.

So here’s what I learned years ago, and what served me well today during my walk epiphany.

I am not suggesting you live in a rose-coloured-glasses-bubble unaware of what’s happening in the world. What I am challenging you to decide for yourself is: how much is “too much” for your harmony. Your balance.

Yes, we should be informed; but we should also be empowered to step away from the hysteria it induces. We may have little control on the outside world; yet we can do our part by staying inside as much as possible, and changing our perceptions on what that means…a prison to one is a retreat to another.

OK that’s a given… I sound condescending. My apologies…

During my walk, I felt compelled to encourage you all (and I’m encouraging myself, white knuckling it all some days) to please protect your peace.

Go for a socially distanced walk.

Put on your favourite music.

Have a long bath.

Phone a friend. FaceTime a friend. Connect with a friend. Reach out to those you love because we are all lonely. Am I wrong? Do you feel it too? Even if you have your kids/spouse/partner/parents beside you within a safe environment. It’s still lonely! It’s still hard. I know I’m not alone in that feeling.

Find your equanimity. Every. Single. Day. I learned that word when I needed it most. It’s the ability to install calmness and peace within your spirit. To center yourself even within chaos. What does that look like for you? Is it within music, cooking, chatting with friends, meditating, writing, creating, organizing (heyyyy A-Type peeps)? Find it for a few moments. Daily.

Live day to day. That’s it. Just today. If you have have a front line job on Monday, and you have Sunday off….Please live in Sunday. Nap. Relax. Don’t borrow Monday’s stress if you can help it. I have to tell myself that often. I’m a borrower of stress.

There are two underlying emotions that can be traced to all experiences.

Love

and

Fear

Within the fear of this beast, I hope you can choose some Love in your day.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

318

A few months ago, my daughter got braces.

Now this was before life changed in the midst of a pandemic, falling stock markets, empty aisles in grocery stores, and social isolating.

At that time…just weeks ago (which seems like years ago), I was stressed over how I was going to come up with my portion for operation-straight-teeth…which is a right of passage for a teen. And one she deserves, our smile is our hello.

Then the Covid-19 tornado began, and what was a flicker in the newsfeed, became all of our realities.

Isn’t it surreal, that just a month ago we shook hands, coughed if we had a tickle in our throat without others distancing in horror, and we just bought toilet paper when required.

An idealistic world where “it won’t happen to us”.

Until it did.

Last week-end, I was going through my finances to see where I could cut frayed threads. I decided to call my Credit Card provider for a card I’ve had for years, but rarely use. I wanted to cancel it, but I’ve never redeemed the points. I asked if my points could be converted to cash, and in a voice only reserved for customer service roles he delightfully replied: “absolutely!”

Cool. Money I had, but I didn’t know I had, to be sent via direct deposit to my account.

Yesterday, I received my portion of the initial dental bill…a day where I stumbled through to provide financial advice to others amidst a crisis this world has never seen before. There are no words to comfort those who fear the unknown; while stifling my own fears.

We need peace and level heads right now.

It seemed so insignificant; that I was worried about coming up with money for teeth; when in all reality, the world is seeking reprieve from Mortgage payments.

Yet it is significant in my world.

$318.00

I logged into online banking with a bit of dread to do the math of where to allocate this bill from.

And the first thing I saw was my cash back credit from my credit card (right beside my trip for groceries…I legit ran out of TP people, and essentials)

The credit card I used haphazardly in my youth…now more stringently understanding the WHY with the knowledge you can’t borrow from Peter to pay Paul (<——-do you know this saying?! ha!)

Anywhoooo, that surprise deposit into my account brought tears to my eyes.

As I was filled with trepidation to find $318.00 for my daughter’s teeth, the amount of my Credit Card rewards was…

$318.00

This means so much more to me than a quantitative amount.

It’s filled me with peace in the knowledge that within the trials and the most adverse times in my life, I’m always taken care of.

Always.

So stay true to my values, be kind, give more than I take, head high, and have faith.

It will be OK.

During this time of fear of the unknown, or perhaps fear of too much known, I hope you feel the peace of being “taken care of, and it will be Ok.”

And that requires faith. I know that’s not easy.

Within social isolation, please remember we are all in this together.

We will thrive on the other side of this: a whole lot more insightful and enlightened. Strong within our values which is essential to our inner well-being, closer to those we love most, and with a renewed humility. Yes, I’ve felt a sadenned loss in humanity within the hoarding and the selfishness, yet the voice of what is good and pure will always be louder.

Keep the faith my friends.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

The Power of Words

I have been absent from sharing. I’ve continued to write privately, as I sort through some challenges I’ve faced lately.

To sum it all: I started a new role at work; which involved a whole lot of learning, discomfort within the new, and excitement to take on new challenges. Longer hours melded to exhaustion at the end of my day; when I wiped away the last supper crumb from the counter and retreated to my couch. I’ve been able to be there for my kids in the ways that are important. I also want them to see me work hard; set goals, and achieve them.

My gym: ugh…I do not feel comfortable there any longer. The details of why are not important; I’m still going to sweat freely; but the freely part needs to be in a place I feel comfortable in.

For all the areas I feel confident within this stage of my life; there are also areas I white-knuckle it. And maybe that’s just the ebbs and flows of life: Career, raising teens, staying on top of grocery shopping, cooking healthy meals, ensuring all bills are paid/living within my means, and keeping the home clean and decluttered.. Despite the clutter in the mind…the swirling of thoughts:

What do I need to do today?

Where am I supposed to be today?

How can I be in two places at once? Call a friend…

So, I live one day at a time. Where as before my life changed…I had the luxury of thinking in weeks vs. days.

Which brings me to the topic of today: the power of words. Or more-so, the power I give to words.

You see, there’s a difference.

One perspective gives all the power away to the words; and the other empowers me to choose how those words affect me.

The other day, I talked with a man I see occasionally. He had just returned from a trip, and it had been a few months since I last saw him. We chatted about his trip and then he said something (three times to be exact) which completely took me by surprise…

He said “You’ve gained weight since I last saw you”

I stared at him for a moment with my mouth open. And again he said “I had to take off my glasses to see if it was my sight; but you’ve definitely gained weight”

I replied “OK” ha! I seriously couldn’t think of anything to say to keep a semblance of composure and grace.

Once more for good measure, he adjusted his glasses and said. “Yup you’ve definitely gotten bigger”
(OH NO HE DIDN’T)

I replied “OK”

Because really it’s not OK to say that to anyone; even if it’s an observational thought that escapes the lips. I have no way of knowing if it holds judgment or not. And if I’ve learning anything from my incessant reading of self-help books; nothing is personal.

But you guys, the tears stung my eyeballs; and I felt shame.

Shame is the root of self-deprication and spiralling. The opposite is self-compassion and love.

It took me the entire day; and then the next, and now here we are at today…to work through the feelings from that one exchange.

One phrase has ran over and over on repeat in my mind:

Choose Love

For myself

And for others.

Even when it’s hard to love others.

I still have a choice in this, because the energy I put out to others; the love I show others, is important. It’s transferrable. As destructive as words can be, they can also be beautifully empowering to another. Choose love. And learn where to put your energy.

That’s about all I’ve figured out since then. Do you have a similar experience or story? Please feel free to share.

From my heart to yours (with love and acceptance),

Christine