Lifting the Veil

I read an article today that really made a whole lot of sense to me (thanks Patti): https://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/05/what-kurt-vonnegut-taught-us-about-the-science-of-happiness/ 

I will wait here while you read the article so we can be on the same wavelength. Insert elevator music here.

Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson explains that positive and negative experiences accesses different memory pathways within the brain. That negative memories are like velcro, and positive experiences are like teflon.  The positive experiences don’t hold within our memories the way the negative do.

In his book, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm and Confidence, Dr. Hanson says that most of us don’t stay with positive experiences long enough for them to be “encoded” into our brain’s neural structure.

“The longer the (brain cell) neurons fire, the more of them that fire, and the more intensely they fire, the more they’re going to wire that inner strength—that happiness, gratitude, feeling confident, feeling successful, feeling loved and lovable.” Dr. Rick Hanson

You have to feed the positive memories. Give breath and life to them. Bring all the senses into that experience as you weave it into a memory. Consciously focus and remember the textures, sights, sounds, aromas, touch within that good experience.

Tell the story.

As a photographer, I can appreciate that! While I’m shooting, I often think about that. This one hour together is just like any other hour this family might have in their day. A little walk down a sun kissed pathway where trees bend to form arches (if you are lucky to find that scene). Yet, it becomes a tangible memory because it’s documented within a photograph.

It allows us to capture and freeze a fleeting moment. To lift the veil on the ordinary. Create beauty and meaning within the everyday.

Within the article linked above, a quote from Kurt Vonnegut left an impact with me. I will carry it with me into my days…

If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

There are so many tragic events within the world. It makes no sense. While it’s important to stay informed and focus attention there, I choose to do so in a way that breeds compassion and empathy.

The true gift in life is to celebrate and cherish all the beauty. Give meaning to it. Soak up the good. View life as a beautifully ever-shifting evolving cycle.  The terrible can also be a reminder of what it is to cherish the little moments of good within every single day. Because there are no guarantees. Life is precious and fleeting.

Even a tiny moment of connection with a stranger can tell you that we are all ONE. We can be united within understanding that we all grieve, laugh, and experience the high highs, and the low lows within life.

But truly living…is meant to come with feeling and creating memories out of moments.

Give life and breath to the positive ones.

I think that’s why I love lifting so much, I feel the entire time. It’s a challenge I can tap into at any time. How much do I feel when I’m tuned out on the couch, watching TV or scrolling over the daily FB highlight reel?

I have to remind myself to WAKE UP! Feel this life in all it’s phases…inhale the good stuff, exhale the bad stuff.

If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

On Passion

At a very early age, it was in my nature to question everything. At times it was fuelled by self-doubt, but mainly to get to the root of Why.

To give purpose to.

I’ve always sought the purpose for my life. There HAS to be more to this life than work, eat, sleep, repeat.

I will spin it back to one word: Love.

To explore passions and empower/encourage others to do the same.

I do not choose a mediocre life. Now, the word “mediocre” can mean something completely different to me as it does to you. Perhaps a more accurate statement is that I choose to be conscious and intentional with my time, energy, and words. I want my words to match my actions: which is integrity. I seek Quality living which is not found within titles or things or status.

As a child, I recognized I had the power to transform any “perceived” reality within my mind’s consciousness.

On my childhood farm, we had this path lined with towering spruce trees. The path was not well-worn, so wild grass grew freely. I know I was very young, because I remember the childhood clothes I had on before I reached double digits. I would lay down on that path and stare up to the sky. I still have that scene in my mind’s eye…the tips of spruce trees reaching up to expansive blue skies where birds surfed currents of freedom. The advantage to living so rural is there is pure silence there. What you do hear is nature. And I remember realizing how small I was, but there was a big world out there. That scene reminded me that I will find freedom one day. My own wings.

I didn’t have dreams to be a Ballerina or an Astronaut.  I had dreams to just love, accept, support and empower others. I know that’s who I am not only since it lives within my first memories, but also because during my darkest hour, I chose that.

I chose that within some of life’s trickiest times when I could have chosen revenge, insecurity, bitterness, and negativity.

Bring it back to Love.

What does that mean for the everyday?

Choose Quality.

What makes you feel alive?

What makes you feel most in tune with your spirit side?

WHO makes you feel alive?

What makes you laugh, and feel true happiness?

Where does your passion lie?

For me, I have become very intentional with my time, words, and creating a harmonious, loving, peaceful environment.

I identified my feel-good elements and in my free time (because we all have a 9-5 that carries an environment not always full of awesomeness), I choose those! Not even feel-good…some are feel-amazing.

I find it within my Miracle Morning.

Moving and eating the way my body is designed to work best. With balance; not lack or restriction.

Going for a walk or run outside.

Soak up the sun, feel it on my face. Breath in some air. Take in some nature eye-candy.

Explore.

Finding beauty within the ordinary and the extrodinary: Photography

Meet new people, because absolutely everyone who crosses your path can teach you something. Both in what you want, who you want to grow to be; and who you don’t want to be. When I meet a closed off/guarded person, I’m curious with genuine care how they came to be that way. I feel empathy for it, because it’s a pretty lonely existence to never trust and go through life denying the connection with others. I refuse to choose that nor do I take it personally if it’s directed my way.

You do You. I do Me.

Most importantly, I choose strong links in my chain. It’s easy to see who those people are. Not only will they stand beside you within your low-vibe days; but they are truly happy for your successes. They want as much happiness for you as they do for themselves. That’s called being secure within yourself.

Find people who remind you not to take yourself or life too seriously. Carve little moments of time out for those people. We are all “busy”. Give me an hour with my girls, I’m energized for days.

It’s cold for spring, but I can turn on my fireplace with a good book, talk to my bestie Darina on the phone for hours laughing about nothing and everything, buy some tulips for my table. I don’t actually have to wait for them to pop out of the snow on my neighbours yard. Turn up the music…whatever makes me feel something. Dance in my kitchen while I cook high-quality foods I know will give me energy for my busy week. Open a window, pull back the drapes, let the sun shine in.

Good Vibes Only.

Fill my home with little mementos that remind me of my goals and values so I’ll never lose my way.

The stack of vintage books from the old Windermere school in Vermilion my Mom gave me: Never stop learning or dull the quest for continued knowledge.

The hand-painted canvas of owls my daughter made me: Freedom and creativity.

Allan Sapp’s painting “Baby is Sleeping”: My roots and my Grandma Perkins

The Buddha photo I took while visiting with soul-food friends: Harmony

The WW bobble head on my mantle that was gifted to me by my Kismet spirit/truth-teller/mini gang: Know your fackin’ worth and embrace your inner power. Own it.

Whatever you choose to do with your time, I wish for you Quality.

Top-Shelf living with passion, love, and Zen Joy.

Life is beautiful and you have the power to create an amazing one.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

How to Tweak your Program as Life Changes

I am figuring out a new schedule in the pursuit of balance. I am finding my way! I was honestly worried how I was going to balance it all, and keep on top of my health and wellness as I started a new job (which lacks movement).

It comes back to the tools…

I recognized early on in my losing phase, that I have these 3 core tools at my disposal. Ideally, they all work together for balance. But if I can’t focus as much on one side of the triangle, there are two others I can use and some weeks, just one (as I’ve come to understand).

When I had more time in my week (and at times my energy levels), I could eat well, get my cardio and strength training in and my healthy weight always stabilized.

Now…I have less time for the cardio/strength part, but I still make time for 3 workouts a week in. I schedule these as an important appointment I will not miss. It’s a choice. I now focus more on the nutrition/water side.

Which means weekly big cooks on Sundays so I always have healthy proteins/good carbohydrates/healthy fats on hand. Create a no fail environment as best I can.

My week-ends are my two big workouts, and I will not put them on hold for anyone. It’s a non-negotiable time because I know how important this element is to my mind/body/soul. I’m no good to anyone if I don’t take care of myself.

After Christmas I was up in weight, as I am every year. No biggie, but I also knew I was about to start a new job which was behind a desk. It’s been years since I did that type of work, so I was nervous.

I’m so happy to see what transpired by shifting focus and creating a new program. I was able to lose my holiday weight and stay on track. I’ve focussed on full body workouts and 4 main strength movements that are compound exercises (meaning more than one muscle group).  I’m working around a shoulder injury as well as healing an Achilles.

Squat

Deadlift

Rows/chinups

Presses/pushups

I start with cardio. 20-30 minutes and move into strength. I’ve added core work within the movements (engage core, add in a bosu, adjust lever length, put myself off-kilter like a single-leg deadlift, etc).

I’m sharing this today, because I had that urge to fall into my own excuses and self-imposed limitations. Ooooh, the urge can be so strong.

“I have no time”

“I have an injury”

There is always time if you make it.  There’s a gift in intentional time…I spend less time on elements that do not impact my life in a positive way.

I can work around my injuries and allow time to heal.  I do not focus on my weakness, but rather my strengths.

I alone am responsible for my health and wellness.

And I’m so thankful for the many tools at my disposal as life shifts and changes. Because it will….  There will always be changes and limitations.

I am the designer of my life (as are you). Quality life. Whole-hearted living. Balanced and joy-filled.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

Strength vs. Softness of Spirit

My goal for a very long time was to be strong.

Strong of body, mind and spirit. The power of all 3 working together.

Go to the gym, lift heavy. Repeat.

Have moments of grief privately, but try my best never to let others see that.

My focus has shifted as I have listened to my instincts and changed the direction of my path.

Shifting away from strength and falling authentically into delicacy, softness, tenderness.

As I invested time into identifying my values, and the hierarchy of those values, I came to the understanding that although there is strength, there is also a softness of my spirit that I’ve protected for a very long time.

If I truly want an authentic life full of joy, connection, and harmony…how can I always be strong, and deny the softness that is the very core of my soul?

You see, I understand now that boundaries are a sign of self-love and respect.

I know who my circle of influence and support is and the more I know WHO I am, the more expansive and true that circle grows.

No more ambiguity.

No more two faces.

No more hiding who I am so that I can make someone else “comfortable”.

I’ve let go of so much….with much respect for what they’ve taught me. I do not live in the shadow of regret, but embrace the wisdom of each step I’ve taken. I own that. There is no blame. I take responsibility for my choices.

Within that loss, I found myself. I found so much more within my truth.

And the truth is, I’m able to connect with others through honesty and transparency. Which is a tenderness of spirit.

I also found out who I am alone, and spent time growing my happiness my way.

The world if so full of disconnect already.  It’s easier in many ways to be a rock, protecting yourself, than it is to be a rose.

Whenever I feel that grief of loss, or pain of what once was, I also know that’s the past talking. I do not live there anymore. No one does. All we have for certain is this present moment. How much of the present is wasted within focussing on the past, or worrying about the future?

My question now is this: What quality of life will I create within this moment?

Because it’s about the quality.

Top-shelf living.

I want my home to peaceful, harmonious, full of love.  Full of safety to be yourself. Authentic living.

The only way to have a home like that is to be those values.

Loving

Peaceful

Harmonious

Accepting

That doesn’t mean I run away from the pain, but rather I deal with it.

No running from it.

No numbing it.

With forgiveness.

Authenticity of my spirit.

With patience.

Bring it back to love. The truth of my heart.

Which is soft, gentle and kind.

I wish the same for you, that you embrace the truth of your spirit. Whatever values you hold true. And just be exactly who you are inside. If you’re not another’s cup of tea, no worries. You are still awesome tea.

From my soft heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

 

 

 

Anxiety knocked me off my feet today. On getting back up…

Anxiety stemming from fear is a funny thing.  It creeps up on you in the most unexpected times.  I had a moment today that almost knocked me off my feet.  I never struggled with anxiety until I was assaulted as a very naive teenager (which I rarely talk about, I’ve worked through that for the most part).  After that experience, the fear started building like layers of frost on a window. Contracting like a snake around my vocal cords.

I go inward.

Calm myself with affirming words.

Bring it back to love.

I can do it fairly quickly now. And most around me are not aware it’s happening.  And it’s so rare now, that when it DOES happen, it’s like a betrayal to my soul. Like when you get your car fixed and it’s running perfectly and you start trusting in the mechanics and then it stalls on the road.

Today it happened during my workout, so I went upstairs to the running track and found a stairwell full of cement stairs waiting to be climbed.

You see for me, exercise is like an antidote for the fear. It elevates my heart rate and labours my breathing just as the anxiety does. Until it matches it and then takes over in a physical way.  Biology of strength over the mind. So I ran those stairs, urging my legs down to the bottom, and then pushing my way back up. With each step up, I’m climbing out of the hole of fear. Taking control over what I initially feel little control over. I reassess at the top, and then do it again until I am calmed. Until the pain of lactic acid in my legs is greater than the tightness in my chest.

Fear is replaced by empowerment. I can do this. I can climb out of this. My heart is rooted in love. There is no room for fear.

Bring it back to love.

It took about 10 minutes to get my mind right again, and I went back downstairs and had a great workout, I love lifting. It’s my jam. It centres me. Makes me feel alive and full of feeling. I could feel my spirit returning to my heart.

To the person I am inside.

Kind, compassionate, empathetic, loving, patient, giving, honest, accepting. And sometimes the person that’s hardest to accept is myself. Because I didn’t know my worth for a very long time. And my decisions were rooted in fear. I wore a mask. I learned what people “wanted” me to be. What made them comfortable. I was disloyal to my spirit.

But not today, not anymore. I do not accept that for my life.

Never dim your light to placate another’s insecurities.

I have this one precious life in which I am the designer of my environment and the people within my inner circle. I will always fiercely protect my inner harmony, but not at the cost of being guarded and closed off.

I committed to wholehearted living. I’ve written that one word “Wholehearted” more times than I can count. Because to live wholeheartedly, takes courage. It takes honesty. It’s vulnerable and transparent. It’s the whole of my heart. My kids deserve to have a Mom that lives with the entirety of her heart.

And I will do that, one step at a time. I will climb back up to the top. Always.

From my wholehearted spirit to yours,

Christine

 

On Intuition

Intuition…

That feeling within that guides me. When to pursue opportunities. When to say no. When to trust, and when to let go. When to push further, and when to rest.

For some time, I wondered if I had numbed that inner voice to the point that it no longer spoke to me. To some extent, that was true. Just a frail little thing in the corner of my mind.

Until I…

Started listening again and feeding that inner voice. Quieted my mind to the chaos. Chose to feed the positive and laugh at the negative lies I told myself.

Changed my self-limiting story. I let go of that victim mentality and took some responsibility for my life and the environment I created. Yes, that’s on me.

Pushed out the fear and brought my thoughts back to Love.

Put up boundaries where I needed to which is an act of self-love.

Created a strong circle of influence in which I was not the strongest link in the chain. I want links stronger than me so that I can too become stronger. If I am always the strongest link in the chain within my circle of influence…that will lead to complacency. How can I possibly be challenged to evolve? That means surrounding myself with Mentors. People who know more than me in areas I want to pursue.  Is this uncomfortable? It can be if I were to compare myself to them, but rather I look up to them to teach me something with humble gratitude.

Most importantly, I learned to live in this present moment.

Regret and shame are feelings rooted in the Past.

Worry and anxiety are feelings rooted in the Future.

Right this second, life is top-shelf. I’m typing this from my warm home. There’s food in my fridge. My kids are happily sleeping in. I have the day off from my new job, so I get to focus on my more creative work. I will get in my trustworthy car, and drive to meet a friend for coffee and then go to the gym after.

I’ll be ever aware that whatever energy I carry is easily transferable, so I choose to wear a genuine smile and uplift those I cross paths with.

Now that I’ve found light, I am so grateful for it. I know I talk about light often; but oh my my…it’s so brilliantly amazing when you have spent any amount of time in the dark.

I respect that perhaps others are living in dark days now, and although there are seasons and light is inevitable…you can’t see that when you are in it. So I can empathize now, which is different from sympathy.

Anywhoooo…about intuition.

When I dreamed of working towards my personal training certification, I asked other personal trainers if it was something worth pursuing.  Almost every single person I asked, started off with the negative aspects/challenges of it. Clients not showing up and riddled with excuses. Ignore advice. Blame the trainer for lack of progress. etc.

I began to doubt the dream, and delayed my progress. I didn’t doubt the validity of that dream, but rather whether I could be effective at igniting that fire within another to change and grow. I never cared about the “excuses” part, because I was that person. I lived a long time on a couch, eating and numbing. I was my future client, and I understand the power our minds can have in the area of sustainable change.

When I finally did become certified, I wish I had done it sooner.  I wished I had listened to my intuition that this was my right path.

Now that I have taken a different path into the world of banking, this might seem like a contradiction. But it too aligns with following my intuition. I’m planning, writing, dreaming, growing…all the while with security of a salary and benefits. Stay tuned! 😉 It’s so amazing the road life can travel down if you listen and act on intuition. Push out the fears, and try something new.

I stopped putting myself into these little self-limiting boxes of stereotypes: Too old. Divorced. Not strong enough, intelligent enough, knowledgeable enough. Just not enough.

Why did I do that to myself? I couldn’t imagine saying any of those words to my children. Using ageism as an excuse to stay stagnant. Using the “not enough” lie to rob them of growing in knowledge and skills. Of course they are enough, and I am too. And so are you by the way. 😉

Step out of your box my friends.

I want to encourage you today to listen to your own intuition when you’re faced with a fork in the road. If you aren’t sure what to do, take some time to go over your hierarchy of values. We all have values, but what is at the top of your triangle? Align your actions there. If you don’t like one aspect of your life, you can change it. We all have a choice.

But please don’t stop yourself from going after an opportunity because of doubt or fear. Those two emotions will keep you stuck. They are lies of the ego. And you deserve better than that. One life.

From my intuitive heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

 

 

7 Reasons Why Being Over 40 is Ridiculously Awesome

Since I started my Miracle Morning routine, I have read a whole lot of books on a variety of subjects. As I started keying in topics that interested me into Amazon, I stumbled across a devoted topic interest group in the health over 40 and up category.  I decided to google the topic as well.  That’s what I do when I’m confused…I do the google.

Here I am gracefully (and not so gracefully some days) now in the 40’s demographic, and I had no idea that I was supposed to feel doom and gloom about my advancing decline to my health due to aging bones and decreased muscle mass. ha!

I wake up feeling more vibrant and alive than I did in my 20’s, so maybe I am missing something.

Once I started becoming more “informed” on the ways my body would increasingly defy me as the hands of time tick on by, I decided that perhaps knowledge is not power. It was in fact, disempowering.

Perhaps I should have awoken on my 40th birthday with a manual on how to live differently, like in Beetlejuice when they realize they might be dead.

The more I read, the more I wanted to devote a blog post in support of my fellow 40 somethings and up. Because this age is awesome! And it just keeps getting better.

What I’ve decided today is that I’m no longer going to google, but rather live the way I want to and can.

Can you be fit at 40?

Of course you can.

Are there more obstacles in your way?

Perhaps

But youth and vitality can live within the mind. Just ask my 21-year-old who many days is more adultier than I am.

So here are a few ways in which being 40 (actually I had to do math I’m 41 almost 42) is…in fact…ridiculously awesome.

Numero Uno..1

You give less of a F$ck what people think of you. You really do. You settle beautifully into authenticity as you’ve navigated some tricky times by now, and you are still here kicking and screaming. 😉 And I hear from others it gets even better and conversation less filtered and more real. I wish I had this confidence and self-assured nature in my 20’s and 30’s; but then again I probably wouldn’t have understood it without that younger naivety and the quest to live up to a standard that just isn’t sustainable. So I just do my best and forget the rest. The more authentic I’ve become, the more people learn the real Me. It’s always exciting when someone tags me in a ridiculously weird video and says “this is something you would do” because they are always correct. Let your weird flag fly.

Numero Duh…2

If you have laugh lines on your face, it means you are pretty stellar at laughing and smiling through your days. Yay you! It’s Ok to have too much fun and laugh at yourself. The other day in the gym, I had a new water bottle with a screw cap and as I bent over I poured the whole thing all over myself and then screamed. Meh. Clean up on aisle 3.

Numero twat…3

You know how to do a bunch of stuff now and you can teach other people some stuff too. People naturally think you know stuff because you have those laugh lines and know how to dress the part. I giggled as I was training within my new job this week as people thought I was the manager supervising because I looked adultier than the person training me. ha! You probably have a reliable car to get you places and a house you can host fancy dinner parties if you feel so inclined.

Numero Kitten…4

You realize those “perfect” people who look very put together and seemingly have it all are no differently disheveled as you are at times. In fact, nothing is ever as it seems. Everyone, including me, is a ‘lil screwed up and you can now identify with them and have some empathy and compassion. That perfect marriage you were envious of can end in divorce the next month. That family with the impeccably dressed kids and well-behaved demeanour have a raging house party ending with police intervention. That business professional fancy-pants who walks into the gym, they are a hot sweaty mess just like me after the hour. Sweat freely, but separately (headphones in, don’t approach lol) We are all imperfectly perfect. Rather than judging, let’s sing kumbaya and exchange war stories over a glass of wine and some laughter…you know, work on those laugh lines a bit more.

Numero one hand…5

You aren’t really afraid of failing, starting over again, or to learn new things. With the advancing of age, comes the knowledge that you have this one life. If it’s not fun, create your own fun. You probably failed at a few thingies by now, and why not just keep trying?  Redesigning your life on your terms becomes exciting. At least that’s where I’m at now. Starting over in a new career. Tweaking earlier career’s as I’ve learned. Course correction with excitement.

Numero half a dozen…6

You learn to let go and move on with a smile on your face (even if that smile takes some time to appear). At this stage, you are no longer interested in changing anyone. You accept others as they are (because you get that it’s impossible to change someone else). If it doesn’t align with your way of life, no worries. All the best to you. Metaphorical scooter away.

Numero my favourite #…7

You can in fact, be in the best shape of your life. Speaking from my experience: I’ve tried the fads. I’ve eaten the wrong foods (I still will cut a bitch for a plate of nachos so I refrain from ordering for safety of all involved) and learned how they made me feel. I’m not afraid of hard work. I want to be a better version of me. Stronger. It’s so freeing and beautiful!  I actually have the confidence to try a new program and hold my ground in the meat-head section…we pay the same membership people..please move over.

Here’s to growing, evolving, learning and continued confidence and laughter along the way. Growing older is nothing to fear, but rather to embrace with grace and wisdom.

Just do your best!

This is me by the way, for those new blog followers. Hi and thanks for reading/following 🙂

From my 41-yr-old heart to yours,

Christine

p.s. step away from the google