The Story of a Vintage Couch which Magically Appeared down the Lane

For a couple of years now, I’ve been on a new path of designing my life in a different way. When I started this blog 9 years ago, I called it Reclaiming Life, without knowing what that would mean today at this stage of my life.

Now, reclaiming my life today has proven to be much trickier than loosing 100 pounds; but the parallels are there just the same.

One piece of the puzzle that has been elusive to me these past few years, is the importance of Rest. Reset. Recharge.

Three amazing kids

Two careers

One thankful (but admittedly tired) Mom.

Last week at the gym, I had a conversation with a regular goer (he’s an encourager). Us regulars, who workout at a certain time of the day, get to know one another a little.

Like-energy attracts like-energy…I learn this the more authentic I become.

The only way to be authentic is to be unapologetically yourself.

If you build it, they will come. Building in this case, equates to character/outlook on life, and it has attracted the most genuine friendships with like-minded people (which I’m so grateful for…thank you to my tribe)

Back to the gym conversation…we have talked about training in the past, how to push out of a plateau. To grow in strength and develop conditioning. Last week’s conversation was different.

“Have you considered resting for a week?” he asked.

What do you mean rest? I thought. I have goals! I need to figure this stuff out for not only myself, but for my clients. If I rest, I might fall into complacency. A week?

He continued, “When was the last time you gave your body a rest from the type of workouts you’ve done?”

As I spun to nowhere on my exercise bike, I realized it had been over two years. Wow, has it been two years? Sure I’ve taken rest days, but I have put a lot of pressure on myself for two years. To be strong in mind/body/spirit. Even on my rest days, I feel guilty…like I’m being lazy. Not doing enough. The destructive pursuit of trying to press growth when maybe…just maybe…growth happens when you allow the body to rest.

I know this. How do I not know this for myself?

He encouraged, or more so challenged me to take Friday to Sunday off at least. I agreed.

Friday was no big deal, my body was tired. I welcomed the rest.

Saturday came, and through out the day my mind told me to get my workout in. Over and over on repeat. Like a broken record.

No, I committed to rest. And then it occurred to me, that I was missing the point. Rest means to recharge. If I was going to take some rest days, why not do the very things that recharge my soul over the week-end.  Music. Writing. Photography. Coffee with a friend. Spending time with my kids.

So I did all those things. I traveled to a session for a family I’ve photographed for years. I relaxed right into our time together. Marvelling at this beautifully connected family they have created together, I remembered back to photographing them when they were first dating. Now they have created a fierce little army of love. It was because of this reflection, that I shot the session with more parallels back to their other sessions, so they would have some comparison photos as to how their lives have evolved.  How good!

The next day, I told my kids to get ready for our very own family session. I’m lucky my son’s girlfriend agrees to take photos of me with the kids, so I can actually be in them. We took our time getting ready. Even turned my curling iron on. 🙂  Side note: I regretted that decision half way through, but you can’t have a half curly head…so I forged on. Curled my daughter’s hair too. Funny enough, the wind took the curl right out of my poker straight hair anyway, but my daughter’s hair stayed delightfully bouncy.

We went to this little lane way (which incidentally I found out about from Mr. Rest-Encourager). I saw another photographer there whom I have met before (not such an unknown location apparently). She was in the middle of photographing a family.

“Amazing Couch” I said to her as I noticed the very couch that had been in my head for years…my dream vintage couch I’ve been scouring kijiji for to bring to sessions. In the exact shade of blue I’ve envisioned.

“Oh ya, it was just sitting here, I don’t know who’s it is”

I blinked slowly, WHAT?! Are you serious?

The kids and I went to a lane way over to wait patiently for the dream couch to be open.

I’ve always dreamt of having photos of my children on a lane way lined with sun-kissed trees that touched, and dragging a vintage couch there. And there is was. Magically, on a day of rest which I needed more than I knew.

This is how Law of Attraction works…I’ve had the most weirdly amazing experiences when I figured this out.

Now, I will preface these photos by telling you that our family is weird. We are lovers of odd, awkward, weird, funny. Not everyone gets our sense of humour, but that’s the kind of photos I wanted. I also took normal ones in the beginning, but the funny ones are my favourite. So we just went with it.

Monday I woke up with more zest and excitement to get back to my workouts than I’ve had in a very long time. I truly felt rested and I had the best workout as a result. Later that day, I went to my training shift. One of my clients had seen my photos on Facebook, and told me she saw two people dragging that very couch into that very lane way the week before as they were shooting mini sessions.

So a great big..HUGE…thank you…

To Mr. Rest-Encourager

To the photographer I knew who told me the couch was available to use (and made sure she gave me some time to use it as well)

To my client who solved the mystery of the abandoned vintage couch

And to the stranger photographer(s) who drug it there in the first place. I’m very thankful it was there for my very own session, and I hope no one takes it from you (it’s a pretty amazing piece to just be chillin’ there under a magical archway of trees).

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

What does a Personal Trainer LOOK like?

I thought I would share my journal entry from my Miracle Morning… Which, by the way, I have a copy of the book of if you want to borrow it. Just message me (even if you live far away, I’ll mail it)

I often romanticized things, so when I got my personal training certification, I was excited to share with others how fitness, eating for fuel, learning to look at food in a positive way, getting off the couch, moving with freedom…can change your entire world/relationships/self-worth/happiness.  I only know this because I was lucky enough to stumble upon it when I was fighting my own demons.

A customary question that arises when you meet new people is “So what do you do?”

I would answer: “I’m a Photographer and a Personal Trainer”

What I’ve found over the years, almost always everyone gets the “photographer” part; but the personal training element often comes with some interesting questions all based around aesthetics.

How much weight can you squat?

How often do you work out?

What do you weigh?

It can be reduced to reps and sets and which “diet” is best.

That line of questioning has always been an uncomfortable place for me, not because of the judgments or labels (it’s easy to want to put people in tidy little boxes/categories to understand); but rather because it’s not what this is about for me. It’s intensely personal in many regards, but it has little to do with aesthetics.

It’s about self-worth.

Happiness

Love.

It’s more than going back to biology roots of how our bodies are designed to move and fuel. It’s the heart of what makes us human: compassion, pride, joy, self-love. Not just existing but rather LIVING with a fire in our soul, and passion within our spirit.

I certainly do not have all the answers; I’m still figuring it out as life moves along. But I do know who I am as a woman: my goals/aspirations/dreams and what drives me within finding purpose in life.

We all need purpose. It’s what fulfills and connects us. Pushes us to grow and evolve.

There is wisdom within purpose.

And I thought about it a different way this morning, if learning to finally take care of myself in love created a purpose within me to share that with others; then I am one lucky person. I’m grateful.

I see beauty within everyone I meet. We all have strength within us that can (if fed) create an urging to burst out of whatever self-imposed cage we are living within.

I laugh at some of my “excuses” when I fall into complacency. They are just lies I tell myself to make it acceptable to do “less than” I am able. I would not wish that for my children, or for those I love most in life.

I guess that has become an accurate measurement of where I’m at in regards to self-love/self-worth. Do I want as much happiness, zest for life, fulfillment for myself as I do for my children?

There is no pride found within bingeing on anything. It’s a tool to numb. To not feel.

Are we not meant to feel? Even the horrible stuff. It’s part of what makes us human. We can however choose the elements in which we navigate those troubled waters making it a little less painful.

I did not find it within food, or alcohol, or sitting in that stupid chair in isolation beside a TV.

I renewed my spirit (and continue to) within….

~Sharing openly (with healthy boundaries)

~Fitness and challenging my body to grow in strength

~Surrounding myself with people who love me and want the best for my life (and I them)

I found myself within…

~Trails of sun-kissed leaves and the healing currents of water

~Sweat and tears and laughter despite my fears

~The urging of my legs to keep on moving because there are some not so fortunate and would give anything to do so (love you Janice)

~Foods that provide energy, nutrients, and vitamins

~Writing, reading, and growing to be a better version of myself to love others authentically

~Honest communication between like-minded people with similar struggles in which my empathetic heart connects with theirs through shared experiences

This is why I’m a personal trainer. I’m not sure I fit into the “mould” of what a personal trainer looks like, but I’m living my truth.

But that’s a pretty long-winded answer and congrats if you got to the end of this post.  😉

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

 

 

It’s none of your business (and none of mine either)

As my life travels along, there’s always a life lesson theme that pops up when I need it most. Maybe it was always there, and I just wasn’t ready to not only hear it; but to apply it to my life.

I was talking to my dear friend Linda Lou yesterday morning (we have the BEST life talks), and we were discussing this concept: What others think about us is none of our business. Now for a people pleaser like myself, that’s crazy talk. lol

Further to letting go of what others think about me, it goes beyond that into relying on my instincts, trusting in myself to make the best choices for me and my kids, and actually LIVING out loud.

Get out of my head, and start living.

What a concept!

I can truly relate almost any life dilemma back to reclaiming my life when I lost the weight, and this is no exception.  If I had listened to every opinion out there on the best way to lose weight, oh my…how overwhelming that would have been.

When I’m asked my opinion about a food plan, I try my best to just ask questions: Does it work for YOU and your lifestyle? Is this sustainable for your whole life? Is it excessive leading to frustration? Are you showing self-care by fuelling your body this way (which naturally eliminates most restrictive food plans)? It’s really about creating a healthy relationship with that one thing we need to keep us alive: food. Turn it from a negative view into a positive. I’m in control of my choices. How great is that?

Back to caring what others think: here’s what I learned going though my divorce…

It’s no one’s business.

I certainly don’t owe an explanation to anyone except within my core family unit. It’s no different if I was to go up to someone and say “Why are you still married? Did you think about this?”  haha!  It’s ridiculous and entitled to think my opinion should have any barring on another’s life choices.

So I worry about me, and my house.

You do you, I do me.

That’s not selfish. It’s trusting in myself and understanding I am doing the best I can with the tools I have. If I keep investing in my personal growth, I will have more tools to be a better version of myself.

Other’s opinions of me are fuelled by their own values, experiences, inner conflicts, curiosity, whatever; but it’s none of my business what other’s think about me. And that’s so freeing.

I’m ready to start living out loud, on my terms. And I am! 🙂 I’m a great Mom. My kids tell me way more than they should 😉 lol  They feel safe to share. They have a voice in my home. I’m so proud of them. It’s taken me a long time to be proud of myself as a Mom. I wanted to be perfect, and that’s exhausting.  No one relates to perfectionism. It’s actually a barrier to human connection.

I have lived within my head for a long time, and action was halted because of doubt. I want certainty. I enjoy my little comfort zone.

But guess what…nothing grows within comfort. Nothing is certain in life (except death and taxes as that cliché goes).  I will never reach my goals if I don’t act on those dreams.

My instincts were a whisper before; now they are a roar I can’t ignore. I now understand it’s because I trust myself again to make the best choices possible for my home. I answer to 3 people (and one God), and those 3 people are a little fierce army I carried around in my body for a bit; but always in my heart.

I would encourage you to listen to your own inner voice. Pay attention to what drives your soul. Understand your core values, and align your life to them (that includes your circle of influence). Spend your valuable time with those who believe, uplift, support you. Those who make you laugh and take your mind to a happy place (those are my favourite kind of people).

You have one life. Be happy, grateful, proud.

But please start living out loud even if your voice shakes…then again that’s my opinion and you certainly don’t have to listen to it. 😉 Touché  ha!

In the mean time, I will keep on living, laughing, and trudging on. No one said this life would be easy, and I’m thankful for that. I would never appreciate the light the same way without the darkness. I am standing within my light; and ohhhh my it’s beautiful within it’s imperfection. I have all that I need and I am so grateful.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

Life Advice from a Stranger ~ Peter

After my workout this morning, I stopped at the Leduc Farmer’s Market to pick up some fresh produce. I was walking by a pot pie booth (who doesn’t love pot pie) and this enthusiastic man told me to come over and try the samples.  I’m also a fan of free samples of anything. lol Now at first, because of his enthusiasm, I thought he was employed to sell pot pies, buuuuuut it turns out he just really loves pot pies and conversing with strangers. 😉

We got to talking, and immediately I knew he was a Zen Joy person.  I have met only a few of those types of those sunshiney people in my life, so I just had to know about his story. One thing I’ve learned about all the Zen Joy people I’ve met, is that they have gone through hardship and have transformed their spirit through adversity.  Through the ashes of tribulation comes beauty, deep gratitude for life, inspiration, authenticity and joy.

After we talked awhile, I asked if I could tape him, so I will always remember. I was so excited when he agreed, that I didn’t press record. So he did this twice for me (at the end he says “I hope it works this time” ha!) He told me I could share this on my blog.

So this is Peter who works driving truck in Texas. Lover of Harley’s. And perhaps one of the most generous and happy people I will ever have the pleasure of meeting in this beautiful life. I hope you take away as much positivity and inspiration from him as I did.

Thank you Peter.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

Lessons learned from a former couch dweller

I was having a conversation with a friend about overcoming injuries that crop up when you are training.  It’s very frustrating when you are working hard towards a goal and your body decides be uncooperative. I mean get with the program. lol

This has happened to me several times through the years, and I’m reminded each time to be gentle with myself.

That’s not the same as giving up.

It simply means I continue around my injuries. Give it time to heal. Be gentle. Train in creative ways. Because injuries happen. They would happen if I sat on the couch everyday too. I had way more injuries when I sported an extra 100 pounds around on my frame. I had a season pass to my chiropractor. I didn’t even call him doctor, just his first name. I knew more about him than my hairdresser. I knew he liked to take long lunch breaks; which I dreaded when my back locked up at lunch time. I don’t even have my very own chiropractor anymore. lol I do however have my own Hutterite; because I hate gardening and they make all the colourful veggies grow.

If my knees are bothering me, I can still move in other ways. Swim. Bike. Do an upper body circuit. But stay off the couch…that couch I used to retreat to like a trusted friend. It was just a metaphor for giving up on living the life I knew I should. I can’t recall a single awesome memory from that couch. lol I do remember a lot of frustration, fear, depression…how did I get here?

I have an old IT band injury from running the same path where there’s a section of uneven driveways. It’s on one leg, because I ran the same direction for a very long time. It never occurred to me to take a different path or run a different direction. Isn’t that how it works in life; we don’t even know we are doing damage to ourselves while we are immersed within a rut.

Until you find a better way.

Another big lesson I’ve learned over the years: You must change things up. Complacency is never a good idea within health and well-being.

I try to correct myself when I sum up this journey by using the word “fitness”. It’s so much more than that. It’s the mind/body/spirit connection all wrapped up in beautifully continued transformation within well-being: the act of being well.  I know this is the path I’m meant to be on, because it’s exactly how my body is designed to function best.

It’s a daily choice.

Today I choose to go out in the sunshine and go for a walk. Not to burn calories, or to make my daily quota of steps on my fitbit (although that’s an annoying addiction some days…am I right fitbitters?); but rather to enjoy the healing power of nature and sunshine. Living in Alberta, I know these days are to be cherished…the snow and dark is coming. lol

I will uplift those who cross my path, and choose my words with intention. I can be negative or positive. I can transfer a vibe of chill/relax/happy or I can be an Eeyore. We all have Eeyore’s in our lives, I would be mortified is someone described me that way.

That’s the amazing thing about living in the dark for a long time; when you find light, you are so grateful for it…it’s stays with you and becomes a part of your spirit.

I hope you have an amazing sunshiney day. Remember to be gentle with yourself. 🙂

From my heart to yours,

Christine

Offering to lift a giraffe at a gas station, backing up a trailer, and other random insights. Reclaiming Life

I’ve done my Miracle Morning routine for over a year now. I get up an hour earlier than usual to read/write/meditate/goal-dream etc. It’s starts my day off focussed on positive and travels right along side me through out the day. Like the trusted family dog. All loyal and happy.

I have this list of things I want to do. To learn. Ways in which I want to grow.

Little goals, and big goals. All in one big list. Some might seem ridiculous, like make a cardboard car (like the Flintstones) and go through a drive through with my girlfriends. I would have already done this, but I need to find a fridge box or something largish because we need a bit of real estate.

There’s also some actually progressive-to-my-future goals on there too, but there’s always time for ridiculous in life.

I add to it, and check off the things I’ve done as life’s adventures unfold. I’ve been able to tick off some pretty cool things which have come about in the most surprising of ways.

I’ve learned that’s how it works, this Law of Attraction stuff…

Simply.

In perfect timing.

Put out what you want to do. Who you want to be. Dream big.

Give it breath.

Be not only open to the idea of it; but believe with all your senses it will happen.

Put action towards it. (you can’t just sit on a couch and wish for bubbles, rainbows and lollipops)

And poof! It’s no longer a dream, but a reality.

You see, that’s where I went wrong before, I had these tiny seeds of doubt that would creep in, and I didn’t give my goals and dreams the action required.  Even if it’s just little forward steps (emphasis on forward momentum).

It’s within my control to water the seeds of doubt; or the seeds of self-efficacy.

On my list from April 22, 2017: Find a little tent trailer so I can camp with my children again, and then obviously learn how to back it up. Because you can’t always camp in a straight line.

I had this idea that backing things up was hard because when my kids were small, I had this bike trailer I would jackknife all the time. My kids would yell “Mom! You made us go sideways again”

Anywhoooo, I found this tent trailer on Kijiji and it turned out, they knew who I was because I’d taken pictures at their neighbour’s acreage. They were really kind and helpful. For the first time in my life, I didn’t consult anyone but myself. I gave them my monies and left with a trailer.

I’ve worked so much that I didn’t have time to figure out how to set it up, pull it, or back it up until the night before we left for our first camping trip. So at 10:30 p.m. my oldest son put on his patient hat and we pulled it to a school parking lot where he instructed in very soft tones how to think backwards so I could back it up. And I did it. 🙂  I pulled it all over that parking lot into random stalls which I pretended were lined with trees. lol

I realize for many, this whole process is ridiculously simple…the whole independent camping deal. But for me, this is a new chapter of independence and relying on myself in a way I used to depended on others. That’s on me. I set my life up that way in the past, but I don’t live there anymore. 😉

So this past week-end, I packed up that little trailer with a week-end’s worth of camping gear and treats and headed out with my kids to meet up with the rest of my big crazy family.

You have to be creative when packing a tent trailer, because it basically unfolds like a clown car, once a sandwich and then a magic hut which holds many bodies. I channelled my inner MacGyver.

We sang on the top of our lungs for much of the trip, or at least I did while they put in earphones. I shoulder car danced.

We stopped at a gas station at the Alberta/Sask border and I saw this elongated stranger trying to reach fire works from the top of a tall shelf.

The store clerk came over and asked him if he needed a ladder and I blurted out “no I will just lift him”. She said “cool” and turned on her heels and marched away.

And he looked at me with a blank expression…because stranger danger…and asked: “Are you really going to lift me?”

I didn’t blink at all and said “Or course” like it’s no big deal to lift strangers in a gas station.  I do it all the time.

But he just stood on his tipey-toes and got it down just fine. I wondered in my head after if I actually thought I could lift him. He was tall like a giraffe, with super long legs. There was no reason why he needed a ladder.

Random stranger gas station story.

We kept on travelling and my son remarked how I was getting more confident hauling the trailer. When he said that I realized I forgot there was a trailer behind me. I really should have put a sign on it “Never hauled anything in the history of ever before”.  You know like those “new driver” signs.

We arrived with smiles, and together (minus one rogue child who ran off to have fun with the cousins) we parked and set up our new-to-us little tent trailer surrounded by family at the lake.

My divorced parents have adjoined lake lots because they are awesome that way and besties. And my sisters have their own trailers which we set up like the adult version of a pillow fort.

My sister’s husband parked their motor home and I looked at Brenda and said, “But our awnings don’t face each other. How are we going to wake up and poke our heads out the door in the morning and have coffee together if you are facing the opposite way.” And she told me I had creative freedom to tell him that, but she wasn’t (because that’s annoying, which I get but I have nothing to lose). I have to give him the patience award because he listened to my request and said “oh right, you two like to do that” and reparked.

My little sister gifted me matching onesies back when my life was at its trickiest, so I found a way to repay her with matching camo pants. Because we are so roughing it camping in trailers?! 😉

I had an amazing week-end with my family celebrating Canada day.

As I was laying on the beach, watching the fireworks while my niece played with my hair, I realized one of my big goals was to be happy. My benchmark for reaching this state is to be as happy as I was as a kid, when I had not a care in the world.

When I returned home, I went to my list and ticked off…

  • Buy a tent trailer and go camping again with my kids
  • Learn how to back up a trailer without jackknifing it.
  • Be happy.

check. check. check.

From my happy grateful heart to yours,

Christine

 

On Goal Setting

I received a message from a friend that made me think on the topic of Goal Setting.  She has read Miracle Morning and asked how I set up my goals, especially if my personal goals may not align with another within my circle of influence.

I’ve always operated under the idea “You do You, I do Me”. All that means to me, is the only person I can control within my life, is myself. I have zero control over anyone else’s actions and reactions.

My choices, actions, dreams, belief systems are mine alone. I find that knowledge empowering, rather than defeating. It allows me to let go of control within my environment and set up what works for me.

Would it be nice if everyone around me just naturally aligned with my value system and thought process? I have come to the conclusion, it’s quite the opposite.

I have learned more about what works for me from having opposing beliefs around me, than with like-minded people who share similar beliefs and goals.  While it’s important to create a circle of influence/support network with like-minded people, don’t underestimate the power of those who challenge your values/goals/and beliefs. Look at that as a way to further strengthen your self-efficacy and authenticity.

My goals have changed over the years, and I’m so grateful for that. I’ve had years of focus/hard work/diligence within my health and wellness followed by years of balance/gentleness/slow-it-down.

For every yin there’s a yang. And it’s important to not only foster that balance within myself, but to appreciate the opposing side within other’s who challenge my ideas. It takes me out of my comfort zone and then brings me back to centre.

This is a learning process, always. What has worked for me yesterday, may not hold true today. The body and mind adapt quickly and settles into a new normal.  Just like strength training, you can’t just do the same thing over and over and expect new results.

So look around your life, what areas do you feel out of control within? That’s where you know there’s work to be done.

Focus your mind everyday on intentions: thoughts which becomes things. Dreams manifest into action. And when those seeds of doubt creep into your mind, know you have the power to stop them before they grow and multiply. You have control there.

What are you going to do differently today to challenge yourself?

How can you live outside of your comfort zone today so you can grow?

If your environment is full of chaos, what can you do to centre yourself and bring a little zen joy into your heart?

For me, that’s what my gym time is for. It’s like uncomfortable meditation. 😉  But oh my, the joy and pride I feel after is unmatched.

I also spend an hour each morning reading, journalling, and focussing my thoughts on gratitude, positivity, and contribution; along with the knowledge that not only do I have enough and I am enough right in this moment; but that will also stand true in my future.

Shift your perspective and you will always feel wealthy and rich in spirit. By doing so, it puts me on a different frequency of abundance and grateful/whole-hearted living and amazing experiences/people/opportunities have come my way out of nowhere. It’s true!

Happy goal setting my friends.

From my heart to yours,

Christine