90 Years of Wisdom Delivered in a Bow and a Smile

At work, there is a Mother and Grandmother who come in regularly. Although we do not speak the same language, or in the case of the Mother…bits of the same, we do share the same warm smiles. Each time they come to my wicket, the Grandmother bows and smiles the largest warmest grin that dances within her kind eyes. She reminds me of the wise Matriarch in Mulan.

I’m sure it’s comedic to watch. She bows. I bow. We laugh. She bows. I bow. X10 bowing. on repeat.

I can feel her spirit every time. I know nothing about her past or present other than the beautiful aura she carries with her. A brilliant smile, and uplifting presence.

Yesterday, the Mother came solo.  I asked where Grandma was. She replied that she was resting at home.

She leaned in to my wicket and said to me “You know, my Mom loves you. She thinks you are beautiful and you are very kind.”

I told her I adored her Mom’s energy and I too thought she was beautiful. I wanted to expand more but she pointedly said…”My Mom is 90 years old. She’s always happy. Always smiling. Always thanking. She loves to live.”

I could see how much she appreciates having a Mom who loves life the way she does.  A gift to her family.

Another Zen Joy person who crossed my path. ❤  I am so grateful for these light-sharers who’s mere presence illuminates any room. Who make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Who make you believe in the good within the world. That happiness and gratitude is something you choose.  And spread it freely.

While I struggle some days to choose it; I see that Grandmother as a symbol of what I’m working toward. A countenance of loving life.

I used to think happiness was what I most sought after in life; but perhaps it’s fulfillment within life’s various stages. The not seeking the next chapter.

I’ll be happy when…

Rather, I’m fulfilled now with all that I am and all that I have (none of which are the material variety; but the human interaction kind).

My eyes continue to open to what’s important to my spirit. I embrace every lesson which comes my way; and they are often packaged in welcoming smiles and gentle energy.

90 years of wisdom encapsulated in a warm smile and gentle bow. Zero words spoken yet all the words I need (which I’m having a tricky time articulating just how much they mean to me).

Thank you Grandmother.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

Our Deepest Fear

Marianne Williamson wrote with poetic truth and beauty…

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

Her words have danced in my spirit the moment I read them.

I have allowed my insecurities and complacency to hold me back from experiencing a richness of life which comes when you take risk, live authentically, and have the courage to be vulnerable with others. It’s what connects us.

We all have insecurities in some form or fashion. They manifest differently for everyone.

Some mask it with bravado.

Some gossip.

Some shelter.

Some gaslight.

Some cover it with anger while others feel the weight of shame.

As I have worked at being more vulnerable, I have also felt convicted about sharing the areas of strength I’ve felt. As though my pride would be mistaken for vanity.

I can spin it back to love however…It’s not vain to love yourself fiercely. To speak passionately about whatever it is that ignites the fires of your spirit.

I want that for my children. To be strong, daring, unapologetic for their authenticity, with a vivacious energy that translates into fulfillment and gratitude for this one amazing grace-filled life.

Going into the New Year; I will try my best to live more honestly and authentically. To work more on my inner spirit than my outer aesthetic. I believe the outer follows suit to whatever you put into the soul.

I am and will be grateful for all that I have and all that I am working towards; quality of life.

I have let go of “stuff” and “status”.

I have let my mask fall.

I have run away pain, and bathed in the murk.

I have exercised my voice like a muscle and walked a little taller.

I have accepted both my light and dark side.

I know my strengths and I know my faults. As I worked daily on my spirit; self-awareness flooded my being with every sunrise of my Miracle Morning.

When you embrace the uniquely beautiful human you are, and explore the areas or life which excite you. delight you. bring a sparkle to your eye…Your light will shine so bright; it will be impossible not to see. And that light is infectious.

What makes you happy?

What makes your heart sing?

What makes you feel alive?

WHO makes you feel connected and understood?

Who celebrates your successes?

You see if you are at a place in your life where you are questioning who is in your corner; look to the people who are truly happy for your successes. The ones who feel your happy as much as your pain.

But never dim your light for anyone. That’s a betrayal to who you are meant to be. Your life has a purpose; live it passionately and boldly.

I will celebrate my successes and will continue to uplift others as they go after their own. Yessss, go get it!

United within strength as much as weakness.

I hope you have an amazing Christmas full of the love of family and friends.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

Private Healing

When I finally decided to tackle my health issues, I knew I wanted to do so privately. I didn’t share with my friends or family my plan to get the weight off.  Perhaps it was due to fear of failing; but knowing who I am as  a person…it was more so because the process for me was full of healing and reclamation of a life I couldn’t live the way I wanted to.

I yearned to run down a field with my kids without getting winded, go swimming without shame, and speak up passionately for what I believed in.

You see, the excess weight for me was a byproduct of shame and loss after a sexual assault. I won’t blame the assault on turning me into a physically unhealthy person (blood pressure issues/depression/etc.); however, I do recognize it was the catalyst.

It took many years to pack on that weight; and when I decided to shed that extra layer of shame and pain…the weight went along with it. I didn’t know who I was as a woman aside from my roles as a Mom/Wife/Sister/Friend/Daughter.

I didn’t follow a plan or strict calorie intake regimen. I made a daily promise to treat me as I treat those I love. To fuel with nutrition and water. Move a little, sometimes a lot, and some days not at all…sweet rest.

These past few years I have faced equally confusing and down days as my life has transitioned during a divorce. When I feel that pull to eat away the pain or stay in bed, I try my best to spin it back to love and simply move and eat well. To rebuild my family dynamic with my children in a new way; and just love them deeper.

I struggle between lending support to others; yet still honouring my pain and healing process.  I prefer to do so privately and quietly. I struggle to articulate to those I love and pull away from that I need to do this for me.  It’s not personal to them. I can not support anyone else if I don’t support my process too. I have lost friendships along the way as I have not met other’s needs and expectations.

Some find solace in sharing openly and aloud. I envy that in many ways; I would imagine it’s easier to keep up your friendships and support circle that way vs. isolating here and there.  I do also see the irony that I’m sharing this on a public blog 😉  I also find healing within sharing in a way that’s comfortable for me (alone in my office lol)

I hope this post shares some insight into the different yet equally healing ways people process various stages in life.

There is joy within the pain. There is laughter even through some tears. There is residual anger within the forgiveness.  And there is a whole lot of love when you drop the shame and regret. I am so thankful for all that I have; it’s all that I need. I am finding my zen joy a little more every day.

Family. Purpose. Fulfillment. Love. Security. Authenticity. Love. Acceptance.

I appreciate all who are still there for me when I do some private growing and we just pick up where we left off. I have nothing but love for my friends and family.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

The Heart of Balance

I’ve read a lot about balance lately, seeking the middle and avoiding the extremes of anything. “Avoiding” can create resistance however, and resistance can insight imbalance.

What you resist will persist…as the saying goes.

Catch 22

Last week at my day job, I had a conversation with a co-worker about personal training.

She said to me “but you don’t do that anymore”

I immediately felt defensive. Like I lost a part of my identity within an area of my spirit that is very important to me.

I will always strive to articulate and share the gift of health and fitness as it has changed my life. There were many years of my life that I lost to self-deprecation and defeating behaviours.

It’s not about fitting into a certain size.

Or out-running or out-lifting the person beside me at the gym.

For me, it’s a way I can channel the tricky stuff into self-love. To move and live the way our bodies are designed.

It’s seeking the middle.

Balanced.

Mind/Body/Soul seamlessly working together to appreciate the simple joys in life with vivacious energy. Actually experiencing life.

I struggle with the extreme side of the fitness industry.

Push past physical pain.

Eat your boiled chicken and steamed broccoli.

Skip dinners out with friends or loved ones.

Devote all your free time to sweating in the gym.

Craft yourself an ass you can bounce a quarter off of.

Pick apart your body in the mirror, oh tomorrow you can continue the pursuit for that perfect physical frame.

Never fit enough.

Never strong enough.

Just never enough…

Ugh, it’s a dangerous game leading to self-obsession.

Sometimes you have to step back and look at the big picture.

The Why’s.

The heart of drive which lives behind action.

I am seeking the middle.

Living in the right now.

I took some time to answer: Why is health and fitness important to me?

So I can live freely in a frame that isn’t restrictive to movement.

So I can run paths lined with golden trees and feel the euphoria that comes when I find my rhythm.

So that I can better keep up to my kids whose curiosity for life and hope for their future inspires me.

So I can enjoy food without feeding the extremes. Binging/Restriction.

So I can FEEL. The good stuff right along with the tricky stuff.

Understanding that maybe happiness is found within life’s ordinary moments.

The way the sunshine slowly seeps into my living room giving life to cherished photos as I do my Miracle Morning.

The way my son Lucas asks daily: “How was your day Mom?”

The way my daughter Tess side hugs me like it’s no big deal. But she closes her eyes for a brief moment.

They way my son Ty pokes his head out of the basement dramatically and yells “HI!” And we recap our day.

The way my kids tease each other at the kitchen counter as they eat banana bread.

The way my dog excitedly greets me at the door everyday like we’ve been apart for years.

It’s just so simple, but I have overcomplicated it.

I am doing my best at parenting solo (not truly solo, but solo in my home).

And I’m going to focus on the small victories within  my day.

The little bits of happiness that weave a big happy.

I’m going to treat those I love with respect and care, and do the same for myself.

I’m going to spread a little sunshine and happy to others.

Because why not? Oh my…this life has enough negativity and shame within it.

I wish the same for you…

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

The Summer of Surrender and Acceptance

I’ve taken some time off from the gym.  This summer has been full of working, camping, walking, a few runs thrown in and kayaking.  One of the gym regulars I’ve gotten to know came into the bank the other day.

He asked me: “Where have you been? Are you Ok? Please come  back.”

I told him all was good, I’m on a break. I’ll be back soon!

A couple days later, I went back to the gym to get a workout in since I really “should”.

But you know what? I was tired. My body was tired. My spirit was tired, I did not want to be there.

I kept my head down so I didn’t invite any conversation with the regulars whom I’ve come to respect and really enjoy.

I felt a bit deflated when I got home after. Disappointed I couldn’t lift as heavy as the last time I was there. Feeling bad because I wasn’t my chipper self ready to uplift others.

The truth is, I’ve had my own emotional “stuff” I’ve been working through. Learning to move on from the past.

While I recognize I do not live in the past anymore, it doesn’t change the fact that living within a new life will challenge one to deal with old thought/behaviour patterns.

I do not choose a mediocre life.

I want an authentic life rich in experiences and quality.

I want to surround myself with people I adore and support, and they in turn offer the same support.

I want to feel this life.

I know happiness is a choice.

I also know that to etch my happy; I have to work through the tricky stuff.

Awaken the parts of me I’ve numbed and closed off as a protection.

I had no idea until recently, the degree in which I have guarded myself in order to feel a sense of security and control over my life.

I’m not even entirely sure how to work on that. Except to be a lot more self-aware when it’s happening.

As a trainer, I learned a lot about Programming. How to program a workout for optimal results. Set into cycles. One building off of the next. But there’s also a cycle of rest and recovery that is necessary or you’ll over-train and burn out.

I thought about that the other day when my inner voice told me to please rest.

Recover.

Be OK with the ever evolving challenges presented when you start over and rebuild a life.

Stop trying to help everyone else and work on my own struggles.

The stuff exercise can’t fix.

Nor food.

I am happy, that I know…but it doesn’t mean I have to be happy all the time. I don’t have to spin it back to positive within every experience. I can honour that it’s hard to learn how to live after divorce. It’s hard to open yourself up again.

It’s just hard.

And that’s OK.

I’m going to have the courage to sit in the shit.

Be who I inherently am within.

Give myself permission to grieve, feel anger and hurt.

And then keep on moving forward.

Maybe that’s what life is….A series of cycles of amazing good, and equally amazingly difficult.

All of which mould one’s character and create a depth of beauty within the spirit.

Of loss and renew.

A heart growing in strength because of resistance to stagnancy and complacency.

I’m going to just surrender to it all and keep my faith in my higher power.

Trust my instincts.

Trust others again.

Know my worth; not just as a female, but as a person. (Side note: It’s funny, when I look back to just a couple of years ago and realize the weight I placed on my actually weight. It all seems so insignificant and silly.) 

Understanding that there is a great purpose for my life. For your life. For all of creation.

The summer of surrender and acceptance….

From my heart to yours,

Christine

The Trap of Self-Deprecation

I was outside weeding my yard the other day, and I stopped to chat with a neighbour. She told me she was going to a woman friendly gym now. She expressed that she wasn’t comfortable working out in the “muscle head” zone and was happy to find a place to sweat with just women.

And it got me thinking that I was very thankful that I found my comfort in the gym I go to; where both men and women sweat freely.  But it also made me think about the fact so many find the gym atmosphere intimidating; and I was one of those once.  I tried to remember how that view evolved for me. Because it was a slow evolution into confidence.

Again, it comes down to a shift in my perception away from athstetics to training for my health and vitality. Learning to love my body for what it can do vs. how I “look”. These legs can run, these arms can embrace, this core keeps me stable, this back allows me to bend down and pick things up. Functionality to enjoy life better.

With that in mind, I went to my gym. I saw a regular there, and we paused to chat briefly.

She explained to me her challenges within her training, specifically around the body parts she wasn’t happy with. “bat wings” and if she dieted to lose more weight, it would affect how her ass looked. It made me uncomfortable to reduce her body to outward appearance, but more so I was uncomfortable because that’s the trap I have fallen into personally…the self-deprecating trap.

I’m writing about the woman’s point of view; because I am one. 😉 I’m sure men deal with this in a different manner. There was a moment within our exchange where I  could have validated the self-deprecation by adding in my own insecurities about my body. But at that moment, I made a conscious decision not to.

I said in reply “I think you look amazing. You see yourself differently than I do. And I am happy with my body”.

Because I have learned to be. Happy with who I am at whatever weight or level of fitness I happen to be at. Fitness is my outlet to pour whatever I happen to be going through…stress, anxiety, determination, the urge to push myself and see what I’m capable of, internal conflict…and spin it back to good vibes. I don’t care how I look while I’m doing it.

I have learned my worth is not determined by my frame; or the way my butt looks in a pair of jeans. But that sure is the marketing specifically targeting women “10 tips to get a lifted butt” —-> I’d probably get more traffic to this post if I labelled it that.

OK, let’s get real for a moment here, will the quality of my life be any more fulfilled if in fact my butt was lifted? ha!

And as women, wouldn’t it be better to skip the self-deprecating bullshit we impose, and just love ourselves in all the levels body/mind/soul?

How are we supposed to teach our daughters self-respect and worth if we are picking apart our own bodies in the mirror every day?

So I make a conscious effort to give myself a nod in the mirror. To look at my body in a way of love, and respect for the vehicle it is. A vehicle to take me places, love others deeply, and explore this world.  Going to the gym allows me to build a strong foundation to move more effectively and efficiently in everyday life tasks.

I hope to be able to explore life further when I actually have money saved to do so, and I recognize that’s in my later years.

If you don’t use it you will lose it.

I want to be Betty White old. Full of vitality!

Lift to build muscle. Eat quality to fuel your daily activity. Run/move to feel alive and because I’m able. Read this for further perceptive: https://reclaiminglifeblog.com/2015/03/25/the-face-of-ms/

But I refuse to stand in a gym and talk about all the things I don’t like about my body. It’s a disrespect to myself and devalues the totality of the woman I am, which has little to do with my bat wings or my not-so-lifted-tush.

That’s all I have to say about that!

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

On Conformity: Words to my Daughter

Last night I went to bed before my kids. That’s what happens when you raise teenagers; they outlast you more often than not.

My daughter came into my bedroom to say good night and I could tell there was something on her spirit. I have learned to elicit the truth of her heart, I simply have to ask one question.

“How are you feeling right now?”

In the split second after I ask, I just have to look into her eyes to understand the answer.

With tears in her eyes, she explained to me that she was feeling bad about fitting in and that other kids don’t always “get her”.

You see her heart is deep and pure. She has so much compassion for other’s within. She often befriends the new kid as soon as she sees a hint of uncomfortable. She will turn back to help another if they fall. She will make those around her laugh if they are sad. She reads me too after work, and sometimes even when I tell her my day was ok, she’ll come and give me a long hug within perfect timing.

She’s expressive, creative, loving, and artistic.

I inwardly asked for guidance last night to find the right words to make her feel better.  Not words that will placate or pacify; but rather to give her a long-term perspective. Words I wish I knew as truth when I was a teenager.

These are the words my heart urged me to say to her…

These teenage years; JR. High, High School, are so minute on the scale of life, but also important in that you have many choices.

Work hard, get the grades which will give you many options to build the future of your dreams. If you decide to go to college, you will meet so many people who have the very same interests and drive. It’s a little more specialized.

Do not conform. You know who you are, and you are also learning about yourself. You are growing and evolving in character. Hold your head high. It’s ok to be “weird”. Everyone is a weird, some just wear masks to hide it.

These people who you want acceptance from; they will probably not be in your life after school is over. I promise you’ll look back and wonder why you cared about their opinions. Just do you, and build that future which is so very bright and full of hope.

You are kind, and loyal. Your true friendships will adore and cherish you. I had one main ride or die friend in high school, she is still my best friend today (and we are going to visit her and her kids soon). It’s not quantity, but quality.

But whatever you do, please don’t dim your light for anyone. Walk proud and understand your worth. You are so very worthy of all you want in life.  Study hard, and use your brain. Use your words for love. It’s OK to walk away from anyone who doesn’t show you respect. Because you respect yourself.

The entire time she just held my head and nodded. This morning as she was eating her breakfast I asked her “How are you feeling this morning?”

And she replied with a smile  “I’m good” and her eyes spoke that truth. I lifted my chin up with my finger, pulled my shoulders back, and said “Head high my girl”

From my heart to yours,

Christine