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

 

My Contingency Plan to Cultivate Purpose, Peace and Joy

At work, when a major event happens, there are clear processes to follow. A fluid contingency plan is implemented and updated as situations evolve. I find comfort in processes that gift direction during times of chaos.

I had this light bulb moment the other day, why don’t I implement my own contingency plan for my personal life? Body/Mind/Spirt.

Protect my peace.

It sparked my creative mind thinking about ways to bring peace, purpose and joy into my day. I know exactly what feeds my body/mind/spirit. Interestingly, I’ve figured that out during times of hardship. I’ve taken the time to bring all the senses into that which feeds each element and then recorded it…in my mind’s eye or pen to paper. 

My Contingency Plan to Cultivate Purpose, Peace and Joy

Body

Go for a walk in the sun with my dog
Stretch at my desk when I feel my shoulder’s tighten and my leg’s stiffen
Lift weights. Make a plan, schedule my lift days. And lace up the shoes when I wake up (that’s the hardest part…the just doing)
Interval training
Kickboxing
Just move…Some days a little and some days a lot.
Go for a run
Ride my bike
Yoga
Work in my yard
Play basketball with the kids
Kayak (also spirit side)

Mind

Read a book
Learn something new. Daily
Meditate (a work in progress on that one)
Visualize at the start of each day and set intentions
Write
Teach
Play crib
Blog (this is also Spirit for me)
 

Spirit

Cook for my family, and dance while I cook. Cuban music is my jam lately.
Give to another: a kind word, a gift on a door step, a handwritten note. 
Add to my gratitude journal in the morning. 
Connect with my friends & family: phone, text, FaceTime, Zoom.
Write and support others through understanding.
Watch whatever makes me laugh.
Share the tricky parts of life. There is comfort within understanding we are not alone in our struggles. 
Garden: This is new for me, and huge! With the help of my family, we got our greenhouse functional again, and I planted veggies & herbs for the first time in years. 
 
 
Your list can be added to whenever you find an activity that taps into your senses, and makes you feel alive, centred, vibrant, peaceful, contemplative, happy, interested, etc. 
 
The hardest part for me is the motivation to actually do the Body/Mind/Spirit activities when I’m struggling. The last thing I want to do when I’m down is the very thing that will bring me back up.
That’s where trust comes in. I have to trust the proven results I’ve experienced before, and then take baby steps. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Just do one thing; which creates the momentum for the next. 
 
It’s been necessary in this pandemic to be acutely self-aware of my metal state and emotions…
Feeling bored…mindless tasks getting to me? See Mind section.
Feeling lack of purpose? See Mind/Spirit.
Feeling lethargic and low energy? See Body Section
Feeling fearful? See Spirit
Feeling depressed and anxious? See Body/Mind/Spirit
Feeling overwhelmed with having to self-regulate through a stressful day? See Spirit
 
They key is to know YOU. What brings about equanimity to your world? What calms your spirit? What gives you purpose? What makes you laugh? What is that task you get lost in and lose all track of time? What can you give to others to fulfill your own sense of accomplishment?
Fear is an all encompassing force that grows and breeds more…if left unattended. It seeps in every so slowly when you are faced with daily unknowns and grows like a flame.
 
So my friends….  
 

Please Protect your Peace.

As always, I hope you choose love over fear.

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

Year 14 at Goal

Today is the 14th year since I reclaimed my health and dropped the 100. Every year on that special day, I write a post about what I’ve learned this past year.

I’m not sure where to even begin this post, as I’ve truly struggled this year to find balance and have been down on myself at times.

In many ways, I’ve made amazing headway I’m very proud of within my career, family, learning to open up again and trust, and love deeper. To open my heart and home again and be present in the free time I have.

In other ways, I’ve felt depleted within my energy levels and unable to get in the amount of activity I’ve learned fuels my self-confidence and self-efficacy.

You see for me, it’s all connected. If I can’t get out and move my body daily; I feel it internally/mentally/emotionally.

I started working full-time (which happens to be a desk job); scaled back my photography business, continued my learning within my personal training certification, woke up earlier to study towards my mutual fund license, as well as parenting my three kids.

I don’t entirely like the word “single parent” as it implies I have no help…and that I do so solo. I have support and a whole loving tribe who cares.  My kids are older now, and they help me so much.  They are my biggest support system and my reason for all that I do. I’m so proud of them.

As this post is about maintaining a goal; this year, I learned to shift my goals. Relax on one area while I focus on another.

A number on a scale is not the end all be all; and it has little to do with the totality of who I am as a woman.

Movement is a way of celebrating what my body is capable of; it is not a punishment. I’ve needed to find activity I love to do rather than ticking off a list of minutes to get in my “cardio”.

With the melting of the snow after the longest stretch of cold; I began walking my dog at night. At first he struggled as I did, to complete the uphill portion of the walk. I had resigned myself that Teddy was just getting older and with that comes limited mobility. However, my dog taught me if you keep at it, a little more at a time, you’ll grow in strength and stamina. He cries as soon as I get home now to go for that walk; and he can walk twice as far as he could 2 months ago. Old dogs can learn new tricks. He’s become my accountability coach. 😉

I learned I was overtraining in the past; as I now have more rest days. As a result; I can lift heavier than I ever have before…despite gaining this year.

I’ve struggled with night time cravings for food this year; as the stress of the day melds to boredom when it all quiets down.  I haven’t struggled with that for years; so it was humbling to realize how much stress plays a role in emotional eating. I’m working on that area. Like a smoker who has just one drag and all of a sudden is smoking again. That’s the only thing I can equate it to.

As always; I am a work in progress. I want so desperately to be a good role model for my kids. To show them their Mom can work hard towards her goals and succeed. I finally want for myself all the forward success I’ve wanted for my children.

Life moves in ebbs and flows; and I’m on the learning ebb; which I believe with my whole heart will produce an abundance flow. I may not have a lot of time for a social life at the moment; but someday I will. The progress of my life through raising kids has shown me that there are seasons.

I know I have grown a lot this year as I now feel all the feelings so much deeper now; where I was once numb. My instincts scream at me; where before it was just a whisper. I have been gifted humility as I’m more self-aware and can see where I’ve made mistakes within relationships. I have tried my best to make amends when the door opens for authentic connection and have admitted my short-comings. “I’m sorry” was spoken more this year than in the last 10 combined. And I mean it whole-heartedly. I can be better.

This year, I’m most proud of my children and that I’m a better Mom to them; because they deserve the best. They continue to grow, molt, and mature into incredible kind, giving, tenacious, positive, and loving people. I’ve said sorry to them as well this year; for all the ways I let them down when I was down. I’ve learned to admit when I’m wrong; and ask for forgiveness.

I’m looking forward to the next year at goal; as I continue to take in all the life lessons around me and support others in their own growth.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

The Sisterhood of Mothers

I watched an overwhelmed Mom the other day, wrangler her 2 toddlers in the midst of a busy business as they were screaming and fighting down the aisles.  Another Mom near her leaned in to offer some advice “Enjoy them now while they are young, because one day you’ll miss the sound of their little voices”

The overwhelmed Mom’s face fell further as the cloak of guilt surrounded her spirit.

I can relate and recognize both sides of the coin. One where you don’t realize the simplistic beauty of a stage until the next one arrives. And another where the weight of it all is exhausting. You feel up to the very top of your head with frustration and responsibility. You can’t breathe.

Through the years, empathy and understanding have flooded my Mom-heart connecting to my own Mother’s-heart within wisdom of life experiences I’ve shared with her. Separate experience in different decades, hers in her time; and mine in my time. Like traversing the newborn stage while also chasing another toddler to trying to balance a career along with raising teens all while dealing with a loss of a former life and rebuilding.

What I’ve come to understand more than anything; Mom guilt is the root of shame among Mothers. It’s destructive and dark. There’s no growth that comes from shame.

The centre of a Mother is a woman who is doing her best with the tools she has.

She does not have to feel grateful for the temper tantrum simply because one day her hard work will pay off in the form of a well-adjusted former toddler turned beauty adult.

She is not required to appreciate the miracle of life when it’s within a teen who would rather slam a door on her face than say thank you for forcing an education upon them.

What that Mom needs now is the right to be authentic and real. Acknowledged within her fruition and exhaustion. She is not superhuman. She’s merely human and there are days she wants to run from it all. From the expectations to be happy and grateful within the stages of screaming toddler; to the teen who spews anger when held to responsibility.

She does not need an elder Mom to impress the next stage upon her already guilt-ridden spirit; because she’s not there yet! She doesn’t know it until she lives through it. Just as I didn’t understand what my Mom did for me when I was screaming in her face to leave me alone. It’s the cycle of life; life lessons come organically in the form of actually living the life.

And yet, as I type this…I feel the Mom-guilt creep in for all the children without Mothers  and all the Mothers without children. Will this post be met with understanding as I intend it.

I’m writing this within the conviction that us Moms need a sisterhood of women to unite within understanding, compassion, and empathy. To acknowledge that Mothering is not for the faint of heart. It is thankless and crushing at times; and it is beautifully enriching at times. It can be filled with loss and anger one minute and yearning to be better and love deeper the next.

It’s Ok to take a trip away with your girlfriends. To sleep in when you can…nap it out. Take a walk alone or curl up with a good book in a hammock.

It’s not selfish to take care of your own needs along with those of your children.

There is no room for understanding and camaraderie when one Mom camp shames another for mothering in a different way.

This Mother’s Day I want to appreciate, acknowledge and applaud all those Moms who are trying their best. Who collapse at the end of the day on the couch with a glass of wine and some smutty reality TV on their PVR.

Those who stay home with their kids; and those who work full-time.

Those who stand in an aisle flanked by screaming toddlers giving into the chaos for a moment; and those who leave a full cart of groceries behind to carry their screaming toddler out.

Those who slip away for a break; only to realize they don’t really want a break; they just want the right to be their own person as well as a Mom. To have the freedom to feel the wide gamut of emotions that weave the canvas of Motherhood in all it’s successes and defeats.

It’s all OK.

Feel all the feels and then remember that through all the deep love you have for your family; you too are loved and appreciated.

Maybe not today.

Maybe on the day when your own once teen raises their own angry teens.

But certainly on more days than Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s day to all you Moms out there. Especially to my own Mom. I love you.

From my understanding Mom heart to yours,

Christine

 

A Letter to the God-Sized Hole of the Evening

A few months ago, I learned to start my day with 2 intentions (which turn into actions):

Show me what I need to know.

Show me what I need to learn.

I feel pulled to share this morning’s writing… Full of vulnerability and fear, but also hope and surrender. I’m just going to type what I wrote, without edits or grammatical fixes.

April 15, 2019

“Show me what I need to know”

The purest form of truth about yourself is in the morning. You are inspired, loving, calm, centred, grateful, hopeful, energetic, and peaceful.  Somewhere through out the day, parts of you unravel. Like tugging a piece of thread, it pulls away lending to layers of fray.

By evening, you feel a hole. I’ve heard the term “God-Sized Hole” and it’s accurate. It’s something I want to feed, fill with external stimuli. I feel it in my throat and in my heart like a lead blanket on my chest; constricting my breathing. There is nothing external that will ever placate it or remove it. It just grows with every attempt.

“Show me what I need to learn”

You know who you are at the start of each day. It’s YOU. Remove whatever you can through out your day which affects your equanimity. Remind yourself of your truth. Silence the voice of doubt/I’m not good enough/that deceptive narrative of self-loathing.

Bring it back to this present moment.

Where all is as it should be.

There is no pain in this moment.

There is no shame of the past.

There is no fear of the future.

You are taken care of.

Surrender.

Trust.

You’ve been gifted a new path full of choices, opportunity, a fresh perspective, new people who are all placed at this stage of life to teach you. Circumstances to build your resilience. Reminders of what you value and order of importance within that value system.

A faith that guides you and sustains you.

The God-Sized hole lives within your mind; but it is not who you are.

You are worthy and complete. Complicated yet simplistic within your needs.

Abundance is yours and it’s already part of your today.

Your purpose is within shifting focus for yourself and others; so they may also understand their greatness and wholeness.

The soul needs no reassurance.

It’s the centre of all.

It’s the light; there is no darkness.

It’s always burning, creating, evolving, full of freedom and ever transforming within shades of LOVE.

It will guide you back to who you always were and who you are.

Read this at night.

Read it when you are confused, afraid, sad, full of shame.

You are deeply loved and you deeply love others. In all their stages and phases of growth and within your own too.

Practice self-compassion; shame is the root of destruction.

Your life is ever-expanding and evolving just as it was meant to.

You have all you require now. More than.

There is nothing to feed.

You are already full.

Full of love and purpose; fulfilled and grounded.

Your soul is on fire with it.

Just let it be.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

Finding Equanimity in a Line-Up

The other day, as a long bank line snaked to the door, I had this thought…

Don’t look to the end of it. Focus on the person in front of you only. Take good care of them. And then the next and the next.

And that’s how my life has been lately. If I focus on the line: the things out of my control, the weight of changes and forks in the road, the big tasks ahead to keep up a business/another career/certification/doing best for my kids…all together it’s just one big long line up to the door with eyes pleading to hurry up.

But if I focus on each one singularly, with love and attention, I’m able to bring some equanimity to each element.

The word of the year…

Equanimity: The ability to calm and centre yourself especially under stress.

When I first read this word, I knew it was the singular most important trait I needed to learn. Most of my reading has been centred around it; learning tools to bring that balance back no matter what stressors pop up in my day.

You can’t control all the stressors in life; but you can change your perceptions, build resilience, and learn to traverse the path of adversity with clarity and a calmness of spirit.

Don’t focus on the line friends…just the beautiful face in front of you.

The rest will be taken care of in due course.

Trust in your abilities. Continue to learn and grow.

Situations, people, opportunity and loss are there for a greater purpose. Open your eyes to the lessons right in your back yard.

Wax on wax off.

Have a great day!

From my heart to yours,

Christine

The Forest vs. the Tree

You know the saying “you can’t see the forest for the trees”…

The other day I was talking with a co-worker and we chatted about the next phase in careers. She told me she hoped one day she would be as knowledgeable as a Senior staff member; and worried how she would she ever get there. She felt defeated that she wasn’t growing as fast as she hoped. Now, this girl is 20 years my Junior and we are at the same phase in careers. For me, I can see the next 20 years for her clearly as I have witnessed her work ethic, intelligence, and wisdom beyond her years. Plus I’ve lived the years she’s about to go through. But she’s staring right at one tree. There’s a whole forest beyond.

As I was explaining that POV to her, I realized I’m staring at one tree too.

Within every stage of life, it’s easy to stare at one tree. The more narrow your focus, the closer you are to that one tree. The bark is all up in your eyeballs.

If you are feeling worried about the details of this stage, remember there is a whole forest beyond it.

A whole world of learning, growing, opportunity.

Take a step back.

Trust in the ever-evolving stages of life and just do your best.

You learn the most when you are handed challenges. Expedited growth, which is a gift when you get out into the forest.

Have a great day!

From my heart to yours,

Christine