Lifting the Veil

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell the story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Give life and breath to the positive ones.

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

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

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

From my heart to yours,

Christine

On Passion

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

To give purpose to.

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

I will spin it back to one word: Love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bring it back to Love.

What does that mean for the everyday?

Choose Quality.

What makes you feel alive?

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

WHO makes you feel alive?

What makes you laugh, and feel true happiness?

Where does your passion lie?

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

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

I find it within my Miracle Morning.

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

Going for a walk or run outside.

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

Explore.

Finding beauty within the ordinary and the extrodinary: Photography

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

You do You. I do Me.

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

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

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

Good Vibes Only.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

How to Tweak your Program as Life Changes

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

It comes back to the tools…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Squat

Deadlift

Rows/chinups

Presses/pushups

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

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

“I have no time”

“I have an injury”

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

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

I alone am responsible for my health and wellness.

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

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

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

On Intuition

Intuition…

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

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

Until I…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regret and shame are feelings rooted in the Past.

Worry and anxiety are feelings rooted in the Future.

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

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

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

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

Anywhoooo…about intuition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step out of your box my friends.

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

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

From my intuitive heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

 

 

Meal Prep: A Week of Meals in Under Two Hours

Now that I’m on a different time-table, I have decided to do one big cook on Sundays that will last the week (rather than a couple cooks in a week).

As I type this it’s 7:00 p.m., and I started this big cook at 5:00.

I usually make 2 proteins. Some sort of veggies (often added to all the dishes). Healthy grains. And a soup.  I add a variety of veggies: onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, celery, etc. within some of the dishes.

So here are my meals for the week (and I can mix and match)…

Top left to right: Quinoa, Butternut Squash, Korean BBQ Chicken Breast with Mushrooms/Green Peppers

Bottom left to right: Ground Turkey/Veggies/Salsa, Spaghetti Squash, Mexican Taco Soup

I always do a ground turkey or chicken/veg fry which can be a topper for salads, omelettes, spaghetti, soup, or multi-grain wraps.

My sauce/seasonings to almost all proteins is olive oil, or Balsamic vinegar of Modena, or Salsa and whatever seasonings I enjoy: chilli powder, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, etc. Pick your flava-flave.

The Veggie base to all proteins is usually onions, garlic, peppers, cauliflower rice, celery…whatever I have in my fridge. I tell the kids the specks of colour is flavour. They gobble it right up.

So fry your veg/ground turkey or chicken up using whatever seasonings/veg you like…

You now have a base for a whole bunch of different meals. Yay you!

Then throw some chicken breasts in the oven.  I enjoy a little Korean BBQ sauce and seasonings/veggies on top. I bake that while I’m frying up the ground chicken.

Meanwhile on another burner…I cook up some Quinoa. This can be served on the bottom of your ground turkey fry, with your chicken breasts, or made into a salad. A healthy carb with added benefit of protein. 2:1 water/quinoa.

I baked my butternut squash and spaghetti squash in the same oven. Cut it in half, drizzle with olive oil/a bit of brown sugar/cinnamon/salt/pepper. Roast skin side up at 375/400 for around 45 min. Squash is a tasty carb and full of vitamins/minerals/nutrients (also fairly low GI). It’s great fuel for workouts.

In a big pot I made my soup.  There’s this lovely family at the farmer’s market who sells soup kits. This one is Mexican Taco.  I added water/stock, and fried up the same base as I did the ground turkey (onions, garlic, peppers, cauliflower rice, celery, tomatoes). Then I mixed in the soup mix, and let that all simmer and chill for about a half hour.

That ground turkey or chicken topper? …put it on top of the soup after (so that topper can be used for other meals as well)

All my burners/oven were used. And while everything was cooking, I cut up some veggies to throw into baggies for snacks. Washed up some fruit for snacks too.

Now when I come home after work, it’s all there and ready for warming up.  I have a bunch of variety to pack for lunches too. No excuses not to eat healthy. For two hours of work, I save myself so much time and energy. Preparation is key for me.

I hope this helps! I get asked about meal prep often, so I thought I would devote a post to it. 🙂

Happy cooking!

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

A Left Shoe on the Right Foot and Fancy Pants

I used to be afraid of change. I like things to stay the same. Because it’s what I’m used to. I become comfortable even within discomfort. Like when kids puts their shoes on the wrong feet so many times, they start thinking it’s the way it’s supposed to be.

I wore a left shoe on the right foot…which was the wrong foot for a very long time in my early stages of adulting.

You see life isn’t supposed to stay the same. Seasons change. People grow apart, and some grow closer.

It’s all part of life and keeping balanced. Of learning and growing stronger in Mind/Body/Spirit.

When I started stepping out of my comfort zone, amazing shifts started transpiring within my life.

Last summer I spent a few weeks doing something uncomfortable daily. It was scary for me, but I learned a lot. I met many people who shared a different point of view on life. I ran further than ever before. I stripped off my makeup and learned to love my true reflection. Appreciated the laugh lines for the joy they showed.  I let go of relationships that were not equal. I learned to back up a trailer, and hauled it all over camping. Water-skied again. Ate weird foods. Drove the long way home. Hiked new paths. I dove into reading subject areas where I had little knowledge of. I took rest days when my body needed them (which was uncomfortable for my mind).

Within the discomfort came an awakening of my spirit. To challenge my thought processes. Listen more, talk with intention. Be myself. Imperfect and Authentic.

As I am going into this New Year, I am again in a place of making changes. I look at change more so as course correction now. Aligning my children’s needs, my needs, with actions that are within my control. I have one life. It’s my job to design the best life possible for my family.

I am starting a new job next week within customer service at a bank. I love customer service; so I’m excited! I need to shop for fancy pants…all my pants are of the yoga variety. 😉

I will have more time to rebuild my life with my kids in the way they need me to be here. They school, and I’ll work while they learn. Home together for supper around the table.

I’m very grateful for the past two years of life experience as I trained. I’m amazed by each tenacious, hard-working, motivated person who crossed my path. Thank you to all who positively affected my journey along the way. You have no idea of the impact you made on my life.

It was a  gift to my soul within perfect timing and I will miss seeing those I trained often. More importantly, I will miss supporting them every week. But I know I will always have those bonds we’ve built and I’m grateful for that. Always here for you my friends with love and support. You can always find me here (and plus most of you have my digits ha!) I’ll just support you in a new and different way.

When I first made the decision to make a job change, it felt very selfish…however, I’ve learned that self-love and taking the time to rebuild is not selfish. It’s imperative for a joy-filled, authentic, happy life full of purpose and pride. I’m doing my best to raise my kids to be amazing adults.  I have learned to listen to my instincts and course correct as my situation changes and evolves.

So here’s to change. Growth. Learning. New!

If you have fear over making a change in your life, focus on just doing your best. Go into each day observing the thoughts of fear that may come up, and literally push them out. Those fear drenched thoughts are much like a child having a tantrum. There is no place in your life for fear. Fear is future based. And you are living RIGHT NOW in this present moment.

If you feel guilt or regret, that is your past talking. Again, take solace in the beauty of today.  You don’t live in your past anymore. Waste no time on worry or doubt…they are senseless emotions that will only serve to keep you stuck and complacent.

You are strong, resilient, and you have the power over your perceptions.

Simply do your best. That’s all you can do. But truly dig deeper and challenge yourself to in fact do your best.

I often have to check myself when I have moments of free-time. I sometimes waste that free time feeling guilty about what I “should” be doing…the virtual to-do list within my mind. Why not take that time to enjoy whatever it is that will refresh my soul, and then go back to work. Enjoy a sunset. Take a nap. Visit with a friend without interruptions of technology. Read a good book. Go for walk. Laugh! Shoulder dance in my kitchen. ha!

One part Chill, One part Driven. Yin/Yang

This year was a great one! I am happy. My kids are doing great and they are happy too.  We have open good communication. I met so many amazing people, and had some cool opportunities come my way.  If you are strolling by the magazine stands, I’m in Optimyz magazine’s December/January issue.

Change is good.

One life.

Take risks.

Trust in yourself…you got this!

Happy New Year from my heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

 

 

On Authenticity

I was raised to be polite. Give more than I take. Be grateful at every turn.

While these traits are important within the balance of a purpose-filled life, I did so at the cost of my authenticity.

Authenticity: “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character
is sincere and authentic with no pretensions”

The key word in the definition above for me is Spirit. When I honour the core of who I am…my spirit…I am being authentic.

I came back to a book I read a couple of years ago: “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz   The last of the 4 agreements is “Always do your best”.  My best will change from day-to-day based on the energy I have and the reality of what’s going on in my life.

Some days I’m top shelf, other days I’m proud to just show up.

I realized today that my best is to be authentically me.  My best is not what others want of and from me. There will always be a level of expectation within relationships, and obviously careers; however…

I have ignored my gut at times in order to be “polite”.

I have given of my energy to the wrong people who didn’t treat me with respect.

I have been grateful for terrible events that have come up in my life when I should have felt whatever feelings came about as a result. I pacified the anger or grief with positivity and gratitude.

So I’m just doing Me. In all of life’s messy and life’s beauty.  Both are the reality of everyone’s life.

My spirit is giving, kind, harmonious and loving. But it’s also stubborn, tenacious, sassy, justice seeking, and fiercely protective of my rights and freedom.

My goal is to create a truly authentic, joy filled life with genuine relationships.  Ambiguity be gone.  I and YOU deserve a circle of influence full of strength, support, acceptance, and love. And we can be that for others. In fact, Positive OUT comes before Positive IN. But to be a positive person does not mean I need to pacify my feelings.  I learned that this year as I’ve worked on my character.

I will navigate the rough and gentle waters within my life with grace and dignity, and sometimes with lack of grace and dignity ;)…which is ridiculously authentic. I’m both put together, and wildly disheveled.  There’s always a dark and a light side. I will strive to find the light, but the dark is nothing to fear.

Through figuring out who I am as a woman even more this year, I’ve learned when you have the courage to stand in the truth of your spirit, you will attract the same kinda vibe within the people who walk into your world.

I’m doing my best.

From my heart to yours,

Christine