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

 

7 Reasons Why Being Over 40 is Ridiculously Awesome

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you be fit at 40?

Of course you can.

Are there more obstacles in your way?

Perhaps

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

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

Numero Uno..1

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

Numero Duh…2

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

Numero twat…3

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

Numero Kitten…4

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

Numero one hand…5

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

Numero half a dozen…6

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

Numero my favourite #…7

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

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

Just do your best!

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

From my 41-yr-old heart to yours,

Christine

p.s. step away from the google

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

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

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

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

Three amazing kids

Two careers

One thankful (but admittedly tired) Mom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I blinked slowly, WHAT?! Are you serious?

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

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

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

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

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

So a great big..HUGE…thank you…

To Mr. Rest-Encourager

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

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

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

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

Bringing it back to Love

I had a conversation the other day with a friend about health and fitness. She said to me: “but it’s easy for you, because you love working out.”

And as customary for me, I over thought that idea. Do I really love working out? Do I love the muscle fatigue when I get to set 3? Do I love the urging my body gives me to just get through a run even though I’d rather be chillin’ on the couch? Do I love visiting the grocery store with sleep nagging at my spirit after an evening shift…knowing if I don’t prepare for my week, I will make horrible nutritional choices?

What it comes down to for me can be surmised into one word…

Love

There was a time when I didn’t love myself and my obese frame was a reflection of my choices. I was stellar at loving everyone around me, but horrible at showing care for myself.

That’s exactly what this journey has been about for me. Unconditional Love, embracing the flaws and all.  The weight loss was a byproduct of finally taking care of myself: Mind, Body, Spirit.

I run because my legs are able and it clears my mind providing clarity.

I lift weights because it mimics life. If you don’t use it you will lose it. I want to be Betty White old…full of vivacious energy and zest of spirit.

All of those fancy weightlifting terms like “Squat, Deadlift, Row, Press”; these are all every day life activities. We all literally squat several times a day, every single time we sit down. We deadlift every time we drop something and pick it up. We row when we pick up our kids. We press when we put dishes away.

I see it as an investment into my children’s future. I want them to visit me at a cottage by the lake when I’m retired, not an old folk’s home.  I want to take care of myself; so no one else has to.

I now look at food as a vehicle to provide me energy, health and vitality.  It’s 100% MY choice. There’s no one else to blame around me for what I put into my body.

I used to play the blame game: if only chips weren’t brought into my house. If only my friend’s didn’t ask me to go for nachos (I will slice a bitch for a plate of nachos…clearly it’s a trigger food for me).

Whatever circumstances that bring you challenges surrounding making positive food choices (whether it’s donuts in the coffee-room, or no time in the morning for breakfast because of your fast paced life), these are your obstacles to overcome. You will either succeed despite these obstacles, or you can continue to blame. It’s all a choice. You have the power of that, and that’s ridiculously freeing when you exercise your right to choose.

I am honestly so thankful for these obstacles when I was not only losing the weight, but also into year 12 of maintaining.  I had/have to create fail-proof strategies to deal with my own issues surrounding food. I choose to turn that into power.

Two years ago, I was shopping in this quaint little store and I stumbled across a necklace that had the following inscribed on it in tiny lettering.

“You always have a choice”. 

I wear it often, it’s a constant reminder that I am the author of my life.

Every day I choose to bring it back to LOVE.

Love for myself.

For my children, family, friends, clients, coworkers.

For strangers I pass on the street. Positive energy is infectious.

I hope you choose LOVE toady in all you do, and if I happen to see you today…I will do my very best to send the most positive vibes your way.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

Life Advice from a Stranger ~ Peter

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

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

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

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

Thank you Peter.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

The Power of Accountability and Friendship

A few of us ladies, all on our own unique path of health and wellness, have decided to combine the power of accountability along with camaraderie.

We are friends who sweat together; yet separately on our own time. lol Like active introverts.

What started out as a way to motivate some of my clients to get their cardio in when they are not in the studio training; has trickled its way right into my heart (and kicked my butt in the process).

The deal was, they were going to text me a photo of their sweaty faces after their workout. With each beautiful sweaty faced text I received, I felt this urging in my spirit to run. I have been very focussed on strength training and less on running my 5K’s which are as important to my soul as it is to my heart. Heart healthy in all the ways.

Run…

Away the daily stresses.

To feel alive.

To feel the sunshine on my face and the wind in my hair.

To feel thankful that I have the ability to run, walk, sprint; when others do not have that luxury (love you Janice).

To remember the strength of the human body and spirit.

To feel that rush of endorphins; even through the uncomfortable.

To live outside my comfort zone. Nothing grows in comfort.

So I ran.

And then I ran again.

With each text I received, I made the time to run. Because I’m just so proud of them it makes my eyeballs leak.

I am so thankful for the genuine connections I have made because of fitness.

These relationships are forged on authenticity, vulnerability, positivity, laughter, and pride in one another’s tenacity to never give up.

To keep pushing through the hard days.

To challenge not only ourselves; but one another.

To fight the urge of complacency because there’s a better way to live. There’s no going back.

Live actively, wholeheartedly, and with determination.

Run on my soul sisters. ❤

From my heart to yours,

Christine