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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simply.

In perfect timing.

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

Give it breath.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random stranger gas station story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

check. check. check.

From my happy grateful heart to yours,

Christine

 

12 Years at Goal

Today is the 12 year anniversary of reaching my goal weight. Every year, I write a blog post of what I’ve learned through another year of maintaining. I don’t think there’s enough time to articulate all the lessons I’ve learned this year, but if I could sum it up, it would be the year of Law of Attraction.

You attract what you think about. Thoughts become things.

Further to just “thinking” about the elements you wish to attract into your life, you have to put in the work. The action. So I think it’s more accurate to say my thoughts turned into actions this year and I stopped simply dreaming and starting putting those dreams to work.

I have a better understanding of who I am as a Mom, sister, daughter, friend, trainer. I focussed less on what I knew well…my escape and comfort zone of photography, and more time on the act of being purposefully uncomfortable. Nothing grows within your comfort zone. I have spent every morning for over a year focussing my thoughts during my Miracle Morning. It has transcended into every facet of my life in a way I could have never imagined.

It has definitely not been easy to focus on my thoughts on the positive… every. single. day.  Nor has it been easy to turn my thoughts back to Love when negative emotions creep into my day. We are rooted within two emotions. Love and Fear. What am I choosing in my day? That has been my soul seeking quest for months, to not only find answers; but to always bring the answer back to Love.

Among the most important life lessons of this past year is Happiness is a Choice. When I take the time to get up early and set my mind up in a positive, goal-dreaming/action orientated way… my day (most often than not) has aligned itself magically right along with whatever I have focussed on. 😉

I still seek balance…

There’s always an hour in the week to MAKE time for a glass of red with a friend. The kind of friends who support and uplift you and want the best for you. They celebrate your successes, and support you through the hard times. Pick wisely the energy you are around. It’s contagious.

The 80/20 rule still works for me. I’m on point with my nutrition 80% of the time, and the other 20% I relax and just eat mindful (even if it’s a nice meal out).

If I have nothing to laugh about in my life, or if my life isn’t that “fun”…. I can create fun. Live a little and laugh at yourself. Seek out positive, uplifting people who share the same mind-set as you. Just be yourself, and like-minded people will be drawn to you. Authenticity attracts authenticity. Let your weird flag fly.

If you are over 30, start lifting weights. As we age we naturally lose muscle mass, and the only way to get it back is to build it. You will not get bulky, but rather think of it like you are building a home on a foundation of bricks. You walk taller with better posture, and you won’t hurt yourself doing mundane tasks….because of the bricks thingy. Don’t know how to lift with proper form? Go hire a personal trainer. 😉 Oh and your metabolism will thank you too.

I have definitely become more humble this year. I have been knocked down a peg or two, and I’m so grateful for that.I’m more outgoing in some ways, and more protective in others. I have laughed a lot, and worked through a lot too. I am more grateful, compassionate and empathetic. I love deeper and I’m more open; however, I learned the important lesson of putting up boundaries to honour what I need at this stage in my life. It’s an act of self-love. You can’t give so much to everyone and not take care of yourself. You will pay the consequences if you do, in your body/mind/spirit. And those who truly love you will understand and respect those boundaries.

Most importantly, I go into another year uplifted, hopeful, and thankful. Being at my healthy weight still feels new to me, even 12 years later. There’s no going back, only forward living with pride and a gratitude.

From my thankful heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

Weight Loss is a Byproduct of Self-Love

I had an epiphany this morning as I was journalling.

Taking good care of myself, and in turn others, is the highest form of self-love.  Long-term weight loss has been possible for me, not because I have attempted to fit into a certain size clothing nor because I was striving to achieve societal standards of what a woman “should” look like. It truly is a byproduct of Love…simplifying the way I am intended to live.

~Within Love~

This is how we are designed right from the moment we were but one single cell.

To ignite the fire of change within your lifestyle, all it takes is a shift of your perspective away from the pressure of aesthetics and instead onto love. 

I’m going to attempt to explain my thought pattern here; however, it’s tricky to articulate a feeling.

I show respect for my body by eating foods high in nutritional value (vitamins, minerals, nutrients) so I have the most energy for my life and my kids as possible. I understand there are certain foods that trigger emotional eating for me, so I create a no-fail environment. If I’m tempted to eat my trigger food, I actually put myself in the emotional state that I feel after I eat them. Sluggish, self-deprecation, loss of control.  Those are not the thoughts I want to live within, so no thank you 🙂

I have the ability to pick my fuel, and so why would I pick low-quality fuel such as simple carbohydrates which quickly convert into sugar and have me on a roller coaster of temporary energy only to crash moments later? My goal is to feel my best physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So I will choose foods that come from the earth and have an expiration date. 🙂

I am thankful for my health and the ability to move freely.  Think about the times when you are sick with the flu and bed-ridden, how grateful are you when you feel better? You have this new lease on life, and you breathe deeply with gratitude. Those feelings can fade quickly however, and we fall back into complacency and forget that our health is a gift.

I will always be reminded of this as my sister is confined to a wheel chair because of MS. She would give ANYTHING to get up and run again.  To take that for granted would not only be selfish of me; but a huge disrespect and disservice to my sister. I know exactly how she would be living today if MS had not robbed her physical health. She would run circles around me with her characteristic Janice laugh. So I will run because I’m able. And I’m so very grateful for the ability to run, jump, move, and grow in strength.

The human body is a miraculous machine, the more you challenge it with new movements within your abilities, the stronger and more agile you become. How amazing is that?!

I will drink lots of water as we are made of water. Common sense tells me it’s essential for optimal health. And truly, what an easy way to maintain health. Just march right up to your tap and pour yourself a glass. Further to that, I am blessed that I have running water and a fridge stocked with food. Many are not afforded that luxury.  I remind myself of that often when the most ridiculous excuses creep into my mind and out of my mouth “I don’t have time to eat right and I don’t like the taste of water.”  I can’t imagine saying that to someone who does not have access to clean water nor a grocery store down the street (and money to buy a weeks worth of groceries).

And finally, I will strive everyday to live a life of purpose, gratitude, pride and love. Invest in my spirit so that I can love others wholeheartedly. Give of my time and abilities to those who need it most; just as I have needed it so many times in my life when I was unsure about my future and overwhelmed with sadness.

Listen more, talk less. Connection with others lies within meaningful communication which is a two-way street. How many conversations have I had that are ego based, formulating my response without listening to the words of another? Be aware.

This is a my journey to love myself because I need my kids to love themselves too.

This is a call to be the best version of myself because I have this one precious life, and time is valuable. Use it wisely.

What kind of life do I want to live? Even during times when I’m not exactly where I would hope to be at certain stages, I still had the luxury of time and the ability to turn another’s day around with a little uplifting and kindness. Giving is so good for the heart and soul.  It connects us to one another.

Spread a little positivity.

Laugh freely.

Smile for no other reason than the fact I have my health today when another maybe living in a hospital bed. My happiness does not come from others; but rather from within and a higher power.

Run or go for a walk today because you are able.

Eat healthy foods today because you have the ability to make a choice in the fuel you put into your body.

Living in gratitude and love is a choice. Today (and everyday) I choose a life of wholehearted living. How ridiculously amazing is that my friends?!!? ha!

I hope this post made sense, I had quite the morning of thinking. I wish for you a life full of pride, joy, and purpose.

From my grateful heart to yours,

Christine