Private Healing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

The Simplistic Beauty of Giving

My reading this morning was on the spirit of giving.

Simplistically beautiful giving.

As I go into my workday, I will focus on uplifting others who cross my path.  Working at a bank, there’s many in a day.

How can I uplift their spirit within that 5 minute window?

The smallest kind word can create grow in impact; you never know what another is struggling with. But you can feel it within the way they hold themselves, their tone, how they interact.   There’s  nothing more monotonous than standing in line at a bank, I remember that by the time they reach me.

Just give a little kindness and understanding.

That’s literally all I’m going to focus on within every interaction today.

I have 100 some odd chances to brighten another’s day today. That’s how I think about it…how many chances will I get today to spread a little good?

Giving does not have to be grandiose or extravagant. The spirit of giving lives within a welcoming smile, a door held open, a genuine compliment, a listening ear, within the song of laughter.

Have a great day! I hope someone shows a little kindness to you today. You are loved.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

The Heart of Balance

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

What you resist will persist…as the saying goes.

Catch 22

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

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

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

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

It’s not about fitting into a certain size.

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

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

It’s seeking the middle.

Balanced.

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

I struggle with the extreme side of the fitness industry.

Push past physical pain.

Eat your boiled chicken and steamed broccoli.

Skip dinners out with friends or loved ones.

Devote all your free time to sweating in the gym.

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

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

Never fit enough.

Never strong enough.

Just never enough…

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

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

The Why’s.

The heart of drive which lives behind action.

I am seeking the middle.

Living in the right now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The little bits of happiness that weave a big happy.

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

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

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

I wish the same for you…

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

The Trap of Self-Deprecation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you don’t use it you will lose it.

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

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

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

That’s all I have to say about that!

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

A Post of Uplifting if you Need it

Life has ebbs and flows. High highs and low lows.

Often, I didn’t even recognize one of life’s Highs until after I passed it. Like when I’m driving to work, and I see a group of Moms huddled together with their coffee’s after dropping the older kids off at school. The younger kids are chillin’ in wagons drinking juice boxes while the Mom’s talk about life. I recognize now, that stage was one of my highs in life. Simplistic and beautiful.

However, when I am in a low…oh man, do I know it.

The times of adversity in life are easy to spot. Where it’s hard to lift the head off that pillow every morning and darkness settles in. THEN you miss those light times and wonder why you didn’t recognize that light.

So, if you find yourself in a low, here’s what I want you to know (because I’ve been there).

While it may not feel this way, you have been handed the gift of expedited growth of Mind, Body, and Spirit if you choose that. It’s easy to feel confident, strong, prideful and loving to others when you are in a high time; however, when life’s rug is pulled out from under you…that’s the true test.

You will learn so much about yourself and others. Who your true friends are. The tricky part if letting go and moving forward without holding onto anger and resentment. Let go, for nothing is personal to you. You never know what others are going through too. And sometimes our tricky times in life is simply like holding up a mirror to another.

The only person you can change is you. So now that you are in this place..

Who are you?

Who do you want to be?

What life do you want to create?

The answers to those questions are found within the lows. I realized my lows were a gift to my spirit and my character. They were and are a time of awakening. The phase I can actively choose love over fear. To rise up and meet the challenge to be extraordinary within ordinary pain. Because pain is ordinary. We all have it in some form or fashion.

We are actually not separate at all, we are one in suffering.

Be intentional with your time. Find these elements in life which make you feel alive! If the true joy in life is feeling fulfillment, purpose, and meaning…then where do you find that? Seek purpose. Identity what is meaningful to you.

For me, I find fulfillment and purpose within true giving. I expect nothing in return. It’s not “what can I get?” but rather “What can I give?”.

Develop your intuition to listen to your body/mind/spirit. Rest when you need to and then use that energy for purpose YOU believe as fulfilling.

Rebuild with quality.

Quality relationships built on respect, acceptance, and genuine care.

Quality career where you just do your best. Actions + Words = Integrity

Quality down time. In the lows there is hermit time…that’s OK! No guilt there! Rebuilding is tricky business, but recognize that you will feel recharged to go out into the world again and do the things that make you feel empowered.

Find the fun in life.

Try new things.

Explore.

Find the fun within movement: kayak, hike, go paint-balling, throw a dodge ball at  a trampoline park, swim, waterslide…find that inner kid again. Remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t wait to create and play every. single. day?

I want to encourage you to frame the lows with this truth: All the experiences in your life have brought you to this place. There are no mistakes. You are faced with forks in the road, and choices to make. Choose Love over Fear. If you choose love, you’ll mould yourself stronger than you’ve ever been. That love has to start with yourself. Treat YOU as well, or hell…even better than you treat those you love most.

You will become an elevated version of yourself.

You 2.0

The lows breed compassion and empathy.

All that pain and discomfort will transform into peace, understanding, and happiness. Anxiety and fear of the unknown is replaced with inner calm and assurance. But you have to choose that. 

Remember, you always have a choice.

Choose to stay within the discomfort and not run from it or numb it with external factors. You won’t find purpose within food, alcohol, material possessions, insert numbing facet here. Numbing just forces you deeper into the pit of self-loathing and you deserve better than that.

You deserve to feel accepted, loved, and appreciated.

Choose for yourself exactly what you hope for your children.

Choose love my friends.

Rebuild with quality.

And then one day you’ll be minding your business, and you’ll recognize the familiarity of a low within another. Some strangers. Some friends you’ve grown with for years. Some you let go of. But you’ve now been gifted and equipped with tools to uplift another because you are one within that low.

It’s also within those moments you’ll realize how far you’ve come. How much you’ve grown. How beautiful this life is and how wildly unpredictable.

One life.

Create whatever you wish it to be.

Fulfilled.

Purposeful.

Full of meaning.

All within your power.

Lift your head, it will all be OK. Better than OK!

Extraordinary. Exceptional. Top Shelf.

You got this!

From my heart to yours,

Christine.

13 Years at Goal

I missed my 13 year anniversary of reaching my goal weight as I went away to the lake to visit family.  Last year was the year of Law of Attraction (thankful that has continued) and this was the year of Course Correction.

Keeping with tradition, here’s a few lessons I learned in year 13. I’m going to write this just as I would in my morning journal. Like a little wisdom letter from present me to past me (and hope for future me).

Course Correction

Time is a gift. Use it wisely. If something within my life isn’t working, correct my course. Even if it’s a small correction…it has the power to eventually change my entire trajectory. Align my actions with my values. I already know what those are.

Develop and Trust My Instincts

Listen to that inner voice within that guides me. Make good choices. Choices that matter! In order to truly listen and tune into that inner voice, I have to build it. I have learned that meditation, prayer and quiet time can strengthen instinct. Ask questions, be still and listen. Tune out distractions. Observe and pay attention.

Carve Out “Me Time”

Stop being addicted to busy. Busy is the new buzz word. “I’m soooo busy”. Ok, so is everyone else. But there’s always time for what’s important. And it is also important to take time for myself. Even if that means getting up earlier. Learn to centre myself so that no matter where I am, I can bring back that sense of peace and calm. Create my own little zen zone. Within my home and within my mind.

Be Quiet

This is still tricky for me! I adore good conversation. The kind that makes me think and re-evaluate my position. Question my past thought patterns. I respect those who make me think (and if you make me laugh, that’s double adore). But sometimes, I get so caught up in formulating a response, I miss the point. I also enjoy those who check me when I’m not listening. Thank you. So Listen to understand. Be quiet. Someone once told me that because they were so shy and reserved, they found out so much information about others because most people are uncomfortable with silence. They will fill it with truth talk. Be. Quiet.

Love is Not Attachment

Oooh this one almost needs it’s own dedicated post. But it’s all about knowing my worth and loving others purely without conditions.  Giving others freedom to walk away if they wish, and because I value myself, my worth is not dependant on another. When others walk….is there sadness? Will I miss them?  Sure.  But that doesn’t mean I feel bad about myself in any way. Everyone deserves love without conditions or expectations placed, and if I’m truly authentic…I’ll attract my tribe. And I will KNOW what is right for me and what is not. I can create a cool little circle of trust and connection. But it’s not attachment. Love is freedom.

Give without Expectation

Give with a thankful heart. If it’s rooted in guilt or to appease another…it’s not pure giving. Giving is a wonderful thing! It’s a way to give back to another I care about. So if I’m going to do it, make sure it’s pure unconditional giving with no strings attached. It’s one of life’s happy little gifts that costs nothing, and the rewards are always great.

Do What You Love

I have a shirt I bought years ago that says “Do what you Love”

Farm girls make a wood pile. May Long 2018

That phrase didn’t mean a lot to me until I became very intentional with my time and energy. I shifted careers in search of balance with my children. I work, they school, and together we meet after the day is done. It’s been an amazing shift for my kids and I. I truly do love what I do. I literally get paid to visit and help people. No matter where I am, if it’s in service of others, I’m all about it.  I find fulfillment within giving.  I’ve learned a lot about serving others at my job. I still come home with energy and that’s a wonderful thing!

Find the Ways My Body Enjoys Movement

The best form of exercise is the one you enjoy. Run. Jog. Walk. Kayak. Go for a bike ride. Lift heavy  things. Play a sport. Just play. Enjoy the freedom of challenging the body. That feeling of being alive within movement….oh it’s so good! Because if you don’t use it, you will lose it. That’s the truth.

Sit in Grief and Then Build the Good Stuff

No more running from the tricky stuff. Do I have the courage to sit within loss? Grieve. Let go. Actually feel the feelings, no more numbing anything.  Become comfortable within discomfort. And then focus on creating positive memories. Intentionally bring conscious awareness to the good stuff by bringing all the senses into an amazing moment. You see, that’s where a memory is built. Drink it in. Mindful and with intention.

Be Ever Mindful of My Energy

Energy is infectious. If it’s off, take time to get it right agin. And then spread the happy, uplifting, positive. You never know how that may impact another. I do know how uplifting energy has impacted my life. I am so grateful for the energy-givers in my world.

Find My Voice

I think I say this every year, but finding my voice has been a very long road. Sometimes the voice I use is not authentic; and I feel it in my soul when I don’t speak my truth. When I would rather appease than speak up. When I stay silent rather than standing up for what’s right for my heart. Check myself.  Words + Actions = Integrity.

Thank you to all who continue to uplift, support, and encourage me. I hope I do the same for you. I will keep on trying to do my best in that area.

I found a whole lot of happy and fulfillment this year, and I’m excited to keep on learning and growing. I don’t even fear the tricky stuff anymore. I do not fear loss or discomfort within the new. I’ve intentionally sought ways to be uncomfortable and challenge myself this year, and surrounded myself with others who do the same.

The challenge within transition builds a strength of character. You not only find out who you are in your spirit, but also who stands tall beside you.

And whatever you do…

Stand tall and proud.

One precious joy fill life.

Live it well my friends.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

 

 

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