On being Selfish

I was raised to give, give, give. Give of your best always. If there’s one piece of anything left, give it to your friend. While I am so thankful for this lesson, it has come at a cost as I misinterpreted it; of which I am only now realizing.

I understand it now, because I have kids and I spend much time dreaming about their future.

As I was reading/writing this morning, I realized that what I want most for my kids is to Yes, be giving; but not at the cost of their own needs and dreams.

In order to truly give authentically, you have to give to yourself. Which means you treat YOU just as you would those you love most.  Because giving all you have to others, leaves you feeling depleted emotionally and your spirit will suffer.

What does giving to yourself look like? Tangibly…

Take a walk in the sun and take in the beauty around you.

Say no to elements which robs you of your happiness.

Surround yourself with positive like-minded people who truly care about your happiness and goals. And who stand by you even at your lowest.

Eat to nourish your body.

Move to feel alive.

Share, connect, be courageous enough to be vulnerable, listen, be honest and impeccable with your word.

Take time in silence every day. Turn off the TV. Put down your phone.

Read a book in the most comfiest corner of your home and sip your coffee/tea slowly. Remember we are on a lifelong quest to grow in grace, strength, character and knowledge. THAT is what will aid you in giving more to others. The investment in yourself.

Take a day trip to somewhere that makes your soul happy and your eyes thirsty for more.

Smile freely, laugh often, love deeply.

Be selfish with your time as you honour what YOU need in order to move forward in life. And to be clear, it’s not selfish at all, it’s called “self-care”. I often have to sit back and think “Am I doing this because it’s what THEY need, or is it what I need?” And sometimes you need to recharge yourself and take time to think things through. And that’s OK! I know after taking time for me, I’ll come out of it with kick-ass positivity that will transcend into every element of my life. Friendships, parenting, careers, new experiences…all toward the greater good of living my best life, which I am designing by my thoughts and actions.

As important as it is to GIVE, please remember to give to yourself too. Hold yourself in as high-esteem as you do those you love most. And just watch what amazing experiences/people/opportunities unfold in your life as a result.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

For Every Person Who has Ever Stood in Tears in a Change Room

Last week my daughter and I had a shopping date for a swimsuit. As we were going through styles, I could see she was already getting anxious. I tried my best to lighten the mood and make it a fun experience.

We found one I knew would look beautiful on her, and I waited outside the change room. It became evident after a while, she was having a hard time. She finally said I could see and opened the change room doors.

My brilliant, kind-hearted, creative girl looked stunning in her new swimsuit and then I realized she had tears in her eyes. My heart dropped, but this was the time for strength & uplifting. 

When we got to the car after, I asked her why she was sad. She told me she didn’t like how she looked in a swimsuit. I said a prayer in my head to find the right words. We sat together in the parking lot and we talked about body image and to be proud of our bodies for all it can do. It does not define us. It is a miraculous vehicle to enjoy life.

To jump on the trampoline with friends through laughter.

Legs that can run with reckless abandon.

Strong arms to hug those she loves.

But most importantly, I needed my sweet brave girl to know what I appreciate most about her is her kind heart, willful witty spirit, and the most creative brain I’ve ever met.

She is perfect just as she is.

We talked about how health is about loving yourself, not about shame over not fitting into a mould. We sat tall and proud in the car, shoulders back, chin up, proud of who we are as little/big ladies.

Now that I’m sitting here thinking, I need to be responsible for my role in her self-esteem; especially being that I work in the fitness industry. And this is WHY I chose this career. This is a journey of self-love.

Yes, I wish I loved myself more back when I was at my heaviest. I was worthy then, I’m worthy now. It has nothing to do with what a facking scale says.

This is for every person who stood in a change room in tears (I’ve been there), and can collect themselves after and regroup their thoughts away from aesthetics and onto who we are as people.

Choose your words wisely around your kids, but also to yourself.

This has been a call to me to be more loving and intentional with my words.

And to end this, when we got home, she put on her swimsuit and walked across the house with confidence. Her head was up and she walked with sass. ha! love it.

From my 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

 

 

 

A Challenge for You ~ Dream a Little Today

Good Morning! I have a challenge for you today. It’s about dreaming and aspiring.

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 8.39.38 AM

I want you to write absolutely everything you dream, want and hope for your children. If you don’t have kids, pick someone you love a ridiculous amount. If you could wish for success in every facet of their lives, what would that look like?

Break it down into the core needs of every person. Physical, emotional and spiritual.

What would you want your kids to know as they embark into a life of independence?

What I want for my kids:

Physical: To stay active in body which also filters into the spirit. To take care of themselves out of respect and love for who they are as amazing people. To push outside of their comfort zone a little each day, to the best of their abilities. To never fear the uncomfortable; but rather embrace it so they can get stronger. To run because they have legs that allows them to. To fully experience the strength of the human body if you just challenge it. I hope they enjoy their rest days too, balance is key.

Emotional: I want my kids to truly understand their worth so they will only ever accept respect from others. I know they are raised with a great value system and place importance on how they treat others. So I wish that they not only accept the same in return but expect it (because they lead by example). And further to that, I hope they will put up boundaries where they need to or let go of friendships/relationships that don’t align with who they are as people. You can let go of people and still be respectful. I hope they have high self-efficacy…that core belief in their abilities to reach any goal they set their mind to. I hope their self-esteem is ridiculously high; yet they stay humble and modest. I dream for their happiness. The kind of happiness that they exude in every action and reaction. That they will have an authentic positive energy that is infectious to others.

Spiritual: I hope my kids will always look to God for their strength and understand that they are a very tiny speck in this universe. They have been given one life to live so do so with purpose and direction. I hope they take time to be grateful daily for every blessing in their lives and pay it forward.

So what do you dream for those you love? Write it down now and then before reading further, come back to this post. I’m patient I’ll wait 😉  (insert elevator music here…actually I’ll go find a song)

 


Now here’s your last challenge: After you write it all out, read it again but reframe it within your mind…What if these are also the hopes and dreams for yourself? Have you quit dreaming for yourself too? I hope not.

We put so much of our hearts and souls into those we love; and we lose ourselves within dreaming for others.

It’s not only OK to dream for yourself (it’s not selfish), it’s necessary.

How do we expect our children/loved ones to learn from us if we have checked out of life? One foot in front of the other…day after day. Settling for comfort zones, the uninspired, the average.

If your kids approached you and said “I’m really looking forward to a life of mediocrity where everyday is like ground hogs day. I will live in complacency. I will fear challenge. Maybe I’ll live with you forever because it sure is comfy here and you have a well-stocked fridge.”   Would that be Ok with you? Of course not…so don’t settle for that in YOUR life too.

Read those dreams daily. Take action for not only those you love, but for yourself too. Because you are ridiculously amazing and worthy of an amazing life rich in purpose and happiness.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

A Note of Encouragement

Recently, my friend Paula tagged me on Facebook to a post on a page called “The Weigh We Were“, created by Kat Carney, who shared my story. Thank you Kat! I was very touched reading everyone’s comments; others just like me who are in various stages of their own journey to reclaim their life.

If you stumbled across my blog and are new here, welcome!

This is me…then. and now.

Chrissy 10 years

It was on my heart this morning to write a post to those who are just starting out on their own health journey, or maybe you are struggling within it. I clearly remember the confusion and frustration that surrounded the first few months into this lifestyle. What should I eat, how much should I exercise, is this even working, why does the scale hate me?

As cliché as this sounds, there is no truer statement: If I can do it, anyone can.

A little over a decade ago, when I made the decision to tackle my health issues, I was as sedentary as I could possibly be. I would have picked things up with one of those little robot arms if I had one. I would scooter places if I in fact owned a scooter. I would have jumped on the back of anyone climbing stairs if it was socially acceptable. You see..I don’t know how I got there, I somehow lost myself within raising kids, working, and juggling responsibilities as my hubby worked away for weeks at a time. I buried it all within food, never in front of anyone. I shut people out. I was in my own self-created world of self-loathing. I lived within a frame that I didn’t feel was my own. I felt trapped and alone. I didn’t see then that I had a “get out of jail free” card right at my finger tips. I didn’t know the strength of my spirit.

I can remember every single feeling from that old life, and that’s why I’m so passionate about uplifting, encouraging, and motivating others who just might relate. So if you can relate, here are a few words of encouragement from my heart to yours…

~You can absolutely do this! If your goal is a big one, please don’t get discouraged. Break it up into small manageable goals and give yourself permission to feel pride. True pride that you earned. Small step or not, it’s a step forward. Any step forward is a positive one.

~Positive Out, Positive In.  When you put out the positive it just can’t help but come back to you. Rather than looking for positive, it’s completely within your control to create it. Just be. And then watch how positivity comes flooding back multiplied. It’s crazy how that works, but it does.

~No more making excuses for destructive behaviour. This was a big one for me. I always had an excuse why it wasn’t the right time or I would blame others for my choices. I’m too busy. My kids need me. I have no energy. Others bring junk food into my house. And on and on the wheel of excuses rolled. When I made no room for excuses, I had no other choice but to just do it. Get off the couch and move. Stop eating my issues way. Because the truth was, and continues to be, my kids need me to be healthy. They need me to have energy (which I now realize I created the no-energy state I used to live in). And most importantly they need me to be a role model. The idea that my kids would one day grow up and not truly experience the beauty of life within love, energy, and vibrance is a devastating thought. Why was I settling for that as my reality? What was I scared of?

~Change the way you view your goals. It’s importantly to have tangible and attainable goals, but what exactly are they? If it’s a certain size or number on the scale, that leaves you vulnerable to failure. What if you changed your goals to healthy/fitness goals? Even if your end goal is a number on the scale, if you incorporate health and fitness goals as well and put significance on them, you are setting yourself up for success. These goals might be: run for 1 minute straight…which turns into 2 minutes, to 5 minutes, to 10 minutes, etc. Or I will drink 8 glasses of water daily. Or I will walk 12,000 steps daily. Or I will eat 5-7 servings of veggies daily. Or I will cut out pop and creamer in my coffee…pick your healthy goal. You can literally be successful several times a day, and before you know it these goals just become a way of life. A lifestyle that feeds your energy and spirit and you can’t handle the thought of going back to your old lifestyle. It’s simply not an option.

Real change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing ~ Tony Robbins

~You are enough. You are worthy. You are beautiful, vibrant, intelligent. Start looking at yourself through the eyes of those you love most. Start talking to yourself just as you talk to your kids, your partner, your friends and family. Negative self-talk can crush the spirit. Anytime a negative thought pops into your head, replace it with positivity. Remember you are in control of this aspect. Take back that power. You want a different lifestyle…then go after it. No waiting. No excuses. Create the life you desire.

Have a great day! Drop me a line if you need support or have questions.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

A Beautiful Life within the Details

I woke up to the first rays of morning light diffused through our bedroom window. It’s been such a long winter, oh how I appreciate the sunlight and the above zero temperatures.

Wiping sleep from my eyes and patting down wisps of crazy hair, I walk down the stairs to the kitchen. Why is every light on? I remark inwardly that my oldest son must have gotten up for his 11 p.m. snack of a couple of buns with melted peanut butter. As my coffee brews, I look out into the back yard willing the grass to turn from brown to green. I decide I’ll go look for patches of green later in the day, the firsts signs of spring will melt the icicles off of any Albertan’s heart.

Coffee in hand, I check my calendar to see what is on the agenda for this week. I always feel one step behind with work, kid’s after-school stuff, and kid’s school assignments. I mentally take note of this week’s tasks: 2 photo shoots (pretty excited for these), a school bake sale, my first attempt at hot yoga with a friend, Volunteer tea at the school, School forms to hand in, and packing to visit family for Easter. No one tells you that you will feel like you are going back to school when you have kids.

I feel that familiar nagging sense…the monkey that was chillin’ in the corner, meanders over, wraps his little monkey hands around my long neck and then settles onto my back. Hello Monkey on my back, haven’t felt you for a day.

I wonder what about this week makes me feel this way. Almost all of those tasks are doable. I am after all a grown ass woman with the capacity to juggle. I decide it’s the bake sale. It wasn’t until I volunteered to hand out bake sale items years ago that I understood the pressure that can come with such a little assignment. To see the kid’s faces when a Mom puts in extra effort to make a seasonal treat is pretty cute. Kids will also turn into socialite snobs if the treats don’t live up to their refined sugar-lovin’ palate.

You see, a week ago, at 8:20 a.m. (10 minutes before the kids leave for school), my son moseys into the kitchen and announces that he needs bake sale items for that morning. Mother Hubbard!!! As I was hastily making popcorn and looking for some sort of worthy receptacle to house the popping buggers, my son giggles and says “silly me Mom, it’s next Wednesday but I’ll take that popcorn in my lunch. Cool?!”

Back to this morning, in the words of my Dad “I beam up the internet computer” to search for an Easter themed bake sale item on Pinterest. My sorting parameters are this: quick, under 5 baking ingredients, preferably no oven required, but still worthy to bring an oooooooh or an ahhhhhh out of a Kindergarten’s mouth hole. I find the addition of chocolate can produce this result.

I decide on this little diddy…

easter egg

Bird Nest Cookies

Perfecto. A while ago, the parent’s association sent a letter home that bake sale were now going to be healthy items. So I made a healthy item, and tried to push my healthy fair (like that shady puppet on Sesame street trying to sell an “O”) among the table of cupcakes and chocolate cookies only to bring those healthy treats home with me.

Pssssttttt…how would ya like to buy a healthy treat?! Circular and not sweet…

Sorry, I can’t compete with cupcakes. I’ll add some oats to chocolate and call it a day.

I inwardly congratulate myself on not being a loser Mom today, because that’s how I felt last week. My house was in shambles, laundry piled to the roof while I compiled a year’s worth of tax receipts. I missed sending the registration to school for my son’s introduction into Junior High next year. The finale was on one special night when I awoke to the melodic sounds of a puking shitting dog. Yay. On the day my dog blew up, I had convinced myself his kidneys were shutting down by the end of day. I stalked him in our yard and didn’t see him pee once. Turns out he ate garbage because I left the door open a crack. I like to think he sauntered up to the slightly ajar cupboard door, opened his little dog peepers real big and said “hmmmm, what do we have here?”. Then he quietly opens it with his little paw hand like a human (he stands upright at this point) tenderly picking out garbage food. Sets himself a miniature dog table where he cuts garbage food with a fork and knife after tying a mini handkerchief around his hairy chest.

Anywhoooo, I wasn’t a loser today. Nope, I was calm, collected and competent. Look at me pinning recipes like a Martha.

Wrapped in her favourite fluffy blanket, my daughter shuffled slowly into my office and leaned into me cheek first. That’s how she hugs. She leans in, clenches her eyes, and waits for her hug and kiss. It’s adorable.

I yell up the stairs to my other two sleeping kids and start on breakfast. My son Lukey comes down already dressed and ready to attack the day with his trademark unbridled energy.  I told myself I wouldn’t be that Mom who would make different things for each kid, yet here I was getting cereal with OJ for one and a peanut butter bun with bananas for another. It’s just easier that way. One size does not fit all in this house. Lukey loves left overs, it’s not uncommon to walk into the kitchen first thing and see him bellied up to the island eating mashed potatoes and steak.

My oldest son listens to Metallica while he gets ready. He yells a good-bye as he sprints out the door and revs up his ’87 Chevy to go to high school. He’s a great kid with a killer sense of humour. I wonder how he became so responsible. Lord knows I wasn’t as responsible at his age. I decide to apologize to my parents next time I see them for not being a responsible teen. I may even buy them a greeting card. Note to self: buy a greeting card suitable to wash away 18 years of frustrated memories. I wonder if perhaps my parents have forgotten the time I convinced my sister to tie sheets together and climb out the second story bedroom window. I am thankful the wood pallets broke her fall. I also wonder why my parents never replaced that chunk of carpet in their bedroom I burned while lighting kleenex on fire. One has a hard time forgetting that when you step on a burnt patch of carpet right beside your own bed for years.

Off track again…

I start on the younger kid’s lunches, sign agendas and out-dated forms with a hand-written “hope it’s not too late to hand in”.  I always add a smiley face because I figure that will make it better.  The smiley face is a lost art. My favourite thing to do to my husband is to add a smiley face and dot his “I” with a heart after he signs the bill at restaurants. ha! What an ass I am.

I realize we are running late. I brush the knots out of my daughter’s hair while she shrugs her shoulders and grimaces with each stroke of the brush. Note to self: make hair appointment to get it thinned out. I repeat myself in a raised voice that can only be likened to Grover. “We are going to be late, let’s go!” No one can find frickin’ socks. Where do the socks go? After getting the kids out the door at a feverish pace, it takes seconds for the Mom-guilt to settle in like a thick fog. I think about all the ways I could have shown more patience, and reprimand myself for not signing forms on time. From Mom-hero to Mom-zero in 10 minutes flat.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post. This crazy, always-behind, calendar of tasks is the small picture. I will miss this some day. In thinking about this time leaving, I already feel the pangs of missing it. My kids need me, and I need them. We may not be a well-oiled machine, but we work.

I am perfectly imperfect. It’s not my job to pretend I’m a perfect Mom because life is imperfect. Authenticity lives within imperfections.

We love.

We fight.

We make-up.

We love some more.

I will treasure the way my daughter Tess leans in for hugs cheek first, hates getting her hair brushed, and needs solitude as she eats her cereal in peace in the morning.

I will treasure the way my oldest son Ty listens to Metallica in the morning, eats 11 p.m. snacks, and revs his truck a little too loud.

I will treasure the way my middle child Luke eats steak and potatoes for breakfast, can never find matching socks, insights panic over the wrong bake sale day, and wears collared shirts under hoodies everyday (buttoned right to the top).

These little seemingly insignificant details are what makes up a childhood. They are what makes up the memories a Mom will always hold dear to her heart.

I hope you can find the beauty in your own little life details today and embrace imperfection. Because it’s beautiful.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

 

 

I Am Beautiful (and you are too)

Yesterday in a big gross cloud of anger, I posted this status:

My daughter came home from school in tears because a few girls called her fat in her swim suit. She loves swimming, and now she has anxiety over it. We talked about all the amazing things her body can do…run, swim, walk, get her to anywhere in the world she wants to go someday. More importantly, all the wonderful traits that make her who she is. Her wit, creative mind, kind sensitive soul, tender heart who loves others, her brilliant problem-solving brain. I’m still so angry about it, yet my anger isn’t at those girls. I’m angry that our society is so shallow. Girls are “more” if they dress a certain way into a single digit sized clothing. Exercise and eating healthy isn’t actually about health at all, it’s the newest fad diet to fit into those skinny jeans. There’s nothing healthy about that mind-set. It’s the unhealthy pursuit of an external ideal that will never be obtained. I’m angry that because a girl’s body type isn’t the standard of what society deems as “perfect”, that a girl feels shame. As she stood there with tears streaming down her face, I had a flashback to my own childhood in the locker room of the swimming pool. A difference of 30 years, yet the very same tears. So I laid awake last night wondering what I personally can do to break this cycle. All I came up with is to raise my daughter to love others. To love her body for all it can do. And I will remind her every damn day that she is a collection of amazing strengths that has nothing to do with her clothing size. I will be conscious of how my thoughts and actions will positively or negatively impact her self-esteem. And I will be so very proactive to build her up and build up those around me. “All we need is love”….well maybe that’s a bit naive, but what we DO need more of in this world along with love is empathy, understanding, and a lot more depth.

On behalf of my daughter, I received many messages of love, support, and relatable stories as a result. This issue is one we can all relate to, either because we have dealt with it as a parent or because we’ve been shamed by another who ridiculed some aspect of who we are.

When my daughter came home from school, I met her at the door with this little poster and then the kids and I went to jump on trampolines at the indoor trampoline park because nothing is more fun than bouncing into a big pit of foamy things.

Tessa is beautiful

After much (too much) thought, I realized something. I’ve repeated the “You are beautiful” mantra to my daughter yet I have an extremely hard time looking into the mirror and thinking that I am beautiful too.

Let me explain…I’ve been thinking about my beauty in an aesthetic sense. I’ve focussed on my outward appearance and I pick apart all the flaws I see on my body. Yet when I think about the beauty of my children, all I see is who they are as a whole. All of them. Their mind, soul, body, every little fibre of their being. I love it all to bits. I think every molecule of their being is beautiful.

Yet I’ve looked at my reflection with shallow eyes. Who I am has nothing to do with the shape of my body.

So today, and in the days ahead, I will look within and open my eyes to see beyond my outer.

How can I expect my daughter to believe she is beautiful if I secretly don’t believe that I am beautiful? I would never say that out loud, but I think it at times. We are what we think. Self-love is as important for us Moms as it is for our children.

I am beautiful. Perfectly imperfect.

Repeat.

And I hope when you look in the mirror today, you see someone who is ridiculously beautiful.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

More than a Mom

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned when I became a Mom, didn’t happen until many years as a Mom. And it’s this: I am more than a Mom.

Let me try to articulate the jumbled thoughts that have evolved with each passing year as my kids get older…

When my son was born, I dove head first into a world I knew little about. I had no idea that I would lay awake at night riddled with Mom guilt over all the things I could have done better. Those first years of motherhood, I believed I had joined a culture of supportive women where the price of admission was simply being a Mom. What I’ve learned through various experiences is that women can be very hard on other women as soon as they join that mommy culture.

I quickly learned that truth night 2 of being a Mom. I was 20 when my first son was born, although I don’t remember feeling “too young” for the role. Looking back at it now, I was very naive about so much. I have a very vivid memory of a nurse telling me so. I felt inadequate within 48 hrs. ha!

There’s always debates within the Mom world about Should’s and Shouldn’ts…

You should breast feed, practice attachment parenting, read up on all the newest parenting trends, put the kids in daycare, enrol them in 2 years of play school, etc. insert should here.

You shouldn’t work full-time, go on vacations without the kids, allow them to play video games, be a stay-at-home Mom, etc. insert shouldn’t here.

Don’t should on me! We are all trying our very best to raise our children, and we all have very different ideas and values on the best way to do that. Us Moms need to support other Moms with empathy and understanding. Because this role is hard! We have enough Mom-guilt as is without another Mom throwing a should in our faces or pointing out our inadequacies. Let’s point out one another’s strengths and learn from other Moms.

I had a moment not long ago of greater understanding on what it means to be a Mom thanks to my own Mom’s influence. I have always looked at my Mom as….well….a Mom for obvious reasons; however, now that I’ve grown along with my children, I realize my Mom is a complex woman as we all are. She’s more than a Mom.

We grow right along with our children.

The idea that a woman’s wants/needs, body-image, ideas, need for autonomy, hunger for self-growth, desire for more knowledge, and wish for fun in her life should somehow magically melt away the moment a baby is placed in her arms is ridiculous.

Not that long ago, I had a conversation with an Older gentleman at the gym and I mentioned I had three kids. “You don’t look like you have kids” he replied. And while I didn’t take that as an insult, it did make me think about what it “looks” like to be a Mom.  Do we have a dress code? Is my awkward sway-dancing (which is a watered-down version of real dance done in a public place even though the music streaming in my ear holes makes me want to break out in full awkward dance) between sets un-Motherly? Is there a tone of subdued voice I should sport? Am I too advanced in Mom years to wear double pony tails while I workout? Is my ACDC shirt not very Mom-like? Perhaps the slippage of the F-bomb is definitely un-motherly (I’m working on that). I dunno.

What I’ve learned as I’ve aged is that my mind hasn’t aged at all. Yes I’ve grown in wisdom through life experiences, but in my mind I’m still youthful. I hope I will always feel that way. And I hope my daughter doesn’t look at me and believe her hopes and dreams have to be sacrificed the moment she becomes a Mom. That’s if she chooses to become a Mom. The fact us Moms make sacrifices, goes without saying. Of course we do, so do Dads.

Moms…I’m sure we’ve all been in venues where other Moms were harsh in their judgments of our choices. Hell, I’ve done it myself, much to my disappointment. It’s a flaw that I’m even more aware of as I raise my children to be independent, kind, understanding people. There is so much power in love, understanding and support. Let’s give one another a break. We are Women doing our best to be Moms. But we are still youthful women within, no matter what our age.

I’m pretty thankful that I’m surrounded by the support of some amazing (and hilarious, fun-loving) women. I wish I had photos of all the amazing women in my life, a project for this year!

IMG_6698 IMG_6966 IMG_7202  IMG_4933 web sekyd12-114 web Mini PoolIMG_7811 IMG_7824 IMG_7842 sekyd13-005 web sekyd13-007 webIMG_8582My family

From my heart to yours,

Christine

Be Amazing

Sometimes life force feeds me lessons, and lately 2 words have popped up around me.

Be Amazing

Be Amazing

So what does it mean to “Be Amazing”?

Here’s what it boils down to for me. Amazing lives within effort.

An Olympic athlete is amazing, and so is that person living with depression who doesn’t want to get out of bed every day, but they do anyway.

That buffed, toned picture of athleticism at the gym is amazing, but so is that man who walks laps of the walking track with the assistance of a cane because he’s recovering from the debilitating physical ailments due to a stroke.

That Pediatrician who volunteers time in a third world country is amazing, and so is that girl who fights her addictions everyday and stays clean not just for herself but for her children.

The recipient of a Pulitzer Prize is amazing, and so is that teenage girl who pours her heart into her diary rather than suppress her emotions.

That super Mom mega-volunteer at school who juggles it all with a smile is amazing, and so is the Mom who forgets bake sale because she works two jobs just to put food on the table.

That Dad who brings in a six figure salary and works endless hours is amazing, and so is the single Dad who cheers his heart out from the bleachers while watching his kids play hockey.

The woman who eats clean and ensures her family eats clean too is amazing, and so is the woman who goes to bed early so she doesn’t binge on the couch.

There is amazing in everyone.

Amazing is doing more than the body feels is comfortable.

Amazing is fighting our demons.

Amazing is being different in a world that pushes conformity.

Amazing is accepting that which we don’t understand and celebrating differences.

Amazing is forgiving when every cell in our body wants to hold onto anger.

Amazing is loving others and putting other’s needs before our own.

Amazing lives within action and it lives within thoughts as well.

Amazing is trying when fear tells us not to because we’ll fail.

And yes amazing just might be getting out of bed when we want to live in the comfort of darkness.

And a little Amazing (put on repeat) will grow into a ridiculous amount of Amazing.

So what’s your amazing? Be that today.

May your day be ridiculously amazing (just like you),

Christine

A Few Rules for Happiness

We laid Grandma to rest this week. It was an emotional week as we said good-bye to an amazing woman of strength and faith.  At her funeral, my Cousins and Aunts paid tribute with stories and memories. The central theme was that she left an incredible legacy.

This week I’ve really been thinking about the legacy she’s left and what it all means. There was a specific trait I greatly admired about Grandma, which also lives within my Aunt Elda.

Happiness

As the winter blues settle into my heart, this idea of true happiness is one I’ve decided to focus on with Grandma and Aunt Elda as my guide. Both of these amazing woman have been through hardship I will never experience. Grandma was a child who lived through the depression. I am a child of privilege in that I’ve always lived with a fully stocked fridge, a warm home to call my own, and I never had a living need that I wasn’t able to obtain. My children are also privileged in this regard. So how do I live in gratitude when I’ve never had to worry about the necessities of life? Food, clothing, a warm home.

Bare with me as I muddle through hours of thought on this topic. My sister-in-law Mel takes care of my Aunt Elda as she recovers from health issues. She told me that since Aunt Elda has joined the wing, the mood of the other residents has improved. Her positivity and uplifting spirit has spread to those around her.

Rules for Happiness I learned from my Grandma and Aunt Elda

Focus on the Good

Even though they have both lived through times of extreme adversity, they never dwell(ed) on it. Live in the present with a grateful heart. Focus on the good, and leave the bad where it belongs, in the past.

Give, Give, Give

Give of your talents, time, support, and encouragement. Always give more than you take. When you focus on uplifting others, your heart can’t help but be uplifted as well.

Faith

Both my Aunt Elda and my Grandma lived for God. Their faith was unwavering. They gave their troubles and burdens to prayer and left it in God’s hands.

Acceptance without Conditions

No judgments, just unconditional love without conditions. One shouldn’t have to worry about conditions placed on love. When you know your friends and family love you no matter what…through the good, the bad, and the ugly, you have the freedom to be authentic. If you expect this gift from your loved ones, one needs to love without condition too! It goes both ways.

Encourage

Live to encourage others. Always look for the good. If you feel something positive about another person, tell them! With encouragement comes the gift of courage to another, and that’s priceless.

Live Simply

This is a big one for me, I get loaded down with clutter sometimes. “Stuff” means little, fill your home with love and purge anything that doesn’t bring your heart peace and love.

Music

This one brings me happiness daily. Crank the music that makes you feel something. Even the music that allows you to process the trials in life. It’s therapeutic.

This song is playing in the background while I write this, haunting and beautiful all at the same time:

Read

Yes read! Read to broaden your mind, your dreams, your vocabulary. Read to escape. Read to feel. Read to move on. Read to laugh. Just read.

Focus on Family

There is nothing more important in life than family. Make it your focus. Focus on strengthening your relationships which transcends beyond the everyday small talk. Share, communicate, eat meals together. Focus on quality time, even if it’s a few minutes over a cup of hot chocolate or coffee. Focus on family traditions and build new ones.

Ask Questions and then Listen

The art of conversation is lost in this digital age. We communicate through text, facebook, messages, email. One thing I’ve always appreciated about these incredible women in my family, is they asked questions about my life. They held my gaze as we talked, and they truly listened. They are/were genuinely invested. When they asked “how are you?” they sincerely wanted to know details.

Empathy

To live with empathy for the needs of others is to live in love and connection.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. –Leo Buscaglia

Community

Community resonates within the casserole you take to someone in need, lending a hand when someone falls, helping with the harvest, paying it forward to a stranger, a note of encouragement, a coffee delivery, volunteering your time. Coming together for a common interest to bring a little more love to this world.

Sincere Appreciation

What do you appreciate about those you love? Now go tell them, show them how much you appreciate them. The very way they show you how they appreciate you can be given back through action in return. I read the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. If you haven’t read it, read it. It has changed the way I understand others. We all show love in different ways. In his book, Gary Chapman breaks it down into 5 love languages.

Words of Affirmation

Act of Service

Receiving Gifts

Quality Time

Physical Touch

Now the way you show love to others, may not be recognized as love because they show love in a different way. If you understand how your loved ones perceive and show love, you can then communicate love in their love language and vice versa. We are selfish creatures thinking about ourselves, and wonder why others don’t get us. We are just talking different languages is all.

Drop Expectations

When you expect something from another person, you will always be let down. If we were to drop the expectations we place on others, wouldn’t that be freeing?! Gone are the guilt trips, and feelings of being let down.

Stay Active!

Get outside! Travel, walk, play, visit, participate, join clubs.

Just. Stay. Active.

An active mind, body, and heart keeps you young!

Laugh

Laughter is healing. Laugh everyday. Make others laugh. Share your embarrassing stories! It can feel vulnerable to share your embarrassing life moments, but it allows others the freedom to do the same. Awkward life moments are funny. They just are.

Oh and Jim Gaffigan…

I know I will add to this list as time goes on. If I can take even a little wisdom from these women, my life will be richer and happier for it.

I’ll leave you with one more song, just because Music is so good for the soul.

Aunt Elda

Aunt Elda

Grandma

Grandma

From my happy heart to yours,

Christine