I remember not being able to lift myself out of the swimming pool as a child.
It sucked because everyone else seemed to be able to jump out of the water with such grace and ease and there was I, struggling like a whale in captivity.
But I was a quick learner - and to avoid any negative attention I stayed within reach of the stairs so I could exit without having to be ashamed of my inability to support my own weight. I lived in a mildly anxious state at all times and encouraged myself to plan for the easiest ways to blend in to the areas of life where I might be singled out. Living in fear of someone noticing my inabilities often kept me a step ahead. For that reason the shallow end and stairs were my secret weapon against standing out at the pool - assuming that people weren't looking at me in my swimming costume of course.
On a plus side, I could always tread water effortlessly due to my incredible buoyancy.
Although I love swimming now - it wasn't always a favourite. As a pre schooler I refused lessons. My mum would take me to our local swimming baths where I would attempt to learn. I would travel the shallow end with my arms dividing the water in front of me in big waves, hoping that no one would notice I was tall enough to walk and wasn't swimming at all.
Eventually it all clicked and when I finally got it, nothing could keep me out of the water. I started a badge program in elementary school but shortly after realised my athleticism did not match my enthusiasm and I refocused that energy into other things, like looking intimidating in the playground so no one could pick on me for being fat. I spent many happy Saturday afternoons swimming with my Dad and enjoying it as a recreational activity. He always bought me food afterwards, so I was happy.
Don't mention 'P' and swimming in the same sentence
Swimming lost it's allure for a while and I got so fed up with it that I started telling my swim instructor that I was on my period. Every week. Week in and week out I would slip on the handy blue shoe protectors and signal that my name required a letter "P" in the register. It was after 4 weeks of writing P next to my name he finally suggested I go to the school nurse and talk about my situation. Periods weren't month long things - who knew?
The school nurse was quite concerned about my predicament. Naturally.. a 4 week period is a pretty big deal. I put her mind at ease almost instantly. I explained that I simply didn't feel like going swimming anymore, so I said I was on my period week after week because it was the only way I could avoid going in the pool. Can't blame a girl for not wanting to get her hair wet, can you?
I realised how lame I was being so I diligently set my alarm clock for 5:45 am and joined the swim team for early morning practise. I put in the effort and even got quite fast, but I still couldn't lift myself out of the pool.
With each year my body got bigger and bigger, but I never used that as an excuse to not go swimming. There were times when I felt insecure as my body wobbled about in the water - but I did not let it stop me. I even went on a first date at the river and I can tell you - nothing makes your heart sink faster than a locker key in the deep end than the suggestion of swimming as a first date. Still - I did it, and it went swimmingly.
I ain't no swim suit model and maybe I never will be or ever want to be - but time after time I would try and get out of the deep end without the stairs. Time and time again I would fail.
Then one evening at the Y.M.C.A during an epic adventure of me as a pirate/kraken/deep sea monster vs my boys on a pink water mat, I put my hands flat on the side of the pool and I lifted myself up out the water.
With my arms fully extended, I lifted my body up with no intention of getting out the pool. All these years later - finally strong enough.
"Hey! look what I can do now!" I shouted to my boys and they cheered for me as I held myself there for a few moments. Then listened to them scream as I went back to pretending I was a giant squid.
Sometimes, even when you have tried 100 times and you're ready to give up, 101 might be a success and you will only know if you keep trying!
When I read my previous year reviews (published and unpublished) I see a theme of conquering adversity - determination to win despite the odds - and hope. This year was no different.
My 3 words for 2016 were PATIENCE. ABUNDANCE. STRENGTH
It’s been a year for the record books. The Struggles were real. There was heartache. There was a lot of healing to be done. Addiction reared its ugly head and bad choices were made. I fell in and out of a successful mindset. I was crippled by my own self doubt but confident in equal measures. I had many book worthy experiences but ultimately felt unfulfilled and empty throughout a fair portion of the year.
There were days where I felt very low and a few where I wanted to be swallowed up by the earth. Those were the days I reached out to people, and was reminded that I am surrounded by love. I was patient with myself and others mostly. A lesson I truly learnt this year.
I gained strength in and out of the gym.
I believed in the abundant nature of the universe and she delivered. I am sure my close friends appreciated hearing at times about all the abundance I was getting! ;)
It’s true - this year has been hard. Maybe they are all hard in a way - but full of greatness too?
Looking back through my phone I am reminded of so many experiences and things that make me smile. 2016 was hella good too.
I loved Walking Lotus in the mountains. Waking in the night to my youngest crawling into bed wanting a snuggle. Watching the boys learn to play hockey. Beach trip. Hikes. New tattoos. Coffee dates at Chapters. Sledding. Swimming. Tennis. Watching Lotus watch me work out. Evenings chatting on the couch. Dancing. Night drives. Finding mushroom forest. Seeing old friends. Meeting new ones. conquering a box jump. Reading bed time stories. Setting PR's in my deadlift and bench press. Visits from out of town friends and conversations with new ones. And throughout the year I worked on my patience, abundance and strength.
Because 2016 for what little charm it had at times, is over, and it’s time to face 2017 with the same level of optimism as I do every other year!
My 3 words for 2017 are CONNECT. CONSISTENT. FINISH
To those around me. To the ones I love. To nature. To peaceful places. To source. To myself. This is about meaningfulness and authenticity. It is about continuing to be vulnerable and listening with both ears. This is about building relationships. This is about connecting with people who need me.
Self Care. Eating. Training. Learning. This means carving out time and sticking to the plan.
What I start. Tasks. Writing. Chores. Every set in good form. I want to focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking is counterproductive. I have many “open” projects and they need to be finished so I can move forward.
To the people I love, and surely you will know who you are… (but message me if you’re unsure)
I thank you. You have given me hope when I felt lost this year. You have helped bring joy in multiple ways. When I’ve broken down, you’ve rescued me. When I have been about to make a poor choice, you’ve told me not to. You have come for walks with me & the old girl, Lotus.. You have helped me avoid people at Costco (long story, another time?) You have passed down clothes for my boys. You have given me your time and you have listened. You have enriched my life. Thank you.
I’m only going to one holiday party this year. It’s the holiday party I look forward to every year. The Fit By Design annual Christmas bash. My friend and fellow Warrior, Andrea, graciously opens up her house and as many Warriors as possible pile in and enjoy a good old knees up.
Like all good parties, there is plenty of booze and a variety of delicious appies that definitely don’t fall within the Canada food guide in the quantities that I could consume them. And every year, you can find me at the table, over eating the deliciousness, because.. Well, I’m a food addict and it’s what I do. Last year I remember the gluttony and a large quantity of booze. It was a lot of fun!
Not this year though. This year I get to be the one that chooses to do neither.
I’ve been seriously mulling it over for about 3 weeks trying to come up with a strategy that I could follow. Initially I decided “to hell with it, you only live once, go crazy and eat and drink whatever you want” but that raises a serious shitstorm of emotions for me and triggers many dangerous behaviours that usually continue into the next day or week. A rebellious “I can do what I want” attitude, meaning: I can indulge and not feel guilty because I’m making a conscious decision to indulge. It’s difficult place to be in because I can’t always claw my way out. Plus, Denise makes an awesome spinach dip… and Lisa is bringing homemade nanaimo bars.
Worst case scenario, I eat my face off at the party and reintroduce a bunch of bad food habits. Habits that I have worked on in therapy and counselling and in self reflection. Self medication with food has been an ongoing theme of my life. Numbing and mindless eating to fill up an unknown void. I could easily polish off a whole loaf of bread without caring too much about why I was eating. It starts with two slices of bread in the toaster. POP! Butter them up and eat them in about 6 bites. Barely tasting them before putting another two slices in whilst simultaneously stuffing a slice of buttered bread in my mouth. It’s mindless. It’s unnecessary. It’s the numbing, oddly comforting feeling of filling myself up with the most dense food possible. That’s the worst case scenario. That and the 20lbs I’d put on.
Of course I have slipped back into that state many times, which is why I am still not at the weight I would like to be.. But with each relapse my desire to continue and improve increases. I am always learning and for that I am grateful, but learning comes with a responsibility for your actions.
A potluck buffet offers that same opportunity for mindless grazing and eating without purpose. Pair that with other people unwittingly encouraging you to indulge and you are digging deeper than ever to find the strength to say no when temptation hits.
I went back and forth many times. Should I drink? Should I not drink? Maybe I could eat a few treats? Follow the 80/20 rule? But ultimately I knew my answer… I would have to not drink and only eat foods that I considered part of my current way of eating.
Then there is challenge #2. Aside from the mental anguish of wanting to eat and drink all the treats there are the people that want to encourage you, even though they may know you are struggling. You will always encounter a few sabotagers unintentionally giving you an excuse to derail.
“Just have one”
“It’s Christmas! Relax”
“You can get straight back on tomorrow.. Just allow yourself the night off”
And I get it. I do.
But, no thank you.
I am motivated more than I have been in a long time to keep going. God knows it’s been a rough ride this year and last. The missing piece of my puzzle this year has been consistency with my nutrition and now that I am feel in control again, why would I jeopardise that for one night of food and drink?
It used to be about not standing out, but now I don’t worry about that. I secretly used to like the sabotagers because they gave me an excuse to indulge even if it wasn’t in my best interest.The party never ended the same night for me as temptation hung around until the next day, week or month. Before I knew it I was back to spreading butter onto my 6th slice of toast looking for fulfilment in a Cobbs bag.
The strangest part of this is the judgement you can get for not joining in. It can get to you. I’m fortunate that I am mostly surrounded by people who understand - who know the triggers and help to encourage healthy choices. Some of you won’t be as lucky. I always remember a conversation I had with my brother who was drinking me under the table one evening. After a couple I said I’d had enough and he complained that I always used to be able to drink more than that and what was wrong with me? I later realised that he was projecting his guilt of heavy drinking on me. It was easier to make me feel like there was something wrong with me, than to accept there might be something wrong with his behaviour.
When you take your health into your hands you are always doing the right thing. Even if people get their noses out of joint or tease you because they think you are “better than them” (and yes, this does happen in your 30s!)
This year I have a game plan.
I am going to go to table and put my allocated amount of food on my plate (mainly Denise’s spinach dip and veggies) and walk away. I’ll drink my water in my favourite Starbucks glass mug and I will have a lot of fun with women that won’t think twice about doing what iis best for them - and supporting me in saying... Thanks, but no thanks.
Transformation Tuesday should be renamed Transformation bluesday.
Particularly when I look at all the miraculous body transformations, literally thousands of them on Instagram and wonder how do they look so different after losing over 100 lbs and how comes I'm still the fattest person in the room?
Of all the goals I have set myself over the years, the many, many, many goals - the one that seems the most basic, but so often out of reach is... Not being fat anymore. That's what it boils down to.
YES, I want to be stronger, and I definitely want to be healthier, but when I look at what I want in it's simplest terms; I really don't want to be fat anymore. It's not even that I want to be skinny. I just don't want to be fat.
The ULTIMATE insult
Fat is a bad word - at least we're lead to believe it is. It probably makes a few of you uncomfortable reading it. In a way it's the ultimate insult. It's a word that conjures up images of dirty slobs that sit around all day being lazy and not caring.
We made it a bad word in childhood when we called people "big fat liars" and we continue to put a negative spin on it - as if it's the worst thing a person can be. It's powerful enough to hurt us deeply if we choose to give it the power to.
Perhaps it's better to describe myself as Shapely? Curvy? Plus size? a BBW? None sound nearly as bad as FAT. Yet sometimes, when I think fat, I think of bacon.. and who doesn't love a side of bacon?
So how do I un-fattify myself exactly...
There's no amount of tummy sucking underwear that's going to make me look skinny. I get that. So how do I manage to fulfill this seemingly impossible dream. This is the bit in the infomercial where they promise amazing results in JUST. SIX. WEEKS. And yes, I'm throwing money at the screen right now.
There is more than half a year left in 2016 and by my calculations <insert random calculator noises here> I can lose 2 lbs a week, every week give or take, to total 80 lbs. Add that to the 120 lbs I've already lost and BOOYAH, I'll be 200 lbs lighter and my Transformation Tuesday is going to be a visual smorgasbord of incredibleness.
But wait, there's more...
Looking 200 lbs lighter is certainly going to be noticeable but what if that's not enough? What if I am still left feeling like I haven't quite reached my goal? You see.. the bit I haven't mentioned is all that mushy feelings stuff. You know, the emotional aspect of losing weight. The struggle of being happy with yourself where you are but always wanting to be different? If you thought losing this much weight was all calorie counting and squatting in spandex, it's really not. Sometimes the HARDEST part, is struggling to be yourself as you are and loving that person, vs wanting to be your future self and loving the idea of her more.
Although I don't see the transformation from start to end, this middle bit is ok. I'm transforming more than my body. I'm transforming my life - and that's the best transformation of all.
And how, exactly, am I doing it?
What I'm NOT doing is popping pills. I'm not starving myself and I'm not doing crazy workout videos I find on Facebook (seriously, you're going to break something).
I was in ER the other day and you know that feeling where you're so mad you think...
FUCK IT. I'M GOING TO EAT A WHOLE PIZZA/CAKE/COSTCO MUFFIN TRAY ... AND I'm going to drink a box of wine..... and then I'll feel better!
If you read that and thought "NO.. I've never wanted to do any of those things", you are either;
A) Incredibly lucky... and kudos for never using food/drink to self medicate. You're my hero right now.
B) Lying. Come on. A whole muffin tray is a delicious way to burn through a week of calories.
And yet isn't it ridiculous to think that by eating a pizza or a whole bag of mini eggs we are going to feel any better about ANYTHING?
Whaaaaat? Pizza DOESN'T make everything better?
A valid question indeed. The answer is sadly, no. It does not. After bad news in the ER I was almost ready to jump into maximum pizza eating mode, but I didn't. WHY? (and the answer has nothing to do with me being off dairy - true story)
It's all got to do with habits. Recognizing them - Analyzing them - and changing them.
Wait up... before we get to the WHY I didn't speed dial Panago - I need to tell you why I was in ER in the first place and what made me mad.
In December I fractured my foot. I had been teaching Zumba on a spring loaded floor built for gymnastics and tumbling and just as I launched into a side step during the second warm up, I rolled my foot into a part of the floor that had an empty air pocket. OUCH. No big deal though, I carried on and sucked it up.
Never having had an injury before and being an optimist, I figured it would be back to normal in no time. By January I was noticing how much less I was enjoying walking and decided I should get it checked out for real.
My X-ray came back with what the Dr suggested was a fracture that had healed all by itself and the extra pain that I was experiencing was in fact the bone growing (or something). "Cool" , I thought. So I carried on in pain and with a limp.
It kept on getting worse though. And a limp is only cool for a pirate or a gangster, of which I am neither.
I continued teaching Zumba twice a week and heavily icing my foot in between. I walked less than usual and when I was no longer the leader amongst my fitbit friends, I knew something was up. If you invite me for a workweek challenge, you better be bringing your A game, that's all I'm saying.
So what have my broken foot and pizza got in common?
When I left the ER I was under instructions to purchase a walking boot. Ain't nothing sexier than an airboot. My mood took a sharp turn to shit. Then, I was instructed to REST my foot as much as possible. No more dead lifts and not teach my Fit By Design Zumba classes for a few weeks. I was sitting there with a very distinct resting bitch face, knowing I had just entered into what used to be a dangerous habit loop. I tried bargaining with the doctor, threw some humour at the sitaution and told him he could see my foot on instagram later on as I took a picture of the X-ray. I felt totally deflated.
A few weeks prior I had started training with Robert Petrie, F3FIT to learn the fundamentals of lifting weights properly and to get really, really REALLY strong while minimizing the use of my foot. Stopping would be a huge blow and knowing I was letting down my wonderful Fit By Design Zumba crew down SUCKED. That's where a pizza could have made me feel oh-so-much better.
My habit loop:
CUE - Bad thing happens (broken foot, need a cast, can't do exercise)
ROUTINE - I immediately want to eat whole pizza, cake,
REWARD - I feel much better. Comforted. Happy. Safe
It makes me feel sad to admit that's how I've dealt with emotional problems. Until I took the time to learn about my habits, I might have always relied on this way of dealing with negative things. Now you may be wondering...
How can I make myself more awesome by learning about MY habits?
This is an awesome question and I can suggest grabbing a copy of The Power of Habit and turning into a hermit for 24 hours while you learn everything you can about why you do the things you do.
Now what ?
So while I rest as much as possible, I am able to still focus on good nutrition. Drinking plenty of water. Doing what I can for weights without using my foot with some nifty modifications to my plan (thanks, Robert) and only thinking a lil' bit about pizza while I limp along with this ridiculous airboot like a gangster-yo.
p.s) My plan is to lose 80lbs by the end of year. You can keep me accountable and cheer me on (please!!) by following my instagram @beboldstaygold_
It's not long until Valentine's Day - and the stores have long since been awash in a sea of red and pink heart shaped items. It's enough to make you choke on your Ferrero Roche.
Some people get carried away with this idea that love revolves around this one day of the year. Which is, of course, is not the case.
I know I sound bitter, but I've always had a love-hate relationship with V-Day.
Not to say I'm not romantic - because I triple dog dare you to find anyone as romantic as me. Seriously. It's in my DNA. And really, who doesn't love to get flowers, or chocolates, or if you're a millennial, maybe even a dick pic sent to you in a text message. I mean... it all counts for something, right?
When did loving someone become a one day event, marked by too much pressure, too little thought, or massive over compensation - isn't love is about 365 days of gestures? Small daily gestures make a big impact.
For the past few years my eldest child has requested a set of cards to send everyone in his class because "it's Valentine's Day". For 2 years I have done the dutiful thing, but this year, I kinda-sorta-wanna say NO.
As a kid growing up in London, I never bought a multi pack of cartoon themed Valentine's cards and sent them to every person in the class. Where I came from, if you did bother to send someone a card, you wrote it badly with your left hand and awkwardly left it in their bag, or on their desk at break time, hoping that they would not actually guess it was from you. Mostly because it was too bloody embarrassing. It was about the most passive way of telling someone you liked them.
Anonymity + total lack of confidence = winning plan when declaring your love.
Perhaps it's my inner rebel - refusing to fall prey to the marketing of major greeting cards companies. Maybe it's something far less imaginative; but sending cards on Valentine's Day has been a rare event in my 36 years on earth.
I sent my first card to a friend's older brother when I was 10.
This was no simple romantic gesture. This was executed with precise detail. A covert mission if you will. It was practically out of a John le Carré novel.
To keep my identity intact, I enlisted the help of my mother. Without details, I instructed her (asked nicely) to address an envelope. She probably asked me why at the time, but I may possibly have jump rolled out of the room like a slower, fatter 10 year old female version of Jason Bourne. Once it was in the mail, there was nothing to do but pat myself on the back for my expert stealth. Mission objective was complete.
Not satisfied with the actual sending of the card, I now needed to know two vital pieces of intel;
1. Did he get the card? and
2. Did it make him fall madly in love with me?
It might have been the unusual amount of foot shuffling, or the sudden extreme rush of blood to my face, or the way in which I was unable to construct a sentence that made perfect sense.
but on confrontation, my super secret spy stealth went to shit. He got the card, but totally ignored me as usual.
1 out of 2 ain't bad.
Ain't bad at all.
I skipped a few years of card sending and finally started receiving some when I was 14. At first I thought my brother was taking pity on me - but later found out my crush (who I also happened to send a card to) had sent me one. Faith in Valentine's Day restored. Booyah.
Back then we would travel to a different town to send a card just so the post mark was different - and yet he'd still call up to ask if I got his "anonymous" card and I'd hear about the "anonymous" card he got.
Over the years I have always felt that Valentine's day has been a little bit less about love, and more about showing off love - and this is not to say that my future Valentine will not see the full extent of my showyoffyness. If need be, I'd write my love in the stars...
But more and more, I believe that love should be shown everyday. In the little things. There's no need to make a grand gesture one day a year. What's wrong with this Wednesday? Next Thursday? Right now?
I don't believe there is any shame is telling someone you love them anytime of the year.
And for the record, Ferrero Roche taste much better at Christmas, but flowers and dick pics are welcome all year round!
p.s) I'm.. err.. joking about the dick pics.
For a few years I have created a vision board. A visual guide to my hopes and dreams for the upcoming year. A map of the most wanted, if you will.
Before I started using images (visualization), I would send myself a wishlist email. It worked really well.
In the subject line I would type "2012" or whatever year it was.
In the body of the email I would write a list of most wanted for the year.
I would send myself the email and make it "urgent" and then every few months or whenever I thought about it, I would have a look and see what could be crossed off the list. By the end of the year I was always pleased that almost everything I had hoped for, had happened. The things that hadn't happened I realised, either I didn't want that badly, or were neglected in favour of new "wants" throughout the year. The only problem, it was focusing more on what I wanted in material terms, not on how I wanted to feel.
Visualization is one of the most powerful mind exercises you can do.
According to the book The Secret, "The law of attraction is forming your entire life experience and it is doing that through your thoughts. When you are visualizing, you are emitting a powerful frequency out into the Universe."
So when I started creating vision boards I thought this was going to be an even better way of manifesting my every desire. Not quite.
I got so caught up in perfecting my boards that I never finished one fully.
I used a few excuses;
- Magazine pictures aren't quite right.
- I hate collages.
-I don't own any magazines.
-It feels too messy.
- I was too busy.
I still really wanted a vision board, despite the excuses, so I started saving pictures in a folder on my computer and printing them out. This was going to be much better for my mental health than looking at pictures all overlapping in odd shapes with gaps and lack of symmetry. (nightmare!)
Even with the symmetry and the right pictures, I never managed to finish a board. Not until this year at least. This year I created two. One that I didn't like (not symmetrical enough) and the one I finished.
I used 3 key words in my vision board thanks to Chris Brogan
2016: PATIENCE. ABUNDANCE. STRENGTH.
Patience - is knowing that the universe has it all mapped out for me. It's knowing that if I eat right and exercise, my health goals will be met in due time. Patience in my relationships, with people I love, with my children. I really want to learn patience this year.
Abundance - Knowing that I have abundant sources of income, love, friendship & support and anything else for that matter. Knowing that I won't starve.
Strength - In the physical sense, I mean the strength to pick up really heavy shit. Mental strength.. I could do with a lot more of that. Strength to know that I don't need that bag of chips. The strength to support my loved ones, my clients and my friends in whatever way I can serve them.
This year I focused mostly on how I want to feel with pictures of people and places I love - a few words of inspiration - symbols that are precious to me and my three words for the year.
The great thing about a vision board is that it is your own. There are no rules (unless you choose to not use magazines and have nothing touching, which is my rule!) You can include your health & wellness, family, spirit, career, goals, travel, relationships... and if in a few months you are feeling differently, you can make a new one!
If you shy away from setting goals or creating a vision for your life because you’re afraid you won’t follow through, try creating a vision board. What's the best that could happen?
The only thing I left off my vision board was this..
On paper, this year could have been the worst. It certainly had its moments. Without dwelling too hard, I can conjure up a dozen reasons why this might have been the best year of my life.
I started the year on a high. Having worked through a serious slump from the death of my Dad in the summer of 2014 it took me until October to really regain control of my life. After a lot of introspection and some counselling with Angela Clark (ROPC) I was able to push forward and gain the momentum that would carry me through 2015. I'd already reached the point of wanting more from life and was feeling unstoppable by the end of the year. I remember so clearly thinking, 2015 would be the best year of my life and I documented it as such. With so much to look forward to, I couldn't wait to welcome in 2016.
In January, instead of starting where everyone else was (feeling ready to jump on the fitness wagon) I was already 10lbs lighter and ready to keep working hard to reach my goals. Practically every year of my adult life, January had been a month for making changes.. this year, however, I was already on my way.
The weight loss momentum did continue throughout the year as was sped up significantly at the latter end of February when I, for a short period of time, gave up eating.
Apparently, nothing makes you lose your appetite quicker than your husband deciding to leave you.
I say this in jest, and we all know (well, you probably don't know) but there was no correlation to my size and my relationship ending. That didn't stop a few people from sending me their pity in forms of condescending "it doesn't matter that you're fat, you'll find someone else to love you" remarks. As if that were the sole purpose of my life? I brushed that off to the kind of awkward thing blurted out when you don't know what to say to someone in their sorrow. I wouldn't have known what to say either. Maybe nothing needed to be said. In many moments, the best form of understanding was a hug - and I got plenty of those from cherished people in my life.
I tried to listen, gracefully, to the many varied and somewhat puzzling things people told me while I digested the information. I'm not going to say it wasn't horrible and a struggle - but it became quickly apparent to me that the only solution was moving forward, in the knowledge that the universe had something bigger and better planned for me.
Even that was confusing to some people. After that many years with someone, shouldn't I have been crying myself to sleep with a picture of him on my pillow?
Maybe... but I've never been conventional.
Not to say there weren't moments of real despair. Moments where I wondered if I would be able to drag myself out of the darkness and find anything positive to cling on to. For those of you who have suffered from depression you will know the pain I talk of. It's real. It's not something you brush off and walk away from easily. I can be grateful that in my toolkit I have the ability to recognise this destructive melancholic behavior and dig my way out.
Instead of following the typical "must hate my ex" strategy I chose to be grateful for all that we'd had. Instead of hating, I sent love. Not in a romantic way of course.. but in a genuine hope-you-are-happy kind of way. For the children, my thoughts and actions were to always put him in a positive light - which at times, was a struggle - but for the most part, sincere. Sometimes I hated him a bit too. After all, I'm not a fucking angel.
One of the discoveries I made this year was how many generous and kind people are in my life. I always knew I was blessed with the most amazing friendships, but rediscovering some of them was a highlight of my year. Some people, of course, made a dramatic exit and a few others slipped away quietly but everything happened just as it was meant to.
Despite the very obvious change in my life this year, it has been better, if not the best year to date and that has very little to do with anything external -and very much to do with me stepping into my personal power. This year I realised how much I had to offer. Not shallow friendship or meaningless connection but a genuine passion for living my life with purpose.
Right to the very last days, this year has been full of love and laughter.
And with an even greater level of optimism, I feel 2016 is going to be my best year yet! Not because I am giving up anything, or making pointless resolutions, but because I refuse to make excuses for myself.
I am no longer worried about the fear of rejection. Fear of not doing it perfectly. No longer will I carry that crippling doubt on my shoulders.
It has been a year of self discovery and acceptance. It has been about looking at myself and liking the person I see, flaws and all.
It has been about acknowledging the value I bring to every relationship and seeing the value in every transaction.
Stepping into 2016, I can walk my dog with my head high, smiling at every person because I want to. Because I am filled with a joy of self acceptance.
It means I move into the year acknowledging that I'm confident, I'm happy, I'm exactly what you see"
and I love myself.
Thank you for being part of my life.
I woke up this morning thinking about motivation to get things done. The motivation we all need to shine in this life. And not for our partners, our kids or our friends... but for ourselves.
The ability to jump out of bed on a Monday and think..
DAMN WOMAN. You're amazing. Go chase that dream. Think big. Spread some love.
What could I tell you that you haven't already heard before? I am almost certain that today you will see many beautifully illustrated graphics telling you to go out and get the things you want.
Be inspired. Take a chance. Learn to shine. Yadda Yadda Yadda.
It doesn't matter how many times you hear me, or some other random person tell you, "you've got what it takes - you're brilliant, your time is now" ....
It's all bullshit when you're not in the right frame of mind.
Maybe It's not your time right now. Sorry.
But what if.... play along with me now.. if today actually WAS the day? What if today that you're life changed forever because you made the decision? What if these words were the catalyst in making those changes?
Now let's be under no misconception here. I'm not big headed enough to expect my words to change your life. I'm not asking you to credit me in the screen play when you get famous for living the life you've always wanted. BUT... what if you were just a little more open to change? What if, today, you felt worthwhile enough to say YES to yourself? What if this was the push to get you started?
Throughout my life, many people have inspired me to make a change. I can and will write a whole series of blog posts about them.. and they have shifted my expectation of what being alive means to me. There were times when I was so closed to the idea of change because I found it insulting that anyone would expect me to be any different than I was. What was so wrong with me?
I had it in my head that any change was admitting I wasn't perfect (who is?) and I was scared of what to expect if I did change.
During a smoke break in a day long training course I was delivering, a delegate told me I reminded me of her dead sister (her words, not mine). That's right. HER DEAD SISTER.
Turns out she was overweight too. That hit me like a tonne of bricks. She went on to tell me, that even though she didn't know me, she wanted me to lose weight and stop smoking, because I was going to die. WOW.
An extreme example of motivation. I felt offended, upset and surprised that a complete stranger, that I had to go back into a classroom and teach for the rest of the day, was bold enough to comment on my life choices without even knowing me. I'm not often (ever) left speechless. I was catching flies that day.
It took a while for that to sink in. No one wants to admit their failures or worse, have them pointed out to you in the middle of a training course.
I didn't stop smoking for another 4 years after that. I am still losing weight. and I still think back to the balls of that woman, who since became a great friend to me, who had the guts to make an impact in my life in the boldest way.
It can get frustrating seeing people make the same choices over and over, expecting to get different results. Why sugar coat it? Something needs to be done differently.
If you want to be HAPPY and you are currently UNHAPPY with something. Logic says you have to CHANGE something. It doesn't matter how many motivational posters you see, or how many people are jumping around willing to support you. Until you are ready. nothing is going to change.
Chances are, someone else in your life recognises that you have been unhappy with something. They can see that you need that push, but they don't know how to tell you, or worry that when they tell you, you will be insulted and feel even worse. They too might awkwardly blurt out something about their dead sister. It might be offensive in the moment. Go easy on them - because they might not know how to help you start. Don't wait for them to point out the things they think you need to change. The person that knows you need to change most is YOU.
and you are the only person stopping you... so...
What if today was the day?
I know so many people running in the Vancouver Rock 'n' Roll Marathon this weekend I feel like half of Kamloops is missing. I'm not going to pretend to understand why people sign up for these things? There must be a great feeling once you get past the pounding in your chest. The inability to breathe and general exhaustion that accompanies a run.
The one major advantage runners have, as far as I can tell, is the need to eat a bunch of carbs in preparation for a run. Now that's something I can get involved with. In fact, any time I am indulging in a particularly good sushi feed, or pasta dinner I always imagine fondly, that I am carb loading for a race I will never enter.
Running isn't my "thing". However, there is a small, really confused part of me, probably on a carb high, wanting, desperately to enjoy running. I've resisted it for so long and there are probably reasons less obvious than being slow, fat or unmotivated that I could try and uncover... but for the most part, I have just avoided it in favour of exercise in any other form. ANYTHING but running.
The other night I was out walking with my pup and I suddenly felt the inexplicable urge to run. Weird.
I set the goal of one block, knowing it was manageable and not that far. I say not that far, but without the desire to do it, it would feel like running a marathon without the carb loading, the medal, or any glory at the end.
Fast approaching 9pm, with limited visibility, I couldn't see the end of the block. To the casual observer I may have looked like a slow escaped prisoner trying to get to the nearest all you can eat buffet, but in my head I was a city fox. Stealthy. Graceful.
Not at all the large perplexed looking woman with the even more confused dog in tow, running in the dark for the hell of it.
I knew I could run further - so I walked down to the next street and as soon as my foot hit the curb I started running again. Another block.
I challenged myself and I did it. AND I didn't hate it AND I was able to control my breathing without feeling like dying. I wasn't self conscious about my body jiggling along. I was doing what I needed to do at that very moment. Even the ol' pup enjoyed it.
I wondered why so many of my friends liked running?
I can't speak for them, but when I am running down the block, and my throat is dry and I'm out of breath and I can hear my heart beating, I know I am alive.
I don't care if I look the part. or if I am quick. I don't care about anything when I am running, because I am so busy keeping one foot in front of the other being grateful, nothing else matters.
For my friends running tomorrow - whatever your reason for being there, you inspire me to keep trying! Your determination and passion for moving, gives me the itch to pick up the pace sometimes. I may never be a runner, and that's ok - but when I get the urge to run a few blocks, I'm going to be slow as treacle but I'll be smiling all the way to imaginary buffet.
Mother, creative strategist and health & happiness advocate. These are my personal ramblings..