Eat. Lift. Thrive. by Sohee Lee: Book Review

‘Strong is the new skinny’ is a common phrase these days, sprawled across tank tops on sweaty bodies at the gym, and on memes floating around Facebook. I’m glad the emphasis has gone from losing weight to gaining strength. I’ve had my own up-and-down relationship with my body size and shape, particularly in the past 5 years. I’ve accepted that my body will likely never be what it was pre-babies…but now I’ve started imagining that I can be stronger than I ever have been. When I was given the opportunity to read and review Sohee Lee’s Eat. Lift. Thrive, I accepted it gratefully. I’m determined to make my 40’s about thriving, not just surviving. I’ve done a lot of emotional work in my 30’s and am shifting my attention now to a healthy, physical body that will take me deeper into the life I envision.

If I were to dissect the reason for ‘where I am today’ in terms of my fitness, I’d say I didn’t invest the time. I didn’t take the time to understand my body’s needs or how to create a sustainable healthy lifestyle that was best suited to me. Since last fall, I’ve been more conscious to incorporate more movement in my life but I haven’t quite nailed down my routine or a ‘food for fuel’ mindset.

Are you looking for an individualized workout and nutrition regime that is sustainable? Eat. Lift. Thrive is like a personal trainer in your pocket!

Part One Of Eat. Lift. Thrive: Reset Your Thinking

Lee’s book begins with what, I believe, is the perfect foundation for any book on fitness and nutrition: your mindset. It’s probably the section of the book I would read over several times. In a humorous, conversational tone, Lee debunks common fitness myths surrounding willpower (because don’t most of us think it’s about having enough willpower?), that it has to feel hard to be working, and that a fitness regime is all-or-nothing. I was so relieved to read these pages, you have no idea. I’ve been known to go from 6 days/week workouts and watching portions to completely binging for days and falling off the cardio bandwagon. It’s a devastating fall from grace, that one. Not only do I then tell myself, “See? I couldn’t do it,” I also feel frustrated that clothes that fit me just a couple weeks before become completely inaccessible.

Reading this part of the book made me realize that I’m not alone in this. And it earned my trust in Lee to continue reading through the coming chapters. I’m glad I did because not only did she debunk the myths, she filled the void with useful information in an easy-to-read voice. Her examples of ‘small, bite-sized habits’ right at the beginning of Eat. Lift. Thrive. immediately gave me the confidence that I could actually manage to make movement a part of my week. Her emphasis on not just getting healthy but staying healthy sounds like the perfect approach for me!

Part Two Of Eat. Lift. Thrive: Eat

The first chapter of this section is like a review of nutrition without being overwhelming or daunting. In fact, Lee doesn’t look closely at numbers (in terms of grams of protein, fats and carbs) so there isn’t that obsessive quality that some regimes have. She’s more concerned that we know how to read labels and know approximately how much we are eating. This makes sense and is truly empowering. I feel like this would eliminate a sense of failure because you are not counting each macronutrient down to each crumb.

After the nutrition review, Lee makes suggestions for long-term success with eating well and talks about my favourite food subject: moderation. I balk at the idea of giving up pizza, bread of any kind, and a nice cheesy lasagna. No, thanks. Needless to say, I devoured Lee’s ideas about incorporating these foods into my meal plan with no guilt or shame. Training ourselves to be intuitive eaters (which she expands on in this book) is way more helpful than an outright ban on some of our favourites. I will never again read or listen to anything that tells me I can’t eat certain foods.

Her actionable items at the end of each chapter in this section are priceless. They are simple and sensible, and I can see that implementing just one or two at a time will make some smart changes for me.

Part Three Of Eat. Lift. Thrive: Lift

The introductory page to this part begins with “Resistance training is the fountain of youth.” If that doesn’t intrigue you to read this entire section word for word, I don’t know what to say. I’m aging and I’m OK with it, but I’d like my body to be as young as possible for as long as possible. This isn’t about shedding fat, per se, but building confidence. Lee suggests that the weight room is all you need for a trimmer, stronger body. Aside from the physique, Lee shares many other benefits she has observed as someone who works closely with weight trainers. Her case studies are inspiring to read and, like all the information presented here, this entire section reads like a personal conversation.

My favourite chapter in this section is Chapter 8 where there are photographs of people modelling the different exercises along with the descriptions of target muscle groups, variations, and tips.

Part Four Of Eat. Lift. Thrive: Thrive

And the best part is putting it all together, with your mindset, your nutrition and your weights program, to be able to create programs for YOU. To create a sustainable, healthy lifestyle that works for YOU. This section pulls it all together to help you put to practice everything you’ve been learning.

Like I said, I’m interested in thriving and not just surviving. I’m tired of the on-again, off-again relationship I have with my own health.

My Three Favourite Parts

  • This book is EASY to read. It’s engaging and informative without being overwhelming.
  • I loved the photographs of the different exercises. Visuals are wonderful. Plus each movement is explained so well in the descriptions that you can literally teach yourself how to do it.
  • I loved that Lee created sample programs to make it super easy for anyone to get started. With an emphasis on individuality, these are just guidelines but how nice to have something to start with, even if you decide to modify anything.

I recommend Eat. Lift. Thrive by Sohee Lee to anyone who is tired of starting over but wants to give it a good, sustainable shot. Also, to anyone who already has a fitness regime but would like to up their game.

You can find Sohee Lee on Instagram. Check out her IG stories – some great stuff there!

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

taslim jaffer writer

 

Women’s Heart Health: It’s Time We Were Part Of The Conversation

When I hear the words ‘heart attack’ I automatically think of a man. Not necessarily an older man, because young men (in their 30s and 40s) in my family have had heart attacks. And my father-in-law died suddenly from coronary artery disease just after his 65th birthday. But still…I don’t instantly think of my female second cousin who suffered a heart attack years ago. Or even the women in my family who are on cholesterol-lowering medication. It wasn’t until I read the Heart & Stroke 2018 Heart Report, released at the beginning of this month, that I asked myself, “Why not? Why don’t we think about women’s heart health?”

The conversation needs to begin with research; two thirds of heart disease clinical research focuses on men and is then applied to the entire population. But not all hearts are created equal, and there are significant differences between the sexes. This means, we don’t have enough information about our leading cause of death. As a result, women’s heart health is under-researched, under-diagnosed, under-treated and under-supported. Ladies, it’s not great news. According to Yves Savoie, CEO of Heart & Stroke, “Women’s hearts are still misunderstood. We are decades behind in our knowledge of the differences between men’s and women’s hearts.”

I am sharing this information with you because when I learned about it, it shocked me. I honestly had no idea of this discrepancy, or that women’s hearts are different from men’s. I just assumed that when I or my female relatives go see the doctor about our health concerns, our sex was taken into account and we were treated differently. It makes sense to me now, after reading the report, that women’s heart health is unique subject matter. But the diagnostic tests we take (like the treadmill test) are not nearly sensitive enough to detect issues in women. And when we do require treatment after a heart attack, less than 1/3 of us receive it within time guidelines.

I have heart disease on both sides of my family; as a South Asian Canadian this is not surprising. According to the recent report, South Asian, Chinese and Afro-Caribbean women have higher rates of heart disease and poorer outcomes compared to Caucasian Canadians. As well, Indigenous women in Canada are twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease.

This is all super grim, I realize, but as a woman I feel like I need to know this. It’s only by learning these statistics, hearing stories shared by women who have lived through these experiences and heeding their advice can I continue to advocate for my best health.

Some Facts About Canadian Women’s Heart Health

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of premature death for Canadian women.
  • Every 20 minutes a woman in Canada dies of heart disease.
  • 5 times more women die from heart disease than breast cancer.
  • Early heart attack signs were missed in 78% of women.
  • Women who have a heart attack are more likely to suffer or die from a second heart attack than men.

The report covers a lot more and I encourage you to look at it. Knowledge is always power.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m approaching 40 but I’m thinking about my health in a different way than I have in the past. It’s a good thing, though. I know it’s not 100% in my hands but I can at least try for optimal health.

I’m going to be focusing on specific areas and sharing my journey in different ways with you.

4 Healthy Lifestyle Choices I Am Focusing On

  • Eating well
  • Moving
  • Reducing stress
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

What are some of your health goals? Ladies, how are you keeping your heart in top shape? Please share with me in the comments!

taslim jaffer writer

Schooled In Smoothies By Jugo Juice

If you’ve been following along on my #TaslimGetsFit journey (mostly on IG Stories) you know that I’ve been moving a lot more these days. Mid-summer this year I realized just how sedentary my lifestyle was and I couldn’t recognize this woman who kept outgrowing her clothes! That was the worst part – looking in the mirror and not seeing me. Like, even past the body. I’m a strong woman. I admire speed and strength and flexibility, and I am quite capable of all of those things. But over the last few years I had let it all slide for one reason after another. The one important reason for getting back my strength – MYSELF – was forgotten. So, on August 1, I took the plunge and actually started a program of exercise and nutrition, and it has made all the difference! When the opportunity came up to interview Registered Dietician Andrea Holwegner, I grabbed it; I needed someone to demystify smoothies for me! One of my goals is to incorporate more of a variety of these in my diet, and Andrea is the gal who works with Jugo Juice to ensure their smoothies are as nutritious as possible.

The first thing I learned when talking to Andrea was that not all smoothies are created equal. The key to a healthy smoothie is to make sure there is no sugar added – the juices and fruits you use should be unsweetened. Jugo Juice rightfully boasts this about their product. Wherever you get your smoothies, you should ensure they can claim the same.

So, what do you put in a healthy smoothie (and still have it taste great?). Here’s a helpful chart of the anatomy of the perfect smoothie.

smoothies, jugo juice, chocoholic nutritionist, taslim gets fit, taslim jaffer

Breaking Down My Smoothies

So, I’m not a big juice drinker. We never have juice in the house; the kids have some when we go out for dinner sometimes or of course, they chug back a juice box at a birthday party. So, I asked Andrea about leaving out the fruit juice. While this cuts back on the sweet taste of a smoothie, it’s perfectly fine to use an alternative like a milk. I prefer almond milk or oat milk and I’m happy to stick to that.

When it comes to fruits in my smoothies, I’m a standard one banana type of girl. But Andrea encouraged me to try some frozen berries as they would add froth and make the drink more of a shake. I do add ice in my shakes which has the same effect. But if I’m leaving out the fruit juice, then frozen fruit is a nice way to add some sweetness and of course, nutrition!

Oh God, then there’s the stuff that makes it all turn green. Kale. Spinach. If you look at #3 on the chart you see some healthy vegetables which I NEVER include. Scratch that. I had tried to put greens in my smoothies but my blender just didn’t quite pulverize it enough and I ended up chewing (and gagging on) the contents. So, of course, I didn’t try that again! However, I treated myself to a new Ninja last month for the sole purpose of making healthier smoothies…and it’s still in the box. Because I’m scared to blend spinach again.

“You have to try the Mighty Kale,” Andrea encouraged. “It’s one of our most popular smoothies.” Was she kidding? I had to find out for myself so after my Zumba class on Saturday I made my way to a nearby Jugo Juice and walked right up to the counter.

“I was told to try the Mighty Kale,” I said, not sounding as sure as I tried to appear.

“Oh yes, it’s one of our most popular smoothies!” chirped the young woman behind the cash register.

I ordered one without the apple and orange juices, and asked for almond milk instead. Everything else – kale, spinach, mango and pineapple – could stay.

And this is what it looked like:

green smoothie, smoothies, jugo juice, chocoholic nutritionist, andrea holwegner, taslim jaffer, taslim gets fit

I’m not going to lie. It took me almost the rest of the day to finish it – it was huge! I even shared some with my 3 kids. As always, it was approved by 2 out of 3 of them (I rarely get all 3 of them to like anything). But you guys, I drank kale. And spinach. And that felt great!

I’m looking forward to mixing up my daily protein smoothie with some greens, a variety of frozen fruits and some of the superfoods mentioned in the chart. I now feel like I can successfully create something that will fuel my body – and if I need to grab something on the go, I can always pop in to my local Jugo Juice and more confidently order kale in a cup.

What’s your go-to green for a healthier smoothie?

 

 

Oat Milk: A New Plant-Based Milk For My Smoothies!

Last year, my husband and I watched the Netflix documentary Forks Over Knives and it seriously gave us some food for thought. (No pun intended). It was the night before New Year’s Eve, the kids were in bed and it was the perfect opportunity to start dreaming about our new year. What did we want to add to our lives? What did we want to ditch? What would be our focus?

Someone recommended this revolutionary documentary and so I suggested we watch it that night for some ideas. Our biggest takeaway was to concentrate on more plant-based nutrition to our daily diets. We did this in a big way by cutting out red meat and we’ve also made small switches like opting to go dairy-free where possible. The trick to being successful with this, we found, was to experiment and try a variety of options. Like with milk, for example. So, I was really excited when I got an email about a Vancouver-based company, Earth’s Own, that provides a nutritious, tasty alternative to dairy milk. It surprised me to hear that SoFresh milk was made from oats!

Refrigerated oat milk is new to Canada but people in Sweden and South America have been enjoying it for quite awhile. I loved the fact that it’s allergen-free, low in fat and sugar, high in protein and contains 7 essential nutrients including calcium and vitamin D. And, of course, that it’s made right here in Canada from Canadian oats.

This news came to me at the perfect time. I’m on a personal quest for fitness and a big part of that is fueling my body well. So, I’ve incorporated a daily smoothie which I had never done regularly before. Part of the fun of making smoothies is being creative about what goes in – and I was really happy to have a new plant-based milk to try. The best part is, I totally enjoyed the taste. (That was a bit of a relief, I must say).

I also used the SoFresh oat milk to make Apple Pie Chia Pudding – a recipe provided by Desiree Neilsen, R.D. who you should follow on social media if you are looking for simple and effective ways to get your health on track. I had first heard Desiree speak at a nutrition workshop many years ago and she blew me away with her passion and knowledge.

I’m thrilled that Desiree took the time to create a video just for my readers talking a little more about oat milk plus some really delicious ways to enjoy it. (Like THIS dessert!).

I’m really committed to better health on my road to 40 and beyond, and this fabulous list of recipes right from the SoFresh site gives me the feeling that it can still be a tasty trip!

Can you leave me your favourite smoothie recipe in the comments so I can add it to my arsenal? Thanks!

Camp Still Vancouver Is Holding A Meditation Party – And It Looks Awesome!

A meditation party? Is that an oxymoron? To be honest, I had to read the details twice when they first floated into my inbox. I kept imagining a bunch of people sitting on pillows and trying so desperately hard to squash all the thoughts in their heads. And not much else happening. While I’m all for quiet time and zoning out, I didn’t think this event was for me if it included doing that in a group setting.

Thankfully, Camp Still Vancouver’s first mass meditation party is NOT that! It’s actually an event with guest speakers all focusing on mindfulness and the practice of meditation – including Farzana Jaffer-Jeraj who wrote a book called How to Cheat at Meditation. This definitely doesn’t sound like your regular practice. Another guest of note is Chin Injeti, a Grammy award-winning music producer who’s worked with Pink and Eminem. There’ll be an opportunity to learn a meditation technique that could start you off if you are new to the practice, or enhance what you already have going on. And there will be experts on hand to answer your questions.

Because it’s a party, you can expect food, music, a DJ, swag bags…and a sound bath! What’s a sound bath? I’m not entirely sure – but if you follow them on Instagram, they do post a lot of great information.

Here’s what I DO know:

Contact: info@campstill.com
What: Vancouver’s First Modern Mass Meditation Party
Date: Thursday, April 6, 2017
Location: BMO Theatre Centre, 162 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver, BC.
Time: 7:00 pm -10:00 pm
Cost: $40.00
Let’s be honest – we could all use a refresher on getting back to our own breath. The world right now seems a little crazy to me, and I often need to shut it all out, power down the laptop, close my eyes and just remember my own Divinity. I think there’s no better time to reach out to a like-minded community – one that is safe and inclusive and encouraging of your own inner journey. Because really, I don’t think we can get anywhere on the outside if we aren’t grounded on the inside.
Do you have a meditation practice or something that helps you feel still?
taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Is It A Bump Or A Jump?

In the planning process, things don’t always happen smoothly. 

There’s nothing profound in that statement; we all kind of know it as fact.  Increasing the number of uncontrollable factors, and if you recallI am not a fan of uncontrollable factors, will most definitely increase the number of bumps in the road.  You can plan on that!

The real question is:  are these bumps in the road setbacks or catapultians?  (By the way, I thought I made that word up but it’s real!  “of or like a catapult”).

In other words, when you hit a bump, do you fall back or do you leap forward? 

I like to think I have a choice in which direction I move.  A curve ball can be looked at as part of the learning process – something I may be able to avoid next time with some new information gained – or I can let it knock me out and force me to throw in the towel.  A plan with a seemingly insurmountable number of roadblocks can be tackled one block at a time or end up in a pile of cancelled dreams.

There’s something I like to remind myself when I’ve lined up all my ducks and I’m just waiting for that Divine Intervention to see me through my good intention.  The Universe always answers my prayers, or requests depending on how you look at it.  It answers in one of three ways:

  1. Yes
  2. Yes, but not now.
  3. No, We have something BETTER in store for you!

If something I’m planning for hasn’t happened yet, despite me breathing down its neck, I remember the Universe’s 2nd and 3rd answers and I trust.  That trust, that faith, is always a leap forward.

In yoga, we are reminded in every muscular posture to reach with the heart.  You can try this right now.  Sit up straight in your chair.  Roll your shoulders back so that your shoulder blades are resting closer together on your back and feel your chest cavity opening up.  That is your heart centre, the seat of your soul.  In yoga when you lean forward in any posture, you do it with your heart leading the way.  Even when your head is going to end up on the floor in a complete surrender, you do it purposefully, reaching and going forward with love.

If I choose to meet life’s challenges in this way, I am sure I will quickly see how easily a roadblock can become a platform for exercising trust, faith, love and surrender.

What will YOU choose?

Is Social Media A Help Or A Hindrance To Your Creativity?

A creative block prevents you from engaging in your creativity.  These blocks can be thoughts (I don’t have enough time, I’m not really creative, Nothing I create is worth anything anyway), or they can be material (too much clutter, too many distractions).  A couple years ago when I first started becoming aware of my creative blocks, I would have told you hands-down my biggest creative block was the television.  “Down-time” in the evening meant watching T.V. and since this was really my only free-time of the day, it was easy to let writing fall by the wayside.  I didn’t “have time” to write.  Now that I’ve realized how much precious creative time I was throwing down the drain (not to mention yoga time and reading time), T.V. is not an issue for me.  I love one show and one show only – Gossip Girl!  What’s not to love about a scandalous group of social elites living it up in the Upper East Side?  Thankfully, this show goes on these sporadic and extended breaks so it’s not a regular part of my existence.  My husband and I do watch 1 movie a week together – but this is something we love doing as a couple and it’s been a ritual for us since we got together.  I say that makes it OK.

Unglueing myself from the boob tube felt great and surprisingly the withdrawal was relatively painless.  But now, NOW, a bigger monster threatens to take over…social media!  Facebook and Twitter – two seemingly harmless cousins who can get together and create a lot of mischief and wreak havoc on my writing schedule.

Other bloggers will empathize with me about the need to unplug and how daunting the task can be.  To have a successful blog, you need to spend a lot of time in social media and on the internet, in general.  Reading other people’s blogs, commenting on them, replying to those fabulous comments you receive on your blog, promoting your book/blog/workshop, networking with others in your industry…these are all part of your work day and yet it is so easy to get carried away.

The other day, I found a great link posted by one of my tweeps on Twitter, clicked on it and read the article.  At the end of the article was the website of the author.  Click!  I read a post, then another and then another on their blog.  One of the posts had another link.  Click!  Next thing I knew, almost an hour had gone by and I hadn’t even started my own writing!  That’s a lot of time out the window when the most substantial, consecutive time you have to write in a day is the two hours your daughter is in preschool every morning!

Not to say I didn’t learn anything through those clicks.  There is a tonne of information out there, so many fascinating articles and blogs on personal development and writing.  How lucky I am that this is actually part of my work!  But I can see it now.  It is so much easier to flit about the internet than to hunker down and crank out that piece of short non-fiction you plan to submit in a week!

So, it looks like I am going to have to find that fine balance that works for me.  Does anyone have pointers?  My first instinct is to schedule in social media time and then forget that it exists the rest of the time.  What do YOU do that helps?

 

The Feasibility Of Living Your Passion

“I don’t have the time.”  “I have to work full-time to make ends meet – being an artist won’t pay my bills.”  “It’s just not feasible to follow my passion.”

Do you see yourself in any of these statements?  You’re not alone.  By the time I entered adulthood I was dead sure that being a writer full-time was a joke of an existence; you can’t support a family and write at the same time!  Writing full-time was for free spirits who had no responsibilities or commitments, who would be just fine renting a one room apartment in a less than glamorous area of town.  I’m a plant-my-roots-down-deep kind of girl.  I always knew I wanted to live in one house my entire life, to have a big family in that one house, and to know my neighbours.  There will always be a part of me that craves solitude and that needs time away from people, even those I love, to recharge.  But the image I painted of the single nomad is not really me.  (It’s an inaccurate image anyway – you can be a full-time writer and live well!)

Let’s look at this idea of feasibility a little more.  If you tell me it’s not feasible for you to follow your passion, this is what I will ask you.  “Is it feasible not to?”  If you know that following your passion will add joy, happiness, hope and meaning to your life which in turn will do wonders for your health, your family and all of your relationships, is it feasible not to live a passionate life?

“Yeah, well, I can’t exactly quit my job to paint all day/make cards all day/write all day/travel all year/make jewelry all day (you get the picture, right?  Fill in this statement with your activity of passion.)”

OK.  So don’t.  

I agree with you.  In most cases, it would be completely ludicrous to give up a steady income cold turkey when you want to have a roof over your (and your children’s) head.  But there’s no reason why you can’t line up your ducks and prepare for what could be a major overhaul in what you consider to be your work day.  I think that that is both practical and exciting.  I like that combo.

What do I mean by line up your ducks? 

1.  Incorporate your passion into your daily life.  Be it 15 minutes or 60 minutes, whatever time you want to devote to it, do it.  Doodling for 20 minutes before bed is a completely acceptable way to dabble in your passion.  Reading about running gear or car mechanics or whatever…totally part of living your passion.  Immerse yourself in it.  Even if it’s just minutes a day for now.

2. Dream it then document it.  In an ideal world, how much time do you want to spend on your enjoyable activity?  What does that look like?  Are you happy with your passion being a hobby or do you want to make it a part time or full time business?  Write it out.  Draw it out.  Use whatever medium works for you – but get it down on paper.  I have always thought that writing something down is like sprinkling magic fairy dust over the words – it really sets things in motion!

3. Make a plan, goals, commitments to get there.  If your dream is to write for 20% of your work week by this time next year, where do you have to be financially and in your writing career 6 months from now?  3 months from now?  Next month?  Next week?  Break it down.  If your dream is to run 3 times a week by the summer time, what do you need to do to get there?

4. GET SUPPORT!  Bring people over on to your team to cheer you on, to help you navigate unchartered territory – get a coach, a trainer, a financial planner, a mentor.  This takes it to the next step.  Believe me.  I’ve been through the process!

5. Love the process.  Don’t get stuck on the fact that you’re “only” making cards for an hour every Sunday.  Love that you are making cards for an hour every Sunday!  Let that creative energy that you unleash during those 60 minutes carry you through till the next Sunday!  And know that you can make card making a bigger part of your life – know that people have successful businesses around this.  You can, too if you want to.  Enjoy the process of building your dream – you’ll give birth to more dreams as you go along.

I don’t write all day long, every day.  I don’t think I could.  Where would I get inspiration for my writing if I lived in a hole?  I mother my children, I have a relationship with my husband, I talk to my relatives and friends, I go to yoga classes, I cook and clean, I watch movies, I carpool, I read, I see clients for speech therapy.  While I agree, it’s a pretty awesome existence, not all of those things are necessarily my idea of mind-blowing passion (cleaning!?).  But I enjoy those things a lot more than I ever have because of the giddiness I feel from having a creative outlet.  Even laundry is not such a downer when I get to practice my toe squats (yoga – a growing passion) while folding clothes on the floor.  A spontaneous child’s pose in the middle of folding an endless pile of towels is just awesome.  Handling a toddler tantrum is not as bad as it used to be when my entire life was one big tantrum!  Now I know that outside of this moment of screams and “No!”s I have so many moments to write to you, dear Readers.  That energy and excitement I feel in my creative moments totally spill over on to the other areas of my life and gives them a huge boost.  I have way more compassion and patience for the things I used to consider infuriating.  I’m still human, mind you, but a happier human than I used to be.

So, is it feasible to live passionately?  If you had asked me 10 years ago I would have said NO.  If you ask me now, I will honestly tell you, my life would not be as exciting, fulfilling, and full of hope even in the simple acts of doing the dishes, or folding that never-ending pile of laundry.

 

Try-This Tuesday: Take A Breath And Add Some Love

I know, you’re thinking, how can I take a breath when I have a shopping list to get to, supplies to buy for gingerbread houses to be made at school, appointments to rearrange so I can get to the school to help make the gingerbread houses, the staff Christmas party to attend (after finding childcare and something suitable to wear) and regular life to contend with?

Well, I ask you then, if this is what your life looks like right now, how can you not

It’s a crazy time of year, even for those who don’t necessarily celebrate Christmas or Hannukah or Kwanzaa in a big way.  It’s still a time of year when people appreciate the holiday from work, the coziness that blankets the city, to get together with family and friends.  Rituals spring up in homes throughout the neighbourhood – they may be religous-based, season-based or just born from the basic human need to share and receive love.  It’s a wonderful time but for many it’s also an intensely stressful time.

There are several ways you can de-stress that don’t take a lot of energy but that can support you throughout your day.  Here are my two favourites:

1.  Roll out your yoga mat or pull up a pillow or otherwise just sit comfortably on the floor or a chair.  Roll your shoulders up to your ears as you inhale then on to your back as you exhale.  Close your eyes.  Breathe in for 4 counts (fill your belly!), breathe out for 4 counts.  Repeat 4 times.  Those may be the deepest breaths you take all day – enjoy them!

2.  Love what you don’t love.  For example, is dealing with a large crowd at WalMart giving you anxiety?  Is it frustrating trying to find a parking spot at the mall?  Tune in to something more positive and let that be the forefront of your experience.  Crank up the tunes in the car or sing a song to yourself while you try to snag a parking spot.  Are you annoyed that you had to run back to the store because you forgot to buy candy for the gingerbread house project?  While you’re scanning the bulk candy remember what these candies meant to you as a child.  (I did this yesterday!  I forgot about the fact that I dislike grocery shopping as I remembered the excitement my brother and I felt over gummy bears!)

So today, being the last Tuesday Task of 2011, feels like a good day to say “Take a breath and add some love.”

Do you have de-stressing tricks you want to share?

Most Of The Time I’m Pretty Neurotic

You know when you read personal development blogs and you think wow, that person really has their act together?  They must be like a crazy organized, zen, balanced superhuman?  I used to think that but I don’t anymore.  Why not?  Because I am the voice behind a personal development blog and guess what?  Most of the time I’m pretty neurotic.  I thought you’d like to know that.  In fact, I stated it right there in the title of this blog post because I knew it would reel you in.

Here are 3 more dirty little secrets that may shock and relieve you at the same time:

  1. I fear many things on a regular basis.  I alluded to one, not so discreetly, yesterday when I told you about my very unrestful Savassanahs.  I’m sure a lot of parents out there will relate to the fear of something horrible happening to their children.  Rest assured, I am one such parent.

I also fear looking like an idiot and I have to push past this fear every time I publish a post, here and on my recreational blog, The Artist’s Loft.  When you’re a highly sensitive introvert, it’s a bit daunting to invite the entire world into your mind.

Another fear I have is falling ill just before an event I am looking forward to and not being able to attend, especially one that I have a big part in – like I’m a speaker, or facilitating a workshop or hosting my child’s birthday party.

I know it’s important to turn our fear into fuel, to charge past these strong emotions, wipe the sweat from your pits and do it anyway.  I know that there is ‘nothing to fear but fear itself’.  (Did you know that’s a quote by Roosevelt, NOT Winston Churchill?  I just found that out.  My world just shifted on its axis a teeny bit.)

  1. Technology gives me anxiety.  Well, that’s being a bit dramatic.  I should say, if I had to deal with technology on my own it would give me anxiety.  I can get by.  I can set up a blog.  I once even set up a webpage using html, with step-by-baby-step instructions from a college teacher.  But faced with a computer, unaided, makes my right leg jiggle up and down.  As it is, I have come to have no shame in asking techies for help (in the form of frenzied text messages, emails and phone calls) doing even the smallest things.  It’s a little time consuming to do it this way, but not as time-consuming and annoying as having to figure it out myself.  I have decided that it’s OK with me to ask someone who loves this stuff to do it because a) I’d rather spend that time writing or reading or coaching or hanging out with my family or taking a shower b) if I have to fork out some money for the help, hey, I’ve just supported someone else’s business and passion and that feels good! and c) there are some really cool techie people out there I may otherwise never have met or re-connected with.

I’m no dummy.  I’m not against continued learning but when it comes to technology, too much changes too quickly.  This is how I choose to simplify my life.

  1. I have control issues.  Right now I’m in the middle of setting up a community workshop at a local coffee shop.  This type of venue is teaching me a lot about the control issues I have.  I want to be able to control the noise level, the music level, the lighting, the seating.  Everything.  I know that letting go will allow for more positive energy to flow.  I know that with the excitement and passion I feel toward this workshop everything will go well.  I know that the best things happen when we least expect them to, when we don’t plan for them, when we give the reins to Something Else, when we let go and let God.  I would still like to control the world sometimes.

So there you have it.

A lot of the credentials earned in this industry, for me anyway, seems to be from on-the-job training.  Every event in my life has brought me to this point –  the point where I am growing comfortable in my own skin as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a yogi, a creative life coach, a speaker, a writer.  ME.  So even though it seems like I’ve catapulted light years on this new path and therefore, I must have figured out all of “this stuff” overnight in some prophetic dream, no.  That is not how it happened.  I was merrily, and not so merrily, going about my life while the pathway was being laid and I said in the very first post of this blog, I’m on “a path that’s been paved by innumerable events, big and small, and that I have only recently begun to recognize.  You know when you’ve been driving on auto-pilot, going the same route to and from school or work every day?  At some point on the drive you go, ‘Hey!  Where am I?  How did I get here?  Oh right…that’s where I’m going.’  Yeah, it’s like that.  Only, recognizing your creative path is a lot more exciting!”

Bringing my first-born home from the hospital; I had no idea what was ahead! Inaya was a catalyst for my creative life <3

And so that’s how someone with fears, anxieties and issues just like you has come to be the voice behind a personal development blog.

The point of this entire post is to illuminate some of those shadowy areas of the personal development industry, to tear down the barrier between us and them, the ones who have it figured out and the ones who don’t.

My philosophy is that we all have the answers we need in our Selves, waiting to be heard, that will lead us to fulfilling lives of happiness, passion and brilliance!  I don’t have YOUR answers but I have had to dig for mine enough to have discovered some neat tricks along the way that I love sharing with YOU.  I love it so much, it makes my Self buzz with such giddiness, that I have made it my work.  And it chose me, too.  It’s quite a love story!

I know this was a long post and so thank you for taking the time out to read it.