Ankylosing Spondylitis Journey, Happiness, health coaching, Spirituality

My Ankylosing Spondylitis Journey – Understanding Energy and Dispositions and Our Pasts.

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Recently I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, but it was a long time coming and is but a small stage in my interesting journey understanding health (in all senses of the word) and pursuing vitality.

With my diagnosis I’ve been turning my coaching eye onto myself and so many things are connecting for me right now, especially as I listen to podcasts and hear others’ journeys with AS. I wanted to contribute to the blogging space with my own learnings and journey, and add my “me too!” to a few stories out there, especially when it comes to the connection between our own pasts, upbringing, and energy, and our pain.

I am seeing so many similarities between my own background and those of others on the AS journey, and I think that the more people share their story, the more they help others understand their own path back to health and vitality, and spark that creative problem solving process.  Everyone’s AS is so unique, yet many have similar strands and stories and themes.

Though it is important not to live in the past, gaining a bit of understanding about it can illuminate the way forward and help us write new chapters in our book, without getting stuck in repeating patterns or unconscious ways. We can intentionally choose different ways, and reject that which no longer helps us on our new path to wellness.

Today I wanted to write about something I am seeing emerge in people’s AS stories (not all stories, but it IS a common trend) and connect it with some things I’ve learned as a coach.

Energy, Dispositions and the Body’s Messaging System of Pain.

Today I wanted to talk about dispositions.  You can call it energy, or vibes, but those words don’t adequately explain it, because the word “disposition” also describes someone’s physical, mental, emotional, spiritual presence as well. Those of you who are into body language will find this an interesting one.  As a coach I  believe that we don’t exist simply on an intellectual level. We exist in a body, we exist in an emotional space, and we exist in a soul or spiritual space. We spend different amounts of time in each space.  Some people are deeply integrated on an intellectual and body level, or perhaps an emotional level and body level.  Others are not.  Everyone has unique combinations of where they spend their time and awareness. I USED to be strictly intellectual, no emotions, total logic.  My journey has been learning to embrace the other parts and integrate them all as a whole.

How is energy, disposition and posture important to Ankylosing Spondylitis? 

For those of us with AS, an important theme is the hard-charging, forward-pushing type. In coach school they called this the “resolute” disposition. I wasn’t entirely surprised when listening to podcasts, I heard many stories about AS victors talking about this aspect of themselves especially in their childhood and earlier years pre-diagnosis.

Forward momentumEnthusiasm, Striving, ChallengingPushing forwardCourage, High energyBut_High standardsInner + outer pressureexhaustionego

Someone with this energy is dynamic, driven, motivated, always growing, pushing forward and knocking down obstacles left right and centre.  Even as a child, they remember getting frustrated with homework they didn’t understand, having standards for themselves, maybe loving competition and they were noted for their enthusiasm and achievement in various areas.  They wanted challenging things.  They were also quite anxious at times.

This is a disposition that society looks upon favourably. Especially corporate environments.  Gogogo! Energy! Achieve!  Merit!  Recognition!  The ego loves this stuff.

I want to outline that we are born with innate dispositions but they can also be nurtured through our external environment – whether that is family, media, culture or society.

I myself had a fair degree of these inborn characteristics, but they were nurtured to the extreme, which led to an early life full of pressure, perfectionism, anxiety and high standards in every sense of the word.  I was a model student, involved and checked off all of the successful boxes.

Where the disposition piece gets fascinating is how it shows up in the body.  Our emotional, spiritual and intellectual environment doesn’t just exist in the brain.  The brain is just a funny little device connected to another 5-6 feet of body, and it is not separate from all of those other cells.

So how does this kind of forward-charging energy show up in the body?  I think we can all guess!

Common sense tells us this is someone who likes to move forward and upward in life.  Have you seen the body language and positioning of someone like this? Walking through the crowds with purpose, head pitched forward, getting stuff done.  Leaning forward, enthusiastically?

But what if you are also strongly pressured to be like this from the external environment? 

Disease means dis-ease. Not at ease.  Not in our natural way of being.

I think this is really when we get into pain and disease (disease means dis-ease, not at ease, not in line with our natural way of being.)

What if we are being pushed into this way of being?

What if we enter an unhealthy degree or an extreme of this disposition?

If you want someone to go forward, get shit done, and you were standing behind them, where would you want to push with your hands?  Right in the middle of the back.  The thoracic spine.

Funnily enough, this is ground zero of my pain.  The back is ground zero for many of us with AS.

I had some of these forward-moving qualities but then was pushed hard.  Then it snowballed, because I began to associate pushing hard and achieving with gaining attention and love from those I wanted love from the most (parents.) When you connect something intellectually, emotionally and physically it becomes deeply entrenched in the body.

I believe years of this has contributed to the disease symptoms presenting themselvesin my spine.

An interesting thing about healing the body and the complexity of Ankylosing Spondylitis, is that you become immersed in learning about different modalities and what each area of the body represents.  We learn that yes, we exist on different landscapes other than simply intellectual. There is something to be said about emotion, energy, the soul and spirit.  We learn that western medicine can’t always pick up on a clear physical symptom, and our clinical tools and knowledge are not quite there yet.  We learn that a large part of this journey is learning, and that learning is up to us.

As I began to untangle my thoracic spine pain on different levels, and what it may mean I learnt about other modalities and what they have to say about the spine.

I admit I haven’t learnt a lot, but I did become interested in the chakras.  The chakras are particularly fascinating, because they weave together the experience of pain in the body, but also the emotional experiences we have.

As soon as you start reading about the heart chakra, located around the same area as the thoracic vertebrae, things begin to connect.  Pain and personal story interweave.

The heart chakra is about loving not only others, but yourself. Many people with AS talk about their struggles to love and appreciate and be gentle with themselves.  The heart chakra is also about reconnecting with yourself.  Forward chargers are so connected with the external world, with ego, recognition, benchmarks, that they forget about that part so easily.  Again, I speak from experience in my teens and 20s.

Torticullis was a Turning Point:

Another story:  Earlier this year,  the disease affected my neck in a nasty way, which wound up in a few acute torticullis attacks that sent me to the emergency room – they were probably the most pain I’ve ever been in.  I really connected with Sky Denton (AS victor) and his story about being unable to sit up out of bed with neck pain.   It was such a low for me, and was probably a key incident that made me take my symptoms more seriously and advocate for myself in the medical system.

Again, I traced back through emotion, story, soul and pain to understand this area of the body and try and draw some connections.  How am I healing this year? Why am I experiencing massive pain in this area?  What might it be hinting at?

In eastern medicine, this area of the body ties in with the throat chakra. What does it represent?  Self-expression, having a voice, speaking the truth of who you are, authenticity.

This was an interesting discovery, because something that has been on my mind this third maternity leave, and something I am trying to embrace, is speaking my voice, blogging, instagramming and sharing my truth.  I feel a really strong urge to write and connect through story, and share.  Reading others’ blogs has been so, so important to my own self-growth and development that I want to give back – but it takes vulnerability and courage. The internet is a harsh place and we are all scared of being judged, or that troll waiting to hurt us with a stinging comment. I’ve been trying to follow the whisper that says “share your story” because it feels right intuitively, but not without trepidation.

I grew up in a family where my voice and opinions were disregarded even though I felt I had valuable things to contribute.  Over the years I learnt to suck everything up, not share things and protect my inner fortress, and that is a process I am learning to reverse now.  I’ve come to understand that the neck flare-ups this year are not tragic, terrible things but messages that I am on the right path, and that I am dispersing that negative, inflammatory energy through finally granting myself a voice and the authority to speak.  That torticullis attack was, in a way, saying “yes, you are on the right track with thinking about opening up, but  you really need to embrace it and DO IT”  Everything is unfolding for a reason, and nothing is a coincedence, and that friends, is the key lesson of the AS Journey.  It’s all meant to be, and we are meant to uncover the meaning.

 

 

 

 

 

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Ankylosing Spondylitis Journey, health coaching, Physical Wellness

I am a Mom Diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis after Having a Baby.

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Last week, ten years of questions and confusion around my back pain were finally resolved, and all of the “hot spots” in my body (that were seemingly unrelated) all came together.  I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (though I do still have herniations and injuries from a car accident.)  It explained SO.MUCH.IN.MY.LIFE.  Particularly the crushing fatigue which is leaving me struggling to make it past lunch time, the absurd brain fog (forgetting which way to drive home and unable to think out of the box) and the pain.  Ick.  The pain.

Mostly, I felt relief and quite happy.

First, happy that I wasn’t crazy and second, I felt a bit validated to be honest!

For the last…well… forever…  Since my 20s – I have been trying to rehabilitate what I perceived to be injuries and was beginning to wonder what the heck was going on and why my dedicated work in rehabilitation, corrective exercise, nutrition and mindfulness weren’t giving me the results I expected *if* it was an injury I was dealing with.  I had gotten my mind into an optimal state, lost 50 lb, redesigned my lifestyle, yet I was still dealing with exhaustion, pain and strange “incidents” in my body.  Two of which left me debilitated and sent me to urgent care, after having to call my daycare provider to help me off of the floor.  Yup, it was that crazy.

At rheumatology last week, after the initial glow of “ahhh, this all makes sense now” I did had a few sad days.  And that is expected. And totally okay.  You just don’t want to sta in those places.  But you do have to move INTO them and THROUGH them.  It is so important to honour whatever emotions we experience and let them be without judgement.  If we don’t, guess what, they’ll get pushed down into our body somewhere.

There were two reasons for those feelings of sadness.

First, I was a bit taken aback at the medication I had to start to cool the inflammatory jets and get back to a comfortable place.  I went from NSAIDs, fish oil, and a few other multis… to 4 prescriptions and DMARDS.  I’ve always been a bit averse to taking prescriptions, but now I realize the systemic nature of my disease and the damage that has occured in my spine & joints.  In all honest, I am now glad for (and appreciative of)  western medicine and its ability to pause the progressive disease.  It is not a panacea though, and I definitely see it as simply an extra tool in my tool kit 🙂

Since the birth of my 3rd baby I have been very symptomatic and have definitely been in a flare up for the most of the past year, but in previous years, I made some progress in deepening my knowledge and extending the time between flares.

2008-2010 was a very, very bad time in my back pain / body issues life, and I look back and am so glad I am not quite that bad now, and that I had a relatively decent run between 2011 and 2016.

2016 – 2018 have been quite up and down though.  I have had some big stress, and big illnesses not to mention, 3  pregnancies, so this is definitely a stage where my body is kind of in a bit of turmoil.

The second reason I felt sad after my diagnoses, is that I felt sad for all of those years I had battled against myself and tried to “beat down” back pain with a “suck it up” and “warrior” mentality.  I used to look at my body as an enemy to fight and then conquer and have mastery over.

I moved away from this mindset only in the last few years with the birth of my beautiful little babies.  It is, indeed, one of the greatest gifts they have given me.  Self-love, being gentle, slowing down and surrendering to the universe.

Since the arrival of these three sweeties ( 3 children in the last five years) I’ve changed.  I feel a deeper love and appreciation for my body, what it has done and what it continues to do.  I love it now, but I do feel sad for how poorly I used to treat it.  I don’t feel regret, but I do look back with a bit of sadness for all of those years I spent hating it, controlling it, and trying to gain mastery over it.

In 2018, I don’t see pain as something to be crushed, but something to be embraced with love, because it is our body’s messaging system.

It’s like when my 3 year old comes up crying. It sounds crazy to for me to tell him to STOP CRYING THATS ANNOYING, repress his emotions and ignore him / tell him to suck it up.  Of course I wouldn’t do that.  None of us parents would!

I would embrace him, connect with him down on his level and ask what is happening, how he feels and how we can work through it (while reassuring him that is okay to experience those emotions.)   So why would we take the former approach to ourselves when our body is communicating with us through the language of pain?  Yet, we do.

I wrote an article on managing back pain (note, this was written when I thought I was had the perspective of repairing injuries not an auto-immune disease)  with young children, and what I’ve learnt helps me over the last ten years – and you can see that the improvement all comes from a place of loving and appreciating my body. Not fighting it.    

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In fact, one of my favourite meditations over the last few years of deep immersion into meditative practices, is the inner smile meditation. To feel gratitude and fill my inner world with happiness, gratitude and the warm flow of love, is something my body desperately wanted (and did not get) until a few years ago.  I always recommend insight timer as it’s free, there’s so many meditations you can choose from, and an entire category dedicated to chronic pain management, inner smile, gratitude, etc.  They range from sparkly noises and tweeting birds and woowoo style, all the way to practical no-nonsense style.  There really is something for everyone. You just need a phone, “do not disturb” mode on, and the app open.

On this blog, it is my intent to openly share some of the things I have learnt on my long back pain journey and share the process of implementing tools.  Even though I am in a current flare-up, I truly believe I have found many of the right tools to manage Ankylosing Spondylitis and as I re-implement them in my life with new perspective, I hope to share with you the journey.  I also hope to connect with other mamas with AS as well, so we can support each other in our growth and elevation.

I am early in this journey though, and there are many more tools outside of the realm of western medicine that I am excited to learn about, and try out.  I hope to share these as well!

If you would like to read more posts on this journey, check out these:

https://thegreatmaternityleave.com/category/ankylosing-spondylitis-journey/

 

 

 

 

Ankylosing Spondylitis Journey, Essays, Free Life Coaching Guides, grief, Grounding, Happiness, health coaching, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Mental health, Physical Wellness

Stop Repressing your Emotions. Start Feeling and Start Healing. My Ankylosing Spondylitis Remission Journey.

Recently Diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis_ (4)

 

Image: Stock Image, Colourbox.

This image right below, is of the Hoover Dam. An engineering marvel bordering Arizona and Nevada.  It is a powerful visual for today’s post.  Hold it in your mind, it will make sense in a few minutes.

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Its concrete base is more than 600 ft thick.  Why?  The Hoover Dam holds back 45,000 lb of water pressure per square foot. Behind this massive concrete wall lies 247 square miles of water. That water is carefully controlled and flows through the dam.  A tiny, restricted flow of water generates enough energy in the plant’s turbines, to power the lives of 1.3 million people for a year.

Side note:  If you have attempted to keep bath water in the bath with a toddler, you will have an appreciation for the scale of this dam and water pressure, because with a toddler bath, you (the parent) with 5 or 6 feet of body, are trying to withstand approximately 100 gallons of water.  lol.  Anyways…

The water’s potential energy held behind that wall, is staggering.  It is there, bound up, waiting to be let through that dam.  The water that gets through, explodes with energy, transferring to kinetic energy, and eventually into electric energy for hundreds of thousands of homes.

If you remember back to your high school classes in physics, (assuming you actually attended those classes – I can’t say I did)  you may remember the first law of thermodynamics, the Law of Conservation of Energy: Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another.

I think about this all the time with parenthood – we all witness a huge range of energies & emotional states that  children move through.  They are incredibly dynamic.  Toddler kinetic energy (racing down the hall) can flash over to emotional energy in a heart beat! They will pick up any energy in the room like a sponge.  Even your baby does.  Trying to put your baby down quickly and easily when you are agitated and restless?  Yeah, good luck with that…

So, back to my point with energy only transfers. The human body experiences many forms of energy. Kinetic energy, chemical energy, thermal energy and electrical energy are all examples.   Energy is flowing within us and through us.   It leaves us, and comes to us.  It is a constant interplay between us and our environments.We’re in one giant circle of energy exchange.

Though we haven’t gotten a good handle on it yet, there are other forms of energy flowing in our body, too.  This energy is described in Eastern Medicine as Qi, but in the west we don’t really have a proper name for it yet other than the very loosey goosey description of someone’s “vibe.”

We have good days and bad days, on days and off days.  We feel the vibes of other people and we can’t help but raise to their level, or sink to their level, depending on where they are.  When our babies or children are in a different energy state from us, we are left trying to stay grounded while helping them move through their various states of being.

If you are super fascinated by energy states of children, I truly recommend Carol Tuttle’s book which describes different energy dispositions and how to work with them in children.   It has been hugely influential in my life and parenting.

Here we, are trying our best to manage our children’s energy and how we react to it, thinking we are the knowledgeable ones… BUT… children have something very, very important to teach us.  Children live in the present moment, and healthily process emotions.  They let themselves experience everything in full technicolour.  Then, as quickly as an emotion arrives, it passes.  Maybe 5 minutes later, maybe 2 weeks later.  It moves on.

Granted, we don’t want to go into full toddler style technicolour ranges of emotion and energy.  We are adults and self-regulation is important in environments like oh, say, our jobs? Extended family dinners?

BUT you know what we adults do? We repress our emotions and deny them. We are like the wall of the hoover dam, except we are not 600+ feet thick concrete.  We’re made of tissue, and bone, and organic materials that are constantly shifting and changing. I fully believe whatever emotions are being held back, the pressure of those is felt in our bodily structures.

We swallow emotions down and instead of letting them go through us and out of us. We push them deep into our subconscious and consequently, into our bodies.  They eventually show up, becuase energy changes state.  Perhaps bad dreams, or unconscious behaviours, or even chronic pain and illness.

In my own healing journey toward vitality and away from chronic pain and depressive symptoms and nightmares, I’ve come to understand that many of my own emotions have been repressed over the years, for various reasons.   From family, social and cultural pressure to have a stiff upper lip, to simply needing to get sh*t done in crisis situations and saving the emotions for later.

And here, is the main point of this article.  It turns out that having small children can be one of the most liberating things for your body, mind, spirit and soul, because they get our emotions back into free-flow mode.

Full disclosure, pre-kids, I used to see being emotional and crying as a trait of weakness and extremely undesirable. If I went to a movie with a friend or family, I’d inwardly roll my eyes if they were sobbing, and judge them – yet I’d be picking at my lip or fighting my own battle not to cry, staring at the back of people’s heads and trying to disconnect from the movie.

I took pride in being logical, un-emotional, stoic, etc.  I was simply modelling what I saw around me.  And you know what, for a long time it did truly serve me.  Locking down and getting stuff done and facing challenges was something I had to do for almost all of my teens and twenties.  It’s what I had to do then, and I honour it. That’s why we keep beliefs around, right?  At some point they were useful.

In 2013 I took care of my mum with stage IV lung cancer and I was pregnant at the same time. It was an honour to be in that role. I was locked down, efficient, stoic as F**** while so many people around me fell apart from grief.  I am careful not to judge it as a good thing or a bad thing – I have no regrets about how I handled my cancer caregiver role, however, keeping things on lock down did catch up with me, because those beliefs became more deeply embedded and my emotional range deeply decreased.  

When old beliefs begin impacting your current quality of life, it is time to say:

“you know what?  You served me once upon a time but you are not serving me anymore.  In fact, you are keeping me from moving forward and getting where I want to go in my life. It is time for you to go!” 

After the ultimate application of my ability to remain stoic and unemotional, I was thrown into motherhood, where my old beliefs about repressing emotion began to really backfire.  When my daughter was 3 months old, I was struggling to feel anything.  Joy, happiness, connection.  I realized that I had to get things flowing again, and feel something.  I began counseling, reading, keeping a dream journal and some deep somatic work. 

In order to let the good stuff flow, I learnt that I had to let the sad stuff flow, too.  The earliest hints of this were in my dreams which were really quite tortured and tragic.  Emotion was showing up in my dreams and my chronic pain was intense. 

From 2013 to 2018 I embarked on a journey to create non-self-judgemental space in my life let my emotions flow.  It was terrifying.  It was really hard, too. 

I believe that for any “logical” person, letting yourself finally connect with your emotional states and acknowledge that you are an emotional being, is the ultimate act of courage. Nobody wants to feel the hard stuff.  It’s why people get addicted to things.  We want to avoid it.  But in order to get to the other side (happiness and the good feels) you have to be brave enough to go through the hard feels.  

One of the practices I took on, was to cry in public. This was one of the most intense forms of self-regulation and repression that I used to do as a child and it was one of my most stubbornly held beliefs.  I knew this was a stubborn belief, because the thought of crying in public or around friends instantly made me recoil. 

 It was a hugely difficult practice at first to let myself cry publicly, but after some months of work, I did it! One of the first times I was able to truly let myself be and allow emotions to flow, was on an overnight flight to London Heathrow with my daughter who was 6 months old at that point.  The moment that plane flew over the twinkling Calgary skyline, I lost it. My mum and I had so many special memories of flying on that exact Air Canada flight back over to the UK to see our family (and when she lived there, me flying out to see her.) I was tired, and snuggling a baby and just feeling very, very lonely at that point of my life. I let myself sob.  It let it out, and let it go.  When people asked if I was okay, I said “not really.” I opened up.  That first time crying in front of a plane of concerned strangers was huge, and slowly I was able to do it in scarier situations – in front of my husband and friends.  

I would have NEVER done that pre-baby. Not. In. A. Million. Years.  Honestly, not even for $1000. Even 5 years later after tons of work, I find it hard to be emotional. I don’t think you can just simply decide to let deeply held beliefs go.  It’s a journey and you will move forward and sometimes backward. 

Rewinding back to 2013.  Once I had let myself experience tears,  there was plenty of room for the good stuff. Over the next five years, I was able to truly access joy again.  The water pressure against the dam released as I let some water (emotions) through the turbines.

By letting water flow through the dam’s power plant and turbines, energy is created. I found that analogy so true to my own life.  By letting emotions finally flow through, the trickle of water became a huge flow.  That emotional energy hit the turbines and converted to a different form.  The energy of growth, happiness and engagement. It released more energy to continue working toward the life I wanted, and more energy to access the good emotions.   

I can also say that it (has) helped relieve some of my chronic pain, though this has been something that has really come along in the last year (2017-2018)

  I truly think that when you have emotional pressure pushing against that wall (by the way that concrete wall is your own fear of emotions and “lockdown” mode)  some of that pressure has to transfer to parts of your body.  Headaches, back pain, maybe inflammation and illness or a bad digestive system?  Depends on you.

Energy is neither created nor destroyed, simply transferred elsewhere in different forms, right?  

In 2018 as I write this with far more emotional range, a gentler, kinder and more accepting attitude toward emotion, I can say that my pain is less, in all senses of the word.  I am more willing and able to express myself, embrace vulnerability and with those things has come a beautiful life, greater happiness and the confidence and faith to embrace highest visions for the life of myself and my family.   I am a better friend, wife, mother for being gentle not only with others in their emotional times, but also myself, and I wouldn’t take that back for the world.

I hope the dam visual lands with you, and that perhaps this causes some reflection on your own emotions, energy management, and the gift that your children have given you.

 

xo

 

Carina

 

Baby Gear, Families in Calgary, Happiness, Kids Activities, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Nature, Nature and Forest Play, Outdoors Activities

Hiking Heart Creek Trail with Toddlers – Toddler-Friendly Hikes in Calgary and Canmore.

Heart Creek Trail with 2 toddlers and a baby 🙂 

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Today my husband and I rolled out of the house with our two toddlers (4 and 3) and baby (1) to finally go do Heart Creek Trail.  We haven’t done any hikes yet this summer, but we’ve heard about this trail on lots of family outdoors groups.

We find that with hiking, we HAVE to commit, get up and go.  It really takes commitment – no changing minds.  It honestly takes a bit of dedication, because so many things can happen in the 2 hours between the kids up at 6:30 and getting rolling at 8:30. Meltdowns, complications, distractions or just the weakening of our own willpower to get in the car and drive for an hour and a half! 🙂

One thing that I am constantly fighting in order to get to the mountains, is the urge to leave the house in a somewhat not-disastrous-state. It’s quite a state after morning wild animal feedings 🙂

I work so hard not to feel it but my house IS messier than the average house and I full disclosure, I am still working to shake off  shame about it (which is hard to do when you do get judged and it reactivates your shame.) I constantly feel the need to clean it before we go.  Which is silly, because even if I do clean it, my ‘clean’ is still messy to other people, so what’s the point? lol.

I had been succumbing to the urge to clean earlier in the summer and finding that I was using my best energy and best time of day to clean and “organize” – basically, more often than not, it would wind up resulting in us not getting out!  So stupid when it’s not even a value of mine, I’m just doing it because of long-held shame and fear of judgement.

So, for the second half of summer, I’m pretty much leaving the house a disaster, saying fuck that and going to the mountains!  This is a belief that is no longer serving me.

We try to get everyone up, snacks packed, everyone changed, stuff thrown in a bag and coffees ready for us. Almost always, somewhere along the line we usually forget a coat, or a pair of extra pants, or someone’s water bottle, but if it means getting up and out, we can roll with that 🙂

Now, with out out of the way, onto the fun part – Heart Creek Trail, it is toddler approved (4,3,1)

Heart Creek is ideal for age 3+

Under 3’s will get tuckered so have a mode of carrying if they do!

I am pretty adventurous with my BoB Stroller and Double Chariot Stroller, however, I’ll say that Heart Creek is *not* doable with a stroller.

However, there are lots of natural features to keep the toddlers going!  You start off with a very slight toddler-friendly ascent up a hill (top left photo), over rooty, rocky trail for about 10 minutes before the trail opens to a nice meadow and view of Heart Mountain.  From there on in, you follow the creek, where there are fun bridges criss-crossing the creek, a toddler-friendly crossing where they step over slabs of rock, and trail mostly consisting of loose and compacted river rocks and pebbles.

Despite the bear in area signs, it was a busy trail on a Sunday in July, but not overly busy.

We turned around at the climbing area (75% of the way) as our parent spidey senses were tingling and we sensed the kids were getting tired. It wound up being a good judgment call.  Always turn around before meltdowns, and leave something more to look forward to the next time.  That’s kind of our approach to hiking now.

I think in our earlier parent days we were adamant about completing the whole hike or trail and we’d always wind up carrying someone back to the car or dealing with meltdowns.

We’ve learned to let that mindset go and simply go for the experiences on the trail, rather than where the trail leads to, or the “accomplishment” inherent in a hike.  It takes a bit of work to pull back and turn around before you are ready to, but it makes for a better experience for everyone!

 


Tips to keep your toddlers going on a hike:


-Snacks


-Point out cool features (lots of mushrooms on your right, on the first part of the hike – keep your eye out for the cute pink ones!)


-Don’t see at it as getting to a destination – look at it as a chance to explore and play in different features along the trail. We loved the little creek crossings on the rocks as well as the bridges.

-Make nature bracelets so they can pick things along the way! Still have to write a post about this, but essentially, make a bracelet out of duct tape, with the sticky side up.  As your kids hike, they can add little things to their bracelets like leaves, moss, twigs and the occasional wildflower. 

-Scale it.  Remember they are little people in little bodies.  We really had to work on getting out of our “goal of completing a hike because we drove an hour there” mindset and focus on the experiences along the way on the trail.  Ironically, this is a really nice analogy for life. 🙂

If you enjoy reading about trails on blogs, here are some blogs about Heart Creek Trail written by other wonderful bloggers!  These are always what inspire me to get out there!

Other blogs on Heart Creek Trail & Area

I love the Hiking with Barry blog, he’s a lovely guy and sold me my XC skis last year! Here’s his blog on Heart Creek Trail 

Tanya scrambled up Heart Mountain (sans kids you can make it a great scramble / summit hike!)

Here’s the standard All Trails Heart Creek Trail Map

With or without kids, if you complete Heart Creek and still want more, why not do Bow Valley Nuclear Bunker after lunch and explore the man made cave inside?  (take a flashlight, it’s pretty cool and starts from the same area as Heart Creek!) 

Essays, Free Life Coaching Guides, Grounding, Happiness, Lifestyle Design, Mental health

The Power of the Spoken Word and Speech Acts – What Do You Speak into Existence?

 

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My oldest two children are 4 and 3 now, and this summer has been a blast in terms of communication. My three-year old’s language exploded in May (after about 2 months of shitty sleep patterns! ah hah! Mystery solved!) and he is now a chatty little guy, stringing sentences together.

They are listening and soaking up everything around them like a sponge.  They are practicing all of these new words, in new combinations, with new inflections in their voices. Words are being placed together into sentences, like their lego blocks into towers.

Do you remember taking language classes as a kid, and once you had the hang of a sentence you’d learn a slang word or a new word to put in to add some ‘style?’  But when you added that slang word, you kind of felt odd and waited to see how it landed with other people?

I think it’s the same for toddlers, they add in newly acquired words, look around and wait to see if it has landed with someone. Then, their little brains either file away for use again, or they discard it if it comes with shock and horror on part of the parents (like the first time my little man dropped an F-bomb.)

It got me reflecting on our own speech.

When we experience a thought in our mind that we want to put out there, it’s an interesting process.

We have a thought.  In six hundred miliseconds, we push air through our vocal chord, and shape with our mouths, in the process giving life and existence to that thought.   Researchers were only able to track this process for the first time in 2009.

(Don’t even get me started on what a ‘thought’ is, lol that keeps me up at night.)

It is very true that we “speak” things into existence.  Noone knows what we are thinking about, until we decide that it is worth bring from the brain, through the vocal chords and into our mouth where our anatomy forms consonants and vowels.

There are specific things we can do with speech:

We can ask for something (request) “hey could you do me a favour?”

We can offer something “I’d like to have you over next week.”

We can promise something ” I will run that race with you.”

We can declare something “today I am going to show up and crush it!”

We can judge something “She is too stressed.”

We can describe something “She has a frown on her face.”

 

I love to listen to people conversing – at coffee shops, book stores, or even on transit.  It’s fun to start noticing which of the above speech acts they use.

You’d be so surprised how unconscious people are of their speech patterns, yet, it reveals so much about them.

The same goes for your own children, what kind of speech acts above do they use?

Asks: Can you get me the purple cup please?”

Just kidding, my toddlers use declarations instead of requests:  “I WANT THE PURPLE CUP.” 

Descriptions:  “Mommy your legs are spiky!” (usually in a public place with many witnesses ;0) )

 

Just as we have streams of consciousness (thinking,) we have streams of speech.  It is cool to watch the stream of speech coming out of someone.

Do they make declarations? “This is a beautiful day and I am going to enjoy it!

Do they live in judgement? “She should have done this, and she should have done that and look at that dress and no, I didn’t like that lunch, it was too spicy, and it was busy there, and ugh, it’s just so hot out today.  Do you think this is too much (waving at their clothing) ”    – by the way, this sentence is longer for a reason.  Judging is a real bad habit for us humans.

You can also start to discern whether someone speaks from a place of expansion, openness and positivity?  Or – unpleasantly –  closed, negative, and fixed.

 

So here is my question for you:

When someone has just given you air time by asking you about your summer, or day,

When someone has said, “I want to listen to you.”

What do you return with? What is your habit of speech?   What is worth putting out there into the world out of all those conversations floating up there in your mind?

It is estimated we think about 40,000 thoughts a day.  Which ones are worth taking out, pushing through the vocal chords, and forming in the mouth, to share with another human being?

Because what you speak, you speak into existence. 

Your future isn’t here yet, but it arrives when you speak about it and make it real.  

So with that airtime – Are you going to speak of other people and gossip? Is other people what you are going to focus your air-time on? Are you going to speak about everything you enjoy and are looking forward to this summer? Are you going to speak into existence “oh nothing is new?”

Words are sacred.  

Can we gain awareness – a pause – a sacred moment –  before our thoughts make their way to our vocal chords?

Perhaps by practicing that pause, we can light up the areas of the brain + the speech pathways – that prefer growth, expansion, optimism and hope.

Perhaps those newly expanded areas will reflect in our speech patterns.

What do we want to speak into existence as we make offers, promises, requests or declarations?

 

So the next time someone asks “how has your summer been?”  “Anything coming up?” – take that pause.

Where do you want your life to go?  Declare it. 

 

 

 

 

 

Essays, Happiness, Learning, Life Hacks, Lifestyle Design, Mental health, Personal Development

Mental Health on Maternity Leave – How to Know if You are Doing Okay

Over the last few years I have been diving deep into mental health, resilience and grit. When I was completing my Masters Degree at the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies here in Calgary, I had the opportunity to do some research into these topics, and that fascination has continued to this day – both inside and outside of work.

I have researched and done professional training (I highly recommend taking the Working Mind course if your employer offers it) and have studied and practiced many of techniques.  One I still use regularly is a box breathing technique taught by, and for, Navy SEALS that regulates the autonomic nervous system.

I believe that any coach worth their salt, should endeavour to put their own tools into practice and really understand what they are talking about on a somatic, emotional and mental level. I believe they should stay on top of research into human psychology and mindset, and I believe they should use their knowledge to translate advanced ontological tools into easy to understand techniques that a client can apply daily to their lives and take forward into their futures.  Coaching isn’t teaching – it is empowering a client to cut through their own fog, uncover deeper self-awareness, reconstruct their mindset, re-pattern habits and reach their potential through intentional practice.  Sometimes I may introduce a client to a model, research, or information that helps them have a shift in mindset, knowledge or awareness such as a technique or research study if that helps them and fits with their goals for coaching.

I have studied mental resilience, mental toughness, grit, persistence, whatever you would like to call it and have read through many resources put out by the United States Marine Corps, the Department of National Defence as well as research journals. In fact, rather than paying someone else to teach you, the best, best way you’ll ever learn in life is by seeking out the information yourself, teaching yourself and practicing it. This is the foundation of a powerful learning technique called Inquiry-Based Learning.  My pet peeve is getting into fancy inacessible langauge, so for our purposes, let’s just call it google-based learning with the assumption the places you are going to for information are a bit more legit.

Paying for courses is simply a way to speed up the packaging and delivery of information and researching stage and it saves you a few hours. I strogly believe in reading books.  First, you can take them at your own pace, second you can write all over them, and third, you immerse yourself inside the author’s mind and get a true feel for the content.  I think of it like steeping my brain in (name author here) tea.   When I am frazzled, I’ll crack open a book by Thich Nhat Hanh and come out thinking like him (because I have been while I read his work.)

Depending on your time and of course, budget, courses are a valid route. When budget allows, I enjoy taking them, and you’ll come out with great information.  But remember, you don’t have to have a big budget and access. To deeply immerse yourself and get that information locked deep in your mind, hunt down for it yourself and start practicing.

I highly recommend any material by Mark Divine through his mental training program, Unbeatable Mind.  Start with the book.  The Kindle edition (you can read on your phone or laptop) is less than coffee.  $2.50 (!)

Note:  Affiliate link to Amazon – by using this link to hop over to Amazon, you are directly supporting my blog, so I thank you in advance if you decide to go there via this button.  
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I wanted to share one of the models that is employed quite extensively across the military and that is the Mental Health Continuum Model.  When I first was introduced to this model I figured, hell, if they use this on battle-hardened soldiers, this is definitely going to be good for Mums.  By the way, I will fully state here that I think Mums are the toughest people around.   Right now. Hands down.  Tough as any soldier.

We need this kind of information and training, but in all honesty, sometimes we are intimidated by this stuff. I remember walking into my first Crossfit Gym in 2010 for example and it was all five finger death punch and tattoos and ripped guys and it was terrifying for me, then I realized once I got to know everyone how wicked, approachable and normal they all were and that “intimidating” was just a story my head had made up. In fact, they have come to me for advice over the years, too!

So the model… bear with me… you may roll your eyes and think “here we go, another check list of things you should do for mental health, uggghhhh I already do those.”  (trust me, I find that frustrating too) but this model is different.

It made me think in a different way about my mental health.

I don’t think about how I am doing on a “good to bad” scale anymore.  I no longer think about mental health in a linear sort of way either. Hell, I don’t even rank it anymore.  I think about mental state movement.

I’ve learnt that ‘mental health’ is complicated as fuck.  You can be great in one area, not so great in another.  You can think you are doing awful, but then you are doing wonderful in another area . This leaves you confused.  You’re left wondering whether you’re just looking at things wrong, and it’s a matter of perspective, or if things are bad and this is some kind of weird response wherein you ignore what’s going wrong. It is so confusing.  Mental health is incredibly complex and a model is woefully inadequate to describe our inner worlds with five bazillion layers and complexities.

The mental health continuum model is about which direction you are moving in and that is an important concept.  A USEFUL concept.

If you asked me, “Carina, what the secret is to happiness, life elevation, fulfillment, whatever you want to call it but that which we are all working towards”   I would tell you that it is about accessing and maintaining this magical type of energy that infuses your whole being.  It’s not actually happiness, happiness is a side product of it.

This is where it gets tough for me because it’s hard describing this correctly in the English language.  The energy we want, is one of engagement and expansion.  It’s a really difficult energy to describe, but when you have it, you know you are in the right place.  You are interested in things, engaged, enthusiastic – yes you are being challenged and there’s some shitty times- but it’s got an upward “feel” to it.  It makes you want to be alive.  It’s when you are working toward a goal.  It’s when you are learning and growing and changing, it’s when you are looking forward to something.  Those are times you are in this energy space.  Even when you experience a setback and you’re picking yourself up and dusting yourself and the tears off, that’s where you want to be.

Think back through your life, do remember a time when you fell in love with a new hobby or activity and you couldn’t get enough? Even though you were awkward, and learning, and it was up days and down days, and days you wanted to quit, you knew intrinsically that you were moving forward in life and you were really quite excited and engaged?  There was something that lit your soul up, wasn’t there?

That’s that energy that I doing a terrible job at putting words around.

You see, mental health isn’t where you are on a scale.  It’s about whether you are moving forward or backward and which energy you are holding.

Forward energy:  Engagement + expansion  + fulfilment.  Green.  

Backward energy.  Disengagement + contraction + emptiness.  Red.

Mental Health Continuum Model - University of Calgary

Image credit:  The University of Calgary SU Wellness Centre.

The model is presented on a scale, but really try to focus your attention on what it means to move toward green or away from it. Energy.

There are so many ways that we understand what it means to be mentally healthy.  The key is understanding our baseline and whether you are moving forward or backward.

For example, one small facet of mental health is social life.  Some people have a small, close set of friends and are more introverted.  Their baseline looks different from a life of the party extravert with a wide range of acquaintances.  The key is to be aware of your movements within your benchmark… to what extent are you moving toward green or red?

Can you see how this diagram describes that energy I was trying to put words around?

It’s tough because the model above uses the words “healthy” and “ill” which gets clinical and makes us think it is a cut and dried thing.  I learnt over the last few months that raking your health is a terrible idea. For a while I was of the mind that my body was completely broken after babies.  That did NOT work let me tell you.  It made ALL of my symptoms worse and I had a pity party.  I choose to be of the mind that I am going green. I am improving my health, moving forward and upward.  I’m going to the green.  

Green is reaching out, expansion, elevation, growth, upward and forward.

Red is isolation, contraction, deflation, regression, downward and backward.  It just makes you feel, well, kind of ick. 

Another thing I like about the fluidity of this model, is that it normalizes fluctuation.  Our mental state changes ten times a day!   It ebbs and flows over a week, a month, a year.

The amount of mental health information we have access to is amazing these days, and the normalization of mental health has been a gift.  However, we have to be super duper careful in these times to not get into a fixed mindset, label ourselves and get a bit “stuck.”

It’s also hard to manage the information overwhelm because nowadays you can read stories about anxiety or ppd, and you are left thinking wow, so much of this is my story.  Does that mean I have it too?  At what level do I get help? does it go away? Etc.

(I’ve written extensively on post partum depression by the way, so feel free to read those if you are in that place and not sure whether to see a professional.)

It is super important to outline that we dont all live and stay in green, nor should we.  We shouldn’t be all great, all the time.  We need to be ill sometimes, we need to be injured sometimes and that goes for mental health as well as physical health.

Nature goes through seasons.  The bright lush greens of summer give way to contraction, withdrawal and less vibrance in autumn, and dormancy in winter.  EVERYTHING in nature goes through oscillations or wave patterns.  Forward and backward, upward and downward.  We are are part of the natural world.  In. out.  Expand. Contract. Breath in. Breath out.

This model shows you that there is optimal state and reacting state –  and it is okay to be moving between those and constantly correcting.  The key is being aware of that movement.  Which way am I going? 

I myself went through a BIG funk January through to May and I finally really got my groove back in May / June as I started trail running and getting out in nature again (it really is a key to my mental health.)

In May I found myself returning to this model, genuinely worried I was experiencing post-partum depression again and wanted to look at the indicators of moving into the “injured” zone of mental health.  I started looking at which parts of this model indicated I was regressing, and which ones I could correct.

Most of my changes centered around physical activity. I made some corrections to physical activity and physical health (I’m working on a laundry list of injuries and pain sources) and can confidently say I’m moving forward in the green direction.  I don’t “rank” myself along this continuum though, I just ask myself, “am I doing things that move me toward green, and away from red.”

This model empowers you to self-assess how you are doing.  Resist the urge to assign yourself a place on this model, because we all move back and forth.  Remember, we are part of nature and oscillate.  The key is to ask yourself, which direction am I going?  Which energy am I experiencing and in which areas of my life?

Having this model also encourages you to evaluate the tricker parts.  If you are in orange and going toward the red zone it’s a great chance to reach out.

If you do a google search of “wellness model” or “wellness diagram” you can get some ideas of areas of your life to think about when you look at this model.

Personally, I like the 8 dimensions of wellness from the Mental Health Association of Portland below. In my own work with clients, I’ve developed my own.

Think about the key components of wellness in your life.  For me, this model is missing “creativity” it’s a barometer of how I am doing.  I also like to get more specific, so I’d break down emotional into “family” “marriage” and “friendships” – all three of those areas are very important to me – and I like to think about whether I am progressing or regressing in those areas.

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Image Credit: Mental Health Association of Portland

When I went through my springtime slump I withdrew very much from my social life, felt disembodied when I was out with friends, and felt myself being distant with my family.   Feeling that negative, slumping energy on all three domains was a big red flag for me that I needed to course correct.  I started working with a psychologist, ramped up my health efforts and got the hell outside.  All biggies for me.

A fun activity that you could even do is draw a bunch of circles, much like the above and label them with the key components of your life.  Inside each, draw a green arrow point up and a red arrow pointing down to represent forward momentum or backward momentum.  I do this with my students all the time and it’s a very enlightening thing to do.

Even though it’s common sense and fairly obvious to do activities like that, there’s something to be said about putting pen or pencil to paper and really reflecting.

So until next blog,

Keep moving forward.

 

xo

Carina

Baby Gear, Families in Calgary, Happiness, Kids Activities

A List of Fun Things to Do in Calgary with a Baby and Toddlers during the Summer. Things to do With Children in Calgary.

FUN THINGS TO DO IN CALGARY, CANADA WITH KIDS UNDER 5 (SUMMER EDITION)

On my 2nd mat leave, I wrote a post on fun things to do with a baby and toddler in the winter.    

One thing we do in our house each season, is make a fun list of things to do with our 2 toddlers and baby, in that season (by the way Western Canadian seasons are really sunny and hot, or really sunny and freezing lol!)

I find that I’m not particularly creative in the mornings, which is exactly when we wake up, feed the kids, get them dressed and start fielding the questions of “Where are we going today?”

We also find that we come up with excellent unique ideas all the time but it’s when we are out driving or doing something, and then we forget about them!  So, this summer I made a point of writing down all of our ideas between my husband and I.

Many of these we have done, many of them we have not.

So, I present to you, the ultimate list of fun things to do in Calgary in the summer with a baby and toddlers / small children in tow.

Fun things to do in Calgary with babies and toddlers – Summer Edition! 

Go visit the Bow Hatchery.  Play in Pearce estate park, go feed the fish in the hatchery, get a kids’ fishing rod and catch a trout in the family pond.

Go park at Pearce estate park, enjoy the playground, walk through the nature trails to the newly opened LIvingston Channel for a morning of fun water play.  This is a separate channel off of the bow river, beside the kayakers’ rapids but is safe for kids. Remember your PDFs.

Visit lakes!  Sikome Lake in Fish Creek Park, Quarry Lake in Canmore, Two Jack Lake in Banff. All of these have sandy beach areas for the kiddos.

Visit Reader Rock Garden, there is a tea house / cafe and kids love climbing the rock steps.

Attend an open air theatre performance in Princes Island park, which has great playgrounds.  You can pick up a gorgeous picnic from the nearby River Cafe.

Take the Gondola up to Sunshine Meadows and walk around.  Have a beer at the day lodge.  Kids LOVE the Gondola ride.  You can also do Banff but it is $$$$.  Make sure you pick up coupons from any major mall’s information desk.

Visit a spray park. Our favourites in Calgary are:  (South) Glenmore resevoir variety park, (Central) Riley Park and (North) Bowness park.

If you are at Bowness park, take out a boat or ride the train that goes around the park.

Catch little minnows and watch your children delight in them nibbling their toes at the beautiful Bebo Grove in Fish Creek Park.  Don’t forget hot dogs and lunch – benches and firepits on a first come first serve basis.

Take the C-train downtown.  Let the kids splash around in the fountains at Olympic Plaza. Picnic in the sun and explore Stephen Avenue Mall (walking street downtown, often filled with vendors in the summer.) . If it’s too hot, head inside to the great playground surrounded by the Devonian gardens, inside The Core shopping centre.

Also downtown, explore the Dragon City Mall. Take the stairs up to the Dim Sum Restaurant, Feed the Koi Carp Fish and try out a few Dim Sum dishes. Very family friendly, especially on weekends.  Fast in and out service.

Roast Marshmallows over a fire pit anywhere in Fish creek. We particularly love Voitier flats area (end of elbow drive) – there’s a hidden tree house by the way, and very friendly chickadee birds 🙂

Rainy day?  Go to the massive, massive hide ‘n seek indoor playgorund facility – generously sized so you the parent can enjoy (or easily extract your crying toddler)

Another rainy day? Go see a matinee movie at any movie theater.  We like the Canyon Meadows movie theatre which has movies for cheap.

Rent a chariot and bikes from Nomad Gear Rentals, who come to YOU to fit gear and pick it up, too!  Ride 15km around Glenmore Resevoir.  Stop in the spectacular Jack Rabbit Trail area for the kids to explore the forest, and end at the family friendly 1600 pub for a pint and eats.

Feeling braver on bikes?  Park in Canmore, bike the Legacy Trail with your kids.  20+ km one way to Banff, but we usually picnic at a nice halfway point that has a lookout and picnic area.   Then, obviously, pub.  We recommend the Iron Goat. Try their grilled calamari and blueberry bison burgers.  OMG.

VIsit the Eau Claire Wading pool downtown, surrounded by Eau Claire Market.  Try and time it with one of the many festivals and events that take place in the area.  Walk across the bridge to Princes Island park and visit the famous peace bridge.

Visit the historical Annies Cafe in Fish Creek provincial park. Grab icecreams for the kids, beer wine or cider for yourself, and let them romp through the lovely native gardens and art installations.

On the road that goes to Annies is the AMAZING mountain bike skills park.  Little rippers on balance or pedal bikes?  Go early to avoid the teens, but they w ill love it.  Grab that well earned ice cream at annies or cool off at sikome lake after, both are on the same road.

If you feel like exploring further, when you exit annies cafe, in front of you in the distance  (1km) you’ll see the ridge on the other side of the park. Take the pathed path that way, cross fish creek and turn right to explore a set of caves in the hillside.  The path does a 2km loop (stream changes trail)  before returning to the bridge back across to annies cafe.

Have a brilliant day out at Kayben farms in Okotoks, about a 30 minute drive.  Giant slides, farm animals, forests to explore and a crazy fun giant inflatable trampoline for big and little kids alike.  Often live music on the weekends and damn good stone oven baked pizza.

Pick up fresh vegetables, pick berries yourself and visit the beautiful cafe and at Saskatoon farms.  The extensive labrynth of gift shops is a bit stressful with small unpredictable humans, but they’ll want to be over at the chicken pen anyways, so no worries there 😉

Go watch a movie on the 360 degree dome at the Telus Spark Science Centre. Save your money for this one, and the zoo, a day pass for a family will run you quite high.  Again, keep your eye out for coupons in books at the information desks at local malls.

Visit the Calgary Farmers’ market on Blackfoot Trail, your kids can romp in the barnyard playground while you enjoy coffee and market goodies.  We totally recommend picking up some spices at silk road spice market, the crafted store, and I’m always in eden essentials for crystals and bath stuff – don’t forget the amazing chicken sausages at missing link.  They are AMAZING.

Tip: They have single and double car strollers parked behind the playground so you can actually shop the market with happy toddlers enclosed,  and bring cash for the face painting booth right beside the playground.

Older kids?  Pick up some led candles from superstore grocery store, and set up a little evening candle light fairy picnic anywhere in Fish creek!

Visit St. Patricks Island natural playground, which is the back entrance to the zoo.  There is an amazing nature-inspired playground a short walk from the parking lot.  If you fancy exploring further, cross the bridge across the bow river and visit the east village playground and citizen sidewalk cafe / bakery in the east simmons building.

Want to grab some art and craft supplies?  Why not time it with the free art and craft classes that michaels offers for kids.  they run from 1-2 hours and you can leave them while you shop.  Check out the website for details.

Stand up Paddle board at Two Jack Lake or Canmore Resevoir. Rent from Bow Valley SUP once you are out there, they do lessons too – or Nomad Gear rentals in Calgary.  Small rental car? No worries. Rent an inflatable which fits in a large backpack and comes with a pump that is easy to use.

Both have beach areas so the parents can switch off!  Don’t forget a pfd for your kiddos who will want to climb aboard, and maybe a sense of balance 🙂 But don’t let bad balance stop you, you can always stay very stable and paddle on your knees!

Expose your children to a safe, easy, beautiful rockies “hike” close to Calgary.  Heart Creek Trail.

Build a tree house in fish creek.  Or better yet, find the ones that are hidden, like this Teepee on the ridge overlooking fish creek 😉    This particular one is a hit with our kids and saskatoon berries are nearby for picking and eating!

Pack up a picnic and go to Bragg Creek Provincial Park Day Use area (please not this is not west bragg creek day use area, the two are different.)   Take your children on the lovely Alder Trail hike, a short loop.  Keep it to 1km for the 2-3 year olds and don’t Cross the highway at the top of the hill –  just enjoy the forest, mossy slopes and creek.

4-5 year olds or using a carrier? Follow the trail, cross the highway and do the loop which will take you an extra 3 km.   You can do the upper loop with a trail stroller or chariot but you’ll have to handle it aggressively.  Carrier better.

There is a big expanse of grass, fire pits, benches and if you walk down the hill, there are wonderful areas for the kids to explore, throw rocks and wade in the water.  People have built some safe side channels for the kids to explore along with little bridges.

Another popular option is Fullerton Loop.  Combine with a stop in Bragg creek for ice cream and mamas, visit Gypsy Maries shop in the main shopping area for the most amazing selection of unique items and handmade stuff.

Visit any U-Pick Farm, or animal farm.  Calgary Corn Maze, Butterfield Acres are great options!

Go a bit further nto the mountains and explore Grotto Canyon, keep an eye out for petroglyphs in the wall and if you go all the way, you will be rewarded with a fantastic waterfall.

Troll Falls is another toddler friendly short hike.  Kananaskis village is a great stop for the kiddos to explore with ponds, restaurants and the hotel.  Troll Falls trail head is a 2 minute drive from the hotel and is a short, easy hike to a very spectacular waterfall.  I like being close to “bases” so that if we have meltdowns, we have alternatives!

Visit Heritage Park – it really is SUCH a great day out.  Your children will love it and the vintage rides are a blast even for grownups.  Don’t underestimate the swings or carousel 🙂   Make sure you introduce them to a root beer and vanilla ice cream float!

Try out Geo Caching and download an app.  You can do it all from your smart phone nowadays.

Do you have playground fans?  Check out the Calgary Playground Review with an ongoing list of Calgary’s best playgrounds!

Visit the new Youth Link police museum, located at Police Headquarters.  It is absolutely fantastic and even includes a helicopter simulation and a police car you can explore!

While you are up that way (northeast Calgary) grab some takeout and watch some planes land at the airport.  A highlight for toddlers.

Check Calgary event listings there are many social and cultural festivals going on! 

Go inside a real fire truck! Visit Calgary central library so your kids can explore and read inside a firetruck. Firefighters even come by to read children stories!

Pick up a cheap second hand book in the wonderful childrens’ section at fair’s fair books in Inglewood.  Book worms will love the random chairs and aisles of used books, memorabilia and oddities.  Afterward, go across the street to the Hose and Hound pub for a pint and lunch in an old firestation.  Walk across the street and enjoy the enclosed playground and sandpit behind the Alexandra Centre Society.

Feel like a break?  Why not put your little ones into an unparented yoga class at Wymbin yoga in Inglewood while you check out the amazing  (and child and dog friendly) Cold Garden Brewery or shops in Inglewood? We love the Yoga Sprouts class, great for 2-5 year olds.

Other Inglewood Favourites? Live music, amazing curries and more at Gravity Espresso and Wine.  The best sub sandwiches ever at Spolumbo’s Deli, the outdoor playground at Mills Park, exploring the trails of the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, and walking across the bridge to the east village playground.

Keep your eye out for the free Calgary’s Child, Where Calgary, Impact and Avenue Magazines about town.  Really well produced magazines.

 

Tip: They also throw amazing birthday parties for the little ones.  

Budding thespian and book worm?  Visit the Fish Creek Library with its spacious, toy-filled early learning area, and its stage with costumes that the children can perform on.  Lots of music and reading days too, check out the schedule.

Rainy day?  Wave pools abound.  Our favourite is Southland Leisure Centre.

Watch your children collapse into fits of giggles at Loose Moose’s improv and children’s theatre.   This theatre is behind the awesome Blackfoot Farmers Market.

Rent a tent or if you own one, camp at home!  set one up in your yard. Remember, for your kids this is magical!

Book a visit to the Calgary Children’s Reading place.  This house downtown has been completely designed as a reading house with nooks, crannies and secret spaces to curl up and read in. At the end of the visit, your child gets to select a book and bring it home. This is a MUST do with small children in Calgary.  if you love books you’ll be blown.away and the resident “house mothers” will help make the visit extra special for the little ones.

Visit Pinterest for a multitude of childrens nature craft activities.  A favourite of ours is making nature bracelets, since there are so many lovely wildflowers in the summer.  Make a bracelet with duct tape and have your kids explore, and find things to stick on their “bracelets.”  I plan to write about each of these on the blog, so stay tuned.

Tip: search “nature bracelets” “nature stick loom” “mud faces on trees” “forest faces” and “journey sticks” for some amazing nature ideas.  

Make an Inukshuk (or cairn) by the river or on a trail where rocks are to be found.

I hope this list gets you started exploring around Calgary!

PLEASE add to this list if you have more suggestions, hopefully this will make your summer in Calgary a wonderful one!

Creativity, Essays, Happiness, health coaching, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Nutrition, Physical Wellness

Organic Stores are a Better Deal Than Big Box Stores in Some Ways. You Just Have to Think Differently.

I’ve subscribed to Ramit Sethi for a while now and have been following his work.  I like his honesty and punchy emails. Today’s email was “10 extravagances people pay for.”  He had asked his readers to submit their answers to this question with an explanation.

There was one in particular I LOVED that made me stop and go hmmm!  That’s right! It caused a little shift in the way I see things.  I had this realization about 10 minutes ago and decided to share it.  It’s just a more flexible way of approaching our decisions as consumers.

You see, I prefer smaller, local stores with organic produce and lifestyle items, I love Community Natural Foods, Bite Groceria and Sunnyside Natural Market.  I don’t do full grocery shops there, our budget is a reality for us – but I always stop in if I am in the area, and do buy supplements, leafy greens, specialty items and the occasional 50% off lunch from there.  I really enjoy those stores.

Reading Sethi’s email today I had an “ah hah” moment.

So often we just think of our consumer choices in terms of money, money, money.  The number at the bottom of a bill.  Money dominates our thinking and it can cause scarcity thinking.  As soon as you start focusing exclusively on minimizing the money going out, and the cheapest deal possible, it’s sort of a race to the bottom in many ways.

We have to be careful to hit the right balance between living within our means + stretching ‘strategically’ versus racing to the bottom and developing a scarcity mindset.  We have to be careful to keep our brains flexible and come at things from different angles.  We need to remember when we make a decision, it’s not just about the object but it can also be about the experience.

There IS something to be said about looking at where we spend our money with a wider perspective than the numbers game.  Sethi nailed this point on the head.

Which response got me started on all of this thinking?  This one:

In response to the question “what are your extravagances?”

“I spend money on the shopping experience itself, because experiences, not stuff, make us happy.  My mom loves to brag about how her grapefruits were so much cheaper than mine – but I bought mine at the fancy market, with the lovely music, while she bagged her own groceries amidst screaming children.” 

I laughed reading this.  It is very true!  I hold nothing against screaming children.  But it totally gets you thinking differently and approaching a weekly chore from a completely different angle.

I digress….

The grocery shop is an experience.  It is more than dollar signs and groceries and just purchasing objects.  It’s an investment of your time and effort.  By racing to the bottom and going as cheap as you can, sometimes you’re not necessarily saving as much as you think.
The cheap store.  Stressful. Crowded. Further away.  Low-quality foods.  So, you’ve just spent an extra $10 return on gas, come home stressed out, spent longer because you bagged your own groceries, bought lower quality items and made an economic decision to support stores who are in the race to the bottom, more stuff for as cheap as possible (which has given rise to the factory farm situation btw!)  You throw stuff into the massive shopping cart indiscriminately and the subtle psychology of the clearance deals and pricing makes and bright yellow signs makes you spend way more than you planned to spend because “it was an amazing deal!”
The organic store.  Much more expensive, yes.  What if it is closer?  Less gas and time? High quality nutritionally dense foods you don’t need to eat in as high volume.  And the experience of a health food store? You come out smothered in nice lotions, essential oils, with a free Alive magazine.  It smells like incense and you come out all chilled out, relaxed and inspired to live healthy. You have a nice conversation with someone perusing the same vitamins shelf. You are more particular about what you choose and put more thought into your shop, because you know it’s expensive af and your cart is teensy.
Interesting, right?
The point of this article IS NOT to argue that one store is better than the other, I use both.  The point of this article is to say that nothing is as black and white, cut-and-dried as we think, and sometimes the race to the bottom, as much as we can get for as cheap as possible, is not the greatest option.  Sometimes it’s good to think about experiences and to cultivate good experiences.
What if we applied that thinking to everything we do in our day?
What if we decided to make a chore an enjoyable experience? What if we took the dishes and dropped a few scents of rosemary oil into the sink afterwards and breathed it in? What if we go to buy cat food from the pet store, take the kids and have fun snuggling bunnies?  What if we cultivate experiences in the ordinary every day things?
Whoever this respondent was, they are on to something.
To keep learning, growing and expanding is to continuously engage in these kinds of thinking exercises.
In addition to doing sudoku, or luminosity, what if we started the practice of thinking outside of the box when we evaluate our consumer decisions?  What if we start coming at it with the perspective of how much are we experiencing in addition to how much are we spending? 
Thoughts to ponder over morning coffee.
Thanks Ramit, for the brain food this morning.

 

 

Breast Reduction, Physical Wellness, Trail running, weight loss, Working Mom

Learning to Dress my Body After Breast Reduction and Finding a Fashion Sense after Three Babies.

BREAST REDUCTION SURGERY AFTER BABIESWHAT IT WAS LIKERECOVERYAND MORE!

Breast reduction, weight loss and fashion… All in one post.  Wow.  Coffee is kicking in today and it’s not even 9am!

So one of the things I bought for surgery last week was a black button up shirt dress (my FAV wardrobe staple and it was really just an excuse to buy another one haha.)

For 15 years I’ve been wearing long black button-up shirts.  They look awesome on busty and curvy women, especially if you are tall.

So last night was 7 days post breast reduction surgery. After drinking smoothies and not having an appetite all week, I was absolutely voracious yesterday.  My husband and I decided it would be a nice opportunity to go out and grab dinner (and get me out in the world after my week of being ensconced in the house.)

Putting my black button up shirt dress was a trip and I am beginning to realize there are a lot of psychological shifts with a breast reduction surgery.   Up to today (day 7) I had been wrapped up in how freaking awesome I felt, how small my boobs were and all the potential I have to workout and run in comfort now.  I feel that with week two, I’m settling into some of the psychological adjustments of a new body (I am also walking around in a body that is 50lb lighter than last summer, and am only 20 lb away from my goal weight.)

Last night was when the magnitude of body change hit me on a deeper level.

The exact same shirt, my go-to for feeling sexy and put together for the last 15 years,  is a completely, completely different look.  It actually went from bangin’ body flattering, show-off-the-curves shirt, to a loose drapey shirt tucking in at a very weird place in a way that no longer flattered me.

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The two images at the top of this picture are exactly how, for 15 years, this black button-up shirt fit me.  The bottom two images represent how it fits now.  Totally different right? Tbh it didn’t feel right as a long tunic.  I realized that the days of long button up shirts have shifted and I will be (gasp) tucking into my pants.  I am so used to using the top part to hang down over the abdomen.  I think I am used to covering up my body in general.

One of the things I am really looking forward to doing in the fall is getting some help understanding this different body and how to dress it because *I love* style and fashion.  Winners is my happy place lol.

My plan is to work with Espy experience here in Calgary to get some basics and understanding of what to choose to highlight this new shape, and also define my style.

One of the things I am coming to appreciate is the combination of defining your unique style with the functional needs that you have as a mum with 3 kids.  As much as I want to go back to my pre-kids style, I need a “version” of that, that allows for me to chase, pick up and go out and play with them.

One of the things I was struggling with, before surgery, was dressing in some “grownup” clothes again.  I was excited to get into them, but then I’d get frustrated because they weren’t allowing me to spontaneously go out for walks or adventures with the kids.  So I’d come home, change out of the clothes and go back into my Lululemon crops, tank and runners.

I need to find a nice place between fashion for work life (I like classic British equestrian style, I have an entire Pinterest Board dedicated to it lol ) and function for family life (being a very active mumma.)

So here I am, in my housecoat with a coffee, realizing that one of the Great Maternity Leave Projects coming up is…. FASHION.  Who knew?!  I never thought I’d blog on clothes and style in Calgary.  The closest I ever got to the fashion world was an offer from Ford Models to go to New York when I was in high school around 2000, I believe at the time they were starting their plus-sized division.  The fashion world at the time seemed so scary and cut-throat at the time, and the scouting agent was so honest about it, and what it would be like, that I was like, mmmm I’ll go do university instead, sounds way safer and admittedly, kinder.

Funnily enough, as I near the end of my weight loss and body transformation journey I was thinking “shit, I don’t have any Great Maternity Leave Projects in the pipeline” and thinking I need to do some brain storming . Well, the next project just came and landed in my hands. Which goes to show you that sometimes, you just need to trust and let the universe bring you things.

It also means I need to start saving up a bit of money to dive into this endeavor.

My plan is to work with the amazing stylists at Espy Calgary who are all fashion stylists.  I’ve always steered away from the fashion world – it intimidates me to no end – but going into Espy a few weeks ago to find jeans for my 6’9 husband, I found that it really isn’t!  It’s not about trying to fit into a style or keep up with fashion. It’s more about gaining clarity about what you like and what flatters your body.  Yes, there’s an industry of defining and setting trends, and high fashion where it’s about art + creativity + pushing the boundary. I think that’s what I associated with fashion.  But there’s also an industry for the rest of us mere mortals and 36-year-old moms who just want to get out of their lulu crops some of the time, haha!

I write this post with gratitude though. I observed the last 5 years of body changes in utter astonishment. It gave me an appreciation for what the female body can do.  Have you ever thought about how many lbs of change, expansion and shrinking your body has gone through in pregnancy? You’ve even grown entirely new organs (the placenta.) And these changes are not just in body fat – your skin has expanded, hell,  even your internal organs have cumulatively moved SEVERAL FEET in your pregnancies.   Wow.  Just wow.  I can’t feel bad or regret wearing leggings + tunics for the last 5 years.  It’s what I needed to do as I did the more important work of human building. 🙂

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Please let me know in the comments if this is something you’d like me to share!

Shall we call this the “dressing a body after babies” journey?  Or perhaps “dressing a body with no babies or boobies” – hmm.

Instagram will be a fun place to share the journey with you as well, so if you haven’t followed The Great Maternity Leave yet on Instagram, head on over.  Admittedly my writing is 1000% better than my photos, but as always, my goal is authenticity, sharing a life coach perspective, and (hopefully) inspiring all of you to continue expanding and elevating your life, even in early motherhood.

The early years of motherhood and mat leave are a perfect time to undergo deep personal growth and expansion in your life.  With the arrival of a baby, you are cracked wide open, the deepest parts of you are exposed.  You find yourself reflecting and taking all of those beliefs and values, deciding which still serve you, and which no longer do.  You find yourself changing, as well.  Building new beliefs and values, and perhaps even new identities.  And a new wardrobe, apparently!

I get excited about new motherhood.  It is a time for immense growth, learning, and reflection.  It forces you into a growth mindset, and in that first year you are so brave and courageous.  Please don’t deny yourself that acknowledgment.

You are thrown into completely new situations and experiences with a new baby.

EVERY day you, my friend, learn something new, face something new and work through fears.  One day you are you-tubing how the hell to wrap a baby in a Moby wrap (and practicing with a real life, sqwawking human which you can’t make mistakes on) and the next day you’re learning about brain development and taking a crash course in developmental psychology.  By the way, there is an amazing FREE online course called Brain Story, where you learn about your baby and child’s brain’s story and what they are going through.  Highly recommend this resource. 

That is NOT something that everyone can say they do. Some people live in safety, security, and stability. They are happy with the knowledge they have and most definitely feel no need to change. They don’t want to acquire more knowledge or test their limits.  They are in a fixed mindset.  We all know plenty of people like this.  It’s not wrong, or bad, it’s just one of many ways to live.

You? you’re most certainly not in that place if you are here on this blog today.

We’ve chosen an extraordinary adventure, and it is definitely none of those things, but it’s WORTH IT. The rewards are incredible when you work through the challenges.

It is exactly why I went from no kids to three in five years.  It’s all so worth it.

While the shell is cracked, why not think about your beliefs, your values, the life you want for you + your family.  Why not undergo the process of taking all of those and elevating your life? 🙂

xo

 

Carina

Essays, Happiness, health coaching, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Nutrition, Physical Wellness, Spirituality

How to Handle Food Saboteurs and People Who Don’t Support Your Lifestyle Change

I’ve been on a pretty major health / lifestyle overhaul the past few years and it has been the most fascinating (and challenging) growth experience.

Last summer, I rejoined Weight Watchers. I’ve had success on it before and it’s a short, beautiful walk from my house.  The ritual of the weekly weigh in, the outstanding food tracking app and the algorithm that balances macros makes it a great fit for me. I am not a details person.  I’ve tried super dialed in macro diets and tracking with my fitness pal but it’s not for me.

It also lets me do my style of eating within it.  I try to eat gluten and dairy free within it, favouring lean meats, fruits, vegetables and nuts / seeds.  The WW algorithm favours these foods, which makes it a great match.

The highest weight I have ever been was last summer.  At 5’10 and pregnant, I topped the scales at 237lb, 70 lb above my normal BMI range.  After delivering, my weight stabilized at 220.  Though I was still on the cusp of overweight / obsese.  I wasn’t alarmed, and I refused to hate my body.  I’m not in that place anymore. It’s a gift of the 30s 😉 but I’ll tell you what, I really felt the discomfort in my joints.  That’s the first time in my life where I went past the overweight category into obese and holy shit, I was really, really sore and tired and inflamed.

I can very clearly remember the distinction between that weight and out of shape weight.  I’m thankful for the experience because I knew I suffered there. It was uncomfortable and in suffering we find our deepest whys and motivations.  When you suffer, you lock in your motivation on a physical, mental and emotional level.  It’s why nobody ever truly transforms until they have their “aha moment” or as Chad Fowler said to Tim Ferriss, the “Harajuku Moment.”

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My weight journey over 3 pregnancies between 2013 and 2018

Between the sickness of pregnancy and the short breaks between each pregnancy, I decided to just take enjoyment in food and I don’t really have any regrets about the journey to that place.  I figure there’s a time in life for gains, a time in life for losses. A time for suffering, a time for vibrancy.  There is just no way you can stay on a perfect linear trajectory.  Nature has seasons and cycles, so do humans.

very.single.rice.krispie treat I ate at good earth cafe, every afternoon was glorious.  No fuckin regrets at all.  Those little rice krispies fed my soul and gave me a small window of relief when I’d been puking all morning.  Every sip of the litres of OJ I went through while I was pregnant with my first? Divine, I tell you!

So, coming into the Fall of 2017 and Mat Leave 3, I knew that it would be about hunkering down and getting the hell out of obese / overweight.

And off to Weight Watchers I went.

I chose to attend the weekly meetings.  For the longest time, I didn’t want to because I find the demographic different and the tools they share a bit basic.  But it’s humbling.

An obstacle to learning that I often carry with me, is that I can research and learn myself, and I already know (and probably on a deeper level) a lot of the science they share, so sometimes I have difficulty granting authority to the leader.  It’s good to identify your obstacles to learning, because once you know them, you can quiet that voice, eat some humble pie and listen.  Everyone has barriers and obstacles to learning. My full time job is helping university students, who are some of the best learners around, overcome a laundry list of them.

At meetings, I remind myself that I am in the same body fat percentage as everyone else and it means I am NOT an expert!  Yes you have knowledge but clearly you are not applying it, so let’s get back to those basics, I tell myself.  I needed to relearn a few things, – mindful eating, portion sizing and eating square meals instead of grazing. I had to retrain my taste buds and sensitize them to sugar by depriving them for a while, and establish the habits and routines of multi vitamin and fish oil supplements, and water intake.

As much as I hate the 5lb awards and clapping and rah rah, I love the part of the meeting where we get into real talk – it’s the trials and tribulations discussion.  It’s like a live version of a talk show and the conversation goes deep.  I love the stories and feedback and advice everyone shares.  It’s inspiring, insightful and the different perspectives serve to break down your learning obstacles.

One of the most common topics that has come up over the last 6 months of meetings has been food saboteurs.

Weight Watchers has an internal instagram account called Connect, and today I got into a discussion about it with a fellow member who is having a hard time with the blatant and active resistance to change that her family is putting up, and their attempts to get her to return to previous habits.  I’ve been so lucky in that I haven’t had any actively disempowering behaviour or doubters, everyone has been so amazing, supportive and empowering in person.  But her story led me down the rabbit hole of thinking about how to approach this from a coaching perspective.

It made me think about some stuff I’ve been reading lately in Tony Robbins’ Book, Awaken the Giant Within, (it’s a classic of his and a big book, but a life changer!!!) It’s probably my #1 life changing book now, The Power of Habit is in a close #2 spot.

(Links to paperbacks below.  Please feel free to use these links to hop over to Amazon if you need to do a shop there.  Literally by shopping on Amazon by going through these links, you are supporting this blog.) 

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In Robbins’ book he teaches us that everything boils down to our innate human nature –  that we all just want to feel love and belonging, and we want to avoid pain. At the most primordial part of our brain, it is about seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.  Those are the dual forces that influence everything we do, think and say.

I realized that this insight applies to all people in our lives who surprise us by not being as supportive as we thought they’d be, when we are undergoing major upward growth and change.

And so, I present to you, my take on this situation, on the people who are *not* empowering you. Who are trying to pull you back… who are actively, or maybe passively disempowering you.  The doubters, the haters *gasp* the food saboteurs and more.

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At the deepest level they act from a very primordial place in their brains.  Everything stems from love and our need for love. The need for belonging and love is a basic human need.

They fear that with your change, your love for them and relationship with them will change.  Ironically, by clinging to the past and trying to pull you backward to remain with them, with their ‘version’ of you, they are only reinforcing their own fears, beause backward momentum cannot compete with forward momentum once you’re on a path of evolution.

In the meantime, many more are embracing the new, evolved you.  Some of them are even inspired and raise up to your new vibration + way of perceiving and showing up in the world.

But …the parade gets rained on, beause that damn 20% are taking up the 80% of your thoughts, and often they are the closest people.  The ones that are supposed to love you the most, right?  Well, they do. It’s a funny kind of love.

Either passively or actively these types will fight your growth (food sabotage anyone?) to bring you back to their vibration – where they are, and where they see you as being. It is the only way they know how to be, and show up, and treat themselves (and treat you.)  

They mistakenly think it is the only place you’ll continue to love them from, and once you leave, your love leaves too. Remember, the old you, the old lifestyle had different expressions of love. We all have fairly stable love languages – mine is gifting – but in my new lifestyle the gift of a big meal out isn’t in line with my new values, and it often derails my goals – but it’s what gets offered by my family with genuine love. 

I often think about this now, because I a genuinely not a foodie and don’t like eating out, yet for birthdays and special occasions, restaurants always get suggested first.  It’s frustrating, and I try to divert and choose a different, healthy restaurant option more in line with my new lifestyle, but there’s definitely pushback, especially if you don’t want cake! But I can understand that they are just being who they are, it’s me who has changed and I have to gently advocate for my needs and new boundaries and also give insight as to why.  If you explain why, you may still face the pushing, and they’ll try and argue around your logic and then you just have to go to a simple, respectful “no, it’s not for me.”  

There’s also another subtle fear – the nonsupporters (they may not even be aware of these fears) are scared you’ll leave with your new improved life and at the same time, your success is precipitating some uncomfortable reflection on their own lives.  It’s a wonderful process that is happening within them, but they’ll probably be a bit mad and want to shoot the messenger (you and your shiny new life!)

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide to how much time you want to spend with people on their different levels (if they don’t want to be on yours,) and with a new, “level up” in your life, you may need to put some work into protecting this lovely place you are in and preventing a backslide. It’s not all shiny and rainbows and unicorns in a new healthy lifestyle.  You are still learning to let go of your urges, bad habits and self-limiting beliefs. I actually think it’s a reason why it bothers us so much when someone tries to reactivate our old habits.  You can feel that hot fire of anger.  It’s because you are fighting hard and “don’t they know how hard I am working?!”

It’s not your job to raise them up to your level, or stoop down to theirs, either.  You do you and they do them. All you can do is set a great example through your own actions, by you, for you.  You have chosen a different place to be.  Hold to it.  For sure, encourage them and let them climb up if they want to ascend to your level, but know they may not and would rather that you be with them, and love them, by climbing down from that crazy precipice above them.   

We are all different souls having a human journey in the larger, cosmic “level up” process.  Some are just not ready for level 10 in this lifetime, but you are. You know it.

We can defend ourselves with vigilance, but also with how much time we set aside for these people. the beauty of our day is we have hours, in the form of connection, that we can selectively hand out to our loved ones.  If your loved one absolutely cannot join you in your place and you have to join them in theirs, set the boundary, preserve yourself, say no to the cake and leave before the deserts and emotional conversations and familial patterns that trigger old habits.

And finally, don’t forget – direct your attention to the empowerers in your life.  if there’s many, wonderful nurture those relationships and do the same for them.  If there aren’t, open yourself up to new people and experiences who are being bought to you seemingly by coincidence.

There’s others evolving upward and climbing up to that new precipice with you – they are waving enthusiastically and saying hello to you right now from across the way 🙂

There is something magical when we vibe off of others and join in upward expansion and elevation of our lives. Look for, and welcome in the empowerers, especially the new ones that have arrived as part of your journey.

Rise up together, accelerate and choose this new, healthier life with new friends who will share your adventure and celebrate it with you.

And watch the pride, happiness and love flow.

xo.