Physical Wellness

My Ankylosing Spondylitis Video Diary – Understanding Our Own Stories About Pain, and Why Cultivating Flow State is Important for People with AS

Hi everyone, I am sharing the Vlogs that I record on Youtube here on my blog, a well. This Video covers a few things that have been on my mind lately.
-Understanding WHY AS came to me (beyond genes)
-Why cultivating flow state is *very* helpful if you have ankylosing spondylitis
-Uncovering your own personal stories about pain

Enjoy! xo

Carina

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Grounding, Happiness, health coaching, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Mental health, Nature, Personal Development, Physical Wellness, Trail running

Advice for Trail Runners. The Diary of a New Trail Runner and Life Coach.

Trail running is amazing because it puts us into flow state, from which our greatest insights and ideas come. I love to coach in nature (I guess you could say I do “nature coaching” or “nature life coaching”) and for me, trail runs are like a ridiculous download from the deepest recesses of my mind.

Today I offer you a wonderful tool on how to leave your past in the past, and start moving towards your future mindfully.

Xo Carina

Ankylosing Spondylitis Journey, Happiness, Mental health, Nature, Spirituality

How to Release the Grip of Grief and Sadness and Elbow Falls After the Flood

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On the weekend my husband, kids and I took a family friend out to see Bragg Creek and Elbow Falls.  It was a brilliant day out, filled with nature exploring and the joy inherent in watching people experience Kananaskis country for the first time.

With tired toddlers and growling stomachs, we decided to make one last stop at Elbow Falls before driving back into Calgary.

It is a powerful place for my husband and I.

This is where my firefighter husband recovered his first body.  As family cried, a helicopter pulled a body bag out of the frothing water below.

This is where I fell completely in love with the mountains, at the age of 10.

I was newly arrived in Canada. Elbow Falls is the first ‘mountains’ experience I had.  It is where my soul realized its LOVE for the mountains. I was obsessed with this spot. Every year for my birthday, my parents would ask me what I wanted and all I wanted to do was ‘be’ at Elbow Falls.  I just wanted to return there.  The forest.  The mountains.

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I can’t help but think, that nature offers us some pretty powerful experiences in the most unexpected moments.  Very often, to be in nature is to access our most pure form of ourselves.  Let me share with you a deeply personal experience and a ‘pivot’ in my own mindset.

We all know on some level that in nature, we depart from the churning thoughts of our day to day life.  Somewhere in nature, where we are swept up in simply being with the rich life around us, and using our bodies and senses, we quiet that helpful but irritating thing called the mind.

You see, we aren’t just lollipops… we are not stick bodies with giant lollipop heads that rule everything.

To be human is NOT just having a brain.  As a human you also own an emotional landscape, a physical landscape *and* that thinking landscape.  We move in and out of each domain all the time, and have our preferred ‘homes.’  Here’s a great diagram that explains it.  This is a model I use often with clients.

MIND +THINKING (2)

So hold that model in your mind.  I’ll attempt to combine a nature experience with life coaching and personal story.

In 2013 there was a large flood.  Our city was underwater and our waterways were ravaged, even up in the mountains.

The great flood of 2013 changed the Elbow Falls of my childhood, which involved a large forested area with picnic tables and paths.  The river was adjacent to these lovely picnic sites and the falls were quite spectacular.

I hadn’t been back to Elbow Falls since the flood and I was quite floored to see how much the landscape had changed.  The picnic tables, forested paths of my youth were entirely swept away.  In there place was a huge flood plain strewn with rocks.

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Even the shape of the falls had completely changed.

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It was absolutely wild.  The only things that were similar were the large slabs of rock adjacent to the falls.  Even those had been pounded into a softer shape by the flood.

The forest I walked through as a child doesn’t exist anymore.

On Sunday, the reality in front of me was entirely different from the mists of my childhood memories.

Symbolically, that flood had washed away not only a forest but a piece of my childhood

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I couldn’t help but think how this has meaning in my life, in so many ways.  I wanted to touch on the insight this day had on GRIEF.

I used to spend a lot of time at Elbow Falls with my mum.  My mum is no longer in the physical dimension. She passed away during that great flood.

As I walked along the river with my baby, toward an old rock with special meaning, this hit me, I could feel emotion rising up within me.  It was coming. Oh shit.

You see, I used to deny myself emotion. I used to lock that shit up, push it back down and continue on my merry way. I learnt to do it from the environment I grew up in, the people around me. It was compounded by experiences were negative judgements and disapproval were laid on me if I showed emotion.  Hell, even society doesn’t want a crier, does it? Plus, our old primordial brain gets a bit stressed out and upset when we cry. It goes into fear and survival mode.  It screams at us:

NO! NOPE!  Distract.  Find pleasure.  BUFFER AGAINST THIS BAD FEELING (alcohol, food, whatever you like to use.)  Avoid this situation again (!)

I could feel it chattering.  I kept walking.

There was a very large slab of rock, upriver from the falls with special meaning. I was approaching it with a tidal wave rising inside of me. My mum and I used to sit on that rock.  From the age of 10 to 29 that rock has hosted a lot of memories.

I approached, heart in my throat.

It is still there, but everything around it is different. I clambered up and sat on the rock holding my baby, and my eyes began to prickle and sting.  I decided I couldn’t do backward counting anymore.  I can’t fake things anymore. I can’t deny my own emotions. I was just going to let go and go with it.

I haven’t had a grief burst in a long time.  I call them grief bursts because the sadness comes in like a cloud. It covers the sun and you can smell the rain coming.

The tears begin to flow, like a brief rainstorm.  But then, the cloud passes and the sun shines again.

Through much work, I have understood how to embrace grief and let it pass by me in this manner, like a quick rain shower, and move back into peace just as quickly. This took some deep work with a psychologist but it was well worth it. I recommend it to anyone who is still struggling with the long, pervasive grip of grief, to anyone who wants to just loosen its grip and get glimpses of sun.  Eventually you will live in beautiful sunny days with only the occasional rainstorm, and even then you’ll look up, hold your hand out and casually say “ah just a few drops, it will pass by quickly.”

I’ve learnt that emotions are like the weather. Ever-shifting, especially in Calgary (!) All of them are necessary, and a part of being human – but they do not control us.  They don’t have to control how we think, act, show up and live our lives. They are not permanent.

However, so many of us choose to make them permanent.  See the word I used there? CHOOSE.  We have a CHOICE.

Over the last few years I’ve CHOSEN to embrace grief as a passing weather event.  Even when I didn’t fully believe it, I chose to practice this approach with the faith that eventually something woud shift.  It did.

In 2018 I don’t deny myself grief and ironically, by opening my arms to it with loving kindness, it doesn’t return as often, or stay as long.

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Sitting on the rock, I thought about how I don’t fight life anymore.

I don’t avoid the hard and chase the easy anymore.

Pleasure must coexist with pain.  The only place things will be perfect, is in heaven, and to be honest, I don’t want to go to heaven yet, I have too much stuff to do here 🙂

Man did I cry my eyes out on that rock. I felt the feels. I felt my mums hand holding mine.  I cried for everything that had been washed away in that flood. I cried with the realization I am in a different place and time now, and life is always shifting and whatever else came up in that grief burst.

I cried as I felt the physical loss of my mum (though she was very much present right there in my heart that day.) . The last time I had sat on that rock was  with her, in the Autumn of 2012. We sat on that rock and pondered life.  Though we didn’t talk about dying. we did circle the topic by talking about having a purpose in life.  how a time stamp provides crystal clarity and purpose.  That she knew and had realized its about love and human connection and that all of us, ALL of us just want to be loved and accepted and appreciated and the best thing we can do is BE that loving, accepting, non judgemental person.

Gah.

ALL of that flowed through me like a little video loop in my minds eye.

That was hard.  But with great challenge comes great reward. 

Like a thunderstorm, a burst of emotion releases the pressure in our internal atmosphere and we return to normality

There is always a quiet place, where we feel at peace after big emotions.  if we can stop judging ourselves and let ourselves be with our emotions, we will just as quickly move back into peace.  We also have to practice noticing that peaceful place after an emotion burst. We can’t just become aware.  We have to practice it.

Driving back from Elbow Falls that afternoon, (my baby sleeping in the back after all that fresh mountain air) I was at peace.  When I got out of my car at the house 45 minutes later, I was not only peaceful, but I was back.

The sun was shining again, I was happy again.

Coaching helps us embrace emotions, and give them the room to flow through us, and out of us. We can gain this understanding and then practice it, and reflect on moments like the above with someone.  We can learn to shut down our brain and all of that irritating chatter and assessments that happen when we’re just trying to experience being human.  The brain and ego is not kind, and you know what, when I am crying, the last thing I need is a lack of kindness. I need loving empathy.  From myself.  Not judging from my ego.  So, you gain the ability to ignore that part.  Then, eventually, it gets the point and lets you do your emotional thing.

it is our job as a human to just be, to be with those emotions, to let them happen.

You can sit and read this blog, gain this coaching tool, but I encourage you to practice it.  When the next moment of grief or sadness arises, choose to embrace it with loving kindness.  Let it run its course.  Take the time to close down your thoughts and judgments around it.  Tell your own brain, “not now ego, it’s not about you. I’m going to experience this with love and kindness and NO judgement, so STFU.”

I invite you to do something different.  See what emerges.  If you do something different from what you’ve done before, I can guarantee you’ll get different results.

Einstein said it perfectly:

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Letting things happen on Sunday naturally, and then embracing a different way to go about things, really landed all of this home.

I cried on a rock at Elbow Falls and permanently changed.  I can’t go back now.

I can’t ‘unsee’ my new awareness.

Today I can officially declare, Grief doesn’t have a hold on me anymore.

I know it is simply a moving cloud in the sky of life.

Just like the sun must shine, the rain must fall.

But nothing is permanent.

The landsape of the Elbow Falls of my childhood was not permanent.

My mums life was not permanent.

I am not permanent.

My sadness on that rock was not permanent.

My way of seeing the world is not permanent.

Go with the flow.  Embrace that impermanence of everything.

This is a key teaching of Buddhism. Of life coaches. Of universal laws.

I just like to take these things and apply them and practice them in real life and then share what it’s like.

Know that we are always changing and evolving to a higher version of ourselves and this is a key practice to add to your toolkit on your ever-unfolding journey. 

I hope you’ll join me on this journey.

xo Carina

Happiness

Cancun Customs with a 3 Year Old and Being Scared to Travel with a Toddler

This picture I posted of my little lady in Mexico? Looks lovely and perfect and IG worthy doesn’t it? What if I told you that hrs before this magical moment, I was sitting on my suitcase and crying my eyes out holding a squirmy, also-melting-down tired 3 year old in cancun customs.

The world can be harsh. NOBODY asked if we were okay. In fact, EVERYBODY rolled their eyes at us and one man even shoved us both out of the way because my toddler was dawdling in the lineup.

People were so mean to my daughter and I that sweaty, crowded day in Cancun Customs. (I hate to say it but the 60+ Canadians on our plane were the worst of the lot.)

It was one of my lowest travel moments. Truly my brain was like “I am never travelling through this customs again.”

Smart brain… trying to keep me away from future pain and suffering.

But…. I’d do it again, my soul loves travel and the 10 days in the Mayan Riviera were magical and WORTH the excruciating afternoon in customs. My soul says yes, my brain says “F NO. fuck that shit, fuck mean people, I’m never travelling solo through Cancun again, why do I even do this travel thing, etc.”

We know in our souls what makes us happy. So why do our brains jump all over the (-) bandwagon? like the above? Why is it when we are doing what we love, our brain is still holding us back?

When our brains freak out we have a combo of suffering (Cancun customs with a 3 yr old is straight up shitty) but what compounds it is that sometimes these moments touch on triggers, old messaging & beliefs we’ve picked up along the way from people, places, media, society, that became entrenched + reinforced.

In many cases, we mistakenly took them on as our”permanent operating system. People being mean or judgemental is a trigger for me, I had a huge crisis of faith in humanity that afternoon. It stirred very old (faulty) stories I carry, that the world is harsh and cruel and doesn’t give a shit about you. The moment was hard, but it also rehashed ALL of the suffering around that entire topic.

You know that the message of “never do this travel shit again” its faulty (and false) messaging. You know that you need not suffer. Yet it comes back over and over.

How do we stop our brains from overthrowing what our souls want?

There are 3 steps:

1.) become AWARE of this process; notice it happening with curiosity and be like, hmm. My brain is chattering. I have a trigger here. Where does that come from? (Aside from being tired as F during travel)

2.) when you can pause, be aware, you have bought yourself a CHOICE. Being able to say “no brain, I don’t buy into that message today” is empowering. It won’t stop you from bawling in customs in cancun *but* it will stop you from letting fear win and never travelling.

The only way to stop this cycle and beat fear, beat negative thinking, is to dig deeper. understand where it came from and why particular travel moments push your buttons. Know it’s your brain, but that the bigger part of you, your soul, knows you love all this adventure. And with time, you will then discredit the arguments of your old operating system that prefers to avoid anything new or uncomfortable.

The brain wants to keep us secure, safe and in a place of NO change. The brains job isn’t happiness, its keeping us alive by removing us from all risk lol.

So, just get better at ignoring the brain.

Listen your soul and DO IT ANYWAY.

Get on that plane.

Follow other parents who do it.

We all go through this.

Happiness

Nature Crafts for Toddlers – Wild Dream Catchers

One of the fun adventures in parenting is that you learn to share your passions in unique ways with the kids.

Two of my passions are crafts and nature, – especially forest play and gathering things in the forest. It’s how I grew up and it is still the most grounding activity. There’s a reason the Japanese have a term that translates to “forest bathing.”

It is so natural for children to find and gather little treasures in the woods, isn’t it? Wildflowers, a fallen feather or a soft lump of moss.

So today I wanted to share a lovely craft with you – nature dreamcatchers.

For this craft you only need a few items.

-sticks (I love to gather driftwood in the mountains or on beaches)

-twine or waxy string (sinew style is great)

– a glue gun, or if you have the time to wait for materials to dry, E6000 glue is much stronger. You can see in the image below that I pre-glued the dream catcher frame (in the left I added moss)The fun part for the kids is gathering things they’d like to put on their dreamcatcher. My toddlers instantly went to the old man’s beard, pine needles and pinecones on the forest floor. Depending on the age of the children, you (or they) can take the twin e, (sinew or string work too) and tie it into the frame. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Wrap the frame however you like. Add in knots, and lines wherever you like. your children will return with a lovely variety of forest floor finds which you can then tie, glue or weave into your dreamcatcher, as we did above! These are my little guys enjoying our day out in the mountains, of course craft time was mixed with exploring and free play time! (this is Alder Trail and Bragg Creek Provincial Park Day Use Area.)

My kids and I usually hang our creations in the forest as a sort of offering and “thank you” to nature – and it is fun for others to discover them.

(Let me tell you, offerings to nature is something you do when you grow up around white witches in England lol.)

Below is a recent wild dream catcher I made with a sweet little cluster of children under 6! They each picked a wildflower. You can see the beauty in imperfection and the various strings, tied in very random ways, allowed them to weave their flowers in, by poking the stems into holes made by the strings.

This is a brilliant activity for your kids to do camping, too! You can see below that they even inserted extra sticks. The creativity of children just awes me every day.

Essays, Grounding, Happiness, Learning, Mental health, The Fourth Trimester

Why Moms Should Practice Getting into Flow State. Tips to Overcome Post Partum Anxiety.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to what the heck happens to us on maternity leave.  Why do we become so afraid of things that were simple daily functions before (unfolding the stroller for the first time?  Going out in public with a baby for the first time?)

Seriously, where does all of this total internal doubt come from?  Why is it so bad on maternity leave?  Who is this fearful anxious person and where the hell did she come from?  

It is a strange experience to have your first baby and consequently have the shell of comfort and security cracked wide open.

EVERYTHING is new and NOTHING is comfortable in the fourth trimester.

It’s only when you look back at photos of newborn baby two years later that actually ‘enjoy’ your baby and have warm fuzzy memories.  And when you realize that you finally feel good about your mat leave a year afterwards, you’re like geez, what was I so worried about?  

I’ll tell you right now, it’s not you, it’s your brain.  It is designed to worry and keep you safe and alive, not happy and growing. 

I have come to believe (now that I’ve done it three times) that this initial torment of maternity leave and new motherhood is A GIFT.  It teaches us to overcome our own brain and our own biological instincts.

It will take me a few paragraphs to lay this idea out, so bear with me. 

We don’t like to push the edges of our comfort zones.  This is exactly why personal training as an industry exists.  Trainers push us harder than we would go.   It is a very small % of the population who push themselves beyond their comfort zone in the gym.  Usually, those people are professionals.

Having a baby is like having a personal trainer who pushes all of your comfort zones – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

In addition to having all of our boundaries pushed, we get a bit messed up as well, because our day becomes one of many “human doing” tasks. Amongst all of the “doing” and “laundry” and “diapers” we retreat inside ourselves.  On maternity leave, our own internal chatter becomes a loud roar. There’s so much to do on the outside during maternity leave.  But there is SO MUCH MORE going on in the inside.  Massive love, massive fear, massive engagement, massive suffering, massive doubt, massive confidence.  It’s so confusing.

The fourth trimester is a time of contrasts.

There is rich growth + reflection + introspection.

There is also a hell of a lot of doubt, negative internal talk and fear.

Why? The brain and biology of a new mom screaming is a very anxious voice that is pointing out danger EVERYWHERE.  You can’t blame your brain.  It is collaborating with your hormones and nervous system to keep you and your baby alive and your hormones well tell you EVERYTHING IS DANGEROUS.  Your brain’s priority in the fourth trimester is not your happiness.  It is staying alive.

This is what your brain says to you in the fourth trimester: 

“F your sleep, you hear that baby crying?  YES.  I’m sending you panic hormones right now so that you hear every sound and snuffle, and you will definitely wake up to crying.  F your sleep.”

Your brain knows you won’t die with no sleep.  So it won’t let you.  See?  Your brain is entirely unconcerned with your happiness, your wellbeing or any of that.  It’s concerned with keeping you and babykins alive.  Basic needs.

So how do we manage this?

How do we prevent ourselves from spiralling down into a deep place of self doubt, isolation, anxiety and fear?

How do we make mat leave about growth and expansion rather than isolation and contraction?

 I really care about this topic because I contracted on the first, and somewhat on the second mat leave, and began to expand on the second and third mat leaves.

There are so many things to share with you but today, I want to share on Flow State.  It is a very specific, very intentional practice that SHUTS DOWN the parts of your brain that are concerned with doubt, self talk, anxiety, etc.  We have enough moments in our day where we worry and contract.  Let’s carve out some space in our internal worlds to trust and expand, and that starts with activities that put us in flow state.

If you’d like to dive into the science of flow state (they’ve literally scanned the brains of people in flow state) activities that get you in flow and how you can start doing it today, just click onto the next article.

https://thegreatmaternityleave.com/2018/08/21/how-to-overcome-post-partum-anxiety-with-flow-state-recovery-from-post-partum-depression/

If you read this article and thought YES, YES and YES this is me!  Then take the next step.  Learn about the science of flow state and start practising it in your life.  This is your first chance to practice growth and expansion on mat leave.  If you don’t click on the article, then you are staying where you are and staying comfortable. 🙂 That is okay too, sometimes we need to hold the boat steady, stop it from rocking.  But once it’s stopped rocking and we are ready to go somewhere, we need to put the sails back up.

(oh and sorry I HAD to use the Moana boat as an analogy.  I’m a parent of a 4 year old girl and Moana is AWESOME.  And the song lyrics are weirdly approprio for this article.)

Image result for moana boat
“See the light as it shines on the sea
It’s blinding
But no one knows how deep it goes
And it seems like it’s calling out to me
So come find me
And let me know
What’s beyond that line
Will I cross that line”
Happiness, Learning, Mental health, Personal Development, The Fourth Trimester

How to Overcome Post Partum Anxiety with Flow State. Recovery from Post Partum Depression.

Practising getting into flow state has been one of the most helpful tools in overcoming post-partum anxiety and the general fearfulness and mind chatter that has marked my three maternity leaves.

Today I wanted to share a bit of the neuro-science (in easy to understand language) and why we mamas should be intentionally practicing flow state activities (and the best part is, they are the things you LOVE doing and leave you feeling awesome.)

Hopefully this will give you an extra boost of motivation to get back into some self-care and activities sooner (assuming you’ve given your body time to heal + recover.)

When I first tried to get back into running, I did it from a place of “it’s probably good for me to be ME and get out of the house.”  However, understanding a bit of neuro-science and having solid scientific evidence as to WHY it helps, well, that’s a much more powerful motivator. I GET why it pulls me out of funks now, and tbh, I probably would have done it more consistently with my first baby had I known what was happening and why it made me feel so good (and less angsty.)

The more I study successful moms and people in general, the more I’ve realized that all of them have a flow state practice.  It’s like realizing you’re part of a secret society when you realize that all of these people do similar things.

So, the basics.  What is flow state?

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“Flow” is a term coined by a psychologist who wanted to understand a particular state of consciousness that the brain can more into. This particular brain state evokes feelings of creativity & innovation, connection, deep enjoyment, confidence, and their internal chatter and negative emotions literally switch off. People who experience this state, come out feeling greater involvement, engagement and enthusiasm in life. Personally, as someone who studies metaphysics, I think this state of conscious is really about connecting in with our deeper intuition and creativity and the divine nature of ourselves that transcends the limits of our mortal side.

But… I digress.  Back to the science.

This book was published in 2008 but I’d say this has become a topic among the public only in the last 6 or so years.  technology has advanced too, and scientists now can get people to induce flow state and then watch their brain on a functional MRI scanner to see what brain regions are lighting up.

Figuring out what makes us happy, engaged and free of internal self-doubt?

YES PLEASE.  MORE OF THAT.

Why, as mamas would we want to be in flow state? 

Because it boosts the brain centres responsible for:  Involvement, enjoyment, intrinsic motivation (Ulrich, Keller and Gron, 2015) and it tones down the brain centres responsible for negative emotions, self talk, self doubt, and attribution of negative emotions to oneself. (Grimm et al. 2009)

How do we achieve flow state?

The key is finding an activity that hits the right balance of being challenged (demand of the task) and our own skills.  Not boring, not overwhelming.  Just right.  There’s a saying in Scandinavian countries that I love “Not too much, not too little, just enough.

Moments like these are consistently reported as the most rewarding, expansive times in our lives.

They are not like the times where we are in a state of overwhelm (too much stimulation) or boredom and lack of stimulation.  In those suboptimal times, a part of the brain responsible for internal negative chatter lights up. Conversely, in flow state, that part of the brain switches off. I don’t go into it here but there are two very different cocktails of hormones and neurotransmitters that are released in these two states, as well.

Think about it in your own mat leave life. When does boredom or overwhelm rear its ugly head?  When do you experience crushing self doubt, anxiety, negativity, constant internal chatter, feeling wound up and defensive.

What tasks are you doing (or not doing)?

In overwhelm or boredom very different parts of the brain are activated.

Want more?  Watch this video on the Neurochemistry of Flow State.  

Have you noticed that you DON’T  feel these things after a task that challenges you a bit or requires your full focus and concentration? That your mind just shuts up. 

 

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There you go.  Different parts of the brain are activated, and bathed in cocktails of hormones and neurotransmitters.  Go for the good one.  Cheers. 

 

Identify Some flow State Activities.

Think about this: Where it is the right combination of skill and demand for you? It’s a place where you feel strangely satisfied.  Other clues? Time disappears in flow state and often you are in full focus or concentration.  You are fully engaged and pushing your edges just the right amount, and you don’t have time to think about other things.

Some of my flow state activities are:

Trail Running, Mountain Biking (newly discovered) and Needle Felting (newly discovered,) reading and journalling my own insights.

A Concluding Thought on Flow State and Motherhood: 

In my experiments with induced flow state, I can say with certainty that experiencing flow is to experience a fog of total wellbeing and satisfaction.  Your internal anxious mom operating system (AMOS) cools down for a bit.  The chatter of angst, anxiety, self doubt, isolation, contraction and negativity are silenced.

As that system downregulates, a new system upregulates, the fulfilled mom operating system (FMOS.)  What is that one? It is focused on possibility, connection, happiness, opportunity, content, trust, and expansion.

THIS is where we should be most of the time.  To get it back, we need to practice it and refire those parts of our brain.  we need to make time for it every day, and treat flow state activities as worthy of our time, attention and protection in our ical.  Everyone in our life benefits from a Mom operating her FMOS system. Is it worth the time in your day?  Absolutely.  In fact, the research experiments I cited above had the participants in flow state for only 3 minutes!

xo

Families in Calgary, Kids Activities, Lifestyle Design, Nature and Forest Play, Toddler Gear

Toddler Mountain Bike Parks in Calgary – Fish Creek Mountain Bike Skills Park


Toddler fun in calgaryNot far from where we live is the Fish Creek Mountain Bike Skills Park (here is a map for the location)  and a description of the features on Trail Forks.

Don’t be mistaken, this bike park isn’t just for the big kids and adults.  This park is absolutely amazing for toddlers on balance bikes, as well!  It has been a wonderful (free) place for our family to get outside and play on our bikes for the last few seasons.

There is a dedicated beginner’s oval track for toddlers and small children to get used to it. We found that with both of our kids on striders, they preferred to walk up and ride down the hills on the pump track, so the oval is nice for them to go and do that at their own pace.

On the main pump track, you’ll find yourself trying to encourage them to move, to keep the bike traffic flowing if there are others there. And we all know how well a toddler takes to being told what to do 😉

There are a variety of features, and it is well spread out. The CMBA has a great little blurb on how to use the track, the terminology, and tips on skills such as how to get through a pump track, or around the berms.  The park itself is great for people like me – a mama of 2 toddlers and a baby whose eyes are usually darting around frantically like a mother chicken watching her 20 babies. They can’t go too far, and the parking lot ,as you can see in the photo below, is close by when you have to surfboard carry your toddler that doesn’t want to go home.  Excellent.

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It is located in South East Calgary, about 10 minutes from South Centre Mall and just a few km from Annie’s Cafe and the Bow Valley Ranche.

I highly recommend going over to Annie’s in the summer for ice cream afterward if it’s a hot day 🙂 It has a beautiful native garden, art installations and lots of places for the kids to explore while you sip coffee leisurely.  It’s a hugely popular spot so there’s always little friends to make.  Ah, toddler life, when you are up and out for the day at 8am because you’ve already been up for 2 hours….

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Photo Credit:  Calgary Mountain Bike Alliance (CMBA)

Interestingly, this park has been in the works for some time (15 years!) and for  a long time, there was strong resistance (and the belief that it wasn’t doable) at the Provincial *and* Municipal levels in Calgary, even as other parks were being built, such as Chestermere and Canmore.  This really surprised me, because I’ve always thought of Calgary as progressive and outdoor-activity oriented.

Once people retired, management changed over, etc. the project came to fruition thanks to the dedicated work and persistence of several advocates and the CMBA.

And did you know there are plans to put another park in at Glenmore Resevoir?!  Exciting!  $150k has been raised and about another $125k to go.

This park needs volunteer hours, material and equipment to continue finishing the development of it, especially the NW corner.  You can email the Calgary Mountain Bike Alliance if you’d like to contribute in any way you can! bikepark@cmbalink.com

Go have fun!

 

xo
Carina

Grounding, Happiness, Life Hacks, Mental health

How to Reset Your Mood, How to Reset Your Energy, How to Reset when You Return Home from Work to your Family

Our family is growing. (1)

You know that time… at the end of the day, when you are totally tapped out with your kids. Or, perhaps, when you are coming home from work a bit drained, and feeling entirely unprepared to step into “Mom?” with little people full of sparkles and light and energy, when that’s hardly what you are full of?   Yeah, me too.

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It’s always hard resetting our energy, our body language, our mindset and attitude.  Collectively we can call these our “disposition.” You can see dispositions in your partner too.  When they come home from work, are they still in work mode? Do they step right into family mode?  or somewhere in between?  The shift is hard, and it takes a lot of awareness.   At work I am paid to come up with ideas, be creative and be deep in thought and research whilst sitting still (mind body and emotional states are different).

At home, I am most effective as a fully present, playful, yet grounded mother.

I’m a scientific person and I like evidence, so when I heard about breathing exercises, I liked the scientific evidence that it downregulates our nervous system and rushing mind, but it didn’t quite land.  What I need is to connect the dots in my own life. I need to practice something myself and see for myself the benefits.

Years ago, I discovered a very quick and easy technique that I do literally every time I step into different roles or environments.  I’m a visual person so I like rich visuals – so once again I have engaged with my terrible water colour painting skills to help “paint” a visual of this exercise.

I originally learnt this exercise from a Navy SEAL Commander, Mark Divine and to make it connect for me, I adapted the application and visual how my brain works.

You may think at first that that world is very different from the maternity leave world, but it is not at all. For example, we are all humans, we are all working with 60,000 thoughts a day, how to not engage with all of them and stay focused on the clear priorities, values and results we want.  Some of the most useful things I have acquired from people like Mark, are super relevant in my own life.  I absolutely loved his book The Way of the Seal and most of the practices from that book, I have adapted to my own Commander Mom life, haha.

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So, I present to you, a very quick adaptation of Commander Divine’s Box Breathing Method that is very, very useful and relevant to our life as mothers.

A Tool to Help you At the End of Your Day After a Shift, or A Day With The Kids

Grounding, Happiness, Technology

Kicking the iPhone Addiction

Kicking the iPhone addiction is about cultivating a greater awareness and also greater intentionality with phone usage.  I run several businesses on my iPhone alone, and I love social media, so I am as guilty as anyone else for spending too much time on this little box of fun.  Honest to goodness, I started getting numbness in my little fingers from holding the phone with them.  That’s always a pretty good sign, isn’t it?

One of the foundations of my work as a coach, is helping people change their actions.  I don’t tell people to do something differently, I simply help them shift their perspective.  When you see something differently, you find it easier to take different actions.

It is fun seeking out and trying on different mindsets and perspectives, and in the hunt for new ways to see things, we find ones that stick, and DO permanently shift our view.  Today I wanted to offer what helped shift my view on my iPhone. Though I still have to use it alot, I am more intentional with it, and am very guilty of “forgetting it” or “not having it on me” which is code for I happily left it at home to hang with my family.

So here’s a picture I wanted to share with you today.  Feel free to pin it, share it if you feel it may help someone else regain control over the phone.  The difference between iPhone as a useful tool and iPhone as a harmful tool is whether we are an active, strategic and intentional user (and aware of such use) – or – a passive user and unaware of the extent of our use.

 

Each time you put down your cellphone

 

The iPhone can be an amazing tool for inspiration, motivation, connection and enhancing the lifestyle you have.  Or it can go the opposite way and cause you to miss out on the life in front of you, because your face is in your phone.

It can also be like any other addictive tool.  A short, quick hit of pleasurable dopamine (a like or a comment) or an escapist moment, to depart from the pain of reality in the present.

Remember, it’s always your choice.

YOU use the iPhone, it does not use you.

Ask yourself why you use it.  Are you using IT to augment and design your own reality?  Or is IT using you as you try to escape your own reality?

Powerful questions.  I think we all catch ourselves in different places along this spectrum.  The key is to be aware of WHEN our iPhone usage escalates and WHY it does.   Always remember to use it for the right reasons, as I speak to today’s instagram post of the above image.  Just click on the image to check it out.

 

xo

 

Carina