Ankylosing Spondylitis Journey, health coaching, Physical Wellness

I am taking Biologics for Ankylosing Spondylitis

Today I thought I’d write a quick little update on my Mom with Ankylosing Spondylitis journey! Because in a few weeks, I’ll be a Mom with Ankylosing Spondylitis starting Biologics and I’ll share how that journey goes.

I’ll link to my previous articles here, but I was diagnosed with AS six months ago, though I’ve been suffering from symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis for about 15 years now (since my 20s.)

What is it like being a young adult with ankylosing spondylitis? well, in Uni I had massive problems with Sciatica to the point where I had trouble sitting down to write papers, study, etc. I also always questioned whether there was something wrong with my energy levels, which always seemed to be lower than other peoples’ and I had some nasty pain flare ups in my low back, which I always thought were because I ‘twisted it’ or overdid it at the gym.

Fast forward to 2018 and I had an MRI on my spine which revealed widespread inflammation, degenerative changes and then an X-Ray which revealed sacroillitis (again, I had attributed my Si joint problems to a desk job and having 3 kids in 5 years!)

My ankylosing spondylitis treatment began with sulfasalazine and then celebrex, neither of which made any impact on the symptoms, so I have decided with my rheumatologist to go onto biologics for ankylosing spondylitis. I had a choice from four or five different biologic therapies that work on TNF and I chose Simponi.

I begin biologics treatment (a monthly injection) in February and I am told it takes about 3 months to feel effects from the medication. Biologics, at their simplest, help reduce the chronic, systemic inflammation (and fatigue and pain associated with it.)

It’s very easy to get caught up in the many different brand names of biologics, but in all honesty, I trusted my rheumatologist as they all have similar pathways. We laid each one out on a table, talked about pros and cons and it was a process of elimination. I knew I’d want something that was just a once a month injection rather than bi-weekly which reduced my options down (and made the decision easy.)

I’m actually in a pretty bad AS flare at the moment, being back at a desk only 2 days a week, and after taking a fall toboganning with my kids – I’m definitely noticing the flares becoming more severe with age (I truly feel old at 36 lol) and so I’m very ready to start biologic therapy for ankylosing spondylitis.

I am told I am part of a small demographic, as the disease mostly affects men, and here I am, a mom of 3 young children with it, but aside from that I am a very typical case. The only other differing factor is that I did not test positive for HLA-B27, a gene that is commonly implicated in those with AS.

As I go through this journey and hopefully put things in remission (I truly believe I can get there) I’ll be blogging and vlogging along the way! I’ve recorded a few vlogs on ankylosing spondylitis on youtube so far, and you can view them all on my ankylosing spondylitis youtube playlist here:

I had a call from the BioAdvance Program through Janssen today, and my patient support person is absolutely lovely. As I begin biologics, I’ll be having a nurse coming to my home for the first administration and my patient support person is taking care of all of the paperwork that goes through my rheumatologist and insurance companies. At $2000 a month for this treatment ($24,000 a year, this disease is no joke) I am very, very thankful to have medical coverage, and find myself thinking about people, es pecially in the US who do not have coverage for this disease which truly affects your lifestyle on so many levels. Over the past few months I’ve had to just mentally push through high pain levels, days where my mobility is limited, and of course, massive exhaustion which leaves me having to take afternoon naps almost every day that I am not at work, just so I can get through the evening. I find that AS has left me with planning my day in 1/3s, morning, early afternoon and evening. Sounds crazy to say that, but on a positive note, with three young children it’s been totally okay to embrace and manage it when I am at home, as I nap when my two youngest nap in the afternoon (my eldest is in school.) At work I just rely on a lot of coffee, which I am very thankful for these days. 😉

If you are a fellow mama with AS, please say hi in the comments and I would LOVE to know how you manage your symptoms, especially the fatigue / exhaustion at work, or when you are at home with the kids.

Don’t forget to check out the Youtube vlogs – I often feel alone in that I am a female 30 something with AS *and* a mom *and* I try to take on a positive, progressive attitude. One thing I found in my journey is that there are a lot of groups that are quite negative. I am passionate about thriving despite AS and not letting it become me, only a part of me. I see many people whose lives are overtaken by the disease, especially on facebook groups and forums, so I am trying to steer away from places that don’t serve me in my goals to get into remission or manage the symptoms. Hope you see it the same way! xo Carina

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Happiness

Time Management for Working Parents

Time management for working parents!

Hello everyone! I wanted to share some of my techniques to manage my time and keep my priorities straight as a working professional, parent of 3 small kids and entrepreneur. My passion is time management and I am always experimenting with it as I negotiate this multifaceted life of a working parent of 3.

Watch on Youtube Here

Today I’m opening up my outlook and ical to show you some of the layers I build into my day and the intentional practices I have.

Happiness

Use The Reticular Activating System to Program Your Brain for Happiness

Use your brain’s reticular activating system to rewire yourself – you will begin to automatically look for the positive and the beautiful in every moment of your day. Choose to notice better things.

Today I take you out into beautiful Canadian nature, for some nature immersion coaching, to explain exactly how this works!

Watch on Youtube!

Rewire your brain to look for the positive!

On today’s nature immersion life coaching, I share a tool that will help you program your brain and re-wire it for happiness and mindfulness using neuroscience and nature.

Nature immersion is very powerful and I combine it with life coaching to help you elevate your life with relevant, easy to access tools and practice.

Breast Reduction, Happiness

How I Lost 50lb After Baby 3

Today I wanted to share how I lost 50lb after my third baby last year on maternity leave (And I followed that up with a Breast Reduction!) I’ve shared on the blog a bit of my journey losing 50lb after baby #3 -Truthfully I’ve regained 10lb with the depression – but I am not worried as I’m looking forward to the last 30 lb of the journey and in January 2019 signed up for Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers to lose weight after babies is something I highly recommend. I’ve had success on the program between every baby, and even before I had children, back when I was an undergraduate student.

DON’T GET OBSESSED WITH THE DETAILS

What I wanted to write a bit on today is that I took a different route from 99.9% of what I see on instagram. People really focus on the macros, the micros, the workouts and the minutae of losing weight, but there is SO much more to it with the successful people. I’ve studied them, I’ve read their blogs and followed their journeys. I applied their lessons to myself and it turned out to work really, really well. So, How I lost 50lb after baby 3.

What I see as a 30 something Mom in social media right now is weight loss through working out and lots of hiit (high intensity interval training) and very detailed meal plans. TBH, don’t worry about macros and anaerobic versus aerobic until you get there, in the beginning worry more about simply eating the right stuff and moving. Once you’re near goal and it takes more dialling down, then worry about the picky stuff.

50lb is possible in the same amount of time without HIIT or crazy ass workouts (trust me I’ve done that before, with baby one I was doing the Crossfit open at 6 months post-partum and PRing my deadlifts – nothing wrong with that but my pelvic floor is not in the same place, I can tell you that, and I’m not sure 3 kids later that doing that was worth the issues I have now.

START TO LOOK AT FOOD AS FUNCTIONAL TO REMOVE THE EMOTIONAL HIGH YOU GET FROM IT (HELPS KICK THE ADDICTION)

I had hyperemesis with all 3 pregnancies which robs your joy of food – BUT… here’s the silver lining – it’s a weird gift in a way because it makes it easier to shift to food as fuel versus food as emotional comfort. This is a HUGE mindset change that came along after 3 pregnancies.

This 50 lb above was done 98% through good clean nutrition. 2% through walking. And that is possible too! I didn’t pay hundreds of dollars to workout, I simply looked at things differently. Adding food as fuel rather than denying it. That change made me want to choose stuff with good nutrition and I adapted a loose whole 30 diet with 1-2 days a week cheat meals.

LOVING THE FAT OUT OF ME – NOT BEATING THE FAT OUT OF ME.

Another mindset shift was that I wanted to be gentle and kind to my body after #3 – not aggressively beating the fat off. I did that with #1 lol. It worked too bur I’m in a kinder, gentler, more appreciative place ans truthfully, I feel like I owe my body love after all it Has done building these kids. That is refreshing after the first 20 years hating my body.

After baby 3 I had pelvic organ prolapse and the kinder gentler route involved pelvic floor physio, pilates and walking. I took a full year before running again.

So if you are finding you, too are in a mindset shift of wanting a gentler approach to weightloss after baby while you focus on rehabilitation rather than conditioning, remember it’s doable!

I am proof of that. Rebuilding your nutritional foundation is so important, especially if pregnancy puking robbed you of that! To do it successfully with nutrition (and this is why it is hard) you have to go through a few mindset shifts that help your motivation and way of seeing things. I think good nutrition is steeped in body positivity and self love. It took me 3 babies to get there, but I am glad I did.

Xo

Happiness

Climbing Out of Depression and Funks – An Unconventional Guide for People Interested in Energy

Welcome to a very different way to approach climbing out of depression or that thing we all know as, well, a funk.

I am so glad you are here.  Before we begin I want to let you know that this is a longer article, but if you stick it out (which you should, because we need to practice this skill in our instant gratification society) then, you’ll get some interesting insights and possibly a mindset shift (and a different way) to look at your challenges with energy and mood.

Let’s Climb Out of Our Funks Together, Ok? 

The shift in mindset I am going to present to you isn’t new.  In fact, professional coaches and personal development figures all over the world use similar principles. I’ve been using it on myself and it works.

I just wanted to put it into my own words and model, and I found it helpful to use a bit of science to ground the woo-woo.  I always need a bit of both because too much woo woo and I switch off, I also don’t like a lot of metaphysical language. And it needs to be practical and actionable.

My unconventional take on climbing up and out of funks is based not just on my own experience, but the experience of countless people I’ve coached who are walking the same path as you, me, us.  

I’m glad you googled the above things and found your way here, that you’re curious about energy and have realized there’s much more to this crazy thing called life…

I like takes on things that help me have “ah hah moments.” I hope you have one today. 

This post will land with you on some level even if you have been thinking “yeah, I’ve totally been in a low energy funk” or “yeah, I’ve met someone who had really good vibes and I just love being around them!”

Energetics is an entire area of knowledge that has opened up to me gradually over the years. 

I’ve become better at knowing if I am a good place of energy or a bad place of energy.  I’ve become better at noticing the subtle differences in my thoughts, attitude, energy, motivation, self care and even lifestyle when I’m in different places.

  I’ve also noticed with my 3 children different types of energy, and I’m sure you’ve seen too how easily they pick up on others’ energetic states.   I’ve been working on the energy we have in the house and how we can offset our kids’ tough moments with calm grounded energy.  It’s absolutely fascinating. 

Side note:  Parents, I highly recommend reading Carol Tuttle who gets into the different energy types of children, because it will make SO much sense when you have more than 1 kiddo and get the feeling that they are all so different from each other.  My first came out a feisty little squealing dragon, my second came out like he’d already been around for 200 years and it was just another life time, sort of a grumpy and sensitive little old man, and my third is just a happy go lucky, easy going guy.  They are ALL so different and their different energy states has made me much more in tune with how my energy affects them and vice versa, and how different kids just have totally different needs and approaches.  This book was probably one of my foundational knowledge books of parenthood.

We pick up energy in other people too. 

Have you ever noticed when someone has good vibes or bad vibes and it comes true through in some sort of evidence later on and you think “ah, I KNEW IT!” 

I’m fascinated by this idea.

Recognizing that we have a physical state, a logic state, an emotional state AND an energetic state has huge implications for anyone who wants to properly elevate their lives in multiple domains.

As we understand more about science, we understand more about this strange “vibe” that we as humans all experience – whether good or bad.

So let’s jump into a bit of science, shall we?  I promise I’ll go easy, I speak the language of

“I was up at 4am with the kids last night and barely passed university physics.”

So… We are energy.

We are all made of energy.  We are made of particles, and if you keep going further and further down, to atoms, then to protons and neutrons, and then to quarks (3 in each to be precise) – there, you get to energy. 

So this moves us from thinking about our body as physical matter, to energy… K? 

This is a pretty cool GIF from Symmetry Magazine, a Particle Physics Magazine.  Original image & article here. 

I really want you to hold it in your mind that we are energy, and energy can be measured by wavelengths.  Try to get away from the floaty dots and spinny things and orbits that we all drew in high school physics. 

Energy can be measured by waves, and a bunch of them are called wavelengths, because waves keep going in a pattern.

Our heart is an energetic organ.  It can be measured by wavelengths.  Our thoughts are energy.  They can be measured by wavelengths.  Our brain has all sorts of wavelengths (great gifs here explaining all of the different wavelengths.) 

Once you get grounded in this,  it isn’t a stretch to start thinking of our own selves as energetic beings.  We oscillate back and forth, peaks and troughs. Whether it’s our heart, our brain, hell, even LABOUR! (oh yeah, you totally remember that device printing out your contractions!) everything ebbs and flows.

  If you expand outward you see it in nature.  Ebb and flow in the seasons.  The spring of expansion, the fall of contraction.  YOUR OWN LIFE.  You go through ebbs and flows.  January? Totally motivated.  Summer? Slips off.  Following winter, you come back around. 

Moods?  Some days you feel amazing.  Other days you don’t. 

Nothing, and I mean nothing is not experiencing wavelengths. 

NOTHING STAYS THE SAME.

Okay so we’re in the home stretch now. 

Why is all of this super important for understanding how to get ourselves out of a funk?!  Well…

Quick jump back into science.

Newton’s 3rd Law of Physics says that for any force (action), there must be an equal and opposite force (reaction.) Think of the downward trough, and then necessary crest in a wavelength. 

Image courtesy of CM’s guide to physics 
  

If we are experiencing a drop in our energy, our mood, our thoughts, you know, the entire “system” that we can energetically feel, we should still have hope. 

Why? I can tell you right now, with all my heart, as someone who has walked this path, experienced real ebbs and flows in my life, that coming out of each trough  every time has led to a re-evaluation and entirely different level of life and happiness and wisdom (a crest and an entirely different wave form.)

Newton’s laws of physics holds that with a big drop in energy (ie: depression, a funk, true suffering) we are going to follow with a major rise. 

 I – and any  psychologist, counsellor, therapist you speak to, can say without hesitation that our periods of suffering are ALWAYS, ALWAYS the catalyst for a major growth point in our life, and that we have the power to truly level up our lives BECAUSE of this stage.

Pain and suffering, when it gets to be enough, necessitates massive growth.  A HUGE shift in thinking. Epiphanies that shift the way you see the world.  Suffering FORCES us to look at things in new ways, because we simply get tired of our shit. 

Sadly though, not everybody climbs out of their place of suffering, because there are things that buffer the pain (addictions) that would normally force us to get the hell out and change what we are doing.  

Your equal and opposite reaction to depression, or whatever you are going through, my friend, is going to be an elevation.  A crest after the trough. An improved level of energy and wisdom  in your life.  BUT. And this is a big BUT.  You’ve got to do the work to crest on your wave again as well. You can’ t just buffer your troughs with alcohol, binge eating, whatever you tend to use to ease bad days.   We’re not a bouncy ball here, we HAVE to do the work to get out of the trough, and you all know it does feel like it has a gravitational pull of its own.

Do the simple things, whether it’s a shower, drinking 2 L of water, or getting outside, just to get you coming back up out of the trough, ok?  For every shitty thought, put out an equal and opposite (good) thought.  For every time you feel hopeless, think about something to feel hopeful for (ie: how freaking happy your kids are going to be on christmas day this year.)

When you’ve overcome the gravitational force of a deep trough by doing all of the little things, that are the opposite, that is when we can start addressing bigger things and different wavelengths entirely.

Your values, your lifestyle, your work, your family ,your relationship. These bigger pieces are what we begin to address to get ourselves into a higher overall energetic state or level.  Different wavelengths.  Still oscillations, but the crests and troughs you have in a high energy state are vastly better. 

Mastering the crests and troughs (the ups and downs) of your current state means that you can begin to think about mastering an entirely different wavelength and way of being.  

Remember back at the beginning when I mentioned that you can totally feel when people have different energies and vibes to them?  

You have people in your life who are that higher wavelength below, and when you spend time of them, you feel like you’ve been elevated simply being in their presence.  And you probably have people in your life who are in that lower wavelength, and when you spend time with them, you find yourself going down a few notches.  Have you ever been at a family event with a negative family member, and all of a sudden you catch yourself eating like shit at the appetizer table and violating all of the standards you hold yourself to?  Yup, you’re vibing off of them and meeting them where they are.  There’s lots of things we can do to protect our energy states (to come in a later post) but I really wanted to get this idea settled in your mind first. 

If you really are serious about climbing out of your funk:

I want you to do a very important 15 minute exercise, ideally in a journal.  Using your skeletal muscles and had has some kind of crazy power in making things very, very real and putting things into action. 

1.) I want you to look at those three different places of energy above. I want you to think of a time where you have been in each of these states.  Write when and where down.

2.) . Next, I want you to write down what you are like, what your thoughts are like, your actions, your emotions in each of these three places of energy.  You can see in the picture above I’ve put in some initial things, but it is so unique to you.  I know for me when I am eating dairy and gluten (which make me feel terrible btw) I know I am eating in that low state.  Ruminating on the past or problems?  Yup, I know I’m in that red wavelength.  

3.) Think about which wavelength you are presently on.  Then, connect with that great green wavelength. Where were you there last, what kind of things were you doing there?  One of the things that has been massively helpful lately is going back to the gym, because I know “green wavelength me” loves it.  Personally speaking, my first week or two I didn’t. I had to force myself, but I can feel that little part of happiness coming back on line now. I had to trust myself and override my depressed brain logic.    Day by day, as I add things, I not only climb out of the trough and up onto a crest again, but I also begin to shift my entire energy state to a better place.  

Phew, there you go.  A long article tonight but I truly truly hope it connects with you and please leave me a comment.  Did it make sense? Land with you? Any examples you can give?  Would love to hear.

Next up, a continuation of my exploration into the nature of anxiety

(aka Anxiety Part 2.  Read Part 1 here if you like.

(If you want help doing this, I’ll be very soon launching a coaching course to help you week by week, climb upward and out of your funk and into an entirely different 2019. 

I’ve been creating it with love and care, and tools used by the world’s greatest coaches and knowledge keepers such as Brene Brown and Tony Robbins.  If you are interested in staying up to date on the launch, sign up here.

Interesting links & further reading

Fantastic article on the particle physics of YOU from Symmetry, a Particle Physics Magazine.  Excellent late night reading, lol.  Kinda blows your mind.  

Happiness

Parents Experiencing Anxiety Part 1/3

I have been experiencing very intense anxiety the last few months and I realized that I am experiencing exactly what I swore I never would, as a parent.

So… today I ask and explore the question

Why are parents so anxious?

Before I had children ( in fact, when I was deciding if I even wanted them) I took to google to ask this question, because I was genuinely curious.  As a clueless observer of parents, this was something I noticed.  Anxious, harried, unorganized, confused, stressed out.  I promised myself I wouldn’t become that.

So… let’s forward 5 years and three kids later. In the last few months, I – who swore I would never let that happen to me –  found myself on sick leave from work, battling anxiety, depression and complete and utter life overwhelm, despite my best efforts to get clear on my priorities, maintain boundaries and keep infusing my life with practices like meditation, nature immersion and crafts.

Once again I took to google.  Most of the internet results on parental anxiety talk about  fear-based anxiety and the fact that we live in a culture that is dominated by fear.  In the book Last Child in the Woods:  Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, the author states “Fear is the most potent fore that prevents parents from allowing their children the freedom that they themselves enjoyed when they were young.”  There is “Fear of traffic, of crime, of stranger danger, of nature itself.”

I wanted to write this post today for parents who are struggling with anxiety, but feel like their anxiety isn’t rooted in this type of fear.

Yes, this type is widespread but I’ve come to the conclusion that there are different drivers of anxiety as a parent that don’t get mentioned as often.

Yes, I did struggle with a bit of fear-based anxiety with my first born (I couldn’t even walk the stroller down hills without fear of falling, letting go of the stroller, and it rolling down the hill.)

But… fast forward to the third born and the anxiety was more insidious and harder to pinpoint.  I’ve spent the last two months exploring my anxiety and here’s a few pieces of my own anxiety puzzle I’d like to share mostly to let you know

a.) you’re not alone in realizing anxiety is really complicated and not a one-size fits all solution and

b.) you can begin to tackle it as you unpeel the layers (with knowledge.)

What is contributing to this horrible sense of overwhelm, foreboding, a jacked up nervous system and fragmented sleep?

I believe the speed at which we operate, the lack of depth that we experience, and the move away from in-person interaction (feelings of isolation)  are very, very important pieces of the multi-layered beast that is anxiety.

Today, let’s jump into the first theme, speed at which we operate (and the expansion of… well, all the things.)

The Speed at Which we Operate and the Expansion of All The Things

We have become accustomed to high speed and rapid gratification.

Let’s start with TV.  It seems ridiculous now to wait for a show to screen at a certain time on a certain day, for us to record and watch later.  We can access it on demand with Netflix.  We don’t have to phone someone up, trek to the library, or remain clueless, we can google anything and get the answer on the spot.

It applies to our own life and goals too, we catch ourselves in gratification conditioning.  For example, we set up an Instagram account for our side business, or buy a book then we find ourselves wanting a successful launch with 500 followers, or an instant change in our life once we’ve finished reading a book.

We’ve become accustomed to things happening quickly because the internet speeds up our sense of time.   Unfortunately, REAL life still hasn’t caught up to the speed of INTERNET life, but because we spend a good portion of our day in the latter, we’ve simply become used to it.

You can’t will a house plant to grow instantly once you plant it… yet we catch ourselves taking on that mindset with so many pieces of our lives, right?

I noticed myself doing this with my childrens’ sleep regressions, especially my little dragon of a first born.  As the sleep struggles began, I began reading sleep training guides, implemented their step by step process and as disappointed that my child’s circadian rhythm, brain and sleep cycles didn’t adjust within a few days. Fast forward to the toddler years, after a few podcasts on discipline (which I confess I fast forwarded through to get to the main points) I implemented the advice, thinking my toddler would be a different boy in the next few days.  Nope.

Everything is at a faster pace.  You’re registering children for things 6 months in advance, your child’s teacher can instant message you instead of waiting for parent teacher interviews, people can make requests of you instantly via text message or email instead of waiting to see you. Shorter response windows and more requests because of increased mediums of communication.  That entire outside world can access you via several different platforms now, and if you try to hide (think social media detox or simply focusing on your family instead of community and social obligations) you’ll receive concerned messages from people asking if you are ok?

Instead of one paper calendar you can now manage 4 different ones on your ICal for different domains of your life, which then can auto populate the other calendars.  Because you can do more in shorter amounts of time, you are… doing… more.

Think about the rate at which you scroll through Instagram.  People used to read papers, one page at a time, just one or two images at a time.  Visual stimulation increased with magazines of course and more photos in a magazine than a newspaper, but we were still limited by reading speed.

Now, in the digital age, we are only limited by scrolling speed.  I googled how many images we see on Instagram in one session of scrolling, and I couldn’t find an answer, but I’m sure it is exponentially more than magazine images.  That’s a lot of visual processing and stimulation for our brains.  Next time you scroll through Instagram, try and observe how fast you scroll, do you stay at fast surface level scrolling, or do you intentionally stop and read each post before moving to the next.

Do you ever catch yourself writing with a pen, filling out a form, and thinking it’s SO SLOW and rushing to write faster? You’re used to being able to write at least 120 WPM on a keyboard in 2018.  Handwriting?  13 WPM.

We are also multi-tasking more than ever before.

Podcast + Cleaning or Driving.

Working out + Texting or Catching up with People

Project and Role Expansion at Work

Making Dinner + Sending an Email.

Playing with kids + thinking about launching a side business

Waiting for the elevator + checking facebook

When is the last time you were waiting for something (elevator is a great example) and left your phone in your pocket and just stared at the wall?  Try – it is actually hard because of what we have become accustomed to.

Finally, another fascinating aspect of all of this, is that we have more access to information than any previous generation.  My grandmother would find a recipe by calling up and asking a friend, or going to a library.  Me?  Well, I can google it, save it to my pinterest boards, peruse 6 different recipes depending on my dietary preferences of the week (gluten free? Low starch? Dairy free?) or according to what groceries I have on hand, and then I can download several free guides to save for later to improve my techniques in preparing said recipes.

In the parenting world, this gets insane because we begin the parenting journey knowing NOTHING and having to learn EVERYTHING, but the problem is we don’t have a few trusted sources anymore, there’s a bajillion different sources from which we can get a Ph.D level of information, and we haven’t (yet) learnt to understand when to shift from acquiring information to acting on said information.  It’s like trying to decide when a painting is actually complete.  When is the appropriate time to act on the information we’ve gathered? (I can tell you my answer, it’s… keep googling and acquiring more information until finally I decide I’m being ridiculous and finally act on it.)

Research estimates that we have access to 15,000 times more information than our grandparents’ generation.  That’s a lot!

As I began to realize all of these things over the last month or two, I’ve begun to very consciously work at slowing my brain down.  Like the slow food movement, there’s now a slow living movement. It is not easy, let me tell you that.  I try to scroll slower through Instagram. I reduced my social media feeds to only those people who inspire me or whose feeds relate to my current priorities. I ruthlessly chopped down my goals and to-do lists and resist the urge to pick up new projects.  I try to be present with the kids, and to be in nature without feeling like I need to listen to a podcast.  I try to cognitively deload and not learn anything.  I’ve been trying to not pick up my phone while I wait for something, and simply retrain my brain to be comfortable with boredom or lack of stimulation.  I’ve tried not to rush my kids into the car, or walk fast.

It’s hard, but after two months I’ve noticed a gradual slowing down of my thoughts and less racing around in the physical aspect.  And you know what’s hard?  When you depart from normal things, people notice, and question it.  My husband still pushes me to hurry with doing things, my phone still buzzes with so many texts I can’t get to in the few minutes I am kid free, and I still catch myself speed walking with the grocery cart and not perusing the shelves at a relaxed pace.  I still feel guilty if I haven’t crossed off to-dos and I have slight existential crises when I realize I have nothing scheduled in a day.   I feel panicky if I have no ideas for what to do with my kids from 9am to 12pm and catch myself thinking that I need to do something.  When was the last time you asked yourself “when can I purposefully make my children bored or avoid giving them stimulating activities and force them to come up with their own entertainment.”  A client and I discussed this very thing the other day.

All things to think about, that I have certainly thought about the last few months.  Agree? Disagree? Which pieces of this land with you? I would love to hear what your challenges are and how you’ve tackled this (and begun to slow down, and bring anxiety levels down.)

Next up, we’ll talk about shallow living (especially in parenthood) and the feelings of isolation that arise (even if we see people on the regular.)  Two other drives of that insidious thing called Anxiety.

Families in Calgary, Family Activities, Kids Activities

Family Activities in Calgary during the Winter.

It’s freezing out.  What kind of family activities in Calgary are available to you? And more importantly…in… THE WINTER.

 Today I wanted to present a list of options that you can do during the winter, ranging from expensive to frugal, that will help you get through those cold winter days with your sanity in check 🙂 

This list is tailored for parents rolling with little ones under the age of 6. So here we go, more than ten fun things to do with children in calgary.

#1: RECREATION (GYMNASTICS, POOL, OPEN GYM) ($2-$10) The City of Calgary provides some great drop-in programs at its recreation centres for a minimal cost.  The key is printing off and getting to know the schedules.  On Sundays at our local pool, Canyon Meadows, there is $2 swimming. 

At certain days and times, you can access the facilities for much cheaper than usual.  

Since Calgary is a huge city, it is easier to search by location (quadrant) and then see what the offerings are each day.  Here is a link to search by location.

In the south of the city, we like the independently operated TRICO Centre which has a variety of drop in play, gymnastics and open gym programs for great rates. 

#2 EARLY LEARNING SPACES AT CALGARY’S LIBRARIES (FREE) The Early Learning Spaces at Calgary Public Libraries. Our favourites are Fish Creek and the brand-new Downtown Library, and Calgary Playground Review has given an awesome preview of each of the Libraries, check them out here! 

#3 DEVONIAN GARDENS AND INDOOR PLAYGROUND / THE CORE SHOPPING CENTRE

Explore Devonian Gardens and its fantastic indoor playground inside of the core shopping centre downtown.  A nearby foodcourt and stores to check out makes it a great option. 

#4 TELUS SPARK SCIENCE MUSEUM- CREATIVE KIDS MUSEUM + DOME SHOW $19

This is an expensive day out, but make your $19 per child last by taking in a Dome show and the creative kids museum at Telus Spark (in addition to the main museum.) 

#5 Visit the Calgary Children’s Reading Place (free-reservation required)

An absolutely magical house in Inglewood, filled to the brim with books, secret nooks and crannies and magical themed rooms for your little readers.  There’s also a lovely little craft room upstairs for your creatives! Absolute favourite place of ours.  

#6 Attend a Craft Workshop at Michaels Stores 
Michaels is always running crafts for all ages for a minimal cost (often a toonie for the Saturday Kids Club classes which run 1-2 hours)  – you do need to stay in the store, though.  Just try not to spend a gazillion dollars while you are there.  🙂 

#7 Treehouse Indoor Kids Playground

I have a hard time with indoor playgrounds (read: anxiety) but Treehouse Calgary which has a north and south location, has quickly become a favourite of ours and is well worth the admission.  Includes a cafeteria and seating area so you can sip a coffee and let the littles free in the expansive playground (which is lovely and clean with friendly staff, btw.) 

#8 Watch a $5 movie at Canyon Meadows Cinema

Canyon Meadows cinema is a hidden gem, which screens $5 movies.  It’s a great day out for the kiddos.  

#9 Attend Family Yoga (or drop them off for Unparented Yoga or full day workshops) at Wymbin Yoga in Inglewood.

Wymbin runs wonderful kids yoga & activity programming and has a variety of options, including a 2 hour unparented class for ages 3 and up, with options to add on extra time.  It is a great opportunity to explore inglewood or gather your sanity at a nearby cafe or restaurant 🙂

#10 The Esker Foundation Art Gallery often has wonderful programming and tours for children. 

They have a mini masters art class, as well as a “bring the baby” art tour of contemporary art. 

#11 Family Skating at the Olympic Oval (they have rentals and skating assist frames for the kids) at the Olympic Oval

#12 Go cuddle the animals and gaze at the tropical fish at any Petland Store – we personally like the Deerfoot Meadows Location which has a cuddle room for their cat residents too.  

#13 Take your crazy cat lady / man to the Regal Cats Cafe in Kensington and enjoy a coffee!

#14 Load up on crafts at your local loonie store and keep a cold / rainy day craft box. 

#15 Make an indoor obstacle course in a long hallway in your house, using pillows to jump over, shoe laces that are ‘snakes” and of course, red shirts that are ‘hot lava.’

#16 Feed the baby Trout at Bow Habitat Station and get a tour. 

Families in Calgary, Lifestyle Design

Great Canadian Stocking Stuffers for Your Husband, Husband Stocking Stuffer Ideas.

Today I present some great stocking stuffer ideas  and gift ideas for your husband that don’t completely suck (I ran them by husbands.)

Creating stockings is my favorite part of christmas, and I spend all year scoping out the shops here in Calgary and pinning, so you will notice many local items, but often you can find a comparable on Amazon.  

Enjoy these ideas, I hope they give you a creative boost!  I’ve linked to Amazon Prime where I can for convenience (and better price) but as always, shop local as much as you can!  I hope this gives you some great ideas – it was fun to put together! 

Award-winning Escuminac Maple Syrup set of 3 – Extra Rare, Great Harvest and Late Harvest organic syrups with 3 taste experiences.  
Endurance athlete in the house?  Pure maple syrup energy packs! 
Do you remember your parents having one of these moving sand art frames in the 80s, and how mesmerized / relaxed you felt?  They’re back! 
THIS WILL CHANGE YOUR CAMPING LIFE.  The aeropress.  Just get it.  Nuff said. 
A bag of Five’21 Roasters Coffee, delivered to your door. Subscriptions available.  Organic, locally roasted by a firefighter. 
Turtle Lights and Accesory Biners from MEC are less than $5, and they always get used!  
The GSI Compact Pot Scraper for Camping (buy two because you’ll wind up stealing one for your kitchen, they are THAT good.
The life straw emergency water filter.  This is all you need to access water in any place.  Cheap and life saving!
The guys I know all swear by this stuff, it works as shampoo AND shower soap. 
Admit it, this is secretly a gift for you! Your husband won’t ask where the keys are with the Tile set of 2 – your can ring them from your smartphone and find stuff!  No digging through drawers or pockets again 😉 
Your husband will LOVE these, these are the absolute best of the best in car care products.  Auto Glym is a British line, available at Canadian Tire.
If you have kids, your husband’s vehicle is probably being slowly destroyed, so buy the following:
Interior Vinyl & Rubber care
Leather Care Balm
The Odour Eliminator (Smells amazing and works)

Add some extra polishing clothes in there for a very easy stocking stuffer win! Trust me this is an excellent present.
Burts Bees Chapstick 4 pack so he’ll stop stealing yours. 
If your guy has been to Thailand, not only will this give him flashbacks, but Tiger Balm is MAGICAL!  Insect repellent, pain reliever, burn reliever, headache reliever and it actually helps with restless legs.
Grab Facial Fuel Lotion from Kiehls – guys love this stuff (they give you tons of free samples, stocking stuffer win!) 
Main gift but a GOOD japanese knife from Knife Wear in Calgary, best investment!
The Beer Cozy line of Flip Flops from Sanuk (in Southcentre Mall or online – absolutely outstanding quality and the most comfortable / durable flip flops he’ll ever own. 
Silk Road Spice Market Black Truffle Salt – and any of their spices – less than $10 and he’ll love!  We recommend St. Laurent Steak Spice & Argentinian Chimmichuri
Incredible, big crystals of salt – you’ll never go back to any salt after trying this British salt. 
I have learnt that you can never have enough iphone chargers. For the car and the house and his work. 
If you are crafty this one is hilarious and fun 🙂
Did you know Alum stone blocks naturallyc lose shaving nicks? It is naturally antiseptic and soothing which also removes redness. This one is handmade in France. 
Stypic Pencils immediately stop bleeding from shaving cuts and nicks.  Fascinating right?!
MEC Dry Sleeves for active guys to put keys & phone in.
So cliche but I had to because these are really nice wool gloves at MEC
How fun are these?  All you need is your favourite spirit & these for a back country cocktail! At MEC
Walnut Docking Station – lots of options on Etsy and Amazon~this one is prime and better priced than the ones I found on Etsy and has good reviews. 
Portable, small, folding solar charger for electronic devices. 
Happiness

Why is Rachel Hollis so Popular? Why is Brene Brown a Bestseller?

Rachel Hollis. Brene Brown. Tony Robbins. These aren’t just public figures… they have massive movements behind them. I’m going to explain why.

I am often asked this and work with clients on this topic. They hate my answer ;). Why?

Because it is this.

Being busy doing “all of the things” is basically doing all of the other things for someone else and not for you.

Being busy doing all of the things means that you do not have quiet time … it is only in a quiet mind that we to can reflect, ponder and dream, as well as start to think about a future life and how we want to feel in our future.

I stress to people that you do not have to meditate, buy crystals or go on a silent retreat (though that is some people’s jam.)

Your practice can take on whatever shape or form you like – but there are two things that absolutely must happen for answers to be revealed to you.

1.) It SLOWS DOWN and then EMPTIES OUT your brain’s constant chatter.

2.) It ACTIVATES and LIGHTS UP the creative part of the brain that is able to think outside of the box and outside of the limited and outdated patterning your brain currently uses.

What activities get you these results? Most people know what they are but don’t take the time or space to do those activities because they aren’t labelled as productive or income generating.

I noticed this tendency, with making jewellery. It started out as a creative hobby but then I found myself thinking so much about how much money I could make and interestingly enough I lost the creative ideas & couldn’t make anything when I sat down.

I noticed that I struggled to come up with ideas at work, if I wasn’t taking the time to trail run out in nature – which is like meditation for me – because I didn’t create boundaries in my daily schedule and say no to people and requests in the hour that used to be run time. Stop treating it as sacred and an important practice in my day.

We so often let these practices go, because soul work cannot be measured. Purpose seeking doesn’t bring in $ (at first) and it isn’t measurable. Western society devalues introspection, inner exploration – hell even our inner world.

Western society is all about how you are showing up in the outer world and external benchmarks of success.

What we are seeing now is a massive movement, where people are beginning to push back and say “hey, doing inner work is a very important part of life. ”

It is why authors like Brene Brown and Rachel Hollis are New York Times bestsellers right now.

That excites me. When the world of self development and inner exploration becomes a part of popular society it means on some level society is ok with it, that there is momentum and instead of being a weird hippy / fringe / woowoo topic, everyone is realizing it is as fundamental as career development, or formal education.

People are realizing that if we ignore this part of the work we are supposed to do in our lives, it results in dissatisfaction, a sense of unfulfillment and perhaps contributes to a lot of the mental health struggles we are experiencing.

It’s also why the 30s are quite a magical age.

People begin to turn inward in the 30s – why? Because they have achieved a lot of the benchmarks that society lays out for us and realize something is missing – and they realize it’s not just about the house, a car, career accolades or educational accomplishments.

Another reason is: CHILDREN. This is the gift of children. Once people become parents, they are immersed in what I like to refer to as an “accelerated masters degree” in humanity. It is a deep immersion into advanced courses on:

Your own personal values

The legacy you want to leave

Your priorities and the kind of life you want.

And then, we compound that, with the fact that our children push us to live in EXACTLY the place we struggle to be:

Present, mindful and less bound to “to do lists.”

You may feel the opposite that with every child comes a massive list of to dos and a busier life.

I wanted this article to give you a way to flip that perspective (because that’s the popular society story, right? Frantic, lost & disoriented parents) – and look at the deeper underlying gift of children and how they are connected to your personal evolution.

Even the fact you are reading this right now means that everything is unfolding as it should.

Xo

Carina

Families in Calgary, Family Activities, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Nature and Forest Play, Outdoors Activities

Winter Activity Ideas for Families (and Christmas, too!)

When we first moved to Canada, we were amazed by the snow, and very quickly became acquainted with frost bite, frozen eyelashes and all sorts of other classic Canadiana childhood moments.  25 years later, we haven’t lost our love of this magical season.  

And 25 years later, I still hold to the philosophy that if you are going to live in a country where winter runs from October to May (we had snow in September this year) – well, you might as well learn to love it, right?

I bring to you a list of really fun things to do as a family in winter.

First, go on a Christmas decoration hunt!  Print off this PDF I made for you and have the kids cross off each item when they see it!  We grab hot chocolates (and peppermint mochas for the parents of course) and it’s a fun evening! 

Pick up some toboggans and google toboggan hills in your area.  In Calgary check out the brilliant toboggan ‘bowl’ in Mapleridge, just off Acadia Drive.  In Canmore, the toboggan hill at the Canmore Nordic Centre.  

Watch the Grinch (Jim Carrey version) and have popcorn doused in butter. Or, grab a bag of that DELICIOUS Boom-Chicka-Pop peppermint popcorn.  Don’t forget to put mint lindtor chocolates in the freezer.  A christmas classic! 

Play Christmas light bingo.  Grab a happy meal, and drive around locating different christmas lights and decorations.  

Try making Maple Taffy in the snow.

Build a Gingerbread House

Make Christmas ornaments with supplies from the loonie store – pipe cleaner christmas ornaments with beads strung on them, popsicle stick snowflakes with jewels stuck on, there are so many options!

Bake some cupcakes or cookies, have the kids decorate them and take them to an elderly neighbour. 

In Calgary, go skating on Bowness Lagoon (North), Olympic Oval (Central) or Spruce Meadows (South) – feeling ambitous?  Skate on Grotto pond just before Canmore. 

Make a bird feeder with a pinecone, honey and wild bird seeds.  Even better, in Calgary go to Fish Creek and find the chickadees.  Curious, friendly and very happy to flitter onto your arm. 

Print off 12 days of kindness cards and divvy among the family.  Each day, a family member does something kind, writes it on the back of their card, and puts it into a kindness jar.  It is a lovely ritual to read all of them out. 

 Make hot mulled wine, and go out for a winter walk with it in your coffee mug (not for the kids lol)

Have a winter time charcuterie picnic.  Ice wine, cheese, bread, crackers, meats and some nice dried fruits.  Don’t forget the blanket and snow pants 🙂

Fill squirt bottles with food colouring, and set up snow in a container for the kids to colour.  They can also ‘colour’ their snowmen. 

Make Poppycock and then try not to eat it all. 

Visit Santa at the shopping centre.  In Calgary, you can decorate a gingerbread cookie and watch a disney movie as well!

Write letters to Santa, go on a forest walk and hang them in the tree.  Replace them with Candy Canes so that the kids find them on the return walk.

Make Pinecone christmas ornaments with glitter glue and sequins, tie with a twine and hang in the tree. 

Go outside with a black cloth and look at snowflakes up close.

Sleep under the christmas tree!

Have a family photo shoot – in the winter!

Make an extravagant breakfast.  Waffles, pancakes, fruit – or perhaps german style with fresh bread, meats and cheeses. 

Take ALL of the pillows off the couches and make the best.pillow.fort.ever.  

Get walnuts and a nut cracker (for the older kids) and consume half your body weight in nuts by the end of the night. 

Make a frame out of twigs in the snow and make a scene using twigs, berries, pine cones, leaves, etc. 

Attend an event where carols are sung.  

Make smores on a fire pit or in your own living room.  Another option:  Roast Chestnuts.

Go to the library and pick up winter and christmas books. 

Mix up and sprinkle “Reindeer dust” on the snow on Christmas eve.

Dance to christmas songs

Watch Home Alone, of course!