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.

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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.

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

Happiness

Life Coaches Use This Powerful Technique in their Own Lifestyle Design (and you can too)

Most people think of their future goals or lifestyle as this thing in the future that is coming as long as they work at it.

in coaching we really focus on an extra piece: you walking, thinking, talking and acting the way that the future version of you will.

In my climb out of depression, I know I can’t rely on forcing or willpowering myself to go out of the house, because in depression your feelings become like a thick fog in muted greys.

However I DO know (journalling and visualizing got me there) exactly what I want the future me to be like and what that future lifestyle is, how the future me feels. You need that for this crucially important strategy of deciding, what part of this future life CAN I live or talk like, right now.

Does that make sense?

I have an image in my mind of writing, a flexible schedule, active outdoorsy lifestyle. So what do I do now? I sneak off to cafes to write in my journal to be in that future life. It’s not often but I dress up glam some days as I want to in my future life and really take a moment to appreciate, and let that steep in my mind.

I call this technique “trying your future life on for size.” – and if you are not clear on what you want in 2019 yet, try little activities on for size. Successful people often do this in the form of mini challenges, projects, or goals. Some you won’t like, others you will discover something new about yourself you never knew. This past year I ran an online konmari method group challenge among my friends where we got rid of 1 item day 1, 2 items day 2 and so forth. I discovered (and I never knew) that though I hate cleaning, I LOVE organizing.

What piece of your future life will you try on (and love) – you need to mix it up and challenge yourself or you’ll never know. Look at this tree. That was a seed that was planted. What seeds are you planting now? 🌱

Gear for Kids, Happiness, Toddler Gear

Christmas Gift Ideas for a Five Year Old Girl and Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Young Girls

Today I give you a whole bunch of ideas for christmas gifts for a five-year-old girl.  Every year I have an absolute blast christmas shopping and creating awesome stockings, so I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you as well as some huge hits in years past! 

Most of these recommendations, I found in person and loved, so there are links to Michaels, Walmart, MEC, Indigo, and more – but I’ve included Amazon where it is cheaper –  those links are through my affiliate account, so if you do purchase them, I receive a small referral that supports the blog. Thank you!   And if you have any awesome additons please add in the comments! 

Grow Unicorns & Sloths – these are really fun! (available in Beaners Calgary stores)

Water Pipes for the Bath & Your little Engineer!  By Boon on Amazon $17
Marble Run kit, also a hit with engineer types! 

Kindred Coast Children’s Clothing – Made on Salt Spring Island and amazing quality! 

Plasticine is a level up over playdoh – it doesn’t dry and you can reuse it.  This brand is the better quality of them all and every European kid has this as a memory! 
Mermaids and Kittens, the perfect combo for a little girl who loves both! haha. So cute. 

7″ Pusheen Mermaid Cat Plush $17.95 at Chapters, $13.59 on Prime. 

Melissa and Doug Water Wow!  Pads are amazing (really great for plane travel btw) and at 5 years old, she’s learning her letters and numbers and naturally enjoys it!  – This 3 pack makes a great gift.  These are often in Winners, YYC Locals! 
These are on sale at the bay. Huge hit and way better than loonie store temporary tattoos.
Hair chalk = way better than goopy hair gel or sketchy spray that stains their scalps! 
I cannot emphasize how AWESOME and good quality these adidas crops are, it’s all we use for our daughters’ activities.  They last 2 seasons at least since they are crops. 
Of all of the backpacks, we’ve been so impressed with Pottery Barn Kids’ Backpacks.  They fit the larger width requirements of kindergarten these days and we particularly love the travel one with the pull handle – it’s a great investment which you can stuff with goodies, especially if you are going away for christmas (we did last year) 
Also from Pottery Barn they have a huge selection of lunch bags, with hand handles or over the shoulder straps – they are so easy to clean, excellent quality and you can get food allergy tags for them (see below) 
Our Generation Kayak Adventure Play Set (for Our Generation Dolls) 

Alex Toys Tea Party Set $32.96

I’ve found Crayola Water Colours to be the best quality! $3.99
Melissa and Doug Drawing Pad $3.89
Ikea Mala Stamp Pens $5
Go to Michaels and get lots of fun cupcake toppers in the baking section for your little baker and put them in a pretty storage box!
This is a 40 ft slack line, but it has different monkey bar accessories, SO awesome for your little gymnast!! $139 but a great investment especially for camping / backyards!
6,5 foot kids’ climbing rope $32
Comfy Kids Teen Beanbag (Walmart $89) 
My daughter had these magnetic tiles at her preschool and it was incredible watching what the kids were able to build.  $$ but worth the investment. 
Kids. LOVE. Flashlights.  Headlamps.  Lights. Get them a headlamp for camping season (or evening walks) and watch them fall in love with the outdoors!
It’s a shame they are missing mummy and daddy’s beer / wine cooler. $25
Why not put some climbing wall holds on your kids’ bedroom wall? 🙂 Love this.  MEC. 
Magical Books by the Fan Brothers $13
The Puppy’s Wish  – beautiful imagery featuring a little girl of the same age!  $11
The Reindeer Wish, our favourite book 2 years running, beautiful imagery!

Hatley Pyjamas, they are SUCH good quality and so many patterns . On sale & they’ve lasted through three kids! $18-$39
Plush Toys from Ikea, so soft and durable! they’ve lasted several kids! $6
Fizzing bath colour drops – Walmart or most drug stores $6
Mouldable foam soap for the bath – my kids love making ‘hats’ and laugh hysterically!
Colour changing, floating LED bath lights – these are magical in the bubble bath! 
Melissa & Doug Stained Glass Window Made Easy Kits (so fun to do together and they turn out lovely!) 
Children’s ‘fairy mist’ aromatherapy spray for bedtime, from Saje
Aroma Fairy – Children’s Aromatherapy Roll On by Saje for the little lady who is eyeing up your perfume cabinet 😉 
Supplies to make your own fairy garden at the base of a tree or in a flower pot.  Fill it with doors, ladybugs and more!  Michaels has an amazing selection. 
(Our fairy garden)
Nail CHARMS…because we’ve all had nail polish disasters with a 5 year old girl!  Michaels
If your daughter is losing teeth these are cute! Beaners Calgary or online 🙂
ALL OF THE FOLLOWING STOCKING STUFFERS ARE AT CHAPTERS/INDIGO
(Not sponsored just a GREAT one-stop shop or free shipping)
Book Club, Happiness, Lifestyle Design, Personal Development, Spirituality, Working Mom, Working Parent Life

Five Things I Love about Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis – My Review of Rachel Hollis’ New Book.

There are five things I love about Girl, Wash Your Face, a best-selling book by Rachel Hollis which is on the NYT list right now.  I wanted to share those today.  I’m jumping the gun a bit, because I am ONLY halfway through the book right now, but I know I won’t get around to this post if I take my usual all-or-nothing approach, so we’ll have this half-way review, and a completion review, k?   I promise you I have my sleepy time tea ready and the kids are asleep and I am going to crush that thing tonight.  

Yes, I finally caved and downloaded it!  I usually run away from best sellers.  I prefer to explore in the fringes of self development / personal growth books, because I know the content there is just as good as any best seller content.  BUT… after hearing Rachel on the Lewis Howes School of Greatness Podcast (my fav podcast in the world and my trusted companion over 3 mat leaves) I loved her vibe and decided to spend the $10.

I FINALLY located my Kindle Charge Chord (in the ‘nono drawer’ a repository of all the things I have taken away from my little people.  Scissors, craft glue, matches, and all sorts of other absurdly dangerous objects they manage to find and play with) ) I was able to get back into my favourite mat leave habit of snuggling my little guy and reading the kindle.  Bliss!

Want to hear something else? I put off reading it because of this emotion called…

Jealousy.

Ugggh. Gross.  Jealousy is a very human but a rather sinister emotion and you feel horrible for experiencing it.  But, as I posted on Instagram TV the other day, if you are able to look hard emotions in the eye and break them down, you can often break through to a gift, or positive emotion underneath.  I did that very thing with this jealousy that came up, and discovered it is because she is doing what I desire MOST.  Jealousy can illuminate your deepest purpose and desire, and get your ass in gear. It shows you what you want.  Now, it’s up to you to get past your barriers (the barrier is your own thinking, btw.) It certainly is mine.  I keep putting writing off.  I keep shying away from setting the boundaries with my kids and husband.  I keep doubting my abilities.  All of those are thinking things. And they block the doing. 

What are yours?

I am absolutely driven to write the Great Maternity Leave Book, filled with all of the adventures from that bucket list I’ve been working through since 2012 when I started this crazy parenthood journey.  There’s a chapter on initiation into motherhood and how weird it is, striving  to keep developing, growing and retaining my identity, stepping out of the rat race and being a human BEING instead of a human DOING and doing deeper exploration into who I am as a human. 

I knew, in the depths of my soul, that when I read Hollis’ book that the passion and desire to begin writing would be ON FIRE and I was certainly right, because a central tenet of Hollis’ book is taking OWNERSHIP and RESPONSIBILITY for your own happiness. And now I’m like DAMMIT I need to fight for the space and time to write this book already ( the entire structure is sitting in my Evernote, whispering my name.)

But this post isn’t about me, it’s about Rachel and her wicked book, so let’s continue.  

Hollis’ book was about $9.99 to download on Kindle through Amazon.ca  and it’s showing that it is usually more, so I must have gotten a deal.  Win!  I’ve debated reading paper books versus Kindle, but the truth of the matter is, despite my preference for paperback, the kindle makes it possible for me to read with young children.  Another huge bonus of the kindle is that you can highlight and then log into your Kindle cloud reader and go back through the highlights, which I am doing right now as I type.  

I crushed 50% of the book yesterday and am already looking forward to crawling into bed with a tea (husband on night shift! win!) 

So, what are my impressions so far of Hollis’ book? What stands out for me?

First, her complete and utter authenticity.  She is bold and dives right into her most personal stuff. It truly takes courage to bring up one’s deepest challenges, particularly her early relationship with her husband and consequential journey with understanding self-worth.  I think part of what has made her a sensation is she has finally said (in a published book) what so many of us are thinking at this point in our lives (30s, with kids.) . I don’t know about you but I’m done jumping through the hoops of life’s benchmarks of success, and I’m done shifting myself to accomodate other people. At this point in my life I shall be unapologetically me, and not polish or buffer myself.  

Second, her humour!  Hollis’ sense of humour comes out in subtle ways in this book but I can easily imagine that in person, she’s hilarious.  I would dare say she could have unleashed her humour a bit more, but I’m only halfway in so perhaps she gets bolder as we go?  I hope so, it’s awesome.  So far, every now and then, out of the blue, she’ll drop a hilarious sentence into a paragraph that had me giggling.  It takes a keen sense of humour to be able to drop hilarious sentences into what is otherwise quite a serious topic, and when she talks about a particularly challenging point in her life, and that she “can see it coming” her perfectly timed reference to the Phil Collins Song  and the drum solo made me snort my tea out.  

Third, You’ll Feel Connected to Her.  It’s not just me, I’m confident that you will be reading this think and nodding your head like , yes, yes, YES.  Hollis has her finger right on the pulse of women in their mid 30s, and an entire movement (I believe it is a world movement) of people who know there must be something more behind these stupid frantic crazy lives we have, filed with to do lists, and places to be, and things to pay and show up to.   

My oldest just started kindergarten, I’m still working on getting her lunches together and getting her to school on time (I had to pick up my first late slip today and felt quite guilty.)  When I began to see just how many emails I get from teh school council, this 6 day activity schedule (wtf? They go to school 5 days a week?) . all of the folders she takes on certain days and themes?  Jayyyysus. I can’t keep up.  Nor can Hollis.  And she spins a positive on it. 

Do what you’re good at.  Be average at the rest and be okay with average. GET BETTER AT BEING AVERAGE.  Or sub-par even.  Embrace your average-ness.  That is an entire blog post I need to write.  It’s freeing!

Fourth, She Doesn’t Bullshit.  Hollis is a hard, and I mean hard working mother, and she doesn’t sugar coat the work and sacrifices it took to get her media company to where it is today.  This is incredibly refreshing in the self help / personal development industry.  Though Hollis will rightfully tell you (as I do my own clients) that you can literally design your future and have it come to you, it’s also going to take some serious hard work and early mornings and crushing self doubt and questions as to whether the sacrifices are worth it. Story of working Mamas, I tell ya.  

Fifth, her Christian Faith is Strong, but not Alienating.  I’ve never subscribed to one religion, I think they all have the same themes anyways just packaged in different stories.  I grew up Anglican in England, and then attended Catholic School as a teenager.  I always felt a bit odd with literal interpretations and to be honest, totally confused at all fo the stories, characters, bibles, sections, etc.  Hollis references scriptures quite frequently in this book but what i really appreciate, is that she owns her faith, but not in a way that feels pushy, and though she shares scriptures, she links it back to our own lives.  For me, I felt this was a perfect blend of honouring your deep faith / religion, but in a way that doesn’t alienate others of different beliefs.  It’s a model of how the world should proceed – everyone should feel comfortable with expressing and living out who they are, and no-one in the process, feels pressured or judged.  

So far, halfway through the book, there’s been some things emerging which I am hoping she goes into a bit more depth on in the book. 

She’s mentioned how easy it is to buffer the intensity of human life with substance abuse (alcohol, cannabis, whatever the method) which was fascinating.  She’s also so far briefly mentioned letting go of the need to control and predict life (she teaches this through sharing her unexpected career twists and turns, and weaves it into scripture.) 

I find with self help and life coaching tools, that if you stay too surface level and just give tips, tricks and a quick anecdote, it doesn’t connect, it feels pithy and and pinterest-worthy, but doesn’t truly impact you, and you move onto the next thing.  Literally this is my only critique is that she offers some total gems of wisdom which you want to journey into deeper with her, but there’s simply not time and space for it in the book. 

I imagine that this is a really hard part of the editing process for ANY writer!    It’s so hard to capture an entire lifetime worth of experience in a book (I have no doubt she’ll write another) and so if she doesn’t’ go deeper on some of the above topics, I really can’t fault her for it, but I felt it worth mentioning I was left wanting more on a few topics and that is a GREAT thing.

Happiness

Depression Recovery for Moms: Start by Drinking a Glass of Water

I write this while I am on sick leave from work, due to disease symptoms flaring up and a bout of depression.

I believe in sharing experiences authentically and in a way that helps others.

In this article I hope to provide you with some tools and inspiration if you are overcoming the gravitational pull of depression in early parenthood.

We all oscillate in our mood space and emotions, but depression is an interesting one because it is a little more insidious. Depression is often framed as deep sadness and despair, but it has another aspect; hopelessness, lack of motivation, detachment and total, overwhelming inertia to do the things we know are so essential to feeling human.

I knew I was going into an episode because of this inertia; I struggled to care and motivate myself to shower, brush my teeth, get dressed or leave the house – these are all things that as a parent, it is important to model yet it becomes really hard to do. You try to think your way through this inertia and lack of motivation, but it is like a house of cards – just as your positive thoughts gain a bit if momentum, a whisp of wind (a negative or hopeless thought) makes them collapse.

What do we do?

It really is about overcoming the inertia and I liken it to the transmission of a car. When you get going in your car, the first two gears take more RPM and more gas than once you are going. Getting started is big effort, but an object will stay in motion, once in motion. This is a law of energy and physics. As a bunch of subatomic particles & energy ourselves (not the dense material beings we tend to think we are) it is helpful to remember that these laws apply to us, too.

In depression recovery there are two strategies that have been really helpful:

Ramping up your RPM for those first difficult two gears, through SMALL WINS.

What have my small wins been?

  • Making the bed
  • Putting on foundation and mascara
  • Playing music while I do chores
  • Opening my kitchen window for fresh air

We tend to forget our small wins in depression, because the brain focuses on losses – so really do take a moment to appreciate how fresh air feels, or a nicely made bed. It is fleeting, but a start.

What are 1-2 small wins you can design? Don’t be ambitious. Stay simple.

For example, showering has been work and I know it, so to shower AND blow dry my hair isn’t something I added to my small wins list. Just a shower is great.

The second strategy is a bit woo-woo but I swear by this. Once a day marinate your brain in your ideal life. When you marinate in cooking, the dish retains the flavour of the marinade.

If you marinate your brain in your future that you want (and can conceivably happen if you take the actions) – it will retain that positive energy, even if for an hour.

How do I marinate my brain? I wrote my ideal day in 5 years down in a journal and my iphone notes. I reread it or rewrite it constantly. But the brain’s language is pictures, so I double down and have a pinterest board filled with images of what I want my future life to be.

A lot of psychologists will recommend you stay away from social media in depression, I agree that Facebook is horrible, but I do think you can use Pinterest as a wonderful strategy because it’s about ideas and visualisation, rather than watching your friend’s lives and ruminating on what you don’t have.

And that brings me to the third and most important point for depression recovery:

To overcome the gravitational pull of depression and climb out you have to have something to climb up towards.

Depression recovery may involve healing trauma, addressing problems in a therapeutic approach but I believe when that is done, it is time to focus on what you DO want to move forward. Don’t focus on what you currently have. Focus on what you are going to have.

Remember that you are not just your brain.

You have a body and a soul, too. And they are equally powerful. Your brain is not a North Korean Dictator. It has to work side by side with your body and soul. It just tries to convince us otherwise 🙂

Even if your brain feels like it is conspiring against you, know that you have two legs and a heartbeat which will take you for a walk and can override that brain.

Even when you are in dark days, remember that your soul never switches off. It is this quiet whisper of intuition which if you listen, is telling you what would work better for you, what you have to look forward to in life and it is always saying this is a temporary stage and you are larger than your brain.

Even in my least motivated days I know deep down there’s a different lifestyle and upward progress coming, that this is an episode and nothing is permanent in my life, including my moodspace or thinking patterns.

In fact, if you listen closely enough and get out into nature and quiet places (meditation, yoga, the occasional sparks of happiness) in those moments we catch thoughts that come from somewhere deeper.

Depression is the choppy shallow waters of our inner world. The deeper waters are more calm. Those are the waters of our soul and there, our soul tells us that this difficult chapter is a gift.

Depression tells us that we are on the edge of change and upward evolution is always preceded by a bit of suffering, because it makes us realize this next step in our life is necessary.

In depression we begin to see what is not working for us and when we’ve suffered enough we will finally let those things go and begin to implement what does work for us. That takes great faith and courage but I am here to tell you unequivocally that Beyond my poor thinking and self care right now, I still have a voice rising up from the deeper waters that says, am excited for you, I am excited for me, and evolution and greater happiness is ahead. Will you put into practice the strategies above, and join me?

We’ve got this.

Let’s do this together!