Communication Skills, Happiness, Learning, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Personal Development, time management

A Tool for Parents Interested in Better Time Management and Lifestyle Design.

Takeaway: This article shows how to gain some awareness (and better choices) in your schedule by becoming more aware of your speech

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Have you ever been at a friends’ house for a playdate and you wind up observing the interactions between your friend and their partner, noticing the differences, or maybe similarities in how they talk to each other versus how you talk to your partner?

It’s easy to observe others talking, but with practice, we can turn this same observation on ourselves, and in here is massive personal growth and self development.  The technique of becoming an observer of your own speech is powerful when it comes to better time management and lifestyle design.

Read on, especially if you struggle with saying yes, or you find yourself frequently overcommitted or overbooked and frustrated that you don’t have the space to act on things that are of higher priority (or interest) in your life.

If you think about it, we walk around with many thoughts and ideas in our head.  More than 40,000 of them in a day, actually.

Out of all of those thoughts and ideas, which ones do we choose to put out there into the world?  Which ones remain our “inside voice” ‘and which ones become our “outside voice.”  When you think about it that way, you realize that speech is powerful.

Nobody knows what is going on inside of us until we speak.

Technically ,we don’t commit to anything in our outside world, or bring our future into existence until we speak.

When you think about next week, you’re just visualizing it.

When you talk about next week, you are designing next week by talking about things, committing to things, speaking next week into existence.

We design our life by speaking, and there are a few “speech acts” that commit us to our future.

Making a declaration (next Tuesday I am going to a playdate with X.)

Making an offer (would you like to go to the zoo next Wednesday with the kids?)

Making a request (I’d like us to get outside more next week.)

Making a promise (I’ll get that back to you by next Thursday.)

 

An example is today, we are getting outside with our kids for some fresh air. Thursday is designed.  When did it become a plan versus a thought in my mind?

Last week.  Last week I said to my husband,

Me: we need to get the kids out for fresh air (vague request.)

Husband:  I’m off on Thursday, we could go out in the morning (declaration.)

Me:  How about we go to the zoo? (offer)

Husband:  Great idea! (accept)

So I:  *Put it in the calendar.

There you go.  An idea floating around in our heads that we both agreed on.  Then we designed our upcoming week with speech acts (a variety of them in this conversation.)

As you begin to think about this, and watch yourself in conversations this week, notice what your tendencies are.

Reactive Tendencies:

(your week is planned and you are left asking yourself, why do I have all this shit on my schedule that I don’t want to do?)

Do you make promises or offers to other people?

Do you tend to plan your week based on other people’s requests (that you’ve said “yes” to) or their declarations (letting them take the lead.) 

Proactive Tendencies:

You don’t make promises or offers.

(You declare your priorities and what you have capacity for and want to achieve in the upcoming week – yes that means putting it out there in speech 🙂 and you say No as well as Yes.)

You plan your week based on your own and your family’s requests (which brings me to an interesting point, do you KNOW what you need in your upcoming week and do you have the speech skills to not let other things get in the way? Can you say NO to other people’s stuff, so that you can protect and experience your own stuff?)

 

Questions for you to take away:

This week, I simply invite you (with this knew knowledge) to observe yourself and what your tendencies are.

How do they influence how your days and weeks unfold ?

If you are interested in designing a lifestyle and a future that works for you, how do your speech acts work for you in designing that?

How do they work against you?

 

 

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Grounding, Happiness, Learning, Lifestyle Design, Personal Development, Spirituality

How to Become a Better Human Being.

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Families in Calgary, Happiness, Lifestyle Design, Mental health, Personal Development, The Fourth Trimester, Working Mom

My Letter to New Parents who Are Feeling a Bit Overwhelmed with All of the Advice.

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You have A CHOICE.  A choice in however you want to take on the next few years of your life, a choice in how you incorporate parenthood and you-hood in a way that works.

You have the RIGHT. The right to explore how parenthood has been defined by others around you, by the society around you and you definitely have the right to explore what you’ve picked up and taken on as your own definition, and what your deeper intuition is saying to you.

You have the RIGHT.  The right to ask questions, to ask yourself, is this really my belief, or someone else’s?  What feels right for me?  Am I doing it for me, or because I don’t afraid of being judged? What serves me and my family best?  What makes me hold back who I really am?

Parenthood is tricky.  People are intense about how it should be done.   I do believe most people come from a place of kindness… it’s just that they come at it with whatever their own background references are, and assume their background stories and beliefs should be yours, too. That’s a bit silly, isn’t it?

When well-meaning people share their own ‘idea’ of parenthood and attempt to push that style on you (most often without asking for permission,) defuse your irritation by remembering they do come from a good place. Good intentions. When kids are involved people are acting from love, not hate.  It’s noisy out there, everyone wants to tell you what you should do.  The fun part is though, that you have the right to question everything.  Smile and say to yourself “nope.”

I think we all forget, that none of us are parenting experts.  There’s no answer.  There’s never any one right answer.     That’s why the parenting industry is so noisy and loud and clamouring for our attention by dangling the sticks of fear and doubt in front of us (parenting magazines, anyone?) We’re all searching for the answers to parenthood which funnily enough, are within us, not out there. 

You have the FREEDOM. You have the freedom to break from the group.  Even if everybody REALLY wants you to follow the group and what has been done before and what is done now.  Or… what is done now according to some television producer out there, or magazine editor who chooses what gets published and put out to the public.

You have the ABILITY.  The ability to embrace doubt, to feel discomfort, feel a bit lonely, and seek out others on the same path, and in the proess, realize that you’re not lonely, or different – you’re perfect just the way you are.  Perfectly imperfect.

And hey, if you are a hexagon parent in an octagon world, wicked, that’s space for you and you can celebrate your hexagon-ness.  And the beauty of technology is that if you need others, you can find other hexagons to enjoy and share the journey with.

You have the RIGHT.  The right to explore which ‘conceptions of parenthood’ you picked up conciously and subconsciously.  You have the right to understand how much is habit and how much is intention.  Intention is fun in parenthood.  It’s where you decide what YOU want and then you practice it. Every day.

You have the DUTY.  The duty to get rid of the messaging and beliefs that do not serve you.  Get rid of any crap that stops you from being the best version of you.  Because the best version of you, is the best parent for your kids.   And guess who knows what makes you tick? What makes you happy?  That’s right… YOU.

We have a gift in this lifetime, and that is called choice.  To really own the freedom of choice though, you have to shake off the burden of being concerned about others’ judgments. You’ll always be judged.  Judging is powerless, we don’t have to take a judgement on…. yet we run around like they are lasers and they’ll take off our foot or maybe a leg, or an arm.  We are outraged.  We are hurt.  We frustrated when we get judged.  But.. here’s the question…why even take that judgement on board? we could have stepped over that lazer beam instead of walked right into it.

With judgment, the truth is, some people want to sit in their armchairs and be spectators and comment on everything.   They aren’t living their life and it’s much more interesting watching you live yours (?)  But you know what? They are not your concern.

You’re busy being on the field and in the game.

No athlete would win a game if they paid attention to the audience and followed the advice of 20,000 fans shouting 20,000 different things from every direction.

(So why do we do this in parenthood?)

The only people qualified to tell you if you are an awesome parent are your own kids, and in these early days at least, they will most certainly tell you that you are great, followed by a big wet sloppy toddler kiss, before asking you to get them a snack.

You have the DUTY.  The duty to take on only those approaches which are true to you and make you fulfilled –  because a damn good parent is any parent, of any style, who is at peace, who is present and who is growing.

I’ll leave you with this thought: According to stats Canada there are almost 10 million mothers in Canada. That’s 9.8 million women with totally different personalities, backgrounds, stories about what it means to be a mother and ‘styles’ of motherhood.  There’s plenty of room for all of us.

Book Club, Creativity, Grounding, Happiness, Learning, Lifestyle Design, Mental health, Personal Development, Spirituality

Design your Own Parental Leave

wildflower (1)Welcome back from the long weekend, everybody!

A thought for you to meditate on today, as you go about your day.

Story telling versus story making.

Think about where you want to be in 5 years.  Are there changes you want?  I’m guessing the answer is YES.

So let me ask you this:  Will that future version of yourself, living that future life, still be walking around telling the same stories about yourself?  The world?  The way things are going?

Will you get there if you keep telling all of those old stories, that keep you where you are today? 

Or is it time to start writing some new ones?  How can you shift a little bit of your day?  Your thinking? The way you talk about yourself? What you commit to doing with a friend this week?  Start writing some new sentences.

It’s your story. Take the plot where you want it to, but remember to pick up the pen first.

Xo

Carina

 

Free Life Coaching Guides, Happiness, health coaching, Learning, Life Hacks, Lifestyle Design, Mental health, Personal Development, Spirituality, Working Mom

What Does a Life Coach Actually Do? Ask Me Anything about Life Coaching.

www.trajectorycoaching.org
Carina Huggins

Carina Huggins

BA, MSS, ACC, MBTI®

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I was chatting with someone the other day about being a professional coach, and they said to me, “so basically you listen to people’s problems and give advice?”

I stopped and thought about that for a moment. The answer that I gave?

“No, actually I don’t do either of those.” Hardly the reply my acquaintance was expecting.

We were having coffee, so there was time to explain.

I wanted to share this question tonight, because it was an opportunity to both clarify the art and science of coaching and address a common misperception. Two birds with one stone.

There are so many definitions of ‘coaching’ out there. Yes, there are some out there who solve problems, give advice and act in a consultant model (which are certainly excellent models) but what is it like with a professionally certified ICF coach?

Let me tell you, because it is an interesting distinction.

I don’t ‘listen’ to my client’s problems.

In fact, the actual problem doesn’t sweep me up the way it does for a client. Though I listen with my ears, as a coach, it is not serving you if I dive right in with you to the story and resonate with it, body mind and soul. When a client is working with a problem, they are swimming in it. I like the analogy of choppy water on a lake – A client is paddling, working hard, staying afloat, solving the problem, coming up for a gasp, and then another problem arises… from the same exact lake.

It’s not easy swimming in choppy water. A client’s problem can easily take up an entire coaching hour, and it is up to the coach to respect the client’s needs and goals for a session, have them know we truly hear them, but also know when it is time to gently guide them out of the water, and have them wade onto the shore. From the shore, together a coach and client can examine the entire lake from an outside perspective.

Coaching is like finally deciding to clamber out and sit on the shore after battling the waves. I always tell potential clients that they must be able and willing to step into the mode of “a human simply being” and approach things with curiosity and an open mind. To be with themselves and be with the coaching process. Be willing to put some things into practice and be willing to stay accountable. If they stay in “human busily doing” mode with a strong desire for benchmarks, outcomes, a fixation on the goals, they are basically out there still swimming in the lake, just harder and faster. They won’t trust me enough to come sit on the shore beside me. They won’t develop trust in the relationship or go dive deep in session.

But back to the lake…

I am not listening to my client’s problem. I am listening with my ears to a client and their problem, yes but I am listening on several other levels, as well. I am watching the subtle shifts in body language, eye contact, gestures and posture. I am quite literally feeling the energetic shifts in a conversation and the associated moods and emotions. A client doesn’t have to tell me when they move into sadness or happiness in a story, the change in the air and energy of a room is palpable. I may offer this as a gentle observation to deepen awareness and context of the discussion, particularly if we are working not just on a conversation and logic level, but an emotional and intuitive level.

As I listen to a client, I am not listening to their problem. I am listening to the person behind the problem. The helpful beliefs, the harmful beliefs, the statements that shut down future possibility, the statements that open it up. The vast background of emotions, moods, experiences, and beliefs that have made this neutral event in this person’s life a problem for them that is keeping them from where they want to be.

And giving advice? Nope. Definitely not that either.

I don’t give advice in a coaching session.

After 3000 coaching sessions, I know for a fact, that the only true expert, the only content matter expert in that specific client’s life is themselves. Only they know precisely where they truly want to be, and only they truly know why their ‘right now’ is not doing it for them. I don’t have to wake up with them every day. They have to wake up with themselves every day for the rest of their lives. I think about this all of the time, because I really appreciate how profound that statement is.

It is a catalyst for ownership, responsibility and accountability in clients. Try it yourself. Write on a post-it note, “I will wake up with you tomorrow, and every morning for the rest of my life. Love, me.”

Giving advice doesn’t result in someone crossing the bridge from where they are to where they want to be. It simply gives them a brief glimpse of the other side, described by someone else. They don’t see how amazing it is.

What makes someone walk over to the other side of the bridge and truly step into their new life, finally take action and get results? Well, I can tell you it is not advice giving.

I cannot walk that bridge for them and shout out from the other side “It is amazing over here you should join me! Just start walking!” (by the way, a lot of coaches do this.)

However, I can walk alongside a client over that bridge. As we step over the cobble stones together we co-create what the other side looks like. We partner in helping the client gain perspective, awareness, clarity and choice. And when they get halfway over the bridge and slow down or perhaps move backward, we can deepen practices, accountability and move deeper to remove final blocks that have held them back all these years. When you are moving forward, you develop ways to move forward, but you also develop ways to fight the urge to move backward, to where you came from. To safety. Security. Familiarity.

This is another important piece of coaching; the call of safety, security, familiarity is strong. It is literally wired into the brain. As a client moves into new possibilities for their life and new opportunities, the brain will use its best tools to convince a client to return to where they were. Coaching is a dynamic process and this bump in the road shows up in different ways depending on the client. Recommitment to the original problem and way of thinking, with even more passion, rescheduling a session or a lot of “I don’t know”s in a session. These to me are not obstacles but opportunities. It’s an exciting indicator they are moving well along the bridge and the best work is about to happen.

I don’t give advice.

In fact, you are giving me advice on your life, where you want to be and how it is going to happen, and why you need help. I’m asking you LOTS of questions precisely so that you are in that place of giving me advice on you. I’m simply a highly invested partner on this journey of YOU believes you’ll get there and sees how that is possible (even if you don’t yet.)

The moment you step out of yourself and take that outside observer approach you’ll find yourself stopping mid-sentence and realizing what you’ve just said – then, you’ll realize the incongruency of what you just said with what your future life is supposed to be.

And then you’ll look away, perhaps sip at your coffee and I’ll thoroughly enjoy that moment, because it is a magical one. When it comes to a client having a true moment of insight, or an “ah hah moment” I know at that moment, whatever has been seen in your inner perspective cannot be unseen.

I am here as a confidential, supportive, professional partner in your journey. I’m here to have the conversations that you don’t get to have with anyone else, that dive deep inside to who you are as a human being. Unlike therapeutic or clinical approaches (healing, recovery, issue resolution) my time is spent focusing on your elevation, enhancement and growth.

Coaching is an evolutionary, forward facing process. We have all of the information in the world to get us to where we want to go, but we don’t, do we? And that is what coaching focuses on. It gets us there, and then acts as a catalyst for flashes of insight which will ensure you’ll never see anything the same way again and you won’t go back to old patterning or beliefs.

On a personal note, I think that at this time in our lives, we are all in deep need of deeper conversation, deeper connection and more engagement with who we really are. In the 2018 world of humans doing, we all desperately want to be recognized and engaged with as humans being. We are deep. We are growing, and evolving and going through massive shifts. We want someone to bear witness, to support, and be a partner in this process. We should have someone who can be that. It is tragic to experience this rich evolution in this lifetime and not share it with anyone, collaborate with anyone or use our experiences in turn to serve others.

Maternity leave for me has been the CRAZIEST personal growth, evolution, awakening.  Truly on body, mind, intellect, soul, spirit, love – on all of those levels I was cracked wide open, rebuilt and vastly different (in a good way.) Early parenthood is an accelerated growth incubator and it is a gift in that ALL of the above is revealed to you.  It is a wild ride, and I engaged with a coach during it, because I wanted to make sure I was clear on my dreams, the life I wanted for my fam, and wanted to let a few self limiting beliefs go.  I also worked with a psychologist to heal some old wounds, and endeavoured to undertake a variety of “great maternity leave projects” to keep my focus forward facing and fun!

Amidst the surface level day-to-day life of humans doing, we are all hopping online to have deep conversations, listen to podcasts, read books and learn. Have you noticed the explosion in podcasts, following shortly on the explosion of blogs? We are all humans being – yet we do it silently, and alone.

In my gratitude practices (5 minute journal format) I often note down the internet – I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to write and share and express my own deep internal worlds.  Motherhood can be lonely, I have a 3 hour window where all of my three kids are happy and awake (9-12) and then they turn into pumpkins and it’s go home for nap time.  Did I mention I work full time? So there’s very little time (and sacred space) to dive deep into these conversations.  I don’t think it’s our fault that we mothers are left scraping the surface of connection with surface level conversations.  We don’t have the time and space to go there, yet.  But, when in just a few years, that place will open up again we will have SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT.

But in the meantime, I think it’s really, really important to talk now, endeavor to grow, enjoy the journey and have a partner in the process.

For a long time, I didn’t want to because of my own limiting beliefs and reference points, which I worked through and overcame with a coach. I can feel my old mind saying “Carina, this is a really long post and it’s way too personal” but my new mind says, you have a choice in whether to believe that or not, and you no longer do. You know the way to move forward is to share your deepest thoughts and insights and help people understand the profession.

I am here writing precisely because I decided to collaborate with a coach to dive into my deeper internal worlds and clarify where I wanted to go. I am eternally thankful for the rapid evolution and elevation it set me on.

I hope you enjoyed this deeper dive into the coaching profession. I write these from a totally authentic viewpoint of someone who was unsure what it was, went through being coached, and then became an Associate Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation.

I enjoy writing these because I enjoy sharing human stories and help people understand we are all connected and growing together.

To become a coach isn’t to figure it all out instantly, in fact, most coaches are on their own *fun* ( because it’s what they love to do) evolutionary paths. Every day they work through the same thing their clients do. Gaining some tools and insights, reframing, shifting their perceptions, priming their state, practicing awareness and choice. Even the greats like Tony Robbins or Oprah Winfrey do this. Every day.

If you are interested in gaining the tools, shifting your axis and a partner to work with the big shifts and evolution in your life, you are most welcome to shoot me a message.

And do leave a comment if this lands with you – or even better if you have an additional insight to offer that this sparked for you! Reading articles and engaging with others in the comments, let me tell you, has been (and still is) a fundamental part of my own growth path. My mission is to now serve others in their own growth.

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

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

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

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

Xo Carina

Happiness, Learning, Mental health, Personal Development, The Fourth Trimester

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, the basics.  What is flow state?

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

But… I digress.  Back to the science.

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

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

YES PLEASE.  MORE OF THAT.

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

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

How do we achieve flow state?

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

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

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

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

What tasks are you doing (or not doing)?

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

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

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

 

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

 

Identify Some flow State Activities.

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

Some of my flow state activities are:

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

A Concluding Thought on Flow State and Motherhood: 

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

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

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

xo

Ankylosing Spondylitis Journey, Happiness, health coaching, Learning, Lifestyle Design, Mental health, Personal Development, Physical Wellness

My Favourite Resources for Ankylosing Spondylitis

 

Recently Diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis_

One of the podcasts I have been listening to as I begin my journey of understanding and addressing my Ankylosing Spondylitis disease and symptoms (I am in a bad flare at present) is the AS Natural Health Podcast with Michael Eisner which has been a wonderful resource.  There are 22 episodes available.  When I began suspecting I had AS back in December, I was in Kau’ai and I will always hold such good memories of listening to the first episode where he interviews Michael Smith (Episode 12) which I particularly enjoyed.  I’ve just finished listening to all of the episodes and I’m eagerly waiting for the next. It keeps me in such a good health / growth mindset and it is incredibly inspiring and illuminating to hear others’ journeys.  Put simply, it makes you feel a little less alone.  Statistically, AS afflicts hundreds of people in each city, but nobody I’ve spoken to has any idea what it is, or have heard of it.  And certainly no other ladies in their 30s with kids.  So, the value of Podcasts, among the many benefits, is feeling a bit less alone.  So thank you, Michael!  Keep doing what you are doing.

In my last post, I talked about how there’s two distinct paths you can go down in the days of diagnosis.

One is fear, fixed mindsets, believing that this problem is permanent, incurable and pervasive, and one that IS your life. I dabbled in a bit of this for a few days and it was a bit terrifying.  Oh, and my flare was terrible, I didn’t sleep, and I made terrible nutritional choices that I KNOW don’t work well with my body (those I knew pre-AS diagnosis.)

The other path is courage, growth mindsets, believing that you have been pain free and you will be again, that it is a very fluid and impermanent condition, that it is only a minor piece of your life.

I decided that the only acceptable path for me is the latter path, and I began to seek out people, podcasts, blogs, resources that would help me begin this journey of rich growth and deep personal healing.

The internet is so amazing, because there is something for every belief, and EVERY path you want to take in tackling this diagnosis and your symptoms.

From my listening to podcasts, reading blogs, watching videos, participating in facebook communities and connecting with others who have healed there are a few pieces I’m adding to my toolkit in the coming days, and it has been a really fun enlightening journey so far (if there’s one thing I really enjoy it is learning.)

So, here are some really helpful resources if you, like me, have been diagnosed with AS and have decided the latter path is the only one forward.

People:

Michael Eisner of the Ankylosing Spondylitis Natural Health Podcast interviews people who have successfully put AS into remission. This is what I started with, while I was on maternity leave, listening to each episode on walks with my baby (bonus:  hour walk and stretching!)

Peter Winslow and the Community of People at AS Victors.Com who share their successes.  There is a vast library of resources. I can’t wait to read Winslow’s Heal for Real book.  One thing at a time though.  It’s deep work. Don’t dive into all of these resources at once!   His blog is a wonderful resource as well.  Take a topic at a time.

Ralph Ruiz, Professional Life Coach and his Website & Facebook Group, Mindbody Healing.    His Youtube video series AS I see it is amazing and so deeply insightful.  Honestly, buy a journal and work through things with him.

I am currently (very slowly) working through John Sarno, M.D. Healing Back Pain:  The Mind-Body Connection.  This is kind of my main starting point of immersion.

This book is confirming so many things I was beginning to suspect and many describe this book as “blowing their world apart.”  Again, deep work and insights.  I personally am reading it on kindle because, well, small children, but wish I had a paper copy so I could write ALL over it.  I am highlighting so many things in this book and going to my “healing journal” with thoughts, insights and things to process.

Finally, the most important book and resource in this process?

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A blank one.  My mermaid journal. I bought this in Kau’ai in December when I decided I was ready to begin this healing journey.  The true work is the inner work, and by putting pen to paper, I am finding that I am able to access deeper thoughts, and feelings, and dive deeper into unconscious and subconscious beliefs, programming and repressed things which I am sure on many levels have contributed to this inflammation and pain.  As I work through things, have insights, collect knowledge or experience shifts in my observer / the lens I see through, I record them here.  With doodles, pictures, even long rambling free writing sessions to allow things to come through my hand and the ink flowing on the paper.  This, this is the single most important piece.  If you’ve never bought a journal or had the chance to bring this practice into your life, perhaps now is the time. 🙂  Pick a beautiful one that speaks to you, and find a nice pen.  You deserve it.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Journey, Happiness, health coaching, Mental health, Personal Development, Physical Wellness

How to Get Yourself out of a Funk or Climb out of a Downward Spiral.

Our family is growing.

Today I wanted to share one of the models I use on myself (and clients) to get unstuck, and out of funks. It is a beautifully simple yet profound model.  The visual image of a spiral is important, because one of the most important parts of climbing out of a funk, is knowing when you are in one.  That’s easier said than done!  When you are in the grip, you don’t realize how far you are in the grip (the centre of the spiral.)

I used water colour paints in the video below explain because, well, I fell like it illustrated it really nicely, regardless of my actual water colour paint skills (Oh right, I have none!)

This model is great if you are beginning to notice you are going into a downward spiral. In my own mental health journey, I have learnt that sleep  and avoiding fatigue is a key strategy for me, and in developing my “mental health” awareness, I am better able to pick up on little habits that tend to mark a spiral for me, and catch them before it goes too far.

This video illustrates the importance of these simple actions, and the surprising importance of the small promises we make (and can break) to ourselves.

Take five minutes and watch it, let me know if it lands with you in the comments.

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Grounding, Happiness, health coaching, Mental health, Personal Development, Physical Wellness, Sleep, Spirituality

What I’ve Learnt from Five Years of Meditating – Moms who Meditate

What i have learnt from five years of practicing meditation2

My husband and I are always game for a challenge, and last month when my car was stolen, we saw it as a fun opportunity to try and get by with one car for a month. We enjoy challenges like this.  It definitely has been interesting and challenged us in many ways, most notably logistically.  You become an expert at logistics when you have 5 people going in 5 directions and one car between all of you, and you’re trying to get back into work after a year’s mat leave and you’re both kind of spontaneous people.   But I digress.  That’s another blog post entirely.

The reason I mentioned this though, is because it provides a bit of background for why I have had so much time for meditation lately:  I’ve been taking an hour-long train ride to work and am back on the meditation train (pun intended.)

Each time I get on the train, I excitedly open my favourite app, Insight.  I first downloaded the Insight meditation app last year and it was the third app I tried after Headspace, which I still love and use for my kids, and Calm, which I didn’t love.  Calm just didn’t catch on for me.

I enjoy the fun of hunting for and saving new meditations with different voices, approaches, topics and lengths.  Insight is like the facebook of meditation where you can follow people, and do meditations based on how much time you have, topics or even styles. You can follow people, or save individual meditations. I have a stash of meditations saved in my bookmark folder, and I choose them based on what I need.

Lately I’ve needed to ground myself and simply feel peaceful amidst a ton of chaos in external life.  In July I returned to work after a year on mat leave, had my car stolen, been diagnosed with a disease and had a major surgery.  So, it’s not surprising I’ve felt the need to pause.   What marked a major change for me in July, after years of meditating, is my first thought when I considered what I needed was – yes – meditation.  This is a shift.

I have moved from I should do meditation (and then remember here and there) to I am craving meditation (and make it a daily practice) 

(please note this is not a sponsored post, I genuinely love this app and it’s part of my daily habits, which makes it worthy of a mention, in this mama’s pursuit of an elevated life.)

I’ve been practicing (and exploring) meditation on and off since 2013 when I had my first baby and attended a mama meditation workshop.  From there, I was hooked, though I should have known it would be my jam way back in my hot yoga days, when I LIVED for savasana and spent the hour looking forward to that divine rest at the end 😉

As I shift into a daily practice that is now a habit that I crave, there’s a few things I’ve realized.  So I bring to you, the things I have learnt from five years of practicing meditation.

-You have to find the style.  I am picky about voices.  I hate bells and “unexpected sounds” in meditation.  I like deeper voices.   In the early stages, find what seems to resonate with you and soothe you.  We all resonate with different energies and that includes the energy that a voice projects, or the sound waves in a meditation recording.

-There are many styles of meditation:  Music or sound-based (like crystal bowls) walking meditation, nature meditation, guided meditation, mantra meditation, breathing meditation, even swimming meditation. As you go down the meditation road, you have no choice but to try them all on for size, find out what you like and don’t like and take note of the ones that seem to get you into a pretty deep state.  I discovered 2 years into the process, that I loved guided meditations.  These seem to be my jam.  I loved savasana back in my hot yoga days but found the silence too long for my untrained brain.  I still find long silences hard.

-It does get easier to get into a deep meditative brain state with practice, but you have to use it or lose it.  If I have meditated consistently (daily) for a good week, I’ll get into a deeper state faster.  If I haven’t done it in a while, it will actually take 2 or 3 separate meditation sessions to ‘get back’ to that zoned out state.

-Meditation opens up your intuition and creative brain.  In times of regular meditative practice I find myself much more creative, full of good ideas and able to think outside of the box.  There’s extensive neuroscience that supports this theory.  If you want a super interesting googling session, type “meditation “flow state” “creativity” “intuition” in that little google box and prepare to be fascinated (and probably up reading until 1am.)

-It is very  (we are talking profoundly) true that meditation enhances your ability to take a gentle approach to all of the events in your life, and it cultivates a kinder, gentler, quieter version of self-talk.  Meditation cultivates your ability to pause, take a step back, notice what is happening and be able to practice peace and non-attachment.  You find that you begin to treat yourself kindly and gently, as you do the events around you.

Meditation cultivates your outside observer, or spiritual side.  The eternal part of your soul that is watching the human experience unfolding before you (that is your life as you know it) with a knowing smile.  This is one of the main reasons I am so thankful that I discovered meditation.  It has been an amazing tool in tough times.  It has been a key in mental resilience and my eternal positivity.  It has let me handle some wild rides in this adventure called life.  I’ve used it a lot in the last little few years, particularly the most profound moments.

I did one in 2016, before saying goodbye to my father in law who was on life support in the ICU.   It helped me say goodbye with peace and love, without attaching myself to the human drama going on around me that was not of my own.  I was able to think and act with clarity and honour my emotions in the days following, without attaching to them or judging them.

I also went into meditation the night my mum passed away in hospice in 2013.  In that state, I was able to feel the moment her soul departed and sat up, waiting for the nurse to enter to let us know.   I’ll always see that as a special gift and one of the profound moments that led me deeper into exploring meditation and the spiritual side of things.    If you engage with the meditation journey, and stick with it, you will have a few profound moments.  These will be the proof that your mind wants. These will also be the truth that your soul has always known (that your brain may have ignored for a while.)

-Meditation has been the best tool for helping me ‘reset’ when I shift into a different environment or role. Meditating on the train this past week has helped me leave my work behind, re-ground, become peaceful and set a blank slate for the next part of my day:  Returning home a present and mindful parent for the kids (and not preparing dinner in a panicky get-it-down rush.) I do some of these exercises with coaching clients, particularly if they walk into the room with their energy and emotions from earlier events in the day.  Together we clear the space, the energy and their minds before engaging in coaching.

-Meditation before bed has helped with my nightmares.  I’ve always had an extremely creative imagination which makes for some absolutely wild nighttime dreams, many of which have been quite scary.  I go through phases of nightmares, especially when I feel my mental health backsliding a bit or my healthy lifestyle habits slipping.  Meditation seems to help before bed and prevent the wild and wacky nightmares.  I can’t explain why, but once again, I’m sure a bunch of googling and scientific research will reveal that!

If you’ve been fascinated by it, honestly give it a go.  You can’ t just lie on the floor and meditate with kids running around, so some tips from this mama to other mamas:

Sneak it in when you are putting your kids down, try the headspace app or a children’s meditation but go along with it as well as you lie by your kids.  you’re doing a great thing for them too!

Get over worrying about other people. If you do it at work, you’ll be somewhere with your eyes closed, and someone will look at you while you have your eyes closed.  Don’t worry about it.  It’s increasingly commonplace.   Remember that 15 minute break you never take?  Yes…  you know where I am going with that.

Take 10 minutes in on your commute before you “enter” the next stage of your day.  Or, even the next role in your day, ie: from employee, to mom.  From mom, to wife.  From awake, to asleep. It’s a really nice way to transition.  Meditation doesn’t just “clean the slate” of your mind and thinking patterns, it truly does reset your body, your posture and the energy you bring to your next interaction.

The next time you can’t sleep or have a toss and turn night, take 10 minutes and do one, I strongly recommend “bone deep sleep” (link below.)

To get you started, here are a few of my favourite guided meditations on the Insight app, as well as a link to the Mindful Kids youtube channel which has the most AMAZING relaxing music for the kids. We have two favourite videos from this channel which I’ve screen shotted for you (click on the picture and it will take you there.)

 

Insight App – My Current Favourites:

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Jennifer Piercy’s Bone Deep Sleep – A short Yoga Nidra Meditation for sleep

Youtube: My Current Music Favourites / Kids Favourites

This one in the evening or quiet time, the imagery is lovely to play on our tv in the background.

Mindful Kids Meditation Music Channel

 

This one for bed time (it relaxes all of us, not just the kids!)

Mindful Kids Youtube Channel
The Mindful Kids Youtube Channel – meditative bedtime music. Relaxation music for toddlers and young children. Meditation music.
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