Podcast

The Great Parental Leave Podcast – Episode 001

Show notes for the Great Parental Leave Podcast, Episode 001

In Episode 001 of the Great Parental Leave Podcast, I share my story and journey into parenthood, and what drove the creation of the Great Parental Leave Blog.  I believe that parents do not have to ‘survive’ parenthood and that they can ‘thrive.’  We do this by ensuring that we ourselves continue to grow, evolve, and dedicated ourselves to personal development.

LISTEN BELOW!

The Great Parental Leave Episode 001

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Right click here to save this episode to your computer.  

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Ankylosing Spondylitis Journey, Happiness, health coaching, Physical Wellness, Working Mom, Working Parent Life

Returning to Work from Maternity Leave and Depression at One Year Post Partum.

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Currently I’m working through a hard season.  I’m in a disease flare-up (severe exhaustion and pain) and a depressive episode.  The two intermingle and make it a very difficult time mentally, emotionally and physically. The gravitational pull is hard to overcome and this is where self-care checklists feel almost impossible to accomplish. You’re just in an entirely different head space, mood space, and body space where any one of the checklist items that used to make you feel good, that you logically know will help you, just don’t appeal enough to overcome the total lack of vitality.

I’m not writing this post to have a giant complaining session, because there’s an important point I want to make at the end when you’ve read through this.

First, that you are not alone, and second, that this kind of stuff is a great gift.  I know, that sounds ridiculous, but read on…

xo

 

I’ve been through both before, but this time it was compounded by driving myself into the ground at work. And truth be told, this round doesn’t feel straightforward to get out of. There is a deeper matter here of who am I and what does my soul need?

I think THIS is the million dollar question that we must ask ourselves, when we find ourselves in a state of dis-ease.  Not just disease (illness) but not at ease.  Unhappy. Dissatisfied.  Frustrated.

With my return to work, I came back to the same pace I had always gone at.  Except, this time I was ill, tired and also the mum of three kids.  I jumped straight back into my old habits . I just kept working bigger, better, harder, faster.  I stopped taking breaks, or self care, or anything.  I love what I do, I truly do and that’s why it was so easy to get back into that crazy unbalanced work mode.

But here’s the thing. My symptoms don’t discern between work I love and work I don’t love.

They discern between  I am taking care of my soul and I am not taking care of my soul. I beginning to suspect that disease + depression are so closely intertwined with whether we are on the right path for our souls at any given point in our life’s journey, or soul’s journey.  I believe they are a reliable indicator that we are ignoring our own intuition, and the body’s best way to yell at us to pay attention 🙂

I had returned to work in the summer fresh off my disease diagnosis, surgery, 3 kids under 5 and major passion for my side projects and full time work.  I was excited that I had negotiated to work 4 days a week for the first few months.

Then, it began to all fall apart.  First, I was feeling great so I came off of my SSRIs. I think that was not the wisest choice in hindsight.  If you are on anti-depressants, no matter how good you think you are feeling, do not come off of them in a major transition!

As I found myself back at a desk and in pain, I began to struggle with a level of exhaustion that I’ve never known.  It was so bad that I desparately sought out places to lie down on breaks, struggled to put my socks on (immobility) in the mornings, a few urgent care trips, and increasing panic at work with every additional meeting, or project in an already full schedule with people waiting weeks to get one of a few coaching slots. I have an hour commute each way, and each commute was filled with this horrible impending sense of dread – dread that work demands were far exceeding what I was capable of.  Doubts that I could keep up to others as a mother of three That I couldn’t handle my own life. Usually, this is a pretty good sign to buckle down and take care of oneself.  Except, I was so far in, I couldn’t even claw back the time for ANYTHING that fuelled my spirit. Nor was I motivated to.  Being outside in nature. A social life. Creative expression.  My happiest places couldn’t lure me back.  Mostly, I just wanted to lie still, sleep away the pain and exhaustion and shut my panicking mind down.

My days became – Just drive to work. Work like a madwoman (keeping up the standards of a worker without 3 kids.) Buy unhealthy snacks and a crazy amount of coffee to keep me going.  Drive home. Make dinner. Put the kids to bed. Pray for no-one to wake up. Go to bed at 9. Repeat.  This is the story of so, so many people out there. 

Nothing was keeping my soul afloat, and I could tell that was making the disease worse too. Yet, I couldn’t clamber out, because in my mind I would say to myself “ah, you’ll get through this just start going to the gym, get an extra nap, etc.” You know, the usual self-care checklist. But I literally couldn’t move past the exhaustion, pain and total lack of desire to do anything.  I ignored intuitive alarm bells.

And that friends, is depression.  You feel so utterly overwhelmed and exhausted that you want to curl up in a ball and hide from the world. You don’t know where or how to begin, because nothing you knew before, seems to work this time (or it still does but you’re in a bleak place and totally unmotivated to do them, and the gravitational pull of the bed / rest is too intense to overcome.)

That is depression and auto immune disease intertwined.  And this, for any of you parents out there reading this,  is when you get your ass to your doctor, and a psychologist and be KINDER and more LOVING to yourself than you have ever been before. That is when you dig deep and listen to what your soul really needs.

It’s time to start listening closely to your intuition in the moments when your brain stops panicking and rushing.  The Universe has been sending you hints all along as to what is right for you, it’s just that you’ve been ignoring them.

So at this point, it is sending you MAJOR hint bombs that what you are doing is not ideal for you at this stage, place, moment in your life’s journey and that change is ahead.

Depression and disease can be one of the greatest gifts you’ll ever receive because on the edge of massive shifts for the better, is suffering.  Suffering prompts us to shift, to change, to grow, to listen to our intuition and get one step closer to who we really are.  Yes, it’s a shitty process, but it is one where pain overcomes fear.  Suffering forces you upward and forward and will not allow you to stay where you are.   There are always, always gifts and rewards from the hardest moments and that knowledge is never lost, even in tough times like these.

 

Kids Activities, side hustles

How I Wrote and Self-Published a Children’s Book using Kickstarter!

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With small children, my days are filled with requests to read a book.

Especially before naptime or night time!

As a book lover, perusing stores for wonderful children’s stories has been a fun part of parenthood and I hope to instill a love of reading in my children with beautiful stories and rich imagery.

Do you remember in elementary school getting the little scholastic flyer with books you could order, and you’d get so excited waiting for your order of new books? Ahhh, such a good memory (if you liked reading of course!)

There are some amazing childrens’ books, and I’ve taken to buying independently published books like this incredible book by adventurer and photographer Chris Burkard. Check out his Instagram account, by the way!

Book Cover_front
The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth, my Favourite Childrens Book That I Found on Kickstarter!

Truth be told, there’s some shitty ones on my bookshelf as well.  And my kids pull those to read alllllllll of the time, and I catch myself moaning and promising I’ll get rid of them secretly.

As a side note, never be afraid to get rid of the books you don’t like.  The whole point is to actually read to your children and if it’s a book that YOU don’t enjoy, it’s pretty unlikely you’re going to read it to them, right? 

Here’s the process of how I self-published a children’s book (step by step overview)

There are so many things we can decide to do with our money.  We all make decisions around where we want to spend it.  What if you took some of your money you were going invest in your child’s education, or toys, or clothes, or whatever, and created a permanent, long-lasting legacy for them, by writing a book just for them?  Honestly, it is such a cool thing to do, regardless of whether you want to sell the book later on.

I personally couldn’t find any beautiful fantasy-inspired children’s books with gorgeous artwork (I grew up loving fantasy stories, mermaids, Pegasus and other magical creatures) so that got me thinking, it would be nice to have one for my children.  I also wanted to impart some really important lessons to my children.

We all raise our children hoping to share the truths we’ve come to discover in our time on earth.  What legacy do I want to pass onto my own children?

-A beautiful, creative and magical imagination they can tap into and escape to.  I want my children to have a vivid inner world. I believe magic exists if you believe in it.

-A sense of stewardship and love for the natural environments they have the privilege of growing up in.  Our next generation are the caretakers of this earth.

A sense of adventure and playfulness.

-A connection with bravery and courage.  I want both of my children, both male and female to know that courage is being afraid and doing it anyways, and that the greatest rewards & growth come with the greatest challenges.

-The knowledge that they have a deep inner well of innovation and creativity.  I believe this is something no computer, no technology could ever replace, and it is our duty to encourage each generation to tap into their brain’s potential (the human brain is not used to its full potential yet, we have far to go.)

The importance of lifelong learning and the constant pursuit of gathering knowledge and wisdom.

Big stuff, right? I decided to put these into the story.

 

The project was daunting and in all honesty, I didn’t know where to begin. But it felt right.  And that’s an important point.  You can have the biggest bucket list in the world but you also need to have an intuitive sense of when the time is right for one of those projects, and the patience to wait if it doesn’t quite feel right. I thought about this for 2 years before I did it, and felt ready in 2016.  I consider this the biggest check mark off of my maternity leave #2 bucket list (I started it on mat leave #2 and finished it just before mat leave #3.)

 

SKETCHING OUT THE STORY LINE & WORLDS OF KINTARA + FIND OUT A WAY TO BRING THE IMAGES TO LIFE

I started with sketching out some visual representations of the images I had in my mind for this story (many are based off of recurring dreams I have had since I was a child.)

I turned to Deviant Art.com, an incredible community of artists, and found a spectacular fantasy artist who took commissioned work and who had a beautiful visual style that matched my vision for the book’s artwork.  Over a number of calls and emails back and forth, we decided on 8 different worlds and renderings for a negotiated price.

BOOK COST RESEARCH

Next, I researched how much it would cost to put the whole thing together and print it, using different size dimensions and options.  I went with a Canadian company to start with, because it felt right to do so for the first edition print which was for my Kickstarter backers, and it was also my first time doing it.  It worked out to a few thousand dollars.  On-demand printing seemed to be in the $30-$40 range through blurb.ca (eventually I’ll find a more affordable printer but in the beginning my priority was to just get it done!)

RAISE SOME FUNDS TO PAY FOR ARTWORK AND A FIRST PRINT RUN

Obviously, I don’t have thousands of dollars to throw around on mat leaves, lol, so I decided to put myself out there and launch a Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds to pay for the artwork and print about 50 copies for backers.

I set the reward to be a copy of the book. It was my goal to cover the graphic design and printing with my campaign, which I set at $2000.  I really didn’t research Kickstarter a lot, I just figured it out as I went and looked at campaigns for books that I had bought for my kids and studied what they did.  I’m sort of glad I went in there so naive and overly confident.  It’s a lot of work to run a good Kickstarter campaign and once it got going, I threw myself in with daily updates, sharing of the story and development as it went along.

The Gates of Kintara Childrens’ Book Kickstarter campaign was successful.  To be honest, you really have to hustle hard on Kickstarter and social media to raise funds in time (Kickstarter prefers you stay within a 30-60 day window btw.)

Kickstarter also works on an all-or-nothing basis.  You have to meet your stated goal.

I was so grateful for my network of family and friends who were incredibly supportive and generous – they were the primary source of startup funds (95%) , with a few random donors  (5%) from the Kickstarter world!

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DEVELOPMENT OF THE ARTWORK:

The process was very fun, taking each image, developing the structure, then the colours, and sending each written page to the artist with an outline of the message I wanted to convey.   It is a surprising amount of work.

I spent every lunch time at work, over the course of a year working on the book, but what a cool way to spend lunch hour!

Here’s an example of the forest world.  In this world, the little girl (in her dreams) meets a magic being who encourages her to take her magic talents (caring for the natural world) back to her earthly life.

 

The little girl in this book is actually my daughter (I sent a photo of her to the artist) and each world is the landscape of recurring dreams I’ve had since I was a child.

PUTTING THE BOOK TOGETHER, FORMATTING AND PRINTING:

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This is where things got technical and if I’m being honest, super frustrating because this is where I hit a wall with technical ability. I simply couldn’t get the hang of how to use the Blurb Book formatting software or In Design software, and the terminology for the book dimensions and setup was like another language entirely to me.    Not to mention at this stage, I was very pregnant and about to go on maternity leave #3 and wanted to be done!

My brother has graphic design knowledge and totally helped me out with the formatting,  I pretty much sent him the artwork and he managed to get it all into the dimensions and pdf format for printing through Blurb.  The thing with blurb is that they offer discount codes of up to 40% so WAIT until one comes out and THEN print.  A 40% off code was conveniently released just in time and the second it came out, I jumped on it.  WITH the code it still cost over $30 per book, so anyone serious about self-publishing and selling printed copies should definitely consider other means, as you simply cannot compete with the children’s book market at those prices.

GETTING A BAR CODE IN CANADA:

In Canada, you have to register (free) for an ISBN Code (ISBN = International Standard Book Number) and all of it is done through the following Government of Canada website for no cost. Simply follow the steps and it is a very quick (less than 2 weeks) process start to finish.  I did this step right before formatting the final book for printing, as you’ll want to put the ISBN on your book cover (I put it on my back cover.)

PRODUCING AN E-BOOK

Once the hardest part is done (formatting for printing) I had to think abut formatting for an E-Book and possibly selling on Amazon.

I approached the project as three parts:

1.) Develop the book (1 year)

2.) Get the first edition printed and Kickstarter pledges fulfilled (2 months)

3.) Share the second edition with the world 🙂

     This third and final step has a lot of pieces to it:

– Edit a second edition (I am picky and want to edit the fonts and story now that i           have read it to my children many times!)

– Find cost-effective printing to make it commercially viable.

-Share it on my Podcast, the Great Parental Leave (read it for the kiddos!)

-List the 2nd edition on Amazon as a paperback and E-Book

I hope this gives you some inspiration!  Of course this is a major bucket list item and isn’t for the faint of heart but truly, you can do anything your heart desires and if you approach it the right way, it doesn’t have to cost a small fortune to self-publish a children’s book.  I did mine for less than $500 net cost when all was said and done.

I have a beautiful book written for my children now (my daughter loves that it is her in the book!) and a permanent legacy to leave them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness, Technology, The Great Parental Leave Podcast

Thriving in Early Parenthood. The Great Parental Leave Podcast is Coming! Sneak Peak.

PODCAST

I believe that you can THRIVE in early parenthood, not just SURVIVE.

Truly.  I am passionate about this.

Back in my 20s, I didn’t want to be a parent.  EVER.  Why?  I found the overwhelming was that being a parent, was about losing your sanity, identity, free time and happiness.  In the media, in the grocery store, everywhere I saw people who were walking and talking this type of parenthood dialogue. I also saw a lot of unhappy parents. Frazzled, unhappy, short tempers and devoid of their own sense of identity.  I saw this happen to my mum who was a single parent at various stages, too.  Especially in my teen years (sorry, Mum!)

I became pregnant, and those voices amplified. Especially the voices from society and media that said, you’re not Carina anymore, you’re a MUM and just that. Even now, I find people calling me “Mum” when my name is Carina and lumping me into “Mummyhood” when all of us parents are so much more than that.  We are multi-faceted and multi-passionate. When I talk about my bucket list (this comes up in the podcast) and the ways in which I am thriving and loving life and continuing to grow personally, well-meaning people seem genuinely surprised that I am able to do this with 3 kids.

I decided to start this blog and now a podcast because I passionately believe that as a parent, you can continue on the path of rich personal growth and self-development. If anything, it is the best time.  Our children have arrived as the most amazing mirrors and teachers and we are all embarking on an accelerated growth path.  There is never a better time to do some personal development.

On the podcast I will be bringing some amazing guests to help you grow and evolve as a human being.  This is *NOT* a parenting podcast.  It is a personal growth podcast in the context of early parenthood, and it is designed to get you moving forward toward the lifestyle and future you want.  If anything, children helps us gain crystal clear vision on our values, opportunities for growth and the life we want to design.  Now, it’s time to take action.

Here is a sneak peek of the first episode.  I’ll continue to refine it technically (sound quality etc.) as we go along, bear with me, I’m still learning… but in the spirit of getting sh*t done, I present to you the first Great Parental Leave Podcast Episode, where I tell a fascinating story behind the blog and podcast.

In this podcast I talk about:

-What conversations with the dying in a hospice taught me

-Why well-meaning parenting advice made me not want to have kids

-How I turned my maternity leave around from surviving to thriving

-How a simple bucket list changed my life

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Have a listen, and leave me a comment.

 

What would you like to hear about on this podcast?  Who would you like me to bring on as a guest? THIS IS FOR YOU!  A sacred space where each week, you can listen to incredible guests and receive tools that will forever shift and improve your life.  Podcasts have profoundly changed my life and elevated my maternity leaves.  I hope this will serve you in the same way.

 

Xo,
Carina

Happiness, Personal Development, Spirituality

Post-Partum Spiritual Development (in Your 30s) – What is Synchronicity and What to do When it Happens To You.

I have decided, in 2018, to dip my toes into the waters of writing about spiritual / psychic development.  It feels slightly risky. It is done with more than a little bit of trepidation, as in many ways, this has been a private topic for me as it was every female in my family before me.

In the last few years, (since I became pregnant with my first-born) the whisper of spiritual development has become more like a loud conversation.  I am feeling like it is the right time and place to share some of the things that have helped me develop and have gotten me to a place where I am able to read tarot, lucid dream, receive messages, read energy, see auras, feel energy and all sorts of other strange things that would probably freak people out if I told them (so I don’t… except on my blog!  hah!)

I am writing these articles for those of you, who like me, are starting to notice their intuition, spidey sense, universal mind, that things have energy, etc. and are curious. Curious enough to google, and find yourself here.  Or, curious enough to keep reading.

Curiosity and late-night googlings with a glass of wine in hand,

This is unofficially the best way to develop psychically and spiritually, lol.  Trust me, this can embark you on a weird and wonderful path of spiritual development.  Reading really is the way to go in the early stages.

There are definitely lots of different spiritual communities or approaches to spirituality out there. There’s the crystal peeps, the wicca / witches, the psychic mediums, the practicing religious, even angel peeps – that’s a really big thing.  Archangel stuff is wild.  I remember early in my spiritual googling I somehow found myself reading about archangel metatron and actually feeling freaked out, and realized it was like, 2 in the morning.  Cue better bedtime screen time discipline and less hyperactive imagination.

Once you get into all of the metaphysical or spiritual philosophies though, they are all the same beliefs and lessons, over and over again.   You begin noticing this with religions, too. The same basic core beliefs and lessons over and over again, just in different ‘packages’ or spiritual languages / interests.

Don’t worry, this not the part where I go into Archangel Gabriel and how he’s going to help you.

I’m not particularly religious, and I don’t subscribe to any particular spiritual practice or beliefs.  I definitely don’t like it when people become fundamentalists about things.  Any closure of the mind to me, is not being spiritual. Being open minded and non judgemental but just “getting” energy and universal lessons is spirituality to me.

My spirituality is smatterings of things here and there that my soul knows, and has seemed to know for a long time, and is being reinforced by books, people, things, experiences and places.  These are the things I’ll be writing about.

So let’s get to it.  This synchronicity business.  What does that mean? 

In short, coincedences are most certainly not coincedences.  Things are happening to you that were 100% meant to happen to you.  And if you are open to it, there are definitely more things coming down the pipeline to you, that if you realize it in the moment (after laughing at how uncanny it is) and jump on it / take the hint, you will be accelerated toward your purpose + fulfillment in this lifetime.

To get synchronicity going, you have to be on the lookout for it, but you have to also kind of “set the intention” for it.  Yes, you sort of have to go ahead and ask.    It has always been there but you haven’t always been aware enough to notice all of these funny coincedences in your life, and you haven’t always been able to connect the dots.

I promise you that this will begin to change.

Once you kind of set the intention inside of yourself to spiritually develop, the universe (or whatever you want to call it!) responds with synchronicity.

 

 

Synchronicity happens most often in the forms of books and people.

Want an example?

Example # 1: People coming into your life

Two years ago, I met lovely fellow mama at a forest school group who was always just so happy, she was magnetic and had such good energy about her (yes I saw her aura and yes it was beautiful but I won’t get into that)  and our families (including kids) immediately hit it off. After the school ended, we lost contact.

Lately I’ve been thinking more than usual, about how some people have ridiculously good energy and how as we  (as a family) are becoming more conscious of the precious time we have to spend with friends, and how those are the types of people we want in our (and our kids’) lives.

So… this last Thursday.

I’m leaving with my daughter from her morning preschool when who walks in?  This lovely woman from forest school!  Of all the preschools in the area she has her son in this one, and by coincidence, that one day I had been at the school instead of my husband to do pickup, and stuck around for an entire hour talking to the teacher, and she had arrived with her son for the afternoon class.   We hug, excitedly exchange contact information and facebook connect (and of course realize how similar our lives are shortly thereafter.)

Stranger things still, I get home, eat lunch and hop onto instagram. I look at the notifications for my early morning instagram post  and almost immediately after that post, a lady had commented on it (she wasn’t a follower but had randomly come across the post and it had touched her enough to comment, with no knowledge of who I was) – guess who it was.  Yes.  You’ve got it.  Three hours before we even had any idea we’d literally run into each other at our kids’ preschool.

Example #2:  Books

All of a sudden, you’ll find some books to read…

Or even better, they begin to find you. You notice a book on sale at chapters or you are strangely drawn to a random one on a shelf.

All of a sudden, someone recommends a book to you.

Or perhaps you make a random selection on Kindle on your late night googling with wine (see above) and it winds up deeply impacting your internal universe.

And then, this is when shit gets trippy,

You casually mention reading said book and your closest friend looks at you funny, and lets you in on the fact that the practice in this book is the spiritual discipline in which they’ve been raised, and all of a sudden your understanding of them just goes to another level.

~

In spiritual-speak, all of the above events are called synchronicity.

Honestly, do you know what I call this, as kind of your average woman / spiritual new comer ?

It is called “what the fuuuuuck.”

Quickly followed by

**goosebumps on the arm**  Super eloquent, right?

But also, super accessible, because when you start trying to figure out what the hell is going on, and why all these weird coincedences are happening, you go down the rabbit hole of reading about law of attraction and manifestation and you kind of get overwhelmed at the super spiritual terminology and language and communities.

I know what you’re doing right now, you are hitting ctrl + t to open new tabs up to google all of this.  See?  This is exactly what happens, you are led down a path of discovery, and then, realize there’s words and terms to describe exactly what is happening to you, and then you realize all these funny words like manifestation or synchronicity are part of this funny little world called spiritual development.

Then, as you put on these new little spiritually aware glasses, more weird things begin happening.  That friends, is spiritual development! 🙂

I’ll tell you another little story about synchronicity because this is 100% true and recent.

I’ve been thinking about making jewellery more and more. I can’t stop thinking about it, tbh, and so many ideas keep popping up in my mind, it’s like a constant background thrumming in my brain that I can’t switch off.  I’ll look at a twig on the ground and I’ve already designed something in my mind without even actively thinking about it.

It has always been a creative hobby but as I think more about work-life balance and life as a mum of three, as well as trying to figure out my own truth (who I am at my core) I seem to spend a lot more time thinking maybe, just maaaaybe I should expand this side of my life, that the creativity is really intense right now with ideas, and the time feels right (for those of you spiritual gurus reading this, I know you are thinking, this is intuition!  Intuition is this funny little background whisper that says helloooo! I am here! sending you hints! Listen to meee!)

So anyways, I put it out there in late December (by putting it out there, I mean just thinking inside my head.)  I said to the sky (in my head of course)  “I‘m not entirely closed off to the idea of working a bit more on the jewellery after maternity leave, I’ll stay open to the idea.”  That’s it. That’s all. I didn’t even journal* it.

*Journalling takes invisible thoughts and makes them real – in ink – on paper.  Take note of that. Invisible thought in your mind –> physical object in front of you.  You literally just bought a thought into the world and gave it a physical presence.  It is powerful. When you write things down, the wheel really starts rolling and the universe starts working in its funny ways with people, places, things and messages coming down the pipeline to you.  It’s powerful shit. 

So while I was in Kau’ai at christmas time, I decided to do a trail run one day in one of my most favourite spots on the planet, the Wai Koa Stone Dam.  I am not joking when I say the place feels magical.  This is Wai Koa Stone Dam:

Wai Koa Stone Dam, Kau'ai

After returning to my car after a beautiful run, I was feeling a little adventuresome and curious about the Common Ground Buildings that are at the start of the trailhead.  As you do as a post partum lady, I also needed to find a bathroom.  So, I began to explore the buildings which were eerily quiet, almost abandoned.  Definitely no sign of life, commerce or inhabitation.

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 10.51.58 PM.pngAs I walked around the buildings, the clouds opened and a huge rainstorm came thundering down.  In this lovely moment of solitude, I decided to sit under an awning and watch the rain come down. I was relaxed after a lovely run and in no particular rush to return home to mommyhood at the rental house.  I wanted to extend this lovely morning of solitude.

I approached a bench and something caught my eye.  As I approached, I realized that there was some kind of a catalogue sitting there, blowing about in the wind.  Curious as always and emboldened by the completely abandoned buildings, I walked over and picked it up.

Lo and behold, it was a jewellery supplies catalogue filled with the most beautiful supplies and funnily enough, the wind had blown it open exactly the kind of jewelry packaging I’d been in search of.  Only a few weeks before, I was thinking that a key thing I’d need to do to go from hobby status to professional jewelry selling was coming up with some decent packaging.

Chills.  Instant chills.

Let’s put this together.

Random Wednesday morning trail run in a favourite spot that has a nice energy to it.

Unexpected rainstorm and forced to take cover.

Abandoned buildings / no signs of life, in an area that used to be a community events space.

Only one object out of place in this entire complex, a jewellery supplies catalogue blown open in the wind, to a page with the exact supplies I need if I want to take the jewellery thing up a level.

Remember that word I used up above?  Synchronicity?  Remember what I called it before that? “What the fuuuuck.”

Indeed.

That, ladies and gentlemen is synchronicity.

I’m excited for you.  Just reading this, thinking about it, and thinking about where your life is going in 2018, you’ve already opened the pipeline.  If you stay open, stay curious and sort of good humoured / light hearted about it all, you’ll notice some pretty wild coincedences, messages, books and people coming up from the strangest of places at the most helpful of times. Trust in the process.

 

xo

 

 

 

 

Grounding, Happiness, Personal Development, Spirituality

Becoming Psychic After Having a Baby: Spiritual Development in Your 30s. Part 1

 

I struggled with how to title this post tonight, because it is written for other mamas like me, who are finding themselves more ‘aware’ of things that, to this point, have not been well explained by science.

I also debated the title of this post because I am not 100% sure that my spiritual development was a result of having children.  From what I have experienced and observed in others, the 30s seems to be a powerful time for women in the area of spiritual development, or advancement.

Maybe it is because we are more introspective at this stage? Or maybe it is because after the experience of childbirth and parenting, we are more attuned to the subtler energies of the other side?  My guess is as good as yours! All I know is that as you become curious about psychics, spiritual development and all of those “things” you begin to notice that the universe brings people your way who either help you or advance you.  You will happen to listen to a podcast that talks about exactly what you’ve been thinking about.  You’ll meet someone you are strangely drawn to and somehow the conversation goes the way of spiritual development and you find yourself nodding your head like a madwoman as they explain something that could have been crafted from your own mind.

There’s a second reason I struggled with titling this post tonight, and that is because this is still a topic that is in many ways a private one. It is not as open for discussion as, say, talking to friends about your kids’ potty training!

What brought me to write it tonight aside from it being on my mind EVERY day was the feeling that I need to contribute to the dialogue already out there that has helped me along my own little path, and perhaps it will find someone who is out there googling the same questions I have (you.)  I am glad you found it.  Or, that it found you.

The internet is a double-edged sword, but I can say that it has contributed greatly to my own spiritual journey, and in my post today, I’ll tell you a bit about it, and how you may develop your own spirituality in the very, very early stages.  As an academic by nature who likes research, I find that I tend to disconnect when the language of spiritualists becomes too “woo woo” so I will try very hard to give you an honest account and pragmatic article with links!

Spiritual development is a strange thing because though you develop over time, it is by no means a linear progression.  In the moment, little things happen that all feel like separate dots, but then, 10 years later when you look back, you have the power of hindsight and evidence.  With time, spiritual dots connect to each other and you think “Aaaaaahhh, so that’s what that meant.”

This leads me into my first piece of advice.  If you’d like to develop spiritually, or psychically, please, please get a journal! You won’t remember all of the little things and how they all connect over a long time span if you don’t write them down.

In the moment, when you experience strange things, you cannot explain it – but without fail, time and events come to fruition that explain all of those little events.

Buy something beautiful and keep it somewhere special, and when strange little things happen in your life, even hunches about a friend, dreams, or little tingles, simply record them. No need to explain them or understand them now.  They’ll make sense later.

I personally love Peter Pauper Press and Paper Blanks Journals.  I use the Heart of the Tree Journal for my nature / witchy side where I record special things, intuition, hunches, messages, etc in nature and then the Unicorn Tapestry Journal for all others.

The tapestry journal was started in Grade 12 when I recorded the first psychic reading and palm reading that I went to with my Mum.  Its most recent entry is from only a few nights ago, 17 years later – a brief entry about a vision I had while trying to do a bed-time meditation.

Other things I have in this journal are some of the tarot cards I’ve pulled, strange moments in nature, dreams, my gut sense on things, any intuition I get about people, and messages that come in meditations or visions I have.

Flipping back a few pages here, I have an entry about seeing white wings in my mind’s eye during another yoga nidra meditation a few nights ago (meditation is a crazy way to start seeing and feeling things) as well as a hunch I have about a friend (I am super curious if it will come to fruition.)

Don’t forget to date the journal as well, because you will be surprised how the years pass quickly and how things will take on meaning later down the road.

I believe strongly that each message you get, or unusual thing you experience, is a special little gift.  It’s like a little clue that is offered to you on a giant, lifelong scavenger hunt. Even if it makes no sense at the time, it deserves to be recorded somewhere special for when you’ve gathered enough knowledge and life experience for it to make sense.

Over the next few posts I’ll open parts of my most private journal, and I suspect that my experience is like so many of yours. I write this in the hope that you’ll reach out in the comments. I’d love to hear your own spiritual development story or things that are making you go “hmmm, this is something I need to investigate a bit more because I can’t explain it.”

My first post is going to be a few stories from my early life, and some suggestions of the best places to start this journey. I am by no means far along or an expert, but maybe by sharing the ways I’ve developed it will inspire you on your own path.

~ The Mediums, The Healers, The Psychics ~ 

Though we live in 2018, and there is so much openness and progression in the world, it seems like the metaphysical / spiritual / psychic world is still a bit of an underground community.

It still seems to be a topic that is not openly discussed around a table – or if it is, it is in hushed tones – or perhaps preceded by an apology along the lines of “I’m sorry, I’m going to go a bit woo-woo here” or something similar.  But, that’s why we have the internet 🙂 The internet is alive and well with communities, articles, forums, and groups, and this I will be eternally thankful for because my random googling has led me to books, people and sources of knowledge that I’ll be eternally thankful for.

The spiritual development world is a private one.  It occurs within the vast depths of our internal world, which is 90% of who we are.

The 10% that the external world sees (and what we allow the world to see) is just the surface.

I grew up in a family where the females, in hushed tones around the kitchen table, admitted to having psychic gifts.  Over several generations in my maternal family tree, there have been witches, mediums, spiritualists and healers.  Their external world was like any other:  They were career women, home makers, mothers, but their internal world ran deep.  They all had this entire other side to them that was only revealed to me in snippets of conversation, or strange incidences. I was never privy to their rituals or spiritualist meetings and only heard about it on occasion.

It was never a topic that was open for discussion, and it was just quietly held as “silent wisdom” and “knowing nods” amongst each other or attributed to “woman’s intuition.”  However, on the rare occasion, it would become blatantly obvious.  My mum, despite being the most private of all on this topic, would sometimes let the cat out of the bag.  More than a few times, I missed big multi vehicle accidents thanks to a phone call from my mum asking me not to drive down a particular road at a particular time.  But more than a few times, I was betrayed by a friend even though my mum would warn me that they did not have good energy.

If my Mum was still alive now, I’d love to sit her down, give her some gin and tonics and try to pry out some of that knowledge that she kept so close to her heart and private, but I often get the message from her that she “always thought I’d learn it myself through experience anyways.”

Or as they say, re-learn it all.  Once you begin to immerse yourself in the metaphysical world you realize that most of what you read and “learn” seems strangely familiar.  It’s like you knew it somehow on a deep level.  When you start googling and reading about the properties of a crystal, or maybe the meaning of an orb, or dive into a book by a spiritual change maker like Eckhart Tolle, you find yourself nodding and agreeing with everyting they are saying.  Why?  Because you already knew. 

I’ll share some of my own beliefs in these posts. One of them is that we all born into this earthly life with our knowledge intact – I believe we forget a lot of it as we learn the ways of this lifetime, and the society we are born into. The beauty is there are some things you can quickly relearn, or that you may still have some residual knowledge of.  I’ll start with one of the most common:

~Crystals~

Yes, crystals.  Why are they in such abundance in “spiritual” stores and places? Why do “those types” always wear them?

It comes down to the “energy” or “vibe” of crystals. All objects have an energy field, including us. Energy either attracts or repels. This is straight up science, no woo woo.

We will find ourselves drawn to other energy fields, or repelled.  Have you ever felt a strange attraction to a person you’ve just met? Or have you ever felt totally repulsed?  This is what I mean.  It happens with magnets. Even essential oils.  It also happens with gemstones.  Gemstones have different energies and different “personalities.”

Anyone can walk into a store, find a gemstone they can’t help but be drawn to, and they cannot explain why.  That’s the stuff I’m talking about.  We’ll have a scientific explanation one day, I think we are close with energy and physics research, but for now, it’s just beyond the grasp of science.

Crystals are a great metaphor for spiritual development.  They are definitely a case of “you know it’s there but you can’t really explain or understand it yet.”

From an early age I was collecting crystals and drawn to them. I remember so clearly a little wooden box filled with curiosities, trinkets and crystals that I kept in my room.

I couldn’t stop picking up and playing with amethyst, and then tigers eye, then a long love affair with hematite. I’d pick them up, handle them, and then clean them with a toothbrush to a sparkle. Then I’d meticulously wrap them in tissues and place them carefully back in the box.  As a child, I did not know the meaning behind these crystals, or even that I was absorbing their properties… to me, they were just something I was into collecting. But later in life, I began to connect the dots.

Hematite was a stone I played with often during tumultuous times of change, especially the year I turned 11 (moving countries, parents separating, anxiety, shyness, etc.) and later on, (we are talking 24 years) it made sense.  Only a few weeks ago during a Pinterest session, I began reading about gemstones because I’ve been making bracelets with stones I am drawn to. I figured I should learn about their properties if I was going to write about them on instagram.  The adjectives associated with hematite are: Strength. Courage. Calm.  Protective.   Makes sense why it was so attractive during my toughest years as a child.

Here’s a great developmental activity to do. This is the first place you can begin, with some googling. You do not even have to have a crystal in front of you or one that you have interacted with.  You can do this by looking at pictures of crystals, or colours.  What are you drawn to?  What are their properties.  Why are you drawn to them? What dots connect between their energy and your own life story?

~Natural Phenomena~

Nature has played a huge role in my life and I spent a great deal of time in the dark, lush woods of England in the company of my mother, who had an incredible bond with animals and a hand in strange natural phenomena.  Seemingly out of nowhere, we would have profound interactions with wild animals – most often these would happen in our walks in the woods, but sometimes in our home as well.  We regularly had a hawk visit our home in the suburbs in my 20s, and sit in our living room window, watching us inside.  My mum would laugh light-heartedly and say that she was a witch in past lives, and would delight in strange (often extreme) weather events or animal interactions.

In fact, significant natural phenomena always seemed to coincide with big moments in her life.  She never openly talked to me about it, but she always gave me a knowing smile.  Her last knowing smile I felt from the other side.  It occurred on a June morning here in Calgary, when a cloud unlike any I have ever seen, stretched across the sky. I pulled over on the shoulder of Deerfoot Trail, a high-speed highway to watch it, tears rolling down my cheek and chills running down my back.

My mum had taken her last breath only a few hours before, and I was on my final drive home from Rosedale hospice, over which the eery cloud slowly rolled.  I’ll never forget that morning.

 

I spent my childhood playing in the dark forests of southwestern England, running in the evening light up and down the banks of an iron-age hill fort.

Cadbury Camp was rumoured to be the ruins of Camelot and local folklore held that King Arthur and his Knights would ride out on Midsummer’s eve.  I was always transfixed when I heard that story in the local pub.  I’d often dig up ancient coins and arrowheads and come home with them in one hand, wildflowers in the other, and to this day wear one of these coins on a necklace as a courage talisman.

I tell these stories, because one of the most important pieces of advice to those who are on the path of spiritual development, is to look back to your own childhood and re-immerse yourself in the things that captured you as a pure, open child who was still able to naturally pick up on the energy of people, places and things.  Even music.

You will find that looking backward in time to childhood and what you were inexplicably drawn to, will offer so many hints as to how you *will* develop your psychic skills and spiritual side.  Time is not something that exists in the metaphysical world, so the things you experienced in the past (childhood) seamlessly merge with the things you will experience in your future. The same themes and connections run throughout your life when it comes to the field of energy and metaphysics. There is no timeline.

If you are having trouble thinking of what you were drawn to, there are a few cool things you can do, or questions you can ask yourself.  What are your most profound memories of nature. Was it rocks, maybe a river? What natural elements are you drawn to?   Or if you drew a picture of your childhood home, what did you find yourself wanting to draw first in the picture.  The rooms?  The neighbourhood? The garden?  The people you drew?   Or maybe think about topics you learnt about in school, or books that you loved. What did you love reading about? What scenes still come to your imagination.  Or, what do you dream about?  Now?  Then?

There are many ways to be psychic, and many ways to get there, and the best thing is to write down all of those early fascinations and connection.  The things, people, places that captured your attention early in life. Pay special attention to those ones where you say “I don’t know what it was about it, I just was drawn to it.”  List them down somewhere, preferably your journal 🙂

I hope this has your inner world swirling and your spidey senses tingling.

Next post, I’ll share some of the books that advanced my knowledge and the unspoken things that all psychic people seem to know about and “get.”

 

 

Happiness

How to Manage the Increase in Housework on Maternity Leave

Our family is growing.

Today’s post is very much inspired by a fantastic Psychologist I enjoy following on Facebook.   Dr. Psych Mom is like the 2017 version of reading advice columns! I LOVE her perspective and how she encourages community participation and input around topics of importance to us all.

She has a really interesting one today on the division of household responsibilities. I was chatting with a new friend about this the other day – how there are so many different combinations between partners when it comes to our families and household responsibilities, depending on dynamics, socialization, culture, gender norms, schedules, etc.

Maternity leave is interesting because you are at home so much more than you are used to, and naturally you find yourself taking stock of the home, responsibilities and are putting a bit more time in on the home front.

Personally speaking, I struggled on my first two maternity leaves with what felt like an increased load, because this is an area where I have a deep need for equality – not only out of preference, but also because I manage chronic back pain and am actually quite limited in what I can do in the house without totally blowing up my back.  Now on my third maternity leave, I am actually really enjoying the household responsibilities but also have the confidence to communicate and negotiate a balance that works for me.  This is the real crux of my blog today. What is the right balance for you and how do you communicate that and set those boundaries?  This is so important to the health of your marriage or partnership or even family dynamic.  And even your happiness.

The housework HAS  increased to more than when I am at work full time, but what is important to note is that it is the right amount – and I don’t feel any resentment at all. Household work is something we all do, when it become a hot-button issue is when the topic of gender and marriage and relationships comes into play.

Household work is something we all do, when it becomes a hot-button issue is when there is a subtle undercurrent of inequality or resentment, whether actual or perceived.

First off, there is something really important to check in on with you, the reader.  What is your background?  Because it informs your way of perceiving your situation, and any hot buttons you may have around the issue.

For example, what were the gender roles in your family home growing up? What was expected of you? What did society expect of you?  Who did you look up to? What did you feel you needed to do to earn their love? Did you learn to associate pain or pleasure with housework?

In coaching, we often refer to all of this stuff above as an “invisible background” – it’s not like we bring all of these things up when we are tackling housework / chores right?  But it is there, influencing every action, and every decision, every response and feeling we have.

We call it invisible because our partners often don’t know about it until we bring it out from behind the veil or totally lose our shit over something.

One of the best things you can do on mat leave is have a friendly chat about the obvious, there is a little shift here in who’s at home.  It’s really important to set expectations on both sides, and boundaries on both sides – you also need to take some time to figure out what works for YOU.

Just because you’re home doesn’t mean you are bound to a certain way of doing things.

Before I get into a deeper talk I did want to share to two things that have worked so well for us as a couple!

List the weekly household responsibilities.  A while ago my husband and I sat down and chatted about what we love / hate in terms of house duties. Actually sittin gand listing what needs to be done weekly versus monthly was pretty eye opening. An important tip is also to add how much time each task takes.  Unloading the dishwasher happens in a blink compared to say, 5 loads of laundry, folding and putting away. We split the responsibilities so they play to our strengths (and limitations)

Find one activity you can approach with lightness. We also have a fun little challenge we try to do.  It’s called the 15 minute clean – we pump up some great tunes and set a timer and do a surface clean / tidy up. It has actually become a fun ritual and it’s so shocking how much you can do in 15 minutes with a competitive edge! We kind of make it a workout, running around the house trying to beat each other in how much we can get done, then we come together and compare. It works really well especially for my ex athlete husband!

Now, let’s get into some super duper interesting stuff!  There is also some interesting influence upon our household roles depending on personality type. This below will be is an interesting read for you MBTI enthusiasts.

Did you know Sensors (S) are very good at the details. My husband will notice a stain, or a crumb, or something that needs to be cleaned. He is also amazing at laying out household management in a nice, systematic way and has a preference for a sequential cleaning approach. Kind of like A leads to B leads to C leads to D.

Whereas I have a slight preference toward intuitive (N) – I am talented at systems thinking – my wheelhouse is organization, putting things in the right places, globally assessing rooms / taking a snapshot and making sure things are in the right places. I quite literally don’t see crumbs or stains immediately because my brain responds to the stimulus of the big picture snapshot and how systems fit together. I’m too busy thinking and miss the details. My thinking function is introverted though, so I do it all inside of my head, so I have to remind myself to let my husband in on my rationale for doing things, which to him, make ZERO sense haha.

Even when it comes to cleaning, I tackle things seemingly at random like, all the door knobs in the house being disinfected. Randomly. On a tuesday at 9am.

Usually if there is a “theme” in my mind, ie: preventing colds and flu, what I begin to notice for extra house projects will fall into that theme. A classic mark of an intuitive type.

Kind of like X is related to Z but there’s a bit of Y in there too (as opposed to my A-B-C-D partner.) I can watch him go room to room in this sequential approach and it all makes so much sense just from observation.

Interesting, isn’t it?

One of the most important things to remember is this: our partner is never out to specifically piss us off with their action (or inaction) around household responsibilities and duties. I don’t think many people walk around in this world with the intent to piss others off.

Your reactions are just that. Your reaction to a neutral event.

I don’t think many people walk around in this world with the intent to hurt / offend / piss off their partner. So much of it simply comes down to misunderstanding.

To much of a degree, it is because of misunderstanding the “invisible background” that informs our actions.

We all act on the unconscious conditioning that we acquire through the society, family, gender even the media environment we grew up in.  But then we expect our partners to read our minds and know alllllll of that background.

The key to creating a new system that works for both parties on maternity leave  (and prevents resentment) is understanding how each others’ brains / personalities work (this is precisely why I love doing the couples MBTI personality coaching so much.)  We need to know how life has shaped the way we look at housework and our role in the home / domestic arts.  It is about making the unconscious, conscious. About knowing what each others’ beliefs are.

How on earth do you make the unconscious conscious?

Ask yourself things like, what are my negotiables around the house? What are my non-negotiables. Why is this such a touch point / hot button for me? Where does it stem from (often childhood or the environments we grow up in.)  What triggers me the most?  Why?  (and if you are feeling really brave, ask yourself “Why to the third degree” basically do what your own kid does… ask why over and over again, digging deeper and deeper into the answer to the question.

I’ll give you my own example, because I’ve really noticed that some people are really uncomfortable  with mess in a house.  No joke,  I’ve watched family members rush around my own house compulsively cleaning when they are just visiting to get my house to a place they are comfortable with!  Though it is totally appreciated and I know they are also doing it to help, I also find their discomfort interesting, and I love observing what everyone’s set points are in terms of house maintenance.

I grew up on an acreage in the English countryside. We spent our days playing outside in the forest. Our house was messy, chaotic and full of animals (we had chickens, ducks, goats, cats and dogs) but it was a house full of love, laughter and action. I associated pleasure and happiness with a home environment that was full of crafts and activities, random sticks we had bought in, wax jackets tossed over the kitchen chairs after a long walk in the woods with the dog in the rain. An extraverted family, our house was somewhere to come home to at the end of the day and sleep, but our orientation was going out into the world, exploring, playing, traveling.  The house wasn’t the centre of our lives … the world out there was. That was what grounded us.

My husband grew up in a lovely house in the suburbs, in a family that takes pride in its homes and inner spaces – both literally and subjectively, as there are many introverts in his family.

For introverts, home is somewhere sacred, the place from which they ground themselves and need to be based out of. It is where they come back to recharge, as opposed to an extrovert whose natural need is to get “out there.” Their homes are ordered and clean and there is a regular schedule of cleaning and house maintenance and a different level of expectation with regards to orderliness and cleanliness. This is made complex further by each individuals’ experiences in the world they grew up in and how they were trained to see household duties.

With a centre of gravity around the home and “inner world”  introverts’ homes are often ordered and clean and there is a regular schedule of cleaning and house maintenance and a different baseline of comfort with regards to orderliness and cleanliness. This is made complex further by each individuals’ experiences in the world they grew up in.

You can see vast differences here, between two families, two ways of growing up. Not only are there different rituals and habits, but also different cultures and ways of seeing things. There is NO

Not only are there different rituals and habits, but also different cultures and ways of seeing things. There is NO wrong . There is NO right.

There is only sharing and understanding and respect.

The most important lesson to take from all of this is always have a spirit of curiosity. When you butt heads over the home, or tasks…. be vulnerable and brave.  Just open up and shaaaaaare.  Make that invisible background visible!

Your partner is not trying to be a jerk.  They are acting from what they know and how their brain works.  Most of the time all of us are on autopilot mode, and the way to get some intention and consciousness back is to have a conversation.

Practice gentle curiosity. Endeavour to dig deeper and understand that person’s motivation.

You may still agree or disagree, but at least the communication line has opened up.

Communication is the antidote to resentment.

And here, attached for your reference, is the article that got me thinking and writing about this topic today.

http://www.drpsychmom.com/…/dividing-housework-pipe-dream-…/

How to divide household chores and obligations so that everyone flourishes.
Creativity, Happiness, Kids Activities

What to do with a Baby and a Toddler in Calgary (in the winter) – Activities for families in Calgary, Family Fun in Calgary, Family Activities Calgary

 

FUN THINGS TO DO IN CALGARY, CANADA WITH KIDS UNDER 5 (SUMMER EDITION) (1)

A great list of 30 unique ideas for families with young children visiting Calgary during the winter – baby and toddler-friendly.

pinterest1

What authority do I have?  Well, I’m the mother of a 3 year old and a 1.5 year old.  We’re all pretty active and go stir crazy inside, though I confess – I DO like my crafternoons by the fireplace as well!  All of these activities are tried, tested and true with my family.  We’re still learning a ton, especially about layering in winter.  Neither of us parents grew up with particularly outdoorsy families, and our skills in any winter activity are

All of these activities are tried, tested and true with my family.  If you want me to blog further or do a “field report”  on any of the experiences below, please leave a comment! We’re still learning a ton, especially about layering in winter.  Neither of us parents (Carina and Trevor) grew up with particularly outdoorsy families, and our skills / knowledge in any winter activity are pretty low.  But we have the right attitude and I think that’s all that matters!

XC skiing, skating, even toboganning.  Our skills are down there with our 3 year old – but that’s the joy!  We are experiencing all of this together and designing the family that we want to be.  

This is a good chance to comment on a sentence that stood out from a book I am reading, Tools of Titans (highlight recommended btw.) In one part of this book, there is a discussion on discovering who you are, versus creating who you are.

You don’t just go on living life and all of a sudden “discover” that you are a certain type of family or a certain type of parent.  It’s about designing and creating it, so that one day you “discover” you are precisely that.

And you know what?  This list of ideas all started with a pinterest board I started in 2010 that I titled “My Ideal Life” and in it, was an active, adventurous family.  I liked the idea.  Even though I hadn’t a clue whether I wanted kids, or how to do half of the activities on the board.  🙂

The biggest piece of advice I’d offer, especially with the outdoors activity stuff, is go into it with zero expectations.  Your kids may love it, or they may melt down 10 minutes in, and you find yourself driving 40 minutes back home, debating whether or not to surrender and just give them the damn iphone in the back seat to gain a moment of peace.  You may spend 20 minutes getting them into a snowsuit and then they announce they have to pee.  You may get to a hike and realize their snowboots are all of a sudden 2 sizes small, let alone impossible to get on when they do fit.  Been there, done all of that in the last two weeks.

The key is not to let expectations prevent you from doing things.  Because if there’s one thing we know as parents, our kids will also surprise us. One snow shoe could be terrible and leaving us questioning “why bother?”  Actually no, it’s more like “F*** why did we do this!” Yet, the following week, we have a magical time and our 3-year-old surprises us with her endurance and fortitude!

As you read every family blog where it seems they are out in these amazing winter adventures in and around Calgary, remember that there was a meltdown or two in there, and what seems like a day out, was probably just a short trip.  But regardless, they still did something epic and we still find ourselves looking at their instagram or facebook feed with admiration and a secret longing to design our lives more intentionally.

THAT is the goal of this post, to encourage you to stop liking others’ instagram posts and start creating your own – to embrace the beauty that is winter (sorry, I write this with ALL of the enthusiasm of a kid that didn’t grow up around snow and is still, to this day at 34, mesmerized by it.)   Design the type of life where you don’t have a ton of time to spend on Instagram liking other people’s photos and feeds, because you’re too busy creating your own adventures!

Alright, off of that soap box.  What is the point of today’s post?

I was asked by a work colleague for a list of ideas for a family visiting Calgary in January (deep winter!)  There are SO many on the internet and most of them are copied from the same few sources, so I tried to add some really unique ideas to this post, and went back through my own journals of what we’ve gotten up to in winter.   I will confess, my list does have a bit of an outdoor activity focus (assuming it’s above -15c, my threshold for enjoying winter with small children.)  I also believe that outdoor time buys you EXCELLENT NAPS AND APPETITES (read: you time!) so it’s a win-win situation. 

I hope this will give you some creative indoor and outdoor activity ideas when you are in Calgary with a baby and small toddler, as well as some fantastic bloggers to follow and websites to use as a resource.

Stay warm and have fun!

 

1.) Telus spark has an incredible section for young children, The Creative Kids Museum – with admission you have access to the main science centre (and) the childrens’ area.

2.)  Try out the lunchtime mom + baby yoga offered at the Holistic Institute of Health and Fertility in the south (Deer Run.)  Then, pop next door to the Cornerstone Cafe for the most amazing cafe food you’ll ever try (I love the vegetarian wrap.)

3.) Also in the same neighbourhood is a drop in yoga program, for both parents and toddlers OR toddlers unattended!  www.yogabears.ca – fish creek is also within a 5 minute drive, with Annie’s Cafe, and the Ice Caves (see list.)

4.)  Go west (1 hour) to Grotto Pond & Grotto Canyon on Highway 1A – this is a favourite destination of ours, because our children tend to tap out in the car before we get to Canmore (1 hour 20 min.)

Grotto Canyon and Pond are just a few minutes after Exshaw on Highway 1A.  YOu can take Highway 1 west most of the way until the 1X turnoff to Exshaw before Lac Des Arcs. Trail Peak Guide to Grotto Canyon

 

skate
Skating with my 3 year old on grotto pond in December 2016!

 

Natural mountain lake skating at Grotto Pond (ice rink in centre, loop around outside)

Posts by Tanya Koob on Grotto Pond.for Grotto canyon which is do-able for young children – so if your toddler or baby meltsdown, you have a plan B activity right there ready to go! We bought out sled along and skated with the kids in the sled, and then on the hike, we had b aby in a backpack and toddler walking.

for Grotto canyon which is do-able for young children – so if your toddler or baby meltsdown, you have a plan B activity right there ready to go! We bought out sled along and skated with the kids in the sled, and then on the hike, we had b aby in a backpack and toddler walking.

5.) In Calgary, Bowness park / lagoon has amazing skating on the river and fire pits to warm up beside.A sweet cafe is nearby, and if you love alernative / health food stores, the Light Room in Bowness is worth visiting.  Post from Family Fun Canada.

6.) Delta Lodge at Kananaskis – Fantastic family friendly resort with an icerink outside of the hotel and a massive outdoor hot tub that kids love.  Right beside the ice rink is a rental place, with xc ski, snowshoe, walking and bike paths.  You can also rent chariots with winter attachments there for risk-free activities.  Great blog post.

7.) Calgary Zoo Lights – Until January 8th –  you can buy a day admission pass, go at 4pm and stay until the park closes and the zoolights switch on, or go later (after 5 and just pay for the zoolights portion)

8.) Nomad Gear Rentals bring the rental gear to you and fit your children!  Or if you want to stay in Calgary, use Nomad Gear Rentals to rent a variety of gear for yourself and the kids, and explore Fish Creek Park, especially the Ice water falls and caves near to Annie’s Café just off of Bow Bottom Trail.   We just used Nomad this past week to try our 3 year old out on xc skis for the first time and Andrel was lovely to work with.  Rates are competitive with other local rental shops!    Winter Rental List including skis, xc skis, fat bikes and snowshoes.

9.) To warm up, Calgary farmers’ market is a fantastic place to go with a playground area, and adults can enjoy coffee and eat food since the foodcourt is adjacent to the playground area. I highly recommend the spinach and leek gallette (gluten free) from the little fresh crepe place!  At the playground area you can access free fire truck and car-shaped strollers that fit either one or two kids!  Combine that with an ice cream or macaron and this is my secret to getting shopping done there!

 

10.) A beautiful forested part of fish creek is Bebo Grove (at the end of 24st SW) Reviews of Fish Creek Park and favourite spots on Yelp. 

11.) Toboganning at Confederation park or St. Andrews hill (near University of Calgary)  great blog post by Family Fun Canada (another great site to check out.)

12.) Grab hot drinks and drive by the spectacular Christmas lights at Spruce Meadows (deep south of city)  – on until January 8th.

13.) Indoor / outdoor winter crafts:  Winter Playdough sensory activity.  Make natural playdough, go outside and collect pine cones, pine needles, etc and bring them back and make pictures by pressing the items into the playdough and letting it dry.

14.) Go to Calgary Central Library (downtown) to visit a fire truck! there is a full sized firetruck in there (Engine 23) stacked with books. On Fridays they have readings for children by local firefighters.

15.) Also downtown:  Visit the lovely Devonian gardens on the upper floor of the core shopping centre, which also has a playground.

16.)  IMHO, the best wave pool is Southland leisure centre (great baby area and toddler slides) and you can pay for 1 hour. They also have drop-in times for the Kinder room, active play and tots for $5.20 per child.

17.) Snowshoe in west bragg creek with your family!  (baby in backpack, toddler in sled or kids’snowshoes you can rent)  – get a wrap and hot chocolate at cinnamon spoon.

 

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Snowshoeing on New Years Day in West Bragg Creek with our 1.5 and 3 year old! (we plan on getting her some snowshoes!)

 

18.) Go for a walk and Make maple syrup taffy in the snow. Recipe here. 

19.)  Go to Plant in Inglewood and buy the jar of supplies to make your own terrarium – there is one they have for kids! Or you can pick your own plants, rocks, mini figurines (sweet little mushrooms and gnomes) for about $50 you’d get everything you need!  Great article on kids’ terrariums on CBC! 

20.) Fish Creek library has an incredible play area including a closed of area for babies, a stage with moving backdrops, costumes, reading forest and sensory toys for both toddlers and babies on the 2nd floor, it is worth a visit!  There seats for the adults to relax while the kids play!  It is across the parking lot from Southcentre mall.  The Calgary Public Library also has a rotating schedule of sing along, counting and stories  depending on which library in the city you go to.  http://events.calgarypubliclibrary.com/programs/online-registration

21.) If you would like to shop, Southcentre mall in the south has a beautiful mall & there is a prechool where adults can drop off their children while they shop:  http://greendoorschool.ca/  Or you can rent a police car or firetruck (one or two children capacity) with built-in smart screens to keep the kids entertained while you shop.  I recommend starting at Analog Coffee and also visiting Rocky Mountain soap company for amazing natural, toxin-free products produced locally in Canmore.  The lemongrass bubble bath and lavender bum / diaper spray  is a favourite in our household!

22.) Indoor Crafts: Put snow into a large tub, and have a “snow painting” activity, or pick up a snow painting kit from Canadian tire and go outside to create art (not the yellow snow kind!)

23.) Try out skiing or tubing at Canada Olympic Park, you can pay for certain amounts of time if you are not sure how your child will react to a.) skiing b.) cold.  The 2-hour preschool age package is $14.99, younger is free.  For equipment, 2 hour rentals for preschool age is $9.95. The foot pass is $9.99 for adults to use the magic carpet to get the little ones safely up the bunny hill if you’re daring enough to try skiing with them 🙂  Rentals are

The foot pass is $9.99 for adults to use the magic carpet to get the little ones safely up the bunny hill / assist them  if you’re daring enough to try skiing with them 🙂

If they tap out on the ski hill, there is the bobsled track nearby or indoor skating in the Winsport complex.

24.)  Buy some snow shovels for kids from the loonie store and some “pretend” gemstones  or other treasures, draw a treasure map, and bury them in the snow for the kids to find with a bucket. The little ones love dropping.  Search ” winter activities, toddler” on pinterest to get started with an insane list of ideas and create your own activities / inspo board.  Pinterest is amazing for parents. Here is my own Kids’ Activities Board on Pinterest.

25.) Pick up a free copy of calgary’s child magazine at most grocery stores or anywhere where free magazines are distributed http://www.calgaryschild.com/family-fun/1581-115-things-to-do-with-kids-in-and-around-calgary they have a great events listing and amazing lists of ideas for activities.

 

26.) Visit Gasoline Alley  at Heritage Park (especially if you have shiny car fans in your family) and the old tyme candy / toy stores in the central plaza, then lunch at the Selkirk grille.  Glenmore reservoir is also nearby, you can walk along the path there.

27.)  Grab lunch and watch planes take off from the YYC airport runway (there is a great viewing area at the end of the runway) – the Edward Laborde Airplane Watching Area 

28.)  If it is nice out, check out one of Calgary’s many great playgrounds, Calgary Playground review has an excellent list! 

29.)  Round up everybody and Go for Dim Sum – our favourite is the family friendly Central Grand Restaurant downtown in China town (kids will love the koi carp fish pond at the entrance where you can feed the fish.) Avenue magazine has a great article on dim sum op tions in Calgary and advice if you are new to the experience (and its delicious food) which is in a kid-friendly format of “little eats” and is bought to you via steaming bamboo pots on carts. Children can also choose their own desserts at the desert area.

30.)  Go to a loonie store, pick up little figurines (animals, etc.) and build a winter car race track (for the little guys) or a winter forest for the animals (get branches and stick them into the snow) – kids have fun scavenging for rocks, branches, etc.

Favourite Calgary bloggers or websites:

http://www.rockiesfamilyadventures.com/ Great outdoors activities ideas for families w/ young children and also reports on conditions from different areas.   Family adventures in the Canadian rockies is a facebook group worth joining with a great community happy to offer suggestions based on the area of the city you are in.

Calgary Playground Review http://calgaryplaygroundreview.com/ 

Great infographic on dressing babies for cold weather

Building a Business, Essays, Life Hacks, Lifestyle, Productivity, time management

Why you should reject the “OMG I AM SO BUSY” Busy Mom Mindset

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In my professional job at a Canadian University, I design and give seminars on a variety of topics that help students be successful at University.  It’s one one my favourite parts of the job and it has some selfish benefits – I get to learn and experiment with these principles in my own life before I share with clients.  I get to read books and research and then teach principles to others, that help me, too.

At this year’s class of 2020 induction the University brought in NYT best selling author, Psychologist & TED Talker extraordinaire Kelly McGonical speak to the class of 2020 on her new book, The Upside of Stress.

At its core, this amazing book is really about how to reframe stress and use the power of our own perspective and our own mindset, to reframe stress into a good thing. Chock-full of anecdotes and research, The Upside of Stress demonstrates the power of mind over body – and mind over life.

Those Books that Make a Difference

Often, the books that resonate with us the most, are the books that simply frame in English language, some kind of principle we’ve understood or known all along, but couldn’t fully frame. I think that’s why the book did so well.  The Upside of Stress hit home in so many ways. I only wish I had read it when I was in undergraduate studies myself.  It would have saved me so much self-imposed “I’m soooo busy!” drama.

I didn’t figure out my stress stuff until the age of 30, when I experienced really heavy stress.

In the spirit of this book, and the approach McGonigal takes on reframing stress, I wanted to talk about how we can re-interpret stress & the cult of “busy” in the journey of motherhood. We can’t change events or circumstances, but we can work on how we viewtalk about and decide to interpret things.

 

Mom 1 to Mom 2:  Hey…are you a member of the cult?

Mom 1:  wtf?

Mom 2:  The cult of busy of course! WE ARE SOOOO BUSY! (takes off chasing toddler)

 

Whenever I mention to people that I have two small children (toddler and 1.5 year old) the first thing they do is shake their heads and say “oh, that’s busy.”  I often don’t even mention that I have children because I don’t want to induce such worry!

Sometimes I get “oh my god, you must be so busy” with a shake of the head, other times, slightly more worringly, it is with genuine concern / resignation.  I catch myself thinking  “oh?” and sort of start to doubt myself, like I should be more stressed than I am.  Maybe I’m not working hard enough?  Am I not doing something right as a parent?  Because I feel actually ok? Am I being a horrible parent because I’m obviously taking time out of parenthood to work on some business goals and people don’t do that?  Oh yes, they creep in.  As much as I keep them out, they creep in when someone looks at me with an alarmed look on their face with the mention of two children under three.

The problem is, I kind of don’t want their perspective.

If bought into this whole “my life is so horribly busy and I work so hard and I am exhausted and omg” it would be a bit of a disaster.  I would have immersed myself in the cult of busy. I’d probably be on a really high SSRI dosage.  I’d be in counselling.  I’d be struggling to deal with the left curve balls that sometimes get thrown my way.

It’s a devious cult, this cult of “busy” and it is hard to emerge from because it takes over the way you see things.  It’s a mindset.

If my mindset is like this:  MY LIFE IS MAXED OUT, I AM SO BUSY AS A MOM HOLY SHIT, I definitely would not be giving myself the mental space for anything else to happen, ever.  Because I’d be red-lining on everything, all the time. I wouldn’t have done any of the things I’d done on mat leave, or started any businesses or projects.

It led me to wonder, how come everybody says “you must be so busy.”

Why?  There’s tons of influences. In coaching we call it societal discourse.  It’s the hum of conversation around a topic that seems to be widespread.

First, it might be a cultural thing.  There’s a sort of pride, achievement in saying how busy you are.  If you are busy you must be super productive and successful.  I must be super productive and successful.  Therefore I must be busy. That’s the underlying assumption that occurs out there in the world when you have a lot on the go.  The ego likes that.  Then it doubles down when you are a Mom, because we have this weird guilt thing where we feel like we have to justify our very existence with double the hard work, right?

Some people are genuinely maxed out with life, and that’s totally cool.  I’m not judging.  But I write this post to help others who want to “catch” themselves in the mindset and take the edge off of it, because I think a lot of opportunity opens up with just a shift in mindset.

Where else does this whole busy mom thing come from?

There’s movies about the harried, flustered Mum.  Commercials that want you to think you are busy because then you’ll need their product.  Capitalist society wants you to be busy and stressed, because then they have solutions for you for only $10.99.

Moms are always portrayed as stressed and frazzled, aren’t they?  Everywhere we go, everything we see.  And it’s kind of our fault.  We don’t look up from our phones to pay attention to a mom calmly playing with their kids in the park – we only notice the exceptions.  They’re more interesting.  The 5 minutes in the day where the kid has gone bat shit crazy, and is about to take down a shelf at the grocery aisle, with Mum valiantly trying to save the kid from himself.  But we don’t notice the quiet moments – not the other 1440 minutes where they are doing well and things are calm.

The exceptions become the norm, then media and society immerses us in that norm.

 

Because of reading books like McGonical’s – books from different people with different mindsets, who all experience the same things we do yet see them in a different way –  I discovered that there is more to it.  There are people out there who achieve amazing things as parents, and they think differently.

The key is if we want to be something, or do something, we need to study those who are successful at it, and look at their mindsets.  

We are not resigned to this fate of busy, harried, stressed out moms.  We can be busy, yes but we can be in control and cooly, calmly and pleasantly say no if we need to, or yes if it’s a priority. We can choose yes or no and make our lives as busy, or quiet, as we want to.

The luxury of choice also extends to our own minds.  We have the luxury of making a choice of whether to believe we are busy or not.  With two under three, I decided that I was not busy; I still had time.  And with that time, I could pursue goals and dreams and projects and priorities.

Sure, free time was compressed from 3 hours (luxurious evenings pre-children) to 1 hour (while children or napping, or while I am on lunch break at work.)  but I still had an hour free time each day in some form or another.  Free time is free time.  I sat down and looked at my week, and where the gaps of free time happened (6-7am, lunchtime at work, and 8-9:30pm) and decided what my most deeply held goals and values / priorities were. A crystal clear priority plan I still have on my iPhone notes when I need to remind myself what I want to say “YES” to, and as a source of strength when I have to say “NO” to things.

In this or that hour of free time, there went the goals and projects.  Writing a childrens’ book.  Running an Etsy store.  Reading and learning.  Finishing my coach training and launching a coaching business.  But they weren’t OMG JUST MORE SHIT TO DO.

These were all consciously chosen and pursued dreams and goals that I looked at as my idea of fun on free time.  I wanted to do these.  That’s just me. That’s what I define as enjoyable and rewarding.  Others may be Netflix or catching up on laundry, that’s okay too!  But do you tell yourself “AAAAGH!” or “COOL, IT WILL BE NICE TO SWITCH IT UP AND DO THIS INSTEAD.”

Is your approach an “ I HAVE TO” approach or a “I WANT TO” approach?

I don’t mean to be a jerk but I do mean to give a cold hard dose of reality with this post –  if you came back and said to me NO SERIOUSLY I HAVE NO FREE TIME I would debate that. I would want to see a week’s breakdown of your life, and I would ask you about your mindset.  I would ask you about what you said yes to, what you said no to. I’d ask you to put “yes and no” in the box according to what you said when that opportunity came up.

What qualifies in your life as free time?  What activities are you designating as “I have to” and  as “I want to.”

Let’s take this external event, I’ll show you an “I have to” and “I want to” mindset.

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Deciding to take the kids to the library.  Two different experiences.

Mum 1:  Agh I have to get them out of the house and this is my to do today.  It’s just one more thing on this massive list of things I am supposed to get done today. Work work work! Busy busy busy! I have to get this done!

Mum 2:  Ah awesome, with this hour I’m going to decide to take the kiddos over to the library, that’s a treat for us, a fun excursion and a break from the day’s routines. I want to do this !

SAME external life event for both moms.  Two TOTALLY different ways of perceiving it. No wonder when you come across people in the library everyone is in a totally different state of mind; look at how different their beliefs can be.

Mum 1 is living in the  “holy shit I’m so busy / stressed” narrative. Mum 1 feels that everything is outside of her external control and she’s just dragging herself along.  Mum 2 is living in a more in-control narrative that doesn’t see everything as obligations and duties.  Mum 2 is operating by choice.  They may both have busy lives and the same schedules, but they have different mindsets and ways of perceiving the situation.

What do you think Mum 1 and Mum 2’s lifestyles look like?  Do their thoughts serve them well?  Do their mindsets move them closer to goals they have?

 

 

When you wake up in the morning and you have a particularly big day of activities coming up – whether you work or stay at home, do you feel that anxious energy and think “I JUST WANT TO STAY IN BED OMG LIFE IS SO OVERWHELMING AND THIS IS JUST CRAZY”  Or do you feel that anxious energy and think “cool, this is a little tingle of excitement and anticipation getting me ready to execute a big day!”

The brain quite literally  changes its wiring and neural pathways to accommodate your thinking patterns.  Each time  you choose to think a certain way, you are either reinforcing the pathways present – or helping the brain to reshape itself and habitually think a different way.

If you start reading books by all of these cool women who have kids and have achieved awesome things, youll notice that most them tend to go through the exact same scenarios that we moms do – but they frame it differently.  They make the choice to think things, and form their brains in ways that will help them toward their goals. You as a mama know how quickly time passes, so think about what you want to achieve.  Whether you use it or not, time will pass.  You already know this better than anyone, as you sit with your baby and think “where did the time go?!”

If you want to join the cult of busy and the stress narrative, that’s your choice but ask if it serves you and gets you towards your goals.  There’s an alternative that will help you take on new things and grow.  You just have to choose it.

xo

 

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Extra reading *and viewing

 

Amazon link:  https://www.amazon.ca/Upside-Stress-Why-Good-You/dp/1583335617

McGonical’s online course through Stanford University http://online.stanford.edu/course/upside-stress

Kelly’s personal website http://kellymcgonigal.com/

 

Happiness, Lifestyle, Personal Development, The Projects

How to Have a Great Maternity Leave: Create a Vision Board on Pinterest – It May Change Your Life.

 

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Do you remember watching the Secret years ago, when it came out?  John Assaraf, one of the entrepreneurs talked about setting up a cork vision board and he’d pin magazine pictures, etc. to it.  Back in the 90s I had what was like the early predecessor of a pinterest board or vision board.  I had a black journal and in it I added pictures of Britney Spears, dream wedding rings, TONS of nail polish art and urban decay makeup swatches, my dream car, my wedding dress, all that usual teenage dream stuff.

Hold-the-vision

The strange thing is, I found it the other day and I was more than a bit taken aback by the photos of women I wanted to look like, and the engagement ring I had pinned all the way back then.  I have that wedding ring.  My husband chose it out independently.  My dream car in that book. I am driving it now.

At the time, when I added those magazine pictures at the age of 14 these were all just pipe dreams.  Yet, so many images from that book, I have in my life now.

This brings  me to today’s topic:  How Pinterest has been an absolute game changer for me in strategically and intentionally crafting my goals and lifestyle.

I started Pinterest about 3 years ago and have accumulated thousands of pins and hundreds of boards.  One of my most active ones and a regular practice to this day, is pinning images from the future that I would like, to a board I called “My Future Life.”

It is the most relaxing, enjoyable activity. I could have the worst day possible and aside from having a nice craft beer, lol, this is one of the single best tools to lighten my mood.  But, my pinterest habit has turned out to be more powerful than that.  My life is slowly becoming that board.  I am skeptical and I don’t like woo-woo. I shut down at the mention of feelings, emotions and heart chakras and dreams.  But there is most definitely something going on here.  So what is it?

Actively pinning images onto a vision board has profound effects in the brain, and your own awareness/energy flows.  The act of immersing yourself in visualizing a future life that excites you is good for the body, the mind, the emotions. It turns your attention to your goals and a place of deep motivation.

After an evening of pinning, imagining the future life you will have, it is implanted both in your conscious and subconscious. You can’t help but subconsciously and consciously make small decision that will get you closer to that vision.  I have one beautiful image of the hot tub at the  Willowstream Spa, up here in the castle of the Rocky Mountains – the Banff Springs Hotel.  It is VERY fancy, VERY expensive and something a bit outside of my lifestyle.  But, I pinned it to my board as a future goal, a future vision.  And I wrote under it “one day I will be doing my work from a laptop here with a glass of wine.”

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Pins from my future life 

 

 

I pinned that 3 years ago, and this past March, I found myself sitting in the hot tub at the Willowstream, sharing a day pass with a good friend and business mentor, having a business strategy summit.  The moment I realized it, an excited chill went down my spine.  This stuff works.

The beauty of that hot tub and spa never left me after I pinned to that board, and as I went along my in my day to day life it was there, sitting in my unconscious.  When an opportunity to go there came up (that required some shuffling of schedules) I didn’t even hesitate.  On the secret they talk about how events, people and things are attracted to you if you put the intention out there. Is it a coincidence of all people, my friend asked me to go to the Willowstream Spa with her to do some business coaching and strategizing?

The brain takes in a lot of data, both on the conscious and subconscious level.  It is estimated that it is crowded with more than 50,000 thoughts per day.  We are always thinking of random things we want to do , or see things that make us think “oh wow I want to do that!!” but they disappear just as quickly as the thought arrives, lost in the mass of brain activity. What if we took that thought, captured it on a pinterest board and came back to it once in a while, to keep it there, and present, floating on the surface?

 

Let yourself be absurd. Interior design. Exotic vacations. Laughing family winter pictures.  A hike that looks like it belongs on an outdoor magazine.  Pin it, and in the notes write down how it makes you feel, or something about that image.

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Underneath a hiking family I wrote “our best adventures will be outdoors” – my values and dreams wrapped into one image, and at that point my family was unborn. You can probably guess what we do these days.  I go back and review what I pinned and my weekends with the kids are anything but dull in the pursuit of these dreams.

So try it.  Pin it.  The activity of just pinning is so enjoyable, to let your mind dance among dream places, things and people.  And let your soul go to work on achieving it behind the scenes, because one day you will wake up and realize, holy shit.

I am here.