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Saturday, November 29, 2014

8 Ways to Give Presence AND Presents at Christmas

I wrote a blog a couple of years ago about giving your time and appreciation to those you love, work with, and do not know for Christmas - I'll be OM for Christmas.  I still agree with this sentiment.  I remind myself of it at Christmas and every occasion (I wrote about giving presence for Valentine's Day too - Presence for Presents).  Actually, this is a continuous effort in my life.

However, with so much emphasis on giving presence for Christmas, it almost seems a terrible thing to give presents!  Gift giving has almost become taboo.  It is suggested we give our time - yet we are so stretched for time, we sometimes want Christmas to go away.

My take on it is this:

Giving presents is wonderful.  People love to receive them and people love to give them.  When the purpose of a present is appreciation or a symbol of your love, isn't that a wonderful thing?

What I think takes away the spirit of Christmas is when presents become obligatory and take the place of presence.  You give presents because... just because you're supposed to.  Or when the actual present becomes more important than the meaning behind the giving.  Or when the present isn't appreciated because it's not what the person 'wanted' or 'asked for'.  And then... there is no love and attention exchanged in the process.

I love picking out the perfect gift for someone and seeing their face light up when they open it.  I also believe that giving someone your attention is the greatest gift you can give.  So here is what I try to do to keep it all in check... because I do love Christmas...
  1. When I feel like purchasing something for someone, I ask myself: Am I purchasing (or making) this present in appreciation for that person or because I want to give them joy?  If yes, purchase.  If no, reconsider.  If the presents feel obligatory, I reassess and sometimes I pass on the purchase if I realize I'm not buying it for the right reasons.  
  2. When I am giving someone a present, I make an effort to demonstrate my love and appreciation.  If it's going in the mail, I may write a note.  If it's being given in person, I try to plan a little time together.  If it's in the name of simple joy, I simply give.  For example, I am giving to a little boy this year who barely knows who I am.  But I know the simple act of opening a present is a joyous one for him since he spent several Christmases with very little.
  3. I create a reasonable budget.  I have gone overboard on Christmas in the past.  I've gotten caught up in the excitement and spent beyond my means.  What I've learned over the years is that a $5 gift is just as exciting and meaningful as a $500 gift... when the right sentiment is behind it.  So I try to decrease spending while increasing meaning.  It's a little challenge I give myself.  In fact, my husband and I have a little challenge each year to get the cheapest bestest Christmas gift.  One year I wrote him a song.  Another year he gave me a photo calendar with a little surprise experience in each month, for example yoga classes in January.  Last year, we fell down on our creativity and had all store bought presents, but I'm working on it this year:) 
  4. I don't overbook my time before and during the Christmas season.  Instead I have lots of open space in my 'schedule' to spend quality time with my loved ones.  I don't try to accept every invitation - unless I can, of course.  I spend my energy sharing beautiful moments with friends and family rather than trying to see everyone for a few minutes and not really get to have a meaningful conversation (which I have done in the past).  It's about quality, not quantity.  And my time is my present in many cases.
  5. I make a conscious effort to spend much of my budget on those in need and teach my children to do the same.  There was a time I did not have much money, so my giving in this area was a few items to the food bank.  But you can always give something - even your time.  I have a focus - single parents.  But I also give more generous tips at the coffee shops and bigger donations to the homeless on the streets.  I do this with my children.  My 3 1/2 year old has her first 'Christmas list' this year.  She asked for a toothbrush and raisins.  I then prompted her to ask for Santa to bring something to someone else.  She said, 'bring something to boys and girls.'  Ha!  This is my attempt to foster giving in my toddler.  My oldest has contributed to shoeboxes, Happy Tree presents (gifts for young children in need), the local food bank, and bags of necessities for women's shelters for years.  I have also made efforts to give money to people on the streets when my children are with me.  For me, doing these things means having less money to spend on Christmas stuff.... but it's also quite selfish.  I feel incredible doing it.  It gives me a rush.  I now see my 21 year old being the same way, and THAT is a great present.
  6. I have given up on trying to meet social etiquette requirements.  If I manage to pick up a bottle of wine to bring to the host/hostess of an event, fabulous.  If not, I am there.  I give me.  Fabulous, right? 
  7. I do not have any expectations.  Although I may put a lot of effort into getting the 'right' gift, it's not about the gift.  It's about the meaning behind the gift.  So, my practical side kicks in - return the gift if you don't like it.  You still enjoyed opening it and you still know I care.
  8. I make time by slowing down time.  My presence is the best gift I can give, but I cannot do that when my schedule is too jam packed.  When that happens, and I feel like my mind is spinning, I do tend to drop off the gift and barely say hello.  This just doesn't bode well with me.  So I do my best to fit in my meditation, mindfulness practices, and getting out in nature to reset my mind and focus on what I feel is really important.
Giving gifts is a good thing.  But it is not necessary.  It is also not necessary to give big.  Or to give to everyone.  As a grandma, you probably want to be fair to your grandchildren... I will be like that too. If you aren't happy to go purchase and give the present, maybe it's time to ask if the present has the right meaning behind it.

I am 100% in favour of giving presence for Christmas and every day, and I encourage it and continue to learn to do more of it myself.  But if you want to spend $1000 on an item for someone you love because you think this will give them joy... and you also are giving them your attention and love.... and you have the right budget for it... what's wrong with that?  

The key is to not forget the reason behind the gift and not forget to give what we can give no matter how much money we have - our attention.

<3

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Becoming a Mom... Again... Redefined

My girls
This post is long overdue.  When I returned to Canada in 2011 and shifted my blogging from Snippets From Singapore to Going Om, I wasn't quite sure what I would write about.  Several people were following me and enjoying my blogging and were excited to see what was next.  My Aunt told me I should write about becoming a mom... again.... after 40.  But I didn't.

Going Om became about my journey readjusting to life after returning to Canada, with a baby, without a job, and all the challenges and celebrations that life has brought over three years. It was about finding mindfulness in my life.  It was about getting healthy and well while chaos ensued around me.  It was about 'going om'.

But, for me, that was about being a mom... again... after 40... with all its ups and downs.

Because that's my life.  Or at least part of it.  And being a mom at any age with any number of children is more than just being a mom.  Us moms are more than moms.  We are friends and daughters and business owners and wives and yogis and runners and... and... and...

So I decided it was time to write about becoming a mom... again.... because my journey brought me to here.  And that, I believe, is something I had to accept.

I spoke at MoMondays in October 2013 about my experience of being a single mom (see a very short snippet of that here).  It was the beginning of releasing something I didn't know I was holding onto.

I had defined myself as a single mom for 20 years.  I WAS a single mom for 15 years, and then I wasn't.  I then had an awesome partner who shared in parenting.  And then I had another child.  And then I was married.  I had a whole family!  I wasn't a single mom anymore, and I didn't know how to not be one.  It was who I was for almost half of my life.

Over the past year, I have gone through a lot of wellness woes... if you've been following, you have read about a few of them.  A little while ago, I realized some of that was a result of my holding onto the definition of myself - a single mom.  I had an incredibly difficult time letting go of that version of myself because it was all I had.  All of my pride and success came from that.  I was good at it.  I managed it all so well for so long.  That 'fire in my belly' came from wanting the best for my child. And when I could no longer say I'm a single mom, I didn't know who I was.

I love my new life.  I love my husband and my toddler with all of my heart and soul.  I love my grown up daughter so much I could burst.  Amazingly, when I was pregnant on my youngest, I feared I would not have enough love to love her as much as I loved my now grown up child.  HA!  There is NEVER a lack of love.  Love can only grow.  There is always enough and then some.  Lesson number one.

I also feared I would not have time for my oldest's needs.  I would have a baby who is totally dependent on me and how on earth would I continue to devote my energy into my oldest??  Well, that didn't happen either.  First of all, I had a husband who also cared for my baby, my oldest, and me.  (I still am not used to it!)  I had to begin to allow him to do stuff.  Take care of things.  It was normal... it was his share of the work.  He calls it division of labour.  I call it awesome.  Second, my oldest was part of this baby's life - she is not a person separate from the family, and this new family thing can be pretty awesome.  She contributes and she receives.  (Maybe it's a little bit of birth control too:)

All wonderful.

Except that for a long time, I felt guilty about my husband doing things and my oldest daughter not getting 100% of my attention 100% of the time.  If my hubby got up in the night with the baby, I felt like I had fallen down on my job as a mother.  If he cooked supper... I had failed.  If he took care of getting snow tires on the car... yep... I was not worthy.  If my oldest got miffed about me not having the time to drive her to school, I was the worst mom in the world.  She was in university and we have a bus system.... yet, I was so accustomed to taking care of her every need that I didn't know how to let that go (I'm still working on that to be honest).

Crazy, hey?

But that is how it is when you define yourself by something.  I was successful in life because I was able to do it all alone (and quite well at the time).  I managed everything by myself, and was I ever proud of that!  And now I don't do it all alone.  My seemingly only success in life (oh, I know, there were many) is now something I am not successful at - because it doesn't exist.

It's not that I'm not still proud of being a wonderful single mom.  But I have had to go through a process of letting go of it.  I was hanging onto it for dear life... when it was taken away from me, I no longer had anything to be proud of.  I thought.

When I had that ah-ha moment that I was defining myself as being a single mom and I no longer was, I began to fully allow the new awesomeness into my life.  I laugh at my situation a lot - I mean, really... diapers... again.  I embrace having a toddler.  I have a renewed sense of child-like fun.  I am seeing the world through a child's eyes again.  I am actually enjoying bringing her to swimming and dance classes.... I thought I had done it, did it, got the t-shirt... but I'm actually loving it again.  I feared I wouldn't.  But once I embraced it all, instead of fearing it all, it all became so good.  So rich.  So meaningful.

And having a grown up child at the same time is 'da bomb'.

There are so many advantages to having raised a child before you have your next one... sure, yes, babysitting... but I don't expect that.  It's more about knowing that it's all going to be OK.  I don't fret about having the perfect birthday party or having the trendiest toys or the fact that she is not yet toilet trained.  I didn't really fret about that stuff for my oldest either, but I had an underlying worry that my way of parenting would mess her up.  Now, I don't really worry about that.  Because parents do mess up their children.  That's just the way it is.  No matter how hard we try not to, our parents have the greatest impact on us, and that is good... and it can also contribute to our humanly messed up ways - because parents are human too.

The first time around as a parent I used to say, "All you need is love."  And then I'd work really hard at making sure she knew she was loved and I'd worry that maybe something I said or did would have a negative impact on her future... so I'd work harder at being a perfect single mom.

Now, I know all you need is love.

<3

Thursday, November 13, 2014

And then I ate Smarties

This morning I woke before my 3-year old.  My husband, Terry, was just leaving for work so we said our lovely good-byes.  I stretched out of bed and lingered over to my yoga mat (it's permanently on my bedroom floor) and completed 10-15 minutes of mindful breathing, stretching, and sun salutations.  Ahhhh... it is going to be a productive and wonderful day.

My toddler woke happy, we read a book, I got her dressed, she didn't fuss over breakfast.  Like, really... this day was going so smoothly! It's because I went to bed early.  That makes all the difference.

My oldest came upstairs - her bedroom/living area is downstairs.  She seems happy as usual, gets breakfast, and then makes a comment about lunch.

Daughter: "I am going to revert back to high school lunches."
Me: "What do you mean?"
Daughter: "Well, I will make a sandwich and have fruit and a granola bar."
Me: thinking... why the granola bar?? What is good about that??  Are you going to make them yourself?  Or do I have to make them? "How is that different from now?"
Daughter: "Well, I often don't eat or end up eating out for lunch."
Me; "So you are going to make your lunch and take it to school with you?"
Daughter: "No."
Me: "So.... what's the difference?"
Daughter: "Oh, never mind.  It does not matter."
Me: thinking to myself.... I'm such a bad mom for not organizing a decent lunch for my daughter....

I think I snarled.

The morning progressed.  I had no extra diapers and the daycare was out of them.  That's OK.... I'll just give the daycare the ones from home and buy more.  My toddler wanted to watch Sesame Street - she was introduced to Sesame Street for the first time a couple of weeks ago when I brought her to the live show, and then she discovered it comes on Netflix!  We were controlling screen watching by only allowing Dora a couple of times a week - she hardly had any screen time before 2 years old.  We were so proud of this feat.... yet now, it seems, we are just giving in to the screen many days when the whining hits and we are too tired to distract her with silliness or games or getting supper ready and simply can't be in the playroom putting a puzzle together AND the kitchen cooking at once.

I finally managed to get my toddler ready to get out the door... with only one trip up the stairs post boots and coat because I forgot an extra pair of pants for daycare (sometimes those trips add up to three or four).  My 21-year old gave me an apology for her words earlier.  I think I snarled again... I was still feeling the affects of my crazy belief that I must be a bad mom.... seriously?  Cracked.  It is the one thing I KNOW I'm good at.

We got to the truck.  My Dad's truck.  We've had it since his surgery and Terry usually drives it so the oldest can have access to a car.  (We all have a vehicle for now and that really does make life easier, although having an efficient public transport system would be really nice.)  My car is in the garage getting snow tires.  Terry needed to drive his car because we forgot to switch the car seat from the car in the garage to his car... so he had to go to the garage on the way to work and get the car seat, so he could pick up the toddler at the end of the day.  Clear as mud.

I am putting my little one in the truck and I bump my head.  Hard.  The sting goes down to my neck and my 21-year old laughs so hard I thought she'd pee.  Under normal circumstances, I'd laugh too.  That really is the best response.  But I didn't.   I'm 5'2" and I hit my head on a truck.  How does that happen?  I almost swore.  I breathed.  Breathe in....... breathe out...... get the 3-year old strapped in and drive.  Just get through this little itty bitty bit of pain and move on.

I get in the driver's seat.  Ahhhh... we're in.  The toddler will make it to daycare before snacktime.

When I begin to drive, I realize the brakes aren't working great (safe but I wasn't used to this truck) and the steering seems to be off.  I can't talk.  I can't get the Dora book my toddler is screaming for.  I can't apologize to my oldest before she gets out of the car.  I'm just focused on not having an accident.

Wtf?  I must focus on driving safely... not NOT having an accident.  That is totally the wrong way of thinking.  Tina.  You must practice what you preach.  Drive safely.  Drive safely.

I got to daycare in time for snack.  Phew!

I got home (my office is in my house).  I forgot to pick up coffee.  My husband had left Halloween treats in the truck (I was unaware of this until I got into the truck).  So I brought a few in the house.

And then I ate Smarties.

Now I can carry on with my productive, wonderful day <3 And let my daughter know I will support her efforts to eat healthier.  Sheesh... all it took was Smarties.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Clean Up - How I Successfully Completed a 30-day Cleanse

I just finished a 30-day cleanse.  I have never been able to stick to a 'diet' nor did I ever want to.  And even when I began eating clean about a year and a half ago, I had to have a treat every day.  So going 30 days without sugar, processed food, wheat, alcohol, caffeine (my main addiction), and other foods seemed like an almost impossible task.

Well, I actually (miraculously) made it through the entire 30 days without one cheat.  I started drinking coffee on day 24, but that was the only cheat:)  I may have chosen one of the most difficult months to take this on with my Dad in the hospital, business picking up, Thanksgiving dinners, and several family functions with food... like I said, it was a miracle.

It wasn't always easy.  But it was far from difficult.  It actually wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be.  And I believe that is due to my mindset and methods of getting through.  Here are some of my insights that may help you if you decide to give this a try:

  1. Get assessed.  Don't assume you need a cleanse off the shelf because it worked for your friend.  Our bodies are unique to us and a professional can help you identify the right cleanse for you and then guide us through the process. Can you imagine if you completed a cleanse only to find out you needed to do a different one?!  Sweet lord, I'd cry for sure.  I recommend meeting with a Naturotherapist or Naturopath for an assessment.  Some great ones in St. John's, NL are Deanne Dietz of The Healthy Root, Dr. Laura Nurse, Dr. Tanya O'Brien, or Dr. Eddi Boyd.  All of these wonderful women are amazing at what they do.  Find the one that suits you.
  2. Decide on a few 'go to' foods.  My biggest go to foods were brown rice cakes with almond butter, roasted veggies, boiled eggs, and bananas.  I roasted a pot of root veggies every Sunday and ate them for snacks or a quick lunch throughout the week.  I brought brown rice cakes with almond butter everywhere I went.  I boiled 4-6 eggs at some point throughout the week so they were there to grab and eat.  It's true, I wanted a little more variety, but when I had these easy 'go to' snacks and lunches, I wasn't forced to have to eat for convenience. 
  3. Eat lots.  I wasn't hungry.  The point of a cleanse is not to be hungry.  It is to clean out toxins in your body.  My cleanse allowed for almost all 'clean' foods.  I admit that it was easier for me since I had already been practicing eating clean.  However, there is no need to do anything fancy or have any fancy ingredients.  If I am hungry, I cannot think.  I find it difficult to make healthy decisions.  So I was careful to eat my meals and eat lots... and I did not skip a snack if I felt like having it.  I ate a healthy snack if I even had a thought that I might crave chocolate later.  And if I was still craving, I ate another allowable snack.  
  4. Understand your 'why'.  Like anything, if you don't know the reason you are doing something, it is pretty hard to stick to it.  My reasons were firm.  I want my life back.  I want to be able to be physically active again.  I want to have the energy to build my business.  I want to be actively involved in my young daughter's life and not watch it from the sidelines.  I want my passion back (it was there but when you are too tired and not feeling well, it wanes).  I want to have the energy and wellness to be involved in giving back to my community.  These things aren't happening when I'm not well.  And I really want this life because it's what drives my happiness.
  5. Don't try to change all habits at once.  I am a night-time snacker.  So instead of trying to not snack at night, I replaced my snack with an allowable food.  I learned this one from my good friend and colleague, Christa Steeves of Well Being Coaching.  At first, I ate brown rice cakes with almond butter every night.  Then I ate a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries each night.  And the last week or so, I ate a fruit smoothie with strawberries, mango, and banana or a beet, pear, and ginger smoothie.  The smoothies were great because they took some time to finish... almost as long as eating a bag of chips.
  6. Experiment.  Well.... if you are following me on Facebook, you probably know that I burnt supper five times over the past month!  And I ruined a few recipes in other ways too.  But it was all fun and I now have more knowledge about using ingredients, such as almond flour, that I hadn't used before.  I didn't try something new every day... but knowing that I could have a muffin if it had the right ingredients in it motivated me to bake them!  
  7. Choose to be that person.  My wonderful husband reminds me of this.  I am that person who eats healthy.  It's a choice.  Remembering that helps.
  8. Treat yourself.  A treat when you are on a cleanse is not the same as a treat when you are not on a cleanse.  Typically, a piece of dark chocolate every day is my treat.  However, that was a no-no on the cleanse.  My food treats throughout the cleanse were really the new muffin recipes with allowable ingredients.  Yesterday, though, on my final day of my cleanse, I went to one of the healthiest restaurants in town, Eat Clean Restaurant and Grill.  I had a wonderful conversation with Megan, who was incredibly helpful and knowledgeable about a cleanse.  She helped me choose a meal that was allowable!  And it was delicious.  Eating out is pretty much not an option when you're on a cleanse, but if you can find a restaurant that has even one item on its menu, you can go there and eat that while on your 30 day cleanse and still socialize.
  9. Don't feel bad about feeling bad.  I talk about this in a lot of my training and coaching.  I was able to get through the 30 days without cheating.  Had I cheated, I would have had to begin from the first day.  That was a motivator for me.  However, this time last year, I'm not sure I would have succeeded the first time around.  And that's OK.  Feeling bad about messing up doesn't get us anywhere.  If you don't pull up your socks and start over, you will be that far behind again.  So mess up if you must.  And then get back on the train.  Every day is an opportunity to begin new. 
  10. Share.  When you share what you're up to, you create a bit of accountability for yourself.  You also can celebrate with others when it's over.  And usually support comes along with your sharing.  I didn't do this with anyone, but I didn't keep it a secret.  And I shared many of my mishaps (burnt suppers) with Facebook friends.  It helped to keep it real.
I am totally happy I finished the cleanse.  For me, it got me back on track with my eating habits... but more than that, my headaches have decreased, my digestion has improved, and I have higher levels of energy and more focus to live my life and do my work.  

And my journey continues...

<3 


Friday, October 17, 2014

Why I Started Living Mindfully

Some may consider that mindful living is quiet and calm... making perfect decisions and being happy and content with everything in life... having everything in order and being in full integrity... being there for everyone every time for everything... and never being in conflict with self or others.  Well... it's not about being perfect... at all.

My life is anything but quiet, and chaos surrounds me just as much as anyone else; I do not make perfect decisions all the time - in fact, I mess up a lot; I'm a pretty happy camper, but I definitely experience the whole range of human emotions; I try to 'be there' for all of my friends and family, but the truth is, I am not always; and I definitely do not have everything in order, nor am I never in conflict with myself or others.  However, I have learned how to have a sense of calm in the midst of the noise.  I have learned to accept my imperfections as being human - sometimes it takes a little extra work (laughing at myself helps:).  I have learned that my mistakes make me stronger.  I have learned that, although I don't have it all together all the time, I can still be happy and let things roll.

Five years ago, I sat in a seat across from a bankruptcy counsellor.  My business had failed and I was terribly in debt since I had personally guaranteed many of my business loans.  I had a business partner who was not legally my partner, and he walked free, while I bared the burden of creditors calling and negotiating in order to manage the debt without ruining my daughter's and my lives.

I was a workaholic.  I was a single mom for 15 years and my life was pretty much fully dedicated to being a mom and working.  I had a full-time job with a team of seven, for which I typically punched a 60-70 hour week and traveled about once a month, and I had a business on the side with about six employees and a partner who was only a partner in title and not by law.  

Amazingly, I missed only one of my daughter's events, and she was heavily involved in extracurricular activities.  Somehow I managed to be that mom who did it all (yes, I even was the mom that brought Halloween fruit trays to school and volunteered backstage at dance concerts). I was also that highly engaged employee and business owner.  I sat on numerous committees and boards and somehow also got all of my work done.  If I had a few spare minutes, I worked.  I worked late into the night.  I read and responded to emails from bed before rising.  I was so passionate about my work that I even became involved in a workplace conflict.  It was handled mindfully, but the point is, it happened.  

The moment of knowing something had to change really came when I had some sort of attack and my friend thought it was possible a stroke.  I'd been experiencing heart palpitations and dizziness for months.  My boyfriend thought I was suppressing stress because I never let it show and people perceived me to be calm and together even though I had a load of s**t going on.  I thought I was fine.  I was highly productive and a good mom.  I did yoga and ran and generally took care of my health (it was inconsistent of course).  I knew all about how important the mind is for wellness.  Ha!

A stress test showed that I was physically fine.  But I knew I had to change my life.

I sold my house and paid off almost all of my bills with the profits.  It was bittersweet since buying a house for my daughter was a huge accomplishment for me when it happened.  I'd struggled financially and had to live with my parents in my 30s.  The house was a symbol of being able to provide for my daughter and selling it to pay off business debt seemed like a huge failure.  I had to quickly let go of that attachment if I wanted to progress in life.  I will be forever grateful for my boyfriend, who later became my husband, for his incredible support, and for my Dad, who gave me financial advice that was worth more than any advice I’ve ever received.  He saved me financially.  They both saved me.  Period.  It was a long journey, but it gave me a lot of insight.

Once the house and almost all of its contents were gone (I gave almost everything away), a fresh start was in order.

I packed a few suitcases and hopped on a plane to Singapore.  Well, it wasn’t exactly like that, but off to Singapore to begin a new chapter we went - my daughter, my boyfriend, and me... six suitcases, three laptops, and a guitar (I think you could write a song about that!).

Upon arrival, a whirlwind ensued.  There was school, and transportation, and a place to live, and furniture, and jobs, and crossing the street (they drive on the other side of the road there), and food, and, and, and.... to figure out.  It was super exciting.  It took a month to kinda sorta settle in.  Then I crashed.

For the first time in all those years, I felt like I couldn't think.  I couldn't get off my *arse* to get things done.  I couldn't find a job (I applied for hundreds), and I wondered if I could even be successful in a job.  I began to doubt myself, feel like a failure, and wonder if I had anything to offer to anybody.  I was experiencing culture shock, but it was much more than that. 

I was in 'burn-out'.  

It finally caught up to me.  And I had all the signs... exhaustion, unable to solve problems, unable to be creative, disinterested in things I used to be interested in, withdrawl, and also cynicism.  I was always that person who saw the positive in situations... and now I was that person who was stuck.  

I didn't like it.  I knew better.  I practiced meditation and yoga... how could I be this way?

Well, that's when I began to truly learn about mindfulness.  It took a long time, but I learned to be OK with whatever I am feeling.  Beating myself up for feeling bad made me feel bad for longer.  When I began to accept that I felt like crap, and I took care of myself by resting and reading and taking time to just 'be' and not feel guilty for that (it was sooooooo hard!), I slowly healed.

One thing at a time changed.  It did not happen overnight.  The first thing to take care of, though, was my mind.  I had to stop feeling guilty for not being a workaholic and not having it all together and not being perfect (perceived) and not being there for everyone all the time.  And for the first time in my adult life, I had to depend on someone else to help me get through my days and weeks - my now husband.  (He rocks:)

As a fiercely independent career woman and single mom, I had to completely shift who I was (who I 'thought' I was) into a woman who needed someone else to help with parenting, paying bills, and figuring out how to open a bank account.  It landed heavy and took a long time to shift.  

With mind shifting, though, I have ALMOST figured it out.  I am almost to the point of interdependence.  I now have a 3-year old and a 20-year old, and my husband takes on parenting and taking care of the house, etc. 50%.  It still amazes me.

And one thing at a time changed.  I began to think of my life differently.  I began to choose how I treated the environment differently (although I was not too bad in the past).  I began to cultivate an interest in true health and wellness for myself, my family, and the world around me.  I began to choose to meditate each day, more consistently than in the past.  I began to choose who I spend time with more.  I began to create my own life on my own terms, but with compassion and respect for the people in it... and that is on my own terms because that is what I want.

I still fall down a lot.  I still feel the affects of burn-out four years later!  But I am aware of it.  I see the signs.  And I take the pauses needed to shift my mind.  So that I can live my life in awareness.

I smile at people more.  I interact with people at a deeper level.  I hug more.  I send my love more.  I speak my mind more.  I catch myself in judgement and respect more.  I walk to the beat of my own drum more.  I reach out to people for help more.  And I'm far from perfect.  I also still judge and frown and disconnect and put up walls.  But I become aware of it and shift back to the way I truly want to be.  

Mindful living is not about being perfect.  It is not about not working hard.  It is not about being in mediation all day long.  It is not about being 'pollyanna'.  It is not about growing your own vegetables and cattle and always eating from the earth.  It is not about always feeling in harmony with the world and never experiencing the darkness of life.  It is about being and accepting where you are, having respect for yourself, others, and the world around you, and being aware of and cultivating the true you.  You can still work 60 hours a week.  You can still be super mom.  You can still choose to not have a vegetable garden.  But you are in the moment.  You are living in respect of yourself and others.  Your life may be 'busy', but you choose how to fill it.  Living in respect of yourself and others, then, has the spin-off effect of wellness... often complimented with mindful eating, mindful relationships, mindful conversations, mindful activities... and a whole lotta love <3

As they say in the mindfulness community... it is simple... but not easy.

Namaste
<3 

Friday, October 3, 2014

O-Me-Ga!

Over a year ago, I was getting ready for my big trip to the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY for my Search Inside Yourself mindfulness-based emotional intelligence training.  It was being facilitated by Google's 'jolly good fellow' Chade-Meng Tan and co-founder of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society in the U.S., Mirabai Bush.  Needless to say, I was excited.

My flight was supposed to leave on a Friday morning and I had train tickets booked from NYC to Rhinebeck.  I would arrive just in time for the Friday evening session.


Well, I live in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.  My flight was delayed.

At 9 or 10 pm the flight finally left and I was on my way.  I'd miss the Friday night session, obviously.  I felt a little disappointed, but I'd been practicing mindfulness for years by then and I'd managed it all with ease.  I could not take the train, so I had booked an expensive taxi for the two hour drive to Rhinebeck in the middle of the night.

The taxi driver was falling asleep I am sure... and we swerved all over the road.  But, I was in a little bubble of happy because I was finally fulfilling a 15 or 20 year dream to visit the Omega Institute. Nothing could take me out of my bliss.

I arrived at around 3 a.m.  When I stepped out of the taxi to pick up my key (on a bulletin board) to my tiny room, O-Me-Ga!  The silence in the air brought joy to my soul.  I could have stayed in that moment forever.

The driver was nervous to let me walk up the pitch black path to my room, which was about a 5 minute walk in what felt like wilderness.  I didn't have a nervous bone in my body.  We said our good-byes and I turned on my headlamp, swung my small pack on my back and began walking as mindfully as possible so I did not miss a moment.  I felt like I'd come home.

It's a little difficult to articulate the next two days.  It was filled with beauty.  I meditated in the amazing meditation centre, I meditated with about 100 people for 2 hours one night, I roamed the beautiful gardens, I ate organic foods from the centre's garden, I received a massage with enlightened conversation, I met powerful women from all over the world because there was a Women's Leadership Conference on at the same time, I got a glimpse of Brene Brown, and... the best of all... I learned about mindfulness and emotional intelligence from the masters.

Chade-Meng Tan and me

Mirabai Bush and me

It's a year later, and I'm just writing about it.  Maybe I had to let it sink in.  Or maybe it's time for another experience like that one.  I was so completely present and in a state of bliss the entire weekend.

Or maybe I had a fear and decided to bury it.... us humans tend to do that.

We all dream of something.  My dream is to have that kind of centre right here where I live.  I've dreamt of it for so long that I don't know when it started.  But when I visited the Omega Institute, I knew I was in my dream... just not in the right location.

Every experience leads us into our future.  It may be a year after my experience, but I had to go through all that I did this year to take the next step.  More steps will follow.  That's how dreams happen.




Friday, September 19, 2014

An Imperfect Lunatic on Getting Through Stress

The past few posts have been kind of serious. However, I laugh a lot and I try to bring laughter and lightness into my life daily.  That said, I also take the serious sh*t seriously.

Last month, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. It was a few days after I posted my last post about losing my brother.  And THAT was about a week after my husband found out his contract was ending and he had to find a new job.  Oh yes, and I received two pieces of hate mail in one week.  And... business growth is s-l-o-w... oh, and, I received news that an investment I made in 2006 was unaccepted as a tax 'write-off' and now I owe thousands of dollars and need to begin payment immediately.  Oh right... and my pain has increased and my back went completely out.  Needless to say, I was working hard at managing my emotions and being 'in' my life!

Ten years ago, the last month would have knocked me on my arse.  I won't say I didn't shed a few tears, communicate irrationally with my husband, and eat too much of what is not good for me. BUT, I did feel better than I would have earlier in my life.  And I am living through it instead of pushing it away.

Now, I have had high levels of stress in my life for extended periods of time in the past (my business failing and me sitting in the bankruptcy chair comes to mind).  And I handled those situations OK. Well... if I had to choose fight, flight, or freeze... I was well practiced at flight... but I did OK. However, this time, I am doing better.

And that is what growth is about.  Progress.  Not perfection.

So I thought I'd share some of my lessons and ways to get through it... and add a little humour... because in real life, that's often what I do.
  1. Always, always, always laugh after an argument with your spouse/partner.  We are all growing and we are all imperfect.  If you can't laugh at your imperfections with your spouse, who can you do it with??  At the minimum you can have better sex when you have a few endorphins running through your body.  Oh, alright.... these high stress times lower the libido and if you don't want to have sex, that is OK.  Just don't forget it all together!  Because it keeps you connected.  So... laugh after an argument so you have a higher possibility of having more sex. Or something like that.  As I have been saying since I was 10 years old (I have no idea where I got the information at 10 years old) - Laugh.  It releases endorphins.
  2. When your adult child catches you not listening to what they are saying, apologize and offer to bring them for ice cream and take selfies of you and her/him being foolish.  And allow them to make fun of you for your inability to have a normal mother-daughter/son conversation.  Orrrr... just stare at them while they are talking even if the voice sounds far away and you don't really hear them... at least if you are looking at them they think you are listening.  (Of course, when you come back to being present, make sure you really do listen - it really is that important... but you are also allowed to be human.)
  3. When supper burns or you just didn't get to making it at all... boil eggs and eat raw veggies and hummus... even if it's your third time doing it that week.  Then have a cookie.  
  4. When you need to cry, cry.  And cry vigorously.  Seriously.  It gets it all out there like a crazy lunatic.  Because you are.  Try to do this in private.... and if you find yourself crying uncontrollably often, check in with yourself to see if you are truly losing it (in which case help may be required) or you are just a temporary, yet passionate, lunatic (in which case help may still be required.. but maybe it's just a b*tch session - followed by laughing - with a friend or maybe it's a counsellor... just be open to all).
  5. When your toddler or young child is not acting as angelically as they usually do... because, well, you probably weren't paying full attention to them... do something silly.  Be completely, outrageously silly.  They laugh.  You laugh.  All is well in the world.  You do not have to be super mom to be loving mom.  Just laugh, be silly, and give them lots of squeezes.  They won't remember that you forgot to wash their face when you went to the park even though it looked like a martian from the avocado from supper.  They won't even notice all the other parents staring, so you're good.
  6. Eat chips.  Or chocolate.  Or cake.  And enjoy it.  IF. YOU. MUST.  This is where I did not do so well.  I ate chips several times a week!  So I started telling everyone I was addicted to chips and it became a bit of a joke in our household.  And eventually, it started to subside.  I believe it is because I stopped beating myself up about it.  So eat chips if you must.  But remember that there are consequences to your actions.  Remain light and keep trying to replace chips with something healthier... but don't beat yourself up about it.
  7. Swear.  Well, only if you want to.  Just let it out somehow.  We live in a world in which most people try to be a certain way because that's how they believe they should be.  It's funny how when you are at your lowest moments (not that the last month was one of my lowest moments.. far from it!) you realize that you need to break free from society's 'rules'.  Anyway... swear.  Or do something perceived as inappropriate.... like dancing in the streets (which I also did)... not stripping in public, though... that may be perceived as a show and if you're going to have a show, you may as well charge a fee and get paid.  No seriously, don't strip.
  8. I would like to say move your body.  However, honestly, I was a sloth for much of the time I've been managing the stress.  Yes, I walked and did yoga and went outside to meditate - although Jedi Mind Tricks helped with even that and it was much less frequent than the norm.  So, I think the lesson is to move when you feel like moving and don't feel bad if you don't move.  Be where you are today and start again tomorrow.  That's the key.  Start again tomorrow.  
  9. Do not do the Facebook thing.  Holy moly.  The absolute worst time to hang out on Facebook is when you feel like crap.  Well... in my experience.  Facebook is an amazing tool for sharing information, learning, keeping in touch, and even inspiration.  However, when we feel low, we are more vulnerable and can begin to compare ourselves to what we are perceiving others' lives to be like... and if we get to an irrational state of mind when our emotions are heightened and not managed well, we may very well begin to think that everyone around us is living perfect lives while we are struggling to get through a day without losing it.  So, live your own life.  Get off Facebook.  Unless you can go there and truly not feel bad.
  10. Meditate.  Breathe.  Be.  There are many days when this is easy for me.  I've been doing it for so long and I even teach it and I continue to learn it with more depth.  However... sweet lord, it can be so difficult to get a 15 minute meditation in!  Where does the time go?  Well.... of course, I KNOW it slows when I slow.  And I KNOW I feel fantastic when I meditate.  But... well.... I'm an imperfect lunatic.  So, even after years of practice, I still have days when all I get in is a few deep breaths.  And that is OK.  Just do it when you remember to do it... as much as you can.  And the breaths that you take to calm down when your toddler is screaming, your phone is ringing, your husband is asking what vegetable to cut up next, and your oldest is trying to tell you about why you can or cannot walk into the same stream twice (philosophy 101 apparently) while you are helping hubby cook and also clearing out the dishwasher.. yeah, those breaths count.
My main message, I guess, is to enjoy your progress, whatever that may look like, and enjoy your imperfections too.  Because the stressors won't stop... but you can manage your life through them as a peaceful lunatic rather than all out lunatic.

<3 




Friday, August 1, 2014

Dealing with Loss

About a year and a half ago, my brother and I shared three short sentences that broke our relationship - now, I've lost him.

There is a big, huge story to go along with that sentence, but the details aren't important.  The point is, you can lose someone even when they are still here.  My whole family has lost someone... yet he lives 20 minutes away.

When loved ones pass away, there is a mourning period.  It lasts a long time, but it is accepted in society.  It is difficult and loved ones never forget.  But there is something in place to facilitate the healing.  There is nothing comparable to the loss from death... but there are other kinds of losses.  When a couple decides to divorce, there is no real system for mourning the loss, although, friends and family may drink more frequently with you... but I digress:)  When you lose a sibling's 'sibling-ness' (I know that is not a word but how else do you describe it?), there is no system to mourn... and there is no 'proper' way to even let it be known that this is happening.

Blogging probably isn't the best way either.  But I have a message to share.

I still love my brother very much.  He is a wonderful person and deserves love and happiness. Thankfully, he is still here on this earth and I can continue to hope that the relationship will heal and he will want that at some point too.  That makes it much, much easier than death.  But it's still loss.

One of the things I am thankful for is mindfulness.  Although I knew this already.... I have truly learned that I need to accept that I cannot control others' decisions or behaviours.  I can control my response to them.  For a long time, I tried hard to 'fix' things.  I cried every time my efforts were in vain.  I took all the blame for everything and accepted all the anger sent to me... and now looking back, I realize I was putting way too much on myself.  My heart broke a little more almost every day.  I apologized over and over for my words and any hurt I caused - without any reciprocation of accepting my apology.  And I continued to be the only person trying to fix the relationship.  I was very unkind to myself and beat myself up daily.

Until one day.

The moment of truth came at Christmas.  In my history, that was a time for family to express their love even more than other times throughout the year.  It was typically a fun, silly, loving time.  I believe I grasped onto the idea that things would get better during Christmas because it is that kind of time.  But that didn't happen.  Instead, I realized I had no control and was trying to control.  And I was not being compassionate to myself.  I was trying to be compassionate to others involved.... but without that compassion for myself, the compassion for others was not quite there.

And I began to let go.

I stopped trying to fix it.  I began a journey of accepting that things are the way they are and there is absolutely nothing I can do to change someone's mind or help them if they don't want to be helped... and who am I to believe they need help anyway?  If he is happy and healthy, then that's all that matters, right?  And if he is not, it is not my responsibility to fix it or change it.  It's not even my responsibility to keep trying to have a relationship if he continues to push me away.

This journey is not easy.  I've lost the person that grew up with me.  I was the first person he confided in about his divorce.  His brain tumour.  His decision to move away to Alberta when he was 20 years old.  He slept on the floor by my bed when I cried all night because my first love broke my heart.  We always had each other's backs.  No matter what.

And now we don't.

So accepting that I have to let go of my clinging to wanting a relationship with my brother is not easy.  However, I've come closer to accepting it... and now I'm working on letting go of the need to have what I think I need in order to be happy.

He is my brother.  He is on this earth.  I send him and his family love every day.  It's true... he is physically in the world.  But this is loss.  When you lose something, it is not in your life anymore.  And trying to make that person or thing be in your life when you don't have control over it being in your life is simply suffering.

I wish for love and happiness and peace for my brother.  I also wish it for me.  And I live my life that way.  It is our responsibility to take care of ourselves.  I am here with open arms if he ever needs me or wants me.  But I live my own life fully and happily... and I have a lot of people around me that love me and whom I love.  I put my energy into that.  And I do what I can to show compassion for my brother and realize that he has his perception of things that I can't understand unless he decides to share.  Right now, that's all I know how to do.

It doesn't mean I don't hope for things to change.

We are very lucky to still have hope.  My hope is that my brother changes his mind on needing or wanting his family before we no longer have hope.  Because hope is gone once one of the people involved is gone.

So I will continue to be love.  Send love.  Hope for love.  Every time anger, sadness, defeat, or hurt rises, I sit through the feeling and allow it to pass.  Then I conjure up compassion and love.  For me.  For him.  For his family.  For our family.  And I sit in that before carrying on with my day.

And that's how I'm dealing with loss.


Friday, May 9, 2014

The Mindful Mom

The most important, rewarding, and enjoyable role in my life is being a Mom.  I think most Moms would agree with that statement.

When my oldest was 10 months old, I became a single mom.  I was 24 years old and I wasn't finished my education.  I was scared to death, but I knew I had love to give to and love to receive from my child.  I devoted my life to my daughter over the next 15 years.  Yes, I remained 'single', although I did date sometimes and even had a few 'relationships' - but no one was aligned enough with me to commit to.  I finished my education and my career developed nicely - but I missed only one of my daughter's events in that whole time.  Like I said, I was devoted to her... in a mindful way.  We have an amazing relationship and I have no regrets.

When she was 15 years old, I met my husband.  Two years later I had another baby girl.  I was 40 and my oldest was 17.  When my oldest was a baby I always said I'd have my children raised when I was in my early 40s and my friends would still be raising theirs.  THEN I'd be able to take care of me.  Ha!

Well, the joke was on me.  You see, being mindful does not mean do not take care of your own needs.  Being a devoted Mom does not mean letting yourself come last all the time.  How can you possibly be fully devoted to your children if you don't take care of yourself?  We are role models and our children will learn our behaviours.  And we certainly want our children to take care of themselves.

I wasn't all that bad... I mean, for the most part, I exercised and ate well and had a healthy mind.  But I didn't do things I enjoyed, I rarely took time just for me, and I VERY rarely spent money on myself unless it was an absolute necessity.  One time, one of my daughter's friends asked me why I wore the same pair of shoes every day.  Of course, the reason was because I wouldn't spend money on another pair of shoes for me because I spent it on another pair of shoes (or dance class or swim goggles...) for my daughter (if I had it).  And I told her it was because I loved my shoes and wanted to wear them every day.  To be honest, I still struggle with spending money on myself.

Since my youngest was born, I've struggled with the balance of being that 'devoted' Mom and taking care of myself - doing the things I love to do.  I see how wise and mindful my oldest daughter is and I want my youngest to be like that too.  I have such an incredible relationship with my oldest daughter and I want to have that closeness with my youngest too.

And I will.  Because I continue to work on this thing called mindfulness... being in the moment on purpose without judgement.

My life is different now.  I've grown.  I know more... well, I know different things.  My children are not meant to be the same.  They are different people with different lessons to learn and I'm here to guide them as best as I can at this moment.

To me, being a mindful Mom means being here now with my kids, making decisions that make sense in this moment, loving them unconditionally, accepting them unconditionally, not judging their decisions as good or bad, and... taking care of me while I'm at it.  Twenty years ago, that last one wasn't on my list.  Now it is.  So in this moment, that's what I'm working on.

The most important, rewarding, and enjoyable role in my life is being a Mom.  And I like shoes and I think I'll buy a pair for myself for Mother's Day.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there!


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Don't Judge Me

"Don't judge me," says me.

When we speak of judgement, many think of judging others.  And that is part of it.  However, we also judge ourselves.  Alllll the time!!!  Being mindful means being purposefully present without judgement.  That means without judgement of your self too.

With my on-going saga of health issues.... inflammation, low energy, headaches, and sometimes just a feeling I can't describe but that I feel like a dump truck ran over me, but I have no broken bones and no life-threatening illnesses... I continuously tell myself I should be able to be the way I used to be.  I eat relatively well, I meditate (although I'm working on getting more of that in), and I used to be highly active (that has slowed as this state I'd rather not call 'unhealthy' began).  So... what's a girl to do now that physical activity has slowed to almost nothing and she keeps falling off the clean eating train?  Judge herself, of course!  And continue to eat chocolate.

I'm taking steps towards better health.  I've been getting laser treatment for inflammation and yesterday I got my Live Blood Analysis done - it only took me a year to book my appointment!  Turns out I have a parasite, likely from traveling south of the border (most people do), and several other things I need to clear up and check out.  

As I listened to my blood analyst, a wonderful lady and friend named Lesley Breen, tell me all the good (there is lots of good) and all the not so good about myself (blood tells an amazing story of you), I felt myself falling into that place... the one that beats us up.  "Why didn't you take care of this earlier?"  "How could you let this happen?"  "You know better." Thankfully, I have been practicing mindfulness for several years now, and I am aware of those judgmental thoughts that can spiral into ruination.  And I heard myself then saying, "Don't judge me."  And then I heard my analyst say, "You're doing something right."  Which I wouldn't have heard if I kept going down the dark path of judgement.

I won.  Today, I'm happy to say I have taken another step towards my health.  I did what I did in the past - and it's pretty good really.  Some things I had no idea impacted me - like heart stress when I was around 12 years old (could possibly be from to being bullied!).  Some were completely conscious, knowing how unhealthy they were - yeah.... the big golden 'M' comes to mind... and the late nights.... and the judgmental thoughts (the worst of the three).  But, I caught myself and I'm taking steps and I HAVE done good things.  My red blood cells are 'beautiful', so says my live blood cell analyst.  Whatever is happening to me is something that was going to happen... I've been triggered... it's happening... it's not bad or good.... and I'm taking care of it.

If you want to be healthy, happy, and live a beautiful life... you take the ups and the downs as simply... life.  Healthy, happy, and beautiful happens during the not-so-good times too... if you don't judge yourself.

Be mindful my friends.
Namaste


Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Journey of Acceptance

I have not written in a while.  A break was good.  I have been dealing with some health issues and I didn't want to accept it.

Being on a mindful journey and being involved in an amazing local community of positive thinkers and thought leaders, I did not want to be 'sick' or 'unhealthy' or 'unwell'.  Being in that state must mean my mind is taking over me.  Uttering these words would mean imprinting negative pathways into my brain, hence make me more sick, unhealthy, or unwell.  I had to pick it up and be well.  I was using mindfulness as a technique and approach for others to have better work environments and lives.  I had to practice what I preach!

However, I wasn't practicing what I was preaching.  Being mindful means accepting what is.  When you do not accept, you could be in denial or squishing your feelings down so they weigh heavy on you, and eventually can really make you sick.  I was in denial for quite some time and this actually worked kinda sorta.  And then I began to feel worse, and I started squishing it all down as if it would just go away if I thought more positively about it.  I constantly beat myself up when I was not able to 'be' the way I once was.  I screamed inside:

"I'm helping others be well... how can I NOT be well.  I MUST be well.  Be well, damnit!  It's not like you have some sort of disease and a reason for not being highly energetic and productive.  What's wrong with you?!"  Signed... your inner critic.  I'll return tomorrow.

It's pretty easy to accept a whole lot of wonderful things in my life, for example, that I have a two beautiful, healthy daughters at this moment.  It's not so easy to accept that my health has deteriorated and I no longer can do things I once could.  I am filled with gratitude so much every day that it's difficult to go to the one thing (oh, OK... there's more than one thing:) in my life that is not working.  However, this one thing is beginning to impact other wonderful things.

I'm no longer able to 'do' as much as I once could.  I was a super mom, a super employee, a super friend, a super adventurer, a super woman.  I admit I didn't feel that way, but when I recall it, I really was.  The amount of work I got done in a day astounds me now to think about it - I led a team AND ran a business for a couple of years plus volunteered and sat on many committees.  I somehow managed to raise a daughter single-handedly during that time, with help from family of course.  I was constantly learning new things from sports to Master's degrees.  It wasn't all perfect, but I generally had a lot of energy and my health was excellent.

Then my body started 'acting up'.  It didn't want to wake up in the morning and hurt constantly for no reason and wanted to fall asleep by early evening and everything became such a chore mentally and physically.... I chalked it up to 'burn-out' from years of doing it all, and then I chalked it up to having a baby at 40 years old.

Well, that baby is 2 1/2 years old and my days of doing it all are long gone.  My body is not getting better.  I have good days and I have bad days.  But after a good, energetic, productive day, I typically have a few less 'good' days to follow.  It is sometimes easier to keep my toddler home than to get us ready for daycare drop-off in the morning, work all day, do the pick up, cook supper, and then do the evening routine (my hubby travels 4 days a week for work).  And I love my work.  And I love my evenings with my daughter.  And I look forward to Tina time during the day.  But, now, I'm announcing to the virtual world, that some days it's just too much effort.  Somehow, that does not make sense to me - keeping a toddler home while you try to get work done is easier than bringing her to daycare??  But it's real.  And it happens.  And it's time to accept that something is wrong and something has to change.

I don't know what's wrong.  But I finally accept that there is something wrong.  I have rearranged my time to meet my needs, and I'm still working on making healthy habits that work for me part of my daily routine - without feeling guilty about it.  This means taking time from my work schedule to take care of me... sleeping later.. meditating before I get out of bed... stretching when I do get out of bed (my toddler stretches with me:).... getting outside for a walk every day... eating clean, which frankly, I find takes quite a bit of time to organize at this point... taking the breaks I need when there's a physical limitation.  I'm also trying to incorporate yoga more into my week until I eventually am back to a daily practice.  This all impacts my work.  I resigned from committees, have reduced attending networking events, and generally book meetings for the afternoon.  It's far from perfect, and I'm still on this journey of acceptance.  I am not giving up running or other forms of physical fitness and fun (hula hooping, snowboarding, dance) but I am accepting that if I take those things on, I need to take care of me during and after.

The point is that all of this means taking that precious thing we call time out of my day to focus on me.  I'm sooooo not there yet.  But I have accepted that this is necessary for future wellness and happiness for myself and my family.  This acceptance has led me to begin the search for finding out what is wrong with me.  I realize focusing on that 'story' is not healthy... but not doing anything about it is also not healthy.

The great thing about mindfulness is that you are here now and that is good... no matter what situation you are in here and now.  It is what it is.  Accepting does not mean passively accepting something and not doing anything about it.  In fact, to be mindful means to accept it and stop letting our story take control of our lives.  It means taking action.

Who I am is not sick.  But my body is not well.  And I must take care of that.  I am still me and I can still make my mark in this world.  I'm finding new ways of doing it and I'm using my personal experience to strengthen what I do offer to the world.

I am unwell right now.  I accept that.  NOW, I can do something about it.  It won't be a perfect journey.  I'll have to accept more as I go along.  But nothing can change without a commitment.  I was in denial for years.  I've been interested for a year... now I'm committed.

Namaste