Tag Archives: Life

Choose Happy

13 Jan

cow

Over the Christmas break I was having a very funny conversation with my parents about someone who is particularly difficult to deal with – historically and present day.  I said to my Dad ‘how can that person not recognize how off-putting and polarizing their behavior is?’  Dad said ‘I think a lot of it is genetic and it isn’t going to change in this instance.’  He said ‘just like intelligence, some people are smart and some people are negative.’  I’ve always been adverse to such ways, but with age I have become even more turned off by it.  As in, I literally find myself tuning out of conversations where the outlook is negative or critical of others.  As I get ready for my day I listen to podcasts.  I start off my day  listening to inspiring talks with inspiring people.  Today it was Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations and she was talking to Gretchen Rubin who wrote The Happiness Project.   It was 32 minutes of I TOTALLY AGREE WITH THAT content.  She stated that happiness is actually 50% genetic, so it seems that my Pa was correct!  It got me thinking about happiness and how it is such a prevalent topic.  How do you find it?  How do you stay happy?  Why are some people more happy than others even though they have less or have more challenges?  Why are some people never happy?

I’ve always been a naturally ‘happy’ person.  I generally see the positive side of things and I always remain optimistic.  I guess we can say that is 50% because of my genetics, but what about the other 50%?   Or let’s say 40% because no one is 100% happy or positive (and anyone who acts like every single thing is amazing is covering something up).   Believe me, there are times when I feel like giving the finger, I’ve done my fair share of gossiping (and complaining) and I’ve been in a relationship that definitely brought me down.  And I am now 37 and single – not what I envisioned when I was younger.  Some days the inner cynic in me comes out, but I genuinely try to kick those shitty thoughts to the curb.

To exemplify what I am talking about, I will give you a little window into my world.  When I wake up in the morning I send a few girlfriends (who need a little pump up) positive thoughts, videos or quotes for the day.  It is therapeutic for me too.  Millie (my dog) and I head out for the day – I never used to listen to music when I walk, but now I do.  As I trot along I often find myself singing out loud to the songs I am listening to.  The music puts a little more bounce in my step and it has been a great addition to my morning.   We walk to my brothers house where we scoop their Golden Retriever (who is always pumped to see us).  Along the way to the office we talk to many people who love dogs.  In particular, there is a guy who asks for money on Spring Garden Road and we walk by him most days.  The dogs LOVE him, and so most mornings we stop to chat with him.  The dogs lean into him, lick him and just give him a big dose of love.  Earlier this week he told me that he watches for us every morning and that seeing the dogs is the best part of his day.   (Heart warmer!!)   I am sure he is invisible to most people, but the dogs treat him like he is the best thing since sliced bread.  After that we make our way my way to the office to start the day.    This past Wednesday it was super icy.  Black ice everywhere along the way.   When I got to my office I changed from my sensible winter walking shoes to my ‘not so sensible for the winter booties’ (they are leopard so that should indicate their level of their uselessness in winter).  Shortly after arriving I had to pop out for a meeting which was only a block from my office.  Forgetting about the black ice I stepped off my office steps with great vigor (at the same time two guys were walking by).  My front foot hit the ice and slid forward while my back foot was still on the step.  I literally did a full Nadia Comeneci style splits.  I popped back up (in my dress) in record time to the boys saying “Oh wow, ahhhhh, are you okay?” to which I said “Oh yes, I am fine!’  I took one step forward and BAM I went down again.  This time a face plant type of fall.  I again popped right back up and one guy said to the other ‘Take her hand man’.  I said laughing ‘No, no, I got it.  I am going to walk gingerly now.  I didn’t even rip my tights and I gave you guys your story for the day!’  We all had a solid laugh and I made my way to my meeting.  My hands were burning from hitting the pavement and my legs were wet.  The meeting was with a mom who recently lost her 43 year old daughter to ovarian cancer over Christmas.  Talk about a way to snap back out of your own shit and be grateful for everything you have.

What I am getting at – the other 40% is within you.   It is how you choose to use your time, control your thoughts, perceptions and reactions to life.   I dated someone who made lots of money and he was one of the most negative creatures I’ve ever met.  Happiness doesn’t come from money.  I’ve met people who are married and they complain endlessly about their partner.  Happiness doesn’t come from having a partner (or how they behave).  I’ve met people who have great jobs, but they are miserable.  Happiness doesn’t come from your job.  I know people who are beautiful and thin, but they are insecure and self critical.  Happiness doesn’t come from being beautiful or skinny.  I’ve met people who have all of the nicest things (big house, cars, clothes, travel) their heart could desire, but they aren’t happy.  Happiness doesn’t come from things.

As my very wise brother told me once upon a time – life is mostly made up of choices.  Most of the parts of your life are choices you made:  the big house (that you might have to work your ass off to pay for), the job (that you are spending too much time at to pay for the house), the partner, the kids, the commitments and the list goes on. Now don’t get me wrong folks – there is nothing wrong with a nice house, a busy job, wanting to climb the ladder or having nice things.   I am talking about your attitude towards it.  How do you treat other people, do you complain, do you feel stressed, do you feel joy?   Life is going to throw curveballs at us – lots of shitty things happen that we can’t control.  If you’re already off balance when those things happen it is going to be a real challenge.  One of my dearest friends lost her Dad unexpectedly on Christmas Day.  The support she has received from others is amazing because she is awesome and always goes out of her way to help others.  You get out what you put in.

Everyone’s idea of what makes you happy is different.  I dare you to do a few things that make you feel happy – it will make your day better and anyone who you come in contact with too.  As one of my favorite quotes states: Awesome things will happen today if you choose not to be a miserable cow.

 

 

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Resolution Revolution

4 Jan

resolution

 

Every single year in early January we make BIG declarations about what we are going to be better at this year.  Exercise more! Lose weight! Money! Time management!  No drinking!  Putting yourself ‘out there’ more!  More adventure!  And so on.  Monday, January 16th, will be what we call Blue Monday or better known as ‘The Most Depressing Day of The Year’.  Christmas cheer has worn off, you’ve likely broken your resolutions, its flipping freezing out and your December credit card statement has arrived in your inbox.  A dirty-dirty combination indeed.

I am going to focus on the one I think is the most common:  lose weight.  I don’t know about you, but most every weight related resolution I’ve ever made has not happened or if it happened it wasn’t maintained long term.  I go out of the gate strong, planning, hitting the gym, packing my lunch and then I fall off the self  betterment rails – thus making the resolution a failure.  Left with tight pants, a gym membership not being used and a bad case of the guilt’s for not using it (and for failing at the big resolution).  Oprah is a favorite of mine and as you most certainly know she has dealt with weight her entire life.  Up and down.  Skinny to fat – fat to skinny.  This was all under the watchful eye of the world.  I remember she once said that when her pants don’t fit her she feels the exact same way as anyone else does.  The difference being she was photographed, scrutinized and criticized.  How could someone who has chefs and trainers at her beck and call, still fail at weight loss?  Over the last few years, she says, she has changed her relationship with her body (and food).  In the past she focused on hating her thighs, criticizing her body and dieting.  Instead, she changed her thoughts: it isn’t about a diet, but instead a commitment to see things differently.  Starting out from a place of gratitude and positivity instead of a state of self loathing.  It isn’t about saying: I am cutting out sugar! I am cutting out carbs! I am cutting out gluten! I am cutting out wine!   I am running a marathon!  Or when I lose 20 pounds I’ll be HAPPY.  I’ve run 3 half marathons in my life and when I did them I lost weight.  I hated every-single-minute of it.  That runners high everyone talks about.  I never achieved it.  The only high I ever felt was when I crossed the finish line and thought THANK JESUS that is over and I was able to take off my two sports bras.  Resolution statements are usually short term – 5 pounds down and then 7 back on when you start to eat pasta again or stop doing whatever you were doing as it probably wasn’t enjoyable!

Here are a few things I know about myself:

  1. I am not a naturally thin woman
  2. I love amazing food and culinary experiences
  3. I am not a lover of winter
  4. My disdain for winter causes me to not be as active
  5. 1 + 2 + 3 +4 = weight gain over the winter

So, here is my little attitude-behaviour changing story: I started to change my winter attitude about 7 years ago when I got a dog. That little white rocket requires me to hit the pavement no matter what day, no matter what season and no matter what weather. My brother and his family got a dog last year too. I already bring Millie to work with me, so it only made sense to add him into the gang! I now walk to my brothers most days of the week, pick him up and deliver him back end of day. That’s about 8 km of extra walking a day. It helps them, he adds more joy to my day and it adds to my movement.  So everyday I get nearly 10 km in.  I know that I would rather walk 10 kms than run 1.   It works for me.  For the past 6 months I do hot yoga over my lunch on average 4 times a week.  I love it.  I am in competition with no one but myself.  I am still not sporting a six pack (nor do I want to or ever will), but I feel healthy, it is consistent, it works for me and it creates a solid base. One pound, two pounds, three pounds… it has consistently come off.   If I add anything more to more routine it makes a real difference.  Rather than the usual January boom and bust and being cooped up inside wearing lululemon’s (which trick you into thinking you are not putting on weight)  I am on the move when the snow flies!   It is already a habit.   Also, being single is definitely a way to keep yourself slimmer – just like in nature, when you’re on the hunt you’re hungry!!

Last year I spent a month in Australia where you would think I would have tipped the scales to the right.  Nope.  I lost weight.  Why?  Because I was on the go all day long.  Walking, swimming, moving, talking and sweating from that glorious sunshine!  Doing things I love to do.  Not sitting in front of a computer, avoiding going out at lunch as it is freezing, and then crashing home in the dark (it is dark here shortly after 4 pm in the winter) cursing about my numb fingers.

In an effort to combat my winter weight I am doing the same thing this winter. Walking every day, downward dogging and sweating at hot yoga over lunch, going away on a trip mid-February to a hot country for 3 weeks, and I am going to keeping myself busy doing things that bring me joy.  I’ll be busy doing things I love.  Busy learning new things.  Busy spending time with people who make my mind curious.  Keeping my mind positive, laughing and feeling grateful for my life.  I am going to bring out my French heritage – as you know those bitches are skinny and they eat cheese everyday.  The secret is that they don’t deprive themselves and physical exercise generally flows within their daily life – the slow burn.  I can guarantee you that when you lose 10 lbs by starving yourself or doing a physical activity you hate –  the relationship you have with your body, food and exercise isn’t positive and it will limit you in other ways. The conversations we have with ourselves directly correspond to how we present ourselves to the outside world and those closest to us.

So, if you are looking to shed some lbs, get tighter or achieve some kind of health goal – don’t give your credit card so readily to a gym.  Figure out what it is you really love to do, amuse-toi bien (have fun), do more of it and give yourself some self love along the way.  I can guarantee if you asked someone else what they see when they see you – it isn’t your cellulite.

A Special Place

24 Apr

HMMS

I grew up in the country.  All 3 of my brothers and I had the good fortune of attending a small rural school.  Now that I am in my ‘upper-mid 30’s’ I have the perspective to know what an absolute gem of a place that school was.  Our bus driver, Eugene, would burn by our house every morning in order to turn around at my grandparents garage a mile over the road.  I knew I had about 5 minutes to get my butt down to the end of the driveway.   The school is only a mile from where we grew up so the commute was short.  At the end of the school day, even that short ride felt long when you were hungry and tired because we played hard.  We had a real ‘Wildhood’ at HM MacDonald.

To give you some background info.  The school goes from grade Primary to Grade 6.   For the most part the same teachers taught myself and my siblings.  2 teachers retired after I had them (my class is legend to be the worst one in history… so we likely drove them to retire), but otherwise the teachers all stayed the same.  The classes were small.  I think one time we broke the 20 mark when a girl from British Columbia came into our class for a short time. Sierra.  I remember that ‘Come From Away’  girl clearly:  she had really long hair and it seemed so fascinating to be from Salmon’s Arm.  Her family mysteriously came and went.  There was a rumor that they left their dog in their freezer.  In grade 5 a piece was added to our school which enabled us to have more room and so they extended the school line. I remember we had a ribbon cutting celebration and different political officials came to our school for it. I graced them all with a tap dancing routine to Bobby Day’s 1956 smash hit – Rockin’ Robin.  I ‘time-stepped’ my way into our local newspaper.  I just laughed thinking of that.  When the new section opened we had a few jogging pant wearing kids from over the road join us.  Other than those few changes,  I basically had the same kids in my class all the way through.

Oh the memories.  When you have the same classmates, the same families, cousins in the school, the same teachers, the same janitor/bus driver and the same playground supervisor everything felt so secure and safe.   Of course there were the usual issues – bullying, cat fights, back talking and of course sour milk.  Literal sour milk.  We had a milk program at school and it has scarred me more than any bully did.  The milk was often on the warm side and I never liked it.  One time I complained that the milk was sour and my teacher said it wasn’t.  IT WAS.  Until this day I cannot drink milk on its own from an unknown source.  I have PSMDD – Post Sour Milk Drinking Disorder.

I know for certain that HM MacDonald helped me grow my confidence.  With confidence you can communicate better, be empathetic, be compassionate, take risks, think big and have a more positive outlook on life.  No one fell through the cracks.  We all knew each other and so it became a safe place to do public speaking, singing in the Christmas concert (or getting the golden speaking roles if we did a play) or strike out at baseball.   I could tell stories for hours about my memories from that school.  The time (when in grade 5 and 6) Allan and Brent stole the school bus and ripped around the soccer field with it.  Or when we were out past the buzzer and saw our teacher tramping across the soccer field to get us – Randy fell out of the tree he climbed and broke his pelvis.  When Amanda put a tack on the teachers desk and he sat on it.  When Bradley had gas so bad in class that our teacher sent a note home to his parents about his diet.  Or Miss Hickey (our completely bizarre music teacher) who made us study Beethoven and Bach in grade 3.   When we turned against our sweet bus driver/janitor Eugene and got a petition to have him removed from the school for smoking in the furnace room.  On a more scholastic note: Mad Math Minutes, Reach for The Top and science fairs.  Having to take the bus to Lakevale School to have enough kids to make two teams from and track and field day in town.  Hotdog days when it was your Mom’s turn to serve.  Cake walks where it didn’t matter who made the cake or what was in it – you ate it and loved it.  Participaction with Hal and Joanne.  Mass in the school gym on Wednesday mornings.  That canopy where you all run into the middle and it goes up into the air.  Fiercely competitive dodge ball.   The ‘Humping Cabin’ the boys made up in the woods behind the school.  To be clear – no humping ever happened.  The boys would make humping like motions while walking into it.  Heads Up 7-Up.  Hatching chicks every spring in our classroom.  Crazy high swings and those frigging monkey bars that everyone fell off at some point.  I could go on and on.  I am sure my brothers could add in countless memories they too have.  We all made life long friends from our days at HM MacDonald.

As like many other families who came through HM MacDonald; my siblings and I have all done well for ourselves.  When someone complimented my Dad (who is a terribly modest creature) on his children he said ‘that was largely because of their Mom not me’.  While our parents and genetics play a big part in who we become so does the community you grow up in.  I know for certain that our elementary school days greatly impacted our characters and potential.

I read this week that the school board is looking to shut down HM MacDonald. This announcement came out of the blue as it is a thriving school with full classrooms and a small operating budget.  Tears came to my eyes when I read it.  The idea of kids from our community taking long bus rides to be placed in big classes breaks my heart.   It is a special place.  There are so few special places like this left.  We need to nurture them not close them down.

Still Wild At Heart

13 Feb

woman

Something has happened to me and I didn’t see it coming.   If I analyzed each component of this realization individually I might not have come to the same conclusion.  It is the combination of all components which made me go ‘WOW’ something has happened.

Clue #1: I am currently sitting at the gate for my flight 2 hours early. I am actually at the gate.   That means I arrived at the airport 2 hours and 30 minutes before my flight.  I’ve never been one to stress greatly about time when it comes to getting to the airport – I like to get there in the shortest amount of time without being considered late.  One hour. I am not one for waiting around when waiting around isn’t necessary.  I am normally the last one getting on the plane as I want to spend the least amount of time possible jammed into my seat.  Although in recent times getting on the plane early has its merits since most everyone brings an excessive amount of checked luggage and if you don’t get on early there is no room left.   But let’ focus on me arriving early to the airport.

Clue #2: Practicality when it comes to fashion is not my jam. In spring, summer and fall my Carrie Bradshaw ways to do not cause any issues.  Enter winter.  In the past, I’ve been known to wear heels in a snow storm, and one winter, when I lived in Toronto, I survived with a jean jacket as I couldn’t find a winter jacket I liked enough.  I was willing to suffer through the cold all in the spirit of avoiding being ‘not-fashionable’.  I subjected myself to salt stains on shoes and frozen appendages by choice.   As I sit here at my gate 2 hours before my flight I can’t help but take account of what I am wearing.  I have a stylish winter jacket and on my feet… rubber boots.  Granted they are not regular rubber boots – they look like leather boots and they are a chic moto style.  It made me think even further – I did not even pack a pair of heels for this trip.  A pair of booties with a heel (but not heels).  Socks can be worn with the booties.

Clue #3: Last night (and most nights) before I went to bed I cleansed my face. I exfoliated.  I removed my eye make-up.  I moisturized.  I moisturized my neck.  When I woke up this morning I didn’t have yesterday on my face and red lipstick on my pillow.

Clue #4: Last Friday night when I arrived in Toronto I stayed with one of my girlfriends. Traditionally we could jump right into socializing and sleep very little.   I had a very busy week leading up to my departure and knew we had plans on Saturday night with a big group of girlfriends.  I found myself saying – I am fine to stay in and get a good sleep in order to be fresh for tomorrow.  What?  Did I actually say that?  Let’s stay in so we can be fresh for tomorrow.  I think most anyone who knows me would say I am a social creature who would rarely miss out on an opportunity to fraternize.  Especially when there could be hot men found.  ESPECIALLY when there could be hot men found.

Clue #5: Prior to my departure for this trip I had my laundry done a day early. I packed with strategy vs an eleventh hour throw together. I had cleaned out my fridge as I was leaving for 10 days.  I put the garbage and compost out.  I got my nails done the day before.  I left the key in the cupboard outside of my doorway in case someone needed to stay there was I was gone.  My departure was organized.

(I had to stop writing at this point as my flight was boarding)

On my flight home I had an older woman from Newfoundland seated beside me.  There were no TV screens on the plane to be distracted by andshe was up for some chatting, so we gabbed and laughed for most of the flight.  We covered a lot of subjects: travel, health, relationships, online dating, adoption, death and Trump (of course).  I roared at some of the funny things she said.  When talking about a friends daughter she said ‘Anna was looking for a man and let’s just say she wasn’t picky’.  At the end of the flight she said to me ‘Well, how lucky was I to sit by you.  What an interesting person you are and life you have.  You’re just so much fun – I haven’t laughed like that in awhile.’  And I said the same to her.

So when I put it all together: early to the airport, wearing appropriate clothing, a consistent skin care routine, choosing to be fresh over hunting for men and having my place perfectly organized prior to my departure. I have become sensible.  I need to find a better term for it – like some women who do not want to be called Grandma, being called sensible doesn’t resonate well with me.  Mature, grounded, evolved.    There is no sexy substitute for it.  I’ve resolved that just because I am on time, wearing waterproof shoes and feeling well rested does not mean that I am boring. I may have become more sensible in my ways, but as my seatmate recognized I’ve not lost my wild heart.

“Being tame is what we’re taught: … put the crayons back, stay in line, don’t talk too loud, keep your knees together, nice girls don’t…
As you might know, nice girls DO, and they like to feel wild and alive. Being tame feels safe, being wild, unsafe. Yet safety is an illusion anyway. We are not in control. No matter how dry and tame and nice we live, we will die. And we will suffer along the way. Living wild is its own reward.”  S.A.R.K.