Grey

Love The Heck Out Of Yourself

Be You

Inspired by a book I bought for $0.99 earlier this spring, I decided it was time to start loving myself.

And not just in the superficial sense of self-love, like exercising regularly and watching less TV.  It was time to really, fully and wholly love myself – top to bottom, inside and out.

To love myself to the point of waking up every morning with a heart overflowing with gratitude for all I was blessed with in life. To love myself unconditionally – quirks, flaws, and all. To love myself the way I hoped for someone else to one day love me. Fiercely, and unafraid to show it.

But this story didn’t start this spring; it’s been a long time in the making.

Well before I stumbled upon this little $0.99 book, maybe 2 years prior, another pivotal moment in my self-love journey had taken place on a beach in British Columbia. A moment whose weight I didn’t fully comprehend until much later.

It was a brisk summer night and the sand was cold; I was in the midst of a heart-to-heart with someone I’d only known a few days, as tends to happen when you travel.

I don’t quite remember how it escalated to this, but I distinctly remember crying as I looked out over the sea.

We were talking about relationships and why mine – past and present – never seemed to go so well. I had trust issues, compounded by the fact that I had a proclivity for attracting the untrustworthy types.

And then a rather unexpected question was posed to me, a question that left me speechless for all the wrong reasons. Again, my memory of this night is a bit fuzzy after all this time, but the question was something along the lines of:

“Are you happy with who you are?”

I couldn’t find the words to respond. Not because I didn’t know the answer, but rather because I knew it instantly.

After a few suffocating moments of silence, the best I could do was shake my head “no” as more tears, now double the size, rolled down my face.

I didn’t like who I was or who I had been. I most certainly didn’t love myself. And it was in that moment I came to the crushing realization that it was all my fault.

It wasn’t for lack of trying. I wanted to love myself – desperately, even. But what I eventually came to understand was this:

When you’re making poor choices, choices that defy what you know in your heart to be right, you never will know self-love.

The months leading up to that moment in British Columbia had been particularly difficult for me. I reached a truly low point in terms of my self-esteem, and it was all because of a series of choices I’d made – choices that I was not proud of, and did not reflect the kind of person I wanted to be.

And in that moment, those poor choices came rushing back to me all at once, swallowing me up in a tidal wave of shame and regret. Sure, I might have cried first for my failed and failing relationships that night, but in the end, I cried hardest for the person I never allowed myself to become.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but a series of subconscious choices had just been made.

To start living up to my own potential. To start making myself proud. To start living my truth.

FIRST CAME CHOICES

Every day, we are choosing. We may not choose our circumstances, but we choose how we react. In fact, the only thing truly within our control is ourselves and our choices. It’s all we have.

So even when other people hurt us, when our pain is the direct result of someone else’s choices, the choice is still ours whether we let that pain suffocate us, or if we let it go. Move on. Forgive.

For far too long, I felt the pain and emotional bruising from distant moments I should have long – since forgiven as sharply as if they had just happened yesterday. For far too long, I held onto resentment, blaming others for my choices.

I was all too aware of my faults, and for far too long, I had done nothing to correct them. I was avoiding responsibility for the crappy outcomes of my poor choices which wasn’t doing me any favours.

That summer, a few months after that rude awakening on that beach in British Columbia, I knew my business needed to start supporting me financially or I was going to be in debt.

And so I made the choice, over and over again, to put my work ahead of my own pleasure.

In hotels, I sat hunched over my laptop, surrounded by travelers hell bent on distracting me. Other times, I purposely isolated myself. I sat alone in the corner, or alone in my room, or alone at the dining table in the middle of the afternoon when everyone else was out enjoying the beach.

Funnily enough, I still found plenty of time to enjoy myself, too. But the best part of it all was the sense of pride that arose from finally making choices that aligned with what I wanted in my heart.

When I finally began making choices that I respected, my “luck” began to change. The positive changes that came out of that summer were all the reassurance I needed to know that I was on the right path, that I was inching ever closer to living my truth, to knowing myself, and ultimately loving myself.

THEN CAME GROWTH

As time wore on, personal development became my addiction. I dedicated late nights and early mornings to my work. In my leisure time, I read self-help books.

Much like the early lessons, the new lessons I was learning didn’t always register right away. I had to chew on them for awhile to release the subtleties, the nuances, the complexities.

But all the while, I could feel myself changing. I could feel myself growing more aware of who I was, how I acted, even what my heart wanted (some might call that “intuition”) and that awareness allowed me to make better choices and know when to alter my course.

This spring, I bought that little $0.99 book. I read it every night as I laid in bed.

That book was called Choose Yourself, and it was written by a man named James Altucher.

You may not have heard of James, but he has founded many companies and made millions.

But of course, as it always goes, there’s much more to this story. James also lost millions. Sunk businesses.  Destroyed relationships. Lost his home. Went through a divorce.

Of the 20 companies he founded, 18 of them were failures. In 2008, at his lowest of lows and in the midst of the worst economic depression since the 1930s – with no job, no friends, and no money – he nearly lost the will to live.

His life insurance policy worth $4 million suddenly seemed like the best chance for his kids to have a decent life.

Feeling someone else’s pain, even through the vast distances of space and time, always helps put our own pain into perspective. It doesn’t diminish it or make it any less real, but it helps us to realize that if someone can be pushed to such extremes and still find the power to choose themselves, well, so can we.

James developed what he referred to as “The Daily Practice” which centered around taking care of himself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. He was putting himself first, choosing himself in every way.

So I started choosing myself in every way. I went to bed early and woke up early. I reintroduced regular exercise into my routine. I practiced gratitude daily.

I found my way back to yoga, which has been perhaps the most transformative practice of all.

The very first intention I set on that very first day was the very thing that drew me back to the mat in the first place: to know myself.

One major difference between this new undertaking and my casual yoga habit of days past is that I no longer regarded it as a fitness tool. Breaking free from that old assumption allowed me to see yoga for what it really was: a powerful vehicle for self-exploration.

For me, it is the ultimate display of self-love, showing up on my mat for a moment of mindfulness. A great butt and toned tummy – should they appear one day – would simply be a side effect of choosing myself.

And my gosh, it felt so good to choose myself for once.  And that month of self-care? It’s been extended indefinitely.

Good choices beget good choices, as it turns out, and what started as a painful personal challenge on a beach in British Columbia has now become something of a habit.

That’s not to say that life is fine and dandy as a result or that I don’t still experience deep pain. I endure bouts of crushing self-doubt on a near-daily basis. I torment myself with “what ifs” that have no right to take up headspace. I still sometimes wonder and maybe I always will – what if this all comes crashing down tomorrow?

But self-love is a process, one that will never be truly complete. There will always be more I could improve, more I can learn, more kindness I can show to myself and others.

And in the vein of extending that kindness to myself, I constantly need reminding that yes, I am deeply flawed in many ways, but that is what makes me human, and I deserve love anyway.

I am still on the path to loving myself and to knowing and living my truth. I can say in all honesty that I love myself now more than ever, and I know I will come to love myself more deeply in the future.

What’s most important, however, no matter where I am in the process of self-love is to remember…

I am enough.

Happiness

Moments That Make Me Smile

Life is no big deal, it’s a lot of little daily ones.

The more we can fill our lives with joyous moments, the happier our lives will be.

The following come in no particular order other than as they came to me as I sat at my desk and pecked away at my laptop.

  • Sitting at home with my family gathered around, eating good food and talking or playing a game or just goofing off.
  • Hearing my daughter laugh and giggle. She has a beautiful smile and one of those contagious laughs that puts smiles on everyone else’s face when she laughs.
  • Swimming. Hiking. Escaping to nature. There is something soothing and invigorating and refreshing about water and nature.
  • Gratitude. I find the trait of gratitude in others to be an extremely attractive quality. I love when people give that standard open-palm hand acknowledgement when you let them merge into your lane. That simple gesture of gratitude goes a long way and makes me smile.
  • Sitting down with a well-written, thoughtful or inspiring book. Anything from Martin Seligman, a good biography or autobiography, such as Gandhi’s. I love reading history, current events, self-help, sociology and psychology. I find joy in books on productivity and leadership, the great wisdom literature and works from the likes of Plato and Aristotle, the Buddha, Lao Tse, and in scripture.
  • Simple Human Decency. People doing good to strangers inspires me and fills me with hope and joy. Simply put, it feels good to see others do good. It makes me smile and want to be better, more thoughtful and compassionate and loving and kind.
  • Writing…usually! I love thinking through a post idea, studying the issue, doing whatever research may be necessary and then crafting the sentences and arranging the ideas in some kind of sequence that makes sense to me. I love the process I go through. It’s a growing experience for me. As I write about becoming better and happier, I become better and happier!
  • Inspiration and Epiphanies. From others. From above. Insight. The “a-ha” moments in life. I just deeply enjoy those light bulb, sudden realization moments.
  • Hearing my daughter play instruments or sing, especially when she’s performing. She’s amazing! I especially love her original stuff that she wrote and arranged and performs. Just a huge slice of heaven!
  • Reading wonderful comments from wonderful people with wonderful insights or helpful suggestions or kind thoughts. You are all so amazing. Thank you.
  • Playing piano…sometimes. I can’t read a lick of music, but usually enjoy improvising. But I have to be in the right mood for it.
  • Children. I love to watch my daughter and her little 7-year-old friends play. They are so adventurous, so in the moment and spontaneous. If something seems funny or silly they say it, simply, without thought or adornment or self-censure, simply because it was fun or silly to say. I love to hear them laugh and giggle and hold simple conversations about Pokemon and what their favourite food is. I love when they make up knock-knock jokes that don’t make sense, and they laugh hysterically as though they did. The purity and innocents is refreshing, to say the least.
  • Rain. Perhaps oddly, I love the rain. It’s cool. It’s refreshing. It smells good. It brings with it a contemplative mood. And I love contemplating! And I grew up in Prince Rupert which says it all.
  • Simple and (usually) healthy food. I don’t need the caviar, the fancy restaurant, the high-priced menu. Give me a delicious meal of chicken breast on white rice with loads of olive-oil sautéed veggies, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a super greasy slice or two of pizza, or blueberries or corn chips and I’m a happy camper!
  • Seeing progress toward my goals. It always feels good to see progress, to know that due to a lot of persistent hard work, I’m moving, developing as a person, improving, growing as a blogger or as an entrepreneur or as a parent. It motivates me to set new goals and accomplish greater possibilities.
Orange Couch

Summer Reading Picks

So many of us are looking for book recommendations — especially during the summer months when reading may be the only break we get. One of the most common questions (not kid-related) that I hear among Moms is “What book should I read next?” Reading is something we want to do when we can find the time, but being “kid focused” 100% of the time, it’s hard to know what books to grab! We have limited time, so we don’t want to waste any with a book we don’t enjoy.

I put together a list of book suggestions for this summer. Some encourage Mommas while others tell stories that take you away from that role for a bit.

  1. The Broken Way – Ann Voskamp is a beautiful writer who wears her authentic and sincere heart on her sleeve. This book is described on Amazon as being “…for the lovers and the sufferers. For those whose hopes and dreams and love grew so large, it broke their willing hearts. This one’s for the busted ones who are ready to bust free, the ones ready to break molds, break chains, break measuring sticks, and break all this bad brokenness with an unlikely good brokenness. You could be one of the Beloveds who is broken and still, lets yourself be loved. “ Brokenness doesn’t have to mean it’s over for you. Read this book to find encouragement and healing after a shattered heart. The Broken Way
  2. The Magnolia Story – I have never met anyone who doesn’t love Chip and Joanna. I’m sure these types of people exist, but they are in the minority! I was so excited to see that this couple came out with a book about their story. They are a couple that holds strongly to commitment and faith within their marriage and have used their fame for good. I guarantee that this book will bring a smile to your face in between episodes of Fixer Upper. The Magnolia Story
  3.  Long Days Of Small Things – All Mamas can relate to the mundane, everyday tasks we have to do to stay afloat. Each day we are in survival mode — another meal prepared, dish cleaned, and nose wiped. We have a lot of long days of small things. This book is so relatable and changes a Mother’s perspective on her role. ” God sees you. He designed this parenting journey, after all. He understands the chaos of motherhood. And he joins you in everything – whether you’re scrubbing the floor, nursing a fussy newborn, or driving to soccer practice. Catherine McNiel invites you to connect with God right here, in the sacred mundane of every mothering moment.” Long Days Of Small Things
  4. And Still She Laughs – I first heard about this book through a podcast. Kate Merrick was telling the story of losing her daughter to cancer. It’s one of those stories you can’t imagine and you never forget. There isn’t much worse you could go through in life than losing a child. But through her faith, Kate has found a way to continue living with joy even among her brokenness. And Still She Laughs
  5. Present Over Perfect – Shauna Niequist was burned out and sick and tired of the busy, perfectionist lifestyle she was leading. She decided to dive into a life of being intentional and present. The author shares vulnerable stories within her writing that challenges the reader to a simpler life. “ Present Over Perfect is a hand reaching out, pulling you free from the constant pressure to perform faster, push harder, and produce more, all while maintaining an exhausting image of perfection. ”Present Over Perfect
  6. I Let You Go – I read this book on a vacation and can barely tell you about the vacation as I was so captivated by the story! I love the suspense and mystery found in this book. Oh, and be prepared for the twist at the end — I’ll stop now so I don’t give it away! I Let You Go
Oh Canada

Happy Canada Day

Oh Canada

This year’s Canada Day celebrations will certainly be a once in a generation event. We mark 150 years since Confederation and this landmark birthday is being celebrated all over the country with feasts, fireworks shows, parades and red and white flags.

In 1867 the Dominion of Canada was created as per the British North America Act. This brought together the colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada into one country merging together English and French speaking Canada. The new Dominion of Canada was composed of four provinces, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Ontario and New Brunswick.

No matter how you measure it, these days the modern nation of Canada is a cultural melting pot that celebrates diversity and is home to a mosaic of different ethnicities and traditions. What does it mean to be Canadian? It’s more than just beaver and maple syrup and snow shovels and hockey: it’s our identity of kindness, politeness, inclusion, acceptance and understanding…which is certainly something to celebrate.

Oh Canada

You Know You’re Canadian If…

You know what a toque is. 

You can do all the hand actions to Sharon, Lois and Bram’s “Sin-a-ma-rinky-dinky-doo” opus.

You know what a mickey and a 2-4 mean. 

You design your Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

You know that the last letter of the English alphabet is always pronounced “Zed”.

Your local newspaper covers the national news on 2 pages, but requires 6 pages for hockey.

You know that when it’s 25 degrees outside, it’s a warm day.

You know that the 4 seasons mean: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction.

“Eh?” is a very important part of your vocabulary, and is more polite than, “Huh?”

You know where to get good poutine.

You’ve rolled up the rim to win.

Happy 150th Birthday Canada! I’m so proud to be a Canadian!

Oh Canada

Fireworks