Friday, 27 May 2016

Self-Portrait Saturday: Stuck in a Bubble

Cravings for creativity have been seeping through my pores lately, & I have been seeking ways to foster it out without completely abandoning my daily responsibilities. Somehow the preschool crafting just isn't quite cutting it, so I've decided to introduce Self-Portrait Saturday, something I have been meaning to do for a while, where I will  - or at least try to - post a photo each week. Respectfully, I thought it suiting that this week's self-portrait is in a bubble, reflective of feeling confined to limited creative outlets.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Van De Vorst Sunset Tribute

Yesterday people from around the world took part in a tribute to the Van de Vorst family, who lost their lives in a tragic car crash early January. Jordan was an avid photography enthusiast, & had this idea to have a whole bunch of people take a photo of the sunset on the same night wherever they are & put them in a geographical order to see the differences between locations. Taking part was something I felt was important.

Chanda & I go way back to awkward early teen years, when my hometown hockey team rivalled hers, & being the only girls on the teams we were placed in the same dressing room. Although competitors, we were both secretly glad for that common bond as girls fighting to prove ourselves in a boys world. Our kinship continued strong, on & off the ice, until the accident. We played on a number of hockey teams together growing up.  I was a bridesmaid in their wedding. Chanda & Jordan were the only people we knew in Moose Jaw when we moved here. She was my go-to person, my workout buddy, good company on a unplanned Friday night, someone to vent to & the person that would be willing to tag along any time I needed a partner in crime.

I'm a bit of a home-body & leaving the house independently often brings anxiety. In preparation for this sunset challenge, Iwas reminded how independent I am not...I did not want to to do this alone, so I solicited my dog for company. Years ago not long after moving to Moose Jaw I was short-listed for a radio contest called the 'stay-cation' & invited to the special guest party where they would draw the winner. Typical that I didn't want to go by myself & wasn't planning on going unless someone, who happened to be Chanda, would come with me. It was a bit of a last minute plan to go, thanks to her 'we've got nothing to lose' attitude. They pulled my name & I won $3000 worth of merchandise in gift certificates from local businesses! All thanks to my friend, who cheered for me the loudest, who gave me that little extra push out of the house (and my comfort zone) and who was always on my team (even when played for different teams).

She got me out of the house then. And once again, got me out last night. I grabbed my camera, dog & music & took a therapeutic walk to the bridge where I could watch the sun set over the trains. I don't remember the last time I watched the sun go down, something I used to do all the time growing up. It was what I absolutely needed after a week of being housebound with the kids while my hubby was out of town.

Chanda & Jordan were always making an effort to create experiences & more recently passed that passion on to their kids. I always admired this about them. A browse on their Facebook pages is proof of their many adventures, almost always outdoors, that they took & documented as a family. One of the last photos posted they took their kids to watch the northern lights on New Years Eve. I can tell you where I was - in bed, I didn't even consider staying up until midnight, let alone venturing out to see the northern lights...I know how much of an effort it can be to pack up the family, never really knowing how it is going to turn out, to go somewhere, & it is usually a hell of a lot easier to just stay home - but they didn't let that hold them back even in the wee hours of the night!

During my sunset walk I thought a lot about the last few months. The rut I have been in since the accident, occasionally getting my head above water & feeling inspired, only to sink a little again & feeling ashamed for the times when I am unable to pull the positives out of situations so often, opting to stay inside because it's easier even on the nicest of days, letting excuses get in my way, or not following through with the promise of making the most out of my relationships & time, which I made in Chanda's memory. And how I could use the friend that Chanda was to help pull me out of this rut, empathetic, but also helping me to look on the bright side. How, even though we saw one another seldom since our family's began to grow, her absence is felt daily & I miss her more than I thought I ever would.

So with these thoughts running through my head, it was unlikely a coincidence that a song called Living in the Moment by Jason Mraz came on in my playlist toward the end of my walk. A happy go lucky song that is exactly what it sounds like (link posted below). A funny little reminder that made me smile out loud, as memories of my friend always do. I hope that these little reminders continue to be thrown my way to help push me toward the goal, so I shall remember keep my stick on the ice, always ready for a pass from my friend, my teammate.

My contribution to the tribute

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Be Kind to Yourself

Since the birth of  my third child, I've been struggling to lose the last of that post-partum weight. I reached out to my fitness consultant and she stressed over & over if I want to reach my goals, it is important to be kind to myself. This, my friends, as I am sure is for many of you, is something I really have to work on, a real lifelong challenge. I have spent the last couple weeks thinking about what being kind to yourself means to me. This will be different for everyone, but here is what I have come up with in my reflection.

Being kind to yourself means not letting single successes or failures define your self-worth. Defining yourself by your failures is unhealthy, but also to determine your self-worth by a single success can be an unstable emotionally. If your self-worth is based on a single determinant, accomplishments can turn into challenges overnight. Growing up I was a roller-coaster of self-esteem. I excelled at sports, but if I made a mistake I felt I let everyone down. I was well liked, but if my friends decided not to play with me, in my view nobody liked me. I was hard on myself at everything I did & thought this attitude would be the root of succeeding in life - and to a point it was, but passed that point, I later learned, it would inhibit my ability to excel at the elite level in sport & academics. It wasn't until I quit the university hockey team was I forced to chang my definition of who I was, what made me worthy. We are made up of a collects of traits that make us the beautiful beings we are, it is so important to recognize all that you are made of. And to focus on our strengths that make us unique, accepting the challenges & striving to improve on them.

Being kind to yourself means setting the bar at an achievable level. In have no problem giving the others the benefit of the doubt, but when it comes to myself I tend to take a no excuses approach, to the point where it can inhibit my self-acceptance. It has taken me years to realize that being hard on myself was actually inhibiting my success & detrimental to my confidence, self-acceptance. Every day I still struggle to find this balance for self-acceptance, but the more I do, the happier person I become.

Being kind to yourself means treating yourself (rather than punishing yourself). Having a glass of wine (not 6), going for a walk, eating some chocolate and enjoying each bite.  Make choices that will make you feel good after they are over. Treats, as I explain to my kids, should be occasional, that's what makes them so special. Overindulging, on the other hand, is not kind to you nor your body. Polishing off a family sized bag of chips in one sitting does not come without the consequences of feeling guilty & crummy. No pun intended. Okay, maybe there was.

Being kind to yourself means putting yourself first once in a while. I used to think that putting everyone ahead of me Meade me a better person. But when I deprive myself of my passions I become miserable. My unhappiness leads to treat others with resentment & I become a worse wife/mother/friend for it. Making time for yourself is all part of the balance.

Being kind to yourself means celebrating the little victories & taking credit for them. Choosing to focus on the things that you have done well, rather than the mistakes that seem to blow up in your face. This can be challenging especially when others are involved because it is often the mistakes that get the attention. Only you know the little differences you make in the lives around you, these little victories are worth celebrating. Cherish those 3 year old 'I love you' moments. Validate them by telling someone about these accomplishments, invite others to celebrate them with you.

Being kind to yourself means accepting your flaws. Everyone has flaws (take my overuse of parentheses, for example). Many flaws. More flaws than perfections, but that is what makes us human. Makes us learn. Makes us stronger. As my 5 year old says: nobody is perfect, but everyone is perfect in their own way.

Being kind to yourself means accepting legitimate excuses for your struggles, but also working to overcome them rather than giving into them. If you let them happen, they will get in the way & you will not be happy with the result. But if you take control of the situation & do all you can to make it better, you may not even fix it, but you can say you did all you could to. and to accept that there are some things beyond your control. So here comes the true test for me, accepting that there are some things beyond my control (nooooo!) contributing to my mental health, hormones & my ability to reach my goals, and that is OK. Wow, was that hard to type.

Being kind to yourself means stop comparing yourself to everyone else.  For me, focusing on what everyone else is doing is more discouraging than motivating. It's a little too easy to look at others results with envy. I have been majorly guilty of this. The competitive side of me sees 'that girl' who just appeared to walk out of the hospital after her second back to back baby with a six pack. Why can't I be that fit? How does she make it look so easy? How does she find the motivation with a baby that young? Etcetera etcetera. But I need to remind myself that I am not her. I have a different genetic make up, different support system and a different baby. My life faces different circumstances than hers, so why expect the same results?

Success, for me, is defined by happiness, ability to receive love & to give it to others. Being kind to yourself is such an important part of this. But it is easy to lose sight of that, especially when life gets difficult. Expectations of oneself can be healthy, they can help us strive toward successes in all areas of life....but we must find that balance between self-expectations & self-acceptance, without allowing
 one to get in the way of the other. We must make the effort to be kind to ourselves to better serve the world around us & to find self-acceptance & therefor happiness within. What does being kind to yourself mean to you?

I leave you with one of my favorite videos, Try by Colbie Caillat. I just love playing this one for my girls.