goals

Make Your 2018 Amazing with These Great Reads

Are you one of those people who sets New Year Resolutions? Or are you someone who knows yourself well enough to avoid making such a preposterous 365 day promise? Maybe you prefer bite-size goals so you set 30 day goals or three month goals. I have been both but, this year, I’m saying to hell with it. No New Year Resolutions for me. Bye, Felicia! This year is going to be about daily intentions and habits that will lead to a better year and, of course, a better life.

resolutions.jpg

If there’s one thing I learned in 2017 it was to basically stop everything I had been doing: stop seeking, stop dieting, stop punishing myself, stop the negative self-talk and stop planning for things beyond my control. This was not an easy task for a stubborn control freak like me. When I thought I had stopped those things, I stopped myself again and stopped some more.

Because of those 2017 lessons, this new year is about being present. Mindful. Grateful. Peaceful. And while I have a few small goals in mind, like paying down more of my student loan, I am not committing to anything that will stress me out. All of my intentions revolve around cultivating peace and presence. My 2018 is about daily mindfulness and habits that will ultimately lead to a better life. For instance, a daily gratitude practice and eating healthy are important to me. But I'm keeping it relaxed so it doesn't become a chore or a bombardment to my days.

Similarly, the undesirable self-care acts are on my radar as well. Saving money and budgeting with intention and mindfulness aren’t fun but will result in a better future for our family. 

My friends reading this are probably floored. I am usually the girl with 14 resolutions that have failed by April. I’m starting one workout while thinking about the next. I’m weighing what diet will be most effective for losing 20lbs. I'm also the one with the stack of bedside books on the self-help/personal development; the one constantly trying to change, grow and be better than I was the day before. I always feel crappy so I am the friend who’s trying on a new diet as often as I buy shampoo. I’ve tried paleo and keto and Whole30 and gluten-free AND dairy-free. I still feel crappy, despite all the restrictions, so I’m done! No more dieting!

This year is about tuning in and listening to my body. After my recurrent miscarriages (four in three years) I disconnected from my body. I subconsciously shut off that link because of the grief, guilt, shame, resentment and anger. Now, I am rebuilding that relationship by getting quiet with myself, listening inwardly and fulfilling my needs. If I crave chocolate, I’ll have a piece and enjoy - nay! - savour every single nibble. Lately, my body wants peanuts. A few months ago it was steamed broccoli. If we stop dieting and just listen, I truly believe our bodies will tell us what it needs and very rarely will it say a Big Mac with supersized fries and a fountain Coke. But, if it does occasionally, go for it with zero regrets! Move your body because it’s a beautiful vessel capable of running, jumping and floating. I am called to swimming and yoga lately and it feels so much better to exercise because I like to than to do a cardio workout because it’s a part of my scheduled fitness program.

I’m done body shaming and judging my body in the mirror. In fact, I’ve come to appreciate and love my body. I no longer feel shame for what it cannot do or what it looks like. I am grateful for my perfect working limbs and my curves, muscle, cellulite! All of it! Most of all, I am loving the woman who stares back at me. I’ve worked hard through reading, self-reflection, journalling, counselling, learning and so much more to become the person I am falling in love with today. I see a woman who is kind, thoughtful, funny and resilient. She’s also stubborn, short-tempered and a little self-righteous at times. She loves yoga and running and dislikes broken promises and flaky people. She is finally confident in her skin now. 

I need not seek externally for everything I was seeking was waiting deep within. It’s within you too.

I’ve read so many incredible books that have helped lead me to this point. Fall and winter 2017 were spent reading books that actually intrigued me and interested me rather than reading to change something about myself. Oddly enough (or, perhaps, not oddly if you are a Universe energy-loving type like myself), the few books I picked have actually been life changing.

bookstack.jpg

I feel so liberated and amazing, gliding into 2018 with small pieces of inner peace, an abundance of gratitude and a mantra to be present and mindful. I feel lighter now that I’m not weighed down by unobtainable goals, self-loathing and a diet. I feel freer not being attached to a fitness regime. I feel happy not having any New Year Resolutions.

I see now that the present moment is all that matters. How I want to be tomorrow is determined by what I do today, not what I did when I was 16 or what my mom said when I was 7.

I never thought I’d get to this point and I hope some of you want to know how you can get to this point, too. Maybe you hate your body or you have an ego the size of the moon. Maybe you have anxiety over the future that paralyses you from good decision-making skills. Perhaps you have a relationship with food that needs examining. Who knows?! But, if you’re still here reading this, I want to give you a few books that have literally CHANGED MY LIFE. If you like to read, read these. If you need a change of mindset, read these. If you want awesomely amazing things to happen each day, read these. If you want to love your body and release the death grip on food, well, you get it, read these:

ambrosini.jpg

1.       Mastering Your Mean Girl: The No-BS Guide to Silencing Your Inner Critic and Becoming Wildly Weathly, Fabulously Healthy and Bursting With Love by Melissa Ambrosini

We all have that inner voice, that inner bitch. You know the one; the one who tells you are fat, ugly and stupid. The one that tells you you’re not good enough for the promotion or the one who tells you to stay home because nobody likes you. We all have it. Some of us are just better at silencing it than others. In Mastering Your Mean Girl, Ambrosini gives you tangible tools to overcome your Ego/Mean Girl and change the way you think. It’s light, funny, loving and gives you simple tools to help you squash the negative self-talk for good!  For instance, she asks you to make a gratitude list. That’s an instant connection to happiness. How can you be upset or angry when you’re thinking of your kitten, your warm bed, your partner’s kisses or your kid’s giggles? She asks you to write a letter to yourself dated one year from now. They’re simple tasks with big results and stunning clarity.

 

wells.JPG

2.       The Goddess Revolution: Make Peace with Food, Love Your Body and Reclaim Your Life by Melissa Wells

Every woman who has ever thought she was fat, been on diets, counted calories, or loathed what she saw in the mirror NEEDS to read this book. Mel Wells teaches you to tune into your body, to really listen and to appreciate it for what it is at this exact moment. She shares her own personal story and struggles with an eating disorder and how she’s overcome it. Using testimonies and “fitspiration”, you’ll fall in love with your body a million times over and kick diets to the curb once and for all! Using logic and love, she teaches you how to change your thoughts and stop judging yourself. She helps you heal your body image. If you love your body you will ultimately want to treat it right, right? So instead of restricting calories and denying yourself delicious meals, focus on what makes your body feel good and then do more of that!

grout.jpg

3.       Thank and Grow Rich by Pam Grout

Just thinking about this book gives me goosebumps. Since reading this book in early November my life has actually changed. Or rather, my perception has changed so, therefore, my life has changed. Grout shows you how incredible it is to be a living, thinking, miraculous human and how each day is a perfect day to be overwhelmingly grateful to be alive. She gives you tools (which she calls Party Games) to find the gratitude in EVERYTHING. She gives thanks for everything and everyone. Since I started doing the same, I’ve seen an increase in my skin care company, requests to do workshops, more visitors to my blog, an appreciation for everything, and a bubble of happiness that sits in the centre of my chest, waiting to bubble over and out, omitting love and laughter everywhere. Sounds cheesy, I know, but wow, her words are incredibly powerful and waking up to the divine existence in ourselves is even more powerful. She encourages you to wake up every morning and, before even getting out of bed, proclaim something awesomely amazing is going to happen that day. It’s a beautiful habit to adopt. It's actually one that my best friend and I are doing. We text each other every morning and share three things we're grateful for. It sets a good tone and vibration to start our days. An attitude of gratitude, for the good and the bad, is truly magical!

moorjani.jpg

4.       Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani

This is a book that will blow your mind. Moorjani, a woman riddled with cancer, falls into a coma and has an incredible near-death experience that actually heals the cancer that is killing her. Not only is her story a medical miracle and completely unbelievable, yet awe-inspring, but the wisdom and love she finds on the other side of the veil is poetic, romantic and beautiful. One thought she shares that sticks with me is: what if Heaven is Earth? We all strive for a Heaven above but, up there, you can’t taste chocolate or feel a hug. Maybe Heaven is here and we’re meant to be expressions of heavenly love. Isn’t that wonderful? Her words also give me great comfort in dying. I can honestly say (being a healthy woman so hey, this could easily change in the face of death) that I’m not afraid to die. She actually brought me peace with this inevitable fact. Death may not be as bad as I thought it was. It’s not religious but it’s deeply spiritual and life-affirming. Love, she says, is the answer. Always.

I hope you enjoy these incredible books and they make impactful impressions upon you like they did for me! Please let me know if you've read any of the above OR if you have any further recommendations to add! Which magical books are on your nightstand this January?

 

 

I AM A MODERN WOMAN: KY Fitness & Nutrition Consulting

Meet Kalli Youngstrom of KY Fitness & Nutrition Consulting

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?

I am the owner operator of KY Fitness and Nutrition Consulting and work as an online health, fitness, and lifestyle coach!

I work with clients to develop customized nutrition and training programs that are designed to suit their lifestyles while helping them achieve their health and fitness goals. All of my programming is done online so that I can offer my services to anyone in the world and work around any schedule. Although I am personally in Saskatoon I have clients all over the world, from Canada, to Australia, to Sweden! With the majority of my business being online a large part of my day is dedicated to creating content for my various social media platforms along with my client programming. I work to provide insightful content on all things health, nutrition, and training on myYouTube page, Facebook, and Instagram in order to provide people with the tools and information to make the choices that are best for their mind and body.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?

I have always been an athlete, but after 9 years of wresting competitively and making it to the national level it was time for a change. I became interested in bodybuilding while I was in University completing degrees in psychology and marketing and as I prepared myself for my first bodybuilding competition friends and family began to ask for help with their fitness goals.

I began getting certifications in nutrition and exercise while I was completing my University degrees and started to help others with their fitness by creating customized nutrition and training plans for them. From there my clientele continued to grow and by the time I was done university I had a client base that allowed me to continue with my business full time and pursue coaching as an entrepreneur.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

I am inspired by my clients every single day. To have the opportunity to work with clients not only in Saskatoon, but all over the world, and from all walks of life, is truly an eye-opening experience every day. I am continuously motivated to be a better coach and better human through the 1 on 1 interactions I have with my clients on a regular basis. Knowing that I have the opportunity to positively influence the lives of others inspires me to do what I do to the best of my ability every day and continuously grow in all facets of life.

I am also extremely inspired by the opportunity I have to impact women within the community as well as within my social media platforms. I am driven to be a positive role model for women of all ages and encourage them to pursue the path that is right for them, even if it is the less traditional one. Whether it is in fitness, business, or just life, I strive to be a strong role model for all women.

WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF A MODERN WOMAN?

To me a modern woman is one that pursues her dreams fearlessly, no matter what those dreams may be. I feel grateful that I live in a time where women are encouraged to be trail blazers, crush gender barriers, and break glass ceilings- but I also realize that is not necessarily a path that everyone wants to take. I think a modern woman is one who honors her passion in life, embraces the path that is right for her no matter what others say, and uplifts other women along the way.

WHAT TIPS CAN YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS?

I truly want everyone to live a life of no regrets. If you have a business idea or think that entrepreneurship might be for you, question whether you will always think “what if,” if you were to not pursue it. If you know you will look back and regret not having started that business, developed that product, offered that service… maybe it’s time for a change. I don’t think of anything as concrete, you can always change paths, try new things, and adjust. I think that it can be scary to consider entrepreneurship because of the risks attached and viewing it as a cemented decision, but I think regret is even scarier. What’s the worst that could happen?

DO YOU THINK HAVING A MENTOR IS VALUABLE BOTH WHILE YOU'RE STARTING OUT AND EVEN AFTER YOU ARE MORE EXPERIENCED?

Absolutely. Although… do as I say, not as I do. I have never had a true business mentor, but I like to think that I have many mentors in life who I look up to for guidance, inspiration, education, and encouragement. My business is unique in that I “am” my business and it developed very organically. There was no start up cost, no business plan, so the need for a mentor in that sense was less important than it would be to other businesses. I look to role models and mentors within all industries for guidance in making decisions in business and in life and believe an extremely valuable education can be achieved this way. You can avoid many missteps in business by listening to stories of others experiences. Whether from 1 or 100, learning from others is key to success.

DO YOU FEEL A STRONG SENSE OF COMMUNITY AMONG BUSINESS WOMAN AND FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS IN SASKATOON AND IN SASKATCHEWAN?

I love the feeling of community that I experience locally within the group of female entrepreneurs. Being so involved in many social media platforms enables me to interact with female businesswomen and entrepreneurs throughout Saskatoon and Saskatchewan, some who I have yet to have the chance to meet in person, but am able to connect with via social media. Some have even turned into great friends after having had the chance to meet in person and its amazing being able to feel connected to other boss babes despite being an online business! I think this sense of community just goes to show the movement of women empowering each other instead of competing with each other. Hell hath no furry like a team off boss babes supporting one another 😉

Want a chance to meet with Kalli and learn about your food and diet choices? She is hosting a workshop at Modern Woman Show at 3pm on Saturday April 22nd at Prairieland Park. Click HERE to learn more and reserve your spot!

and the Modern Hustle recipient is.....

Freedom Bound Books

We are thrilled to announce the winner of Our Modern Hustle presented by The Creative Hustle - the four week mentorship program by deMo Photography, Modern Woman Show & Expo, and Our Collective Muse is Leah Robinson of Freedom Bound Books

Photo by Freedom Bound Books via Facebook

Photo by Freedom Bound Books via Facebook

Leah designs, prints, cuts, and binds year planners and journals. This journey started with an idea and need for a daily planner to fit the needs of her busy schedule. Leah is a super mom of three with a wickedly supportive husband to help give her guidance along the way. She is ready to help out those busy households with her intricate book designs. There is nothing on the market like her creations and she is ready to expand her passion. We are so excited to be a part of her entrepreneur journey. 

Leah will be featured on an upcoming post for Our Collective Muse, she will be participating in a four week mentorship program with deMo Photography - The Creative Hustle. You will also be able to visit her booth at the 2017 Modern Woman Show & Expo at Prairieland Park on April 22nd & 23rd.  We can NOT WAIT to see how Freedom Bound Books and Leah grow through this experience. 

Let's give her some love by visiting her page and showing her a LIKE  - Freedom Bound Books. 

 

Increase Productivity: 8 Tips from a Happy Driver

About six months ago I walked into the office at 7:45 am as usual, set my things down, unpacked my full lunch kit into the mini fridge and settled down at my desk ready, alert and excited to start my day. This is my best time: between the hours of 7:45 am and about 3:45 pm I am the most alert, productive and efficient in my workday. This is my normal.

A co-worker approaches me and says “Mandi, I always notice you are full of energy from the start of your day to the end!” I feel it too, though truth be told, from 3:45 pm until 5:30 pm when I leave, I am putting in more effort to be “energetic” to say the least. Due to my 4:45 am wakeup call, by late in the afternoon, I am losing steam. At least I am faking it well.

Said co-worker then proceeded to ask for my advice on staying energetic, how to increase productivity and stay organized during my fairly hectic workday. Those who work in the technology space can relate. Especially those in the start-up/fairly new environment—think 50-200 employees. My role can have me working with several different teams and departments all within one workday, and it involves a lot of time management, quick thinking and the ability to be a chameleon depending on the role I am filling at any given moment. He proceeded to explain that he wanted some advice on how I stay focused, patient and fairly low stress while maintaining a full workload and then some.

8 Tips to Increase Productivity

His question made me step back and really think. He wanted my advice? What kind of wisdom could I bestow that would be anything new or life changing? Well, to start with, I guess I could review what a typical “day in my life” looked like and pull some key habits/consistencies in my days. Here is what I found:

1. Sweat everyday

Or at least most days, before the work day begins. A bootcamp, bike ride, run, yoga, traditional weights, etc. I take in whatever fits my week, and most importantly, what I enjoy. If I am bored, I change it up. I rarely do the same thing for weeks on end, or even day-to-day for that matter. This keeps my morning sweat session something I look forward to, even when the sleep fairies tell me it’s far too early to get up.

2. Take the thought of what to eat out of the equation

I buy lots of groceries Sunday, and plan/prep for the busy week. Filling my fridge with lots of variety of both healthy and more fun foods allows for me to be hassle free when it comes to food during the week. Each evening I pack my food for the entire next day, and bring it with me when I am rushing out at 5:30 am. Eating fresh variations of foods keeps me feeling alert, awake, energized and ready to tackle the hectic meeting-filled, task-filled days that working somewhere as fast growing as Vendasta.

3. Shutdown and read 

Each night I shut down all technology approximately one hour before I would ideally like to be asleep. This includes TV, laptop, cell phone, iPad—any screen that has a back light. I pick up a book every evening. And no, this isn’t always a professional development book—sometimes this is something embarrassing like Harry Potter, or another easy read. The point is that I read from something that requires a lamp and turning pages, not touching a screen. This ensures I am alert and ready to be fully connected each day at work, which in the software as a service space is crucial. Laptop, headset, smart phone all in hand for the entire day can be exhausting if you do the same when you arrive home each night. Expand your knowledge and borrow a book from someone you look up to, or that is your mentor, and you can mix-up your nightly reading to ensure that you are having fun but also maybe improving your productivity at the same time!

4. Sleep

This one ties nicely into number three. Reading will ensure you actually fall asleep quicker and remain asleep (i.e. you didn’t leave Jimmy Fallon on in the background to jolt you awake mid dream). Adequate sleep is something I neglected in my early twenties, though I realized its importance a few years ago. It’s surprising how much of an effect an inadequate amount of sleep can have on my ability to juggle a fast paced, partner-centric day; just the kind of day that is certainly waiting for me when I arrive at Vendasta HQ. Our partners are in various different time zones, so when you are groggy at 8 am and yawn as I pick up my headset, they will hear it and likely not have the world class service Vendasta is known to provide. My goal is to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night with no background noise, other than my sleeping dachshund puppy snoring alongside me.

5. Cutback on the digital communication

At one point I was using Trello, Evernote, Google Calendar, email, Slack and Pivotal Tracker. While trying to stay “organized” I was overwhelmed and scattered with overuse of technology. Gasp! She works in a SaaS based company and wants to avoid technology?! False: I want to utilize it effectively. Find a few apps that will work best for you to stay organized. Further, keep it simple and try and use something that the majority of your co-workers use to streamline your correspondence. The best perk of using the same tools as your coworkers is that you can get great tips on how to best use them. Be consistent with these select apps. Find what’s going to work best for you and stick with it. At least until the “next best” app is released, and then of course test it, try it, critique it. We are in this agile space for a reason!

6. Win list

Daily in my preferred app/calendar, I create a quick daily “wins” list—a few items that I know I can complete that day and feel like I am winning. This is a big one. Often times, depending on your role, in the software space you are tasked with things that will take time, several iterations, collaborations and, frankly, fail more times than they are successful. Process changes, busy customers, feature requests, software bugs and the list continues. These hiccups can throw curve balls into getting things fully accomplished in any given workday. Having a quick wins list allows you to feel like you are being productive and getting ahead. Often this list flows into your “slower wins” list, and makes you a better contributing member of the workplace.

7. Take a tech timeout

In a perfect world we would all get our lunch break and leave work at a decent time to have a “balanced” work-life pendulum. Sorry in advance for bursting this oh-so-nice dream that is pushed in every health magazine on the stands. Here is a reality check: if you ask most successful, career-centric individuals at all levels, they will admit that they are not always “balanced.” When their career is thriving their personal life may suffer (if even slightly) and vice versa.

In order to make the best of this reality instead of looking at this in a pessimistic frame of mind, I choose to both love my job and take a hot second (sometimes literally I need some summer air/heat) to reset, refresh and get back at it! So, yes you may miss lunch trying to stay ahead of your growing list of to-dos, and yes you may work past 5 pm sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a time out. The wonderful world of most SaaS based companies, or at least ours, provides a culture and environment conducive to work hard, play hard environment. Take a break at a non traditional time, maybe in your day it’s slower at 9 am and super busy at 5 pm. Take a 15 min break at 9 am and go for a short walk around the block, play a game of ping pong, find a quiet corner and read something interesting or just sit quietly with some music and a cup of joe.

8. Bus driver mindset

No, I am not going to give you advice on meditating or some life changing never heard before tidbit on how to be positive but here are the facts. You drive your own metaphorical life bus. You choose your direction each and every day. You can choose to view every hiccup, bug, change in process, upset partner and empty coffee pot as a massive traffic accident, or you can choose to thrive and appreciate all the things working in this unique, culturally charged environment provides. Take each growing pain as an opportunity to never feel stagnant or bored. You get to come to work each day and learn something new, improve a customer’s experience, improve workflow and, gasp, maybe even contribute to a future BIG thing. Do you want to just drive the same route with zero change, zero obstacles every day for ever? If your destiny includes driving several different models and all different speeds, then get your seat belt on and navigate your way holding onto an (almost) always positive mindset!

These were just a few things I shared with my fellow Vendastian. I quickly realized that while these things all seem simple and obvious to me, they are not so obvious for others, and it’s valuable to share productivity hacks with others. Vendasta is big on promoting a healthy workplace culture, and the daily habits of our executive feed into that, as well as the habits of all Vendastians. I hope that some of my daily habits can help any of you out there feeling stressed, overwhelmed, tired and unproductive in your bustling agency, software company or any demanding workplace you may be a part of.

Mandi

*Amazing things are happening at Modern Woman Show & Expo in 2017. Stay tuned for more information on new features at the event, including two workshops facilitated by Steve Kushman. We will be focusing on the development of Goal Setting for young females and an mentor-ship program for inspiring women in business. #atradeshowwithpurpose

A look at the evolution of the Best Friend

 

What you need in your friendships changes with age, and over time. It starts to look different, but it changes so slowly you really don’t even notice it. A lot has changed for me over the past few years...

I have become very self – aware. I have found out how resilient and adaptable I am. I have allowed myself to be vulnerable and open. All of which is in huge part to the people I surround myself with. My closest friends are my family. They are the people who stand beside me, push me forward, and sometimes…hold me up. They give me the things I need the most, in ways I never expected.

You choose the people you surround yourself with. You decide what you need. We are all human, we all need a few main things from our tribe...

Support.

They drop what they are doing. They check in, as many times as they need to. They listen while you talk. They ask you the tough questions. The ones you know the answers to... somewhere in there, and they let you talk it out and get there on your own. No judgement, only love. They have only your best interest at heart, which means what is best for you, not them. And they will let you figure that out too, as frustrating as that is for them. They hold space. Which is a big, beautiful, and a rare thing.

Encouragement.

They get excited for you. They volunteer their time, hands, space, car, wine...whatever you need for whatever you are doing. They send you “you’ve got this girl” texts, motivational quotes (we all love them, don’t lie), and lists of ideas. And? They get on your ass. To get it done. They tell it to you straight- with love....and sometimes a hard and fast “get real’. They push you. Especially when you don’t want to be pushed. Because they know that’s when you need it the most. They don’t let you coast, because they know you are wayyyyy better than that. And you are. You just need that reminder.

Accountability.

Do yourself a favor. Surround yourself with people who hold you accountable. To your word. Your actions. Your goals. Those people? Those are the ones you want in your corner. They are the ones who not only celebrate with you, but for you. They genuinely celebrate. Like “girl pop the champagne we are dancing on the table” celebrate. Sometimes we put things off, sometimes we are scared to take a step. These are the people who encourage you to DECLARE what you want, what you need, what you will do. And then? They make sure you do it.

Fun.

You laugh till you cry over really stupid things, and that probably aren’t even funny. But you do it together. You have the best random afternoon adventures that generally end (or begin!) with a pint (or three) of beer at your fav pub. You share the kind of text messages that make zero sense to anyone else, that you screen shot because they are that good. You pause to dance in the kitchen mid-conversation because, I mean...obviously. The people who will be ridiculous with you, no holds barred and straight up ridiculous. Those are the most refreshing, vibrant people. Keep them- you always, always need more fun in your everyday.

To my tribe- thank you. You kick ass. I love you, big time.

Xo

Meg