life

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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

 

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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!

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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!

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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?

 

 

Back To Good

I've recently spent a good chunk of time living in a zombie like state of chaos. I've been checked out mentally and physically and didn't even realize it. I felt like I was accomplishing my day-to-day activities, but then I blinked and maybe a month had passed, maybe two? Maybe 6? I don't know, but I DO know that we all get stuck in ruts from time to time. Sometimes our lives can unravel right in front of our noses. I'd like to say it happens to the best of us, but frankly, I have no idea what kind of life problems you people out there in Internet Land have. Let's just say that you can relate to this. If not, click the back button, cause this post isn't for you. If you've ever found yourself coasting day to day like that Groundhog Day movie, except not one bit funny... read on, friends. 

I was lost and I had no idea. The smiling, funny, ambitious, compassionate, adventurous girl I knew when I looked in the mirror had left the building, and a deadpan version had taken her place. I had become really good at faking it sometimes, sometimes not. That was not ok. Not for me, and not for those closest to me. Let's be real, the he ones you love end up taking the brunt of something like this, because we often take them for granted, or we don't notice how our actions even differ from one day to the next.

I ended up unexpectedly hitting a wall, and I was forced to realize that some changes needed to happen for me asap to break out of my Garbage Pail Kid state and find myself again. After all, how can you be the best person for for those you love when you aren't respecting yourself? They say you have to do it for YOU, but sometimes you want to do it for others too, and it pushes you that much harder. 

An authetic paparazzi capture of me currently trying to bumble through life. 

An authetic paparazzi capture of me currently trying to bumble through life. 

I started with small things and will keep working on cultivating my little personal growth seed. Things take time. When dealing with self-care, I tell myself each day is a new opportunity to be humble and do the best I can. (Chicken Soup For The Soul Anyone?? God, what has become of me?) Realistically, some days I get up and feel like there is no reason to do anything other than go back to bed. But its one day at a time with these things. We, as women, (and for those male readers who can relate to this), think. We are thinkers. We are often over thinkers. Sometimes that thinking can propel us forward with strength and grace, and sometimes it leaves us feeling defeated, internalizing the blame for everything you felt you've ever done wrong.  For now, if you're struggling too, here are my Top 10 little things for starting to get myself back to good. 

1. Making my bed. Seriously. Such a small thing, but something I started doing before anything else in the morning. Start the day with a small accomplishment that will be waiting for you when the day is done. 

2. Making sure my dogs get a run. It is a priority and a privilege to treat other living things with respect, rather than viewing them as a hassle. As humans, we are all they have. 

3. Feed and water myself. This should be a no-brainer, but not necessarily the case when you are a resident of Zombieland. I try to always have a huge cup of tea in the morning and strive for at least 80oz of water a day. This is aside from wine, mmmkay? Then eat something, anything, try to pick something healthy I guess. Or live off Triscuits if you must, its better that nothing. 

4. Make a plan. What do I need to get done today?  I make an effort to clean up and respect my space so I can have some clarity.  I may not get every daunting thing done at once, and some things may get done later than sooner, but I make a list and take it one task at a time. Yard work, fixing shit, decluttering, washing walls, it all sucks. However, it's satisfying when something gets done, because I can check it off the list. I love lists. 

5. Take the time to make someone else feel good about themselves. The smallest thing can make someone's day. I believe in putting little bits of good energy out there, because it will come back around. A little check in with someone can go a long way in today's checked out world. 

6. Cry it out. Sometimes you just have to. Sometimes it will come out of nowhere, sometimes in unfortunate places and situations. Often it happens at home, when you are alone. Sometimes it might feel like a private purge of emotion, but most times you will likely wish someone else was there to see you at your worst and comfort you. It's when nobody is there that you really are forced to dig down deep and find your strength. 

7. Make time for physical activity. Easier said than done, cause frankly, it sucks ass. But our bodies and minds are connected and if they are outta whack, we won't feel good. It gives us clarity. I try to pick something that I don't dread that day, maybe something new, take a workout friend, switch it up. Even just go for a walk. (Maybe I should get some of those weird walking sticks I see people with... google them, they are bizarre.) Just get out and move. 

8. Indulge. Watch a shitty reality tv show, read a crappy thriller, meet friends for a beer, take a soak in the hot tub, drink the expensive glass of wine. Do those little things that make you feel sneaky and awesome. Maybe it's sitting by yourself watching re-runs of Master Chef while eating cold ravioli out of a can... Is that beyond the scope of acceptable? #askingforafriend

9. Choose kindness. Choose optimism. Choose forgiveness.  Choose love. Believe in happy endings. It can be difficult in hard times, I know, but break out those rose coloured glasses whenever you possibly can. 

10. Sleep. I don't care how you do it. I do it my own way with good old fashioned sleeping pills because that's how I roll. it's about as badass as I get. But you can meditate, use breathing exercises, smoke dope, take melatonin, get someone to knock you out with a frying pan for f*cks sake, or by all means, join the pharmaceutical Valley Of The Dolls like me. Have a good bed, good pillows, and remember that your body can't function without proper rest. 

Are all of this things easy? Hell no. If they were I wouldn't be writing about this floofy crap. But but when things are sh*tty,, we have to start somewhere. Will my little things work for you? Maybe, but maybe not. We all need to find ways to plant our little seeds and try to feel calm, accomplished, and worthy of living another day. So even if there is one person out there who feels like you're living in chaos and cruising along in a big ol' rut - take a deep breath, ask for help, you aren't alone. 

Take it one day at a time. 

Start by making your bed. 

Katie xoxo

The Difference A Year Makes

Today I turn 34 years old (happy birthday to me!). Birthdays are milestones, and milestones cause reflection for me, this year perhaps more than usual.

Flashback to one year ago today- I had just days before my 33rd birthday found out I was pregnant (surprise!), and my entire life shifted in every way possible. The year to follow would turn out to be one of the most challenging and rewarding of my entire life. I met the love of my life almost 5 months ago... his name is Asher, he is an amazing and beautiful tiny human and he is my son.

Last March I was running a business, managing a team and creating jewelry on the side. Fast forward one year.... I spend my days nursing, changing diapers, singing rounds of "How funky is your chicken" and making faces to get giant smiles out of my little mister. I get puked on roughly 12 times a day. All of my clothes were black...now they are puke stained black. I am a different person now that I have a child. I didn't think I would be, but it is impossible not to be - I have another human being who is an extension of me. Through the ups and downs of the last year, going through a not so comfortable pregnancy ( that is a whole other blog post!), and navigating the early days of parenthood with my partner, I have learned many things - and many things have shifted.

Most of my life I struggled with saying yes - to people, projects, plans. I wanted to do #allofthethings, and I wanted to do them myself. Instead of delegating tasks and projects at work -something my boss had been trying to teach me for months (hi Anna!)-I hoarded them all because I wanted to be a part of everything. It wasn't really working for me then, and it very quickly stopped working for me when I became pregnant. It was then that I (finally) learned a very beautiful thing... I learned to say no. I learned to delegate to my team, and how to lift people up and help them grow by playing to their strengths. I learned how to put myself first, because now I really had to... and I learned that is not selfish, it is powerful.

Asking for help has never been my forte, in any setting. I could do #allofthethings myself, and handle any curve-ball life threw at me alone, why would I ask for help?! Another beautiful lesson that I learned this past year. You know what happens when you ask people for help? They help you. I know right?! Whether I needed help with a project at work, moving into our house before baby came, or now needing support in taking steps to deal with post partum anxiety - I learned asking for help means my people will help me. With love, and without judgement.

"Living in the moment" has taken on a new meaning to me. What used to mean spur of the moment plans, or turning a morning breakfast date into afternoon patio drinks and laughs with my bestie, became letting Asher nap on me for 2 hours and soaking in his little baby snores. It's pressing pause on writing this blog post 5 times to bring him laughing onto my lap and play with his little baby feet. While I miss those all day adventures, and staying up late laughing into the night, I know they will come again. This little man will not cuddle me all day forever (whyyyyy?!), and so I pause, and I enjoy. Most days don't go according to plan right now. Plans go awry, tasks don't get done on time and now? I go with it.

I've always found the little things in life to bring the most joy, and I've realized a new appreciation for those little things in the last year. A full cup of hot coffee, an extra long hug, five more minutes of sleep (any more minutes of sleep!). A partner who tidies the house as he walks in the door from work, a friend who sends a simple heart emoji in the middle of a rough day, a gummy baby smile from my son. I have found that these little things are the big things to me now.  A year ago I packed a million tasks and plans into my days, rarely taking the time to slow down and pay attention, opting instead for the self inflicted busy-ness I thrived on. In the past year, I have discovered a newfound appreciation for my partner, for myself, for time. These days I find supreme excitement in purchasing the stroller I wanted instead of new suede booties for myself, I plan Asher's outfits for outings instead of my own (because I will be wearing puke stained all black, obviously). Social engagements after 7:30pm require more planning and a breast pump and wandering the aisles at Superstore doubles as "me time". I find myself content and really, I wouldn't change a thing.... except the puke stained clothes.

xo,

Megan

 

 

 

HAVE YOU LOVED YOU TODAY?

It’s the day of love.

A day when the world tells you to appreciate your significant other by buying them a red rose, a piece of jewelry, and making a reso at a nice restaurant.  I love jewelry, flowers, and good food so by no means is this blog post about the commercialization of Valentine’s Day.  This post is more about the things I have seen over the course of my almost 34 years.  I came across a Facebook status yesterday that struck a chord inside me. It read “No Longer Looking”. It wasn’t that this person had found love but instead felt frustrated that they simply couldn’t, felt deflated, and wanted to give up.  I want to tell the world that the only person you need to love is yourself and here is why-

My opinion varies on the subject.  It seems to be in human nature and probably a lot to do with the culture we live in that we join hands and walk two by two-before you get too old or you are deemed faulty.  If you reflect on past generations we have certainly come a long way from marrying within your postal code and not skipping a beat to start your family. Today, there seems to be less pressure to marry in your early twenties and jump into the minivan.  I still hear women talk about the time clock, how they wish they could just find the “one”, and have kids.  It’s like the movie Pleasantville.  We are not fulfilled in life if we don’t have the white picket fence, perfect home, and a variety of charger plates for our dinner parties. And look at little Chantal’s view on her future….I was drinking the Kool-Aid.

My 10 year old self predicting the future...

My 10 year old self predicting the future...

Well it’s safe to say that my path didn’t quite end up with a cargo van of kids, a multi profession career, or the horses. I blame the Hasbro game “Life” …if you took the college route you made bank, throw in a few of those extra pegs and you were set to WIN.  Now, the storybook of my actual life had a bit of college, some travelling, and a variety of relationships including a short marriage. Far cry from the routine pathway I took in my favourite board game. 

What the game of life also didn’t teach me was it isn't as easy as falling on the space that said GET MARRIED- then place your appropriate gender colored peg in your car.  It was much more difficult.  I had a theme for over a decade- it was simply to pick the wrong guys. It has taken quite a few years to figure out the common link to each of them and in all my reflecting it was the lack of self-love. People simply have to be happy with themselves to be happy with another person.  I was also to blame because, staying or picking these types of men in my life was normal and I made it acceptable to be treated that way.  I lacked the love for myself. There was everything from mental abuse, alcoholism, dishonesty, manipulation, infidelity, oh the list goes on… over years I became a shell of a person. It was completely normal for someone to treat me with complete disrespect.  It became all I knew.  Even when I would end a bad relationship I seemed destined to arrive at another one.

I took a stand one day.  Told everyone around me that I was not interested in dating ever again. I was over it.  No one could be trusted.  I wasn’t willing to have my heart ripped out of my chest anymore.  Maybe it’s with age I started to learn who I was and that I refused to be mistreated.  By no means would I say that I have the world of relationships figured out but, I started to feel more confident and secure when expecting to be treated a certain way.  I wasn’t going to stay silent and just live with it.  I used to be so scared to stand up for my feelings. Fear that the other person would judge me and maybe they would walk away- be the one to leave me!  In the end…isn’t that better? To figure out that you’re not each other’s person before another 3 years goes by.  ‘Fake it till ya make it’ doesn’t work in matters of the heart.

When I look at all the people that surround my life I can directly pin point the ones in relationships that I believe are great examples-relationship mentors.  These individuals love themselves (not in a selfish, I only put my needs first kind of way) but in a I respect myself enough to choose a partner in life that treats me the way I demand to be treated and I also show that same respect back to my person.  I watch some relationships from afar and just think...if only you knew that you don’t deserve to live like that.  People had looked at me and I can guarantee they said the same thing. 

So in closing I want to reiterate that no one should ever feel like their life is behind because they haven’t found their person, started that family, with horses, on that acreage.  You will stumble, question your gut, then your heart, then your gut again.  You will curse the game.  But get back in that car and enjoy the ride.  Learn from your mistakes, no really….actually learn from them.  Recognize the red flags and the green ones too. 

So on this day of LOVE, I want to ask you...have you loved YOU today?

Chantal XOXO

I'm not your mom. I'm Chan

As we approach the fourth year of the Modern Woman Show; the blog team and I have decided to reflect on the last year’s growth and changes. For myself I have always found that your world can be turned upside down at a moment’s notice and we have to learn to roll with the punches.

Hand me a work issue, rental property mishap, or multiple chronic diseases, and I GOT IT (with a little wine and some grumbling).  Now, add a whole new dynamic with a little eight year old, call me dad’s girlfriend and see me squirm.  I’m a fish out of water. KIDS. Shit. This sounds scary. It’s a tough gig this ‘stepmom’ role especially when you don't have children of your own. You never really know how you will be accepted by the family, the existing friends, and most importantly by the kids. In what ways will this effect your future? Will you sacrifice your goals and plans? And don't forget the ex wife who might pop out of the bush at any moment - that is a whole other level of stress. What do you say? What do you not say? Don't screw this up! Everything is so delicate. 

It happened and now you're attached to the kid(s). You love them with all your heart and can't imagine life without them. But a nice dose of reality sets in. You are not their mother

Today i'm offering a little advice to those second in command. I'm not a counselor but I have had personal experience as a kid of a blended family and now in the reverse role. So i have compiled a little list of dos and dont's. 

* Support your partner’s parenting decisions. You are a united front. Offer feedback and conversation out of earshot of the children but remember that you are the co-pilot in this particular journey. Kids like stability, so provide that. You may not have your shit together but the kids need to think you do.

* Be a good listener and don't force the process of building a relationship – when you are yourself it tends to happen naturally. Kids feel the pressure of being loyal to their biological parents. Don't make it more stressful for them. This process does not happen overnight. 

* Understand and accept that your friendship is a valuable piece in this little humans upbringing and being a positive role model everyday will always have a huge impact on who they grow up to be. We all have gifts that can be shared with the world. Find those common interests. Mine happens to be love of hockey and Nutella by the spoonful. 

* This is not for the weak. It can often feel like life in the trenches. Unless you have been there you truly can't understand. Somewhat like an outsider. Especially so when you don't have children of your own. Keep open communication with your partner and it can be of great comfort to talk to someone who shares this same role.

* You can't fix what you didn't break and just KNOW that some battles can't be won or more importantly -shouldn't be won. Be supportive. Be kind. Be patient. Be honest. And sometimes going to the safeway starbucks to take a breather is needed. It can be your secret spot. Just make sure to save me a seat.

I really want to say kudos to all the stepmoms and stepdads, the girlfriends and boyfriends who accept the challenges of a blended family. It’s a tough job but you are nailing it. 

And remember...

LOVE MAKES A FAMILY

Chantal