Monday, March 26, 2012

Self-Love: 1 |Self-Doubt: 0

As many of you may be aware, I’ve committed myself to running the 5K for Ottawa Race Weekend on Saturday May 19th, 2012 with my sister, Joan.  The prospect of training for this event initially gave me a jolt of excitement but it also prompted a visit from a couple of old friends of mine, Fear and Self-Doubt.

Challenging myself to try something new like running and “putting myself out there” seemed great in theory but my implementation of said task was leaving a bit to be desired.  Doubt was threatening to overthrow my willpower.   Luckily, a friend of mine recently invited me to join a “Learn to Run” clinic last week and the offer couldn’t have come at a better time. This 10 week course is taught at Running Room locations throughout Canada (and a few stores in the U.S. as well) and is a great intro for newbies such as myself. 

I attended a co-ed class that kicked off on Wednesday March 21, 2012 armed with my water bottle, a pair of new shoes and an open mind.  A couple of years ago the idea of running would have made me balk because I didn’t think that I was good enough for the sport.  I honestly convinced myself that I wasn’t worthy enough to be considered an athlete.  I know differently now.  So many people that I’ve seen running with confidence and grace didn’t start out that way.  Some of them smoked a pack or two a day.  Some had more than just 20 or 50 pounds to shed.  Some of them were fighting depression or stress that seemed far bigger than they could handle.  What brought them to running (while relevant) seems to play a distant second to the power of their decision to lace up … move… and try.

I have nothing but the utmost respect for the ability to overcome adversity.  These unassuming people made the brave choice to lead by example and it’s their dedication to their own well-being that has brought me into training today.  I’m proud to say that after only less than a week in, I think that I may be hooked on pounding the pavement.

I came home after a long day of work today.  It was cold outside (-6 degrees Celsius); I wanted to get into my pyjamas and unwind a bit but I felt a pull to put on my shoes and get outside.  My mind was giving me reasons to be complacent with laziness but my body supplied me with the motivation to be active.  I’m happy to say that my body won out.

Please don’t misunderstand me when I share the virtues of this new adventure.  I don’t consider myself to be better than anyone else or an expert on running for that matter.  I am, however, a supporter of the idea that nothing tried is in fact nothing gained.  It’s with great enthusiasm that I encourage you to try something new today.

Until next time, friends!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Some Spring in My Step

There’s just something so fresh and new about springtime!  I’m raring to keep moving and I have an R4 formula that will help me reach my goals.  Read on if you care to join me!
Review – Go over the progress that you've made over the course of the last 79 days.  How is your 2012 shaping up so far?  If you’re feeling great and “on track” then congratulations!  Keep doing what inspires you and while you’re at it, try to help someone else along.  On the other hand, if you’re sensing potential resistance or fear to the change that you want to see in your life, the next point is especially for you!
Revise – Some things need to be re-worked in our day to day lives in an effort to get from Point A to Point B.  Spring is the perfect time to make room for some changes! For example, if coffee is making you feel too edgy then try drinking some caffeine free herbal tea.  Are you bored with your “home-to-work-and-back- again” routine?  Shake it up!  Get up a little earlier and go for a quick “wake up” walk or try coming home on time and strolling to a new part of town for a change.
Regroup – This somewhat on par with “Revise” but with twist.  Ask yourself what your priorities are right now.  Making changes can often alter what’s important to you.  Restructure things as required and remember that self-care takes precedence if you want to be present for anyone (or anything) else in your life.
Renew – It’s vital to restore faith within yourself to get things done. Personal success can be realized by acknowledging the progress you want to see your life and by taking the initial steps towards making things happen.
Who’s up for this springtime party?!
I’m jamming to an oldie but a goodie by The Melody Makers - Look Who's Dancin'.  Check it out and I look forward to connecting with you again on the next post J  Until next time, friends!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Can You Relate?

It seems like interpersonal dysfunction is running rampant these days.  Relationship success stories are seemingly as mythical as unicorns and dragons.  I recently met with an old friend who is married to a man that many women would coin as the “perfect” husband.  From their whirlwind courtship to their beautiful wedding to their cute kids (one boy and one girl) and a home in the suburbs – they have lived a life that many would envy.   
It turns out that my perception couldn’t have been farther from the truth.  She hasn’t been happy for a couple of years.  Their relationship has been slowly eroding and the smiles that I’ve seen in so many of their recent pictures have just been masks that they put on for what she coins as “the show”.   Relationships can be tough and I say this as a woman who has been working hard to sustain her own.  Throughout my efforts, this is what I’ve realized:
 Our inability to connect is due to our inability to relate. 
We’re living in times where people are often looking for a quick fix.  Instant gratification is available to us by means of popping a pill or simply pushing a button.  Work is often getting done without having to break a sweat and people are quickly forgetting the importance of making a sincere effort.  What that means for our relationships can be grim if attention is not immediately paid trying to see things from a different perspective.  We have to try to relate to one another again.
 Change is certainly inevitable but it’s how we respond to the change that ultimately sets the tone (not to mention the path) of our closest bonds.  Take time out to try and relate to your partner.  There is no guarantee that doing this will make everything right, but it might help you to understand where they are coming from.  Ultimately everyone just wants to be heard. 
I'm going to work at this a little bit more.  How about you?
Until next time friends.....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Way I See You

(My little note to a special friend that needs to know how very special she is. I love you!)

If you could see "you" the way I see you,
You'd always smile at your reflection.

You're beautiful.

If you could see "you" the way I see you,
You'd find pleasure in your company.

You're lovely.

If you could see "you" the way I see you,
You'd never question your worth.

You're priceless.

I thank God for giving me eyes to see you the way that I do.


What You Say Matters

I was sitting at my desk a couple of days ago and my colleague declares passionately that she is going to start making cupcakes and giving them away to our consultants.  She's itching to start being more creative and wants to start branching out.  Did I mention that I work for an Information Technology firm?  I scoffed at the prospect of having us viewed as "cupcake girls".  As far as I was concerned, women have worked long and hard to be taken seriously in any male-driven industry and her idea risked dragging our credibility back a couple of decades. 

While looking a bit crestfallen, my colleague still defended her vision (even though it was a little less passionate than her initial pitch).

<Pause here for my remorseful sigh>

Let's recap, shall we?

Question: Did she ask for my opinion?
Answer: Not at all.  My rant was completely unsolicited

Question: Was her cupcake dream a threat to her or anyone else?
Answer:  No.  In fact, it’s a commendable idea.  At least she has the courage to try.

Question:  Did I make myself heard?
Answer:  Yes.  I stood up on my soapbox and spewed my judgments from on high. 

I didn’t think that what I’d said mattered.  To my dismay it did.

(Insert foot in mouth; add salt and pepper to taste)

Normally I would be happy about my words and viewpoint having an impact on someone’s day, except that in the aforementioned scenario I was not a ray of sunshine and joy. Although my intentions were honourable, I came across as a storm cloud blowing torrential hot air from the West.

I have since sincerely apologized to my cubicle mate for my verbal hit and run. She graciously accepted.

What is the moral to this story of woe?

Simply put, when presented with an opportunity to build someone up, use the cheapest yet most effective tool that you have - your words. 

They may have more impact than you think and despite what anyone tells you (more often than not) they matter.

Until next time, friends.....

Sunday, March 11, 2012

CG Spotlight on Nicole Blake

 Just over two years ago, I walked into a Body Combat class at GoodLife Fitness.  It wasn’t my first class at the gym and cardio-kickboxing wasn’t new to me but it was the first time that I sweat, punched, kicked and actually smiled at the same time.  That powerful workout (and the many that followed) was courtesy of Nicole Blake. 

Nicole moved from Washington D.C. to Ottawa at the age of 18 and has since made O-town her home.  I recently had the chance to sit down and chat with her about life, love and health.  She’s definitely one of my most inspiring role models and adding the title “friend” is nothing short of a privilege. 

Nicole’s been a Body Combat instructor for the last four years and shows no signs of stopping her infectious advocacy of all things fitness (mind, body and soul).  Our pregnancies differed by only about 4 months and watching her on the stage while in her second trimester was a big part of what kept me motivated to stay in shape throughout my pregnancy.

 Interestingly enough, if you had asked Nicole five years ago if she could picture herself teaching a fitness class to a loyal following of “Combatters”, the answer would have been “No!”.  She enjoyed participating in the classes on regular basis but never gave instructing a thought until she was encouraged by her friend (who also taught) to audition.  Motivated by a personal goal to overcome stage fright, Nicole auditioned, shadowed and completed intensive training in order to get to where she is with her teaching today.  Nicole’s commitment to health and fitness is evident to anyone that’s taken her class. She states, “It’s a very rewarding experience to hear someone say that they were having a bad day but that my class helped to make a difference”.

 With an active toddler, a new fiancĂ©, a busy day job, a regular fitness routine, a close knit family and copious amounts of friends, Nicole manages to achieve balance by tending to what she considers to be important while shaking off the “small stuff”.  She works hard to maintain her relationships; her schedule is often so full that making time for the people and activities that feed her soul just makes sense. She grew up in a very social home and that seems to have resurfaced in her own home life today.

If I could encapsulate Nicole in two words it would be Love Ambassador.  She pours her heart into everything that she does and makes it a point to practice positivity daily. In her own words, “I’m authentic and true to who I am.  I don’t feel like [being positive] is a standard that I have to maintain”.    I can attest to this being true.  I subscribe to Nicole’s weekly distribution email called TGIF.  For the past 10 years Nicole’s words of encouragement, motivation and inspiration has graced the email inboxes to many appreciative fans.  She takes her personal weekly experiences and shares them with the masses, her eloquent lessons of compassion that can be found in the most seemingly ordinary situations.

Sadly our interview had to come to a close but before we parted ways, I asked Nicole what she would say to the woman that doesn’t believe in her ability to get into shape and start living a healthier lifestyle.  She insightfully replied, “It’s mind over matter.  My father always used to tell me ‘You should drive your bus and don’t let the bus drive you’”. 
I couldn’t have said it better myself!

If you’re looking for an intense (but fun) work out and would like to meet Nicole in person, check out one of her classes!  She teaches Monday nights (5:30 pm) at the GoodLife Fitness in Vanier and Wednesday nights (7 pm) at the GoodLife Fitness at Hunt Club.

Until next time friends....

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Salvation in the Midst of Frustration

Letting go of certain things in my life has always been a bone of contention for me. Whether it’s a relationship, an idea, a dream, or even tchotchkes from my yester-years … releasing my vise-grip hold is still a work in progress.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
- Albert Einstein

I was recently feeling pretty frustrated about a particular aspect of my life and my preoccupation with the issue was taking over way too much of my day-to-day thought process.  Trying to find salvation in the midst of frustration can often feel like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  It just doesn’t fit.  That’s when I remembered there’s always a choice.

You can decide to accept the status quo or to make a change that will propel you into a better space.  Sometimes it’s better to re-invent the wheel (especially when the old one is broken). Instead of doing things begrudgingly, I feel that my energy can be used more effectively to cultivate positive ideas and initiatives.

It never ceases to amaze me how simple it can be to work through a situation. 

Write it out.
Break it down.
Make a choice.
(Repeat the cycle as required).

Until next time friends….

Monday, March 5, 2012

Preparation is Key to Success

Food that I prepared to start the week off with a bang!

"It's better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret."
 Jackie Joyner Kersee

I resolved this weekend to work on alleviating unnecessary stress in my life.  As a working mother on the constant "go" this could seem like a tall order but I decided to take it step by step.  The first area that I started to chip away at is meal planning.

All too often I find myself in a position where it's time to run out the door in the morning only to find that:
  1. I haven't had breakfast yet
  2. I didn't make time to pack my lunch and
  3. The game plan for dinner is still a work in progress.
Taking steps towards a more efficient system was well within my grasp and so I decided to:
  • Go to the grocery store and purchase foods that served the nutritional purposes that I wanted to achieve for me and my family this week.
  • Reserve about 2-4 hours on one day of the weekend to prepare the food that was bought - This included peeling, chopping, (sometimes) weighing, cooking, portioning and freezing/ refrigerating everything ahead of time.  As much whole food as possible!
  • Make things fun! Turning on some music and enjoying the process of preparing things was great.  Knowing that the time I was putting in would actually save me time in the long run brought a smile to my face.
This is a new endeavour, I can't proclaim success and complete transformation yet but I my “to-do” list has gotten a bit shorter and I have gotten a tad happier about the prospect of simplicity.  Creighton Abrams once said, “When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.”  I couldn’t agree more.  The process might take a bit longer, but it ensures a much less stressful experience.

Until next time, friends....

Saturday, March 3, 2012

In Like A Lion....

March 2012 has started on a great foot packed with friends, self-care and some truly amazing talent.  Where to I begin?  How about I mix them all in?

On Thursday I had the good fortune of being invited to participate in a yoga class.  It's been a while since I have rolled out the mat and attempted asanas so I leapt at this opportunity.  The invitation to class came from my friend and the yoga class instructor, Celina Hearst, over at Hearst Academy of Martial Arts.  If you’re new to yoga or already enjoy a regular practice, I encourage you to check it out.  The class is intimate in size which allows for optimum relaxation and personal attention from Celina for any assistance that you may require.

 Friday night was another exciting one for me and another girlfriend of mine, Iyono Ede.  Iyono is a brilliant songstress whose soulful vocal style set the stage on fire in the opening night performance of Jonathan Larson's Rent at the Centrepointe Theatre in Ottawa.  She was a member of an exceptional ensemble cast who literally blew me away (and occasionally moved me to tears).  I've been fortunate to see various renditions of this rock opera (in both performance and movie theatres) and without exaggeration I can say this Orpheus Musical Theatre Society performance is my favorite yet!  Well worth the very reasonable price of admission and I encourage everyone to treat themselves to this show which runs from March 2 - 11.  Note: If by chance you miss the show (and I am so sorry if you do) you can catch Iyono on stages throughout Ottawa performing with The Hammerheads.

I have managed to set the bar pretty high for March's kickoff and I have no doubt that the momentum will continue to pick up.  Stay tuned this week for my one on one interview with Body Combat extraordinaire, Nicole Blake.  Nicole is going to be chatting about fitness, love and life.  I'm happy to have you all along for the ride!

Until next time, friends.....

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Women In My Circle

I believe that there is strength that can be found in numbers.  I'm not speaking about the person that has hundreds of ”friends" on Facebook or the person that has millions of dollars and no one to share it with. As far as I’m concerned those numbers don’t matter.

Today I am speaking of the number of people that are close to your heart.  It could be your one dearest confidante or your ten fabulously fun girlfriends, strength can be found in friendship.  

As we step closer to International Women's Day on March 8th, I'm inspired to share my thoughts about a group that’s near and dear to me -- the women in my circle.  These are very special women that I can call at any time and who bring out the best in me. Some of them don’t know each other but they all have played an integral part in my life.  Let me tell you a bit more about them....

The women in my circle are funny.   They remind me to laugh and to not take everything in life so seriously.  Somehow they magically transform a pool of tears into a fit of giggles (or at least a smile).  Thoughts shared by them have often brought random smirks to me days and months after a conversation has transpired.

The women in my circle continue to change and evolve. Their skin covers a wide spectrum of pigment and their ages range from junior to senior but these trivial things do not define them.  Small, large, old, new, single, married, mothers or not the beauty of these friends are found in their differences.  Some have touched my heart and gone along a different path only to come back years later.  I learn all of the time that friendship is about quality and not history.

The women in my circle speak to my face and not around my back.  They have enough confidence in our friendship to know that while I might not always share their perspective, I will come to understand that they speak from a place of love and intended support.

The women in my circle are majestic. To my knowledge none of them have descended from aristocracy but they carry themselves with pride, grace and charm.  Being in their company is an honour and a gift.

The women in my circle know who they are and where they are going.  Sure, they’ve stumbled along the way and may continue to do so.  Who hasn't?  When they fall, they pick themselves up, wipe their tears (as they have done for me so many times) and keep moving forward with determination and purpose.

The women in my circle have answered many of the prayers that have fallen from my mouth. 

I’ve prayed for love and they’ve embraced me;
I’ve prayed for prosperity and they’ve reminded me of what is truly valuable;
I’ve prayed for peace and they’ve helped to ease my mind.

I'm eternally grateful for these amazing women.  When they read this, they won't have to ask if I’m referring to them.  They know who they are.

Until next time, friends!