My daughter, Clara, is a wild one. She pushes the envelope in every way. And she doesn't let anyone boss her around.
She asks for ice-cream in a cone....then eats it from that cone with a spoon.
She wears her fanciest red velvet Christmas dress to daycare on a Tuesday in July.
She eats soup with her hands.
And when you try to slip a t-shirt over her head, to help get her dressed, she rips it off, and puts it back on all by herself.
She doesn't let anyone sush her. In any way. Not even her ex-librarian mother who is pretty damn good at "shushing" (full disclosure, I aced the course on "shushing" in grad school).
And while I try hard to make sure she grows up to be a decent human being, with values and morals and kindness in her soul....there's part of me that witnesses her fiery attitude, and let's it be.
Because how many of us bend over backwards, just to appease others? How many of us alter who we are in order to steady the boat? How many of us quiet our wildness in order to fit in?
And truly......how exhausting is it to do all that?!
When I think about self-love, I think about coming home to myself. A reunion with the "me" that I sometimes do not allow myself to be. And although sometimes that can mean a little box wine in the bedroom, or some Ben & Jerry's in the bathtub......more often than not, self-love is simply setting down the effort I am putting into being loved or accepted by others.
Self-love is letting go of the identities that are keeping me hostage.
Self-love is coming back to the centre of my being, and reminding myself that nothing is lacking.
And as freeing as this act of metaphorically undressing can be.....it can also be a little uncomfortable. Because all of sudden, we're aware of that part to us that is heavy with disguise. The cable-knit sweater of our lives.
We're aware of that area in our lives that we want to be one thing, and are choosing another.
We're aware of where it is we are being restrained.
But guys, as often as I have seen that glaring reality in my own life.......it has been the greatest gift to be able to recalibrate my course. It has been the greatest gift to be able to feel like I can come home to myself at the end of the day, and not have to off-load the weight of who it is I am pretending to be.
For me, self-love has meant turning that sigh-of-relief, that reprieve, that window of me-ness into my entire life, my entire being. Not just being "me" when no one else is around.
Sure. No one gets it perfectly right. There will always be ways in which we give in to being the chameleon.
But the more we can do the self-love strip-tease, and give ourselves permission to love ourselves first, the closer we will get to true happiness and fulfilment.
So go ahead. Be the wild stallion you were born to be. Eat soup with your hands. And walk around as naked as you can!
Surprise evyerone around you.
And do it all unapologetically!
Ever since I can remember, my son Liam has been afraid of the dark. He's had the same moon-shaped nightlight since he was a tiny baby. And so when the bulb burnt out last night, he was thrown into an outright panic.
[Insert blood-curdling scream here]
I lied in bed with him as he clung onto me for dear life. I brushed the hair from his sweaty little forehead. And I kissed his tear-stained cheeks.
We talked about "the dark." And I tried to get out of him what he was so scared about.
Of course, it was the same old story. Evil lurks under the bed, and in the shadows. And we simply do not know what's hiding where we cannot see.
But that's when our conversation took a turn.
I mentioned the moon and the stars and the fireflies in the sky. And right out the blue, Liam said one of the most incredible things I have ever heard: "huh....ya, I guess sometimes we need a little bit of darkness to see beautiful things."
Certainly, we've all had our fair share of darkness in life.
Pain. Fear. Stress. Heartache. Loss. Sadness.
But I ask you this. What kind of beauty has emerged out of that darkness? What has become visible to you, only as a result of being in that scary place?
I can remember a time in my life when I felt completely depleted. I was giving everything I had to my kiddos, including working at a job that was remarkably unfulfilling....simply because it paid the bills.
I would open my eyes in the morning, and be flooded with anxiety. The endless to-do lists. The constant demands. And the feeling of exhaustion, even before I began my day.
I would walk around, invisibly cocooned by the things I wanted to control. Thinking that if I kept my worries close, I would be able to manage them. If I kept my fears in plain sight, they would have less of a chance of coming true.
I was in a dark place.
But out of that darkness, came the most beautiful realization.
I have the power to choose to love myself, with everything I have. I have the power to choose to surrender to life, rather than be constricted by it.
I realized that I was the one weighing myself down. And that the very act of picking up burden and worry, was causing me to sink, like a rock, to the bottom of the river. The very act of picking up fear, was causing me to live in the very place I was trying to avoid.
My ultimate fear was that I would fail as a mother.
Particularly if I showed myself some love, and put my own well-being first.
But the second I put that fear down, and I began to care for my body, my mind and my spirit......I was freed from my own prison.
At the gym, strength is measured by how much weight we can add onto our bar. Yet, oddly enough, outside of the gym, strength can be measured by how much weight we are willing to let go of. How much we are willing to surrender. And much we are willing to drop our own worst fears.....even if we are certain that the boogie-man is just waiting to make his move, the very second our night-light goes out.
"How tremendously powerful you are, dear one. Can't you see how much love you can create for yourself? How much suffering you can obliterate?" -- Sarah Blondin, Live Awake Podcast.
It is early October. The city is painted with beautiful golden leaves.
And like a scene from a 90s horror flick, we round the corner, only to be confronted by a hideous masked man, wielding a bloody butcher knife. It is winter. And it has taken us all by surprise.
My kids are ecstatic! All they can talk about is snowmen, and snowball fights, and hot chocolate!
Me, on the other hand? I am in the corner, trying not to pout. Hmph. Really, mother nature?! Really?!?!
Perspective is everything. And this is a lesson my kiddos remind me of me of, every single day. Positivity is a choice. And it is up to us to call it into action.
Sure, you can choose not to find joy in the snow. But if you make that choice, you will have less joy in your life....and still....the same amount of snow.
So why not choose to smile about it?!
Embracing light over darkness isn't always easy. And there are certain seasons of our lives that may seem impossibly heavy.
This past month has been a rough one for me. But even in the depths of heartbreak, I have been able to hold pearls of love in my hand, that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to unearth. There is beauty in everything. If we allow ourselves to see it.
And truly, guys? The quality of our life depends on our willingness to choose joy.
All too often, we blame outside circumstances for our unhappiness. But in those triggering moments, we can choose to hold the hand of joy, and set ourselves free.
One of the most self-defeating choices I used to make as a young mom, was to ignore my own well-being. I would tell myself that my kids needed me, more than I needed me. And over and over again, I would put myself last. Choosing to feel forlorn. Poor me.
I was exhausted. I was burnt out. And I was unhealthy, both physically and mentally.
But the second I started shifting my mindset towards gratitude, everything changed.
All of a sudden, I started to see that I wasn't alone. People were willing and able to help me out. And I actually did have pockets of time in my day that could be carved out as "me time." I was empowered. I priotized my own health. And in turn, I became a better mom, because I was a better me.
Negativity breeds negativity. And it was almost as if I had blinders on, unable to see how I was actually creating my own prison.
I made the conscious choice to see things differently. With positivty. And it was like a veil was lifted. Aha! I'm not as stuck as I thought I was.
And so in those moments that your fiery self wants to wage war on all goodness, shouting form the rooftops about the injustice of it all.....fill your lungs with a conscious breath, and see what it feels like to make a snow-angel in the midst of the snow-storm.
The other day, I was at the mall with my 4-year old daughter, and as we walked passed a Victoria's Secret poster featuring a pouty-lipped seductress, all dolled up in sexy red lace, she looked up and yelled excitedly...."Mommy! It's you!"
As implausible as "lingerie model" is on my resume.....I willingly bathed in the compliment, secretly hoping that the handsome UPS delivery guy walking by, had overhead it all. I mean, I can't be the only one who believes that children and drunks always speak the truth.
I love my body. I love my fitness. And I'm proud of the pipes I've earned. But it's been a journey to get here. And it hasn't always been easy.
When I became pregnant with my son, my dreams of being a marathon-running, yoga-loving, aqua-sizing goddess were dashed hard. Debilitating morning sickness, intense cravings for pizza pops, and an extreme discomfort with the way it felt to move with a mini Mohammed Ali upper-cutting my ribcage, meant that I was a couch potato for the first time in my life.
Things weren't any different with my second pregnancy. And by the time I was done popping those babies out, I was a round, soft, Pillsbury-dough-boy version of myself. And it was an incredibly tough pill to swallow.
I didn't know how to lose the weight and tone it up. And I was overwhelmed with the wild tantrums, and the fruit punch spills, and the raisins in my hair, and the "mommy, mommy, mommy!"
I felt frumpy. Everything-but-sexy. And I didn't recognize my own body anymore.
I had been active my whole life, and all of a sudden, I was lost. Unsure how to tap into the old "me".....all within the 30 min confines of nap time.
But guys, in the throws of it all...in the "who am I" haze.....I knew that I simply needed to move.
Not only for the sake of my body, but for the sake of my mind.
And this is the exact recipe I followed.
What moves you to move? It's different for everyone. Take the time to explore what gets you GOIN'! Whether it's boxing, cycling, running, bootcamp, yoga, rock climbing, dancing, or spike ball. Life is too short to begrudge your workouts. And fitness needs to stem from the heart if it's gonna stick.
For me? That meant that running was out, and hot and sweaty TRX was in. I needed a "fuck yes!" rather than a "fuck....if I have to."
Let the Secret Out
Tell anyone and everyone about your fitness goals. And then let them support you. Ditch the guilt about asking for help, and know that when you are working out, you are setting the example for your kiddos.
Accountability is key. And in order to stay consistent, you want to build your own guillotine, so to speak......meaning, if you don't show up, there will be people banging on your door.
My angry mob? The crew who came to class with me every lunch hour. Miss a day? There'd be hell to pay.
Don't be dumb
If you're gonna commit to working out, you need to make it do-able. Guys? Don't be dumb, and tell yourself that you're gonna hit the gym....45 mins away.....every morning.....at 6 am. Set yourself up for success, and account for real life. Take a hard look at the flow of your day, when you have the most energy, and what is going to be convenient for you. Otherwise, you're just serving yourself up a platter of potential excuses not to workout.
My sweet spot? The mid-day workout, 2 blocks away. Nearly impossible to invent a reason not to go.
Choosing to move is simple. Battling reasons not to, is tough.
And guys, the best thing you can do is create a framework that is going to allow for consistency and follow-through.
I am now a full-fledged MILF: Mother In Love with Fitness. And according to my daughter, you will be seeing me in the next Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Angel wings and all.