HELP – Need Manual for Inquisitive Kids

Instructions Not Included

I admire when people are able to think on their feet.  I’m not usually the one to provide a smooth, polished answer to something without thinking about it.  But I must say that being a mom continues to be the best educational experience I’ve ever had, and I’m getting better – out of sheer necessity – at thinking quickly.

My seven-year-old, J, has asked me many mind-bending questions over the years.  Stuff I wasn’t prepared for, like, How did the earth start?  When was it just space out there? How long ago was it that nothing was alive on Earth?  

Frazzled.jpg

When he was three, he grilled me about how and why Rudolph’s carrot got back into the house after Santa and the reindeer came on Christmas Eve.  (After all, the reindeer would have eaten it outside, right)? Hah – and we thought we were clever gnawing on it and putting it with Santa’s partially-eaten cookie to show that Rudolph had indeed chewed it.  We should have left the carrot in a snowbank!

So I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked when I get a question out of left field from him or any other inquisitive child.

Recently we were decorating our mantel for Christmas, and he said to me, “Mom, I’m starting to wonder if Santa is real.”  I gulped.

“Why would you wonder that, honey?”  I did my best to sound casual.

“Well, who made him?”

Who made Santa?  Ummm…   “Well, we couldn’t possibly know that, because he’s magic.”

The whole doubting thing was really troubling him – and me too, truth be told.  I mean, seven years old?!  Isn’t that a bit early to stop believing in Santa?  It’d break my heart for him to lose that sense of magic and excitement so young.

I reassured him that it’s absolutely okay to question things, but asked him to keep an open mind. That calmed him down for a couple of days, though his doubts remained.

Not long after that, our Elf on the Shelf returned.  Whew.  It seems that my son’s excitement and wonder have been restored.  For now, anyway.  

Oh, and my niece recently threw me a curve ball as well.  My son and I were at her seventh birthday party with 15 girls of the same age.  It was a pottery party.  Lots of fun with lots of energy, excitement and volume.

When the kids started painting the pottery, though, it got pretty quiet in the room. Bliss.

Just then, my niece walked up to me and asked, “Aunt Christine, is God really real?”

I took a deep breath, put my hands on her cheeks and replied with a smile, “Honey, that’s an excellent conversation to have with your mom and dad.”

YES!!!  I was quite proud of myself.  I didn’t miss a beat and had the opportunity to deflect a difficult question.  Hee hee!  Two things I was unaccustomed to.

Has a child caught you off-guard with a difficult or mind-bending question?  How did you handle it?

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This is Me!

Hello everyone!

I’ve been blogging for two years now, and thought you may want to see the person behind the posts.  So I recorded this video clip (eeek! my first one) for you.  In it I share a little bit about me and how The Brighter Side of Life came to be.

 

Have a beautiful day!

Christine

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Lest We Forget

Lest we forget

With deep gratitude for our veterans both past and present, I am sharing my post from November 11, 2012:

I’m sitting here on my couch, sipping a glass of red wine, all snug and cozy with the fireplace lit next to me.  My kids are tucked in bed, warm and dry, and my husband is getting us an evening snack.

As I sit here with my feet up, I realize I am so very fortunate.  And if you live in freedom, you are fortunate too.  We don’t have bombs going off around our heads.  We are able to speak our minds (for the most part) without persecution.  We may wear what we choose, make our own spiritual choices and educate our children regardless of their gender.

These things, which may seem commonplace to many of us, are privileges not enjoyed everywhere.

And freedom comes at a heavy cost.  Veterans have witnessed and experienced the unspeakable, often in horrific conditions, their eyes shadowed with events they will carry with them forever.  Meanwhile, the rest of us are free to go about our day-to-day lives, sipping lattes in “blissful ignorance” (an awful generalization, I know) at the local café.

If you have a loved one in the military or are in the armed forces yourself, I can only imagine what you must experience – the fear, anxiety and uncertainty, mixed with pride, love and the complete spectrum of emotions – when you or your loved one is called to serve.  And all I can say is, thank you.

So in honour of our Armed Forces and their loved ones, I’d like to share this tribute that I found on YouTube:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86J_RTfg_zQ]

And on this Remembrance Day / Veterans Day, when we remember those who fought – or fought and died – to preserve freedom, let us say a HUGE THANK YOU to our armed forces, past and present, for:

– serving our country and defending the freedom of others
– peacekeeping when possible
– bearing an unspeakable burden in the hopes that future generations wouldn’t have to
– pushing through fear to help countless others
– Courage. Love. Patriotism. Strength.

Thank you doesn’t seem quite enough, does it?  So in future, may we honour our veterans through our own actions, by supporting peace whenever possible.

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Happy 2nd Birthday to The Brighter Side of Life!

Happy 2nd Birthday BSoL

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”
~ Paulo Coelho

It’s hard for me to believe another year has passed since I started The Brighter Side of Life.  What a year it’s been!  This blog continues to be my sanity in the wonderful day-to-day chaos.

The past year has brought so much change to my life.  Opportunities to stretch myself beyond my perceived limits.  Beautiful new friendships.  Challenges.   Lessons learned.
The discovery of joy.

I’m deeply grateful for all of it.

Here is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since I started blogging, and particularly over the past year:

Beautiful things happen when you step forward and say YES to life, when you follow those deep inner nudges – your heart’s whispers – that beckon you to explore something new, take a chance, believe in others, believe in yourself.  When you decide that it’s time to LIVE your life, not just watch the days go by.

Over the past year I’ve started saying YES more and more – to things I feel called to do, to amazing new relationships and opportunities, to opening my heart and allowing myself to be vulnerable.  And I’m now saying yes even when I’m scared and even though I know I’ll make mistakes.

YES!

Thank you!
I’d like to say a huge thank you to you as you read this post.  Thank you for sharing this journey with me.  Time is precious – life is precious – and I’m so grateful you’re spending part of your day here on The Brighter Side of Life.

Exciting things are coming!
Exciting new things are happening that I can’t wait to tell you about, though I can’t share quite yet.  Keep an eye out for upcoming announcements!

SPECIAL REQUEST:

blog-with-heart-award-vote-button4[1]Do you feel I blog from the heart?  If you do, I’d so appreciate if you’d take a moment and nominate me for Soul Speak’s Blog With Heart award.  The link is here.

This particular award is very meaningful to me.  It took me awhile to build the courage to share my voice and my vulnerabilities with the world, but since then, blogging has changed my life.  Literally.  This blog, The Brighter Side of Life, is me, heart and soul.

Plus, I love Jodi’s authentic, heart-centered approach to all that she does!

 

 

MY FIRST BLOG POST:
And now, I’d like to follow Betsy Henry’s lead and recap my very first post for you.  If you’re not familiar with Betsy, she’s a wonderful, inspiring author and also the creator of The Zen Mama’s Blog.

In the Moment

flickr: Manoj KengudeluThe other day my five-year-old said something simple yet profound.  “Mommy!  There’s no rush.”

Hmmmm, let me absorb that.  Mommy, there’s no rush.

He was right.

We were pulling out of the driveway and I was in a tizzy because we were running late.  But really, late for what?  We weren’t heading to some save-the-world meeting, we weren’t en route to assist in an emergency.  We weren’t even heading to kindergarten.

But this is what happens to me: I seem to get into a mild state of anxiety as soon as I think I’m late for something or someone.  Doesn’t really matter how minor the situation is.  I can almost feel my pulse speed up and my irritation factor go up a notch.

Is that what most of us do these days?  Rush through our schedules – and life – on auto pilot?  Run around here and there, check email and voicemail ridiculously often, juggle the various aspects of daily life – instead of focusing on what’s actually happening in the moment?

Anyway, there I was, feeling late, and BAM!  My son brought me right back to where I was supposed to be… the present.  It was an important reminder.

So, instead of worrying about where I’m headed or where I’ve been, or what I may do later or have already done, I’m going to focus – or try very hard, at least – on where I am and what I am doing.  Right here, right now.

It’s time to look at what’s right in front of me.  A child wanting to play.  A friend needing an ear.  A star-filled sky.

Enjoy it – this moment will never be back.

And hey, there’s no rush.

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Help Yourself by Helping Another

Help Yourself by Helping Another

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” ~ Dalai Lama

I love that quote. I agree with it wholeheartedly – at least in theory – but to be honest I sometimes rush around too much to notice when a bit of extra kindness is needed.

Thankfully I woke up to this fact not too long ago.

In August my husband and I went to eastern Canada to celebrate our 20th anniversary. It was amazing to spend quality time together and actually have complete conversations.  (We have two young boys at home, so an uninterrupted conversation – or even an uninterrupted sentence – can be pretty rare).

The flight home was not quite as enjoyable, though. There was nasty turbulence for close to an hour, and I was feeling really green by the end of the trip.  So we were grateful to land and get our luggage, and couldn’t wait to see our boys the following morning.

It was around 10pm, and we stopped to check on something before leaving the airport.  I was tired and still felt nauseous, so was glad to sit for a minute.

Then we were given a gift.  The chance to help someone.

While we were sitting there I noticed an airport worker pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair to an area near us.  The woman was apologizing to the man, and seemed a bit confused.  The man appeared to be barely tolerating her, getting visibly annoyed.

She said, “I’m sorry.  I don’t remember where I’m supposed to be going.”

“Ma’am, please look in your belongings again for an address.  I have to go in a minute and help with another plane.”

The two continued their discussion for a minute and the situation escalated.  The man became increasingly condescending.

Now normally we would have walked by upon hearing a partial conversation between two strangers in an airport, but in this case something stopped me and signaled that we needed to help.

I forgot my churning stomach, looked at my husband and we stepped into the situation.  We asked if we could help, and assured the man we’d assist the woman.  He was relieved and left.

It turned out that the woman, Thelma, was in her late eighties and had traveled to Toronto for her sister’s funeral which was in a city an hour from the airport.  She knew her niece’s phone number but hadn’t been able to reach her.  Her niece had told her she’d be picked up by a relative.  It was getting late and Thelma had already been waiting an hour.

Given the fact that Thelma had just lost her last sibling and was all alone in a strange airport at night, she was remarkably calm.  She was amazing.  We wanted to help, but wondered what we could do aside from staying there with her.  We tried calling her niece, but no luck.

It turned out that there was a visitation that evening at the funeral home.  Thelma didn’t know the name of the funeral home, so we did a search for her sister’s memorial online and found it! I was so grateful for technology in that moment.

So I called the funeral home and was able to connect with Thelma’s niece.  It turns out that someone was at the airport waiting for her, but hadn’t found her yet.  So I explained where we were located.  Thelma’s niece got in touch with the man who had come to pick her up, and we waited on the line until he reached our location.

Thelma hugged us and thanked us several times before we were on our way.

I can’t tell you how grateful I was to be at the airport that evening.  By simply stopping and spending a small amount of time with Thelma, we were able to give her a bit of reassurance and comfort at a difficult time in her life.  And in helping her, we felt amazing.

That experience was a reminder to me that we need to slow down, get out of our own heads and situations every now and then, and see how we can help those around us.  We never know just how much a small act of kindness may mean to someone.  And in turn, how much it means to us.

Here’s a great video clip from Live Vest Inside called Kindness Boomerang.  It’s a wonderful illustration of the ripple effect of small acts of kindness.  Enjoy!

 

Have you ever been caught off guard with the opportunity to help someone?  And how did you feel afterwards?

This post was written for Live Through the Heart.

 

Posted in Children, Conscious Living, Conscious Parenting, Inspiration, Life, Live Through The Heart, Marriage, Motherhood, Parenting, Relationships, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Reverse Bucket List

My Reverse Bucket List

Lately I’ve been challenging myself in new ways.  It’s exciting… and a bit scary.

Our brains get used to doing what they’ve always done, and when we introduce lots of new stuff into the mix, the ego steps in and wants to know why we’re messing with the status quo.  So, it throws the odd self-doubt curve ball.

Conscious that this has happened with me in the past, I decided to be ready for that well-meaning ego ahead of time.  What did I do?  I wrote a reverse bucket list.

You’ve likely heard of a bucket list.  So what’s a reverse bucket list?

It’s the chance to consciously look back on your life and acknowledge past events or experiences that you feel great about: challenges overcome, dreams come true, memorable experiences, times we said yes when we’d typically say no, times we stepped out of our comfort zone.  Big stuff or small stuff, it doesn’t matter.  As long as it’s stuff you’re proud of or that brings a smile to your face.

So anyway, in order to convince my brain that it’s not only okay but actually GREAT to step up to new challenges and experiences, here are some items from my reverse bucket list, in no particular order:

  1. Laughed ‘til I cried
  2. Created my own blog, The Brighter Side of Life, which is near and dear to my heart
  3. Swam with sea turtles in Kauai
  4. Participated in an archaeological dig in Belize, Central America
  5. Inspired someone to go to university
  6. Backpacked the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island
  7. Got married at 22 and am still happily married
  8. Participated in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer in 2004 and 2005, walking 60kms each time
  9. Gave birth to two amazing little boys
  10. Went skinny dipping
  11. Visited – and loved – the King Tut exhibit in Toronto when I was nine years old
  12. Rode on a monster truck at a fall fair
  13. Been on a 6-seater airplane
  14. Went to Tikal, Guatemala
  15. Juggled in front of an audience (I was a reluctant audience member that got pulled onstage – but I did it with a smile!)
  16. Went to Portugal on my own
  17. Did volunteer work in the community
  18. Slept overnight in a hammock on a beach in Belize
  19. Went ziplining in Whistler
  20. Went tobogganing with my grandfather
  21. Sang “Over the Rainbow” a capella at a neighbour’s karaoke party.  (Yes, Judy Garland. What can I say? There was a lot of wine involved).
  22. Went on a helicopter tour in Kauai
  23. Participated in a webinar about conscious parenting (grateful for the opportunity, Jennifer!)
  24. Developed a free eBook on joy which I’m proud of, called 5 Keys to a Joy-filled Life
  25. Danced crazily around the living room with my boys
  26. Sang in the shower
  27. Drove on the “other side” of the road in Ireland
  28. Ran around in the rain with my son, giggling
  29. Was a participating author in a beautiful collaborative eBook, Awakening Wonder (thanks, Becky!)
  30. Gave a speech in front of my school in grade 3
  31. Had a hawk land on my arm at a “birds of prey” show in Ireland
  32. Was a group coach in The Unlost’s Confusion to Clarity E-Course (thanks, Therese! Had so much fun!)
  33. Drank champagne while overlooking the sea in Positano, Italy
  34. Been to a castle
  35. Helped a stranger
  36. Ate lobster in Prince Edward Island
  37. Became a contributing author to Live Through the Heart (thanks again, J!)
  38. Stood up for myself
  39. Camped on a ridge next to a glacier in Washington State
  40. Rode on the top of a double decker bus
  41. Did a snow angel wearing only a bathing suit, after coming out of a hot tub (wine was involved then too)
  42. Snorkeled in caves in Mexico
  43. Jumped into a pond in Ontario, Canada on a May 24th long weekend
  44. Went ice skating after not having been on skates for 20 years
  45. Walked a pacific northwest beach at night, under a sky filled with stars
  46. Stayed up all night talking
  47. Went to High Tea at the Fairmont Empress
  48. Went on a pub crawl in university
  49. Tried climbing at a rock climbing gym
  50. Drove a snowmobile

Now it’s your turn! Give yourself a gift: create a reverse bucket list.  You’ll be surprised at the amazing things – big or small – that have happened during the journey that’s brought you to this moment.

This post was written for Live Through the Heart.

I’d love to hear from you! What are some items you’d include on YOUR reverse bucket list?

Related articles:
Chimerikal: The Reverse Bucket List (where I learned about the concept in the first place!)
The Uncaged Life: The Reverse Bucket List
WiseBread: Reverse Bucket List – Look Back Before Looking Forward

Posted in Children, Conscious Living, Inspiration, Life, Live Through The Heart, Marriage, Motherhood, Parenting, Self-care, Self-discovery, Travel | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

When You Can’t Find Your Way

When You Can't Find Your Way

Sometimes the path ahead of us is hidden.  Or the path we’re on just doesn’t feel right.  There are times we don’t necessarily know where we’re going in life, or even where we want to go.

Because life is busy, it’s easy to shrug off our inner nudges – the ones that quietly guide us – and continue on with our daily routine.  We may fall into doing what we think we’re supposed to do or what seems to make sense, or we simply go through life on autopilot.

When these things continue for a long period of time, we start to lose ourselves.  And feel lost.

I know from personal experience how hard this can be.  For years and years I felt like my path was hidden.  And, at least for me, forcing the answers just didn’t work.

If you feel lost, as if you are traveling in circles, know that it doesn’t have to stay this way.  You’ll find your path – and your truest self – and the way ahead will be beautiful and bright.  Not predictable, mind you, but beautiful and bright nonetheless.

In the meantime, though, what do we do when we can’t find our way, when we barely see an inch in front of us?

Well, based on my experience, there are a number of things we can do.

BREATHE.  Close your eyes and take deep cleansing breaths.  This is so important.  It’s hard to think calmly and clearly and make your best decisions when you’re feeling frustrated and off-course.

HAVE FAITH in yourself.  And have faith in something bigger than you.  Believe you are here for a reason.  Know that you are bigger than your circumstances, and you offer a unique combination of qualities, experiences and gifts that no one – absolutely no one – else offers to the world in the same way.

REFLECT.  Get quiet.  Allow yourself time to slow down and listen to your inner wisdom.  If you’ve been disconnected from it for some time, it may be pretty faint – but it’s always there for you.  Take some time each day for yourself, even if it’s five minutes, and shut out external sounds.  Then take a small step forward in your life.  And reflect again.  The answers will come.

RELEASE the need for control.  We don’t have control over the world around us, but we do get to choose our perspective.  When we let go of the need to try and control situations and outcomes, we free ourselves to enjoy life as it happens.

BE PATIENT.  (This one was particularly hard for me).  Your life is your masterpiece.  It carries your wisdom and life experience and will evolve over time.  Stand back, look at it with compassion and see how you’d like to shape it in future.  Then set your brush to canvas with love and renewed hope.

BE CHILDLIKE.  If the path ahead is hidden in fog and you’re feeling frustrated, don’t be afraid to take a little side trip to do something fun.  What was something you loved to do as a child, an activity you’d get happily lost in for hours?  Did you love to paint?  Write?  Run?  Climb?  Create stuff?  Do crafts?  Go fishing?  Sing?

Bring the joy of that memory back, and think of a way you could you introduce that activity – or an aspect of it – into your world now.  Once you rekindle that playful part of you, you’ll be more open to spontaneous joy and FUN.

And once that happens, there’s no telling what amazing things it’ll lead to.

I wish you a wonderful journey ahead.

With gratitude,
Christine

Written for Live Through the Heart.

 

 

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Awakening Wonder

Rekindle your childlike wonder - BSoL - 535

I’m honoured to tell you that I’m a contributing writer in a beautiful collaborative
e-book for moms called Awakening Wonder: Discovering Delight in Everyday Moments.  The free e-book, which launches today, is the inspiration of Becky McCleery, creator of the growing community Raising Loveliness.

Designed to uplift and encourage mothers around the world, Awakening Wonder shares the perspectives of different mothers on how they recharge and reconnect with wonder and delight in the midst of their day-to-day responsibilities.

To celebrate the launch of the e-book, Becky has put together a blog post that includes contributions from some of the writers – including me! – called What a Wonderful World.

Becky’s work is truly inspiring, and I’m so proud to be sharing this beautiful experience with her and other amazing mothers.   I invite you to head on over to Becky’s post, learn more and download your copy of the e-book.

It is a wonderful world.

Posted in Children, Conscious Living, Conscious Parenting, Guest Post, Inspiration, Life, Motherhood, Parenting, Relationships, Self-care, Self-discovery | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

We Are One

9-11 - we are one - 535

We are one – all of us.  We’re in this world together.  It’s in our power (and isn’t it our responsibility?) to create positive change for ourselves, the people we love, even the people we don’t know… not to mention those in the generations to come.

Today in particular, may we honour all those affected by the tragic events of September 11, 2001 by focusing our energies on peace and love.  What we focus on expands, so let’s focus on bringing more peace and love to the world.

~ with love from Christine

 

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The Gift of Presence

The Gift of Presence

I love reading about people’s journeys, both spiritual and physical.  When someone reaches into their heart and shares authentically about what they’re experiencing, it strikes a chord deep within me.

I too like to share from the heart, but sometimes I need to go within for awhile before I’m able to.  That’s what I’ve needed lately, time and space to myself before communicating what’s on my mind.

Click here to read my recent post on Live Through the Heart.

Posted in Children, Conscious Living, Conscious Parenting, Inspiration, Life, Live Through The Heart, Motherhood, Parenting, Purpose, Self-care, Self-discovery | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments