Time to Drop the Mask

Time to Drop the Mask

We all wear masks.  You know, the ones we subconsciously layer on ourselves to match what we think others want to see.  At our core, we all want to be liked and approved of by others.  So we put on various masks throughout much of our lives in order feel like we belong.

Some masks are handed to us by other people and we wear them for years, even when they’re uncomfortable.  And other times we so desperately want a particular mask to fit that we convince ourselves it’s perfect… and invest a lot of energy into making it work.

Click here to view the rest of my post on Live Through the Heart.

Posted in Conscious Living, Inspiration, Life, Live Through The Heart, Self-discovery, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Beauty Challenge

The Beauty Challenge - 26JUL13

I put a lot of importance on living in the moment, but every now and then I have to remind myself to slow down and appreciate what’s right in front of me.

So that’s what I did today. I went for a walk. My pace was intentionally more relaxed than usual and I was fully present. I didn’t take my iPhone. I didn’t pressure myself to try and “figure stuff out” while I had that time to myself. I just walked.

For that brief amount of time, I was just… me. Not “productive me,” distracted me, planning me. Just me, quiet and calm. I was fully there, centered, enjoying the sights and sounds around me. In that half hour, time slowed down. It was a gift.

Click here to view the complete post – including a challenge for you – on Live Through the Heart.

Posted in Conscious Living, Inspiration, Life, Live Through The Heart, Self-care, Self-discovery, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Elusive Quest for Balance in Difficult Times

Elusive Quest for Balance - IMWS - 31JUL13

I’m excited to feature a guest post from wise and talented blogger Ida Mae West-Simone of A Vision For Our Kids.  Ida Mae is a teacher and reading advocate, currently teaching special education to Junior Kindergarten to grade three students.  She has a 12-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son, and knows more than a little about what it’s like to do the daily juggle.  Ida Mae blogs about life experience, literacy and conscious parenting, adding insight, humour and gratitude.  Read to the bottom of this post for details on how to get in touch with her.

Welcome, Ida Mae!

The Elusive Quest for Balance in Difficult Times

There are times when I consider myself to be a fairly balanced person.  It’s an illusion really.  I felt especially good about it after agreeing to do a guest post here on The Brighter Side of Life.  How flattering is that?  One of my favourite bloggers asked me to write on her blog?!  That went into my gratitude journal right away.

It’s been a difficult year.  Our family has been struggling and I had a new position at school.  I have been pouring anxiety into my work and writing resulting in very little sleep.

Could I be that woman?

I thought this was me on the third last day of school, and ended up going straight from school to the emergency room.  Tests confirmed that anxiety, not a heart attack, is haunting me again.

I question if I am qualified to write about balance when I struggle with it so much.  I write about its virtues, encourage it in our children and even write my students’ individual education plans (‘I.E.P.s’) with it in mind.  I came up with our business name ‘Well-Rounded Kids’. Many people think of me as a well-rounded person.

Achieving balance in my life is my most long-standing challenge.   At the best of times, it is a struggle for me just to leave what I am working on and go to bed.  Last night, I got on a roll reorganizing my blog and saw three a.m.  The night before that, I was up past two.  Why? The house was quiet with everyone finally asleep, and it made sense at the time.

I promised myself I would get some exercise every day while off on summer holidays. I even rigged up a shelf across the handlebars of my treadmill for my laptop.  Yet I sit here shivering in my office, tired, with a headache and stiff neck (knowing full well that exercise will help me break this cycle).

I’ve been here before, and I’ll be here again.  Here is what I have learned:

Today is another day and tonight is another night.   I can start fresh any time.  If I get angry at myself, start ‘shoulding’ myself, say ‘no’ to the kids when they invite me to join them, my actions will only make me feel worse later and compound the problem.

This is about priorities.  Our kids are now twelve and fifteen.  When I was their age, it occurred to me that children never ask to be born.  It is up to us to get our acts together.  We don’t need to be perfect.   Trying to appear that way would be counterproductive and set an unreasonable standard.

Our kids need to know what we believe in, and that we are true to our word.  They need to feel safe and to trust that we are doing the best we can with the resources we have.   We make mistakes, learn from them and do better next time.

When our own lives are out of control, how can our children feel that they can trust us to be there for them, with their best interests in mind?  We all show stress and ‘lack of balance’ in our own ways.  This is when I know it’s time for the oxygen mask

For me, that means:

…lots of sleep, some exercise, a massage appointment, time with the girlfriends and a funny movie with our kids.  And of course, my gratitude journal.

We do the best we can with what we know and the resources we have, and as Oprah says, ‘When we know better, we do better.’

Let’s share our resources for the health and happiness of our families.  What advice do you have?

To reach out to Ida Mae, visit her at A Vision For Our Kids, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Posted in Conscious Living, Conscious Parenting, Guest Post, Inspiration, Life, Marriage, Motherhood, Parenting, Relationships, Self-care, Self-discovery, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Just a Little Heart Attack

Just a Little Heart Attack

I originally posted this on The Brighter Side of Parenting, but it’s such an important topic I wanted to share it here too.

My in-laws were visiting recently, and my health-conscious mother-in-law mentioned she was going to email me a short and funny video clip about someone getting a heart attack.

HUH?!  How can a video clip about a heart attack be funny?

But she was right, it is kind of funny.  And it’s well done, though it too closely represents the morning chaos in my house.  Check it out below.  It was created by the talented Elizabeth Banks, and is worth a few minutes of your time.

Whether or not you’re a parent, you may be used to putting the needs of others ahead of your own.   Especially in the midst of chaos.  And because of that, you may not pay attention to telling physical warning signs.

So here’s some important information on heart attack and stroke warning signs, which I got from a handy wallet card from the Ontario Heart and Stroke Foundation:

Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
(NOT just the left-arm pain they used to portray in movies)

– Chest discomfort
– Discomfort in other areas of the upper body (neck, jaw, shoulders, arm, back)
– Shortness of breath
– Sweating
– Nausea
– Light-headedness

If you or another person experience the above, call 9-1-1.  By reacting quickly, you can greatly improve chances of survival and recovery.

(Note: you do not have to be experiencing all of these symptoms to seek help)!

Warning Signs of a Stroke

– Weakness (sudden loss of strength or numbness in face, arm or leg, even if temporary)
– Trouble speaking (or sudden confusion)
– Vision problems
– Headache (sudden and severe/unusual)
– Dizziness

The same applies here: if you or another person are experiencing the above, call 9-1-1. 

Stay healthy and know the warning signs!

On another note:
Awhile back, Ida Mae West-Simone, talented and insightful blogger at A Vision For Our Kids, wrote a post titled We’re Different, We’re the Same: Showing Equality to Little Ones. One small step toward banishing bullying.  In it she refers to my post Childhood Lessons on World Peace, and talks about an important step we can take towards ending the cruelty of bullying.  Check it out!

Posted in Children, Conscious Living, Conscious Parenting, Inspiration, Interview, Life, Purpose, Quotes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dig a Little Deeper

In our culture of technology, instant gratification and short attention spans, it’s easy to make quick, superficial assumptions about people.

I recently stumbled upon this poster in my Facebook news feed and it really moved me:

Organic Garage sign - July 2013

It was originally posted by Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows, who encountered it at a grocery store.

The words are simple and true, yet sometimes the message is forgotten.

Why?

We’re constantly bombarded with ads about how we should look, eat and feel.  Then we’re immediately told about products that are sure to rescue us from our apparent deficiencies.  So it’s no big surprise to me that we need an occasional reminder that our bodies do not define us.

Here’s a great video clip from Dove that highlights a distorted perception of beauty and the fact that we’re being bombarded with images of people that aren’t even real…

Click here to view the rest of my post on Live Through the Heart.

Posted in Conscious Living, Inspiration, Life, Live Through The Heart, Relationships, Self-discovery, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Common Cold or Life Lesson?

Common Cold or Life Lesson

I haven’t been myself lately.  Something happened several weeks ago, I’m not even sure when: I let busyness take the place of joy.  My energy has been low.  I haven’t felt my usual “spark.”  I haven’t taken time for fun and simple pleasures, or for just breathing and noticing all the beauty around me.

And that’s not like me at all.

Then a few days ago I realized I’ve been sick at least three times in the last three months.  In April I had the flu, in May a cold, and now another cold.  Plus I’ve had a cough for several months.

Although a cold in itself is no big deal, when I realized that I was sick again (or still), it finally hit me – there is a serious lesson here…

Click here to view the rest of my post on Live Through the Heart.

 

Posted in Inspiration, Life, Live Through The Heart, Self-care, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

The Roller Coaster

The Roller Coaster - June 2013

Ah, the roller coaster of life… the ups and downs, twists and turns, incredible views and pitch black tunnels.  Sometimes we go forward at breakneck speed, other times we’re flung backwards or upside down.  And other times we stop in our tracks altogether.

It’s exhilarating, scary, exciting, disorienting, amazing.

So what do we do with this crazy trip?  Roll with it and enjoy the ride.  Squeeze the most we can out of the adventure.  And when we can’t see the way ahead, we hold on tight and make the best choices we can.

And the great thing is, we do have choices on this roller coaster.  We head in one direction for part of our lives, then another track opens up and we have the chance, the choice, to head somewhere different and experience new things.  But we have to keep our eyes – and minds – open to the possibilities in front of us.

Last year I posted that if you take a step forward – even if you can’t see the path ahead of you – the answers will come.  I now also realize that as we change, the answers change.  What’s right for us right now may not be right for us six months from now.

At that same time last year, I took a leap forward and started a second blog, The Brighter Side of Parenting.  It’s been amazing.  I really enjoy connecting with others on the parenting journey and emphasizing the fact that none of us is alone in this wonderful chaos.

I’ve come to realize, though, that I’m overextending myself.  I’m a mom of two active little boys, I work, blog, do other writing projects, volunteer and I’m exploring other exciting new opportunities.  And I love it all.  But my juggling act isn’t as natural or polished as I’d sometimes like and having two separate blogs isn’t working.  So, since both blogs fall under my “brighter side” philosophy, I’ve decided to publish future posts – whether or not they’re parenting-related – on The Brighter Side of Life and discontinue posting on The Brighter Side of Parenting.

That’s part of our roller coaster ride, right?  We jump on, try things, and if they don’t work out or make sense for us anymore, we change direction and try something new.  No failures – just lessons learned and experience gained.

If you’ve been following The Brighter Side of Parenting, thank you – I really appreciate it!  Let’s continue the crazy journey together on The Brighter Side of Life.  I’ll also continue to post on two amazing sites: Live Through the Heart and SavvyMom.ca.

Wherever you are on your own roller coaster, I wish you exciting adventures, spectacular views and tranquil moments where you can just sit back, take it all in and enjoy the ride.

What about you? What path did you enthusiastically step onto, only to later realize it was time to step off and head in another direction?

Posted in Children, Inspiration, Life, Live Through The Heart, Motherhood, Parenting, Self-care, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Ways to Live in the Moment

5 Ways to Live in the Moment - 530

When we’re busy just “getting through the day,” it’s easy to lose sight of the amazing things that are right in front of us.  And there’s so much joy to be found in everyday moments.

I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately with the multitude of things going on in my life.  My schedule has been jam-packed and I’ve taken very little time for self-care.  Typically when this goes on for an extended period of time, my patience wears thin and I temporarily lose sight of the most important thing I have: the moment.

At times like this, my kids often bring me right back to where I need to be.

Here’s an ordinary moment where my six-year-old son did just that…

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

Posted in Children, Inspiration, Life, Live Through The Heart, Motherhood, Parenting, Self-care, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Live Through the Heart – Finding My Path

LTTH logo

I’m excited and honoured to tell you I’m going to be a regular contributor to Live through the Heart.  LTTH is a beautiful, soulful blog and growing community of heart-centered individuals who strive to live consciously, openly and authentically.  We share our vulnerability with the hope that it inspires you to open your heart to all life has to offer – the joy, the lessons, the opportunities for growth.  I’ll be posting there every other week.

LTTH was founded by Jennifer Laurent.  Jennifer is a single mom, life coach and inspirational author who lives life consciously and encourages others to do the same through her writing.  Her first book, Excerpts from the Heart of a Mom, offers beautiful wisdom to parents wanting to nurture their child’s unique spirit and guide them positively in life.

Here is an excerpt of my first post at LTTH. Please check it out on the site and if it inspires you, I’d love if you left a comment.  Your thoughts mean so much!

Finding My Path - 550 - LTTH

Finding My Path

I’m an explorer at heart.

When I was a child I spent hours poring over my parents’ National Geographic magazines. I imagined being a photojournalist or archaeologist traveling to exotic lands, visiting incredible cultures and seeing sights few had ever seen.

The Indiana Jones trilogy – and Harrison Ford – certainly didn’t diminish my interest in exploration.

In university I majored in anthropology and English. I was fascinated with the study of other cultures. I jumped at the opportunity to go on a 6-week archaeological field trip to Belize, Central America. It brought my textbooks to life. I was twenty years old and it was far from home, but such an incredible experience.

I decided, though, that I didn’t want to pursue archaeology professionally, and finished my undergrad having no idea what I wanted to do.

Then I got lost for a very long time…

Click here to view the rest of the post.

Posted in Children, Inspiration, Life, Live Through The Heart, Motherhood, Parenting, Purpose, Self-care, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Are You Weird?

Are you weird - 550

Life has felt a bit serious lately and I’ve had enough of that! It’s time for some weirdness.  If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know I like to spice things up with quirky stuff every now and then – like in The Silly Stuff Challenge.

So I have a question for you.  Are you weird?  Please say yes!  We need fun and uniqueness – not stuffiness – in this world.

I am a bit strange, a fact that I’ve come to really like.  So I’m going to put myself out there and share some random facts / odd stuff about me.  Then I’m going to ask you to share too!

  • One of my favourite things is dancing crazily around the living room with my boys to songs like “I Like to Move It” and “YMCA.”
  • My sister and I used to drive our brother nuts on family road trips.  We’d sing with abandon to whatever cassette tape* our parents had on – Abba, Anne Murray, The Carpenters, Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand – he couldn’t stand it.  muah ha ha!! [wicked cackle]
    *yes, cassette tape. If you don’t know what that is [*sigh*] you can read about it here.
  • My family – my dad in particular – tells the corniest jokes and comes out with the worst puns ever. I tried my best to wean myself of it, but anytime I’m near my dad, the groaners seem to pop out of my mouth against my will.
  • I got migraines a lot as a kid, and they usually wouldn’t go away until I threw up a bunch of times.  One time in grade 2 when I had a migraine, the principal brought me home because my Mom didn’t drive.  As soon as we pulled into the driveway, I threw up all over the seat.  Oops.
  • I experienced a decade-long case of motion sickness as a kid. Because of that, it was best (for everyone) if I avoided motion simulator rides.  Here‘s a post about an embarrassing bus ride in Spain.
  • I’ve often been caught singing when I didn’t even realize it, like when browsing in stores.  (not belting out show tunes, mind you, but singing nonetheless)
  • When I worked in a corporate environment, I used to hide outside my coworker’s closed office door and bounce a stuffed animal in front of her window to make her laugh.  Not exactly professional, but sometimes we needed to lighten things up a bit.
  • I love Christmas.  So much so that when I was a kid I used to sing Christmas carols loudly when I hung out at the mall with my friends. Which wouldn’t be that strange if it weren’t August.

Okay, enough weird facts about me.  What about you?  It’s time to let out your inner weirdness (um… I mean uniqueness).  What’s a little-known or strange fact about you?  Please… don’t make me stand alone in my strangeness!!

Posted in Children, Inspiration, Life, Motherhood, Parenting, Self-care, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments