Monday, 28 October 2013

Walk This Way

There’s a reason why your feet face forward, your arms reach out in front of you, and your legs extend straight out ahead of you.

This is the way all humans were made – to go forward, not back.

Think about that for a minute.

How much time have you spent turning around, obsessing about the past, and dwelling over what has already happened? Let me tell you the answer: too much.

Yesterday has happened, and if you are reading this, you have been given today to live another day. And you can look forward to tomorrow, too!

Remember the positives and learn from the negatives, but don’t forget to keep looking forward.

Even if you are moving slowly, it is better than standing still.

If you’re feeling discouraged, frustrated, or unsure about something that’s already happened, here is a list of things you do to help you focus on moving forward:

Make a list of what you are looking forward to

This list doesn’t have to be big or a lot of work to put together. It can be as simple as making a mental checklist each morning before you leave the house about things that you are looking forward to that day. For example, this morning mine was:
  • Having lunch with my sister who is visiting from out of town 
  • Buying a new book that I've been looking forward to reading for a while now  
  • Going to yoga school tonight
These are all great things that make me happy! They are simple, but serve as a reminder that life is good. No matter how bad you are feeling there is always something to look forward to.

Don’t expect every day to be the best day of your life

The truth is that some days are harder than others. But if you learn from them, these bad days are never wasted. Live through them in a way that when tomorrow comes, you can be proud and happy of who you are.  

Some days will be harder than others, depending on what you are going through, but just do your best. All days are precious - the good ones and the bad ones - and if we are lucky we have many more days them to live.

Accept the bad times, do your best, and they will pass.

Remember that you are responsible for your own happiness

When things aren’t going well, take a deep breath, look inside yourself, and ask what you can do differently as a person to be truly happy, satisfied, and gracious.

Do not look for the answer in other people or things. Do not place blame or point out other people’s weaknesses – this is personal. It’s your journey.

The answer isn’t always the one we want to hear, so sometimes it’s hard to find - but it’s there, and it's going to take some work to find and work towards. You will have to be dedicated and it will not happen overnight.

Be open to change and embrace it

The only thing constant thing in life is change.

Life changes without your permission and you have to be open to trying new things.

Accept the fact that as life changes, and as your grow forward, your dreams may change too. Don’t resist this. It’s ok to be a different person than you once were.

Whether it is alone or with someone you love, always remember to keep your head up, eyes open, and walk in the direction you were born to: forward.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Letting Go

I think it is human nature to want to have things our way, be in the know, and decide next steps. But the truth is, nothing in life is guaranteed.

We have to accept that life is not in our hands. 
We can take certain steps and make decisions about ourselves that will help us achieve our goals and work towards where we want to be, but sometimes, the universe just has other plans for us.

I’ve been learning more and more about this over the last couple of years, particularly after my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. And let me tell you – I did not see that one coming. But what may surprise you is that my Dad’s cancer diagnosis was the single best thing that’s ever happened to me in my life. Not a lot of people can say that a brain tumor was the best thing that’s ever happened to them, but I believe my family can.

The tumor was affecting my Dad’s right frontal lobe – the part that manages his emotions, and what he would say. It was a nightmare.

The type of cancer that affected my Dad has the ability to change within itself – so the doctors don't know how long it could have been there before they found it. It could have been benign for years before it turned cancerous, and then aggressive. I thank God every day for the amazing recovery he’s had.

Since then, I've been able to actually get to know my Dad. And it's been really nice. Because of his cancer and surgery, he is a completely different person. We all are. And its for the better. 
One of the biggest lessons I learned from this is that sometimes the shittiest things really do turn out to be the most beautiful. This is hard to see in the thick of things – in fact, it’s pretty much damn near impossible - but then comes the day where you look back and realize you made it through, and life is better because of it.

Try as you might, you can't control others, and you certainly can't control what the universe has in store for you.

There is a great book that a person gave to me read to help learn to accept this truth, and learn how to let go. She is a relative, a friend, and a mentor. She is a daughter, a mother, a sister and an aunt, and she is beautiful. She has been through some of the most trying times, yet she stands strong, with a smile on her face and love in her heart. I've learned a lot from her, and if she is reading this, she will know I am speaking to her right now. 
The book that she gave me is called "The Language of Letting Go," by Melody Beattie. It's almost like a daily devotional book. It is uplifting and empowering. I highly recommend it.

Today's affirmation of the book is this:

"Today, I will trust my truth, my instincts, and my ability to ground myself in reality. I will not allow myself to be swayed by bullying, manipulating, games, dishonesty, or people with peculiar agendas."

Everyone in this world has issues, struggles, and their own battle to fight. 
All you can do is your best, and take one day at a time.

Remember: life is not in your hands.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Why wait until the New Year? Make a resolution now.

Thanksgiving was last weekend. I ate a lot of food. I had gravy on my potatoes and a piece of cake for dessert – two days in a row. 

Afterwards, I kind of felt like garbage. I felt heavy and my shoulders were slumping. But I tried not to be too hard on myself. After all, it was Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving dinner at my parents -
before the spread of food was served!

And then I started to think about Christmas, and all the baking, treats and big meals that come along with it. ‘Tis the season; have some eggnog.

We all know that after Christmas comes January, when everyone gets on the “time-to-change-my-life” train.

But I don’t want to wait until Christmas. I don’t want to be in slump from now until January. I don’t want to over-eat, make excuses, and just have more work to do come January.

I’ve started thinking about where I want to be next year and what 2014 looks like for me. The truth is I have no idea. No one knows what the next year will hold for them but we can all set goals and have aspirations, whether they be internal or external. For example, I know that I want to complete my yoga teacher training and lead a couple of classes, but mainly, I want to be happy and accepting of myself for who I am, no matter where I’m at.

So why wait?

Maybe your New Year’s resolution for this year wasn’t weight-related, but whatever it was, now is a good time to check in with yourself. 

What steps can you take today to help meet that goal? If you’ve met it, what can you do further it? There’s always room to grow.

Set goals and visualize how you want to live your life for the last couple months of 2013. Make a plan for how you’re going to cope with the holidays.

You know changes are coming, you know January will be here soon, but face it strong and with confidence, knowing that you’re going to get where you want to be. 

There is a light at the end of every tunnel, and quicker you start moving, the faster you’ll reach it. 

Start today.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Favorite Thing Friday: DIY Floor Cleaner

I like to try new, home-made, natural, green-cleaning recipes. So when my Swiffer West Jet ran out of cleaner, I thought I would try making my own.

I love the Swiffer West Jet mop itself and just wanted to re-fill its container with my own concoction.

It worked really well! I am impressed with how easy it was to make, and it cleaned my floors nicely.

First of all, the lid doesn't come off of the Wet Jet containers very easily. So I boiled some water, and stuck the bottle upside-down in it for about 10 seconds.



With the help of a towel around the lid, it twisted off nicely. Ta-da!



Then I mixed:

- Equal parts of warm water and vinegar (I used two cups of each)
- A couple drops of dish soap, to help get the floors extra clean
- Five drops of eucalyptus oil, for its scent and anti-bacterial proprieties
- Ten drops of peppermint oil, also for its scent and anti-bacterial properties
- And a couple drops of baby oil, to help get that extra shine

It worked great!

I am really impressed at how easy and cost-efficient it was to make. It smells nice, too.

I think next time I going to try it with lemon essenial oil to get that fresh, clean smell.

If you try it, let me know how it works out for you. Or if you have any other green-cleaning recipes, I would love to hear them.

Thanks for reading!

Lisa

Friday, 11 October 2013

How an ill-fitted windbreaker changed my life, by guest-blogger Scott Seymour

Introduction message by Lisa:

I started this blog a few months ago as an outlet to express myself. I’ve always enjoyed writing (which my boyfriend thinks is the weirdest thing) and since the age of 8, one of my goals in life has been – and still is – to be an author.

This blog is new to me. I think it's fun and it challenges me.

Not a lot of people read it (I haven’t even had one comment on it) but I don’t widely share it, either.

In search of new content and out of my own interest, I asked a colleague and friend of mine to be a guest-blogger.

He’s a great writer. He’s also funny, smart, and a true inspiration when it comes to life changes and trying to improve one’s overall wellness. Over the last couple of years, he’s worked his ass off - literally - and I wanted to share his story on my blog to help inspire people, and to give him some the recognition he deserves.

I’m excited to introduce Scott Seymour as my first-ever A Wellness Way of Life guest blogger.

I hope you enjoy his story!
At the Fall Classic, September 2012.
Scott is third from the left, I'm on the far right.

As jackets go, it’s pretty ordinary.

It’s a navy windbreaker that rolls up into a little nylon pouch. It’s light and has a built-in hood that’s great for sudden showers. It’s a decent spring/summer/fall jacket.

And, in the late-winter of 2012, it became the last straw – the final kick in the pants I needed to get an important part of my life back in order. And now, it’s come to symbolize the success I’ve enjoyed so far.

I bought the coat through catalog-order at a local sports/promotion store. That meant I never had a chance to try it on until it arrived two weeks after I ordered it. And when I tried it on that day, it wouldn’t fit. It should have fit. But it didn’t. It was tight around my midriff.

I could zip it up, but it looked exactly like a jacket that’s one-size-too-small should look. It didn’t look good at all.

But I didn’t return it. Instead, I decided I’d try to find a way to fit it.

Right around then, our office was offered a good deal on an annual membership to the brand-new recreation/workout centre that had recently opened. The jacket was the last straw to pushing me to buying a membership.

Since then, I’ve been a regular at the facility, working out in the gym, swimming in the pool and, in winter months, running on the indoor track.

I really remained committed to it and one day in May or June, I tried it on and it fit and looked WAY better. An early win.

I haven’t looked back.

Over the summer of 2012, friends at work (including Lisa Peters of this blog) talked me into giving running a try and I ended up doing some events in the fall. A year later, I’ve already done the 10K Fall Classic in September and, last weekend, I did a 10K event in Sexsmith. Later this month, I’ll be doing 10k in Edmonton at an event that raises money for pancreatic cancer.

I still can’t believe I’m a runner. It’s so far off of what I used to consider as a “recreational” fitness activity. I hated running when I was a kid and adult.

But here I am now – regular gym workouts, swimming, yoga … and running.

Although I haven’t weighed myself, I figure I’ve lost somewhere between 50 and 75 pounds since the spring of 2012. I’m down three pants sizes. I know fit a couple of shirts and a couple of jackets that I wore 12 years ago and I kept in my closet even after I got too big for them.

I’m not a finished product yet. Far from it. But people have been saying nice things about how much weight I’ve lost and that feels good. Positive comments are great motivation to keep up the momentum.

The other day at the 10K run in Sexsmith, the weather was cold and rainy. But I stayed nice and warm – thanks a long-sleeved T-shirt … and a loose-fitting navy windbreaker.

Monday, 7 October 2013

What happens when you get angry?

One of my homework assignments from Yoga School last week was to practice Himsa.

Himsa means to injure or harm.

Our teacher asked us to observe a moment when we were feeling angry, and embrace it. He did of course ask us not to hurt anyone or be physically violent, but we had to get angry, and then take notes about it.

Photo retrieved from http://bit.ly/19bzqsH

I don’t think this is really great news, but I usually have several opportunities in a week to get angry - and when I do feel angry, I’m always trying to hold back. So when I was told to go full-force and get angry, I thought it would be no problem.

There were a couple of notable times last week that I was feeling upset. Once was at work and another was at my boyfriend. But the most explosive, notable time was towards my beloved sister. Unintentionally, this is the time I choose to reflect upon.

I was frustrated with her. The family wanted to plan our Thanksgiving weekend, so we needed to know what her plans were. She didn’t know. She had to think about it. She needed to discuss it with her husband. That’s all fine and reasonable, but it had been a couple of weeks now and time was running out. On top of that, we needed to pick a date and plan our cousin’s baby shower that we are hosting together.

Unfortunately for my sister, I did my homework.

I lost my patience and practiced Himsa.

I lost my temper, raised my voice, and hung the phone up abruptly on her.

My body became agitated. I was standing outside at the time, and picked up my pace as I walked back towards the house. I fiddled with a lot of things, and lost sight of what I was actually trying to accomplish. I dwelled on it. I couldn’t let it go. I vented about it to my boyfriend, and then I felt like shit.

I wish I hadn’t done my homework.

For me, this was the worst part about Himsa: How I felt afterwards.

Sure, it felt right at time, and I did it with purpose. But it was after all things were said and done that I realized what had truly happened: I had hurt myself the most.

It was interesting to observe how I physically reacted, but what resonates with me is how I emotionally reacted. I don’t like to be angry. I know sometimes we all need to vent - in fact I’ve read before that it’s good to get angry, let it out, and then get over it. But in this particular case, I don’t think that worked very well for me.

My sister was probably offended. I don’t think raising my voice and hanging up the phone on her made her feel great, but thankfully we love each other unconditionally and are both very understanding people. But these sorts of events don’t happen too often between us, so when they are do, I feel they are significant.

Next time I get angry, I will recognize the physical cues that my body is giving me. Then I want to breathe through them. I want to stop talking, and deal with the situation like the person I want to be: patient and mature.

I pray that those in my life can give me the time and space to learn how to do this.

Overall, I’m happy that we did this assignment. But I’m also happy we don’t have to do it again.

This week, our homework is to purposefully put ourselves in a situation that makes us feel uncomfortable. More to come…

Thanks for reading,

Lisa

Sunday, 6 October 2013

How to practice yoga at home

I remember the first time I tried to do yoga at home by myself in my basement.

It was awful.

I hated it and shut of the DVD I was following within 10 minutes.

Then I tried it again, probably about a month or two later. I opted for a different video this time, but still hated it.

I was feeling defeated.

Being in yoga teacher training, I need to practice every day - but there are days that I just can't make to the studio.

One of the five Niyamas of yoga is Tapas – which means being enthusiastic, committed to practicing, and being attentive to our body, breath, heart and mind.

When I first read this, I knew that if I wanted to stay home and not go to a studio, then I would have to find a way to practice yoga at home.

After more trial and error runs, I finally found a way to do it that works. Here’s how:

Find the proper guidance

If you can free-flow and do yoga on your own, then all the power to you. I’m not quite there yet. I enjoy being led by an instructor.

A friend of mine recommended Eckart Yoga. It offers many different online yoga courses. It’s professional, easy to follow, and motivational. I signed up for a month for only $12. If you do even just one class, then the subscription has paid for itself. It’s even cheaper if you sign up for a year, which I will definitely be doing after this first month is over.

There are many other organizations that offer online yoga too. I haven’t tried any others yet, but many will turn up in a quick Google search.

Set up space

I was trying to practice in my basement, like I used to do when I followed Jillian Michaels videos. But my basement is cold and empty and it was hard for me to flow nicely is such a grey space.

When I moved my mat and laptop upstairs to my living room, it was easier for me to want to do yoga at home.

I suggest finding a space that is relaxing and comforting, and that you enjoy being in. It can be a spare room, computer room, living room – anywhere that’s easy for you to roll out your mat and stretch your arms out to the sides. That’s all you need.

Treat your space with the same respect that you would a yoga studio

When you’re doing yoga at home, turn your phone off, along with all other electronics. Find some peace and quiet. Shut the door. Do your best to get the privacy you need.

Wear clothes that you are comfortable in, but don’t totally grub out just because you’re at home. You still need to be able to move freely and comfortably, without being self-conscious. If you get into more serious yoga clothes that you may typically wear to a studio, it might help you take yourself more seriously when practicing at home.

Treat your home practice like you would your practice in a studio.

Don’t be afraid to try something new

Of course, you always want to be safe and gentle when practicing yoga. Especially if you are at home trying new yoga poses.

That being said, I really enjoy trying new things and experimenting with challenging poses at home. Sometimes, I get a little nervous or intimidated when I’m at a studio with other yogis. Practicing at home is a perfect opportunity to work on a new pose or take one to a different level.

This is a perfect opportunity to make mistakes and to try, try, again.

But always remember – be safe!

Be realistic

It’s great to be able to do 90 minutes of yoga a day, but if I’m being honest, I don’t always have that kind of time.

Just do your best. You can do 20 minutes of yoga and still benefit mentally and physically from your practice.

Remember that yoga is about honouring yourself – mentally, physically and spiritually.

This is your time.

You deserve it, and only you can make it happen.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!