Wednesday, 19 November 2014

What I learned teaching teenage boys yoga

A few months ago, I was asked to teach yoga to the Grande Prairie Northern Extreme Freestyle Ski Team. I was thrilled to take on the experience, but I didn’t know what to expect – and thank goodness for that, because my sessions with these athletes were nothing that I could have ever imagined.

To begin with, they were a little younger than I had first realized. When I signed on with the team, I thought the athletes were about 19 years old, but then later found out they were between the ages of 13 – 16, and mostly male. When I learned about this my insecurities heightened. I found myself thinking:

“Can I really teach yoga to teenage boys?”

I prepared as best as I could. I did some research, planned some sequences, and built some playlists just for them.

The classes were held in the house of one of the athletes’ parents. It was a beautiful, secluded home, just five minutes out of town. The space was large and welcoming and I knew instantly that it was going to work.

Then the athletes showed up.

I asked them, “Who here has ever done yoga before?”

Encouragingly, a couple of them raised their hands. Perfect, I thought.

We started our first class, which included Sun Salutations and foundational poses, such as a Warrior Sequence and deep lunge stretches. Savasana was no longer than 2 minutes, which seemed to be the perfect duration because within that time people’s toes were tapping and eyes were rolling.

Week after week, we got together and practiced yoga. We challenged each other. I could see their confidence and patience growing. I became familiar with their senses of humor, their strengths and weaknesses and their relationships with one another. The coach was fantastic, showing up to nearly every class to participate and encourage the athletes. Even some parents came to a couple of classes.

By the end of our 6-week session, Savasana easily lasted for five minutes.

Reflecting back on this experience, I know that I was not the only one learning. I am thankful for the time I was able to spend with these people and want to share what they taught me:

Be fearless

On the first day of class, it was apparent that trying something new – such as yoga – seemed like no big deal to them. Their confidence and light-hearted attitudes were a relief, especially compared to my own fears and insecurities of trying something new for the first time. And as new poses were introduced throughout the session they couldn’t wait to try them out. Sometimes they would jump into them before I could finish explaining them – which isn’t good for safety precautions, but their courage and confidence was apparent and I admired that.

Weren’t we all a little more brave when we were younger? I know I was. When did I get so scared to break something or embarrass myself? Lack of trust in your self can be one of the biggest barriers in your life. Take note from these teenagers and just dive in.

Be focused

Even though classes were relaxed, the athletes dedicated the time they were in class to their practice. No cell phones were allowed. They showed up, week after week, and practiced yoga. I could tell they were listing intently to what I was saying. They could easily remember sequences and poses without a lot of cuing. The way they picked up on things and remembered poses made me realize that they were focused and really living in the present moment. This isn’t something that I had to teach or remind them to do – it just came naturally to them.

Try to let go of what you already know and be open to learning new things, giving your undivided attention to wherever you are at that exact time. As we get older, the mind can get jumbled with thoughts and clouded with past experiences or expectations. Let go of that and be willing to learn with a clear mind.

Have fun

In almost every class, laughs were exchanged. It was a very light-hearted environment and the athletes never took themselves too seriously. Everyone just did their own thing. When a new pose was introduced, they had no problem jumping – or falling - into it, and then getting up and trying it again. A lot of them had existing injuries due to their active lifestyles, so if someone couldn’t get into a certain pose, then that was just fine - they didn’t seem to mind and it appeared that their peers didn’t even notice. They were just being themselves.

As an adult, I sometimes forget that life is supposed to fun and that yoga classes can be really fun! Smile. Laugh at yourself. Be kind to yourself and others. Relax.

Fill up your schedule but learn how to de-stress

Not only adults have full schedules. Wow these kids are busy! When they couldn’t make it to a class, it was only because they had other commitments. Volleyball practice. Choir practice. Out-of-town tournaments. And then of course there’s school, homework, and their social lives that are packed through the constant connection of cell phones and computers.

These teenagers are motivated individuals, committed to so many things. I couldn’t help but be impressed. But it’s important to remember that stress in children and youth is real. I was happy to teach them a little bit of self-reflection, breath work, and how to quiet the mind but this is something that as adults, we should be setting a good example of.
 
Practice yoga. Read a book. Go for a walk. Set aside at least 30 minutes a day for yourself to unwind in a healthy way.
 
Some members of the Grande Prairie Northern Extreme Freestyle Ski Team
 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

How yoga has taught me to love myself

I grew up in an abusive home. Most people who know me know this. It’s not a secret anymore. I’m not ashamed of the family I was born into or the home I was raised in. It’s a part of who I am, and I am the person I am today because of it.

But it wasn’t always this way for me. I’ve lived most of my life in utter embarrassment, shame or denial about my upbringing. About the toxic home environment I was raised in, the way my parents treated themselves, one another, and others. And it wasn’t until I found yoga that I learned I could embrace my upbringing, break this unhealthy cycle and truly love all of me.

This is how practicing yoga has taught me to love myself:

Live in the present moment

For many years, I lived in the past or dreamt of the future. I dwelled over what-ifs, never forgave myself for mistakes I made, and daydreamed about what my life would be like in the years ahead. It wasn’t until I found yoga that I truly realized all we have is today, and while it takes effort you have to learn how to live in the present moment, and just be.

Shavasana is one of my favorite poses for this. During Shavasana, there are no distractions – no smart phones, computers, or others to chat with. It’s a time to practice quieting the mind and connecting with your authentic self. Accepting who you are at that moment and loving that person. It takes time to do this and feel comfortable in your skin, but it’s helped me, for the first time in my life, feel settled.

Accept yourself the way you are

Yoga is not a competition. Everybody is different. You don’t have to be as good your neighbor at Chaturanga-ing down onto your mat. It’s your practice, it’s your time, and it doesn’t matter what your neighbor looks like or what you look like to your neighbor.

When I take this practice off the mat I remember that, like yoga, life is not a competition. It doesn’t matter what your house, clothes or hair looks like. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or where you’ve been. All that matters is that you are following your heart, honouring your body, and are happy with yourself. If others want to compete – let them. Where you are today is great, and exactly where you should be.

Let go of anger

My life, for the most part, has been hectic. I never felt good enough and was often rushing around, trying to get more done or work harder. And I never knew how to properly deal with the stress that came with such a lifestyle, or express my emotions in a healthy way. So I did it the only way I knew how: Through anger. I didn’t know how to deal with roadblocks, hurt, disappointment, and other emotions. My go-to expression was rage. It was all I knew.

The slow movement and breath work in yoga has helped me learn how to better process my emotions. It has taught me how to learn patience through finding stillness in poses and connecting with my inner self. I know now that getting angry is not going to make my pose any better, or my core stronger.

Just like learning yoga poses, life takes practice and patience.

Set boundaries

When practicing yoga, you have to find your edge. Honour your body and know what your limits are so you don't get injured.

Like in life, what’s healthy for others may not be healthy for you. And like a pose, life should not be painful.

You have to set boundaries for what you’re willing to do and accept from others in life.

Keep Learning

There’s always more to learn, new things to try, and things to screw up! Remember that if you don’t fall, you are not challenging yourself.

There's always surprises around every corner and opportunities to learn. It’s ok to be in transition and try something new.

Read more books, think outside the box, and interact with new people. Look at challenges as opportunities that will enrich your life. Try a different style of yoga that you've never tried before. Go to a class that you hate. Challenge yourself.



Everyone's life path is different, and this is just a little chapter of mine. But I will be forever grateful to the practice of yoga for helping me learn to love myself.

It’s taking me 30 years to get here, but I’m closer than I ever have been before.

Thanks for reading,

Lisa

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Five Tips for Spring Cleaning (and I don't mean your closet)

It’s that time of year again – to go through your things, clean up your life and de-clutter your home. By now you’ve probably already washed your windows, walls and curtains, donated a couple bags of clothes and raked up all the dead leafs off your lawn.

But what about your heart? It can get cluttered, dusty, and full of old crap, too. This spring, take the ambition you have for spring cleaning from the inside out, and start cleaning up your life.

Here are five things to let go of this spring:

Guilt

I held on to for years. It was awful. And when I finally let go of it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I could breathe a bit deeper. Guilt is toxic and clutters your heart and mind.

If your guilt involves someone else and the opportunity is there, try to reach out to that person and mend fences. Bite the bullet and apologize. But know that your apology may not be well received and recognize that the apology may be more for your healing than for the other person. But that's ok. If it's something you have to do, then do it.

If you’re unable to do that or if you’ve already attempted to unsuccessfully do that, then work on finding peace knowing that you are a good person and have done all that you can. Focus on the days ahead. Talk to yourself like a friend would. Change your thought patterns to manage your state of mind. Remember that rolling around in the muck will not help get you clean.

Assumptions

We all make assumptions – weather they be in the form of expectations or judgment. Most of us make assumptions on a daily basis and then we are disappointed, either in ourselves or other people, when things don’t go the way they think they should.

Focus on living in the present moment – the only moment that exists – and try to let go of any expectations you may have. Don’t judge and be open minded.

Anything that you don’t love

Is there something in your life that you don’t love? Or something that brings you more worry, stress, or anxiety than happiness? Cleaning up your calendar (whether it be socially or professionally) will help you make more time for yourself and other things that are more meaningful to you. This could be a relationship, a social obligation, maybe a second job…it will be different for everyone. Sit down and think about what you love about your life and what you don't. Ask yourself questions such as:
·         What is draining my energy?
·         Where is my biggest source of stress?

Make a plan so that you can let go of what doesn’t serve you. This can be hard, but eventually you have to toss out that old sweater in your closet, right? No matter how beautiful it once was and how much you used to love it, maybe it’s time has passed and you need to make room for something new.

Unpredictable people

Unpredictable people can be chaotic and take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride. One day they can be very positive and uplifting, and the next day they can drag you down lower than anyone else.

No one is perfect, and everyone has the right to their feelings. This includes being upset or having a bad day. But people who are constantly unpredictable can create too much chaos in your already-busy world.

Think about how you feel before you spend time with someone. Are you nervous? Tired? Worried? Do you trust them? Reflect on the relationships in your life and know that the best way to predict future behaviour is past behavior. Distance yourself from those who you don’t trust or  may trigger stress or anxiety on repeated occasions.

The Past

Love it and cherish it, but do not dwell on it. Life is too short. What's done is done. Look back at your past with a smile, lessons learned, and as a life worth living. It's only going to get better.


Always remember to not feel guilty about any changes you decide to make and live in the present moment.  

Have you done any spring cleaning this year? What inspires you to make changes?

Thanks for reading,

Lisa

Practising yoga after raking my lawn.
Spring cleaning from the inside out.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

How to let go of any expectations you may have

As part of the centering work I offer at the beginning of a yoga class, I’ll often say to the students to “let go of any expectations you have may have.”

What I mean when I say this is to let go of any expectations they have for themselves and their body, and of any expectations they may have for others in the room.

But I believe that letting go of expectations is good to practice on and off the mat and I’m constantly reminded of this every day - sometimes, several times a day. But it doesn’t come easy. I’ve spent many sleepless nights, tossing and turning because I can’t shut my mind off. It wasn’t until I started practicing yoga that letting go became easier for me, and the more I practice, the more relaxed I am able to live my life.

Here are some things I do to help let go of any expectations:

Learn to go with the flow

This is harder to do then it sounds. I used to get really stressed out when I was running late because my doctor was behind, or plans got cancelled on me last minute and other things in my life got delayed because of it. But when this happens, I now try to take a deep breath and just go with the flow. I've realized that days hardly go the way I plan anyway, so what’s the point of making plans set in stone? There are a lot of people living in this world trying to get things done, too. Shit happens. Maybe my lunch meeting goes longer than scheduled and I can’t do my errands like I had planned – that’s ok. I don’t know when I’ll get them done, but I will when I can. When you start to practice this 'go with the flow' on small, meanial things, it's easier to apply to the big scary things in life - like having or not having a baby.

Stop being so hard on yourself

Life is not in your control. You are one person trying to do your best while cramming a million other things into it. Maybe you have children and on top of trying to care for them and being the best mother that you can, you forget a friend’s birthday. IT’S OK. Just be honest and do your best. Stop the negative thoughts, change your frame of mind, and be your own best friend.

Stop being so hard on other people

So your friend forgot your birthday. Is it that big of deal? I’m sure there are a lot of other people who love you and remembered it, so be grateful for that and know that the (unnecessary) guilt your friend is probably carrying should be enough weight on their shoulders without you adding to it. No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. Just remember that.

What white picket fence?

There is no such thing. As much as it may look like someone else’s lives are perfect, they aren’t. Get over the superficial things in life and stop caring what other people think of you. You are only expected to be you, and to be honest. You don’t have to impress people, and they don’t have to impress you. We’re all in this together. Those white picket fences that you see in movies don’t exist. Be realistic and true to you.

You will be disappointed sometimes, and that’s ok.

Sometimes, people just suck. And I guarantee that you are going to hurt someone’s feelings at some point too. Maybe not on purpose, but it will happen. And you need to be ok with that. Feel your feelings, and move then on from them. Remember that know one or nothing in life this owes you ANYTHING. All the love and support you get are just a bonus.

Start living in the present moment

Nothing in life is guaranteed. Nothing. It's not in our hands, we can't control other people, and we don't know what the future holds. All we have is right now. Today. This minute. Slow down. Take a deep breath, and appreciate the day you are given. There is always something to be thankful for.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Pretending to be Française: A cautionary tale, by guest-blogger Erika Sherk

Introduction by Lisa:
Erika is not only a good friend of mine, but a role model when it comes to self discipline and eating clean.
Imagine my surprise when I heard that she had eaten feet, liver, cheeks and brains all in one meal. I was not only surprised, but excited for her. I was so happy to hear that she was experimenting with new things, taking chances, and living on the edge! Until I saw how much it affected her afterwards.
Then I felt awful.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand how changes to a person’s diet can affect them so much, both physically and mentally. Personally, I like to eat whatever I want and just stick to a workout regime. I’m not terrible with my food choices, but I was raised on meat and potatoes and ice cream for dessert – yum. And I still love that stuff! But I’m understanding more and more that to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle you can’t always eat whatever you want. And the more I pay attention to my diet, the more I can appreciate how different it makes a person feel.

Erika is about 500 steps ahead of me in the healthy meal planning chapter of life. 
Below are some details about her exotic, over-seas, risk-taking meals and how they affected her.
My favorite take-away from this personal essay is how important it is to be true to you, no matter what the circumstance. 
Not to mention she references her yogic experiences in the France - how amazing is that! Hopefully she'll share more of that with us in another upcoming blog post... ;)  
All in all, Erika’s not only an impressively healthy person, but a good friend, person and exceptional writer. I think you will enjoy this little glimpse into a special part of her life.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy!

Erika in France, 2013.
A friend once told me I had an addictive personality. I was surprised. “Totally off base,” I thought. I have since learned: she was right.
When I left Canada in October, I was a lean, tanned mountain biker living off vegan food and smoothies.
Five days a week I would ride my Rocky Mountain 15 kilometres to work, go for a run in the sunshine at lunchtime and ride home at the end of the day. Evenings I’d do more aggressive rides – jumping things, whipping around corners and down hills. Romantic dates for me generally involved three hours on a mountain bike. I was always moving. I was addicted to fresh air, exercise and obscenely healthy food.
It was this health-freak, bikeaholic Canadian who landed in Lyon, France on October 7. Three months later, however, a different person got on the plane to return to Canada.
Let me tell you My Story.
Actually, there’s not a lot to say. Basically, I just learned the hard way that I am not French. Also that addictive personalities need to watch out when they start latching on to something, especially when pastries are involved.
When I set up shop in Lyon - France’s second biggest city - the plan was to practise French and secretly, to become French. Lyon was the gastronomical capital of France and maybe even the world. It seemed the obvious launching pad for my transformation.
Veganism be damned, I was soon out with a gang of guys who were friends of my French tutor in Canada, tucking into a vat of beef cheeks stewed in honey. Obviously we’d had an appetizer or two to get started - one-course meals don’t really exist there. In this case we’d already tucked into chicken liver cake, pigs’ feet, head cheese and other delights. The liver cake was delicious. The pigs’ feet: a travesty.
Anyway, I ate feet, liver, cheeks and brains at one meal. It was great. I fished a few carrots out of the beef vat to balance things out and drank a lot of red wine because well, French is a difficult language. The owner of the bouchon (a Lyonnaise "fat food" restaurant as one local friend described it) we were in came over with eau de vie at the end of the evening. To me, it was a little glass of 80 proof culture. Bring it on! I’m practically French already!
At home, my roommate Damien lived on paté, rillettes, quiche, cheese and red wine. He was my gastronomic inspiration. I began a slow descent into a life of artery abuse. The liver and feet were only the beginning. Quiche became a very regular part of my day. Hot wine in the evenings. Croissants made a daily appearance. When le Maison Kayser patisserie is a short (and charming) walk down the hill, it’s simply the right thing to do. I took up coffee drinking. I wanted to start smoking but was too Canadian to actually try.
It wasn't just the food. I embraced my immersion in all kinds of ways. I learned to swear in French and how to look haughty when offended. I made my way out of two situations where men I didn’t want to kiss tried to kiss me. (Mercifully, the old standards popped into my brain, insta-translated by pure panic– “merci mais ce n’est pas comme ça pour moi, je t’aime mais comme un ami seulement!’)

I volunteered at a yoga studio with the tall, trilingual Stéphane. I made friends, I had language partners. I had long discussions about how nice I was and how that needed to be remedied (not French enough.) I had French suitors to fight off and French films and concerts to attend.  I visited Paris and Normandy, I rode bikes, I took wine tours, I bought a beautiful vintage leather jacket and had a haircut that made me look rather like a peacock. Life was grand.
But I kept getting sick. I had two vicious flus while I was there - two long, brutal illnesses in three months that had me alternately shaking and then burning up with fever.
I also became a bit withdrawn. I stressed for no reason. I slept badly. Looking back, these are classic signs of what happens when I don’t eat the way I need. If I eat properly and exercise enough, I’m basically guaranteed good health, high energy and happiness. It’s how I work. But I was being French! This was culture! I needed to live off cheese, wine, croissants, quiche, chocolate and various bits and pieces of cows and pigs. It was an education, gosh darn it, and I was committed. Basically everything I avoided at home – things I knew very well made me feel sick, tired and not myself – I dove into in France.
But here’s the annoying conclusion: No matter where I am, I can’t get away with it. There are no loopholes. If I don’t eat clean, I don’t function well.
In a way, I’m really annoyed with myself. I could have felt much better while I was there. I didn’t need a cranky political opponent to poison me, I did it myself. The obvious question is why? Probably because it felt awesome. It was nice not to worry about consuming the perfect combination of food at the perfect time. I felt hedonistic and carefree.
I’m slightly obsessive, normally, when it comes to food. I have to calculate how much protein I’ve had, how long it's been since I ate, whether I’ve had enough vegetables, what colour they were, whether I have the carbs I need for an upcoming ski. I’m hypoglycemic and have a few intolerances and sensitivities. It’s pretty standard for eating to make me feel ill, in one way or another, if I’m not ultra-careful.
But … lesson learned. I did not feel like my awesome self in France. A lot of the time I felt tired and anxious and sick. I still had a glorious time. One does not take three months off work to spend them swanning around France and not enjoy it. But if I went back, I wouldn’t mess it up. My system is finely wired and it demands respect.
So I pledge that this trip will be the last one I screw up. I will recognize the fact that everything that goes (or doesn’t) into my body affects my energy, my happiness, my sociability, my humour, my intelligence and my sleep. If it means hauling around nuts and kale chips and seaweed snacks, I’ll do it. If it means saying no to 90 per cent of treats lined up on the patisserie shelves, I’ll do it (crying on the inside, obviously, but outwardly stoic.)
I’ll respect all the frustrating demands of my physical self. I’ll remember how angry I felt the last time I only had grapefruit for breakfast, I’ll remember how shaky I get from too much caffeine, I’ll remember how eating white bread makes me want to sleep all day. I’ll remember how if I eat sugar, I feel wretched every time. I will bow to you, you demanding dictator of a body! Because I like feeling good. In fact, I like feeling awesome.
So there you go – my cautionary tale. Now go and eat something green and vegetable-y. There’s an addiction I support.

Friday, 7 March 2014

So you wanna be a yogi superstar?

So you wanna be a yogi superstar?
And live green, eat kale, wear tights, and be calm?
Turning upside down is just your everyday thing;
Making sure you look hot on the beach in a string bikini.


http://bit.ly/NH6Mc2
 
That’s me, last summer.

No, I’m kidding. I can’t do that, and I certainly don’t look like that in a bathing suit. In fact, not a lot of people do. I guess that’s why pictures like this are so popular. Similar to pictures in beauty or fitness magazines, it’s supposed to inspire people and give them something to strive for…right?

Or do they make a person feel incompetent and intimated? It’s impressive, yes, but is this really yoga?

Let me tell you what yoga means to me: It’s not about what you look like, whatsoever. And yoga is for everyone - all different sizes, shapes and styles. It’s not a fancy headstand in a bikini on a beach and it’s certainly not a fitness or beauty competition.

Don’t get wrong - there’s nothing wrong with these pictures of beautiful people who can do really advanced poses and look great in a bathing suit. I’m not here to judge them or say they’re doing anything wrong. It just seems like the ‘yoga industry’ is becoming inundated with them and because of this, it can make yoga seem to be overwhelming and intimidating, and therefore unappealing, to a large population of people.

I think a lot of people have the impression that a perfect, bendy body in a bikini doing a fancy headstand IS what yoga is all about. How many times have you heard (or said):

“I can’t do yoga. I'm not flexible enough.”

“I won’t fit in.”

“I don’t own any Lululemon.”

I’ve heard all of these things and more about why people won’t go to a yoga class, and my heart sinks a little bit each time. And to be honest, as a new teacher in the industry, all of these fancy, perfect pictures are starting to get me a little bit me too - which is why I’m sharing this:

I remember something my yoga instructor, Lyle Anderson, said to me once: Just because someone is doing an impressive pose, it doesn’t mean they’re doing yoga.

So what does that mean exactly?

Yoga isn’t about what you look like. It’s a practice that comes from within to unite the mind, body and spirit. It’s about creating balance – both on and off the mat. Of course the more you practise, the stronger a person becomes, physically. But yoga is supposed to challenge you internally, too. And it’s about you, no one else.

Think about it this way:

You see a photo of a person bending over backwards and kicking their legs up in the air, but they’re driven by their ego and doing it to show off or impress others. And then there’s another person simply sitting cross legged on the floor, giving thanks for every breath and sitting still with a clear mind – now who is really practising yoga?

Of course, it's simply too hard to tell by looking at a picture if a person is really “practicing yoga” or not, and I’m not trying to pick on gorgeous people who are strong and confident. I just want to see and share more diversity, and help people feel more comfortable with the idea of yoga.

If there’s one thing about yoga that I can share with you, it’s this: Ahimsa. Ahimsa means nonviolence or harm. Try to practice this in your everyday life, with others and with yourself, and just like that – you’re doing yoga.

In my practice and in the classes that I teach, yoga is about taking the time to learn how to love yourself. You’re not there to judge others and what they look like, including what they’re wearing or how flexible they are, and they’re not there to judge you either. And no one is there to feel intimidated because they can’t bend a certain way or stand on their hands.

I want to get away from comparing myself and others to so many fancy poses and get real.

I encourage you to look inside yourself and decide what yoga means to you, if anything at all. Don’t look at these fancy, beautiful people doing crazy poses, and don’t look at the average, normal looking person doing what appears to be half-assed poses, either.

Just look at yourself, and be inspired by all.

Know that you’re better than the person you were yesterday.

Keep working on it.

Be positive.

Practise Ahimsa.

Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t judge.

Be happy with whom you are and what you’ve got, and just do your best.

...And just like that - you're doing yoga.

“If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time. It's very important to be aware of them every time they come up.” ~ Deepak Chopra

Be a yogi superstar.

Friday, 28 February 2014

18 signs I’m 30

It’s my 30th birthday today. Happy Birthday to me! It’s a good day. I’m happy, I’m healthy and I am blessed with so many amazing friends and family that sometimes I lose count of them all (which reminds me, I need to count my blessings more often).

Looking back, I don’t think the 18-year-old me would have believed me if I told her where she would be today, 12 years later, at the age of 30. A part of her might say, awesome, that sounds great! And I think another part of her might be surprised that she’s not married with kids yet...someone needs to tell that girl she just can’t have it all ;)

 
One of the only pictures I have of me on my 18th birthday.
What I know: I was at Moxie's on the restaurant side because not all of my friends were 18 yet. My hair was blonde. I borrowed that shirt from a friend and it had the NYC skyline on it. My pants were from Le Chateau. I did a lot of gross shooters that night. That guy's name was Ricky, he was a busboy at the restaurant, and I think he's in jail now.

It’s hard for me to believe I was ever that 18-year-old girl. I’m only 30 and I already almost forget!

I want to celebrate me today – all of me. Even the stupid, rebellious, drama-queen 18-year-old who I almost forget existed. So I took a stroll down memory lane to see how far I’ve come and thought I would share with you 18 signs that I know this girl is now 30 years old:

 1. I drink wine.

Not Wildberry coolers, Kaluha, or Boones - but legitimate, tasteful wine. I even have preferences i.e. pinot noir versus merlot.

 2. I don’t lie to my parents anymore.

About anything. What’s the point? They have to of accepted me for who I am at this point, right? Plus, I live on my own and take care of myself. I don’t have ‘rules’ anymore – thank god! And yet somehow, those two crazy people (my parents) managed to raise a somewhat-responsible, normal human being with some self-discipline (me!).

3. I have bills.

I remember when getting something in the mail was fun and exciting, like getting a birthday card from my Grandma or a subscription to Seventeen magazine – now when I get mail I just get to find out how much of my shopping budget is going towards heating my house.

4. I don’t give a shit about petty gossip.

Oh, you think someone’s new hair cut isn’t very cute? Just the sole fact that you’re telling me this makes me like you less.

5. The music I liked in High School is now being classified into ‘eras’ and ‘genres’ such as Hits from the 90s and Classic Rock.

Really? When did Ashanti and Bush X get to be vintage? What do you mean you don’t know who Gavin Rossdale is?

 6. I don’t spend a lot of time doing my hair anymore.

Ok, sometimes I do. But for special occasions only. Not when I’m going to work on a Tuesday.

7. Almost all of my friends have babies and families, and I love them.

I've always loved my friends children, but now more than ever I want to hang out with their kids as much as I want to hang out with them. Who doesn’t love adorable, mini-duplicates of their best friends?

8. Quality time with friends usually includes coffee dates or doing something active, such as going for walks or to a yoga class.

Since time is so limited these days, we need to make the most of it when we’re together, and driving around in old beat up cars, smoking weed and listing to rap music isn’t going to cut it anymore!

 9. Qualifications for men I date now expand beyond ‘cute’ and ‘nice jeans.’ They include things such as ‘having a career’ and ‘owning a home.’

 10. ‘Going out’ no longer means meeting up with a bunch of friends at 7:30 p.m., getting ready, borrowing eachother's clothes, doing shooters, and dancing at the bar until 3 a.m.

Instead, it means dinner at The Keg and maybe a movie afterwards. Maybe. If we can catch the early show…

11. I like my family – immediate and extended.

Even though I may not have a lot in common with some of them and I think they’re weird sometimes, I appreciate them all very much.

12. I need a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night; eight is preferred.

And I have no problems admitting that out loud to a group of people and leaving somewhere early to ensure I get my rest.

13. I don’t like to change or upgrade things.

Newer and fancier? Nah, that means I just have to learn something new – again! Plus, I know it will be old again in a year. I’ll save my money, thanks.

14. Speaking of saving money – I do that. A person has to plan for retirement.

15. I do what I want.

Writing being one of them, yoga being another. It doesn’t matter if it’s cool or not, or what other people think. And if I don’t want to do something, I won’t do it. Simple as that.

16. I care about my health.

This includes craving healthy foods and going to regular dentist appointments. Road trip snacks are a little different than they were a few years ago, I think smoking is disgusting and staying active is essential.

 17. I know now that if I want to stay in shape and feel good that I have to put effort into working out – and I’m ok with that.

I enjoy going to the gym and living an active lifestyle…not to mention cheeseburgers go straight to my ass these days and I can’t eat a bag of Skittles without getting a sugar hangover.

18. And, last but not least, it’s hard for me to remember what I was like at 18! Was it really that long ago…?


What are some signs you know you're getting older? Do you find it hard to believe to you were once the 18 year old version of yourself?

Thanks for reading,

Lisa

Monday, 24 February 2014

So you’ve ate a lot of sugar – now what?

I’ve tried to cut sugar out of my diet. It’s hard.
Recently, I fell off the wagon. Hard.
I was eating Skittles, doughnuts, jelly beans and more. This was a serious relapse and I swear one morning I even had a sugar hangover. I was dragging my feet, getting headaches, and feeling really dehydrated.

Photo retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Skittles_Original.jpg

I had to give myself a reality check, take a long, cold hard look at myself in the mirror, and cut it out.
But at this point, I had already eaten so much sugar...what was a girl to do?
Here’s how I recommend getting back on track after a sugar binge:
Drink a lot of water
This is a given. Soak up the H2O to start cleansing your system and quench your thirst cravings that you get when you overload on sugar. Drink as much as you can - a little more then you think you have to.
Sweat it out
Just move. Be active doing whatever it is that you love. Walking, dancing, yoga-ing…do whatever feels good to get your blood moving and your heart racing. Try to do a minimum of 30 minutes a day and aim to break a sweat. Again, think about cleansing out your system.
Rest up
Chances are, you’re energy levels are feeling a little off now.
Sugar does that to a person - it gives you an instant boost. You burn out fast on it though, and it's not long before you want to feel that instant boost again.
Be sure to get some rest so that when you’re feeling tired, you can nip resurfacing sugar craving in the butt with natural energy sources such as an apple or a shot of apple cider vinegar.
Eat greens
Broccoli, spinach, and kale - just to name a few. Eat at least two green sources of green foods a day. Green foods are low in sugars and because they’re packed with fibre and water, they help to regulate your blood sugar levels. They have many other health benefits too, including being high in fibre and vitamins. Remember - think cleanse. And get creative with your colour coded food! Throw in a handful of spinach in your morning breakfast smoothie and you're already in-taking a source of vegetables first thing in the morning.
Be nice to yourself

Don't beat yourself up over it! You ate the sweets - now get over it and move on. Don't dwell on it! It's done, it's over. You ate them. No big deal! Besides, I hope you enjoyed them while they lasted.

Be strategic

Try to think back to what triggered your sweet tooth - was it stress? Temptation? Identify triggers and learn how to work around those obstacles better for next time :)
Thanks for reading, and good luck!
Lisa
 

Thursday, 16 January 2014

How to find and listen to your intuition

When giving advice, people often say “listen to your gut” or “follow your instinct."

It's a pretty common saying and I’m sure I’ve said it to a lot of people before, but it’s just now, at the age of almost-30, that I’m starting to figure out what it means.

I believe that your intuition is a part of you. It’s a part of your heart, soul and mind. It’s an extension of your body, like your fingers or toes. It’s not something that you’ve ever had a choice of, it's just something that you were born with.

Your intuition is supposed to help guide you and make decisions in life.

Its intention is to help you live your best life and connect with yourself on an intimate level. It develops with you as you grow as a person, and never leaves. It can, I believe, grow and change over time with you.

Recently I’ve been connecting with mine more than ever before and I love it. I can’t believe I lived so far apart from it for so long.

If you feel out of touch with yours, here is a little bit more about what I think intuition is, and how you can find it.

What it is:

It's you

Your intuition is connected to your body, heart, soul and mind. It’s in your temperament. It's what makes you tick, and what you like to do or don’t do. Everyone’s intuition is going to be different based on who they are. Something that sends off alarm bells in your head and may seem like a “bad sign” to you, may not send off the same alarm bells to someone else because everyone is different and likes or dislikes different things. That’s ok. This is about you. You are your own person with your own private thoughts.

It's not always about the bad stuff

Your gut instinct recognizes both good and bad things. It doesn’t just pipe up when something is negative, alarming, or dangerous. It shares positive thoughts, too. Don’t confuse this with hopes and dreams and what you want (or what you think you want), but remember that your intuition is nice to you. If something is good and great, and it feels good and great, then it is. This goes for everything,
including how you take care of your health, make career moves, and meet a new friend. If it feels really great for you, then it probably is.

It’s different than common sense

Your intuition is not obvious, nor is it about the obvious stuff.

“I just know to lock my doors every night because my intuition tells me to.”

No, it’s because you’re aware of the risks that are associated with leaving your doors unlocked over night.

“I didn’t look both ways before I crossed the street because I had a gut feeling that there were no cars coming.”

No, that’s being stupid. Look both ways before you cross the street. Use your common sense.

Ok, so you know you have intuition...somewhere. The trick is tracking it down.



Here are some ways to help you find it:

Feel it

Your intuition is a physical sensation. I once described it as something I could feel coming from behind me and through the back of my spine until I finally felt a nudge deep in my stomach. 

You might first feel a little nudge in your abdomen area, shoulders or chest. It’s a bit different for everyone. For me, the heavy instincts feel like they are somewhere deep in my belly.

They are subtle, but they're there. 

Hear it

It didn't speak to me necessarily in a quiet whisper, but it wasn't a slap in the face, either. It was just something that was there.

Your mind will start processing thoughts without you even realizing it. And maybe you don't know why you are thinking or worrying about certain things. You can't really pin it down, but some things are just not adding up in your head. You’re not sure where these thoughts or ideas are coming from. It may feel like a sub-conscious effort. But listen to these thoughts! They are a part of you. Hear them without judgement or intention - just listen.

Wait for it

Your intuition will speak to you when you’re ready for it.

Sometimes it may be instant, other times it may take a while for you to realize what it’s saying or doing.

Your intuition doesn’t punch you in the stomach and start yelling at you. It’s always there, but it may take a while for a person to notice it. Especially if you are, for example, occupied with every-day life stuff at the moment, or in denial about something.

Often, it slowly creeps up on me until the day that I finally check in and notice it. It’s like something just clicks.

Sometimes I may have had to process some information, admit some things to myself, or maybe sleep on it, but the answer always comes. Sometime it will come to me at the most random time. For example, I had been struggling with something for about a week or so, and one morning on my regular commute to work, I finally confirmed with myself what I had been struggling with all along, and just like that, and the answer was obvious to me. My intuition had been there the entire time, but I wasn’t ready to listen to it or make a decision until that morning.

Do Yoga

Yoga connects all of you – body, soul, mind and heart. It takes you to your edge while feeling still and balanced. Yoga has been a great calming activity of me, while helping me keep physically healthy. There are many different varieties and styles of yoga that a person can do. Try several different classes and teachers to find the one that you like the most, and keep it up.

Once you learn to trust yourself and your intuition, confidence will build and you will get to know yourself more and more each day. It's one of the best things you could do for yourself. 

Take it slow, practise patience, and trust yourself.

Thanks for reading,

Lisa