Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Start where you are

Start where you are. I love this. As someone who likes to set goals and think about the big picture, I needed this reminder today. It's easy to get lost in all the things we want to be, but the only way to get started is to accept what you are now. Ask yourself what can you do today, just today, to accomplish your goals one step at a time. I am lucky enough to have a fridge filled with vegetables, so today I am going to cook some healthy food that includes heaps of vegetables. I am run down with a cold and need the nourishment. What a great place to start.

What can you do today?

Be well!

Image Via And Then We Saved

Monday, October 5, 2015

It's Monday!

It's Monday all over again! How are you? I mean, really, how are you? Was it a good weekend? Or do you wish you had a do-over? If so, think of this week as a new beginning. 

For me the past week has been a little all over the place. First of all, let's take a breath, Healthtober. While I'm always pretty excited to get started, I can sometimes get ahead of myself (the danger of being an eager goal-setter). So things didn't go exactly as planned. On Thursday I felt a soreness in my lower back and by Friday I couldn't move. Fibromyalgia does this to me sometimes and I had no other choice than to be gentle with myself (which was also one of my goals for the month, so look at me!). I was in no place to organize and prepare healthy and gluten-free food and that was okay. Instead I booked an appointment with my chiropractor and massage therapist. And I took a nap. How's that for self-care?

This week, then, is about recharging, slowly and surely. My back is already feeling better and I'm committing myself to some yoga this week to stretch out all these sore muscles. I'm in a baking mood (says the woman who is always in a baking mood) and I'm eager to try out some gluten-free muffins and banana bread. And for dinner tonight I'm making some macaroni and cheese (with rice pasta) and kale salad. I'm winning at this week already. 

My to-do list for the week includes:

  • A massage! 
  • Writing. Lots of writing. I've been really inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert's new podcast on creativity and I'm feeling really encouraged to write more.  My goal this week is publish three blog posts before the weekend. 
  • Have lunch with a great friend.

  • Baking a lemon pie for Thanksgiving. I might be the only person on the planet who doesn't like pumpkin pie. But I can't lie, it's just who I am.

  • Yoga. My plan is to two different studios this week and see what I like. Try as I might, yoga at home as a solo practice just doesn't work for me. I need the encouragement of a room filled with people all trying to do the same thing. 
  •  Resting. I'm feeling a bit better physically, but I know myself and if I don't get some extra rest right now, I'll pay for it later.

What can you do for yourself this week? 

Be well!

P.S. Thank you to everyone who has asked about how my presentation went at the midwifery student conference this weekend. I presented on a panel with two fellow students about my experience with depression and anxiety as a student midwife. I think we started a great conversation.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Healthtober! Because you can do anything for a month

So I do this every time.

I did it during school and I am doing it again while on my 'break.' I am working too hard and pushing my body beyond its limits. For a month I have worked too many overnight doula shifts, too many for me, a person whose body is in need of some care. An accumulation of very little sleep + not looking after myself physically or emotionally means that I'm currently a heap of mess on the couch. Everything hurts. 

No more, I declare. Or Matty declared, last night as I was crying to him about how much it hurt to walk shuffle across the room. He looked at me with those encouraging "when are you going to make some good changes?" eyes and suggested that maybe we need a new approach. "It's time for healthy October!" he proclaimed, or more appropriately, Healthtober (trademark pending). 

Whatever you'd like to call it, join me in making October a month filled with good healthy choices, whatever that means to you. For Matty it means working to lose a few pounds and getting outside for some exercise. Let's cheer him on! For me it means getting some good sleep, eating some good food that involves a whole hell of a lot more vegetables, and cutting back my sugar intake about one billion percent, which still leaves me with a little sugar. I need a little sugar because how else am I supposed cope with not smoking, because you guys! I'm not smoking!

My Healthtober goals include:

  • No gluten! As per the suggestion of my ever-patient naturopath. It's only taken me two years to actually give up gluten. Two years, guys. I'm hoping that giving up gluten might help with some of my fibromyalgia symptoms.
  • Significantly less sugar. I know I might have better results with an actual limit, but I can't do it all at once. My goal is to be mindful of not reaching for sugar at every opportunity. Speaking of reducing sugar, did you see this? High fives.
  • Resting when my body needs it. That means not too many overnight shifts, not going to crazy with projects at home. Gentle is the word of the month. Since I'm not great with being gentle on myself, I'll need a lot of reminders.  
  • To enjoy as much of the beautiful fall weather as humanly possible. Walks, even short ones, will do me well.
 I can do this! I can do anything for a month. There are, however, two important exceptions, and by exceptions I really just mean there are two days during which I will eat gluten with abandon. Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away and it is hands down my favourite holiday, and I will be eating any and all of my mum's cooking. And at the end of the month is my birthday and there will cake--gluten and sugar-filled cake. I think that's only fair. You only turn 38 once.

So who is going to join me for Healthtober? What healthier choices would you like to make? Share your goals in the comments, or at the very least, please share your most encouraging thoughts. I'll need all the help I can get.

Be well!

P.S. Do you follow me on Instagram? I'll be posting updates there as I go.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My go-to list

You guys! Fall is here! It's really, really here!

I was thinking today about my go-to list, the things in my life where I don't have to make decisions, I just know what it is that I'll choose. Some people might call me predictable, but I'd rather call myself saved from decision exhaustion (when we waste a bunch of time trying to decide between too many options). There is a time and a place to try new things, but there are also those times when you need an easy answer.  I have no time for waffling in front of a barista, I just want my double americano. Do you have a list like this? No? Then you need one.

I thought I'd share a few things from my go-to list:

Coffee: The darkest roast available, preferably in the form of an americano
Tea: Earl Grey with milk
Wine: Chianti
Citrus fruit: Pink grapefruit
Vegetable: Brussel sprouts
Chocolate chip cookie recipe: Smitten Kitchen's Favourite Chococolate Chip Cookie
Comfort food: Macaroni and Cheese 
Easy dinner: Roast chicken

Happy place book I read again and again: The Mists of Avalon
Magazine: Bon Appetit 
Cookbook: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
Food blog for baking: Joy the Baker
Food blog for whole foods cooking: My New Roots
Blog that inspires my writing: Sweet Amandine
Blog for inspiration: Rachel W. Cole

Moisturizer: Coconut oil
Self-care: 90 minute massage
Journal: Moleskin (I currently have this colour)
Netflix obsession: Re-watching Grey's Anatomy
Way to spend a free Sunday: Farmer's market, brunch, park, nap, dinner at home.
Flowers: Daisies

Care to share your own list? What things do you instinctively reach for when it comes to making a decision?

Be well!

P. S. Do you follow me on Instagram? Come say hello!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

It's Tuesday!

Hello lovelies! I was so busy writing about procrastination yesterday that I forgot to write up my Monday list. How was your weekend? We had a busy one, including me spending all day Saturday at a postpartum doula training (because there is always more to learn). On Sunday I took the girls on a movie date, during which I realized that we pretty much just go to the movies for the candy and popcorn.

Fall is officially here (high fives all around) and I'm already dreaming of all the fall-y things I can do this week. I might break the girlies out of school one day to go apple picking because our weekends are booked solid for the next few weeks, and it would be heartbreaking to miss out on all those apples, wouldn't it? And while I can't stand pumpkin spice lattes, I did pick up some pumpkin for baking something delicious (like this or these).

Here's my list for this week:

  • I'm making this for dinner tonight even though I'll be the only one in the house who will eat it.

  • I'm still sitting in front of a pile of gluten-free cookbooks, looking for inspiration.

  • My days are free this week and I'm enjoying some quiet time at home. I took a very long nap today (hooray for self-care) and I'm hoping to get a lot of writing done. I may or may not also wash the floors. 

  • I'm attending a midwifery student conference this weekend and I'm over the moon about it. I've felt so out of touch from school since taking the year off and I'm looking forward to taking part in some conversations about birthy things. I'm also participating on a panel about life as a student with mental health issues, which I think is a great opportunity for all of us to think about how to take care of ourselves as students and as future midwives. Plus I get to see some familiar faces I've missed!

So what about you? What's on your plate this week? Starting any new projects? Let us know in the comments! 

Be well.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Is fear holding you back? How to move foward anyway.

Have you heard Elizabeth Gilbert's podcast, Magic Lessons? In one episode she talks about procrastination being born out of fear.

What am I afraid of then? Because I am an extraordinary procrastinator.

I am also a very hard worker who has completed two degrees, a master's thesis, a good part of  a doctoral degree, and two years (and counting) of midwifery school. I also have clean laundry and food in my fridge (most of the time), so I pull through in spite of my tendency to put absolutely everything off until the last minute.

And I think this is part of the trouble with being a relatively high-functioning procrastinator: I almost always get everything done so everything seems fine. But the stress and guilt and anxiety it produces? Those are not fine. Ask Matty (no, wait, maybe don't) about how much trouble my procrastination causes. I'm legendary, really.

Something that has always bothered me about my own procrastination is that it happens even when I'm doing something I love. For example, I love midwifery school pretty bad. While the program certainly has its ups and downs, it is giving me the knowledge and skills to become a midwife one day, a pretty kick ass one if you don't mind me saying. So why oh why do I still procrastinate when I'm doing something I love? Anyone?

I'm afraid of a lot of things. I'm afraid that the work will be hard and I won't be able to do it well. I'm afraid I won't be perfect. I'm afraid that I'll be judged. Or worse: that I'll fail completely. I'm afraid that I've given up so much to change careers and return to school and that it will all be for nothing. Deep, deep down I'm afraid I won't finish, just like I didn't finish my PhD (a fear that lingers even though the context is so very different). I'm afraid that I'm just faking at all this adult stuff and that I'll soon be found out by the whole wide world. 

Tim Urban writes that a procrastinator acts this way because "he has incredibly low confidence when it comes to this part of his life, allowing himself to become enslaved by a self-defeating, self-fulfilling prophecy." (And if you haven't read his post on why procrastinators procrastinators, you really should. It is insightful and hilarious.) I think we develop this low self-confidence because we're afraid. When we don't move forward on account of this fear, when we don't get started on necessary work or make the important first steps on something that is important to us, we end up confirming these fears--that we are going to fail all over again. 

Procrastination might be the best tool we have for looking after of ourselves. If we're afraid of something we need protection. If I don't start studying for that exam I won't have to realize that I'm not smart enough to learn the material. Or, and this is what's been on my mind lately, if I put off the hard work of pursuing my goals this year, I won't discover that I'm not strong enough to do it. My goals feel big and scary some days and putting them off protects me from not accomplishing them.

So how do we move forward when we're afraid?

We plan. We take small steps. We make choices that reflect what's really important to us. Every single day we decide to move forward, to change the story we have written for ourselves. 
When it comes to goals, we dream big and plan small, breaking down each step as clearly as possible. I am committed to finding a way to plan out the hard work that needs to be done to accomplish my goals, not just the big picture, day-dreamy blog posts I write, but actual step by step plans, filled with steps and deadlines and actions. I want to share these plans with you. 

But most importantly, I will forgive myself. I will give myself permission to fail. We can't move forward if we're so terrified of making mistakes. I hope you will give yourself permission, too. Is there a goal you want to accomplish? Do you have a project that is important to you that you've been too afraid to begin? Perfection is the enemy of the good. Let's all get started.

Be well!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

When things aren't hard

How are you lovelies? I realized recently that I almost never write about the girlies anymore and that just doesn't feel right. Do you want to know why? Because they've been a dream lately and we tend to focus so much on the hard stuff that we forget to stop and enjoy the times when things are easier. Smoother. More delightful. 

This summer wasn't easy for me. Maybe you could read between the lines of my scattered blog posts to see that I was often frustrated by my time home with the girlies. I was coming down from a really intense time in school and was feeling physically terrible, and Alyce had just finished a school year filled with challenges. We were all ready for the break of summer vacation and quickly fell into an easy rhythm of lazy days mixed up with adventures out in the city, but before long we were dealing with meltdowns (myself included) and constant fights between the girls. I began to dread my weeks home with them in spite of having missed them so damn much while I was in placement. I complained to Matty. I vented to my friends. It was a long summer.

But you know what? It doesn't feel so hard anymore. Returning to school, giving us all some time on our own each day, has made such a big difference. Alyce loves her new teacher, which is such a relief, and Shira is happy to play with her little kindergarten friends every day. I have enjoyed my quiet days to work and rest. All of a sudden the girlies aren't screaming at each other and meltdowns have been few and far between. Matty and I have found ourselves whispering happily to each other about the changes in our home, but I don't just want to whisper, I want to sing it from the rooftops!

We are often so quick to complain when things are hard, but let's not forget to enjoy when they're not. So I'm here to report that I'm currently enjoying the giggles and the sisterly secrets and the excited walks to school in the morning. And I hope you are, too. 

Be well!