42. Getting Back to Basics & Finding Real Joy

Have you ever had a period in your life where you were truly content?  Not just for an hour or a day, but for a stretch of a few weeks or more?  I got a text from the Husband this morning – he wanted to tell me how good he’d been feeling lately – I immediately wrote bak “Me too”.  And then it hit me – I haven’t felt this deeply contented in a long time.  Like it’s been a year and a half since I’ve felt this good.  Cue the thought train (yes, my little one has been watching Inside Out on repeat since I bought the DVD for her on a rainy day at the cottage in August).

You see, for the past little while, I’ve read a LOT of books in the “self-help” genre, I’ve tried saying “YES!” to things for the sake of trying new things and to add excitement to my life, I’ve changed my eating plan. I’ve changed my workout plan, and I’ve done different things with the kids.  And sure. I did have some fun.  But as a whole, none of it was really coming together to put me in the deep down happy place.

Over the summer, an idea popped up several times in things I read; “What would your 19-year old self do”.    Then yesterday, the Coach and I mused over why people can get into an eating pattern that helps them physically (they lose weight, get stronger, feel better) and mentally, but then just as easily fall out of it and back into their old physical and mental habits.  And finally, I read this post in Instagram from Emily Ley who was talking about how she is trying to care for herself the way she would care for a loved one.

As I look back on the past few weeks of this new school year, I realize that I’ve subconsciously gone back to basics, and back to many of the habits I had not just back when I was so deeply content, but back to when I was a teenager.  And not surprisingly, I find myself in that state of deep contentment and in possession of real joy again.

So . . . what exactly is it that I’m doing differently now??  Well, for starters, I’ve gone back to the workout and diet plan that works best for me.  I’ve experimented with lots of different things, and I know what works best for me and my body.  So that’s what I’m doing.  I’m cooking (with the kids), and having fun finding recipes to make – something I’ve always enjoyed doing – and finding ways to make sure that they fit into the way of eating that works best for me (higher in fat, lower in carbs, lacking in sugar and all processed foods).  I’m reading.  Novels.  Not “self-help” books.  And I’m drinking less caffeine – the by-product of having more energy!  And combined with a low- to no-sugar diet and very little alcohol, I’m sleeping better . . . which means much happier mornings.  Oh . . . and I got back into finding a way to have some “me” time again and a way to express some of my creativity – I’m taking my favourite sewing classes again (more on that later).

If you could go back to doing things the way you did at a time when you were truly happy, what would you have to change in your life to make that happen?

Of course the fact that the weather here has been absolutely stunning lately, that today, on the last day of summer, I could sit out in my backyard (with my curried sweet potato soup), and look out on a garden still fully in bloom while I write this . . . well . . . that does help with the happiness quotient in one’s life . . .

4. Reading On the Dock


There’s so much about this photo that I love.  The first is that I had five minutes to get out a book and read for a few minutes while the kids and the Husband were swimming to a big exposed shoal just down from our swimming dock that they have whimsically christened “Goose Poop Island”.

The second is that I’m reading a physical book, not using the kindle app on one of my various devices.  I used to be a loved of physical books.  I could spend hours in book stores and loved nothing more than having a stack of unread books beside my bed.  But then the kids happened, and kindle became a really nice option; my books don’t get smushed/waterlogged/or otherwise damaged in my bag filled with water bottles and other assorted kid paraphernalia, I never have to worry about remembering to throw my book in my bag, and no matter what device I happen to have on hand – phone, iPad, computer, I can pick up wherever I left off.  But, prior to our camping trip, where charging devices wasn’t going to be easy, I made a trip to a bookstore and picked up a few actual books to take with me.  I only managed to get through one of them on the camping trip, so the rest of them have come with me and it seems like afternoons on the dock are the perfect time to get in a little reading.  I might not have read much of this book yet, but “The Admissions” is a page turner – one of those books that if I didn’t have kids, I’d be immersed in all day, not putting it down until it was done.

But I digress.  Back to what I love so much about this photos . . . third, and most of all, I love my new bookmark.  My little one picked it out for me at the bookstore the other day.  Despite knowing the name of the movie, and the names of all the other characters pictured on the bookmark, and not knowing anything about my One Little Word or this little project I’m working on, she handed it to me and said, “Look Mommy, here’s your joy”.

2. This One

This one, no matter the circumstances, is able to bring a smile to my face and joy into my life.


Weekends at the cottage are a time for dividing cooking and clean-up duties.  One night the Husband and I cook, and my brother and his wife clean up and we switch the next night.  Tonight, the Husband and I were on cooking detail.  I don’t think there is anything better in the whole world than being in the kitchen together (ok maybe if the kids are in the kitchen with us and helping out . . . that’s pretty much perfection).  And the cherry on top tonight?  We made a recipe that we used to make back in the day, before kids, when we had dinner parties with friends.  The kind of dinner parties that could stretch late into the night because no one had to get home to babysitters/nannies/in-laws.

The recipe you ask?  Well, it’s Gourmet’s Island Pork Tenderloin.  We made it without the Tobasco tonight so the kids could eat it as well.  And the best part of this dish???  Using the leftovers, as a side, or mixed right in to some scrambled eggs.

And of course, the best side for the pork??  Ginger coconut rice.  In fact, the rice, with a generous spoonful of the sauce from the pork poured over it???  Just make it.  You’ll be in heaven.


Ginger Coconut Rice

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
  • chopped green onions (the green parts only)


  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the coconut oil and add in the grated ginger on medium-high heat.  Stir until the ginger is fragrant.
  2. Add in the water, coconut milk and rice and stir to combine.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir.
  4. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to low and simmer until the rice is cooked.  I am rather unorthodox about how I cook my rice, I will lift the lid of the pot and stir it all up, checking on how much liquid has been absorbed.

Remove from the heat once the rice is cooked to your preferred level of doneness – garnish with the green onions.

1. When the Past Becomes the Present

My most treasured childhood memories are from the summers my family spent at a family owned resort on Lake of Bays.  While the property seemed vast to me at the time – it did boast a field (where we played family games of baseball after dinner each night), a tennis court, a small beach, a big dock (complete with a slide and a diving tower), and a variety of cottages (each one distinctly different from the others and all inhabited by a seemingly routine set of families each summer).  Each member of the family that owned it, a melange of brothers, sisters and their spouses, specialized in something different around the resort.  Ross was an unbelievable gardener (I think it’s because of his gardens that I have an affinity for dahlias to this day) and master of maple syrup (yup, there was a bona fide sugar shack a ways up the road from the resort – the perfect destination for family morning walks) but also took care of the marina that was part of the resort.  Helen was in charge of the office and all the bookkeeping.  Doug and Don helped out with a variety of things, including maintaining the little “pop shop” – there were a few fridges kept in a small building filled with every flavour of soda – guests could walk in, take what they liked, and record their purchases in a small binder atop one of the fridges – I still associate the sugary sweet taste of cream soda with summer up north.  And then there was Lillian.  She was the baker – and that’s all I’ll say on her now, because she will be the focus of an entire post in a few days.

Anyway, my point in telling you all this is so that you get a sense of this place.  It was big enough, but safe enough that my parents allowed my brother and I to really test our independence when we were up there.  Trips to get a pop to go with our lunch first started out with mom or dad accompanying us, but then as we learned to write, progressed to us being allowed to go alone.

One gorgeous sunny summer day, after a trip into town to get groceries, my dad returned to the cottage with 2 inflatable dinghies – one for me and one for my brother.  I vaguely recall us naming them, but can’t for the life of me remember what we named them.  These boats were quite possibly the best thing to happen to us in our young lives.  We spent hours in these things – Paddling about, jumping in them, out of them, turning them over and jumping off them.

And then, as only a nine-year old girl would, I decided to use mine to “escape”.  I was / am an avid reader, and I decided that nothing would be better than to sit in my boat anchored off the shore reading whatever novel it was I was engrossed in at the time.  And so I prepared.  I sliced some peaches and threw them into a container.  I found a suitable rock and some rope and tied the rope around the rock, and tied the rope to the boat.  I piled my peaches, book, “anchor” and nine-year old self into the boat and rowed off shore just far enough for my anchor to work and my parents not to call me back to shore.

Several minutes into my great escape, I realized my plans had been foiled.  Rocks and rubber dinghies do not mix well.  My anchor had torn a small hole in the bottom of the boat, and my raft was taking on water.  I returned to shore and shed copious amount of tears as my boat was taken out to the garbage.  The fact that my brother still had his boat only added to my bruised ego.

Fast forward 30 years.  As I was swimming with the kids at the only family cottage my kids know, I saw my dad approaching with what looked like my old rubber dinghy.  Sure enough, it was!  To see my kids paddling about, jumping in, jumping out, and jumping of the same boat my brother and I had done the same with (my brother’s a good egg – while I know the arguments over sharing the boat weren’t always the nicest, he was good about letting me have some turns with his boat – so long as an anchor never went close to it!) made my heart sing with joy.

The Next 100 Days!?!

You know what I loved?  I LOVED my #100daysoflookingtothesky project.  I REALLY loved it.  But, like I said the other day, that project has run its course.  I’ll never look at the sky the same way again, and I’ll still reach for my phone every time I see something beautiful up above, but it’s time to do something different.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I originally intended this blog to be, and what I’d like to spend my days doing over the next little bit, and how I could get a little more connected to my One Little Word this year as it’s already more than half over!  Over the next little bit, I’ll be celebrating a few millstones too . . . the 5 year anniversary of my surgery (the Husband thinks this is a bigger deal than the 5 year all-clear I just got) and soon after the start of the new year, I’ll be turning 40 (yikes!).  Never mind that there are about a million and one little things/projects that I’d like to explore!

So I’ve come up with this . . .


Yup.  Starting tomorrow I’m going to be embarking on another 100 day project.  And this time, I’m going to focus on one thing a day that brings me joy.  Could be something small, and mundane, or big and exciting.  Either way, I can’t wait to get started on this new project.  My intention is to post a picture of whatever my morsel of joy is that day and to do a quick blog post about it too.

Please feel free to join me on this project, and add any photos you want to #100morselsofjoy.  Or, just follow along as I find bits of joy here and there!

Now, to jump start this new project, I thought I’d share a repair that brings my family lots of delicious joy … while I am very much a proponent of clean eating, I have also aways said that there are times in one’s life for treats.  Summer holidays at the cottage are PRECISELY the time for a few treats.  And today, the kids and I got to a little baking in my favourite kitchen.  And we made . . . Smartie cookies.  I like to do a quick search before I post “old” family recipes – just to see if anyone has ideas on how to improve on my recipe, or to see if it’s something other people actually make.  A search of Smartie cookies yielded some interesting results – namely more recipes for cookies like this seem to come out of the UK than the US . . .

Anyway, these cookies are a cottage staple for our family for years.  Everyone loves them and it’s hard to keep them around for long!  I hope you enjoy them!


Smartie Cookies

  • Servings: 50 or so
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4c all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • smarties (today we used 400g in total)


  1. Preheat your oven to 375.  If you can, use the “Bake Convection” setting on your oven so that you can put all the trays of cookies in at once to cook . . .cuts down on baking time!
  2. In the bowl of stand mixer, cream butter and sugars together until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until everything is well combined.
  3. While the mixer is running, put the smarties into a large Ziploc bag and beat them with a rolling pin to smash them up a bit.  This step is totally unnecessary, I just like it when the chocolate inside the smarties gets melty and gooey . . .
  4. Add in the flour and mix until it is just combined.
  5. Dump in the smarties and give the whole thing one last mix.
  6. Shape the dough into 1″ balls and place on a cookie sheet.  These cookies don’t spread too much, so you can get quite a few on a tray (at least 20).  Using your hand, flatten them out (so that they’re about 1/2′ thick) and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes.

Let cool and enjoy!


The End of My #the100dayproject

As I went to sleep last night, I was excited.  I brought the kids to the cottage with me, and I could not wait to take the last of my 100 photos of the sky up north.  I was hoping for a gorgeous sunrise photo – the kind that I seem only to be able to capture from the rocky shores of Georgian Bay.

I was woken up by the first kid at 5:45 – the older one, anxious to see the highlights of the Jays game from the night before was up and begging to turn on the tv.  As I opened my eyes and looked out the window . . . all I saw were clouds.  I resigned myself to the idea that I would simply take a photo later in the day – maybe of a gorgeous sunset instead – and went on with my morning activities – like making coffee and breakfast for the kids.

As I was puttering around the kitchen, I looked out the window only to see my sunrise.  What had been an overcast sky had turned into one with just a few clouds and the sun miraculously rising through them.  It was gorgeous.  And with hushed instructions NOT to wake granny & granddad and to wait for me to get back, I ran out the door to try and capture my photo.

But not matter how hard I tried, I could NOT capture what I had seen out of the kitchen window.  All I got was this:


I returned defeated yet again, and got back to assembling breakfast.

As I set the table and sat down with the kids, I looked out and down towards the Bay.  For the second time this morning, I grabbed my phone, issued hushed instruction to the kids to behave, not to move, and to WAIT till I got back, I ran down to the water, and was able to capture this:


And once again, I was reminded that things don’t always work out the way you hope or expect them to.  And that sometimes, that’s for the best.  I didn’t get a perfect photo of the sun rising this morning.  But I did capture an image that I absolutely love.

And why is it that I love this photo so much?  Because it perfectly captures both the light and the dark.  Like some of the other photos I’ve shared, it’s a reminder (to me, anyway), there there is always light after the dark (or that there really is always a silver lining to every cloud).

But more than anything this morning, I was reminded of the concept of perspective.  Throughout this project, all I’ve had to do to capture a really interesting image, was to turn a quarter turn, walk a few extra steps, or simply try to look at the sky from a different angle.  Today, I was looking, and hoping and expecting to find my perfect photo in one direction, when all I had to do was look in the opposite direction to find it, my joy for the day.  Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…………….

If I’m to be really honest, I’m sad that this 100 days has come to a close.  I have genuinely looked forward to taking these sky photos every day, and while some days the quotes I used just appeared to me, other days I spent a thoroughly enjoyable few moments looking for the perfect quote to use.  I have loved taking a few moments out of every day to look up at the sky, to pause whatever it was that I was doing, and spend a little, even it was only 60 seconds, by myself.  While I’ve thought about continuing this project for another 100 days, I don’t want to spoil the magic of these past 100 days.  And so, with this I’m saying goodbye to this project and I’m off to figure out something to challenge myself with next . . .




Finding Joy in My Garden

I’ve always loved spending time in the garden.  My mom kept a gorgeous garden at the house I grew up in, and over the years I have had the pleasure of attending lots of garden talks with her.  I was so excited when the Husband and I bought our house – I couldn’t wait to start my own garden.  But as many good intentions as I may have had over the years, my garden just never really took shape.  Until this year.

Since the early spring, I found myself searching images of English gardens on Pinterest, reading plant catalogues from my favourite nurseries, and planning how I might change my garden.  And once planting weather arrived, I’ve spent more time than ever planting, weeding, and tending to my garden.  And I’m loving every minute of it.  So much so that I even skipped the gym on Monday just to spend more time gardening (although who wouldn’t want to spend time amongst these beauties??)


This year, I’ve even found space for a little veggie garden behind my back flower bed (this was obtained through a mis-guided attempt to “trim out” the dead branches of a cedar hedge – we ended up taking out the hedge, putting in a fence, and tripling the size of the back flower bed).


Yup . . . roses, kale, pepper, and melons all planted amongst each other . . . not the most conventional, BUT, I am hoping the roses will grow and provide a nice cover to the fence.  And I let the kids pick what plants they wanted . . . so we have kale, and peppers, and melons.  And tomatoes.  Lots and lots of tomatoes . . .

Anyway, in my nightly searching on Pinterest, I came across the Audrey Hepburn quote above, and my obsession with gardening this year started to make a bit more sense . . . At at time in my life when I’m filled with more hope and excitement for the future, it’s no wonder I’ve been loving my garden.


The other upside to all this gardening has been how it’s gotten me excited about cooking again.  With all the craziness of the kids’ end of year stuff, I’ve been relying on staple recipes that I know I can make quickly and that I know the kids will eat (quickly).  This year, thanks to the coach, I discovered Richter’s Herbs, and purchased from them an awesome selection of herbs which I now have growing on my back porch.


Every morning, the kids and I go out to water our herbs . . . but also to cut some to add to the salad I make for my lunch each morning.  These herbs have been put to good use in our dinners lately too!  Earlier this week I made a wicked pesto sauce that I served with pasta for dinner, and last on Friday I made a crowd-please app for a pre-party I had at my house.  It’s the easiest app you could ever make, takes literally 5 minutes to prepare if not less, and everyone seems to love it . . . here’s my take on it:

Easy Peasy Goat Cheese App

  • Servings: lots
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • soft goat cheese (I used a smaller quantity for this, but you can use as much or as little as you’d like)
  • 1 shallott or a few green onions
  • chives
  • ground black pepper
  • red pepper flakes
  • olive oil


  1. Place your goat cheese in a small serving bowl or dish that fits the size of goat cheese that you’re using.
  2. If you’re using green onions, wash and peel the outer layer and then finely slice the white and green part of the onion.  If I use a small amount of goat cheese, I might use 2 or 3 green onions.  If I’m using a larger amount, I’d double that and use 4-6.
  3. Sprinkle pepper and red pepper flakes over the cheese.
  4. Pour olive oil over the cheese so that it pools in the bottom of the bowl around the cheese.
  5. Keep in the fridge until about 30 minutes before you plan to serve it – then take it out and let it warm up a bit.  Serve with crackers or sliced baguette.

A Moment of Gratitude

I was mid-workout at the gym today when I saw something out of the corner of my eye that struck me so deeply I needed to pause and take a moment of gratitude for where I am in life, and the fact that some days I am blessed with, and can appreciate, moments of pure unadulterated joy.

To backtrack for just a moment, I feel like I have to explain a few things here . . . I haven’t been writing much, mostly because I’ve been away.  We just got back from (another!) trip to Disney.  This trip was special though . . . this trip was a real family trip . . . my parents took my family and my brother’s family for a week in the Magic Kingdom.  It was the trip of a lifetime.  I can’t remember the last time our whole family was so happy.  I will forever remember my parents walking around the Magic Kingdom holding hands wearing ear hats.  I will never forget the Husband and my brother pushing strollers wearing ear hats around the Magic Kingdom either!

But I digress.  Five years ago, our little family of four made their first trip to Disney.  Five years ago, on that trip to Disney, I was forced to face the fact that my symptoms were not getting better, they were getting worse, and it was after getting back from that trip that I started in earnest down the path that would lead to my diagnosis, and everything else that followed.

In 2 weeks, I have my annual follow-up MRI and checkup  And after that’s done, my 5 years post-treatment will have passed, and I will officially be declared “cured” by the medical community.

I will admit that going into this trip I was thinking that the timing of it had worked out pretty perfectly … What better way to mark the end of this chapter of my life.

But looking back, this trip didn’t feel like an ending … It felt like a celebration of a new beginning.  A lot has changed in the last five years …. (I know it’s gratuitous, but I had to throw in these before and after photos – the dress my little one is wearing in the first phot was given to her by my amazing friend that she is named after, making this a very special photo for me) ….



But most of all, I’ve changed.  I know now that things change.  All the time.  And that it’s not always good to hold on to the past or what is . . . because some really good things can come from change.  This has really been reinforced over the last few weeks as I’ve been working gone my #the100dayproject.  The sky is constantly changing, sometimes it gets cloudy, sometimes the clouds give way to clear skies, and sometimes, there is just a sea of blue sky.  Just like life, sometimes bad things happen, but the bad times do end, and give way to happier times.  And sometimes, there are nice stretches of happiness.

I also know now that I know how to take care of myself when things aren’t so good.  I  know how to properly nourish myself and my family.  I know what my, and my families’ sleep needs are.  And I know how to take care of myself and my family on an emotional level.  And so, when something that’s “not so good” happens again (we’re human, it will) I have an amazing set of tools to rely on to get me and the family through the tough times in a much better way that I ever could have before.

In my old role as a banker, I would be taking this time to sit down and plan out the next five years.  To envision where I’d like to be, what I’d like to be doing, and to think of the steps that need to get taken in order to get there.  But what these last 5 years have taught me, since none of it was planned, mapped out or premeditated,  sometimes, it’s just better to go with the flow; to do what feels best for you in your gut/heart/soul, and that as long as you come at things from a place of love, things will be ok.

And as I finish up this post, I am again faced with that deep sense of gratitude.  I am so very grateful for all that has happened since that trip 5 years ago.  And I am so very grateful for the place I find myself in today; a place of pure joy.


Saying Goodbye to Practice February and How it All Came Together Thanks to the Crossfit Games

For the month of February, I “practiced” on a daily basis.  While I chose a rather broad theme to “practice” (“What would love do”), I found by focusing on this theme, I ended up practicing a whole lot of other, smaller things that I might not otherwise have chosen to focus on, and on the whole, I’m a whole lot happier for it . . . yes, I found joy in practicing.

Let me explain.  When you put things into the context of love, things that might otherwise seem like chores become a lot easier and more enjoyable to undertake.  I found this to be profoundly true when I used this logic on myself.  About half way through the month, I realized that despite eating pretty well, and exercising pretty consistently, my body just wasn’t looking the way it had a year ago, and I just didn’t feel as good as I would like to.  (To put this a bit into context, it’s been a bit of a rough year for me having been put back onto meds for a pituitary tumour after being off them for a year – my hormones are still stabilizing and it seems that some weight gain has been the end result of this medical experiment).

In the past, I would have beaten myself up for allowing myself to get bigger; workouts would have gotten longer, more intense, and caloric intake would have dropped.  But this month, I took a different approach.  I lovingly treated myself like I would treat the Husband or the kids if they came to me with a problem; I was patient with myself, I didn’t blame myself, and I quietly set about finding a solution.  In this case, that solution involved sitting down with the Coach, reviewing my training and my nutrition and getting back into the practice of writing down when and what I eat along with my daily workouts.  With just a few small changes, my weight started to drop, my energy levels started to go up, and I was palpably happier.

This weekend, the Crossfit Games Open started – for those of you who don’t know anything about Crossfit, this is a 5 week competition that anyone around the world can participate in.  Each Thursday night, a workout is revealed, and participants must complete the workout and submit their scores (each workout is scored) by Monday night.  The top men and women in each region around the world go on to compete at a regional competition, from which the top men and women then go on to compete at the Crossfit games.  I participated in the “Open” two years ago.  It was a terrifying yet thrilling experience and I loved it.  Each week I loved seeing how well I completed the workout compared to the thousands of other people in the competition.  But each week I also realized how much work I needed to do in order to get better at Crossfit – I turned something I had loved to do into a chore that I pursed with dogged perseverance, and in the end, there were some unpleasant consequences to my actions.

Once I was able to get back to that place of fun in the gym, and working out for the pure love of movement and physical activity, without the pressure of constantly needing to reach specific goals in specific time frames, I became happier, and more excited about my workouts, and decided never to risk doing another Crossfit Games again.

Fast forward to this Sunday – the first workout of the 2016 Crossfit Games was announced last Thursday night.  Of course I watched the announcement, and was prepared to cheer on all my friends at the gym as they completed their workouts.  But there was NO WAY that I was going to sign up to do it myself.  I walked into the gym on Sunday, expecting to do a partner wod with my training partner . . . but before I knew it, I had barbell at my feet, a judge to my right and a countdown clock beeping out the seconds until the workout began.

This particular workout contained a movement called “Chest to Bar” pull ups.  This means, that each time you pull up to the bar, your chest, at a point below the collar bones, must hit the bar.  Judges are told to hold on to the support of the pull up bar so they can literally “feel” each time you hit the bar.  I’ve said before .  . . regular pull ups are a challenge for me.  Chest to bar pull ups seem like an impossibility.

But, the rush of adrenaline that kicks in during one of these competitions, combined with the amazingly supportive atmosphere of my gym . . . and I managed to eek out FORTY chest to bar pull ups during the course of the 20 minute long workout.  Now, to get those 40 “reps”, I think I tried at least 80 . . . and spent the last 5 minutes of the workout struggling to get the last set of 8 reps done.  When the time on the clock mercifully ran out, my immediate reaction was to get upset with myself.  “Why haven’t you worked harder on your pull ups” … “Why haven’t you worked harder to get lighter” …  “You could have done so much better if you had dedicated yourself to working on your pull ups” … “Why” … “Why” … “Why”.

And then I stopped.

What would love do.

And then I smiled.

If the Husband or the kids had just done the workout I had done, I wouldn’t berate them.  I’d hug them and tell them how proud I was of them, how amazed I was that they’d done what they’d done.  And in that moment, I was able to release myself from the negative self talk, embrace the moment, and be proud of myself.

Sunday night brought my family together ostensibly to celebrate my birthday.  But inside, I was celebrating so much more.


Looking for Joy in All the Wrong Places

With one week of February gone, I’ve had ample opportunity to “practice” working with the mantra “What would love do?”, and I had to admit, I’ve had some surprising results.  There have been many instances where I’ve stopped, asked myself what would love do . . . and then not been able to find an answer.  Like this morning – the kids were playing a game with some leftover balloons we had blown up for the Super Bowl last night.  They were shrieking, laughing, having fun, and running ALL OVER the house.  They were having a blast.  I was not.  I was trying to pack lunches, clean up the dishes and get organized for a day that required hockey equipment, ski equipment, uniforms for ballet, tap and jazz, never mind my own gym bag.

I wanted to scream “Stop”.  But I didn’t . . . I paused.  What would love do.

Would love see the joy the kids were having and let them continue on doing what they were doing.  Or would love see my need for some calmness and peace and place a priority on that over the fun the kids were having and calmly request they stop what they were doing?

I suppose what I’m getting at is this: Does love place a priority on others’ needs or on our own, or a mix of both?

This morning, I was able to find a compromise – the kids could play to their hearts’ content . . . as long as they were in the basement; Love, in this instance, could let us all be happy.

As I went about my morning this morning, I thought a lot about this situation . . . as silly as it was.  Not that I want to make myself out to be some kind of martyr, but love to me has always been about showing love to others; not about being lovingly kind to myself.

Now to veer onto a tangent for a minute . . . I listened to an amazing podcast on the weekend – Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness – in which Esther Perel was interviewed.  In the podcast, Esther, who is a “world renowned relationship expert” mentioned that we are most attractive to others when we are in our “element”.  I suppose this shouldn’t come as shocking news – I have been known to plead with my husband to make more time to play guitar because I love nothing more than watching him practice, to see him work in his element.

So if being in our “element” (aka working from a place of joy) makes us more attractive to others, and can in fact improve our relationships with others, shouldn’t we all be doing more to spend time doing those things that bring us joy?

I’m pretty sure that’s what Love would do . . .

And so, the proverbial penny has tumbled . . . rather than look for pockets of joy in my everyday life like I have been doing, I’m going to work hard to focus on what brings me joy, and to foster that which brings joy to my kids, and the Husband.  Don’t get me wrong, I have found so many of these little pockets of joy in the last 5 weeks.  But, I know that there’s more to be found if I dig a little deeper and work a little harder.

I’m not saying this will be easy.  This is “Practice February” after all!  My natural inclination has always been to forfeit my joy for the sake of others (again, not trying to be a martyr, promise).  And so, I will have to work to stand up for myself, if you will, and make sure that I make time for my joy.

Earlier today, I saw a great quote in the One Little Word Facebook community . . . and so I made a little image for myself using the quote to remind me to keep practicing.

Happy practicing!




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