Blue Monday – an Invitation

Did you know that blue Monday is actually just a myth?!

It was supposedly “a fraud perpetrated by a psychologist hired by a travel agency” to encourage people in the northern hemisphere to bust out of their seasonal funks’ and take a sunny vacation. (CTV news Jan 19, 2019)

For someone who suffers from seasonal affective disorder, Blue Monday still feels real to me. Does it actually feel like ‘the most depressing day of the year’?  I can’t say for certain, but it’s definitely a tough time of year for me. Did I buy into the travel scheme years ago. You bet I did. Do I feel taken advantage of? Nope not for a second. Why? Because I saw an invitation and found that those sunny destinations DO work for me, at least in some way although temporary.

I’d have to say that normally I am a pretty big skeptic though. I used to hang my hat on quick fixes and big promises of the next fad wellness intervention. I’ve been conditioned into a skeptic through learned experiences. I’ve been lead down some dead-end paths before where I have absolutely felt taken advantage of. And what I’ve learned is that anyone in the wellness industry who claims to have the magic pill, a quick fix, to be perfect or have their life all together, who claims to have the next best kept secret, who only shows you the ‘best’ parts of themselves, who wants to fix you or be the one to change you is in my opinion also a fraud. Because first of all —Nobody is perfect. That expensive wellness coach has his/her fair share of ‘problems’, hurdles, life events that shaped them. That fashionable super bendy yoga instructor has his/her fair share of dark places. That wellness company who claims to be the ONE who has all the answers, has its share of imperfections too.

I’ve always chosen to be transparent in my journey as a wellness promoter. I don’t have all the answers. I’m on a journey. I certainly don’t agree with taunting people with false hope or painting a picture of some perfect world. I show up with all the various parts of myself, the light and the dark, the ones I am proud of and the ones not so much.  I live out loud in an authentic way. Why? Because my goal is to be real, to share my experiences – good and bad, to make connections based on life as it is, to share the ups AND the downs of my journey, to build a community where we can celebrate our individuality and all walks of life, and where maybe someone somewhere can relate. Where our circle is equal. Nobody in front, nobody behind. Nobody above, nobody below. Just equal.

The wellness industry is one of the top-grossing industries in the world right now.  How incredible is that?! Better than say a weapons industry or something, right?!? It’s comforting to know that people are investing in themselves. But my hope is that everyone has a little bit of a skeptic in them.  That they are brave enough to ask why? That they are not being taken advantage of because they are in a vulnerable place in their lives. Because it’s only fair that you have the truth.  

When I fell head first into the wellness industry back in 2013 I looked for what worked for other people.  I felt insecure, not good enough, had little self-love in my tank. My skewed eyes saw that the ‘skinny busy’ people looked happy and successful.  I felt attracted to that. I thought that if I could lose weight by working out 7 days a week and work a crazy amount of hours at a dignified job that that would bring me confidence and joy.  So I snuck down that rabbit hole and bought into the ‘fitness’ world of wellness. I became a regular gym junkie and took up running. I developed injury after injury, but kept pushing.  I lost a bunch of weight and became an arrogant, careless party drunk (i’m allowed to call myself that). I got a lot of attention, a lot of complements based on the outer layer, I loved myself a little more because of the reactions of how hard I had worked. I hurt people I loved. I did things I am not proud of, which I’d share here but out of respect for other people involved I will just leave it at that (although I love to chat one on one with anyone who feels the urge to).  I ran, and worked, and drank myself into a very dark place – I now refer to as rock bottom. At that time I was working in a busy emergency department and all too often could related with many of the clients that walked through the door. I’m actually surprised I didn’t end up there, in one of those emergency beds. I contemplated taking my own life as an easier way to deal with the mess I created. I thought I’d spare the people who loved me any more hurt. I’ve never told anyone how much pain I felt or how dark those days actually were. And I’m definitely not telling you this now for pity. I’m just being real. Thankfully in those darkest days I kept choosing to mend instead.  I kept re-evaluating my trajectory and searching for the real person within. I kept peeling back years of layers and suffering. I abruptly cut connections with toxic people. I stopped the gruelling fitness routines and crazy diets. I got help. I stopped numbing myself with alcohol. I saw a counsellor. It was two steps forward, one step back, then three steps forward, four steps back. It took work but it didn’t look like the work I was used to. It was waking up every single day being open to growth and grateful for the opportunity to try again. I got curious about how to live a life that felt peaceful yet fulfilling, where I could be happy yet resilient when life through those lemons. For some reason I kept coming back to my mat. Day after day. I found refuge there. I found acceptance. I found some answers. Not just on blue monday but on most of my blue days throughout the year. Yoga was what worked for me. Not just showing up to a class and doing some poses.  Yes that helped me too. But digging deeper into the philosophy of yoga, the yogic lifestyle. I gained weight and lost friends. But I vowed to question each new turn. I definitely walked the new path lightly. I literally questioned everything. I tried it all on first and I’ll be totally honest not all of it fit. There were people who came into my life that broke my trust. That made me feel two inches tall, that rattled and shook me, but each time I would come back to myself and ask does this feel right? I moved slow. I looked for evidence. And yes the scientific evidence out there was a great resource in answering my ‘why’s and how’s’, but ultimately it came back to the evidence I found within. I bought into the invitation.

I’m not here right now to sell you yoga.  I know fully that one way is not right for everyone. And I’m asking you right now to call my bullshit. To try this wellness stuff on for size. To chew on it for awhile. To maybe rsvp to your own invitation.

I took my YTT to become a yoga teacher because I wanted to learn more about the ancient practice of yoga.  I wanted to know how it worked for thousands of years for so many people and why people were buying into it even in our modern day society where things are consumed then tossed aside like the latest fast fashion.  Yoga seemed to stick with people, and as a nurse in the healthcare industry, as a person lost in the chaos, I wanted to know why.

What I learned over the years both as a nurse in various positions and as a yogi is that if you only focus on one aspect of your being then you will eventually lack in wellness in another aspect.  For example, people who only focus on their physical wellbeing can often disintegrate mentally. I also learned that pure health is not a destination. Health and wellness changes across the spectrum. People can flourish with illness and people can disintigrate with wellness. But I love that yoga invites us to look at the living being from a holistic view – body, mind, and spirit.  Instead of looking outside the box, it invites us to remove the box completely. It offers multiple paths for all different sorts of people with no rigid answer to what brings peace or joy. An ancient yogic text called the Bhagavid Gita is a story about wisdom, spirituality, and actionable paths for living yoga, ultimately, each path offering a way to live a purposeful life while maintaining inner equilibrium. It invites us to keep trying even if one path doesn’t work.

What I have realized over the years and what I’ve built the very essence of viva la lemon on is the fact that yoga and wellness practices are just an invitation.  They are a practice that invites you to look inside yourself (some more so than others). And if the one doing the inviting is aligned with these ancient practices then he/she believes that every living thing inherently has the answers within them. Yoga, and what I value in the wellness industry, is a comradery here on earth with the purpose of simply walking each other home. It’s a path but you dear one, you are the driver.  You decide what feels like a ‘yes’ and what feels like a ‘no’ right there in the shoes you are in, on the path you are on. 

A few years ago a massive company came up with a slogan called #thisisyoga.  It commercialized untraditional views of yoga – people running, people meditating, people laughing, people of color, people of all sizes, actively doing something that appeared as a form of selfcare.  Although I don’t necessarily agree with all the values of that company, I loved that this particular campaign made yoga seem more accessible. Because I believe if you are acting in a way that is caring for yourself that’s from a place of unconditional love without attaching to the actual fruits of your labour then that my friend is yoga.  You are already doing it! Doesn’t matter if you are lifting weights, doing headstands, dancing, singing, or lying quietly in savasana. You are already doing it. And if you just looked in the mirror and realized that maybe you’re not then oh my gosh dear one you have so many opportunities to do so. Because that invitation stands for everrrrybodddy.

So whether blue monday is a myth or not, we know for a fact that seasonal affective disorder, depression, anxiety, and burnout is not.  Instead of tossing it under the rug because it’s a myth, let’s use this to assess our state of resiliency right now. Let us use this as a great reminder to check in with how we’re feeling mentally, physically, even spiritually. Let Blue Monday be a time that we notice the path we are on and the trajectory of our future. Perhaps this can be our time to question everything, including those who once inspired us. Maybe to call bullshit. This is an opportunity to take action.  To say yes now to nurture the future we want later, or to kindly say no to what feels like a weight so we can heal and choose a new path. My intention for writing this blog post (thanks for making it this far) is to share a piece of my path with you, to be authentic in this big wellness industry, to be vulnerable, perfectly imperfect and to remind you that no matter what anyone else says, YOU have the answers you seek within you!! I’ve had my own rock bottom and if I can be that hand that reaches down to lift you up then I’ve done what I have set out to do, and one day maybe you’ll do the same.  Blue Monday shouldn’t be the only day of the year that we look, speak out, or question. But let’s also not miss this opportunity. 

Wellness is a spectrum. Look at the direction you’re facing on that spectrum, can you see flourishing?  Or do you see disintegration ahead? Those answers look different for everyone. Do you need or want change? Do you need to assess your boundaries?  Is your selflove tank running on empty? Are you sad, stressed, or anxious more than you are not? Its okay. It’s okay to be in the place you are in dear one. This post isn’t about shaming. BUT here is the invitation, from me to you. I want to assure you that you are not alone.  That we, the viva community are sincerely here for you. We too have complicated stories. We too are on our own path. We too have depths beneath our surface. We are a community that was built on the belief that we ALL belong. That we all hold a place to be here, to be ourselves, and to be loved no matter what path we are on. We stand with AND for one another. Are you with us dear one?

Be Moveable So You Can Be Moved…

Be Moveable So You Can Be Moved  …it’s your peaceful path to stillness both inside & out.

A recent post by Mike @stralayoga that has given me good food for thought on how we find stillness in motion, movement, change, life. To me, this applies to how we find peace or ease in anything at all… our life with food, relationships, yoga poses, body acceptance, home, career …and everything else. Which is an especially great topic as we come to the end of a year that held so many things for each of us – and has perhaps left you wondering how to feel about it. Did you achieve what you hoped? Did the unexpected take you in a direction you didn’t anticipate? Are you ready to let go and step into the next year?

If Only.  Have you ever noticed how challenging it can be to feel content, satisfied or ready while life moves and changes around us, unpredictably? Our thoughts run on with ideas and stories about how it should or could be. If only [insert perfect scenario here]. Even in yoga class, ‘if only my body could ______ or my mind could be quiet and stop thinking’.

When we are rigid, forcing, or holding tightly to an idea of how something should be, the stress of this effort can block the opportunity to flow with harmony. Imagine holding tightly in a yoga pose, rigid, shaking, struggling against discomfort or pain. The struggle to hold tightly onto this likely will have an opposite effect and move you further from a sense of harmony.

Enter the power of ‘move-ability’ to allow us to move in harmony with life, peacefully and with inner stillness. This is to be flexible, allowing waves & shifts, and letting ourselves flow WITH what is deeply true for us in a moment or experience, rather than holding rigidly against.  When faced with change or challenge,  you can think of it as allowing yourself to shift back towards positive alignment and action.

In your yoga practice, this may be allowing yourself to shift and rock as you find an expression of a pose that feels right in your body that day, rather than striving for a textbook position. In your life with food, it may mean letting your deep intuition (aka. your gut) guide you, tuning in to what makes you feel truly good & energized, but not attaching rigidly to what is supposed to be “healthy” or feeling badly for choices that you made, creating a fight with your body or food. Finding stillness in motion, peacefully, means shifting your focus to moving along with the moment, with your body, with your feelings, whatever is present there. Feel your breath, and give yourself permission to be moved & shifted. Let go & flow in harmony.

And so, to get out of your own way…
1. Avoid telling yourself what to feel.
2. Learn to move in harmony, without all the noise and limitation created by stress and struggle.
3. Hear what you’re feeling, and believe that it’s true.
4. Move in response to what you hear.

(Strala Yoga Blog, December 16, 2019)

Breath, breath, and breath again.

~ Warmly, Buffy

Elizabeth (Buffy) Cancade is our in-house Integrative Health & Wellness Coach and Yoga Instructor. With a passion for whole foods, cooking, and whole living, she guides people on their journey away from stress and into mindful, healthy relationships with food, body, and life.
post

Compassion and Boundaries – how they go hand in hand

 

Do you say ‘yes’ all. the. time?

Do you over extend yourself to have a hand in every single pot you can get your hands on?

Is your pattern to please people, your bank account, your ideal body image, or maybe even your emotions?

But do you find yourself then having to cancel last minute due to sheer exhaustion? Having to turn your ‘Yes’s’ into ‘No’s’ then feeling guilty, or worse - resentful?

As a people pleaser myself I see this pattern in my life fairly often. 

I struggle at times with boundaries. 

Intuitively knowing what feels like a ’No’ when I obligingly say ‘yes’ has been a theme on occasion. 

In the past I found it so flaky and disrespectful when people would have good intentions of commitment, then for whatever reason would change their mind last second. And so that core value became ‘I will not be one of those people.’ So if I said yes, I rarely didn’t show up. But also felt resentful at times leading up to it, then often tired and irritable after.

I’m not talking about emergency situations. Those are inevitable. 

But I found it hard to trust them -the people who you could never really count on. Disappointment was the name of the game.

But whose choice was it to be disappointed?

Mine. 

Whose choice was it to not have my own boundaries in check?

Mine.

I know there’s always a choice. It’s my full intention to choose more wisely. Without judgement. Without approval. Without disregard. And since saying 'no' more, I can now empathize with the people whose boundaries may not be clear, or whose plate is extra full. I see you. I am you. And I love you. We all deserve to be accepted as we are. And we’ll learn along the way if we are willing. Transformation takes time.

Brené Brown says, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness, is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible.”

So although giving up on commitments could be called self-love. I think it’s a fine line that we all need to check. Because pulling out or jumping off the wagon and calling it selfcare all the time can be just as damaging to our authentic self as over-extending. -Think balancing the pendulum-

Certainly, “compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They're compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.” (Brené Brown) However, the first step is knowing where those boundaries need to be set, am I right?!

What if we stop apologizing and start listening to what our inner being really needs. Past the ego, past the cultural norms, and societal demands.

So I'll ask it, 'what do you need dear one?' What do you truly need?

Let’s talk about this. Can you relate? How are you setting boundaries?? Reach out, comment below.

And lastly I’ll leave you with this final bit of wisdom from the inspirational Brene Brown,

“Research shows that playing cards once a week or meeting friends every Wednesday night at Starbucks adds as many years to our lives as taking beta blockers or quitting a pack-a-day smoking habit." Why? Well I think it's because there is also contentment in allowing ourselves to enjoy the little commitments in life. 

I read the same story every night to my daughter. It’s a pretty rare occasion that we’d miss that one. But I don’t do it out of fear of disappointing her. Rather it’s out of love for her, myself, and my commitment to our bonding time before bed. 

And also because life is short. And those little commitments feel sooo so much like a ‘YES’. 

Can you find what's a definite 'yes' in your life?

An Open Letter About Choosing Choice

Dear God/The Divine Source/The Universe,
I am 30 years old and I don’t yet know what I believe. But I am trying. I believe I am on the right path to finding what this life is about and what goes beyond. I am choosing choice. I am choosing to believe that there is more, I am choosing to trust in whatever it is that is leading me to my true self, my higher potential and my purpose. 
Whatever it is, I have to be honest. I have felt that it has let me down. Looking back on my past I am angry at all that “it” has taken from me from a young age. You took my brother, my partner in crime since I was born. You took the person who snuck upstairs to watch late night tv with me and talk, you took the person who hated me most on the best of days because we knew each other so well so we knew how to press just the right buttons. You took the one who when I called crying would rush to pick me up, get to the bottom of it and turn on the music and just drive. But you gave me alcohol. This gave me the ability to forget, to enjoy myself and give me a lifetime of memories good and bad. But it got me through. Later becoming another thing I hated you for. 
Life would get sweet again, I would meet some of my greatest friends, one who I pushed away due to alcohol and one you took away too young as well. But just as it always does… you provided me another path… my son came into this world becoming my new amazing journey. I got married, bought a house and had my amazing daughter join our family. 
Then the tables turned again, feeling lonely, getting divorced and spiraling from the two faced alcohol, but I survived. At this point my strength is feeling unbreakable. You have let me down so many times… but been there when I fell. You lift me up, just to break me down and call it a lesson. I have doubted it all. I stopped believing you existed.. but then blamed you anyway. 
I have had great opportunities, amazing coworkers and learnt so much along the way. But I have also learnt I am not like the others. I have felt insanely happy, and then insanely low, just by walking into a different room. I have felt anxiety and trapped, yet the freedom to choose my own. I pick a path and I charge forward. I have succeeded and failed, all because of my own choices. 
I began this year on a high. Starting a career I had chosen, created, learnt and excelled at. I found the man I had wanted and got married and began adding to our family and alcohol was no longer a part of my life. I was going to be able to begin coasting because life was falling into place. 
And then hello whatever you are….. you chose to shake up my world again. My father was taken from us, or to be more technical, he made a choice to leave us. I thought this would destroy me. I thought I lost all hope of whatever you are existing… I thought anytime I received greatness in my life, something else would be taken away. I heard over and over that I was so strong. A blessing and a curse. Being strong is great when it’s the only option you have. But when you need to be vulnerable you feel you need to live up to the strength everyone claims you have. 
This is my “F you” letter… this is my anger for all that you have done to cause me pain, whatever you are. And this is me letting it all go. 
In the hopelessness, I found light. I felt love. I discovered choice. I feel lighter and I was shown another path. I was terrified of change and what people would think, and at some point it just stopped mattering anyway. I am relieving myself of judgement, of others and of myself. So much of me began to make sense. In amongst the confusion of so much trauma, I began to focus on grounding and finding peace.  I would be lying if I said it was always easy, it is a constant work in progress. With daily practice and more time focusing on the good in this world and the good in people, I have replaced the negativity and the darkness in the world and in the people around me. With these practices I have been able to remain sober and not fall back into bad habits, and being able to create much healthier habits for my mind and body. My vibrations are higher and even the toughest people seem to shed some light and love. Call it hippy, call it woo-woo, call it wacky and call it crazy…. Whatever you choose to call it… I call it choice. 
I don’t know who you are… what you are.. or what I believe.. but I CHOOSE to believe in whatever it is that makes this world a little brighter. I choose to allow myself to be more vulnerable so people stop claiming I am strong and forgetting and I need to be weak too. I choose to set aside all judgement of anything and everything and choose to love and help anyone I can. I choose choice to have the ability to brighten someone’s day just because. I choose to support everyone in any way I can , even if they cant support me. I choose to make the most of this life and stop blaming and stop trying to figure out who can allow this much pain in my life. I am happy because when I am on the wrong path “it” finds a way to turn me right around. And maybe if I CHOOSE to believe in whatever it is and trying to be a blessing every single day, then there will be no reason for “it” to need to try to send me on another path. 
Is it God? Is it Divine? The Source?  Or is it the Universe… 
I don’t need an answer… I just need to be open to choice.
Sincerely,

Anastasia Muir

Eating Our Feelings

"We human beings have many feelings, both positive  and negative .  Some people tend to eat more when we are joyful, while others tend to eat less.  Some people eat when they are sad or upset as a way of eating their feelings, hoping the feeling will go away.  Food becomes a craving then rather than a source of nourishment.  If we don't attempt to look deeply to understand our cravings, it will grow.  When we take time to take care of our emotions with mindfulness and compassion, then we just eat.  We can enjoy our food without craving and develop a healthy and positive relationship to eating."  Thich Nhat Hanh

Hanhs philosophy blends well with a science known as Neuroplasticity; a giant science nerd word for learning and adapting. It basically looks at how our brains are hardwired to avoid pain and create pleasure and how our brains lay down these different pathways. What scientists have learned is that these pathways become habits. They can be really effective habits like brushing our teeth, or riding a bike. But we also lay down pathways that become destructive like our relationship with food.

Our brain chemically responds to the ‘feel good’ hormone dopamine that gets released from comfort foods. The same hormone released when addicts get their next hit. Our brains deem those foods pleasurable.Our brains lay down pathways that turn learned behaviours into habits. It's an efficient method really but it also creates these same pathways around behaviours that over time become unhealthy and unwelcome.

The good news is that we have the ability to create new pathways.  We can closely and honestly look at our behaviour and our ingrained relationship with food.

In the book 'The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts that make us Overeat' Guyenet has us examine 6 steps to a healthier lifestyle:

1.  Fix your food environment
2.  Manage your appetite
3.  Beware of food reward
4.  Make sleep a priority
5.  Move your body
6.  Manage stress

Sara Best, a holistic nutritionist, points out that the food isn't really the problem. It's our relationship with the food that is the problem.  If we are honest with ourselves we know the foods that we should and should not eat.  She states we need to examine why we eat.  To do that she created 6 Mindful Eating Exercises:

1.  Stop multitasking
2.  Slow down
3.  Chew more
4.  Listen to your body
5.  Replace judgment with curiosity
6.  Indulge mindfully

The above steps and exercises require self reflection, honesty and the ability to sit with some uncomfortable feelings.  None of this should be about being thin or perfect.  Research shows that knowing the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical. Perfectionism hampers success.  In fact it is often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction and life paralysis.

If all of this seems overwhelming, too much work, or 'not for me' at this time then it's likely our brains way of staying with what is comfortable.  That feeling is normal.  We just need to ask ourselves this:

Can I do it anyway?

Let me get a little personal here.

Cookies, Cake, Candy, Chips...
A never ending obsession of "I just need a little something". Result = self loathing & disgust over my lack of will power. A self-induced hatred of my own body. That's me in a nutshell.

But if I told you there is hope would you believe me?

My long term battle with weight has been crazy making! I developed so many destructive habits around eating. My brain was hardwired to receive pleasure from food and ultimately to LOVE food. Eating became habitual, not for nutritional purposes.

The problem is that we get so comfortable in our ways that it's hard to give up old habits.

Most of us are creatures of habit. We buy the same foods from the same grocery store, prepare the same recipes over and over, and live within our own familiar routines. The pathways are like flying in autopilot. But if we are serious about eating healthier we need to shake it up, change those habits, the pathways, and start thinking differently about our diet and lifestyle.

Experience has taught me that we get one life and it's too short for self-hatred. I take my body to yoga, belly dancing, for walks. I even put it in a bathing suit (oh the horror) and go to Aquafit! I keep waiting for my body to be perfect. Will it ever?!

It doesn't mean I'm incapable of changing my behaviour. And neither are you. I've changed my habits around exercise and now I'll do it with food! One step at a time.

Love your body. Love yourself!

by Kathy Smith

 

SPRING CLEANING: Letting Go & Making Room for More

By Buffy Cancade.

This one’s for those of us feeling that life’s demands can sometimes be TOO MUCH, and we’d much rather be living with a full heart than a busy mind.  Clearing out that feeling that there’s not enough time, not enough energy, to get by or to possibly get it all done (and never mind THRIVE?!). What can we let go of, to make room for so much more heartfelt living? How do we do that?

I admit, I’ve been a chronic overdoer.  I keep my plate FULL and I keep a running list of things that need doing, and the things I’ll do next.  Driven by inner and outer expectations (mostly perceived), I juggle my attention between the most pressing tasks, and my friends & loved ones sometimes get that same, juggled attention (if any).  There’s a long list of things that I think I’m not getting to. Sometimes it feels like I’m just keeping my head above water, jaw tight, breath shallow, and in fact, getting nowhere I truly intend to be.

So how about that question, how do you get where you really feel you meant to be?  How do you know what that place or feeling is? In recent years, I’ve been working on practicing present-moment awareness to counteract my tendency (deeply ingrained!) towards overdoing it.  And when I do, I can feel the difference!

First, ask yourself.

Recently we sold our primary family business. So I’ve been really asking myself lately, what am I willing to take on next?  I noticed that my habitual thoughts wanted me to fill my time again, and hurry up to do the next thing, and meet the expectations that I had for myself or thought others had for me.  I’m REALLY GOOD at filling up my time or any perceived ‘free time’, going full speed to achieve the things on my “must-do/should-do” list.

Whoaaaa. Stop, breathe, ask again.

If I actually stop for a full second, I notice a little gut instinct – yay or nay.  When life’s too full, I power right past that feeling and keep on going. When I slow down, even for a beat… I feel it.  Try it – this is when you can begin to access a deeper listening. Notice anything? There may be a message there.

Breathe, one more time, a little deeper.

When I truly pause to breathe, I can notice a difference – feelings that come from a deeper place.  My mind calms and it becomes easier to tell the difference between the clatter of life’s constant demands (**now with notifications!**) and how I truly want to spend my time and energy, my life.  Yes or No becomes a simpler answer, some clarity in the haze.

And guess what – there’s way less that I’m willing to do or truly interested in doing. Which can momentarily feel like failure or slacking off.  But don’t worry! You will soon feel the rich rewards of time and energy for a few things you truly love.

What if…

You let go of 1000% overdoing in your limited time.

You let go of demands that parade around pretending to be urgent.

You said no when that’s what your heart really wanted, even when your mind was jumping on board.

You didn’t put “Thrive” on your to-do list and treat it like just more things to get done.

You put your little inner DO-er to rest and got some real rest.

You gave yourself a break.

What if.. You trusted it will be ok?

What if… You allowed a slower pace to enjoy a greater quality of being present in your life, with your friends, with your family, with things that truly bring you pleasure and nourish your spirit?

What if… You truly allowed for deep wants to surface? To move within your happy, unique spirit.  To rest at ease. To be playful. To have a deliciously full cup from which you pour forth your fabulous energy for everyone to enjoy.

What would you do with yourself?


If you are feeling inspired to explore more of these kinds of questions then check out the 6 week Mindfulness Series called ‘ the deep river within ‘. Buffy will be facilitating along with co-host Laura Williams. Click HERE for more info.

What is love?

The answer to the question ‘What is Love?’ has not come naturally to me. In fact it’s a question I’ve been asking my whole life. In grade 3 on a sunny day waiting with my friends to be picked up from school I asked “How do you know you love your parents?” They responded with confusion. “Of course, you love them, they’re your parents” 

But what if they weren’t them? If I would love any parents I happened to have been assigned then what did it mean to love these ones? Questions like these have followed me through to this day.

 

The root of the question is; 

When you need someone, when you depend on them, when their actions are what seems to dictate if your life is full of joy or unbearably frustrating, how do you separate out that thing that you don’t have to question, that knowing. That unconditional love that looks like a warm light. The undeniable feeling that floods every cell when you see a baby laugh or are fully immersed in the splendor of the natural world, and feel completely natural in it.

 

The answer comes back to awareness. To seeing. Ruthless and terrifying as it is to see all those moments when I look at my partner for a bottomless pit of support rather than really seeing him. When I allow myself to feel impatient with my Mother, rather than seeing her shining as she ages more gracefully than I ever would have expected.

 

When I take myself, my projections, my wants and my striving at set them aside to really be present with another, there is an aliveness, an intimacy, a natural love the springs forward and that’s where life’s magic is hidden. Right under our noses when we are present to our breath, our life and our loved ones. All the in-between moments that make up a life, if you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss it. 

 

Anthony De Mello says in The Way to Love, a small book of meditations

 

That love is indiscriminate. Like a rose that smells sweet no matter who is around, like a tree that gives shade freely to whomever comes to sit under it and like a lamp that gives its light. It shines because it can’t do anything else, it doesn’t shine on some and not others. It radiates naturally without effort there is nothing you can “do” or to show this quality of love. It shines no matter what you do, or what other people are doing around you. 

Love is absent of selfishness and greed. Love is blissfully unself-conscious. Love loves to love without giving it’s self a thought. The rose gives it scent because there is nothing else to do, it is not dependant on someone being there to express appreciation. Lastly Love is freedom. If there is control or conflict the love dies. Like the tree it doesn’t force you to come use it’s shade, even if you are just out reach getting sunstroke! When we anxiously try to live up to expectations, to gain the approval and praise of others and we expect them to do the same.

It is a topic that sparks a fear of insufficiency. I’ve asked myself “What if I’m not feeling what other people are feeling, what I’m supposed to be feeling”

By Deborah Shewchuck

Did you know… 25 things we want to share with you about the New Wellness Studio

Did you know…

  1. If you do more than 7 classes per month you can save money by becoming a viva monthly member. Our monthly membership starts the day you purchase it. Being a Viva member means you can go to almost anything in the studio. Excludes private series classes or workshops.
  1. There is no minimum commitment with our membership – you can buy month to month or cancel anytime.
  1. Our 5 & 10 Adult Class Passes don’t expire for 6 months and can be used for a variety of classes.
  1. Our Viva Whole Food will be available to all our members soon! You’ll be able to pick up your order after 11am but not during a class. Ps. We don’t believe in toxic diet culture. We do believe in Whole Foods and nourishing our body.
  2. Our mixed martial arts on Tuesday evenings are family friendly. Bring your kids(over the age of 10)!! Or kids, bring your parents 😉
  3. Girlvana yoga is more than a physical practice. We have real/raw conversations, explore our creative side, and practice getting into our bodies and into the present moment.
  4. Baby & Me is for any caregiver. Mom, Dad, grandparent. And any child is welcome to join you.
  5. At GoGo Kids yoga the parents are welcome to stay (we have tea in the back) or they can drop off and leave. Parents choice!
  6. Yoga 101 is the perfect class to try if you’ve never done yoga in your life.
  7. Our Nice & Easy Pilates Class has moved to 1pm on Sundays.
  8. Our studio welcomes everybody and every BODY. Male, female, trans, black, white, brown, yellow, Christians, atheists, disabled, thin, square, round, young, old, happy, sad… the list is endless. If you are open to coming we are open to having you!! Our love is unconditional.
  9. Modifications and props are not weaknesses. They are necessary for accessibility.
  10. There are so many more significant reasons to move your body that have nothing to do with your appearance. Make your goals what ever you want them to be, but know that you are not a failure if you don’t achieve them.
  11. ‘Healthy’ is different for everybody.
  12. We know that life has its ‘lemons’ yet we don’t believe in fixing anyone. Intervention is not our way; loving kindness and connection is.
  13. Unlike a traditional gym model, our studio is not about aesthetics. We are about gathering together to individually honor our bodies, mind, and spirit.
  14. As instructors we are students as much as we are teachers. We are honored to rise up with you not above you.
  15. We offer 27 classes per week. 5 of them are Karma classes.
  16. You never have to create an online account to register for a class nor do you ever have to pay for anything online. Completely optional. To reserve your spot you do need to at minimum let an instructor know. Or you can always txt/call 204-573-8235
  17. Our #loveyourselfiechallenge🍋 has only 18 more days left to enter. To learn more ask an instructor.
  18. Our noon classes are cheaper than our regular classes because they were conveniently created for the weekday worker and are only 35mins long.
  19. Our schedule may change from month to month based on what you love and want.
  20. We have a comment box in our washroom. We are always open to feedback.
  21. We are always looking for ideas for classes you want or for our Maker’s Workshops… want to learn/create something?! Send us your ideas.
  22. Our motto is and always will be: be here, be you, be loved!!

Thanks for reading dear ones. We hope you truly find something you love at our studio!

Self-discovery and the 52 Lists Project

Are you a list-er? Do you jot down lists to keep yourself on track?

I do!

Over the last few years I’ve heard people spin a negative vibe around lists & list-makers. Especially in the wellness world. You know the saying “less doing, more being”. They describe lists are too masculine and don’t go with the ebb and flow of life. How lists are linear and puts things in a box. And how they set you up for disappointment.

I even began to despise the ‘lists’ myself especially after one teacher described me as a diligent jackhammer – powering through life one task at a time. But in this busy world I can’t expect to sit around and hope these tasks just complete themselves. First of all I wouldn’t have a job! Secondly, I likely wouldn’t have many people in my life either since parenting involves many daily tasks. These many responsibilities also come with many obligations of ‘doing’. And because of that I get easily distracted, often getting pulled out of the moment from fluctuating priorities that need my attention. I’ll suddenly have a needed grocery item pop into my head as I’m running our son to ball practice, or a reminder about an event will show up on my phone that I need to drop things to get ready for. Life would just be complicated and disorganized if these things didn’t make it to a list. Disappointing people, being late, having to run back to the store because I forgot an ingredient. I mean yes of course these things still happen. I’m not super woman after all. But they certainly would happen more if I didn’t have a list.

Those to-do lists help keep me accountable. They conjure up some determination and commitment. I find myself more diligent at keeping on track and at the end of the day I usually feel good about what I have accomplished. It’s when the list becomes too long or overwhelming that I beat myself up repeatedly for not ticking enough things off – hence my negative attitude. But throwing the lists out all together doesn’t work for me, my life, or my personality either.

I don’t want my life to be overwhelmed by lists though! I need time on those lists for myself — to refuel, to fill my cup. And what about making space for spontaneity too?! Because that’s a huge part of my personality also.

So whats the deal – we can’t survive with or without them?!

Well personally I think we can have lists and enjoy life too.

Here’s some super simple but helpful tips I’ve found more realistic for those everyday to-do type lists: (oh you know I’m going to list them right?!! Hahaha)

1. In no particular order make a long list of everything you can think of that’s in need of ‘doing’.

2. Then shortlist it! Look at the long list and prioritize what would serve your life right now best. Write down separately only the top 5-10 things from the long list with the 1st one being top priority. If they are big tasks or huge priorities then list fewer of them.

3. Then do one thing at a time. ( big eye roll here)! Yeah yeah, I know, I’m famous for multitasking too. Here’s the thing though. How often do you start something, then another thing, and another, and never finish any of it because there’s too much on the go? Or things are done half-assed because you were only able to give part of your attention to 5 different things?

I get it. Some things can’t be finished over-night or can be started without requiring a lot of effort or attention. But the point is we get more accomplished if we are fully present with what we are doing. Life is not all about accomplishments either. I know this. Believe me, I come from many years of believing accomplishments were the only thing that would make me happy. But accomplishments don’t have to be winning a nobel prize either. Maybe one to-do list item is to make a meal for yourself or your family. Pouring my full attention into all aspects of that task. What’s wrong with that accomplishment? Nourishing yourself and or others. Check! Simple, honorable, & purposeful!

4. Re-evaluate your list the next day or week perhaps. Looking at the long list first. Seeing if anything has jumped up the scale in priority or do you need to add more things to it.

5. Repeat step 2 & 3.

So what if there’s a train-wreck of a day and nothing gets ticked off the list?

Of course this is bound to happen. Life throws us lemons after all. But that’s the beauty of trying our best and letting go of the things we can’t control. The sunrises each morning and we are blessed with another chance. So we start over with a new list!

On the bright side, not ALL lists have to be to-do lists!

If someone asked you right now to list your top 5 favorite songs, what would you say?

Need some time to think about it?

I know I would. And maybe you’d surprise yourself with what you came up with. Or maybe there’d be far too many to narrow it down to just 5. Or maybe you have 5 songs that are your favorite when you are in the mood to chill and maybe you have 5 that help you stay motivated during a long run. Or maybe you don’t have time to even think about it!!

The nice thing about listing things not related to necessary tasks is you can learn about yourself. And sometimes that can lead to a slight adjustment on your path’s trajectory. For example listing just 3 things you are grateful for each morning can change your whole mood for the day and perhaps change the direction things are going.

So yes I’m a list-er. But I’ve found that like everything else in life there needs to be balance.

Summer is a time of pure busy-ness for me and my family. We are constantly on the go. More daylight equals more time to do things and subsequently more pressure to find stillness and self-care too. And with a baby arriving here in our household in only a few weeks it’s bound to get even busier.

So in the spirit of officially rolling into Summer this week, I’ve decided to make a commitment to making more non-to-do lists. Yes, haha, another ‘thing’ to-do, but if it helps balance out the ‘to-do’ ones and also provides some insight to my busy life then I see that as a positive. Plus, I’m terrible at being consistent with journaling. So I see the list making as a friendly invitation to turn my lists into more journal entries. If you’re not into journaling or find it a tedious task then this might be just what you need too!

I went out and bought Moorea Seal’s ’52 Lists Project’ book/journal. And this summer I want to share with you on a weekly basis a new non-to-do list from the Summer section. Perhaps you’ll be inspired by the prompt and hopefully take part in the list-making too. The purpose of her book is to help us ‘discover the beauty, joy, creativity, and power’ that already exist in our lives right now.

On Sunday morning for #selfcaresunday I’ll post a new list from her book. I invite you to purchase the book yourself and jot them down with us and/or feel free to share your list on social media with each new post! Hopefully by doing this tiny selfcare act, we will find ways to make each week ‘more thoughtful and vibrant by looking deeply inside to reveal our inner wisdom and confidence!’

Additionally, we can start to find a more positive vibe around ‘lists’ in general. Balancing our non-to-do lists with a short priority based to-do list that helps us stay focused and organized. And perhaps we can find some time to enjoy the feminine ebb and flow of our perfectly imperfect lives while knowing ourselves a little more deeply!

Find a new list prompt starting tomorrow on VivaLaLemon’s Facebook or Instagram account. As always, thanks for reading dear ones!

And as Moorea says, ‘happy listing’!

A simple birthday gift to myself

This is a picture I took last night at a day shy of 22 weeks pregnant. It has no fancy filter. No photoshop. Just a dark room and a flash from the camera. It’s just me – oh naturàl. It felt peaceful to sit there with my eyes closed. In my mind, however, I never pictured it would look this way. After a day of jumping nervously behind a camera with a friend to take some promotional photos with this body I feel so insecure lately about I just wanted to sit and be me, not posing for anyone. Not trying to impress or look a certain way. But….after opening my eyes and seeing how I looked, the harsh voice inside me ripped the photo to a million pieces. Look at the fat bulging over her bra and the belly with stretch marks and rolls, she looks giant and imperfect in many ways. Pointing a finger in disgust like the tabloids in the grocery stores that zoom in and point out the cellulite on a beautiful celebrity’s thigh.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we beat ourselves up and smother it with shame? Why do we compare ourselves to other people? Or younger versions of ourselves? Why does fat offend people soooo damn much? Sure in too large of quantities it can be unhealthy but the mental turmoil people put themselves through because of it can be just as unhealthy. And even when we bargain with ourselves, like ‘okay, I’ll love and respect myself again if I can just get back into my old size 6 jeans.” Or we put conditions around our satisfaction like ‘if only I lose 50 pounds and can wear a bikini to the beach next summer then I’ll be happy.’ Then we catch ourselves looking back at pictures of when those conditions applied and we know deep down we still weren’t completely happy then either. Years upon years of dissatisfaction. Of body shaming.

I have struggled with body image my entire life. I know the struggle of feeling helpless in a body people, especially myself, doesn’t see as ‘pretty’. I’ve hired personal trainers at the gym, I’ve done juice cleanses, and a few dozen different protein shakes and regimens, and even tried diet pills a few times. I have tried listening to the sensible caring advice-givers like my doctor, “just eat less, and exercise more.” Desperate to fit what I think society sees and respects as a beautiful, radiant, healthy woman. Why wouldn’t I, that’s how marketers make us feel. Turn on the tv, walk by billboards in the mall, you see solutions to all your fears – quick fixes for weight-loss, a firming cream that guarantees to hide that pesky cellulite. The ultimate anti-wrinkle cream. The size 2 lululemon pants on the marathon runner who’s barely breaking a sweat. All modeled by tiny, radiant, young, likely photoshopped women. Almost everywhere we turn we are taught to idolize them and in turn shame ourselves for not being like them. This isn’t about taking a right-wing, bleeding heart stance for shaming the people who are happily on a life-changing weight-loss journey either. Or for making people feel guilty about some reconstructive surgery they might of had or Botox injections they invested in. No shame from self-perception is ever helpful in my opinion.

The last few years I thought I had found a better balance of selflove – finally accepting my body as it was, finding a balance between my physical and mental health through what felt like healthier channels. But it only took the development of a growing baby bump and some extra fat around my thighs, and arms, and hips, and boobs, to throw me in a tail spin of insecurity once again. I know I’m growing a sweet baby miracle inside. And I’m beyond grateful to be given that chance again. But it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle. It doesn’t mean my practice of selfcare and selflove have given me immunity from my dark patterns of self-destruction. But they certainly have given me the tools to recognize it quicker and the inspiration to embody it and try again and again.

Today is my birthday. 34 years old. 22 weeks pregnant. And I’ve decided to give myself the gift of acceptance once again. To give space to the feelings of shame, to breath through it. To look at myself in the mirror through gentle eyes of love and smile at the beauty of who I truly am on the inside.

In Yoga there’s an ethical concept described in Patanjali’s 8 limbs of Yoga called Santosha. It translates from Sanskrit to mean contentment, satisfaction, acceptance; something I find much easier on my yoga mat without cameras or sight-seers. But a practice I wax and wain struggling with out in life off the mat. And I know so many women and men who struggle with the same thing, the same thoughts, the pattern of comparing. You are not alone!! We are beautiful and radiant in our own ways. And we can love ourselves, and BE loved this way. Together we can support each other as we accept our authentic natural beauty that is alive in each and every one of us right now in this very moment. Unapologetic, unconditioned — the kind of love a mother would give a child. That’s what we need from ourselves. It’s a practice but we are worthy.