A Simple Two Word Mantra: It’s Easy

As I sat quietly this morning feeling (not thinking) how I wanted to start my day, I closed my eyes to sit in meditative silence. Sometimes I simply breathe mindfully allowing my brain and body to quiet down. I may listen to nature sounds or ocean waves and be lulled by their beautiful flow. Other days I find myself having a conversation with the universe or like today, a simple mantra came into my mind. I went with the mantra.

As I am getting close to releasing my first meditation album Falling Into Zen – 10 Guided Meditations Under 10 Minutes (info about its availabilty will be on my website soon) I have had many conversations with people that yes, calming & empowering oneself with a healthy mind, body and soul connection can take mere minutes daily. Perhaps this is why my mantra popped up. When a thought like this calmly enters my mind, I don’t try to push is away. I realize it is surfacing as a gift and quietly explore the information it is trying to share with me.

This morning these words popped into my mind: It’s easy.

So I went with it…

It’s easy to be happy.

It’s easy to be healthy.

It’s easy to have a life I love.

It’s easy to be surrounded by love. 

It’s easy to be filled with joy.

It’s easy to laugh a lot. 

It’s easy to travel the world.

It’s easy to be filled with creative ideas. 

It’s easy to have an incredible career I love.

It’s easy to attract fantastic people, companies and projects.

It’s easy to make lots of money.

It’s easy to make lots of money so I can help others. 

It’s easy to create positive change on this planet. 

It’s easy. Whatever I think, I can do. It’s easy. Whatever I think, I can create. It’s easy.

I am sure there were a few more in there but you get the idea. One “it’s easy” flowed easily into another…and then another… When we change our minds, we change our world. When we change our world, we can then change the world. Small steps can create big changes and what could be simpler than taking a couple minutes to explore the power of two small words?

Happiness Dwells In The “Little” Moments

Last week was quite delicious. And gratifying. And exciting. And rewarding.

I did not win a mega jackpot lottery or get a new car or home or land a huge contract. What I did get were the oh-so-sweet rewards for years of patience, dedication and determination. I got pieces of my life back.

Every Monday night as far back as I can remember is Pilates night. It took me years to master the moves, strength and agility needed in class. In 2011, I still had moves to master but I was so happy with how I had developed over the years. Then I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in 2011 and Gluten Ataxia in 2013. I lost all strength, dexterity and my brain and body literally forgot how to do anything and my brain was not sending the proper messaging to my limbs. My legs would plummet to the floor, my arms did not work and were in severe pain, my body would tremor in protest and the simplest moves became utterly exhausting. I would silently cry throughout every class either from complete system overwhelm, sheer frustation or both. And I would leave walking like I was drunk having just got off a roller coaster. Over the years, Pilates grew to become an integral part of my physiotherapy as it was one of the only forms of physical movement I could participate in.

On February 1, 2016, in a Pilates class, I got a push-up back after years of trying.  It was one of the sweetest moments of my life. I did feel like I had won the lottery. This Monday I got another “simple” move back – after 7 years of sheer dedication! My teacher laughed out loud in celebration as did I. Sweet victory! I still have to adapt a lot of moves and hold my legs up with a band but I am grinning. I am thrilled. I am so beyond grateful it is ridiculous. I never thought I would get back to this level of strength.

The next day I did a photo shoot – in high heels. Something that again, I used to do regularly as a model which left my life when I developed severe balance and dizziness issues and an adverse reaction (not being able to walk or talk)  to gluten in make-up and beauty products. I used my own gluten-free make-up kit for this one and rocked those heels!

And to close a week of ridiculously sweet accomplishments, I did a fashion runway show on Saturday. In high heels. Under bright lights with loud pumping music. I flashed back to the last runway I was able to walk in 2012, in which I was in a complete panic as I walked out in severe pain to a massive crowd at Toronto Fashion Week and felt the room swirling around me, my feet and legs feeling like they would give out, the music and lights actually hurting and splitting into a million moving parts attacking my senses, knowing that something was severely wrong. I flashed back to having so much trouble simply doing up a button, a zipper, changing my own clothes, putting on shoes. I’ve done a plethora of runway shows over 25 years and I don’t think one can be sweeter than the last. What a gift.

A simple exercise move. Standing in high heels. Walking in a show. We don’t realize what lights us up until it’s taken away. We don’t realize how many pieces of our identity make us who we are until they vanish from our lives. We don’t realize the gift of movement and how it helps define us and the confidence and joy it gives us until it disappears. And we don’t realize how many gifts are given to us regularly in seemingly insignifcant moments. Life is delicous, every moment, every day in so many ways.

Celebrate Climbing YOUR Mountain

I’ve got a mountain.

You’ve got a mountain.

We’ve all got a mountain of some sort.

And we need to celebrate climbing our mountain whatever it may look like.

I’ve learned some valuable life lessons over the last few years. There is no trying to keep up with the Joneses. There is no comparing my level of accomplishment to anyone else’s. I am setting the bar for myself and patting myself on the back along the way. And giving myself high fives – lots of them.

This month I started a fitness ball class…without the ball. And a weight class…without the weights. I am a bonafide athletic superstar.  As Julia Roberts once said in a movie, “I’ve got moves you’ve never seen before.”

Here’s the thing, I look completely normal and am feeling more like myself as each week passes but my body and brain are still learning how to hang out in the same room together even with regular “health homework.” Recovering from Gluten Ataxia autoimmunity that has affected my brain has had me relearning a lot of motor skills. Who needs weights when my arms are still heavy enough to lift? In physiotherapy, simply sitting on an exercise ball was one of the most terrifying acts I have ever done. Crazy right? It felt like hanging off the ledge of a skyscraper about to fall to my untimely death. I cannot print the words that came out of my mouth during those sessions – thankfully my physiotherapists found my profanity amusing.

This week I got on an exercise ball. I wedged it against a wall, but I got on. And then I looked drunk bobbing and swaying as I walked home. It is not fun to walk into a class feeling normal and leave an hour later feeling like you just downed a Pinot Grigio in the middle of your workout but it’s a sign to me that more needs to be fixed but also that more of me is coming back together. And I am thrilled to be at a point that my body and brain can bounce back after about 15 minutes versus days, versus not having been able to do any of it at all.

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And you know what? I feel like an Olympian. With medals. Lots of them. Phelps style.

I am not the fastest.

Or the most agile.

Or very coordinated.

And I have to adapt the entire workout and go slow.

But I am climbing MY mountain…and it feels ridiculously sweet.

PSST! I write weekly on this seriously juicy book loving site.  This article originally appeared there. You can catch this article and my other articles and other really great ones by fabulous writers over here.

Create A Mind, Body & Soul Connection This Year

Each January brings excitement for being able to amp up the energy, clean the slate and start fresh. Change is good. Change is fun.  But most of the ads that bombard us each January revolve around losing weight, focusing on size and counting calories. But we are so much more than just the numbers on a scale! This year, aim to make a mind, body and soul connection that counts all parts of you in.

Here are some easy ways to create some fun, balance and growth this year…

Move your body because you love it – not because you hate it – In the new year’s onslaught of diet ads, before and after photos and pushes for gym memberships, choose to move because you love your body and want to lovingly better it – not because you think it is marred and broken. Stop counting calories and start counting moments – laugh your head off starting a new Zumba class, smirk as you shave a few seconds off your r-e-a-l-l-y long mile time, delight in being a sweaty beast after a gym session. Sign up for a dance class! Or simply have fun playing with your kids outside more. Take more breaks in your day for 15 minute walks. Change your mindset from wanting to fix something that is broken to wanting to improve something that is already ridiculously amazing.

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Dare to be you – It’s about thinking back to when you were a kid, remembering what lit you up, what made you giggle and reclaiming it. Ballet class, soccer or art? It’s about those classes you used to take that somehow faded away with kids and mortgages and bill payments. If your career is not where you want it to be, what tangible steps can you take to create change? Find YOU again and bring her out to play!

Shake up the dynamics – We all tend to get too comfortable in some regards and start doing things on autopilot. Creating new energy sometimes requires taking a step away from a situation to gain a new perspective – or glancing back in time to reawaken forgotten amazing energy. What romantic gestures did you express or which ones won your heart when you and your partner first started dating? Just becauses for no reason? Going to an obscure restaurant? Fun outings? Make a commitment to each other to shake it up! Is it time to create new traditions with your family or friends or revive old ones? You have the power to amp up the energy.

Appreciate the little things – Little things are never just little things! Make a commitment to mindfulness. This could entail something as simple as sitting on a park bench and appreciating a flower garden, taking the time to create a daily 5 second mantra of thanks, quietly appreciating the energy that went into the food on your plate at a meal. Most importantly, pat yourself on the back for every accomplishment you make this year – every “little thing” adds up to big changes.

Laugh more – If you can’t remember the last time you had a serious belly laugh – like holding your stomach on the floor belly laugh, you need to shake it up! Consciously bring more laughter into your world. Hit up a comedy show or movie, take an improv class, send your loved one funny text messages with a goofy photo attached. Rev up the goofy this year. It’s good for your mind, body and soul!

Create time, energy and space for you this year. Because when you feel alive, you have more to give to those around you and you will find even more goodness comes your way.

PSST! I write weekly on this seriously juicy book loving site.  This article originally appeared there. You can catch this article and my other articles and other really great ones by fabulous writers over here.

Wellness Tips For The Home Business Owner

Let’s be honest. The benefits of working at home can be quite glorious. Typing away on your computer in your sweatpants or pyjamas is something you may very well brag about. Setting your own hours and taking a break from work whenever you want is a very liberating experience. Having a satisfying career making money working at home creating your own rules and being able to spend more time with your family is definitely a lifestyle most people would long for.

I do everything from my home office. Brainstorming. Content creation. Social media. Networking. Conference calls. The list could go on and on. I plan my day, I plan my career – and I absolutely love it. The thought of commuting and being on a strict 9-5 schedule causes me to break out in a cold sweat. Most of my best creativity is done at night long after regular office hours. But I am also coming out of a period of having been very sick for several years and trying to play catch up with every aspect of my life. As much as I want to hustle, I need to protect and honour my energy that I have worked so hard to restore.  So, I have created home business guidelines to keep myself happy and healthy while building my business that can inspire you to do the same.  Because, if you keep burning the candle at both ends…you will eventually have no candle!

Honour Your Meal Time

How many of us have been guilty of shoving food in our mouths while trying to read and type? Sometimes for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Guilty as charged. Just as you would step away from your desk for a meal if you worked in an office space, step away from your home work space for your meals.  If lunch only takes 15 minutes, use the rest of the time away from your desk.

Take Breaks

After years of limited mobility, movement is far too important and cherished so I do an activity every day. Set a couple 15 minute break times each day (or evening depending on your work schedule) to get outside for a walk, bike ride or other activity to get some oxygen in your lungs, sun on your face and to get the creative juices flowing. If you are like me and get so enthralled with what you are doing that you lose track of time, set a pleasant sounding tone on your phone alarm to prompt you to get outside. With the limited sun in the winter where I live, I make sure to set those times when the sun is at its brightest. Or if getting outside is not an option, do some indoor stretches or lunges across your kitchen! Stop, drop and plank in your living room. Just move.

wellness-tips-for-the-home-business-owner

Schedule Out of Office Meetings & Work Sessions

Bringing in new energy and ideas helps our businesses thrive. If you literally find yourself working in your pyjamas far too often, make a point of setting up a coffee or lunch get together with a friend or colleague to brainstorm. Or reach out to someone in your online business social media circle to connect in person. Regularly set up work time outside your home in a local coffee shop or shared work space for a change of environment.

Turn Off Technology & Set Office Hours

Are you married to your phone? If you can’t think of the last time you went technology-free for a weekend you need to schedule a meeting with yourself. Are you answering emails that aren’t a high priority at midnight? Obviously depending on your job, prompt responses to customers may be necessary. Ask yourself this question: What am I doing out of habit and what needs to be done by necessity?

Set A Bedtime

We are adults so this may sound ridiculous but how many of us find our sleep schedules all over the place because we just want to do ONE MORE THING?  I found myself writing into all hours of the night (disclaimer – I don’t have kids to wake me up) and slowly found my creativity fading in the day. No matter what is going on, I shut my computer off at midnight at the very latest and give my eyes time to relax while reading a chapter of a good book before going to bed. I am more alert and creative throughout my work day. Our home offices need regular closing hours.

Remember to be good to you so your business can be good to others!

PSST! I write weekly on this seriously juicy book loving site.  This article originally appeared there. You can catch this article and my other articles and other really great ones by fabulous writers over here.

Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine

The last few years have been seriously filled with a million and one utterly beautiful life lessons. I appreciate them with every fiber of my being. And then some. And then more. I have learned so much about myself, the world and my place in it. While going through and earning my PHD – Personal Health Discoveries – I got down to what really matters on every level. I really could not have asked for better schooling to appreciate this world in every minute detail. But here is the thing…like any serious studying with an incredible reward at the end of the tunnel, there has been little to no fun in the process. Zilch. No laughter. No belly laughs. Lots of pulling hair out wondering when it would all finally be over. (Ok…and with Hashimoto’s, it just kinda fell out on its own…) Let’s be frank here, with as much beauty as I have found and discovered in the pain and frustration of autoimmunity, there were vast swatches of sheer and utter suckage. No laughter. Lots of suckage. And I have become determined to bring the funny back. I NEED to bring the funny back.

I  made a pact to have copious amounts of belly laughs this year. Like rolling on the floor, tears pouring down my face, grasping my stomach, practically peeing my pants, stop-I-can’t-breathe kind of belly laughs.  There has been so much tension – physically, mentally….on a soul level. I needed a comic release. Having taken tons of improv classes over the years and even stand-up, I yearned for the weekly hilarity of the classes I used to take, the crazy, brilliant, quick minded individuals I used to improv with at Second City. In the pain, I forgot how to be funny. In the pain, it was hard to laugh. In the pain, it was tons of work trying to move away from the pain. With a broken and foggy brain from Gluten Ataxia and Hashimoto’s, thoughts were not firing the way they were supposed to if they were firing at all. If my legs and arms didn’t know where to go, neither did any glimmers of humour. My funny bone was seriously broken.

This year I have decided to bring on the goofy.  Bring back stupidity. Bring on the fun. Laugh until I cry. Text my friends ridiculous inside jokes. Have funny banter with strangers. Earlier this year, I took a drop-in improv class. After a few simple hilarious warm-up games, my brain was fried. The room was spinning. My body was protesting and was in a lot of pain. It was like a physiotherapy session with tons of hand to eye coordination needed with clapping and memory games. But glimmers of funny came out from hiding. “We’re still here! We’re still here!” I freakin’ loved it. My body and brain may have protested over the next couple of days but my soul determined we were completely on track.

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This was taken on International Ataxia Awareness Day, September 25, 2016, as I tried to leap in the air. It still makes me laugh. Not only was I thrilled to be jumping which has eluded me for years, to be goofy at the same time proves my mind, body, soul and funny bone are all hanging out in the same room again!

I decided on my birthday in May that I needed to bring in the upcoming year with humour. I believe in setting our intentions for the upcoming year on our birthdays. I took another drop-in improv class.  (And umm….I skipped my nieces’ school recital. Yes, I did. I r-e-a-l-l-y needed to get my humour order in….) Best. Idea. Ever. (Sorry nieces. Love you!) The room was still spinning and if you were to see me try to clap you would crack up.  I figured I could make my drunk-like ataxia actions into a fairly hilarious character. Work with watcha got…

I’ve done some more drop-ins and am taking a public speaking course at Second City. And it IS my physiotherapy. It IS rewiring my brain bringing back the funny. It is helping me tell painful aspects of my story with light and humour. It is recharging my spirit. And I have been laughing my ass off as my fellow classmates share their stories, their jokes, their humour, as we share our collective vulnerability whether we present something serious or light hearted. It is a joy trying out new ways of expressing myself outside the confines of my “PHD.”

I can now flash to several times over the last few months in which I have had deep belly laughs. How many times I have had tears pouring down my cheeks dying over something with a friend. Laughter really is the best medicine and a medicine that we need regularly. I aim to embarrass my nieces with my goofiness in public while teaching them that we must honour all aspects of our personalities.  There is a time for seriousness….but having been stuck in seriousness for several years, I really need to honour fun. Laughter. Goofiness. Our souls need it. My soul needs it.

 

 

 

The 7 Year Itch: My Ridiculously Long Road To Paddleboarding

Today has pixie dust sprinkled all over it. It reeks of rainbows and unicorns. It is sunshine and cake. (Gluten-free of course because that gluten character is a big part of this 7 year itch…) As my friend Shelli always says, “Today is the BEST DAY EVER!” Today is MAGICAL – and yes, I mean to be YELLING! From the rooftops actually. Today, after waiting patiently – and not so patiently – since 2010, I finally – more yelling….FINALLY….got on a paddleboard!

As I head to the beach most days, in 2010, I started to notice paddleboarders on the lake. There were just a few back then as “SUPping” (stand up paddleboarding) was only starting to take off but I was determined to get on one the next summer and was really looking forward to it. By the summer of 2011 I felt lousy, had zero energy and was struggling just to stay awake. I went from working out 5 days a week preparing for my first 5K run to barely being able to get up the stairs. My body was in pain daily.  In September, 2011, I was diagnosed with autoimmune Hashimoto’s which explained why I felt so lousy.  I was determined to make a swift recovery….(insert rolling of eyes and I-know-better-now smirking….)

Over the next couple years, my arms morphed from excruciating daily pain to having very little use of them from the elbows down. My hands and arms working would be a guessing game depending on the day of the week. Everyday activities felt like they were being done with concrete boots on while walking through quicksand. All my energy was going into simply getting through everyday life – sports were impossible.  And being athletic, it was crushing my soul. In September, 2013, within a couple weeks, I could barely walk, talk, chew properly or think. I was stumbling around, could not put one foot in front of the other and was slurring my words. I looked and sounded drunk. I do not exaggerate when I say my brain and body felt decimated. I was terrified more than I let on to anyone. In December, 2013, I was finally diagnosed with Gluten Ataxia, a rare dis-ease in which gluten causes an autoimmune attack on the cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for motor skills.

Since this all started, I have done everything in my power to make myself healthy. It has taken years to get back muscle strength, balance and coordination.  It has taken a long time to do physical motions without body parts severely cramping up or them simply not remembering what to do or going rogue as I like to call it.  It has also taken a long time to do several movements at the same time. I call it Body Jenga – how many moves can I do before my body stubbornly protests I have pushed too much and it all falls apart? Paddleboarding looks so easy and effortless, yet it’s really rather complicated when your sense of balance caused you to fall over for several years simply by standing still – on land. Last year I was looking into motorized scooter prices.

Every day at sunset when I would meditate at the beach, wishing I could be out on the water, the paddleboarders would glide by.  Some days they brought me comfort. Some days I was so angry and frustrated I wished I hadn’t seen them.  And other days my meditation would involve envisioning myself strong and sturdy out there at sunset casually gliding by alongside them. I finally sat in the energy that they were keeping me company until I was ready to join them.

This month, I finally realized I had enough balance, energy and coordination to get up on a board, hold the paddle and stroke on both sides.   I (hopefully) would be able to get back on if I fell off. I also hoped I could make it through an hour class. I could swim with enough strength to not drown which was an added bonus. You can imagine my excitement to get on a board… And then the weather decided to kick up some windy waves delaying this several times. As I repeated,”Patience is a virtue,” over and over in my mind…I wanted to smack patience with a paddleboard!

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Today at 9AM it was a go. I was a kid at Christmas – a Christmas that had been bumped several times! It was a stunningly beautiful day – a full moon lunar eclipse none the less. There were small waves but it’s September and the clock is ticking on how much more time there is on the lake before it gets really cold and a lot more windy. And you know what? I cannot even imagine a more perfect first experience.  I didn’t care if I stood for one second and then got dumped into the lake – hell, I didn’t care if I even stood up because I did not know if I would have the balance. I was happy to be on that board!

My instructor Gudrun of wsup Toronto was beyond lovely and helpful and guided our group on our Blu Wave Sup boards as we paddled into the sun (gorgeous) and then into a quiet, shallow inlet for us to try standing.  I landed in the lake several times – and loved it every single time. It actually gave my brain and body a break from all the movement and balancing.  I needed it! (Was also very thankful as I explore my new energy to be wearing a life jacket) But I also stood several times and got some strokes in before wiping out. I would have been happy to have stood for one second. Every wipe out was joy-filled!  7 years of waiting joy-filled. I love the shot of me paddling above looking like a badass catching a wave…in fact I was just about to wipe out which will forever make me laugh!

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I floated in the lake after staring at the clouds with a huge grin on my face. Then I sat on the beach warming myself in the sun…and started to cry.  From gratitude. From years of pent up frustration and a finish line that just kept stretching beyond my reach. From utter happiness. From relief. From pride. When I looked at these photos later, I cried again. When I spoke with my mom tonight and told her about my morning, I sobbed with gratitude. How could 7 years have gone by not being able to do something so soul rewarding?  I realize why today was so important. For 7 years this has been the carrot dangling in front of me that I really, really wanted…and was always yanked further out of reach. And today I grasped it.

I sat in deep reflection today.  I didn’t just paddleboard. Parts of me came back together. Today I really felt like me. And I can’t think of anything more amazing than truly feeling like who you really are.

 

 

The Body Love Series: How to Help the Positivity Resonate Mind, Body & Soul

How to get from here to there. Sometimes it seems easy. Sometimes it doesn’t.  I often speak of something “resonating” with me. If it resonates, I support it, I buy it, I tell others about it, I BELIEVE in it.  It’s an easy sell because it feels right to me.

When it comes to developing body love, sometimes it is not as easy as it seems to get from here to there. Sometimes doubt creeps in, lack of belief in something being true creeps in. Believing in the beauty of your body or a body part doesn’t ring true.  The body love is not resonating so it’s hard to make changes. And I don’t mean physical changes – I mean changing those doubts in your cranium that keep you from celebrating your body exactly like it is like rocking a bikini, wearing shorts or confidently showing off your gorgeous arms without feeling the need to wear long sleeves. It’s all about creating a mind-body-soul connection that feels unified and true to bring about real change and happiness.

I recently discussed easy out-of-the-box ways to meditate and bring about body love every day with an incredible crowd at Curvy Expo. I’ve had several conversations with women about it since so I know the topic has struck a chord.  I gave the audience easy 1-2 sentence mantras to build up body love.  These are positive affirmations that can be said to quiet your mind throughout your day and send yourself some loving vibes. But here is the thing – we are all on different journeys with different starting points, different experiences that brought us to today. So what might be really basic for one woman to believe in her heart could be very difficult for another.  What really resonates as true for one, could feel totally awkward and wrong for another.

On my healing journey, I would often send certain body parts some TLC especially when they weren’t working properly. I’m human – some days it was really hard to believe my legs were strong when they could barely move to allow me to walk, were cramped and aching. I could say “my legs are strong” several times in my head while the rest of my body would be bellowing,’Not this month they aren’t!” I found ways to get over this disconnect….and you can too.

What if your body image issue is with your arms?  Or what if you arms aren’t moving or working how they used to and you are frustrated? What if they have changed in appearance in some way through an accident, dis-ease, aging, scarring, acne or something that bothers you? How do you tell your arms you love them and how do you truly grow to love them when you are at the stage where all you want to do is cover them up?  In order to have a belief resonate throughout your being, you need to feel it mind, body and soul.

Here is a simple way to grow that belief in the core of your being. I am using arms in the example – feel free to replace with whichever body part of yours needs some TLC. Check out these stages to see what types of mantras resonates with you.

Total Arm Love

You find it easy to compliment your arms, deeply feel that words like “strong” and “beautiful” are true and they resonate with you. If you were to think of the praise as compliments from someone, you would accept them with a big grin on your face – it would make your day and you would walk around all sassy after.  These types of statements not only make you feel comfortable, they make you happy and energetically peaceful.

My arms are strong and beautiful.

My arms are curvy and beautiful.

My muscular arms are amazing. I appreciate what they do for me.

My arms are sexy and strong.

My stunning arms give me gifts every day.

If these have resonated with you, fantastic!  Use them throughout the day or create new ones you love. If the above mantras aren’t resonating with you, if you can’t “take the compliments” you’ll feel it – in your gut, in your heart, in the doubt in your head. And that’s ok.  We just need to tweak the body love TLC a little bit for you!

Working Up To Total Arm Love

It’s sometimes easier to see what gifts your body & its parts provide outside of you.  Thinking of your everyday life, how much joy, love and resourcefulness do they bring to you daily? What functions – even bare bones basic – do they provide for you every day?  How do they help you do your job and thus make a living?  Interact with your family and friends?  Pursue hobbies you  love?  Start celebrating everyday “little” actions to see how many amazing gifts you receive on a daily basis.

My arms are strong. They allow me to hold my beautiful baby.

My arms are amazing. They let me hug my beautiful children.

My arms are powerful. They allow me to work at a job I love.

My arms hold love. They let me hug my partner.

My arms create healing. They allow me to make healthy meals for my family.

My arms bring me gifts of movement every day. I am blessed.

My arms allow me to do my job and provide for my family.

My arms hold knowledge. They help me cook/paint/sew/knit/play the piano.

My arms create fun and laughter. They allow me to push my child on a swing.

I promise you, if you can tweak your way of thinking, you can tweak your way of believing allowing yourself to appreciate the powerful, beautiful gifts your body brings you daily.  If you start thinking of all the gifts you receive daily, all the tasks you are able to do, your perception will change. And this doesn’t have to take long. This could literally change your life in less than30 seconds a day!

Please let me know if you create a body love mantra for yourself. Would love to hear about it!

 

So I Did A TEDx Talk…

I love TED and TEDx talks. Ever since I first discovered them I was hooked and in the back on my mind I thought,”I want to do one of those one day.” I’ve been able to see people I admire speak about their lives and experiences or been introduced to individuals I had never heard of before but after their talks had me madly Googling them to find out more.The first one I viewed will always resonate with me and I have watched it countless times – Aimee Mullins: It’s not fair having 12 pairs of legs.  Aimee is so incredible on so many levels and I love speaking of her, sharing her images and her point of view with children when we talk about body image and self-esteem. Amanda Palmer: The Art of Asking is so brilliantly delivered that it upped the game for every presentation I saw after. I was completely smitten by Ron Finely’s A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA talk. Have watched it numerous times and it is powerful yet amusing. You have to catch Brene Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability. And one that deeply touched my soul and had me tearing up was Monica Lewinsky: The price of shame.  Incredible. I tried to hug her through the computer.

I put it out to the universe that I wanted to do a TEDx talk by the end of 2015…and then I got an email in February…asking me to do a TEDx talk. I almost fell off my chair.  (I need to keep manifesting!) I was invited by Craig Zimmer, an incredible teacher,  who has been sharing his passion for TED talks with his students, school – and the entire school board –  through the TEDxStMaryCSS event and the TEDEdClub. I love that he is encouraging the next generation to speak up with confidence! I figured I had until June 5, the date of the event, to get my body and brain working better together while healing from gluten ataxia.  Lots of time I thought.  After many revisions, I decided to entitle my talk An Exploration of Identity and take the audience through the journey I had been on that had opened my eyes to so many lessons. I thought I was doing well as the date was approaching…even if my walking was still not up to par, my brain seemed to be working better. I just needed my brain and my mouth to work on that stage for less than 2o minutes and all would be fine.

However, the more I spoke aloud and practiced, the more scrambled my brain got. My brain is still building up its motor skills and connections and speaking was taking me down. Leading up to the talk, I was slurring my words, stuttering, flipping words in sentences and was unable to remember anything that was not in chronological order.  My head hurt in a way it had never hurt before – not a headache….like someone who was injuring herself by repeating an action.  I was sobbing in my friend Shelli’s arms in my kitchen 2 days before my talk. Not only did I not think I would physically be able to do it, I questioned if I would ever be able to give a talk or work on TV ever again.  I explained to my friend that it felt like a runner trying to complete a marathon on a broken leg in a cast – could it be possible? Yes. Would it lead to long term injury? Probably. Would it be a very good idea? No. It must be noted that Shelli is a complete and utter rock star and has literally hugged my soul daily throughout this journey.

With fellow TEDx speakers Ashley Rose & Simone Denny.

With fellow TEDx speakers Ashley Rose & Simone Denny.

I asked if I could speak at the event first and meticulously planned what I ate that morning and when, when I meditated and drove there in silence. Eating with precise timing helped stave off severe blood sugar issues which would also lead to severe brain fog, stuttering and slurring. Knowing I could speak first meant I knew my food would help keep my brain operating and I would not have to worry about how the day’s timing unfolded. I wouldn’t have to worry about how much I spoke with others or how much I walked because both would take up a lot of energy needed for the talk. I did anything and everything to calm down my brain. And I made the executive decision to eliminate all slides. It may sound simple to talk while clicking the remote in order to pull up a few pictures but for me that seemed the equivalent of running backwards while patting my head and rubbing my belly while trying to tell a joke. I asked if I could put up a few bullet points on the prompter instead. I could. I exhaled. Salvation.

I am really proud of my TEDx talk – for standing up there and simply speaking. I climbed a mountain to get there and presenting it was a sweet-as-all-hell gift. It didn’t matter to me if I was standing or sitting – I just wanted to speak. I literally spent all summer after that looking into getting a scooter wheelchair because I just kept getting utterly exhausted – and I realized that being able to speak meant more to me than walking everywhere.  Every day became a day of bartering with my motor skills. Ok, you want to use this motor skill?  You’ve got to give up these ones for the rest of the day. You want to use several motor skills today?  You will need to nap for the rest of the week… I wanted my energy….to speak…to be me…to express myself to the world, share my thoughts and ideas – and I did not care anymore if I was standing or sitting. Where once I was completely gutted by the thought of sitting in a scooter, I started to get really excited. I could feel the wind whipping through my hair on the path by the beach and pictured myself buzzing around airports going places. I looked up rentals at The Louvre and figured I would have an advantage and actually see way more incredible art on a scooter! THAT got me really excited. And I was introduced to the magic of an electric bike which further opened up my world of possibilities. If it could conserve my energy to be able to speak and communicate and socialize more, and enjoy more moments,  it would be worth it to sit more often.  I realized even more so how much I truly loved and valued my brain and the thoughts in it and the expression my lips could convey to the world.

What a hell of a way to truly know body love and to appreciate every single day on this planet!  I continuously tweak my “health homework” and made some more health changes at the end of the summer that have helped turn my energy levels around.  Every day has been a gift in more mobility, increased energy, better brain function and creativity. I know healing will be an ongoing process for quite some time but I am overjoyed with the changes and revel in walking a little longer as each month passes. I am so beyond honoured to have been able to present this talk and now know that my desire to get out there and do more talks is possible. Bring. It. On. Thanks so much for taking the time to watch my TEDx talk. Every view means more to me than I could ever convey. And please…

Stop being so hard on yourself.

Love yourself more.

Hug your soul more.

Tell your body it is amazing regularly.

Stare at your body parts in wonder.

Stop stepping on a scale every day.

Don’t worry about what size you are.

Thank your body for its magnificence.

Know that you are ridiculously amazing throughout all time and space.

You are utterly perfect – never forget it.

Liis xo

 

 

 

 

 

Sharing Some Great Meditation Techniques

Meditation has saved me a million times over.  There is no way I would have got through my healing journey without it.  When my brain and body seemed to be operating in another universe, meditation would bring everything back into focus. I would literally sneak meditation in whenever and wherever I could in an attempt to calm my system down – in change rooms, in the car, in bathrooms! With my gluten ataxia, I could literally stumble down the street to the beach, exhausted from the energy it took to make my limbs move, meditate for an hour, and walk home perfectly fine. It was that powerful.

It has become a morning ritual for me – as important as brushing my teeth. I don’t leave home without doing it. Some days it may only be a quiet five minutes, other days it may be much longer.  And visualization is a big part of my world too. I am a firm believer that if we want to build anything, it starts in our minds first.  Also a major part of my healing journey.

I recently had a great chat with Dwight Hurst, the owner and director of Innovate Mental Health Solutions in Utah and the creator and host of The Broken Brain Podcast – an interview series about psychology, mental health, treatment, and all things brain related.  Talking about how meditation helped fix my broken cranium seemed like a great fit!

We explore lots of tips and techniques to try – we are all built differently so perhaps an idea will resonate with you and you might give it a try. As we both agreed, there is no right way to meditate!  The right way is the way that works for you.

Take a listen by clicking below. Thanks Dwight for the great chat and for all you do for brain and mental health!

Happy meditating everyone.

Namaste.