Wednesday, 24 August 2016

F@ck the future.

I often hear people say, "What do you want the future to look like?".

                    Who do you want to be when you grow up?

                                                                       When I win the lottery, I will.....

     When I lose weight....                When I find the man of my dreams....

                                               What are your goals?
What are you going to accomplish?

Goals are all good and I believe they have a place. But we live in a world where only the future seems to matter. There are many books, podcasts, websites and businesses based on convincing people that they can have the future they desire. We are consumed with looking a certain way, driving a certain car, having the perfect house, perfect family, Pinterest wedding, vacations to Hawaii.....the list goes on. So we work towards an ideal for the future without questioning if its right for us. We have to be successful so we work towards a job that we think will gain us the successes we desire in the future. We work on our yard so that someday it will be perfect. "Once I get married and have kids and have the perfect house, I will be happy." We are constantly making plans so that our future will be bright and we will finally have arrived. The problem with this pattern is that it never seems to be enough. We get the hair we want, only to realise its not making us happy so we move on to something better. We get the dream job but can't seem to feel the completion we thought it would bring us. We work so hard for the "perfect body" to find out that having the perfect body is fleeting and not the basis for true satisfaction. We focus so much on the future and having all of the things we desire that we forget about the present. We don't see the beauty in simple things and we don't realise all of the amazing things that we already have available to us.

This past weekend I attended a wedding. Two beautiful women who found each other in this crazy world, standing up to tell the world that they have found their soul mates. It was such a beautiful day. I was filled with so much gratitude for everything from the friendships I had there, the setting, the ceremony, the laughs, to having the love of my life to share it with. Weddings are the perfect setting to be in the moment. The bride and groom (or in this case, the bride and bride) are so wrapped up in their love for each other that nothing else seems to matter. Everyone is so focused on soaking up the love that the couple have to share that little things get pushed aside. The little moments are what matter on that day and they are plentiful. Everything is beautiful and shared. There is a sense of inclusiveness that is found nowhere else. It was an uplifting and beautiful day. I spent the entire day in the moment. I didn't think about tomorrow, I didn't worry about the future, I didn't worry that I wasn't good enough in the world. What a world I would live in if every day was as profound.
I grew up in a house where everyone else's needs were put first. Now that I have been freed, I have given myself permission to put me first, in all aspects of my life. I don't even know what that will look like. Don't get me wrong, I will still care for my family, but I will do it in a way that feels right for me, 100%. As I begin to think about it, I realised that I don't even know what I want to do from here on out. But I do know one thing for sure. Its not about what the future will look like. I want to figure out what my life should feel like. I need to figure out how I want to fill my soul and how I can hang on to that feeling, every day. I need to be present and make choices that reflect how I want to feel, not how it will get me ahead in life. I can't guarantee that this life will bring riches or luxury. I can guarantee that at the end of the day I will be happy with my life, whatever it turns out to be.   

Monday, 4 July 2016

Before and After

I really don't love the idea of before and after photos when working out. It gives too many people that idea of our before picture was a less awesome version of you. All of the things you were before, you still are today. No matter what you weigh, no matter what size you are, you are beautiful. Everything about YOU is 100% awesomely yours. Start appreciating what your body can do. Feel beautiful at any size and any age. Next time your look in the mirror, say "Hey beautiful!".
I have struggled with weight and unhealthy eating habits for most of my life. I walked a hard road and was taught to eat my feelings, literally. I grew up not really knowing how to eat right and exercise. Its taken me much of my adult life to learn these things. I am still learning. I have also learned that its not about winning races, its about doing what you can do. Its not about looking like a fitness model, because you are beautiful too. Its not about "dieting" forever, its about a new lifestyle. I have learned to love myself no matter what and the number on a scale was just that, a number.
I'm not going to lie, I still tend to eat my feelings. And after going through what was probably the worst two years of my life, I had put on weight. I never knew for sure because I never stepped on a scale. At my yearly checkup this past week my doctor got me on that scale. I want to tell you what I weigh, to prove to you that weight doesn't matter. I weigh 212lbs. This bothered me. And I am the first to always tell people that weight doesn't matter. This time it did. I wrestled with it for a few days. Why did this number bother me? I talked it over with some close friends of mine one friend asked me how I felt? I had to let that one sit with me for a bit. I had been working so hard on improving my mental health, that I let me physical health slide. But now that I was really starting to feel better, I was noticing things I did not like. I had a hard time walking up stairs sometimes. I was having more issues with my asthma, and my knee was stating to ache. All of this made me realize that I had been taking advantage of my body and not giving it the proper nutrients it needed. I was filling my plate with high sugar and high fat foods, expecting them not to affect my health. So I made the decision to focus on my health, for the sake of my health, not my ego. I will not exercise like a manic and I will not diet. I am choosing to eat what my body needs and no more than that. I will no longer let my emotions choose the menu. I am actually sad that I will change shape. I love the beautiful curvy body that I have now. But I wan to be able to run with my kids, play basketball and kayak and all of the other things I love. I want to grow old for grandchildren. I want to have energy and I want to feel great, not just ok. So here is me in my before in all its curvy glory. All 212lbs of it. I post this knowing that all the awesomeness I am today, I will still be after.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

I will stand beside you.

When I was growing up I was always told that being gay was disgusting. It was wrong on every level. Men should not kiss other men. Women should not kiss other women. Men should never wear dresses or makeup. It was gross and should not be seen. Public displays of affection were ok, unless you were with the same sex. Then it was publically mocked. I always felt like she was wrong. My instincts told me that it was wrong to hate or mock someone. (This is one of many reasons I no longer have any sort of relationship with my mother.) When I was "experimenting" in college I always felt like I was doing something so wrong....that felt so great. It was then that I realized it didn't matter. Gay, straight, bisexual, whatever. Can we not just be and do what feels good?
I recently spent a week with my sister and her husband to get away from the daily grind. Since it was pride week we attended the city's pride parade. Say what you want about gay people, but what I saw was the most beautiful group of uninhibited people I had ever seen. The same can be said about my gay friends. They are the most genuinely authentic people I know. What I saw at that parade was true. There was no shame. People walked side by side and were beaming with love and light. I felt like I belonged and was accepted. 
When I got home yesterday I foolishly watched the news. I felt almost violated. How in this world today can there be such hate, for what? I want my kids to grow up in a world where they can be who they are, no matter what. I never want my kids to hear what I heard as a child. I never want them to feel alone because of who they are. So what can I do about it? The answer isn't simple and can't be found easily. But I do know that one simple act can be the start of something great. Today, I do the only thing I can do. I am writing this to tell the gay men and women in my life that I accept them. I love them for who they are. And whatever label you have on yourself, know that its not needed. You can be whoever you want to be and I will support you. I will stand beside you.  

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Fit or fat. The new battlefield.

When people say things about someone or describe someone in terms of their weight, I stop them. Especially if it's my son.  "Weight is a non-issue.", is my response. I would love to believe that it's true. This is the only time I will ever lie to him. But how else can I start to change the world?! There are three issues with weight that explain why our love/hate relationship with fat is so prevalent in the world today.
Problem #1, the media. Every day we are bombarded with images of what we should look like. Every magazine is filled with images of thin models and ways that you too can become one. At the end of some magazines there are even listings of the best plastic surgeons. Magazines even tell you how to be sexy, how to look smart, how to do your hair, how to smell.... How are we supposed to figure out who we are if we are told to look like everyone else?  How does this affect us as human beings if we can't look like that, I wonder? It's not only magazines, its the internet, t.v. shows, it's in our culture, our community, stores we shop in, movies, even the damn woman on my new cookbook looks beautiful. There are women who spend their entire lives being fake and spending hours and thousands of dollars on simply looking beautiful. They make whole t.v. shows about it! We are showing little girls that all you need is looks. And if you don't have them, it's ok to spend money altering yourself to gain them. (If you ever let your child watch "Keeping up with the Kardashians" Unfriend me now please.)
Problem #2, the fashion industry. I have been a size 8, a size 16 and everything else in between. Recently I put on weight. I could have cried in the change room when the size 14 didn't fit. I could have started wearing a moomoo. I could have screamed at the lady for the unjust standards in todays clothing industry. But I didn't do any of those things. This time, I simply bought the bigger size, pulled up my big girl panties and moved on. After all, its not your body that makes you look overweight, it's wearing clothes that are two sizes too small. So, with my new outlook I decided to start looking in the plus sized clothing. Which really should be labeled "Normal Person Clothes". I started checking out these websites in secret. After all, I didn't want anyone to know that I was now a "PLUS SIZE" Let me just say, that for one thing, I am really glad they are now using heavy set models for their content. I am however super disappointed in the lack of style and shape in the clothing. It was like they didn't even bother to use darts or fancy seams, or even nice material. This is so very true for most plus size clothing. If you want cool torn jeans with a little embellishment you have to be size 12 or under. Apparently you have to stop being cool when you get fat. 
Should I even talk about bathing suits? I am a firm believer in loving what was given to you! Some are thin, some are tall, some have curves and some have non. Having a little extra to love doesn't mean you get to miss out on the summer. If you want to have a bikini body, put your ass in a bikini! End of story. So the other day I set out for a new bikini. This ties back to that whole thing about "its not your body that makes you look fat, its wearing clothes that are too small" I am all for wearing a bikini, just make sure it fits you right. My current one does not. I went to three stores on the coast. One had only small sizes. They were so cool and cute and colourful, but not in any real woman's sizes. The second one had one bikini in a size XL and it was black and the most boring bikini I had ever seen. The third store told me "You don't really fill that top out." She was right, I have a surprisingly small bust for the amount of curve to my ass.
Problem #3, the lies. We are told time and time again that "You too can be thin like me!" The health and fitness industry is a $78 billion a year global industry. That is a lot of money spent on being fit, yet we still have one of the highest obesity rates ever recorded on a global scale. The biggest lie they tell is that you will drink all the drinks, do the workouts and get thin. And by getting thin you will also now magically love yourself too! This is not true. What they are not telling people is that if you want to be thin or fit, its a commitment for life. They also neglect to tell you that if you don't love your body now, you probably wont love it later. Self love and acceptance come from within. I am not a believer in fad diets and empty promises!
So what is a girl to do? I saw a book today that had written on it: Honour your body by staying fit. Can we not agree that the way we honour our body is as unique as each one of us? We are not all built the same, how can we say we all function the same? For me, all I can do is be real and authentic. I honour my soul and body by doing many things, all which are right for me. Sometimes it's by eating real food, sometimes it's alone time on the beach, sometimes it's a good workout. We need to start teaching our kids that real bodies, all bodies are to be treasured and loved. Take care of yourself by taking care of your soul and your body will follow suit.  
Beautiful just the way you are.....

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Mothers Day

Mothers Day is all about treating your mom like a queen. Appreciating her for all that she has done for you, pampering her, and letting her know how much you love her. But for some, it's not all sunshine and rainbows.

This time of year is always hard for me and I know I am not the only one. Its hard because many people can't understand. Unless you have lived through it you could never know what it feels like to be abused by your mother. The pain can never be explained. It's hard to watch everyone post about how wonderful their mom is and how much they love them, when I am sitting over here wishing this day never existed. My mom, the woman who used to put salt on the top of my hands and beat them with a wooden spoon, gets praise for just being a mom. It hurts even more when I think about all that I am missing out on. I never had a mom that I could talk to. I never had a mom I could trust. My mom would help me out in tough times, sure. But she would hold it against me for all eternity. "Remember that time.... you owe me." So when all my friends are going on about how great their moms are, I am constantly reminded of how mine hurt me time after time. It's so hard to put that aside....

But not all hope is lost. As a mom of two little boys, I forgot to see it from their eyes. It is a constant struggle for me to be a good mom. And who could blame me, I had the worst example to follow. The great thing is, I have amazing examples all around me. It's my friends (also mothers) who are teaching me what it truly means to be a great mom. I am so grateful for the moms who teach me what true love looks like. They teach me that it's ok to let go, it's ok to cry, it's ok to love and its ok to make mistakes. Being a mom is such a hard job, but I know I can rock it because I have all of these great examples to follow. This mothers day I want to celebrate them! And I want to celebrate me and my sister! Despite all of the odds, we have overcome. My sister and I have ended the cycle of abuse! Our kids will never know what its like to grow up in fear. They will never feel the pain of abandonment. They will grow up knowing what a good mom looks like. They will always know love and will always have someone who's got their back. That is what I am celebrating this mothers day. So if you see me (or my sister) give and extra hug this mothers day. Because as much as we try to be strong, this pain will always be there. Happy Mother's Day to all of the truly great moms out there. I salute you.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Anxiety sucks!

Anxiety has been on my radar again.....

                                  I need to talk about it again...........

 I have been having more attacks lately, and I have been trying to keep them a secret. I felt like I didn't want to burden my friends, I felt like I should be "over it", it's embarrassing to be the crying mom who can't keep her shit together, I'm in many reasons. I am going to share my latest one with you, because I can't be the only one.

I was on a school field trip of all places. It was my first time on a school bus after overcoming the trauma of being in a school bus accident as a child. My first time without the use of pharmaceuticals to me get through. I hadn't even put that much thought into it until I walked down the aisle of the bus. Someone said there wasn't enough seats and someone might have to stand. I started to feel it then. The tingle through my body as my brain released chemicals that went coursing through me. I sat down wide eyed. The first ten minutes of the ride I was able to talk myself off the ledge. 'We got this, we are not going to crash, this is ok, you are safe.' It was all ok until the bus started making a couple of big bumpy turns. Turn after turn. My heart started to pound and the world got a little smaller around me. Every happy scream heard as a loud warning. Heard as a screech of  terror. My whole body got sweaty. My ears tingled. My chest got heavy as I struggled for a deep breath. I held back tears and screams. I just wanted to make them stop and I could walk. I wanted off. I felt paralyzed. I smothered every essential oil I had on me and it just made me panic more. It took forever to get there but the bus eventually stopped with one hard lurch forward. As we walked off the bus an eerie release went through my body. It reminded me of the moment I walked off the bus after the accident that changed my life. (almost 20 years ago!) Too many emotions are running through my brain. I need to cry. Oh my god its coming out and there is nothing I can do about it. Hold it together Rachel, there must be a bathroom right around the corner. You cant cry here! What would you even say? Quick, try to think of something funny...

I finally made it to the safety of the bathroom and let every held back tear fly. I ugly cried. Like really ugly. I felt so ashamed. I am damaged goods for sure. I wish I was a normal mom who could handle a field trip without brining baggage and drama. Can I please get over it and stop being like this? I was worried that someone would notice I was crying and I would have had to explain. I washed my face, fixed my hair and tried to pull myself together. And then I started thinking about it. I am sure, or at least I hope, that other moms have had these moments. Not even moms, but everyone. I'm sure that we have all ugly cried in a public washroom at one point in our lives, some maybe more than others, but we have all been there. We have all had these moments of anxiety that we are embarrassed about and don't want people to know about. But that is why we are feeling so alone. So here I am, letting you know that you are not alone and lets talk about it. We can't keep these things to ourselves.

I have also learned that its never really gone. When you go through a traumatic event or were abused as a child, there are always triggers. You can be "over" something and still have that one trigger that sets you off. Know your triggers. For me, I can't go on school busses, I cant ride in anything fast unless it has a 5star safety rating and a seatbelt, I cant let my kids do something on their own without talking to myself and repeating my mantra fifty million times. I cant yell at my kids without my moms abuse haunting me. All I feel is the pain I felt at a small child when I look at them crying. So I guess what I'm trying to say is, its ok to cry and freak out sometimes. Its ok to avoid doing things that are going to trigger you, and its ok to be a hot mess. We are all struggling, we are all beautifully flawed, and we are all going to be ok.

Thank you for listening and thank you for your support. <3

Monday, 14 March 2016

My inner voice is a trainwreck

"The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice."

       I see this quote on facebook all the time. I scoff at it. I ignore it. I hate it. And not because I worry that I may be damaging my child, but because I know it to be true. My mother was very abusive to my sister and I, as children and as adults. Yes, she used to say we could do anything. But then say, "Well, you can't do that." She would often put us down and say, "You're not an artist." or "You don't have what it takes." She would get us excited and believing that we could do something great, then pull it out from under us. She could never celebrate achievements unless they were her own. She made it clear to me that I could never be an elite. Always just out of reach.

       We are all destined for greatness. It is in all of us to achieve, we just need to believe it. I have gone through my whole adult life in the same pattern. I will get excited about an idea, dream big, believe I can do it and go for it. Then I convince myself that I'm not good enough for it. Its ok to give up and be average. Its ok to not be totally awesome, you weren't meant to live that life anyway. Just give up..... you don't have it in you. This pattern is true for business, fitness goals, life. Although I didn't realize until today that it was still my mom talking in my head. It is still what I believe. It is still bringing me down, day after day. She created my inner voice.

       So now what? I know I must move forward knowing that my inner voice is not in fact my own. I need to re-create it. I need to remind myself that I am awesome. I need to be the inner voice I never had. I need to.

     And to all you great mammas out there, you are doing a fine job. Don't let that saying scare you. My mom was all kinds of crazy with a straightjacket cherry on top. Just remember that what you believe to be true, they will too. If you believe you aren't good enough, they might start to believe it too. When we are little we believe we can do anything. Don't let them lose that and you will do just fine.