Welcome, new Yogi

I watch you cautiously enter the studio – a place that at first glance can seem so intimidating, I know. You’re not sure what to expect or if you wore the right thing, or if you’ll even be able to make it through the hour you’ve set aside for you. I can see you are nervous, almost timid.

You’re greeted with warm smiles from the volunteers and instructors gathered hospitably around the front desk, waiting to help you sign up for a class, answer your questions, show you where the facilities and different tempered rooms are. These friendly faces put some of your fears to rest, at least for the moment. You can feel the shift of energy in the air as more students flow into the studio.

I  keep observing you from across the airy, open, sunny front room. I see your shoulders relax down your back slightly, ease entering your eyes and recognition of something almost home-like about this place  flashes in them. We catch each other’s gaze and share a small, but sincere smile.

You wander down the hall into the change room, where I am sure you’re talking yourself into class. Not sure what to expect, not sure if you’ll like it, not sure if it’s for you. Scared of the heat, the poses, the unknown.

I know this feeling all too well. I think every new yogi does.

What I want to tell you is that what you will find in the heated yoga studio upstairs is going to surprise you, maybe even scare you a little.

I want to tell you of the life-altering feeling you are about experience, the wash of emotion, the shift in perspective, the gains in confidence, compassion and strength you will feel.

health and happy

I want to burst at you with stories and antidotes of feeling yourself truly shut your brain off for the first time and the exhilarating calm that comes with that freedom.

I want to tell you, that if you just let it, this practice, those poses, this studio, will change your whole life and lift up your soul in ways you didn’t think were possible.

I want to tell you that it will only take a moment for you to fall so deeply in love with your practice and you’ll know exactly when it happens.

I want to tell you that it is okay to let go, especially here, and sometimes that very act might even come out as laughter or tears in class – and that’s okay.

asana

I want to share with you that the people that live, work and love here will become a second family to you, this studio a second home, if you let it, if you welcome it with open arms.

I want to calm your fears with tales of the incredible lives that have been changed by this bit of magic you’ve found, allowed into your life.

I want to warn you that you are about to challenge your ego, but it will be the best thing you ever do for your soul.

I want to tell you that you’re going to find out things about yourself that you didn’t know existed, had forgotten once were, and feel more you than you ever have in that 60, or 75 minutes of pure bliss.

self acceptance

I want to tell you about the calm in your soul that will come when you become more aware and more present, at first in class, and then soon every area of your life.

I want to tell you that you will feel more in control and out of your mind in the most calming way, at the same time, in that room.

I want to tell you that when you adopt the true practice of yoga in areas of your life outside of the studio will be when you will truly understand what you’ve found.

I want to tell you to breathe your way through class and that you’ll soon realize that it’s necessary to breathe through life in the same way.

breathing

 

I want to tell you so many things about what you’ve started by stepping onto your mat for the very first time.

But I don’t.

Instead I share one more silent smile with you as we both enter the room. I watch you find your place on your mat, sprawl out on the floor, fidgeting a bit as you start to relax. As I settle onto my mat myself, I say a little prayer for your practice and mine today, sending a little love, light and energy your way.

I can’t wait for the journey that lies ahead of you, the breakthroughs and breakdowns, the freedom from what is resting on your shoulders. I am so excited for you and your practice to unfold and the blessings it will so abundantly bring.

Welcome, new Yogi.

~ Toni

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She’s 6

It’s been hard to find the words to express exactly what this year has meant for me and my oldest baby Sophie, the one with the looooooong legs and the fascinating brain and the crazy sense of humour and the incredible compassion for all living creatures, especially her tired, worn-out, crying mama (there’s nothing that brings a girl to her knees like a 5-year old rubbing your back and telling you it’s going to be okay). She’s turning 6 this week and I’m struggling to pinpoint exactly what made this year different from the year before.

Crazy tall kid. For our family, of course (she's still one of the shortest in her class.)

Crazy tall kid. For our family, of course (she’s still one of the shortest in her class.)

She’s in her second year of school, so that’s not new, but how she’s handling herself there is different since she is in the oldest grade (she’s a Senior Kindergartener now) and her teachers tell me she’s all about helping the younger kids, the Junior Kindergarteners, figure out the rules and talking to them when they’re crying for their parents. It’s such an oldest sister thing, such a me thing, to be a mother hen, that my heart at once is so proud and aches that her childhood is slipping away in the service of others. You give a bit of yourself away every time you reach out to someone, and it’s not a bad thing, but the fact that she’s starting so early makes me worry about whether or not she’ll have anything left for her when she gets older. It took me forever to find that balance – I hope her path is full of as much compassion for herself as it is for others.

“Don’t I look so adorable?” Yes, Sophie. Yes, you do.

She’s still a diva, a fashionista in training, who staunchly believes still that ‘flat pants’, or leggings, the pants that sit flat against her legs, are the only ones that make her look beautiful. She’s stunning. There is nothing that girl can’t put on with her hair and her ridiculous blue eyes and her tiny nose that doesn’t look pretty, but you can’t reason with her. Sophie is only pretty when she’s got her flat pants on. And if she can’t wear those, the tears and gnashing of teeth and stream of self-loathing that follows is irrational, heartbreaking and frustrating as all hell. There are only so many times you can say, “You are gorgeous no matter what you wear.” before it turns into you yelling, “You’re wearing the ugly jeans so just get dressed already!”

So pretty. But only in flat pants!

So pretty. But only in flat pants!

She’s trying so damn hard to recognize letters and print like a pro and read a book unaided. She’s not there yet, but this year the Valentine’s took waaay less time to print and the word recognition is coming faster and more furious, and the pages of her printed letters and numbers have littered our house to the point where I toss them out because there are SO MANY. She’s always bringing home a book she’s made, or showing me that she sees her name or wants to know if the random letters she’s printed say anything. She’s trying SO HARD. I can’t wait for the penny to drop for her, not only because things will get read a lot faster, but also the pride she feels in the tiny steps she’s been taking will turn into a full-blown mind explosion of excitement. I can’t wait.

This face times a MILLION when she finally reads in a stream without stopping.

This face times a MILLION when she finally reads in a stream without stopping.

She’s thoughtful. SO thoughtful. And not just in kindness, but in thinking through everything you say and connecting it to other stuff that has been said or that she’s seen. We’ve been watching Full House on Netflix as a family. Sophie is by far the most interested in it. We were listening to the radio the other day and the radio host was talking about how they have guest DJ’s every week. Sophie immediately stopped colouring and looked at me. “Did he just say D.J.? Like Full House?” And thus began a 10-minute conversation about the difference between Full-House DJ and a radio DJ. Tricky stuff.

Such good sisters...except when they're SCREAMING at each other.

Such good sisters…except when they’re SCREAMING at each other.

But again, none of these things are glaringly new or crazy insane. We’ve had a relatively quiet year here with Sophie. She’s gone to school, made new friends, is often at our neighbour’s house to play with another girl her age, and generally we just manage her fashion meltdowns and lippy-ness (her wit and smarts get her into trouble more often than not). And the more I think about it, about the year that was for her and me and us, I kind of feel like I cheated her. I’m so focused on Lillian and the war that we are waging right now and getting her ready for school and I am trying to keep Isaac from killing himself since we’ve firmly landed in the climb-everything-and-conquer-it stage, that I’m really not handling Sophie much at all. Really, the only things that Sophie and I do together are get up, read, get dropped off at school, get picked up from school, and then negotiate our way to dinner and then bedtime. It’s so…removed and hands-off. I don’t worry about her going pee or poop everywhere anymore. Generally when she climbs things it has zero impact (unless it’s a fire hydrant…then a nice, blood-spouting hole appears in her chin). And her temper tantrums are usually dramatic friendship woes (that are normally fabricated by her) or rages against the disgusting pants that flair on the way down and don’t hug her legs.

All grown up. *sob*

All grown up. *sob*

I was told when I had her, 6 years ago, that the time will fly quickly. That one day she won’t need me as much and I’ll miss the time when she does. And in truth, I can’t believe it’s been 6 years. I can’t believe she’ll be 6. But, I’m so busy being needed by Lillian and Isaac that I’ve missed missing her needing me as much. It makes me want to grab her and really relish in her independence and her sauciness and her laughter and her crazy thinking. And it makes me worry that maybe I’ve failed her. Maybe in not being there for her, even if she doesn’t need me, I’m making her feel unloved or like she’s drifting away from us.

Not too old to sit in a foam chair and watch a  movie with her siblings.

Not too old to sit in a foam chair wearing fairy wings to watch a movie with her siblings.

But then yesterday she curled up with me to watch DJ hang out with Kimmy Gibler, and I loved the feel of her weight and warmth and her hand and arm crooked through mine. And today, when we walked across the parking lot of a doctor’s office, she grabbed for my hand without me even asking, just as I was debating whether or not I should ask her since we’ve been walking independently across streets on the way to school now for months.

Wearing new birthday flat pants, shirt and purse. STYLIN'. She says she's "fancy." I can not argue.

Wearing new birthday flat pants, shirt and purse. STYLIN’. She says she’s “fancy.” I can not argue.

And then, just like that, all is right in the world again.

To my eldest, my tallest (for now), my sauciest – happy happy birthday, my love. 🙂 I’m excited to see what this year brings us and how far you’ll go, even if it is further away from me.

Love, Mama

~ Julia

5 Things I learned being a little sister

I have learned that being a little sister is not always the joy ride that most people expect, and that you tend to learn things differently. So, here are my 5 things I have learned from being a little sister.

It is NOT always about you.

Granted, some people are going to tell me differently, and some people when they have their youngest child it really is all about them, but not for me. I have a problem of putting everything and everyone first in my life before my own well-being, and sometimes my own welfare. I am not the little princess of the family, but I do know that as a result of me being born last I was raised a little differently than my older siblings.

You will get blamed for a lot of things.

Growing up sometimes (i.e. not all the time) I would get blamed for the actions of my older siblings, knowing full well that they did the incident. Sometimes I took the blame, but other times I would fight tooth and nail that it was not me! And yes, of course, I got to blame my older siblings sometimes, but 7 out of 10 times they wouldn’t believe me anyways!

I was a horrible younger sister.

I really and truly was a terrible younger sister. I would not listen to my sisters when they were in charge, I would go behind their backs when I didn’t like what they were doing and call mom, I was a huge tattle-tale, and, frankly, I was a huge pain in the butt. I always whined, always cried, and just was not a nice person growing up. I am still learning to be a better little sister, but I know I still have a ways to go before the whiny child side of me is gone for good.

You have built in friends.

I did not have a lot of friends growing up, and spent a lot of my time alone, but I knew when my sisters were home and they were not busy with their big sister homework that I could spend time with them, play, and get into some small amounts of mischief.

You will always have them.

I know that no matter what is going on, if all my friends get mad at me or hate me, that I will still have my three sisters at my back, in my corner, fighting with me and for me when I need them, and when I don’t need them I know that they are my silent cheerleaders for whatever I may be going through.

This sums it up... Love you guys!

This sums it up… Love you guys!

I may not be the best little sister ever, but hey, I am a little sister, so at least I survived the childhood part!

~ Andreah

The adventures of Hendrix and Bacon – Part 1

Hendrix is our 8-year old Yorkie Terrier who was given to me by my future mother-in-law, and Bacon is our 5-year old English Bulldog who was a birthday present for Cody. We brought Bacon home when Hendrix was three years old and his world was turned upside down – not only was he no longer an only dog, but the little brother we brought home was not so little.

Cody and I have always thought that Hendrix had some kind vendetta against Bacon, but we had no real proof. Until one fateful day during a midday nap when I caught Hendrix in the act of sabotage!

I had come home from work (this particular day I was only scheduled to work until 12:30 p.m.), I made myself a delicious sandwich with pickles. This sandwich was quite filling. As I finished the first half my eyes got heavy. I curled up in the corner of our sectional, pulled the blankets up and settled in for an afternoon nap – the kind of nap you dream about while sitting at your desk around 3 p.m….yeah, that kind of nap. My eyes started to shut when I heard the familiar clicking of nails on the floor.

Through the slits of my eyes, I watched as Hendrix jumped up on the coffee table.

He thought I was sleeping…

He cautiously maneuvered around the spare change and my earrings that I took off before I retreated to plush oasis, and made his way towards the plate with the remains of my lunch.

I have decided at this point to watch him – I know that if Cody were to walk in, Hendrix would quickly retreat under our bed, hiding until his indiscretion had been forgotten.

Hendrix quietly grabbed the leftover sandwich and proceeded to place it on the corner of the coffee table. Then, he licked his lips and waited. Waited for his victim to come and see what he is doing. Curiosity will be the demise of Bacon.

As Bacon came around the corner, he immediately spotted the sandwich within his reach and trotted over to it. With one swift move, Bacon’s clumsy head is on the coffee table as his mouth grabs towards the delicious treat, knocking around the plate. Hendrix sat back, watching Bacon as eats it and looking over to see if I have woken up from the clanging of the plate. I did not move for fear of ruining the amazing events that were unfolding in front of me! Hendrix’s plan had been foiled! Drat!

As Bacon licked his lips in pleasure, Hendrix was already devising another plan to inevitably bring down Bacon.

Pinky and the Brain

~ Jacqui

The girl with bad skin

I have started, stopped and erased the beginnings of this post about 5000 times and I still am not sure I want to write it.

You see, no one wants to admit to or highlight their flaws, especially ones that have been dealt with and endured for years by being masked as best they could be so the whole world wouldn’t notice. But I figured, there just might be someone else out there that needed to hear this, needed to relate, needed to not feel so alone, so here it is.

Up until about four months ago, you could not have paid me any amount of money to leave the house without applying a skillfully placed mask of makeup to cover up the skin on my face. You could not pay me to wash my makeup off when just relaxing at home for fear of my fiance not finding me attractive. You could not pay me to not wear makeup when working out, even though I knew how silly it made me look. You could not pay me to go on an early morning road trip without wearing makeup or go to the beach without making sure my skin was perfectly covered up, making me more high-maintenance than I ever wanted to be.

You could not have paid me, because I had severe adult acne and I HATED the way my face looked and felt.

While I always thought I had ‘bad skin’ because of the joys of puberty and chose to wear makeup from grade 8 on, I had no idea what bad skin was until I turned 26 and all hell broke loose. What used to be one or two blemishes, turned into cheek-fulls, a jawline packed and temples covered. My face was consistently swollen, red, and in so much pain. I wore my hair down 99% of the time so I would be able to somewhat shield my skin from onlookers’ eyes as no matter how much makeup I put on, the texture and surface of my skin was still a mess and I was convinced it was all people could see when they looked at me. I carried myself differently, almost always with my head down so others could not see on first glance what my face looked like. I felt like I was known as the girl with bad skin.

On top of how it made me feel about myself, I hated how it made Michael feel when he would forget and grab my face to kiss me and have me pull away with tears in my eyes from the pain.

It didn’t matter what I did, what latest, greatest product I used that promised to heal me, no matter how much money I wasted trying to figure out how to find balance in my skin, nothing worked. I had used every product imaginable, been poked, prodded and burned by micro-needling and laser therapy that was supposed to be a miracle treatment (it wasn’t… far, far from it!), fiddled with many natural remedies and sat in my dermatologist’s office more times than he or I care to admit, bawling my eyes out about my skin and how it was affecting my life, my confidence, and even my desire to plan our destination wedding. The very thought of being on a beach with my family and friends and having to get up early every day to cover up my face so no one would see the mess of my skin was giving me anxiety. I wanted to be carefree, relaxed and completely easy going that week, not worried about how my makeup was holding up so no one would see my real face.

Jacqui and I at the Jays game last summer... even with makeup and a filter you can see it.

Jacqui and I at the Jays game last summer… even with makeup and a filter you can see it.

I had had enough. I was 28 years old and should have been long grown out of this stage in my life. I thought crazy things about why it wouldn’t go away, like it was my karma showing on my skin for something I’d done in the past, or that it was my body punishing me for choosing not to have children. Crazy, crazy things!

This past October, I again found myself in my dermatologist’s office, in tears, desperate to fix it. He tried, unsuccessfully, to convince me it wasn’t that bad, at the very least not the worst he had seen and asked why I was so upset. I responded, “You clearly have never had acne in your life, nor do you really understand how much pain I am in, how much my skin hurts, stings and throbs all day.” His sheepish expression told me that he hadn’t really been putting himself in my shoes, and that he definitely hadn’t ever experienced any sort of skin problem before. He reminded me about the option of Accutane, but not until the spring due to some of the more dangerous side effects that can be magnified in the winter months. I had always been dead-set against going on such a controversial treatment, but I was desperate. Devastated that Accutane was the only available option left, I told him I would try it. To carry me through until Spring, he prescribed me a topical treatment that shared some of the same properties as Accutane and suggested I look again at some other areas of my life that could be contributing to my flare ups.

Shortly after that visit I lost my job which reduced the stress level in my life significantly and meant I didn’t HAVE to put makeup on everyday. I made the decision with Michael to go back on the pill to see if the hormone regulation would help. On top of that, I cut most dairy from my diet, increased my daily water intake, started sweating without makeup on at Moksha and religiously used the prescribed topical treatment day and night. I stopped picking and poking my skin and let it be as often as I could.

Slowly, but surely I started seeing fewer new blemishes and the old wounds healing, and every day noticing a bit more skin that resembled a face I could love and less of a face like Freddy Kruger’s. I was so happy that I wouldn’t have to take Accutane!

I don’t know what specifically, or what combination of steps taken was the key, but present day, my skin is the healthiest it has ever been. So healthy in fact that I rarely even have to think twice before I leave the house fresh-faced and makeup free, something I had only ever dreamed of being able to do. So healthy that people who have not seen me for months can’t get over how great my skin looks. So healthy that if I told you I used to have a face FULL of acne only a few months ago, you would not believe me.

I wear my hair pulled back in braids or a bun all the time now, walk with my head held high and my face proudly on display for anyone to see. Don’t tell Mike, but I even got hit on at the grocery store the other day, makeup free, something I never thought in a MILLION years would happen.

No makeup selfie for the first time EVER.

No makeup selfie for the first time EVER.

But my favourite thing about my new, healthier skin?

Michael touches my face all of the time now – to kiss, to caress, just to love – and it makes my heart so happy it could burst.

It’s made me realize even more that the people that love me, for me, are not fooled by the misconceptions I have about myself and can look past my flaws even when I’m unable to separate myself from them. I’ve also been reminded that you should never give up on being an advocate for yourself. If I had not pushed back with my dermatologist just one more time, I highly doubt my skin would be where it is right now.

My skin is not perfect, nor will it ever be. But for now, I’m enjoying my new found freedom and confidence in this skin I’m growing into, and learning to love it regardless of its problems and issues… kind of like me.

~ Toni

The long run

Today is the Boston Marathon. It is the oldest marathon and is watched in person by 500,000, run by 30,000, and followed by countless runners, runner-wannabes, and armchair warriors. It’s also the place where horror occurred, killing three people and injuring 264 in 2013.

It is an elite event that you have to qualify for (you can’t just register online and make magic happen). It is on many a-runner’s bucket list. And as my Twitter feed and Facebook timeline fill up with fellow bloggers who are making the trek to actually RUN IN THE RACE, I can’t help but feel nervous for them. A lot nervous for them. My stomach hurts.

And this year, instead of being the runner who can’t even fathom the kind of preparation or stress or effort it requires to train for a marathon, let alone BOSTON, I have a solid understanding of what it takes because I’m DOING IT.

No, not Boston (wouldn’t that be nuts?!). And no, not a marathon (did you know it’s 26.2 miles? That’s 42 kilometers, people!!). But a half-marathon. A full 13.1 miles. A full 21 kilometers. I am going to run one. In two weeks.

Isn’t that nuts?

Yes, yes it is.

It’s an idea that I’ve toyed with in the past. Waaaaaaay back in 2010. I was a new mom to Sophie, I was working, and I remembered, in my foggy-no-sleep-mom-brain that I had loved running once upon a time ago. So I challenged Ben (because I’m crazy that way) to a marathon! Let’s run a marathon TOGETHER. We made up a training schedule and we got excited. Sitting in our house. And then we got worried because the number of weeks from now until the marathon we picked weren’t so many…and the number of times we had run in the past weeks were none. And those two things together made us re-evaluate. We would do a half-marathon together! Shorter training time, shorter distance (by HALF), totally doable. It was done. We were running a half-marathon! And we were still sitting in our house!

We went on some training runs separately (remember that baby that we had?). We skipped some training runs together (remember that baby that we had?). And then I got pregnant. And I had spotting. And I was scared. So I stopped running.

Ben kept going though, and he finished the half-marathon as planned, as Sophie, Ben’s mom Dianne and I ran our own marathon, trying to find Ben on the course and driving around to cheer him on.

The awesome, incredible, finisher. Time? 2:45.

The awesome, incredible finisher. Time? 2:45.

Ben is now officially a footie man and only runs medicinally (when and only when he has to). And I am officially a runner, at heart AND practice (it’s not all talk anymore!). And I’ve decided to run a half-marathon. This time Ben will be the one cheering me on while I run my butt off.

Thankfully, I am not alone in this crazy scheme. I’ve managed to brainwash convince two other school moms, Bethany and Andrea, and Toni to do it with me. And thank goodness for that, because you actually have to TRAIN for a run like this. You can’t just ‘do it’, unless you’re Barney Stinson, but even then karma will balance everything out.

You need to have a plan that lasts for weeks. The one we picked was a 9-week map of how to get to the half-marathon without breaking our legs and dying of exhaustion. Which means, of course, that we started running in January to get ready to start really training in March. And if you haven’t done the math yet, that means runs in -20 degrees C weather…and running in the snow…and running over ice…and jumping snowbanks and skating down hills and landing in slush puddles, all to achieve the illusive stamina to get us to the finish line.

You need to eat right, and when you’re a parent, that sometimes feels like you’re asking to lasso the moon while standing on your head and trying to get your insane child to EAT BREAKFAST ALREADY. It’s near impossible some days. But if you have awesome training partners, there are more Pinterest-hunters, more bakers, more people willing to go the distance to find and make the perfect energy ball to take with you on a run or the perfect post-run smoothie recipe, or the best chocolate dessert to celebrate.

You need to stay motivated and there’s nothing like a frigid wake-up call at 4:45 a.m. so you can go run in the near extreme-cold-weather-alert temperatures, all bundled up and wondering what the hell is wrong with you. Or the long runs at night because you’ve run out of time in the morning to complete them and you find yourself putting your babies to bed and then getting suited up to go run for a couple of hours. For fun. Buddies make these moments easier to swallow and harder to cancel.

Seriously.

Seriously.

You need to do things you’d never in your wildest dreams even entertain in your mind as a possibility. And I’m not just talking about running for an unnaturally long time. I’m talking about other things. Like peeing behind a tree (Toni) or in a field (Andrea) or by a swamp (Bethany). Or pooping near a field (me…yep, Andrea, I am confessing – I pooped before our speed intervals last week…because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to finish the run OR I would have had a huge accident…so, I did it. I pooped. And I had enough tissue in my pocket to wipe well. And I went back and picked it up and threw it away after we got home from the run. And GOOD GOD who would have thought we’d be HERE?!). Because when you’re out running, you have choices. But they’re not easy choices, like walk a few steps and go pee, then come back. Or skip home to poop and then do speed work. They’re gross choices, like I’m a billion kilometers from home, so either it happens now, or I make a mess.

True story.

True story.

And when you get to the end of your training, like we have, you have to complete these insanely long runs that make you question your sanity the entire way. Like this past weekend – we had to do our longest run ever (as in, ever completed by any of us EVER, not just in training), and the longest run we will finish before the BIG ONE, the half-marathon. Saturday morning, Bethany, Andrea and I (Toni was sick with a crappy chest cold) tackled a 17 km run that took us out of our city, through a neighbouring village, and back again in around 2 hours and 42 minutes.

Sunrise near the top of the second giant hill of our run.

Sunrise near the top of the second giant hill of our run.

It was crazy.

It's hard to feel defeated when you're running past scenes like this...and they're REAL.

It’s hard to feel defeated when you’re running past scenes like this…and they’re REAL.

It was awesome.

This is what my long runs look like...Bethany waaaaaay up ahead, Andrea waaaay up ahead, and me waaaaaaaaay behind. I'm slow, but steady. I'll get there, but I'm not winning any land-speed records.

This is what my long runs look like…Bethany waaaaaay up ahead, Andrea waaaay up ahead, and me waaaaaaaaay behind. I’m slow, but steady. I’ll get there, but I’m not winning any land-speed records.

And finishing was all the sweeter because we got to share it and finish it together.

These beautiful ladies totally waited at the top of the last hill so that we could all finish together. They're running soul mates and I'm so glad I found them.

These beautiful ladies totally waited at the top of the last hill so that we could all finish together. They’re running soul mates and I’m so glad I found them.

I’m so nervous for the runners in Boston. I hope they run the race of their lives, whatever that means for them (winning or finishing or achieving a PR).

And I’m so scared I won’t be able to complete the race in two weeks (I’m a professional worrier, remember?). But I do know this one thing: I’ll have my running buddies with me and we’ll do it together.

~ Julia

Find the balance

I can’t find it.

And by that I mean my balance. I can’t seem to be able to juggle everything that my life is holding right now, from friends, to family, from work to Joe. I am in a constant state of flux and it is driving me crazy!

If only I was this talented.

If only I was this talented.

I should be better at this! I know I am giving myself no time whatsoever to go from no job to full blown job, from having friends who I would go see to friends I live with, but for the life of me I cannot seem to get my footing!

I know this isn’t an upbeat blog, but right now all I have in my brain is the fact that I am fighting tooth and nail to make sure I can get everything I need done and sorted and I am losing a war with myself right now.

I am trying so hard that I end up getting worse at the balancing act.

But then again, think about where I have come from recently. We moved from Peterborough and left behind a life that me and Joe had built because we couldn’t sustain everything that we needed for a basic life, to our mom’s house where we then picked ourselves up further to live with our friends, and although I love it, and am happy…moving 2 times in 6 months? It’s a little much.

I just want to find a moment where I can have a little breathing room, just to relax and be able to say okay, I can have this break and then I can keep going, even for a day would be nice. However, that is not how life works, and no matter how hard I try to make sure I have the balance, I feel like I am losing.

I know that everyone goes through times like this in which the balance is not there, and it becomes harder and harder.

In the end though I know it will be okay. Because if it’s not okay, it’s not even close to being over.

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~ Andreah

Five thoughts every yogi has…but may not admit!

If you are one of our regular readers, then you know that Toni has recently found her love of yoga. On her journey she has brought me and our other sisters along for the journey, and I thank her for it. Yoga is a practice I enjoy, and wish I could go to more often, however due to life, the wedding and general laziness I have missed almost two months of reconnecting with myself during these sweaty sessions.

This weekend Cody and I, along with our wedding party, will be holding our buck and doe, and as I sit here thinking of the week to come and carefully planning out my life, I have decided that I will attend karma class this Friday in order to reconnect with myself and give myself a break from general wedding insanity for an hour before this weekend’s festivities!

I am a check-list queen, so with this decision of going to karma class my mind starts to go into overdrive, and once again I send myself into a tizzy thinking of all the things I need to accomplish before Friday. Turning off your mind and focusing on your breathing is the hardest part for me about yoga – turning off the list-making, double-checking, shit-I-forgot-that-and-that brain function is HARD WORK!

During a regular yoga practice the following five thoughts regularly occur for me:

1. Must remember to _____ after class.

Fill in the blank for yourself, you name it I’ve thought it! Pick up coffee, get yogurt, call Cody and confirm that thing that I was suppose to confirm with him yesterday but didn’t. Call my mom, call my grandma. List list list list list, to do, to do, to do. I CAN’T STOP!!! Make it stop!

2. Don’t fart…don’t fart!!!!!!

There is one position where you lie on your back, curl your knees to your stomach and literally massage your colon. The instructor will even explain to you that this stretch is perfect for your lower intestine and your digestion. What I think every time I get into this position is, “I am going to fart and it’s so damn quiet in here, everyone is gonna know it was me, and then I am going to laugh, and not just like a little giggle, but a full blown laugh where you are laughing because it’s awkward, and you then realize you are laughing because you are uncomfortable so you laugh because you are not supposed to laugh and then it just keeps going!”, so instead, I just clench my butt and hope and pray that I do not fart. Or should I try to slowly let it out, and hope that it’s quiet…nope…it’s gonna be loud…hold it in, hold it in!!!!! This is one of the main reasons I choose a spot in the back corner of the room, so if I do fart, I can hide.

3. I should have shaved my ________! 

Now for this one, it’s usually my armpits as karma is hot yoga, so you never wear long sleeves and if you do then you are either straight up CRAZY or you are trying to drop in a weight class before your wrestling meet tomorrow. Now again in a yoga practice you are supposed to be focused on you, how you are stretching, your breathing, what is comfortable for you, but I am a Portuguese woman whose father blessed her with all the hair in the world. I can bet you 1 million dollars that my armpits close to waxing day would distract even the most seasoned yoga veteran. As I raise my arms in the air to get into that final position of a pose, and you out of the corner of your eye see the long luscious locks I can grow from under my arms, well it’s enough to throw anyone off their game!

4. Don’t fall! DO NOT FALL! 

The karma class on Fridays at our local Moksha Yoga studio has a capacity of about 40 to 45 and it is ALWAYS PACKED!!! So when you are bending and stretching and trying to contort your body the way that the instructor is guiding you, there is always one position which leaves you on one leg! These are usually to promote balance, but I think its just the instructor trying to play human dominoes. One of these days, I am going to fall over and knock the next person down beside me. Until this happens, know that when I am on one foot I am not breathing in and out and focusing on my breath, but rather chanting “Don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall!!!”

5. I can not believe this much sweat can come out of one person! 

Honestly, it’s shocking! The amount of moisture that comes out of one’s body during a super sweaty bendy class is disturbing. And surprisingly, it doesn’t smell as bad as you would think (THANK GOD FOR DEODORANT). When I go home, I can wring out my clothes and, if I wanted to, I could make a pretty penny selling Eau Du Jacqui (trust me, I cringed as well as I wrote that; it won’t happen, I promise…ew). And to be honest, Toni sweats WAY MORE than I do! I think it may be a hormonal imbalance, but the jury is still out on that one!

If you have the pleasure of being beside me in our next yoga class, please know that all of these things are true, you lucky devil you! 😉

~ Jacqui

It’s all a bunch of labels

Labels are a funny thing.

The ones we give ourselves, the ones we’re branded with, with or without knowing, the ones we hear in our minds day in, day out, the ones we’re taught, the ones we assume, the ones we accuse.

Labels of love and understanding, labels of hurt, fear or hate.

I have to wonder how many of us walk through this life as someone we don’t really like, or that doesn’t feel genuine because of what we have been told to be throughout our growing periods. Because of what we have seen, been shaped to know, raised to understand.

How many of us would shed certain parts of ourselves if we could, in a heartbeat, because we didn’t know any better that there was a choice, an option to change it, to accept or reject them?

29 has been an interesting year so far – only a few months in and already bursting with change, possibility, excitement and challenge.

I almost expected this year to play out like this; after all, ‘they’ do say that after great heartache and turmoil comes great change and growth. The trick is staying open to the lesson, and not falling into the role of eternal-victim.

I think know my great teacher so far has been the absolute battering of my ego.

ego

Taking the very picture of myself, who I thought I was because of who I thought I ought to be at this point, and watching it disappear into thin air, with really only the important, core-stuff, staying, sticking it out and still showing up in the end. You know, the stuff about yourself that you would think about when your mom used to tell you to, “remember who you are” as you left the house with what she could only assume were extreme hooligans – that’s the important stuff that stays.

It was horrible.

It was AWESOME.

It takes a certain pit-fall up-shits-creek type of life altering situation to really get yourself to take a deep, LOOONG look at yourself and come up with the truth.

And then sit with it.

And sit some more.

And then see some things you like…and some you’d rather not have to admit to, that you really, honestly, deep down, cannot STAND about yourself.

That’s when the magic happens.

love

I sat with my ‘stuff’ for a while before I figured out that I was the only person who created this very unflattering mess in my hands, and, therefore, I was the only one who could change it, or at least attempt to improve it. And not another soul in the world could have helped me get there.

So, then there you are, with this pile of ‘stuff’ in your hands that you get to decide what to keep and what to get to work on, and you realize then:

It’s all a bunch of labels.

A bunch of labels that you’re so used to that you’ve forgotten to make sure you like them all, that you’re all right with them all, and if you would like to continue along this path of life with them all.

For me there were a few labels others had given me that I knew to the core of myself were not truly me. These labels were the easiest to deal with. These labels lost their power when I looked at the people that had branded me with them and considered the source, and if their opinions of me truly mattered at the end of the day. When I asked myself that question, the answer always came back absolutely not and those labels came off.

Then there were the labels about myself that I had some pride in before, and was having a hard time watching be worn off with time, with change. Eventually when I started to realize I have needed a LOT of what I didn’t ask for, I saw that my pride in them were only bolstering my ego (the cause of this whole debacle in the first place, really), which was hindering the growth of my soul. I had to let these labels go and be okay with what I was left with underneath.

Then there were the labels that were true, but that I did not like. Certain things about who I had become didn’t sit right with me, certain aspects of my personality and demeanor I knew were hindering my growth, but that I had clung to – like anger – as a security blanket, a thick skin appearance. These labels are still a work in progress, probably always will be. The hardest part I am finding about these ones is feeling and living the growth so much that others start to see it in you too, so they know you are not the same version of yourself that you might have been in the past.

And then there are the labels I love.

I call them the important stuff. The stuff that at the end of the day is what counts. I loved most of my important stuff.

This love, however, is not in the sense of traditional love, faltering or weakening during hardship or struggle. This love is a deep-soul kind of love, filled with acceptance and understanding. You see, some of the labels I love about myself may not appeal to the masses or anyone else in my life at all, for that matter. The important stuff counts because it’s the stuff about yourself that even if it makes you less popular with more people, you don’t care because it is what make you, authentically YOU. I see these things about myself that I know grind people’s edges, and make them uncomfortable, and maybe even cause them to misunderstand me, but because I love these labels, I do not care. They are the things that make my soul sing, my heart swell with joy and my mind be quietly at peace. I am okay with them, even if no one else is and that is a little slice of freedom I’ll take any day.

~ Toni

Help wanted

Dear readers, fellow parents, and strong-willed-children-turned-upstanding-citizens,

I need HELP. I need massive amounts of advice and ideas and guidance. And I need some reassurances.

Lillian has turned FOUR and I thought that meant her reign of TERROR and INSANITY and TORTURE TACTICS were over. But, I was wrong.

I love that she LOVES Spider-Man...I don't love how she tries to shoot me with webs when I ask her to put on pants.

I love that she LOVES Spider-Man…I don’t love how she tries to shoot me with webs when I ask her to put on pants.

She’s still a force to be reckoned with. She’s still a whirlwind of demand and stubbornness. She still won’t do whatever it is you want her to unless SHE wants to, and even then, she probably won’t because it wasn’t her idea.

It’s enough to make me weep with impatience and exhaustion and I-wanna-quit.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE HER FIERCELY. I DO.

I especially love her like this...

I especially love her like this…

But, I feel like all of our interactions of late have been a battle of wits and a war of wills, that every time I open my mouth to ask her to put her shoes on so we can go to her school, or go pee so we can go play, or get her coat on so we can go fetch her sister, I’m met with this horrible noise and a temper tantrum for the ages and a lava-filled “I don’t want to!”

I’m getting close to breaking. And I’m afraid I will break her spirit and her happiness and some days, SOME DAYS, I feel like I might physically lose it and break her and me and our family.

It’s awful. And scary.

So, I’m posing this question to you, dear readers, what would you suggest? How would you handle a ball of fury that will be awesome in the future, that will lead to a crazy incredible adult human being, but right now is slowly killing my will to be a stay-at-home-parent? How would you discipline? How would you negotiate without actually losing ground? How do you compromise without giving in?

She is one of Isaac's favourite people...mostly because she's INSANE and he thinks it's AWESOME.

She is one of Isaac’s favourite people…mostly because she’s INSANE and he thinks it’s AWESOME.

If you have any ideas at all, I’m all ears.

Because I love my baby, my troubled middle child, the one who tests me and pushes me and ultimately wows me every single day.

But I’m afraid for us, for our future, for our path. I want her to grow up as strong as she is, but kind and able to navigate this tricky world of ours. I want her to thrive and succeed and become the best she can become without being hindered by a childhood laced with anger and yelling and being in constant trouble. And I want us to still love each other when we both grow up…and not the obligatory love you hand out to the relatives you have to see and hug and chat with on the big holidays.

I adore that Sophie and Lillian are sisters...and I pray that they can have that sister bond the Sisterhood is blessed with.

I adore that Sophie and Lillian are sisters…and I pray that they can have that sister bond the Sisterhood is blessed with.

When (if) she has babies, I want to love on her and them. I want to be part of their lives. When she wins all the awards, I want to be in the front row or at the front table, leading the standing ovation, embarrassing her with my display of love, not making her resentful because it’s for show. And when she falls, as every person in the world does, I want to at least be considered on her list of people to call to help her stand back up again and make sure she knows she’s worth standing back up for.

She's growing up so fast...I don't want to ruin any of it.

She’s growing up so fast…I don’t want to ruin any of it.

I want all the things. How do I get them?

~ Julia