Uphill mantras

Confession: I’m struggling lately.

Struggling to find and keep balance.

Struggling to be happy for no reason.

Struggling to maintain my peace.

Struggling to stay fulfilled.

A sometimes seemingly uphill battle that I just can’t win – the constant pull of my attention in too many directions with just not enough actual time provided in the 24 hours ahead of me. Sometimes the struggle is so real that my heart starts to race, my temperature spikes and I feel like I may not catch my breath as I think about the ‘To Dos’ that keep mounting, the increasing number of people I feel like I am letting down and all of the things I am forgetting or not getting to.

I find myself easily flustered, easily riled up and too quick to stress.

After noticing this behaviour in me, and being bothered by it, I had to wonder: what am I not doing that I normally would to de-stress and gain my balance?

It seems to me that forgetting my mother’s signature parting sentiment of “remember who you are” would be a good place to begin. I keep forgetting that I have faced adversity before and I have come out the other side fairly well equipped with a couple new lessons and the bragging rights that I have survived 100% of the not so desirable situations I have faced.

Mufasa stole it from mama for sure...

Mufasa stole it from mama for sure…

I may have changed in some way or another, but the survival record is the thing to note.

The difference in how easy these situations are to face however, is in the active belief that I ultimately have nothing to worry about, as God has got me and more importantly, God has got this. The worry wouldn’t be as pressing if I remembered this when feeling myself ready to boil over. If I know one thing, it is that all I can do is my very best, whatever the situation may be, and if that is not enough, then it is out of my control. Accepting that is half the battle.

I recognize that taking time for me has taken a bit of a back burner to almost everything else going on right now – cardinal rule of survival, broken. How can you take care of other people if you aren’t taking care of yourself? I don’t mean this in the fact that my hair could use a trim, my piglets a pedicure and my aching back a nice, relaxing massage.

Finally sneaking in some time for me this past Saturday morning.

Finally sneaking in some time for me this past Saturday morning.

I mean I have not actively taken time to go for my runs, or take in a hike, or workout with my sisters or girlfriends. It burns me because I KNOW the ability to handle stress improves with an increase in endorphins on the regular. I know this firsthand as the benefits of exercise having carried me through some pretty intense and high pressure times in the past few years. Stupidly, it has been one of the first things I have cut out of my schedule. Even worse is I tell people this is a key to overall health and increased energy all the time – so hypocritical! (Side note to my #TLT ladies – seriously, let’s get back to it on the regular!) I also am missing out on my quality time boosting my energy alone, where it’s more than just a workout and it is often to work something out with the pace of my feet, rhythm of my breathing, and beat of my music as the only things I consciously have to focus on.

The key kicker from my careful analysis to my inability to keep perspective in this chaos has to be my failure of a diet.

While I wish I just meant what types of foods I have been eating, I also have been inconsistent in timing between meals, failing my daily goal for water intake, drinking entirely too much coffee, forgetting that I need to eat breakfast, eating far too close to bedtime…breaking all of the rules really. When my diet is off, my energy is lacking, my sleep pattern is impacted and I find stress unmanageable.

I have to remember that saying “no” is always acceptable and sometimes absolutely necessary, that this present day challenge will not matter in 5 years from now in the grand scheme of things, that all relationships have ebbs, flows and are most importantly fluid, and that there is always room for improvement in every situation, but it has to come in small steps.

It usually never will...

It usually never will…

I’m hoping this post serves as a public, virtual way of giving my head a shake and getting myself back to my centre. It really is almost worse once you know better to revert back to old habits and old patterns.

Here’s to moving on up this hill a little further and attempting to tackle it with a little more balance.

~ Toni

And a very merry Thanksgiving to you!

Thanksgiving in our household is something of a haze. To be honest, I don’t remember a really good Thanksgiving that sparked the love I have for this season when I was younger. I do remember the delicious food…

Scratch that. There was one where the sisters and I were falling apart in every sense of the phrase – mentally, physically, emotionally – and trying to pick each other back up. Where Toni had more than her share of vino at dinner, and our family let go, laughed, cried, played games and grew into us.

That’s what sparked my love of Thanksgiving.

This sums up the infamous Thanksgiving!

This year there is SO MUCH I have to be thankful for.

It’s been the year of love. Not only did my soul sister Ashely and her handsome hubby welcome the most precious miracle into the world,

Baby

Baby Emma Grace

But my other, long-time, ride-to-die love and bestie since high school, Kim, said “I do” to the most amazing, warm-hearted man, Greg.

Thanksgiving for me has always been a reminder of the little things we take for granted. It is really easy in our everyday hustle and bustle to get lost in the stress, the annoyances, and lose sight of the big picture. For me, Thanksgiving is a time to remember the silver lining. To take those annoyances and find a reason to be thankful for them. For my Thanksgiving post, I tried to see some of my daily stresses as daily blessings, to be thankful for everything.

I am thankful for the bills I pay every month. These bills mean I have a job so that I can pay those bills. These bills also mean I have a roof, at times leaky, but still a roof over my head that shelters me. A home that Cody and I have built and will continue to build. Through harsh winters, stupid springs and much much more.

Paying bills with pizzazz!

The savings account that I have built up over the years is dwindling because of this year’s upcoming nuptials. This means I am going to marry one of the sweetest men I have ever met, a man that has more strength and determination than most.  I’ll save the rest for my speech. 😉

I just had to! HA!

The increase in hourly work weeks, more time sending emails and less time lazing on the couch or spending time with friends and family means I am in a field that is growing and thriving. That I have the ability to put in extra hours and have the opportunity to build up an amazing company. I have a job – period!  I am able to contribute to our household more now than I ever have before. Being able to help Cody with the day-to-day means more to me than anything.

Cody and my busy weekend schedules mean we have some of the most amazing friends that are there to support and pick us up when we are at our worst and celebrate when we are at our best.

If we were sitting around a table, this is the time where I would lift my glass and propose a toast to all the silver linings! Try and look at the tough stuff this Thanksgiving weekend and make it into a positive, find your silver linings exercise.

Happy Thanksgiving!

~ Jacqui

Society, you’re a crazy breed

I apologize now.

I need to rant.

This past weekend, I helped a few of my fellow human beings, stuck in situations that could easily ruin anyone’s day. While strangers to me, these people were still people and helping them in their situations did not feel like a heroic task by any means. Remember, kindness is free.

A little kindness goes a long way

A little kindness goes a long way

Early Friday morning, I stopped at the gas station in my neighbourhood to fill up my truck and put air in the tires of my bike as I was headed off to ride the trails with my girlfriend, Chantelle.

Roughly taking about 10 minutes to fill my tank, I noticed an older woman standing beside her vehicle at the air pump, next to a few pieces of luggage, her face wrought with worry. Upon further analysis of the situation, I noticed a man with his arms struggling with the spare tire near the undercarriage of the vehicle. After filling my tank and paying for my fuel, I pulled up beside them, jumped out of my truck and did what I thought any of the other 10-15 people that had been in and out of the station would have. I asked them if they needed some help.

I will forever have a hard time forgetting the thankfulness and relief on that woman’s face. Helping her brother release the stuck spare, he looked at me sheepishly and admitted that he had never changed a tire before. Luckily, I had.

I easily showed him how to adjust his jack and remove the lug nuts, but when it came time to remove the tire, it wouldn’t budge and I didn’t want to shake the SUV off the jack. I looked around for some assistance and noticed two men sitting in their work truck, watching me. They had been fueling their truck at the same time as I had and sat their watching me wrestling with this stubborn flat. Annoyed, I smiled shortly and waved them over to help. Quickly realizing how ridiculous they looked, they came over and helped me complete the tire change.

While they finished up I got to talking with Maria – we found some common ground in nationality, she apologized profusely for the chips in my day-old manicure, thanked me repeatedly and chatted about their situation and her brother’s four hour journey ahead. And then she broke my heart as she confessed she had tried to get a few people’s attention before I came over and gripped me in a thankful hug.

What happened to our society? Are we really too busy and too important to notice a fellow human in distress, requiring a simple helping hand? It hurts my heart that my actions were the exception and not the standard.

I carried on with my day’s planned activities – tackling 24kms of trail with Chantelle, running errands in the afternoon, Maria’s thankfulness never far from my thoughts and the worry for our world weighing on my heart.

The following morning, after a pretty ridiculous and amazing morning spent in a sun rise hike of laughter with three of my favourite ladies (which I will share with you next week!) I drove my mister to work as my truck was in service for the day and I needed his wheels. On my trek home I took notice of a 90’s Saturn sedan on the side of the 401, four ways flashing, no driver to be seen. She appeared in the horizon about up 5 km further down the highway and all I could think was, that’s a long way to walk on the side of the highway any day, let alone a busy mid-morning on a Saturday.

I weighed the risks, slowed my speed, put on my four-ways, ensured I was safely pulled over, and waited as the kind-faced woman approached the window. She kept her distance at first, as she explained she had ran out of gas and was unable to use her CAA membership because the card was in her husbands name and he wasn’t with her. I asked her if she wanted a ride. Again, my desire to help taking her by surprise, she introduced herself as Kathy and climbed in the passenger seat.

She thanked me after we reached the gas station, assuming our interaction over and gathered her purse. I quickly corrected her, offering to wait and drive her back to make sure her car started. Her face lit up with a smile as she accepted, located a jerrycan, and returned to the car. Our ride back to her car was filled with conversation about our shared Sarnia connection, her girlfriend from younger years that shared my name and dark features, where she was headed and the cottages she manages in Wasaga. She thanked me a thousand times and each time I reiterated that if it was me, I would have hoped someone would have stopped to offer to help. If it was someone I loved and I couldn’t be there to help, I would hope someone would be kind enough to help them.

The point is that yes, we all have things to do, people to love that we already know, and jobs to fulfill. Yes, it is easier to pass by a situation than help, but our communities could be so much more fulfilling with a little faith in human kind and the return of a little kindness.

~ Toni

ps. Kathy left me this little token of thanks in the door when I dropped her off at her vehicle and I didn’t notice until I pulled in the driveway. Seriously brought the biggest smile to my face. Thank you, Kathy ❤

Winner no matter what!

Winner no matter what!