Thursday, 1 December 2016

• L I G H T the W O R L D •

The Church has launched their Christmas initiative for this year, called Light the World. It's where they challenge us to do a small thing each day that will either bring us or others closer to Christ and feel the love this holiday season. This is exactly what me and my inner Scrooge needed this year. It's going to be amazing!

I'll link the videos the Church put out right below this and I'll also link their advent calendar printable download. I took mine and cut out the days and popped them into my advent calendar at home so that every time we move our candy cane closer to Christmas Day, I'll pull out the piece of paper for that day and it'll remind me to participate!

If you want the printable advent calendar, click HERE

Now, even though I'm sure you have done so lots of service for people already over the 334 days before this (and I'm sure you were planning on still doing that for the remaining 31 of the year) I really hope you join in on this. There's just something about joining in with millions of other people around the world that makes you feel more alive and inspired, isn't there? And like Elder Bednar said, don't go over the top with it. Keep it simple. Don't make it an added stress for this time of year.

No matter where we are, no matter who we are, it's always a good thing to serve. Oh, and if you do decide to join in on the initiative, don't forget to use the hashtag #LIGHTtheWORLD so others can hopefully join in too!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Books, Books, Books

As a mom, it's really hard to find the means to do those extra things that you enjoy doing. There's just not much free time after you feed the kids, wipe their bums, pick up the marshmallows that got dumped on the floor, pick them up again, try to workout, read your scriptures, pray, shower (but i think that's overrated), do the laundry, figure out supper, and then pick up those marshmallows just one more time and wonder why you ever picked them up in the first place. So why am I writing a blog post about books if I don't have time to read them anyway? Well, just like anything else, you make time for things that are important to you and I've actually been finding some time lately to read! And it feels so good!

Those who know me know that I have an all-or-nothing personality. I'm either going at 90 miles an hour or barely making it to 10. I'm either really, REALLY into something or I haven't done it in years. Balance is something that doesn't come easily to me, but I feel like I'm slowly making progress. So it shouldn't surprise you when I tell you that I'm the type of person finish a huge novel in one day (maybe two, if I take my time -- ha.) I can't help it. I forget that I'm an actual human being who lives on planet earth. I've avoided books since becoming a mom because I know my kids will be totally neglected and forgotten and my house will fall apart. But (and this sounds bad a first so hear me out) church books are different for me. When I read them, I don't have to finish them all at once. I can take my time with them. Ponder them. Let them work their way into my life one day at a time. I can feel satisfied after a few pages, and so that's what I've been reading since becoming a mom -- lots and lots of church books.

I've read some amazing books over the past few years and I'd thought I'd share some of my favourites with you. I'm not going to do them in any particular order because that would take too long, but there are a couple of favourites that I just have to place at the top of my list and then after that they're scattered. So here's the list:

1. The Peace Giver
By James L. Ferrell

You. Guys. This book honestly changed my life. It's my number 1 for a reason. It's really easy to read because it follows along a story, but it's so moving and so eye-opening that you cannot help but become a better person after having finished it. It teaches you all about charity and to how truly love others and also how to feel love from others (which for me has been a harder thing to do) This novel will change how you view relationships and your interactions with those around you. I can't say enough about how much I love this book. You just have to read it.

2. The Infinite Atonement
By Tad R. Callister

This book is a harder read than the Peace Giver, but it's well-known around the church for a reason. It's deep, insightful, and intense. I felt sort of frustrated while reading it at points because I knew that there were areas where I couldn't quite grasp what Elder Callister wanted me to see, but it opened my eyes to the infinite spectrum that the Atonement is and how to implement it more fully into my life. Wendy Watson Nelson gave great advice when she encouraged us in a women's conference in Cardston in regards to reading the book: she told us to study one page a day until you are finished and you will be a different person by the end. I think I'll take her advice the second time around.

3. Your Endowment
By Mark A. Shields

This was a book where I almost couldn't contain myself. I had to just keep reading more and more of it. Luckily the book wasn't very long so it was over quickly. It also was a book I was weary of reading. I'm not sure of the guidelines of what's appropriate to discuss out of the temple, and I wasn't sure what I would be getting myself into, but he acknowledges the reader's apprehension and bases his entire book on a few quotations made by either a prophet or other authority in the church, with the exception of talking about a few rites/rituals done in the ancient times which I remember talking about in seminary, so I felt comfortable with it.

I received some really cool insights on why we do what we do. It's a great book to read whether you've gone through for years or just barely going through for the first time. It also lead me to new ways of finding answers on my own to questions I have had since first going through. And I actually received those answers while in the temple through the Spirit. It was amazing! It was like a lightbulb went off and something just clicked. Then once I had received those answers, I couldn't believe I hadn't seen them before. His truths really are simple and yet hidden to those who don't have the desire to find them.

I want to add that this book may not produce the same results for everybody. These few questions that I had received answers to were honest-to-goodness questions that I had either at or near the very beginning of me first attending the temple. I finally found answers after attending the temple for 5 years. They were not questions that shook my faith or altered my testimony. They didn't leave me feeling dismayed or worried. I still have a lot of questions that haven't been answered yet. But without me asking the questions I did, I wouldn't have received answers, and the answers are truly amazing and have only solidified my testimony more. (**I'm going to write a blog post later about asking questions and the experiences I've had with them because I've asked a TON of questions over my life time and I've learned a lot of things along the way on the process of asking and receiving)

4. Amazed By Grace
By Sheri Dew

I love Sheri Dew. The way she writes, the way she speaks, the things she says all just resonate with me totally and completely. I just feel connected with her (I know, i'm weird.) But the lessons she's learned are the lessons I've learned. The questions she has are the questions I have. And in this short book on grace, she allowed me to see clearly so many things about grace that were hazy and foggy to me. It's like she was reading my confused little mind. Grace is an enabling power and she helps you see more clearly how you are using already and how you can more fully use it to better your everyday life.

5. The Tattooed Mormon
By Al Carraway (Al Fox)

Such a great read! She's an amazing person and she encourages you to fulfill your potential and not anybody else's. It's inspiring, uplifting, and I basically wanted to just give it my all in everything I was called to do after having finished her book. And although it's an autobiography of sorts, it allows you to realize your own potential, how personal our relationship with God can be, and how that relationship really is different for everybody.

6. Let God Love You. Why We don't; How We can
By Wendy Ulrich

This book has taken me a really long time to get through. It's been so uncomfortable for me let God's love come more fully into my life. I felt awkward during some of the exercises she encourages the reader to engage in, but I've noticed a difference in my relationship with my Heavenly Father, and also with Mark. She really allows the reader to see the parallel between the relationships we have with others and how that affects our relationship with God (especially in our marriage relationship). It takes you into your past in order to enhance your future. If you want to be closer to Heavenly Father, I really think you should give this book a go.

7. Jesus The Christ
James E Talmage

This book is so good, but also sooo long! I need to start reading it again because I actually didn't even finish it and I've forgotten quite a bit about what I learned from it. What I do remember, though, is how I loved the details Elder Talmage goes into about the different parables used by the Savior and the different miracles He performed. The deeper symbolism of them and the context surrounding them (meaning the way that particular people lived and their culture) opens your eyes to just how much of an impact those miracles and parables could've had on those particular people at that time.  It made them all the more meaningful to me. The book (from what I've read of it) really just brings you close to Christ and enhances your ability to feel love from Him, and who doesn't need that? In fact, I think I'll start it up again.

So that's my list. It's not very long, so if you have any church books that you love, I would LOVE it if you shared them with me. Post them on this blog post, or tell them to me in person. I don't care. It's just so hard to go into the church book store knowing what to buy or where to look. I'm so indecisive so I need all the help I can get.

So I hope you all cozy up with a blanket, some hot chocolate, and a good book during the Christmas season. And you know I'll be doing the same xo

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Laikyn's 3rd Birthday

I'm still in shock that I have a 3-year-old! Where has the time gone!? The day she was born was definitely the best day of my life. Mine and Mark's entire world changed, and it was definitely for the better!

Birthdays are so fun to me! You get to celebrate somebody you love and spoil and over appreciate them without feeling completely and totally overbearing and guilty about it. You don't have to worry if you're making everything fair or hurting anybody's feelings. It's awesome And we definitely had a fun day celebrating. We went to Get Air and her and Ben had the whole kiddie area to themselves. They were running* all over those tramps! Laikyn was scared of the foam pit for some reason though, so we avoided that. (except when Mark shoved me in and it took me about 20 minutes to get out. I'm sure that was a sight to behold) Afterwards we went to good old McD's and ate our weight in food there. We had coupons and boy did we abuse them. I'm pretty sure I ate the amount of calories in one meal that I'm supposed to have the entire day. And I'm lucky enough that McDonald's has always sat really well in my stomach. (or maybe that's unlucky, ha.) Anyways, you should've seen Ben eating those fries. I honestly thought he must've been dropping them onto the floor because he was eating them so dang fast. And it wasn't just pieces of fries. I was giving him the whole entire thing.

And Laikyn, of course, loved the play place. What child wouldn't love a totally foot-infested, diseased playground where you may extract who knows what kind of fungi or sickness from? And then of course Laikyn gets stuck at the very, very top and "can't get down." She was bawling her eyes out because she thought it was too far to get to the step below. Some kids were trying to help her, but she was inconsolable at that point. So I had to slither my way through the platforms all the way up to the top to save her. She asked if I wanted to go on the slide on the way down. So we went. You should've seen the face of the little boy when a mom came out of the slide. Haha.

After we went and got some Tim Hortons donuts to fill up the empty spaces in our stomachs and took them to Grandma and Grandpa Olsens house where she opened up the presents I gave her and to blow out the candles. It was a great day! And if you saw on snapchat, to say she loved the princess dresses that she got was an understatement. She kept saying over and over again "I'm Princess Laiky from Bezah!" (Bezah is how she says Beazer.) Actually, as I'm writing this I think I saved that video before posting it. So I'll put it in for ya if you wanna watch it.

Then fast forward to Monday (yesterday) and we had a family bday party with all of "the cousins." (which includes Em, Mike, Mitch, and Reg -- even though they're her uncles and aunt. ha) We packed 31 people into my tiny little house and it was so fun! We ate indian tacos and then honey butter scones and then we had a sundae bar later on, which included homemade chocolate and caramel sauce (thanks Lynds) and mini bite-sized snickerdoodles. It was delish! Everybody brought stuff and helped clean up and it was awesome. The kids also did a tiny treasure hunt around the yard, which they thought was really fun! It was a blast! It made me really just how blessed my kids are to have so many great people who love them. Laikyn has been asking everybody to come back to play at our house all day today. Any takers??

Laikyn, you're such a sassy and fun girl. You have a zest for life that is hard to match and I just know you'll get the most out of life. Thanks for making me laugh harder than anybody else. I'm so glad that I get to be you mom. Happy Birthday!

*When I said Ben was running, I mean crawling as fast as his chubby little body can carry him. No, he isn't walking yet. He has taken a couple steps though!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

When I Think About Those Summer Nights

Well, summer has officially began with Mark finishing up his last day of school today! But since He's off on a YMs camp for a couple days, I decided to take my alone time and put it to good use (aka-blogging.) Every time summer comes around my love for country music comes back in, full force. I don't know what it is! There's just something about summertime and country music for me. But really, I just love music in the summer altogether. I play it non stop. The other day Laiky said, "Can you pleaasseee turn off the songs?!" It's not very often a 2 year old tells a 26 year old to turn off the music.

So I decided to write down my summer playlist for you guys. Laikyn and I dance to these songs at least once a day. And maybe twice a day if Laiky allows it ;)

1. Can't stop the Feeling - Justin Timberlake. This is number one on my list because, well, just click on the link and you'll see why.
2. Confessions - Florida Georgia Line
3. Snapback - Old Dominion (this is more of a windows down cruising song, ya know?)
4. Just Like Fire - Pink (Prettty sure I could run all the way to Lethbridge while listening to this song.)
5. Try Everything - Shakira
6. Youth - Troye Sivan
7. Send My Love - Adele/
8. Wasted Time - Keith Urban (the lyrics are the title of my post)
9. Beautiful Drug - Zac Brown Band
10. Wild Things - Alessia Cara (I know it's a little older, but I still just love it.)
11. New Romantics - Taylor Swift (this should be up higher on the list but I'm too lazy to edit it)
12. Sit Still and Look Pretty - Daya
13. Cheap Thrills - Sia
14. Stand By You - Rachel Platten
15. Sorry - Justin Bieber (except I linked a cover of it that I love.)

And then we'll slow it down with these:

15. Peter Pan - Kelsea Ballerini
16. From the Ground Up - Dan + Shay
17. Head Over Boots - Jon Pardi
18. H.O.L.Y. -  Florida Georgia Line
19. Let it Go - James Bay/
20. One Call Away - Charlie Puth (I know it's a little old, but i still love belting it out, so it's worth putting it on the list)
21. Better Place - Rachel Platten (I just picture wedding slide shows when I hear this song and it makes me happy)
22. Meanwhile Back at Mama's - Tim McGraw ft Faith Hill (this song gets me every time. it never gets old)

Anyways, if you have any more songs that you bust a move to or you just think are amazing PLEASE leave me a comment because I'm always looking for new music. I really love all types so don't hold back. Plus, if you need a little help from my soul sista on how to brighten up your day a bit, watch the vid below.

Monday, 25 April 2016

My Miscarriage

According to my trusty source (Google) they say that 1 in every 5 pregnancies will end up as a miscarriage during early pregnancy. Early pregnancy is defined as being less than 12 weeks along. Late pregnancy (a miscarriage after 12 weeks) happens about 1 in every 100. So if so many of us moms are having them, why is nobody talking about it?

I was about 6 weeks along when I had my miscarriage. I got a positive result on my pregnancy test around mid December. It took less time for us to get pregnant this time, which was really exciting because I wanted Laikyn to be close in age to her next sibling. It was the perfect Christmas gift. Mark and I told our families Christmas Eve, and they were as equally excited. I felt so ready to be pregnant again. I knew what to expect this time around.

I played in an alumni tournament on Boxing Day. I wasn't sure if I should or not, but decided that I was in good enough shape so I went for it. The "tournament" only consisted of two games. It was basically just a big women's ball night. There weren't any refs. It was just a fun day and a way to raise some money for the Pandas. As soon as the last game was over, the cramping began. I instantly felt panic-stricken, and then guilt swept over me like I was standing right in the middle of a tsunami. I tried to convince myself that this was normal. Light cramping and a little bit a show is normal during early pregnancy. My gut knew otherwise.

The cramps began to intensify. I couldn't think about anything for the rest of the day. It took me forever to fall asleep that night. Mark was trying to support me and give me words of encouragement throughout the day but what he was saying wasn't even registering in the slightest. It's like he was speaking to me while being under water. I felt horrible. I felt like I was running through fog. Minutes and hours seemed to drag on forever. This is normal, right? When was this cramping going to leave? Surely it'll be gone by the morning.

It was.

At about 3:30 in the morning, I was awoken by a really intense cramp followed by a gush. I ran to the bathroom. My baby was gone. I almost didn't want to flush the toilet, as weird as that sounds. It just would solidify the reality that I really did just have a miscarriage. I crumpled into a ball on my bathroom floor and just sat there. I didn't cry, I didn't move. I just laid there. After about a half an hour I went in a woke up Mark to tell him what happened. He asked me if I was okay. I said ya, I guess. I fell back asleep.

When I woke up that morning, that's when it all fell apart for me emotionally. I was a wreck. I felt so extremely guilty I could hardly look at myself in the mirror. I lost my baby over a basketball game -- a basketball game! How extremely selfish I had been. In my mind there was no other reason for losing my baby. It was all my fault and nobody was going to convince me otherwise. Not for a while, anyways.

My family was so good through it all, Mark was so good through it all, but the hole in my heart was still there. I know that sounds cheesy, but it's no wonder that phrase came into existence. It literally felt exactly like that. I looked up so many different things on google about miscarriages to fill in that hole and give me some peace of mind: how soon after you could begin to try again, if it increased your chances of having another one, how many women actually have them, why they happen, etc.

I began to pray to find some comfort that way. While I was praying my mom's words and my Uncle Ken's words were brought back into my mind: lots of times your body has a miscarriage in early pregnancy to shed a baby that wouldn't have made it anyways. Peace immediately filled my whole being. He testified to me that they were right.

Despite my doctor's orders about waiting for one period cycle to come and go before trying again, we didn't (sorry Uncle Ken). I am irregular as it is which means it takes us longer to get pregnant, and so we didn't prevent it from happening. The next month I didn't have a period. That wasn't really all that shocking, but it did leave me wondering. I tried not to get my hopes up. After all, during my whole freshman year at college I only had a period twice. But around the last few weeks in January I began cramping. I thought I should take a pregnancy test just in case. It came back positive!

The cramping began to become intense again. I wasn't having any showing, so that was good, but I still wasn't too hopeful considering I had just had a miscarriage. The cramping was different this time though. It had localized itself specifically to my left side. I called the clinic to make a doctor's appointment. I had read some stories about tubal pregnancies while researching miscarriages the first time around, and I had a fear that that was happening to me. He sent me to go get my blood taken for 4 consecutive days in a row to keep an eye on my hCG levels. If it was a healthy baby, the level of hCG should double every 48 hours; if it was actually an ectopic pregnancy, they remain low and inconsistent. (don't quote me on that though. I'm really not qualified to say that.)

I went for my first day of blood testing in the morning, and I couldn't think about anything else all day. Was I actually pregnant? Was it an ectopic? Was I miscarrying again? I couldn't wait to hear from the nurse any longer, so I decided to call. She told me that the results had just come in but that my Uncle Ken wanted to call me after he was done with his patient to tell me what the results were.

Why did he want to call me? What did that mean? It must be bad news, right? Or maybe it was because he wanted to be the bearer of good news, and that's why he wanted it to be him calling.  I waited and waited but no call came. No news is good news right?

It was around 6:30 before he finally ended up calling me. His day had become super hectic. (poor small-town doctors) He told me that my hCG was 22. He told me he was 99% positive that I would be having another miscarriage with levels that low considering when I miscarried, when I took my pregnancy test, and what my projected ovulation date was.

I. was. crushed.

He told me that he needed me keep getting my blood taken to rule out ectopic anyway, just as a precautionary measure. I said okay, and thanks, all the while trying to hold back tears and swallow that huge lump in my throat.

As soon as I hung up, it hit me hard and it hit me fast. Again, I was in my bathroom and again, I fell onto the floor in a heap and began bawling. It was devastating to think that I would have to try again. How long was it going to take to get pregnant this time around? Would I be even able to have another child? I know that question sounds dramatic, but it's hard to stay positive during such hard moments. Every trial is always easier in hindsight.

I began to look up stuff on google again. I found lots of women with really low hCG stories who never miscarried and ended up having healthy babies. It gave me a little bit of hope to hold me over for a while.

The next day I got my blood taken and the lab tech was so kind. She told me exactly what I had wanted to hear (which was the same as I read on the internet, that many people have low hCG throughout their whole pregnancy and never miscarry.) I really began to feel hope, but didn't want to get too excited about it all. The nurse called me from the clinic called me the same day and told me that the hCG was rising. I was totally shocked!

At first I was just really excited, but then she reminded me that it was either an ectopic pregnancy or I was actually pregnant. I wasn't sure if this was worse or better than miscarrying. Tubal pregnancies are scary. It probably would've been easier to just have a miscarriage. I was scared again. (Holy, can you say emotional rollercoaster??)

After the end of the 4 days my hCG was following the pattern of a normal pregnancy -- doubling perfectly every 48 hours. The pain on my left side was still there, however, and so they booked me for an emergency ultrasound.  It was the next day. The results came back and it showed nothing on the screen. My uterus was totally empty. And so were my tubes. What the heck was going on?

Uncle Ken got the results, sent me for more blood work, and also booked another ultrasound in the meantime. I was becoming totally numb to my emotions. I was no longer excited or scared. I didn't have hope or fear. I had no expectations anymore. According to my blood results I was still pregnant or ectopic. They were perfectly doubling again, though.

I got into my ultrasound a few days later. This time I could see a little black circle on the screen. And it wasn't in my tubes. I was actually pregnant!!!! I was 4 weeks, 3 days along. The reason why it didn't show up the first time is because it was too small to see. I had thrown everything off by getting pregnant right after a miscarriage, but I wouldn't have done it any differently because now I have Ben.

I said many prayers during my actual miscarriage and all the way through it all afterwards. I always felt a sense of peace when I prayed, even after I actually miscarried. God knows what he is doing.

My kind sister also brought me over such a thoughtful gift through it all. When I told her that I was probably going to miscarry again, she brought over a beautiful white orchid to let me know she was thinking about me. It was SO thoughtful and meant so much.

^^ this is a picture I just took of it right now on this foggier day. I've kept it alive since the end of January 2015. It is the ONLY flower I have ever been able to keep alive. I literally kill them off so fast. (I have a black thumb.) I find that so fitting.

I was open with my family throughout the whole process, from my first miscarriage to maybe having another, to it maybe being a tubal, to actually being pregnant. I didn't want them to have to guess why I would randomly shed a tear or two during different parts of the christmas holiday and into the new year. It would randomly hit me and anything would trigger the tears. I was a little more mellow. Why would I want to leave them guessing about what was going on? They would've thought it was something they did, and I didn't want them to think that. We cried together and hugged and then eventually rejoiced together -- and I know that the rejoicing was much more meaningful for us because I had involved them the entire time.

I haven't really been super proactive about sharing my experience of having a miscarriage, but if the topic came up with people outside of my family I never tried to hide it or pretended like I didn't have one. How can we help bear another's burdens if people don't know what they are? There is no shame in not having a perfect life or being perfect ourselves. There is no shame in being the one who needs help every once in a while. I know everybody is different and each circumstance is different and some people may feel like it's not the right time to share or the setting isn't appropriate or whatever. I just feel like the way people bond is through service, and that requires somebody who needs to be served. Service doesn't have to be a huge deal. Just the fact that people knew I had been through what I had been through gave me a sense of relief.

Ben has brought such a fun, new element into our lives. I am so grateful that I was chosen to be his mom.

Laikyn loves Ben (almost too much sometimes)
^Ben's first selfie
Fun at the Calgary Zoo on our spring break. I also "hopped" in there for a couple pics. There's a reason they aren't being posted. ha

Friday, 22 April 2016

I'm a yogi. :|

I'm not trying to offend anybody when I say this, but I just never thought I would ever call myself a "yogi". I've been to a few yoga practices with a few different instructors and for some reason it was just too much for me. I felt like the instructors could see right through me. Like they were reading the aura that I didn't know I had. They were all so in touch with their bodies and with nature and just in tune with something that I didn't recognize and that was intimidating. Simply put, they were just all on some sort of spiritual, yogi plane above me, and I wasn't sure if I could bring myself up there or if i even wanted to. I felt weird. I felt uncomfortable. I felt out of place. Not to mention I knew for a fact that my extremely stiff, inflexible body wouldn't ever go into the shapes they were asking me to do. So I did what I thought was my only option: I gave up on yoga.

So how did I finally begin to embrace yoga in all its greatness and glory? I found Yoga with Adriene on Youtube. No jokes you guys, she is amazing. She acknowledges the sometimes awkwardness that can accompany yoga and she even makes fun of it. She's super mindful of what beginner yogis are probably doing with their bodies and tells you how to correct it. Plus, I won't have to be surrounded by the perfectly-toned, cirque du soleil, Lululemon ambassador hotties.

What I love most about yoga is that it makes me stretch while working out. Before I started yoga a few months ago I could put my hands just barely a couple of inches below my knees while trying to touch my toes. And if I did the ol' trick of spinning first and then plummeting down to touch them, I ended up being able to get them to my shins. My lower back was so tight and my shoulders had huge knots in them all the time. The back of my legs? Don't even get me started. I had a constant cold, numbness in the middle of my back on a daily basis that felt like a bruise when somebody touched it. And even a few times at work I would begin to tear up while typing away on my little machine because the pain in my shoulders was so bad. As much as I wanted to blame it on me feeling sorry for the victim of a car accident, it wasn't.

Anyways, I know some of you won't believe when I say this, but yoga really took away most of that pain. I'd say 98% is gone since I've started mid December. And although I'm not court reporting anymore, my back is still under duress from being a mom and lugging a 35 lb and 20 lb kid around all day. I can touch my toes easily! And the tightness in my shoulders is lessening every day. It felt so rewarding to feel the changes in my body. And even though changes are gradual, I'm definitely noticing them.

Yes, the stretching is great. But I was totally shocked when I came to find out for myself how intense a work out yoga can be! I literally couldn't walk the next day after my first vid. I'm not sure about other yoga practices, but in Yoga with Adriene you do a lot of planks. My whole body would shake after only 10 seconds while doing a plank on my knees. To say I was out of shape would be an understatement. But, again, it was so rewarding to feel myself getting stronger day after day. Let me give you just one example: I haven't really ever been able to do "man" pushups very well. Even during basketball season in high school I could maybe get off 2 before my form fell apart. That was in high school -- the most fit part of my life thus far. Well, almost being out of high school for 8 years now and not really ever working out since then, you won't be surprised when I tell you that doing 5 "girl" pushups was hard for me to do. Now I can do 3 "man" ones!!!! (I did extra exclamations because it still sounds so lame, ha.) I know, it's not a lot, but it's an improvement for me.

That's what I love about yoga: it's all about self-improvement.

You guys really need to go check her channel out -- especially if you suffer from back/neck/shoulder pain. I started off by doing the 30 Day yoga Challenge. It was perfect for me because I really resonate with numbers and get more determined to work out if it's set up that way. Not sure why. I just do. Now I'm onto her Yoga for weight loss section and just do those throughout the week, 5 or 6 times a week. Not only am I feeling great, my outside is starting to look like what I feel on the inside. My skin is better because I drink more water. My muscles are becoming more toned. My stomach is getting tighter -- although many people wouldn't be able to tell those changes because they really aren't that drastic.

Other workouts I've done at home in the past have lasted 3 weeks at the most. I've been doing yoga at least 5 times a week since the middle of December (that's just over 4 months now!) I wake up before the kids do so I don't have to cut into our day together, or I'll happen to get them both napping at the same time and then do it. Very few times I have had to workout while they were awake. And there's just something about working out early in the morning that totally changes my whole day.

For once in my life a workout is actually becoming a part of my daily routine! Yes, it's because I love my work out, but even more so it's because of the motivation behind the workout. No matter what you do, don't get in shape only for the outward appearance. Let me repeat that: no matter what, do NOT let your outward appearance be your motivation for getting you in shape. That's just a great bonus ;) Do it for how you feel emotionally, spiritually, mental, whatever. If your motivation is just to get in shape so you can look good in a bathing suit when the summer comes, I would like to see what happens to your routine once the summer is over.  Seriously. That's been my motivation before and it never lasts.

I'm becoming healthier for my kids, for Mark. I want to be able to keep up to my crazy teenagers when Mark leads our family out on intense hikes or a campout for the long weekend. I also want to be able to be as healthy as I can be so I can be more present in our every day moments together. I won't have to be constantly thinking about the numbness in my back or the headache that I just can't shake.

I feel like when you begin to focus on your body and you begin treating it well, it treats you well back. You are happier, more content, more empowered to overcome stresses of everyday life. Soon-- like within a couple of days soon-- you'll begin to notice that your desire to eat healthier increases (i've never grocery shopped healthier in my whole life) You'll also begin to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. I even shower more, which everybody who really knows me is happier about, I'm sure.

But let's be honest, the real reason I workout at home is this:

Namaste. :)

Friday, 11 March 2016

Lesson #1: What you have is enough

While living out in the boonies (aka Beazer) this past year I have come to more realizations about myself and about life in general than I think I probably have in my whole entire life. I don't know if it's because I'm closer to nature or if it's because I've never had more time alone with myself, or if it's because it's so darn peaceful. Or maybe it's simply because I'm now a mother to two lovable kids and that in itself has allowed me to grow and mature. Or maybe it's a combination. Whatever it is, I feel as though I've been stretched and twisted around more than ever and it has been so unbelievably uncomfortable and painful at times, but I have really grown to appreciate the process and how it all works.

Anyways, one of my favourite life lessons I received came while staring at myself in the mirror one day. You are probably thinking I was being vain. Well, you're very wrong. I was looking over myself and examining everything that I thought was wrong with my body. My pores were too big. My one eye is smaller than the other. In fact, the closer I looked, the more I realized how crooked my whole fact was. My smile was crooked. My one ear pokes out. My eyebrows are too bushy. My long hair is always frizzy. My hands are stubby. That dang mustache is getting out of control (thank goodness for waxing!) My weight gain during pregnancy is wayyy above average. And I'm still a victim of adult acne! Gah!

But what had sparked this flood of negative thoughts, you might ask? Why, Instagram, of course! What else would leave you feeling totally incomplete, less than par, incompetent, and just simply not good enough other than our wonderful social media? Don't get me wrong, I do love looking at everybody's photos and all the wonderful things you are all doing with their lives, but boy, sometimes it's hard to not let it affect the way I feel about myself -- especially when I start browsing around to blogs of flawless women and mothers I don't even know! That's when I hit my all-time low, so to speak, and I start thinking horrible, ungrateful thoughts.

Soon I began to go below the surface with questions such as, How are all these young couples able to go on vacations and get gorgeously tanned and experience so many things? How do people always know what to say at the right moment, meanwhile I feel so awkward and tactless? How come I can't keep my cool like other mothers can? The dishes are spilling over the edge of the sink, I never straighten up my house unless the visiting teachers are coming, and I never find the time to scratch anything off of my 'to do' list ... Needless to say, my sensitive self had spiraled down into an black hole and the tears were unleashed in full force.

So I decided to do something that isn't a talent of mine: I prayed to Heavenly Father as though I was talking to Him face to face. I tried to use respectful terms while speaking, but it just wasn't working for me at that particular moment in time, so I simply told Him everything that I had just told you. I told Him I felt useless; that other people had the talents that I would've rather had. I told Him how rundown I was. I told him that I was losing patience with everyone around me, including myself. I told him how so many others seem to have so many things I wanted and couldn't have at that moment and how that bothered me.

While praying a flood of things I had been (for lack of a better word) complaining about flashed across my mind. This went on for quite awhile starting with the most superficial of things to the deepest, most personal. As the list went on, I felt a shift taking place: through God's grace (aka enabling power/love) I was able to look at everything I had been so negative about with a different perspective. Sure, my hands were short and stout, but they allowed me to embrace my wonderful little family each day. Yes, I was gaining weight faster than most people who were pregnant, but I began to just feel gratitude that I get the privilege of being a mother in this life. I began to see with new eyes all the things that God has actually given to me. And as His love totally filled my whole entire being, I felt these exact words come into my mind:

Yes, it is true that you haven't been given the best of everything. But I have given you what I have given you, and what you have is enough. 

I pondered on that for a little while after, and I still ponder on it today. No, I don't have the best of everything or the grandest or the most perfect life. But what I do have, it is enough -- enough to fill my life with complete and total joy if I allow it to.

^^ A shot of my little house in Beazer.