Hello, Inspiration {3}: Fat Snowflakes

Last weekend, one night after the boys were in bed, my dog came up from the basement and asked to be let outside. When I opened the door to let him back in a few minutes later, I looked outside and realized it was snowing – big, soft flakes, the kind that accumulate quickly and muffle the world.

It doesn’t often snow that way here, but it’s one of my favourite things. We mostly get the kind of snow that shoots rather than floats past the streetlights; it looks nice once it settles but it’s not nearly as romantic when it’s coming down.

At that point in the evening I had mostly settled in and was enjoying the quiet, but that snowfall was not to be missed. I snapped a leash on the dog and out we went.

It was perfect. Pure joy. We walked through the snow, which was already almost to his tummy and over my boots, and listened to it squeak beneath our feet. At the field near our house, with no one else in sight and nothing in view but pure white, I let him off his leash. He bounded away, running large circles around me, as I cut a path through the deep snow. He was happy and I felt at peace.

snow scene framed by trees

I highly recommend this. The next time you notice your equivalent of fat snowflakes, get out there and breathe it in. It’s worth it to stop and notice joy, whether it falls from the sky or presents itself a different way.

Just breathe it in.

hello inspiration

Just as they are

 

canvas print family photo

I cherish this photo. The photo session that produced it was a total freaking gong show but I barely remember that when I look at this picture. What I see is Connor’s laugh and his sense of humour in this moment that actually captured what he looks like when he thinks something is funny (rather than his goofy photo face). And I see the absolute joy that is Ethan.

I was talking to a colleague and friend at work a couple of weeks ago, and she mentioned that when her kids go to school on picture day she lets them go however they are – messy hair, weird clothes, the whole deal. And if the proofs come back and they have goofy expressions she buys them up, figuring that she’ll have a record of just who her kids were at the time.

I’m not sure I have quite embraced that approach. If we had purchased the proofs from this session that showed just who my kids were as demonstrated by their behaviour at the time, we’d have photos with Connor’s sour expression indicating just how much he didn’t want to be acting nice for the camera and Ethan with a soother in his mouth, probably crying after we tried to remove it for a picture. We’d probably have a photo of Connor hitting me and body-slamming Ethan, and one of Rich sitting with Connor to try to calm him down. We’d have one of me looking frustrated and possibly trying not to cry.

Needless to say, the family photo sessions we have done were nightmares. We did one resulting in the photos above and an earlier one when Ethan was six weeks old, and I remember them both as horrible, barely-worth-it experiences (except for the part where newborn Ethan pooped on Rich). But after both sessions we looked at the proofs (and I mostly looked past how terribly unphotogenic I am) and I saw my kids just as they were at that time. Not the cranky, goofy sides of them but the happy, full-of-joy sides of them and how they look like Rich and sort of like me, and I was glad to have them.

For a while now I’ve wanted a canvas print, so I chose this photo and got one made and hung it on the wall opposite the foot of our bed. Now those joyful faces, already looking younger than they do now, smile back at me every night and, nightmare or not, that’s all I ever really wanted out of those photo sessions anyway.

 

 Disclosure: Canvas Factory gifted me this print but my love for it is my own.

Hello, Inspiration {2}: One Word

I had a revelation on December 29 about the one word I had chosen for 2014. It took me 363 days to get there, but once I did a whole bunch of things made sense.

Early last year, I intended to choose another word to focus on for the year. Having done it in 2011, 2012, and 2013 with what I considered satisfying results, I figured it would be a no-brainer. The problem was I put too much of my brain into it.

The first time I did this in 2011, someone suggested I let the word come to me. Sort of hokey, I thought, but was open to it. And came it did. Same with the next two years. And then last year my funk got in the way and I didn’t just sit with it as I had previously and instead I chose a word. It was a word that was connected to things I wanted to do – mostly self-centred things that had less to do with what I needed and more to do with what I thought would make me happy.

I never revealed the word here because it didn’t stick. And I was disappointed that it didn’t stick but I was also unmotivated and never actually considered why it didn’t feel right. And then, two days before the end of the year, I was talking to a colleague and friend at work who also, I discovered, happens to do this one-word thing and it all made sense. Suddenly I was back in the same headspace from the beginning of the year and I realized that my deliberately choosing the word rather than being open to whatever might come to me had thoroughly defeated the purpose.

Funny how something you didn’t realize you weren’t aware of can suddenly make a lot of the unarticulated frustrations from the past year dissipate.

So this year, I went back to letting my word identify itself to me.

Soar - one word 2105

I tried to force one with a particular meaning (act? choose?) but I realized that was me layering expectations onto a sentiment that I needed to just accept. I don’t need the pressure of being on the hook for certain things I think I should do. I need to do what I feel is right and let come what may.

Soar.

We’ll see where it takes me.

hello inspiration

Becoming a Fit Chick

When I was in 3rd-year university, I rowed crew (but only for the year because by the end of it I had managed to psych myself out). We did two workouts a day – we were on the water at 5:15 every morning and did dry-land training each evening. I don’t remember much about what that was like other than having to try desperately not to fall asleep in my 8:30 a.m. classes.

One day our dry-land training was scheduled to be a session with a trainer from the BC Lions football team. I went dutifully down to the gym expecting it to be a damn hard workout, but I figured I’d do my best. I got there to discover that for some reason I was the only one who showed up. Whether it was a coincidence or everyone else wimped out or I was just the only one dumb enough to go I never did find out, but once you find yourself in a situation like that the only thing to do is suck it up and do what the big Hungarian man tells you to do.

The workout was a plyometric one – basically using your own body weight to increase speed and power. It’s really freaking hard, especially when you have a Canadian Football League trainer treating you like a varsity athlete and expecting you to complete the specified moves—no skimping on reps—without much of a fuss.

In the end, I got through it, and it still felt better than an earlier workout the day after coming back from Christmas break (during which I kept up my training exactly not at all), after which I threw up outside the university’s main gymnasium.

I’ll always remember that year, both for those two workouts as well as for the intensity of the beginning and end of my university rowing career. At the beginning, I went through tryouts and made the team thanks to my sheer determination not to die during the runs we had to do (there’s a reason I didn’t formally take up running until 10 years later), and I finished the year with my brain and its fear of pain winning out over what I had trained my body to do. All in all, it was a great experience.

Despite seriously thinking I was going to end up alone and stranded on the road leading up to the university during one of those tryout runs, I took up running after I got married because I had discovered I wasn’t the type of person to go to the gym. I do occasionally, but it’s boring and I hate strength training on my own. I liked running, on the other hand, because it was a challenge and it got me outside and I met some new people while doing it. I also subsequently discovered that I like at-home workouts. (Jillian Michaels was a frequent companion during my 30 days straight of exercise two years ago (eep! Already?!). I’ve been trying another new at-home series that I really like – it’s the FIT CHICKS Fierce in 8 series, which I was given to try out and share with you.

fitchicks-logo2

There’s a lot of things I like about these workouts, so as I sit here with my inner thighs burning that post-workout burn, I’ll share my top 10 with you.

1. It’s Canadian! Hooreh!

2. The use the term”fierce” a lot. I love that.

3. They introduced me to UFC squats (Google it and weep), which should rightfully stand for Unbelievably Freaking Challenging squats. They are SO hard.

4.With the Fierce in 8 DVD set, I have 8 workouts I can do at home. Much less boring than one workout (even one with 3 levels).

5. The workouts are only about 20 minutes, but they’re HIIT-style (high intensity interval training) so I really work for those 20 minutes.

6. They offer 2 levels to follow in each workout – one chick does the advanced moves while another shows modifications for beginners or lower-intensity options.

7. It’s hard enough that the first time I saw a lot of the moves I actually said, “Oh shit” out loud.

8. The UFC-bootcamp-style Fierce Fighter Chick workout made me feel totally badass.

9. They use a 10-second countdown clock (for when I feel like I can’t do anymore and then see that lovely 10-second countdown start and realize I can probably do a few more.

10. They have been SUPER friendly in all my communication with them.

FIT CHICKS Tex mex power bowl

In addition to the 8 workouts on DVD, this series includes an ebook with some tips, nutritional info, amazing recipes focusing on whole foods and clean eating, and a sample meal plan. Plus, there’s also a workout calendar, which I love. I’m all about calendars. It’s even colour-coded.

FIT CHICKS green smoothie

The FIT CHICKS workouts, along with a variety of motivational tools I’ve found (some of which I’ll share with you in upcoming Hello, Inspiration posts), actually have me feeling better about my fitness goals again after a tough fall that included getting really sick and totally losing my health mojo. The boost to my mental health is a nice side effect too.

dvd

How are your health goals going, whatever they are? Need a motivational kick-start? I’ve got a chance to win a Fierce in 8 set from FIT CHICKS below. To enter, leave a comment about your own health and fitness goals and complete the Rafflecopter entry form. (If you don’t want to rely on luck and want to get straight to it, you can buy the set on the FIT CHICKS website.)

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2015!

 

About FIT CHICKS
Co-founded in 2008 by best friends Amanda Quinn and Laura Jackson, FIT CHICKS is the largest women’s-only fitness company in Canada. With a focus on fierce fitness for ALL women, FIT CHICKS offers 8-week, award-winning, boot-camp-style programs at over 20 locations, as well as weekend health retreats, DVD programs, personal training and host 2 TV Series called “Shape Up with FIT CHICKS” on Rogers TV. Their commitment to women’s health earned the company 2014 Top 10 Fitness Professionals in Canada by Can FIT Pro & 2013 Stevie Award for Women in Business – Health & Wellness Company of the Year. FIT CHICKS will continue its mission of getting Canadian women pumped about health in Season 9 of CBC’s Dragon’s Den and bringing their DVD programs to The Shopping Channel in Jan 2015. Visit www.fitchicks.ca for more information.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hello, Inspiration {1}: Beauty Shots

I looked at my WordPress year in review and it told me I had 30 new posts in 2014. Thirty. 30.  That seemed a ridiculously low number to me until I realized it was less than one a week and then, frankly, it seemed high. I really didn’t write a lot last year.

I’ve sort of lost my writing mojo. I started feeling vulnerable for reasons I haven’t fully determined (or perhaps have chosen not to fully explore). I would start to write a post in my head and not get past the first sentence. First paragraph, sometimes, but mostly the words just never came together. I wrote a lot of posts in my head that way—far more than 30—but it’s not a terribly productive approach.

I closed out 2014 with a little bit more inspiration than last year, though not my usual, perhaps over-exuberant, dose. As of this fourth day of the new year I have all kinds of goals and plans and no shortage of sources of motivation, because, dammit, I’m ready to get back to feeling inspired. And one thing I’m going to do is create some of that inspiration for myself.

In my very early blogging days, I used to do regular posts under the Hello, Inspiration heading. They featured things that inspired me, like the ones that seemed to appear when I needed them or those that came up in several different places as if to say pay attention. After a while I just randomly tagged things with that category when it seemed to fit, but I’d like to go back to deliberately sharing things that inspire me. So here’s the first in the official series of my sources of inspiration, which I’m hoping to update weekly.

Neil Zeller Photography: Aurora Borealis &emdash;
One thing I love is amazing photography. Not long ago I found the Facebook page for a photographer named Neil Zeller who is local to me, and his shots are amazing. Breathtaking in the most literal sense of the word. He photographs things I love, like mountains…

Neil Zeller Photography: Explore Alberta &emdash; Waterton, Alberta…and cityscapes…

Neil Zeller Photography: Downtown Calgary &emdash; Downtown Calgary

…and our tower, which I have such sentimental, childhood feelings about. I have to get a copy of this print:

Neil Zeller Photography: Downtown Calgary &emdash; Downtown Calgary
He also shoots trains (oh my heart):

Neil Zeller Photography: Train Travel &emdash;

…and scenes that are so stunning it’s hard to believe they are from this same planet where we do mundane things like buy groceries:

Neil Zeller Photography: Country and Mountain Scenes &emdash;

Neil’s images fill up my Facebook feed, and I like them all so he knows they’re appreciated (and so Facebook’s fancy algorithm will keep showing them to me). Seeing them creates the sort of pause in my day—the deep-breath, contented-sigh kind—that I so desperately need. The first shot above is one from his Aurora series, which might be my favourite. Seeing that is on my life list, and I’m inspired at how often he manages to catch this sight. Maybe one day soon I will as well.

hello inspiration

All images © Neil Zeller Photography