The Messiness of Mental Health

I have a friend who talks about her “work” – the personal and emotional things we all have to work through and the deliberate way in which she works through it. Her work is messy, she says, in that when she’s going through something, it’s not a quiet, internal process. Those close to her know it. She talks about it openly and shares the physical side effects of her emotional stuff. She also explores a lot – different ways to get at the heart of the issue, alternative therapies, finding meaning in things most people wouldn’t even notice. She puts herself and her emotions and her struggles out into the world and gets a lot back in return.

I have been privy to some of her “work” over the last several months, and it has occurred to me on many occasions how much better she is at dealing with her crap than I am. As much as I have shared here, I otherwise keep my own “work” very quiet. It’s very internal, and I’ve realized it’s very shallow. I don’t think I do really deal with my crap, in fact. It gets in the way of my desire for everything to be ok.

messy drawing

But sometimes things aren’t ok. We all have stuff. And we all have different ways of dealing with that stuff, and some of us are better at it than others.

I think I used to be pretty good at it. I know I used to be much better about self-awareness. And I recall in the past letting emotions in that for many years now I have mostly tried to keep at bay.

When I revealed my latest struggle with some of the people I work with, the consistent comment was, “I had no idea.” I had no idea you were going through something, they said. I had no idea you were dealing with something shitty.

That’s because, over the last several years, I’ve become pretty damn good at hiding that shitty stuff in my day-to-day life. Which is not to say that it hasn’t spilled over in other unintended ways, but it’s certainly possible to have things appear completely fine when they’re not.

And that’s really the thing about mental health, isn’t it? For some people it’s messy. For others, it’s a tidy package that gets tucked away in a box with a closed lid and only opened when it’s convenient or, perhaps more accurately, when the box gets too full to stay properly closed.

This is not to say that I feel the need to put my mess on display, but I do need to mess it up a bit. I need to unpack that box for myself, and find out more about what’s in it.

I don’t entirely know what this “work” is going to look like for me, but that’s probably okay. I just know, more clearly than I’ve ever known before, that it’s time.

Self-actualization doesn’t just happen, you know.

It’s time.
I'm Blogging for Mental Health 2015.

Hello, Inspiration {4}: It’s a Breeze

I’m not big on resolutions, but I am big on opportunities for self-renewal. January is peak self-renewal time for me and this year I took extra advantage of it.

By the end of last year, after an illness-plagued fall, I was feeling rough. I hadn’t been eating well and my last good workout was becoming a distant memory. I could have acted on that nagging suggestion to change my habits in mid-December, but mid-December is a pretty ridiculous time to start making those kinds of changes, wouldn’t you say? So I planned for January and its brimming potential instead.

January 1 found me working up a sweat and feeling much better for it. I got a new phone for Christmas and spent some time browsing for apps that would keep me going; I ended up downloading a whole bunch intending to stick with the ones that worked best.

A lot of the healthy-habits type apps were either annoying or not especially motivating. Many of them, as well, seem to attempt to do everything, as if a major overhaul is the only way to make health goals succeed. (Maybe that’s the case for some people, but it doesn’t work for me.) I did find one I really like though – enough that I thought I’d share it.

It’s called Breeze and it’s made by Runkeeper (which I also use). It popped up as a suggestion on my phone and since I like Runkeeper I figured I’d give it a shot. It’s really simple – it just tracks the steps you take each day using the tachometer in your phone.

I think I like it because it’s friendly, and it offers motivating comments as you go throughout your day.

Breeze app messages screen

It gives a goal each day, based on your own activity level rather than suggesting the unattainable-for-the-average-person 10,000 steps. And when you reach your goal, it gives you confetti. I like confetti.

Breeze app confetti screen
It also assigns you a spirit animal. I’m not sure exactly what the point is, but I think it’s cool. (I started off as a lion and then became a fox, evidently due to my short bursts of activity. See? Walking down to the Starbucks in my office building does have its benefits.)

Breeze app spirit animal

In any case, now that January is nearing an end I figured some people might be looking for a bit of inspiration to keep going. This is one of mine.


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

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 Penile exercises this is considered the very best by many of bigger penis for sex. But their choice and yours may vary. For this being the very best the foundation is its personality that is completely organic and even can make your penis bigger. That you don’t require additional item or any help to complete extending and the prolonging of one’s manhood. What’s needed of anyone is perseverance and dedication. The theory behind penis-enlargement is based on escalation in the blood circulation within the manhood along with a requirement for improve of problems that are erection therein. Theoretically, than it normally is with the capacity of when the erection cells may support additional bloodstream, subsequently this method may cause the manhood to truly have a larger dimension – in thickness as well as longer. Workout that is manhood may stimulate amount of bloodstream; may improve therein to outcome regarding a.. 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.


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.


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.


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!


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 for more information.

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