Mirror, Mirror…

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most perfect one of all? “YOU ARE

Self (age 10): I wonder where I fit into the world? I want to be grown up, but I’m not quite there yet. I think I look pretty with lipstick…but not as pretty as her. I want to sing, and write…but I’m not as good as her. I just want people to see me…but I think I will hide instead.

Future Self: You’re so hard on yourself. You weren’t born to fit in. You were born to stand out! To shine, like the sun. You are beautiful, with or without lipstick. You are more than good enough, because you are perfectly you! One day you will know this.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most perfect one of all? “YOU ARE

Self (age 20): What do I want to do with my life? I’m a jack of all trades and master of none. I wish I had a talent…something to make me unique. Like a dancer, a skater, a singer or a writer. I don’t want to stand out anyway. Someone might notice I’m flawed.

Future Self: You can do and be anything you want. You are brilliant and creative. You are perfectly imperfect, and that’s what makes you, YOU! Don’t play it safe. Have fun. Travel. Stay out late. Take risks. Create your own adventure. The world needs you. Don’t hide. Where did you go?

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most perfect one of all? “YOU ARE

Self (age 30): I can’t believe I have a daughter. She’s perfect. I hope she sees her beauty and her strength. I will never let anyone dull that sparkle of hers. I love the way she sits in front of a mirror and smiles at herself. I love the way she beams when she hears her own voice. Did I mention she was born on my birthday? It’s like looking into a mirror.

Future Self: Now you’re getting there! Do you see it yet? Do you see how perfect you are? Look at yourself in the mirror, and smile. Hear your voice, and beam with pride. Is that a sparkle on your nose?

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most perfect one of all?

Present Self meets Future Self: You were right

Advertisements

My upside down world

As a child, I used to love acrobatics and dance. Next to music, using my body to dance, stretch and twirl made me feel good. It was fun, playful and expressive. Yet, as I got older, it was like I somehow forgot and as life got busier, being playful and having fun were pushed to the bottom of the list…until recently.

Since the birth of my children, my life has been turned upside down, and I wouldn’t change a thing! Aside from having challenges with time management, (goes with the territory of working mom, I suppose), I woke up one day and realized I had let go of me. All of my energy and all of my focus were directed to my two beautiful kids, and I don’t regret a thing. But, what I became aware of was that I somehow forgot to lighten up and have fun, including taking time out for me to, well…just “be“.

So, I started doing different things a little at a time, that reconnected me to “me”. I eventually found things that were playful and fun and that’s when things started looking up. I got back to the gym, I started singing again both at home and in a glee group, I started reading books (and not just children’s books!) and I started writing again. But it was when I took up yoga a few years back, that I started to find a joyfully new perspective.

There is one day in particular that stands out for me, and it was the day that my world got turned upside down, again. Only literally this time. It was towards the end of yoga class and the teacher had happily announced we were going to do handstands. It had been over 20 years since I did any form of handstands. I was excited yet a bit intimidated. I wasn’t exactly sure that I was going to be able to do it, but nonetheless I was determined to try. Moving towards the wall, I pressed my hands on the floor and kicked up. Of course, my first attempt was a fail. But after a few more tries, I did it! There I hung, upside down, feeling the blood rush to my head. Loving the feeling yet afraid to open my eyes for fear that if I really took in the fact that I was upside down, I might lose balance and fall on my head. At the end of class, I walked out of there feeling energized and happy.

I realized that being upside down had renewed me in a way. It made me feel like a kid, full of life and more importantly, joyful…happy. I haven’t stopped doing handstands since that day. Whether it’s with my kids at home, at the gym, or out travelling the world, I always find an opportunity to be upside down.

I get asked a lot why I do handstands, and my answer is this; because it’s fun! That answer is usually sufficient for those that applaud my efforts, but to others, it usually causes a scrunched up look of amusement in their faces followed by a head tilt, and then questions as to whether it’s safe or healthy.

I get that I’m not a professional yogi or gymnast. I understand that I could hurt myself, and I have. ( I recently fell when I became a little over zealous in my attempts to kick up and ended up flat on my back…ouch). But, there is something about being upside down that nourishes me. It turns out, that there are in fact health benefits to handstands.

Before I go on to list my top 3 reasons why handstands are good for me and why I do them, I will add the following disclaimer: There are contraindications to being upside down and those include, but are not limited to, those individuals who are pregnant, have a heart condition, high blood pressure and previous back/neck injury. Please check with your doctor before attempting any new form of physical activity.

My top 3 reasons for doing handstands:

1) As mentioned before, handstands for me are fun. It has been shown that handstands have a positive effect on mood. As the blood rushes to your head, it stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete Endorphins, those feel good chemicals that help elevate mood and make you feel happy. It also helps to increase the circulation of blood and lymph through the body, which helps to collect and eliminate any toxins in the body, thus improving your immune system.

2) I have absolutely gotten stronger, both in my core and arms since doing handstands. I can now play with different variations because I can hold myself up longer. I’ve also noticed more definition in the muscle tone in my arms and back. The process of kicking up your legs, holding your body weight up with your arms, while keeping your back and core engaged is a great way to build strength, coordination and improve your ability to concentrate. You have to be mindful of everything you are doing while performing a handstand. So you not only get physical benefits but mental ones as well.

3) It’s a perspective shift, both literally and figuratively. There is something quirky yet enlightening about viewing the world upside down. As soon as I was confident enough to open my eyes, I was amazed at the upside down perspective I gained. It literally shifted the way I viewed things. There is no way you can be angry, or sad while hanging out upside down. Try it! Inevitably you may have some resistance or fear to doing a handstand and when you are able to push through that, you bring forth lessons in courage, determination and trust. You need to have courage to start, determination to keep trying and trust that your feet will find the wall and the ground will support you.

For me it started off as a yoga pose, but handstands have become such a big part of my life. It’s the first thing I do when I’m stressed or tired. It’s a fun activity that I do with my kids, and lately, it seems to be the mark I leave behind every place I go. I’ve even started taking pictures of myself doing handstands in all the places I’ve visited. My only regret is that I didn’t start sooner.

At a charity golf tournament

20131117-161706.jpg

At the gym

20131117-161757.jpg

In Barcelona, Spain

20131117-162043.jpg

Team Risi at a fundraising walk

20131117-162124.jpg

At the office

20131117-162221.jpg

In small town Eganville, Ontario

20131117-162317.jpg

A jail cell in Alcatraz (San Francisco)

20131117-162428.jpg

The Mandarin Oriental hotel, San Francisco

20131117-162542.jpg

Finding beauty and wonder through stillness

There is something about flying in an airplane at 22,000 feet, staring out the window at the clouds above and the vastness below, that really puts things in perspective.

Looking out at the horizon, I was reminded of just how small we really are and how much greatness and wonder there is out there.

It’s so easy to get caught up in “life”. We focus on what we have, what we don’t have, what we hate, what we love, where we have to be tomorrow and where we want to be a month from now, a year from now, ten years from now. All the while losing sight of the beauty and stillness of the present moment; the Now.

We are so busy chasing the future and reliving the past, that we forget that all of life and love is available in the present moment. And only in the present moment, can we truly appreciate all that we are.

Looking out the window at the blue horizon beyond, the clouds above and the wonderous mountains below, I became present to all the beautiful things in my life. My health and the health of my family. The abundance of love I have to give and receive. The beauty of the future unknown, and the magic of everything in the unseen universe.

You only need to be present and still, to truly appreciate the magnificence of your life.

Appreciating the NOW,
~ MR xo

20131111-210150.jpg

Love and marriage

🎶 Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage …. 🎶 We all remember the infamous theme song to the hit sitcom Married with Children. Not exactly the greatest depiction of true love and a strong marriage – or was it? With so many romantic movies, books and tv shows skewing our perspective on what a happy marriage should look like, it’s no wonder why so many couples are finding themselves unhappy.

I recently read a blog post entitled “Marriage isn’t for you” written by Seth Adam Smith. He eloquently wrote about his personal experience and perspective on marriage, as he reflected on the advice given to him by his father. To paraphrase and simplify, he basically stated that marriage isn’t for you. It is for the person you love. It is a selfless act, to show your partner how you can love them, make them better, be there for them. It was a beautiful admission and reflection of how we often find ourselves in a selfish state, wondering what’s in it for me?

It resonated deeply with me, as I could relate to him on many levels. Being married for over 10 years and 2 kids later, I have found myself experience the many moods of marriage. The bliss, excitement, and passion of the early years – to the routine, stress, and frustration of the latter years. With such a sharp contrast in emotions, it is no wonder why so many couples find themselves feeling a lack or void as they transition through the different stages of life.

If we look at how we operate when we first meet someone or first get married, we will see how fully engrossed we were in the selfless acts of pleasing our partners. I can recall constantly thinking about my husband first; what he liked, how I could make him feel loved, how I could make him happy. And he in turn, did the same for me. But somewhere along the line, amidst the juggling of kids and work – and if you’re lucky, squeezing in time for date nights and me-time – we lost focus of what was important; what made the marriage blissful to begin with. I admittedly found myself selfishly asking, ” what’s in it for me?”. And it was in those moments that I felt a void; a missing. It’s not to say that there wasn’t love, because there always has been. But when we are in the selfish state of asking “what about me?, What’s in it for me?”, we stop selflessly giving and thus, we stop receiving. We break the synergy; the ebb and flow of marriage. Like many couples, we had forgotten that in order to receive love, we first must give it.

As I read Seth’s blog, I was reminded that the key to a happy marriage is to trust, love and give selflessly to your partner, while in turn trusting and receiving the same from them. In love, we find marriage. And through marriage, we find love.

Inspiration – let me count the ways

I recently read an article in Glamour magazine that asked celebrities who their inspirations were. It got me thinking-yes, another random thought – Who inspires me?

There have been so many people that have impacted my life over the years, that trying to come up with just one name is a seemingly impossible task. Perhaps the better question is, where in my life do I find inspiration?

According to Oxford dictionary, the definition of inspiration is: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative. It originates from Middle English, in the sense “divine guidance“.

As I reflect on my sources for inspiration, specifically the people who have inspired me, I can clearly categorize them into two groups. 1) There are people who have inspired me through their achievements, greatness, love and acceptance, and 2) there are those who have inspired me by challenging me, confronting me and dare I even say, hurting me.

I believe that we meet people in our lives for a reason. If I look at the root “divine guidance”, I know that even those who have hurt me have been sent to me with a gift; albeit I’m certain I didn’t see it as a gift at the time – but even during those hurtful times, I have been “guided” or “inspired” to change.

The Oxford dictionary also provides the meaning of inspiration as: a drawing in of breath; inhalation. When we breathe, we draw in new life, new energy. We revitalize ourselves and nourish our bodies. Similar are those, who inspire us in a positive way. There have been many people who have breathed new life into me. Who have guided me, supported me and loved me. My parents, my husband, my children, my friends.

I can find so many people, places and things that, throughout my life, have inspired me to feel better, do better and be better. I am thankful every day, for the countless opportunities I have to live the life I do; to be able to create, to be inspired, and in turn inspire others.

Even in the unsuspecting places, such as Glamour magazine, do we find an abundance of inspiration. Whether it be fashion/beauty or deep thought provoking questions, inspiration is everywhere, in everything, in everyone. Where do you find inspiration?

Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.

I can almost recall the day vividly. It was summer and I was about 8 years old. I remember having this sense that I knew something wasn’t right and that an adult in my life was lying, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It wasn’t something I could see, taste or touch. Just this inner pull towards an idea that, well to be honest, I couldn’t prove, unless the person outwardly admitted it. It was the first time I can remember struggling with my intuition.

I didn’t know what it was at the time. I just knew that something in me wouldn’t let this idea go. I tried to ignore it. I tried to believe it wasn’t true, but there was still always the voice inside me that whispered I was right. Until one day, the truth came out, and low and behold, I found out that the person I thought was lying, was in fact, lying.

It was bittersweet. I can recall feeling hurt because I was lied to. I felt betrayed by this person. On the flip side I was happy as well, because it meant I wasn’t crazy. There is nothing like the feeling of convincing yourself that you are nuts, denying your truth, and then finding out you were right.

We all have lessons to learn in life, and I believe that situations will re-occur until we learn that lesson. Learning to trust my intuition and to “have my own back” is definitely one of my life lessons. And I can’t say enough about how many more things happened in my life to teach me this.

Fast forward thirty years, I found myself in almost the exact same situation as when I was 8 years old. My gut was telling me that someone was lying about something that I felt was true. I had no proof. Other than this feeling deep within that kept nudging at me, even waking me at night. The more I tried to ignore it, the stronger the feeling got. It didn’t help that there was a part of me that didn’t want to believe I was right. There is nothing trickier than intuitively knowing something, but denying it because you don’t actually want to be right about it. Being right meant I would feel betrayed and hurt. But denying what I knew also felt like betrayal and hurt.

Like all things in life, the truth always comes out. And when the universe one day, nicely handed me this present called the truth, that bittersweet feeling came back. I didn’t realize why I felt so betrayed and hurt, until now. Of course I felt betrayed by the person who lied to me but it’s never about other people. So what was it? I realized I felt even more betrayed because I lied to me. And I can confidently say, that betraying yourself is far more painful.

For those of you who have children, you might be able to relate. Can you recall the look of hurt and upset in your child’s face when you chose not to believe them, and they knew they were telling the truth? Perhaps they pleaded for you to believe them. Or perhaps they sat there quietly, silently hurting. Well, that voice was my inner child. And despite her pleading with me to believe her, I chose to ignore her.

Next time you are feeling betrayed or lied to, ask yourself who is doing the lying? You might find the sense of hurt is coming from you not believing yourself. We all have intuition but we have been taught to not trust it or believe in it. It is a gift. It is our guide. If you are ever in a situation where you need to choose between believing yourself or someone else, picture your inner child’s face. Then smile and trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.

Love and marriage. (Reblog)

A beautiful perspective of love and marriage. So heartfelt, and honest. They say if you stay married long enough, you will go through just about everything a couple can go through. I’ve been blessed to have married a man who was my best friend first. It’s been over 10 years and 2 beautiful children later and like most couples, it’s fair to say that we have had our ups and downs. Every couple reaches points where their love and view on marriage become “selfish” (to quote Seth). Happy to have this blog post to read and re-read during those times to remind me where my focus should be. Hoping every married couple out there reads this blog post. Xo

Seth Adam Smith

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. 🙂 I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each…

View original post 594 more words