Uncategorized

Five Fun Podcasts for Your Summer

Hi! Claire here. This year I’ve gotten really into podcasts, listening to them mostly as I’m sitting at my desk during the work week, but also listening in the car or while I’m doing the dishes in the evening. The podcasts I like range from fun to informative and I thought I’d share five I’m loving right now. Hoping that you may enjoy some of these as you sit by the pool or drive to your summer vacation spot. 

  1. Proof Podcast


I am obsessed with Proof. I love all cooking podcasts, like The Splendid Table (you can listen to all the old episodes online!) but when I want something a little funky I turn to Proof which describes itself as solving food mysteries, one story at a time. The Episode entitled Who Stole the Miracle Berry? had me fascinated but the latest about the probiotic craze made me stop and think. According to their research I’m not getting as much probiotic benefits from my expensive probiotic capsule as I would be from actual fermented foods. I’ve made sauerkraut before but I’m currently into Kimchi. Planning to make my own soon. One of my all time favorite episodes was about the history of celery (I know, right?)I had no idea celery used to be the most expensive thing on the menu. You’ll just have to listen to believe me.

Kid Friendly: Yes. My 8 year old enjoyed listening along. 

2) Harder to Kill Radio/ The Great Big Sober Secret


   The Harder to Kill podcast by Steph Gaudreau dives into all kinds of subjects from weight lifting to current events geared towards women. When I decided to give up alcohol several months ago I started listening to podcasts about the subject and this one caught my eye. Turns out there’s a whole movement of people deciding to live alcohol free, not because they feel they are an alcoholic but because it’s just no longer serving them. This episode debunks the myth I think I used to believe, that alcohol is the “key” to the land of fun and relaxing. It also bravely touches on the “Mommy Wine” culture which is rampant on social media these days. If you are wondering what life would be like without drinking or perfectly fine the way things are, this episode is a good conversation and will give you ideas on how to support your mocktail loving friends.

Kid Friendly: Get out the headphones for this one if children are around. Grown up subject matter. 

3)  Enneagram Series with Annie F Downs


   If you are at all into the Ennegream this podcast is going through all the numbers this summer, interviewing people who identify as each number by episode. It’s been really fun and eye-opening. Since I know what all my family members are I’ve gained some insight into their thought life, personality tendencies and what makes them feel loved. Annie F Down speaks from a spiritual perspective which I like. By the way, I’m a 4. That will air on Monday and I have to admit I’m nervous. 4’s always get a bad rap in my opinion. Doesn’t that sounds like something a 4 would say? Ha. Not sure what your number is? There are lots of quizzes to take, but here’s one to start with.

Kid Friendly: Yes. 

4) The Memory Palace


    I love history and this very short podcast highlights little known but super cool moments in history, like the teenager who struck out Babe Ruth (ever heard of that? I hadn’t!). Or the millionaire who spent $200,000 on one dinner in the early 1900’s complete with swans swimming in the middle of the table. But my favorite so far is about the girl who took over her father’s lighthouse and saved countless lives at the turn of the century. Proving everyone wrong that women weren’t delicate creatures but strong capable people who could do life changing things. These are only about 15-20 minutes an episode and the story telling is superb. 

Kid Friendly: Yes. Kids will love this podcast though you may want to double check some of the Halloween episodes which talk about legends of ghosts and such. 

5) Honestly Adoption Podcast


     This podcast covers all kinds of material relating to Foster Care, Adoption and parenting kids from hard places. I found many of them so informative. This podcast offers many different views on topics such as “How do I know if I’m called to adopt?” As well as “Will visiting with birth parents hurt my child in the long run?” and “How to deal with the holidays” as well as the question “Can you recover from childhood trauma?” It’s great if you are a foster or adoptive parent, or you just want to listen to great interviews with amazing people or if you know a foster and adoptive family and want to understand. 

Kid Friendly: Maybe not. Depends on the episode (can cover abuse, ect). 


I hope you find something to listen to this summer and enjoy! 

Motherhood, mothers day, Uncategorized

Mamas and strawberry lemonade

My mom is genuinely my best friend. My husband jokes about the amount of time I spend with her…but I explained to him how she’s not like “most moms”. How she will stand with me in the pit at a concert drinking wine and dancing or go totally natural with our similar wavy hair or the way she chases adventure and gets me to teach her how to ride horses. I explained to him how she was just nice to be around, a kindred spirit now that I’m older and out of the house. We’re just enough different and just enough similar.

I’m an old soul and my mom and I share a love for antiques and nature. So we both enjoy reading the old timey magazine called Victoria magazine. I saw where I could send in a letter for Mother’s Day explaining what I loved about my mom. I saw this at 8 am and not even 20 minutes later I had written something to send in before work. It was so easy to write and recall all the ways she was a good mother. It got published in the magazine for the May/June issue along with many other women writing about their great mother’s. It was cool to see my mom’s attributes displayed in a magazine we both loved alongside so many other amazing tributes to women’s mother’s. It made me realize how powerful womanhood and motherhood is.

I thought I’d go ahead and share with you what I wrote in honor of Mother’s Day and in remembrance of all the amazing mothers out there who work so hard to cultivate lives full of joy and peace:

“As a child, I would always tiptoe down the stairs in the morning-greeted by the aroma of fresh coffee-to find my mother wrapped in one of her pink or floral robes. Before doing anything else, I would crawl onto her lap and rest my head on her chest. Planting a kiss on my forehead, she would ask me how I slept. She always smelled like peonies, and I think this was because she adored them. I believe that what you love, you in some way become.

Today, newly married, I have a painting hanging in my house of a woman with auburn hair smelling roses. Her eyes are closed, and her head is lifted, as if she is inhaling the best perfume in the world. This portrait reminds me of my mom because it captures her approach to motherhood: soaking it up for all it’s worth and savouring it completely. She cooked heavenly food, cultivated an inviting and orderly home, and loved us with grace and kindness. As I grow older, I realize what a job that was and how she took it on as her purpose.

She raised five women, all of whom have grown and are thriving but still dearly love their mom as a friend and confidant. I notice qualities my sisters inherited from our mother in the way Claire cooks, how Mary loves coffee and can brew the perfect pot, the way Lauren nurtured so tenderly, and how Cate loves to keep things homey and clean. And me? I love flowers. I pray everyday that when I have children, they will see things in me that make them feel safe and warm inside, just like we all feel with mom. But more than anything, I hope I will smell like flowers.”

Here’s a recipe to treat your special mom with a refreshing drink you can make on Mother’s Day. It’s a delicious strawberry lemonade that she will love.

Simply smash in a sieve 4 or 5 fresh, ripe strawberries or frozen, thawed, into a two cup measuring cup. Squeeze two lemons into the cup. Add three teaspoons of sugar or stevia ( I use Pyure) to taste. Fill with water and stir vigorously. Taste and adjust sugar and lemon to suit your taste. Pour into glasses, add ice and garnish with lemon slice and mint.

Serve immediately to your mom!

Xoxo,
Nan
Uncategorized

5 Simple Tips to Help with Stress at Work

I can remember staring at my bulletin board one afternoon at work feeling exhausted and anxious. Life at home as a working mom was so crazy and work was stressful and busy. With my head pounding and my eyelids dropping, I decided I had to do something different. If I couldn’t completely change my outward circumstances I had to find a way to change my response.

I decided to start with my energy levels so I did a second Whole30. I had completed one a year prior because I was struggling with really bad acid reflux. Eating mostly Paleo and eliminating certain foods made a huge difference in my acid reflux but I was miserable not eating my favorite snacks. I quickly jumped back into my old habits after the 30 days. This time around I was so desperate to feel better I didn’t even care if I had to give up my evening popcorn, chips, diet coke or wine. It was honestly a joy to eat foods that made me want to get up in the morning.

Almost 30 days later my evenings now look totally different than before. Where I used to crash on the couch often I’m going for a run with the stroller and my daughter on her bike or I’m working out after the kids are in bed. I’m able to get up at 5:30 every day to have my devotions and a moment of quiet before the rush to get out the door.

I had to make a big lifestyle change in my eating habits because that’s what I needed. But maybe you just need a few simple changes throughout the day that can reduce your stress levels. Along with my diet and exercise I started making these next five things a priority.

I can honestly say I feel more peace than I have in a long time. I’m so thankful for the knowledge that how we care for ourselves truly affects our mental health and quality of life.

Breathe.

When we are busy and focused, we often take short breaths. This leaves us with less oxygen in our bodies and brains making us feel stressed and tired. Deep breathing stops the stress hormone cortisol, which causes that anxious feeling.

An easy way to take a stress lowering deep breath is to feel your belly expand as well as your lungs and hold the breath in- then exhale very slowly. Three or four of these makes a huge difference.

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Get up and move.

It’s important to get out of our work environment for a few minutes. When we come back, our thoughts are clearer, our body calmer and we are more efficient at getting stuff done.

Don’t want to leave the office on your 15 minute break? Try legs on the wall, a restorative yoga move that involves lying on the floor with your legs propped against the wall for a few minutes. This move offers many benefits including helping lower back pain and promoting blood circulation back to the heart, helping you feel energized and calmer. Maybe put “break” on your door!

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Organize.

Studies have shown that a cluttered desk leads to stress and makes us less productive. Finding ways to organize paperwork with trays or a shelf is a good place to start. Keeping a clear desk clears the mind, and gives you more room to spread out and work. A picture of family or friends or a past vacation can also make an office space feel happier. When decorating, colors like blue and purple are calming, while red or orange can promote stress.

I like to put up bible verses that I can look at and repeat when I feel anxious. Some of my favorites are Psalm 121 and John 14:27.

Plan for the day.

Packing healthy snacks to eat during the day and drinking plenty of water is so important. Nothing kills a good mood like being hungry and dehydrated come three o’clock. Snacks with protein like almonds or a protein bar keep blood sugar steady, staving off that “hangry” vibe.

Exercise and eating healthy promote hormone and body chemistry that affect our moods. Even just a walk on a break can calm those anxious stress hormones. Self-care really is not selfish- it makes us better caretakers.

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Give yourself some grace.

Accept help from co-workers and reach out if you need help. If you are truly struggling, let someone know. We all need support. No one should feel completely overwhelmed by stress. Check out a counseling service in your area. Talking to an outside person trained to help deal with pressure and stress can be a huge benefit. Above all, don’t give up and remember that life moves in seasons. This might be a hard one right now, but maybe your season of rest is right around the corner. And sometimes finding inner peace can give you a season of rest even if nothing else changes. That’s what I’ve found and that’s my prayer for you today.

-Claire

divorce, self love, relationships, Uncategorized

Divorce is a dirty word

When mom asked me to write for the blog, I couldn’t think of anything to write about for the longest time. I thought about writing on fitness and the new 6am workout classes I have been killing myself with. Or nutrition and the 1,300 calories I consume daily in order to maintain my 175 lb body. But then it hit me… write about the one thing that’s had the biggest impact on my life…My divorce.

 Divorce.

 It’s a dirty word. It’s a word happily married people shudder at and push out of their head, like they can’t even fathom the idea. I know this, because I used to do it.

Here’s the thing about divorce… rarely does one get married thinking it will end in divorce… its never a planned event that will happen in X amount of years. Divorce sneaks up on you. Sometimes for years, sometimes it only takes weeks. But let’s be honest, we never plan for divorce. That’s why its so tragic. There’s no preparation. No time to figure everything out. It just happens and you react.

[The following story is a one-sided journey. This is my story. My journey. My words. Its also only a very small portion of the full story.]

I got married when I was 23 years old. In my family, that was pretty normal. My mom and dad got married young and have had a beautiful marriage. All my sisters got married young and have also had successful marriages. So, when 23-year-old me walked down the aisle to say “I do” to forever… I didn’t think anything of it. But here’s the thing about being 23 and in love. You are blind. You think you have it all figured out. Well you’re probably wrong. So, there I was. A pretty idiot, standing in front of everyone I knew and loved, committing to something I knew nothing about.

At 23 years old I did not know who I was. I was insecure, afraid to be on my own and too scared to find the independence I yearned for. I was a lost little seedling looking for guidance and I rooted myself into the closest thing I could find to security. A man.

I threw myself into my marriage. I was determined to be a perfect wife. Determined to have a home cooked meal on the table every night. A clean house every day. Determined to keep my body tight and healthy so that my husband found me attractive. Every breath I breathed was for the approval of someone else. I lost myself completely. I lost my identity. At social gatherings, I would stand in a room full of strangers, being introduced as his Wife. That was what I had become, his. Wife.

 In same cases this works for couples, a woman can find total fulfillment in being a housewife. But it takes appreciation from the spouse to find that fulfillment.

So, there I was… 5 years into a marriage where I felt lost and under- valued. I begged for attention, for praise, for my value to be seen. But the truth was… I didn’t see my own value, how could I possibly expect another human to see it? I was a shell of the woman that I had wanted to be. Growing up, I envisioned myself as a CEO of a fashion label or a successful marine biologist. I wanted to be powerful and strong and independent and a boss. And here I was, a sad and lonely housewife working part time as a personal trainer, married to a very successful and powerful man. I felt like nothing.

I will never forget the night when it all changed. It was the day after Valentines day (that we didn’t celebrate). We were sitting in his car, in the driveway of the beautiful home we had bought together. I turned to him and asked “Do you think your life is better because I am in it? Do you think I add value to your life?” He thought about it for a while… and then the earth-shattering answer that forged a will of iron in my heart… “No. Everything we have is because I have worked for it”.

I left the next day.

Walking away from my marriage is the best decision I have ever made. It is my proudest moment. It is my greatest accomplishment.

I saved myself.

I took every ounce of courage I had, every ounce of faith I had, and I blindly stepped into a different life. A better life. The moment I walked away, it felt like the weight of mount Everest had been lifted from my chest. There has not been a single moment of regret. I have taken every single thing I learned from this experience and applied it to my life. I learned about myself, about other people, about how to love, about how to be a good person, friend and daughter. I have learned SO MUCH and therefor I simply cannot regret anything. That does not mean this has all been easy and great. There have been many, many, MANY nights crying and mourning for the life that I thought I was going to have. Many days where fear crept in and I didn’t know if I could do this on my own. To start over completely at almost 30 years old seemed like the scariest thing in the world. And it was. It hasn’t been easy.  My road has been long and winding and full of drop offs and twists and hills. But it is MY journey. And the greatest thing to come out of this journey is my self-acceptance. My self-love. I know 100% without a shadow of a doubt, who I am. I am rooted in love for and by my family. I am a child of God. I am strong. I am a boss. I am beautiful. I am a feminist. I am fearless. I am a friend. I am kind. I am powerful. I am independent. I am tenacious. I am spiritual. I am forgiven. And I am loved. And because I know these things to be true in my heart, it allows me to be the best possible version of myself. And isn’t that what we all need? Just a little more love for ourselves?

I challenge you to take a bold step, to find your independence, your voice. I challenge you to stare at yourself in the mirror for 5 WHOLE MINUTES and say everything you love about yourself. I challenge you to affirm yourself sincerely. I challenge you to talk to someone about your pain, your frustrations, your fears. I challenge you to walk away from the toxic relationship that is hurting you. I challenge you to take at least 20 minutes out of your day for yourself. I challenge you to evaluate your life and make sure you are living as the best possible version of you… Why?? Because you. Are. So. Worth. It. And no one, can define your value except yourself.

-Mary

gratefulness, unselfishness, letting God, morning pages, morning ritual,, mornings, Motherhood, Uncategorized

Morning Pages

I’m not a morning person by nature. I’m a two cups of coffee and maybe I’ll talk to you kinda person in the morning. Some days it is three cups and a shot of espresso but whose counting…

Unless I’m on vacation. Then I can’t wait to wake up. I’m like a kid on Christmas morning. I can’t wait to see what the day holds!

Who doesn’t love waking up to Mickey waffles??

Or when the kiddos wake up before the sun is up but then God puts on this display

Baby Piper

Sunrises over the ocean are worth waking up for

Waffles on the dock at Aylen Lake, Ontario

But everyday mornings, I’d rather hit snooze. Then one day it all changed. As the girls got older, started sleeping better, I started to see I valued my mornings. I learned I love sipping my coffee and watching the sunrise. Reading my devotional and having some alone time before the craziness that is our lives starts.

I read the book, “The Artist Way” last year. The author suggests doing what is called morning pages. You simply write down whatever comes to your mind. Not documenting your life. Not to pass down to your grandkids or to be published. Never to be read again. It’s like brain dumping on paper. The author, Julia Cameron says any thought that causes anxiety that is left in the brain creates chaos and turns off creativity. I have found by simply writing down my thoughts, however dumb to me or petty, it is so relieving. I have come to really enjoy that time. And I leave feeling refreshed. Something that has been bothering me greatly feels less urgent. I can think more clearly about it.

Julia Cameron says, “The morning pages miniaturizes our Censor. The Censor is part of our leftover survival brain. Any original document pretty dangerous to our Censor. Morning pages will allow you to detach from your negative Censor. It may even be going to seem like a grumpy cartoon character. Doing your artist date you are receiving opening yourself to insight, inspiration, guidance.”

Amelia Island Plantation

I have found that taking the time, even if it is five minutes, even on my most stressful crazy days sets the tone for my day. I usually read my devotional, do my morning pages and end in prayer. Just taking that time every morning has been so helpful in maintaining a better stress level and having a clear mind.

You can use any notebook for morning pages. It takes a little bit of time to get used to just writing what comes to your head and not journaling. But once you do, it really is amazing how therapeutic it is. If you are worried about people reading what you write and it is inhibiting how freely you share, take the paper you wrote on and trash it. Ball it up, burn it or tear it to shreds. Remember, the goal isn’t to document but to free your mind. And once that starts to happen, you will start to notice a difference in how you feel about mornings too.

Enjoy the sunrises of life friends! And a good cup of coffee.

-Lauren