I know it's been a while. Freelance writing has kept me from blogging for pleasure,
It's been more than that though that has kept me away. The last three years have been the most challenging of my life. It has been said that through chaos or difficulty, creativity blossoms. There must be some truth to it for here I am with the humble recognition that it is time to refocus and reconnect with the purpose that has always fuelled me -- helping people play to their strengths and step outside of their comfort zone, but now, it is time for me to follow my own advice and take everything to heart that I've every shared with a client.
I've changed the name of this website to Black Truffles. Black Truffles are also called Black Diamonds as they are considered one of nature's miracles. I love truffles almost as much as I love chocolate. I love my little family and the way I am able to feel such a complete sense of joy whenever I am around them. They are nature's gift to me.
Why Black Truffles?
Black Truffles remind me of life. Black Truffles grow in random locations near the root system of host trees. With a deep and meaningful connection to trees, I see so many similarities to the black truffle and life with its multitude of intricate delicacies.
Black or winter truffles, also known as Perigord Truffles have an intense aroma and their growing season is bookended between December through to March. Their finite growing season reminds me that time -- the time we have -- is finite. We have our own growing season and what we make of the season before our expiry date is what matters most.
With the spirit of nature's miracle for inspiration, I've gotten into the habit of nicknaming my little black dog and cat "black truffles".
Black Truffle -- Olive
To mark a new beginning, we brought home a new puppy. Her name is Olive and she has been a life saver. She doesn't know it, but thinking about her and being with her has been the best experience to help move me beyond thoughts that aren't helpful and serve no useful purpose.
Black Truffle -- Bella
Bella is our 7 year old cat. We adopted her as a kitten from the Humane Society. I held off getting a dog because of Bella. The introduction between dog and cat has gone remarkably well. As her curiosity prevails. we see more of Bella as she watches Olive explore her new surroundings. I think she finds the tiny, black. curly, squirmy creature somewhat amusing, if not also occasionally irritating.
While this site will still host a lifestyle blog, reader be warned that there will likely be more photos of Olive and Bella along with my raw hearted entries as the universe guides me to share courageously.
A little late is never too late when it comes to a story. Please enjoy Chapter 1 of The New Holiday -- my new year's offering.
The New Holiday
Traudel opened the small door to her “step in” bedroom closet. She glanced inside the cramped space overstuffed with dresses, shoes, purses and sweaters. Unsure what to wear to the neighbour’s Christmas party, she contemplated what garment would appear appropriate. Something understated, but respectful, she thought. It was her first Christmas in Canada with the girls. The email from Myrtle, her neighbour four doors up the street, made the gathering sound casual, but indicated that dinner would be served, which added a level of formality. “It is a chance to meet your other neighbours”, Myrtle wrote.
Traudel’s hand brushed lightly against the outdated dresses that hung inside her closet as if suffocating from too close quarters. Her collection of dresses dangled awkwardly from the top bar of a makeshift closet organizer that was neither sturdy or functional. After a few minutes of frustrated searching, she pulled free an uncomplicated knee length black wrap dress. Satisfied with her selection, her attention turned to Violet and Vesper who, she was certain, would be in an equally tense state. She knew they were nervous about the party and had no idea what to wear or what to anticipate. After a few minutes of focused attention, each girl’s closet offered a choice that was agreeable to the wearer and to Traudel.
This Winnipeg winter was unusually warm. The weather report called for temperatures hovering around freezing, but nothing like the subzero Arctic cold conditions she’d read or been previously warned about. Her friends back in London bought her a Cloudveil down-filled ski jacket as her going away gift. Designed for skiing in Jackson, Wyoming, they felt it the perfect gift. They laughed and gently teased Traudel about Winterpeg and why it had deserved this chilly revision to its name. She nervously laughed in her unsuccessful attempts to seem merely amused by their comments.
Traudel had been living in the UK since she was 18. While she had been used to inclement weather, the idea of voluntarily relocating her daughters to Canada seemed almost foolhardy upon more than a moment’s serious contemplation. Her employer, a multinational insurer with offices all over the world, offered her a leadership position in Winnipeg. After weeks of talking over the pros and cons with Vesper and Violet, the three girls decided to take the plunge and make the move. It was an opportunity of a lifetime for Traudel who had been working her way up the ranks of the same company since her move from Cornwall to London ten years ago.
The girls convinced their mom that they longed for adventure and Winnipeg seemed as good a place as any to begin an entirely new chapter. “Canada was a British colony and 1982 wasn’t really all that long ago.” Vesper noted with a matter of fact air as she effortlessly looked up from her tablet. “It was only then that legal control of the Parliament was transferred from British rule with the enactment of the Canada Act.” Violet, 16 and full of naive impatience sighed in frustration. She felt certain her younger sister read too much and comments such as this one poignantly reinforced her book-smart quirkiness.
The move wasn’t their first, nor was it as monumental as it seemed. Travelling over an ocean to another continent proved to be far less traumatic then their journey from Cornwall to London after the painful sting of reality struck home. Enyon had left them for good this time.
With the look of someone who had no idea what she hoped to find, Traudel now stared into the tiny front hall closet of their 1970 kitschy townhouse in search of a warm winter coat. On this last Sunday before Christmas, her mind seemed particularly distracted as her thoughts travelled like the TARDIS back in time. It took her to a memory where innocence and hope seemed in ample supply.
Traudel Hofnung left Munich when she was 18. She jumped at the chance to leave home. Wanting to perfect her English and pursue her love of all things British, she quickly accepted the job offer to become an assistant steward at St. Mawes Castle in Cornwall. It was one of King Henry VIII’s coastal fortresses. Traudel’s naive romantic notions about working in an ancient English castle would not be denied. No matter how seemingly remote, this former artillery fort built around 1540 continued to welcome travel-seasoned visitors year after year.
Traudel, cajoled by her colleagues to join her at the local pub, met Enyon after he, not watching where he was going, collided with her straight on while carrying an almost full pint of ale. Enyon was two years her senior and seemed far more worldly and mature. After quickly apologizing for the mishap, he resourcefully secured a towel and a fresh pint for Traudel. Enyon's eyes, Traudel marvelled, looked like chocolate pools of liquid sweetness as they showered her with an ever present gaze. Traudel soon found herself lost in his distinct Cornish accent and couldn't seem to pull herself free. With the concentration of a Russian chess player, she found the way he pronounced the sound after every vowel a lyrical brilliance. He proudly exclaimed that Cornwall was one of five Celtic nations of the British Isles and that it remained part of mainland England.
Traudel didn't consider mentioning that this wasn't new information to her. She didn't want him to think her a know-it-all sort of foreign girl. She enjoyed listening to him and revelled in securing his full attention. He didn't make her feel self conscious about her own accent. She found herself volleying question after question at her fabulous Englishman who entertained her with lively responses that always seemed to lead to a witty retort or a descriptive retelling of a favourite cornish tale. With no ability to predict her future, she basked fully in love's first blush.
"We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives." Gary Zukav
Consciously choosing to show up for each day and each season is a gift we give ourselves. As a polite form of introductory conversation, many of us tend to talk about the weather when meeting someone new or when we're not sure what else to discuss. Regardless of the reason, it is worth noticing when and how you talk about the weather. Do you experience it for the natural wonder that it brings to you in each given moment? No two days are exactly alike just as each snowflake that lands is different - as they fall, atmospheric changes cause different patterns of ice crystals to form.
Yesterday marked the first day of December, the gate-keeper of winter. After November's rapid race toward the shortest and darkest day of the year, I count on the premiere of this mystical month as the harbinger of all things officially seasonal. With guiltless abandon, I listen to Christmas music and shamelessly illuminate my front porch with twinkly Christmas lights. December hands me the permission slip to cuddle up with my favourite blanket, sip marshmellow-melting hot cocoa and commence Christmas movie watching marathon weekends.
December also used to be the 10th month of the Roman year and gets its name from the word "decem', which means ten. With this as my inspiration, I offer ten tips to help you savour the season and slow down. Why make it a time of so much hustle and bustle? Give yourself a perfect gift and make your December sparkle.
1) Mark each day of the month by doing one thing just for you. It can be something small or big-- take walk in your neighbourhood and catch the still of the moment, enjoy a warming cup of tea or coffee and just let the moment be, look up at the night sky and find the North Star or light a candle and watch it flicker.
2) Sleep in a bit longer and go to bed 30 minutes earlier -- you'll have more focus and the extra sleep helps to fight off germs that come with cold and flu season too.
3) If weather permits, go for a sleigh ride.
4) Read a chapter in a book that you've been meaning to open.
5) Listen to music that inspires you.
6) Say no thanks. Say no to things you don't feel will nurture your mind, body and Spirit. Maybe it is saying no to a party you don't feel like attending.
7) Defer. Schedule time in January to get together with friends. Chances are they are feeling rushed and crunched for time. Lift the sense of obligation to gather in December. January blues are best remedied with the cheer and good will of those we most want to see.
8) Think moderation. There is no need to throw all your good habits to the wind as soon December's festivities roll around. Say yes to some seasonal indulgences, but think about the toll you'll put on your body if you overdo it. You'll thank yourself in January if thoughts of healthy choices and smaller doses of excess sweets and savouries win out this month.
9) Remember it truly is the thought that counts. Curb the need overspend this season. A call, a friendly smile and a pay it forward gesture are gifts that endure. Less can truly be more. Come January, you'll also thank yourself when your credit card bill arrives.
10) Be gentle with yourself. If (or when) you mess up this month, think about what you'd say to a loved one or a close friend and offer yourself the same consolation. Looking at yourself with compassionate eyes allows you to see the world for the wonder and splendor each day holds.
Today is a day to remember, not with regret or remorse, but with the simplicity of acceptance of a time gone by and of a time weathered with sacrifice. As we step into silence if only for a brief moment, let us acknowledge the roles played by the men and women who served our countries as heroes.
Joseph Campbell said, "A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself." So on this day, in the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, let us reflect on the effects of war and those we’ve lost, but also honour the noblest of ideals and what we stand for as a nation either north or south of the border. Let us respect our past and look ahead to the future with a hopeful and generous heart. And in our collective silence, let a wish for peace take root and gently sooth the souls of those strained with pain and suffering.
Please take this moment to pause – in silence – and give thanks to all who served. Their efforts were not given in vain, but were made with a conscious awareness of duty and purpose.
Remembrance Day: Bugle – The last post
Veteran's Day 2014-Star Spangled Banner as sung by SSG (Staff Sergeant) Alford
I am the product of immigrant parents who were born during the depression and were young children during the Second World War. They faced poverty and fear for much of their early and formative years. As a result, and like many other traditionalists (born between 1900-1945), their sense of scarcity ran rampant. They hoarded paper products, sugar, had a second fridge and a full-size freezer stocked with food. "You never know when something bad might happen or when we might need extra supplies." I can hear my mother's words echo in my ears to this day.
They were fierce savers. They went without and didn't own credit cards and couldn't fathom having debt of any kind. They benefited for the high interest rates of the early 1980s -- (think 21% plus!). Those days seem like a fantasy, but for the savers of the pre-Baby boomer era, they were important and created a boost in wealth the likes of which generations to follow haven't ever experienced. In particular, my mom was essere attaccato al denaro (so tight with money) that it created an opposite outcome for me. I worked hard, but I also consumed with equal fervour. I owned a nice car and lived in a beautiful neighbourhood and I wasn't afraid to carry a healthy amount of debt to support my lifestyle. It isn't that the pendulum swung completely in the opposite direction as my career in Benefits and Pension Plan Administration helped me realize early on the need to save for retirement.
In recent years, I've done a lot more research on financial fitness along with understanding the mindsets of North Americans and their relationship with money. I've spoken at various industry-related conferences on the topic and know that walking the talk is paramount to my credibility. So I started really looking at my own situation and made some dramatic changes.
Today's tips reflect the resources that have benefited me. They also provide links to some great free aids to help you budget, save, and assess your financial savvy.
Reading - The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton.This is by far my favourite book on the world of money. It was written over 20 years ago and is "edu-tainment" at its finest and provides many helpful tips including: pay yourself first, invest the 10% in mutual funds, add real estate to your investments and it's better to pay off your non tax-deductible debts than to put money into other investments (pay off your credit card loans first!). There is also The Wealthy Barber Returns which was released a few years ago, but I would stick with the original as the best resource.
Links: Here are some of my tops links to help you build a solid foundation and healthy relationship with your denaro (money in Italian)
Preparing your will
Planning your retirement
10 Important financial lessons every person should know
Create a budget and stick to it. If you don't have one -- the feds have some terrific free resources and November is financial literacy month so the tools available overfloweth. Here is a link to a free budget calculator.
Make a goal for big ticket items and save for them instead of going into debt. This is something The Wealthy Barber Returns stresses and David provides several real examples of people who have been creative about saving for big ticket items like vacations and renovations. It makes sense even if we don't like the idea of making a sacrifice now. Debt is like karma and will always need to be repaid.
Pay off your credit cards on a monthly basis. The lure of --get it now painlessly-- and-- pay it off later-- is terribly tempting. Yes, credit cards allow you to have 'free money' for a month, but when the bill comes due, you need to pay the piper. Interest on outstanding credit cards runs upwards of 18%. A simple but hard rule to follow: Don't spend it unless you can pay it ALL off in 30 days time.
Have a financial advisor - having a professional in your court to help you manage your financial investments is critical. Sleep well at night knowing you have an expert who is focused on managing your investments as his or her full-time job. The price of peace of mind for your financial future is well worth it.
Get to know your banker - they can help you with creative ways to save and assist you in reducing the duration of your mortgage payments. Talk to them about your goals and you might be surprised as to the different ways they will guide your financial success.
Be honest with yourself about your relationship with money. Most people would rather talk about anything else and many have a denial mentality when it comes to their finances. Bills will pile up and time passes no matter how much we wish it to be otherwise. Get comfortable with your relationship with money and give yourself more freedom in life so you don't find yourself trapped in a job you hate, stuck in a relationship you want to leave, and strapped in a home that makes you house poor.
Find out how your money skills add up and take this free assessment. 30 questions. 8 minutes. You've got the time.
In my wallet where I reach for money (bills, change and credit cards) I have a label printed that reads, "Do I really need this?" Every time I open the wallet, I read this question and it jolts me into reality and reminds me to seriously ask myself the question. If the answer is NO, I close my wallet and step away. I know I'll thank myself later and smile thinking that Roy, the Wealthy Barber, would approve.
This week, I'm so pleased to introduce you to a new guest blogger, my friend, Sarah Martin. I met Sarah during a presentation I gave over a year ago. We kept in touch and meet regularly to discuss her goals and dreams. Her kind and gentle mannerisms bring a sense of calmness everywhere she goes. Sarah is a bright light and I'm so happy to share her writing with you. To read more of Sarah's posts, please visit her website at sarahnicolewr.wordpress.com
Sarah writes: My name is Sarah Nicole and I am passionate about living my life with a great sense of purpose. I first met Susan Cranston at a workshop she facilitated in Kitchener about a year ago. I was immediately inspired by the energy and passion Susan brought to her work; I knew I needed to get to know this woman. The first time we had tea I expected to hear Susan’s story and learn about being an entrepreneur. What I did not expect was to have her invest in my life and give me the push I needed to gain traction on my own hopes and dreams. My blog, “Stories of Self-Discovery”, is one of the products of this push. I hope you’ll enjoy this one. Feel free to leave me a comment on the page.
A few weeks ago I got the call that I was selected for a reputable leadership program. Over the past two years I have been researching the program, attending events and meeting some of the past grads. The program offers an opportunity to gain valuable experience and grow my network, so naturally I was ecstatic when given the sponsorship to apply. It was odd that when I got the call I didn't even do a happy dance. Instead, my mind drifted off to my next potential feat.
My lack of appreciation and celebration really hit me when more than 24 hours went by and I had forgotten to tell anyone I was selected. It triggered me to reflect on my response to some other milestone events in my life. I graduated two grueling years of college and forgot to register for my commencement or take any photos; while the rest of my class was celebrating, I was visualizing the years of work I had ahead. I graduated from my Bachelor of Arts Degree and barely gave myself a pat on the back; I knew there would be a couple of post-grad programs to come. I got a full-time job right out of university and didn't really celebrate; I was hired for my second choice position in the organization.
As I finished a replay of events in my mind, I started to recall the importance of celebration; I think it's really tied to gratitude. There are a lot of different studies and articles written on the subject of gratitude and well being. Robert Emmons is a well-known Positive Psychologist. After exploring some of his content, I came across a YouTube clip that sums up a few of his findings. First, gratitude helps us to be in the present and allows for celebration; positive emotions wear off fast, but appreciating the value of something allows us to maximize its positive impact. Second, being grateful can block toxic emotions like envy, resentment and regret. Third, Grateful people are more stress resistant; this means resiliency in stressful situations and a positive perspective to interpret life events. Finally, gratitude strengthens social ties and self-worth; by being appreciative of people in our lives who make positive contributions to us, we can also strengthen our own self-worth.
It's unfortunate the way I seem to let the "unachieved" experiences stick like Velcro, while the positive ones can quickly slip on by. The flow of my experiences shape my mind, so it's not surprising that I often fall into the same patterns of thinking, feeling or doing over and over again. Similarly to studies on gratitude, the Buddhist 8 Fold Path is about creating, preserving and increasing positive memories that benefit one's self and others. The answer is not to push negativity or 'the unachieved' out of my mind, but to take time to acknowledge and appreciate positive thoughts, emotions and experiences. Take time to celebrate.
Here is my gratitude/celebration plan for the days and years to come...
1. Notice it - make a point of acknowledging when I reach a new milestone, accomplish a goal or follow through on something I've said I'll do, even the little things. Example: I finished this blog instead of binge watching Orange is the New Black (that was hard).
2. Own it - take in the good, give myself some love and respect, be grateful for what I've done to get where I am and grateful for those who have contributed to my life in a positive way. Example: Wow, I'm really awesome. I've always loved writing and now I'm sharing my thoughts with the world, rather than hiding them in my bedside table. I'm so grateful for my husband who always supports my passions and validates my abilities.
3. Celebrate it - whether it's big or small, have a party! Example: happy dance, an Americano at DVLB, a solo walk in the park, write a thank you note, or share my accomplishment with someone who has supported me in getting there
By taking time to celebrate, I'll give myself time to absorb the greatness of who I am, who I have supporting me and all that I have to be grateful for. "Gratitude is the recognition that life owes me nothing and all the good I have is a gift." ~ Robert Emmons
Disappointments in life will happen. That is a certainty. No one I’ve ever met hasn't experienced a setback or a time when things didn’t go quite as planned. Sometimes it can seem as if your life has hit a run of discouraging experiences and this might leave you feeling a bit shaken and uncertain.
Feeling your expectations haven’t been met is one thing, but falling into a state of misery and sorrowful behaviour as a result of disappointment is another. Misery is a choice. This means that you can decide how you show up especially when you feel you’ve experienced one setback or several.
I’ve often used the term ‘first world problems’ to describe situations that have given me a bit of anxiety or stress. I do this as a reminder that I live in a free nation, have peace in my land, have clean running water, a roof over my head and love in my heart. I am safe. On Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I am not worrying on a daily basis about finding food, shelter or safety.
It can be easy to forget this perspective when you’re knee-deep in a conflict with someone or when you’re busy obsessing about a financial worry related to buying a bigger or better home, a nicer car, or a fancier wardrobe.
This week’s tips involve ways to avoid suffering and misery.
On a scale of 1 (I do this a little, rarely or never) to 5 (I do this a lot), I invite you to honestly and privately rate yourself on the tips I’ve shared. Take stock this week and equip yourself to drive positive outcomes even in the face of disappointments.
I often ask people two questions when I meet them: 1) If you could host a dinner party and invite 5 guests either living or deceased, who would you choose? 2) If you were on death row and were asked to order your last meal, what would it be?
In the spirit of being more upbeat, this post focuses on question 1. One name that has surfaced on this list of hypothetical guests is Benjamin Franklin. Yesterday, I picked up a book and read a reference to him and this morning, I did the same in yet another book. It was a sign that the universe wanted me to explore this American Founding Father’s approach to productivity. Ben was no slacker. Born in 1706, he became a scientist, a writer, a diplomat, a musician, a printer, a postmaster and an inventor. His best known inventions include the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove and the Pros and Cons List, which next to GPS is one of my favourite practical applications.
Ben's Pros and Cons methodology:
"My Way is, to divide half a Sheet of Paper by a Line into two Columns, writing over the one Pro, and over the other Con. Then during three or four Days Consideration I put down under the different Heads short Hints of the different Motives that at different Times occur to me for or against the Measure. When I have thus got them all together in one View, I endeavour to estimate their respective Weights; and where I find two, one on each side, that seem equal, I strike them both out: If I find a Reason pro equal to some two Reasons con, I strike out the three. If I judge some two Reasons con equal to some three Reasons pro, I strike out the five; and thus proceeding I find at length where the Ballance lies; and if after a Day or two of farther Consideration nothing new that is of Importance occurs on either side, I come to a Determination accordingly."
Let’s just say that ol’ Ben didn’t have a problem getting things done. What can be learned from his approach? I believe his daily schedule is a timeless reflection of creating a day worth living — one filled with purpose-driven thoughts and actions.
Ben’s approach wasn’t complicated and I believe it can be adapted to our times and those yet to come. This week’s WWTips pays homage to Monsieur Franklin’s daily schedule.
We have a great role model in Benjamin Franklin and it is abundantly helpful that his methods are not complicated and that they hold true to the test of time. His methods do require a healthy amount of consistency and personal accountability. If you’re not convinced these tips are worth the effort, try making a pros and cons list and decide from there...I believe Ben would approve.
This week's Wise Wednesday Tips is provided by guest blogger and Authentika Studios practitioner, Denise Christie. Denise is an Ayurveda Instructor, Human Resources Leader, and Energy Medicine Practitioner. She has been coaching individuals and groups for almost 20 years. I'm so honoured to have Denise as a collaborator in Authentika Studios and grateful for all the inner talents she shares with me and so many others.
Although there are many different ways you may choose to celebrate the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, there is one thing for sure… it is an excellent opportunity for us to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives.
I recently returned from visiting my 94 year-old grandfather in the hospital and I was reminded of all the blessings in my own life that I had taken for granted, such as; the air in my lungs, the heart beating strongly in my chest, and the ability to move my body effortlessly.
Of course I wish I could bring back the days where he took all these gifts for granted as well but knowing that won’t be possible, I turn to the next best thing I can think of which is remembering all those moments that I am grateful for. I am grateful for driving the truck while sitting on his knee when I was 6 years old, going to the barn and helping him milk the cows, going to his favourite restaurant, and even seeing him drive to my birthday party just 2 years ago at the age of 90.
I am grateful my grandfather has had such a long vibrant life and is loved by so many. I encourage you to ponder this weekend what you are grateful for.
“Life isn’t measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” Unknown
"I'm never going to change my eating habits." I distinctly remember saying that to one of my co-workers. It was in context of trying to live a healthier life and get in shape, standing from a place where I weighed over 300 pounds, was allergic to exercise, and my favourite evening activity was eating a large meal (often a big bowl of pasta and lots of bread) before parking my butt on the couch and playing through the latest video game.
I remember being in that place and feeling like I'd sort of "arrived" in my life and this was how it would be forever. Those stories you read about and see on television of amazing rapid transformations make for exciting storytelling (and as an author I appreciate that), however my experience has taught me that this is the exception rather than the rule. I believe that real, sustainable change is a deliberate process, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
My life has changed significantly. Don't get me wrong, I still spend too much time on the couch watching the Blue Jays, and I don't exercise every day, but a lot of other things have changed. Over the last few years I have...
- Lost around 100 pounds
- Implemented a regular exercise regiment
- Ran a 5K, Cycled a 50K
- Taken control of my eating habits
- Become a Yoga Teacher
- Written and Self-published two books
If you'd given me that list of things all those years ago when I was talking to my co-worker and said that I would do them all, I would have laughed at you. "Me? Do that? Really? But I like pizza and video games too much, and I might miss something on TV!" At the time a list of goals like that would have been an insurmountable mountain of work. But change is slow... Here's how I did it.
In the beginning, I started out doing something I love. I had enjoyed playing badminton with my dad when I was in high school, and had even played with the school team. So when I found out that the local community centre was offering a badminton program, twice per week for 1 hour at a time, I signed up. Low commitment, and the first few weeks were exhausting, but I remembered why I loved it so much as a kid, and stuck with it. Besides, it was only 2 hours a week.
After a few months, I started to notice my clothes fitting a little looser, and liked what I saw and how I felt. I decided to take another small step, adding in another night of badminton per week, this one for 2 1/2 hours per night, doubling my weekly commitment. More results, and still doing something I love.
At this point I remember hitting something of a plateau, not losing any more weight, still coming home after badminton to pizza or chips or some other snack afterwards. For all the good I was doing, I was undoing it all when I got home. So I instituted a "no snacks after dinner" rule, thinking this was a small step I could take. (Full disclosure - I still struggle to maintain this "rule"). More results!
A few months later, I started to watch what I ate a little more. Making a point of having vegetables with most meals (not just ketchup on a hamburger), and not immediately going for the biggest bowl of pasta when I went out. More results!
Looking to add some more variation into my exercise routine, I took a friend up on her offer to attend a yoga class with her. Going to one class seemed reasonable and a small step, so I took the plunge. One class per week turned into two classes per week, and then to a daily practice at home, and eventually to Kripalu for Yoga Teacher Training. Each step along the way coming as a small additional commitment to what I was already doing.
Wanting to increase my speed and endurance on the badminton court, I picked up a "Couch to 5K" program (it was about zombies - appealing to the geek in me), and started to walk, then run, and eventually did a 5K run in memory of my father. These "learn to run" programs resonate with me, as each week you increase your activity a little bit at a time until you're able to run a 5K.
Looking to expand my horizons, and picking up on a long dormant love of storytelling, I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo, taking on the challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. The small victories I had achieved over the course of the previous years inspired me to take on a new challenge, and was rewarded with a profound sense of achievement as I held the first copy of my book in my hands.
While that seems like a lot and a happy story, there were many setbacks along the way, however with the approach of going slow, taking small steps, and celebrating the victories (I remember the first time I had to give away clothes that no longer fit me because they were TOO BIG - talk about a reason to celebrate!), no setback was ever fatal, and the change was sustainable. Rather than changing my life all at once, I was changing one little thing at a time, adjusting the new normal slowly, in a way my mind and body could comprehend.
Sorry for the long story, I know you're probably here for the tip :) So what are my tips to you?
- Find the next step, the smallest thing you can take on towards your goal.
- Start with something you love.
- Celebrate the small victories, and don't be too discouraged by the setbacks.
Change is gradual, and growth can come from anywhere, enjoy the journey!