I just returned from a two-week holiday with only my husband (sans children – GASP!), with no stress, days upon days of unending happiness, lots of belly laughs, lots of love from some amazing friends and lots of exercise (and food, lots of food! – ok, ok and alcohol).
I now have a renewed sense of how important it is for self-care. It was REALLY hard to leave for two weeks and it took a team of people to make it possible. You see, on top of having three children, we also have managed to acquire have three cats and three goats. Let’s just say that I never saw that coming. This involved coordinating the care for each one of those beating hearts. It took eight people! Eight people stepped up for us so that we could have a break. I will always be grateful. The coordinating and packing and organizing was one thing, but the guilt was real. So much so, that I felt sick in the days leading up to our departure. All that being said, I feel like a new woman now that we are back and the trip is now a thing that I did.
Our kids got to spend two weeks being doted on by their grandparents while developing long lasting and loving relationships with them. They grew up in those two weeks. I came back to the baby who had a whole new vocabulary, stringing together words into sentences and displaying new ways of communicating with his body and hands. It was hilarious and so entertaining.
Our middle daughter, the jokester, was cracking new and witty jokes and our oldest was suddenly “using her words” to explain how she felt before flying into a rage fueled meltdown. It was like all the things I was trying to instill in her, all of these years had suddenly come together in front of my eyes. It felt like a miracle (no joke). I cried.
There was, of course, a downside. Our baby (well, toddler really) had a harder time. When he saw me, he called my name and came running into my arms. We hugged and I cried with joy. I thought, ok, I am in the clear – it’s all good. Then he saw his dad and the love fest started all over again, it was a beautiful reunion. When the dust settled and all the hellos and hugs were doled out, he didn’t want me. He gave me the cold shoulder. He pushed my hands away when I tried to touch him. He ran to everyone else, but me. I tried to laugh it off, but it hurt. Thank goodness for the girls, because they had love and hugs for days.
He made it clear that I had to earn back his love. And, let me tell you, I worked my ass off. Thankfully, the next day I had him to myself for about an hour, while the girls disappeared into their room to play. We read books, played, sang songs and snuggled. After awhile he started offering up unsolicited kisses. Kisses on my cheeks, knees, arms, head and I was so relieved. So many times, he would make silent eye contact with me for far longer than is natural and then would say one thing: mama. Almost like he couldn’t believe I was there. It took a few days, but we are back to normal. What is mostly different is his more solid connection with his dad. I will take that any day. It’s beautiful.
The point here is that despite the difficult part, this trip was so necessary. I am patient and I have so much more to give my kiddos now. I don’t feel like I want to yell. My frustrations are fewer, but when they are there, I am not reacting to them. I have a clearer perspective on the kids’ behaviour. I am working with them instead of against them. On a personal level, I really notice when I start to get anxious and agitated and I am more able to control myself and my emotions. I feel braver and more capable. I have more energy for all the things. Most importantly, my husband and I are more connected than ever. Having kids can do a number on your relationship, if you let it. Finally, I see the ease in my kids and it’s like a big weight has been lifted from all of us.
Then my thoughts go to, how do I maintain this feeling while juggling jobs and babies etc…. Well, it’s going to be small investments throughout the days, weeks, months and year ahead, and let’s be real – some more solo trips in the future.
Every exercise prescription professional out there, including myself will tell you that you need 30 minutes of moderate exercise several times a week to keep you healthy. Well, tell that to a single mom, a stay at home mom, a working mom, or any mom you who has all the things hanging over her head (laundry, dishes, entertainment, kids activities/appointments, meals, work obligations, you name it, you can list it here). Tell her that she also needs to fit in 30 minutes of exercise. Ha! Some are able and do it well and others, many others, have a hard time.
Being in the health, wellness and exercise business has me thinking constantly about how to help women exercise. How to get them moving well, and make it doable and worth it. So, I came up with the idea of doing a 10 minute teaser challenge. Exercise 10 minutes at a time, a minimum of 3 times per week for 28 days.
Would it work? I don’t know. The only real way to know was to try. So, try I did.
I created four 10 minute Pilates-based videos that I posted each week of the challenge. I did this so they would have something different to work with week to week. The first week was a video that addresses multiple areas of the body. The second week was legs, the third was core (at their request) and the final video was arms.
I am being totally transparent here, a lot of people didn’t complete the challenge for a variety of reasons, but I had a handful of women who committed and they benefited greatly from it. Here are some of the things that were improved due to the challenge:
- Sense of well-being
- Exercise competency
- Mental health
Ummm….yeah. You just read that. Not everyone experienced all of those improvements, but take it this way, those that did commit, experienced some combination of these improvements in their health and well-being. Just by exercising for 10 minutes at a time. That is a big deal.
Remember, movement is medicine. My philosophy is that when life is hectic and it feels hard to find time for our self-care, 10 minutes is enough, for now. Keep moving mamas, you can do it.
The Raptor’s NBA Championship parade in Toronto was far more than a shooting. Before I get into it, I want to start this off by saying that I do not want to undermine the safety of hundreds of thousands perhaps millions of people or the terrible injuries that will require a significant amount of physical and emotional healing. In time, those physical wounds will heal and for some the emotional wounds will take far, far longer.
I do however, want to talk about the things no one is going to talk about now that these shootings have taken place. Our experience was a legitimately wonderful one, even as we nearly got trampled with our six- and eight-year-old daughters, alongside my 72-year-old mother in law. We got out safely, but I wasn’t sure that would happen.
Throughout the day, I kept hearing rumblings about the beauty of us all congregating to celebrate, despite coming from all walks of life. This is indeed true. Living in Toronto provides us that benefit, one I never dare take for granted. I love a city where Nav Bhatia is a Raptor’s superfan and ends up being the grand marshal of the parade. That man does so much good for Toronto.
From the moment we stepped onto the subway, I had a touching moment with a rider about Demar Derozan, a beloved Raptor that was traded from the team for Kawhi Leonard, and the sadness I felt every time I saw his name on the back of a jersey. He also had a positive and lasting impact on our city. We had a collective chuckle with a co-rider when our southbound subway doors opened and not one person left. We all knew where we were headed. Or how about that poor woman who was going to work and had to face throngs of Raptors fans. She wasn’t getting the day off. Without hesitation, the crowds parted for her.
Bringing our daughters to a place with that many people is crazy. I had some major anxiety going in as I questioned my sanity for bringing them. But, we wanted them to experience this historical event and decided to trust in those around us. We found a safe way into the city square through a picturesque garden at the courthouse. That garden became our oasis of safety when we needed a break and some shade. Once safely inside the square, the people around us were funny, respectful, accommodating, concerned for our well-being, and helpful. They even checked their language more than a few times (without my urging).
At one point we needed a little break and so, I brought my eldest to the garden through what was now a much thicker crowd than before. It was harried and overwhelming for her, but one woman who could tell we were struggling, let us pass. The wrought-iron gates dividing the space we were in, from our oasis had a small door that allowed one person to leave at time. We got out just as we could feel the swell of a push behind us.
Unaware of the shooting that had just taken place, we ventured back into the masses to rejoin our group, but things were even crazier. We could really feel the crushing wave of people trying to escape. Being interested by all things movement, it occurred to me in that moment that my body was no longer my own and I didn’t have a whole lot of control over it. We were now just part of the wave of the crowd. It would have been so easy for us to have fallen and I shudder at the thought of what would happen next. We quickly turned around but were faced with that door again. People wanted in and we wanted out. Add to that, the extra pressure of the crowd at our backs. What was once a secret garden door that allowed us access into all the fun was now a barrier to freedom and a real threat to our safety. Somehow, we got out, but not without a bunch of tears, some heart pounding moments and a guardian angel.
After being reunited with our family, a woman with the most beautiful open face and smile, approached to ask if we were OK. She told me that she helped hold back the people to let us out. I don’t know if I thanked her enough for her kindness, because as we looked to our left we saw a steady flow of people running. Running to get away from the party we had all WAITED for. A place we wouldn’t be too keen on leaving in a hurry. And, so our celebratory day to an end, setting us on the path of getting home only to learn about what had really happened and to reflect on our experience.
That night we had an excellent chat with our girls with our daily gratitude exercise. What came out of it for me was this. Each of the people who made that day so special was different from me, especially if you were to compare us side by side. I am not going to list off the reasons why, because none of it matters. What is more important is how each of these people is the same as me. We all have families, we all want the freedom to feel safe in public spaces and share in that public space without fear, we all want to walk away from these experiences with beautiful, shared memories and ultimately, we all want to get home safely. This was an historical event that deserved to be recognized for what it was.
What happened was not a reflection of all those people celebrating. It was, however, the reflection of the four people among millions who made some very terrible choices. I decided that day to choose to see the good in those around me and not the bad of those select few. My thoughts and love go to all those who were injured and who were made to feel doubt about the safety of our city and the real goodness in people.