Winnie the Poo and Tigger Too

My dad passed away last month. Not only was he my dad but he was my best friend. He had a rare and terminal neurodegenerative disease called Multiple Systems Atrophy and only lived for two years after receiving the diagnosis at 59 years old.

When someone very close to you is facing an impending death, time becomes finite. You purposefully select the conversations that you want to have and the memories you want to share as your time together fades away. It feels like an egg timer has been turned over and you are watching helplessly as the grains of sand fall and trickle down to the bottom. Where life once felt carefree with endless days to attend to to-do lists and to friends and family who you’ve been meaning to visit with but decided, again, that today was not the day, suddenly becomes urgent, imperative and irreplaceable.

As difficult as it is, grieving while someone is still alive creates absolute meaning and clarity around every moment that you’ve been given to spend time together. You retreat into the recesses of your memory to pull out every detail that you would like to share, or laugh and cry about together. Every single moment becomes so meaningful and precious; you wonder how you ever lived your life any other way.

One thing I was sure of in such an emotionally confusing time was that I felt compelled to say thank you for one of my most cherished childhood memories of reading bedtime stories. As a young girl every evening I would go to the bookshelf and pick two of my favourite books and he would read them to me every single night without exception. It was our special time together. Now, as my dad and I’s time together dwindled away, this very ordinary and commonplace childhood experience suddenly became ultimately invaluable.

Something that particularly upset my dad was that he wasn’t going to live to see any grandchildren. During the final month of my dad’s life, he retrieved one of my old books Winnie the Poo and Tigger Too and read the book aloud using a voice recorder so that I would have this cherished childhood memory saved forever. It was something I received a few days after he passed away.

What an incredible gift I will have to give to our first child, a story read to him or her by their grandpa who is in heaven.

Spring Cleaning for the Mind, Body and Soul

It’s that time of year again.. The birds are singing, the tulips are budding and springtime is just around the corner. It’s also the time that we start to look around and realize we’re in need of a big clean up. But why stop at your closet? Here are some tips to spring clean your mind, body and soul.

Mind:
Dust out those cobwebs! Do you have old thought patterns lying around that you’ve been wanting to get rid of? Today is the day!

Often we have a habit of focusing on negative thought patterns that cause us distress on a daily basis. Typically these negative thought patterns lead to self-limiting behaviours. That’s right.. you could be the cause of your own limitations. What are some of the usual suspects of negative self-sabotage? “I’m not good enough”, “I can’t do that” and “I’m not capable of living my life like that”. Does this sound like a circular thought pattern that’s residing in your mind? Today is the day to change.

Often these negative thought patterns begin first thing in the morning when our alarm clock goes off. Immediately we’re thinking that we’re too tired to get up and we didn’t get enough sleep. Or worse, we begin dreading going to work or the tasks that lay before us. First thing in the morning is the best time to catch these negative nancy thought patterns in the act! Rather then starting your day off with pessimistic thoughts, begin your day with positive affirmations such as “Today is going to be a good day” and “I am looking forward to completing the tasks that lay before me”. This is key; start you day off right and you will pave the way for cleaning up your thoughts for the rest of the day.

Once you’ve gotten out of bed in a positive joyful state, you’re now ready to greet the day. When you encounter minor setbacks throughout the day, if you maintain your positive outlook and continue to say your affirmations, you will easily laugh them off as just another adventure leading you along your path. A few days ago I could not find my keys in the morning to lock my house. Once I got to work I found them on my desk! Rather then get frustrated and upset and let it throw me into a tailspin for the rest of the day, I laughed it off and acknowledged the opportunity to enjoy the morning sunshine a little longer as I drove home to lock my door.

Body:
As it’s now March, chances are if you set a New Year’s resolution you have likley forgotten it by now. A common New Year’s resolution for most people is to get in better shape after the holiday season. All of us have fitness and health goals of some kind, why not take advantage of the momentum and high energy of this time of year and spring clean your body!

Maybe your fitness goals are to incorporate new daily habits such as drinking more water, going for a brisk walk every morning, or getting more sleep. These types of fitness goals are relatively easy to incorporate into your daily routine.

We’ve all heard that we should be drinking more water on a daily basis. But how much is enough? Of course it depends on your height, weight, diet, how much you exercise, and other factors. In general 13 cups (or 3 liters) of water is recommended for men per day and 9 cups (or 2.2 liters) of water for women. To make it easier to meet your goal, try using a sustainable water bottle and note the volume of the container. If it holds 1 liter of fluid, you’ll know you need to fill it up (and drink) just over two times. Try adding lemon to your water which boosts your immune system, aids in digestion and provides antioxidants.

Perhaps your goals are more centered around self-care and you are looking to get more sleep or start your day off with a fresh, brisk walk. If this sounds like you, choose a time of day that you will incorpoate this task into your day. For example for more sleep, set a proper bed time to get at least eight hours of sleep per night. Remember, working on the computer or using a tablet or phone just before bed will signal your body’s biological clock to delay the release of melatonin and therefore reduce your ability to go to sleep. To properly prepare for bed try reading, having a cup of noncaffeinated tea or a warm bath in the evening.

If you have loftier fitness goals of losing weight or inches, improving your cardio or just generally slimming down for summer, now is the time to spring clean your body and ensure you’re on track! Don’t forget to use SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely). Setting your goals using this system will ensure you create specific goals which can be measured for optimal results! So hit that spin class, get out and go trail running, or go break a sweat in the nearest Abs & Butt class. Not only will you enjoy the workout, it will feel so good to achieve your fitness goals!

Soul:
You’ve worked so hard to clean out your mind and body, but you cannot leave out the most important part. Your soul is the part of the you that’s connected to the universe and is guiding you every day to find contentment and fulfillment. To not listen or live a life that is not aligned with your soul can lead to all kinds of problems including illness, disease, depression, anxiety, headaches.. you name it! Years ago I broke out in psoriasis over my whole body, of which I had no previous symptoms. I was not listening to the messages being sent to me and chose to disregard my soul’s attempts to put me back on the path to wholeness. After seeing numerous doctors and specialists, I realized the problem was not outside of myself, but rather inside. Once I began to tap in and listen to my inner guidance, the psoriasis began to clear up and has been gone ever since.

How do you know if you’re living your life aligned with your soul? Well you will likely be happy and carefree. Of course we all encounter difficulties and obstacles in our lives, but the minor setbacks do not ruin your day. You also wake up in the morning with purpose and are challenged and driven to fulfill your heart’s desires, your true purpose of being on this Earth. You have meaningful relationships in your life and enjoy spending time with your friends and family. Yet at the same time you have a quiet stillness within you and you enjoy spending time alone, recognizing there is a driving force within all of us that interconnects us with each other.

How do you spring clean your soul? If you’re feeling disconnected, disheartened and generally dissatisfied with life, it is likely you need to reconnect with your soul or spirit. There are different ways to do so, such as spending time in nature, being creative, listening to music that resonates with you, reading a book or journal-ling. But the most simple way is to spend a few minutes each day reconnecting with your breath. Meditation is always recommended but if you’ve never tried it, you just need to find a quiet place with no distractions and focus on your breathing. As thoughts float into your mind (and they will), just let them pass you by like leaves floating down a stream. Give yourself that time to reconnect and recharge. Open yourself up to receiving the wise and abundant guidance that is always within you and is wanting to help guide you along your way to wholeness.

As you spring clean this year and prepare for an amazing summer season, check in with your mind, body and soul. Are you giving yourself everything that you need to ensure you’re living your best possible life? Take care of yourself so that you can go forward and truly enjoy yourself. You deserve it!