Would that I had served my God that way

Would that I had served my God the way I had watched my waistline – Thomas Wolsey

“Fitness saved me.”

“Personal development saved me.”

“This business saved me.”

But the one thing that kept ticking in the back of my head was, why wasn’t it God? Or was it? Did He give me all these things? I don’t feel him.

Let me back track a bit in case you don’t know my story…

I’d never been on a diet in my entire life until I got it in my head to do a bikini competition a year after my second child.

I had spent the last 10 years loving health and fitness, being in damn good shape and having never counted a single calorie or ever recall hating my body much or worrying about what I should and shouldn’t eat. The diet world and calorie counting was totally foreign to me.

I was just shy of top 1o out of 200 people in my competition and I still felt I had inches to lose, areas to improve on. I look back and think … what on earth did I see!? What did I think was so awful?

But it’s called body dysmorphia, and your flaws are crippling even if they’re made up.

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#70

Fast forward to now, not quite 15 lbs heavier, a year and a few months post competition and I’m finally falling in love with myself again. I hope you can see the softness in my smile, the bits of joy flecked across my face, because it’s there.

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September 2018; 1 year post competition

It took until probably 8 months post competition for me to hit true burnout. I was trying so hard to maintain my fitness, to maintain my body, it was slipping away from me and I was too tired to hold on.

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June 2018

And so then I was left with this post partum body that was supposed to be gone forever. My happiness was tied up in the fit body I created and then it was gone. And I was left with this … with this message that said fitness and personal development had saved me, but that salvation was temporary and based solely on my high performance, and as soon as I couldn’t perform any longer, well I was ruined.

I was more depressed than ever, and before all you thin body shamers start freaking out because I’m still small and how can a thin person talk about their pain in weight gain etc etc just hold your plus size horses for a second and let me talk.

Ahem.

I was more depressed than ever. My body was slow. Weak. I felt it in every movement. I wasn’t working out anymore, I was eating food I didn’t even LIKE like sugary junk food (the body does weird things to recover from famine) and I felt like a failure. I felt embarrassed to see anyone who knew me, because I was now that mom who let herself go. I see this photo now and am shocked at how differently I saw myself then.

Disgusting. Fat. Ugly. Whale.

I can’t begin to describe to you how I saw myself entirely different then, then I do now. Now? Just a woman wearing a bikini that’s too small for her. But perfectly beautiful regardless.

I was tortured by my mind, by societies rules, by my weight and my pants that taunted me for not fitting anymore.

I’m better now you know.

I haven’t lost the weight, I don’t lift weights or do HIIT workouts anymore.

I yoga.

That is all.

Well and I walk my dog. Hardly a rigorous fitness regime by today’s standards.

How dare I be happy?

And yet, here I stand. A little beaten, a little bruised, but happy.

And I’m haunted by this quote … would that I had served my God the way I had watched my waistline …

Imagine a world where we focus inward, and upward.

Imagine women with the freed up mental space where they aren’t worrying about their bodies, and instead are moving forward in their dreams as fully aware and present beings.

Hell imagine MEN that way too because Lord knows the assault on men’s body image is here too.

So let’s commit together; no more chasing the perfect body. Acknowledge your cellulite as apart of you. Acknowledge that new dip at the bottom of your stomach where your pants dip into. Acknowledge you can’t get even one thigh into your old pants. Acknowledge your weary dark circles under your eyes, and with all of that choose to believe you are worthy of loving yourself.

Let’s not just say it, let’s spend time sitting with our current circumstance. Our goal is to be confident in our body and who we are, so spend time actually feeling into what that feels like. Work up those feelings in your body. Get excited. Picture yourself walking down the street and drum up the feeling of confidence. How do you walk? Head high? Smile on your face?

And then start doing that.

You can live that right now, in the body you are in, and then spend that extra time on your relationship with God, with your family, with yourself. Learn, grow, chase dreams. Your weight should never hold you back.

I am 15lbs heavier, and I have never felt lighter.

 

 

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First Day of School

I’ve been nervous for this day. My oldest, A, he’s only 4 and he’s been begging me for school for about 6 months.

He is a dedicated self learner, an intense why asker with a deep curiosity for the world around him.

That was a huge part of our decision to have me, Michelle, be a full time mom and homeschool our boys. We don’t want the why squished out of our kids, the curiosity and natural love of learning … we want to keep those. Cultivate them. Nourish them.

Is school great for some? Sure. But for my husband and I, we know we can give our kids everything and more a traditional school can, and even still. I have been and still am, totally nervous.

I’m not a teacher with a formal education, how am I supposed to do this?

Through the support of a minimalist homeschoolers group, I found that every mom fears the same. We all feel inadequate and at times totally overwhelmed by the thought until we are reminded of how incredibly simple it can be.

Today was the kids first day of school and honestly, it was not much different than a normal day for us.

I picked up a couple pre k math, reading and writing books, some French flashcards and we aim to keep it pretty simple. He is only 4 after all.

We woke up at 7:15 AM (say what now? That’s a sleep in for us!) and started our day with oatmeal and apple slices. We then cleaned the table as a team with the boys taking turns vacuuming up all the crumbs on the floor and then headed to the living room for yoga.

I turned on some kids yoga for the boys on one TV and then continued to do my own from my laptop. This is the first time I’ve put on their own yoga or workout for them while I do mine, usually I try to include them in what I’m doing or join them for theirs but to be honest, I just need my own time and I’m not ready to start waking up before them, so this was a huge win for us today because they loved it so much! And there would be pictures, but my little N (2 years old) is a bit of a free bird. Potty training you know?

After yoga I asked A what he wanted to learn today and he asked for Math. He did 2 worksheets, the first is writing the letter 1 and the second writing the word one. I marked them, gave stickers, we read a story, and called it good.

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A writing the number 1, N colouring; Sept 4 2016

Then came my favourite part. We packed up, headed into the city to a special micro creamery called Made by Marcus for our first, first day of school tradition, getting ice cream. It was a bit of a drive, but totally worth it for the fresh chocolate fudge brownie vegan ice cream, regular chocolate for the boys.

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Vegan Chocolate Fudge Brownie for mom

We were the first ones there, we laughed, played and enjoyed our treat.

This is just as much a treat for me as it is for them, reminding me homeschooling can be lighthearted and we can take it slow, letting my kids lead. Probably with ice cream.

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One day they may ask to go to school, and I’ll never hold them back from taking control of their own education and exploring their learning styles and favourite places to learn. But today, today is for us.

Today is for keeping my boys together so they can continue to grow their relationship before being separated into different classes, for allowing them to get up and run around if they need a break, for choosing what they want to learn and for how long they want to learn it for.

Am I worried I won’t be able to give them everything they need? Yes, but not in the learning sense, because they will be responsible for their learning as well. But in the sense of being organized enough, in actually having the material they want to learn and giving them the structure they love, because they do love some structure and we all need it, but it can be a challenge for me.

But that’s homeschooling I’ve been learning. It’s a journey, it changes year to year, sometimes month to month. We learn together. I learn what their learning styles are and I help them learn what they love and teach them how to learn in a way that helps them succeed. Something that would have been invaluable to me as a kid.

Would you ever consider homeschooling? What’s holding you back?

It’s Been a While

Deep breaths.

A big mug full of hot water to sip on.

Fluffy plaid slippers.

A story on for my son to listen to.

The other is napping.

The cat asleep on the couch beside me.

The dog waiting impatiently for her walk.

This is my life. Moments compiled together which in my head, create stories.

The past 3 years, most of my moments shared on social media have had one goal in mind, creating an income online.

Have they been helpful? Yes, I’m told by many how uplifting, inspiring and helpful my posts have been.They have been vulnerable, real, honest, raw, personal and for me, healing. So I’m not saying it’s been BAD, and making money is also not bad, but I have grown. I have become more aware. And with that, there has been a shift in my heart which has created upheaval in my entrepreneurial journey.

I don’t care anymore about what posts catch your eye, or break the almighty algorithm for more visibility and thus sales and business. More than ever, I want impact, not popularity. I really wanted to belong for a long time, to find somewhere to fit in, to find a group that takes me in and loves who I am.

And I’ve found that. And it wasn’t enough. Because money and finding others to love me never fulfilled me. It exposed the chink in my shell as it were.

It couldn’t sound more cliche or trite than this, but here it is.

I didn’t love myself. I wasn’t content with myself. Money and somewhere to belong is external validation. What if that person leaves my team? What if my income drops? I just kept seeing over and over in my failure that I was still moving forward in joy, in contentment and falling more and more in love with my life.

My idea of success has changed completely!

Success is not six figures, it’s not $500 … success is being present with my kids, even if I’m not able to pay for next week groceries with my #sidehustle. Success is doing what we can, being responsible with what we have and trusting that God will care for my family.

Success is not having my schedule figured out and time blocked perfectly so I can get everything done in a day, but instead it’s having some kind of routine while still allowing flexibility for my kids to be kids, and to create quiet times in our day where we sit down and write, read and listen to stories. Success is being able to relax in the midst of chaos, and not living for the hustle.

Do I want an income that will help my family and give us the lifestyle we dream of? Yes! Of course! But lately that endeavour has felt at the expense of my soul.

Over the past four years I’ve been chasing worldly desires, and left behind chasing God and His desires for my life. I’ve missed passion, I’ve missed worship, I’ve missed being deeply apart of God’s family. He’s never left me, but I in the depths of depression and anxiety I’ve felt invisible and lost.

I don’t know how to create an income online in a way that aligns with my entire soul.

Which is why here, that’s not what I’m trying to do.

I’m here to share.

To create conversation.

To ask important questions like why the hell do we pray when bad things still happen? And are the beliefs I hold actually true, or is the Jesus we think we know a lot more radical and kind of sick of the way we do church right now?

Or … why do so many mothers suffer anxiety and depression now? Is it just talked about more or is it happening more?

Do cell phones and social media kill relationships? Families? What is technology doing to us really? Or is it just some of us?

Can we sell it all and live on the road in a trailer with my kids, dog, cat and WIFI?

Are we robbing our children of roots, childhood friendships and a church home or am I gifting them experiences beyond their imagination and the ability to see that it’s ok to live and be different?

Should we as Christians be vegan? Or look for ethical meat? Does God care? Did God give us animals to consume them?

How do you have sex when you’re tired, depressed, anxious, trying to mom and create an income online? Who are these super women? Why am I broken?

How do you find the fun and carefreeness you had post kids in your relationship now when you have preschoolers and toddlers, mental health issues and no money?

I have so many “oh I’m gunna go there” Things for here.

No more games, no more live videos on FB sharing for viewership.

Blogging aligns with my soul. I feel content here. Undistracted. At ease.

See you next week.

This is gunna be fun.