Thinking Out Loud Thursday #116!

Today I am joining Amanda at Running with Spoons for another week of Thinking Out Loud Thursday. I can’t decide whether I want to say, “Wow, it’s already Thursday,” or “Oh my goodness, how is it only Thursday?” It’s a toss up. This week will look a little different for Thinking Out Loud Thursday because I really want to share some quotes, stories, and media that I’ve had profoundly impact my life in the last few weeks. I’ve been diving into a varied range of books lately, from fiction to self-help, and I am caught in a state of feeling like I am learning so much that I can practically feel my mind expanding while simultaneously feeling like the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.

One of the major learnings I’ve experienced lately, is how rare it is to find people who are willing to genuinely converse about meaningful and complex problems, feelings, and understandings. Only through accumulating more of those people in my life have I understood how much can be missing from a ‘connection’ when you aren’t able to share your true being with them (including relationships, friendships, colleagues, and family). One of my friends was asking me about blogging last week when we went for coffee and I shared how much I want to write about bigger and more complicated topics, but how I’ve curated a space on the web for less controversial conversation. I can happily chatter on about running shoes, spin playlists, and race nerves, but I shy away from digging deeper into topics like diversity in sport, spirituality in the outdoors, and creativity as an expression of the soul. It’s hard to be vulnerable in person, let alone on the internet.

It’s worth sharing pieces from my experience though, because you never know what other souls out there are thinking, “Wow, I love hearing about how many lattes you drank this week, but can I hear about something a little less superficial?”

“Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.”

Brene Brown

If you have yet to discover Brene Brown, I highly recommend that you minimize this window (don’t worry, I’ll wait) and place all of her books on hold at your local library or better yet, head to your local bookstore and snatch them up off the shelves because she will change your life. I think owning our stories is hard, but it’s the most fulfilling thing we can do with our lives. I first encountered Brene Brown when she posted a FaceBook live video after Charlottesville, the proceeded to watch all possible Ted Talks and lectures online, then read her books, and most recently, listen to her interview with Oprah on the podcast Super Soul Sunday. If anyone wants to do a Brene Brown book club, holla at me.

“People in our culture don’t like to ask life’s big questions… What does your soul look like?”

– Rainn Wilson

I encountered Rainn Wilson, obviously through Dwight Schrute on The Office, but didn’t look deeper into his life until this week. On my Oprah Super Soul Sunday podcast marathon, I listened to his interview where he chats about the website and idea, Soul Pancake. He expresses the need for creativity in human lives for the connection and expression of spirituality. It was a wonderful interview and there are about 712 quotes that I thought, “I NEED TO WRITE THAT DOWN.” It’s so incredibly fascinating to me how much people would rather breakdown an episode of The Bachelorette than talk about life’s big questions. In our team meetings at work we start long meetings with a ‘thought breaker’ that often resembles one of Rainn’s ‘life’s big questions.’ We didn’t call them that, it was just something to get our minds away from everything, to reset, connect, and deep dive into our souls so we can bring our true, genuine, raw selves to the table and create change through the work we do. It was powerful and not only did we bring a new and open headspace to the meetings but we connected personally to each other and created a safe space for sharing, feeling, and being real.

“We are not our bodies. We are not our thoughts. We are not our feelings or our insights. We are something else far deeper and wider.”

– Judy Bopp, The Sacred Tree

When you first glance through the book, The Sacred Tree, it appears simple. It is an easy read in terms of language, wealth of drawings and art to illustrate the concepts, and the concise 87 pages. Two of my most amazing colleagues and I have all read this book, and gathered together through two of our lunch hours so far to discuss it, and in those two hours we managed to get through discussion about the first page and a half of the book. This book is a tool for self-reflection, to put it simply. I have sat here for far too long trying to write how I would describe this book but it really can’t be dissected. It’s powerful. It makes your brain hurt. It instantly connects with your soul, yet it takes time to digest and understand why that connection happened so fast and what it means.

“It may take a little getting used to, but you must stop giving a fuck about what other people think.”

Sarah Knight

Do you ever stop and think, “Why am I pretending to care about this and dedicating my time, energy, and money to this when really, I don’t give a f*ck?” The book The Life-changing magic of not giving a f*ck by Sarah Knight is for you. Due to the mistiming of my on-hold library books, I read Sarah’s follow-up book Get your sh*t together and was therefore stoked to finally read this one. In spite of the cursing in the titles and the no non-sense approach Sarah takes in her writing, these books aren’t about being rude. It’s about how to determine where you dedicate your energy. Why spend it focused on things you truly don’t give a f*ck about and instead put your money, time, and energy towards things that bring you joy.

The best thing I ever did was own my hatred of potlucks. I despise potlucks. I used to begrudgingly join in and pretend I like dragging a bowl of quinoa salad or a half-assed cheese and cracker platter on my walk to work and then finding that 78% of people found it convenient to bring a meat dish and I nibble on a sprinkle of soggy caesar salad, a couple of crackers, and questionable cookies that are more oats that chocolate. Now I admit that potlucks don’t bring me joy (I’m convinced that most others feel the same way but have yet to admit it), I stop by for the socializing and comment on how great Susan’s brownies look and how impressed I am that Carol brought her infamous chilli, and then head out to a lunch I scheduled on the same day with a friend where we can spend the same amount of money on food we actually want to eat in a space where we don’t have to observe how much of the quinoa salad is left and awkwardly accept comments about your vegan addition to the spread. THE JOY THIS HAS BROUGHT TO MY LIFE.

There we have it. A little something different on the blog today. Still running, still snacking, still riding the endorphin high that is teaching spin class, and now I am finding new ways to learn, discover, and experience.

Tell me: what spoke to your soul this week?

Goal So Hard: October.

Autumn has truly hit hard and fast over the last week of September and I am looking forward to the next couple of months. As my outdoor adventures slow down, or at least shift in their nature, and I retreat indoors just a little bit more, I am looking to embrace the slower pace that winter brings. While it may seem like a time where personal growth slows, I would argue that the colder months bring a time for self-reflection and emotional and intellectual growth. I read more, go for evening coffee with friends more, and embrace new and old skills or hobbies.

In September, I accomplished my goals of spending at least one day a week on the trails, both hiking and running. I used any amount of strength training time I had to incorporate core into my workout. I did really well with improving my nutrition and it felt incredibly good. As the sun has set on the busy month of September, I am proud of what I accomplished, despite a few hurdles, and look forward to being a stronger individual moving forward into October.

That is what the sky looked like when I left my massage on Friday evening. It was certainly a moment of thinking, ‘this is the universe telling me I am in the right place, at the right time, and I need to take five seconds right now to appreciate that.’ Let’s chat about my goals for October!

Admittedly, sometimes my monthly goals or challenges miss the mark. I wind up being halfway through the month and thinking, “Why is that my goal? That doesn’t align with who I am, who I aspire to be, or where I believe my intentions should be focused.” It’s not a failure. It is understanding how to embrace the feeling of “this doesn’t feel right” or “this isn’t me” and correcting our path.

As an example, a lot of my challenges that focus on any sort of restriction wind up feeling like they go against my pursuit of wellness, balance, and intuitive health. Pursuing a “no sugar” or “no alcohol” challenge for 30 days is really easy to define and there are a handy set of “rules” you can apply to your life for a month, but is that truly wellness? I ultimately end up thinking that if something isn’t a sustainable healthful habit, why am I trying so hard to “check this box” in a challenge. Yes, it might improve physical health, but the stress of the restriction does a number of mental and emotional health, so inevitably it feels like taking one step forward and two steps back.

Whether because of our ego or insecurity of admitting we ‘failed’ I think often we push ourselves through that feeling of “this isn’t me” and just force ourselves to say, “maybe it could be me, maybe I’m just not trying hard enough, I can’t back down, what will people think?” The most genuine people allow themselves to embrace the feeling of “this isn’t me,” reconcile that that is okay, and move towards a goal or a vision that is true to them. The most courageous thing you can do is embrace vulnerability.

All of that to preface my monthly goals and say, “these are my current intentions that set out the directions I wish to grow.” My October goals are as follows.

  • Be kind to others and focus on habituating random acts of kindness. I made apple cinnamon muffins for my work’s morning meeting on Friday and it brought me back to times when I used to do that far more often and I started to wonder where in the last year or two I had lost that. Stepping out of my way to brighten a stranger’s day or just show my appreciation for having a friend or coworker in my life is where I want to focus more of my energy this month.
  • Reconvene the weekend gym girl squad. Prior to the summer, I joined a couple of friends at the gym for a weekend workout almost every week. We would typically do a full body workout or a leg workout that took around two hours but flew by in what felt like 10 minutes. As I try to add more strength training back into my life, this seems like the perfect way to get my butt back in the gym and look forward to indoor workouts again.
  • Take vitamin D every day. I always forget about this but as the sunlight in Alberta gets less and less each day, I know how much my body needs the vitamin supplements. It is a bit less of a ‘wellness’ goal, but it’s something I plan to focus on this month!

What are your October goals?

What is one thing you are looking forward to embracing this season?

Thinking Out Loud Thursday #115!

This week has been flying by. The weather has been spectacular here in Edmonton and we’re enjoying at least a few days of true autumn. The mornings begin really crisp and cool and then the afternoons are sunny and warm and illuminate the changing leaves. I walked home from work yesterday under blue skies, in 22C, and couldn’t wait to lace up my shoes and hit the pavement for a run through red, orange, and yellow trees. I ran a lovely 7 miles as the sun was setting and it gave me such joyous time to think, yet clear my mind. Funny how running manages to do both. I’m joining fellow Edmontonian Amanda at Running with Spoons for Thinking Out Loud Thursday!

  • It’s super hard to believe that this weekend we head into October and we’re less than two weeks away from Canadian Thanksgiving. I am possibly heading to our family friends’ farm just outside the city for Thanksgiving, which is a pig farm. As someone who tends to eat a majorly plant-based diet, with the exception of fish and eggs, it’s so ironic that I will be staying there for Thanksgiving. Speaking of Thanksgiving, I really want to try making these vegan pumpkin pie tarts from Oh She Glows! They look so good!

  • I don’t seem to be able to find enough time to read all of the books on my ‘to-read’ list right now. I am on a serious reading kick (that has happily lasted for months now) and my colleagues continue to give me excellent suggestions, making my list longer and longer and I struggle to find to the time to get through them! Mind you, I could give up watching reruns of The Office sometimes. My current read is “I thought it was just me (but it isn’t)” by Brene Brown. It’s powerful and her research exploring shame fascinates me.

  • The Edmonton Film Festival is almost here and there are short films I’m super excited to see and hope I can make work with my schedule. One of them is ‘No Reservations’ which was written and directed by Trevor Carroll. According to this CBC article, “A new short film is using comedy to imagine what it would look like if the roles in Standing Rock, N.D., were reversed. No Reservations tells the story of a First Nations company given approval to run a pipeline through a white, suburban neighbourhood.” You can watch the trailer HERE!

If you like that one, I HIGHLY recommend ‘Babakiueria’ which is an Australian film from the 80s. It is a look at colonization if it were white people who had inhabited the land before it were colonized.

  • I am starting to coach a Bantam girls hockey team in spin dryland training next week and I’m very excited! It’s going to be fun to switch up my regular spin classes with something new and to coach some energetic young girls. Though I’ve been teaching for a while now, every session, every new class is an opportunity to try something new, be a bit more positive, challenge people, find new ways to praise people and push them to surpass limits they had perceived themselves to have. It’s really awesome and I’m so grateful I get to do it. I just need MY legs to survive 3-4 spin classes a week!

  • One of my colleagues is a foster mom for service dogs-in-training through the Alberta organization DogsWithWings. She told me about this program and her role as a foster mom when our team went out for lunch on Monday and I have been seriously considering applying to be a part of this program – in some form or another. To attempt to convince me more, at least I think that’s what she was trying to do, she brought the dog in to work yesterday afternoon. I COULD NOT FOCUS. The hardest part was having to ignore him when he’s wearing his vest and working.

I am really excited to be at home this weekend. After spending three of four weekends in the mountains this month, I’m itching for some downtime and to spend lots of time tackling my growing reading list. I have a massage, pool party, and running on my schedule this weekend so you could say I’m in for a relaxing couple of days!

What have YOU been up to?

Do you have a dog? Any other pets?