Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Wrapping Up 2016...What comes Next?

I think it is safe to say I have a mild obsession with self help books, podcasts and general life conversations.  Although I didn't keep up with my blog in 2016 like I intended, there was a lot of behind the scenes exploration happening.  I read (and reread), a variety of self-help books that all continued to inspire my exploration of growth, health and wellness.  I followed podcasts while spending endless hours on the road, and took as many opportunities to listen and learn from other people's experiences as I could.

In typical end of year fashion, I always reflect back on my accomplishments, my goals and my failures for the year.  These reflections serve as the next step in my journey of life.

This year, although filled with many personal educational achievements, career and running successes, I still managed to elude my goal of peak health and wellness.  It wasn't for lack of exercise, meditation, conversation and bit of complaining.  I have to admit, I did manage to find a better balance between family, life and career expectations than I have had in a long time, but my overall physical health wasn't optimal.

This year, I've picked my one word focus to be "Lean".  This word has many meanings and implications on the year to come.  It refers not only to my goal to eat better to heal my body, to fight disease and to provide my body what it needs to perform better, to be stronger and to reach my fitness goals.  It also refers to relationships, the need to "lean into" others more, to give to others, to strengthen relationships and to create stronger connections.  It refers to "lean out" my life,  the need to have fewer material things, make smarter financial decisions and focus on experiences, not things.  "Lean" refers to my flexibility, risk taking and ability to enjoy the discomfort of exploring life with inquiry and an open mind.

As I embark on the 2017 journey of "Lean" I think I found the perfect guide, "How to Live a Good Life" by Jonathan Fields.  It basically takes all of the self-help books I've read over the last few years and put it into reasonable daily actions to help readers live a good life.

I would encourage you, if you have ever wondered about self improvement to check it out. It's a simple read, broken down into easy to follow actions.  In 30 days, you just may be on the path to knowing yourself a little bit better.  Pick a theme, grab the book and join me with the goal to make 2017 the best one yet!

Saturday, 9 April 2016

A Courageous start to 2016

Last year I read an amazing book, one that challenged me to embrace vulnerability.  I learned that vulnerability is not about fear, and grief and disappointment, but rather,  the birthplace of everything we are hungry for.  Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and change.

It's hard to believe the first month of the year has already passed us by.  I've spent the month chasing my dreams, and being scared out of my mind!  I've spent the month living vulnerability.

Less than one minute into 2016 I signed up for the Detroit Half Marathon in October...apparently I was suffering from a Runner's high and out of my mind!  This first act of the year has laid the grounds for an epic year of health and fitness.  I could have walked away in February a happy and satisfied person, knowing I accomplished a goal I never thought possible...but in true Nicole style, I've now secured another full year of hard work, sacrifice and personal fulfillment.

But let's not stop there...why not also take one of the biggest leaps education wise as well?  That's right, forget the fact that life wasn't already busy enough, enrolling and starting into my Principal's Qualification Program has opened my eyes, added some new insights and a little bit of fear into my life too!  Who knows if and when this part of my education will get used, but there is nothing wrong with learning and challenging my thinking and understanding of a much bigger least that's what I keep telling myself.

January was also a month of firsts for me.  First time navigating new airports, travelling to a place I knew no one and stepping out of my comfort zone to spend 3 day interacting with new people.  The first time in a long time I've felt I have accomplished a balance between work, play, training and family.  The first time I ran a 10 mile race.

The more I reflect on my attitude and actions the last few months I'm confident this idea of vulnerability is true.  Living my life stepping out of my comfort zone  has already brought me so many amazing opportunities and accomplishments.  January was one for the books...and no doubt, February didn't disappoint either!

Thursday, 31 December 2015

New Year, New Challenges and Important Reminders

As the year ends, I am once again in the mode of self reflection.  Looking back on 2015 I am proud of the accomplishments I have had.  I survived my first year in a new position, continued along my educational path taking courses and pushed myself physically harder than I ever have before.

2015 taught me the power of positivity and gratefulness.  I  finished a complete year of my grateful diary, the simple act of writing down a page full of things I'm grateful for everyday.  I have 2 journals full of reminders about all the great things happening in my life and those around me.  I've worked hard to face any challenge this year with a grateful attitude and a positive mindset.  These tricks have helped me thru the rough patches and looking back over the year I am amazed at how much this simple act has improved my life.  As I enter into 2016 I'm looking forward to continuing this daily dose of happiness and have my journals all ready to roll starting fresh tomorrow morning.

2015 taught me the importance of patience and networking.  One year into my job and I've learned the importance of slowing down, being patient and letting things work themselves out whenever possible.  Mind you, I never said I enjoyed this fact...but I'm working on it!  A positive mindset, a calm approach to minor emergencies, a solid foundation of knowledgeable colleagues and a daily dose of deep breathing and patience has done me well this past year. As I move into 2016, I'm committing to becoming a better leader, taking courses to continue along my educational pathway.

2015 reminded me about the importance of health and wellness.  My health is about the best it has ever been, 2016 brings a new challenge, improving the quality of food I consume, a tricky but possible feat.  Continuing to work hard to be the best version of myself I can be has proven the last few years not only to make my life better, but the lives of the people around me as well.  I hope to continue to inspire and motivate others to step up to the challenge and adapt a healthy lifestyle.  I wouldn't be the woman I am today if it wasn't for all of the amazing people who have helped me over the last 4 years.

2015 has become the year of rising to the challenge.  Working hard to improve my health, my fitness, my education, my parenting and my leadership skills has been the focus of the year...all areas offering a variety of different obstacles and challenges along the way.  One of the biggest challenges of the year has been my commitment to running.  Thanks to Natalie, calling my bluff  and joining me in my far fetched dream of running a Disney Half marathon, I think that today, this last day of 2015, I can finally say I'm a runner.  Thanks to her dedication, patience and support, I have surpassed any goals I would have ever set for myself, committed to training for our Disney Challenge and am so thankful to have found such a great running partner and friend.  As  we move into 2016, I look forward to our February event and no surprise to anyone who knows us...why not tack on a few other big dreams to round out 2016!  I'm so thankful for the all the amazing supporters who help make my fitness focused lifestyle an enjoyable and successful one and can't wait to see what 2016 does to shape my mind and my body.

I'm thankful for all 2015 has offered me and I'm looking forward to the challenges and teachings 2016 has in store for me too!    As the year changes, don't forget to take some time to reflect on what is important to you...the simple act of thinking about it (and even better writing it down) sets you on a path to success!

Wishing you a Happy New Year and the ability to make 2016 the best one yet!

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Time for a Big Dream!

For the past couple of years I have watched may people around me set and achieve their running goals.  Along the way I have been asked to run in different races from 5K to half marathons.  Although I enjoy throwing on my shoes, my music and hitting the road, the runs are rarely easy and I still have trouble thinking of myself as a runner.  I know that simply by putting on the shoes and heading out the door I'm miles ahead of where I was a few years ago, I'm still envious of the people I drive past who make running look easy.

A while back I developed a system, when anyone asked me to do a race I simply responded,
"If I'm going to be crazy enough to run a half marathon, I'm going big, and until I'm ready I'm happy with what I can do right now".  Well...that was my response until a few months ago when  the response to my statement was "well...what's your definition of big?"   Truly believing this was just a crazy and far enough away dream that it wouldn't actually ever happen I shared my dream of a Disney half Marathon.  I mean, if I'm going to do it...who wouldn't want to run in the happiest place on earth, dressed as a princess???

Well...thanks to the amazing woman who called me out on my "big dream" and committed to coming with me...the time has come to step up to the plate.

The room is booked, the race entry paid for and in 6 short months we are on our way to Disney World.   Just to ensure we are going big...we signed up for the Disney Glass Slipper Challenge.  A 10K race on Saturday, followed by a Half Marathon on Sunday!  I've made my plans, I'm committing to this goal and along the way I may just realize that yes its true, I may just actually be a runner!!

It's time to see what Dreaming Big can really do for me now!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

It's Perfectly Fine to Be Me...

I've learned a lot about myself over the last few years.

I've tested my limits and realized I'm more capable than I thought I was. I've accomplished things at bootcamp, while running and when participating in other sports I never thought I could excel at.

I'm dedicated to things I put my mind to for work and at play. Proof in the way I step up to challenges in work and play.

My willpower does exist, at times I've given up sugar, alcohol and unhealthy eating for periods at a time.

I'm also healthier than I ever thought I would be.  I've proved to myself my body can be normal if I treat it well by eating healthy and working out.

Looking back,  I'm trying to remember why  I started on this path and what is going to push me further, past the limits I ever thought possible.

In 2012 I started working out, simply to prove that I wasn't healthy enough to do it, because that's what I was led to believe, that my body would never be normal or as capable as others.  Once I started, I quickly realized how good it felt and how capable I really was.  When I started to see success, weight loss and personal goals achieved, I started working harder to lose more and to reshape my body.  Once I was at a point I was happy with, I started telling myself it was just simply to be healthy, but that quickly turned into seeing if I could start to heal my body and push past the next set of goals I set for myself.

Today  I'm not sure exactly why I continue to do it, except for the fact I know how good I feel and how much I have changed and improved, mind and body over the last 4 years.

After all I've learned and all I've accomplished, why do I still feel like I have so far to go? Why can't I be happy with working hard?  Why do I fall back into unhealthy eating patterns when I know better?  How can I still hate parts of my body?

There are so many things I'm still trying to work thru...but the one thing I know, regardless of my flaws, my dreams and my goals; I'm never going to be "perfect" but it's perfectly fine to be me.

Friday, 24 April 2015

When to Break up with a Challenge

I'm very vocal about my love of a good challenge.  I've done so many over the past few years that I can hardly remember them all.  This year has proven to be no different.

This year alone, I gave up alcohol for 3 months, I've written a gratitude journal everyday since January, I gave up sugar for a month, I've meditated every day for a month straight and I did 10,000 steps everyday for 2 months straight.  It's kind of hard to believe it's only the end of April!

One of the biggest challenges I have is deciding when it is ok to break my streak.  Sometimes the decisions are easy, sometimes life just gets in the way.  A lot of stress, pressure and lack of routine broke my healthy habits this  month leaving me disappointed and relieved.  Disappointed because the healthy routines made me feel better, yet relieved because there are some days eating clean, not having a drink with friends or stressing out at 9pm when I'm a solid 5K away from my step goal.

As I begin to think about what I should put next on my challenge to do list, I'm trying to find a way to incorporate one that includes a little balance.  A challenge that puts a focus on my health and wellness goals that also allows me to live a little, to relax and to enjoy life. What kind of challenge can help me achieve my goals?

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Gratitude...the possibilities are endless!

As I mentioned in my last post I've been focused a lot on heath and wellness.  I finished my 28 days of gratitude challenge and just can't stop.  I'm blown away how 10  minutes in the morning, being thankful in advance for the outcomes of my daily actions has paid off.  I'm beginning to find the positive in everything, accepting my faults and working hard to make my wishes and dreams come true. An even more amazing life is actually changing for the better.

Some amazing things that have happened since I started doing this:

1.  Difficult situations become easier - being thankful in advance for how the discussion or action will go has actually made the situation better.  I'm not sure if it's my awareness of the issue in advance, or just plain magic, but the practice has actually help me in some difficult situations.   I'm reminded the importance of give and take, of recognizing other people's viewpoints and accepting that my way isn't always the best way.  I've had a few difficult situations diffused simply because I was able to separate myself from the situation to realize it wasn't personal and the  other person honestly had valid points.

2.  I'm attracting exactly what I'm seeking - writing and verbalizing my needs has not only provided me material objects, but support from people I never would have expected.  I'm still curious how this magical practice works but it does!   Every morning, as I think  my way thru my schedule and am thankful in advance for opportunities, knowledge and support, I find it showing up where I least expect it.  The most random situations have led me to information or people who have the material objects, information or support I needed, business meetings ending with health suggestions, social media contacts who have the item I'm searching for, tedious errands that put me in positions to meet someone new who knows something I needed to find out.  It seriously has left me baffled and overwhelmed at times trying to put it all together.

3.  Miraculous Health Improvements - thanks to all the support, knowledge and sharing I've had as described above, I  ventured into an experiment.  On a quest to fix my health problems, I practiced gratitude everyday.  Thankful for the little things, like healthy food at meetings, opportunities to talk to people who share my issues and finding support in the most unexpected places, I never expected to happen what has occurred over the last couple weeks.  After an intense attack, I decided it was time to get back to basics and figure this problem out.  A friend randomly started talking about a lifestyle change she was having success with, she was so adamant she had never felt better, I decided to try a modified diet.  I attempted a juice cleanse to help eliminate whatever toxins were in my system at the moment, then I began introducing food one at a time.  After a few immediate reactions I noticed a pattern.  I'm not quite 2 weeks into this experiment and amazing things are already happening.  Apparently processed sugar is my enemy, simply eliminating this from my diet has stopped symptoms I've experienced since my surgery 15 years ago!  5 days into the experiment and I stopped taking the one medication I've relied on regularly for the past 12 years.  I'm now on day 13 and haven't had to take it yet.  Now, I'm not perfect...I have  my moments of weakness...after all...I'm a chocoholic!  When I do have the symptoms after my moment of weakness, I'm reminded it isn't worth it!  I'm feeling family isn't suffering from ridiculous diet change as all I've done is focus on natural food, life is amazing.   All of this wouldn't of been possible with out the support I've gained from the people around me.  The support I've found simply by being thankful in advance for finding the support I need.

I'm excited to see where the  next few weeks take me.  My post doesn't even begin to tell you how amazed I am with respect to this practice.  Yesterday, it even brought me to mouth dropping amazement and happy tears!  If at this moment you are even the slightest bit curious about what I've described, I have one suggestion for you...start with this walks you thru the 28 day gratitude challenge.  I'm willing to bet you would start to notice the magic happening around you too.  If you do take the challenge...I can't wait to hear how it affected you!