Maiden to Mama

My blog has been severely neglected over the past year. It turns out that getting pregnant and becoming a mom doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing, but now that I’m starting to get a handle on this parenting thing  (for today, anyways) I noticed I really missed writing and expressing myself creatively.

It’s hard some days to do much else than nurse my little bundle of joy. It’s been nice to spend the winter indoors, cozied up on the couch, watching  Netflix by day and hockey by night, but today I felt a call for more. I am feeling inspired to create again.

Pre-baby I had so many ways to express my creative energy on a daily basis. For fun I hooped, I danced, I taught classes and workshops, I created costumes and wrote blogs. At work, I flexed my creativity muscles all day long writing emails, newsletters and event invitations. It didn’t hit me until today just how much I missed being in that creative space where inspiration and ideas just flow out of me. One of my core desired feelings is flow, and while I feel like every day as a stay at home mom is all about going with the flow, I’ve missed the creative outlet of being in flow that my soul desires. Expressing that creativity is what helps me feel alive!

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Standing in the gateway, from maiden to mother

When I envisioned my 2017, I had a hard time being specific because I had no clue what it would be like to be a parent. My normal lofty goals for the year ahead were put aside and all I really wanted was to be able to become a parent while not completely losing myself. I wanted to maintain some form of self care. I wasn’t sure how I’d cope with having limited time for myself, but I’m doing pretty good I think, better than I thought to be honest. The time I do have for me is so special, even if it means writing this post on my phone at 1am while nursing my baby, or practicing yoga with a noisy baby in an untidy room and a husband clamouring away in the kitchen (making food and cleaning dishes so I’m not complaining at all!). Before baby,  I’d need to have complete silence and a clean setting to practice yoga at home, now I take what I can get and I’m completely ok with that. Life looks a little different but taking the time for me is that much more valuable since I can’t pour from an empty cup. So I guess this whole post is about me filling my cup so I can be there for my little Aurora Jade.

In one of my many pregnant freak out moments, I worried I wouldn’t know what I was doing when the baby arrived. I eventually realized that while I likely wouldn’t know what I was doing, I have spent years gathering all the skills and self awareness to help me be able to raise this tiny human the best I can. I didnt know exactly what I was preparing for when I invested in countless workshops and retreats, but everything I’ve learned up to this point has helped me get through these first few months as a mama. I’ve learned to trust myself, I’ve built up my confidence, I’ve developed strategies for coping with stress, I’ve learned to take care of my body physically and I’ve discovered what forms of self care are non negotiable. Without all this, I don’t think I’d be able to cope as a new mom. I’m so grateful for all the years of self discovery as a maiden.

It’s time to discover who I am as a mama. The moment I birthed my daughter, I birthed myself as a mother, but I’m just as much as an infant as Aurora and everything is new. Now I’m going to have to figure out who I am all over again, and I’m ready.

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Aurora and I, moments after birthing her into this world

2015: From Balance to Flow

While I had many goals and aspirations for 2014, my main focus was trying to find balance in my life. To achieve that balance, I ended up creating a lot of healthy habits and letting go of old beliefs and patterns. I learned so much about things I never thought had anything to do with balance. I guess that is why I didn’t feel like my life was in balance in the first place.

For the past few years at various times I’ve had experiences of burnout from trying to work a full time job, grow a business, enjoy a happy life with meaningful relationships and take care of my physical, emotional and spiritual needs as best I could. This year was no different and I had a very difficult time in the winter as my workload felt like it was at an all time high. I developed adrenal fatigue syndrome and effectively hit rock bottom. I knew this wasn’t balance. When it felt like all the pieces were crumbling, I completely surrendered and let go of any attachment to an outcome. After letting go, everything started to fall back into place. It was one final lesson (I hope) in realizing that I can’t continue that same pattern over and over again. I can celebrate this now, because I feel like it’s a lesson I finally nailed!

I’ve learned and integrated so much this year, it’s hard to narrow it down to the most meaningful, but these are the top habits I created to bring balance into my life.

Core Desired Feelings

One major shift that took place this year was discovering my core desired feelings – the ways I want to feel every day to experience a full and satisfying life. They are joyfully radiant, connection, flow, abundance and supported in case you were wondering. I became focused on how I could feel those feelings every single day and became way less focused on arbitrary goals I had previously set for myself because I hoped that they would make me feel something that I thought I might want. I became more aware of how I wanted to be instead of focused on the things I wanted to do. This was HUGE for me. Plus, through this I also learned to let go of the belief that I’m only lovable or worthy if I do this thing or that thing. I know that my worth is inherent on a conscious level, but in 2014 I actually started to to believe it at a soul level. I would highly recommend checking out The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte if you’re interested in discovering your core desired feelings.

Boundaries

In 2014, I learned that I really didn’t have any boundaries and that was causing me to give more than I wanted to and take on more than I could reasonably do. My expectations of myself were too high. I learned how to set boundaries and took back some of the power in my life I had given away.

I now use my core desired feelings as a guide. I check in with them whenever I have to make a decision and I’m not sure which way I should go. I set boundaries around how I would spend my time and used my desired feelings as a guide to ensure I was staying in alignment with it all. If an opportunity doesn’t satisfy at least one of my core desired feelings, I won’t do it. With that being said, I know there are some things that I have to do that I don’t particularly enjoy, like cleaning the house. I have learned to shift my perspective about it though from something I hate doing, to something that can help me feel a desired feeling, so a clean house can help me feel flow because I’ve cleared out stagnant.

Support

Another huge shift was learning to recognize when I needed support and how to ask for what I needed. I’m discovering that this is a hard thing for many people, because often we don’t know what we need and we certainly don’t know how to ask for it. Because I understood my core desired feelings and delved a little into non-violent communication and discovering my needs, I was able to recognize much easier when a need wasn’t being met. When you have that clarity, it’s so much easier to ask for what you need. To explore more about how to identify needs, check out my musings on the subject in this post.

Over the past year and a bit, I’ve been part of a Creation Circle. A small group of us meet monthly to learn content that can be integrated into our lives to help us create the amazing life we want and deserve. This group has been so instrumental in helping me feel supported, which is clearly important to me as it’s one of my core desired feelings. I’ve got so much other support too, from my naturopath, acupuncurist, massage therapist, chiropractor, kundalini dance facilitator, yoga teacher, meditation guides, from my husband, family and friends.

Support showed up in a big way in my work life this year in the form of a committee for the NAIT United Way campaign that I Chair. I truly appreciate the support I was given to run the campaign. For the last 6 years I had only a little support, but this year I had a committee of six other people helping me out. That support helped me to stay in alignment with my boundaries around the amount of time I feel comfortable putting into work.

This year, I celebrate all of the support I have called into my life and the ease and joy it has created.

Celebrate

Celebration is another thing we worked on integrating into our everyday lives in the Creation Circle. Practicing celebration helps me to feel and recognize all the ways abundance shows up in my life, it helps me to feel present and satisfied with what I’ve achieved and it helps me to feel joyfully radiant! I’ve made gratitude a daily practice in my life and I’ve posted what I’m grateful for on Facebook for 113 days so far. I can’t begin to express how much this has changed my life. It has helped open my heart more than I ever could have guessed. This isn’t to say that I’m happy all the time, but I now choose to see the gift in each challenging situation that shows up, whatever that may be.

This practice has allowed me to expand my context for recognizing how my core desired feelings show up in my life. When I first started out, I had very specific and limited ideas of what each feeling looked like, for example joyfully radiant meant teaching hoop classes but now I can experience that feeling from just about any activity. Practicing gratitude has taught me, it’s not what I’m doing that helps me to feel the ways I want to feel, rather, what I’m searching for is a state of being. Practicing gratitude gives me an opportunity to be the way I want to feel.

I celebrate and am grateful for all the gifts practicing gratitude has given me.

2015: Feeling Flow

As I move forward to 2015, I want to continue Flowembodying all of my core desired feelings with a focus on flow as my theme for the year. I think balance is really just about finding the flow space in life anyways. Some times are busier than others, so balance is more about going with the flow and accepting life as it comes, accepting the good and the bad. Flow is also about trusting my intuition and inner guidance. If I’m in the flow, I can let go of attachment to a specific outcome and remain open to the endless possibility that awaits. Flow is also about letting go of timelines. Goals with timelines are important, but I’m also no longer going to beat myself up if I don’t achieve everything in the initial time frame I had set out for myself. I’ve noticed this year that many things I had on my 2014 vision board will actually happen in 2015, and I’m completely OK with that.

If I embody flow, I’m sure my other desired feelings will naturally follow. I can see the flow in abundance and support showing up as giving and receiving, watching the flow of money come and go, the flow of the seasons and the food that is provided. I can see the flow in connection literally as the energy flowing in my body or as the flow in conversation with a friend. If I go with the flow I believe that I will experience all of the above and then I will certainly feel joyfully radiant.

While I don’t have a big list of to do’s in 2015, I do have a small list of big things to focus on. I want to continue supporting the local hoop dance community with Pop Up Prop Jams, I want to create an awesome reunion with my sister for our family in August, I want to support and inspire other women to with the Radiant Soul Women’s Retreat I’m hosting in September with the support of a few lovely and amazing women like Kacie Beluse Knight from Dancing into Being, Anastasia Kutt from Luminous Tranquility and Nina Infinity from Infinity Hoopdance.  I’ve got a lot to look forward to!

I am setting the intention that I will experience 2015 with ease and flow, that I will feel supported and connection and that I will feel joyfully radiant all year long.

I hope your 2015 brings you all you desire!

Aho

She’s Got the Power

Last week, I had the opportunity to teach a beautiful group of 32 12 – 15 year old girls at NAIT’s G-Force Summer Camp. The camp focuses on personal empowerment and I love the opportunity to not only teach hoop dance, but to use the hoop as a metaphor for teaching important life lessons.

This is my third year back at the camp and I’m always astounded at the girls’ wisdom. I started the workshop by asking each girl to share her name and one characteristic of a strong woman. Their answers were amazing and they even addressed some of my ideas of a what a strong woman is. To them strong women are empathetic, intelligent, they follow She's got the powertheir dreams, they know what they want, they are stubborn! (I think she meant someone who sets her boundaries and doesn’t give into peer pressure), they don’t care what anyone else thinks about them, they have high self esteem, they are loving, they are compassionate, they are beautiful on the inside,  they are brave and they ask for help when they need it. They listed more characteristincs, but these are the only ones I can recall. It truly fills my heart with joy to see that there are so many aware and awake young woman growing up in the world today. I’d like to think that I would have given an answer like theirs when I younger, but I truly don’t know how I would have answered. Today though, I do have some solid thoughts about what a strong woman is. Below are the characteristics of strong women we touched on in the workshop.

A strong woman only focuses on the three things she can control in her life – her thoughts, her feelings and her actions. A strong woman does not spend time worrying about what other people think about her or about what other people are doing. She chooses to create her reality, she explores her feelings, she chooses to be aware of her thoughts and will consciously choose to change them if there is any judgement of self or others. I asked the girls to pay attention to their thoughts during the workshop. To notice if any self judgement creeped in if there was a trick they weren’t picking up as quickly as some of the other girls. I invited them to shift their thoughts from self judgement to self love, instead of saying something like “I’m stupid and I can’t do this”, I invited them to shift to “I can do this and I just haven’t figured it out yet”. Our thoughts are so powerful and we need to choose them wisely. It is only when we are aware of the thoughts in the first place that we can choose to change them. When we accept where we are, we can redirect that misused energy to become more productive. We’ll likely figure out a trick faster when we’re not judging ourselves for not getting it right away.

Pony

Here’s me, expressing myself at a recent music festival and being brave enough to share it with the real world.

A strong woman is brave. She goes after what she wants, even if takes a lot of time or if she has to stand up against what others want her to do or be.  She walks her path and allows herself to be seen, even if it feels uncomfortable, she is committed to living her truth. She follows her heart. I shared with the girls that when you see a woman like this, you will likely be attracted to her because she is confident. As a teen, I wanted to conform but also wanted so badly to express myself at the same time. I encouraged the girls to be brave in the workshop and use the hoop as a tool to express themselves and the emotions they’re feeling. I encouraged them to find a healthy way to express their emotions in their regular life, because emotions are completely normal and they just want to be acknowledged and felt, not to be pushed away or ignored. I encouraged them to find something that makes them as happy as hooping makes me and use that as a tool for self expression.

A strong woman asks for support. She recognizes when she is struggling and asks for help. In my experience, this is a tough one for so many people, something I’m only starting to really explore myself. I think we often feel like unless we know exactly what we need,  we can’t ask for help. The truth is if we knew what we needed, we’d probably try to help ourselves. If we just allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and access the vast support networks we likely have, we’d be doing ourselves such a service. I think there can be a stigma around asking for help and I believe that needs to change. I asked the girls to not be shy to ask for help in this workshop if they needed it. I hope that this gave them the opportunity to practice asking for help in a small way so they could feel more comfortable asking for help when they needed it in bigger ways, like when they were feeling depressed, isolated or heartbroken sometime in the future. Many of the girls did ask and I can only hope this reinforces that it is not a weakness to seek support.

There are so many characteristics of strong women that I could write and teach about it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few. I love being able to start the dialogue about this topic so the girls can begin to explore and appreciate all the ways to be a strong woman. I think they are already well on their way.

❤ Nicole