The marks on my mother

I remember my mother taking us to the beach in the summer time. We would take a week’s vacation and head to her friend’s cottage in Kincardine. There would be a group of adults and kids collectively. Myself, my little sister and another pair of girls shared a room with bunks. We drank Koolaid – but my mom’s friend called it Freshie.

I had seasonal allergies and I’d be doped up on Benadryl. I was the loser kid passed out on the beach blanket, drugged up and always sleeping away the summer.

I remember my mother baring her stomach in a bikini. She was naturally dark, like my grandfather who was of aboriginal descent. Her hobbies included tanning, so it added to the deep tone of her skin.

Her stretch marks were beautifully lit by the sunlight as she lay on the blanket beside me, catching some of the sun, hot and high above us. She had loose skin from her pregnancies with my sister and myself. I was fascinated by the pattern across her belly. She always spoke so unkindly about the marks; I didn’t understand why. It was skin.

As I grew older and had children of my own, I often thought about my mother and her own body. I thought about her perspective of herself compared to my perspective of her. I didn’t see a problem with it, but she assured me that it wasn’t right; that she wasn’t right for looking a certain way. I mean she exercised regularly and ate healthy. I saw strength, not weakness. In turn I looked at my own body and started to wonder if it was shameful to have stretch mark and loose skin. Society kept telling me it was wrong. The media and my peers kept telling me it was wrong…

I had friends telling me, “You need to be disciplined, Darling…!”

I grew self conscious. I looked at my body as a disgrace; like the marks on it equated to neglect. Never did I think that I was just like 100 billion other woman before me or beside me, having gained or lost weight, or a bearer children.

When did the shift happen? When did our bodies become shameful? When did our marks turn ugly?

I looked at those lines on my mothers stomach and it reminded me of home. This line, that’s where I came from. And this one, was a sister or a brother lost. And this one, it’s my baby sister. Each line connecting and telling a beautiful, cohesive story. Those are our roots. When I laid my child-like head on her I felt nothing but love and warmth.

Now when I see my marks I remember my own story. This belly is where I began my own love story with my littles. I hope one day they look at the lines and how they connect, and they feel at home, too.

We should learn to celebrate our bodies and what they have accomplished; what they can accomplish. We overcome hardships and don’t take the time to truly appreciate what we are capable of. We grow from tiny, useless beings into intelligent, strong, free-thinkers. We innovate, we work hard, we are self sufficient masterminds. We train relentlessly, and lift more weight than we would ever think possible. We endure heartbreak and still manage to carry on.

We are simply amazing.

But still we look at the markings and defects in our bodies as setbacks.

No more, my friends. No more.

Cut that shit out.

You are perfect. I am perfect. And the more we spread this message, the more confident the next generations to come. These lines on my stomach are a sign of life; and a sign of the amazing things I am capable of. I hope you look at your body today and remember all that it has done for you. Be grateful. Be proud.

Put on the bathing suit and just live.

Early morning = me time

It’s 5:30am.

The early mornings are my time. I rise before the sun, before the kids wake, before the cat starts meowing for food. It’s my time to get things done before the chaos ensues.

At 5:30am, I stumble into the kitchen and put on some coffee. This morning particularly, my husband is also up and getting ready to leave. We chat for about 45 seconds in passing – he didn’t get home until midnight from his “other job” (aka bottling syrup) so we didn’t see each other yesterday.

I sit down on the couch and soak in the silence. It’s beautiful. I can hear the faint sounds of Finn’s white noise app playing, and some slight rustling from one of the boys in the bedroom behind me.

I think about my day; my weeks to come. What needs to be put on the calendar and which loose ends need to be tied. The appointments that need booking, the cake orders I have coming up, the workouts I hope to accomplish, the meal prepping, the cleaning, the bills that need to be paid, the summer schedule that needs to get hammered out, the vacation times that needs to get booked, the baseball practices/games/tournaments…

It’s silent, but my mind is loud.

It never shuts off… the mental load is bearing down on me and it’s screaming at me to put something onto paper.

I sip my coffee and hear the baby start to whimper. It’s now 5:45am… too early for her to be waking.

The coffee is cold now. Nothing out of the ordinary… I drink it anyway.

It really made me think. Think about the little things and how much I appreciate them – like early morning coffees. As a mom I take on so much to ensure the smooth sailing of this ship.

I had a chat with a coworker yesterday about the sacrifices we make as mothers for our kids. She explained to me that her mother told her “I worked for free for 5 years!” and it makes sense. You pay for daycare, and car insurance, gas etc and hope that you’ll break even. But still I get up everyday, drive them all over the planet, work 9 hours, come home, do all the mom things, and repeat. It never slows, the loads never lighten.

And I know the kids don’t appreciate it now; but my coworker assured me that they will as adults. One day they will get it. One day they will be grown with their own children, driving them all over gods green earth, and they will think, “I remember my mom driving me everywhere…. man that must have been tough.”

One day they will appreciate the lunches I packed with little notes, the boots I made sure still fit them, the Taco Tuesdays I would plan, and the appointments I would schedule and take them to.

And maybe one day they will appreciate their own 5:30am coffee. Sitting in their homes, in the silence of the early dawn, and they will think of me… just as I am sitting here thinking of my own mother and all that she did.

Thanks for this one, Avalon. Just a little reminder that maybe I am, after all, a Supermom.

32 years of life lessons

32.

Tomorrow I turn 32.

32 comes with a great deal of knowledge, love, lessons, and happiness.

I want to share with you 32 things I’ve learned over the last 32 years – and I hope that some of you can take something from this.

1) Love wholly, completely, and selflessly. When you meet someone, listen to your gut. It never lies. When you get that can’t eat, can’t sleep, reach for the stars, over the fence, World Series kind of thing. When you look at the person and feel at home; you feel safe. And when you talk about them, you say all the good stuff. You are equals; you don’t feel superior. And most important: they truly inspire you to be more ambitious and to do better in life. Don’t settle for anything less – you are worthy of great love and respect and all things wonderful.

2) Your friends are there to lift you up. Lean on them. Support them. Cherish them. And don’t settle for friends, either. Find the good ones and hold on tight.

3) Love yourself as you are. We all have little differences and that is what makes us unique. One day, we’ll be old and wrinkly alike… and what matters is your heart; your kindness and compassion. THESE are the things that make you a beautiful human.

4) Eat the donut. Or the cupcake. It’s not going to kill you.

5) Treat your body with respect. Fuel it with good things and positive energy. Speak to yourself as though you would speak to your daughter.

6) Trust your heart. If something doesn’t feel right, walk away.

7) Your past doesn’t define you. How you carry yourself after, is what makes you YOU. We all have a story; you have the power to respond to that as you may choose. So choose your path wisely.

8) You are stronger than you think. Physically and mentally; you’ve made it this far. Isn’t that quite the accomplishment? *pats self on back*

9) Your mother was right.

10) So was your dad.

11) Physical beauty won’t bring you happiness. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. Take care of your soul first and the rest will follow.

12) You CAN swim after you eat.

13) Wear the sunscreen. A tan is nice, but it’s only temporary. Your skin will thank you later.

14) Learn to control your emotions. Yes, we have emotions. Let them happen, feel them, validate them, and then look at the big picture. Bad days happen, and then will happen. Own them, and remember: it’s just a bad day, not a bad life. Your emotions are yours; they are not meant to control someone else. Nor should you let someone else’s emotions control you.

15) Do the speed limit. Driving like an asshat doesn’t get you there any faster. It just makes you look like an asshat.

16) Write thank you letters. People DO appreciate them.

17) Credit Cards are a privilege, not a right. Spend mindfully and carefully. And live within your means.

18) Take that vacation. You’ll appreciate the memories so, so very much. (Remember: it’s a privilege, not a right)

19) Ask someone before you pet their dog.

20) Speaking calmly, and respectfully is more like to get your point across rather than yelling. You’ll get more flies with sugar than with vinegar.

21) Selflessness is an understated quality. People deserve more of you, than you deserve of them.

22) YOUR MOTHER WAS RIGHT.

23) Blue eyeshadow and thick eyeliner is a right of passage. You must first fail before you succeed.

24) Always be on time. For dinners, for appointments, for interviews – just be there ON TIME.

25) Take pictures. Not only take them, but be IN them.

26) Read books. Read alllll the books.

27) Never underestimate the power of a clean home. Declutter, let go of things you no longer need, rearrange your living room. Sometimes you just need to shake things up.

28) Call people. Don’t just text or email. Call them.

29) Take control of your life. You get to choose your own adventure. You are responsible for YOU and your own happiness; not anyone else.

30) Trust everyone until they give you a reason not to (I’m still working on this one…)

31) You don’t need an education to be successful in life. Your passion and drive matter more than a diploma.

32) Always look at things from someone else’s perspective. They may treat you poorly because they are having a bad day, not because they are a bad person. AKA if the cashier is snippy, don’t be snippy back. Just be a good human.

Next year maybe I’ll come up with 33 things, but DANG… 32 was hard enough.

Mamma said there would be days like this.

Life is messy.

It’s full of ups and downs and curve balls.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of chaos for us. My husband has been doing Maple Syrup with a friend, so every weekend is spent out at the sugar bush in the camper. Last weekend I had to work late so he went off with the baby, and I stayed back to do a 14 hour inventory shift… I just came home and crashed. Then the following day I went out to meet them, annnnd Finn was sick (barky seal cough so I’m assuming croup??) So I just came home with her. She was up the whole night, coughing. Poor, sweet Finn. She seems to be on the mend, so there’s that.

I picked up my kids yesterday from school as we go into an “on week” with them. Rhy was so bubbly in the car and I always love our car chats. He’s full of stories and updates – I just shut the radio off and listen to him recount his week. Avalon was “off”… she told me that she just felt moody today. So I let her be… I knew that the car was not the right place to tell them.

Now we may not be able to predict the things that get thrown our way, but we can sure as heck control the reaction we have to them.

Last night, after we got home and settled, I told my daughter some difficult news. And watching her as she came to terms with it, was heartbreaking.

We went for a drive, just me and her, so we could chat:

“My Avalon Mae, I cannot protect you from life’s challenges. As much as I want to take the hurt away; I can’t. You’re going to face hardships and life is going to rip you apart. Some days it will knock you down; some days you’ll get back up, and some days you’re gonna be down for a bit… but you’ll get up. You will. You’re going to hurt, but it’s not going to last. I can promise you that. You’re going to have bad days – days when you’re sad. And I’ll be right there with you. I’m going to be sad with you. I’m going to be there all the way through it. When we get to the end, we are gonna celebrate together. I am your mother. I cannot protect your from everything, but you can be DAMN sure that I’m going to walk alongside you no matter what…”

Raise your kids to feel emotions. To ride those waves; allow the sadness to wash over you. Teach them to feel it, own it, control it, and then let it go.

We cannot shield our children from life, but we can show them that these days will come and go – and that’s ok. Raising strong children doesn’t mean telling them to “get over it”… strength comes from knowing that this wide range of emotions are a very real thing, and they don’t last forever.

When we teach a child to feel an emotion instead of reacting to it, it allows them to own it, deal with it, and then move on. As adults they learn to accept responsibility for their own emotions, control them, and are less likely to last out and let sadness turn into anger then anxiety.

Not just that, but allow them to feel safe in their emotions. Be there for them while they ride that wave. Hold them, talk to them. You’re not letting them be “weak” – actually it’s the opposite. You are raising them to be strong and independent. For one day they will face sadness again, and the motor pathway in the brain on how to cope will be established.

Being a mom is hard… but you just have to roll with it sometimes!

My mamma said there would be days like this.

My fitness journey

Where did “Supermomgetsfit” come from?

Back in 2014 I joined a weight loss challenge. One of the components was that I create a social media page to document my progress. So Supermomgetsfit was born.

I was miserable and looking for something to make me happy again. I was lead by a coach who cut my calories and had me working out nearly every day. It produced results and I was “happy”… Did it produce results? Absolutely. Of course it worked, because I put in the work. I started running, but my knee was flaring up. So I stuck to cardio and weightlifting in my home gym.

I went through a divorce and then completely took a detour when it came to health and fitness. I went through a summer of eating junk and drinking at the cottage and campground. By the winter of 2015 I was heavier than when I started a year ago.

I joined a second challenge with the same coach and lost 20lbs in 8 weeks.

I won the competition and was awarded $1000 for doing so. But to get those results? I was eating waaaay too little and exercising waaaay too much. It wasn’t sustainable. Again, it worked but you can’t live like that forever.

I then got pregnant with Finn and stopped exercising altogether. I gained 25-30lbs during the pregnancy, which was within reason.

After the pregnancy I found another weight loss competition and went balls to the wall for a whole year. I lost about 40lbs, completely messed up my milk supply, went through post partum depression, and ended up feeling just as lost and miserable in the end. I won $10,000 for this transformation – which was amazing – but I still didn’t feel complete.

The truth is, I was looking for weight loss to fix my life; solve all my problems. But it didn’t. I still found something to be unhappy about, something to make me feel like I need more. The program was designed to help you lose weight. And if that’s your goal, then so be it. But fat loss doesn’t fix broken hearts and minds.

But I already had what I needed. A home, a husband, a family, a job, a car etc. I had the basics some people would kill for. Why did I need to take up less space in order to be greater?

I think the pressure on women, specifically, is so IMMENSE to lose weight for aesthetic reasons that we so very quickly forget the benefits of eating better and getting active. It helps with anxiety, helps you sleep better, helps with mood disorders and depression, helps your skin, and helps your digestion etc. Losing weight doesn’t always equate to health.

If you cut calories and exercise excessively, sure you’ll lose weight. But one, it’s not maintainable, and two, it’s not healthy. The focus here is simply to “fix” your outside but put your insides at risk? But why? What’s the point?

I hope that more women begin to lean towards health and happiness, and focus less on aesthetic transformations. Let’s stop rewarding people for the visual changes and start praising them for the spiritual and internal transformations.

This past weekend was a great example of a balanced lifestyle: I ate prepped meals for dinner and lunch (crockpot chicken and sautéed veggies), I enjoyed a dinner with family and had some birthday cake, I sat in bed and watched a movie with my daughter and together we ate cupcakes… I also did a workout on Saturday with a few dance breaks in between with my kids. And on Sunday my girls and I did a fun workout together.

This is balance.

It’s stepping away from the scale and focusing on the FUN of the movement versus punishing yourself for a goal. I’m stepping away from the scale and from the progress photos. I’m embracing the loose skin and stretch marks and cellulite. I’m exercising cause it makes me feel good and I enjoy the time with the music up, dancing and laughing with my kids.

Supermomgetsfit has evolved into so much more than a documentary of my fitness journey. It’s the process of becoming me. And being ok with “me”. It’s the journey to acceptance; and spreading the same message all over the world so that other woman can learn to find that same inner peace.

Cheers to us. And all of our bits. And may we bare them with confidence for the next generations to come.

Supermom

My mom was my superhero. I looked up to her in every way. As a small child I remember going to an amusement park. My mother got on some sort of rollercoaster ride. I stayed back with my grandmother as she climbed into her seat. A wave of anxiety washed over me and I feared for her safety. I cried out to her. She waved and smiled reassuringly; I cried even more… In my child-sized mind, I felt like I was losing her. Like she was putting herself deliberately in harms way. And all I could do was watch. Of course, she ended up being fine. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget that feeling.

When my mother and step-dad split up, I went through a transitional period when I found my mother becoming less of a mom, and more of a roommate. Impulsive decision making, and teenage like behaviour made me see her in a different light. I loved her so dearly, but I didn’t feel like she was the solid caretaker she used to be.

In 2006 when she was admitted to the psychiatric ward was the first time I felt like the adult. Watching her fall apart; sobbing for what felt like 3 months straight. She was broken. She didn’t know how to be a mother, let alone be herself. It was a giant reset button in her life, as well as in our relationship. In 2006 I feel as though I lost my mother.

She moved to another province upon release and has not come back since. I was born in Ontario. I’ve been raised in Ontario. She left my home and went somewhere else, taking my sister along with her. I was left here to do my own thing.

I work and I have my own family now. Up and leaving to go visit is a challenge, time-wise and money-wise. I don’t have the freedom and flexibility to drop it and go. So I see my mother maybe once a year, sometimes even less.

When I got remarried my mother wasn’t there. Was it hard? Absolutely. But I have to remind myself that having a mother alive is more valuable than having a mother being physically present on one single day of the year.

I hope that I can be the mother who always has an open door policy for my kids, and their kids, and so on. We will have dinner together every weekend, and talk on the phone about the going-ons of life. I want to be emotionally available to my children when they go through life’s challenges. I am, after all, their mother. And it’s a lifelong commitment. I am not angry with my mother; she is human. She has her own challenges to face and I respect that. It’s hard to witness from one province over – or maybe I lack any involvement simply because I am an entire province away.

But the truth is: life happens and you make of it what you can. Mental Illness can rob you of a person you once knew. It can take them and transform them, and you have to go through a process of mourning someone who is still alive. Do I have my own personal demons that I’m fighting? Absolutely. But these faces: they keep me on course. For them, I’ll choose every day to keep an open line of communication with my kids. To be open and warm and loving. And I’ll take care of myself so that I can be there when I’m needed.

And I’ll be their super mom for as long as humanly possible.

Do you want to build an empire?

Be great and worthy of respect from all over the land?

Have people recognize your face in the grocery store… “Hey! I follow you on Instagram!”

What about having a six figure income? Making so much money that you don’t have to worry about putting your monthly bills on “auto payment”…

What if you travel for work and have to FaceTime you family every night? Or maybe you’re working two jobs. Maybe you don’t even get to say good night some times…

They say that it doesn’t come easy. Good things DON’T come to those who wait; they come to those who work their asses off. So just how far are you willing to go for that lifestyle?

I used to think that having the ultimate hustle meant that I had reached a certain level of success. Working a Monday to Friday job, momming, running a cupcake business, running a coaching business, keeping active, being present on Social Media “building my brand”, a writer… and so on. Staying busy is wonderful. But I was spread so thin.

Jack of all trades, master of none, they say.

I was tired and moody and snippy. My kids and husband got the worst of me. So who was I “hustling” for? Was I rolling in the dough? Was I making dreams come alive? Was I happy?

No.

I was quickly realizing that I was ok with “ok” – not being sensational; I was ok with being mediocre. I was working so hard, wasting away the best years of my life. I’m only 31, I have kids that still need me, and I’m spending all this time working – but for what?

It’s not always about the hustle, my friends. We are making ends meet and that should be enough. Time has no dollar value, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. The kids will grow older, and less dependent on us. There will be so much more time for the hustle and grind later on. But for now, I should choose living. A little less on my plate. A little less money in my savings account. A little more time with my fam. Because I know that when I’m 72 with money in the bank, I’ll wish I had spent a little more time with my loved ones.