And So We Write

View from a run

And so we write. In journals, on napkins, in notebooks, in the notes app on my smartphone, on scrap pieces of paper, on my laptop. Words, thoughts, ideas, unfiltered screamings of the mind, sandwiched between gentle soothings of the heart. For a writer, every empty space is a canvas and every situation a setting.


Where will the words go? Will they be read by others? Sometimes, and sometimes not. Often they are an aligning, a righting of self through writing, a way to honour oneself without distractions of technology, of other people’s opinions, judgements or views. To capture magic and the mundane. Words are a reflection, or an unveiling of the truth. A chance to lay bare all the doubts, the joys, the truths, and the hopes.


The hopes. The desire that lay dormant until you turned a corner on that run and saw a view that reminded you of a long-forgotten idea. The dream that you shape-shifted into something else, only to realize that the old shape was just fine the way it was.


We will get stuck at times. We will feel like the words are drying up, or they don’t hold the same power, or that they make no sense. And it is in this time of “stuck-ness,” that it is most important to write. It is most important to get those thoughts, no matter how faded and faint they feel, down on the page.


And so we write.

Journals And Yoga Mats

Journalling on the yoga mat

I’ve kept a journal for as long as I can remember. Over the years, my journals have held many ridiculous imaginings, fuelled some wild daydreams, and served as a place to sort through my problems (big and small). My journal is the place where I cannot hide from my thoughts or feelings. It is where my deepest truths fall out, even the ones that I’m most afraid of facing. The act of writing gives me perspective, and allows me a space to explore both the most mundane and the most intense experiences.


But I have another journal of a different kind: my yoga mat. Each time I step onto the mat, my body tells a story. I become aware of sensations in my muscles and joints that I may not notice (or choose to ignore!) during the rhythm of a typical day. It’s easy to travel through our daily schedules without paying attention to the effect each movement has on the physical body, not to mention the emotions we hold within. I can ignore a slight pain in the hip, some stiffness in the neck, or a nagging tug at the hamstrings as I go from one activity to another. But on the mat, as I begin to focus on my breath, and the framework of the postures, I can’t avoid feeling imbalances or tensions that have arisen in my body. And as I move through my yoga practice, I can consciously work towards bringing my physical (and mental) self back into, or closer to, alignment.


The days when I least feel like rolling out my mat are often the days when I need my yoga practice the most. Just as my journal provides a place where I can sift through my thoughts and let the page hold them in plain view, my yoga mat is the space where I can sort through what my body needs at any given time.


Do you use your yoga mat as your physical journal? What story does your body tell?



5 Top Gifts For Valentines Day

Love heartI’m a fan of any celebration of love, so I’m a natural lover of Valentine’s Day. Sure, I adore flowers and always welcome romantic dinners, but there are many ways to celebrate love that don’t involve chocolates, overpriced meals or more “stuff” to fill the house with. My favourite moments cost very little and are ultimately more meaningful in the long-term.  Instead of going the typical consumer route, why not try out one (or all) of these simple and free gifts this year for your partner and/or your kids.


1. Be Present

Guaranteed to be the best free gift you can give to your partner (and/or kids.) Put your smartphone/computer/tablets away for a solid chunk of time and let them have your full and undivided attention. Spend less time talking and more time truly listening.


2. Write a love letter

There are many things we appreciate and love about our partners and our kids that they might not hear us say on a daily basis. Sitting down to physically write our expressions of love for someone benefits not only the one receiving the letter, but makes the person writing it feel good also.


3. Get Outside and Be Active Together

Plan a family activity (or couples activity) outdoors. Being active as a family or with your partner is a wonderful way to spend time together away from the usual stressors of household chores/to-do lists. Time in nature is also a proven mood-booster.


4. Make Your Favourite Meal Together

Whether you’re planning a candlelit dinner with your partner after the kids are in bed, or a family celebration, conversation over tasty food is always a good way to connect with each other. Pick your favourite dishes and chef up a yummy meal that you can savour together. (And leave the dishes for later.)


5. Extra Hugs and cuddles

Whether we’re five or fifty-five, the importance of touch and physical intimacy is undeniable. Some of us are natural huggers and others have to make a concerted effort to increase our physical contact. Regardless of your nature, by ensuring lots of hugs and cuddles this Valentines Day, you’re bound to spread a whole lot of extra love. And who can deny that love is a good thing?

Monday Meditation: Being Thankful For The Ability To Move

Running tag

My yoga and Pilates clients inspire me daily. I am lucky enough to work with a wide variety of students. From 8-year-olds to 80-year-olds, my teaching practice offers me insight into many ages and stages of life.



The one theme that has surfaced repeatedly in the past few weeks is how vital a functioning, moving body is to our overall health. I’m sure many of you can relate to a time when you’ve been really sick or injured, and your daily routine has had to change dramatically. And then, when you recover, when you’re back to your regular schedule, you feel so utterly thankful and appreciative of what it feels like to be healthy and to move with ease.


Why is it so easy to ignore the gift of health and celebrate our ability to move our bodies until we are challenged by something that threatens these abilities? Many of us take our bodies for granted until we are faced with a stark reminder that the body is fallible and will not always work in the ways we need it to.


This week, I encourage you to spend some time being aware of and thankful for the different ways you use your body. For the ability to walk, to jump, to play tag with your children. For the ability to open a door for someone else, to carry your groceries, to strike a yoga pose.


Our bodies do so much for us. Let’s do all we can to appreciate them.


Happy moving!

Have a ball, and win a free week of camp!

Tennis Contest Info

If you’re in Toronto, and looking for some fun activity for your kids over the holidays, click on the picture and take a guess at how many tennis balls are in this basket. Leave your guess, your name and email in the comments below. The person who guesses the closest number wins a free week at the Lytton Sports camp. Contest closes December 12th.

Good luck!

Thank you to everyone who participated. The correct number of balls is 65, so the winner of the contest is Cathy Thomas who guessed the closest at 48! Congratulations, Cathy!

What Lens Are You Looking Through?

It’s been a while since I’ve written a Monday meditation, and I’ve missed the act of writing them down, of sitting with the words as they take shape.


This week’s meditation is on perception, and the way we allow ourselves to view the world. We are provided with opportunities daily to make judgments on situations, to assign labels to people or relationships, to have an opinion on the actions or beliefs of others. It is human nature to react from our personal viewpoint, from our current life circumstances, which are simply a culmination of our past experiences.



As I try to impart to my kids, it’s important to recognize that every situation we are involved in, whether good, bad, or somewhere in between, is being seen by us through our own lens. Sometimes the lens can be a little blurry (whether clouded by emotions, bias, or simply the circumstances of the day), and sometimes it can be crystal clear (when we can be as objective as human nature allows).


When we’re conscious that the world around us is viewed through more than just our own lens, it can broaden our perspective on life and our daily events.


This week, when you’re challenged by something, or are finding it hard to put a situation into perspective, take some time to meditate on what lens you’re looking through. If you imagine seeing the events through a different lens, does it shift your thinking?


Happy meditating!

Monday Meditation: On Being Stuck

“If stuck, move.” 


It’s a simple concept and may seem completely obvious, but there have been many times that I’ve been stuck in a rut (or an emotional state) and haven’t been able to see a way out of it.


On days when I have writer’s block, feel overwhelmed with to-do lists or exhausted from a night of broken sleep, when the first instinct I have is to go straight back to bed, the only thing to do is move. Whether it’s rolling out my yoga mat to do a few sun salutations, or slipping on my running shoes for a walk or a jog, the sheer act of moving my body kickstarts my mind.


When my kids are getting at each other or going stir crazy inside the house, we change the dynamic by getting outdoors and being active.


Movement propels us forward physically, but also mentally. Regardless of how we’re moving, we’re creating fresh energy and changing our situation. It is and always will be my best “way out.”


What’s your best way to get out of feeling stuck?


Taking Summer Into The School Year

I love summer. Longer days, lots of sunshine, lighter clothes, brighter colours. Everything seems easier to me in the summer. I have more energy, I need less sleep, and I seem to have a more relaxed attitude to pretty much everything. I feel more spontaneous, and well, just more fun.


But the eternal student in me also loves the fall, and the beginning of a school year.  September feels like more of a new year to me than January 1st. Fresh starts, fresh notebooks, new experiences. This year, more than ever though, I’m realizing that I could really benefit from taking my summer attitude into the school year with me. And I’m sure my husband and kids could benefit too.


So, I’ve come up with three things that I can do to mix a little summer into my back-to-school mindset.


Stay Open And Adventurous


There’s less structure in our household in the summer. My workload changes, the kids have fewer activities, and we have extra long weekends. As a result, I do more things on a whim, say yes more, and make more last-minute plans. This year, come fall, I’m determined not to get bogged down by our schedules. I might not be able to do half or full-day excursions with the kids like we can do in the summer, but we can have spontaneous playdates or dinner parties, I can throw our meal plan out the window every so often, and I can embrace new adventures with the kids.


Be Outside As Much As Possible


I love the outdoors. And so do my kids. We’re all happiest when we’re out of the house, in the backyard, the park, in nature, or doing something active. A simple bike ride around the neighbourhood is our family go-to for antsy kids, sibling fighting, or general summer lethargy. This fall, I’m resolving to take every opportunity to get outside. Fresh air and activity are good for the body but are just as important for the mind.


Take Things Less Seriously


I think everyone has a more laissez-faire attitude in the summer. I know that I’m more relaxed in most situations, whether it’s driving in the city, worrying about being on time for things, or simply getting the laundry done. Yet everything that needs to be done gets done. So, this September I’m still going to pick my kids up on time, see my clients, file my articles, take care of the house etc etc. I’m just aiming to keep this relaxed summer attitude, to not worry about silly stuff, and to take everything a little less seriously.



Who’s with me? Is there anything from your summer mindset that you’re taking with you into fall?

Knowing Your Limits

I have friends who jam their schedules from morning to night, who — despite a busy work-life — pack their weeknights and weekends with a variety of activities, and who thrive on full calendars. I also have friends who prefer to stay at home, who keep their calendars quiet and full of white space because these people unravel if they get too busy. I’ve always fallen somewhere in between the two, living a continual dance between the thrill of busy-ness and the peace of a quiet calendar.


But what I’ve noticed in the last few months is a pulling back of sorts, like an invisible rein is drawing me more and more towards stillness. In a time when it seems that all around me things are speeding up, I feel the strong urge to slow down. To say no to things. To be very picky about what I take on.


Perhaps it’s because as my children get older they have more activities, inherently affecting the overall ebb and flow of the family calendar; perhaps it’s because I’m finding deeper appreciation of the small, simple moments; perhaps it’s because I care less about proving myself or defining my success in relation to others than I once did; or… perhaps it’s all of those things and none of them. Perhaps it’s simply a phase of reflection and quiet, which we all need for varying reasons at different points in our lives.


Whatever this means, one theme stands out for me: knowing my limits. Physically, my energy limits change depending on how active my work is on a given week. If I have a particularly busy teaching week, I know that my body is more tired than during a week when the work scale tips in favour of writing. But during a heavy writing week I notice I may have more physical reserves but my mind gets tired more easily.


My meditation is always my true north when it comes to re-calibrating my limits. When I drop in to meditation, both my mind and body send signals that are right there in my face. And I cannot avoid seeing or knowing what I need. Sometimes all it takes is a five-minute practice to know that I’ve taken on too much, or that I’m antsy because I have energy that needs to be channelled into a project.


Knowing my limits isn’t always easy to accept. There are many things I want to do or feel the urge to get involved with but then have to weigh those things against whether I really have the time or the energy. With social media it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of who’s-doing-what and how quickly and look-at-that-awesome-project and do-you-want-to-join-us-for-this? It’s a yes-girl’s dream. But as a yes-girl, I feel that invisible rein pull even more tightly right now. Because even though I’m enthusiastic about so many things and I do genuinely want to say yes, yes, yes, I’m trying to be aware of my limits.


In past experience, just as a low tide is followed by a high tide, my periods of quiet and reflection have often preceded bursts of great creative energy and new chapters. But whatever this quiet may be, I am savouring it and accepting it.


Do you know your limits? How do you stay true to them?


Monday Meditation: Renewal

Although Spring has officially started here in Ontario, the weather is a little late to the game. But there is the promise of warmer temperatures in the air, and the longer days and more frequent sunshine are pleasant reminders of Spring’s arrival. At this time of year, I always feel a surge of energy, a sense of renewal. It’s instinctual.


I get the urge to spring clean the house, to get rid of all the clutter that has built up over the winter months and give our house a little makeover from the inside. I notice the desire to eat lighter foods – more salads and fresh, raw veggies – and less of the casseroles and thick soups of winter. Creatively, I am full of ideas and thoughts that have surfaced after simmering quietly in my mind during the early months of the year. And despite being a winter runner, running at this time of year offers a new sense of freedom, and I find an extra spring in my step (without having to navigate icy sidewalks or snowy streets).


Generally, Spring feels more like a fresh start to me than the ringing in of the new year.


This week I’ll be looking at the four corners of my life – physical, mental, spiritual, emotional – and asking myself where I need to focus my energies the most this Spring. Just as a garden needs nurturing in different ways as the seasons change, so do our bodies and minds. Are there any areas of your life that need a little renewal? This might just be the perfect time of year for it.