Sunday, January 17, 2016

Fashion Splash - Looks for Travel and Business Casual

Over the years I've had a lot of people compliment me on my fashion sense which is always super flattering to hear. And it's something I come by naturally because style seems to be embedded in our family DNA. From my earliest memory, I can remember my grandmother making comments like "You can't go uptown dressed like that," and I realize now what a gift that was, as it's given me an inner knowing of what to wear - and where to wear it.

This knowing came from both sides of the family. My grandfather, Harry Moody, was a man who knew what looked good on women and made his opinions very clear:

1. Be very careful about patterns (I will be talking about this in future blogs)
2. Always wear good shoes.
3. Always wear clothes that fit.

Interestingly, I've gone to a few psychics over the years for fun, and twice now my grandfather has shown up and given me fashion advice from beyond. No lie. One time he wanted me to know my hair was too short, and the next, he had a comment about the shoes I was wearing. He wanted me to know I had made a good choice. The cool thing is just that morning I had debated between two pairs in front of my mirror.

So I know I'll have my grandfather's blessing as I embark on the odd blog about fashion - with today's topic being business casual and travel.  This because I'm getting ready to go on another work related trip and in my line of work as a trainer/facilitator/educator, the dress code is almost always business casual.

But what do I mean by business casual? My work takes me into a lot of schools and/or small communities where a business suit or dressier outfit is just not quite the right fit. Business casual is a professional look that's little more relaxed - but although it's casual, that doesn't mean anything goes.

So how to know what goes and what doesn't? Well, first of all, I think Pinterest is a great place to go for inspiration. I love to put "Women's fashions" into the search box and then scroll through. I have a board devoted specifically to fashion styles and ideas (just click the link to visit and follow) and whenever I see a look or an idea I like, I save it there for future reference.

And then a great practice to get into is to put together outfits based on what you'll be doing either at the start of a week, or before a trip. I do this every Sunday. I sit down and think about what I'm going to be doing in the week ahead and then I put together an outfit for each day, including shoes, accessories, and jewelry. They hang in chronological order in my closet and make for less stressful mornings. As a bonus, they also give me a boost of inner confidence that comes with knowing I've put something I feel fabulous in for that day.

So I thought I'd share some of the looks I've put together for this week's trip, along with some of my thoughts on how I put together business casual and travel outfits.

Look #1 - Travel

The thing about travel is you want to be well put together but you also want to be comfortable, and in my case, because I'm traveling to a small town, jeans and boots are completely acceptable.

I wanted something warm and cozy, because we'll be on a ferry for part of the trip and those boats get chilly, but also something flattering - so I put my look together inspired by outfits I've loved by Ralph Lauren.

When putting together your casual closet, there a few must haves (in my humble opinion) and one of those is a denim shirt because it will take you anywhere and never goes out of style. The same applies for white button down shirts, and well made tees with both long and short sleeves. Save your yoga pants and track jackets for the gym and invest in some comfortable jeans with a little stretch, a denim shirt, button down or a tee, and then pair it up with a great jacket, or sweater. A scarf, cute flats, or boots and you'll be good to go.

For my trip, I've chosen this soft, comfy fringed cardigan with skinny jeans and boots. Not only will the outfit be perfect for a long day of travel, I feel good in it - and as Billy Crystal so famously said "When you look mahvelous, you feel mahvelous."

The fringe cardie is longer in the back than the front and creates a lengthening silhouette. And the fringe itself, adds a Ralph Lauren Country look without the Ralph Lauren Country price.

Finishing the whole thing off is minimal jewelry that makes a statement: A fabulous, clunky men's style watch, and a simple silver ring (that I see needs polishing). 

Look #2 - Business Casual

The next two looks I've put together are for the days I'll spend facilitating my workshop - and there are always things to keep in mind, like temperature. I tend to dress in layers, that way I stay warm if the room is on the cooler side, but can remove a jacket or sweater if it gets too warm. 

But first, some ideas from me about business casual (and please keep in mind, these are the fashion rules I live by - if they aren't yours, that's okay too. Fashion is always individual).

Dresses and Skirts
  1. Skirts and dresses are okay as long as the hem falls just above the knees and no higher. You want the hemline to flatter, not detract from your professional look. If you're opting to wear a skirt or dress, a pair of black tights with a black skirt and boots is a great look that's flattering on just about everyone. 
  2. Avoid low-cut dresses or those with high slits.
  3. Avoid dresses (especially) and skirts that are too tight. Always wear clothes that fit because clothes that fit flatter. 
  1. Go for pants that fit and feel comfortable. I can't think of anything worse than having to go through a day in tight pants, so do yourself a favour and donate anything you own that doesn't fit. If you achieve that magical goal weight you're keeping the jeans for, you'll want to get a brand new pair to celebrate anyway. In fashion and in life, let go of the past. Be fabulous just as you are today. 
  2. If jeans are okay for your business casual look (they are for me when I'm working in schools) make sure to wear dressy jeans in a darker hue that aren't faded. Keep those for traveling, clubbing, and the weekend,
  3. Neutral colors are best.
  4. Tights are not pants. Save them for yoga class.
Blouses and Tops
  1. Blouses, plain shirts, cotton shirts, sweaters, turtlenecks, vests, and sleeveless shirts are all good choices, just be careful that what you wear isn't too revealing.
  2. Blouses and shirts can be tucked-in or untucked depending on the shirt.
  3. Unusual patterns are okay, as long as they're not wild. In most cases, though, I subscribe to my grandfather's aversion. This is because your clothes should enhance beautiful you, and patterns tend to take the focus away from the person. 

In my line of work, I'm on my feet constantly and so it becomes incumbent to wear good shoes. In fact, I would go so far as to say, the most important investment you can make in your wardrobe is shoes that fit right (and bras that do the same). When choosing shoes:
  1. Try footwear such as leather shoes, flat trouser shoes, wedge heels, high heels (that you can walk in). Avoid flip flops, sandals and sneakers.
  2. Always opt for neutral colours (black, brown, grey, tan, khaki, wine, navy) and pay attention to the condition your shoes are in. 
So with all those good pointers in mind, here are my two business casual looks for this trip:

I am absolutely crazy about this burgundy "Grandpa" cardie. It's warm and cozy and looks great with these plaid slacks. You can't see it in the picture, but there's a very faint burgundy line that runs through the plaid on the pants. Not too much to be distracting but just right. Team the look up with a neutral tee and a fun scarf to finish.

The shoes are Italian leather in a boot style with a slight heel to add height. I've paired the outfit with a comfortable cotton long sleeved shirt that says "Pop the champagne" to add a little fun, and then finished it with my favourite silver watch, a thick silver ring, and diamond stud earrings.

The second look is also warm, and comfortable. A soft black and grey flecked cardie, teams with an aubergine blouse, black slacks, black wedges, my signature man style watch with a Pandora done in all hues of pink and purple, and a ring with a deep purple stone.

And when you come in from the cold, remove the scarf and you'll be all set to take on the world!

So that's it. Some ideas from me on how to put together fabulous business casual looks of which I'm more than certain my grandfather would approve. Which brings me to today's reminder...

"Don't be into trends. Don't make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live." —Gianni Versace

Thursday, January 14, 2016


Today was a good day. Interestingly enough, though, it didn't start that way. Nope. Quite the opposite because my day began with one of those bad dreams we have just before waking. In my dream my son Matthew was a little boy and for some reason, Vaughan and I had sent him to live with another family because we were both too busy to look after him. In the dream, he had come home for a visit and I discovered that he'd started calling the woman looking after him Mom.

I woke up crying.

I have no idea what the dream meant, other than to say that I must have regrets about time I didn't spend with him growing up; and so it was with that feeling that I woke up. And it wasn't a pleasant awakening either. It was one of those mornings I hit snooze on my phone about 10 times and when I finally rolled out of bed and into the shower, I opted for the highest octane coffee I had.

And then it continued. I got to work and realized I'd left my glasses at home. Along with my make up bag, chap stick, and Ibuprofen (for the head ache that was beginning to take shape as I entered the office). But despite all that, I had a presentation to do at a local elementary school at 10:30 and knew I had to put my best game face on because presentations are always better when the people doing them are in a good mood.

So that's what I did. And it's an interesting thing that happens when we decide, that despite all stormy weather, we're going to have a good day anyway and approach everything that comes our way with a smile and a positive spirit. When we do this a surprising thing happens: suddenly a bad day has the potential of becoming the best day.

At least, that's how it was for me.

The presentation went amazing and the children clung to our words and the message we were there to share which is: YOU ARE IMPORTANT.

Afterward, several kids approached me to talk and as I sat with each of them, listening and being there as they shared the worries on their minds and their hearts, I was gifted with the realization that maybe I wasn't such a bad mother after all. Although I got a lot of things wrong, I was always there, I always listened, and I think I conveyed the message that YOU ARE IMPORTANT, and I LOVE YOU beyond all measure in everything I did.

At least I hope so.

That's the kicker with regrets. As we grow older we grow wiser and from the vantage point of age and experience there are so many things we'd do differently but we can't. So I guess our best choice is to accept everything and to remember that even our mistakes are gifts for other people because nobody learns with an absence of struggle and perhaps in the universal scheme of things, the greatest gifts we give our children are the things they need to find the strength to overcome.

Today's reminder:

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


As an only child, it's my nature to do things by myself and to trust the things I create. I never had the advantage of brothers and sisters, and the knowing that comes with siblings. So I never really understood that the sum of all parts could be greater than what I could ever do on my own.

You see, I'm one of those people who "gets things done" - and I find that when I include others in what I'm about, it gets too messy - especially when the thoughts and opinions of others differ from my own.

But I realize now that there is no one vision; and that, my friends, has changed everything. 

I am a person who tends to live in absolutes. If we're working with my vision then that vision is the right one - so that if we begin to work with yours and it's different than mine, I will automatically switch tracks and focus on yours. But I realize this evening that the most incredible projects are born when several voices are given opportunity to share their opinions so that all ideas can be discussed, broken apart, and turned into something new.

Today's reminder: 


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Playing in the Mud - Today's Reminder

I'm back to the reality of a full time job that's far more to me than just a place to work and so I invest much more of myself into it than I ever intend to; not to mention my weekly Kitchen Witch cooking video/recipe/blog, and life in general. I share this because this evening I realized I'm already one blog behind on the commitment I made to myself at the start of the year to write something of significance *to me* every day - as a reminder of the path I'm on and the things I'm working toward.

This morning over coffee and candle light, I performed my morning ritual of prayer, grounding, and a card reading from my Osho Zen deck, and I was reminded (for the third day in a row no less) that I stretch myself too thin and that I need to be taking more time to do nothing. To say nothing, to write nothing, to think nothing, and to do nothing, and, instead, just Be.

I never fully understood how difficult this is for me; to just be still and not be doing. But I also rely on and believe in the wisdom of spirit when it speaks to me, and I'm hearing, loud and clear, that my soul needs some time in nature. Tree wisdom, rain on my face. Time by the ocean to sit with the waves, and time in pajamas with a good book.

The other thing my soul needs, I believe, is time with my mother. We children can be tough task masters when it comes to our parents - especially when they don't live up to or meet the incredibly strident expectations we've set up for them in this life. But our parents are merely human themselves. Though at one time, they were everything in the world to us, our champions, the people with all the answers, it becomes incumbent on us as adults (or at least on me) to let go of the adolescent disappointment; that mocking stab in the heart we felt the day we realized the illusion of our parents was false.

The day we looked toward the supposed perfection of other families and saw within their bounty, everything ours lacked.

I completely realize I'm talking to myself right now - and that's okay. The whole purpose of this blog is to figure things out for myself - and what I'm figuring out is that I need to let go of the bone. I need to forgive my mother, and appreciate my mother, and love my mother for exactly who she is.

And then I need to spend more time with her.

Our relationship will never be perfect. She will still trigger me. And I her. But when I can get about the business of understanding that every feeling. Every. Single. Feeling. is a treasure and this entire soup we're in called life is a one shot deal in this incarnation (I only ever get one chance at being Lyndsay to my mom's Glenda), maybe I can get my head out of my own ass and stop wasting time.

And that's today's reminder:

Sunday, January 10, 2016


Tonight, on the 10th day of July, 2016...

I have no words to say other than that I know how blessed I am.

To friendship. And may each person who reads this find one that is real. 


Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Whole Enchildada

Today I created a new recipe; lentil soup with sweet Italian sausage and apple, and as the flavours melded - fresh thyme, sweet onions, the crunch of celery, carrots, and new potatoes - I was struck by the magic that happens when the right ingredients come together. In soup or in life, this is an important reality.

So many of us complicate our lives by mixing the wrong ingredients. The person we know isn't right for us, the job that doesn't spark our passion, or the relationship that lasts long past its natural expiry date. We stir, and we hope, and we add salt trying to convince ourselves that the lack of flavour is a product of our imaginations.

Macaroni and cheese. Shake and bake chicken. Fish sticks and Wonder Bread - on this, the 9th day of January, 2016, my reminder is to continue searching for flavour and to give yourself permission to leave any buffet that doesn't dazzle your soul or your taste buds.

Friday, January 8, 2016

When Did We Stop being Happy for Each Other?

It's Friday night and I'm enjoying a lazy evening in pajamas watching TV. Normally I would watch a movie, but this evening a guilty pleasure is on that I couldn't resist: Master Chef Junior, and I love this show for two reasons: 1. because the level these kids are cooking at blows me away - not to mention the pressure of being part of a major cooking competition like this, and 2. because when the kids get up before the judges with their food, they seem genuinely happy for each other when they do well.

Tonight's reminder is going to be short and sweet because I'm tired and want to keep mindlessly watching the show but I believe we could learn a lot from children - not the least of which, being happy for the successes of other people instead of being threatened by them.

And that's pretty much it...

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Owl Medicine - A lot happens in the silence...

"A wise old owl sat in an oak;
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard;
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?'

I have always been fascinated by owls and by the idea that humans will feel certain connections to the animal world at different times in their life. This knowledge is old and sacred and has been taught to me by the people I have been blessed to know from the First Nations, who have always understood this and held reverence for life and the natural world.

For example, the bear and the wolf are two animals around which I hold a strong affinity. As a little girl if I couldn't get to sleep at night I would imagine myself surrounded by bear cubs and for some reason this comforted me enough so that I could drift into sleep. Truth be told, even as an adult, on those long nights when insomnia takes hold, my mind will once again turn to the comfort of bears. And as an adult, the mother bear in me shows her face frequently in my need to keep the people close to me safe, well fed, and comfortable.

The wolf, on the other hand, is an animal I have always felt a strong need to protect. Ever since my grade 5 class was shown a documentary on the extermination of these clever and loyal creatures (during which I broke down and cried inconsolably for a half hour after the movie ended), I've been on a mission to educate people about the fact that wolves are neither big nor bad but more likely, misunderstood.

But it's only recently that I've become connected to the medicine of owls and the possibility that it's been owl I've most related to all along. Owl is nocturnal and sees in the dark. Owl sees things others can't. Owl is predatory, but only in such a way that ensures her own survival. Owl listens more and talks less. For years I felt the need to fill silence. To entertain with the part of my personality that relates to the otter, but it's only recently that I've begun to realize that my true nature is silence. And observation. Getting out of my own way so that I can go about the business of listening to the world around me instead of drowning it out with my voice.

I am a teacher, but I am also a student. And I realize now that I will never learn when I speak. I only learn when I listen.

And so my reminder for today is to be more like the owl because a lot happens in the silence.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

I Got Lucky Today with Big V - Daily Reminder #6 - 2016

My husband, affectionately known in certain circles as The Pool Boy, or more recently, "Big V" has been off work all week due to snow and in that light, I have to say, one man's loss is another woman's gain. Why? Because the man I married is the most thoughtful and accomplished house husband on the planet. Seriously. If he didn't look like a lumberjack, I would say give the man a string of pearls and a feather duster and we'll call it a day.

He woke up this morning at his regular construction worker time of 5 am but because he wasn't working, took the time to make me oatmeal and coffee, and then packed me a lunch that included a ham sandwich with dill pickle, Irish cheddar cheese, lettuce, mayo, and mustard, sparkling water, an apple, a tiny container of cherry tomatoes, yogurt, and a cookie. And all I have to say about that is, people if this isn't love I don't know what is.

When I arrived home the laundry was done, the house looked great, and he cooked a dinner that was spectacular: Coconut jerk chicken, roasted potatoes, and baby beets.

I would also like to mention that the man took down all our Christmas decorations, packed them up, and put them away which brings me to today's reminder: I am very lucky to be so loved.

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Marcel Proust

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Pain of being Picked Last - Daily Reminder #5, 2016

“Shrinking in a corner,
pressed into the wall;
do they know I'm present,
am I here at all?”
― Lang Leav, Love & Misadventure
No matter our age, the pieces from our childhood left broken and unhealed tend to re-visit us throughout our lives; re-creating the same feelings of pain and abandonment we felt as little kids. "Do they like me?" we ask ourselves when we meet somebody new. "Am I good enough?" we wonder as we gaze upon lives that seem more fulfilled or more happy than our own, and "Do I belong?"

The latter a question most usually whispered with cautious trepidation because by the time we ask it we usually already think we know the answer.


Some of my earliest memories are of being left out. Though I exude a certain level of confidence on the outside, by nature I'm really quite shy and not the kind of person who will push her way into a party. Especially because on those rare occasions when I have, it never ended well. Case in point, the time I offered to share my Smarties with group of fellow five year olds who wouldn't let me play with them. Not a minute after my offer was voiced, one of their mothers marched out of her house and yelled at me in front of the group calling me a briber. It was public shaming at its finest and I can only hope that somewhere along the line karma took care of what my five year old self couldn't.

The same year I went to a family wedding and was the only little girl who didn't get asked to dance. Heartbroken, I went to the bathroom and bawled my eyes out wondering what was wrong with me. A theme I've carried from junior high school dances and being picked last for teams right into adulthood.

To this day I dread any kind of social interaction that involves the choosing of partners and though I'm an educated and otherwise confident adult, the very thought of not being chosen - for anything - decimates me.

Why do I share this? Because as I grow older I realize more and more that though our bodies age, the pieces of our minds, hearts, and souls that aren't healed get stuck, and though most of us walk around looking like fully actualized responsible adults, we're all just a big group of kids at heart. I guess that's what the 70's gurus meant by our wounded inner child.

The good news, though, is that when we become aware of our themes - and by themes I mean the things that send us into a tailspin of juvenile angst when they happen - we can heal that which wasn't when we were kids. So that the next time we walk past a group of obviously popular looking teenage girls at a high school while carrying a large laptop bag, we can remind ourselves that we are no longer nerdy band students carrying around our tenor saxophones (just to pick a random occurrence that could happen to anyone), but rather, we are confident, successful adults who no longer have to wear elastics in our braces before bed.

So whether your theme is the outsider (why don't I fit in?), comparison (why does everyone's life look better than mine?), inadequacy (I can't do anything right), emptiness (I'm not smart enough, good enough, whatever enough), blame (it's all their fault), denial (if I look perfect on the outside they'll never know how badly I feel on the inside), shame (I am a flawed human being), or any of the gazillion variations on these themes life holds, remember that you have the power to change you. It may not happen all at once as the Skin Horse in the Velveteen Rabbit reminds us, but with self awareness and gentle acceptance we can and will overcome.

And that's today's reminder: In ways both big and small I don't have to let my past define me. However, I have to be aware of the definitions - those things that cause me to revert back to being a hurt eight year old, and remind myself I am no longer that person, this is who I am now, and look how far I've come!

Monday, January 4, 2016

All Things in Good Time - Daily Reminder #4

“I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you're going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you."

C. JoyBell C.

Today is my first day back to work after Christmas holidays and what's unusual this year is that I return with no expectations of change or big dreams for the future. The reason for this, I believe, is because the future is now. Every big dream I've held work wise over the years has come to pass and I'm now in a place of enjoying and appreciating the fruits of my labour.

I was just reading about this yesterday. A good friend posted an article link on Facebook that reminds the reader that most of the good things in life are the result of struggle, and it's our willingness to be in the struggle and our ability to work through it that determines whether we'll be successful or not. It also speaks to the idea that sometimes our beings - the inner most essence of who we are - will give up on a dream long before we have because it will already know when a path is not the right one. I know this because I've had that experience.

It was five years ago. I won a contest through Kraft Foods Canada by creating a recipe for Pork Tenderloin that featured Philadelphia Cream Cheese (I know, and don't ask). Anyways, as part of the prize package, I had the opportunity to shoot two professional cooking videos featuring cream cheese.

Bear in mind that this moment was the culmination of much energy and many dreams and as the lights shone on me while the people from hair and makeup spruced me up and the director called "Action," it should have been a moment of fullness and gratitude that would act as a stepping stone onward to even more exciting things.

Except, in the moment, I felt utterly deflated, lost and disappointed because in that split second between action and me being "on," I had a moment of clarity. It was like this little voice way down at the bottom of my being stepped out from behind a curtain and said, "but you don't give a shit about cream cheese." (sorry Kraft)

I pushed through, however, and erased those thoughts from my mind, telling myself to have gratitude for such an amazing opportunity, and reminding myself of all I had worked for to get to where I was. And when I returned home, I launched myself into creating a cooking channel on Youtube, entering new contests, working as a website ambassador for Kraft Foods and even appearing on Food Network Canada on the popular show Recipe to Riches. So you'd think with all that, my cooking career would have taken off.

In two short words: It didn't.

But I never gave up - in much the same way as I never gave up on another dream, one I had over 20 years ago as a young stay at home mom when I thought about, envisioned, and eventually manifested the creation of programs that would bring a sense of hope and resilience to youth who were feeling lonely, disenfranchised, depressed, or suicidal.

This was also born of loss and struggle. After having a lost friend to suicide at 18, I was also incredibly familiar with feelings of not wanting to be here, of not feeling like I was good enough, or that I belonged. In fact, it wasn't until I was about 23 years old that I finally arrived at a happy enough place to see that hope could be the antithesis to despair, and that a connection to one person who cared enough to believe in me had the power to change everything.

A seed was planted. I wanted to help young people feel less alone.

As does any seed, though, it took awhile to grow, and because it was like a wish made on a dandelion sent to the wind, I had no idea what it would become or what it would look like when it finally grew.

Which brings me back to now. Over the years the dream to help young people has been difficult, and discouraging, and sometimes even heart breaking. This is why, at the start of each New Year I begin thinking about the endless possibilities of who I could be and what I could do away from this - like cooking on camera with cream cheese. I understand now, though, that I never made these things happen because my soul knew it wasn't time. As much as I may think I'm working toward something else, if my soul knows I'm not ready yet, nothing is going to happen.

But I also realize that all of my hard work has not been in vain. It's been going somewhere and preparing the way for the day the next dandelion seed reaches the ground.

Today's Reminder:

I may have no control over what the next flower might look like but I can rest easy in the knowledge that all seeds eventually plant and that the beauty in life lies not in its certainty but in the surprises.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

My Life is Bigger than my Ass - Daily Reminder #3 - 2016

"I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade... And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party."

Ron White

I know it's the New Year, and given that, we're all supposed to be so serious. Driven by a fierce need to make 2016 better than the last, and nudged gently by the abundance of TV commercials currently urging us to make changes, everyone's got the resolutions going.

And its fascinating to me how quickly our consumer driven culture jumps on board. One minute we're watching Christmas specials basking in the glow of Christmas tree lights while grandpa gets drunk on egg nog in the spare room, and the next, Oprah is on our TV screens lamenting her struggles with weight and vowing that this year, thanks to the help of Weight Watchers, she's going to finally and for good shed the extra pounds that are holding her back.

To which I say, Oprah, for the love of God, give up the ghost. Or at the very least have some pasta.

Because if Oprah with all of her money, success, and spirituality still needs Weight Watchers, where does that leave the rest of us? Just yesterday I wrote about powerful women and I purposefully left Oprah off my list - not because I don't love her, because I do - but because to me, a powerful woman is a role model of self acceptance who, even though she may struggle with certain things about herself, would never pander to the lowest common denominator by making a seasonal commercial for a company that is in the business of making money because in our size 2 culture even the most exceptional and accomplished women are supposed to feel bad about themselves if they carry extra weight.

Would Maya Angelou ever have done a Weight Watcher's commercial? 

So coming back to my original quote, I think we all need to lighten up - and I don't mean our calorie loads, I mean our attitudes. We need to purposefully and mindfully be aware of the cultural and media driven hamster wheel we're all on that tells us it's okay to eat sugar cookies throughout the month of December as long as we commit to at least three weeks of starvation and a renewal of our gym memberships in early January. This, to get ready for true love in February, bikini season, sleeveless tops and shorts (required wear until September when we're allowed to put our stretch jeans back on for Halloween).

And with a turn of the wheel, we, the collective cogs, get ready for another round of turkey, stuffing, and gravy while issues like global warming, GMO's, food shortages, and drought, are drowned out by reports of the Kardshians, the frightening buffoonery of Donald Trump, and Superbowl.

But what does this have to do with lemonade? Everything. Because when we really get clear and look at the bigger picture of the world around us, we can see that now, more than ever, we need to get off the wheel. Join the gym if you want to, not because Oprah's going to weekly weigh in, but because the gym gives you pleasure - and not just in January but also in November. Get mindful. Turn off the TV, read a book, go for a walk, breathe, eat amazing food that's real and enjoy every last bite of it, and best of all, find a friend with a little vodka, pour yourself a cup and say Cheers!

There are so many interesting things to notice and experience when we stop buying into a societal consciousness that dictates who and what we should be and instead get to the business of actually living. Of recognizing that each and every one of us is a miracle of creation just as we are now and that none of us is in need of improvement.

What we're really in need of is a lifting of the veils - and this can begin with the understanding that life is so much bigger than any of our asses. If you really want happiness in 2016, do something for others. Remove your media goggles and take a look at the bigger picture of the world. Volunteer. Give back. Be kind. Have compassion. And if you know deep in your heart of hearts that the money you're about to give to Weight Watchers is probably an exercise in futility, donate it. Give it to someone who needs a warm blanket and a few extra calories and then go for a walk.

Be grateful and remember who you really are: a spiritual being having a human experience (I don't remember who originally said that, but it's a good reminder) When we do that, when we see with these new eyes, it helps us realize that the wheel was never real and it is always within our power to step off.

Today's reminder:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for living, blogging and the ongoing inclination to self medicate with pie crust.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Daily Reminder - Powerful Women - Be More not Less

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."

Maya Angelou

I have great admiration for powerful women. Women who embrace fully what it is to be themselves with abandon, zest, and little apology. Maya Angelou was such a woman. And she had flair. A knowledge of who she was that ran so deep she was able to get off the path of wearing what everyone else was wearing and put together a style all her own.

I realize now that style and substance are greatly connected because it's impossible to have flair if we don't know who we are, or worse, we don't like who we see when we look in the mirror. The world is big and there will be many, many people who cross our paths and won't like us, so I would say on this second day of the new year, it's incumbent on each of us to foster and nurture loving relationships with ourselves.

Maya Angelou knew this. She understood her own power, and the importance of the give and take of energy between human beings. She understood that if we let the wrong energy into our lives, over time like water on rock, it will erode us. It will erode the tentative peace we make for ourselves as we move toward love, and so, without apology, Maya Angelou removed people from her life who were toxic or who didn't have her best interests at heart.

It's kind of like cooking. If you're making a beautiful slow braised boeuf bourguignon the ingredients must be specific to the pot. Earthy red wine, fresh thyme, butter, and brandy meld together in a slow tango to perfectly season and make tender the beef. The people in our lives should be like butter and thyme, present to bring out the best in us so that we in turn can bring out the best in them.

After all, what would a boeuf bourguignon become if we added spicy Italian sausage to the pot? It might be delicious, but if the Italian sausage is assertive enough to take over and to do so without apology, you no longer have a bourguignon. You now have an Italian stew in which the boeuf is merely an afterthought. Or what if you stuck to the beef and then dumped a half cup of Frank's Red Hot into the pot. What would happen to the subtle combining of flavours? In cooking and in life, the introduction of one wrong ingredient has the power to ruin the stew.

So know who you are and understand which flavours complement you, which flavours overpower you, and which flavours have no business in your stew, your palette, or in your life. And then think about your personal style. What do the clothes you wear, your hair, jewelry, make up, say about you and they way you walk in the world? Do your clothes fit you properly and, if not, why? Too many women make the mistake of hiding behind clothes that are too big or unflattering, or worse, wearing uncomfortable clothing that's too small.

That's not to say the expectation is for any of us to look like Vogue models. That's not it at all. The idea is merely to work towards becoming the zestiest versions of ourselves from the inside out. Cleaning the toxins out of our lives and the dust from our closets as we continue to get to know who we are.

Julia Child, another powerful woman, knew exactly who she was and her sense of style reflected that. Sweater sets, her trademark string of pearls, and a fearlessness in life and in the kitchen is what comes to mind when I think of her. And no wonder she's one of my personal heroes along with Maya Angelou - both women became more powerful with the passing of time, not less.

So on this, the second day of January, 2016, my reminder is:

Be More, Not Less

More listens, Less talks. More has nothing to prove and everything to give. More sits in the solitude of her own power and tries to understand the bigger picture. Less sits in a vacuum of lack and creates pictures that aren't always based on reality. More has personal style and flair. Less models her flair after others.

As we go through life we will always be a combination of More and Less, but when we know and understand this, it becomes easier to balance the flavours.

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for living, blogging and the ongoing inclination to self medicate with pie crust.

Friday, January 1, 2016

A Daily Reminder - Day 1 - I Am

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

I had a similar epiphany recently; standing on a beach at midnight on the West coast of Vancouver Island, a roaring bonfire behind me, and waves gently lapping the shore just ahead, I realized that here (not there or elsewhere) is exactly where I've always needed to be. Moreover, here is also exactly where I wanted to be all along. It's just that when I finally arrived, I was already on my way to somewhere else.

It's January 1st and as beginnings go, it makes sense to start here on the fresh page of a New Year, not with resolutions, but more likely with resolve, to get this thing called "my life" a little better figured out so that (a) I can remind myself to be grateful and observant in order to (b) stop trying to change what is now into the futile, imaginary destination of "I wish" for tomorrow - and in doing so (c) clear the way to tomorrow's now in a more loving, thoughtful, and present way.

And it begins with a pen. Or in this case, a key board.

I want to turn a page or two in my life so that I'm not only relishing in the present, I'm doing so from a place that has let go of old fears from the past because I've learned that though it's one thing to say I've let go of the self doubt, fear of abandonment, and every day's expectation that the bottom could fall out of my life at any moment, what is easily said is not always so easily done.

The truth is, the bottom will fall out. The tricky part is that I need to quit waiting for it to happen.

In fact, I need to quit waiting, period, and start living. Immersed in every delicious, sticky, painful, joyous, heart wrenching, moment this life has to offer and experience the all of it both as an active participant and an observer. 

And so on this, Day 1, of a spiritual journey to reconnect with myself, I call to the universe with my intention to become exactly who I need to be with full acceptance that I am already all of it.

This is a remembering.

This is an uncovering.

This is who I Am.

Today's reminder: I am exactly where I need to be at this time in my life. I notice everything from a place of detachment, gratitude and love. I am enough.

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for living, blogging and the ongoing inclination to self medicate with pie crust.