Grateful Heart

By Robin Liechti

“Let’s raise children who won’t need to recover from their childhoods.” – Pam Leo

Gratitude. This one simple word has changed my life forever.
I keep hearing “be who you needed when you were younger”. My first reaction is to defend my family, because I’ve always felt I had a good childhood. We spent holidays together, went on trips, I was loved and I full heartedly know my parents did the best they could. I’m not sure if it’s a person I could have benefited from, or just the knowledge, but what I needed is simple. Gratitude. I needed gratitude for myself… for my body, my thoughts, my feelings and all of my perfect imperfections. How was I supposed to be grateful for others, things or life in general when I wasn’t even grateful for myself? How could I love someone else unconditionally, when I didn’t even love myself?

Gratitude goes hand in hand with self love. Although I have no regrets in life, while lacking both of these, it certainly lead me down some dark roads. I wasn’t treating my body with the respect and love it so needed and deserved. Instead of nourish and care for my body, I would starve it. Instead of take pride in my body, I would compare it to everyone else’s. I didn’t appreciate that we are all different and that’s what makes us who we are. I didn’t appreciate that I am the only me there is, and I relied on validation from others instead of loving and honouring myself.

As I look back on my childhood and teenage years there isn’t anything I would change, as its part of who I am now. I am still the same me, just a stronger, more accepting and loving version with a greater sense of awareness through gratitude. Practicing daily gratitude has positively changed my life and views. I’ve learnt that there is gratitude to be found in the tiny moments, the big moments, in the struggles and in who I am.

I’m grateful for being Canadian.
I’m grateful for my body for growing, carrying and delivering my children.
I’m grateful for my marriage that ended in divorce.
I’m grateful for reuniting with my first love after the previous.
I’m grateful for family dinners, hikes and adventures.
I’m grateful for the chipmunks that show up at our patio door during breakfast and dinner time. (They are pretty much our pets)
I’m grateful for having the courage to pursue my dreams and inspire others.
I’m grateful for the support from family, friends and those I have not met.
And, I’m grateful for cuddles with my boys.

I have decided to be the change, and inspire change. My goal is to encourage love, peace, joy, kindness, fulfillment and resilience through gratitude. With the unrealistic media expectations and the rise in anxiety and self-esteem issues, I feel its imperative we act on this now. I have had so much fun creating and publishing a children’s gratitude journal titled The Making of a Grateful Heart. This journal encourages children and families to practice daily gratitude, together, and really appreciate all there is and all that they are. Once I realized this journal could have benefited me as a child and could benefit my children now, I knew I had to write it. When we are grateful for ourselves, we can find true appreciation and joy for everything else the world has to offer. Without gratitude, we’re just going through the motions but never stopping to admire the little things in life. When is the last time you stopped to listen to the leaves dancing in the wind? Or watch the sunset? When we pay more attention to the little things, the things we often take for granted, we come to realize how beautiful the world really is. I wish for all children to grow up truly loving and appreciating this world as a whole.

Gratitude is love, spread it generously!

Robyn Liechti

Robyn Liechti

Author

www.robynliechti.com

https://www.instagram.com/robynliechti/

On Coparenting

By Nicole Dalcourt

I’m sitting in the passenger seat on my way to Florida to try and escape my seasonal depression. My amazing husband is behind the wheel. The Tragically Hip is cranked and we are giddy to escape the long Canadian winter for the next two weeks. It’s important to note here, that this trip would not have been possible without the help of my ex-husband.

My ex-husband and I share custody of our children. Equally. We always have, and hopefully always will. We both grew up in broken families, with absentee (biological) fathers and the impact of that loss left us both wounded. Despite how we felt about each other, we wanted to leave our kids with a different legacy – so we set out to love our kids more than we hated each other.

But, It wasn’t always easy. Not by a long shot. As early as four years ago we were in court fighting over passports and the Christmas schedule – and it wasn’t even the first time we ended up there. I felt ashamed every time we stood in the family courts, arguing over things that wouldn’t matter six months later. Neither one of us ever willing to relent, even the tiniest bit, each of us so desperate to win.

There are plenty of opportunities for arguments with this type of co-parenting schedule. This arrangement requires almost constant communication; texting, phone calls and face-to-face meetings, shared parent-teacher interviews and doctor appointments. Neither one of us wanted to miss out on our kids lives and because of this, they flourished. 

Behind the scenes though, it was a very different story. There was a lot of hate, grief and tears. So many tears. We insulted and fought and pushed and pulled, neither one willing to let go of the reigns. I can’t speak for him, but for me, it was just too hard to admit that he was doing a good job. A huge part of me wanted him to fail, so I could have the kids to myself. I didn’t want to share, not only because I missed them incredibly when they were with him, but also because it made me feel ‘less than’.

Every mother I knew had custody of her children, and I could feel a mixture of jealousy and judgment every time I told another divorced woman we shared the kids equally. I always felt a need to explain why I didn’t fight for full custody and had a host of canned responses I recycled through. The bottom line, and reason I never pursued it, was that the only ones who would feel the loss of their father would be the kids. It just wasn’t a burden I was willing to give them.

That realization had a profound effect on me. The current state of our co-parenting relationship was tumultuous at best, and the stress of it was starting to bleed into all other areas of my life. I had to put down my sword, even if he didn’t. Especially if he didn’t. I’d have to control my emotions, my anger and my fear, in all interactions I had with him. I knew it was going to be hard but with help from a therapist I committed to changing our relationship, or at least my contribution to it.

The first argument we had after I’d made that decision didn’t go very well. I was overwhelmed with my need to be right, too proud to let him believe he was ‘winning’. I was sucked back into the familiar rhythm that had wreaked havoc on my life for the previous six years. I had to learn to listen, even when I felt unheard and I had to be kind even when I wanted to rage. The next time we argued, I let him have the last word. It ate away at me for days. But, the more I practiced, the easier it got. Soon, I was barely reacting at all.

Then, something amazing began to happen. The more I softened, the more he did as well. Our communication became more thoughtful, which led to more understanding and compassion. Slowly, and with some backward steps too, our relationship changed. It grew to be a respectful exchange of ideas in regards to the two things we value most in our lives. Our children.

Nicole Dalcourt

https://www.facebook.com/nicolecdalcourt/

https://www.instagram.com/author.nicoledalcourt/

Dear Body…

By Jana Roller

body love, body confidence, self love, canadian blog, lifestyle blog, canadian women, canadian podcast

Dear body,

I want you to know how much I love you. Like really love you. The stand outside your window with a boom box type of love.

I am in love with you.

The first time I realized it was when I fell broken into pieces on the floor and wrapped my arms around you. The anger, shame and hate for myself started to fade away as I ran my hands down my arms, legs and stomach. For the first I saw you have always been the strong one.

You were there for me. Always you were there for me and I blamed you. I hated you because you didn’t fit my standards. I hated you for your uniqueness. I didn’t understand your beauty then. I was ignorant. I took my anger out on you. I beat you down with diet after diet, and binge after binge. I tried to mold you into something your not. I blamed you for not changing. In my eyes it was your fault that I was the way I was. I didn’t have to change, you had to.

What I realize now is you were keeping me safe. All those years you stayed with me. No matter how hard I was on you, you still loved me, cradled me, protected me and kept me together.

Now I see you. I see us. I see how strong you are. I see your resilience and I respect your boundaries. I understand finally that you were loving me all this time while I threw my garbage at you.

You were just waiting for me to see that we are one and to welcome me home to you. This is where I am now.

Home.

We belong together. God granted you to me as a gift and I will treasure you forever. I see your beauty. Your flaws aren’t flaws. They markers of universal perfection. Like words in a book, they tell a story. Every scar, dimple, wrinkle and tiger stripe. Brush strokes on a canvas.

I am so sorry for all that I put you through and I promise this day forward I will do better. For us.

We will be strong. We will be brave. We will be daring. We will be empowered. We will be fearless and fierce.

You and I, we will be great. From this day on I will love you hard AF, I will give you what you need. This time it’s my turn to care for you.

My perfect body… I got you.

Jana Roller

Transformation Specialist

www.instagram.com/janarollerfit

www.janaroller.com

canadian women, canadian podcast, canadian content, canadian moms, motherhood, lifestyle blog, small business blog

On Adulting

Dr. Gillian Sawyer

Adulting is hard sometimes. Nothing brings up more of that realization than sitting in raw situations like waiting for loved ones to come out on the other side of surgery.

This story while I was in it was hardAF to sit through, let alone write about. At the same time it’s cathartic, distracting, and also reminds me of how far I’ve come.  

I’m not sure how birth order plays into all of this but I’m the youngest of my siblings. I’ve been a caregiver, by nature, my entire life. When my mom was sick, it was natural to take care of her. My dad and I tag teamed her care. She had everything she needed and a “team” behind her, always. We tried to give her a fraction of the grace and love she gave all of us through her life.

Having one parent left, makes waiting for my Dad to come out of surgery really difficult. I sat in that painfully familiar café at the hospital fighting tears and running through the worst-case scenarios, picturing the surgeon coming out with a defeated look on the same, very confident face he had had six hours ago, uttering something along the lines of, “I’m sorry, we did everything we could.” I wondered what life would be like with no parents. These thoughts let my mind run into my kids getting sick, my husband being in an accident . . . There’s something that changes in your soul when you’ve lost a loved one. An emptiness, a heaviness, a feeling of “well if it happened once, surely it can again.” I’ve spent the last five years trying to shake this feeling. It’s an ongoing battle for me.

As I sat alone with my thoughts in the very same building I spent hours and hours sitting in when my mom was in and out of the hospital, I felt the heaviness of all that comes with adulting. Thinking back to the times when life felt easier. When we first came back here six months ago for my dad’s surgical consult, it took my breath away. I don’t love that I know this hospital like the back of my hand, but it is what it is. As you can imagine, a lot of pain, fear, grief has bubbled up. This moment and the past five years have been undeniably a state of survival mode . . . and somehow you just get through what you need to. Such is Adulting.

This brings me to my first thought. We are strongAF. As women, as moms, as humans. There is a ton of resolve deep down inside of us that just waits for the perfect time to come to the surface, right when you need it the most. The lump in my throat constantly reminds me that I’m human, I’m strong, and that I’m still alive. Is it uncomfortable, yes. Is it scary? Yes. But here I am doing it, and currently surviving it!

If you are reading this and currently faced with some pretty heavy shit, just know that you are strong and that you can get through more than you think you can. There’s a whole heap of resilience inside of you just waiting to be needed (cue self pep talk).

The next thought is that there are really nice people in the world. The nurses here, the doctors, my friends that will literally drop everything. The number of “I’m here” messages I’ve gotten from these special people in my life is just a testament to this. Just remember when the world seems dark . . . there are still a ton of really great people out there. And if YOU ever need someone, I’M HERE . . . just an email away. I mean that.

The last thought I have is life is precious and short. We get these reminders all the time. Go into grateful mode and then get hung up in life again. Let this be a gentle nudge for you to snuggle your kids a minute longer, back down from a fight or tell someone you love them.

A bit heavy, yes for sure. But this is life. And part of the reason I am here in this life is to share my story. I know this.

A side note here, a “light” if you will. I’m looking out the window of the café towards the main entrance of the hospital. THAT exact entrance is where I rolled up almost four years ago at 4:20am, at the end of January. With no pants on, in my Ugg boots, draped with my husband’s oversized flannel coat, trying to keep my daughter from crowning as I perched on a wheel chair rushing up to labour and delivery. She was born less than 10 minutes later a few floors up. In fact I can see the window of the room from here.

Finding peace, and light in the midst of darkness is part of adulting. I’m hoping that you see some light in the midst of whatever you are up against in your life. Your resilience and strength is just waiting to shine.

THAT entrance was also where we met my dad at 9:00am on a Monday on July. We flicked the hazard lights on, got my then two and a half year old daughter out of the car, gave her a kiss and said,  “Mommy’s going to have your baby sister, have fun with grandpa”. She came shortly after in that exact same room, just a few floors up. And by noon that same day my family of four was all together, back at home, in our living room and my life felt complete.

Love & Light,

Dr. Gillian

Dr. Gillian Sawyer

Chiropractor for Moms & Babes

www.gilliansawyer.com

www.instagram.com/drgilliansawyer/

Dating In Your 30s As A Single, Sober Mama

By Megan Harmony

OMG, I had the best date ever! I started freaking out while getting ready, it had been almost three years since I went on a date. What do I wear? Hair up or down? Should I wear a dress or jeans and a nice shirt? Maybe I should curl my hair? I probably should have shaved, damnit (into the shower I go). Then I started contemplating the big life questions, What am I doing here? What’s my purpose in life? What impact do I want to make in this world? Did I pack my daughter her toothbrush? The mental chatter with myself went on and this all happened in maybe a minute or two while I brushed my teeth, did my makeup and got dressed (a few different times). Then the self pep-talk started. You are so beautiful. I know your nervous Meggers (name for the little girl inside of me), but I’m big and I’ll take care of you, we are going to have so much fun!

I went out and had an amazing dinner, it was nice to be out amongst the crowd of people.  The food was delicious and I splurged a little and instead of just getting a pop, I had a virgin daiquiri. How risque! The company was delightful, there was conversation about everything and anything and I really felt listened to. The movie was hilarious and I literally belly laughed right in the middle of the theatre but I didn’t care, nor was I embarrassed.

It was the perfect evening and I felt like I had been treated like the queen that I am. I felt respected and appreciated and ready to do it again, soon.

The beauty of this story is that it is true. Are you aching to know who I went on this date with? It was me! The man I was supposed to go on the date with wasn’t able to come due to family circumstances but I had made a commitment to myself that I would step out, and I honored that. In doing so, I kept a promise to myself that I would start dating again and I experienced a beautiful side effect to my decision. I fell in love with myself that night, all over again. The conversations that took place within the depths of my soul and my mind were so wonderfully beautiful. Through keeping this commitment to myself and using my imagination a little, pretending I was with my dream guy while out for dinner and a show, I created space in my heart for this in the future. I could have chosen to say F it and just stay home in my cozy pajamas and curl up with comfort foods, but I wouldn’t be letting the Universe know that I am ready to get back out there and try this dating thing again.

When I arrived home that night, I felt soul-full! My cup was overflowing and I was ready to create. I wrote poetry and possible song lyrics. I worked on my writing assignments and everything just flowed from me. I needed that time with myself, by myself, in order to give back to myself.

I believe that everything happens for a reason and getting excited about a date with myself reminded me how awesome I am and how much the world needs me to step into that light. I haven’t been the same since. I am standing in the truth that “he is on his way” and when people ask me how my date went, I can answer with complete honesty in saying that it was the best date I’ve ever been on and I’ll be doing it again very soon.

By falling in love with myself fully and completely, I walk a little lighter; I’m more fun to be around, I’m no longer afraid of how I show up. I love and accept myself wholeheartedly and nothing stands in the way of all my hopes and dreams.

Fall in love fully and completely with the divine nature within you, and share her glory with the world every chance possible.

Megan Harmony