When Your Winter Body Didn’t Get the Memo: How to Kickstart That Summer Confidence into High Gear

Let me start by saying congratulations, you made it through the Winter in the middle of a Pandemic. Winter months in Canada are already tough if you live in any Province with the exception of British Columbia. As if the frigid blustery winds and hazardous icy roads aren’t enough to keep you home, the government Covid-19 lock downs reinforced that. Then if we weren’t already up against enough with the isolation, our bodies took a further beating as we still indulged in a series of holiday meals. In Alberta, gyms and recreational facilities were closed for almost 2 1/2 months which would be the nail on my coffin for myself, as my weight ballooned upwards rapidly. Seeing as this was my first winter in a pandemic, I admittedly was not prepared to cope in the best way, but I should be thankful that the worst that happened to me was a doughy belly and a double chin. I’m blaming my inability to adapt accordingly and find alternative ways to motivate and prioritize better nutrition and exercise.

Home work outs have never been my thing, but as I’ve come to find out, sometimes we need to force ourselves out of the familiar. It takes some time, especially if your stubborn like myself who gets discouraged easily when I lack the presence of reinforcing elements. One of those elements is having an active presence in the outside world, where our interactions can often validate the hard work we are putting into our personal fitness and appearance. My interactions have been mostly with clients who are for the most part strangers and have an already pre-existing sense of loathing towards me as child welfare worker. I’ve also admittedly been using my mask to hide my fuller chipmunk cheeks. So with less social outings happening under the current circumstances I feel it is more important than ever to authentically find validation from within ourselves, namely Confidence.

Transitioning to a place of practicing personal validation through other means is no simple feat. I imagine this could be a lot harder for my generation as we are far more cognizant of the differences between what is sincere interaction and the superficial world of likes and followers. I would never typically support the idea of subscribing to the practice of validation through selfies and half naked thirst trap photos, but a fluffy blonde like me even has her breaking point. If I hadn’t become totally bored through the first wave of my social media feeds I may have just likely began an OnlyFans for some compliments now and again. But for the most the most part, many of us adults aspire to channel our energy and attention to a small few so that to not distract us from our goals and responsibilities that absorb much of our time. The majority of my network uses social media platforms mostly to post pictures of their animals, new furniture, DIY projects or children. Which leaves me with the conclusion we need to work even harder to tap into that self love and confidence at all costs, and here’s my How To Guide to get yours rolling!

1. Get Your Butt Outside

You don’t need to be the outdoorsy type or the adventurous weekend warrior-while these for many seem to be perfect opportunities for Social Media Content. The art of being outside doesn’t actually always have to be about gruelling hikes up mountains or even overtly physical at all. This time of year always offers up ways to draw you outdoors whether its doing yard clean up, gardening/planting, washing your car at home, or enjoying the dog park which by the way you don’t need to have one to still enjoy those playful paws. Take a book on a lunch break and have a coffee on an outdoor patio, or simply just people watch. Exchange smiles with new faces you pass by while you take in a new neighborhood stroll, popping in and out of local shops. How about dusting off the ol’ cruiser bike and taking it somewhere scenic outside your neighborhood, or organize a squad bike beer tour through downtown? You can even cook all your meals outside by BBQing as much as possible. There is movement and social interaction happening in all of these options that are sure to get your that much needed vitamin D and Dopamine back into that ailing spirit of yours.

2. Make your Meals Colorful

Spring and Summer months invite a broader range of delicious produce options, and there is a need to support our local farmers and markets even more than ever. According to the Hello Fresh Blog, our brains respond to light energy, aka color, by stimulating the pituitary and pineal glands. These endocrine glands regulate hormones like serotonin, which is responsible for making us feel happy. Research has shown that different colors also affect blood pressure, pulse, and respiration rates as well as brain activity and sleep/wake cycles. These color triggers set the mood for us to feel more energetic, happy, and relaxed and are strong enough to even have an effect on people who are blind!

Additionally it is mentioned that we are also influenced by the visual cue of color when it comes to our perception of how something will taste. Colorful food can influence our brain to create an expectation that specific colors will taste a certain way. For example, the more vibrantly colored a food is, the more intense we expect its flavor to be.

If you are even somewhat of a meal planner, aim to prepare meals that have at least 5 or more colors in them. Whether it be a pasta salad that is loaded with spinach, red onion, cherry tomatoes, orange peppers and Hemp Seed- the challenge of not duplicating color can offer a variety of nutritional benefits that boost your energy as well as fill you up with all the good stuff!

3. Dance to your Favorite music

I know I can’t speak for all, but as a result of my vegetative state along with the extra pounds I’ve packed on; movement can feel sometimes painful or uncomfortable. My joints and body need some time to recuperate and I can quickly become fed up if I take on something too rigorous. Additionally when the body hasn’t done any kind of significant exercise its not uncommon for you to experience muscle tightness and soreness that can also prevent you from being active the next day. Consistency is key when developing a habit, and getting active again can be admittedly hard enough without being reminded how out of shape you’ve allowed yourself to become. So start with movements that don’t feel like work, and help to loosen those hips and shoulders. Throw on a belly dancing tutorial, or flail around like I do to some House Anthems like its 2005 again. Many fitness apps offer short dance movement classes that are easy and fun to follow. If you are an Albertan like myself maybe you need to brush up on your line dancing and prepare yourself for Calgary Stampede festivities we have been missing.

For Classes Check out the Peleton App

History of Country Line Dancing That You Probably Didn't know - Dance Poise

4. Ditch the Scale

Just like our beloved Aaliyah sang how “Age Aint Nuthin But a Number”- so is your weight. Because just like age, you are as old as you feel and same goes for your weight. Our bodies listen to our negative self talk and also revolt when we put it under too much stress. Stress can significantly impact your ability to maintain a healthy weight. It can also prevent you from losing weight. Whether it’s the result of high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, unhealthy stress-induced behaviors, or a combination of the two, the link between stress and weight gain is glaring. Hovering over numbers on a digital scale completely derails and undermines the idea of being good to your body. Numbers on a scale can never reflect the fun we experience and sense of achievement when doing our bodies good. If you are not convinced then perhaps use how your clothes fit as a means of measurement, but whatever you do stay off the digital confidence killer.

Get off the scale!

Or consider an alternative like the Shapa Scale that keeps the positive elements of the scale while removing the negative ones. This unique system gives you feedback about your weight, but not in pounds.

Instead of sharing a number that provides little to no insight, Shapa gives you useful feedback through a more meaningful 5-point color system.

Blue = losing weight
Teal = starting to lose weight
Green = maintaining your weight
Light Gray = starting to gain weight
Dark Gray = gaining weight

Shapa looks at your trend over the past few days compared to the past few weeks to determine your color and lets you know if the changes you’ve been making recently are getting you closer to, or farther from, your goal.

5. Wear The Bathing SUit

There is no prep involved here. If its cute, wear it. If its a bikini, wear it. Then finish it off with some Sexy Sunnies to block the haters.

Plus Size Bikini Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

6. Don’t forget your Vitamins

Focus Supplements and Vitamins for ADHD: Zinc, Iron, Magnesium

I have a tendency to learn things the hard way, just like when I failed to get regular oil changes on my BMW. I came to find out after a very expensive lesson that things can’t run optimally without the combination of chemically engineered elements. Turns out our bodies are the same and can pay the price if we don’t fuel it properly with the nurtients and minerals it needs. Vitamins that support weightloss such as Vitamin B, Magnesium, Vitamin D, Iron, and Green Tea Extract all have vast benefits. Vitamins and Herbs that support energy are Vitamins B12, CoQ10, Rhodiola, Citrulline and Beetroot powder also compliment the need to fuel an increase in activity and movement.

A Series of Acts to Self Sufficiency: Playing Hard to Get with Society.

Every time I have experienced growth in my life there has been a lapse of time in the middle of it all that is nothing short of uncomfortable. In fact, I’ve often questioned whether its depression creeping its way in, unleashing a new unfamiliar way to torture me, as the solitude feels inauthentic to my character. But unlike depression where it can make one feel confined , isolated, and exhausted; the seclusion has in fact afforded me the privacy necessary for the next transition into a new chapter of the ever evolving “Me.” I think we have all experienced times where our friends wonder if we have fallen off the face of the earth, or experienced pure shock when when the life of the party turns down an opportunity to get out on the town. Some may even take it personal. And for this reason I probably spent more years than required trying to appease people’s expectations of me out of fear they may not understand that its not them it’s me. The “Me” that I have habitually put on the back burner, as to not hurt or disappoint anyone’s feelings. And to be fully authentic with you, there are freckles of self indulgence there as well, whereby I have always found pleasure in feeling needed or necessary in peoples lives. Meet Cece the Martyr. *eye roll

Nonetheless, I feel like the Pandemic has thrown me into a new wave of self evolution, whereby it has forced me to familiarize myself with the ability to be self sufficient in so many ways. With most of life’s distractions removed, namely a day to day peer network, I was left to my own devices. It is in my nature to become bored very easily and for me I became very bored with sharing my feelings of discouragement and the feeling of powerlessness over the pandemic and surrounding complexities. I became bored with talking about my ailing mental health, my feelings of loss and freedoms, and even more so, listening to others. It was like I hit a wall. I realized the wall I hit was in actuality my own resistance to let go of What Was, and begin to accept a new way of thinking as in What’s Possible for me.

Let me provide some context.

I was a young mother at the age of 22, who for the most part experienced motherhood on my own as my peers were busy doing things that typical 20 something year olds do. My experience was vastly different. When I reached the period in my life that I could afford the freedoms that I had missed out on, I was able to make up for lost time tenfold. I look back at these times with immense gratitude, as they were the best times of my life! Many of the friends I met along the way are now family, and we continue to spend hours laughing at the memories we shared. But like most good things, they sometimes have to come to an end. This was admittedly heartbreaking for me- I felt like I lost my limbs. I wasn’t ready to let go and I didn’t know who I was without them, in fact I didn’t know who I was without anyone.

For many of my friends they went on to get married, start young families, or build empires as if it was like it was always meant to be. It was like they morphed overnight, going from skinny dipping in fountains to banking on a solid 8 hour sleeps so they could be rested for their half marathons. I have literally watched for the last 20 years gaggles of unsuspecting friends be captured and sucked into the mystery in which they take on their roles so gracefully. Its like their souls seemed to be prepped to embrace the warm and inviting hug of change. It perplexed me because transition for me has always felt like an internal battle of the wills.

I’m not saying that I have never achieved growth through conscientious intention. My life has been sprinkled with deliberate achievements where I have been cognizant of the measures that lead me to building who I needed to be. In fact it would be that same sense of intention that fueled this fierce hyper-focused woman; hell-bent on clinging to what I assumed was the quintessence of who I am. That’s assuming the concept of our souls is a static force, whereby the flames require the same degree of fanning. Ultimately, I know over the years I’ve begun to stop building the metaphorical fire and trust that the hottest embers deep down still burn just as bright.

10 Outrageous Quotes from Sex and the City's Samantha Jones

But rather than get carried away with metaphors, what I’m trying to communicate is that I’ve experienced fear accepting and opening my heart up to the new ways that excite me. I have been terrified to let go, and the biggest release lately has been the decreased interest for human interaction. Admittedly my network has been gradually growing smaller for a multitude of reasons over the years but I could have never imagined that I’d find myself as a borderline recluse. And up until recently my biggest source of anxiety has been mainly around the question “Will I ever feel like myself again?”- As in will I ever get back to a place where the Inner Samantha Jones in me will reappear so we can resume scheduled programming. The kind of programming that I’m familiar with where I can predict the outcome, do my twirls, make the audience laugh, shake shit up, with the anticipated end of the night dip. It wasn’t that long ago that this version of me was alive and well, swinging from the Chandelier. So you can understand what a drastic change it is for me to feel pure joy and peace, tucked away in my little cocoon, leaving texts unread and calls unanswered.

As the saying goes Bad Habits Are Hard to Shake- Enjoyable behaviors can prompt your brain to release a chemical called dopamine. If you do something over and over, and dopamine is there when you’re doing it, that strengthens the habit even more. So that explains the lull, or the lapse in time when our brains are re-adjusting to new Dopamine triggered events. And also explains the new events in our lives that trigger pleasure that perhaps we never took the time to explore. I believe the outcome of establishing these new habits with ourselves is what creates the desired outcome of Self-Sufficiency.

To date I am happy to report that despite my resistance the act of being self sufficient has carried no adverse affects, in fact has inspired me to grow creatively in so many ways. I spend more time thinking about my future and actively committing to plans and ideas that inspire and push me in directions outside of my comfort zone. Time with myself has pushed me to take on new learning, as well as re-visit old passions around design, writing, and fashion. I have become more self reliant on my abilities to work indepedently on my own mental health, often focusing on not panicking and placing trust in myself to manage it more effectively. I often have to remind myself not every worry, fear, or pinch of sadness warrants attention, including my own. I have also learned to make the time with myself more enjoyable with adding music to my day when I’m alone, or taking time to make small talk with the strangers at the dog park wherein its just enough interaction to remind myself that I’m not alone, and brief enough as to not take away from the Me Time I’ve come to love. The desire to appease the masses and do the check ins is usually intentional- meaning I have control over the energy I give or have available. Its neither forced, or phony.

That being said, I feel while my experience has been somewhat organic, that going forward being mindful as to how to achieve this should be consciously maintained. I came across an article posted by Raven Ishak who outlined some helpful Tips in : 6 Ways To Be More Self-Sufficient that I thought may be helpful for anyone facing a similar circumstance that I have described above.

Establishing your personal space is vital to understanding who you are as a person. While it might be easy to depend on others for their opinions and help, it can become very unhealthy, and you can lose sight of your individuality if you’re not careful. Being self-sufficient can be scary, but it’s worth it. It can make you a strong, independent person who doesn’t need the validation of others. Even though it’s never a bad idea to ask for help, it’s important to try not to be solely dependent on your friends’ or family’s thoughts. For instance, if you’re the type of person who cannot make any big decisions before asking all of your friends their opinion or you’re extremely uncomfortable doing things alone, you just might be emotionally dependent on others. Instead of continuing this behavior, here are some tips on how to go down the path of being more self-sufficient.

1. Increase Your Self-Esteem

Sometimes becoming more self-sufficient means you need to look deep inside yourself. Are you proud of who you are? Do you feel confident in your everyday choices? Having higher self-esteem could be the special ingredient you’ve been looking for. According to clinical social work/therapist Chamin Ajjan in an email to Bustle, “A belief that you are unable to care for yourself without the help of others is often linked to low self-esteem. You can empower yourself by increasing self-esteem and self-compassion. Doing this while working to master new skills can help to reinforce that you have the ability to provide for your own well-being, making you more self-sufficient.”

2. Stop Asking For Permission From Others

Why give so much power onto others when you clearly have it within yourself to make good decisions? Being emotionally strong means you know the right decisions to make and are not afraid to make them. According to licensed clinical psychologist Kim Chronister in an email to Bustle, “The last thing you want to do when it comes to striving for emotional or intellectual independence is asking what others think about that idea. You risk losing your power and your motivation by asking everyone around you for permission to move forward with your idea.” Instead of asking others for permission, follow your gut and do what you already know you’re supposed to do. Because sometimes when you’re asking other’s for permission, you could already be seeking for the answer that you’re hoping they will say. Just listen to your heart and things may magically fall into place.https://856fe575a14dfe1f245f6652c5c619ec.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

3. Learn To Be Comfortable With Your Independence

As you grow up, you may go through some tough obstacles that will make you a strong, independent person. But sometimes life happens and you lose your sense of independence. For example, maybe you’ve just gotten out of a long-term relationship. Instead of finding someone else to depend on, do something that will get you out of your dependent funk. According to psychologist Dr. Nicole Martinez in an email to Bustle, “Develop a hobby, as you need to learn to be comfortable with your independent time. Learn good self care habits including getting enough sleep, eating well, taking time for yourself, and having a good work or school, and life balance.”

4. Be More Assertive

Wanting everyone to be happy is not a bad thing, but being a complete push-over is not, because let’s be real: Pleasing everyone is never going to happen. When you put other’s feelings in front of your own, you can lose focus on what you truly want out of life. According to Chronister, “Assertiveness is a trait that can combat feelings of emotional dependence. If we assert our feelings by telling others what we truly want from them, we not only gain more respect interpersonally, but we become more emotionally independent as a result. Assertiveness is an expression that conveys that your opinions and feelings hold the same weight as those of other people. Maintaining your stance, even if it opposes another’s, is a sign of emotional independence.

5. Comprehend What Causes Dependence

What if I told you that being dependent on others can actually be explained due to chemicals in your brain? Understanding how your brain works and why you become easily attached might help fix the emotional issue. According to Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD, in an email to Bustle, “Oxytocin is the brain chemical that makes mammals feel safe in the company of others. A gazelle’s oxytocin falls if it roams too far from the herd, and it starts feeling unsafe…When you know what causes this feeling, it’s easier to manage. You can tell yourself, ‘I am safe, even without the herd’ and find new ways to make yourself feel safe. But you have to do it again and again because your mammal brain keeps going there.”

6. Spend Time With Other People

It can be easy to become dependent on another person when you’re spending time with them 24/7. Even though you know the person like the back of your hand, it can become unhealthy if the thought of spending time with other people gives your anxiety. According to Chronister, “It’s healthy to have your interpersonal needs divided up so that you are not overly dependent on simply one parent, or your partner, or one friend etc. Renew your friendships, make new ones, spend time with healthy family members, and network so that your needs will be met by more than one person at once.”

Self-sufficiency is a beautiful behavior that everyone should try to achieve. It allows you to embrace your own thoughts and establish healthy habits, and while having relationships in your life is a factor that is much-needed, being completely dependent on them is not. If you have gone through a hard breakup or just need to reevaluate some life decisions, hopefully a few of step tips can help you achieve the independence you have been looking for.

In conclusion, if you are a person who has already realized this long ago, please continue to support the rest of us who are still accepting the power of self-sufficiency- or for a better word our Inner Introvert. I figured I’d leave a few jokes with you all who may need to laugh at themselves!

At the start of the pandemic, it was a good opportunity to tell wether I was an introvert or an extrovert.

Turns out, I’m just a pervert.

What do you call an extroverted snail?

A slug

A Husband And Wife Are Creating A Password On Their Computer

A husband and a wife are creating a password on their computer. The husband, being a confident, extroverted man, puts in “My Penis”. Although insecure and introverted, the wife falls on the ground and laughs because…

**The screen says “ERROR: Not Long Enough.”.*

I’m what you would call an anti-social extrovert.

That may sound like a contradiction, but it basically means that being alone makes me what to kill myself and I love it


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My Winter Action Plan: A List of 9 Anti Seasonal Affective Disorder Tips You Can Try

Having lived in Alberta for the last 13 years I’ve had my fair share of symptoms related to Seasonal Affective Disorder Its acronym “S.A.D”- How very appropriate. I’d also like to add a new term to the list as well. The Seasonally Angered Disorder, because when its “Minus Death” outside, you literally cannot help but be pissed off with everything that makes you have to leave the warmth of your home or car.

For myself this yearly festivity of misery is compounded with a stressful job which is a sure recipe for a total unravelling of sorts. So when I tell you the first thing I do when the snow hits the ground is devise a Winter Blues Action Plan– because who has the time to come unraveled. Unless your Britney Spears who can shave her entire head and then go on to secure a Vegas Show and stay comfortably supported in a mansion in the hills. Not all of us can afford to be rich and crazy.

Love you Brit Brit.

For the rest of us peasants, life goes on with screaming children, Covid outbreak school closures, lost income, and no sign in sight of reprieve. To boot, Christmas is around the corner, work is piling up and life just isn’t very sympathetic to our ailing spirits. We can either hide in our closets in the fetal position or attempt to curb perhaps the inevitable. And if you are curled up in the fetal position as we speak, its all good, wipe those tears and consider making a list like this for yourself tomorrow.

So this year my Winter Action Plan needed to be tweaked, as I realized spending it cozied up alongside hundreds of warm bodies at a pub was not going to be happening during a pandemic. I can’t say I’ll miss standing freezing my ass off in the lines outside of National or any popular watering hole here In Calgary. However I do feel like I will need to compensate for my 100 meter dash to the car I often counted on to burn those extra 15 calories off, of the 8000 I consumed in Beer.

But maybe that’s it! There could be a silver lining?

So here is my Winter S.A.D. Action Plan!

  1. Less Liquor– Consider this your year to opt out of those unnecessary holiday Christmas party benders. Rather than look at how you may miss the parties and gathering, look at what you may be gaining from not consuming all the added calories. Now if you are a responsible drinker, you know the kind that can stop at 2 then your probably thinking this doesn’t apply to you. I’m the type I’m sure my doctor would classify as the “binge” drinker. It sounds horrible just like in the same way our BMI index states we are morbidly obese when we thought we weren’t one croissant away from my 600 lb. life. I don’t drink during the week at my home, or weekly to be honest with you, but when I do, it’s a bottle of two a wine, maybe some shots, and always doubles. So this winter is my opportunity to not only give my liver a good break, but also an ability to steer away from all the calories those binges bring to the waistline.

What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Drinking

2. Since I’m saving money from not drinking the pubs and restaurant dry- I have some additional extra cash flow to buy a new snowboard and hit the slopes more. Yes, the cold will still make me angry, but being out in the sunshine freezing is better than skulking in the darkness and not soaking up the Vitamin D needed for mood and immune system! You see sending more time outdoors doing fun activities will decrease the likelihood of getting sick as well due to not being around a bunch of coughing, sneezing, germ infestations. Snowboarding is something that I have loved to do all my life, and I’m lucky to be so close to so many mountains.

3. Schedule in the gym/classes As in make it a 5 day a week priority. Slotting my gym time into my Day/Timer a week at a time is helpful because that way I can schedule less important things around it. I find its helpful right now too that I have to book my gym appointments through the YMCA which is having some positive effects on my accountability and am mindful about attending those set gym appointment times.

4. Getting out for Daily Walks and Coupling it with a Good Podcast– Since I have become a fur mama to a very Active American Akita, it has become apparent we are both happier after a good long walk. I’m happier because she is less likely to act like a little asshole, and in turn I’m able to take in some knowledge and new learning while she inspects every tree and leaf along the way. Not only am I getting in more daily steps, burning some calories, but getting some much needed fresh air that leaves me less energy to worry about any kind of looming anxiety coursing through my veins.

5. Working on Something Productive in my Spare time that brings me joy. So in my case I love to write my blog, focusing on building an audience, and developing more ideas to add to it. It keeps my mind occupied and bustling with ideas where I can stay connected with the outside world. The blog world has been a major learning curve for me as not only is my writing still a skill I’m growing but perhaps a business at some stage in the future. I have also enjoyed crafting more and more which is something I had previously turned my nose up too. The ability to create has the ability to redirect nervous energy into something that soothes and calms some of the dark sad thoughts that can creep up as a result of the winter isolation.

Halloween Wreath Projects

6. Get Cooking Again-I used to really love to cook, but over the last 6 months I have been on some crazy diets that have literally taken the fun out of cooking. Meal Preps can often take the fun out of eating as certain diets can be restrictive as well as daunting when you factor in the grocery lists and ingredients needed to make something that only you are interested in eating. And to be perfectly honest after all these “diets” I am no different weight than I was these last 10 years. It always comes back and I’m left feeling ashamed. So I say F*** that this Winter. I’m taking it back to the old school where Avocado Oil wasn’t a thing, and I wasn’t logging my Macros.  With that being said, I don’t intend on nourishing my body either with garbage. According to Meghan Sedivy, RD, dietitian for Fresh Thyme Farmers Market in Plainfield, Illinois, says the winter months are a good time for root vegetables — think beets, potatoes, and rutabagas — as well as citrus fruits, such as blood oranges, white grapefruit, and autumn honey tangerines. Root vegetables are high in potassium, while citrus fruits offer fiber and vitamin C to help boost immunity, which is especially clutch this time of year, Sedivy says. Root vegetables are easy to incorporate in soups and stews, helping boost your vegetable intake for the day.

7. Meditation-I’ve admittedly been slacking on this. However meditation is something I began at the start of the Pandemic and utilized it to come to terms with the feelings of powerlessness, loneliness, grief and loss I was experiencing at that time. I went from scuttle bug to sad dormant half dead beetle when we went into lockdown-I was desperate, bored, and bummed out so I turned to meditation skeptically. I couldn’t believe though how well my spirit, mind and body responded to it. I’ve since migrated my interests into the world of Crystals and Rocks-where sometimes faith can blossom hope, and hope turns into actualizing outcomes.

8. Taking Vitamins– Like not just vitamin C that comes with your Sunday Mimosa’s. But the kind that are tailored to your specific needs and desired status of health you feel you need to attain. You can simply order pre-packaged daily vitamins packs that will meet your every need. They make it so easy and it’s a 5 second gulp which can make or break the Winter blues. There are lots of site but ensure you go with a quality and reputable company like VTMN Packs.

9. Reach out more to friends who I enjoy spending time with, and making sure I stay open and honest about how I am feeling. As the saying goes its okay to not be okay.

Whether these are things you are already doing or perhaps this list looks daunting to you, I encourage you to tailor one for the coming months that is realistic for you. And be kind, to yourself, you are up against the winter elements that wreak havoc on our hormone levels. The brain produces less serotonin without sunlight, which can cause depression, and less sunlight can also increase melatonin, which can heighten feelings of sleepiness.”

So its not you, it’s the season. Might as well make it your bitch!

You Gotta Know When To Fold’Em: Breaking Free, and Finding Happiness after Divorce

I’m not one to talk about the past too often unless it brings fond memories, which for the most part I have many. The topic is not that far in the past that it doesn’t still give me residual pangs of hurt that feel as recent as yesterday at times. But I wouldn’t be willing to discuss it openly if it didn’t offer some level of experiential wisdom for anyone who may be facing similar circumstances.

You see it would be approximately 5 years ago that I made the decision to leave my marriage. The marriage was a result of a very long relationship in which it seemed just natural and right to transition to the next step. There is no real love story behind it, rather quite the opposite. In fact if you were to have only had the experience of knowing me more recently, the idea that I would have consorted with the mundane would seem absurd. However, let us return to the Cece of Christmas’s past. Proposals, marriage and the filling of new homes with children is what everyone was doing at that time. It’s what everyone was doing around us. I’m unclear why my mother’s voice wasn’t piping in at this time saying “If all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you?” But in the case of marriage and settling down, the world around you is giving you a life jacket and pushing you off the ledge. I admit its easy to blame societal pressures to conform; I don’t deny that at that time I was all in. And when I say “all in,” I mean I wasn’t able to foresee my life being anything different than what it was. My vision was exceptionally narrow and reinforced by the baggage I had brought with me from my previous abusive relationship.

Often when marriages and relationships dissolve its only natural in many instances to look at the other person and place the blame on them and their shortcomings. That’s not to say that many partners are 100% to blame and do terribly selfish and hurtful things in which the other played no role other than love someone who didn’t deserve them. And in my case, it went both ways, however its never fair to dive into the details without the other’s ability to share their perspective. And I’d be open to that but he hasn’t answered my calls in three years.

I’m sorry to disappoint you and advise this post is not about my shitty marriage that didn’t work out. In all likelihood, I may devote a whole wine fuelled podcast on the subject, but until then I’ll uphold some integrity. I’m grateful that I am alive and well today living my life in the most authentic and honest way. What a difference 5 years can do for you when you make the best decision of your life.

Which leads me to the topic of how I reclaimed my life when it began to gain momentum in a direction that wasn’t a genuine path for who I am as a person. I believe for many people there are “tells” just like in a game of poker. You see just like the game of poker we often bluff when we aren’t holding a good hand; getting caught up in the risk taking and potentially losing it all. Often when the momentum has us pulled in, there is no consideration for the long game. The more we begin to lose, the more our “tells” come out as the anxiety and desperation begins to build. You see, when you keep seeking the rush of winning and ignore the consequences of losing, we’re left in the emotional poor house. At the tail end of my losing streak, I admittedly had lots of tells, but I also gave the illusion that I had lots of chips in my pocket.

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So its no surprise that when I landed on my ass, my emotional poor house was located on the corner of Despair avenue and Hopeless Street. I found myself in a deep, destructive depression that I could not for the life of me dig myself out of. I was erratic in my choices and behavior, and admittedly had considered running my car into bridge barrier one evening as I was screaming at the top of my lungs at the universe in anger. That event haunts me until this day because while it was over 5 years ago, the emotions, my surroundings, what I was wearing, the car indicator lights are as clear as if I was there right now in this moment.

Bridge Underpass Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

You ask what could have brought me to such a place of despair?

I can trace it all the way to the beginning when I first met my ex-husband. I was a single mother at that time with a one and a half year old. I was fresh out of an extremely horrifically abusive relationship with her biological father that left me in ruins emotionally, physically and psychologically. I was 22 years old and I was not equipped with the self awareness and emotional maturity to tackle the damage- in fact I was oblivious to it. I ended up settling after a year with the first real boyfriend I had since leaving my abusive relationship. When I say anyone that was nice to me and wasn’t physically abusive towards me was my standard at that time. The relationship brought many good things regardless of my basic standards whereby I returned to University and got my Social Work Degree from the University of Victoria. My daughter grew a close and loving relationship with a man who accepted her as his daughter whereby they remain very close. I couldn’t have asked for a better father for her and for that I will be forever grateful. He provided us with an extended family and sense of belonging that I had not experienced coming from such a small family myself. He remained committed to our little family and moved to where I got my first Social Work Job in Northern Alberta, leaving his family behind and beginning a life as a unit in a strange small town. Life was looking up as it was during the Alberta Oil Boom and Fort McMurray promised wealth and stability for us as a family. The momentum of my life appeared to be moving in the right direction. I was adequately distracted by my own ambitions and self actualizing a life that was ultimately the way it’s supposed to be in the naively idealistic sense.

Then one day his vision began to blur which quickly turned into vertigo, precipitating what we thought was a stomach flu. We went weeks attending the hospital and trying to treat his stomach flu. I knew something was terribly wrong, and finally demanded he be admitted to hospital otherwise I was approaching the media. Through further testing he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 25. He left Fort McMurray to recover with his family thousands of miles away, where I ultimately decided that I would help him get through this and we would make it work.

It was a devastating blow in every aspect.

This wasn’t part of the plan. In fact it shattered all our plans, and dreams which were left in pieces at our feet. Despite my rage and the unfairness of it all, I quickly resorted back to what I knew best. I had been here before and did what I thought was best in crisis; which was to ignore the emotional impact and take care of those who weren’t as seemingly strong as I.

And there you have it. Mistake #1-Believing others don’t possess strength without you.

Poor Self-Esteem and Confidence can make the human spirit rely on others to validate importance and purpose where others who are in pain can fulfill these voids for us. The experiences/traumas responsible for planting those weeds of doubt in ourselves can be vast and complex. In my circumstances, it would be the trauma from domestic violence, the psychological and verbal abuse. I strongly believe that there is a strong sense of co-dependency created within these dynamics, whereby one enables the other. When done improperly, assuming the role as the “rock” can also perpetuate maladaptive inferiority roles for those who feel powerless with their diagnosis. And in regards to my marriage- I take accountability for succumbing to depending on being needed then feeling stifled years later by creating the culture of dependency.

How do we remedy this? Well I can’t say I was successful in doing it in my marriage otherwise I wouldn’t be speaking about a husband that is now an ex. But over the last 5 years since starting over, I have successfully committed to putting my physical and emotional health ahead of others. This often means, setting firm boundaries and expectations with loved ones and communicating my bottom line. At times it can appear intolerant, or lack empathy, however when our reasonings are given context it can be the most admirable lesson ever. Not everyone will understand this- but know it is for us as individuals to actualize our strengths, and I see no better way than to demonstrate it by walking the walk.

So this leads me to my second mistake.

Mistake #2- Using others crisis as a distraction to avoid my own shit.

I feel like I take the cake with this one, because I could have picked a more appropriate career as a social worker to enable me in doing this. Nonetheless, do you ever find yourself immersed in others lives, being over involved in problems that aren’t your own, and coming to the rescue of some damsel in distress. I was this person, and counted on filling my world with a plethora of noise to avoid the loneliness and pain I was feeling. My bucket continued to run empty as the fruits of my perceived “strength” went unacknowledged or appreciated by my partner, and overutilized by others. I had created the norm and the illusion that I was the “Rock,” someone who had their shit in a pile. That was my doing, because if I eluded to otherwise people would stop running to me with their noise and I’d really be alone. You see, he was increasingly declining in health and struggling with the neurological complications of Multiple Sclerosis. He was angrier, moodier, and more depressed. Intimacy or signs of romantic connection were not reciprocated and I found other ways to appease my needs to feel a connection and needed.

It wasn’t until I left my marriage that I truly felt what it was like to be alone as my home was loaded up and squished into a small 2 bedroom condo. You see at that time I had nothing available to give therefore the noise stopped and the distractions saw no value in what I had to offer during this period. There were few calls or invitations to reach out and help me move or keep me company. It was then that I saw the value in standing alone in the deafening silence and appreciating the space required in order to redirect all my focus inwards. Often we look at isolation or being seemingly forgotten as a reflection of not being worthy or loved- when in fact its Solitude that is being given to us. So the next time you are feeling lonely or overlooked, take the silence as an opportunity to give your soul some good advice and leave the unnecessary distractions at the door.

Mistake #3-Believing that others opinions mattered

I was completely debilitated by what I thought people would think if I made the decision to leave. Never mind that the circumstance were making me suicidal, but with no success in reaching out for extended family support, I was still left with an enormous amount of guilt. What kind of wife was I leaving her husband when he had MS. The only thing worse than me was the husband who left his dying wife with cancer for the cute blonde nurse that was hired to do the home care. I was worried about what they would say about me and how I would be perceived by choosing a chance at life again. What would my daughter think of me, who couldn’t even begin to understand what I was feeling. And why would she, I had managed to shield her from the majority of my unravelling. I was terrified by all the hurt that I would be placing on everyone around me.

Do you see Mistake #1 weaseling its way in here again?

What I realized in this process is that not one person who’s opinion I was worried about ever took the time to listen or ask if I needed support. I can’t believe I was worried about what this would mean for them and concerned that they would have to take over the responsibility of his care. I was actually worried that this would burden them and they would be angry with me that I had not tried hard enough or just endured longer. In the end it all worked itself out, which is a testament that when we walk away people have the ability to find a solution with or without us.

In hindsight, I wish I had been more kind to myself during this time. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that the challenges we were facing could be tackled in isolation yet we were left with no other option. The marriage counseling along with the long list of personal coping strategies and personal sacrifice at the expense of my mental health had fallen flat. The fact that I’m explaining this further is my lingering “tell” that perhaps I still have some feelings of guilt to work through.

What awaited me on the other side of it all was the overwhelming support from my own family and close friends who knew there was a life out there for me. You see they had boundaries with regards to where they were willing to rejoin me again and even my daughter stood by my decision and me throughout it all.

Mistake #4- Not Doing it Sooner

I wish I had conjured the courage and wisdom it took to commence the decision to move ahead quicker that had been overdue. My days of bluffing no longer held a strategic purpose in my life and with a sense of relief, happily folded the cards I was dealt. Perhaps that ominous bridge barrier that originally symbolized an end for me, alternatively was the beacon of hope that life was worth living if I just changed the direction of my wheel.

Amen to that.

And while I don’t intend on stewing to much more on the mistakes of the past, I hope that in sharing them provoked some fruitful “What if’s” for you if you are facing a need for change. Whether you are facing a decision to get sober, ending a toxic friendship or leaving an abusive relationship-know that you always have choice to change the direction.

Begin to free yourself at once by doing all that is possible with the means you have, and as you proceed in this spirit the way will open for you to do more.
~ Robert Collier

Please go follow my Instagram @cece_a_broadtalez

Top 10 Things To Stop Doing For A Better, Happier You!

  1. Facebook Statuses that talk about F*** Fake Friends, Cutting People Off, or read subliminally. Why you ask? I feel like this is conversation that needs to occur between you and that person only- its clear someone has pissed you off. If this is a reflection of how you deal with conflict, its no wonder you find yourself in a lot of it. These statuses are juvenile and resolve nothing other than stirring the pot (again Juvenile AF). I’m known for being straightforward and I believe that if you are grown and find yourself struggling with being a good judge of character its likely a “you problem” and not a “they problem. ” In life if you haven’t figured out yet, we are surrounded by people who do not have good intentions, and they show us the signs all the time! It’s likely we just choose to ignore it because they fulfill a need or void for us. The quality of our friendships are often a reflection of who we are during periods of our life, and we just aren’t liking the reflection. Our disappointment in others is often a projection of disappointment in ourselves. In Short, let them know that they hurt you and keep it moving!

2. You need to stop spending all your franklins and invest Honey Boo Boo. Not just for growing your personal wealth, and yearly vacations but for your retirement! When we are young we often are under the illusion that retirement is a lifetime away. I’m often baffled how I’m already 42 and where on earth have the years gone? There was something that my financial advisor told me one time that shook me up to the point I gave him all my money that day. Once he calculated all my Pension, Benefits, and Canada Pension Plan it worked out to be something like 2300.00 a month. Twenty year old-single parent me- would have thought that was plenty back in the day. But consider over the years our tastes, comforts, and overall lifestyle often level up and require significantly more pocket padding. If you don’t save and tuck your money away life will look drastically different. To put it into realistic terms, your Salon Hair cut is going to be at Supercuts. Your Heinz Ketchup is going to be the no name kind that just says “Ketchup Product.” While your friends are snow-birding in Arizona, you’re going to be stuck with your bratty grand kids in some forgettable town where they consider The Olive Garden “fine dining.” Why work so long to not kick your feet up and bask in the fruits of your labor. The Future “You” will love the Present “You” I promise if you do this! Save, Invest, and splurge from time to time!

3. Stop People Pleasing- Are you a Martyr? Do you actually think that you will earn your very own sainthood status with a little figurine made out to your likeness and carried around in the sweaty palms of the faithful? I highly doubt it. Who would want to carry that load- yet many do. Often we sacrifice our own desires, comforts, and wellness for others. The process of doing this can lead us astray and distract us from our own dreams. It’s sneaky little claws can draw us away from our own truths and valid opinions. It often leaves us feeling less sure of ourselves and seeking false validation through others acceptance of us. This can leave you empty, lonely and dependent on outside sources to fulfill feelings of importance which can very unreliable. I strongly believe we need to normalize a culture of self care, independent thinking, topped with sprinkle of delightful selfishness.

4.Stop Putting off things that you used to do but haven’t had time for. How many times have you started a sentence with “I used to love (fill in the blank)”… Did you find joy at one point in riding your bike or rollerskating? Did you used love to get all dolled up with your girlfriends and go hit the dance floor for a night of rump shaking? How many times have you said to a friend “We need to do this more,” then find yourself 3 years and 3 kids later saying the same thing? Whats the hold up you guys! We often use our routines as escape goats much like how we have excuses to not go to the gym that day. Well…those are actually valid sometimes- sometimes working out just sucks PeriodT! Nonetheless we aren’t anymore tired or busy than we were before because 98% of the time we probably stayed up until midnight scrolling through our social media feeds and accomplishing nothing that actually brought joy or a smile to our face. Isolating yourself from the things you love is a form of self punishment. So join that roller dance class or buy that cool cruiser bike with a basket that would look so adorable with a puppy in it too boot! Don’t fall for the little voice in your head that’s saying your tired because I assure that is the same demon voice that makes us love carbs and robs us from the dream bodies we were meant to have!

5.Stop being on your phone all the time. At this point I’m sure everyone and their mother has watched the Netflix Documentary The Social Dilemma. The irony is first thing folks do after is post on social media about the profound epiphany they had after watching it. This is where I give you a big old Jersey Shore Angelina “Uh Hellooooooo!”

I’ve literally stopped spending time with people who I find myself competing for their attention with. One can’t help but feel very so completely offended after making time and putting in the effort to spend time with them and have to stare blankly across a table from a person who cannot put their phone away. As I mentioned above as well- its literally stealing hours of your life away from you giving you the illusion that you can follow and participate in life’s adventures from the comfort and safety of your bedroom. However, its the lack of well rounded sensory experiences that is drawing our moods lower, our anxiety higher, and the isolation and depression deeper as we fall down the rabbit hole. Many influencer’s and social media icons can tell you that they are lonely and void of real life relationships whereby their audiences have taken their lives hostage. Don’t let your life be taken hostage by a device that is programmed to keep you fooled in to a false sense of connection. Put it away in the same vault you put those unsolicited dick pics in!

6.Stop believing that you can’t. Who knew a poster I used to pass by everyday in elementary school would have such an impact on me. Not sure what happened along the way but for some reason I have this programmed angry response to people when I’m told “I can’t” do something. I’ m pretty sure its from being a spoiled only child, but rage fills inside me and I begin with clarifying politely with closed clenched teeth that I can and I will. I’m of the belief that we often place unnecessary rules for ourselves to follow that are heavily influenced by societal norms which act more like a dictatorship than a democracy. If what you want to do brings no harm to others or yourself then Yes You Can! Want to get out of a miserable marriage but feel you can’t because your children will be sad. Yes the fuck you can! Want to leave an abusive relationship but feel you cant because you’ll loose everything. Yes the fuck you can! Want to eat a cupcake at 9am- Go for it! There is a broad range whereby the term “I can’t” can actually go get bent. Now I recognize this concept doesn’t always apply and has often ended badly for the Karen’s of the world. I’m here to say to those Karen’s myself- You’ Can’t always get your way and judging from your haircut that’s very true.

7.Stop ignoring your mental health issues and letting them win. I could pay a mortgage with the amount of times I’ve heard “I don’t like taking pills,” when I’ve suggested to a friend that I think they are struggling with depression or anxiety. When did Mental Health corner the market on pill popping as the only avenue to taking care of our health? When we approach a sports injury we don’t approach it with just a surgery or a pill? We rehabilitate ourselves with a well rounded approach to not only healing but injury prevention. Same goes for approaching our mental health and how to treat it. When addressing mental illness, we often have to take the painful initial steps in assessing what the exacerbating factors are. It could be a number of variables like trauma, grief and loss, hormonal imbalances, addictions and/or environmental factors. Many of these variables can be supported through avenues outside of medications- and for the majority of the population we are all effected by these variables at different points in our lives. I feel wholeheartedly that we are all a little fucked up on the inside, some more than others. But its when we are feeling well that its even more important to instill a conscious awareness around how to remain or prevent mental illness. The reinforcing moments are when we feel good that we should carry forward by practicing that we are deserving of it and should protect it with our lives.

8.Stop worrying about what people think of you. The one thing I used to tell my daughter when she was in high school was to not give shit about the losers who would tease her or exclude her, being popular was meaningless in the grand scheme of things. She actually did such a good job at not giving a shit about them that when we attended her graduation dance we left after an hour because she preferred to get into her comfie’s and celebrate at home by eating cake and watching episodes of The Office. Like YAAASSSS Quueeenn! At the age of 18 she had already figured out what took me 35 years to figure out. The people that love you will make you feel welcomed in a room without saying nothing. Time wasted among people who dislike you for whatever reason serve no purpose to your growth. Working to change minds that have already decided what they think out of shortsightedness and laziness will not be allowed to buy stock in that valuable heart of yours. We cannot be what everyone wants or needs- its virtually impossible. So stop losing sleep and be the best you.

9. Stop believing everything you read on the internet. Did you know that your smartphones, search engines and social media follow algorithms that streamline information for you based on your activity. Meaning if I had a habit of looking up White Supremacy Propaganda that my feeds would tailor the articles I accessed to suit my habits and continue to bombard me with related articles that fit interests . So by default the information we take in is not well rounded or necessarily legitimate unless we purposely and consciously seek out more reliable and educated sources. Why do you think we live in an era of distrust and conspiracy theorists. Grass roots Conspiracy theorists are rolling over in their graves now because at least used to have to dig through garbage cans, wear carefully designed foil hats and go to the library pining over hours of microfilm. Partaking in absorbing information through online activity can actually polarize people and create divisiveness among folks that were once friends. The old practice of listening and learning from experience and story telling has been lost over the last two decades leaving countries and the world more divided than ever.

10.Stop Pushing Yourself to Limits and take in something that is beautiful. This has been one of the best suggestions that was given to me when I went through a Social Work related Burn Out. I had found myself often driving and not knowing how I had gotten from one end of the city to the other. It was like I was being tele-ported from one crisis to another and having no memory or recollection of my movements or the surroundings I had passed. I was told to start paying attention to ordinary objects or things around me in my day that I could find beauty in and concentrate on the details of that beauty. What I found happening after awhile was a renewed sense of awareness that calmed and grounded me in moments I felt pressured to perform. I began recalling the shapes of clouds I’d see and sometimes would stop and take a picture and use later if I needed a reminder. I also began taking walks in my work day around neighborhoods and admire the flowers or character homes in the area. A goofy smile would replace my clenched teeth and the self talk in my head began to silence itself enough that I could listen to my breathing over the birds chirping away in the trees. This practice not only brought beauty out from the shadows but brought beauty to the shadows whereby I could appreciate and find love even in the darkest of situations.