Making a daily difference

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Challenge: Support 13 people to take on challenges (13 of 13)
Date: November 18, 2014.
Location: Fredericton/Toronto

My friend Peggy is always up to neat things whether it be dancing in a gum-booting feminist performance protest group or writing funky profiles for kittens so they get adopted among others. She has decided to take on an environmental challenge this time – committing to the 5 minute shower. Read below about what she’s up to and how you can do it.
What inspired this challenge?

My wonderful friend Lee’s birthday, for which his (even more wonderful) wife Melanie put together a series of environmental challenges that folks in Lee’s life could take on for a month, as a 30th birthday gift to him. The 5 minute shower challenge caught my eye right away because I have been feeling like I zone out in the shower and waste a lot of water lately. I rejected it at first because it struck me as too hard – I thought I would do one of the other challenges instead – but then I thought of you [Erin] and how you really are pushing yourself with your Chapter 30 challenges, and how you’ve always been such a good motivator for me to get outside of my comfort zone, so I thought I’d take on the Erin spirit and go for it.

[Editor’s note: Thanks Peggy! Let the inspiration spread….I’m keen to take on what you’re doing]

How it’s been going?
Not super great! I went with the timer method rather than the alarm method – so instead of setting an alarm to go off at 5 minutes, I’ve just been setting a stopwatch and then checking my time once I get out of the shower. My best time so far (a week in) is 6 minutes 20 seconds. I haven’t hit 5 minutes yet but I’m confident I’ll get there before the month is over! It’s very challenging to just get in the shower and focus up and just be really mindful of every second. But I think I was taking 15 minute showers before so this is progress.

How long do you plan to take it on?
One month! Hahaha. I mean once the month is up I’ll probably take a couple long luxurious showers (and shave my legs and armpits!) but then I hope to make the mindfulness a long term thing – I feel like trying for an average shower of 7 or 8 minutes is a good way to go. It’s certainly helping me to feel more awake in the morning and gets my brain going early.

Any advice to others?
Focus up! It seems hard to do five minutes only, especially if you have a shampoo & conditioner hair care routine, but really I don’t think anyone has more than five minutes’ worth of stuff to do in an average shower. We just tend to let our minds drift in the water. But it’s mean to the environment to be so wasteful!

If folks want to do the five minute shower challenge, I recommend timing your normal shower first to get an idea of what you need to shave off, then set incremental goals. And make sure you’re good and awake before you get in, so you can focus and not drift – maybe drink your coffee or do whatever it is you need to do in the morning to wake up first before you have a shower. But just being mindful is super important (and obviously widely applicable outside the shower, too).

[Editor’s note: Great challenge for all of us Peggy! Thanks for taking it on and sharing how we can too.]

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Hand up, hand-me-downs

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Challenge: Do 22 acts of kindness (22 of 22)

Date: November 3, 2014.

Location: Maseru, Lesotho

When I was in Maseru, a gorgeous city of high elevation in southern Africa for a conference, I took a whole bunch of professional clothes that I didn’t need anymore so I could leave them there. I left a party dress, blazers, shoes, blouses and more. I left a note for the cleaning staff in my room saying that I hope these could be useful to themselves or someone in their family. Everything was in great shape but since I’m away from work for a year (see retirement post), I thought they might as well go to someone who could use them now, and then I can refresh my wardrobe once I figure out what I’ll be doing in a year’s time. It’s a simple gesture but hopefully it made a difference.

 

We all deserve happiness

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Challenge: Support 13 people to take on challenges (12 of 13)

Date: October 23, 2014.

Location: Ottawa, Ontario

I met this highly energized, friendly person Laura when I was giving a talk at Algonquin College last year. She approached me to ask me about some of the things I had mentioned and to share with me her approach to life. I immediately knew she would be a source of inspiration for me. She just turned 25 and she had mentioned recently that she wanted to think about my Chapter 30 challenge and see what she could take from the concept to do something to honour her year of being 25. She has now designed her challenge and below see the responses to a few questions about it.

What Challenge have I decided to take on?
A slight variation of the 100 Happy Days. I will be using Pinterest. My board will be called #100HAPPYDAYS (http://www.pinterest.com/thebarefoot/100happydays/). There will be more than 1 picture a day because I am always finding joy. It will be good for me to acknowledge and document all the wonderful things in my life. I will invite people to follow my board. Maybe others will be inspired to join in the movement 🙂
What inspired me?
You did you beautiful soul!! Erin does chapter 30 is so friggin’ fantastic!! You are such an incredible, passionate, loving, inspiring woman!!  Your motivation and drive is captivating. I am so blessed by your presence. I feel such a strong connection with you. Your guidance, your energy and your encouragement have helped me through many of my own personal challenges. You have also reinforced to me that I can do anything! I have so much love for you in my heart Erin! Thank you ever so much! (You better put that part in your blog word for word) 🙂
What do I hope to accomplish?
I started out thinking that I would use your challenge as a framework, and swap in my own goals and activities. While working on this list, I was also working with my challenges of procrastination, perfectionism, and feelings of self doubt. I had a big list of challenges, but did not know where to put some of them. My birthday was creeping up and I still hadn’t finished my list. Then I feared that 325 goals sounded a bit overwhelming. Self doubt kicked in and I thought “If I complete 300 out of 325, how will I feel?” My tendency will be to focus on the 25 ‘failures’ rather than the 300 accomplishments. So instead of letting myself down, I will do the opposite. I will lift myself up. Higher and higher each day. Soaring to new heights of happiness and self love.
I know I can be happy everyday. I already am. I just need to know that I can love myself no matter what. That I deserve happiness. We all do.
This philosophy is wonderful. It means that everyday Laura will get up in the morning and put on lenses that are seeking joy and gratitude. It’s a wonderful gift to herself for seeking out the happy times and relishing them. It’s also a wonderful gift to those around her and everyone who follows her journey because they can be reminded of all the happiness that exists around them. Thanks Laura and happy birthday!

Go momma go!

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Challenge: Support 13 people to take on challenges (11 of 13)

Date: October 21, 2014.

Location: Windsor, Nova Scotia

My friend Katie has been such a constant, heart-warming part of my life for nearly 15 years now. She is a mother of two and has been recently taking on lots of great changes in her life including her health. We’ve been supporting each other on diet and exercise especially, but also are sharing ideas and tips on everything from finding exciting career opportunities, to life-transforming books, to our relationships. Katie has a great new blog called fitfabmomma. She wrote the below ‘guest post’ about what she’s taking on and how she keeps it between the lines. Let’s keep it up Katie!

From Katie at fitfabmomma:

Life after kids. What a huge change that can be for anyone’s lives.  They bring so much joy and laughter (and sometimes tears and a hint of stress) that it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting anything they used to have before kids. Right? Right???  As much as I love my children, there are still days where I miss parts of my old life. For me, its not the lack of going out, or going on double dates with friends and having a glass of wine or 2 (I’m currently breastfeeding so only juice right now!), for me its the time to work on me. Getting back in shape, figuring out my career path, sleeping uninterrupted for 8 hours straight, not needing the eye cream to help banish those lovely bags that come with nighttime feedings or 3 am scary dreams.  And I’m here to tell all moms its ok to feel this way.  Don’t feel guilty for wanting some “you” time once in a while. I try to tell myself that I need to be the best “me” I can be in order to be the best mom I can be, and being the best mom starts with me.

After having my second child, I decided not to wait months to begin to get back into shape like I did with my first. I wanted to get working on me as soon as I could.  I first started small with things like going for walks (a great activity for mom and kiddies), playing with my 2 year old son a lot (he loves soccer as do I, so that was an easy sport to mutually enjoy).  Then I moved onto working on my diet. This is by far the hardest challenge I have going right now.  It’s my “sweet tooth” that gets me everytime.  I always begin my day with the best intentions and the plan to avoid sugar, but I always seem to justify some sort of sweet treat by noon.

Although, my lack of sleep is slowly getting better (my newborn is sleeping longer and longer through the night), it still creates challenges in keeping on track with my diet and exercise. So in order to overcome this, I have adapted some tricks to help me stay focused.

Tip 1.  Get accountable with yourself. For me it was joining a 6 week workout challenge with some friends who check in with me daily.  It’s easier for me to turn on the workout video for 30 minutes then admit to them that I didn’t do a darn thing exercise related all day.

Tip 2.  Try to find a treat alternative that is as close to enjoyable to eat as that chocolate bar I’m actually craving.  For me, I have been pretty hooked lately on honeycrisp apples with either peanut butter or honey.  Carrots and sweet potato hummus is another good one.  If I’m really craving sugar, I take a chocolate pudding cup and mix a scoop of peanut butter.  When I do slip up, I try not to beat myself up over it and just focus harder the next day.

Tip 3. Water. Water. Water.  I try to drink as much as I can and try to drink a glass before each meal to help avoid overeating.

Tip 4. Use a fitbit, pedometer, or fitness app daily.  I received a fitbit for my birthday and I love it. I am always checking my steps and if I haven’t hit 10,000 steps (my daily goal), I go for an extra walk or play outside with my son.  Its a great constant reminder of my daily progress.

Aside from these tips, I try hard not to beat myself up over any bumps I might have along the way.  If I end up not fitting in a workout or if I give into my chocolate addiction one day, it’s ok.  I just get back on track the next morning and try even harder than the day before.

 

Thai food, tea and talking

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Challenge: Have tea with friends 26 times (26 of 26)

Date: October 20, 2014

Location: Fredericton, New Brunswick

Over ten years ago I was preparing for a summer in Thailand and a wonderful woman offered to give me Thai lessons before embarking on the journey. She goes by “Joey” in Fredericton, but is known as Jutha to her family. She quickly became a friend. While back in Fredericton this week, I wanted to meet up with her and get caught up. Our friend Youssef joined us too. Joey always makes the best spread of Thai food just full of garlic, basil, chilies and so much flavor.

The food is only half the treat of visiting Joey. We have the best, most grounding conversations about humanity, the purpose of life, politics and more. Today was no exception. We drank three pots of tea between the three of us.

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We figured out we have all come across a broken friendship over the last year, meaning someone in our lives decided to leave. It was good to be able to get some perspective on this. Joey says people come into your life for a reason… but they also leave for a reason. Basically, we can’t necessarily determine how other people will make decisions and despite our best efforts, they will do as they will…. so be okay with that just as it is. Preceded by a conversation on mindfulness and meditation, I was primed to hear this.

Joey is one of the most generous, caring people I know and her words always come right when I’m needing to hear them. If you have someone in your life like that, I encourage you to meet up with them. Without even being intentional about it, there is always wisdom to gain.

It takes a community to raise a chiropractor

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Challenge: Take on 19 acts of gratitude (19 of 19)

Date: October 5, 2014.

Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia

My husband Jackson has been blessed with so many supportive people at his school to help him get to the stage of graduation. The registrar, his supervisors in chiropractic clinic, and his profs have all been exceptional. His success is their success. So we went onto sendoutcards.com which is an awesome site for sending notes of gratitude, and we designed and sent out a bunch of cards to these wonderful people. They should arrive to them next week. Sometimes a little thanks can go a long way towards helping someone feel appreciated.

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Family breakfast

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Challenge: Have tea with friends 26 times (25 of 26)

Date: October 4, 2014

Location: Kingston, Nova Scotia

My folks love rural Nova Scotia. I spent the weekend with them and they wanted to show me all over… On a 15 hour drive all over the place (with lots of stops). We started the day with a community breakfast in Kingston in the Annapolis Valley. I brought the average age down significantly when I sat down at the legion to breakfast… but such is rural Nova Scotia. The breakfast was so huge it lasted us for two meals. It was nice to sit down to breakfast with my parents and then my dad toured me around the legion afterwards.

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