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Excellence Can Be Relative

November 11, 2019

Lately, I have found myself comparing to my friends, family, people I follow on social media, who are all doing things with excellence and showing us all of these things via their social accounts, events, launch parties etc. Meanwhile I’m at home, feeling lesser than, when really the desire to achieve excellence is still at play. Each day, I want to be the best partner, mother, friend that I can be. Working hard at all the things I do, to the point of exhaustion. 

In the book “Finish”, the author speaks about sometimes “sucking” at one thing so that you can be excelling at another current goal or priority. Lately I have been sucking at my side hustle work, sucking at eating well, sucking at resting. Yet I’ve been doing an excellent job at keeping my home in order, ensuring my family is fed and clothed, and that they are able to come back to a space that is orderly and ready for them. I’m sure there will come a time when the script will flip and the opposite may be true. 

But these “everyday” things are often not met with outside validation, likes, or heart emojis. Because of this, somehow they feel like lesser accomplishments when the intention, commitment, dedication and energy put towards them is arguably the same as if I were launching a new program or opening registration for a new training session, or working on a new project.

My Lightyear Leadership teacher, Susanne Conrad, has a practice of writing down a few things every night that no one else would acknowledge or thank her for, but that deserved some recognition. She thanks herself and pats herself on the back for these things. Because truly, the outside validation is fleeting and fickle. Sure, it's easier to measure and it feels good when it happens, but the deep knowing of one’s own self, and the ability to self-validate are far more impactful, and encourage far greater achievements (noticeable or not) than any outside recognition could yield.

I’m still testing this theory and learning to give self high-fives when I do something I am proud of - large or small. It takes practice to acknowledge and appreciate yourself. And it’s a skill I hope to master in this life.

At the MAVEN retreat I hosted last spring, I asked participants to write themselves a thank-you letter. For a group of women, many of whom were new moms, this was a very potent exercise. The point of this thank-you note is to acknowledge yourself and recognize all that you do, and give language and life to it. As a woman and a new mom myself, I feel like there are a lot of silent expectations on us. We are often the default for picking up the slack for our family responsibilities. We do a lot that may go unnoticed, or feel under-appreciated, so to toot our own damn horn for these things goes a long way in building gratitude for our own capabilities.

Perhaps there is something you do daily that goes unnoticed, but deserves some kudos. Or maybe you did a kind gesture for someone. Whatever it is, I encourage you to take the time this week to write yourself a thank you letter of your own. No edits, just free flow. Don't overthink it, just write. And notice what comes up. After all, everyday things can be done with excellence too.

Onward,

xo Syd

Whenever I find myself in a period of time when I am not writing, or sharing, or creating, I know that something is up. It's a real "tell" for me. One of my patterns in life is when things aren't feeling great, I turtle. Then my perspective can get a bit negative.

It usually means I need to slow down and reflect on a few key things and ask myself questions like:

  • How am I spending my time? Typically doing something to feel like I have control because I feel out of control.
  • What is my internal dialogue at the moment? Often the scariest to answer, cuz it ain't pretty.
  • What's keeping me up at night? At the moment, being pregnant is sometimes the culprit, but usually, it's not.

Once I've thought on these, then I can move to asking some forward-thinking questions, such as:

  • What's something I would enjoy doing? Then I can go plan that into my week and do it - unapologetically.
  • What's something I did really well today/this week? Self high-five!
  • What can I ask for help with? Make the call, have the conversation, ask for what I need. (literally reminding myself of this daily)

So what have I been up to with my time? Mostly worrying about the future. Getting lots of pre-baby tasks completed. Doctors appointments. Spending time with my son and husband. None of which are inherently bad, obviously (except maybe that first one).

With all the unknowns of welcoming another baby into our family, I have been feeling insecure. In the sense of vain things, like only have 6 items of clothing I feel comfortable in, or often not having my hair or make-up done. And also in the deeper sense of not feeling grounded and secured to my sense of self. Which is why I may not have been showing up in the same way in recent months.

So what's next? It's going to be a wild and transitional time over the next few months [and years], I'm sure. And I'm thankful for all of you who have continued to work with me, to support my small-business, to trust me with your minds and bodies through it all. I always want to strive to be consistent for you as much as possible. Which is why I have decided to take some time off from in-person training to welcome our baby girl, and to get my bearings, so that I can continue to bring my best when the time comes to return.

It pains me to say this, but there will be no in-person training offerings with MAVEN, likely until mid-October or November. I am offering my 12 Week Online Training Program beginning Monday, September 2 so that you can continue to have MAVEN-style workouts during this time! Check out the Program FAQ for more details.

If you want to stay even more in the loop, you can join my mailing list for news on when training will resume later this fall.

I love and appreciate you and can't wait to see what the future holds!

Onward,

xo Syd

 

I mentioned last month that I was reflecting on these commitments I made for 2019 and was not quite sure how I was feeling about them. What I discovered is that I'm not really feeling them. Sure, they are related to some larger goals I am working toward, however, what I feel in my gut is that they aren't resonating because of the season of life I am in at the moment. Allow me to elaborate.

I have been trying to identify what this nagging feeling has been for the past couple months. Through reflective practice, conversations with loved ones, coaches and mentors, I have landed on what I am calling the "neutral zone". Not "neutral" as in conflict-free, but "neutral" as in a state of coasting - allowing the momentum from the moves I have made in recent years to continue to propel things forward at a slower pace - without a pedal to the metal and white knuckles gripping the wheel.

On my recent cycling trip to Ireland, there were moments when I was pedaling down the road and I would ask myself "am I going uphill or downhill right now?" Then I would answer for myself "girl, If you can't tell, you're probably just on a flat road!" And what a perfect metaphor it is for this neutral space I have found myself in. The eerie feelings I have been having that cause me to panic and assume something is "wrong" are a result of things not being too hard or too easy. Which is truly not a bad place to be.

Some of the commitments I stated for 2019 were related to work and some to personal goals, either way, they have begun to fall flat for me. Lacking excitement and purpose. Right now, I'm learning to get okay with not having a ton of things on the horizon, because, truth be told, I'm not entirely clear on what I want in my work life at this very moment. And that has been a scary and insecure place for me to exist. Who am I if I am not working toward something purposeful?

I have hesitated with sharing this point of view for fear of being judged or seen as uninspiring or even negative, and I'm now realizing the power and truth in doing the work to get honest about where you are at right now, and meeting yourself there with grace and kindness.

So here I am, standing in my "less is more" season, allowing things to come in to focus in their own time without forcing. If I look at how I spend my time every day, it's not like it doesn't reflect my personal values and maybe it's flowing better than if I tried to over-engineer it. Because I actually do feel really good right now.

No, I'm not working out as much as I used to, but I feel good. No, I'm not eating perfectly, but I feel good. No, I'm not creating a ton of content or launching new programs right now, but I feel good.

Yes, I am spending a lot of time at home with my family, and that feels really good. Yes, I am doing great work consistently (day job and coaching), and that feels good. Yes, I am making time to enjoy all the small moments that no one else may notice but that make my life so full, and that feels good.

So for now, I am going to harness the power of the "neutral zone". My internal dialogue often revolves around needing to change or "fix" things constantly, based on the things that I judge myself for, or that I don't love about myself, and that trickles in to my goals and the kinds of things I choose to focus on. The magic I am finding in this "neutral zone" is acceptance and peace, and that too, feels really good.

So for the month of June, I am committing to changing nothing and continuing to do the things that feel good, and there's no shame in that. If you find yourself in a similar season, I honour you for the courage it takes to stand firmly where you are with confidence.

Big Love,

xo Syd

Before I get into my April Commitment Check-in, I wanted to take the time to celebrate a couple of "firsts" that happened last month. When I was first reflecting on the month of April, I was only considering it through the lens of these commitments and almost forgot to give myself a little pat on the back for two major accomplishments. 

The first weekend in April, I led my first ever retreat and by all accounts it was a success! It has been something I wanted to do for years and had been afraid to commit to. In spring 2018 I booked a venue for Fall 2018, I got a bit spooked, and moved the date to Spring 2019. So I'm proud to have truly committed to it, followed through, and I learned a lot throughout the process of planning and executing it. Self high-five!

The other "first" I am celebrating, is the first class hosted at my new space, Rogue Studio. Although the "grand opening" looked different than I had imagined - I didn't feel totally "ready", I'm still figuring out equipment needs, not to mention the doubts that can consume us in a new venture - I am so happy with the turn out, the ongoing support from my clients, and for jumping in before I felt "ready" (no such thing, really!).

As for my 2019 commitments, I have been working with my coach Jacki Carr, and it's been great to have the accountability around taking action steps in my business and life goals. I have been struggling much more in 2019 with these commitments than I did with my 2018 commitments and I am working to meet myself where I am at, while still building in some things that stretch and challenge me. Through this work, I am re-calibrating and may just end up shifting these commitments to better align with some of the new goals I am beginning to think about. 

In the meantime, the commitments I laid out for 2019 were still on my radar in April, so let's see how it went:

  • One weight training session per week - Last month I read Jon Acuff's book, Finish (game changer btw, highly recommend), and he talks about cutting your goal in half as a strategy for achieving more. I know it sounds counter intuitive, but it works. The perfectionist in me wants to say 3-4 weight training sessions per week or bust, and I know the result of that may end up being zero per week. Instead, when I do my one weight workout each week, I really go for it and feel successful and proud of myself. 
  • Get outside with the fam on Saturdays - This is now just part of our weekend routine, we have a dog that needs walking, and a toddler that we gotta get out of the house, so we walk! In the past, I would have put pressure on us to plan something bigger, more action-packed, for our weekend outdoor time, as though a walk in our neighbourhood didn't "count", and the simplicity of strolling out our front door is really working for us at the moment. Nothing fancy, but still quality time as a family without the stress of loading up the car, getting snacks prepared etc.
  • 1 video per week - This is an area where perfectionism is also impacting my follow-through. If I don't feel like I have something mind-blowing to convey, I just won't record anything. One of my mentors, Ally Maz, has been working with me to just get my reps in without feeling the need to put things out there. So I am still practicing, and much like my retreat goal hesitations, I refuse to give up on this just yet!
  • Bring lunch to work Tues-Thurs - Wow, did this ever fall off in April! May is off to a good start, and I'm going to shift this one to be "eat a homemade lunch 3 days per week". Again, meeting myself where I'm at and being flexible, while still building in some stretch and challenge!

In May, I am looking forward to working on more clarity in my vision and goals, and getting my support system aligned to move forward with more intention. I am taking two weeks off this month which includes a cycling trip to Ireland without our son (yay adult time!), and am looking forward to connecting with my husband away from the every day hustle. I wish you a wonderful month of May!

Onward,

xo Syd

As we enter April and welcome Spring, the longer days, better weather, and the energy of new beginnings has me feeling lighter and more motivated than the first part of this year. March passed quickly for me, and I believe it's partially because I was on auto-pilot for a large part of it.

Now that we have began to spread the news of my second pregnancy, and my work projects seem to be ramping up, I can feel the stagnant energy moving out and making way for creativity and execution. I'm looking forward to the next few months!

As I look back on last month, I am reminding myself what these commitments are about. What other larger-picture thing are they rooted in? What goals are they helping me work towards? Above all else: how are these commitments making me feel? Let's dig in to it.

  • One weight training session per week - This commitment is an important one, and perhaps the one I have struggled with the most. My training routine had fallen off in late 2018, and my goal for 2019 was to get back to 3 days per week in the gym, and a couple days of other activities in the week. And I'm still working my way back up to 3 and that is okay. More than anything, this commitment was about carving out time for myself, and trying to claim back some of my identity from before I had a baby. In March, I did train at least once per week, and it's important to note that I took more intentional time for self-care and for slowing down to check-in with myself. 
  • Get outside with the fam on Saturdays - I had wanted to commit to getting outside on Saturdays to ensure that we got some fresh air and did some activities throughout the winter. Now that it's nicer out, this is just something we do on Saturdays as a family, which I love!
  • 1 video per week - I really wanted to start sharing more openly and candidly and have experienced a lot of resonance with watching/listening to certain people I follow through videos. I'm still practicing, and trusting that eventually there will be some good moments of wisdom to share with you.
  • Bring lunch to work Tues-Thurs - The intention of this commitment was twofold: 1) to cook more of the healthy meals I enjoy in my beautiful new kitchen 2) to eat more consciously throughout the week (ie. less snacking on whatever is at or near my office). I've had better weeks than others, and overall, the commitment itself has led to better food choices overall.

For now, these commitments are helping guide my daily decisions in positive ways, so I'll stick with them. And I hold them lightly knowing they may need to shift and evolve throughout the year. Life, especially pregnancy, and work can be unpredictable, so I want to be solid enough in my values to weather storms, and also have room to go with the flow.

I hope you have an incredible month of April, I'm spending my first weekend of the month in beautiful Banff for the first MAVEN Retreat and I'm so excited!

Onward,

xo Syd

    Celebrate Anyway

    March 28, 2019

    Coaching   Goals   lifestyle   Reflection  

    Moving in to 2019, I was so excited about a number of things and plans that I was laying for the year. I had momentum and energy for these things and it was looking golden - as many of us feel with the turn of the new year.

    And then I got pregnant.

    Some may assume the reaction to this would be "yay!", another baby, wonderful news! And the excitement my friends and family have shown has been so heartwarming and lovely and has helped to build my excitement as well. But my initial internal response was not all rainbows and sunshine.

    Although this pregnancy was absolutely planned - we were "trying" again - it felt a bit unexpected. My first pregnancy took a while, and we ended up getting the support of science to help it along, and we felt very lucky and excited that we did get pregnant, have a healthy pregnancy, and birth a healthy baby.

    I know there are other moms with children close in age (planned or not) that can understand the mixture of emotions that comes with this turn of events. Here are just a few of the emotions that were flying around:

    Sadness: for the sacrifice/potential loss of projects and ideas that I wanted to achieve and may no longer have the resources (time/energy/money/attention) to do them.

    Disappointment: at myself for not having done more to bring my body to a more physically prepared place (let's be clear, this body is not the body I had when I got pregnant with my first, it has changed, and will likely never be exactly what it once was)

    Fear: for the unknown and unexpected that comes with bringing new life into this world and growing our family, and for the postpartum journey itself - it can be a lonely and trying time, to say the very least. 

    Guilt: for not being more excited about this pregnancy when I have friends that are going through their own fertility struggles - how dare I take this miracle for granted?!

    More Guilt: for the baby growing inside of my body and me not giving it the same excitement I did to my first pregnancy

    Overwhelm/anxiety: for holyshithowarewegoingtodothis?

    As I have moved through the first trimester, bogged down with lethargy and this shit storm of thoughts, it was when we started to tell people that things really began to shift for me. When people showed me their excitement about our news, it reflected to me that this is a time for celebration, and that I am capable of not only handling this next leg of the journey, but it's actually something I said I wanted. They are showing excitement because it's a dream coming true for us. I wanted two kids, and we will soon have our complete family. Thank you, support circle, for helping me move through this.

    At a time when my world began to feel small, I also regularly needed to remind myself to take the long view, look at the big picture, take stock of all that I have accomplished and continue to accomplish daily. All of this has been going on while we also moved to a new home and neighborhood, moved our kid to new childcare, became landlords to renters, experienced major changes at my place of work, and began to build a studio in our basement. When I consider the patience and energy it takes just to do all that, I deserve a freaking medal! And it's no wonder it's felt overwhelming.

    As roadblocks have come up, I have handled some well, and others not so much. The vision I had for this year has shifted, and in this time of uncertainty I thought it would be a powerful exercise to reflect back on times when I felt like I had momentum, energy, and excitement and share some stories about these times and celebrate how far I have come on this journey of running a business, holding down a full-time job, and becoming a momma.

    When things don't go as planned, celebrate anyway.

    Whether that is focusing on the work you put in, even if the outcome wasn't what you desired. Or reflecting back on times when things did have momentum and excitement and celebrating what you created then, and then getting curious about what ingredients were involved in that feeling of success. Or simply patting yourself on the back for having the courage to try.

    A lot has happened in the last few  years! I will be sharing some stories here and on my Instagram feed and I hope it encourages you to appreciate yourself and how far you have come as well.

    Onward,

    xo Syd

    It's March already! I feel like February flew by and was a month of routine and lots of time spent at home, which I did not mind at all. Although we would have loved to spend more time outside last month, it was a nice cozy time to play with my little one, cook, and host friends at our new home. Here's how it went with my 2019 commitments in February:
    • One weight training session per week in February (anything above that is gravy!) - much better this month! I really committed to taking workout gear to my office so that I could get a 30-45 minute workout in on my lunch break. I even had a couple weeks where I did 2 weight workouts!
    • Get outside with the fam on Saturdays - Most Saturdays we geared up and at least went out for a short walk. We were in the mountains for a weekend with friends which helped. Looking forward to the rising temps to get to out more in March!
    • Post 1 video per week - This is still a tough one for me and after a coaching call with my mentor, Ally Mazerolle, I decided to practice filming with no agenda for posting it anywhere, or for anyone seeing it. The pressure I put on myself to make it great or something that adds value paralyzes me and I don't end up doing it at all. So I have been practicing and filming myself more casually, getting thoughts out, kind of like a video journal, and it's been cathartic and is helping build confidence for when I do want to put something out for you all that is a valuable piece of knowledge or discussion! For now, no video posting, just practice, practice, practice!
    • Bring lunch to work Tues-Thurs - Killing it :)

    I also wanted to share that I have been working on practicing TRUST. I have posted about this a few times on my Instagram feed, and I cannot stress it enough how powerful it has been to drop into trusting as the antidote for anxiety or pressure that I have been putting on myself. I am a person who wants to do everything like, RIGHT NOW, and I have a hard time not rushing. I am trusting that the things I can't control that are "slowing" things down are hinting that maybe I need to take pause and move through things with a bit more intention. So I'm trusting a slower pace (scary for me), and let's see how it plays out.

    Onward,

    xo Syd

    One month (and a bit) in to the year and I have to say, it's been a slow start for me. Thankfully, I have these little monthly check-ins to hold me accountable and to stay real about how last month was. The truth: it was just okay. Turns out, I need to re-calibrate a bit already!
    Here's how my 2019 commitments went in January: 
    • One weight training session per week in January (anything above that is gravy!) - no gravy here. I did manage to keep this commitment this month (barely) and I am still having a hard time finding the space to train. I have this weird mental block about my workouts having to look a certain way or be a certain length to "count" or to be "worth it", but my mental practice these days is about doing small things more consistently so that I don't get overwhelmed trying to "find the time". My plan was to move to 2 per week in February, and I've decided to stick to one for now!
    • Get outside with the fam on Saturdays - Helloooo winter, we were wondering if you were ever going to come and you are very much making your presence known. We did manage to get outside on Saturdays, even if it was for a [very] short walk with the dog.
    • Post 1 video per week - another one I'm finding challenging since I can't let go of it being "perfect" circumstances. Here's my most common excuse: I'm never alone. Welp, expect some video footage from my (parked) car this month.
    • Bring lunch to work Tues-Thurs - I am proud to say I have stuck to this one! I am only at my office on Tues, Wed Thurs, so I have made sure to bring a lunch on those days. Working in an office can be ripe with opportunity to let my eating go sideways, so bringing a lunch has been clutch with keeping important things like vegetables and protein in my life. Another little "rule" I have for not falling prey to the endless treats scattered around the office: "if it's not my favourite thing, I don't eat it". So, unless someone brings in Crave cupcakes or Jelly Modern Donuts, I don't eat the treats!

    As I work to get a space built out, hold down a 9-5, be a rad wife, and raise a little one, my hope is to keep cool about it all and to find a flow in a season that feels full. If you've got any tips or tricks for managing, let a mama know in the comments!

    Onward,

    xo Syd

    You may be wondering why I haven't written or posted too much about my own fitness for a while. To be honest, it's because I haven't really had that much of a routine lately.

    Last year I was so focused on my family, financial, and lifestyle goals that my health and fitness goals took a bit of a back seat. It has taken time for me to shake the shame I was feeling with not training as much and to recognize that life has different seasons.

    2018's focus areas were important and will continue to be in 2019 and beyond. My word for 2019 is embodiment. For me, this means fully living through my values and beliefs and taking great care to stay true to myself. It means bringing back some things that are really important to me that I had let slip, and leading by example. It means diving in to doing things I have been saying I want to do for years. It means practicing what I preach.

    My monthly commitment check-ins have served to keep me accountable and made the larger goals they support much more manageable. This year, I'm bringing fitness and nutrition back to the centre of my goals and look forward to sharing more with you along the way. Here are some of the commitments I am making to support my goals in 2019:

    • One weight training session per week in January (anything above that is gravy!)
    • Get outside with the fam on Saturdays
    • Post 1 video per week
    • Bring lunch to work Tues-Thurs

    I'm excited for all that 2019 has in store and can't wait to share some big news with you about my next project!

    Make moves,

    xo Syd

    Hello 2019! December can tend to be a whirlwind month that has lots of potential for throwing us off our game. More social engagements, less routine, treats galore - it can be a trying time to stay true to yourself.

    I'm happy to say that because of the commitments I made (and stuck to) earlier in the year, I lad a strong foundation for navigating the month of December without feeling too overwhelmed or doing things that were in conflict with my own belief system. Here's how it went with my 2018 commitments in December:

    No new clothing purchased in 2018 - I am proud to say I made it through the entire year without spending any money on new clothes for myself! Now that we are in a new year, I still feel so used to not shopping that I don't feel compelled to run out and buy something, which is an incredible thing for a girl who used to really enjoy it! This one was such a powerful commitment that I'm working on something for 2019 around this same thing, stay tuned.

    Live debt-free - Yeesh it's a challenge to not go crazy with spending on gifts during the holidays! Not because I wanted to buy a ton of gifts, but because I felt somewhat obligated to do so. To help mitigate this pull, we got very intentional leading into the holidays and set up secret Santa's at all of our family gift exchanges which really helped to stay within budget and spend less time shopping and more time together.

    Plan ahead for family time - We were well planned in December with a long weekend away just the three of us before getting into the very full calendar we had for our trip to Montreal for the holidays. My "bucket list" helped me focus on doing fun things with my family throughout too!

    Do one crossword and read for 10 minutes every night - Did not stick with this one very well in December, however I did finish an entire book in December (one of my "bucket list" items).

    This past year has been one filled with learning new perspective, challenging status quo, and making big bold steps to lay a strong foundation for our lives moving forward. I feel armed with a real sense of purpose and a deeper understanding of who I am heading in to 2019. It's going to be a big year!

    Thank you so much for reading my words, showing up, and supporting me through this work. I am humbled and grateful to have the opportunities I do.

    Much love,

    Sydney

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