Blog

In 2018 my word for the year was "sufficiency", brought on mostly by educating myself more on minimalism and its philosophies and practices.

It was a year of learning new perspectives as I listened to a lot of podcasts and read books on related topics like slowing down, simple living, and budgeting. As a family we really steeped ourselves in the conversation of how we want to live our lives and began to lay plans for the future that align with who we are at our core. 

This has meant a lot of reflection on some of my own biases and expectations, and examination of whether or not they fit with who I want to be and what I want to do in this life. I was on maternity leave from my day job for most of the year so there was lots of transition periods and plenty of time for reflection.

It has been interesting and challenging to start to shake some of the expectations that I may have adopted through my family system, the city we live in and the people we surround ourselves with. And I feel more grounded than ever for having begun the work to really establish our own ways of being as a family.

Here are some of the major events and milestones I am celebrating and appreciating for 2018:

  • I committed to a few things and wrote about them honestly each month (I'll share more on this in my next blog!)
  • One of the commitments was not spending money on new clothing items for myself in 2018 and I'm proud to say I stayed 100% true to that! In fact;
  • I donated, consigned, and gave away more physical items this year than ever
  • We travelled a lot and I took my little guy just about everywhere I went (Mexico, Montreal, Croatia, Vancouver, Vernon, Fernie to name a few)
  • I collaborated with many of my incredible peers to create some impactful and fun events 
  • I stayed consistent with coaching my classes and impacted lots of women through training 
  • I did year one of parenthood - yeah I did!

This year was so different than 2017 and possibly the biggest difference was dealing with the anxieties associated with being a new parent. So much shifts in such a small period of time and I'm so freaking thankful I have a strong group of women to get me through some of the tougher moments and to celebrate all the small wins along the way. I have really been learning to ask for help and support and it's absolutely been a struggle at times. Even though it had it's challenges, I am proud of who I have been through this last year for myself, my family, friends, and community.

I am still settling in to our life with a kid since returning to my day job, and am more committed than ever to continuing to build a foundation to create life on our terms. I have some big and very exciting things coming in 2019 with MAVEN that I know will add immense value to a lot of lives, and I'm really looking forward to sharing them with you!

With that, I put it out to you:

In 2018, what experiences shaped your life? What intentions did you set out with and honour? What felt really good? What are the moments of joy that stand out? What challenges did you overcome? What are you most proud of?

Take the time, write it down, tell someone. Feel the accomplishment of this year in your life. Acknowledge it as a stone on the path of your journey. Know that it is leading somewhere. Your legacy is happening right now, always.

Make moves in 2019,

xo Syd

You know when you book a vacation or a trip, the farther in advance you book it, the more you get to experience the excitement of taking that trip? This is how I feel about taking the time to do this little exercise!

Around this time last year, I wrote my first Christmas Vacation "Bucket List". I found it was a great way to put fun with my family and friends at the centre of my holidays and I made more of an effort to put those things on the calendar and make the time to do them.

I have decided to make this an annual tradition and encourage you to do the same! This year, we are headed to Montreal so there's all kinds of opportunity for different activities and people to spend our time with. Some of these items are the same as last year since they are important to me and some I could only do while in La Belle Province! Here's what I want to get up to:

  • At least one trip to the mountains
  • REAL Montreal bagels
  • Sing/dance to holiday carols with Coop
  • Make out with the hubs on NYE 
  • Volunteer my time with a charity
  • Take a family photo in our PJs on Christmas day
  • Snow angels!
  • Wine and giggles with my best girls from University days
  • Spend an afternoon at a Nordic spa
  • Take in the view from the mountain in Montreal
  • Feed Cooper his first poutine
  • Play cards with family
  • Complete a puzzle (total puzzle nerd during the holidays)
  • Read an entire book

I am so looking forward to these experiences with my loved ones. I hope you all have an incredible holiday season as well!

HAPPY  HOLIDAYS!

xo Syd

 

 

Where did that shoulder month of November go?! I didn't have much on the calendar last month and it was really nice to enjoy the mountains, our city, and our home.

I'm not sure if it was being off of social media (for the most part) in November that had it feel much more mellow, but it was a relaxing time either way. I wrote a lot more this month - 10 blogs in 10 days, in fact - and it really helped quiet my mind and drop into myself this month.

These monthly check-ins were mostly intended to keep me honest and accountable to my commitments, and I realize now they have also been so key in recognizing how much one can grow from month to month. And it's really incredible what growth you can squeeze into a year. Here's how it's going with my 2018 commitments!

No new clothing purchased in 2018 - Sticking so hard to this one and all those bags of clothes I had in my house last month are now officially gone to consignment! 

Live debt-free - November might be the most challenging month for spending with all the hoopla around Black Friday sales and holiday gift shopping. I am proud to say I resisted getting sucked into over-spending. A great strategy we have used for curbing excessive gift buying is doing a secret Santa exchange with our families. One gift, with a spending limit that is comfortable for everyone, makes it easy to stay within a budget and I find it makes the one gift you get far more intentional and special.

Plan ahead for family time - Not only are we headed to Montreal for the holidays, we also have another long weekend on the books for December to hang out as a family before the full schedules of the holidays ramp up. #winning

Do one crossword and read for 10 minutes every night - Whoa did reading fall off last month! I planned to read Brene Brown's new book and ordered it online, and the Canada Post strike totally pushed that deadline back! I just got the book in my hands this week and I'm excited to get into it this month.

We are in the last month of 2018 and it's become a yearly practice of mine to do both a holiday bucket list and an annual personal restrospective. I already have my list started for experiences I want to have this holiday break! These monthly check-ins also help to look back on the year and note my accomplishments and the challenges and will help set the stage for the following year. I'm looking forward to re-reading them when I sit down to write my 2018 retrospective!

I wish you an incredible last month of the year!

xo Syd

 

I've been off social media now for 15 days and it's been an interesting experiment. And the itch is real.

I don't believe I was reliant on social media, but I also didn't realize how unconsciously (and frequently) I was reaching for my phone to check my Instagram.

Here are some of the things I have noticed so far:

  • I wanted to know how many people liked or commented on my post about going on a social media detox (ironic, right?)
  • I have worried that if I don't post consistently my business would suffer - this is a potential risk since I did discover that a lot of people got their information on my class times and offerings exclusively through social media
  • I realized I was using it to avoid conversation and connection - for example, if I didn't want to make small talk in a public setting, I would pull out my phone and scroll
  • I wanted to creep people - I discovered this when I recognized someone in a coffee shop and wanted to find out if they were who I thought they were (when I really didn't have a reason or need to know)
  • I have missed knowing what my friends are up to - and I also realized I can always give them a call or send them a text (the "old fashioned way") and it ends up being a much more fulfilling experience
  • It has freed up time for me to focus on other things for MAVEN - new training ideas, writing more blogs etc.
  • It has freed up more time for connecting and being present with my family
  • Perhaps the most eye-opening thing: I very quickly started to waste time on other apps - I have been checking my email way more, scrolling through old photos, checking my bank account multiple times a day etc. Maybe the habits I want to change aren't entirely about social media, but rather about an addiction to my devices?

I may just hop back on social media ahead of my 30-day timeline so that I can communicate important information to my community. And I will be armed with more intentionality around my use of social media. I will likely shift this "Social Media Detox" to creating some boundaries with my phone! Stay tuned!

Always learning.

xo Syd 

Use Your Tools

November 14, 2018

Coaching   Goal Setting   Goals   habits   lifestyle   potential  

I'm lucky that I have learned many tools and resources in my life that help support me living my fullest life and developing and growing along the way.

I have been thinking about all the tools in my toolkit that can go for stretches without being used. I have seen many people seek out a new skill or tool. Often, they learn something new, fail to integrate it into their behaviour, and point the finger of blame at the resource or tool for not getting the job done.

That's like going to Home Depot, buying a shovel, bringing it home and putting it in your garage to collect dust and then blaming Home Depot when your drive way is still covered in snow. You have to actually put the thing to use to experience to desired result. The provider of the resource isn't necessarily where you need to be looking. 

We all have life tool kits. Some have more tools than others, but what use are any of them if they never get utilized? When I'm feeling in a rut or complacent, I often seek out a new and flashy thing instead of looking right under my nose at my existing tools. There are some tried and true strategies that I know can support me and bring me back on course with what I want to create in my life.

Doing the actual work is where the magic happens. USE your tools.

Onward,

Syd

 

 

What you do proves what you believe - Simon Sinek

I believe in YOU.

The you who knows you have unique gifts you want to share with the world.

The you who wants to use your time here to make a positive impact.

The you who knows you have boundless potential and will do the work to max it out.

The you who is open to learning and growing, forever.

The you who knows the power of choice and exercises it.

The you who wants to create a full life, on your own terms.

The you who wants to experience the magic of life.

I believe in ME.

The me who provides you with tools to identify your unique gifts and help make a plan for you to use them in the world.

The me who knows your time is precious and won't waste it.

The me who holds you capable of doing the things I know you can.

The me who is open to learning and growing alongside you, forever.

The me who can set an example of the power of choice.

The me who can give you tools and coaching to help you create a full life, on your own terms.

The me who creates magical experiences for us.

Each time you bring yourself to one of my offerings, you are investing in yourself, and you are investing in me getting to realize my own goals. So thank YOU.

I believe in us working together to make moves in this life.

xo Syd

Training My Mind

November 12, 2018

Goals   habits   Health   lifestyle   perspective   Reflection  

I was reading this post on Leo Babauta's site zenhabits.net and this part really resonated with me:

If you normally have to have your comforts (coffee, sugary foods, soda, TV, alcohol, pot, cigarettes), you’ll spend a lot of money on them, and in many cases worsen your health and your bank account. You might avoid going places where you can’t get these things, and spend a lot of energy to make sure you could have them every day. But what if you trained your mind to not rely on them for comfort and relaxation? You could slowly get the mind used to not needing these, one at a time, so that it would be free.

Creature comforts? Guilty as charged. It got me thinking about where I have trained my mind to do the things I don't want, instead of sitting with the feeling. Like, how if I am feeling anxious, I will drive way out of my way to spend money on that chai latte when I could have made a tea at home. Or how I know that I could better use my time in the evenings, but I feel tired and put on Netflix instead. Or how just now, I went and browsed other blogs instead of sitting down to write my own. Luckily that last one actually helped inspire me to write, but could have easily been a rabbit hole of distractions.

So for the rest of this week (small doses), my target is to do one task in the evening to better set myself up for the next day (ex. pack a healthy lunch, lay my clothes out for the next day, put the dishes away). Once I have completed the behaviour, I will have some of my favourite dark chocolate (reward).

I invite you to pick one thing for yourself to focus on!

xo Syd

Why do I do what I do? Simply put, I see the status quo and believe there's more to life than what it provides.

I see the potential in you and believe you are capable of creating an incredible life for yourself. I see the potential in myself and believe I am capable of helping you create an incredible life for yourself, through curating experiences that leave you feeling like you can conquer anything.

With this in mind, I wanted to share why I chose the name MAVEN. The history of the word for me is rooted in my time working with lululemon athletica. Malcolm Gladwell's, The Tipping Point was part of the core library of books employees were encouraged to read. Maven's in his context are those that make change happen through ideas; they are "information brokers, sharing and trading what they know".

My experience of "Maven's" within lululemon was that they were people who were ahead of the curve with innovations, they were well connected and very good at making new, creative ideas come to life. The dictionary definition of a maven is "an expert or connoisseur". Well la-di-da. Here's how I define a MAVEN:

Am I saying that I am an "expert"? Well, yes. AND I am saying that you are too. I chose the word because I see each and every one of us as stewards of our own lives. The more we become experts on ourselves, the more free we become to make powerful choices for our lives. Just as the Mavens in Gladwell's book make change happen through ideas, I believe that, given the best information, you [and I] can implement practices that improve the quality, purpose, and depth of our lives. 

YOU truly know what is going to make the most of your days. YOU have the ability to choose how you spend your life.

I am here to provide tools, resources, coaching, and an example of how to curate life on your terms. You're the expert at doing you. In this way, we are all MAVEN's.

xo Syd

I was recently at yoga in plank pose and the instructor said “lift your chin and your gaze to look forward just past your hands so it’s not so dire”. It really resonated with me.

When we are defeated, we hang our heads, in pain, or in shame. Our shoulders slump, our throats become closed off, and we inhibit our ability to speak and verbalize, and things can feel pretty dire. When we are proud and energized, we feel light. Our chins lift, we can speak clearly and use our voice effectively.

Some of the trappings of everyday life even lend to us taking this defeated shape. We sit at desks with our shoulders rounded forward. We stare into our phones with our heads down. Perhaps you’re sitting this way as you read this now. 

After a recent conversation with my coach Jacki Carr about using my voice, she sent me this excerpt: 

“…so what blocks us from expressing our truth, our outrage, our creativity, or our needs? What makes us close down the throat, bottling up the emotions, or annihilate our ideas before they can make it out of our mouth? What makes us hide behind silence?

Shame at the core, fear for one’s safety, or simply being out of touch with the core self make us unable to bring the inside of ourselves out to meet the world.”

- Anodea Judith, Eastern Body, Western Mind

Whoa: "out of touch with the core self" really hits home for me. For a few years, I felt like I wasn’t being my full self. I had a few experiences that left me disheartened and rocked my confidence and didn't notice how much it was impacting how I was showing up. During this time, I still created a lot of opportunities for me to use my voice and yet I never fully stepped up. I often chickened out of saying the bold things that rang true for me. What if they don't like what I have to say? 

Even from a young age, I never really felt a deep sense of self. I have been known to be adaptable, perhaps at my own expense. A skillful chameleon. I get choked up easily. When I feel shame, I get a lump in my throat and shut down. My communication isn't clear and I am not able to express myself clearly. So it didn't surprise me when I found actual lump in my throat in 2016. Call it "woo-woo", but here's what I believe: your body manifests what your mind and spirit are experiencing.

It turns out I had a golf ball-sized growth on my thyroid gland that had been growing for years. Thankfully it was benign and I had it removed this past summer.

Now that the actual physical block has been removed, I feel more empowered than ever to use my voice to speak what's true for me. Part of my recovery from surgery involves massaging my scar, lifting my chin high and proud to stretch through the front of my neck to prevent any further tightness. With the new sensation from my incision, I have a constant reminder to lift my chin and stand proud. It's a simple but effective way to, shift perspective, become present and remember to use my voice.

Right now, wherever you are, lift your chin and your gaze, feel the space it opens up. Breathe a little deeper, take a look around you, and feel your energy and your mood shift. See, it's not so dire.

xo Syd

For years I have had a vision of hosting a retreat for women that serves to give them the opportunity to take some time for themselves, move their bodies with intention, eat some nutritious food, and set intentional goals.

The vision has been so clear for so long, and I can't tell you how many times I have chickened out for fear of no one being interested, or of saying or doing the wrong thing. I had been waiting for the "right" or "perfect" time, for someone to give me permission to do what I know in my gut is going to make an impact. I want to share with you what's at the root of of this retreat - the "why". Here goes.

1. I have felt the chaos, pressure and overwhelm of everyday life and the need to take a real break

There have been times in my life where I wish time would stand still for just a few moments so I could catch my breath, or even take a breath. The pace of life has often left me weary, shrunken, and disheartened. It’s when I realize I am living in prison walls of my own construction, trying to abide by the social rules of the world, that I can find some levity and remember that I have choice. I get to decide what works for me. I get to demolish those walls (even if it is one brick at a time). I am determined to not have my life look like anyone else’s or to get caught up in comparison chasing someone else’s ideals. I have found it challenging to find clarity while also keeping up with my daily responsibilities. This is an opportunity for you to lean on your support network and trust that things won’t fall apart if you take a couple days for yourself.

This retreat is not about running away, but rather finding space to move toward the things that really matter to you. Give yourself a break.

2. I have experienced the power of rest

When did rest get all tied up with laziness? Or is that just me collapsing the two on each other? I doubt it. So many of the women I know want to do all the things, and rightfully so, because they are capable. However, I have also witnessed that we aren’t very good a resting. Like, really resting. When was the last time you slept in? Or did something with the express purpose of winding down? I ask because I have a tough time with truly disconnecting myself. I’ll go to lay down for a nap and end up spending twenty minutes scrolling through my Instagram feed (not resting). I have had a massage and spent the entire time feeling guilty and/or thinking about all the things I have to do the rest of the day (not resting). I have sat down to read a book and picked one called “Side Hustle” only to wind up frantically taking notes and feeling like I’m not doing enough with my life (not resting).

When I have allowed myself to truly rest, I have felt my body loosen up, my mind unhook, and a general sense of calm settle in. It’s magic. Take rest.

3. I have seen how cathartic speaking and writing our truth can be

We have all kinds of thoughts rattling around in our brains and we have a lot that goes unsaid. I have felt the choke hold of not saying something I should have. I have also experienced getting it out and felt the release and space it opened up. You know how a weed won’t die unless you pull the entire root out? Same goes for the mind. So we work it out together.

4. I know the power of movement

I have never felt more alive and self-expressed than when I move my body. This has evolved from being a competitive athlete to now moving my body in ways that make it feel good. Getting blood moving through, flexing your muscles and organs, all helps to move things out of the body and mind that you may have been holding on to. Not to mention the high of endorphins coursing through your veins. We’ll move together.

5. I know how time in nature can provide perspective          

You know that feeling of fresh air in your lungs, space to explore, no distractions. Nature has a way of grounding and humbling like no other. We’ll get out into nature, explore some beautiful scenery, and perhaps gain some new creativity and perspective.

6. I have experienced the potency of women coming together

In this busy world we live in, it’s easier than ever to believe we are separate. We see edited versions and highlight reels and can easily assume we must be the only person who doesn’t “have it all together”. When we take time to connect in person, outside of the context of daily life, we often experience that we are more alike than we are different, and how interdependent we are. Groups of women in particular possess a certain magic.

Above all else, I designed this retreat to help you elevate your experience of life. You have everything you need to curate the life of your choosing. Together, we'll make space for you…

To PAUSE, and take time to appreciate this precious life.

To CONNECT with each other, nature, and yourself.

To RESET your intentions and create some new goals.

I can't wait to share this experience with you.

xo Syd

Click here for more info on the MAVEN Mountain Retreat in Banff, AB on April 5-7, 2019.