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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.

I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving and Halloween festivities! October was a month of transition for us, myself back to work, our kid starting daycare, a couple birthdays to celebrate. It was a great time to focus on our family and our home and do some more low-key activities. Here's how it went with my 2018 commitments!

No new clothing purchased in 2018 - Still killing it on this front, and now that I have been looking at my clothing through the lens of what I actually use, I now have a couple piles of clothes to sell or donate, and I'm having trouble pulling the trigger on getting them out of my house! The "one new item in, 5 old things out" rule has now just caused me to have bags of gently used clothes that I want to sell but can't be bothered to do the work to sell them, and I think they are too nice to just give away. I know I am not alone in this thought process and I also know that if the goal is to get these items out of my life - not make money back on them - then I should just donate them! The truth is it can be challenging to let go. The happy medium for me is to take these items to a consignment store. I'll make a little bit of money back, and what they don't sell will get donated, and above all, they won't be taking up space in our home! I'm giving myself until November 15th to do so. #byefelicia

Live debt-free - Starting to hit my stride and build better habits with my spending and saving. I had been hesitating on pulling the trigger to close a line of credit I had available to me, and I finally did and it feels so good! I kept it "in case of emergency" but really I would rather have enough in my savings and not go into debt in the event of an unexpected expense. And truly, having the option to overspend and use that line of credit is a dangerous place for me! So, she gone.

Plan ahead for family time - October was full of celebrations! Our baby turned 1, so we had family visit and threw a little party and got to spend time with family and friends. Sean and I also took our first weekend away without our son and it was so fun! Our visit to Vancouver with my best friends was awesome. We walked a ton, went to a few workout classes, hit up the beach, ate all the food, went to a comedy show, stayed out way past our bed time, and had many belly laughs. November already has some date night evenings planned and perhaps a family weekend or two in the mountains!

Do one crossword and read for 10 minutes every night - I have been dedicated to my crosswords and love winding down before bed this way. Totally dropped the ball on reading just one book this month, so I am back on the Novel Grapes Book Club train, and we will be reading Brene Brown's new book in November!

Only two more months left in 2018! I have to say, this monthly exercise of reflecting has made the year feel more full, has made me realize how much fun stuff we get to do, and has made me more focused on spending my time more intentionally. I highly recommend it!

Happy November!

xo Syd

Hellooooo Fall! I went away for the long weekend and returned to find fall had arrived in Calgary. Leaves changing, darker and chillier mornings, and a sense of transition in the air. I really love autumn time and find comfort in all the coziness it brings. But enough about the upcoming months, lets take stock of how August went for my 2018 commitments.

No new clothing purchased in 2018 - Still #killingit.

Live debt-free - Damn, it's incredible the mindfulness and discipline this is taking to break old habits that have caused unnecessary over-spending in the past. I am still on the minimalist journey, and recently read Slow by Brooke McAlary and am reflecting more and more on what my behaviours are rooted in (ie. why I do what I do, without really thinking). I have had some great ah-ha moments about how and where I spend my money and am working on being more intentional about it.

On The Minimalists Podcast, one of the guys said something to the effect of "I was making good money. I was spending even better money. I was giving the appearance of wealth, but was actually broke." - and it really hit home with me. We live in a world where credit (a.k.a. debt) is so available to us that we can very easily get caught up in over-extending ourselves. I have put myself in dicey financial positions a few times and it really didn't take long to get there. I say this, not to scare anyone, but to remind myself that my values are rooted in connection and relationships, and having lots of things is really not that important to the quality of my life. I am far from perfect, and am still currently chipping away at some debt, but I have a plan and am working that plan every day. I'll call that a win.

Plan ahead for family time - We planned well in advance for holidays in August and it made it so much more enjoyable and relaxing. Not only did we get to enjoy the time away together, but we also got to experience the excitement of looking forward to our plans. Double whammy.

September's dance card is already full with tons of activities as a family, with friends, and some things just for me (last month of maternity leave!). Here are a few of the things we will be up to:

Do one crossword and read for 10 minutes every night - Still totally nerding out with my crossword puzzles and books. I definitely did watch some Netflix in bed a few of the nights we were on vacation and I regret nothing. In just the past month I have also become much better at noticing how often and how long I spend doing mindless things on my phone, and screen time is decreasing drastically and is being replaced with more presence and quality time with the people I love.

All in all, I would say August has been great for sticking with my commitments. I am definitely in need of a Vision and Goals refresh and will be putting something together for new moms in the coming weeks so stay tuned for that! Here's to a great September!

xo Syd

Commitment Check-in: July

August 01, 2018

Goals   Health   lifestyle  

Hello August! Summer '18 is in full force and I am loving spending all kinds of time outside, running again, and coaching at OPEX with the garage door open! You may have noticed that I have not been as present on social media and perhaps not as communicative via e-mail etc. which was intentional with the "break" I took from doing registered training in July.

I still taught a bunch of drop-ins, but did manage to get a lot of vacation time in as well and not concern myself so much with what's happening on Instagram and Facebook. I hope you had some opportunities to do the same, or have some vacay and quality time in the books for the remainder of the summer! I am running a 6 week registered training session August 7 - September 11, Tuesday's at 7pm at OPEX for anyone interested in joining us!

I always find summer to be a time filled with a mix of energizing and relaxing things, and am easily inspired during this time. I am solar powered, clearly. It can also be a time when I might over-commit out of excitement (must do all the things!) and then wind up being flakey and not keeping my word. Awareness is key, and I am working on it! That being said, many of the things I committed to for 2018 still stand, and I am changing up some things for this month too!

No new clothing purchased in 2018 - Don't be surprised if you see me in the same jean shorts and white tank for the next month. I'm just crushing my goals over here ;)

Live debt-free - Made some huge strides in my tax debt in the last 2 months and almost in the black again. Should be all squared away by next month.

Plan ahead for family time - Hell yeah! I spent half the month outta town with family and August has a couple getaways on the calendar. The weekends away and longer holidays are not the tricky part of this commitment, it's the weekends we spend at home that are a challenge. We do spend lots of time together as a family, but could be better at making plans in advance that are more intentional. Will be Googling and booking things in right after posting this!

Meditate for five minutes daily - Pffffft. I would say I meditated 4 times this month (better than nothing), however, the intention with this one was to quiet my mind chatter, and I think I have found a more workable alternative. In an effort to replace my habit of watching Netflix before bed, I bought a crossword book #wordnerd, and have been loving doing a crossword and a bit of reading before bed. I also went a little crazy on Amazon and have a big stack of books to get through, so I am replacing this one with do one crossword and read for 10 minutes every night. So far the mind chatter is definitely reduced, the screen time is way less, and I am falling asleep more easily!

I am looking forward to enjoying what is left of the summer and hope you will too!

xo Syd

Half the year is already behind us, crazy! For this months check-in I wanted to be straight up with y'all. I've really been struggling lately. Not with my 2018 commitments, but with daily life. Whether it's post-partum hormones, the ongoing transition into motherhood, the outright boredom of being home and alone (sans other adults I mean) most of the time, and ohhhh the guilt, doubt, anxiety, unknown etc. I could go on.

I have not found that the being a mom part of being a mom - ie. the basics of looking after my child - is the hard part of this whole time. It's actually battling all the stuff outside of that. It's primal things, like being anxious about my kids eating, sleeping, and safety, and then feeling misunderstood about how I deal with that anxiety. It's societal things, like what I do with my kid all day, how they are developing, what day care I am going to take them to, what kinds of foods am I feeding them. In short, how well I am doing all the things to keep them happy and healthy, and then some.

When I have moments of clarity and positivity and am able to think clearly, I know in my rational mind that it's simpler than I am making it. But it sometimes feels like I just can't seem to let it be easy. On the car ride home from the mountains yesterday, I was daydreaming out the window and felt like I was asking all the wrong questions. I knew I needed to shift something, so I started typing some notes in my phone. Here's what I wrote:

What is the perspective I need to adopt to bring ease into this experience?

-it doesn't need to be hard, in fact, it's quite simple

-giving myself time is a good thing

-Cooper being happy and healthy is important, how we get there is not as important

-ask for what you need and let yourself be supported (whoa, huge)

-our wellness is the nucleus for the rest - eat well, take rest, move intentionally, be still intentionally, laugh, connect with people

-pour yourself into the experience, don't get caught up in the outcome

How about those for mantras for the rest of 2018!? When the noise falls away, damn my heart knows. But I have to get quiet enough to really hear it. Sometimes that means fighting against some of my natural tendencies. Like when I feel yucky, instead of my usual habit of retreating, I will reach out to someone. Instead of tightening up and trying to control a situation, I will breath and let things go. When I am reacting to something, instead of taking a knee-jerk action, I will get still. This life is not about getting it right, and there is opportunities for learning and growth all the time. And it's also not linear, I have had to learn some hard lessons over and over. I am human after all. To all my friends out there feeling all the feelings, you're doing a great job, and you are not alone.

Onward into the next half of the year, armed with these perspective-shifting reminders. We got this.

xo Syd

Tata May! This past month has been all about family time. We spent a week in Croatia with family, cycling coastal country roads, eating delicious food, drinking all the wine and enjoying the beautiful country. Upon return to the city the weather had really turned, we had a bunch of sunny days, and yet I felt like something was missing. 

In April's check-in, I shared that I was planning on reeling it in on all the "activities" I was getting into and I gotta admit, I may have swung the pendulum too far and found myself a bit bored and had moments of feeling really lonely and isolated. In my attempt to calm down my schedule and do more things for myself, I turtled socially and it's been a struggle some days.

On the bright side, as I now look forward to the summer months, I feel like there is so much I want to do with my baby and hubby (before I return to my day job) and not enough time to do it all. So I'm taking a bold step and am not going to be running any registered training sessions in July and August. This choice did not come easily, as I have a fear of letting people down, and I really enjoy every training session I lead and it's been so good to continue to have something outside of parenting. Not that I need an excuse to take a break, but the time I have on maternity leave is limited and moving so fast! I'm looking forward to stepping away for a couple months, doing some "behind the scenes" creative work, figuring out how to adjust to our new life when I go back to work etc.

Rest assured, you will still have opportunities to train with me during this time. I will be hosting some drop-in classes - both outdoor bootcamps and some at OPEX (dates TBD) - and I also plan on doing some events throughout the summer and wheels are in motion for the MAVEN mountain retreat in September (stay tuned!). You can also drop-in on Tuesday's at 7pm from now until June 26th. As for now, let's look at how I did for commitments in May.

No new clothing purchased in 2018 - This month was a challenge with the weather changing and all kinds of beautiful summer apparel staring at me from the windows of stores. But I am proud to say, I made it through and stuck to it!

Live debt-free - Still getting over the tax season, but making progress. 

Plan ahead for family time - Between our Croatia trip and a bunch of other social commitments we had in May, I'd say we did very well with planning for time together and hanging out as a family. June already has a road trip on the calendar, and we are planning on some camping as well!

Meditate for five minutes daily - Once again, I did no stay true to this commitment in May #regression. I didn't share with my husband that this was a thing I wanted to do, and I feel like he would help me stay accountable to is. So in June, I am going to get him to remind me to take 5 minutes before bed to meditate.

Let's hit the mid-year point with some momentum! Hey there June, I'm ready for ya!

xo Syd

Lately I have been interested in learning more about the concept of minimalism. I've been listening to The Minimalists Podcast and really taking a look at what is truly important to me.

In conversations with my hubby, I have asked questions like: "If the slate were wiped totally clean, if we owned nothing, and had no ties (job, location, etc.), what would we choose?" It's a question that is difficult to answer, especially when you are 30-something and own a home in the city you grew up in, have a job you enjoy, run your own business whose clients are from a specific location...and the list goes on. Trying to think about choice from the lens of not having any roots is challenging.

Over the last 2-3 years, I have been downsizing in some really tangible ways like giving away things we don't need or use. It's become pretty easy for me to let go of material possessions, curb the urge to buy more, and live with less. For example, I just got back from a 10-day trip to Croatia with our baby and we didn't check any bags!

But what about the intangible excess and waste? The conversation about social media and it's place in my life has gone in all different directions, and my addiction to my phone is for real. And what about my TV consumption? I am a part of the "Netflix and chill" generation and admit I watch TV every night before bed.

This Minimalists Podcast introduced me to the concept of "pacifiers", the things we use to distract, avoid, numb and kill time. Becoming more aware of my own pacifiers hasn't necessarily impacted my behaviour in major ways. I'm even afraid to get that one app that tells you how much time you spend on your phone because I would probably be sick about the facts it would present. Whatever your relationship is to screens, I know what's true for me is that my screen time is more than I would like, and it's cutting in to time for fully living my life in the ways I want to.

So my spring cleaning project is focused on cleaning up how I spend my time. Less time on social media and watching TV are at the top of my list. I'm still working through what this will look like, but I'll be sure to report back as I move through this process. The overall aim is this: more creation, less consumption.

Onward,

xo Syd 

Already four months in to 2018 and spring has finally sprung in Calgary! New month means a little look back on April. Last month honestly felt a little stagnant. We have found a great routine as a family, and yet I have had moments of boredom and complacency and have had to check myself and try to just enjoy the downtime. How effed up is it that most of us want "more time off" and then we get it and we don't know what to do with ourselves!? 

I spent a lot of time investigating my "idle hands syndrome" this past month. Asking myself why I couldn't just sit still (ahem, for 5 simple minutes), or not check my phone, and even started to question why I was going to some of the workout classes that I had been attending. As a new mom, you get a lot of tips on places to go and activities to do with your little one, so I would sign us up, never really thinking about whether or not I was really that interested in the thing. So for May, I have decided to reel it in on the number of things in my calendar each week and give some thought to how I truly want to spend my time. I'll let you know how it goes. For now, let's take a look at how well I kept my word in April.

No new clothing purchased in 2018 - This one is getting so easy to stay committed to! I have really accepted that the clothes I have right now are all I need and have a new appreciation for them. My husband, however, asked me if I have simply moved my spending habit from myself to our kid and the answer is yes, absolutely. There have been some occasions where I have definitely made an impulse purchase for our son and regretted it later. But I will say that I am very aware of what I do purchase and more often than not, I don't buy what we don't need. I am learning and working on it, and I feel good about sticking to my commitment for no new clothing for myself.

Live debt-free - Tax season is a real kick in the pants. Every year, I think I have put enough aside for the tax man and somehow I end up having to pay more than I thought. This year caused me to go into a bit of debt in order to pay taxes, so I am going to have to flex, and this commitment is going to be changed to: "I put money towards my tax debt every month." 

Plan ahead for family time - Killing it in this department! In April, we spent a long weekend in Montreal visiting family and spent another weekend away with friends, and we have our son in swimming lessons every Saturday which keeps family time on the schedule for the next couple months.

Meditate for five minutes daily - So I big time failed at my new commitment of meditating for five minutes daily. I have no excuse, I just absolutely let it fall off. I am human after all! I did meditate for five minutes about 7 times this month, so that's at least better than any other month in my life #progress. I also discovered a new mediation app that I will be trying out for May. Let's try this again!

I welcome May with open arms!

xo Syd

It's that time again! Month 3 of 2018 is done and dusted and if you live in Calgary, you may be battling the extended winter blues. I gotta say this month felt a bit funky and somewhat like the days were all very similar. I get why this shoulder season is a time when people fall off their "resolutions" or goals. Typically people take vacation (spring break) in March, so there is tons of opportunity to get off track. So far, March was the toughest month to hold true to my commitments for 2018. Here's how it went:

No new clothing purchased in 2018 - Again, so proud to say I made it another month without spending any of my dough on clothes and I also made some money from consigning some of the things I was no longer using. As my exception to this rule goes, I spend no money on clothes unless I sell something, then I can use that money toward new clothing. Hello, new tennis shoes! I will admit here, on several occasions, when it was a cold weather boredom day, I did cruise some online shopping, put a bunch of stuff in carts and then willed myself to close the tab and get offline before I made a bad choice. Phew!

Live debt-free - Sooooo I slipped up this month and bought my brother's birthday present using my cc when I could have used cash. It's a manageable amount so I'll be back on track by by next month and will just have to trim back on the latte's in April ;) 

Plan ahead for family time - This was a challenge this month. We had no major trips or getaways planned for March, and my mental game felt off about being excited to do things outside, which translated into feeling like there was nothing to do. I don't want to use the excuse of the weather, and I do know that it was a struggle to plan weekend family time when we knew it might be unpleasant to head outdoors. I have said "I'm so over this weather" so many times this month, I'm sick of hearing myself say it. Luckily we did plan ahead for weekends in April so, onward!

Now that we are through the first quarter of the year, and I'm feeling good about my ability to keep my first three commitments. I wanted to add one more into the mix for the next quarter (April-June) and see how that goes. In the 7 Weeks to Bliss program I am currently a part of, we have dug into self-love and self-care in ways I hadn't considered before. So my fourth commitment is all for the love of Syd: I meditate for 5 minutes every day.

I hope your start to the year has been awesome and encourage you to take a look back on the past three months and celebrate yourself in some way (big or small). If it's time to make some new commitments or reset, you know what you need to do.

xo Syd

Where the hell did that month go?! It's time to reflect on the shortest month of the year. Remember y'all, my word for 2018 is sufficiency and it's still holding true for me as the root for where I want to create from. Let's check in with my 3 commitments to see how I held up in February.

No new clothing purchased in 2018 - Proud to say I made it another month without spending any of my dough on clothes. I am, however, a lululemon ambassador and I have a gift card to use up, so I did pick up some whites for the tennis clinic I am attending in March. I have been wearing a lot of lululemon tights these days and I don't even give a what. #thatmomlifetho

Live debt-free - You guys, I managed to only use my personal credit card 3 times this month (so, I broke my cash in hand rule), BUT it was for some online purchases and I paid it off right away. Progress.

Plan ahead for family time - My calendar system is working like a dandy! In February we spent Family day in Canmore with friends, had a few date nights (with little man tagging along), family brunches, and ended the month celebrating 10 years since our first date with a dinner out! If you didn't get the vibe, we really enjoy eating food together :)

Aside from these three specific commitments, sufficiency showed up in a couple of other ways. I have started to clear out clutter from our house. This began with donating clothing last year, and has now moved on to things like small decor items, for example, that have no real purpose except that we were used to them being there. I also went through my bathroom cupboards and got rid of the 8,000 tiny samples of things I had and was clearly never going to use. It feels good to have some empty shelves and space!

All in all, I would say February was a success in my commitments. I invite you to take a look at your commitments and reflect on how you're doing in 2018. Take pride in the wins, and learn from the slip ups.

Onward,

xo Syd