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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

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

    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

    With all the holiday and Black Friday ads we are being inundated with this time of year, it struck me the impact and mental space it can take up. The wordplay and marketing tactics are so good at convincing you how much you're saving on your purchases, when in reality, if you are buying anything you are spending. The truth is, you'd be saving 100% if you didn't buy the item at all.

    This is likely the first holiday season I will not purchasing any clothing for myself in my adult life. "I spend no money on new clothing for myself in 2018" is one of the commitments I made and have stuck to this year. At first, all the hype around Black Friday had me feeling a little left out. Until I started thinking about the cost of conforming to this season of historically mindless spending on my part.

    Many times throughout the year I have been faced with thoughts of how that new cute sweater might make me feel good (temporarily), or how it might even improve the way others perceive me. I have online shopped, added items to my cart, fantasized about how amazing it would be to own them all, and then logged off.

    That friction that I have created for myself has been an incredible way for me to recognize my thought patterns and exercise my will. And guess what? There hasn't been a single negative impact on my life. I'm still me, and no one has even noticed that I don't have the newest, most trendy things. I have actually felt less pressure to look a certain way because I committed to this year of not buying new clothes.

    I am not against having new clothes, spending or fashion, in fact, in the past, I saw my clothing as a way of self-expressing. I enjoy finding pieces that are comfortable, fit well, and represent a bit of my personality and style. It's when I cross over from hand-selecting things because I find value in them, to falling into buying something trendy because it's the latest hot thing. Often buying that thing to fit in.

    What I have realized is fitting in is expensive. Not only in money, but in the far more important resources of time and energy. The time we waste window shopping or browsing a store, and the mental energy we waste on even being concerned with the importance of having the newest cool thing at all.

    Additionally, there is the internal energy we expend trying to be like everyone else, instead of bringing our uniqueness to the forefront. I have used shopping and material things as an example here, but my point extends far beyond this. It is a huge expense to not be true to yourself, in all facets of your life.

    #themavenlife is all about living with intention and purpose and I know that my approach to the holidays will be shaped by this attitude. I think it's important to give thought and consideration to how we spend our precious resources, this time of year, and always.

    xo 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

    I am a total word nerd. For me, language is super important and communication is one of my core values. I like to mine for the exact right word to describe something or to resonate because when you find that word it's usually set to the perfect vibration and you can feel it in your bones.

    I was first introduced to the power of 'and' through my work with lululemon and my teacher Susanne Conrad, founder of Lightyear Leadership. In Susanne's words "'but' is a wall, 'and' is a bridge". Think about that for a moment. This concept is a well tuned habit at lululemon, if you were to walk the halls of the head office where I once worked, you will hear it in their conversations. It's a powerful use of language.

    In my experience, this slight shift from using 'but' in our language to using 'and' can be a real game changer. 'And' leaves options open where 'but' implies limitations. 'And' is inclusive of ideas where 'but' provides questioning and criticism. 'And' keeps the momentum going where 'but' creates dead ends. 'And' carries us forward where 'but' holds us in doubt and stagnates. 'And' stokes a flame energy where 'but' snuffs it out.

    Give it a try for yourself. In your next meeting or next conversation with a friend, sub in 'and' for 'but' and notice how it feels, see what it generates in your conversations.

    And go!

    xo Syd