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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

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

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

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

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

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