The Values Grid

November 11, 2018

Your personal values are a foundational element to living a more purposeful life. They are the compass that let's you know when things don't feel aligned and can help you get back on course.

I have written about the importance of personal values in goal-setting and provided some quick ways to help you identify your own personal values. Here we are going to go one level deeper. Words on a sheet of paper are great to remind you, and it's also important to unpack them to know just why these things are so important to you, and how they impact your behaviour.

With your values in-hand, complete the next exercise.

Draw a grid that has 4 columns:

Column 1 - Values

Write each of your values (one per line)

Column 2 - Definitions

Write your definition of each of your values, in your own words. Answer for yourself: what does this value mean to me?

Column 3 - Related Beliefs

Write what you believe about each of your values. Answer for yourself: why is this value important to me?

Column 4 - Related Behaviours

Write what behaviours are related to each of your values. Answer for yourself: if someone were a fly on the wall, how would they know I am acting in line with my values? 

As you complete this exercise, you'll start to see just how important your values are and how much your values impact your behaviours and habits. Once you have completed the grid, I encourage you to share this information with at least three people in your life. This is also a great exercise to complete with teams or even your family to help gain further understanding of each other and to build better relationships.


xo Syd

Legacy Now

November 10, 2018

Most of us think that legacy is about what people will say when we are gone. A list or compilation of all that we achieved, lives we touched, the mark we made on this earth.

Historically, legacy was defined by the passing down of money or property, so it's no wonder we have inherited this belief that it comes with an attachment to material things. 

The truth is, your legacy is happening right now. Always, in every move you make, in each interaction, your presence here on this earth shapes things. If you were not here, it would look different. You are always leaving footprints of your existence in your wake. Consider that for a second. This is both an exciting reality, and a great responsibility! What we often forget is that we have choice in who we are for people, and what we bring in to each day and each interaction. If we can draw our awareness to moving through life with intention, rather than by default, we start to feel empowered and see and feel the impact of harnessing choice over resigning ourselves to our circumstances.

I am not saying we will be a complete pleasure 100% of the time and know that some moments are tougher than others and we often feel like we have no choice. In reality, you have all that you need within you to leave a more purposeful legacy right now. You have made it this far in life because of your ability to overcome setbacks and challenges.

Think about the ways in which you know you can rely on yourself to get through tough times, or even what your friends and loved ones can rely on you for consistently. What is that thing that you count on to get you through challenges? What is that quality about you that makes the best of times so much sweeter? (they are often the same thing) For myself, it's my ability to keep an open perspective.

I leave you with this to reflect on:

What if we didn't keep that special thing about us all to ourselves or reserved only to the people closest to us? What if we weren't stingy with our unique gifts? What if we gave the best of ourselves generously and freely to anyone and everyone? What would your legacy look like then? What impact can you make now, today?

Think about it...

xo Syd


Golden Nuggets

November 09, 2018

Along this journey of life I have been mining for gold. Gold being values and beliefs that hold power and truth for me.

I have been influenced by many teachers, situations, and even social norms and have been quite good at adapting to "fit in". Never really feeling like I knew what I stood for, yet always searching. And I still am. I seek out new perspectives all the time that make me think in new and different ways about the world. I am a student of life.

There are many things in this world to be upset about, just watch the news. It's absolutely important to fight against the things we find unjust or wrong. However, I personally would rather stand for something positive than against something negative. I would rather channel my energy into taking action vs. taking counter-action. For me, one feels empowering, and the other feels dis-empowering.  

I might even argue that it takes more courage to say what you do stand for, than what you don't stand for. Commiseration can be so galvanizing. 


Here's some of the golden nuggets I have discovered so far:

  • I stand for faith (not "God" faith, but trust faith) as the antidote to fear
  • I stand for people feeling seen, heard, and understood
  • I stand for human connection
  • I stand for the power of choice

I'll keep mining and rooting myself in what I stand for and will keep adding to this list. Give it some thought for yourself.

What do you stand for?


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.

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

Oh how I love Fall, although it was fairly short lived here in Calgary (hello snow!). The change of season reminds me that everything is temporary and helps me to unwind from the excitement and all the activities of summer. It's mother nature's permission slip to get into my sweatpants and take more baths. Yes please. September was a jamming month and flew by. Here's how my commitments held up!

No new clothing purchased in 2018 - I managed to get through another month without purchasing any new clothing for myself! I returned to my other job this week and the pull to get new "office" clothes is real. My birthday is coming up soon as well and my friends and family know I haven't been buying clothes, so they are all offering to take me shopping or get me a gift card for some clothes, and I am curious to see how it goes. Now that I am on this minimalist journey, I'm much more careful about what items I bring in to my life, so the rule for the next month (and perhaps the rest of the year) will be: one new item in, 5 old things out!

Live debt-free - Still on a great path with this. As I return to work I'm looking forward to getting a new budget together to keep myself in check.

Plan ahead for family time - Let me remind you of all the things we did in September:

  • Labour Day weekend away with friends
  • A charity softball tournament for the Brandon Flock Foundation
  • Family visited from Montreal
  • Ran Beat Beethoven 8k in 44mins!
  • Attended Babes Who Brunch event and it was great
  • Attended lululemon's Autumn Affair dinner - so fun!
  • Ran a leg of the Lewiston Ultra Marathon in support of The Love for Lewiston Foundation and completed my 12km leg of trail running in about 1:15 and spent the weekend with some of my best gals

Phew! October is pretty low-key with the transition to childcare etc. So our family time will mostly be spent together on the weekends and also celebrating Thanksgiving and some birthdays this month. We are also headed to Vancouver for an adult-only weekend this month! Stay tuned for how it goes!

Do one crossword and read for 10 minutes every night - I have kept up my crosswords, but I did not read as much in the back half of September. I got excited and bought a bunch of books all at once and now I am having a hard time choosing which one to read. Too many options! I am committed to picking one and sticking to it for October.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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