WIAW: Normal Eating

I have a busy day ahead so I wasn’t going to post this morning, but then I decided why not skip the gym and blog instead. Sounds like a good compromise right?

1377347_349518845183900_29459050_n1378750_349518835183901_1323207077_n

Since I’ve been at University I’ve definitely noticed an increase in my appetite. Maybe it’s because I am awake for more hours during the day, or perhaps because my exercise has increased (especially walking up the Brescia hill and 5 flights of stairs each day!). My brain is definitely devoting more energy into learning and studying, plus it consumes energy as I shiver in the freezing cold library (I was told this is suppose to keep me alert but I think it does the opposite). What I do know is that I’m still not eating big enough breakfasts (this has always been a challenge) and without falling culprit to the “I don’t get enough protein” bandwagon, I seriously don’t get enough protein at each meal! After tracking my nutrition for a food and nutrition assignment, it was brought to my attention that although I’m consuming adequate milk and alternatives and meat and alternatives, most of my starchier foods come from vegetables leading to a lack of grain products. Contrastingly, my diet overall is high in carbohydrates but low in fat and protein which would be the opposite of what my food groups suggested. Could my hunger be a result of the fact that carbohydrates are the fastest source of energy so my energy source is being depleted quickly? 564029_349519251850526_1469426416_n1391661_349518861850565_1541284653_n

While I know this isn’t necessarily an accurate representation since it was only a snapshot of my intake (plus the nutrition tracker was limited in terms of brands of foods and I eyeballed serving sizes) it got me thinking about how unaware I truly am of my daily consumption. I believed myself to be a pretty balanced eater but in actuality some days were examples of under nutrition while others were over nutrition. I’m not going to go into detail otherwise I mind as well have posted my reflection, but I wanted to spark a conversation in your mind as to what makes you eat the way you do? Do you track your nutritional intake? Do you take into accordance what you have already consumed in the day or are going to consume in an upcoming meal before selecting an item? Do you eat each meal in the present?1375229_349518875183897_1017553201_n 1377970_349519185183866_1543147004_n

Some days, as a food and nutrition student especially, I let others impact my food choices. I’m not saying this is a good way to be. In fact, it’s probably bad that I get gratification out of teaching others lessons and watching their reaction.  It gives me satisfaction to eat “junk food” in front of girls that believe you can only stay thin by eating vegetables. I enjoy being a positive example in front of the kids I babysit by eating a balanced dinner. Occasionally I purposely choose an unhealthier item with individuals who believe “Dietitians to be” only eat “clean food”.1384012_349518921850559_416927265_n539664_349519225183862_948359017_n

Notice how I am not listing specific foods? That is because I have adapted an “everything in moderation” approach where foods aren’t labeled as good or bad and nothing is off of limits.1391939_349518911850560_1314527251_n1380291_349519081850543_214560278_n

Sooner or later I would like to eat without feeling like others are judging me, but I am happy to say that I am no longer embarrassed by my choices and though I am consciously aware of what I believe to be their thoughts to be, they do not influence my choices so much that I ignore my cravings.1381581_349519171850534_1834493708_n 1186765_349519261850525_1195892337_n

So I’m not exactly sure where this post went, in fact it started and finished with me wondering what to write, but I guess I just wanted to talk a bit more about food since it is WIAW after all. I try not to over think food, but I’m noticing so many correlations between food in social situations some of which are criticized (food as a reward) and others which are supported (bringing a family together at meal time) that can really throw a loop in one’s eating patterns and it’s hard not to wonder whether the way in which you choose to eat is healthy or not. But I guess we are all left with the question what is healthy, what is disordered and what is obsessive? I’m proud to say that for the most part I have a healthy relationship with food and I eat a variety of vitamin and mineral (sodium and fibre included!) dense foods in moderate but adequate quantities balanced with the occasional (or not so occasional) less nutritious indulgence.  ♥ MollyWIAWbutton

“When the joy goes out of eating, nutrition suffers. ” – Ellyn Satter

Advertisements

Alphabetically Speaking

Nothing was flowing as I typed this morning. I tried to write about my recent efforts to meditate, but I couldn’t come up with inspiring words to help you see the benefits of finding peace within your mind. I was going to talk about how I am packing for University, but posting pictures of my messy room wouldn’t be eye appealing and I don’t have a DIY project for dorm rooms quite yet. I thought about sharing a recipe, but recently my cooking and baking haven’t been out of the norm or anything special. There was also the idea of writing a book or restaurant review, but my words weren’t doing either justice. So instead, I chose to take an easier route by completing an alphabetical questionnaire that has been floating around the blog world lately. I’m not sure if you’ll be surprised by any of my answers but it’s a great way to find out a few additional fun facts about me. ♥ Molly

“Stay true to yourself because there are very few people who will always be true to you.” 

A. Attached or Single? Single!

B. Best Friend? I have quite a few and I am confident that they know who they are. I also consider my siblings and parents to be some of my closest acquaintances since they have supported me my entire life.IMG_3788

C. Cake or pie? Does cheesecake count? I’m not keen on pie crust but I do love lemon, rhubarb, apple and pumpkin filling!

D. Day of choice? I like Fridays because I have the schedule of being in school, but I can look forward to being able to rest on the weekend. There’s also no pressure to get things done since I have two school-free days to complete tasks. Saturdays are second best because I can relax but it doesn’t mark the end of the weekend.

E. Essential Item? My iPhone. It allows me to create lists, take pictures, stay connected through Texting, Facebook, E-mail, Instagram and Twitter, write blog posts and can even be used as a Calendar, Calculator or GPS.

F. Favorite color? Pink! Although turquoise is quickly catching up!DSC05383

G. Gummy bears or worms? To me gummy bears and worms taste the exact same. I do enjoy stretching gymmy worms and the neon flavours are pretty neat!

H. Home town? Peterborough, Ontario!

I. Favourite Indulgence? Ice cream although I’d hardly consider it an indulgence since I eat it on a daily basis.Yum

J. January or July? I love the weather in July although January marks the beginning of the year which is always refreshing.

K. Kids? I hope to have 3 to 4.

L. Life isn’t complete without? Steadtler Fine-Tip Markers! I’m only kidding… Happiness.20

M. Marriage date? I used to say I wanted to be married by 24 but that only gives me 4 years to find my Prince. Let’s just say the distant future, most likely during summer.

N. Number of brothers/sisters? 2 sisters, 1 brother and 1 brother-in-law! I’m the youngest followed by Emma, Nathan and finally Caitlin (the oldest).

O. Oranges or Apples? Apples because I like a good crunch plus oranges take longer to prepare. I’m all for convenience. Pink Ladies or Royal Galas to name a few.IMG_8338

P. Phobias? Loud chewers and Spiders. They both make me cringe.

Q. Quotes? “You is kind, You is smart, You is important” – The Help, Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

R. Reasons to smile? Because it takes fewer muscles than frowning, because it’s the cheapest thing to wear, because it spreads positivity, because it makes others happy to see, but most importantly, because I genuinely can and haven’t always been able to.IMG_0485

S. Season of choice? Spring tulips, Summer hydrangeas, Fall leaves and the crisp snow of Winter. In terms of temperature, Summer for sure! I hate the cold, brrr.

T. Tag 5 People. Anyone and everyone.

U. Unknown facts about me? I can curl my tongue into a three-leaf clover. My hair colour is natural, it hasn’t ever been dyed. I’ve always worn a homemade (Thanks Mom!) halloween costume (or recycled dance costume).  My favourites include Madeline (Age 6-7), Pippi Longstocking (Age 8-9), Paper Bag Princess (Age 12) and a Peacock (I made this one myself – Age 19).IMG_0605IMG_0592

V. Vegetable? It’s harder to name a vegetable I don’t like. If I had to choose, I would probably pick red onions as my favourite.

W. Worst habit? Never feeling good enough. I often have trouble believing in myself because I can’t seem look beyond comparisons long enough to recognize my own potential.

X. Xray or Ultrasound? I’ve had both done!

Y. Your favorite food? Everything in moderation right? Except sushi! It’s labour intensive but I do enjoy making it! IMG_7441

Z. Zodiac sign? Cancer. The Crab. Water element. Moon planet. Sensitive, dependable, romantic, creative and protective. Hypothetically I should like the colour silver and my lucky day is Monday which completely contradicts the above statements!

Admitting the Truth

I have trouble admitting that I suffer from an eating disorder. No, not for the reasons you are probably thinking. Yes it bothers me that after admitting I have a disordered relationship with food people automatically watch me eat, judge my portions and feel that it is socially acceptable to critic my choices or body weight, but that’s not the reason that I was thinking of. Ultimately, it’s because of the stigma associated with eating disorders.

Like many, it took my family doctor a while to diagnose me with Anorexia Nervosa. While my weight was enough of an indicator, my mind was in complete denial so even I didn’t see the signs that I was struggling from a mental illness. When I was first diagnosed, I just thought of myself as “different”. I thought I was flawed, I was embarrassed and I still thought that mental illnesses were personal choices. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that we all have mental health. Even if it doesn’t necessarily affect us in a way that it inhibits our productivity or well being, it is still very much present.

It’s much easier for me to express my anxiety about school work than it is to talk about my food rituals or fear foods. People can sympathize with nervousness before a test or speech, and depression is relatable since individuals go through moments of sadness, but unless you have experienced an eating disorder, it’s hard for you to imagine why individuals in recovery can’t just eat. I’ve never been vain, shallow or crazy for that matter, but those are the assumptions one often has about an “anorexic” which is why many never thought I was susceptible for developing an eating disorder. No in fact, in the eyes of most I was much too logical to stop eating because that could kill me and I valued good health more than my appearance.  Looking back I can acknowledge that I possessed all of the characteristics that many with eating disorders typically have; I still am Type-A personality and I will always strive to be the best version of myself (but now in moderation). The fact of the matter is though, eating disorders aren’t about food nor are they a conscious choice. My restriction didn’t happen overnight the way some might think because of my drastic weight loss, and at the beginning of it all I didn’t have body dysmophic disorder and knew my appearance was much too hollow. Eating disorders are just a coping mechanism for dealing with life. I didn’t stop eating because I didn’t like food and I can’t say that I purposefully restricted my intake as a means to gain control. Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating, EDNOS are all addictions just like alcoholism or gambling. The only difference between most addictions and eating disorders is that you can eliminate playing poker (cards, slot machines, race horses), alcohol or drugs permanently from your life, but you need food to survive. That isn’t to say one is easier or harder to recover from.

Accepting help is brave no matter what illness you have been diagnosed with. There is so much stigma attached to mental health which used to make me feel shameful or weak.  Without even realizing it so many of us attach unnecessary stigma to mental health. Just as you wouldn’t call an individual with cancer “cancer”, I believe we shouldn’t call someone  struggling from anorexia nervosa “anorexic”. Try to avoid saying someone “committed” suicide, and rather use a sentence similar to “died by suicide”. So I guess I am sharing part of my story yet again because one day, I would love, for us all to view mental health the same way we view our physical health. Someone once told me that when we go to the doctor to make sure that we don’t have asthma, or that our blood pressure isn’t too high, we should also be asking the doctor to make sure that our mind is okay too. She was absolutely right because our brain is as equal (or more important) of an organ as our lungs and our heart. ♥ Molly

“Your past is just a story and once you realize this it has no power over you.”  – Chuck Palahniuk

August Favourites

Can you believe it is August already? I typically fall culprit to saying that “time flies” at the beginning of a week or month, but I just can’t get over the fact that we are over half way through 2013.

IMG_6350

At the start of July I set a few goals for myself. I am happy to announce that I have accomplished most of them and feel pretty satisfied with the progress I that have made on the others. When I found myself in a pinch as to what to blog about, I fulfilled the objective of creating two DIY posts. I successfully participated in MIMM (#1#2, #3, #4) and WIAW (#1, #2) by adding a personal twist to each! I also really enjoyed commenting on posts as I got to know fellow bloggers on a more personal level. Blogging is a learning curve and I’d love to hear what sorts of posts you enjoy reading or find boring. I really do value the insight some of you share through remarks.

With September fast approaching I am going to cut myself some slack and go easy on my August goals so I am only setting 6 as opposed to 10. After all, I am headed to Myrtle Beach mid-month so I don’t know how much free time I will have between packing for my trip and buying items for residence. I’m also planning on continuing to soak up the sun, stay active and maximize my social gatherings with friends from home before I move away. I’m going to try to pre-write a few posts although I will have my laptop with me on vacation. If anyone would like to do a guest post I’d love to feature your writing. This being said, come September I won’t be able to blog every weekday like I am used to, so I should begin transitioning to fewer posts. It’s hard to practice scaling down because I like sharing my finds, eats and activities on a daily basis. Sigh.

Anyway, it is August which means it is time for some “favourites”. I noticed that I do things a bit backwards by posting my “favourites” at the beginning of the month as opposed to the end (recap format), but I can’t help myself from getting excited about the new fashion trends and cool décor. Here are some items I am hoping to purchase this month!

August Favourites1. Crocheted Fruit Coasters 2. Full Steam Ahead Nail Polish 3. Catherine Street Pippa Purse 4. Instant Mom 5. Anchor Necklace 6. Pinterest 7. Strata Dress 8. Garmin Swim Watch 9. Handwritten Quotes 10. DIY Headband

As for my goals, here are some realistic endeavours I hope to achieve this August:

Blog Goals

  • Editing: My posts have been getting pretty long which I know can be discouraging for followers. Not only are they time-consuming to read but they also take a while to write. I am hoping to cut out unnecessary details so that I am able to focus on improving my grammar and spelling mistakes. The perfectionist in me despises the fact that I always have at least one error in every post. I haven’t been very thorough about re-reading before publishing. This being said I am not an English major, so don’t hold your breath on complete accuracy!
  • Photography: Lately I have been skimping on my photos by using my iPhone instead of my DSLR. Some people can capture great shots with their phones but mine never seem to be in focus. As a result, the quality of my photos is lacking so I would like to get into a routine of bringing my camera with me on more excursions. I am also hoping to read a Food Photography E-Book so that I can become more creative when capturing pictures of my recipes. Even though I have Photoshop I don’t actually know how to use it, so for the month of August I am going to try and learn how to do basic colour enhancing and photo editing. When I began my blog my intent was to showcase more photos than words so to match this desire my posts need to be switched up a little!
  • Schedule: I recently purchased a new agenda and I am going to sit down and pre-plan some blog posts. I want to create a schedule so that each day features a different type of post. This way I can continue to offer posts including DIY projects, Recipes, Nutrition Facts, Everyday Living Topics and even Reviews. Come September I know I will be thankful if I already have a topic for each day of the week. It would become very monotonous if each post was about the same subject or in the same format.

Personal Goals

  • Exercise: On my vacation I will naturally be living a more active lifestyle so I don’t expect to be swimming laps in the ocean. This being said I don’t want to forgo the exercise regime I’ve created this summer so I am going to challenge myself to run on the treadmill or beach even though I am not a natural, fast or very good runner. I would like to focus on increasing my endurance level in running since my swimming stamina is already pretty good. This will also be beneficial come September. It will be a lot easier to run outside or on the treadmill than to try and work around the available free-swim time slots at the gym.
  • School: School used to be my “constant”. It was something that went well despite everything else that was going on in my life. Even when I was dancing 24/7 I managed to keep great grades and stay on top of my homework. People tell me I am “naturally” smart although I am not very confident in my academic abilities. Since I took time off from University I am a bit anxious to return. My intent is to mentally prepare myself so that I don’t go into University with an all-or-nothing mindset. I am used to getting over 90% but I have decided to take this year as a learning curve and to set my standards lower. In reality, first year doesn’t really count towards your final GPA.
  • Nutrition: The reality is I don’t like breakfast. I yearn for the day that I will wake up hungry but I always seem to crave coffee or protein shakes instead. Eggs, bacon, French toast and waffles have never been my thing. I admire the people that can eat cold pizza or dinner food, in the morning! Sure, I enjoy oatmeal but I much prefer eating it as a snack. This month I am participating in a Smoothie Challenge hosted by Charissa from “Colourful Palate” so I hope to have one each morning. Be sure to join in the fun! Lately I’ve been seeing some pretty interesting combinations and I am intrigued to try them for myself (Sweet Potatoes, Avocado, Oats). After all, breakfast is suppose to be the most important meal of the day and with school on it’s way, I need to practice fuelling my body so that my concentration remains is enhanced to it’s peak.Colourful-Smoothie-August-2013-Challenge-Copy-510x253

Well that was long winded and went against my goal of keeping my posts concise. Whoops : ) Happy August! Do you have any travel plans for this month? Have you set any intentions for yourself? What types of posts do you enjoy reading most? Would you like to see more recipes, DIY projects or personal messages? ♥ Molly

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.” – Henry Ford

MIMM #4: Positive Reminders

I think it is important for you all to know that I am still working on my recovery from mental illnesses. I am by no means 100% recovered from disordered thinking around food, weight and happiness. These days, my mood is much more stable and I am pretty happy-go-lucky however I do still have episodes of negative self talk that bring me down. “Bubbly, Personable, Happy, Smiley, High-Spirited, Fun” are all terms used to describe me but they also go against my diagnosis of being chronically “sad”. How? The reality is you can be depressed and cheerful at the same time.

I don’t say this to earn sympathy but rather to avoid comparisons. Too often bloggers glaze over their lives only highlighting the “happy” moments. I post pictures of my room when it is tidy and avoid photographing it’s areas of clutter. I only post recipes that I have perfected but that doesn’t mean they started out as 100% fail-proof. I appear as though I never get in fights with friends or family but in truth, I am a human as well and I don’t have flawless relationships. Some bloggers are inclined to showcasing the fun activities they do, without letting on that they have moments of “doing nothing” as well. I don’t think I’d earn many followers if all I ever did was complain since nobody wants to be left feeling emotionally drained after reading a post. I think it’s strong that some bloggers are able to admit to the hard times they are facing and shed light on issues so many of us battle on an everyday basis. CaitPlusAte and ItzLinz are two of my favourite blogs for this reason since they address sensitive subjects while remaining positive and inspirational.

So while I might appear to have my life in order, rest assured it’s not. Don’t get me wrong, I live a happy life and most of my smiles are genuine, but that’s because I have plans in place to lift my spirits when moments of sadness arise. Marvelous is having continuous support and unconditional love whether I feel I deserve it or not. My friends and family continue to remind me that they have my back. In times of sadness I have a little bucket of marvelous “reminders” as to what is marvelous about life and what others find marvelous about me.

IMG_6295 Screen Shot 2013-07-28 at 2.54.58 PMPositive Affirmation Books: No matter how old you are, I truly believe you need to own at least one picture book. These three books, “Heart Thoughts”, “In the Garden of Thoughts” and “Every Thing Is Going To Be OK”,  contain inspirational thoughts that are not only uplifting but empowering. Accompanied by whimsical illustrations or photographs, these books always leave me feeling happier and more optimistic.  “If you stumbled today, remember where and how it felt. Tomorrow, take a different path. Life flourishes from its pain and the lessons we gain.” – Dodinsky

IMG_6305Blessed Bracelet: The idea is to wear this bracelet until it fades in colour and eventually falls off. These bracelets have been carried through India and blessed with love on the banks of River Ganges. I was given two from my Life Coach as a reminder not to worry about the past or future but to live blessed in the moment. The colour red symbolizes protection, healing, commitment and spirituality. The first one stayed on my wrist for over four months and I have yet to tie the second one onto my wrist. “When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.” – C.S. Lewis

IMG_6113 IMG_6302“Why We Love You” Letters: For my twentieth birthday, two of my best friends, Elyse and Caitlin, compiled a box filled with 20 letters from my closest friends and family members for me to read next year when I am away at University. Since I couldn’t wait until I felt sad, I read them all in one night, but I will definitely continue to re-read them in moments when I need to be cheered up. It was neat to see which memories were most prominent in the minds of others. My dad wrote a poem recalling when I ran around an MBA court with the “Raptors Flag”. The comments were so flattering and made me feel very important and special.  Some were stories from when I was a baby, others were work-related,  some were just funny things I’ve said (and wish others had forgotten by now) and of course some offered advice for my future. One of my favourites came from my niece Lottie as she signed it only with ooo’s (not xo’s) since she still hasn’t learned to kiss yet! What a cutie! Elyse and Caitlin also included some inspirational quotes and fun photographs they pulled from my instagram and pinterest accounts. “I remember your drive, passion, determination, and insane energy from your grade 7 year like it was yesterday. I remember your landfill, your lock bridge, your uber-organized binders and your straight A’s. I always loved how you presented yourself with such poise, but were so darn adorable in your little cardigans.” – Tammy

photo-89Willow Tree Angels: Angels are said to represent protection, inner peace, virtue and love. Today I have three and each one offers me comfort when I am searching for answers. I purchased myself the Angel of Freedom, was given the Angel of Happiness from my grade 12 English teacher on the day I graduated, and the Angel of Friendship actually belongs to my mom but I keep it in my room.
“Angels have no philosophy but love.” – Terri Guillemets

IMG_5982Pandora Bracelet: Last year for my birthday, Elyse and Caitlin gave me my Pandora bracelet along with the “Inner Strength”, “Journey” and “Angel of Hope” charms. They both have the “Journey” charm as well to symbolize that they will always fight alongside of me. While we were away in France, my family gave me the “Eiffel Tower” charm. They also gave me the “Camera” charm since I love photography. This year Joyce gave me the “Faith” charm. Each charm is so special since I didn’t purchase them myself and instead they were given to me as a reminder of friendship or love. While wearing the bracelet I am constantly thinking of those who believe in my potential. “Friends give us the courage to lift the blinds on our hearts to open up and show what we generally keep hidden from the rest of world.” – Ritu Ghatourey

IMG_6292Oracle Cards: These decks help me to manifest my thoughts and put words to my feelings. They seem to relate to whatever emotion I am experiencing, happy or sad, confused or awakened, and offer vague advice open for personal interpretation. “Today I will tell myself that who I am is okay, and that what I am doing is good enough. Of course I make mistakes and get offtrack sometimes, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not as good as everyone else. No one is perfect and that’s just fine.” – Melody Beattie

MiMM1Happiness is a journey not a destination, similar to the path towards recovery. You don’t get to a state of utter confusion and chaos overnight, so you can’t expect to be healed in a second. Even in my worst days, there is something marvelous to be celebrated. Thank you Katie, for yet another wonderful link-up that reminded me to take time to reflect on marvelous memories.  ♥ Molly

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou

It’s Okay to Rest

We all deserve to be in a state of bliss, inner peace and contentment. No one should live in a continuous cycle of anxiety. Stress is a demon that sits on your back and only makes you worry.

This week has been a great reminder that it is okay to slow down, as there are a lot of benefits in being still.  There are so many little things that I take for granted because I am not engaged in the movements of every day living. Brushing my teeth, talking to my family, sleeping in new bed sheets and even eating a home cooked meal are activities I subconsciously rush through. What’s not to enjoy about driving through three green lights in a row, finding an unexpected fifty dollar bill in your wallet or even finishing off the last slice of cake that you assumed would be gone by now? I am often searching for the next best thing so I don’t stay present long enough to appreciate scenerios for all that they are worth. Your entire life is simply composed of “right nows”. The best is not in front of you or behind you, it’s within you always in each moment.

IMG_0804 IMG_2382

It has taken me a while to learn the joy of relaxing. I used to get bored if I wasn’t baking, cooking, cleaning or out with friends. Although I still enjoy busyness, I have learned that finding a state of “calm” can be just as fulfilling. I don’t disagree that multi-tasking is important, but I also know that I must be able to set things aside and focus on my own thoughts once and a while. The past few days I’ve turned down offers to go out for lunch or coffee that I’m sure I would have enjoyed, but I spent time finding inner happiness just being with myself.

I achieve a balance through meditation, yoga, journaling, reading and even napping. It’s hard not to feel lazy when I take a day off from the gym, but it’s important for me to trust my body and give it what it needs. If it’s craving sleep, then I’m fine pressing snooze a few extra times. I don’t need a lot of me time in my day, just a half an hour in the bath or twenty minutes of peace and quiet before I fall asleep. Alone time no longer makes me feel lonely, it is simply viewed as time alone.IMG_0134 IMG_6822

So if you find yourself stressed or sad, try to think of all of the little things in your life that you’ve achieved. A simple high five, a letter to a friend, washing the dishes or even making your bed are all accomplishments that you probably disregard. As long as you breathe, eat, sleep and protect your body each day, you are being productive with your time! I challenge you to devote some time to yourself, especially since we are going into the weekend. Whether you choose to use this time to have a shower, get a manicure, write in your journal or even call a friend is up to you; but please, take 60 minutes out of your week, ten minutes each day, for YOU time. ♥ Molly

“To be still means to empty yourself from the incessant flow of thoughts and create a state of consciousness that is open and receptive.” –  John Daido LoriIMG_8504 IMG_1108

It’s My Birthday!

Today I enter a new decade as I celebrate my twentieth birthday. While I still have most of my life ahead of me, I can’t help but feel “old” when I hear my new age. Unlike 16 (Driving Permit), 18 (Lottery Tickets), 19 (Canadian Drinking Age) or 21 (American Drinking Age), the number 20 isn’t rewarded with an added privilege, but to me, it is still equally important. I am so thankful for everyone who has helped me achieve great health, happiness and memorable moments in the years leading up to this milestone.

IMG_0325

Celebrating my 19th Birthday

IMG_3982I would also like to wish my parents a very happy belated 31st wedding anniversary, as yesterday marked the day of their 31st year being married. If it weren’t for you Mom and Dad, I don’t know where I would be today. May every new tomorrow draw you closer to each other and may it keep the promise of today. You are the perfect example of what parents should be and how a married couple should act. Wishing you wonderful years filled with tremendous happiness and great health, in the years to come. You have me setting high expectations for my future husband Dad, and Mom you have me hoping that I can be as positive of a role model for my daughter(s) as you were for me.

309008_999118087991_630881735_nI have a busy day ahead of me, but before I go, I’d like to leave you with 20 fun facts, you might not already know about me! What are some birthday traditions your family participates in? When I was little, my parents would wrap money in coins, and hide it underneath everyone’s “slice” at my birthday party, that way everyone got an extra surprise. ♥ Molly

“God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.” – Voltaire

Birthday

0. The day I was born 2. My second birthday 5. My “Arthur” themed 5th birthday party 6. My “Olympic” waterworks obstacle birthday party 17. We went to see the Legally Blonde musical on my 17th birthday 19. Last year we were in France so my dad and I went to the Catacombs the morning of my birthday

Twenty Interesting and Slightly Embarrassing Facts about Myself!

  1. I can do my splits. At the age of three my parents signed me up for ballet, but in all honesty, I would run around the room instead of skipping or stretching. Regardless, I fell in love and began competing when I was 7. I’ve done Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Lyrical, Hip Hop and more, but my favourite (and strongest suit) will always be Tap.
  2. I love my name because of it’s “ring” and truthfully, it suits me perfectly. Molly Martha Schoo (pronounced shoe). People call me “Molly Pocket” because I am just barely 5’3” and I look about 14-16, but nicknames have ranged from Molly Moo to Schooster.
  3. When I was little I thought “Tim Hortons” was “Tim Portons” and I called Figure Skaters, “Finger Skaters”. My parents preserved this innocence for a bit too long!
  4. I’ve been on national television. This year I was part of a “Bell Let’s Talk Campaign” advocating for Mental Health, so I was featured on a Marilyn Dennis (Canadian Talk Show) Special!
  5. I’m a dare devil and I love adventure. Skydiving, Bungee Jumping, Surfing (In Hawaii!!), Climbing a Mountain and White Water rafting are all on my “to-do” list.
  6. As a kid, I always wanted to experience living with braces, glasses and a cast. While I’ve had braces, and continue to wear glasses (or contacts) on a daily basis, I’ve never broken (nor do I want to) a bone in my life.
  7. I went through French Immersion beginning in Senior Kindergarden, so as a result I am bilingual. I hope to become fluent in a third language such as Dutch.
  8. You’ll hardly ever find me in pants or shorts. Skirts and Dresses are staples in my wardrobe (I have more than 50 everyday dresses). I admire people that can look cute in sweatpants, but I don’t think I’ll ever be someone that can feel “put together” in a tracksuit.
  9. I’d pick cardio over weight training any day. A goal of mine is to run a full marathon but I have a ways to go with my running abilities. Swimming or Zumba are my go to exercises.
  10. My taste buds are well rounded. I like vegetables and fruit equally, I enjoy “sweet” desserts but also enjoy “salty” snacks, I value protein but still love carbohydrates, and I have no preference between butter or applesauce in my baked goods!
  11. My favourite movie is Legally Blonde, I continue to watch re-runs of Gilmore Girls and the song “Just Give me a Reason” never gets old. Miss Congeniality, Everwood and Ho Hey are all close runner ups!
  12. In grade 8 I had a shirt that said “I got an A+ in Talking”. I can be pretty loud as my voice carries almost TOO well. It comes in handy when presenting or debating, but it’s also one my biggest challenges in classroom settings (Particularly meditation and yoga classes).
  13. I’d eat onions like apples if it didn’t make me cry. I find every excuse to put onions in a recipe.
  14. I collect postcards. In grade 3 I bought a package of “Hello Kitty” postcards from my school’s book sale, and ever since I’ve enjoyed picking them up when I travel. Feel free to send me one from your hometown or vacation!
  15.  I’d rather go grocery shopping than clothes shopping. Fashion interests me and I enjoy pretty attire, however I am not good at spending money nor am I eager to try things on.
  16. I swallowed a penny when I was a baby! The doctors thought I had asthma but my parents later found the evidence in my diaper!
  17. I’m a games person and as much as I try to play for the fun of it, I can get pretty competitive. I’ll play just about anything, but to name a few Apples to Apples, Scattegories, Risk, Catch Phrase, Cards and Scrabble are some of my favourites.
  18. I’ve always wanted to be a twin. I have three incredible siblings (I am the youngest) all of whom I am close with, but having a relative my own age would be convenient in a lot of circumstances.
  19. If money weren’t necessary, I’d volunteer my time instead of working. I hope to find a career than enables me to give back to my community by helping others. To me, one of the greatest gifts in life is seeing the results of my generosity. Acts of kindness are so little and can have such positive effects.
  20. I love quotes. They can be so inspiring and finding the perfect one to counteract a negative thought is extremely rewarding. Some of my favourites were first spoken or written by Helen Keller, Shakespeare, Julia Childs, Dalai Lama, Albert Einstein and of course Audrey Hepburn! Here’s another applicable one for today! “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” – Oprah Winfrey

The Truth Is…

The blogging community has been so honest lately, that I feel compelled to share a glimpse of my story. The reality is, I don’t live a perfect life. I am learning, like so many of us, and in order to succeed, I must first fail several times. I was given my life because I am strong enough to handle it, but that doesn’t mean everything has been successful from the start.

This past decade has not been easy. I’ve had many positive experiences, but also frequent moments of sadness. I’ve made lasting friendships, but also lost loved ones. Sometimes I wake up motivated to make the most out of my day, but on several accounts I have slept in, as a way to avoid my anxiety about the day awaiting me.

I used to think my struggles weren’t fair. I didn’t ask to be dealt “a bad hand”, so why did I have to play my cards strategically? I wanted to live a normal childhood life, free of worry and obsession. I should have been enjoying social activities, but instead I found myself sitting through appointment after appointment.

The reality is, experiences happen for a reason. Although I can’t always quite understand why things don’t adhere to my plans, I am coming to terms with the fact that I don’t always have to be in control.  My struggles have definitely made me stronger, and I have matured in a way I don’t think would have been possible, had my eyes not been exposed to truth. There is so much more suffering in the world than what any of us can grasp, but we are also all given tools so that we won’t give up. I will never understand what others are feeling, because as similar as situations may be, they aren’t identical.

My anxiety can be paralyzing even though it is self-imposed. A smile can be deceiving, and for a while, nobody knew the worries I faced within. I have finally developed the skills to make peace with my internal fear, by acknowledging it, and then letting it go. From academic achievements to my food intake, I have controlled so many aspects of my life as a way to deal with my insecurities and emotions. I have put my family through so many hard times, and they’ve only repaid me with unconditional love and assistance.

Today, I do not look back and feel sorry for myself because my experiences have shaped me into a better person. I may have missed out on many opportunities, but I am okay with that, because I have reclaimed my life and I have more life to live than what has passed. We all go through difficult times, and I am not here to say that my life was any more sad than others, but I am also not here to belittle my obstacles, as they weren’t easy hurdles to overcome. Instead, today, I try and be more grateful for what I now have because I never know what my future entails. I am now blessed with a forgiving body, good health and great healthcare, nutrition, a supportive family, amazing friends, a beautiful home and proper education. Each day I awake to a peaceful community, the freedom of speech, endless means of technology, and much much more. I am thankful for what others went through to achieve the lifestyle I am able to experience on a daily basis. Just like a flower, we must all grow through dirt.

Everyday I might have to consciously choose happiness, choose to nourish my body physically and choose to take care of my mind and spirituality, but it doesn’t matter that it’s not yet a habit as long as I am continuing to choose life. So even though I still have my setbacks, and even though each day I ask myself how I can step outside of my comfort zone, I am finally living a life that I am proud of. ♥ Molly

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined. – Henry David Thoreau

“Should” Statements

These past few weeks, my mind has been clouded by “should” statements; “I should start lifting weights”, “I should keep my room tidier”, “I should have a job”.  These statements are assumptions that I make, because I feel pressure to be a certain way. I might not actively wish to be more muscular, have a more organized room, or even work, but these are all things I feel I ought to be or do.

Sometimes it is hard for me to realize what I truly want in life, or whether the expectations I put on myself are because I want to conform to societal norms. I am influenced by my surroundings which includes friends, social media, magazines, news and more. I forget that what works for others, isn’t necessarily what will work, or what needs to work, for myself.

In some cases, I don’t have a choice. For example, if I want to succeed in my schooling, I do need to study. However, at some point, it becomes a personal decision as to whether or not “I should study more”. This is where I run into some difficulty. I need to realize that the implementation of “should statements” is a cognitive distortion that only ever leaves me feeling guilty and wrong.

Right now one of my “shoulds” actually has to do with my education. I can’t tell if I am striving for a profession that I am truly passionate about, or because the title is “well respected” and something I have always seen myself achieving. While I am still early on in reaching my degree, for volunteer experience and course selection, I do need to decide where I see myself going. I guess I struggle a bit with finding my own identity.

Should statements can be difficult to break through, especially when my perfectionism continues to reinforce that nothing is “good enough”. The reality is, nobody is perfect, life can’t be viewed as black or white, and I need to accept myself for who I am. I don’t define others by “should” statements, so I need to stop living my life according to how I believe it “should be”. Things happen for a reason, what is meant to be will be, and happiness doesn’t come from worrying.

My goal for this week is to replace the shoulds that I truly believe in, with “I want” or “I will”. Should leads to shame, but a choice leads to action. ♥ Molly

“Shame should be reserved for the things we choose to do, not the circumstances that life puts on us.” – Ann Patchett 

Happy Dad Day

I think the most original gift that my dad got today was from my sister Emma! She crocheted him a donut (And even bought him a real one) as he really enjoys this sweet treat (In particular Tim Horton’s Apple Fritters!). D is for Dad and D is also for Delicious Donuts. My dad is a dedicated, dependable, determined, daring and dapper man.

photo-43

photo-44

I hope that everyone is taking time today to acknowledge a person whom they view as a father figure. I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful, loving, supportive dad within my life. We have created so many memories together filled with laugher and happiness. He is the best grocery partner, sous-chef and dishwasher a little “cook” like me could ask for! My life would not be the same without you Daddy and I would not have grown to be the person that I am today! (Especially in terms of my abilities when it comes to card games and word jumbles!) You will always be the best daddy in my eyes. Congratulations as today was your first Father’s day as a “Papa”. I love you. xo. ♥ Molly

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”- Jim Valvano