These are the days…

Probably the first item I ever bought at J Crew was a shirt that read, “These are the days”…..Which can be taken any number of ways…..the way I take for the most part is, “These are the days, enjoy them because they’ll be gone before I know it” (or so everyone tells me). But then there is the interpretation of “These are the days, hold on for dear life because life is messy and grueling and there are some days when you don’t feel anything and feel everything all at the same time.” Such was my day yesterday.

For no apparent reason at all I was feeling very blah. bland. gross. off. and dare I say, ugly, yes, I said it, the “u” word. Yep, me, the girl who appears to have it all together was feeling ugly. Ugly on the inside and ugly on the outside. For starters, I was feeling like a bad mom, perhaps it was the cavity that appeared on the dentist x-ray despite my diligent attempts at brushing and flossing L’s teeth like my life depended on it, perhaps it was the not only one, but two pee-pee accidents (that’s mom talk for urinating in yer undies) S had whilst in the dentist office (one of which was caused by me getting upset at her that she wasn’t being quiet enough for the dentist to tell me that my daughter’s cavity would only cost me selling of one of my kidney’s on the black market to fix), or perhaps it was because I had all of 4 minutes to get out of my pajamas, into the shower (while entertaining a waiting audience of littles on the other side of the glass and refusing to open nail polish lids and cautioning against pinched fingers) lotion up, do my hair and makeup, make myself breakfast, brush my teeth and only be 7 minutes late for our dentist appointment. **Only the shower happened, in case you are wondering, and I’m pretty sure I still have soap on my back.** My hair was going on day 6 of not being washed and my chin was breaking out like a bad habit to the point that I could have had a starring role in a Pro Active commercial next to Adam Levine. So yes, “These are the days” J Crew, they really, truly are.

These are the days when feelings of failure take over and no matter how hard I try, how much I know or how much I want to fix myself, there is something that keeps me from doing all of that. Something that keeps me wallowing, feeling sorry for myself, there is a comfort there, in the pity, sadness and purposelessness. These are the days when I like to be in that space. Is that so wrong?

In all my years of counselling wisdom I have come to the point of knowing when to “let”, when to sit quiet and let emotions be. Truly feel emotions instead of trying to “fix”. There is a certain beauty in it. There is beauty in imperfection. There is a vulnerability that I actually want my kids to see in me when I feel this way. I want them to see that although there are rainbows, there are also unforeseen storms that we must weather that eventually create that beautiful arch of color in the sky. To quote a song from the Garden State soundtrack (and date myself), there is beauty in the breakdown.

So feel it. Feel those emotions, be them good, bad or otherwise. Give them space and room to breath. Don’t let them take over your life, but do allow yourself to sit for a moment (or day) in them and then figure them out, figure out what the lesson was, look at the rainbow and get up on your feet again and continue on your journey, because after all, “these are the days”.

 

 

Now here is a story all about how…..

The Story of Adele Northan

Adele Northan was born in 1915 on a homestead in Saskatchewan.  She had 8 brothers and one sister. Being raised in the 1920’s and 30’s in a large family, where resources were always tight, she was not able to fulfill her dream of being a nurse.

Subsequent to Bible School in Winnipeg she moved to Detroit where she worked in a home of a wealthy family. She had met Joe Kornalewski, who had emigrated from Germany, at her parents’ home in the early 30’s. Joe was friends with her brothers.  In 1940, Joe who had gone to seminary training was asked to serve a church in Leduc, Alberta.  However, the call to serve the church was based on his coming as a married man.  That was the catalyst for Adele and Joe to marry in Detroit in 1940. It was a great marriage.

While in Leduc 2 children were added to the family, David in 1942 and Tim in 1945. In 1946 the family moved to Minitonas, Manitoba and then on to Kelowna in 1952, where Joe served the Grace Baptist Church.

Almost immediately after the move to Kelowna, Adele started looking after some elderly ladies in the parsonage. Her desire to be a nurse many years before, still a motivating factor.  In 1957, when Joe retired as pastor, Joe and Adele built a house on Pandosy Street, one block from the Kelowna General Hospital (KGH). This home is currently the hostel located across the street from KGH.  The thought was to provide room and board for Registered Nurses who moved to Kelowna. Virtually from the first day the home was complete, Adele was asked, for a short term, to look after an elderly lady that needed to move out of KGH.  That lady and up to 14 elderly folks lived in the Adele’s home with her family until 1962 when Adele and her husband built the first Private Hospital in the Okanagan Valley, named, Still Waters.

While it was a Private Hospital licensed under the Hospital Act of BC, its purpose was to serve the elderly who had nursing care needs.  In 1968, the Joseph Benjamin Residence, which provided residential accommodation, was opened adjacent to Still Waters on Sutherland Ave., named in memory of Adele’s husband who had passed away in 1965.

With her vision of wanting to provide excellent care to an ever increasing population of elderly, her two sons, who had joined the family enterprise, built Lakeshore Place in Kelowna, Westside Care in West Kelowna, and Sun Pointe Village in Rutland.

By this time a third generation had joined the family enterprise and continued providing for the housing needs of seniors in the Okanagan by developing in partnership with the Hall family, the 5 Regency Retirement Resorts.

All of this was possible because of the vision and foresight of one remarkable woman, who had steadfast faith in God and His plan for her life.   Adele’s legacies of generosity, caring and serving have been passed on to both her children and grandchildren.  In her lifetime she traveled extensively, played golf into her 90’s and continues to be an avid reader.   It would be a significant omission from Adele’s story if we didn’t mention the 1000s of scrubbers she has crocheted and given away to everyone she encountered. This gesture endured her to many people.

Adele has touched countless lives as pastor’s wife, a care provider, employer, mentor and friend.  She gave many women their first employment opportunity.  She was and continues to be an inspiration to her family, her friends and those who she comes in contact with.  It is only fitting that a lady of her character should live to celebrate her 100th birthday.

 

Simplify

“And that’s the danger: When we fritter away our one and only life doing things that don’t really matter, we sacrifice the things that do matter.” ~Bill Hybels, Simplify

Here is a typical day in my life…..My alarm clock goes off (which would of course be my 19 month old Stella’s voice in the baby monitor asking for me) I hit the ground running. In a matter of minutes Stella has a bottle, the dishes are being unloaded from the dishwasher, the clothes in the washer are transferred to the dryer, the stove is on for eggs, the cutting board is out for fruit and that all has happened in under 4 minutes since I heard my baby angel cake’s voice.

That pattern of cramming that much activity, into that short period of time continues all day and does not stop until my head hits the pillow at night at which time I start to feel guilty for all the things I had not accomplished during the day. Sound familiar? What in the world right? Why are our lives operating at a Mach 10 speed, like we are millions of chickens all looking for our proverbial heads and realizing at the end of the day we only skimmed the surface of our “to do” lists – not even touching on the items towards the bottom that really mattered.

When I am operating at this speed, I need only to look at this video of Lily when she was about 20 months old….she is in our backyard smelling each and every tulip and once done, kissing each and every one of them goodbye, as though it was the only thing that mattered. She literally stopped and smelled the flowers. And isn’t that what we need to do? To slow right down and get back to the small, meaningful, enjoyable moments in life. Those are the times that we will cherish, the times that we will look back upon and be so thankful that we stopped spinning in a world that never does and just for a moment, we stood still, breathed in the beauty around us, took time to make that meaningful phone call, cancelled the class at the gym to have coffee with a dear friend, stopped for five minutes to be grateful for the view from the lookout, had the conversation with a spouse at the end of the night and resisted the urge to get to all the tidying done around the house.

We need to start stopping our “to do” list and start focusing on our “to don’t” list. To slow down, and enjoy the gratification an uncomplicated life has to offer. Will it be scary to not be over scheduled? Of course, our society tells us we need to be 5 different places at once and always be available for the next best thing. But in time we will gain a sense of meaning and purpose knowing that we have just as many hours in the day as Mother Teresa did and she spent all of hers doing what matters most – being with others, spending time with them and slowing the heck on down (pretty sure those are her words exactly). So do the same…..take time…..slow down…..smell the roses (or tulips!)

What one thing today will you put on your “to don’t” list today on the path to uncluttering your soul?

An open letter to Media,

Dear media,

My daughter is about to turn 5 – can you believe it? Neither can I, she’s growing up and heading into Kindergarten this year. As she turns one year older, she is one step closer to learning more about the giant that you are. Media, you have so much that you show the world, so much good, yet so much bad. You show us wonders of the world that words alone could not describe, you empower, you motivate, you inspire, but, at the same time you create insecurity, jealousness, contempt, unhappiness, hurt, fear, and pain through simple exposure. You are constantly morphing and growing new vines to entangle us and draw us closer to you, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, there always seems to be a new medium for you to maneuver your influence.

My plea to you today is that you show my daughter the good. I know that as she grows, she will be exposed, in various ways, by various means, to more sides of you, regardless of my efforts to prevent it. You will show her things that make her question and wonder about her value in this world.  You might make her think that by following your lead she can somehow change into the person you show her she ‘should’ be and gain popularity, status, admiration, fame, and acceptance. You can be the gun that pulls the trigger when depression, anxiety, eating disorders creep into her subconscious.

Instead, I beg you, please show her your amazing sides! Show her how what a great fortune we have to live in a free country with wide open spaces.  Show her that we live in a time where we are encouraged to be exactly who we are, just as we are, without changing anything! Tell her that she can reach her goals, no matter how high. Show her how big the world is and how much of it there is to be explored, and at the same time, show her that we are all connected in a way that makes the world all within her reach. Show her that she is loved beyond belief and tell her that she is perfect just the way she is.  Let her dream amazing dreams.

Hold your power delicately Media. Hold it ever so gently, knowing that you have so many young hearts and minds in your hands that are easily influenced, swayed and susceptible to your power. Love on my children and every other child in the world like never before. Pour out positivity and resist the urge to motivate by causing uncertainty. Help to raise a generation of strong, empowered, capable, hard working, socially and globally conscious citizens who are generous to others with their time and resources, who are slow to speak and slow to anger but quick to listen and respond with a calm sense of reason.

Am I giving you too much power Media? I might be…but if I don’t, I stand in the space of naivety, blindly believing you don’t hold any influence in the lives of our generation and the generations that have come before and will go on after we are long gone. Wield this power for good, to help us – citizens of the world – to see one another as fellow human beings, no one better, no one worse, all the same, working towards a common goal of unity. Unity in love, in purpose, in seeing the best in each individual and acknowledging that we need each other to lean on and lean in to.

Yours truly,

Kristin

Here’s a picture of my body….

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Oh, I’m sorry (#notsorry), is this not the picture you expected? I bet you were hoping that the picture I was going to post was one of my body – and although my right hand is most certainly a part of my body, it’s not the part you really want to see – is it? No, no, you want to see a picture of the parts that “count” – my stomach or thighs – right? The parts you can compare to yours. The parts that you can say are either bigger or smaller than yours, the parts of me that get into your head and won’t get out – because, be that my parts are better or worse than yours, you compare your parts to mine – I call it the game.

Do you know about it? You probably do. You are probably such a great player of the game and don’t even know you’re playing it. It’s a game that is taking the world by storm, a game that kids are starting to play at younger ages each generation…. It’s the comparison game. We do it all the time. I was a great player of the game, and honestly, to this day, despite an undergrad and Master’s degree teaching myself and others how to stop the game, I still catch myself playing it.

It’s a sneaky thing this game…..it may start innocently enough by looking at an Instagram photo, or perhaps looking at the sculpted arms on your workout instructor, or the airbrushed body and whitened smiles of 26 celebrities starring at you as you push your grocery cart of diet/fast/healthy/comfort/____(insert food type here) food through the checkout, and the next step is thinking about that image you just looked at and wondering why you aren’t skinny as/fit as/strong as/stylish as/rich as/happy as/ (insert your choice of ” ____ as” here) and then you continue to scroll through more news feed looking at other things you don’t have and start to feel slightly less confident about yourself than you did before you looked at those images….but despite feeling a little less confident about yourself and telling yourself 5 things you love about yourself, you go back for more (how can you help it when the images are all so close within reach), you continuing looking at others Intragramed pictures of perfection, flipping through the pages of heavy airbrushed magazines and growing slightly more uncomfortable in your own skin with each image.

Now let me say, the thing about the game is that it’s not your fault that you are a player in it. We are born into a world where we automatically become part of the game without knowing it. It’s the “devil on our shoulder” or, as I call it, “the voice of ED” (eating disorders/disordered eating), telling us that we must be fitter/happier/more successful/richer/thinner/better/better/better and that, compared to others, we are fat/ugly/lazy/not good enough/worthless.

So here is my plea. Stop the game. *Get out of the game or the game will get you. How the game gets you will look different for everyone, but sooner or later, you will be gotten. Stop looking at images of the lives of other people – you are only seeing their highlight reel, not the behind the scenes of their lives. Start being thankful – purposefully thankful for what you do have in your life. Do you have a hand that can write meaningful words? Those that don’t would tell you to be grateful. Do you have legs that can move you from here to there? Cherish them, those that can no longer walk would want you to. Do you have a roof over your head? Celebrate it, so many long for that luxury. Do you have someone you love and someone who loves you in return? Hold on to them and be thankful – for there are many who have lost those they have loved.

And once you have stopped the game start changing it for others. For mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, for those you love that you want to see thrive in this world. Be mindful of what you post and what you expose yourselves to. We may not be able to avoid magazines at the grocery store aisle, but we can compliment people we see in the grocery store (and beyond 🙂 on something other than their appearance, and we can start being the change this world so desperately needs.

If this post spoke to you and made you think about the lenses you see the world through – please post a picture of your right hand as a sign that you are making a small step towards stopping the game and starting the change.

People of the world – raise your right hand!

Where the heck did this come from?

Many people ask me about where eating disorders come from or why they develop in some people and not others. To be honest, there is no hard and fast answer to that question. At the time that I am helping an individual in the early stages of an eating disorder, we really don’t concern ourselves with the why or how the eating disorder began (the “etiology” if we are getting technical). We focus on the here and now and about getting medication (food) into the body and keeping it there (not engaging in purging behaviors) until the body has reached a healthy state.

I liken this to someone being ill with cancer. The first course of action is not to talk about the reasons why or the childhood factors that the individual may have experienced that lead to the cancer – that would not contribute at all the curing the cancer, what you would do is treat the cancer as quickly as you could with appropriate medication.

Once sustained health has been reached, we can definitely deal with the issues that may still be lingering and look at some of the issues that may have had a hand in contributing to the severity of the eating disorder.

The worst thing a parent can do when their child is affected by an eating disorder (ED) is to feel a sense of guilt and shame about their child’s eating disorder -that it must have been something they said or did that caused the ED. Parents of children with ED’s have no more reason to feel guilt than parents who’s child is affected by any other illness, be it cancer, cystic fibrosis or asthma, yet for some reason there is an enormous sense of guilt that parents of children with ED. This guilt debilitates parents to help their child; it takes away any sense of empowerment that parents might have to be the best advocates to restore health in their children.

This guilt causes parents to hand over complete control to health care providers who don’t know the heart and soul of the child, who didn’t raise the child and nourish the child from a helpless newborn to the person they are today. The guilt puts a barrier between the parents and restored health and I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Parents are the #1 champion for their children overcoming eating disorders. No one knows, loves, cares for a child like their parents do. No one knows the books they love, the smells that make them smile, the memories that light up their child’s face like a parent does. No one can offer them the comfort, love and compassion that they need when fighting an eating disorder in a more soothing way than their parents can.

As a counsellor, a large part of my role is removing the guilt that a parent feels and replacing it with a sense of empowerment, a sense that they are the best people to help their child recover. Reminding them that when their child was sick with the flu, they new – intuitively – how to renourish their child to restored health, and in the same way, when their child is ill and suffering with ED, in conjunction with a team of health care professionals, they can once again restore their child to optimal health.

By giving parents back the confidence they once had to raise healthy, vibrant children, they can end up being the exact medicine the doctor ordered.