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Saying ‘hell no’ to the hustle

I’m going to be honest, I kind of feel like I have been failing at life lately.

Between work, household chores, writing a book, blogging, raising human beings, and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life … I am about ready to explode.

I feel as though I have several balls in the air right now, none of which I am doing a particularly good job at managing.

Now, before you come at me with your validation, reassurance, and your ‘Don’t be hard on yourself, You are doing your best‘s’, let me explain … I am not doing my best right now. I haven’t been doing my best for a while and I know it.

I can feel in my gut when I am giving something 100%, and right now, I think I am hovering at 70% in most categories. Probably 65% in the housework department, if I am being completely honest, with self-care coming in at a dismal 10%. (Yikes)

I am exhausted. And I am in a cycle of putting just enough effort into things to keep them plugging along … and that’s about it.

And here is the thing, I am willing to give myself some grace because … it is a lot. I have a lot going on. I don’t need a hero cookie or a medal because, quite frankly, everyone has a lot going on and I am no more overwhelmed or busy than anyone else. But I am able to recognize that I have a full plate. A plate that I am very much grateful for.

I think the piece that I have been struggling with lately is, something’s got to give. I either need to find a better way or I need to put down one of the balls.

And I love all of my balls. (I am also a 13 year old at heart. I totally giggled as I typed that.)

But in all seriousness, how on earth can I choose?! How do I let go of something that I love in order to be able to make more room for something else that I love?

And let’s face it, some things (most of them actually) are not even options. I can’t say, “Kids, I’m taking a little vacay from parenting so that I can devote more energy to my job. Be good, okay?’

I can’t quit my job or stop doing laundry and dishes (as tempting as that is at times). And my self-care is already in the tanker. (Don’t be surprised if I roll up to your BBQ with unshaven legs and unkempt hair.)

So that leaves my passions. My book, this blog, the things that light me up … which quite frankly, don’t feel like options either.

So what to do?

Well, my first reaction was, ‘Suck it up, Christine. Quit sniveling that you have too many projects on the go and get to work. If you want it bad enough, make it happen.’

And to be honest, a part of me still believes that. Going after goals is work. The bigger the goal, the harder the work. No wildly successful person will tell you that they got where they are today because it was easy. They will tell you it was freaking hard but they made it because they didn’t give up.

But here is the thing, if you burn yourself out by trying to do too many things at once, you are guaranteed to not reach ANY of your goals, let alone one of them.

I recently wrote a blog about how I work towards goals and combat overwhelm. If you haven’t read it, you can check it out here. I wrote about how I reach goals, the importance of giving yourself some grace, and that bad days happen. But I have since realized that I forgot one of the most important steps of all.

Boundaries.

The bottom line is, the ‘hustle hard’ trend that has been circulating the entrepreneurial world in recent years can be dangerous. It implies that if you really want to make something happen, you will. And if you can’t, you must not be working hard enough.

‘Hustle hard’ tells us to work fulltime, exercise, eat clean, raise great kids, have a fantastic relationship (don’t forget the sex!), have a great social life (don’t forget the selfies!), have a hobby (and excel at it!), and look fantastic while doing it all. It tells us that not only is this possible, but it is sustainable and SEXY.

What a load of shit. Seriously.

This is why we have a bunch of people with anxiety, exhaustion, and addiction issues.

We have to stop trying to do everything, all at once.

I was on the phone with a close friend the other day and we were discussing the ‘habits and goals’ course that we were about to start creating. (I mean, I am already overwhelmed with work, kids, writing a book, and maintaining a blog … why wouldn’t I add course creation to the roster!? After all … hustle hard.)

“You know Christine, we don’t have to do this course right now. We can wait until things slow down a bit. We both have a lot going on. What you think?”

“Omgoodness, I totally think we can do it! I don’t actually think it will be too bad. We’ve got this!”, I rebutted quickly.

But then I stopped. I could feel it in my gut. A buzzing anxiety about the fact that I was about to throw another ball into the mix. One more thing. One more ‘I got this!’

So I asked myself, “Okay slow down a minute here. Can I really do this? And if I can, am I going to be able to give it my all? Can I offer this course, and my friend, the attention they both deserve?”

The answer was no. Could I do it? Probably. But could I do it well, and without it taking more from my family, my work, and my mental health? NO.

Boom. There was my boundary.

And man, did it feel good. Checking in with myself, being honest, and making the choice to do what was best for me and my most important balls instantly made me feel lighter.

I still want to do the course. And I will. When I am able to give it 100%.

Until then, I am going to work on having stronger boundaries. I am going to listen to my gut and think about whether or not I can actually take on more projects, before just diving in. I am going to resist the urge to ‘do it all’. I am going to practice saying no without feeling guilty. I am going to delegate. I am going to priotize. And I am going to put a few things down, for now.

I am driven. I have lots I want to do. But I am learning that I will be way more effective if I protect my time, energy, and emotions.

This is a marathon, not a sprint. And my mental health is so much more important than the hustle.

Setting boundaries, saying no, and pressing pause isn’t indicative of failure or laziness.

In fact, oftentimes, it is the key to success.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.
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Recovering Chameleon

I have always been a people pleaser. And a pretty darn good one, too. Like, if there was ever a ‘People Pleaser Olympics’, I would definitely have a shot at taking home a medal.

It is a skill I learned very early on – be what people want you to be and you will never be left. Simple.

I was raised an only child and have some pretty significant abandonment and daddy issues so I developed an innate ability to not only worm my way into people’s lives, but to make sure I stayed there. I craved belonging, and became the ultimate shapeshifter.

Oh, you like country music? I don’t mind it either.”

“Scary movies? Me too!

** Note, both scary movies and country music make me want to cry. But there is no way in hell I would ever risk rocking that boat so I spent much of my youth with bleeding ears and terrible nightmares.**

I was the funny kid, the sweet kid, the energetic kid, the charming kid. I was whatever was required of me in the moment.

Even as I got older and became a little more rebellious (read: a teenaged nightmare), I remained likeable. And it was a title I wore with pride.

My friends, parents, teachers, and employers all tolerated even my most rascally behaviour, because I was … agreeable.

Christine, such a nice girl.

My people pleasing nature went beyond just pretending to like the twang of a steel guitar to slightly meatier issues. From not sharing important opinions at work or biting my tongue when someone hurt me to nervously laughing at inappropriate jokes or tolerating abuse so that I wouldn’t be ‘rejected’.

I can’t remember how old I was when I realized that there was a downside to my ‘please everyone at all costs‘ approach to life, but I am guessing it was my late 20’s, a fairly typical age for women to get tired of bullshit.

I think I was getting exhausted. Exhausted from having to be a chameleon in order to feel safe in my relationships. Exhausted from pretending to like or dislike things I didn’t. Exhausted from not feeling confident enough in myself to show up in the way I wanted.

I was fed up and shit had to change.

And it did. Or … it is. Let’s just say, it’s been a s-l-o-w recovery. You don’t go your entire life making sure everyone else is happy to confidently ruffling feathers overnight, it takes time and is a bit of a process.

I have had to literally train myself that I can share my opinions without worrying about being left. I have had to get used to the super uncomfortable feeling in my stomach when I tell someone they have hurt me or I don’t agree with them.

It is like everything in my body is screaming at me, “No, don’t do it! There will be conflict. We hate conflict! What if they leave us? We will be all alone.”

But here is what I have learned, although there is a bit of a learning curve on both sides (it is an adjustment in any relationship when you drop the people-pleasing routine), and you might lose a few along the way, the people of value in your life will actually appreciate the change. Turns out, people like authenticity. Go figure.

Like anything, it is a bit of a ‘two steps forward, one step back’ process, and I stumble along the way. A lot. I have had to learn to take things slow, to let people adjust with me, and that being a people-pleaser is NOT the same thing as being ‘easy going’.

But I am working on it. And I am committed to myself and to that little girl who thought she wasn’t enough.

So for now, I say, “Hi, I’m Christine. I am a recovering chameleon.”

Are you a recovering chameleon? Drop me a comment if you can relate. Also, feel free to share using the super-easy share buttons below!

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Self-help: less talk, more action

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with self-help.

A part of me is a straight-up self-help junkie. I devour all the books, podcasts, and conferences that I can get my hands on. I love the teachings, the inspiration, and I work hard to incorporate the things I learn into my life.

But then there is the other part of me. The part of me that honestly finds all of it to be just a little too much. The buzz words, the psychobabble … I just can’t. Nothing brings out dramatic eyerolls from me quite like phrases such as ‘speaking my truth‘, ‘holding space’, or anything that references ‘leaning in‘ and ‘authenticity‘.

Newsflash, ‘speaking my truth‘ sounds like an overblown way of saying ‘here is my opinion‘. And ‘holding space‘ is basically a fancy version of saying you are ‘being supportive‘.

Perhaps I am just triggered by everyone’s authenticity and need to lean in to the discomfort and get grounded. (insert eyeroll here)

Seriously. It is a little too much sometimes. And don’t even get me started on yoga teachers who tell me to ‘breathe into my side body‘. Like, come on … who comes up with this stuff?!

K, rant over. Promise. (And to my yoga teacher, I’m sorry you had to hear it this way and I really do love you)

The bottomline is, psychobabble aside, a lot of this stuff has changed my life. And like anything, I don’t need to love it all. I can take what I like and leave the rest and that is exactly what I do. Besides, what do I care if someone says ‘holding space‘ or ‘being supportive‘? The intent and message is the same so I try to mind my own business and keep my eyerolls to myself.

Anyway, lately, with all of the covid-19 happenings, along with social isolation, I have found I have been consuming even more self-help material than usual and becoming more aware of what works for me … and what doesn’t. One of the things I have realized is that my frustrations with the self-help world have less to do with annoying buzzwords, and more to do with feeling inundated with information but then not understanding how to effectively use most of it.

When I look back, one of my biggest problems along my quest for self-improvement has been to do with goal-setting. When I really gave it some thought, I realized I was putting a tonne of effort into making goals, but then very little effort into making sure I actually accomplished them.

It is great to write out lists of dreams and cut apart magazines to create brilliant vision boards but if all I am doing to follow that up is sitting on my couch and drinking chardonnay out of a mug … I probably shouldn’t be terribly surprised if my big dreams don’t come to fruition, you know?

I’ve written on the topic of accomplishing goals before but one thing I was missing is how important it is to be aware of the steps we are actually taking to achieve them. We can visualize our dreams, manifest, and ‘speak our truth‘ all day long but unless we are actually following that up with action, we aren’t going to see a lot in the results department.

When I sat down and really looked at my daily habits and routines and asked myself, ‘Are these taking me in the direction I want to go?’ … I found the answer was an overwhelming, ‘not really’.

I mean, sure, I would write … for a few days. But then I would get discouraged. Or distracted. Or busy. And it would fall to the wayside.

I would eat healthy for a couple of weeks. But then friends would visit from out of town. It would be someone’s birthday. Or some sort of holiday. And I would fall off the wagon.

Everything I did was so willy nilly. So half-assed. And I realized that unless my big dreams involved some sort of certification in Netflix-watching, I wasn’t making any consistent moves towards my goals. My actions were not in line with my desired outcome.

That is when I realized the importance of what I have affectionately dubbed ‘goal-stepping‘ – the act of taking concrete, measurable steps every day to ensure I will reach my goals. (I also figured I might as well get on the buzz word bandwagon and invent one. If you can’t beat them, then join them, right?)

I think that one of the places that we get stuck when going after goals, at least where I do, is in the overwhelm. Let’s face it, when approaching a daunting goal such as starting a business, writing a book, or losing 50 lbs, it can be hard to know where to start, let alone maintain the motivation to keep at it. Add in multiple big goals and it gets even worse. We might take a couple of cracks at it but then it gets hard and all of a sudden a mug full chardonnay seems a heck of a lot easier, and pretty darn appealing.

The way I tackle overwhelm, and my #1 goal-stepping technique, is something I have adapted from the numerous self-help champions that I admire such as Rachel Hollis and Mel Robbins. I take 2 minutes every morning and write out my goals (I do my 5 year goals). Then I choose ONE small thing I can do that day that will take me a tiny bit closer. Depending on where I am at and how I am feeling, some days it might be as simple as writing an email to my Publisher, other days I might set the task of writing a chapter. Giving myself one task, rather than overwhelming myself with several, makes me so much more effective and able to accomplish much more overall. Whether the day allows for a small gesture or a giant leap, either way, I am taking one step in the direction I want to go.

The beauty is, oftentimes, that one step leads to another. (#goalstepping)

And here is the deal, it’s not always perfect. Sometimes, I find myself back on the couch, working towards my Netflix certification. We will have bad days, bad weeks, or sadly … sometimes even bad months. And that is okay, cut yourself some slack. But then, dust yourself off and get back at it. After all, you are the only person who is going to get yourself where you want to go.

So, keep your eye on the prize but don’t fall victim to overwhelm. Use all the psychobabble and buzzwords you like, but don’t forget the action! Do one thing everyday that will get you a little bit closer to your goal(s). It doesn’t matter if it is big or small. When we approach things in small measurable tasks, it is amazing what we can accomplish.

You know what they say … How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

So go ahead, take one tiny bite each day. I promise it will be a gamechanger.

And I’ll be here, holding space if you need me 😉

life, Uncategorized

Stop ‘just’ing your passion

For as long as I can remember, I have loved to write. Even as a very small girl, I loved nothing more than receiving a brand new notebook and pen so that I could spend my days scribbling. My mom used to laugh because most little girls wanted barbies or other typical toys, but not me, I wanted one of those fancy pens that you got from nice offices or speciality stationary stores. Give me a pen that would run smoothly across the page and not clump ink … SWOOON!

Despite my early passion, my stories were not the most riveting back then, let’s just say I’ve come a long way. They were all the same, usually starring a young princess named Christine (coincidence?) with SOFT, FLOWING red hair, and TANNED skin.

Now, if you know me personally, you know how comical that is. There is nothing soft about my hair, I could legitimately fashion it into a spear and stab someone if needed. My mother lovingly described it as having the texture of ‘steel wool’, it is not exactly nice to snuggle with nor does it ‘flow’ anywhere. And the closest I have ever gotten to a tan was when … well, never. I’ve never even come close. But hey, I was only 7. And a girl can dream, can’t she?

My stories always had a dad (the king), a sibling (although I was Dad’s favorite), and we lived in a marvelous palace … talk about using creativity to work through your abandonment and ‘only child’ issues.

Over the years my writing thankfully transitioned beyond ‘The Chronicles of Princess Christine’ to include a little more variety, and then to the dark, melancholic prose that only a teenage girl can pull off. No matter the age or stage of life, I was writing. I even remember my friends asking me to help them in English class whenever they felt stumped or overwhelmed. It is fair to mention that I was not the best student (read: barely scraped by), so to be the kid who others were coming to for help was a real source of pride for me.

There is no doubt about it, the written word has always been ‘my jam’.

Now the odd thing is, it wasn’t until just last year, when I became a published author, that I actually considered myself ‘a writer’. Even though I had been writing since I was old enough to hold a pen, loved it with my entire being, and was pretty good at it, I always thought of it as ‘just’ a hobby. ‘Just’ something I enjoyed doing in my free time. I thought that to be ‘a writer’, you had to have gone to school for a degree, have a job for which you get paid for writing, or have been published.

I’ve been giving this some thought lately and I’ve got to say … what a crock of shit. Why do we do that? Why do we ‘just’ our passions? Why do we insist on downplaying our talents unless there is a degree or a paycheck associated with them?

I am no more a writer now than I was two years ago before I had been published.

I am a writer because I write. Bottom line.

Obviously there are limits and some things do require a level of training. I can’t go around calling myself a massage therapist just because I enjoy rubbing oil on people and soothing tired muscles, even if I am darn good at it. That would be reckless and quite frankly, a little bit weird.

What I am talking about is how we minimize our gifts and passions. About how we constantly determine the value of our talents on how much money or status it brings in.

Is it nice to make money doing something we love? Of course. Is it validating to have a piece of paper recognizing hard work, effort, and skill? Yes. But do those things determine our talent or worth? No.

So next time you are talking about your passion, drop the ‘just’ in front of it.

Wear the title with pride.

You don’t ‘just play around with paint’. You are a goddamned painter!

You don’t ‘just enjoy photography in your free time’. You are a mother freaking photographer!

And if your passion does require some training or education in order to wear the title or expand on your gift … do it!

Stop hiding. Stop downplaying. Stop devaluing yourself. And stop making excuses.

You are worth it!

Go get’em, tiger.

~Christine (mother freaking writer since birth)

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I’ll be your Monica if you be my Rachel …

I was visiting with a friend the other day and as we sipped our americanos and caught up on each others lives, my friend shared that she was feeling exasperated with one of her colleagues. This woman is apparently very sweet with a kind heart but tends to be overly exhausting and my dear friend was struggling. “She just has no clue! It’s like she is oblivious to her behaviour!” As I nodded sympathetically and offered helpful suggestions as to how my friend might handle her colleagues’ antics, I couldn’t help but wonder … how do people perceive me?

Am I someone who people enjoy for a short time but then breathe a sigh of relief when I leave the room? Or am I (as I like to think) easy-going and effortless to be around? Am I completely oblivious to how my behaviour and energy impacts others? Or am I self-aware and conscious of social cues?

Well, if you know me, you are already rolling your eyes at this blog post … and if you don’t know me, the answers to the above questions are (in order) OCCASIONALLY, RARELY, SOMETIMES, and A LITTLE BIT.

And let me tell you, thank goodness for that little bit of social awareness because if not for that, I might be a real nightmare!

The bottom line is, I am fully aware that I am sometimes high-maintenance or ‘work’ to be friends with. Like on a scale of 1-10 of friendship (1 being someone who is easy peasy and 10 being a Monica Gellar vibe) … I feel like I’m a solid 7. Maybe a 6 and a half.

Now I have nothing against Monica Gellar and I’m not writing this to get a bunch of praise or arguments … “Christine, don’t be silly! You are a great friend!”

Trust me, I am equally aware that I am a good friend too. I am energetic, trustworthy, and entertaining. I am always up for fun and your mom will love me. You can tell me almost anything without me even blinking an eye and I am loyal AF.

But I would be lying if I said that being my friend is a breeze. I can be loud, overly exuberant, hyperactive, moody, and anxious. I can be demanding, inappropriate, and I need constant reassurance. I will relentlessly ask your advice even though I have already fully made up my mind about what I am going to do (otherwise known as an ‘askhole’) and I always seem to be generating chaos around me. I’m not so much breezy as I am tropical stormy.

Oh yea, I am also dramatic and ‘overly expressive’. Now I’ve never really considered my expressive nature to be a negative thing. In fact, I have always prided myself on having exceptional non-verbal communication skills (you will ALWAYS know how I am feeling), but the other day one of my co-workers said to me “It’s amazing, you can whine without actually saying anything. It is like your whole body is whining.” so I’ve since realized that perhaps it is possible to exude a little too much in the emotion department.

Points for being fairly self-aware?!

Anyway, the whole situation really got me thinking … it is a weird balance between loving and accepting who you are but also trying not to be a complete oblivious asshole.

I am always going to be excitable, anxious, and need reassurance. I am always going to ask your advice and then do whatever the hell I want anyway. But it’s also not going to hurt if I try to be a little more mindful of my surroundings … and keep my non-verbal whining to a minimum.

Friends wouldn’t have been Friends without Monica. In all reality, she’s pretty cool. And thankfully she had all of the other characters to keep her balanced and in check. So to my crew, thanks for keeping me in check and loving all of me, even when things get stormy.

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Calling all writers

So turns out, I’m kind of hooked on this whole writing gig. I am thrilled to have recently signed on to lead a new co-author book with Golden Brick Road Publishing House.

The book is tentatively titled ‘Fear is a Liar‘ and will tackle how fear gets in our way, how we can overcome it, and how there is power in all our stories. It will speak of resilience and courage, in all of its forms.

I believe that fear affects us all. Whether it is fear of success, failure, rejection, intimacy, self-expression – when we can find the lessons in our stories, and lean into the fear rather then running away from it, we empower ourselves.

I am looking for women from all walks of life and backgrounds to share their unique experience of fear, how it has gotten in their way, and how they got past it. If this is something that interests you, or think it might be a great fit for anyone you know, please pass my info along. I have included some info on the Publisher and the website.


About Golden Brick Road Publishing House – Golden Brick Road Publishing House is a small, female owned, Canadian, boutique press created to encourage gender and cultural equality while embracing diversity. Our authors grow and diversify their careers within the subjects of health and wellness, sociology, women’s studies, business, and personal development. Boasting a unique hybrid co-author program (one of three publishing programs offered at GBRPH) that capitalizes on the concept of “many hands make light work,” GBRPH works with our authors as partners. Thanks to the value, originality, and fresh ideas we provide our readers, GBRPH books are now available in bookstores across North America.

The co-author program is truly like no other. If this resonates with you, please don’t hesitate to connect.

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“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Yesterday I got to hold my book in my hands for the very first time. The co-author project that I, along with many other women, have worked so hard on over the past year. Seeing and holding my words in print was a beautiful and humbling experience. But it also felt really vulnerable. After all, this will be the first time that my words will reach beyond the safety of my family and friends. And as exciting as it is to have a large reach, something all authors dream of, it is also a bit scary.

What if I’m not good enough?

And as the limiting beliefs start bouncing around my head, I have to remind myself not only of the words that I wrote in my chapter … but of the fact that I am not in this alone. I am in this with 18 other amazing women. Women that I haven’t even met (in person). We come from different places, ages, backgrounds, and cultures, and we all created something beautiful together.

We supported each other, promoted each other, and cheered each other on. We wrote a freaking book together!

It honestly brings tears to my eyes. And how appropriate that we wrote about love. Love of self and love for another.

The stories and experiences that these women share are raw, real, and beautiful. They will push you to be a better version of yourself and inspire you to love yourself, and others, a little deeper.

Dear Love, I’m Ready for You is the 4th volume in the 3x award winning ‘Dear Women’ series. Here is the link if you would like to check it out.

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Dear Love, I’m Ready For You

Sooooo, it has finally happened. I am a published author (Dreams come true when you go after them and work hard!).

Introducing … Dear Love, I’m ready for you.

Dear Love, I’m Ready for You is the 4th volume in the 2x award winning Dear Women book series.

Dear Love, I’m Ready for You is a collection of stories about the power of love. Not fairytale prince and princess love — real-life love. The kind that challenges you, brings you to your knees, cracks you open, and pushes you to build a better version of yourself, every single day. This transformative love is real and messy and comes in infinite packages. Love is not only for romantics, we experience it within family, friendships, workplaces and hobbies, but where it needs the most attention is in the love for the self. It is the most potent force in the world. When we open our hearts and are willing to be led by and work with this powerful force, miracles will happen.

Preorder now for our fall release, will arrive in time for the holidays. Visit this link to order and enter promo code ‘christine20’ to save 20%.

As a first time author, and full time writing enthusiast, I so appreciate any and all support! I can’t wait for you to read it.