Friday, January 5, 2018

How to Lose Weight by Loving Your Body Better: from Allie Casazza

When my doctor told me that my blood sugar levels came back just over the cutoff and that I was considered “pre-diabetic,” I immediately joined Weight Watchers.  Although my weight is within normal range, my waist circumference puts me at higher risk for not only diabetes, but cancer and heart disease as well.  This was a wake-up call that I need to embrace a healthier lifestyle if I am going to get to live a full life on this planet.

So, for about a year I changed my eating habits.  I lost a small amount of weight, but my waist circumference didn’t budge.  I started yoga and eventually ballet, but still nothing was changing.  Except, I was now a part of an entire plethora of feminine life that I hadn’t ever experienced before: the group of women who have tried to lose weight.

I am very fortunate that I can say I never struggled with my weight, an eating disorder, or even hating my body as much as I did over this year of dieting (which WW insists is actually a lifestyle change).  Being immersed in conversations and culture that I hadn’t ever experienced was eye opening.  Most of my friends, I discovered, had used all sorts of “cleansing” diets, shakes, supplements, excessive exercise, or counting-calorie-type plans to lose weight over the years.  Every women I knew wanted to change her body in some way.  NO ONE WAS HAPPY WITH WHO THEY WERE.

And, I began to ask myself: is this the only way?  Is this the only way to actually lose weight?  I supposed that indeed you had to hate your body – at least a little – in order to motivate change.  I mean, have you ever met someone who started a weight loss program because they were already happy with themselves??  Of course not!

But, even after losing weight, the problem is, I was actually unhappier than I was before.  I HAD to think negatively about myself every time I chose spinach over chips, the yoga studio instead of a coffee date, and a hard boiled egg over a scone.  I had to say to myself, “This won’t get you where you want to go!  So, stay focused on your goal of being skinnier and don’t eat that dessert!”

When we train our minds to think AGAINST our bodies, that thinking pattern doesn’t change as soon as we lose that last 10 pounds.  As a matter of fact, that negative thinking is only strengthened because, after all, THAT’S what helped me get to where I am now.  “I have to keep thinking like this if I’m going to stay skinny.”

So, I’ve asked people if anyone knows a strategy for losing weight that actually involves being kind to yourself instead of criticizing yourself. 

God sent me the answer I was looking for.

Allie Casazza has a podcast called “The Purpose Show.”  She’s a Christian mama who teaches about minimilasm, and I have loved reading her emails and learning from her.  Most recently, her second episode of 2018 has given me exactly the tools I have been looking for and was titled, “How to Lose Weight by Loving Your Body Better.”

She posed the questions: “What do you love about your body?  And in light of that love, how will you treat your body better?”  Believe it or not, these answers aren’t as easy to come up with as their antonyms.  Nonetheless, here are my attempts:

I love that my body is capable of so many wonderful activities: dancing, laughing, tasting, playing, scrapbooking, painting, sex, reading, taking photos, listening to music, carrying my children on my back, driving, learning.  I am thankful that my ears can hear music, giggles, and fire alarms.  I am thankful that my eyes can see sunsets, my kids cute faces, and love notes from my husband.  I am thankful that my hands can mend, heal, touch, cook, play piano, and tickle my kiddos.  I am thankful that my organs are all cancer-free, functioning properly, and allowing me to simply enjoy life.  I am thankful that my mouth can taste chocolate, and chai lattes, and a good steak; and that it can speak the truth in love, offer encouragement, save my children from danger, and teach them about the world.  I am thankful that my nose can smell Christmas trees, and baby powder, and spring flowers, and David’s hair. 

This body does so much for me every day, and God sustains it and empowers it. 

In light of this place of gratitude, I don’t want to beat my body up.  I don’t want to purposefully damage it nor ignore it.  I don’t want to hate it or criticize it or constantly try to fix it and change it.  My body isn’t an ornament, it’s an instrument.  It’s something God can use, if I cooperate, for His purposes each and every day. 

So, I WANT to do yoga because it feels good and stretches these precious muscles.  And, I WANT to enjoy a chai with a friend at Starbucks while we share about our struggles and joys.  I WANT to walk more, play more, write more.  I want to savour the feeling of sand between my toes, the smell of autumn apple picking, and the sound of ocean waves crashing.  I want to scratch my hubbies back, even when he doesn’t ask for it, rub my kids feet when they’re I want to use my body in a way that brings life and joy to my family and my tribe.  I want to choose food that tastes good, sits well in my tummy, and fuels me for the next few hours of this precious life. 

This life isn’t a dress rehearsal; I don’t get a re-do.  And, the last thing I want to teach my two beautiful daughters is that they need to focus their lives on changing some aspect of their body that is totally trivial.  If I don’t model self-acceptance, gratitude for my body, and the self-care that follows from that love, my girls won’t either. 

This is for them.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Boundaries and Forgiveness

Many people believe that in order to forgive someone, we must be able to have a relationship with them.  Unfortunately, however, although we are ALWAYS better off to forgive a person, we are not always better off to remove healthy boundaries that we have put up with a person.

Boundaries are necessary in all relationships!  Even happy, healthy, whole relationships have a line drawn where the relationship will have dire damaging consequences if the boundary is crossed.  For example, if a friend of yours spreads a rumour about you, you won't likely maintain the friendship.  If your husband cheats on you, you might get a divorce.  If a boss harasses you, you might quit your job.

Some relationships need extra boundaries put in place, because there have been demonstrations of behaviour that warrant a need for safety.  If a verbally abusive family member persists, you may choose not to take phone calls from them.  If a roommate steals food from your cupboard, you may need to keep it protected and out of reach.  If a client doesn't pay their bill, you may choose not to work for them again.  Boundaries come after futile attempts of communicating with the other person that their behaviour is hurting your relationship and finding that person unwilling to modify their actions.  Notice that boundaries aren't expecting the other person to change, but they're only changing YOURSELF.  

So, if those boundaries are put in place, does that mean a person hasn't forgiven?  Can a person forgive someone but still keep themselves within the safe gates of boundaries? In order to understand this complex conundrum, it helps to understand a little bit about what forgiveness is NOT:

- Forgiveness is not excusing or justifying behaviour.  Instead, forgiveness says, "What was done was wrong and painful, but I will no longer hold this offence over you.  I will treat you with love and kindness, even though you don't deserve it."

- Forgiveness is not reconciliation.  Reconciliation is when BOTH sides of the offence choose to first forgive, and then find a way to make a relationship work together.  Instead, forgiveness says, "No matter what you choose to do, I will forgive you from my side.  Even if you don't forgive me, I will still choose the higher road and forgive you."  Forgiveness is a personal choice.

- Forgiveness is not welcoming more offences.  It's not saying, "Well, you did that once and I didn't like it but go ahead and do it again...and again."  Instead, forgiveness acknowledges the reality of the damage that the offence caused and doesn't live in denial that "it really wasn't that bad."

Forgiveness can happen without any interaction with the offender.  Forgiveness can happen even if the person who hurt you is dead, completely unwilling to apologize, or even if they keep re-offending.  It is a personal choice to let go of the need to make a person pay for what they did.  It's choosing freedom over revenge.

Some people mistake boundaries for revenge.  It's very important to make sure that when considering the enforcement of a new boundary, you consider your motives.  Is this boundary to keep you safe and prevent further harm?  Or is it to make a person pay for their actions?  There's a huge difference, and you must be aware of your personal attitude toward your offender in order to discern this.  Revenge doesn't free anyone from their offender; it only keeps you bound and drags you down to the same level as them.  Boundaries, when done with a forgiving heart, allow you to heal and find strength to become a better person after whatever offence occurred. 

This leads to the question, of course, "What about relationships where I can't put boundaries in place?"  There are the rare situations when we really have no power to escape the damage someone is doing to us: a child in an abusive home, a person who is the victim of severe crime, prisoners of war, etc.  Must we still forgive even in these times?  I think that we are privileged to have the stories of WWII survivors who can offer us an understanding of these extreme circumstances.  You'll find that even though many people were unable to escape the pain that was happening to them, they were able to find an inner peace and deep meaning through having forgiving hearts.  If someone in that case can forgive, then we can too!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Bulimic Shopper

Hi, my name is Erika and I am a Bulimic Shopper.

I binge shop, and have done so for years, filling my cart (or sometimes two) at target in a thrilling and exciting time of compulsion.  The high I would acquire placing beautiful objects on my shelves, hanging lovely clothes in my closet, and giving generous gifts to my friends became nothing short of an addiction.  The cycle was complete with the aftermath of buyer's remorse and guilty consumer debt.

But, we always managed to pay off the credit card and get afloat.  And, I would often keep the clutter from becoming too much by cleaning, organizing, and re-organizing again.  I justified my actions by keeping everything "under control."

Little did I know that my purging was as much an addiction as my buying.

When I dropped off carloads of donations I felt lighter, free-er, and even slightly altruistic as I would be praised for my "generosity."  I have always held lightly to my things - I don't let them captivate me!  Honestly, I don't!

But, what HAS trapped me in it's lure? This cycle I now recognize as Bulimic Shopping.

My friends and I have joked about my habits for the last couple years.  When your best friend has watched you go through this enough times and jokes, "Wow, that birthday present survived a lot of purges to last this long in your house!  It must be a good one!"  then you know you have to admit it: there's a problem.

So?  How do I change?  What can a shop-a-holic like me really do to make a difference?

I don't believe I will ever be able to embrace the concept of "pure" Minimalism as I understand it.  I have been researching this concept for a number of weeks now, filling my mind with TedTalks and blog posts on the subject.  The truth is: I don't want a tiny house!  I don't want a capsule wardrobe!  And I don't want to travel all the time!  I love our home; it's perfect for entertaining AND living.  I love my walk in closet; it offers me all the choices I need with my shifting moods and expressions.  I love to be a home-body; travelling is more draining than energizing with two young children who are just as happy with a sprinkler in the back yard.

That being said, there are a number of ideas around Minimalism that I can totally get on board with:
- less debt and fighting about making ends meet
- less distraction and more clarity in my life priorities
- feeling of lightness and newness
- less time organizing, re-organizing, and looking for things

And, probably the biggest change I have started making once I realized I had this Consumer-Disorder was CHANGING THE WAY I SHOP.  I will never stop shopping.  I love it.  It's in my bones and that's not likely to change.  I enjoy getting a starbucks in hand, wandering isles of beautifully displayed eye-candy, and chatting with my mom or sister or friend while I do so.  It's a hobby, and I'm not willing to give it up, because it makes me happy.

So, I'm REDIRECTING my shopping.  A number of years ago I completely gave up shopping for lent (even though I am not a Catholic).  You can read about it here

Through that experience, I have become a VERY picky shopper.  Here's my new way of shopping:

1) think ahead of time about what I actually "need."  I do hold this term loosely, because of course I'm not talking about basic needs here.  I mean things like: new potholder mittens because the ones was have are full of holes, or a pair of sandals that are so supportive I can wear them for hours all summer, or a rain jacket that's actually waterproof.  

2) quality over quantity.  I used to be all about the bargains!  More "bang for your buck" was so enticing!  If a sweater that I liked came in three colors, I bought all three.  If I found a scrapbooking paper I liked, I bought two pieces because you never want to run out.  Those shoes are ALMOST as comfortable as the other ones that are twice the price.  You get the picture.

3) don't look at the price tag and skip the clearance racks.  This especially applies to clothing for me.  My reasoning behind is this: when an item is really expensive, I might not try it on because I can't imagine it will be worth that much money.  When an item is cheap, I no longer feel it has the same value as expensive clothes, and I therefore won't treat it with value in the future.  I literally don't look at the price of an item when I check it out on the rack...I continue to ignore the price tag as I take it to the dressing room and try it on.  Then, once I have determined that I feel like a 10 (not a 9, or 8...but TEN) in the clothing item, I set it aside and at the very end I look at the prices and determine how many of my "10" items I can afford.  Sometimes I can still only get one thing: but that one thing will be loved and worn and used for many years to come!  

4) gifts are a go!  When I find something that speaks to me, "Mom would love this!" I scoop it up and save it for her next birthday or Christmas.  I have the hardest time trying to find gifts for people under pressure...What do they want?  What do they need?  Instead, I just allow myself to collect gifts throughout the year (and yes, all of my 5 nieces' Christmas presents are already purchased and it's only May).  Then, everything is less stressful throughout the year and when I get an invitation to a party we're ready to go!

5) I don't buy my kids toys.  My kids, like everyone else's, have more toys than they could ever use.  This is something I'm working on changing.  They have always known that we do a purge before birthday season (spring) and a purge before the holidays (fall) and I invite them to get in on the action!  I don't *usually* sneak their things away without them knowing (although, when I do they NEVER miss anything or ask about anything!).  We make a fun time of filling up one bag with toys they don't use anymore.  I'll sometimes lay out duplicates of three and say, which is your favourite?  Then, they get to keep that one.  The less toys they have, the more they play!  It's amazing ;)

With these significant reformations in place, I am hoping to transform my life-long Shopping Disorder to a habit of intentional, critical, and more satisfying consumerism.  Join me?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Play Room Tour

Hello Everybody!  Since buying our house over a year ago, most of the rooms have already changed a bit...for the better ;)  We've discovered that some things need to be moved, used, filled, or simply out of the house.

The playroom is no exception.  Especially after living down here for a month due to our dishwasher flooding (and hence new main level floors!), I knew that some things weren't functioning as well as they could for the kiddos.

At first, the two expedit shelves on the left of the fireplace were separated one on each side.  Would have been great if the girls were using them as reading benches, but their tops just ended up catching large toys and taking up too much space.  Hence, the new layout which is so much more useful for them!

The big TV is wonderful in here for the occasional viewing of Paw Patrol.  We aren't huge TV people, so we don't have one on our main floor.  But, this is great when Mama needs a break in her nearby scrapbooking room!

The IKEA RUG has been a blast to use as a colour learning toy - we often make up twister-like games with it.

I absolutely LOVE this art that I got here:
Katie Daisy is the Oregonian artist, and this colourful work completes this room!

I bought a bunch of cheap second hand frames (and two open ones from Micheal's), painted them with acylic paints I had laying around and strung art across them...voila!  An art wall :)

These curtains were originally duvet covers from I got 6 panels of fabric for only $45!  Woo hoo!  Thanks to a friend who helped when my machine made me ANGRY ;)  I still hate sewing...

Organized the many bins with pictures of what's inside and letter stickers...easy and hopefully helpful to my pre-literate children.

Lastly, a few of the reading nook area - it's a bit messy right now as the girls' have used the chair for a fort, and there's a pile of tiles that are about to be installed in my husband's office...but, ya know I would never get things photographed "perfectly" around here!

These letters are carved from books!  HAD TO HAVE!

Thanks for looking friends!  Hopefully your kiddos will come over and play with us sometime ;)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Do we have to forgive the unrepentant?

Do we have to forgive someone who is not repentant?

(First, two quick definitions:
Forgive: To give up resentment against or stop wanting to punish someone for a perceived or real offense.
Repent: To feel remorse for wrongdoing, and to change one’s mind and behavior regarding it.)

This is a question that is heavily weighing on me these days…and I have researched and read…book upon book, blog post upon blog post.

I’ve heard good arguments in the “yes” category, and equally good arguments in the “no” category.

So…which answer do I embrace as my own?  Let me give a brief overview of some of the Biblical evidence put forth before the jury:

-       God didn’t forgive people in the bible who didn’t repent of their sins
-       Only people who have repented of their sins will be saved
-       We are to forgive as Christ forgave; so if he didn’t forgive the unrepentant, we don’t have to either
-       We still have to treat our trespassers with kindness and love, but we don’t actually have to forgive them.  Instead, we hand them over to the wrath of God to have Him deal with them.

-       Christ actually DID forgive people who didn’t repent (for example, the people who were crucifying him.  This is rebutted by camp “NO” by saying that Jesus actually hands them over to God the Father to deal with them.)
-       We are told to forgive many times in the bible without the added qualifier of “those who repent.”
-       We can forgive people but still have healthy boundaries in place especially if the person isn’t willing to change their behavior (separating the concept of “forgiveness” and “reconciliation”)

There are countless Bible verses to support BOTH CAMPS.  So…here’s the conclusion I have come to (ready….drum roll…)


Instead of asking “do we have to” (ie. What is required of me?), how about we ask, “Is it BEST to forgive, or is it BEST not to?”

WHAT IS THE BEST CHOICE?  To forgive anyone and everyone whether they repent or not?  Or, to keep a score card of those who actually repent and those who allegedly do not and then try to play judge under these arguments?

My (wise beyond her years) little sister once said, “I think that personal growth is all about doing whichever thing placed before us is the most difficult.”  She’s right!  The hardest thing is to choose to forgive someone no matter what – to forgive the person who has no intention of changing their ways, to forgive the person who continues to do wrong, to forgive the person who is dead and unable to make amends, to forgive myself and pull up my bootstraps and try to do better next time even though I will probably fail.

Because, in my humble opinion, I cannot even possibly repent for all of my wrongdoings!  I don’t even know all of them!  I rest believing that Christ’s blood covers all of my sins – even the ones I am not aware of and therefore cannot repent of yet.  Yes, I have a stance of willingness toward His Spirit to change me and mold me – and therefore, people would argue I am repentant – but I still am not completely self-aware.

As we are not aware of our wrongs toward other people at all times, so they also are not aware of their wrongs toward us at all times. And, even if we bring a wrong to their attention, THEY MAY SIMPLY BE INCAPABLE of changing their behavior.  Yes, the drunken abusive man may not actually be able to get sober today; the gossiping “friend” may not be able to stop her habit today; the snippy coworker may not be able to improve her manners today; and on and on the list goes.

But, it is still the BEST choice to forgive!

Why?  Why is it best?  Because, what other choice do we have?  To sit and be angry?  To allow the wrong doings of another person to fill us with hatred?  To become darkened as they are?  To begin the vicious and fruitless cycle of seeking revenge? No thanks.

Yes, it is BEST to choose to be free from the weight and the burden of keeping score, of holding the wrongs that someone has committed against them.   I would rather experience lightness of heart, freedom to love, generosity of spirit, then to carry judgment as a shackle.  I would also prefer to be in charge of this state of myself, instead of having to be prisoner to another person's repentance of their behavior.  Healing is in my own hands this way, and not dependent on anyone else.

I would like to clarify also that I do not think that forgiveness is the same as continuing to put oneself in an unnecessary position of experiencing wrongs.  You don’t have to stay in an abusive home.  You don’t have to continue to tell the gossiping friend about your life (or even be her friend).  You don’t have to listen to the snippy coworker – or you could even get another job.  You might be truly “stuck,” or you might just think you are.

You also do not always have to give someone the power to hurt you!  You can make the deliberate choice to say that a person no longer has such permission to control how you feel.  They can behave as they wish, they can say what they will, and you can simply recognize that their behavior and words are a reflection of THEM, not YOU.

Last point against the "NO" camp: if we are to "hand our trespassers over to God" and let them deal with His wrath, aren't we just eagerly awaiting revenge?  I mean, maybe I am more sinful then the next person, but when I think about that concept it makes me feel super self-justified and excited that the people who have hurt and wronged me will get their due! Yes, we need to recognize that perfect justice will not happen on this earth; so why not choose forgiveness since it's not going to be "all fair" now anyway?

I have much more to say about this, but I’ll address more topics on this later.  For now, I think I have answered this one question well enough so that I can go to sleep now ;)

Upcoming Topics:
- Forgiveness and Reconciliation (in relationships with others and also in our relationship with God) are not the same things
- Boundaries: can they coexist with forgiveness?
- The process of forgiveness: how do we do it?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Christmas Home Tour - Part 1

Super excited to share some pictures of parts of our home all dressed up for Christmas.  Believe it or not, as much as I love decorating, my husband also loves the decorations (once they’re up!)  He is the advocate to do just one…more…tree this year ;) 

I’ll show you the three areas that are all spruced: the great room, our master bedroom, and the landing upstairs.  The formal front room (with the BIG tree) will come later.

I hope you all enjoy – thank you for stopping by!

Kitchen: kept it simple with a wreath above the stove, a garland over the big window, and gift wrapping the usual art.  I think it’s pretty and classic J  Probably will choose different gift wrap next year, as I don’t love the kraft colour of the paper against our paint colour (BM Rockport Grey).

Living Room: This is our new tree!  We went with red, gold, and burlap for this room.  Definitely need to continue collecting things to make this room work better, but it’s a play space for now.  It’s where we spend a lot of time so I wanted the nativity to be the thought-provoking centre of it all.  Still debating on maybe doing some paintings for the space on the wall to the left of the mantle…we’ll see!

And just a little pic to give you a sneak peek of what is "really" underneath all those beautiful pictures ;)  haha!  We do live here!

Master Bedroom: purple and silver, just like always J  Romantic and calming – we love it here!

Landing: this little spot is where the bedtime stories get read, and the chasing around in the evening to get teeth brushed happens.  It’s an added bonus space and white with more white is what I went with here.  Love trying out different colours and styles around the house!  We used feather boas a lot in this area (cheap and pretty!) – and thank you Alyssa for the awesome wreath that now drapes over the scrapbook shelf.

 Thanks again for stopping by - will show you more when it's done :)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Baby Is ONE


Today is a big day in my world: it's my baby girl's first birthday.  She couldn't care less - to her it's just another day that also happens to involve chewing on bright gift bows and smearing around cupcake frosting.

But, for me, it's a big deal.

This year has been the most overwhelming year of my life.  There have been sleepless nights followed by extreme fatigue.  There have been moments when I've wanted to just come unraveled...and I almost have.  There have been countless prayers that sounded like this, "Please.  Just.  Help.  Me."  There have been so many days where I just did my best to make it through the morning to nap time...and then through the afternoon to bed time.  Headaches.  Viruses.  Colds and flues.  Baby has even had pneumonia and a couple of ER visits.


There's just nothing easy about parenting.  To say it's exhausting is putting it mildly.  Having one child was manageble for me.  Having two children has been one big blur.

A foggy mess of memories...with lots of pictures since I was only half awake. Instead of focusing on the laying on the couch while Annelise naps and Evalie watches a movie kind of moments, I want to hold on to THESE moments:


- the way that Annelise lights up EVERY time I come into the room; she waves her arms and grins
- that special strong sister bond that Evalie and Annelise share
- how Annelise is so grossed out by our dog Jolie and really doesn't want anything to do with her
- what a good breastfeeder and then eater Annelise has been
- hearing her first coos, then mumbles, and now word-ish sounds
- her love of music and the way she rocks left and right and dances when it's on
- the countless smiles she has put on strangers faces by smiling at them in public
- her head resting on my shoulder and pressing into my chest for cuddles
- sneaking in to watch her breathe in the middle of the night, but always waking her up on accident
- the sounds she makes when sucking a bottle or a bag of baby food
- the softness of her perfect skin; unburdened by diaper rashes and sensitivities
- tiny feet that seem too small to hold her up as she learns to walk

My love for Annelise Virginia has grown steadily since the day I first held touched her wet head and pulled her shoulders from my own body and placed her on my chest...That moment changed my life forever.  THANK YOU SWEET BABY FOR THE BEST YEAR OF MY LIFE!

(See it all on the Cradled Creations link here:)


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