Category Archives: Gremlin Breaking

Body Love – Not a Reflection

We have very few mirrors in our house. It was never a conscious decision to not have mirrors in our house so much as it never became a priority to have a good mirror among our possessions. I realized this when my aunt asked for a baby bump selfie (a bumpfie) that featured my face as well as my growing baby. We do not have a proper full length mirror in our house. (The closest thing is a warped IKEA mirror that has been cracked for well over 7 years.)

Our baby loves his reflection! So, I have spent much more time in front of the few small mirrors that we do have in our house. When I am looking at the mirror, though, I am focused on his reflection, and the reaction happening there. I maybe look at myself once every other day when I am putting my hair in a clip, or brushing out my part. Of course, there is a quick glance when I’m brushing my teeth, and maybe as I wash my face. For the most part, though, everything I do does not require actually looking at myself.

When I did catch a glimpse of myself in a full-length mirror, it was therefore a pretty big shock for me. Now, I was also in my bathing suit, which is not an outfit I normally think about myself in. And, I was looking over my shoulder, holding a squirming 20-lb baby when I happened to glance at myself.

I was out in public, so I repressed the emotional reaction that this had on me. I fixed the gap that had caught the most of my attention, and carried on the conversation with a fellow mother. My internal dialogue was doing a number to repress the shame I instinctively felt upon seeing this body that I live my life in every day.

I knew that I wasn’t at my physical best, and I was okay with that. My body has had many aches and pains so far this year, and I am focused on strengthening it so that those aches go away. Like many new parents, I am sleep-deprived, distracted, and not making my own health as much of a priority as my child’s health. My health is still important to me, which is why I have been putting more and more energy into regaining my strength from before my pregnancy. My appearance, though, is way below both of those aspects to my life on the scale of priorities. However, I was still really taken aback.

I haven’t always loved myself, and a lot of that neglect comes from not loving the looks of my body. “Hello, my name is Jodi, and I am a woman in our current culture.”  As a young adult, though, I decided to change that. And, not in the usual way of working out every single day, counting all of my calories, and losing weight in all the right areas and adding some weight in all the other areas. Nope! While I have always been interested in fitness, being a healthy weight, and living healthier, I knew at 19 that health and appearance were two different aspects of myself.  By the age of 8, I started to realize that it wasn’t “baby weight” that I would one day outgrow, but that I was actually overweight and should do something about that. For the next ten years, it became my fault that I was so overweight, and I felt the shame associated with being “so unhealthy.” However, at my healthiest age – 25/26 – I still wouldn’t have fit into the cultural idea of what a “healthy body” looks like.  I didn’t need that, though, as I was just elated to fit into a single digit size of clothing.

As a young woman, after years of feeling ashamed for being overweight, I knew that changing myself physically wouldn’t change the shame I had for my body. Instinctively, I used positive psychology to slowly fall in love with my body. I started with what I already liked about myself: my hair, and my feet. I have these golden locks of hair, and even today – as the dirty blonde has more and more wisdom glitter in it every day – it is still one of my best features (and needs the least amount of maintenance).  I had never realized, though, that my feet were really gorgeous!  In fact, I joked with a coworker that I should have them photographed for a foot fetish website.

I started with what I liked about myself, and soon realized that I loved those aspects of my physical body. Then, it started to grow. My calves became super strong in my mind’s eyes, and my knees were pretty perfect, too. My face – contorted into the right angle for the age of selfies – was great. I would stare at it in mirrors, working on different expressions in high school, and by university, I decided to start loving the little lines that were starting to form. Laugh lines, to me, meant that I had been so happy in my life! Soon, I discovered my collar bones and realized that they were amazing. My shoulders were super strong! And my breasts, well, I have never disliked my breasts.

By this point, I had kicked that shame about my body in its ugly face.  This is, of course, the only kind of violence I tolerate. Every time I look at my hands, I see my mother’s long fingers and perfectly shaped nails, working hard in service for her loved ones. My forearms are adequate. And the rest? Well, I have found reasons to love them, too. My inner thighs may ALWAYS rub against one another, but that’s just how powerful my THUNDER THIGHS are! As a bicycle commuter, I loved their strength and the speed it provided me, even in the winter months.  Always a little bit of a comedian, I fell in love with my upper arms when I lived in an 18th floor apartment. “In case of an emergency,” I joked, “I’ll just open the window, and let my squirrel arms fly us to safety.”

As an older woman, I know that the shame is not my fault. Looking at that body in the bathing suit, I knew that what I looked like didn’t matter to anybody who mattered.  As Dr. Seuss wrote:

“Those who matter, don’t mind. And those who mind, don’t matter.”

And yet, that shame still popped up. It lingered below the surface for the rest of the day before I brought it up with my husband that night. As I started to tell him about seeing my reflection, tears came flowing from my eyes. I hadn’t realized until that point how much that shame was still there. Nor how much it needed to be released.

In my day to day life, the appearance of my body matters so very little. What it can do – create life, build sanctuary barns, comfort a stranger – is so much more of a way bigger deal. Body shame, though, is still so prevalent in our lives that after more than a decade of dedicated body love – and a lifetime of caring less about what people think than the average person – it can still bring a strong woman like me to tears.

Remember this any time you think something negative about a woman’s body. It’s fine, we can all have those thoughts. But what you do with those thoughts – something like telling her them – is pretty important. My suggestion would be to keep any negative thoughts to yourself…and then think of ten positive ones to believe instead. <3 <3 <3

Consistency vs Commitment

It is okay to go down crying as long as you get up fighting.

~ Marjorie Shier

The leader of a New Moms Group that I was a part of invited us to share something about ourselves that wasn’t about our career or our new babies. Of the myriad of things that I could share, the one that first came to mind was my approach to fitness:

“I’m a runner. And always a novice runner. I really want to commit to it for a length of time, but something always comes up – like an injury, a busy work schedule, or more recently – my pregnancy. But, I am always interested in getting started again. I love running!”

Like the majority of the culture around me, the new year is always a reminder for me to take care of my health more than I was (if only in December!). As part of that resolution, getting more active has been on my radar, and I have been doing more and more every week. As I listened to a workout video from before my pregnancy, though, I started to contemplate how important it really is to be consistent every day.

I did one of the workout videos for the first time in 16 months last Thursday. After encouragement from a fellow mother, I set up my baby as my cheerleader in his jolly jumper, and I talked to him through the whole thing. (He loved the first 10 minutes of watching Mum’s new moves, but started to protest for the last 10 minutes of the video. The middle ten minutes were precarious.) I wrapped up the video sooner than I would have had I been alone, but celebrated the success of being more active even with a 5-month-old under foot.

The next day, I was walking like a spring chicken…because my quads were on fire!

In my old life, I would have just pushed through and put on another video – no pain, no gain, right?  Wrong! I snapped at my husband because I was in pain. I cried when my baby needed me to pick him up again because my legs felt like they were ripping apart. Despite all of the extra stretching I did after the baby had gone to bed, my body was broken. I could not be the mom I want to be when I had done something to make my body stronger.

So, do I stop working out entirely to focus on being that mom I want to be?   If consistency is so important to gaining strength and working through that pain is essential to being fit, did I ruin it all by NOT putting the next video in the next day?

There are so many things in my life that I want to do and so many roles that I want to fill that the activities might not get executed perfectly, and I may not be the person I want to be in those roles all of the time. Does that mean I am failing at them all? Not at all. Just like tearing apart the muscles in my quads in order to rebuild stronger ones, my life needs to be torn apart every so often in order to be a stronger me, too. And being a stronger me is truly the Mum I want to be for my baby.

When I really think about consistency, I realize that my need for it is not coming from myself, but from what the fitness guru on the video was telling me. If fitness were the only thing happening in my life, maybe it would be more important for me to be consistent at it. But I am committed to so much more than fitness in my life right now. When I look back at what has worked in my life, commitments are much stronger than consistency.

For the first few years of my compassionate lifestyle, I “cheated.” I referred to myself as the “Cheatin’ Vegan” as a result, joking at my failure because I wasn’t always consistent. I was still committed to being a vegan, though, and after a few years, it became the easiest part of my life.  I did this through a commitment to being more of the person that I wanted to be than consistently doing the most I could every day. The only consistency I had was in re-committing to being a vegan every single day.

One of my friends had this sentiment to say in regards to my “vegan cheats”:

You can choose to re-commit first thing tomorrow, or not even that far ahead – re-commit at your next meal, your next snack, even the next bite.

You are free to commit or re-commit at any moment. That is the one consistency you will always have.

I did the second workout video this morning. My baby went in his Jumperoo to work on his cheerleading skills and I zoomed past the exercises that my back isn’t strong enough to do just yet. My quads are still sore, and they might be for the next few weeks, but I’m pretty sure that I will be able to pick up my baby without tears running down my face tomorrow. Maybe I didn’t bring “all that I have and then a little bit more” this time, but I brought enough for the change I am willing to put our lives through right now. And that’s more important to me than being a fitness guru leading a workout video right now. Maybe I will do another video tomorrow, maybe it won’t happen again until Wednesday. I can’t commit to any specific consistent time, but I can commit to always growing, changing, and being stronger.

Why I Need a Coach: Clarity

I am what you might call a “go-getter.” I’m ambitious, I’m action-oriented, and I make things happen! But, that doesn’t always get me what I want. Or need, even.  Sometimes, being all action lands me into places that have my friends, family, and coworkers clicking their tongues and asking, “what did you expect?” To be honest, sometimes I can’t even recall what I expected; I just wanted to get moving.

One example would be the time I organized and implemented Edmonton’s first vegetarian festival: Vegtoberfest. My idea for it had no end goal – I just wanted to celebrate all the cool veg*n people and veg*n-friendly businesses that I had recently discovered. (And, it was a spoof on the famous festival Oktoberfest… I like playing with words the most!) When it came to the Opening Day and I was called on to give a speech, my words were not as meaningful as they would have been with a clear intention for the festival.  As for judging whether or not to include or exclude an event, I had no criteria. Measuring my success was difficult because I did not know if I had achieved what I wanted to.  All in all, there were a lot of things left out of this transformative experience of mine.

Now, I’m not saying that I wish I had had a blueprint to follow through the whole process. Part of what I love about the experience is that it DID transform me because I had never done anything like it before. And nobody around had done anything like it, either. What I am saying is that it might have been better if I had started with some clarity on what I wanted to achieve. Maybe I would have been better able to explain my idea to the board. Perhaps more people would have clamoured behind the movement if there had been a clear picture of what we were creating. If I had more clarity on what I had wanted the end result to be, it might have reached even more people.

What if I had taken some critical reflective moments and was really clear on what I was going to create? What if I had had a Life Coach?  Thinking back on the event, I realized that having a Life Coach through it all would have been a great idea!  Nobody in the organization had done a project of this size before, so there was nobody there to mentor me through it.   I was a dreamer and I wanted to create my dream; nobody could have given me a blueprint on that vision except myself, too. The right Life Coach would have helped me get clear on what that vision of Vegtoberfest was and how I was going to make that happen.   Working with a Life Coach, I might have worked on boosting my confidence going into the project, so that selling the idea came more easily to me. And – on those days when I felt like I was getting nowhere; when 4 people showed up to an event instead of 40; or when a volunteer cancelled at the last minute – my Life Coach would have been there for support and to refocus me on my bigger vision.

Hindsight, as the cliché goes, is 20:20. The truth of the matter is that I didn’t actually know what a Life Coach did back then. And maybe you don’t either.  I didn’t know what the process would be like, or if I would be able to trust the Coach, let alone feel comfortable meeting with them on a regular basis.

Now I know though, that I could have at least tried having a Life Coach through this transformative project I undertook. Most coaches will offer you a taste of their service before you agree to their service for 3-18 months. An Introductory Session is a great way to really get to know how your coach will support you throughout your journey, and see if Coaching – with the right coach – is the path for you.  No person is the same; not every coach is the same, too.

 

Are you interested in experiencing Coaching? Contact me to set up YOUR Introductory Session and see if we’re the right fit for you and whatever your project is right now. 

Are you ready to Make Things Happen? Email Koach Karlssen: jodi (at)koachkarlssen.com

 

veg*n = vegetarian and vegan

Not P-p-planning, But Preparing

Earlier, I wrote about how I would stop planning, and start doing. This idea might sound counterintuitive, and to a certain degree it might be. To clarify (because I do think some planning is necessary in life), my concern was not with the “knowing where to go” aspect of planning, but the hesitation of acting with or without a plan.

In coaching, we talk about “Gremlins” – things that hold us back from moving forward. For me, “planning” has become a Gremlin. Here are a few of the reasons why:

  • I am a perfectionist! In my plan, everything is perfect because that is exactly what I want. When I finally get to the application of my plan and things are not going perfectly, I completely freeze! No, that first step did not go perfectly, nothing will! Trust me, I will speak more on the gremlin of “perfection” this year…
  • I enjoy thinking about the future – more than I enjoy being in the present. As a child, I imagined future scenarios of my life as I drifted off to sleep. This was an offshoot of all the fantastic literature I read as a child and helped develop me into the wonderful possibilities-minded person I am today. Unfortunately, it meant that I was always a little bored with what was happening in the moment. My future scenarios were not always the pleasant or perfect situations that a rational person would want to have happen to them. I often faced off against my nemeses and dealt with conflict on a regular basis. I was, however, always the victor in those scenarios of conflict! (It’s funny that I never went to law school…yet.)  And, if not, I would go back and rework the scenes so that I could eventually save the day. Interestingly enough, we don’t get to rework the scenes of our actual lives…
  • I am a bit afraid of actually reaching my dreams. What?!? This is an even more counter-intuitive point than my plan to stop planning. If I dream about something, I must obviously want it, right? Then, why am I afraid of it?!? Well, the easy answer is that because every time I won an award as a child I stood out a bit more. (I know many of my academic – a.k.a. “nerdy” –  friends can attest to that! Remember a time before The Big Bang Theory when being smart was not cool – not even ironically?!?) The more difficult perspective of this is something a friend of mine pointed out last fall: it’s not so much the fear of success as it is the fear of failure after success. Now, that gremlin will have to be dealt with in another blog…

Those are some good reasons to not let myself get stuck in the rut of planning.

  • I want to stop focusing on perfection if it holds me back from getting anything done.
  • I want to enjoy this moment right now instead of constantly be living in the future.
  • I want to be less afraid of reaching my dreams, and maybe be ok with being successful.

So, how do I get all of those things?

By being prepared to be me! What does that mean?

1) Know that I am going to make mistakes.  What?!? Me?!? Never! Okay, except for that time last week…and that other thing I did the day before yesterday…and possibly even the marketing error I did up above when I referenced pop culture without the blog being exclusively about pop culture… Yeah, I’m human. I’m gonna $@#% up sometimes.  Luckily, I know that I also learn from those mistakes. Yes, the embarassment is tough to handle sometimes but I’ll bounce back. Just like my cat – I’m sure 80% of the time he falls off from a precarious perch he only hurts his ego. We both readjust, though. I will learn not to refer to pop culture that may have jumped the shark a few years ago (maybe it did, I don’t know; I’ve only watched Netflix religiously for the last 3 years) and my cat learns not to climb on the edge of the rocking chair when it’s moving… long story.

2) Embrace my strengths. I’ll tell you a secret I uncovered when I was being coached the other week: I’ve never run my own company before.  There’s always been someone else there, taking the lead. And, while their directions were quite vague and I was able to learn the most through exploring in the freedom I’ve been given in my management roles, there are a lot of things I still don’t know about running a company. So, although I have done everything else I am working on in my life before, doing this all on my own is a FIRST for me.  And, that can be scary…until I realize something else about myself: I’m a quick learner! I need to embrace that part of me – that constantly curious, learning-through-doing freedom-seeking self that will push through any hardship to figure out what needs to get done and do it. And, yes, that comes from learning from my mistakes…

3) Just go with it. It’s time to jump in! I have finished my course material for my life as a Certified Life Coach, and now I get to really figure out the business side of it! That means I’m going to make a lot of mistakes. I did that in my coach training…and if I ever disagree, I just need to go back and listen to some of my first practise sessions! Now, I am just several short months and a few more hours before I am officially a Certified Life Coach. And that all happened in this last year. How? Because I went with it. I realized that I needed to practise lots to get better, so I did.  I knew I needed to practise with non-coaches and I have. I figured out the knowledge that would best serve me as a coach, and I read the right books. Now, I get to do that with running my own business…

So, what about you? Do you get stuck too much in planning? How would knowing that you are prepared help you instead? Leave a comment! Or, drop me a line at: jodi (at) koachkarlssen.com

I Failed Once…

Gremlin Busting: Fear of Dreaming

At 25, I made a bold move.  I decided that I was going to be an entrepreneur! I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, or how to go about running my own company, but I had the passion to work for myself.  So, I quit my day job and put up signs to start dog-walking…

I hadn’t worked with dogs since high school. To be fair, I had trained my dog in high school, and been involved in a Dog Agility Club, where I received a lot of experience working with dogs. In university, I volunteered with the SPCA.  I also worked part-time for a dog groomer for a few months. Mostly, though, I just loved animals! So, I decided to spend my days walking with them. It was going to be great…

Did you know that running your own business is hard? Especially for somebody who knew she was bad at Sales. In fact, a Sales conversation with my former boss had eventually led to me saying, “screw this, I’ll work for myself!” Did you know that you have to sell yourself constantly when you are running your own business?

Oops!

I was fairly persistent for my first business, though. I built a website with the help of an amazingly-competent friend. I had posters up all over the neighbourhood. And I even “faked it ‘til I made it” at social events, building my networking skills.  But, after six months of having only two clients – a bird lover who trusted me to pet-sit and a fellow vegan who became an amazing friend – I decided to give up on the dream. I had met some real dog walkers along the way, and was intimidated by the competition. (They had spent years building up their client base and had vehicles to take dogs to theoff-leash parks.) I felt like I didn’t have what it took to make a real go of it. And, I was tired of feeling like a failure….so, I moved on to roles where I knew I was a success – working for other people.

Being a success is awesome! People look up to you; you can answer their questions; you’re seen as somebody who has all of the answers, and respected as a leader. Being a success is so awesome that it can be hard to let go of that feeling sometimes – even addictive. When you know that you were meant to change the world, being a success at the wrong thing can be a soul-crushing endeavour.

But, that’s another story…

Despite all of my success working for other people, I was not satisfied. I knew that I wanted to be my own boss. But my earlier experiment kept me from even trying to work for myself for years. I found myself spiralling into Quarter Life Crisis zone, where I stopped succeeding because I was terribly unhappy, but I didn’t dare take a step out on my own because, well, I failed once…

Success on one side; Failure on the other.

 

Failure is not something we can avoid when we are here to change the world.  Do you know how many times Thomas Edison “failed” before he gave us the light bulb? Much more than once.  Did Rosa Parks completely eradicate racism when she refused to give up her seat? Not at all! That battle continues even after 50 years!  The failures of the information age are even more prevalent. How many computer scientists spend decades in their basement before we have one product that lasts longer than a week in our collective memory? The Facebook phenomenon was a “freak occurrence” rather than an “overnight success.”

Our fear of failure is much more prevalent than our real failures.

The truth is the only definite failure happens when we GIVE UP.  Up until that point, we’re learning what might not work.  How do we silence our fears about failure?

First, check out this inspiring video by one of my favourite bands, Garfunkel & Oates:

After watching the video, follow these 3 simple tips:

1) Tune in to your creativity.

You know you were meant for something bigger!  You may not share them with other people, but you day dream about what your ideal life could really be like. Sit with that vision for a moment. Who are you when you are living that ideal life? It doesn’t have to be very specific. In fact, it’s better if you focus on an aspect of your life that has nothing to do with the logistics of your project.  Maybe you’re spending a month at that vacation home. Or an evening reading books that stir something inside of you. Or, you’re at an Awards Dinner – you don’t have to be winning the award (yet) but the atmosphere is something you desire.

Your creativity doesn’t have to do with everything related to your life goals. Sometimes you can get started on the larger projects by starting some art.  For tips on tuning in to your Creativity, check out this inspiring blog – Everyday Artistry – by Stephanie Medford and make sure to download her 51 Ways To Be More Creative Every Day

2) Remember Your Strengths.

Ok, yeah, you failed once. But, before that you tried! How was it possible for you to try in the first place? You had an idea! You have thousands of ideas! You are an idea-creator! In fact, the millennial generation is filled with people who create ideas constantly. Play with them!

Your “failure” was not as bad as you thought it was. Along the way, you learned something. What was it?  For me, I learned how to tell people what I did for a living, even if it was a short-lived career as a dog walker. I also learned a lot about website design. These are transferable skills to any new project I begin. What are some skills you picked up in your endeavours?

It’s time we stopped looking at our “success” as reaching our goal entirely.  Every time we learn something, that is a success!  Celebrate those successes – learn how to here.

3) Have a Supportive Friend or Coach Help You Get Started.

Maybe you’re completely stuck in the rut of fearing failure. Somebody out there believes in you! Maybe it is a family member, a trusted friend, or your Life Coach. Talk it out with them. Have them help you strategize the first little step out of your rut.

Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…

Still scared of failing? Let’s talk… Contact me below for a complimentary coaching session where we can wake up your creativity and gain clarity on the Big Project you were destined to start NOW!

2015: Manifestation and Clarity – NOT Planning

“This will be a landmark year for you, the kind of year when it all comes together and you break through the clouds and into the sunshine… You don’t need to plan, you don’t need to look forward – “

My horoscope told me this is going to be my year…but I’m not supposed to plan it.

WHAT?!? This is the year I am launching my own business. This is the year I am going to show the world what I am all about. This is the year I need to plan the MOST for. How am I supposed to NOT plan it? Who launches a business without a plan? Who goes out into the world with a brand they haven’t planned entirely for? Who makes things happen WITHOUT a plan?

Hmmm…actually, that’s exactly how I make things happen. Don’t get me wrong, I love Continue reading 2015: Manifestation and Clarity – NOT Planning