24 Things I've Learned in 24 Years

❥Physical health only makes up a fraction of what it means to be healthy.

❥Take care of yourself first and you will have the emotional resources to truly love and take care of others. (Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting anyone else!).

❥Tahini and jam is better than peanut butter and jam. Use rye bread, raspberry jam and sprinkle a bit of sea salt on the tahini side.  

❥Most people are either lonely or afraid of being lonely and we all need each other, even though most of us don’t admit to it. 

❥If you go to France, don’t try to hug anyone. Cultural differences can be awkward as hell.

❥Be clear and communicative about what you need and don’t apologize for it.

❥DO talk to strangers. 

❥You can start again at any moment of any day.

❥Don’t take things personally. Someone’s outward negativity will generally be a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves on the inside. But…

❥Sometimes YOU are in the wrong. If this happens, admit to your mistakes quickly and gracefully. Don’t try to salvage your ego by justifying what you know you’ve done wrong. Just own up to it, forgive yourself and move on!

❥Don’t go on the scariest ride at the German beer fest when you are drunk and in the middle of eating a pretzel. 

❥The prefrontal cortex of your brain is not fully developed until you are 24. I AM NOW COMPLETE.

❥Don’t be afraid to straight up QUIT things that are not making you happy. Don’t keep on slaving away at something due to the effort you’ve already expended. Life’s too short.

❥Your body is smarter than you think. You can try to abuse and control it into submission but it will eventually win. Every. Single. Time. Be kind to your body and it will be kind to you.

❥Leaving behind addictive behaviours is an advanced level hike, straight up a steep mountain. There will be many set backs and obstacles. Recovery is not a gondola. 

❥You can always handle more than you think you can handle.

❥Looking a desired way will not bring you happiness. Chasing an image ideal is like trying to out run your own shadow. Nothing will ever be enough and you’ll end up on a treadmill of self-criticism.

❥Happiness is a choice you have the responsibility and power to make every single day, regardless of the people and circumstances surrounding you. 

❥The Pill is not for everyone. Invest yourself in an IUD, queeeeen.

❥To get what you want you have to actually know what you want and knowing what you want requires knowing yourself and knowing yourself requires the bravery to be alone.

❥Trying to ignore negative emotions and issues won’t make them disappear. They will rot into zombies and brandish unhealthy coping mechanisms as weapons. 

❥Social media is both empowering and poisonous. I’m always in a perpetual state of loving and hating Instagram. 

❥Listening is one of the most powerful and useful skills you can cultivate. EQ over IQ. 

❥Magic is very, very real. 

 

Xx, 

Sophie

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Dear Eating Disorder

It’s been you and I for quite some time now. You’ve always been there, sitting on my shoulder and we know each other well.  So well, that I’ve come to consider you a strange kind of friend. You’ve always been there when life got out of control, your words so familiar and reassuring. You learned to disguise your voice as my own, making it hard to distinguish truth from lies.  I’m writing this today because I’m ready to say that I don’t need our “friendship” anymore. I’m ready to call you out for what you are.

You’re a tyrant. And I became a slave to your warfare’s agenda. Counting, tracking, monitoring, obsessing, judging, striving, pushing. You consumed my every thought and set my mind and body against one another. I punished myself when I let you down. Exercising till I felt dizzy, throwing up until I couldn’t stand. I did your bidding to the point of exhaustion and to the exclusion of everything that mattered to me.

You’re a thief. You stole my joy, energy, excitement, health and personality. You stripped me of life and happiness and robbed me of so much TIME. Holidays, parties, time with family, time with friends, new experiences and opportunities- all tainted with your toxic chatter. Time spent critiquing, obsessing, and panicking. Time that I will never get back.

You’re a liar. You told me my worth was a number and a size. I only saw distortion, reflected in the mirror. You promised me happiness after one more kilogram or one more kilometre. You had me convinced there was nothing wrong, as my hair fell out and I shivered in summer heat. I believed you when you said my worth was based on my appearance. “Lazy, hopeless, incompetent, stupid, not trying hard enough, failure”. You went further than food and weight- You had me convinced that I would never amount to anything in life. 


But You are NOT ME. You never have been and you never will be. And although it’s hard to let you go, I’ve finally learned to distinguish your thoughts from my own. You are no longer welcome in my mind. You’re persistent and familiar but our “friendship” is off and despite your best efforts, I am finally FED up with your abuse. I am choosing happiness over control. I am choosing me over you.  

***If you or someone else you know is struggling with food and body image visit: http://nedic.ca

 

 

 

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The Inverted Goal

#Goals. You probably have a few, right? Most of us do. Close your eyes and think of some of them. Off the top of your head, what comes up? That career, that country, that house, that second language, that body, that certain amount of money. The WHAT is easy. Most of us know what we want.

But have you considered the WHY? Take a moment to think about why it is that you want to attain these things (and dig deeper than “to be happy”, because.. duh!). 

Examples:

Starting up a business may mean creativity, accomplishment, or flexibility.

Obtaining a certain amount of money may mean freedom, certainty, stability, or ease.

Travelling may mean adventure, inspiration, colour, or excitement.

Your dream body may mean vitality, acceptance, strength, or worthiness.

Notice a pattern? Oui! These "whys" are all FEELINGS! Feelings are the root of why we do the things we do and this leads us to the basis of what I call an “inverted goal”. I learned about this alternative to goal setting a few years ago when I read “The Desire Map” by Danielle Laporte. And let me tell you, it sent my anxious, goal-orientated mind spinning! Danielle is a wonder woman from Vancouver who created the idea of “Core Desire Feelings”.  Basically, knowing the way we want to feel is the most important knowledge we can have. The way most of us set goals is BACKWARDS. Here’s a better way of doing it:

  1. Decide how you want to feel. Choose 4 or 5 top feelings. Here are mine: Magic, Meaning, Beauty, Momentum, Grace.
  2. Ask yourself “What can I do to feel the way I want to feel?”. What can you do within this moment, within today, within this week that will bring yourself closer to these feelings?? This is exciting stuff. Feeling the way you want to feel does not have to be at the end of the goal rainbow- it can be attainable within our everyday decisions and then naturally flow into the bigger picture.
  3. Act accordingly, using your desired feelings as your guide. This may mean completely changing your trajectory. Perhaps now that you know the why behind your goals, you’ve realized that there are much better ways of achieving your desired feelings. Is there a more resonating, more aligned way for you to feel how you want to feel?

Your life will blossom for you, as a result of turning the goal setting process inside out. The specifics of your goals are not important. The FEELINGS you want to generate as a result of obtaining these goals is the real key! Evaluate WHY you want the things you do, you may be surprised by what you discover! 

Alternatively, this process works like a charm for those feeling lost and directionless (I’m looking at you, fellow young adults). You may not be able to decide what it is you want to do next, but I’m sure you can identify how it is you would like to feel. So start there! Don’t bother yourself with nailing down a specific career path or university degree- Figure out how you want to feel and then connect the dots. 

Everyone go check out Danielle Laporte because this is really just me sharing her genius, from my perspective! Figure out your “Core Desire Feelings”. Keep them in the notes on your phone, tape them to the mirror, put them on the fridge, spray paint them on buildings, tattoo them across your face . Maybe don’t do those last two, but find a way to remind yourself to constantly lean towards what you want to feel. It is so, so important! These feelings are inner wisdom that will not lead you astray.

If anything, this process will bring awareness to the essence of who you are and what is important to you and that can truly be considered #GOALS for everyone!

Xx,

Sophie

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Emotional First Aid

       A few weeks ago I cried on a hotel room floor for 11 hours straight. Crushed with anxiety, rumination and loneliness, I didn't sleep for that entire night. I wrote a text message to my best friend but deleted it without sending... I was in pain and the mere existence of my hurt made me feel guilty and ashamed of myself. I tried to distract myself in any way I could, hoping it would all leave me.

Now let’s pretend that it was the same day and I had fallen down the stairs and broken my leg, trying to get to the hotel  gym. I would have called one of my crew members, who then would have helped me get to a hospital. From there I would have gotten an x-ray, a cast, and pain medication. I wouldn’t have felt guilty or ashamed of my injury. I would have taken the action needed in order to take care of myself. I wouldn’t have been alone in my hotel room, hoping the pain would disappear and my leg would magically heal itself.

    With mental health problems ever prevalent within our society, it is time to start giving the same attentiveness we give to our physical well being, to our emotional well being. When most of us are dealing with a sore throat, we go to the drugstore to buy medication. When we break a bone, we go to the doctor to reset it. But what are we doing to reset our broken hearts? Despite efforts to heighten awareness and acceptance, the stigma, secrecy and shame surrounding emotional distress is still VERY much a thing. That is why I believe in the idea of “Emotional First Aid”.

    Emotional First Aid is being a first responder to yourself. It is about being self aware enough to know when you are hurting and brave enough to investigate why. It is then about taking the steps, in order to get the help that you need.

What might be in your Emotional First Aid Kit?

  • Allow yourself to feel. Sit with your emotion without judgement and without the need to change yourself. Let your symptoms be whatever they may be. 
  • Do an activity that you know will make you feel a bit better. I go for long runs and listen to my favourite music. You could meditate, read, walk, journal, watch your favourite movie, go out in nature, etc. (Just make sure that it is not something unhealthy, that could make the problem worse.)
  • Connect with someone. Someone you can trust, someone who loves you. For me that’s my family and a few really great friends. They can often help to remind you of your wonderfulness. You are always so loved and so supported! We all need each other.
  • Go to therapy. I am a huge fan of therapy. Everyone can benefit from a calm, educated, unbiased perspective. EVERYONE CAN. It  is not weak or unnecessary to see a registered psychologist or counsellor. 
  • Get yourself some pills. This is something I don’t have personal experience with but I do believe that there is NOTHING wrong with a brain chemical balancer, if it helps you feel good again.

I think a lot of us (myself included) struggle with thinking that our emotional pain is somehow not serious enough for help and attention. We compare ourselves to others with “bigger” issues and feel ashamed for feeling the way we do about the things that effect us. It is always good to have a healthy perspective but really,  all you have is YOUR  reality that YOU’RE experiencing. If you are hurting, you are hurting and your pain is just as valid as anyone else's. Get the help you need in the ways that you need it, for whatever it may be that is bothering you.

If you are struggling right now with something not immediately evident to others, like mental health, you have full permission to do whatever it is you need to do to heal. Take care of your emotional health in the same manner you would take care of your physical health. Treat a broken heart the same way you would a broken bone. Be open and vulnerable with yourself and others. We are all in this together. It is my hope that the more we do this, the more we will ALL collectively be able to mend one another. And remember to be patient, time heals all wounds, after all.

Xx,

 

Sophie

 

 

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All or Nothing

        Is there something about yourself that you would like to change? It could be a habit, lifestyle choice, thought pattern, personality trait, an addiction… Internal conflict is tricky business. There’s nothing more frustrating and scary than struggling against yourself. Throw external shittiness at me all day and I will namaste my way through it but I find NOTHING as unsettling as feeling like an enemy towards myself.

My eating disorder is an example of my own struggle for internal change. My recovery hasn’t been the uninterrupted, straight line I’ve wanted it to be. It’s taken years, it’s been up and down and on and off. Just when I think I’ve finally rid myself of the negative voices, they blindside me from around the corner. Letting myself down is a hopeless feeling. How am I supposed to give myself the love I need to change when I’m the one fucking myself over?

I was talking to my roommate about this feeling the other day and she said “Sophie, you are a person of extremes”. She’s so right. I’ve been trying to cure myself of a controlling, all or nothing mental illness with a controlling, all or nothing mindset! I want so badly to be able to draw a line in the sand, to put an immediate barrier between me and my problems. All or nothing. Black or white. Perfection or failure. There has never been an in between.

But what would happen if I accepted the inevitable human struggle of my recovery and own self discovery? What if I sat silently in the in between of who I am and who I want to be? Looked at my setbacks as lessons instead of failures? Or better yet, accepted myself exactly where I was, without judgement. Just like any goal or journey, it is not realistic to jump from A to D. The same goes for self improvement and change. Instead of trying to jump across the entire ravine, work on building a bridge. Each set back can serve as a building block for the structure that will eventually reach the other side. I’m learning to trust the space between where I am and where I want to be and accepting that it’s the process that creates the foundation for lasting change.

Can you relate to the all or nothing mindset? Be patient with your addictions, your shortcomings and your struggles. Instead, accept the inbetween stage as inevitable and necessary. Free yourself from the self imposed pressure of having to change overnight and be okay with the time and space it takes to cultivate lasting growth.

 

Xx,

Sophie

 

You must take time to build a bridge between where you are and where you want to be. 

You must take time to build a bridge between where you are and where you want to be. 

Vegan Forest Fairy Chocolates

If a coven of forest fairies were to have a winter solstice soiree they would most certainly be eating these vegan, gluten and refined-sugar free chocolates. Packed with whatever earthy, superfood powers you want to bestow upon them, they take less than 30 minutes to prepare and are hella whimsical. Make them with love for those you care about: Stir in good intentions, adorn with well wishes and wrap in a pretty box! Or you could just make them in the same way for your magical self…

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These chocolates are all about what YOU feel you want to add to them. Intuitively tailor them to whoever you’re making them for! Here are some possible superfood add-in ideas. (And don’t worry, unless it’s ginger or cinnamon, the cocoa will overpower any superfoody flavors):

  • Turmeric- This bright yellow spice contains curcumin- a powerful anti inflammatory and antioxidant. Turmeric has been known to neutralize the free radicals that cause cell degeneration. A little goes a long ways!  Vibrancy, Vitality, Purity.
  • Cinnamon- A very accessible and cheap spice, known to reduce and stabilize blood sugar levels. Like Turmeric, Cinnamon is also a powerful anti inflammatory. Ground, Centre, Comfort.
  • Ginger- This spicy root helps to protect against inflammation and oxidative stress. It is also known for its soothing properties and is often used to fight against digestion issues, menstrual cramps and general muscle pain. Warm, Heal, Sooth.
  • Spirulina- Also known as “the most nutrient dense” food on the planet, spirulina is derived from algae and contains B vitamins, A Vitamins, Iron, Calcium and Chlorophyll. Energize, Awaken, Support.
  • Reishi- This member of the Mycelium mushroom family helps fight allergies, autoimmune diseases, insomnia, anxiety and depression as well as aids in supporting liver detoxification and overall immunity. Protect, Calm, Defend.
  • Chaga- If you live in a northern country, this is probably growing in your backyard. Chaga grows on birch trees and is known as the immunity boosting superfood and has the highest antioxidant property of any superfood. Fight, Enhance, Elevate.

 

Vegan Forest Fairy Chocolate Recipe

Chocolate:

-½ cup coconut oil

-¼ cup maple syrup or agave

-¾ cup cocoa powder

-1 tbs superfood of choice*

-1 tsp vanilla/mint/almond extract

-pinch of sea salt

**** I’m using the Chocolate Mushroom Mix by Intuitive Path

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Topping Ideas:

-shredded coconut

-mint leaves

-basil leaves

-cashews

-goji berries

-dried cranberries

-dried edible flowers

-candied ginger

-dried figs

-anything else you can dream up!

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1. Start by finding chocolate making companions. Like a crazy little sister and her crazy boyfriend. Aren't they so cuuuute?

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2. Start by melting the coconut oil on the stove top. Once it’s completely melted add in the rest of the chocolate ingredients and whisk well, being sure to get rid of any cocoa clumps.

3. Spoon chocolate onto wax paper

4.Get creative with toppings! I used mangos, cranberries, almonds, coconut and mint leaves.

5. Put in the freezer until completely solidified.

6. Package in whichever way you choose. I'm  keeping things minimalist and earthy with brown boxes, twine and spruce twigs. Be sure to store in a cool place (like northern Saskatchewan), as these will melt easily!

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Happy magical chocolate making and Winter Solstice!

Xx,

Sophie

 

Who Inspires You and Why?

 

I was thinking the other day, during a riverside run about the figures in my life who inspire me. Inspire... Such a lofty and vague word. What does it mean if someone inspires you? Of course it means you admire them… but there is something else to the term. I started thinking about the IN at the beginning of the word. My admiration for these people is really an INtrinsic projection. The inspirational people in my life, somehow make me excited to be me. They connect to aspects of myself that I already have or want to cultivate. Through defining what I find inspiring about others, I can connect with and define my own positive attributes or those that I want to develop. Here are a few examples:

My Parents

It may be cliche to mention the people responsible for my existence, but hear me out, my parents are bad asses! They provided me with a growing up roadmap for my childhood and adolescence, but then stopped being parents and just became outstanding friends. They’re not afraid to learn and grow, which has encouraged me to live in the same open-hearted space. I’ve watched them both transition out of a religious belief system that wasn’t serving them. They stepped away from all the philosophies they were raised with, risking relationships  and identity. They did this TOGETHER and at the same time! They inspire me to create a life of fulfillment and alignment, no matter the risk.

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Florence Welch

Florence is the lead singer of the band Florence and the Machine, whose music has been my soundtrack for the past 10 years. Her voice is haunting, her words are powerful and her songs never fail to centre me. She’s romantic, whimsical and slightly strange. Her lyrics are poetic, dark, sad, but hopeful- A form of catharsis. She’s helped me give myself my own permission to have demons, to be quirky and sensitive, to dance around my apartment, to wear flower crowns, to be overwhelmed by the beauty and pain of existing. She spins her life into poetry and prose. She inspires me to not tone down the intensity or expression of my experiences.

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Stacey

Stacey was my first ever boss at my first ever afterschool job. She owned a cute  little framing and gift shop in the small town I grew up in. I knew I had been hired at the right place when on the first day, she handed me her employee expectations which included a classy dress code and the rule to “act and speak like a lady”. Stacey ran her business the way she lived her life: with grace and style. She taught me the foundations of charm and charisma. She was a kind hearted and generous friend and an employer with a clear vision of what she wanted. She also had a wicked shoe collection. She wore her high heels as she created art for her customers, when she went to the grocery store, as she raised her twins… she kept poise and grace even despite the exhaustion of metastasizing cancer. Even though she’s gone now, she still inspires me to live an elegant and relentlessly positive life, no matter the circumstances.
 

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Alice in Wonderland

The story of Alice in Wonderland used to scare me. The poor girl falls down a hole in the ground and finds herself lost in a completely bizarre world, where a crazy queen wants to behead her. The story always seemed like a whole lot of loneliness and anxiety to me. But emerging adulthood has shown me that change and growing up can be just that- a whole lot of loneliness and anxiety!! What did Alice do? She had a good cry and acknowledged how lost and alone she felt, but then she picked herself up and made the best of it. She chose to look at her unfamiliar surroundings as a challenge rather than a hardship. She learned and she grew (to various sizes) and ultimately conquered! I love Alice so much that I have her tattooed on my right forearm. She inspires me to live a life of adventure and take on whatever cards life throws at me with bravery.

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Who inspires you and what is it about them that you admire? What do you see in them that is a reflection of the good in you? What can you learn about yourself and what you value through who you look up to? Make a list and let those people know!

 

Xx,

Sophie

 

A Letter to My Teenage Self

Dear fifteen year old me,

 

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Hello from eight years in the future. I’m at a coffee shop in downtown Calgary and you’re in the stairwell at your high school, skipping class. I know exactly how you’re feeling because, well… because you’re me and I’m you!  I wish I could tell you everything that’s coming next in our adventure but that would wreck all of the surprises. Instead, I’ll tell you a few things that we’ve learned over the years, things that would really make your life so much easier, in the moment: 

...Nobody cares.

Harsh sounding, yes. But let me explain. People are not paying attention to you as much as you believe they are. Think about how much energy and time you spend worrying about what others think of you. A LOT, right?  And guess what? Everyone else is spending the same amount of time and effort focused on themselves! That blinding spotlight is a figment of your imagination, a trick of the ego. Everyone else is too fixated on themselves to give nearly as much thought to you as you think they do. Free yourself from the speculation of a phantom audience. Who you are should make YOU happy! 

...You are enough.

You are smart enough, pretty enough, fit enough, creative enough, brave enough, fast enough, strong enough, loving enough. You are ENOUGH. You always have been and you always will be. I know you think your self worth is based on what you look like and what you are achieving.This belief is exhausting, damaging and completely false. You are worthy and deserving despite your physical appearance or achievements! So don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be original, your success does not have to be tangible to others, believe your boyfriend when he tells you you’re beautiful, look in the mirror and smile at yourself sometimes, and please stop tearing yourself down! You are a masterpiece simply for being you, simply by existing.

...Don’t starve yourself.

Being thinner will not make you happier. Trust me. You are going to go to France and starve yourself for eight whole months but it is NOT going to be worth it. Your hair will fall out, you will lose your personality, you will break your family’s hearts, you will think you are destined for only failure, and sometimes you will pray to not wake up in the morning. The starving part will be easy and addictive but escaping from the claws of your eating disorder will be years and years of struggle. Refer to the previously mentioned reminder that YOU ARE ENOUGH and don’t fall prey to the demons of anorexia and bulimia because it will not bring you the control, self acceptance and worthiness you are actually longing for. 

...Be open to others.

Connection to others is so important. It is opportunity, it is growth, it is meaning and it is colour! You’ve labeled yourself as an introvert but let’s be real, honey- you’re shy. Scared that others will judge you as much as you judge yourself, perhaps. People are strange creatures and yes, they will probably let you down. But trust me when I say that they are always worth it. You have so much to offer others and they have so much to offer you! Relationships in all forms are like a mirror for self discovery and besides, experiencing life is just so much better when you’re with someone else. You won’t find soulmate connections with everyone you come across, but that’s okay! Be a friend anyways. Build as many bridges as possible. And once in a blue moon you will find a truly kindred spirit. Don’t risk missing out on them! 

...You are making your own map

You are so guided, so safe and so supported by those who love you, by the cosmos, and by your intuition. I know the pressures of growing up and having to choose your next steps in life. It is easy to grasp on to what’s safe and to always be second guessing your decisions. But please know that you don’t have to map out your entire skyline in one instant. Everything you experience- negative and positive- is becoming a constellation. These individual points may seem meaningless within the moment, but know that they are stars in the network of your story. Interlaced and meant to be. Remember this when you feel lost, frustrated or directionless. Any step at all is a step in the right direction, even if it’s only to show you a different trajectory. Listen to your inner voice and always move towards what sparkles for you. You won’t go wrong and you will eventually be able to look back and see how perfectly everything connected.  

I love you and you’re going to be just fine,

Future Sophie