Being the best

I don’t know about each of you, but we are in full-fledged Olympic mode in the Ryan home.  Between my Canadian roots and Tom being American, we are cheering on the two most awesome teams.  Tom was away at my brother’s Bachelor party this weekend so I had a leg up on him and managed to get the kids on the side of Team Canada.  (Hey.  You snooze, you lose.)

The kids have already picked out their favourite Olympic sports.  Caleigh wants to be a figure skater.  She sees me tear up at each medal presentation and asked me that if she won a  gold medal, would I cry for her too?  That only made me tear up even more.  She has taken to practicing her double toe loops and triple lutz (basically just twirling and jumping) on the hardwood floors of our living room.  Of course, as of right now she just skates on our neighbourhood rink.  But I remember doing the exact same thing when I was her age….twirling around and imagining being on Olympic ice, winning a gold medal.

Blake, on the other hand, has announced he will compete in the skeleton.  Never mind the fact that up until 3 days ago he didn’t even know what that was.  But he showed me his form on our big red sled and I have to admit, he looks good.

Of course, instantly there is competition between the two of them (they ARE my kids, after all).  Blake told Caleigh that she would actually have to practice to be a figure skater.  Caleigh retorted and told Blake that only the best athletes make it to the Olympics and “you’re not the best.”  To which Blake had a perfect response.  He stood before her with his arms folded and looked directly in her eyes.

“How do you know I’m no the best?  I’ve never tried before.  Maybe I’m already the best and no one knows it yet.”

His response stopped me in my tracks.  So quickly we can dismiss how great we COULD be even before we’ve tried.  How easy is it to dismiss a child’s dream as just “a wild imagination”?  Or even more so as adults as we chalk it up to being crazy – believing in our wild dreams and audacious goals.  Our society in general feels uncomfortable around greatness and doesn’t want to put faith in those who dream big.   Who’s to say Blake isn’t the best?  Obviously there is time, practice, training, strength (both mental and physical), and so much more that goes into being the best.  But with Blake’s determination and sheer will, I have no doubt that if he put his mind to it, he could go to the Olympics for the skeleton.  Or downhill skiing.  Or speed skating.  Or whatever he wanted.

There is a reason that I repeat our children’s bedtime routine every single night.  Because of a few choice phrases that resonate with my kids throughout their day.

“When you grow up, you can be anything you want to be.  

And you can do anything you want to do.  

Whatever you do, do it well.  

Never give up.  

And always remember how much your family loves you.”

Blake, specifically, has taken to this routine more than Caleigh.  He has referenced them so many times since we’ve started reciting them each night.  Like the time I asked Caleigh to help him clean up the basement.  When I asked Blake about his Olympic goal, he recited everything we say each night in bed.  I would say it’s made an impact on him, don’t you think?


Date Nights

One of my resolutions for 2014 was to work even harder on my relationships with my children and most importantly, my husband.  I want to spend quality one-on-one time with each of my kids and have dedicated time with Tom each week.  If you had asked me if this was necessary a few years ago, I might have scoffed.  Why wouldn’t I spend one-on-one time with my kids and my husband?  That’s what life is about, right?  Yet time goes by very quickly and it is filled easily with work priorities, errands, activities, workouts, birthday parties, events, and more.  A week can pass and I look back and wonder what happened even though I know it was filled with “stuff”.  But much of that “stuff” were things that in a month (or even a day, let alone a year) won’t be memorable.  It is the mundane, day-to-day tasks that need to get done.  And 80% of it I do with my family but I wouldn’t call it quality, one-on-one time that builds strength in my relationships with each of them.

So this year, I want to build better relationships with my kids and husband.

I’m carving out an hour each week to spend with each of my kids.  I did this last year with Caleigh and Blake, but looking back I could have given it much more intention.  Breastfeeding Maggie alone was quality time that added up to much more than an hour a week.  For mother/daughter bonding, I can’t think of anything much more powerful than letting her nurse while I held her hand, talked to her, or stroked her back.  Caleigh and Blake proved a bit tougher.  We have our bedtime routine , which is a lovely end to the day and sets their minds at ease before going to sleep.  But getting time where I just spend it with them is not so simple.  Here are my thoughts for this year:

  • Caleigh received a guitar from Santa for Christmas and it’s on my bucket list to learn to play.  I’m thinking of lessons together starting soon
  • Nightly walks after dinner.  A walk around our neighbourhood takes about 20 minutes at their pace. In the winter, a bit longer.  But what a great time to strike up conversation and hear about their day.
  • Reading together for 10-15 minutes at night.  Caleigh is now at the point where she can dive into a novel and I have to reminder her to come up to breathe sometimes but Blake loves to hear stories and is learning to read.  This sounds like a no-brainer but with three bedtimes and often if only one of us is home at night, reading can get put to the wayside.  And I’m such a big proponent of reading!  I’m almost embarrassed to admit that my kids don’t get to read with us each night….
  • Sunday Fun Days – their choice.  Go to the library.  Go for a hike.  Paint pottery.  Trampoline.  It has to be an activity that we’re actively doing together and I’m not on the sidelines  while they go off and do something.

And then there is the most important relationship I have, that is with my husband.  We have been married eight years, going on nine in August.  It hasn’t always been easy.  In fact, I look back on eight years and realize just how many stressful events we’ve had and it’s mind-boggling.  I also look back on those eight years and see so many amazing memories.  There are the big ones – our wedding, weekends away together, and the births of our children to name a few.  But it’s the smaller ones that make me smile and make life all that much sweeter.  The year we played dodgeball together on Thursday nights, watching him on the football field when he’s just so happy, laughing hysterically in the theatre while watching Bridesmaids, and even last night as we went skiing together (without kids!) and just having the chance to talk as we rode the ski lift together and had a drink after while watching the football game in the chalet.  Those are the simple yet perfect moments that make me so grateful to be going through life with such an amazing human being.

So date nights become a priority for us this year.  It won’t be each week, but at least twice a month the two of us need time to be together, without the kids.  And even if it is just for a half hour walk in the middle of our day, it is such a high priority for me to celebrate our relationship and how much we mean to one another.  Plus, adding up all of the little things that can strengthen our bond.

  • holding hands
  • listening more
  • back rubs
  • learning something new together
  • having earnest discussions
  • planning for the future together
  • laughing

It sounds like a project, which isn’t the intention.  The intention is simply to have a stronger, more amazing relationship with my children and my husband.  I don’t want to take those relationships for granted.


Ready for 2014?

So, in wrapping up 2013, I realized it was a pretty stellar year.  I set out to accomplish a lot and managed to do most of it.  Not all of it, but most of it.

  • Read 12 books?  Check.  I ended up reading over 20…had to keep raising the goal.
  • Deadlift 200 pounds?  Check
  • Complete the first year of Chiropractic Finishing School?  Check
  • Write regularly in my blog? Check
  • Spend quality one-on-one time with each of my children each week?  Check
  • Finish Tough Mudder?  Check
  • Bake a pie from scratch?  Check
  • Take our kids to Disney World?  Check
  • ….and a few other highlights to look back and be proud of.

Despite how awesome it was, I am even more excited for 2014.  I hate to play the mom card, but I will here.  My professional goals were somewhat met, but not to the degree I wanted.  I had priorities outside of the office that often had to be in the forefront of my life.  Three small priorities, small in stature but not in importance.  I really went back and forth with the tug at home and at office.  My intention was to be able to give 100% energy to my practice, as much as I would give to my family.  I gave a lot.  But not as much as I had planned to.  Looking back, I am okay with how my year played out professionally.  I went back to work when Maggie was six weeks old and while it was only part time, it was time away from my little ones.  The time away from my kids though was spent doing the other thing that I love – adjusting people and helping them express their greatest potential.  It’s not hard to love what I do, to be proud of what I do, and to be honoured by what I do.  I love the opportunity I have to work with people, who are inspired to make an improvement in their health, and a difference in their life.

Going forward this year, I’m changing up what I choose to take on.  I’m becoming very clear, very specific with what I want to accomplish.  I’ve whittled it down to the top five in both my personal and professional life.  Simply because I found that last year I became overwhelmed and quite frankly, tired.  This year, I want more fun in my life.  And much more simplicity.

In two previous posts, I shared with you some of my personal goals and professional goals for the coming year.  They had some great tips on how to achieve your goals so check out the links.   In getting prepared for the start of the year, I have a few things in place.

1.  I had my own personal shopping date at Chapters to load up on some books for the start of the year.  I picked up my first five books – Brain Rules for Baby, The Gifts of Imperfection, Gut and Psychology Syndrome (I know, I’m a nerd, right?), Greatness Guide Book 2, and I pre-ordered Chris Kresser’s new book Your Personal Paleo Code.

2.  I ended up buying a home yoga DVD for now.  I’m setting aside Monday and Thursday evenings to do yoga, after my kids are asleep.  Realistically with Tom’s and my life schedules, I couldn’t commit to getting out to a yoga class so I’ll do them at home regularly and then when I can steal away for an hour from the house, I’ll jump on it.  For Christmas I also got a speed rope and a kettle bell from Santa.  This helps with those days where I intend to get to CrossFit but can’t make it because of something going on at the house with one of the kids.



3.  I added in a first quarter goal of doing an elimination of all sugars and grains starting January 1, for 30 days.  I wanted there to be some type of food challenge coming off of Christmas and New Year’s.  I didn’t eat horribly over the holidays – in fact I ate quite well – but there are always a few treats thrown in and certainly a clean up of my digestive system can always help.  I got these two amazing cookbooks (also from Santa…apparently I was quite good this year!) and I plan to eat my way through them over the next month.

Nom Nom Paleo & Against All Grain cookbooks

Nom Nom Paleo & Against All Grain cookbooks

4.  I added in a huge goal for me at the office in the first quarter of 2014.  I was inspired by another chiropractor to double my practice in 3 months.  I needed something bold and brilliant to inspire me to get outside of my comfort zone in practice and fuel me while I’m adjusting people.

5.  In keeping with my goal for sprout workshops, I have my first one set for January 15th at Anderson Chiropractic Group.  I’m pretty stoked about it as we’ll be covering the topic “Nutrition for Healthy Families”.  You can sign up by calling our office at 705.734.9520.  We have space for just ten moms  and/or dads with their little ones.

It makes me a little nervous to throw myself out there with each of the big goals.  But the more transparent I become, the more comfortable I become with accountability.  I give you permission to ask how each of these goals are going throughout the year.

One of my friends, Christine, posted on Facebook earlier today that her family was putting together a list of 100 things to do together.  We have done similar things in the past – summer lists, winter lists, etc.  But I thought it was a great way to get the entire family involved and planning for a great year.

What are your goals for 2014?  I would be honoured if you would share.

Bucket List

The final in the four part series – your bucket list!  Do you have one?  A bucket list is simply a list of everything you want to do in your life…you know, before you kick the bucket.  Your list can be as wild and as outlandish as you want (versus the practicality of writing down personal and professional goals as noted in the two previous blog posts).  Want to go whale watching?  Write it down.  Want to learn to play guitar?  Write it down.  Want to fly to the moon?  Write it down (hey, you never know).

I love my bucket list.  I refer to it as my life list.  Only because I choose to focus on LIFE versus death.  That’s the optimist in me.  I read through it about once a week and as of this year, actively worked to cross things off of my list.  Last year, I attended an Opera (which honestly I didn’t love once I was there, but it was on my list of things to do).  This year, I’ve crossed four things off of my list – I did Tough Mudder, I deadlifted 200 pounds, I baked an apple pie from scratch, and in November we are taking our kids to Disney (but shhhhhh!  It’s a surprise for them.  If you keep the secret, I promise PROMISE to post the video of when we tell them).

The list should inspire you to think BIG.  Think outrageous.  Think about increasing your level of awesomeness on a grand scale.  Will you be able to check off everything?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  The point is to have it and to work towards it.   Do you know how awesome it feels to say “hey, I’ve now done something on my LIFE LIST!”

For 2014….these are the list list things I want to check off:

CN Tower Edge Walk

CN Tower Edge Walk

Maybe there will be more.  I really want to skydive but that one scares the crap out of me, no lie.  I love to travel and would love the opportunity to do more around the world but with the kids so young right now, it’s limited.  Though I am always open to opportunities that may find their way into my world.

2014 really will be my best year yet.  Between everything I’m working towards in my personal and professional life and then the sheer fun of achieving things on my life list just makes me excited to see January 1st.  I hope I’ve inspired you to look as forward to the new year as I am.

(And in the meantime, why not make up a list of things to accomplish in the few weeks of 2013?  It gives you a headstart into the new year!)

first goal

My amazing daughter, Caleigh, is six and a half years old. She has now played soccer for two years and before that took soccer “lessons” in the form of Playball (which I highly recommend to any parents looking to not only get some activity in their child’s lifestyle but also to learn the real skills of soccer).

Each week on the way to soccer we have recited the following:

“I’m an awesome soccer player! I’m going to play hard! I’m going to run fast! I’m going to pass well! I’m going to score a goal! I’m going to have fun!”

It’s become somewhat of a tradition, much like our bedtime routine.

For two years, Caleigh has wanted to score a goal. Two years of practice both on the field with her team and at home with us. Two years of manifesting the ball going into the net and then practicing her celebratory dance. (That dance is awesome. I don’t have video but imagine her hips shaking, fingers pointing into the air, and head bobbing side to side with a big goofy grin.)

Also, though, two years of no goals.

Which, let’s be honest, is also the situation for 85% of her teammates. Not many of these amazing girls have scored a goal. Watching six and seven year olds play soccer is great because they are no longer the beehive of kids chasing the ball aimlessly BUT strategy is still not a strong point. They basically like to kick it as hard as they can and hope it goes somewhere in the vicinity of a teammate or the net.

Tom and I have never put pressure on her to score a goal – our focus has always been fun. However I don’t know anyone who has played soccer without dreaming of making the perfect shot. Caleigh included.

Last night her scoreless streak ended. With just a couple of minutes left in the game, Caleigh had the opportunity to run with the ball. With two of the opposing team members on both sides of her, she stayed focused and bam – one final kick and in the ball went.

Big cheers from everyone on the sidelines. Tom and I high-fiving one another (yes, we are THOSE parents). Caleigh with a big kool-aid grin on her face. She’d done it!

Best part for me was on the way home, she piped up from the backseat “Mom? You know what? Now that I got a goal, I don’t think it will be hard to do it again!” I couldn’t agree more. I find that in life once I reach a goal, it’s easy to do so again AND set higher goals for the future.

Bend it like Beckham!

Bend it like Beckham!

Best part for Caleigh? A stop at the ice cream shop on the way home for a celebratory cone.

value over opportunity

My sweet daughter, Caleigh, is six years old and learning an important lesson in patience.  For three months she has been saving her pennies (yup, still finding those in nooks and crannies of our home), nickels, dimes, quarters, loonies and toonies.  She counted them religiously.  Adding them up, over and over, which in itself is a great lesson for someone in grade one.  She was waiting to get to the magical number of 31.  $31.00 would buy her the newest addition to her video game collection, Mr. Pencil.  She had been eyeing it since her last addition of “Tangled” in February.

Caleigh was saving up money from gifts, doing chores around the house, and “found money” on the streets, in between the couch cushions, and on the floor of the laundry room (I even caught her checking the drum of the washing machine one day!).  Well, two weeks ago, three months of saving and counting paid off as she reached a savings of $31.

Of course, this all happened on a Tuesday of a busy week.  A busy enough week that a trip to WalMart or EB Games or Chapters was not going to happen.  So she kept counting it, to double and triple check, and asked each day if we could go to buy her game.

Last Sunday was the day.  We had a big shopping day, heading to Newmarket to hit up a few of the stores that Barrie lacks.  I promised her that we would go to EB Games, where apparently the games are a smidgen cheaper.  “You mean, I would get money back?” she asked, not quite understanding that she didn’t have to give the entire $31 if it was only $28…she was just focused on getting change to put towards her next game acquisition.

First was a trip to Target (seriously, love that store).  We wandered the aisles picking up some pillows, a piece of wall art, some curtains, and this really fun blue chair that now graces my living room.  Halfway down one aisle, Caleigh spotted the video game section.  She raced over to see if Mr. Pencil was there.  It wasn’t.  But, a different game was.  Similar to Mr. Pencil but not quite what she wanted.  I could see the wheels turning.

“Mom?  Can I get this game instead?”

Life lesson moment.  I asked her why she wanted this game.  “Because I can buy it now.”  Any other reason?  “It looks like fun.”  Okay.  Caleigh, you’ve been saving for a long time to buy Mr. Pencil, right?  “Yes.”  Why do you want to buy Mr. Pencil? “Because it’s the coolest game and I can draw with it, learn to spell, and learn math.”  So, do you think that if you buy this game, you will be happy?  And if you do buy this game, do you understand that if we see Mr. Pencil somewhere else today, you can’t buy it because you’ve bought this one?

The game went back on the shelf.

On to Homesense.  Which I knew wouldn’t have Mr. Pencil or any video game for that matter, but still she looked.

Finally, after lunch and on our way out of Newmarket, we stopped at EB Games.  Caleigh and I went into the store to check.  A very small display of games for Leapster Products was in the back.  My heart sank.  It didn’t look good for finding Mr. Pencil.  We checked and re-checked.  There were lots of games that looked like fun and we had the discussion again about whether or not she would prefer to spend her money on another game.  Whether or not she would be disappointed if she had to wait another three months to save up money for the game she really wanted.  Whether, in a sense, that the opportunity was really worth more than the value.

We turned around to leave and I was met with a squeal.  A squeal that, while I didn’t see it at first, immediately told me she had found a Mr. Pencil game.  It was hidden behind three others.

Up to the counter we went.  With a $24.99 price tag and 13% tax, the final total was $28.24.  The young man behind the counter was incredibly sweet and waited while she counted out her toonies, then loonies, then quarters, then dimes, nickels, and pennies.  She forked it all over and then he recounted and gave her back $2.76.

“Mama!  I got the game AND more money!”  (We will leave that lesson for another day).

I’m so proud of her.  She worked.  She saved.  She waited.  She overcome the immediate gratification to spend her money on a lesser reward (the opportunity) and waited for the bigger gain (the value).

How often do you choose opportunity over value?

Worth every one of her hard-earned pennies.

Worth every one of her hard-earned pennies.

Coming on like Gangbusters in 2013

Firstly, I’d like to wish you all a belated Merry Christmas.  We spent some family time down in New York, visiting Dr. Tom’s family.  If you have had the pleasure of being adjusted by Dr. Tom, you’ll have picked up on his New Jersey accent.  The way he says “car” and “drawer”, it’s a dead give away.  While I was in NJ, I took the opportunity to train at CrossFit Ignite on Christmas Eve.  If you’re familiar with the people of CrossFit, you will know that they are a committed group of ridiculously energetic people (check out my blog post on it here).  Add the NJ accent and all that is good about the NJ attitude (and I DO mean that in the absolute best definition of the word, I’m married to the best thing ever to come out of NJ), and you’ve got one crazy amount of energy in a CrossFit box.


I am 100% amped up for 2013.  There is something refreshing about starting a new year.  My basic lifestyle honestly doesn’t change that much – I am already adjusted (powered up!), I eat by design, I move by design, and I think by design – but regardless I am internally programmed to be excited about a new year and the possibilities it presents.  It’s a comparison mark to the year before.  2012 was a great year.  We had some incredible growth in our office welcoming Dr. Kara Hoffsuemmer, DC and Becky Brenneman, RMT.  We elevated our Life by Design message in Barrie both in our office at our monthly seminars and in our community to many different businesses, organizations, and groups.  And most importantly we welcomed Maggie into our already amazing family.  So considering 2012 was…well, kind of awesome…I’m pretty stoked at the expectation that 2013 will be even better.

Here’s why.

I’m making 2013 my best year yet both personally and professionally.  Part of defining my purpose in my life is to define my values.  My values define who I am as a human being and also help me define my goals daily, weekly, monthly, annually, and years out (2,3, 5, 10+).  Taking a clear look at my goals, I’ve established my plan over the next few months.  To give you a taste (because honestly, the list is extensive….it’s in my purpose book that I read and re-read each morning to gain even more clarity), here are some of the goals I’ve set out for myself.

Power by Design – Weekly adjustments to keep my brain-body connection clear.  Plus, quarterly chiropractic re-assessments to make sure that my weekly care plan is meeting my functional needs.

Think by Design – I have twelve books chosen to read over the next twelve months.  One per month, at the very least, with the hopes of more added to the list when I run out of books to read this June.  I’ll be putting aside 60 minutes a day to read (think that’s tough?  Turn off the TV at night, folks) They are, in no particular order:

  • The Six Pillars of Self Esteem by Branden (I’m re-reading this one, it’s a tough read but a good one)
  • Influence by Cialdini
  • The Monk who Sold His Ferrari by Sharma
  • Outsmart by Champy
  • Steve Jobs: A Biography by Isaacson
  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Covey (another re-read.  I need a reminder)
  • Purple Cow by Godin
  • Made to Stick by Heath & Heath
  • The Four Hour Work Week by Ferris
  • E-Myth by Gerber
  • Think and Grow Rich by Hill
  • The Message of a Master by McDonald

Eat by Design – I eat by design 90% of the time.  However I want to become more inspired and organized in the kitchen.  Monday becomes my new food shopping day to get ready for the week.   Meals prepared the week ahead of time, food purchased and prepped, and better recipes to keep my family and friends inspired when they eat with us!  I’ll be checking out these websites regularly for meal ideas:  PaleOMG, Civilized Caveman Cooking, Balanced Bites, NomNom Paleo , Health Bent and stocking my kitchen with their cookbooks in order to get excited about food without going online.

Move by Design – If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I have three kids.  One of the common excuses I hear from moms is that they don’t have time to work out.  This is the part where I call moms on this excuse.  Sorry, ladies, but the “I have kids” card isn’t going to cut it.  We’re talking about priorities here – and so I have one question for you.  Is your physical health a priority for you?  If so (and it should be), make the time to work out.  I have a few goals for myself this year:

  • Deadlift 200 lbs
  • Do a handstand push up
  • Participate in Tough Mudder (I registered for this last year prior to finding out I was welcoming a baby and would be 5 months pregnant when the event was taking place, this year, I’m in)
  • Yoga once a week

There are more.  Many more.  The most important thing to take away from these though is that each goal has a plan in order to achieve it.  I’ve spelled out to myself how I will go about getting to the goal, given them a time frame, made sure they are attainable and realistic (it’s the age old SMART acronym for goal setting – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time frame).

In a couple of days I’ll be ringing in the new year with Tom.  We are spending a quiet evening at home, making fondue (starting with a broth for the meats and followed by a dark chocolate one for fruit….mmmmm, I’m drooling at the thought of it), reminiscing over the last year, and most importantly looking forward to the excitement of 2013.