Embrace

Last summer we took our kids to a waterpark. It was a stinkin’ hot day and we had a blast zipping down slides and cooling off in the wave pool. At one point, my husband and the older kids decided to try a toilet-bowl style ride geared for an older crowd, so my littlest and I stood at the bottom waiting for them to poop out into the basin below.

As we watched the riders happily splash down in front of us, little K pulled on my arm and pointed to a child exiting the water nearby – “Hey mommy, I don’t like that girl” he stated . “Why not?” I asked. I’d never seen her before. “Because she’s fat” he answered matter-of-factly.

I just about fell over backwards! Body image has been the monkey on my back for as long as I can remember, and I’ve worked hard to overcome my own insecurities and to foster an environment of acceptance and kindness within my own family. And goddamn it – no child of mine was going to shame someone because of the shape of their body!

I knelt down and spent the next ten minutes lecturing my son about the beauty in all body shapes and the importance of never, ever judging other people. Trust me, he got an earful. He listened intently, then ran off with his siblings to enjoy another slide. “Crazy kid” I mumbled to myself. I figured he must have picked up that nonsense on television.

Then a few months later I had dinner with a group of girlfriends- all of them brilliant, beautiful women with high-powered careers, incredible families, strong opinions and the passion and means to affect change in the world.

And yet. Our conversations that night kept coming back to the same thing – body image. We shared stories of how weight has impacted our sex lives, and contributed to feeling too physically disgusting to appear naked in front of our spouses – even with the lights off. We talked about caloric intake and the restrictive cleanses we’d endured – all the while feeling sick and deprived. We discussed our boobs (too small, too big, too saggy) and our butts (too big, too small, too saggy) – and we even dissected our individual diets and compared notes about what foods and drinks (or lack thereof) would help us achieve thinner, happier, sexier, less-wrinkly versions of ourselves.

As I laughed and commiserated and chimed in, something struck me: that friggin’ monkey is still clinging stubbornly to my back. Because for all of my lip service about acceptance and self love – a really big part of me still believes that being thin is equated with being better. And the fact that I have droopy post-nursing boobs and a squishy belly – in my own mind, ultimately means that I am losing at womanhood..and at life.

Then I came across a “before and after” photo on social media that changed my whole perspective. Taryn Brumfitt posted side-by-side images of herself posing with a muscular body-builders physique (before) and then with a softer, curvier body (after). It was revolutionary!

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Here was a woman actually showing off her curves, and rolls, and stretch marks. Proudly! Her impish smile belied the fact that she was actually HAPPIER with her less-toned and heavier body. My mind was blown.

I learned that Taryn had gone on a crusade to  uncover “why poor body image has become a global epidemic and what women everywhere can do to have a brighter future.” She turned her findings into a documentary called Embrace “A funny, touching, at times gut wrenching but above all, life changing documentary, the heart of Embrace is Taryn’s story. How she went from a body hater to a body lover. From being devastated by her perceived ugliness to proudly posing nude for the whole world to see.”

I downloaded Embrace as soon as it was released and sobbed my heart out through almost the entire thing. I could relate to so many of the women in the film who shared feelings of inadequacy and failure when discussing their bodies, and I felt inspired to make a change.

So can I do it? Can I move my body in an effort to be strong and healthy without obsessing over the calories I’ve burned, or whether or not I’ll be able to squeeze into my old jeans after a long run? Can I enjoy food without worrying about each and every bite? Can I show my children that I am a confident and fully-actualized woman no matter what size my body is? I honestly don’t know. But I am willing to try. And Embrace is the perfect place to start.

Taryn - ornament

I am beyond thrilled to be co-hosting a special community screening of the life-changing/perspective-shifting/monkey-on-back-destroying documentary Embrace – right here in Burlington, Ontario.

Please join me and my friends Sue Abell and Joelle Cooling on Thursday, June 1st at 7pm at the Art Gallery of Burlington . Tickets are $10 and are available for purchase by contacting me directly at lori@vaportek.ca, or by emailing Sue at sue@treadpowerfully.com, or by visiting Joelle’s clothing store at 457 Brant Street in downtown Burlington.

Come and enjoy a glass of wine, a bag of popcorn and an opportunity to fully love and embrace your body. Together – we can be part of a movement to create positive global change. Let’s Embrace!

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On Judging Other Women

We are die-hard Dancing With The Stars Fans at my house. On Monday nights we excitedly retire to the basement with drinks and popcorn in hand to revel in two solid hours of ballroom bliss. We love the incredible dancing, the relationships that form between partners, the personal stories that unfold and the fun of watching the pros work their magic on novice celebrity dancers.

Recently we were enjoying a DWTS episode when I made a flippant comment about the way plastic surgery has altered the face of one of my favourite childhood actresses. My daughter immediately took me to task: “What do you mean mom? I don’t see anything wrong with her face. She’s pretty.”

I immediately regretted my words. I work hard to practice acceptance and kindness (with varying degrees of success apparently) and here I was mouthing off about another woman. How can I expect my daughter to be non-judgemental with her peers if I am so darn quick to jump in to comment on the private decisions that another woman has made about her appearance?

I quickly apologized for my thoughtless words and admitted that my daughter was absolutely correct – the actress is pretty….and she is also fully entitled to do whatever the heck she wants to her own face and body. Because the truth of the matter is that it is only out of the insecurities I have about my own aging face and body that I would dare to pass such critical judgement on another woman.

This incident reminded me of a powerful blog post written by one of my favourite authors in the world- Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love). I have this post printed out and I have read it and reread it and reread it again. And I will keep on re-reading it until the message is fully embedded in my far-from-perfect, sometimes-judgemental and often insecure brain. It is an incredibly powerful piece and reminds me that as women we need to embrace our differences and accept each other just as we are. And that goes for our friends, our family, strangers,  celebrities and every single one of the actresses on Dancing With The Stars.

**(follow the link below to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s piece. Email subscribers – you may need to go to my site at http://www.lorileighwilson.com to click the link)

 

 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes….

First of all I must apologize for not posting very much over the past few weeks. I recently picked up a rather large voice over and writing assignment that is going to keep me hopping until mid-November so I won’t be able to write on my beloved blog as much as I’d like to. My plan is to put up one post per week but you’ll have to be patient with me as I attempt to strike a balance between an increased workload and the hectic schedule that fall inevitably brings.

That being said – if any of you would be interested in offering up a guest post with your favourite veggie recipe or your best tips and tricks for staying healthy and happy – fire your ideas over to me at loriandmark@cogeco.ca and I will gladly pop them up on my blog.

In the meantime, here are a few things I’m loving lately to tide you over until next week:

Genestra Bio-Enzymes– If you are anything like me, a more relaxed summer mode sometimes equals a less than ideal diet. Summer parties at friends houses, lemonade and chips on hot summer afternoons, quick and easy take-out meals and evening jaunts to Yogurty’s can sometimes leave me with a serious case of gut rot. Since I usually endeavor to eat fairly cleanly, my body sometimes rebels when I chow down on an over abundance of junk food. So a huge thank you to my good friend Jess who turned me  on to these amazing chewable digestive enzymes. They are guaranteed to contain no added wheat, starch, yeast, gluten, soy, artificial flavoring, preservatives or dairy products and they naturally “support optimal digestion and proper absorption of nutrients.” I even give them to the kids if they are complaining of tummy aches and they work like a charm!

genestra

Drive-In Movies – one of my favourite childhood memories is of throwing on my pajamas and piling into the car with my family, our pillows, blankets and huge buckets of popcorn and heading off to drive-in movies. I was very excited to share the fun with my own kids and now that the youngest is 3 (and napping for 3 hours each afternoon) we decided it was time to hit the drive-in. We loaded up the trunk of our van with a thin mattress and sleeping bags and brought the kids to see Smurfs 2. Honestly the movie wasn’t my favourite but we had an absolute blast snuggling under the blankets, munching on popcorn and enjoying a flick under the stars together. Guaranteed family fun!

drive in

Dog Shaming– I recently stumbled upon this hilarious website at www.dogshaming.com and I can’t get enough of these laugh-out-loud photos. The premise is to catch your family pet either in the act or just after they have done something naughty and then take a photo of them with a little note explaining what they’ve done. My whole family is cracking up over these photos and I’m fairly sure I’ll be posting a pic of my own Scooby Doo quite soon.

dog shaming best

Garden Fresh Salad– thanks to my hubby’s green thumb, my garden is currently overflowing with tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh basil. I wanted to create a simple summer salad featuring these beautiful ingredients so I chopped up the veggies and basil and threw them in a bowl with the juice of 1 lime, a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and some salt and pepper. Yum!

garden salad

Self-Improvement– my dad instilled in me a love for self-improvement and life-long learning. I fondly remember him toting me along to seminars with Zig Ziglar and Norman Vincent-Peale at a very early age and teaching me about the principles of Dale Carnegie and other motivational leaders. As a result I am somewhat of a junkie when it comes to this stuff and I am always reading and seeking out inspirational material. I’m currently loving Joseph Campbell’s book “The Power of Myth and following a number of amazing bloggers like “Zen Habits“, “The Daily Love” and Crazy SexyWellness“.

zen habits

Ashton Kutcher Video– have you watched Ashton Kutcher’s acceptance speech from the most recent Teen Choice awards yet? Thanks to my friend Sue who posted the video on her facebook page, I have watched it at least a half a dozen times and I learn something each and every time. Who knew the guy from “Dude, Where’s My Car?” could be so profound? If you haven’t seen it – gather your family around the computer and watch it now. It’s must see!

Thank you for your patience as I concentrate my writing efforts elsewhere for a while. And please get in touch if you’d like to try your hand at a little writing on my blog!

Week #2 – Getting Vegucated

I bounced up the stairs full of enthusiasm for our second week of family learning – Healthy Eating – only to be greeted with groans, sighs and some fairly harsh commentary. “Geez mom, we always eat healthy. Do we really have to spend the whole week talking about it?” “Oh yay, more smoothies and salad. Can’t we eat some normal food?” “Please, please don’t make us go grocery shopping with you!”

Ouch! All of my wonderful plans for gathering my eager children around my kitchen island to prepare some vegan delights while we discussed the latest research on sea vegetables and they oohed and ahhed about how yummy my latest batch of kale chips tasted just evaporated in the blink of an eye. It seemed I would have to take a different approach.

The last thing I want to do is turn my children off of healthy eating habits by shoving my own ideas about food down their throats (so to speak). As a rule, I cook a mostly plant-based menu at home and then shut my mouth and allow them to make their own choices when they are at friends houses, parties and at restaurants. For me, one of the hardest things about following a veggie diet is that once I learned about the animal cruelty and environmental devastation involved in the meat and dairy industries and the myriad health benefits associated with a plant-based diet – I just wanted to share that information with everyone I know and love. But I’ve discovered that it is important to back off and let people come to these ideas when they are ready – and that includes my own children. And oftentimes, it’s easier to receive suggestions and ideas when they aren’t coming from your mom!

I had watched the documentary Vegucated a while back and found it to be full of great information that was delivered in a funny and thoughtful manner so I decided to have a family screening of this movie one night during the course of the week (it’s on Netflix in Canada). In the film, Director Marisa Miller Wolfson convinces 6 regular meat-eating New Yorkers to go vegan for 6 weeks and she documents their journey as they change their diet and their thinking about food.

vegucated 1

Overall this movie is lighthearted, informative and funny but if you are considering showing this doc to your family, I would suggest pre-screening it to see if you think they can handle a couple of disturbing scenes. After my daughter burst into tears watching a baby calf being taken from his mom, we decided to fast forward through that part and one other small section where there are a few upsetting moments during a tour of an abandoned slaughter-house.

Here were the kids comments after watching Vegucated:
“I am becoming a vegan….starting today!”
“Isn’t it awesome that Oreo’s are vegan?”
“I had no idea that’s how we got milk and cheese.”
“Can we go on a trip to a farm sanctuary?”
“I feel so sad for the animals.”
“Are veggie burgers from Harvey’s vegan?”

Do I expect them to stop eating bacon at Cora’s or a cheesy pizza every once in a while? Not a chance! But they did get a much better understanding of how animal products get to their plate and they’ll definitely carefully consider their food choices based on what they’ve seen and learned. And I would call that a success!

Next week: Self Love & Acceptance.

Summer Family Fun & Learning

Over the years as I’ve learned, read and taken courses on a variety of wellness related topics, I have often thought about how much I would love bring my children along to these classes or find age-appropriate ways to impart the valuable information I’ve received. I believe in general kids are much more open-minded when it comes to learning new things and although I appreciate the education they are getting at school, it would be awesome if they could also take courses in subjects like mindfulness, kindness, manifesting, self-acceptance, gratitude and health eating.

meditation

Since no such program exists in my area (although my friend Leslie is working on something for the fall- woohoo!), I decided that I would take it upon myself to dream up a fun learning experience to undertake with my kids during some of my time with them this summer. I know, I know – “no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks!” I’ve already promised them that this won’t be like school and we will still have lots of time for chillin’ by the pool, playing crazy 8’s and hanging with friends. I’ll only list a theme for the week and together we will brainstorm ideas for a couple of things we can do to explore that topic (and yes, I am prepared for some sighing and eye rolling as we get started).
Continue reading

My First Blog Award!

Woohoo and holy cow! I was just nominated for a Liebster Award from fellow blogger Lindsay Gray at The Leaking Boob. Lindsay is a new mom who shares her stories, recipes and insights as she navigates the choppy waters of new motherhood. Thank you so much Lindsay! I am honoured.

Liebster Awards go to “up and coming” bloggers with less than 200 followers.  The origins of this award are unclear and are simply given by fellow award nominees to blogs that inspire them and that they enjoy reading.  “Liebster” means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome in German.

When you receive a Liebster Award, you have to give 11 random facts about yourself, answer 11 questions posed by the nominator, nominate 11 other blogs, and pose 11 questions for your nominees.  Here we go…..

Liebster award

11 Random Facts about Myself:

1.  I once won an award for being the first person in my breakdancing class to do the worm.

2.  When I was little I wanted to be an singer….and maybe secretly I still do.

3.  I have a racy sense of humour and I love to play practical jokes.

4.  My maternal grandfather was a gold miner in northern Ontario.

5.  My lucky number is 3 and my 3 kids are my greatest joy in life.

6.  My husband and I were prom king and queen at Gananoque Secondary School.

7.  Potato chips are my kryptonite.

8.  My parents told my sister and I that if we ate candy before noon we would get worms. And I believed them until I was 19!

9.  I have an Honours degree from the University of Western Ontario in english and drama.

10.  In grade 5 I went all the way to the Ontario finals in public speaking with my speech on Bob & Doug McKenzie.

11.  I wear yoga pants at some point pretty much every day.

11 Questions from Lindsay:

1.  Favorite book: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

2.  Favorite online shopping site: Saffron Rouge

3.  Happiest childhood memory: Christmas in Virginiatown

4.  Biggest goal on your bucket list: Spending a month in Italy with my family

5.  One place you’re dying to travel: Australia

6.  Biggest inspiration: People who remain open to change, to keeping an open mind and to seeing things from a different perspective at any age and stage of life

7.  Favorite season: Spring

8.  Biggest pet peeve: Negative people

9.  One person you would like to meet: Louise Hay

10.  Age when you got your first cell phone: 32

11.  3 words to describe yourself: curious, creative and determined

11 Nominees:

1. The Imperfect Nutritarian

2. 365 Cups of Kindness

3. Leanin’ Vegan, Going Green and Staying Sane

4. Top of the Guac

5. Sister Bakers

6. Hope and Company

7. Mommy Laughs

8. The Do-Gooder Mama

9. Fried Tofu

10. Selah Koile RHN

11. Om Girls Guide

11 Questions From Me:

1. If you could have one superpower – what would it be?

2. What is your favourite thing about blogging?

3. What are your top 3 books of all time?

4. What are your top 3 movies of all time?

5. Which celebrity would you most like to have dinner with?

6. What makes you laugh the most?

7. What is the best joke you’ve ever heard?

8. Who inspires you?

9. What did you want to be when you were a child?

10. What is the most interesting place you’ve ever travelled to?

11. What are you most grateful for?

Thanks again Lindsay! And I appreciate the opportunity to pay it forward.

A Happiness Challenge

Thank you so much to fellow blogger Cathy Laws who wrote to let me know she had also just completed a 21-day challenge and she is feeling amazing. Not a food cleanse however – but a Happiness Challenge! How cool is that?! She found this challenge courtesy of Shawn Achor- founder and CEO of Good Think Inc. Check out his TedX talk below and get ready to laugh and be inspired.

You can learn more about Shawn at his website (www.shawnachor.com) and by reading his book The Happiness Advantage.

This is one challenge I am definitely going to try. Thanks for the tip Cathy!