Committing to Bliss

When I was pregnant, I read a really powerful book recommended to me by my very cool ex-doctor from B.C. (she was only my ex-doc because we moved away. If I could have cloned her and brought her with me to PEI, I would have in a heartbeat!) called, “Birthing From Within.” The concept of the book is to help birth in awareness and to understand and embrace what is happening to your body during the processes of pregnancy, labour, delivery and postpartum. It’s a pretty awesome book and I connected with its ideologies immediately. One of the postpartum exercises was about following your bliss. Bliss, as it turns out, can be rather challenging to come by after the birth of a child, and so the book provides an exercise to help.

As Pam England (the author of Birthing from Within) writes,  “Too many parents at the end of their baby’s first year, or even eighteen years later, realize that they gave up the things they loved to do and that gave them bliss when they became parents. Becoming a conscious parent does require sacrifice, and it also requires modeling for our children how to live creative, balanced lives.”

The goal is to do the exercise before the birth of your child so you remember what bliss actually feels like (wink). I think this is a valuable exercise for everyone. We should probably start with a definition of bliss so we’re all on the same page.

bliss/blis/

Noun:
  1. Perfect happiness; great joy.
  2. Something providing such happiness

Okay, now that we have that laid out, the goal is now to brainstorm what are the moments/things/experiences that give you bliss. From there you are to commit to a timeline as to when (with the goal being within the first year or so) you are going to follow through on 3 of these things.  My 3 things were:

  1. Take in a breathtaking view somewhere scenic and new (within the first year).
  2. Plant a vegetable garden to start growing my own food (Spring 2012)
  3. Go on a nature filled overnight camping trip with my husband and son (Summer 2012).

So far, I’ve accomplished the first (albeit that it has been here on PEI), I’m seriously planning the second (upcoming gardening blog post to follow!) and I’m loosely planning the 3rd (I’m feeling an overnight canoe-camping trip in my summer plans).

To that end, I recently got back from a 5 day trip to NS to visit my parents. I had gone for several reasons. For starters, my husband was away over-seas and it’s always nice to have an extra set (or two) of hands to help look after Fin. Secondly, I wanted to take the opportunity to see my folks (and let them see Finlay) before starting back into the routine of work. Finally, a trip to “the big city” always allows me to pick up a few things that I can’t get here on PEI. And this is where my, “Follow Your Bliss Path” took an interesting turn. For starters, I got inspired by a trip to MEC to commit to my 3rd bliss goal. I bought a book on being in the wilderness with babies (called, “Babes in the Woods”) and started to really think about the logistics of an overnight camping trip with Finlay. After some preliminary reading, I think it’s completely feasible to plan for a close to home over-nighter this summer. Also, I purchased a yoga DVD.

I like yoga a lot. I did it semi-regularly (at home) prior to getting pregnant, and even attempted some challenging programs with success (like the P90X Yoga, which if you’ve never tried it, is a killer!). During my pregnancy I did prenatal yoga (again via DVD at home- I’m not much for going to classes with others. I know I could benefit a lot from an instructor, but I am bad at sticking to schedules and the idea of paying for classes that I may not be able to go to just isn’t in my nature). Anyway, I digress…I had decided that I wanted to try to get back into Yoga and was looking for something a little bit less intense than P90X and also a program that had some more diversity. I read a recent review article in Canadian Living on Eoin Finn’s Blissology Project and it sounded great, so I decided to pick up a copy from the Lululemon store in Halifax.

Here’s where the everything comes together. Eoin’s program is not just about yoga. It’s all about following your bliss. I have only done the Friday yoga program and meditation, but I’ve got to say, so far I’m pumped.  While I like Pam England’s concept about planning for future bliss, this was even better because I got to feel bliss in an unplanned, unadulterated form today. When Finlay went down for his nap this morning, I slipped in the “Friday” DVD (There’s a different program for each day of the week- LOVE!). It was a hugely pleasant surprise. The program was challenging (especially for my postpartum, lacking exercise body!) and it’ll be a while until I’m fully able to participate, but I like where it’s going and I love the philosophy behind it, so much so that I decided to sign up for the free Commit to Bliss 4 week challenge. I came away from the workout super charged, feeling great and committed to living in bliss not just 3 times a year, but EVERY day. On the one hand, I’m looking forward to getting into some form of physical shape, but more so, the mental workouts provided are what have me really excited. The idea of practicing yoga daily, taking time for daily meditation, focusing on appreciating the world around me, eating in awareness, and being thankful for what I have really resonate with me. Anyway, this is starting to sound like a sales pitch (which it’s not….I paid for my DVD in full and have no affiliation with Blissology, not to mention I have only looked at a sixth of the program so far) but I just wanted to share this in order to remind everyone (myself included) how important it is to step out of the bog that so often becomes our life and to follow your bliss as frequently as possible.

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”
~Joseph Campbell

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The Not So Gentle Island – Winter on the Lake

A view of the winter dunes as I look up the lake.

This week’s posts are going to focus around my home and where I live. This is for one simple reason….it’s our anniversary. A year ago, as a Valentine’s Day present to each other, Jarrod and I bought our place on the lake. Really, it wasn’t for a Valentine’s Day present, but we had the closing date set to Valentine’s Day because we knew we would always want to remember the day we purchased our dream property.

More Icicles- they're so pretty!

So with that said, the theme of today’s posts is winter on the lake. PEI is famous for summer. It has wonderful ocean beaches, delicious seafood, glorious sunny days and is a summer vacation hot spot. People come from all over the world to enjoy the beaches on the island and as such the province has coined the slogan, “The Gentle Island” to describe it. That’s well and good in the summer months, but here on Canada’s East Coast the days of summer are far from endless! In fact, even though PEI has a large part of it’s economy driven by tourism, it’s tourist season is extremely short. At best, there are typically 8 good weeks (or peak season weeks). The remainder of its season (which runs from May to October) can offer anything from snowstorms to hurricanes. This is probably the largest downfall for PEI’s tourism market. We used to live on Vancouver Island. In fact we moved from Vancouver Island to PEI (Probably one of the farthest island-hops that you can do!). Vancouver Island, which also has a huge tourism industry, is blessed with more moderate temperatures and weather and as such truly has a 6 month tourist season. Anyway (as usual) I digress.

The winter dunes

So here I sit in -30C temperatures (that’s -22F for those of you South of the Border) after a weekend of being ravaged by winds gusting upwards of 100 kph, freezing rain and snow, thinking to myself that really there’s nothing gentle about this Island right now. Once September hits, all bets are off on the “Gentle Island.” Hurricane season starts in September, and while major damage from hurricanes is uncommon, it’s not unheard of (See Hurricane Juan). The hurricane season can last into November, which is just in time for the snow storm season to start. Again, the storms are variable from year to year (last year was a snowy one, this year is primarily a windy one) but this pretty much lasts through until May. This is typically when the rain and windstorms start again and when all of the tourism operators start praying for a nice summer.

Winter sunset

So now you’re probably wondering why did we move here? Why do we live on this not so gentle island? There are lots of reasons (real estate prices, closer to family, closer knit communities, etc) but even in the winter there is still a sense of serenity and beauty in this place.

A frozen branch & looking up our lane

A wicked, windy, ice storm transforms the barren winter landscape into a crystalline wonderland where every branch gives off a thousand sparkles when the sunlight hits. Living down a road which is primarily used by summer cottagers becomes a whole different experience in February. There are benefits in not having any neighbours (as my husband will tell you, it doesn’t matter now if we walk around naked- not that it mattered before. We live well off of the road and are surrounded by woods. Add to the fact that “we” means “he.” Further add to the fact that when we had neighbours it never really bothered him.) Oops….more digression!

Finlay and I on the lake.

But the reality is there’s a peacefulness on the lake in the winter. Despite the winds, snow, rain, and cold it’s tranquil here, with only the sounds of the wailing wind to keep you up at night. And even in the winter, there’s still lots to do here. Only 15 minutes from our home is Greenwich National Park,(part of PEI National Park) where there is a snowshoeing club that meets every weekend, our backyard lake also has excellent snowshoeing and skating, and we’re minutes from the beach for winter beach walks and cross-country skiing when there is snow. The main part of PEI National Park also hosts a ton of winter activities and has groomed trails for skiing and snowshoeing, skating, and more. And don’t forget the Confederation Trail, a trail that spans the entire province and can be skied, snowshoed, or snowmobiled.  So we may be “iced-in” (a term used to describe the shoreline once the winter ice has settled) for the winter, but spring will come and things will thaw. Until then, I’ll enjoy the splendor in my backyard on this cold February day! I’ve included this slideshow of our winter paradise because a picture truly is worth a thousand words and I could never fully explain how nice it really is here in the winter. So see for yourself…

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