A month of thanksgiving

2020 has been an interesting year.

There have been so many ups and down, opportunities and challenges, emotions and changes.

It's easy to feel lost in it all.

I know I did. I started the year with a clear plan of how to grow the studio, followed by a pivot to temporarily go online to support our members while we were forced to close our doors due to COVID restrictions, followed by the challenges to re-open the studio in stage 3 of re-opening, followed by the realization that the studio was not viable with the predicted long-standing restrictions to business and likelihood of recurring closures, followed by the decision to close the studio and pivot to online only programming.

With so much focus on business bottom-line and cleaning/COVID procedures and protocols forced by the need to make each of those "followed by" decisions, I admittedly began to lose sight of the reason why I wanted to open a business in the first case. The vision of the impact that I wanted to have on people, the industry, and the world.

So, for October (the month of Canadian Thanksgiving), I decided to do a month of thanksgiving. A daily gratitude to draw my attention back to the vision and purpose rather than the operations of business.

I decided to compile it all into one blog. To consolidate and review all 31 days and bring together the lifestyle, the vision that I want to share through Volair.

Here we go:

Day 1:

I am so thankful to have gotten to watch this beautiful sunrise this morning, sitting enjoying breakfast and coffee and journaling with Wicket.

I used to be the type of person who woke up, grabbed a peanut butter toast and coffee and headed out the door to start a busy day. It took some time, but I've changed that.

I really value having slow, calm mornings. I also often enjoy a run, a free dance or a quick yoga stretch.

Having this peaceful time every morning means my self-care is accomplished before I have the opportunity to let every other obligation become "more important".

Because let's be honest, there's really nothing more important than our health and wellbeing. It allows us to show up as our best so we can fully commit to the people and activities that we love. (And the other things we prioritize).

Day 2:

Today Wicket and I went to the beach for a walk and the lake looked like glass!

This photo does no justice to the beauty. The air was fresh, the water was chilly, and the perfection of colours, lake, clouds, sand, horizon, openness, birds, life - all of it together - made me see exactly how perfect this world is.

Of course, each individual piece of the picture is not exactly "perfect". If you'd like, you could look closely and judge the broken trees, the way the stones are worn and thrown about by the water, the grey in the clouds, whatever else may be "imperfect".

When we laser focus on minor "imperfections" we miss out on the overall magic of how it all comes together to create beauty.

I am grateful today for the beautiful reminder from mother nature to expand my vision from the laser focus on my own flaws to see how all my "quirks" come together in a unique and "imperfectly" beautiful way.

Day 3:

Today, I am grateful for delicious desserts. A lavender rose doughnut in the afternoon from @happiness.ca and a slice of pumpkin pie from Earls.

The pumpkin pie was a sweet gift from a girl who purchased my old golf clubs. I'd offered to drop them off for her since it was right on my way and she offered me this sweet treat.

My first instinct was to refuse the pie - we learn not to take too much. But I chose instead to gratefully receive it.

There is a beautiful flow when you give with thanks and receive with thanks.

Give because you wish to give, not because you expect anything, even a "thank you" in return. And receive with an open heart without expecting to owe someone something in return.

It sounds simple, but we are somehow conditioned out of this simple principle and taught that giving and receiving is somewhat of a game to play and keep score.

Today, I am grateful to not be playing this game.

Day 4:

Today was the CIBC #runforthecure2020. I didn't sign up officially, but when I got up this am, I made a quick donation and ran 5k thinking of those who have survived and those we've loved and lost.

Its been a rough year for many small businesses and I hope to be able to better support women's health causes in the future. But for today, I am grateful for my health and the ability to give.

Day 5:

Admittedly, today was a tough day to feel gratitude. It was a day of stress, that feeling of not being able to trust people, frustration, and overwhelm.

When I slowed myself down, danced, moved, cleared my mind and thought back on the day, I realized all the amazing things I have to be grateful for today.

  • my dad & father-in-law were kind enough to come help me get the house ready and pack while I was working all day

  • I had a great meeting about advancing EDIB (Equity, diversity, inclusion & belonging) at work

  • my wonderful business friends gave an hour of their time to help me with my mindset around my upcoming programming

  • Wicket and I had an amazing snuggle once we both calmed down

  • the sky is so incredibly clear. The moon is bright and there are so many stars, it is such a beautiful night!

Today I am grateful for the lesson to look for the good things. The one bad thing can change my mindset quickly and spiral and expand until all I can see is the bad, even though the good things far outweigh it.

Many thanks and much love to the many people who have gone out of their way to help me. These are the people who I will choose to dedicate my thoughts and energy to.

Also grateful that I am doing a month of daily gratitude because this exercise means I am going to bed feeling calm, happy and grateful rather than overwhelmed, stressed and angry.

Day 6:

Today I am thankful for the quiet moments that Wicket reminds me to slow down for and enjoy. The first step outside in the morning, sitting on the porch to watch the world go by, walking, sniffing, enjoying, taking it slow and taking it all in, the last step outside at night to enjoy the fresh air and the bright moon, and finally the final snuggle and slow down before going to bed.

Wicket has taught me so much about love and life. He has fully earned his hashtag #wicketisjustthebest

Day 7:

Today was chaos. I gave myself a little break to go through old photos and boy did I come across some gems!

From back in the day when you had to print your pictures to see what you too, I found envelopes labeled with some of my trips, a great one labeled "important friends" and one "family growing up".

There is something very different about those photos. Something more authentic about my expressions. Whether its just my nostalgia speaking or if its different now that you can see what you look like while you are taking selfish, get instant feedback and adjust to be "perfect" or whatever. Or if I was just so blissful in life up to my mid-twenties that it didn't matter to me how I was captured on film...who can say

Anyway, with all that is going on, I am grateful today for this joyful trip down memory lane and reminder of the depth of love I have for my family and important friends

I am also grateful for today's frustrations which reminded me that we can honour our past without bringing it to our present. Sometimes the past is best honoured by leaving it behind.

Day 8:

Today I am grateful for this @yogitea reminder.

It was another frustrating and challenging day. As easy as it is to want to turn to anger and petty revenge for people making your life difficult, I can attest to it today that completing your end of the deal with your best energy and highest integrity feels much better.

Give because you want to, not because you expect something in return.

I am thankful that my house sale is complete, that I left my best energy with the house. I am reminded that each communication changes based on the interpretations, emotions and energy of the people involved and that with a 4-step communication chain, the message can become very muddled as it passes between each link.

I choose to believe in the greatest good of the new home owners and to wish them a loving, peaceful and beautiful new adventure (or a quick and easy flip and sell...whatever their purpose). I wish for my home, which took such good care of me and wicket, to be well taken care of by her new owners. And I wish Wicks & me all the best on our new adventure.

Day 9:

Today's gratitude is simple: for beautiful days, activities and especially for friends that warm your heart

I cannot wait for Covid to pass so I can greet you all next time with the biggest, longest, strongest hug. I miss seeing you all more regularly, and I am incredibly grateful for the time we had today XO

Day 10:

Since today is world mental health day, I am grateful today for the resources I have to help keep my own mental health in check.

As I think about it, I realize that this FB page actually reflects many aspects of my lifestyle that I've designed to take care of my mental health. From dance, fitness, nature, cooking nourishing meals, journaling, reflecting, etc, these are all things that I've built into my routine so that they become more habit to maintain health, rather than a reactive change I have to make if things start to slide.

If you've been following me for long, you'll know I'm a big advocate of building the habits needed to achieve important goals into your daily routine in baby steps so your lifestyle naturally leads you to your goals. I do the same to keep myself mentally healthy.

And of course I have a great therapist who helped me release my grief and who I occasionally call on if things feel like they are getting too much for me to deal with on my own.

I also want to make a point here that mental health is not the same as mental illness. Maintaining your mental health is important to prevent mental illness. Feeling sad or even depressed is not the same as clinical depression. Feeling nervous or anxious is not the same as clinical anxiety. Those feelings need to be acknowledged and dealt with, but people with mental illness may need more intensive resources and tools and professional help to manage their symptoms.

This past month, we got a small group together to run the Shoppers Drug Mart #runforwomen to support women's mental health as team Volair. I am excited by the idea of being able to use my platform to bring people together (hopefully in a bigger way next year) to raise awareness and support for important causes including women's health and rights, sustainability, and equity.

I am grateful that together, we can make a change. Together, we are unstoppable

Day 11:

Today I am grateful for me.

As I was out for a run this morning, I was feeling grateful for being out on the trails, in the sun, in the fresh cool air. I was thinking about what about it made me grateful.

I thought, I'm grateful for my body. My legs for their strength to keep pushing, my lungs for their breath. But that felt so disconnected to me.

I'm not grateful for running because my body can do it. The things my body can do - running, dancing, lifting, poling, etc - are only meaningful because of the full experience.

Because I've taken the care and effort to work on my own mind-body-spirit connection, running is not just my legs stepping one foot in front of the other and my lungs breathing heavier. Its not just a calorie burning fitness exercise. It is a fully immersive experience that ignites my senses, powers my body, clears my mind, inspires my thoughts, opens my heart and makes my spirit feel light and free.

This is actually exactly my experience with sensual movement and so beautifully describes Volair's tagline "A fresh perspective on fitness"

I am really striving to make all our classes, whether they are fitness, dance, trick, or movement based, a fully sensual experience.

I want to encourage you to be grateful not for the things your body can do, but for the incredible experiences you can create for yourself when you master and nurture your own relationship with your body.

In my experience, this is the best way to be able to live authentically, express your true self, and create a life of peace.

And so, today I am grateful for me. The full me. My mind-body-spirit in relationship to help me live as a whole, complete person, open to experience and enjoy all the beauty and wonders that the world has to offer.

Day 12:

Today, I am so incredibly grateful for and proud of my family. They inspire me regularly.

I am inspired by my dad who still climbs 15ft ladders while closing in on 70. By my mom who inspires so many people as she runs on the trails in her home town (she didn't start running until she was in her 50s and has run numerous 1/2 marathons, 10ks, 5ks,...). By my sister who gave up doing what was expected of her and started living and working toward her dream life. Plus they all take care of the people they love like...I don't even have a metaphor for it. Just fierce love and care.

(And of course Wicket constantly reminds me of the meaning of unconditional love and reminds me that no matter what is happening in the world, love and happiness is always right there within you).

While commercials, ads, and generally the world tells me that age is limiting, a weakness, something to fear, my family shows me that age is not the enemy but that with every year lived, you have the option to try new things, grow, achieve and thrive.

What will you do with your next year? You may not be able to know exactly what, especially with our current world and restrictions and uncertainties. But you can decide whether you will sit still, step back, or step up.

What's your choice?

Day 13:

Today was a rainy grey day.

About 4 years ago, I performed in a swinging pole act with

Libby Ives in a fundraising production for the Starlight Foundation called "Les parapluies" (the umbrellas).

The director explained to me the beautiful significance of the umbrella - that it offers protection to those under its cover (his explanation was probably much more flowery and eloquent, but this is the part I remember).

Now when I see people walking down the street under their umbrellas, I think of how simple it can be to create our own little sanctuary.

Do you have any simple strategies that you use to bring yourself a little slice of peace? To shelter yourself from the chaos when you need respite?

Sensual movement is this this for me. It allows me to step back from the world, clear my mind, and connect with my body, my breath, and my authentic inner self.

Today I am grateful that I can create my own peace amidst the chaos.

Day 14:

Today's gratitude is simple.

After spending the majority of the past week packing, moving, driving and unpacking.

I am so grateful for a glorious, opening stretch.

My body, my mind and my spirit all feel a little more free today.

Day 15:

Today I am grateful to have some time for my own practice.

The one thing I promised myself when I decided to make pole a business for myself was that if I stopped having time to train myself, I would have to re-evaluate.

I believe that training and progression as an instructor is super important. A lot of times we spend so much time working for our classes that we forget the joy of trying a combo for fun or just putting on music and jamming.

Today I am grateful for the joy of playing just for fun with this combo by @alessandra._.fusi

Don't get me wrong - I am also incredibly grateful for having the opportunity to teach a challenging, but successful trick & transitions class tonight. Teaching brings me incredible joy and I am grateful to share my passion with others.

Day 16:

Today I am grateful for the river.

For its reminder that "being in flow" doesn't mean its easy. There are still obstacles to overcome, twists and turns to navigate, and sometimes garbage to get rid of.

To flow like a river means syncing with natural forces to help navigate the obstacles as they come, letting yourself be pulled perhaps uncomfortably quickly and roughly through the rapids trusting that you will be swept to calm waters in the natural movement of things.

Being in flow doesn't mean its always a smooth ride. There will be both calm and chaos. It doesn't mean it doesn't require your own strength and effort to keep your head above water at times. It just means you are always moving in the right direction.

The flow of a river was my inspiration for our new moon free dance playlist. It moved from light and flowy to strong and intentional and back again and finished with one of my favourite songs for feeling renewed and alive.

I am thankful for having shared this playlist, class, energy, and love with the beautiful women who joined me Dancing with you filled me with peace and joy.

Day 17:

I don't even know how to articulate what it is I am grateful for today. For the day.

For being alive. For feeling immersed in the energy. The intensity. For the presentations, the connections, the new thoughts, ideas and inspirations.

For the moment where I realized that what I thought broke me actually broke me open. For all of it, I am grateful.

Day 18:

This evening Wicket and I were snuggling watching a cheesy movie. There was one quote that stuck with me:

"Its not a risk to fall in love. Its a risk not to."

It made me think of the truth behind that statement in love and in many other parts of life.

Its also kind of funny because over the past year and a half, I've been working with a team to develop a risk management model for physical activity, recreation, education, sport, and circus, and the main purpose of it was to consider risk as a neutral construct. To be just as thoughtful of the physical, psychological, social and creative risks of NOT doing an activity as the risk of doing it.