Being Elle November 2014

The Road So Far…My Faith Journey

Being Elle November 2014I am a woman of faith. It’s time I owned up to it and admitted it. I’m going to share my story with you. This will be a long post, but I promise it’s all true and uniquely me. ​

In 2004, I realized that I believed in God. It w​as a slow dawning. Shortly after this realization I felt a nudge to go to church. ​Here’s the thing. I’d never really done the whole church thing. I mean I’d gone with friends off and on over the years, but certainly I’d never belonged to a church. But I kept getting a tug on my heart so I got myself and my son ready and we set off to go to church. I was a single mom at the time and my son was around 18 months old. We went to a United Church and sat through the service. There was nothing remarkable about it for me at all. When the service was over I sort of hovered a little trying to see if anyone would talk to me. No one was rude or anything, but I left without speaking to one person. I have nothing against anyone at the United Church. It just wasn’t where I was meant to be.

So, a few weeks goes by and I get that familiar nudge. So, off we go again. As we got closer to the church I stopped at a railway crossing and looked towards the United Church. I just didn’t want to go there again, but where else was I going to go? So, I looked across the street and saw this little farmhouse looking building that barely resembles a church​ and thought to myself, “I don’t belong anywhere. So, what does it matter which church I go to? Maybe I’ll just try every church until I find the right ​one.”

​I crossed the street and walked into the Barrhaven Fellowship Christian Reformed Church. I had no idea what that meant. When I walked in I was immediately greeted by this friendly woman​ who asked if I was there for the GEMS and Cadets service. I said that I wasn’t. I had no idea what GEMS or Cadets was. She told me that there was a nursery downstairs for my son if I wanted. I declined because that was unheard of to me. In my head I was thinking, “What do you mean? Someone wants to watch my child for free while I sit through the service in peace? No way, what’s the catch?” So, we found a seat near the back. As soon as the service started I was blown away. It didn’t take long for me to take my son down to the nursery. The worship music immediately moved me and brought me to tears. The whole message spoke right to my heart. After the service, people talked to me and I just felt so welcomed. I knew I had to come back. It didn’t take long, but I met some other people new to the church. The music, the service, the people, all of it was exactly what I needed. I felt as though I’d finally found a real home. I felt accepted and loved. A few months later I met my husband. ​

In 2007, I was approached to join the GEMS Girls’ Club as a counselor. I had just had my third child and she was barely two months old when I started. By some miracle, my husband agreed to let me go Wednesday nights. Every year he threatened it would be my last and every year I somehow managed to continue on. Well, it’s 7 years later and my daughter started GEMS this year. I’m now a co-coordinator as well as a counselor. When I look back, I am amazed at God’s sense of humor and timing. My first time at this church was a GEMS and Cadets service and years later I was to become a leader in that same ministry.

I’ve grown a lot in the last 10 years, but all along I’ve craved something more. ​I’ve always wanted to be like the “Super Christians” who seem like they have it all together. I’d go through short periods of time when I thought I had a handle on it, but it was always sporadic and short lived. ​

​This summer, I attended the GEMS ​Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. When I went there I had it on my heart that I needed a change. I needed to find my purpose and calling in life. I thought that God was going to reveal my purpose to me there. I thought that He would tell me to look for another job, as I was so unhappy in the one I had. I’d spent 11 months depressed and miserable. I’d go home crying regularly because I was so unhappy. I had an amazing time. I met some amazing women. I had some real breakthrough moments like when I attended a workshop that really spoke to me. I cried through most of it. I left when it was over and walked halfway down the hall before I gave into the nudging in my heart.

“Turn around.”

“Go back.”

“You need to speak to that woman.”

So, I did. By the time I walked back in the room everyone else had pretty well gone. So, I spoke to the workshop leader and told her how desperate I was to figure out God’s plan for me. Actually, I blubbered all over her. I cried and told her that I knew God was calling me for something, but I didn’t know how to discern what was next. The woman hugged me and prayed with me. She even asked for my email address so she could check in on me. Her name is Cindy Bultema. She’s the author of Red Hot Faith. A bible study that I am now leading at my church. More on that in a bit. ​

When I got ho​​me nothing had really changed. Over the next week work was super busy, but I still had it in my mind that I was going to look for another job. By this point some of what I had heard at conference was starting to sink in. I had started to envision myself leading an evening women’s bible study. Unbeknownst to me, the previous leader had been praying for someone to step up to take on the evening study as she wasn’t able to do it any longer. I was speaking with a life coach once a week and I shared with her a couple of my secret desires. One of which was to lead the evening bible study, particularly the Red Hot Faith study.

​I think it was my second week back to work that I finally realized I wasn’t unhappy there anymore. I was even enjoying my job and it would allow me to continue being a GEMS leader and possibly lead a bible study. It’s now three months later and I’m still quite happy where I am. The only explanation I have is that God changed my heart towards my job and I am so grateful that He did. I ended up getting a really awesome raise!

So, I am leading the Red Hot Faith bible study and I think it’s going really well. I have a co-leader who’s such a big help to me and the women who come are so different and so open. It’s been a real blessing to me and I hope to them as well.

At the beginning of October the author of Red Hot Faith started a 31 Days to Fire Up Your Faith on her blog. I decided it would be a good idea to follow along. Now, I’ve spent 10 years trying to find a way to pray and read the bible and do all of those “Super Christian” things. I’ve failed at that a lot. But after a week of following these blog posts I was inspired to wake up 15 minutes early to read her blog and pray and maybe get into the bible a little. What I discovered is that I wanted more and more time to spend with God in the mornings. I found myself praying off and on throughout the day. I was finally doing all of those things I’d been craving for years. I just had to find the way that worked for me. I guess I always thought I had to just sit down and read the bible and it was too structured for the way my brain works. Now I do a little of this and a little of that, but all in all I’m building a relationship with God truly for the first time since I accepted Jesus over 10 years ago.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I still have a lot of struggles. I yell too much, I swear way more than I have a right to. I still struggle with my eating habits. The main difference now is that I’m able to talk to God about it. I’m praying about my struggles and my blessings and I’m even praying for other people the way I’d always intended but never really managed more than a quick, “please be with this person”. ​

I’ve found my purpose and that’s to be a child of God, to be a woman of faith, to share what I have with those around me. And it is my prayer that I can be a blessing to all of the women and girls who come into my life. ​
I told you this was going to be a long one. If you’ve made it this far – thank you! So, there you have it. I’m putting myself out there and sharing the truth, as I know it, in my own life. ​

Come ROAR with Me!

empower So much has happened since my vacation at the end of July. I really want to share everything with you but I don’t want to bombard you with a super long post. I will be sharing my adventures hopefully a piece at a time over the next little while.

If you’re a regular follower of Being Elle you’ll have noticed the design change. I like to change things up every year or so. Over the years, Being Elle has grown and changed much like I myself have grown and changed. I’ve been searching for such a long time. I’ve had my ups and downs and I’ve struggled, especially over the last year or so, with trying to find my “purpose”. (More on that another day.) For now, just know that I’ve had some real momentum in finding my purpose. Since we’re on the topic of purpose I’ve come to realize I can be doing so much right here! I’m excited to really bring my passions out and show them to all of you!

I’d like to share with you my most recent adventures which happened Wednesday of this week. A couple of weeks ago, a friend invited me to a women’s conference and there was just something about it that made me say Yes. It must have been the title: ROAR – Reach Out. Achieve Results. I knew very little about it going in, so I had no real idea what it was going to be like. Man, I am so glad I went! It was truly amazing. First off, there were quite a few men who attended which I thought was really amazing. The speakers were exceptionally powerful, and truly approachable, their whole vision is exactly where I’m at.

 “You are meant to be all that you are uniquely created to be. At ROAR, we believe it’s not only possible, but within your grasp.” – Excerpt from ROAR’s Vision

I took notes, lots of notes, and I want to help start a movement! The best way to do that is to share what I’ve learned. So, the following in italics are notes I took, primarily from the Keynote Speaker, Diana Kokoszka. (NOTE: The ideas are not my own, however, the notes were written down by me while attending the conference.)

ROAR stands for Reach Out Achieve Results.

Change Your Thoughts and Change the World!

Today’s western society is very much a HAVE — DO — BE way of living. If I have the same things as that successful person and do what they do then I can BE just like them! But that doesn’t work, does it? The way to change is to BE — DO — HAVE. To be like someone else you have to think like they do. Successful people live like everything they wanted has already happened.

Are your thoughts the hero? Or the villain? We get addicted to negative thinking, Instantly change those negative thoughts into positive. Change impossible to I’M POSSIBLE. You can have fear or faith, but you can’t have both.

I will leave you with one last nugget of gold from my notes. This really stood out for me. The acronym for FEAR:

Face

Everything

And

Roar!

So, let’ get out there and do some roaring of our own. Be BOLD. Be Powerful. Be Everything You Set YOUR Mind To!

Vacation!

So, for the first time in a couple of years I am on vacation and actually get to travel! The GEMS Leadership Training Conference is this week in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We’re leaving around 8:30 this morning. I really should be in bed now, but I’ve been busy packing, doing laundry, and just finding a place for everything before I go. I don’t get back until Sunday sometime and I know I won’t have a lot of time to prepare before going back to work Monday. I guess it’s just my way of preparing for that inevitability and to clear some of my mind clutter too.

I have big hopes for this time away. It’s a time away from my job, away from my house and away from my family. It should give me plenty of room for some much needed soul searching. I want, no. I need to find my calling. I need to find God’s purpose for my life. I don’t expect to have all the answers, I just want to feel like I’m on the right path and working towards the right goals. I’m tired of floundering through life. I know I have a great life in terms of an amazing husband, and three healthy, beautiful, unique children. There was a time I thought that was all I’d ever need, but I’m now finding there’s still something missing. Some part of me that can’t find peace until I am fulfilling a purpose greater than I am now.

Okay, well this post took a sorry turn for the dark and depressing! Sorry about that. I am actually quite excited about my trip and just wanted to take a few minutes to share where my head is at. If there’s WiFi I may try and sneak in a blog post while I’m away. If not I’m sure I’ll have plenty of stories to share when I return.

Have a great week!

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Progress with Primal Strength Systems

As you know I’ve been doing a fitness class called Primal Strength Systems. I’m in my fourth week now and loving (and sometimes hating) every minute of it. I decided to do a video post since it’s been a while.

I’ve made a lot of progress over the last month and I’ve proved to myself that I am capable of so much more! I’ve had some personal bests that have really encouraged me in my journey. Tonight I was able to hold up my own body weight on that damn gym rope. It was only for a short time and only a couple of inches off the ground, but I DID IT!

I’m actually holding up my own weight!

Well, I’m off. I just had to share my excitement and progress with you tonight while it’s still fresh and while I can still type without muscle pain!

And in case you missed it and you’re wondering what kind of equipment we’ve been using here’s a demo video.

Everything is Awesome….

Today, just for a moment everything is awesome! I am awesome! This morning was my sixth class with Primal Strength Systems and today I kicked ass!

It’s getting easier to lift the 75 lbs bag. (I said easier not easy.) I also surprised myself with my improved ability to pull myself up from the ground using the thick rope. (You know the dreaded rope you had to climb in gym class as a kid) We did this one the first class and I could barely lift myself off the ground. Now I can go hand over hand and pull my body up and back down again (my feet stay on the ground). One of these days I’ll get someone to take a video or a pic of it to show you.

It’s amazing what I’ve accomplished in three short weeks. I feel like everyone should be able to tell just by looking at me, but there’s no obvious physical changes. (I checked. I took pictures to compare. It’s only minute changes that I can see.) That will come in time, I just have to be patient and persistent. I am quite proud of myself for what I have accomplished. I continue to amaze myself. Seeing the things that my body is capable of just makes me want to do more and more amazing things!

It’s funny on my way home I had so much to say and now I’m drawing a blank. So, I guess I’ll keep it short and sweet today!

Have a great weekend!

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An Ode to a Mug

Oh travel mug how I loved thee!
And then you went and died on me.

You’ve been there for me through many cups of coffee to many more cups of tea. You didn’t judge me when I changed your contents. You gladly kept everything hot, sometimes too hot! And then I discovered that you kept my cold water, really cold, and I knew it was love! How will I ever manage to live without you?

Today is a sad day indeed. I will miss you Travelly my mug. I took you wherever I went. I’m so sorry about that dent. You’ve always been a good friend.

Farewell dear one! It’s time to buy a new one!

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Finding Style

Friday I went to Reitman’s to see if I could find a light colored shirt for my fitness class. It’s really hot working out in a black shirt! While I was there I tried on a number of dresses. I seriously love wearing dresses. Over the last 10 months or so I’ve been putting in effort in terms of trying to find my own style. In fact, prior to October 2013, I hadn’t worn lipstick in years. I still don’t wear a lot of makeup, just eyeliner, mascara and now lipstick. I’ve learned what colors look best on me and I’m still learning what I like and what looks good. It’s still a little weird for me as I go about finding my own style but I am enjoying creating this part of my identity. 


Anyway, I found a couple of dresses I liked but I wasn’t 100% sure so I didn’t buy them. Sunday I was going to go back but wanted to check out Pennington’s first. They only had halter and floor length dresses which wasn’t what I was looking for. These stores tend to really annoy me. There are clothes I’d love to wear, but I can’t justify spending that much money on one item. My visit got cut short as I was needed at home. I figured I would just go to Reitman’s a little later. Unfortunately, by the time I was able to get out again everything was closed and I ended up at Walmart.

The dress selection was slim but I found one I was willing to try on. I was highly disappointed. Can someone please tell me what is up with this new style where a dress is short in front and long in back? It makes no sense to me and honestly I think they’re awful.


Could you not decide if you wanted a short dress or a long one and went with both?  
In the end, I managed to buy a magenta sleeveless scoop neck top, sandals, a new bra, and underwear. I always forget how much better I feel when I get new underclothes. Nothing beats having the girls up where they belong! What we wear under our clothes can have such a positive impact on our self-esteem. It’s the little things in life that put a smile on my face. 

Another Successful Class

It’s Thursday already! At least this is a super short week. I don’t think I’d survive if it wasn’t.

Last night was my third class with Primal Strength Systems. We started the class in the rain and ended by getting eaten alive!

Finally another woman has joined us and this time we all actually introduced ourselves. We are all at various degrees of fitness but what I find fascinating is that each of us has a strength in at least one area. I love my squats!

The other woman in the class is amazing! She’s got seven month old twins! And she said one side of her body is weaker than the other (I’m not sure why). But she’s truly amazing. She can’t do everything so the trainer gives her alternatives and you can see she’s really trying. She’s my hero of the week! It just goes to prove anyone at any fitness level can do this!

So, I thought we had gotten off “easy” until the end when we had to do that damned bear crawl! I was crawling by the last 5 feet but it wasn’t exactly a bear crawl.

It’s only been 3 classes and I can see improvement in my strength already! This is where my stubbornness really is a blessing. I had to do farmer walks with around 70lbs in each hand and about halfway I wanted to drop them but kept going just out of sheer stubbornness! The 75 lbs bag is getting slightly easier to lift. I’ve been able to lift it without falling on my duff and without help. I even managed to do 5 front squats with it.

The best part about this class is that I’m not self conscious. For the most part I keep up with everyone else. And I really look forward to class!

If you’re ever interested in joining or have questions please feel free to contact Terry!

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A Lifetime of Searching

Happy Canada Day!

Well, I’ve gone and done it now. I’m all wired up and need to rant! As you know I’ve been in this personal funk. I’ve been in it for so long now it’s getting hard to remember what having hopes and dreams felt like. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ready to end it all or anything so dire. I have a pretty fantastic life, but as I mentioned before there’s a big hole in my life that I can’t seem to fill.

Let’s see, where to begin. So, at 17 I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was positive that I would be a reporter. It had been strongly suggested by my high school guidance counselor that I go into journalism and not only did it seem like I had an aptitude for it, but it also fit with my interests. I did a co-op placement at the local newspaper and loved it.

However, journalism in college was a completely different ball game and I realized this was not what I wanted to do. I stuck it out and passed…barely. I did find that I had a knack for layout and design so after a maternity leave contract ended I decided to go back to school once again.

This time I took web design. I rocked that course. I did so well I ended up tutoring other students in my own class. But when I had to face the real world I didn’t have the confidence in myself or what I could do and I didn’t put a lot of effort into my job search. I did some small business websites for friends, but that was about the extent of it. Web design also took a crazy turn for the dynamic and I was lost in the wilderness. I’m good with design, not so good with learning new languages.

So, I entered the technical support and customer service world and stayed at call centers for the most part over the next 12 years. Once you’re in a call center type job it’s really difficult to get back out. A couple of years ago, my technical support contract ended and I was able to get into the Second Career program through Employment Ontario.

I ended up taking the Addictions and Community Service Worker program at Everest College. I learned a lot through this program. I was a leader in my classroom. I made really decent marks and when I graduated I was certain that I would be able to find a job this time. I had self-confidence and the perseverance to apply, apply, apply. What I hadn’t counted on was a lack of opportunities for full time work in the field. I admit my teacher did tell us over and over again this is not the field to be making a lot of money, but I did think I could find something full time.

I bought into the Second Career hype that over the next five years social service and community service workers were going to be in high demand. There’s a demand all right. A demand for casual, part-time employees with no real hope for more.

Social and Community Service Workers Regional Trend

After a year of looking and only being able to get casual part-time work I threw in the towel. Yes, maybe I did give up too easily, but I was heart broken. I’d finally found my passion. I’d finally found what that I felt I’d been called to do. Being a leader in the classroom just doesn’t translate to the real world of job searching.

Knowing what you’re good at doesn’t promise you a job. Maybe this is coming off as conceited but I promise you this is not about my ego. For the first time in my life I’ve had a glimpse of what I’ve been missing throughout my entire employment history. This glimpse has taken what I thought I knew and thrown it out the window. I thought that all I ever really wanted was to have a stable job with normal daytime hours and weekends off. And maybe there was a time that would have been enough for me, but I caught that glimpse of more and I can’t seem to let it go.

The question is, where do I go from here?

Do I go back to school again, only this time go big or go home and try the university route? I have to admit I’m quite gun-shy about going back to school. How many stories have you heard about recent graduates not being able to find jobs? I know I’ve heard plenty and I’ve experienced a few myself. Plus, there’s the whole issue of how would I afford it even if I could get in.

Do I attempt entrepreneurship and start my own company? There’s a lot of risk there and an initial investment that, let’s face it, I don’t have. Plus, I have a family to support so is the risk really worth it?

Do I stay where I am even though I feel like I lose another piece of myself everyday? I have decent hours so I can enjoy my evenings and weekends. Except that I’m left so drained at the end of the day I don’t really enjoy my time off. Oh, but don’t forget the old adage “at least I have a job”.

Do I put myself through the humiliation of another job search? I’m a Jane of all trades and master of none. Have you ever tried to look for a job but not known where to even start?

So, I have options. (Insert eye roll here and sarcastic “yay”.) Maybe we should be teaching our children that the ideal dream job just isn’t out there. Find a job that you can stand, one that doesn’t take away who you are, pays the bills and is just…good…enough.

Don’t worry, I know that’s ridiculous and jaded. Believe me, I want my kids to pursue their dreams and to actually be able to surpass their own imaginations! But I also want my kids to see that I’ve done everything I possibly could to accomplish my own dreams no matter how terrifying they may seem.

~End Rant~

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Looking Forward and Setting New Goals

As I sit down to write this I can see how far I’ve come and yet the next part of this journey may prove to be even more challenging. I come to you today to share my success and my failures. On March 6, 2014 I started Isagenix. Around the same time I joined what’s called the IsaBody Challenge. This is a 16 week challenge to inspire achieving your goals and a chance to win prizes. I completed this challenge as of last night. In four months, I lost 35 lbs and a total of 23 inches. I planned on adding exercise, but never did quite manage it. So, this release of weight was done without adding fitness.

I dutifully had my husband take my “after” pictures and naturally needed to compare them to the before pictures from March. I’m nervous to post these because there’s so much of me in them, but I’m the queen of the over-share so why stop now?

Before and After Photos from March 2014 and June 2014
There you have it. My successes! I am quite proud of myself for sticking it out, but this next leg of the journey I want to make even more changes. Lately, I’ve done a lot of self-reflecting and I have more willpower and determination that I ever imagined. However, I can see where I really need to put in some serious effort to make lasting changes. My issues with food are far from over. I’m sure my weight loss would have been even more astounding had I managed to better deal with my emotional eating.

I started a new IsaBody Challenge last night. This time I am focusing more on energy and performance than weight loss. Obviously, my ultimate goal is still weight loss, but I need to change my overall focus. This challenge will run until October 18, 2014 and over the next four months I plan to work on my emotional eating as well as getting fit. I’ve already started a fitness class that I will be doing twice a week for 11 weeks (possibly longer). As for the emotional eating I will be working on awareness and finding new ways to work with my emotions. It took years to develop my emotional eating and it’s going to take time to replace bad habits with good ones. I believe support, awareness, and creating a new reward system will be the keys to success in this next part of my journey.

The biggest help to achieving any goal is having a great support system! I’d love to hear about your weight loss journey or struggles with emotional eating. Feel free to contact me anytime!