Shoes and Coffee Drinks

 A little time for you

Sometimes all you have is a few minutes to squeeze in a little moment for yourself. This past weekend we had friends over, hockey games, singing performances and a myriad of normal life things to take care of like laundry and taking care of children. In every week I try to squeeze in a couple things for me, to balance out all of the other things I do for everyone else.

The Shoe Store

On Saturday we went for a walk to this great little independent shoe store we have. It is called the Urban Shoe Myth and it has a really neat little eclectic mix of shoes that are trendy and different. I like the store because they carry good quality items and I am a big fan of buying good quality stuff and taking good care of it. I have been wanting a little boot with a heel so I thought… lets go pop in and see what they have.

This may have been a mistake because within 2 minutes of entering the store my daughter sees a pair of $300 boots that she falls in love with and proceeds to try them on. Funny enough the boots do look great on her and of course she asks me to buy them for her. She is 11.  There is not a chance in heck (and no that is not the word I would use if this weren’t being published) I will buy her a pair of heels or for that matter spend $300 on a pair of her shoes, but I let her try them on and have the moment.

I then told her she could come back and buy the boots when she had a job and money of her own.

I did end up finding a lovely pair of boots for myself though and they were on sale which is always a bonus!

 Support Local – but beware of the Overlap Effect

I love supporting a local store when possible.

Sometimes shopping local you do run the risk in a smaller town of what I call the “overlap effect”. The first time I bought a pair of shoes in Saint John I was new to town and was articling. I was going to a dinner and I didn’t have an appropriate shoes for such a grown-up event. So, I went to the local shoe store, Manchester Shoes. Manchester is also a great little independent shoe store.

I found this very cool pair of black pumps that had cute little studs in them. They were professional but also a little fun and edgy.

The night of the event I was introduced by one of the partners in the firm to his wife. She looks down and we are wearing the same shoes (I was mortified)… The overlap effect.

Despite the risk of the overlap effect, when you find something you love and you can buy it from a local owner, it makes a big difference in your local community. I really don’t worry about overlapping the way I used to either. Now I am proud to be part of my community whenever possible. Even if it means sharing the spotlight with a fellow local spporter.

 Coffee Shop

After the shoe store we popped down to Second Cup, which is my favorite coffee shop in town. I used to go to Second Cup in Halifax and I always liked their coffee and atmosphere. I really like the staff who works there as well. They know us well and always take a minute to chat.

I indulge in the occasional fat free (which means made with skim milk/almond milk and skip the whipped cream – it is all about balance) Vanilla Latte or Peppermint Mocha. The mocha is hot chocolate with a shot of espresso and a shot of sugar free peppermint syrup. Not on the Canada Food Guide for nutritional value but it makes me smile.

The girls had their own version of this treat. A steamed milk with a shot of flavoured syrup. Then we walked down the street and talked about our day as we headed back to the car to go back to the crazy of the afternoon to come.

Now this little interlude would have been just as much fun if I hadn’t bought the boots, sometimes just trying things on in a nice store and feeling good about yourself can be enough. That being said… a $5 splurge on a latte (or whatever speaks to you) can change your day – I don’t do it often but when I do it makes me smile and it is a real treat!

 

 

What happens at 5am

I have always been a morning person. I have always gotten up between 6 and 6:30 (I do have the ability to sleep to 11am the odd time and have once stayed in bed until 2pm just because I could). I have found over the years that it has gotten harder and harder to get up at 6am though and every morning I was hitting the snooze button more and more time (one of my favorite things to do).

When I am busy at work and stressed I will often wake up at 4-5am unable to go back to sleep so I get up and head to work as I find it more productive to tackle the work head on than lay in bed and stress about it.

The writers group

When I started writing I would get it in when I had time, which meant here and there when I had a window. It was not consistent and was often when I was tired.

One night I was having a beer with some ladies after work and they asked me what had I been up to. I told them I had been doing some writing. As it turns out a couple of them had just joined a writing group and they asked me if I had any interest in joining.

Of course I said yes. It was a group of 8 women all either doing some writing or aspiring to be writers. We decided to meet every 2 weeks and work our way through a book called “The Artist’s Way”

The Artist’s Way

The premise of the book is to unleash creativity and to find your inner artist. The book is definitely getting aged and it is written from a very “all creativity comes from god or the creator” perspective. For some people in our group this works and others found it difficult to frame this particular discussion through that lens.

All that being said the book itself contains a lot of really great tools which are worth investigating if you are looking to start a journey of creativity or self-discovery.

I have to admit the book is pretty kooky in some ways but for me it has given me some great insight into my own creativity and has taught me some great skills around consistency of the artistic process and allowing yourself the freedom to be artistic (said no lawyer ever, well at least not out loud).

The morning papers – what got me up at 5am

One of the first lessons in the Artist’s Way is the morning pages. The author says to get up ½ hour early every morning and to just write whatever comes to your head. It is very much like a journal but is a stream of consciousness that is meant to let out all of the crap clogging your creativity and also to let you leave all the creative blockers on the page and move through to the creativity hiding under the surface.

I started to do that. I started to set my alarm at 5am and you know what? I actually find it easier to get up at 5am than 6 or 6:30 – I have no idea why but even in the dead of winter when it is pitch dark every morning I still find it easier. I suppose the fact that I started to set the coffee timer and get up to fresh coffee doesn’t hurt either…

As a consequence, I also need to go to bed earlier, which I have always done or wanted to do but I am swapping wasted time at night when I have no energy to do anything for really good for productive time in the morning.

I get up every morning and spend the first 30 minutes of every morning writing these pages. It is meant to be three full pages but I find 30 minutes is how much I want to put into it and sometimes that means 3 pages and sometimes if I’m really tired and aimless it may be 1-2. Hand written, on paper, every thought that comes into my head as a stream of consciousness. It is interesting to write on paper as the vast majority of what I write is on a computer, but the author of The Artist’s Way is very specific that these pages should be done by hand. I seem to connect more with my thoughts and I realized how little I actually write by hand in my day to day life.

I have never journaled and this feel very much like journaling without directing your thoughts and words. This process feels different but also like finding those words I never seemed to have before, maybe that is what other people are journaling about and I was always trying to make it more complicated… Often I end up with lists of things that I need to do but after a period of time I also found that a lot of amazing ideas started to flow on those pages.

These pages are meant to be put away and not reviewed, I have read that a lot of people destroy them immediately. It is meant to be a place for your brain to dump the garbage and then you can be more creative and focused during your day. I really find them very effective, in fact when I don’t do them for a while I do find that I feel less productive and more scattered. On the best days I spin off into ideas for articles and other things I want to write.

The outside world

 

What is funny is I find myself looking out the window a lot and keep waiting for other people to discover this blissful quiet time. So far not many takers. The man across the street leaves early but always comes back so he must be going to the gym. The one down the street leaves and doesn’t come back so he must have to work early. Often I simply see no one.

No one else appears to be stirring. No other lights are on in houses. It is very dark (especially in the winter) and very quiet.

What I have found the most amazing has been to watch the seasons change based on when the sun rises. In spring everyday it seemed that the sun would rise earlier every day and it was fun to see the sun before anyone else did. In the summer it is often sunny before I even get up and that definitely makes it much easier to pop out of bed. This is the same time of day just 4-5 weeks apart!

So the answer to the question “what happens at 5am”. Nothing and amazing things.

28 Yoga Challenge – I did it!

28 Classes in 28 Days. Despite 2 snow days where the studio was closed, a day off to snowshoe, a busy month at work, a minor car accident (which derailed my plans for a few days) and a couple other days where I just needed a break – I did it! There is power in a goal!

Why did I take on the challenge? To break out of the winter blahs. To get some much-needed exercise (when I get busy at work that is often the first thing to go for me). To practice more yoga and find some zen in my frantic schedule. Why not!

What have I accomplished? I feel stronger. I have tried most of the classes my studio offers. I have made some new friends. I have renewed my passion for my yoga practice.

I have gone to the Yoga Co-op for about a year and have really enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere, the variety of classes and the convenient location. In the last month I have really gotten a chance to get to know the classes and the teachers. The following is my own summary of the classes and what I have learned this month. I am not a yoga teacher or professional or yoga expert of any sort so please reach out to the Co-op if you want to learn more about their classes (or even better come check one out), do your own research to learn more and at all times respect your own body and work within your own limit!

Weekend Warrior

This is one of the harder classes of the week. It is Saturday morning at 9:30am. Vanessa (who usually teaches) was one of my first yoga teachers in Saint John when I moved here over 10 years ago and she taught the first class I took at the Co-op. It is flow based, will involve lots of movement and is meant to flow energy to and through your body. I love this class because it feels athletic and I always come away energized, feeling strong and ready to conquer something big.

Flex Flow Balance

This class is one of my favourites. It is a flow based class that will get you moving and make you feel strong and capable.

Hatha

Hatha is by nature a more stable class. It is more about moving into a posture and holding it for a period of time, not a really long time but long enough that you build strength and balance. A yoga posture is called an Asana and Hatha is all about learning and practicing Asanas. The class is usually taught by Lee and I still remember my first class with Lee. I remember thinking it would be easy because it is not a fast-paced flow. Wow was I wrong. I think that Hatha is many ways has become my favorite class – it takes a lot of strength, flexibility, focus and breathing to hold poses correctly through the class!

Yin

Yin yoga is all about getting deep into the connective tissues and fascia which intertwine your muscles and hold everything together, it is achieved by holding poses for longer periods of time and by relaxing your muscles. It is not about building strength. I find Yin to be one of the hardest classes because you hold the poses for a long period of time (3 to 5 minutes minimum). You spend a lot of time in your head and with your breath. Which means a lot of time thinking of things and bringing your focus back to the practice.

This class is taught by Valerie and she is very calm and guides the class well. As you can imagine it is hard to stay in a pose for more than 5 minutes so her gentle conversation about the purpose of the poses and fashia and other topics helps to keep your mind from drifting off to making your grocery list 🙂

Gentle Flow and Restore

The class is slower and will usually give you a chance to rest and recover from some of the more challenging flow based classes. Jackie has lots restorative training and although she always throws some good flow elements in at the beginning always brings balance and relaxation to my practice. It always involves some restorative poses (below is an inversion called legs up the wall which is one of my new favourites and staples at home).

Beyond Basics

I only went to this class once. I thought it would be an expansion on the Intro to yoga and  honestly by 7pm I am ready for bed not class. If you are looking for a later class though this is what the class is for and (from my very brief exposure) you probably won’t know in advance what it will be but honestly I haven’t met a class yet I don’t like!

Yoga Re-balance

This class is currently held on Sundays at 11am. The class is usually taught by Megan and I had thought it was going to be an easier class, in fact Ingrid came with me the first time I went and we both thought it was pretty reasonable… The next time it was very flow based and I came away with rubbery legs. I would say this class is a wild card and will depend on how well Megan sleeps (as she puts it – if I don’t skeep well the class with be harder…) In either event Megan is great and although you won’t know what the class will be it will be a good one!

The Co-op also offer an Intro to Yoga special session which is meant to start beginners off with the basics, a class called next steps which is meant to expand on the Intro to Yoga Program and also a Prenatal program. I haven’t tried any of these classes but I have to believe they are as great as the others and a perfect spot for beginners who want to learn some of the basics in a safe and welcoming environment.

 

Thank you to all of the teachers who were such good sports to take these pictures with me. A shout out to Megan, Valerie and Pippa who were lucky enough to be spared a photo in the very funny gallery f smiley pictures. Pippa took her teacher training in Barcelona and has a lot of Vinyasa training – with a smile on her face she can make most poses look SO easy – even the Warrior 3 cat/cow. Megan is quiet and so sweet. She is also sneaky – she can run one of the toughest classes – all with this smile on her face that makes you miss the fact that your legs will be rubbery the next day.

 

Next step? Yoga teacher training? Don’t worry Lindsay I don’t think I’ll be headed to Bali any time soon. That being said I’ve added teacher training to my bucket list. I don’t really want to be a teacher (maybe when I’m a bit older and can finally let my hair go white and streak it purple) but I do want to deepen my knowledge and practice so why not add it to the bucket list. Stay Tuned!

The 28 day yoga challenge

Do you love a challenge? I do! It gets me excited and keeps me motivated to a goal.

The Challenge

I read the other day on Facebook that one of my favorite yoga spots was hosting a 28-day yoga challenge. Complete 28 classes in 28 days. Every class you go to you get a sticker and there is a board you can put them on to track your progress. Fun and a challenge even better!

There is no better month for me than February for this challenge. February is not my month. I am usually down with the winter blahs. I am tired and usually at my least active.

My Yoga Practice

I love yoga. I did my first yoga class with my mom about 20 years ago. It was a gentle Hatha class and I love it from that first class. It makes me feel strong and centers me. As you can imagine I have a lot on my mind all the time. I have learned (most of the time) the ability to clear my mind, be intentional and focus on my body and my breath during a class.

I don’t have a regular practice at home. I would not call myself a yogi. That being said I’ve gone to lots of classes in lots of studios and I know I love yoga and the way it makes me feel.

I have a couple of places I go in Saint John. It depends on my schedule and my budget. Yoga classes are not inexpensive. They are 100% worth it when I can squeeze it in though!

Saint John Yoga Co-op

I have gone to the Yoga Co-op a lot in the last year or so. My friend Katherine brought me for the Saturday “Weekend Warrior” class and I haven’t looked back. I really like their classes and their instructors. There are two instructors that use to work at a different studio and I have taken classes with them for about 10 years. Vanessa teaches the weekend warrior class most of the time and it is tough, this past Saturday we did the primary Ashtanga series, if you go to youtube you can watch lots of videos of the “pros” doing it and it is crazy (I just watch a couple – ack)!

I like that they are very inclusive. They don’t judge anyone and I never feel like I’m not enough of a Yogi when I am there.

Anyone who has done classes has been to a studio where everyone is BIG TIME into yoga. I go to a studio sometimes in Charlottetown and I love the classes but I always feel a bit self-conscious because everyone is very serious about their practice. They also move VERY quickly and if you don’t know what you are doing you are sunk!

I have never felt that way at the Co-op. They take their time to help explain the postures and help those who might need some guidance. For me even more importantly every class is different! There are many studios that practice a certain style of yoga and will do the same routine every class. That is not my style. I have done enough yoga to know most of the poses so I’m happy to mix it up.

It is also not too “out there”. Yogi’s can be very intense about the spiritual side of the practice and although I have a lot of respect for their intensity I am definitely a recreational yogi. I like that the Co-op definitely includes the spiritual side of yoga but it’s not over the top making it accessible for the average person.

I have also taken our daughter Ingrid to a couple of classes (thank you Megan and Jackie for including her and allowing her to leave feeling very capable). This is definitely not something I would suggest you do without asking ahead of time and making sure your child can make it through a class. Ingrid has done a fair bit of yoga, both in classes at school and with me at home. She is also quite mature, which means she isn’t talking all through the class and not getting bored and being disruptive. Trust me Yogis don’t take kindly to that. Here we are after the “Gentle Flow & Restore” Class last night.

So here goes my challenge. I’ve set up a dash board so you can keep track of my progress (and so can I) and I’ll try to write a couple times this month to give you a run-down of a few of the classes and how it is going. I am already 8 days into the challenge and am 8 for 8.

I feel more flexible and balanced already 🙂

 

 

Beyond the Billable Hour

Well here goes nothing. This is my first blog post and everything I have read about blogging says you just need to get started… In advance, I ask for forgiveness as I fumble through this new and daunting process.

What is the billable hour?

I’m calling this blog Beyond the Billable Hour because it is all about my life outside of work, outside of the rat race that is the billable hour. I am a lawyer practicing in private practice, which means I work for a law firm and in the typical fashion bill by the hour. The financial reward from practicing law is tied to the number of hours that you are working and therefore billing your clients. This model is not new, in fact it is as old as time and to date there has been no massive movement to bill clients in any other way so practicing lawyers typically subscribe to the model, there is a great article that breaks in down on the Yale University website which is worth the read and breaks out what the billable hour is really all about.

My Amazing law firm

I work at an amazing firm Lawson Creamer in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. I work with smart and talented people who are not only great at what they do but they are fantastic people. The resumes of many of these individuals are littered with professional achievements, community contributions and academic pursuits. The thing that I have always loved the most about this group of people is that they are down to earth and their families are the most important thing to each and every one of them. I was impressed early when I was meeting with one of my one the senior partners of the firm and his cell phone rang. He apologized and told me that he had to take it because it was one of his children and although the work we were doing was very important his family would always be his top priority.

 

I bill by the hour, I want to do excellent work, I have financial targets to hit and I absolutely need to make my clients and their work a priority but I don’t feel like I also want to be able to take a day off to go hiking or to be available to my family. I don’t want to wake up later in my life having done nothing but work and having not gotten in all of the amazing experiences life has to offer.  Lucky for me I work in a firm where I don’t feel like work has to be absolutely everything and in fact, even my named partners ask me frequently what we are up to now. This blog is a chance for me to share those experiences and hopefully inspire others to “get it all in”, to do all of those things they dream or perhaps don’t even dare to dream about doing.

Please take pity on me

At the moment I am writing this I have never done any substantive writing (contractual provisions notwithstanding) but have from the time I was very young wanted to write a book. Funny enough I’ve never really written much so at this moment I’m not even sure I am any good at it or how long I will keep with it. That being said I finally realized that maybe I have something to write about and blogging allows me to get my feet wet without having to commit to 200 pages.

Here goes nothing!