Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the “Average Canadian Woman”

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau is a beautiful, charming mother of three, who attends many important events, and speaks on behalf of multiple worthy causes – many of which support women and women’s issues.  She also happens to be the wife of the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau…and it seems that she has pissed off a lot of Canadian women.

She recently gave an interview to the French language newspaper Le Soleil, where she revealed that she is overwhelmed and needs a break.  She also indicated that she wants another staff member to help her out with the multiple correspondences and requests for public appearances, speeches, and charity events.  All of this is IN ADDITION to the two part-time nannies the Trudeau’s already employ – on the tax payers’ dime, nonetheless.  Oh, and don’t forget the fact that Trudeau campaigned on wealthy families (like his) NOT needing so many tax breaks.  So I get the disgust that I’m seeing all over social media for Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.

Except that I think this disgust is horribly misplaced.  And I keep seeing women disparage each other, and critique each others’ mothering, and judge each others’ life choices, and it makes me so sad.  Being a mom is hard.  Hell, being a WOMAN is hard, and I don’t know a woman who doesn’t, at some level, understand this and know it to be true.  Deep down we know that supporting each other is the way to go – that’s why there are moms’ groups in every community, and all over Facebook – but yet we continue to trash each other.  Have I mentioned that this makes me sad?

The anger at Sophie Gregoire Trudeau can’t be purely political in nature, since ALL of the Prime Ministers’ wives in recent memory have had staff devoted to them.  Mila Mulroney, wife of Conservative PM Brian Mulroney, who had the most similar family situation to Sophie, and who also spent a great deal of time championing a variety of important causes, reportedly had a very similar staff to what Sophie is requesting.  At the time, many Liberal opponents argued that providing Mila with these staff members was a waste of taxpayer money, but Conservative supporters argued that her work was valid and she needed the help.  I agree with them wholeheartedly.

I have read a few social media posts, including this one from a Saskatchewan mother of 5 who calls herself “an average Canadian mother.”  This woman sounds like an exceptionally hard-working person, and a very caring mother, and I certainly laud her for that.  She takes Sophie to task for choosing to attend charity events and speaking engagements, since Sophie has “no official duties.”  She also says that Sophie’s actual “job is to stay at home with [her] children and call [her] driver when [she needs] to go somewhere, eat what [her] chef has prepared [her and her family] and make sure [she doesn’t] get in the way of [her] cleaning staff.”  While I will certainly concede that the Prime Minister’s wife has no official duties, I think it’s laughable to expect her to do nothing in her position.  As the wife of a Canadian Prime Minister, just like every woman before her in that role, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau is undoubtedly expected to be present at a variety of events, and has a very important role in terms of representing Canada on an international stage.  The fact of the matter is, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau IS NOT an average Canadian woman; she is the Prime Minister of Canada’s wife, and unless your name is Laureen Harper, or Aileen Chretien, or Mila Mulroney, then you have NO IDEA what that entails.  To take this even further, only Mila Mulroney lived a similar life, raising a young family while her husband held office, and being very active with charitable events and speaking engagements.  But to be totally honest, no one – NO ONE – knows what it’s like to walk in Sophie’s shoes, just as no one truly knows what it feels like to live my life, or yours. And this is my point – this is where I take issue with the anger and disdain directed toward Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.  None of us get to tell her how to live her life as a woman and a mother.

Being a mom is hard.  It’s hard when – like me – you have only one baby, and are on maternity leave for a year as is typical in Canada.  It’s hard when you have three kids, or five, or nine.  It’s hard when you are a stay at home mom, and when you choose (or simply must) return to work.  It’s hard whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, whether you are an attachment parent or you cry it out, and whether you make any number of different choices than other mothers.  Every woman, every mother, has challenges that are unique to her particular situation, and none of us REALLY knows what it’s like to walk in another’s shoes.  Every mother also gets overwhelmed from time to time – some more so than others, and we all absolutely need a break.  ALL OF US.

So why all the hate and judgement for Sophie Gregoire Trudeau?  I truly believe it is because many women hear that Sophie needs help, and they look at their own lives, and they see that they need help too.  But maybe they aren’t getting it, or aren’t getting quite enough, so they lash out in anger, and they say that Sophie doesn’t need this help after all.  But what these women don’t realize is that by bashing Sophie, they are actually bashing themselves.  Every time women stand up and speak out professing to know what another woman is going through, and what another woman does or does not need, we are tearing each other down.  We are fueling the misconceptions that women’s work is less important, and that mothering isn’t a real job, or that the best place for a woman is in the kitchen, and this is unacceptable.  Women have a lot of power, especially when we band together, and lift each other up, and celebrate the gifts of each other’s unique strengths.  Unfortunately for the “average Canadian woman,” this power will be lost if we keep on tearing each other down.

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What to Expect at Yoga

I was inspired to write this post so that the brand-new yogis aren’t quite so intimidated by their very first yoga class with me, but then I realized that the message here is really for ALL participants…

What Should You Expect at Yoga?

* Remember that this post is about MY classes in particular; there are a lot of parallels in other classes, but you might find something different there.

1. Expect to work hard – your muscles might shake, you will probably break a sweat, and you might even be a little sore the next day. All of that depends on your fitness level, and the intensity of the particular class, but I can promise you that my classes aren’t just “easy stretching.”

2. Expect a welcoming environment, but not necessarily one free of all distractions – my class is NOT one where the door gets locked the second the class begins, where the only sounds you hear will be waterfalls and birdsong, or where you must wear Lululemon (and look spectacular in it, even while your feet are wrapped around your head) to participate. Those classes are lovely, or at least they CAN be, but it’s not what my classes are about: I want to share the gift of yoga with all people – especially the newbies who are just learning to love it! Most of my classes are taught in local community centres and schools, where we sometimes have to move tables or desks out of the way, and frequently hear traffic or bouncing balls from the gym next door. One of the most important yoga principles is learning to focus on your own breath, and the sensations in your own body, instead of dwelling on outside distractions.

All of that being said, please try to minimize any distractions you might be bringing to the yoga environment for others! Turn OFF the ringer/vibrate function on your cellphone. If you forget and it rings, please don’t awkwardly pretend it’s not yours while everyone else looks around uncomfortably; just get up quickly and switch it off – people sometimes forget, and we will forgive you for that.

Try to make it to class on time, but if you must be late, please come in as quietly as possible. Close the door softly, lay out your mat quietly, and move into the pose we are working on. There is no need to announce why you are late – that only distracts the other participants from their own practice.

3. Expect a variety of body types and levels of practice – people often say to me that “I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible.” And I always tell those people they are EXACTLY who should be taking yoga! You don’t need to be flexible and strong to take yoga, you just need the desire to become MORE flexible and MORE strong; and the more frequently and steadily you practice, the more strength and flexibility you will begin to see in your body. I provide various levels for students to progress at the rate best suited for them. As a student, you must pay attention to your own body and honour the place it is in. So what if you currently must bend your knees to touch your toes? So what if you must take Child’s pose instead of downward dog sometimes? So what if handstand isn’t part of your current practice? We call it YOGA PRACTICE, not yoga perfect. Yoga is about making improvements, NOT about being awesome.

4. Expect to challenge yourself, but remember to listen to your body – just as in the previous note, I want you to honour yourself and your body…but I also want you to work to improve. Often we confuse discomfort with pain, and it is imperative that you learn to tell the difference. That 80’s fitness slogan “No Pain, No Gain?” Total garbage. Pain is not a good thing! Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, and you should stop or ease up immediately. Please honour that, both in my class, and in life.

Discomfort is very different. Discomfort is your legs shaking in Chair pose, or your shoulders burning in Downward Dog, and it is a good thing…a VERY good thing. Discomfort means that you are making progress and getting stronger. Improving our selves and our bodies is never easy; in fact doing so is hard work, which takes effort and dedication. Challenging poses will become less challenging the more we work at them; if we simply stop because challenging poses cause us discomfort, then we will never get stronger, we will never become more flexible, and we will never improve. Learn to breathe through discomfort, and reap the benefits of challenging yourself.

5. Expect to hear some Sanskrit – those funny words you hear me repeating over and over? Those are Sanskrit terms for poses, and they will eventually become familiar to you. You might even begin to know them well enough to use the Sanskrit words yourself. But don’t be daunted by the foreign language; I also use the English terms along side the Sanskrit ones, and I will always DESCRIBE what I want you to do, so I promise that you will be able to figure it out. And there won’t be any tests!

6. Expect a relaxation component – at the end of practice, we always “seal in” the hard work we’ve just done with a relaxation component. You will lie on your back with your eyes closed, legs falling open toward the outside edge of your mat, and arms stretched out at your sides with palms facing up. This pose is called Savasana, or Corpse pose. I will turn the lights down low, and talk you through the beginning of Savasana. Then, we will all be quiet and you will focus on your body and your breath – usually for 3-5 minutes. Eventually, I will invite you to move up to a seated position, and bring your hands into “prayer position” for us the say thank you – to ourselves, to each other, and to God, to the Universe, or to life in general (whichever is most agreeable to you). The term we use in yoga is “Namaste,” which simply means “the light in me greets the light in you.” It is customary for the yoga teacher to say Namaste, and for class participants to repeat the word back to the teacher.

7. Expect to get hooked – if you REALLY let yourself be in the moment , one day you will experience the highs that yoga has to offer. For many of us, the most difficult part of yoga is turning off our minds and focusing on the moment at hand. We can be distracted by others in the class, outside noises or smells, worries about our “to do list” or our family, and even our own feelings of limitations and weakness. BUT if you can set all that aside for the duration of your practice, focus on your breath and your body, and really just be in the moment, that feeling of lightness and strength will find you, and you will be hooked forever!

I’m Thankful for Many Things…Including Grown Up Mac n’ Cheese

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Happy Canadian Thanksgiving dear readers! I’ve been absent from the blog for a long time, and I figure that Thanksgiving is as good a time as any to foray back into the blogging world – mostly because it’s Sunday evening, … Continue reading

About the Yoga Instructor

Chrissy has been practicing yoga off and on for the past 12+ years, and has been practicing steadily since 2009.

In May of 2012 she completed her yogaworksYogaWorks Teacher Training at Shanti Yoga Studio in Edmonton, AB under the guidance of Catherine Munro. Chrissy is also a certified group fitness instructor with AFLCA (Alberta Fitness Leadership Certification Association), and a Junior/Senior high school English Language Arts teacher in Marwayne, AB.

Chrissy is Yoga Alliance certified as a RYT200 teacher, and in January of 2016 she completed her RYT500 certification hours with Michele Theoret at Empowered Yoga.  She has also completed her RPYT (Pre-natal) certification with Clare Newman at Mamata Yoga.

RYT200 logo

Chrissy lives in Kitscoty with her husband, Reuben, and their daughter, Malin, where they all share their home with two lovable rescue dogs.  In addition to practicing and teaching yoga, Chrissy enjoys running and playing Slo-pitch, as well as reading and viewing all types of literature.  Sign up for a class to get to know her better!

What to Bring to Yoga:

What do you need to bring to Yoga class?

1. A positive attitude – if you have this, you have everything…no matter what physical limitations you might carry with you!

2. A yoga mat – any mat will do to start, though the better quality of mat you practice with, the safer and more effective your practice will be.  I know many yogis who practice happily with a Jade yoga mat, and I use a Manduka Pro Lite myself.  For students in my area, Home Hardware in Lloydminster carries a decent selection of mats.

3. A water bottle – I teach Vinyasa Flow style classes where you can expect to sweat; it’s important to stay hydrated.

  • You DO NOT need to wear shoes – we practice yoga in bare feet!
  • You need to wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move in a variety of directions.
  • Expect to sweat, so you may want to bring a small towel.
  • There will be a relaxation component at the end of each class – you may want socks, a sweater, or a small blanket for this portion.
  • Like with any fitness activity, it is best NOT to eat a large meal right before coming to yoga class, but please ensure you aren’t famished when you arrive!

Oh Endorphins, How I’ve Missed You

So the last time I wrote I told you that I would talk about my liver surgery; I don’t want to bore you with all the details, but essentially I had a non-cancerous (but uber dangerous) tumor, known as a hepatic adenoma removed from my liver on November 6th.  The tumor itself was about 5cm x 5cm and I’ve been told that it was caused by taking the birth control pill.  Scary, right?  Moral of the story: think very carefully before putting chemicals in your body that alter your hormones – chaos may ensue.  No seriously, I really do think hormonal birth control has provided huge benefits to women the world over in the last few decades, but altering the normal cycles of your body is scary shit…won’t be doing that again!

Anyway, the surgery was a success, but the recovery part kinda sucked.  I was in the hospital for a week and unable to do much of anything for quite a while after that.  Despite the fact that my surgical team removed such a large chunk from my liver, the liver itself was fully regenerated in 2 or 3 weeks.  Crazy stat, I know.  So it wasn’t the liver that caused trouble, it was the incision.  My incision is pretty big – it runs from just below my sternum to just above my belly button, and then over to the right about 5 inches.  Basically, they cut through my abs in two directions.  It’s healed up really nicely and I’ve been using Mepiform self-adhesive bandages to reduce the scaring, but it’s still REALLY obvious.  Maybe I’ll post a pic someday when my belly is back to looking sexy enough that I’m comfortable sharing it on the internet.  For now? Not so much.

endorphinsAnd there lies the rub.  For a month after my surgery I wasn’t allowed to do ANYTHING – no yoga, no circuits, no running – it was awful.  I’ve been able to do some things for the past 4 weeks, but I’ve had to take it really easy.  Yup, definitely got a little softer in places than I like to be.  I know I can get back to smaller pants, defined arms, and a flat tummy with some healthy eating and hard work, but it really sucks to realize how much strength I’ve lost.  On top of that, if you read my last post, you will know that this has been a pretty dark time in my life.  It’s incredibly tough to go through that much suckiness and not be able to use the one outlet that actually makes me feel better every single time.  Exercise = endorphins, and endorphins rule…so not being able to experience them made me want to rip my face off.  I found myself being sad, and a little bit crazy – A LOT, and the one source of achieving an endorphin rush that I was able to access wasn’t exactly healthy, or even very regular for that matter.  I’ll leave that one alone for now, but I will say that I’m pretty pumped to be able to access endorphins through exercise, and as a result get back to the happy Chrissy I much prefer to be.

So onward and upward from here, right?  Yesterday – January 1st – was exactly 8 weeks post-op for me, and therefore the date where I’m allowed to start working myself back up to full workouts again.  I’ll be honest, I got a little drunk for New Year’s Eve, so didn’t exactly get up at 6am to fit in a workout yesterday, but that’s just fine.  Today is a new day, right?  Operation get happy and feel sexy starts right now.

I’m Back!

I’ve been a horrible blogger for the longest time, mostly because I haven’t been blogging at all.  Whoops – my bad.  But I’ve missed it, and I’ve missed you, and I’ve decided that it’s time to get back on this horse.  Plus, a few lovely peeps have encouraged me to re-start by telling me how much they miss reading my blog.  That must mean that – gasp! – someone enjoys my writing.  So here we go again…

I know, I know…I shouldn’t make excuses.  But you know what?  I’m going to anyway – mostly because if you followed my blog in the past, you will probably be confused if I don’t bring you up to speed.  A LOT has happened in my life, and it’s been a rough 5 months: my husband and I separated (faithful husbands are really more my style), I lost a pregnancy, and I underwent major abdominal surgery to remove a liver tumor.  Yup I know – a little overwhelming, right?  So there you have it – I’ve been thinking about things other than blogging – but now that I’m finally healing from my surgery (and healing emotionally, as well, I suppose) I am ready to move back into health and wellness endeavours on a full-time basis.  And guess what? Blogging about it helps to keep me accountable.

I’ve decided that no matter what setbacks I may have experienced in recent months, the best thing for me to do is to find the positive spin, or at least to avoid dwelling on the negative side of certain events…so that’s what I’m doing!  I may not be up for writing about marriage and fertility problems for quite a while, and that’s okay, but I do want to talk about my surgery and the recovery process.  But alas, it is Christmas time and I have gifts to wrap…so my surgery story will have to wait for next time!