Sunday, November 24, 2013

Guest Post: Oliver Manalese

Three Ways of Avoiding Kryptonite For Super-Moms & Super-Dads

When meeting someone for the first time, the most common follow up question after brief introductions is "What do you do?" And most often than not, people will respond with the job title they have on their business card or what they have posted on their LinkedIn profile. 

So, what's wrong with this?

The trouble I find is that so many of us get trapped and our job description easily consumes us and becomes our life description. Something I am familiar with first hand as well as with the clients I work with.

Now if you're reading this, you probably can agree when I say that I believe the main reason we are here at all is to make babies! To cultivate and nurture the next generation of humans to the best of our abilities. To teach them by being powerful and consistent examples. To embody the qualities we wish to instil in them. 

This by far I believe is the most important job in the world… next to taking care of our self, of course. You'll see what I mean in a minute.

(Side note: Now I know for a multitude of reasons not all of us want to or will have children, but this conversation applies to you too! We are all part of valuable relationships and what comes next can relate to so many. I hope you receive value in this.)

I truly admire the many mothers and fathers out there who embrace this and pour their hearts and souls to making sure their children have an incredible life. 

You inspire me and I personally can't imagine what it's like. But please take what I say next for what it is… coming from a single guy without any children of his own… yet!

You are not superhuman.

And that's okay.


Give yourself permission to stop being so hard on your self for not being enough, doing enough or having enough.

I see so many of my friends and clients who are loving, generous and selfless parents. I watch them working their butts off to be providers, surviving on less sleep and rearranging their lives and relationships for their kids.

But being SuperMom and/or SuperDad means you have to face your kryptonite… Burn out. 

You can only run your life at full tilt for so long.  Low self care, weight gain, stress, pressure of being a parent is the eventual result.

So how do we avoid this?


You can't. 

I'm sorry. But it's unavoidable.

I'm not here to sugarcoat it and tell you that there are people in the world who have limitless energy, give continuously and experience balance and joy ALL of the time. 

There is no magic formula. There is no one size fits all solution.

What I can tell you is this… There are parents just like you who spend quantity and quality time with their children, maintain a strong, passionate connection with their partner, earn a good living, have free time, go on dates, have time to hang with friends, have healthy and nourished bodies, find fulfilment… and they seem to be able to do it all!

Sounds great, right?

Now if you look deeper you will see that it's not rainbows and unicorns all of the time. And that doesn't make it good or bad. It just means it's hard work. 

But imagine... what it would be like to feel and be all of the above, especially in the moments where it matters most. 

To have that extra bit of compassion, attention and love when your partner or your child needs it most? To be centred, emotionally aware and strong during the tougher moments? To be patient, thoughtful and open when it would be much easier to be bossy, imposing and demanding.

Take it for what it is, but the following are insights that have greatly helped me and the people I work with.

It Starts With You... Yeah, you.

We must first give to our selves before we can give to another. 

It's just like when riding on an airplane. During emergency situations when the oxygen mask drops down in front of you, the first person to place the mask on is your self. Yes, even before your child or loved one. 

Put in another way. Imagine your energy, will power and presence is like a cup full of water. Every time you share your self with another you pour a little bit here and there and before you know it... the cup is empty! 

These are some practices that help you fill your own cup. To give to your self first so that you can be more present, attentive, loving, generous and compassionate for those you care about most when it matters most.

Self-Care and Well-Being

Write down ten things you can do on a daily basis that make you feel great. Throughout the day start checking them off! 

Some suggestions could be to meditate, experience gratitude, reading for 15 minutes, hugging my children, exercise, going for a walk, taking my vitamins, taking a nap, laughing, etc.

This daily practice has been life changing for me and my clients. 

Date Your Self

This is one of my favourites. It is also one of the most challenging to do for the first time. This is about cultivating a nourishing relationship with your self. To give your self down time. Solo time. To eliminate the noise and rejuvenate.

Ask yourself: If I were to go on a date with myself what would I do?

Some suggestions could be to go out to dinner (dessert included!), watch a movie, see a play, spend time in nature or near water or try doing something new! 

Again these are just some suggestions. Feel free to be creative.

I made a short video about solo-dates called: "Solo Dates, Self-Love and Dating Oneself"

You can view it here

Attitude of Gratitude

Gratification is getting something you don't already have. Gratitude is wanting what you do have.

It's about acknowledging, appreciating and being thankful for the people and things you have in your life. 

Right when you wake up and before you go to bed, think about… actually FEEL what you are grateful for in your life.

Every day will be different but experience the gratitude you have for the friends and family in your life. The support of your partner. The gift that is your child. Living in a safe and loving home. 

It can also be as simple as being grateful for having food in the fridge, gas in the car to get around or listening to music that moves you.

All in all, I feel that as individuals begin to take responsibility back for their well-being and cultivate a healthy sense of self, we can actually make the world a better place. Starting with our selves, being an example and influencing and impacting those around us helps shape our environment in a more beautiful light.

Try practicing some of these the next seven days and see how you feel. Would love to hear your stories and experiences!

Peace & Love.

About Oliver:

Oliver Manalese is an Executive Consultant & Coach focusing on these main principles: know thyself, love thyself, express thyself. The bulk of our reality which includes the quality, integrity and well-being of our health, finances, relationships and work is all a by-product of our depth of understanding and continual growth in each of these three areas. This holistic approach to personal transformation provides the tools and insights for individuals to find alignment with their true self and will have a long-term, positive impact beyond the duration Oliver’s coaching programs. Oliver is also an entrepreneur, a licensed real estate professional, singer-songwriter, whole foods lover and certified Yoga Instructor. 

For more visit:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Work - Life Balance

At times almost every Mommy and Daddy feel like there is not enough hours in the day to get everything done. This pressure builds up and takes a toll on the body in different forms. Some symptoms for “over load” are:

Fatigue: You feel a lag in your day even after a solid 8hrs of sleep. This is usually the first sign of overload and can only get worst! Take a multi vitamin to help keep your iron levels up, along with Vitamin B – 2 essential vitamins to help with fatigue.

Sadness or feeling “Blue”: This is a common feeling from time to time – everyone gets “down” but if these feelings last for a few weeks seek a medical professional for help. This is a clear sign of depression and can easily be overlooked when there is no Work-Life balance. No amount of exercise, vitamins or vacation can make it disappear. That’s because depression is an illness, not a weakness and should be taken seriously.

Soreness/stiffness: This can be in a specific area (hands if you do a lot of lifting or your feet if you stand for long periods). If you work at a desk, consider evaluating your work station to ensure proper ergonomics are in place. It could be as simple as a different mouse pad for wrist support! Take the necessary steps for a healthier workspace. Ensure you stretch periodically. It is recommended that a person should get up and stretch once every hour to ensure proper blood circulation. I would suggest Basic Yoga for added benefits all around.

Headaches (tension): A common headache will last a few hours, however prolonged or reoccurring headaches are a clear sign of stress. These headaches are normally around the back of the head (crown or below) area. Sometimes they occur around the eye brow area as well – more so if you wear glasses. If you have a reoccurring headache for more than a few days – consider talking to your doctor to rule out other causes.

Lack of appetite *important*: The way we eat plays a huge factor in our moods, recovering, concentration, alertness, etc. If you feed your body high fatty foods you will feel sluggish and unmotivated. However, lots of veggies and fruits with good carbs and protein will help keep your energy levels up – consider keep healthy snacks around. Lack of appetite is something that a person may not pay attention to. You can set a reminder to stop and snack or have lunch in order to keep your mood up and focus on point. This can take some planning the night before – or keep healthy snacks in your desk. I usually like Rice crackers, granola bars, Pepperoni sticks (for protein), Small packets of candy for the sweet tooth. I try not to keep fruit at my desk because it goes bad! Substitute with what you can in order to keep fueling your body. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water!

As the demands for the workplace increase, it makes work-life balance more difficult. However, there is a solution to better time management. Consider building downtime into your schedule prior to the start of the work week. A midweek dinner out is a good way to relieve stress and unwind. Rethink the activities that take a considerable toll on your time and energy. Try to schedule a good chunk of time to making errands or splitting them up twice a week (Tuesday and Saturday). The importance of exercise cannot be stressed enough! We are not talking deadlifts for 30mins at 200lbs – think small like taking a walk to the store or coffee shop every night; Or wake up 30mins early to do basic yoga. Don’t forget to relax. Just sit down and breathe for a few moments. Take a long hot shower or read a good book with a  cup of tea (or glass of wine!). Make sure to take some time for yourself that doesn’t include any effort at all. My “Me time” activity is writing – it releases the load of thoughts I carry with me every day. By putting them to paper, it allows me to think through and clear my mind.

How do you create work-life balance?
How do you use your downtime?
Share your exercise ideas. No Gym Required.
What things do you do to release tension?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

All Four Seasons and More

Adriana has really started to understand all four seasons. Lately, she's been noticing all the changes of weather from hot to cold (something we've been teaching her forever!). She noticed all the leaves changing colour over the past few weeks. Our giant trees in the backyard are late bloomers so they just started turning yellow this past week! Its absolutely beautiful to see every morning. I only noticed it a few days ago - with the sun shining on the yellow leaves - it truly caught my eye. Wonderful start to my work day for sure. I love that Adriana is very observant to the seasons changing. Last year when the snow finally came - she did not like it! We tried to get her to play in the backyard. Full snowsuit, sat her in the snow and she cried! Hopefully this year is much different. We have a beautiful backyard that sees the wonderful seasons in the most unique way. We are lucky to have these types of things as part of our home. Its a great thing for Adriana to see and learn. She's very smart. She actually seems worried about all the leaves falling to the ground - all art of the Fall Season! She recognizes the leaves on the ground; calls them "dirty" Lol

She is just a typical kid who plays in the leaves. Kicking them across the ground, throwing them in the air, whatever she can! Adriana is a very happy kid - not much to complain about. Although I know that I try my best to be a good Mommy, its nice when others see that too. A friend doesn't hesitate to tell me that I'm doing a good job - that I'm a great mom. Its nice to hear those comments. Sometimes you question your parenting and whether you're doing everything right. As happy as Adriana is, I ask myself this several times. It's not like I've had 10 kids....she is my one and only for now. I don't have another child to compare her too. Essentially, I do what I think is right and hope for the best! I always knew what kind of parent I was going to be - I am that parent. I am a patient and understanding person to begin with. I questioned my level of patience when I was pregnant. I made a point to save as much of it as I could. If Adriana had to turn out more like me I think I would have had a mental breakdown by now - several times! As blessed as we are to have Adriana, we are striving for more in our life.

I can say that although we "lived our lives" its time to buckle down and focus on better things. We have great plans for our family! We want the whole package and have started to figure out how to get it in the least amount of time. I don't want excuses anymore! We have literally done a 180 in comparison to before we decided to start a family. Partying 3 nights a week is no longer a desire. Instead we would rather grab a bottle of wine (or 2!) and enjoy being home, knowing our beautiful daughter is sleeping just across the room. Its amazing that we have been able to build a future ( .....a family) in a way that isn't so traditional. We're not married but that's okay - we love each other, we're not going anywhere and we don't need a piece of paper to tell each other that! Adriana knows we love each other because we're not afraid to show it to her. Its a beautiful thing for her to see - probably the best thing we could ever do for her. It sets the bar high for when she's old enough for her own serious relationship.

I must admit that lately I've been feeling the baby fever a little. Now before you lose your marbles (pick them back up!) I know exactly why its happening!! My Facebook feed is literally FILLED with all my friends and their newborn babies. I remember that feeling and it was surreal for us. That moment when you realize you are a Mommy or a Daddy is truly amazing. You don't ever forget that feeling - ever. I feel it every time I am with Adriana and still going strong almost 2 years later. I share that feeling with my new Mommy friends for sure. We would love to have another baby - but we have other things to take care of first! Those things are more important for us in the long run that having another baby and potentially prolonging things even more!

How did you plan your family?
Were there any surprises a long the way?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Happy (Mo) November

Can you believe its already November? Where has the year gone! This is still one of my favourite time of the year. Right after Halloween and just before Christmas. Its a good chunk of time to appreciate other things without getting caught up in a mile long list of things to do. I am a huge fan of Christmas - this I do not hide. Although the quietness of the stores are nice. I try to start Christmas shopping about this time every year and usually by December I actually buy things!! Lol I prefer to make a list of everyone that I need to buy for first, then I group the couple gifts that I can get away with (essentially those who need a Date Night - get one!) I jot down a few gift ideas - this takes a toll on my memory since I have to remember if they mentioned something they might need. If I'm really stuck then I will flat out ask the person for ideas. People change their minds or they already got that thing they said they needed. I believe in giving a useful gift - something they need or wanted, instead of a "thoughtful" gift.

Although my family never had much money growing up - my parents always made sure to give us the best Christmas ever. We always had lots of presents to open, a huge stocking to filter through and tons of food to eat all in the company of family and friends. The tradition has changed a bit over the years but essentially its the same. We may have lost Jill and Pat for the holidays this year but gained Loni and Chris for the first time ever. Kim and Tim are back too! This Christmas is going to be just as good as any year before. Adriana seems to be understanding the holidays more than before - Halloween really stood out for her. Christmas will just put her over the moon! I truly cannot wait.

We are coming close to the end of her swimming lessons. She officially has one more class left and she's on to the next one! We are thinking of starting again in February but we'll see what the New Year brings first. I am more excited now than ever. We had to move from the normal area in the Kiddie pool to the full size pool. Adriana wasn't even afraid of the bigger pool - actually, she ran and jumped in with her life jacket on! Clear signs shes ready for the next big thing. Hopefully her instructors see that and suggest her for Preschool classes.We will continue to take her swimming and get her used to swimming by herself a little more.

I must admit that only being able to do stuff with Adriana on the weekends really make them more special. Monday - Friday are pretty straight forward and leave little time for playing and more time for talking. This past weekend I had a ton of fun with her - it was our first trip together to Starbucks for a snack. Adriana had some tea (Zen tea!) and got a snowman cookie too! I love my local Starbucks. The ladies that work there are fabulous and just adored Adriana! I've talked about her many times but this was the first time they had met her in person. She just melted their hearts with her Thank yous and Pleases. I found it to be an appropriate place considering how well she behaves!! After an hour there we headed over to see the ducks again. Did I mention Adriana walked the entire time?? Love it.

I think Adriana is going through a growth spurt again. Every time I talk to her she's hungry! This is only day 2 but I think its happening again. Shes out growing her 2T clothes - which I knew would happen before Christmas anyways - but didnt think it would happen this soon. We bought her a fancy new winter coat in Size 3years and I think I have to exchange it because its a big snug! This weekend I will have to go buy her some bigger pants but I run into the problem that it doesn't fit in the waist! She has to wear skinny jeans or leggings mostly since regular jeans don't always fit her. Most have that elastic band to tighten but some don't! I also need to start thinking of a Christmas dress - do you remember Adriana with Santa last year? Oh lord she did NOT like him - classic. Hopefully this year is a bit different!

Have you started making your Christmas lists? Shopping?
Do you have your lights up? Tree out?
Are you traveling for Christmas? To where?
Do you want a White Christmas this year?