Quarantine Coping Mechanisms

As we enter week TEN (insert mind blown emoji here) of quarantine, I thought I’d share some things I’ve been doing that have helped keep my mental health in check during this awful time. It’s no surprise that when this all began, I was not okay. I was pretty transparent about how my anxiety about the unknown was raging, I was depressed due to having my world pulled out from under me, and just generally I wasn’t handling it well. I really do feel I’ve found my stride in acceptance of this as our new normal, and I wanted to share my strategies, in the hopes of helping others.

In Ontario, a lot is re-opening after this long weekend. This does provide some comfort because the government thinks we’re ready to loosen restrictions, but because I think most people will still opt to stay home a while longer, here’s what has helped me:

1. Daily Routine

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We’ve established a really great schedule for the last month or so. Right after breakfast, I head to the mat for my daily workout. Days I don’t exercise, I obviously don’t feel as great mentally or physically. It doesn’t necessarily even have to be high impact, but just 30 mins of low intensity exercise is great for endorphins and helps me mentally tackle the day. It also gives me the energy I need to be productive.

After my workout, we do homeschool for a couple of hours. Truthfully, this is not my favourite part of the day, but it’s so important for the kids because it gives them a sense of normalcy, and ensures they don’t fall too far behind. I’m not the most patient teacher, so I often end up typing while they dictate, but honestly, I’ve made my peace with the fact that we’re “cheating,” because I’m not trying to be at the computer all day while my daughter types one letter at a time. Shhh, don’t tell her teacher.

2.  Vitamin D

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As part of our daily schedule, we take walks outside every day after lunch. The weather in Toronto is really hit and miss, and most days have either been super cold, or rainy (worst spring ever), but on days where the sun is shining, this is my happy time. I’ve also been incorporating mantras into my daily practice to help me get through this, so seeing that someone has painted rocks with “this will pass,” and other motivating words and phrases, has kept me going a lot of the time where I’ve felt really down. To the kind soul who did this, I love you (unless it’s the neighbor I really despise…I don’t love you).

3. Music

If you follow me on Insta (@theathleisureteacher, shameless plug) and watch my stories, you’ll see I always post a “hype song of the day.” Music helps fuel me in so many ways. I listen to upbeat songs of varying genres to get excited for my workouts, stay positive, energize me, etc. Music helps a lot of people cope, and truly, there is nothing better than an impromptu dance party to get you through hard times.

4. Fueling myself with proper nutrition

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We do takeout 1-2 times a week, but otherwise we’re eating pretty healthy at home. I have been mostly plant-based for a while now, and only eat meat maybe 30% of the time max. My body craves veggies and carbs, so that’s what the majority of my diet is, and this helps to keep me satiated, and my brain and body functioning at optimal capacity. A lot of people have been baking up a storm in quarantine and finding comfort in that, but yeah, that’s not me. I do snack a lot throughout the day, but I mostly do vegan protein gummies, Greek yogurt, or a fruit for a snack. That being said, if I have a craving, I honor it, and have been indulging from time to time.

5. Staying strong for them

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This is a biiiiiiig one for me. My kids will always be the reason I wake up daily and have purpose, drive, and motivation to keep going. I can’t wallow in bed or show my anxiety visibly, because they need me. Sometimes I find myself expressing negative thoughts about all of this in front of them, and then my daughter starts to echo them. I’m cognizant of this, so I make a concerted effort just to project strength, hope, and positivity. Lately we’re starting to realize I will likely be home with them all summer and camp won’t be an option, and although I’m selfishly shattered by this (how *will* I be a lady who lunches with kids in tow?), I’m trying to frame it like “don’t worry, we’ll still have a fun summer.” I know there are many people who will have to continue to work from home all summer with their kids there, and I guess I should just be grateful as a teacher that I likely won’t have to work and will have the time with them.

6. Distance visits

This is a new one for us. As regulations start to ease, I’ve started seeing friends again from 6 feet away. As sad as it is, not being able to hug them or get close, this fills my cup in ways a Zoom chat never will. I also see my parents from a distance, and was so grateful just to be able to sit outside with them last weekend on Mother’s Day. Social distancing is something that will be present in our lives for a long time I think, so getting accustomed to it now is best for me personally. I wasn’t really up for it until last weekend, but now I feel great about it, as long as precautions are met.

In Anticipation of Summer Break

OMGGGGGGGG hi friends. I’m well aware I am legitimately, certifiably, the world’s worst blogger. I don’t want to know how many months it’s been since I last posted. BUT, here I am, June 25th, just a few more exams to mark, and then I’m free for two whole months! I promise to be present and post often. Promise. Pinky promise.

I swear the anticipation of summer break is sometimes better than the actual summer break. People have been asking me if I have a lot of plans, and other than the August long weekend in Prince Edward County, I do not. I made a conscious effort to keep the summer open to be spontaneous. On weekends, we’ll go to Wonderland and the park and splash pads with the kids, and during the week while they’re in camp, I’ll do my standard morning workout followed by leisurely lunch thang. And hopefully I’ll have a lot of tastings and events lined up, in light of the momentum my Instagram has gathered over the last few months. These pictures are some highlights of the last couple of weeks, which scream SUMMER to me.

Exhibit A: Dinner at Rosalinda – margs, shorts (American Eagle outfitters for those who like), wedges, and a cute aesthetic. The embodiment of summer.

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Exhibit B: Watermelon macaron from my SPOT (it’s a wholesaler called the Bakehouse in Markham, but they do allow walk ins). It actually tasted like watermelon and dang, it was cute to boot!

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Exhibit C: Ice cream cones from Chocolats Favoris – OUR favourite ice cream place. We only go when we’re celebrating (in this case, it was both kids getting their swimming badges), because it’s stupid indulgent and rich, but it was the first of many ice cream dates to come this summer, and I’m here for it.

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Exhibit D: Mimosas on the patio at a brunch tasting – This restaurant is called King Rustic, and having attended this tasting with all my friends this past weekend, I can honestly say this is the epitome of summer anticipation. My goal is to drink a summery beverage on a patio at least once a week. I know I’ll exceed that goal, but best to set the bar low for me so I can actually follow through. (Dark pic, but shorts are Aritzia, top is Lululemon x Soul Cycle.)

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So there you have it. What I’m most looking forward to in July and August. What are YOU looking forward to? Leave me a comment or hit me up on my Insta @theathleisureteacher and let your girl know! XO, worst blogger ever.

Toronto Christmas Market

This past weekend I visit the Toronto Christmas Market in the historical Distillery District (55 Mill St.). This year it runs from Thursday November 15th to Sunday December 23rd, and is free on weekdays and $6 per person on weekends. The market has a bunch of vendors and pop-ups with gifts, little chotchkes (I totally spelled that wrong), amazing food, and other fun things (shout out to Beekeeper’s Naturals for having a vendor there so I could stock back up on my lifesaving bee propolis throat spray).

The highlight of our visit was these cookies and cream donuts from Holey Dough.

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There were 6 mini donuts ($9) in there, and we split them halfway. They were perfectly light and airy, and went down a little too easily because they weren’t too rich. We both agreed we could have easily eaten all 6 ourselves.

Other than that, we mostly just strolled around and window shopped, stopping periodically for a photo op (PSA: It’s much prettier at night with all the lights, but alas my grandma lifestyle does not allow for evening outings much lately). If you’re looking for a meal beforehand or after, I highly recommend El Catrin, which serves amazingly authentic Mexican street food and cocktails.

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Name a more iconic duo. I’ll wait.

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Obligatory lifestyle blogger photos.

Coat: Aritzia

Jeans: Gap

Shoes: Town Shoes

Headband: Saks Off Fifth

Purse: Marc Jacobs

Thankful.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving friends! I know I haven’t blogged in forever, but the reason for this is threefold:

  1. I’ve been bogged down with planning and marking at school.
  2. I’ve been focusing on our podcast (episode 2 about food and nutrition as self-care is now available on the podcast app! Just search “Self-care with Lauren and Blair” to listen!)
  3. Aaaaand I just haven’t been inspired to write, unfortunately, and I didn’t want to blog for the sake of blogging.

But here we are, and damnit, I’ll try to write something relatively coherent and engaging for all of y’all, because I know my 5 loyal followers want it.

What am I thankful for this year? Like, a lot. It’s been a really good time both personally and professionally, and I need to make a list because I love lists and lists are awesome.

1. My health. Always first and foremost. How lucky am I that my body is healthy enough to allow me to do high impact exercise 3 days a week? To run around with my children? To get out of bed every day and live a productive life? I will never ever take this for granted. When I sit on that spin bike, I thank gd for my health multiple times. I also thank gd I’m not pregnant, because being in that body really freaking sucks, but that’s a whole other blog post.

2. My family. I mean, duh. I’m eternally grateful that my children are happy and healthy and not the spawn of Satan. I also feel so blessed to have a wonderful husband, the best parents, and the cutest of sisters eva.

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Apple picking when it’s still hot out is fun too. (TB to a few weeks ago…)

3. My friends. I tightened my inner circle A LOT this year and it’s been very liberating. I have the world’s most patient friends, because for the last four months, my conversations, meals, and life in general have revolved around Instagram. They don’t get to eat until I’ve photographed (or rather, they’ve photographed because I’m a shitty photographer) their meals, and my conversations with them are a steady stream of follows and unfollows, podcast plans, and asking which picture to post. I’m sorry guys. I really truly suck. You’re all amazing for tolerating me.

4. Impromptu weekend trips to NYC. The fact the most incredible city in the world is just a one hour flight away is nothing short of amazing! I don’t want to live there, but every few months I just feel the pull of the city and gravitate towards it. It’s an addiction, I suppose, but the energy, food, nightlife, and shopping are beyond magnetic.

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5. My job. I have the best students this semester. We have the most interesting class discussions, and they’re all so engaged and participatory. It’s rare to get a group where the majority of the students have strong opinions, so this is pretty much English teacher heaven for me! Also, in case people think teenagers are rude and disrespectful, I want to tell you that every morning, my students come into my class and greet me with a “hello” or a “good morning.” When they leave the class, they say “have a good day miss,” or “bye!” They’re such mensches! I really appreciate their warmth and kindness, because it keeps me in a good mood and sets a really positive tone for the day.

6. Refined carbohydrates and gluten. Pizza. Donuts. Tacos.

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This maple bacon donut from Dipped Donuts in Kensington Market is pretty much the epitome of fall in Canada, amirite? I think I am most grateful for this donut. Like, I love my family and stuff, but…donuts win.

I Live Under a Rock

This summer has truly been one of new discoveries. I’ve been exposed to many new things that haven’t just changed my summer; they’ve changed my life. I don’t know how I didn’t know about some of these things, but in case you didn’t either, I thought I’d share them with you, because sharing is caring and I’m nothing if not the nicest most generous person in the world.

Spotify – Apparently I’m living in 2015, because I didn’t know there was a free version of Spotify. But there is, and I downloaded it, and now I have a soundtrack to my summer. Virtually the only difference between the free version and premium is you get a limited number of skips (6 per hour I think) of tracks you don’t want to hear, and you have to listen to an ad every 30 minutes. I’d invest in the premium, but tbh, my matcha habit is really effing expensive. I’m especially loving using the app at the gym, because it can stream on the wifi while I run on the treadmill, do my cardio circuits and my strength training

Aerie – WTFFFFFF guys. How did I not know this is literally the best store on the face of this planet? My travel companion/bad influence bestie (love you A) introduced me to their cute bralettes in early July, and since then, I’ve dropped half my summer lump sum there. I love it all. Their workout gear, comfy pj-esque clothes, and undergarments (you know you’re a real adult when you use that word) are all amazing. Well priced, good quality, and so adorable. Plus their ad campaigns support the #bodypositive movement; featuring models of all shapes, sizes, and abilities.

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Exhibit A

Calm – This app is life changing. At the beginning of the summer I discovered it, and questioned whether to invest in the $77/year membership. A super kind former colleague alert me to the Calm for teachers application, which gives educators in the classroom a FREE membership! Needless to say, this was a no brainer for me. I got the free membership, and have spent the last 6 weeks or so beginning my meditation/mindfulness journey. Full disclosure, I totally suck at it, but I’m getting better. I like it because it’s helped me work on things I struggle with, like non-reactivity (I like reacting. Reacting is fun), letting go of control and other negativity that doesn’t benefit me, and just generally being more in the present and not dwelling on memories, plans, etc. What I still grapple with is not letting my thoughts wander during the practice, but I like that the narrator tells me not to judge myself for it, and to gently bring myself back to the moment. Like, obviously I still judge myself, because it’s kinda what I’m best at and I like to recognize my strengths, but I appreciate her telling me not to.

Snapchat – Okay so this was a re-discovery for me. I used to have it before Instagram Stories existed, and it was a lot of fun using the filters with the kids and posting them publicly. This summer I’ve used it differently, because I don’t think people post their stories publicly anymore. Now I kinda just chronicle my life in quick photos and send them to my nearest and dearest. It’s a great time waster, and that’s why I use it. Don’t worry though, I’ve already read three massive novels this summer too, so my brain hasn’t turned entirely to mush. I’ll likely delete it the second I step foot into my school.

VSCO and Lightroom – How did I not know about editing apps before I made this public Instagram account? Here I was thinking people actually *use* the Instagram pre-set filters. But like ew, they’re all hideous in hindsight! Even though I’m the world’s shittiest photographer still, I can make my pictures a little less horrendous by increasing the exposure, saturation, contrast, etc., and it really improves their quality. I don’t spend too much time editing them, but I just try to make the finished product look a little prettier.

Anyway, have the greatest weekend friendships, and…you’re welcome.

 

Mommy Blogger for a Day

Let me preface this post with two things:

  1. This is the post where I officially give up on censoring my kids’ faces. That was fun while it lasted, but I’m two months into my blogging journey and now I’m too lazy, so like…meh. Enjoy their faces.
  2. I promise after this parenting post I’ll resume normalcy with my lifestyle, food, exercise and fun content.

So last week we went to Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls for two nights to celebrate my daughter’s 6th birthday. Wait. Let me pause for a second. SIX!? How have I been a mom for so long? Good lord I’m old.

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GWL

As you can see, the kids had the most amazing time! As for the adults, there are certain things you must accept if you’re going to go:

  1. The place is a cesspool of germs. I feel like all the chlorine in the world can’t kill the gonorrhea that likely exists there. Sorry to alert you all to this, but it’s a reality. So make your peace with it before you go.
  2. You can’t look cute here. Due to humidity and all activities being water related, you need to embrace looking like a homely dirtnugget for the duration of your stay. I threw my hair up in the rattiest top knot (see above for evidence) and didn’t wear a stitch of makeup. I looked like a troll for 48 hours and frankly, it’s okay. I’ll be okay.
  3. The margs at the pool aren’t strong enough. Ask for a double, because #sanity.
  4. The talking animals are scary as shit.
  5. Get comfortable dancing to Taylor Swift and doing the Cha Cha Slide in public. Likely sober. The struggle was real.

Anyway, this was my token mommy blogger post. How did I do? Now I’ll leave you with something more fun, because of course the second I got home from the trip, I needed to do some serious adulting and went for a night on the town.

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Unapologetically living my best life this summer.

Real Housewives of Thornhill – Episode 1

Hi friends! Happy Friday! For those of you working for the weekend, congrats, you’ve made it! I’m just over here losing all track of days of the week because let’s be real, every day is the weekend for me. Sorry, not sorry.

I can’t believe it’s July 20th. July is flying by, and pretty soon it’ll be August. August is a special kind of hell, because it’s an entire month of the Sunday Scaries and the feeling of impending doom sits with you daily. So my plan is to just savour each day and keep saying yes to just about anything that comes my way.

Here’s a little insight into what I’ve been up to.

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joey

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Matcha, lunch, pampering. All day every day, on repeat. Am I getting tired of it? As if! Pretty sure I could live like this 12 months a year, not just two. I’m flying through my summer reading list, seeing friends I haven’t seen in ages, and just generally living my best life. It’s been so amazing for my mental health to rest and recharge, and be more free spirited.

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And the best part of feeling so recharged, is that on evenings and weekends I feel way more equipped to parent. I’m more patient, slower to anger, and much more hands on because of how rested I am…

Kidding. Totally kidding. I’m the same mediocre mom I am when I’m at work. I just threw these in here because I know you assholes are judging me for being selfish and not parenting during the day. XO Love you guys.

 

Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number

One of my favourite shows is Younger. The premise is a 40-something divorced mother lies about her age so she can get a job in the publishing industry in New York. She tells people she’s 26 and a millenial, because otherwise she’d be outcast from her career. In the most recent episode, her real age comes out, and when fact checkers inquire as to her real age, she tells them she’s “age queer” (much like the current “gender queer” trend), and refuses to associate with a particular age. She says she’s saying she’s 41 in a protest to ageism.

Yes this is hilarious, but it also rings true in my current life. I readily admit I’m 36, a mother of two, and very much established in my career (in which I’m fortunate to have security in because the perception is that English teachers are old cat ladies anyway). But lately I haven’t felt my physical and emotional self matches my age. For a good year or so now, I’ve been hearing comments like “Are you aging backwards?” And, “You look younger now after kids!” While this is all very flattering, and I can chalk much of it up to genetics, I’m here to share with you the key to feeling and looking youthful.

A big part of it is lifestyle. Sleep. Meditation/mindfulness. Clean eats. Working out. My regimented lifestyle is definitely a key attribute. BUT, an even bigger part of it is just confidence, the way you perceive yourself, and recognizing you don’t have to let getting older dull your sparkle.

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Last night I had dinner with these two beautiful former students. They’re 22, and have the most insightful perspectives on life. They were saying that I look and act younger now than when I taught them in 2011 (and again in 2014). I don’t think they’re wrong. One of them was also saying that feeling sexy is something to be embraced, regardless of age, and that societal perceptions shouldn’t dictate who can or cannot feel sexy.

There *is* this stigma that mothers should be stressed out basket cases, and that their physical self should look accordingly. But I want to challenge this notion. My inner and outer self feel sexier to me now than they did in my 20s. Am I having a midlife crisis? Maybe (Definitely). But the point I’m trying to convey is this: embrace your youth regardless of age. It feels so good to laugh like a giddy school girl. Or to have a superficial conversation. Smile more. Be playful. Wear something “age inappropriate.” Turn the jams up a little louder. Go dancing. Whether you’re in your 30s, 40s, 50s, you can still feel young, dress young, and act young. Being a mother, a wife, or just generally adulting doesn’t have to feel like a death sentence.

Thanks for reading. Namaste.

New Blog, Who Dis?

Welcome friends! Thanks for stopping by! My name is Lauren, and I’m a 30 something year old high school English teacher, mom, exercise, and food enthusiast. I’ve had various blogs in the past, mostly about my journey into motherhood, but I never felt they fully reflected who I was beyond being a parent. Recently, my grade 12 students asked me what type of writing I’m passionate about. “Poetry?” Definitely not. “Creative writing? Short stories?” Nope. So I told them I used to have a blog and miss writing one, and they encouraged me to rekindle the flame. “I’d read it,” one 18 year old boy mused. Now, I don’t know why that would be the case, because I don’t really think he’s my target audience, but a bunch of other students chimed in, and here we are. The Athleisure Teacher. What can you expect from this blog? Probably some self depricating humour sprinkled with a healthy dose of sarcasm. Maybe some posts about things I eat, because I really like to eat (but not cook). You’re going to hear about my workouts, but I promise you I won’t talk about my “gains.” I’ll probably want to chronicle my upcoming endeavor to become a spin instructor. I promise I won’t try to sell you something. This is not my side hustle; just a hobby. I might talk about my kids a little. The two that I have at home (a girl, almost 6 years old, and a boy, almost 3), but also the 90 I teach every semester, because they have a pretty big impact on my life too. Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading!

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