February 17, 2015

Why drinking too much water and riding bikes might kill you

Did you know that drinking too much water can kill you? I know. I didn't believe it when I first read it either, but it's actually true.  Wikipedia agrees with me here, and then there's this lady, and science, and the National Centre for Biotechnology Information. That's just the tip of the iceberg. Google it.

And while we're on the topic. Of death, I mean. Did you know that in 2012, 4,700 people in the US died while RIDING THEIR BIKES? That is seriously crazy. Those are deaths - not injuries.

I am really sorry for bringing this up. Hundreds of you will read this - and some of you will be alarmed. For that, I apologize. But for most of you, you're going to read those facts with a grain of salt, feel bad, and probably go about your day, forgetting I mentioned them.

But, what if you saw those facts on almost every headline of leading news sites and science journals, as well as that sweet, little blog you visit every day? And then you went on facebook, and all those groups and forums you follow were having conversations about water consumption and the dangers of too much?
And then it goes on for weeks, possibly months.
How would you feel then? What if the stories that went viral, were all about how bikes should be banned, and what a horrible parent you are for even considering letting your child ride a bike, with or without a helmet? And some bloggers suggesting that bikes be banned altogether because of the risk. Or that a new law should be in place prohibiting all bike-supporting idiots from even considering buying a bike, let alone riding one. Just think about that for a moment. If the news is everywhere all at once, how is that affecting our choices?

Do we even have choices, in that case? Is it possible that our opinions are being manipulated? Even remotely?

So then, after you decide your family is not going to ride bikes anymore, or support anyone who does, a credible company suddenly comes out with a safer alternative to a bike. And the reviews are going through the roof. All at once. Bloggers are blogging, news sites are singing praises, for this supposedly less-risky device. Hmmmm... Would you question it? At all?

It only makes sense that effective marketing companies would change their strategies to go with the flow of consumers, but without them knowing it. We all know that marketing has changed rapidly on a large scale, and in a very short time (don't forget, facebook didn't even exist 20 years ago). It's much easier to sell something to someone if the masses agree that it's a no-brainer and are fully supportive, right? If they feel like it's basically gospel-truth. "Why wouldn't I buy this alternative to a bike? I'm basically committing suicide if I choose to ride a traditional bike, or worse, letting my child ride one."

Sharyl Attkisson agrees with this concept and states in this video, that it's widely used TODAY. Food Renegade sheds some light on this as well.


This is not a theory. THIS.IS.HAPPENING.

Do you believe everything you read/hear on the internet? I'll assume you answer that with a strong, "No". But how do you know what to believe? And who to believe? Do you have a filter?

Here is my personal, internal filter for information found on the internet:

1. Question EVERY.THING. All of it. Even the stuff that seems grassroots. You have a right to ask questions. When someone tells you not to QUESTION, you should have little alarms going off in your head. 

2. Consider the source. Sometimes sources are trustworthy, sometimes they're not. Sometimes sources that seem credible and trustworthy are regurgitating information they picked up from someone less credible. This is common practice with media these days. Dig for answers...and then still question.

3. Love. Love covers a multitude. If a headline or blog topic wreaks of emotion and the language provokes a response in you like fear, you better question it immediately. If there is peace surrounding something (in the wording and in your heart), that should always take precedence over the opposite. There is always hope. Always. Love and hope EMPOWER, and equip you to make informed and better decisions.

4. Never EVER make decisions while your heart is full of panic and fear. These are impulses meant to protect you in an emergency, but with our culture adapting more and more to a virtual reality (internet), things that seem like emergencies, are likely not. You have time. And you have hope. Ground yourself and keep your eyes open to truth. Don't panic. 

5. Ask the oldies. Grandparents, elders, wise-ones, whatever you want to call them - they deserve our respect and consideration when we're faced with life's questions. There is an epidemic of disrespect towards the older generations, but I implore you, listen to their advice - take it with a grain of salt. It is good to measure our current philosophies next to our ancestors in order to give ourselves a broader view. 

6. This one is sort of private. If you're really interested and open-minded, message me, and I'll gladly share my secrets.

I hope you hear my heart in this.  

I cannot be a by-stander and watch the people I love attack one another and walk around in fear because of the internet. I do not take this lightly. We live in a world that is not black and white, so I can't give you all the answers, but what I can offer you is HOPE and LOVE.

♥ Estelle

(disclaimer: I am not making light of the current media hype, but I'm also not talking about it directly because I know in a few months the media topic-of-choice will be something different. Also, I am not here to tell you what decisions to make, only to bring awareness and give you a better way to filter information for yourself. I hope you question the very things I bring up in this post.)

May 6, 2014

The Shiny Circle Workshop

I am so excited to announce that this is finally happening!

My love of photography and passion for leading and inspiring people have collided and I'm teaching a workshop this summer! I know this is only the beginning. I have so many ideas and things I want to share. It's all very exciting to me (and hopefully to you)!

So, if you are in the Niagara area and would like to sit in on my workshop, you can register by clicking on the image below. There are only 2 dates set so far and I'm tossing around dates for August...possibly in MONTREAL. :) Also, there are only 12 spots available for each date, so if this is something you know you want to do, I would make it happen fast if I were you. The last two workshops I held (the 10 week ones) filled up extremely fast.
Plus, this is possibly the cheapest you will ever see this workshop - 50% off as a debut price. Just because. :)

February 28, 2014

Thirty Years

Today, there is one person on my mind: my sister.

She is my only sibling and has been my sidekick through life. Even though we have lived at least 7 hours away from eachother for the last 13 years, she is on my mind daily.

I think of her in those funny little moments that only she would understand.

I think of her momentarily in the daily routine, and wonder what she's doing in that same moment.

When I'm considering buying an article of clothing, I wonder what she would say. She would tell me if it looks right or not.

Everytime I think of where she is in life, I smile, knowing that she is walking her path with confidence. Even though, right now, that means she is in California.

My heart only feels happy in her accomplishments and I want even more for her.

 Michelle, I am so thankful for you. I feel honored to call you my sister these last 30 years, and can't wait to see what the next 30 hold. We get to go through it together, no matter what. Geographical distance can't separate us.

You are a treasured jewel in my life.

I hope your birthday is beautiful.  Happy 30th, Mic.  I love you.

♥ Estelle

Oh, and...vingt-neuf, peut-ĂȘtre. Mais treeeeeente? Jesaispas.

February 26, 2014

An Ordinary Day

My sister posted a video not too long ago that really inspired me. It's called An Ordinary Day, and was incredibly artistic and beautiful. I hope to compile a video along those lines someday, but for now, I am posting a few bits and pieces of my day the other day, in still shots. I want to do a better version of this - a more thorough look at a day, but that will require a bit more planning.  ;)

I want, so much, to remember this time of my life. I feel as though it is whipping past me at lightning speed. Elias will be starting school THIS FALL (in case you don't know, Elias is baby #3). How did that happen?

So, these ordinary moments, the routine, the repetitious stuff - that's what I want to remember. I want to remember how cute my child's feet look in sleepers. Or how Mark reads to the kids pretty-much every night while I make lunches. I want to remember the boring, the mundane and the ordinary parts of my days. Because that will all change one day, and I will miss it. ♥

September 12, 2013

Alot Can Change in a Year

Warning: This is a LONG blog post. Go get a snack before you continue reading.  
Or, if you're in a hurry and want to get to the most important point of the post, skip ahead until you see the font color change.  You're welcome.  ;)

Alot really can change in a year. Actually, this post may be more appropriately named, "Alot Can Change in a Moment". Because that's what happened. Literally. Exactly one year ago today, we got an unexpected phone call from someone, that changed our direction.

In August 2012, we made a really tough decision to step out from the church we had been a part of for over 10 years. We had been through alot with that community, so it was very difficult to leave, but we knew it was the right thing and the right timing. We made that decision without knowing exactly what we were going to do or where we were going to go. We really had no idea. 

In an effort to stay a part of the church community as a whole, the following Sunday after we left, we went to another local church where we didn't know too many people. One of our good friends had lovingly advised us not to stop meeting with other believers, not just for us, but for our kids. 

I could write a LONG blog post on the different things I learned during the week following September 4th, and the mixture of feelings I had. But that's a little too personal for this blog. I will say, I had an encounter with God like I've never had before. He really came through for me, personally, during this challenging time in my life.

But it was September 12th that things started to make more sense. I came home to a message on my answering machine from Josh Waters. I didn't even actually speak with him. Josh had just moved to Toronto two weeks earlier with his fiancee, Erika Crosier, and John and Heather Bishop (and their two children). 

But before I get into that, let me back up a couple of years...

In early 2011, Mark and I watched a documentary (This is How we Change the World) that gave us a renewed sense of passion to reach our world. We watched it several times, cried lots, and prepared ourselves to be a part of a global movement in our part of the world: Canada. We didn't know exactly how this would happen, but that documentary spurred us on, and we dug in deep at our local church. We were ready to take action. Because this documentary was so inspiring, we decided to go and visit the church where it originated: Elevation Church, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Mark took a few friends and leaders from our church with him one weekend in April 2011 to check things out. He had been listening to the Elevation podcasts when he would go on truck runs (along with lots of other inspiring books and podcasts - so this wasn't unusual for Mark). There was something different about Elevation Church though. Something clicked, but still, we always kept it at a distance because of...well, the geographical distance, logically. Then Mark and I took a trip to Miami, FL in June 2011, for our 10th anniversary. Naturally, he wanted to stop in NC to show me this great church he had found. I loved the experience, but it was still just an amazing church that was far away. We gained excitement for our own church family after being inspired by Elevation. It made complete sense. Anyone in leadership knows how important it is to expose yourself to great leaders outside of your main circle. So, we stayed connected to Elevation over the course of the next year and a half. 

So back to September 12th, 2012...
We got this random call. Josh and the rest of the crew had just moved to Toronto, from North Carolina, to start the very first Canadian Elevation Campus. They were making calls to all the Canadian contacts who had ever visited Elevation in Charlotte, to let them know that there would be a GTA (Greater Toronto Area) Campus launched early 2013. They were meeting at Mississauga Secondary School every Saturday night, for the time being, building a core team and planning for the launch. They were meeting ONE HOUR away from us. I couldn't help but think, why Toronto? Why so close to us?

So that Saturday night, Mark drove to Mississauga to visit. I, honestly, didn't think too much of it. It was, after all, an hour's drive...and that couldn't become a regular thing for our family of six (at the time, we had a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, 2 yr old and 5 month old). Or could it become a regular drive for us? I wasn't sure. Mark arrived home at around 10:00 pm that saturday night (which also happened to be the day before my birthday). When he walked in the door, I knew something was happening. He was beaming. If you know Mark, you know he doesn't really get worked up about much. He's just not an impulsive kind of guy. He typically takes his time and doesn't over-react. So, when I saw how excited he was, I was convinced in my heart that we would be a part of this new launch in the GTA. It had to happen. (on a side note: Mark's first visit also happened to be the very first installment of the "Greater" series - one that completely challenged and encouraged us in the next leg of our journey)

I remember him telling me that it was a small group of people (like around 60), and that I was going to love them. He said they were so friendly and open and that we would take our family the following week so I could see what he was talking about. 

On my first visit, September 21st, I was blown away by the passion of these people. And I mean, the sermon was amazing, the set-up was great, it was all wonderful. But what really struck me, was how passionate the people were and how driven they were to see people meet Jesus in a powerful way. I loved that everyone was working together towards one goal, one vision. I loved that just as soon as you stepped in the doors, you were given opportunity to do something - make a difference in your own way and find your place.

Looking back, I am pretty sure that the children's volunteers were overwhelmed with the addition of our four kids that week too (lol). But this was the other thing...our kids LOVED being there, from the start. If you have kids, you know how big of a deal this is.

Now, flash forward one year...
We have been a part of Elevation GTA this entire time. We have had the honor of being a part of the core team, the launch team, and the volunteer team and have had the privilege of conducting an egroup (our close-knit group of friends/family) in our home. We have given and have received, we've been encouraged and have encouraged others. We've seen growth happen and lives turn around. I can truly say that my experience this past year has been unlike any other that I have known. I could probably write an entire book (maybe I will someday) on all that I have seen and what we've experienced as a church family at Elevation GTA, and we're not even a year old yet. We've only just begun. September has always felt like a month of new beginnings for me, not sure why, maybe because it's the month of my birth, maybe because of school starting, the freshness of Fall, I don't know. September 2012 really proved to be a new start for me. I can't wait to grow and change more and continue on this journey God has for me and my family. I'm so glad to be a part of a family that will support and challenge me to move in that direction.

I love you guys. I wish you all could have the joy I've experienced this past year.

Thanks so much for reading and celebrating with me. Here's to new beginnings!