Releasing “The Shoulds”

As I mentioned at the start of 2015, my move to Niagara has made me think a lot.

I’ve always been a pretty introspective person – sometimes to my detriment. My brain has been known to go off in many different directions about many different things, and that’s not always good. Ken even says I have a “thinking face”.  I will be sitting in my favourite chair, off in my own head, and he will say “You’re thinking again, aren’t you? Oh no!”, and run out of the room, a look of dread on his own face.

Well, I should give this some context. In my stressed out late 30’s/early 40’s Toronto life, my “thinking face” wasn’t necessarily a great thing. If I was “thinking” it was usually from a place of anxiety, worry, and perfectionism which could send me into a not-so-good spiral. But funnily enough, over the last couple of years, thinking hasn’t done that.

Once again, is it my new Niagara environment? Some kind of mid-life epiphany?

Who knows.

All I know, is that it’s a good thing.  Since I have started becoming more Niagarafied, thinking has helped me to take a lot of positive steps. I actually like myself way more than I ever did before, with all my imperfections, and thinking has helped me to do that. This has come about because I have finally let go of “the shoulds”.

You know what those are. You “should” do this. You “shouldn’t” do that. This is what you “should” aspire to. You “should” live this way, think this way, live in this neighbourhood. You “should” have this lifestyle, these friends, this income, this career.  And you “should” want all this!

We all have our “should” list.

Let me tell you, I wish I had dumped mine many years ago. Releasing “the shoulds” has helped me to discover and accept a lot of things about myself.

And it truly has been liberating.

So I give to you, two of my latest, more light-hearted discoveries about myself. Two of the “shoulds” that I am releasing.


I don’t really like cooking. 

But, I own a B&B! I “should” like cooking! I’m a lifestyle blogger! Don’t they all love to cook? Don’t they all take perfect pictures of their latest exotic meal creation as the sun streams perfectly into their designer kitchen? (And don’t forget the perfect flower arrangements/decor in the background too) So I “should” want to cook and blog my recipes!


Thank God Ken is the talented breakfast chef at Highbrook. The quality of our breakfasts would seriously suffer if I had to cook for our guests. If we could run our place with a Downton Abbey-esque full staff, I would jump up and down with joy every day of my life. I seriously would. Every day. I need a Mrs. Patmore in my life.

But what you don’t know, is that I have also helped to run a recreational cooking school and catering company. I have a diploma in Holistic Nutrition. I have spent a lot of time in the foodie and cooking world. And I will say it again. I don’t like to cook.

That being said, I love good food. I have huge respect for chefs and their brilliant creativity. I love shopping at Farmers Markets and gourmet food shops. I even enjoy plain old grocery shopping. I devour Nigella’s cookbooks like novels. I love discovering new ingredients and recipes. I just want someone else to cook them.

So, I am just going to stop forcing myself to think I “should” enjoy something that I clearly don’t.

And find myself a Mrs. Patmore.


I don’t particularly like exercise anymore.

This has been a biggie for me. I was a dancer. I was a personal trainer. I have run marathons. I have spent countless hours in a dance studio, the gym, a yoga studio, running. I used to get edgy and irritable if I missed a workout. I used to love the feeling of a good, hard training session. I used to hate it when it was time to stop.

I used to love training, so I “should” still love it.

Well, I don’t.

Now don’t get me wrong – exercise is so important for our health, fitness and mobility. I will keep exercising in some way for as long as I can. But one of the things I have been grappling with over the last year or so is “Why don’t I love it anymore? – I “should!”

So I’ve let that go too. As I said, this has been huge for me – it’s been such a part of my identity for so long. But I guess, after over 35 years in the movement world, the thrill is gone.

That’s ok. I get different benefits from exercise now. I love to chat with my running buddy, and running around Niagara is beautiful. I spend so much time absorbing the scenery. This did not happen when I was pounding Toronto pavement – all I cared about was how fast I could get my run done, and how many traffic lights/dogs/cars/pedestrians were going to hamper my time. I now hit the weight room with my sweetie, and time with him is always fun. We keep each other motivated too.  And yoga? Well, I haven’t been since I left Toronto. I do miss it, but more for how it used to calm my mind – not for the physical workout.

From now on, perhaps exercise will just be something that I used to love. I think there is a Barbra Streisand song about that.

So, letting go of “the shoulds” is freeing up some energy in my life. These are only two of them, and they are certainly two of the less intense ones. My “shoulds” did not serve me well – If anything, they only made me feel guilty and somewhat confused.

Moving to Niagara was my first step in releasing these. I always thought I “should” live in Toronto. But something told me that this move was the right step, something felt right. By letting go of the where-I-should-live “should”, I have started a whole new adventure.

Like my life here. And this blog. Cause you know, bloggers “should” be younger.

(Kidding, honest!!)