“He’s a total disaster!” and other things my 10 year old says about boys…

So, my daughter is almost 11 now and she’s filled with lots of pre-teen angst. I know, right…already? In an attempt to connect with her instead of constantly fighting with her over her messy room and the slime in her carpet, I’ve been trying to initiate lots of conversation about what’s happening in her life. She mostly talks about our cat (because he’s really the highlight of all of our lives), and what her sims are eating for breakfast (eggs, tomato and cheese, if you’re wondering). Just recently she’s been talking more and more about a boy at school. Instead of going with my instincts, which would be to tell her all boys are stupid and horrible and she should just forget all about them, I’ve decided to be that calm and supportive mother who listens without being negative and preachy. It’s actually been really easy, mostly because what she has to say makes me laugh.

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When I was 10, I don’t think I even considered boys as anything other than an annoyance. I think Natalie feels the same way now, and it warms my heart. She tells me stories about how this boy in her class likes her. This started awhile ago, and slowly the plot is changing. First it started with her being super annoyed by him. She told me she couldn’t stand him and that he’s basically the stupidest person she knows (aside from her brother). She has a funny nickname for him, and we all call him that now too. She’d tell me about how he wants to be her boyfriend and how she just can’t be bothered with him because he’s sloppy and annoying. I think things are changing though…or at least they are getting more hilarious. The other night she told me that she heard him strategizing with his friend. She said she overheard him saying, “I’m not going to ask Natalie to be my girlfriend for FIVE DAYS and after that, she will like me. I just know it.” We laughed about that. Then it got even better when she told me that he makes up songs to sing to her.  He sings to her?!! WHATTTTT?? “I cleaned my desk, Natalie. Do you like me now?” I almost died laughing at this. I told her that in all honesty, the singing would win me over. I mean really, if that isn’t the cutest damn thing you’ve ever heard, we just can’t relate. I also told her that most boys put zero effort into things, so this is amazing. I mean really, how many memes are there about guys who basically do nothing and expect girls to like them? A LOT.

I’m not a fan of the boyfriend at 10 thing. I was raised by parents who didn’t let me date (I did behind their back) until I was 18. When I was a kid, I’d ask my parents if I could go to school dances and my mother would say, and I quote: “Dances are mating rituals. You are not going to be involved in that until you are out of my house.” My father chased a boy (the one I later married), out of our driveway once in his underwear (santa claus patterned), because he knocked on the door. He then yelled at me, “You’re turning this place into some sort of brothel or something.” I was 17 and it was 10 am in the morning. So, that’s basically where I’m at too in regards to my children. I get it. But…I know that I lied and did what I wanted anyway so, I realize that my kids will also do the same. Instead of being crazy wardens like my own parents, I’m going to be open and remind them that I love them and trust the choices they make. I feel like I was smart enough to make pretty good (most of the time) choices, and I consider my kids to be just as wise.

But back to the 10 year old drama… So, I feel like this boy is wearing her down now. She’s talking about him more now, and the tone has changed. It’s like she’s being won over by his songs and his refusal to give up. It makes me laugh. At 10 years old, this is harmless and so I’m OK with it. I actually love asking her how she reacts to him and what she says. She claims she’s mean and heartless. She says she makes fun of him and treats him badly. So, I feel like this is where I need to tell her that she can’t be horrible to someone who is being so kind to her. She doesn’t have to like him, but she can’t be hurtful towards him. I know that she DOES like him, or why else would she be talking so much about some kid in her class? Maybe she just likes the attention. Don’t we all? Regardless, I feel like I’ve now entered a whole different arena in parenting. One where my kids are actually growing up and living lives I know nothing about. That kinda scares me, but I also know that I’ve put a lot of work into them and I have so much faith that they will be just fine. At 10, I’m not concerned about boys liking her. Not at all. I still have all the control in her life. But soon…much sooner than I think, she’ll be pushing the boundaries and I’ll have to remain calm and not chase boys off in my old lady pjs. Trust me, I’ll want to… But I’m not going to do that to her or my other kids. Maybe Amelia, because I actually am lacking faith in her ability to make good choices. She’s my wild child and I’m afraid in a way I can’t even explain yet.

We have open conversations about this boy at night, when we’re making dinner together. I ask Jack what he thinks. In my head, I feel like Jack will be the defender of his sisters. That he will be the voice of reason. He will stick up for them, advise them and protect them always. Right now, that’s not the case. When I asked Jack what he thinks of this kid, he said, “Oh that guy? I don’t know. He’s really good at drawing so…I guess he’s pretty good. Maybe he can join with my friends and we can make the best comic book ever!! YES! Natalie, you should totally like him.” So…clearly Jack just doesn’t give a shit. It will come with time, I hope.

So, I guess this is the time in my life where I just pray for a freeze-frame. Just stop their growing up RIGHT NOW! They are pretty self-sufficient, entertaining to me, and for the most part still love cuddling with their mama. That’s enough. They can just stop where they are and stay this way forever. Sadly, I know that’s not an option. But a mom can dream, right?

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8 Things I learned in 8 days in Costa Rica

I just recently returned from one of my favourite countries in the world. That’s not saying much as I’ve only travelled in 10…  but regardless, I’m telling you, Costa Rica is perhaps my most favourite destination of all. This was my second visit, and a completely different experience. It has mountains, volcanoes, beaches, rainforests. It’s just a stunning place to spend time away. The people are also very very kind and helpful and the food is fresh and fantastic. I could write and write about all the crazy and fun adventures that my cousin Elaine and I had, but instead I’m going to write out a list of the 8 things I learned in the 8 days I spent there.dfsa

  1. Sometimes you just need to go through things.   On our first whole day in the country, we set off from Grecia (the mountains) to the beach town of Santa Teresa. We drove in our rental car on roads that were basically dirt paths, filled with potholes bigger than I’d ever seen. Following our GPS, (which by the way, isn’t always accurate in this country) we were many hours into our trip when we came upon our first washed out road that was completely covered by what looked like a small lake. I wish I would’ve taken pictures of this, but I was too focused on how the re-routing process would add another hour or so to our journey. We sat at the edge of where the road used to be, and where the river now took over. We pulled around, drove back up the road and decided we’d just have to endure the extra time in the loop around. As we were stopped on the side of the road, a man pulled up in a truck and asked us if we were OK. He spoke very little English and as we told him the water was too high and we couldn’t drive through, he laughed, shrugged and said in broken, yet totally clear English: “You just have to go through it.” This was a shock to us Canadians… I mean really, our school buses get cancelled if it’s too cold. In this country, driving through a river on a dirt bike is absolutely everyday life. He drove off and we waited, just to see if maybe when he got there he’d realize that it was in fact too deep to drive through and turn around. After 10 minutes, and several more cars and dirt bikes passing us without returning, we decided we’d better go back and have another look. Maybe he was right. We just had to drive through it like everyone else. This is one incident that I wish I had recorded on my phone. I was in full panic mode thinking of all the terrible things that could/would happen. We’d get stuck of course, and I’d get out and get pulled into quicksand and drown… or maybe flesh eating amoeba would find its way to my brain and I’d die a slow and painful death in the surrounding woods. Maybe the car would sink, or stop working and I’d have to buy a new car for the rental company. The lucky thing is that none of those things happened. We made it right through, and cheered on the other side when we realized the car still worked and we weren’t going to die in the middle of nowhere in a developing country. Success! So, I guess that man was right. You just need to go through it. If you don’t, you take a massive detour and risk never ever getting to where you want to be. Wait, maybe that’s a good metaphor for life too. Just go through it and get to the other side or risk being stranded forever.
  2. It’s best to travel with someone who understands your irrational anxiety issues.  Elaine and I have been friends since birth. We are cousins. Born hours apart, in the same hospital. Our moms are sisters and we’ve grown up together. I actually don’t remember a time in my life without her, which seems really weird, and yet, TOTALLY natural. We have a connection that really can’t be described and with that comes this innate understanding of each other’s odd quirks. We both have weird anxiety issues, but the thing with us is, that when one of us is freaking out, the other is calm. We take turns being sane and rational in situations. After the “river runs through it” incident, we came to our next roadblock. The “road” we were supposed to take was actually private property. It had a gate and a lock and no other roads nearby seemed to go in the same direction. We drove up the road and asked a construction worker, who told us that the only way around was back the way we came and all the way around. So, back through the river? ALL THE WAY AROUND??? Elaine wasn’t having it. We drove up to the gate just as a lady hopped out of a truck and unlocked it and drove through. Elaine got her attention and asked her if she knew how to get to Santa Teresa. The kind lady explained in very broken english that the roads were closed and that we’d have to go all the way around, just like the construction man told us. Then this lady told Elaine that she’d let us through the private property and at the end of it, we’d be connected to the road that would take us where we wanted to go. When Elaine got back in the car and told me we were going to follow a truck into the middle of nowhere in hopes that we’d somehow make it to our destination quicker, I was absolutely against the idea. I mean really, who the hell does that? Cue panic attack #500 in 2 days. In my head I thought that this was the end. This is what happens in movies. Two women following a man and woman in a truck through fields and gates, deeper and deeper into the middle of nowhere… We were about to be robbed and hacked into a million pieces. In my head, it was happening. Elaine was calm and kept telling me to stop being irrational. I don’t feel like I was being irrational and to this day, I think maybe that could’ve gone really really bad… But, it didn’t. In the end, the man pulled the truck over to the side of the path and the lady got out and told us to keep going and we’d be there in no time. She was kind and warm and her husband in the truck, who looked like a Costa Rican Burt Reynolds, smiled and waved. I offered the lady money and she was downright offended that I’d do that. She was just being nice and helpful. It really was amazing. In all of our days of driving, I had several panic attacks and Elaine would just look at me and tell me I was just losing my confidence, and that in the moment we were in, everything was fine. She’d calm me and then we’d figure it out. There were many times when she also lost her confidence and I had to take the reins and keep her from losing it. Throughout the years, we’ve learned that only one of us can be losing it at a time. If we both start to freak out, everything goes bad. This is very handy when you’re travelling. Everyone needs that person who can keep them from falling to pieces under pressure.costa2
  3. Canadians are so loved & people love talking to us. This one is short and sweet. Everywhere we went, we were immediately welcomed when we said we were Canadian. People often guessed it right off, and would say that they knew because of how friendly we were. As much as I hate Canadian winters, I’d never ever wish myself to be any other nationality.
  4. Never underestimate the steepness of a mountain. This one is huge. Pun totally intended. In our travels we found ourselves climbing many mountains. This is where Elaine would have panic attacks and I’d remind her that there was no point in crying, because tears weren’t going to make it easier. For real though, we climbed one mountain in complete darkness. It was absolutely terrifying, but we made it. On another occasion we found ourselves climbing a curvy mountain road in 40 degree weather. There were times I was sure that maybe we’d just fall over and die, but we didn’t. We just kept moving and cursing. There was a lot of cursing and a few tears. We definitely earned our beer. So, from now on I will never say things like, “It doesn’t look that bad” or “Let’s just walk it.” costa
  5. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t do something & You can be afraid of life or you can live it.  This was the theme of our trip. There was a lot of talk about how we shouldn’t be driving through the country alone. Except from my sister, who basically said it best when she said, “You are two smart women. You don’t need men to travel. You’ll be just fine.” Preach it, girl! She was right. I was hesitant though, and completely fearful of the whole thing.  Nothing bad happened though. We didn’t really go out at night and were sure to use our common sense and not get ourselves involved with shady people. We didn’t get robbed or raped and we’re still here today. Nothing bad happened to us at all, and if we had believed those people who told us that we should be afraid of travelling alone, we never would’ve had the chance to make such amazing memories together. We didn’t let fear stop us from going and I’m so glad. What a shame to miss out on something truly amazing all because everyone told us it wouldn’t work out well. Sometimes you just have to live your life and forget what everyone else thinks. My favourite moment of our whole trip was when a waiter in a restaurant told Elaine that she’d never be able to find certain waterfalls. That they were hidden and for locals, not tourists. The look on her face. It was priceless. She basically told him to fuck off with her expression and I knew that without a doubt, we’d be playing in those waterfalls the next day. Guess what? We found them and they were amazing! img_6377
  6. Fearless people exist and they are everywhere! One of my favourite parts of travelling is meeting people who inspire me to push beyond what I believe is possible for myself. I’m always amazed at how people live and how differently they think about things. When you travel, especially when you aren’t staying on a resort, you meet other people who are doing the exact same thing you are. We met two women who were also travelling through the country alone. They told us of the rivers they drove through, the roads they survived and their past travels where they faced things as crazy as tsunami warnings. I heard stories of unknowingly diving with a great white shark, really questionable lodging, food poisoning… These are the stories I live for. Stories of experience. I love meeting people who aren’t afraid, not because I’m fearless, oh no…quite the opposite. I love meeting them and hearing their stories as a source of inspiration. I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat, but through their stories, I feel brave too. That doesn’t mean I am cured of my intense anxieties about a lot of things. The day after the shark story I had a panic attack in the middle of the ocean while snorkelling. That’s always going to happen, I’m sure of it. The good news is that the more stories I hear, the more experience I seek, and that is always a good thing. I’m learning to step out of my comfort zone more and more. All of the fearless travellers, the people living in different countries, doing things completely different than me, they are what drives me to continue to travel. To collect experiences and memories and not things. For me, Costa Rica was another reminder that the most beautiful and important things in the world have absolutely nothing to do with material goods or convention.costa1
  7. The best vacations in life don’t require a tour bus.  I’m a rule follower, and I love order and attention to detail. A well planned trip is really a blessing. Just ask my sister who meticulously plans and organizes every single detail of our European destination trips. She has mad skills and I LOVE HER FOR THAT!! But that planning is sometimes unnecessary. OK, maybe just in this one particular instance.  If you don’t plan for Europe, you miss EVERYTHING! But I digress… When winter comes, most people book an all-inclusive trip and head to a resort to relax by the pool and on guarded beaches that are surrounded by barbed wire for safety. I’ve done a million all-inclusive vacations and they are ALL THE SAME!! It doesn’t matter if you go to Dominican or Costa Rica. It’s all the same. Same food, same tourists on your resort. Same, same, same. For years, this was what I did and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I like when I know what to expect. We’d go to the same entertainment shows at night (Will they ever retire the Michael Jackson show? I mean really…) The excursions are all cookie-cutter as well. They take you on “authentic” experiences that let me tell you, are not at all authentic. Everyone does them. I’ve done them all. four wheeling, scooters, zip-lining, catamarans, white-water rafting, hot baths, horseback riding on the beach… Oh I can go on… The thing is, when you go to a resort and sign up for these tours you also pay a zillion times more for the same experience you can get if you just go out and find a small local company that does it. Elaine and I went to Curu and for $30 we went snorkelling and got to spend the afternoon on Tortuga Island (the not so touristy part). We went in a tiny boat, we were the only English people, and on the way home we were pretty sure the boat was going to sink, but we did it and it was so much fun. If you do your research beforehand, you can do all sorts of really cool things for way cheaper and have a TON of fun. This trip taught me that I don’t need to take a tour bus to a waterfall. I can find my own way there. Pay a few bucks to park and spend the afternoon with local Costa Rican kids who will happily smoke joints while eating canned cheese at one of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve ever seen.  I’d much rather go to the local grocery store and buy their fresh meat and produce than to be served buffet resort food. If I go out for dinner I want it to be an experience like my first whole red snapper that I had for dinner one night. I ate it while sitting at a picnic table in what seemed like someone’s backyard. Seriously, I’m pretty sure it was someone’s house. For me, this Costa Rica trip taught me that I will never ever be able to go back to an all-inclusive again. Well, that’s a lie. I’d take my kids. They love endless milkshakes and pee-filled pools. Ha! Costa Rica this time around taught me that I actually need a little adventure in my life even if it gives me intense anxiety.
  8. If you’ve been to Costa Rica and didn’t like it, we can’t be friends. It’s really that simple. I’ve been to an all-inclusive in the Liberia area, and even as an all-inclusive, I’d still say it was amazing. This time confirmed for me that Costa Rica is really the only place I can think of that I’d like to go to every single winter. I loved Panama too, but Costa Rica… It just doesn’t get any better. Mountains! Volcanoes! Beaches! The Rainforest! MONKEYS!! MONKEYS!! MONKEYS!! Who doesn’t love monkeys? All jokes aside, I’d have a hard time talking to someone who could complain about such a beautiful country. From the people to the scenery. You can’t beat it. I’m already planning my return! Pura Vida! costa5

Magic in Misery

A little while ago, a friend of mine told me that I should write more. I just laughed, because right now, the last thing I feel like doing is writing. I had started a new blog in the early fall, but quit because it was making me depressed. My words didn’t feel like my own. My voice was nowhere to be found in that space. Last night, I started reading this blog… The one I started many moons ago and abandoned because I felt like it was no longer a reflection of myself. As I read, I realized, this blog, these words, this voice that I’m hearing here, this is me. This is exactly me. I started this blog when I felt completely lost in life and well, surprise surprise…lost again and so I’m back here. Back to where I started.

When I find myself feeling lost, I write about the good things to keep reminding myself to keep going. No matter how hard today is, I will get through it. I always have. I went back to work recently, and that has been a saving grace of sorts. It has reminded me that I actually love what I do, and it turns out, I’m really good at it too. I’ve also started running again, and that too, has saved me. But with the good, comes the bad. I found myself turning to bad old habits, mainly an eating disorder that I’ve struggled with since I was 14 years old. This is the 3rd time I’ve gone through this, but I think this time, I’m smart enough to know better. I have experience. I know the signs, and I know what I need to do to get myself out of it. When it started, I immediately knew where it would take me. I’ve been there, and it’s nowhere I want to ever go again. I was letting the upset of past events fester and instead of dealing with them, I started eating them instead of eating food. I haven’t ever really discussed this ever. I have mentioned it in the past, but never actually told anyone the horror of what I’ve done to myself in the past and what I’m always afraid of doing to myself in the future. The fact is, that I don’t believe it’s at all believable. If you know me, you know I love food. I talk about food basically all day long. I live for it. In fact, I have been quite chubby a lot of times in my life. When I’m happy, I don’t have food issues at all. In fact, I go to extremes. I love going out with friends and eating and drinking beer and just being me. When I am sad or upset, I instantly start denying myself the thing I love. It isn’t at all about vanity. I couldn’t care less about what I look like. It’s about control and distraction. Instead of dealing with things, I focus on numbers on a scale and how long I can go without. In the depths of it, I will only eat specific things, at specific times and only with specific utensils. It’s crazy-town and scares me to death. When this started again, for the 3rd time, I caught myself eating my 1 slice of turkey with 5 cherry tomatoes in my car alone. I looked up, and I saw a restaurant that I have one clear memory of. It’s the restaurant I went to after I was in the hospital having a miscarriage. I was having that miscarriage because as my doctor told me, my body was too sick to carry a baby. I got help after that, and then I had my youngest daughter. So, I guess sitting there, on that day, on that lunch hour, I realized I was all done with this again, before it even really started. There was no way I’d ever put myself through that again.

I guess what this means is that I think maybe I’m getting better at being me. Even in all the chaos of what’s happening in my life, I can at least say I know when to call myself out on my harmful behaviour. This morning, I went running and when I got out of the shower afterwards, I looked in the mirror and I was actually happy with what I saw. I didn’t say, “5 more pounds to go.” I’ve lost almost 20 lbs in the past 3 months, a lot of it from very unhealthy behaviours, but that’s OK. I’m done now. I’m not going to eat my flavourless egg white pucks or 5 cal. jello anymore. I won’t make myself sick from the guilt of eating a real meal, like a real human. I’ll drink a beer if I want to without feeling bad for drinking empty calories.

Years ago I wrote that above all else, I just want my kids to be happy. I don’t care what they do, where they go, or how much money they make. I just want them to be happy. I can say that all I want, but as we all know, actions speak way louder than words. So, I’m going to be happy. Even if it feels like the hardest thing in the world right now. I guess that’s why I’m starting to train for another marathon. I saw this picture, and it pretty much sums up why.

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In the most uncertain of times, I will choose to keep moving forward, with a smile and the belief that good things are coming if I just keep going.

 

Signing off…

They say you should write what you know. Well, way back when I started this blog, all I knew was that I had 3 kids, I loved them ever so much, and that writing about them made me insanely happy and proud. Slowly though, over time, this blog shifted from funny stories about my kids, to reflections on my life. It changed gears and became a place for me to work through things.  Things to do with being a mom, a woman and a human in this insanely crazy and sometimes scary world. Some would say that perhaps journalling might have been a better idea, considering this is a public space. I disagree though, and for many reasons. When you’re at home, by yourself or with little kids all of the time, you need an outlet. A place to express yourself and have your expressions validated by others.  This was my place. I wrote what I knew and how I felt, and always with the most sincere honesty. This was a space where I could be myself, and for the most part, didn’t live in fear that too many people would judge me on it. (No one reads these posts anyway right?) Eventually, I stopped posting, and would only write occasional updates, and/or posts trying to summarize all of the things we’ve been up to. My posts were flat and boring. Ho-hum at best. Not because I’m without skill for writing or storytelling, but because I’ve come to realize that I don’t really want to write about being a mom anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I love my gig. My kids are my world. They mean everything to me. But they don’t complete me. I thought they did, or would. That if I focused enough, I would feel 100% fulfilled by their needing me. That if I was a really great mom, they would be enough. But it didn’t happen for me, and it won’t ever. Being their mom is my number one job. It always will be. Nothing will ever be more important than the work I’ve done and continue to do in raising them. I know that in my heart. But what I also know is that I want something for myself too. I have teeter tottered back and forth on what I’m doing with my life for awhile now. Making excuses for why I couldn’t start my own thing AND raise a family. Who will clean the house? Who will shop? Who will take care of them when they are sick? Who will do all the work that goes unnoticed by everyone in this family? But now I’m done making excuses, because those excuses are holding me back and I’m all done with that.

I will forever cherish this blog for being the space I needed to change and grow into the person I am now. I needed this space, and it served its purpose perfectly. But now it is time to move on. Time to save these posts and file them for safe keeping. Time to start a new chapter (or blog even).

Watching my husband build a very successful business has been inspiring in ways even I couldn’t have imagined. For years I’ve been his biggest supporter. I’ve encouraged him and cheered him on. I’ve stood by him as he took risk after risk, trusting in him completely.  I’ve also played the role of scapegoat while he made decisions that weren’t popular, and I’d do it all over again. I have zero regrets. I’m so very proud of my husband for all that he has accomplished and all that he has done to give our family the fantastic life we have. Having him as a partner and best friend is a blessing, and one I don’t take for granted.

But for now, I’m going to give the old cheerleader pom poms a rest, and get off the bench. Time to see if I have what it takes to play quarterback too.

Hope you’ll all read about us soon…. Maybe in my next blog: Building Drive Shed Brewing Company.

Cheers!!

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The 30’s Sort

I sat on a park bench with an old friend, smoking a cigarette and staring at the mountains in the distance. A lot of things had changed in both of our lives since the first time we met in 2005. We’d both since quit smoking, moved homes, changed partners, had kids, made new friends and gotten new hobbies… We were different people, and yet still the very same.  Sharing an old bad habit that we both loved back in our day was a comforting walk down memory lane for us both, even with the risk of cancer. After we brushed our teeth and remembered why we gave up smoking in the first place, I got to thinking about how odd it was that I was in BC visiting with friends who were in my life for such a brief period of time, and who I hadn’t even seen in 6 years! I’d certainly let go of friendships that were much longer, so what was so special about these friends? When I asked my friend what she thought, she said that maybe it was because when we met we were all going through some really big changes in our lives, some really hard and confusing times and that those things bonded us. They say that the stress of disaster brings people together. For me, this makes perfect sense. When we met I was lost, depressed and felt like a total failure at life in general. I was a walking train wreck. Our program was 5 days a week, and we spent entire days together in class, studying or hanging out at a greasy bar called Smilin’ Jack’s. (FYI: I like to say I named my son after Jack Johnson, but really it’s secretly because I loved this bar!) The friendship we shared got us through our tough times. We laughed and cried, ate a lot of Swiss Chalet and drank a TON of boxed wine. We survived together.

 

This last reunion has me thinking about things we hold on to, and things we toss. The importance of both holding on, and letting go. This has been focus for me these past few years. When I turned 30 I decided that without a doubt, I was going to figure out how to make myself a happier person. Except, I didn’t actually know how to do that, or where to even start. I guess I didn’t even know what that even meant, but man, I was determined. I figured that the best way to start a big task, especially one you weren’t really sure how to accomplish, was to take a tally of what you had VS what you’d need to get to the end goal. I started there. Operation Sort Through the Shit. Weed out the bad, keep the good. What makes me happy, what doesn’t.   I have spent the last 4 years of my life sorting things into piles to keep, and piles to throw away, and I’ve done a pretty good job at it. I had no idea that this sorting was actually related to the goal of being happier. I was pretty sure I was just wasting time.

 

When I got back from my reunion trip, I realized how different I was as a person. How this time, I wasn’t going to these friends to cry about how lost or sad I was. I’m not sad or mad or unhappy anymore. Not at all. It was a real struggle to find things to be pissed off about, which I guess made me realize that maybe, just maybe, I’m starting to get my shit together. It’s a miraculous discovery for me really, to see that although it feels like I’m standing still, not getting anything of value accomplished, that maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m actually moving forward with my life. That all the time I’ve put into thinking about the people and things that are important to me, has helped me to figure out where I’m going with what I’ve got. I haven’t been idle at all. I have been doing “The 30’s Sort.” What to keep. What to throw away. The best part is, that the sort has actually helped me to be happier. Much happier. That of course was my original goal!

 

If I were to write a list of things I’m keeping and things I’m throwing away it would go something like this:

 

Keep:

  1. My husband. The person who has stood by me for years. He isn’t without fault, nor is he perfect, but he’s perfect for me.
  2. My kids – obvious reasons here. They’re my heart.
  3. My people – I won’t say family here, because as I’ve learned, family has nothing to do with blood relations. I’ve learned in tremendously hard ways who to count as my people. Included are the humans who love, support and accept me for who I am. They are the people who I know I can count on, and who can always count on me in return.
  4. My friends – All of them. I’ve learned that we need all sorts of friends in our lives. From our besties from birth all the way to the girlfriends we see every few years. Friendships have been a saving grace in my life.
  5. My values and beliefs – I change my mind often, but I never alter my core beliefs about what is right and wrong. If I believe something isn’t right, I’ll always say so, no matter who I offend. I know it’s sometimes easier to brush things off, but if I’ve learned one thing about myself, it’s that I’m just not that woman. If you hurt me, my family or my friends or if you are being a jackass in general, I will say something. Always.
  6. My gut instincts – I’m Keeping those, as I believe everyone should. The only times I’ve ever had issues with people or in situations, it is because I didn’t follow my instincts. I know what’s best for me. I trust myself the most.

 

Things to Toss:

 

  1. Self doubt – I’m done thinking I can’t. So done, I won’t even elaborate on this one anymore. Enough said.
  2. Worries about my body image – I’ve spent years hating everything about my body. Starving it, abusing it, crying over it. What a waste of time. I will continue to be healthy, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to pass up beers with my friends, dinners out, chocolate when I’m PMSing… I’m not perfect, and I don’t want to be. In fact, no one is! I have been stick thin and I was miserable. I’d rather be happy. Thanks but no thanks unrealistic body images.
  3. Worries that I’m not achieving enough – Time to throw out all of the unrealistic notions of what I should be accomplishing and on what timeline. Every time I’ve ever done things that I thought other people wanted me to do, I’ve ended up miserable. I don’t have to be a doctor or a mad scientist (that would be fun though) to have value. Right now I’m at home, taking care of my family and helping my husband with his business, and that’s enough. I don’t plan on doing this the rest of my life, but right now, this is where I’m at, and I’m good with that. My time will come.
  4. Blame – I’m done passing off my own short-comings on others. I’ve made and continue to make choices in life. No one is to blame for where I am, who I am or what I’m doing in my life. It’s always easier to blame someone else, but I choose what to accept and what to change. I am responsible for how my life turns out.
  5. People who are assholes: I guess there are better ways to say this, but this is the way that best suits me. I’m seriously done with assholes. The catty, gossipy women, the ungrateful, the arrogant, the inconsiderate, the jealous and the spiteful. Be gone! Instead of being angry and raving mad over the assholes of the world, I’m letting them go. I just don’t have that kind of time anymore. If I can’t handle even talking to you because you’re such an asshole, I won’t and I’m not sorry about it.

I don’t know where I’ll go from here…but I’m currently working on a few plans. I’ve stressed and stressed about the what when and how of my next move, but I have faith that good things will come, as long as I’m open to them. In the meantime, I just need a little more sorting to make space for different experiences and opportunities… It won’t be long now!

 

 

 

 

Ho Ho Hold ON!

Merry belated Christmas! So…how was it? Did you survive? If you’re reading this, I’m sure you did. I’m barely hanging on. I still have 12 more days left of Christmas Break and already I’m close to snapping. If I thought having 3 tiny little kids was bad, I clearly didn’t understand the pure hell that would happen to me at 8, 6 and 4. Constant bickering. Constant fighting. Constant insanity. Why God? Why do you hate me?

Christmas went by without a glitch, unless of course you think being blamed for a tiny dog’s “head trauma” isn’t all that bad. Yeah, that happened. Of course I’m used to being blamed for things WAY beyond my control. I’ve become accustomed to saying WTF silently to myself. That’s a lie. I say it WAY out loud! But honestly, I love Christmas. I decorated in mid-november (because apparently it’s disrespectful to decorate until after Remembrance Day – I can barely keep up with  proper holiday etiquette and anyone who wants to call me on it…I DARE YOU!), yet now at December 28th I’m ready to throw the christmas tree into a fiery pit of hell. Really. I’m done. I’m done with the constant demands that come with this supposedly cheerful time of year. I’m done pretending to be loving and accepting. I am not. I’m done with cooking for people who tell me it’s not good enough. I’m done buying presents for people who really don’t give a flying fart about the time I put in, fighting and hyperventilating in the mall bathrooms so I can give the “perfect” gift to people who couldn’t possibly care less. I’m done with Christmas. I’m moving on…

That’s not to say that next year, come November 1st, I won’t be all…

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But this is besides the point. The point is… wait, I have no point. I’m just writing this to justify the $$ spent on my automatic webpage renewal. Really though, we did have a great Christmas. 18 for dinner on Christmas Day. Food and presents and my father explaining (in detail) how to cook a salmon in the dishwasher. Really… There is nothing more I could have asked for… Except maybe gift certificates for therapy. Those always come in handy around here.

As for the New Year… I’m back to class…accounting classes. Mathematics of Finance…Financial Accounting… I’m freaking out! But we’ll see how it goes… If this fails I’ll just run away with the circus. Oh shit. I’m already here.

As of right now, it’s just me because Nick has the man flu. This is a whole other blog post…man flu and why men are not nearly as superior as they may thing they are. Honestly. I get the flu and I nap for an hour and get up and get ‘er done. Nick gets the flu and everything is shut down for 7-10 days. True story. I hope he recovers before I get the urge to hold the pillow over his face a little too long. Oh shit… shouldn’t say that! See previous post about why we had to get a king sized bed. It has SAVED our marriage! But man flu…it’s a marriage killer. 🙂

Wishing you all the best in the New Year! May you all find your people, your place and all that makes you truly happy! Cheers!!

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-My People. Not in a cheesy way. Hell, most of the time they make me want to report to the nearest insane asylum. But they are my family. My home. My everything.

 

 

Testing, Testing, 1,2,3 – Does This Thing Still Work?

This past weekend someone at a party asked me if I was still writing my blog. Earlier this week, I got an automatic website renewal reminding me that I actually had a blog. I kinda forgot I guess. It’s been 7 months since I last posted anything. I don’t know why. It’s not like all of the sudden I have nothing to say (impossible for me). It’s just that I got a little distracted…again.

So, I guess this is just a post to say I’m not done with this blog yet (They charged my visa so I’ll be here for the next year at least 🙂 ). I’m just really shitty at keeping this thing up, and most of the time I’m not witty and clever enough to keep other people entertained. Most of the time the things I really want to say about my life are best kept to my small circle of mom friends who aren’t afraid to hear what a bottle of wine and I think about say, a class field trip to the outdoor education centre with over 20 kindergarteners. Some things are best kept between understanding friends…

But I digress… The last 7 months…right…

Summer came and went. We had lots of parties with friends, I survived camping…we did the usual summer stuff. Fall came and Amelia, my youngest started school. I cried for a week. Now, I only cry when the buses are cancelled.

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We renovated part of our barn into the company’s new shop and our offices. We completed some more renovations at the house as well, which lasted forever and almost drove me over the edge. Nick and I took a trip to Ireland where I found a love for Guinness and sheep, and learned that I am prone to car sickness. Good times…

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Now it’s December and Christmas is in full-swing at our house. Our calendar is full and already I’m looking forward to January so things can slow down again. I can’t complain though, because although it’s so obnoxious to say, we are truly blessed. I know, I just gagged a little as I wrote that. But really, I’m trying to keep myself focused on how much I love Christmas and not on how angry I get by the crowds, the rude shoppers, the greedy sticky candy-cane covered children…oh and that elf. That ELF ON THE FREAKIN’ SHELF! I’m done with him already. At night Nick and I plot ways to get rid of him for good. We’re planning on putting just his hat in our cat’s litter box and telling the kids that Hammer ate him.

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Better start saving for the kids’ therapy bills…

Aside from that, we just keep on keepin’ on… Hopefully it won’t be 7 months until my next post.

Cheers!!

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The Girl…

 

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Natalie. She was born on Mother’s Day weekend of 2008. With her arrival came a HUGE change for her parents. Not only would they learn how to soothe a screaming baby who cried for days/weeks/months on end, but they’d also learn that there is absolutely nothing in this world as awesome as watching a child grow up…

They watched as she learned to walk, talk, dance and sing. They’ve watched her fall down, and get back up. They’ve seen her cry for no reason, and for very good reasons as well. They’ve seen her yell and storm away from them in anger. They’ve felt her small arms wrapped around their necks to hug them tightly. Each year, the arms getting longer and stronger. They’ve watched her succeed and also fail. They’ve watched her grow for 8 whole years as time flew past at a rate that, looking back seemed far too fast.

At 8 years old, Natalie “The Boss” Baldwin is a strong-willed, somewhat overly opinionated young girl who loves her barn filled with animals, wants to be a vet when she grows up, and couldn’t imagine ever hanging out with her mother. She’s a daddy’s girl through and through. She doesn’t play with dolls, but with barn cats, chickens, bunnies and dirty pigs. She works hard and plays even harder. She has a big heart that she wears proudly on her sleeve. If you ask her for help, she won’t hesitate (unless you’re her mother). She also has a fierce attitude, quick temper and could easily be your worst enemy if you get on her bad side. Trust me, I know this already. Natalie is everything an 8 year old girl should be. Happy, healthy and filled with hope.

Today we celebrate our #1 girl. The girl in a straw hat and purple converse hi-tops. The girl who I watched pile bricks on the lawn tractor seat so she’d be heavy enough to make it run. The girl who doesn’t walk or run, but skips along. The girl who likes her music loud and her clothes brightly coloured. The girl who started it all.

Happy 8th Birthday Ms. Natalie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Real Me” Revealed

There was a time when I believed I would one day return to the person I was before I had my three kids. I believed wholeheartedly that one day I’d wake up, get dressed in real adult clothes again, and shake my mom-ponytail free. That I’d wake up and somehow be the same woman I was prior to having my children. I believed that one day, I’d be the “real me” again. After almost 8 years, I know one thing. The person I once was, will never reappear. For the first time ever… I’m relieved and excited to know that.

These past few months, perhaps even well over a year now, have been insanely busy for me. I haven’t had a chance to write anything about it, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it. Almost everyday I’ve thought about the things I have to say about my life as a mom, how it has changed me. The early years of motherhood were very dark days for me. Exhaustion, isolation and extreme depression made for years of struggle. I made the best of it, did what I had to do, but remember very clearly thinking, “when will I ever be myself again?” The truth is, I wasn’t myself even prior to having kids. I don’t think I ever had a chance to even know who I actually was before popping out 3 kids in 4 years. I was so young. So naive. SO OUT TO LUNCH! So my dreams of one day returning to the person I was at 26, when I had my first child? SO NOT GOING TO HAPPEN… and THANK GOD FOR THAT!!

I turned 30 just before New Years, 2013. I don’t believe in resolutions, but I wrote one anyway. I wrote and posted on my Facebook wall, “My new years resolution is to start making the changes I always chicken-out of making. Time to stop trying to fit in where I don’t, be something I’m not, and follow along instead of leading.” These past few days, as I’ve been driving around on my countless errands I’ve thought about this one sentence. Over and over. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is perhaps the first (and probably last) resolution I’ve ever proclaimed and ACTUALLY kept. Writing those words on my Facebook wall, where, let’s get serious…no one gives a crap,  was the FIRST and BEST step I made for myself. Shortly after I wrote this, I trained and ran a marathon, I gave up on a lot of people I needed to leave behind…I accepted myself for who I was. I didn’t even know I was doing it. It just happened. In the past 3 years I can tell you, I’ve kept that resolution. Through and through. I haven’t wavered for one second.

As a result, I’ve become a better mom, and a better person all around. I’ve let go of so many things that held me back in my younger years. All the caring about people and things that didn’t matter…gone. It didn’t happen overnight. In fact, I didn’t even recognize any change until just recently. I had spent countless years caring and doing things that didn’t matter. Worrying about what people thought. Trying to control situations I had no right to. If something went wrong, I’d spend an eternity worrying about what I could have/should have done to fix it. After I wrote that one sentence, that resolution, I started to stop doing those things. Instead of worrying about how other people felt, I worried about how it impacted my life. I learned I cannot be in charge of other people’s feelings or actions. That saying no, was something I could and should do on a frequent basis. That trying to be everything to everyone is a massive, time-consuming mistake, and one I wasn’t making time for anymore. Letting go of so much of what I thought I had to be, so many hours trying to fit in where I clearly didn’t… It made my life so much better. It has opened doors to a ton of new friends. New experiences. A much better world. A much better me.

Long ago I cried to my husband about how unhappy I was with where I was in life. I cried about all of my failings, all of the let-downs of my life. I searched for a person or thing to blame. He said one thing to me, a thing that has stuck with me since the day he said it. He said, “If you want something, you have to take it. No one is going to give you what you want in life. You have to take it for yourself.” I thought he was insane, but have come to realize that there is nothing more true in life. As a result, I’ve thought about what I want for myself and for my family, and every choice I’ve made has been entirely about getting to where I want us to be.

I have felt much elation and complete panic about my youngest daughter heading off to school in September. This moment was supposed to be the beginning of getting back to “me.” I told myself I’d have a plan. I thought I had a really good one, and then as it came closer, things changed, I changed. It didn’t fit anymore. I spent nights awake thinking about what my next plan would be. It came, and went just the same. I ended up getting completely sidetracked by a family situation regarding my niece so that has taken up so much of my mind-space in this past year.  As a family we’ve struggled to keep up. To make the right choices. To do what we believe is right in the face of complete insanity. It’s caused stress. It’s caused strain in our marriage and family. It has been hard. Regardless, somehow we’ve managed to keep it together. I’ve learned that sometimes you can only do so much before you have to tap out and take a detour back. That you can’t save the world. That you can’t fight to the bitter end, because you can’t win.  That sometimes you lose, and it’s wrong, and you move on. That sometimes the risk is too great on your own family. That sometimes you just give in, and it’s totally OK to do that. That sometimes your plans are derailed and you just wait until the smoke clears and you can get yourself back on track.

I may never be that carefree 26 year old again and I’m glad for that. These past 8 years have taught me a lot. These 8 years have taught me more than I could ever write in one place.

Simply put, I’ve learned what years of sleep deprivation does to your mind. I’ve learned how to clean up every sort of bodily function without gagging but most importantly… I’ve learned what it feels like to love another person more than you love yourself. I can’t regret my kids, or the havoc they wreaked on my life in their baby years. Without them, I wouldn’t be the “me” I have been searching years for.

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Happy 4th Birthday Miss Millie Willie!

To my baby on her 4th birthday…

For the longest time I was sure that you’d never grow up. That you’d be our baby forever. Last night your dad looked at me and said, “she’s so different from our other kids, isn’t she?” I was up at 4 am this morning thinking about that. How true that statement really is. Your huge personality can’t be contained in your little body. This past year you’ve really come into your own, so to speak. While I wouldn’t say you were ever shy or reserved, I always just assumed that you’d follow your sister and brother, do as they did, model yourself after them. I ASSUMED you’d be shy, quiet and seeking the approval of your older siblings. How wrong I was. You have your own way with everything. If the kids are building a sandcastle, you’re building a spaceship. If you’re asked to draw Santa Claus, you’ll draw a snowman instead. Your imagination is out of this world and watching the wheels turn in you has, and probably always will, shock and amaze me.

This past year I’ve watched you from the sidelines, and wondered, where in the world did she get that from? That personality. That confidence. That ability to care so little about what others are doing or thinking. With the other kids, I could say no and that would be the end of it. With you, at the age of just 3 you had already honed in on some pretty strong negotiation practices. If I said no juice, just water, you’d convince me to give you milk because it’s healthy. This past summer I told you I was too busy to get you chocolate milk (we were having a big party), and then I saw you come out of the house with a cup of it. I stood out of sight and listened while you convinced a person you didn’t even know to get a cup out of the cupboard, and pour you some milk. I was shocked. I thought you were shy, but I watched you sit down beside strangers and start a conversation with them. Just the looks on their faces as this messy-haired little girl sat down beside them and started telling them about toys and games…it was priceless.

In a couple of days, you’ll be 4 years old. That’s a big deal Miss Millie! I can’t say I’m sad to see you grow up, because as you do, I like you more and more. You’re not a helpless baby anymore. You’re becoming this strong-willed, independent girl who always leaves people wondering, “what WILL she come up with next?”

May your huge imagination, heart and mind lead you to the greatest of things!

Love You! XO