2018 Wish List

Happy New Year!

Photos by Kyle Andrew

I hope the festive season was good to you and those you hold in your heart. This year, we slowed things down for the holidays. We knew we wanted to try something different after a particularly maudlin 2017 Christmas, but this decision was reinforced by a series of daily meltdowns I had leading up to the holidays. (I can’t talk about that yet, but I will soon). Christmas Day was spent at home, all day, in our PJs. My parents, brother, auntie and dear cousin joined us for a small turkey feast and we played cards, ate too much, and shared some laughs. This felt so completely right, that it’s gotta become a new tradition.

Tweens hugging

Another new tradition is crafting a list of things I’d like for the brand new year. I won’t call them resolutions, because I feel the pressure just typing those letters. I wanted to write something for you as we sail into the New Year, but everything I started to craft sounded like trite horse shit. I’m sitting on a mountain of change, and I can’t talk about it yet. I’m avoiding sharing my feelings with you because they’ve been messy, and unpleasant, and embarrassing. Instead, I give to you my 2018 wish list.

Health

  • More fun ways to exercise
  • A return to a keto lifestyle
  • Increased energy
  • Gratitude for my healthy body
  • Creativity in the bedroom
  • Time in nature
  • Time in the kitchen
  • Stress management techniques that work
  • A sense of security

Happiness

  • More face-to-face time with my friends
  • More time connecting with my kids
  • Down time
  • A gratitude practice
  • Bubble baths
  • Reading for pleasure
  • Frivolous ways to spend time
  • Opportunities for volunteering
  • Dinners with family
  • A sense of security
  • Truth bombs on the daily
  • Saying no to things that make me anxious and resentful

Creativity

  • Crafting time
  • Journal time on the regular
  • Crafts with the kids
  • A sense of security

Work

  • Organization
  • Discipline
  • Growth
  • Daily writing practice
  • Regular efforts at promotion
  • A published novel and/or literary agent
  • A sense of security

In addition to this list, I intend to spend the next few days mind-mapping all of the ideas rolling around in my brain when it comes to work. I don’t actually know what mind-mapping is, but when I imagine myself doing this, I’ve got colorful markers in hand and I’m puking out random ideas onto an empty page. I have some power over my work life, and I’d like to exert control where I can.

Another thing I just did, not because I’m feeling particularly nostalgic, but because my SEO optimizer prompted me to add some internal links, was go back through this blog and ready every post I’ve ever written around January 1st. This hurt my heart, and in particular, I could see a real turning point in 2014. As I type, I find myself yearning for the articulation and joy of 2016 (my brother’s awesome photos really say it all, though). These posts are inconsistent, but I’ve linked you here in case anyone would like to read my evolution:

2009

2010

2011

2013

2014

2016

Kid drinking milk christmas pajamas

It’s impossible to know what’s going to happen in 2018. It seems that each year, there’s a sea change, and trying to prepare for such a thing seems like a guaranteed way to get washed out. I’ve become an expert in self-reliance, and that’s something. In fact, I think that’s everything, now. I can count on myself. I can take care of myself. I believe I’m a good mother, though certainly not perfect. I have sometimes believed that I’m a good partner, but I don’t know about that anymore.

I’d like to find stability and trust in 2018, even if that means trusting my own two feet to carry me the rest of the way. If I’m deeply honest, (and vulnerable in the ways you’ve always seemed to love), I’d like to know that lasting romantic love does in fact exist, and that it’s safe to trust another person on a profound level.

What’s on your 2018 Wish List?

A New Year’s Intentions Coloring Journal

I love the clean slate of a brand-spanking New Year. Yes I make resolutions. Yes I set goals. Yes, I am currently devouring Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map and planning to illuminate all of the feelings I wish to own  in 2016. There is  no greater ritual than starting fresh, and no greater time to emerge with a renewed sense of self than at the start of the New Year. I’m still enjoying the haze of holiday time with my family, but I wanted to make a little gift for you in case you also love the idea of setting some New Year’s Intentions.

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Things I Learned Escaping to the Real World

You should try this: step away from your computer for a good, long time. Like two months. Use your screen of choice as little as humanly possible. Put your phone away when you don’t absolutely need it to communicate. That’s where I’ve been. I walked away from my computer sometime in November, and I’ve been communing in the real world, even working at a real job in the retail sector during the holiday season. It’s been… illuminating.

This year, I wanted to own Christmas. I used my craft store employee discount as an excuse to go entirely overboard for. I was hell-bent on reclaiming the holiday as a joyous occasion for me and for mine, and this meant spending too much money, buying too much stuff, and making lots of presents in addition to all of those purchased. Christmas morning was an explosion of excess, I fell way off the debt repayment plan, and yesterday I walked away from the retail job.

Regrets, I have a few. I’ve learned some remarkable things though. It’s kind of inevitable when you shake up your routine. Perhaps you’ve missed me enough to indulge some ruminating on that, which will also serve as an ad hoc attempt at a meaningful post to ring in the New Year.

Things I Learned by Escaping to the Real World

1. People love to complain a lot. I’ve been a big complainer for most of my life, and I can’t imagine real happiness ever being possible until the complaining stops. Countless numbers of people who came through my cash register had so many things to be miserable about. No matter how cheerful and friendly I was, they just wanted to keep griping about inane, unchangeable realities like the weather or long holiday lineups. It made me feel a bit sick, actually. How can people with such privilege find so much misery, while craft shopping of all things? Go on a No-Complaints diet, like James Altucher suggests, and watch the misery fall away.

2. Stuff is stupid. The accumulation of lots of presents did not make my kids have a happier holiday. In fact, half of their presents now lay untouched, and will be altogether forgotten if we don’t engage them in play with these things. The highlight of the entire season was five completely unplugged days at the empty home of my in-laws to the north. We just spent time together playing board games, creating scrapbooks, coloring, crafting. That’s what made them happiest. That’s what made us happiest. I made a few smart moves by gifting gently used toys and wrapping up the girls’ old Ikea Kitchen and play food for our little guy who had never seen these treasures before. Did I have lots of fun shopping like a maniac and wrapping the mountains of stuff? Absolutely. Do I feel sick about it all now, thinking of how we could have spent that money DOING things instead of BUYING things? You bet your ass I do. Next year Santa is bringing one toy, and the rest of the budget will be spent on shared experiences and a sizeable family donation to the Aga Khan Foundation.

3. Volunteering as a family was on par with the unplugged mini-vacay in terms of deeply satisfying experiences. We didn’t get to do as much of this as I would have liked, but the day we had sorting for the local food bank was amazing. The girls were troupers and I was so impressed with their cheerful attitudes and work ethic. My goal is to find more of these opportunities in 2015, and help my eight year old daughter reflect on this time as something greater than time when she “was forced to give up phone time.” Sigh.

4. If I stop writing, I will never be a writer. Maybe it was like an “If you love something, set it free” scenario, but I just had to step away, from all of it. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about it. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t been reading about the craft and plotting more interesting plot ideas. I’ve even enrolled in my next creative writing class. It’s happening, but it’s happening too slowly. I need to write every single day. It makes me happy. I feel like more of myself. I deserve to see this through as far as it can go, and I have to stop putting myself in the way. More writing in 2015.

5. I miss my friends. Text messages and Facebook updates cannot replace real life human connection. I need more real life time with my peeps. You know who you are, let’s make some plans, or at least speak on the phone once a month. Crazy, right?

6. It doesn’t make sense to work for anyone else, when we need to work hard for ourselves. I can’t slide into a decent paying full time job. I’m going to be a bit selfish and insist on having as much time with my toddler son as we can afford me to. I also don’t have the work background or skills to obtain a decent paying job in the traditional job force. I’m going to really set my sights on growing our new businesses, and become our social media manager. I was born to be an entrepreneur.

7. I feel better when I look better. I’ve cut way back on sugars (of all kinds, not just the refined ones) and only indulge in gluten rich foods on special occasions. Nobody has asked me when I’m due in a long-ass time and all of my pants are saggy. I’m also hiking, and walking, and counting my steps with my new brilliant Christmas presents. My sister-in-law’s awesome boyfriend hacked some trails through our forest (major brownie points scored there, one of the best presents I’ve ever received!) and my loves got me a Misfit Shine. I’m even standing at the bar in Second Cup as I type this, because sitting will kill you, people! I am unashamed of how cliché it is to declare fitness as a personal goal for the New Year.

8. Love, Love, Love. I have a new mantra: Empathy and Vulnerability. My heart needs to open more than ever because that’s the next big step in my ongoing journey in growing. This feels like a good time for that to kick into higher gear. I’m not good at being vulnerable, and hence could be way better at being empathetic. If I can’t be okay with feeling things, it’s hard to be okay with other people’s feelings. Self compassion is the next big thing kids. Check it out!

9. Discipline and routine check ins are the only way to climb the big mountain we are trying to conquer to set ourselves free from debt and embrace real freedom. We three grownups need a monthly pub date to enjoy some alone time together and check in on the state of our Union. It’s a fun way to talk about not-so-fun subjects, and it feels so great to be on top of things. I have vowed to stop getting so hung up on worrying about money, and instead just keep plugging away with a healthy sense of where we are at financially. Spend very little, create a whole lot.

10. I love making things. I so enjoyed making cards and gifts this season, I am flirting with creating a line of my own to sell alongside Tall Earth products at local artisan shows. This may be insane, but I’m going to experiment a little and see where it goes. Best case for me is a fun and creative way to earn some extra cash, worst case is that I just commit to making awesome presents for everyone as I move through the ludicrous amount of craft supplies we own.

And because I believe in the power of manifesting things by putting them out there, here’s my biggest dream to begin hacking away at in 2015:

Building Our Own Living Space

Right now, we’re thinking tiny house guest bunkie cum studio on the property. We can use it for some privacy and for guests. Eventually, when we have the means, I’d love to see us build our own house, modestly and creatively using space that allows for entertaining and play, plus a kick-ass photography/crafting/writing studio. A real pie-in-the-sky dream would be to have a small village of bunkies with a yoga/aerial studio where I can facilitate retreats and workshops. It’s a good one, isn’t it? If you think we should try to crowd fund this, drop me a line!

Okay, your turn. What did you learn over the holidays?

 

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Mommy’s To-Do List – Week of July 22nd

todojul22

Weekend Highlights

After surviving a night of crazy thunderstorms and tornado warnings, we piled the children into the van and made the trek to Barrie for a reunion hosted by Mama S’ clan in honour of my sister-in-love’s upcoming 30th birthday. The weather was spectacular – sunny, but so much cooler than it has been, which was perfect for the kids to play outside. It was so nice seeing all of the cousins together. It made me wistful for my own cousins, who I grew up so close to. Watching the little band of monkeys romp around was easily my weekend highlight. They were all so sweet and careful with the babies. I als had a beautiful moment of quiet with Noah asleep on my hip in his sling while we lounged by the pond and the waterfall that Poppa and Nana so painstakingly built. We slept in luxury in their motor home that sleeps eight! Now I have a family RV trip fantasy that I am determined to fulfill before October.

VIP Tasks This Week

Idle Little Devils

I’m away every morning from nine until three at a course. I need to leave Hannah and Ayla with some activities so they don’t get bored, because when kids get bored it’s scary. When really smart kids get bored it’s really scary!

Create a Menu

I’m hosting some friends for an early August barbeque and camp out to celebrate my birthday, which is on Wednesday. This week I’ll work with Daddy on creating the low-carb, gluten-free menu. The party is called ‘Pitch A Tent, It’s My Birthday’. Tee Hee.

G1

I need to hit the Ministry of Transportation office and write my exam so I can get my G1 learner’s permit. Can you believe I’m almost thirty-something years old and I don’t have a driver’s license yet? Moving to the middle of nowhere has been incredible incentive.

Pedicure

This has never been a VIP task in my life, but I’m making it one now. I’ve always envied those women who can justify taking the time and money to indulge in regular pedicures, and so now I will just be one. My course is across from the big shopping mall in town, so there is bound to be somewhere I can pop into after class one day.

What I didn’t get to last week:

 

Personal Goals

I really want to be bright and alert each day in class so I can make the most of my time there. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been in a classroom and I feel a little nervous!

I also want to reserve some energy to spend with the girls and Noah each day after class. I know they’ll feel me being out of the house, and I think I’m really going to miss them too.

 

Things to Look Forward To

Learning to Drive!

True we’ll probably only cover the basic rules and such in class, but I’m one step closer to getting the driver’s license I’ve been promising myself for ages. I’m so glad that I’m not learning to drive in the big city.

Exploring the Mall!

I’m going to request a later pick up on one of the days I’m at Driver’s Ed. I’d like to have a look around the big local mall. Even though I hate the mall, it’s nice to know what’s available should I ever require some very extensive retail therapy. Also, everyone loves air conditioning, right?

Taking a Break!

I love my kids, and I love my partners, but I’m REALLY looking forward to getting out of the house for a whole week, even if that means I’ll be in a semi-boring classroom setting. I think it will be a nice way to shift focus so I can miss everyone a little. That absence cliché is a good one.

Happy Birthday!

It’s my birthday on Wednesday, and I want to spend the whole day spoiling myself and feeling oh-so-grateful for all of the blessings in my life. I wonder if St. Catharine’s has a kick ass Mexican place for dinner that night? Ahem.

 

 

Happy New Year!

Noah Challenge

Noah says “You can do it!”. Be your best in 2013!

Happy New Year beautiful readers!

I am completely, totally, head-over-heals in love. The object of my affection has, in a most clichéd fashion, completed me. I am a calmer, more patient, more compassionate woman, and I am living in the moment in a way I had assumed was lost to me. Of course I’m talking about the love I have for my wee son Noah. What a beautiful blessing to cruise into a new year with!

I am happy to report that I’m back to normal, in all ways post-partum, and breastfeeding is a piece of cake. In fact, I love it. We do it anywhere and everywhere, and sometimes even in our sleep. My body rhythms fell into place just in time for me to return to work with Les Coquettes and get back on stage to host our New Year’s Eve show in Brantford. It was a blast. The matinee performance to a crowd of nearly 300 people with an average age of 75 was an experience I won’t soon forget.

As the holidays approached, something big happened for me. The horrific shooting in Connecticut rocked me to my core. I think it impacted me just as much as that September 11th horror from years ago. I think about those beautiful little munchkins and their families every single day. The headlines may have moved on to other subjects, but that particular event really cemented how precious life is. CNN may not be thinking about that city anymore, but I sure am. I wonder if I would have been affected the same way if I wasn’t a mom?

Last year at this time, I resolved to take great care of my health so that I would hopefully be able to get pregnant. Then, at the end of January Noah was conceived. I love this time of the calendar because I fully subscribe to the “fresh start” mentality and I have always thought that the beginning of a new year is the very best time to enjoy the feeling of a clean slate. This year, I’m resolving to be the very best Mommy I can be from top to bottom, to be a great mom to all three of my children. Here are some of the steps I’m taking thus far:

I’m working with my amazingly talented brother Kyle to get into hella shape this year. Both of my partners and I are on board to streamline our lifestyle in order to promote optimum health.  We’re eating low carb, low sugar, and starting to make sure we get daily exercise.

I’m organizing my home from top to bottom, and taking on household management and mothering as my new full-time job. I’m crafting and creating, and looking for fun new ways to enjoy my children, and hopefully get more involved at their school.

I invested in a session with a financial advisor as a Christmas gift to my partners, so we can make the most of our resources and work towards realizing more of our dreams of travel.

In 2013, I’m going to take the biggest bite out of life yet, and I want to share it all with you here. I’ll give you the inside scoop on my fitness routine, my dietary changes, my creative exercises, and my experiences in personal growth. What are you resolving to do this year?