Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Blues

Yesterday was a pretty good day in the 'ol homestead. I was feeling in my groove, with only some groceries to get, and afterwards the day was mine to do as I wished.  I worked out hard core (run, yoga and Booty Camp DVD) and even tried for a nap. (Fail-as usual)

I don't know what happened overnight, but I woke up today just annoyed at everything and nothing. It seems like everywhere my eye turned was something hypocritical or frustrating. I started tidying around the house and came across my "Nova Scotia" maps and tour books. The plan is to get a bunch of pictures mounted for our walls, but we just haven't got around to it yet. As I was putting them away (finally off my bedside table 6 months after moving in!) I burst into tears. When I say tears, I mean downpour. The irony is that just happy go lucky yesterday I was thinking that I was finally starting to settle in here again. I mean, I know that ache will never go away, but I'm glad for friends and family and everything I've got on the go here.

Sometimes, I think the human soul just needs a good cry. I try not to dwell in self pity, but I also believe in letting myself feel what I need to feel. I think it's sort of cleansing to purge that emotion when it wells up, because holding things in only does more harm than good.

The difficulty is that the sadness just has to "be."  There's nothing changeable and no solution to my feelings, so I just have to allow it and carry on.

I have a lot of plans for this year, things that will ultimately totally change the landscape of my current life, and I just need to keep my eye on the prize and take this year to do what I need to do. I can't let distractions or procrastination guide me, and I can't let melancholy derail me either.

So, I had a good cry. I then got my workout gear on and sweated out every struggle in my heart. Summer is not that far off, and by then I hope to have checked some items off my list so that I can just inhale Nova Scotia and refill my tank with it's nourishment once again.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Be Kind, Ottawa!

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We all know that we should be kind to one another, all of us crammed on this plot of land we call Earth. Unfortunately, it's easy to become jaded as yet another person is grumpy with you in line at a cash, or when someone lets a door close right in your face as you enter behind them. The best remedy to get those people right where it counts? In their hearts, by overloading them with kindness.

"Kindness Week" was the brainchild of Rabbi Reuven Bulka in response to what he saw as increased negativity in the world. The week is from February 17-24th, but the idea is to extend some kindness every single day, of course!

Having lived "away" for four years now, I'm thrilled to return home and see Ottawa doing something so positive and with such enthusiasm. While you could argue that kindness should extend more than a week (and it should!) I never think a reminder is a bad idea! As we zoom about our days, chock full of work and school and lessons and busy highways and commutes and horrific news stories, we can often get bogged down, pushing through the time with our heads down to anything and anyone else around us. This week lets us look up again and see that it doesn't take much to enrich the day, both for ourselves and for others. Our internal cups can get empty pretty quickly, and being kind goes a long way in refueling.

Kindness doesn't have to take a lot of money, time or effort. It can be as simple as saying "Thank You!" as you get your Timmy's, or holding a door open for a few people in the queue. It can be as easy and bending down to retrieve a dropped item for someone, rather than having them strain to do so. The beauty of kindness is that once you are looking for opportunities to extend it, they seem to appear everywhere.

One of my main focuses as a parent has always been in raising kind, polite children. I have tried to teach them from a very young age to put themselves in others' shoes before saying or doing something that might be hurtful. How would they feel? One of my favourite sayings is, "There but for the Grace of God, go I."  I try to keep this in mind in my everyday interactions with others. It could just as easily be me in any given circumstance, and I'd hope someone would extend a smile, a laugh, a hand. You never know how that simple act can change the course of someone's mood or day.

My family and I bought a few extra groceries this week and will be dropping them into a donation box for the local Food Bank. We'll be thanking each and every individual that serves us, helps us, interacts with us in some way. We'll be spreading the word about being kind with our actions and words, and by talking about "Kindness Week" to others. We'll be looking for opportunities to be kind whenever and wherever we can.

If you're looking for ways to do your part, you can check out for ideas and upcoming events.

It doesn't require money and it takes little time, but the effects of spreading a little kindness into the world can go a long, long, way.

Be Kind, Ottawa.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Smelling The Coffee From Hyperspeed...

I keep repeating the same refrain but dang it-how is life moving so darn fast all of the time now? I have a calendar where I write absolutely every little detail of our scheduled lives, and I can honestly say I don't think I've ever seen it so jam packed with activities, travels and events! Some of that is great, some of it is tedious, and some of it causes a little chaos! I delight in putting a line through the day once we've made it through, just to have one more crazy day checked off my list!

The long weekend was a welcome expanse of time to spend together, but it filled up very quickly as well! A few weeks ago it looked wide open, but then my husband's work came along and added it's two cents, and then my Booty Camp class from Family Day was moved to Saturday and so on and so forth.

Speaking of Booty Camp, going in the morning was a very different experience! I can definitely say I'm not a morning person, at all. Even though it was 930am and I hadn't been drinking the night before, I felt hungover. The sun seemed really bright, my movements felt sluggish, I felt more tired. The camp itself, was as always, totally kick ass. We did some running laps of the gym, some stair running, many, many, many step ups and lunges and squats and skipping and push ups and ......I feel like I can't possibly do one more rep but when I'm all done I feel AMAZING. I feel stronger, healthier and have much better endurance in the six weeks I've been at camp. Actually, the six weeks has changed me more than any other fitness activity I've EVER done. No lie. The next 8 week session is April/May and kind of scares me because it's outside and 500 reps goes to 1000 reps and involves a lot more running, but I was terrified of doing it this time and yet, here I am! I'm hoping we can get 5 ladies to join together for a discount, and maybe a renew discount too?

Now for something totally sweet and surprising! My friend Shirls, that I've never met in person but talk to daily,  pinned a hat on Pinterest and I commented that I loved it! She's super duper crafty and makes really nice things from slippers to hats to dishcloths to you name it! Anyways, she said she wanted to make the hat for me!!! I was totally shocked but super excited! She thought a Kelly green would look great with my hair, and the hat has a shamrock which couldn't be more perfect if you know anything about me! She finished it and mailed it out before she went on vacation and I got it on Friday. Can I just tell you that I was beyond ecstatic? I absolutely LOVE it. I wore it right away and snapped a pic, and wore it again today to the dog park. It's totally ME. I'm not crafty blessed so I always really, really, really appreciate when someone makes me something themselves. I really respect the time and effort that goes into it, and am always awed by the  talent. Thanks Shirl!

The rest of the week is coming up fast and furious and I'm jumping on for the ride!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

As Mushy As I Get....

I know everyone and their dog is writing today about Valentine's Day, and well, I'm not going to be any different. I usually like to go the opposite of everyone else, like why I won't own Crocs for example, but today is a special day and I'm taking the time to put my thoughts down like I have a job at Hallmark!

There are a lot, and I mean A LOT, of people out there writing about how they hate Valentine's Day, how it's a  "made up" occasion, how it's a ploy for the card and gift industry to cash in, how we should tell and show our loved ones every day how we feel, and why in general they are the Scrooge's of Love.

You wouldn't think I'd be a big fan of a sappy day that's all about hugging and gushing, but you know what? I love me some Valentine's Day. I have never been a girl who loved getting flowers and chocolates, but I do like a day that reminds us all to tell those we cherish how we feel.

Yes, we should show them every day. Let me compare this to when a loved one has passed away. I know, morbid, but hang on. We should think about and honour our loved ones every day that they're gone from our physical lives too, and not just once a year on the day they died or on their birthday, right? Yet, many people take a moment on those times to light a candle or say a prayer.

Should we not honour those who share our lives day in and day out in the same way? I mean, these are people that put up with our bad moods, with our fears and anxieties, with our physical ailments, and yet STILL manage to find us endearing.

I'm a girl that, according to that "Love Language" book likes to be told how people feel about me or how awesome they think something is that I did. My close second though was in "Acts of Service."  I feel SO appreciated and cared for when my husband or kids go out of their way to do a task for me that I hate just so I don't have to do it (thanks for vacuuming last night!) or think of something I might have mentioned needing and grab it for me. I remind my husband all of the time-they don't call it "Chore Play" for nothin'!  In those daily moments, I definitely feel the love! Do I always express that verbally? No, I don't.

I do show my family, by my own "Acts of Service" every day that they are loved, thought of, cherished and cared for as best that I can. I try to put healthy delicious meals on the table nightly. I keep the house neat and clean and everything easily found for those that have trouble finding.(Ahem)  In little ways, and in some very big ways, my actions show those I love just how deeply my feelings run.

Today, though, is a special day. It's a day that I remember to take those extra moments of thought to put into words how I feel every day-even on days when I'm washing eye makeup off yet another towel (thanks pre-teen!) or tidying up yet another stack of "important papers" (your welcome Miss Organization!) or as simple as buying my husband gravy for his Valentine's gift. It's his most favourite thing, ever, you know!

I made special lunches for my girls with heart shaped sandwiches and red peppers and cheese. I wrote a little note on their napkins and sent them each with pink and chocolate fudge for their class. We'll have a yummy dinner tonight as a family, complete with pink milk. There will be a lot of hugging and plenty of kissing.

I don't "save it" for once a year, but on this day I certainly put myself out there more and truly remember how those in my tightest, closest inner circle have impacted my life, and how my heart swells every single moment that I get to spend in their presence. It's not about expensive cards or fancy dinners out or blingy gifts.

It's taking a pause and thanking my lucky stars that I'm surrounded by Love.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February May Be The Shortest Month But....

Word on the street is that February is the shortest month, who knew? I guess because it's so short, it's a requirement for it to be as jam packed with as many bazillion things as possible! I looked at my calendar this morning and felt my heart start to flutter with anxiety!

It's not that there's anything extra special heart palpitating in there, well, unless you count Valentine's Day which of course makes the heart flutter a little. I just threw up in my mouth there with the sweetness of that sentiment. So not me.

Though, Valentine's Day with kids in school does produce some frantic chaos with all of the cards to get ready and a Valentine's dance and such. My eldest has already turned down two boys who have asked her to attend with them in favour of going with her girlfriends. It was a proud Mommy moment as I fawned over her maturity and the fact that she doesn't get all dreamy over stinky boys. This was before I realized that she had chosen that only because the boy she WANTED to ask her hadn't. I still think I'll spin it my way so that I don't have to think about her and boys, at all, ever.

We had some friends in for Superbowl which was a lot of fun. My husband made a huge pot of his yummy Jambalaya, plus we had wings, nachos, chips and nacho dip, cheesies, regular chips and dip and who knows what else. We had 13 people here total and it was a lot of fun, even though most of us didn't really care which of the two teams playing won. I considered it a personal win because I stuck to water and tea and didn't have any of the bad (but oh so good) foods.

We have a few birthday parties this weekend, next weekend we're hoping to see friends from out of town, my eldest is skating on the canal with her class, my youngest is skating on the outdoor rink twice with her class, I'm doing another 4 weeks of  BootyCamp, there's the regular music lessons for both girls with some make up lessons thrown in for good measure and even some travel! I've also seen a great friend for coffee, have a regular weekly coffee/tea date with one of my besties, and am seeing my others besties this Friday night!

It's a jam packed time, which I know will make it fly by! I try not to look too far ahead, but I can't wait for March, so look ahead I am!!!

Friday, February 3, 2012



My friend Tania has started the practice of keeping a daily "Gratitude Journal" where she chronicles each of the big or small things that she is thankful for in that day. Many, many moons ago I kept such a journal as well. I think it was an Oprah thing.

For myself, the journal was more frustrating than empowering. I found myself feeling forced and often frustrated trying to come up with concrete minutia that made that particular day one in which I was differently grateful than the one before it.

The idea, of course, is to look at your experiences in a new light, a more positive one, where each and every moment holds some magic. That could be in a regular routine event, or from a new and unique opportunity.

In some ways, I must be in a different place than I was then because I can see how easy each day it would be to be thankful for all that I have whether health, laughter, friendship, love, experiences or necessities. In another way, I think the way I've survived much of the trauma I've lived is through seeing past the negative to the positive around the corner, or at least not letting the negative steal my spirit or force me to become jaded. I guess I've always kept a sort of gratitude in my heart, mind and spirit without focusing on it as such.

Life can be full of setbacks and heartaches, losses and betrayals-and it's easy to get lost in the "why me?" or to throw yourself a pity party. One thing that has held me up through much trial is the saying, "There but by the Grace of God go I."  Every time I start to feel down or sad or pitying, I try to re-frame my thoughts and remember that as bad as I have it in that moment, there are many other individuals living trials much, much more hellish and deplorable every single day. It makes me wipe my tears, pull up my big girl panties and hell, just get on with it. No, it doesn't erase that with which I'm struggling. It does, however, make me focus on the things for which I'm grateful.

If you want to write it down as a frame of reference, or you want to express it in your daily prayers or meditations, or you just want to use it for strength to make it through yet another of life's surprise obstacles-I think it's a healthy practice to remind ourselves each day to be thankful, for so much.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say....

I'm a very opinionated person, and since I was but a wee lass I've had trouble keeping my lips zipped when I disagree with someone or if I have a point to make about a topic. This has landed me in some hot water at times, stirred up huge arguments other times, or put people on edge regarding going toe to toe with me. I've debated politics, religion, style, taste, name it.

My name even means "Fighter" so I guess I sort of come by it naturally. If you add in red hair and an Irish background, you can see I was doomed from the get go.

In the last few years, I've been really, really, really....NO, REALLY....trying to take a step back when I totally and vehemently disagree about something that in the grand scheme of things doesn't really matter. It doesn't mean I'm suddenly spineless or without opinion. Nor does it mean that I will never put my two cents into a conversation if I feel that I have a valid point that may change minds.

This past week I've come across two debates via the mecca of intelligent discourse that is Facebook. I kid you not when I say I literally went to the thread, read and was poised to type and then decided I didn't need to do so. I went back to it several more times I'm sure, perfect bullet points ready to blast forth upon the screen. Again, I stepped away.

I don't want you to think I'm some sort of freak (if you don't already that is) but it really takes internal dialogue and restraint for me to not throw my hat in the proverbial ring. I mean serious conscience wrestling!

The points my rational side makes with my ego side are that I'm not likely to change any minds, rather just incite more heat, that the topic isn't really that relevant to my day to day life, and that my only goal is to prove I'm right and they're wrong so nananabooboo.  That last one is my biggest obstacle cause darn it, I like being right. (and let's face it, I almost always am!)

The final nail in halting my pontification is that old adage, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."  This, my friends, is a big, huge challenge. I'm no Mary Sunshine, hearts and rainbows and teddy bears kind of gal, so being perky and upbeat isn't really ma thang. I am, however, working extra diligently on surrounding myself with positivity and that starts with me. Throwing out slings and arrows may feel good in the moment (and OH it does!) but the drama hangover just isn't worth chugging the Kool-Aid.

I'm a far, far cry from earning any sort of anti-confrontational sobriety, but I'm well on my way with each political, social, artistic or moral discourse that I manage to side step without tripping over myself. It's a long road ahead, but as you know, the fight in me is strong and dueling with myself may just be my biggest win to date.