Changing seasons

Here, on the outskirts of Montreal, we’ve just gone through a coolish summer, the warmest September, and so far, a beautiful October. The leaves are just starting to fall off the trees and we’re heading into a 3-day weekend for Thanksgiving.  My next birthday – which will place me on the other side of my mid-30s – is just around the corner.

It’s Saturday morning and I should be sleeping, but I find my mind buzzing. Which it seems to be doing a lot lately. About changing seasons, how fast time is passing, the many roles I play, and the people I’m doing life with – family, friends, colleagues, neighbours. About all the things I’m working on, trying to do, excelling at, failing at; how life has changed, how I have changed…  and the still small voice inside that keeps reminding me to do certain things better “slow down, live in the moment, be where I am, take time for self care, love my people better,…” Continue reading

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Mid-level Mom

April 25th. 9:30 p.m. The girls are in bed and I’m sitting here considering the end of our April birthday blitz.

Violet, who has to wait another 3 months for her big day, is certainly not finding it too fair that her sisters are getting all this attention, this money, these gifts – while she is told her turn will come soon enough. But it will – too soon.

Tonight we had our traditional restaurant supper at a local favourite (family friendly) spot for Meaghan’s eighth birthday.   Almost exactly two weeks ago we were trying a new place because Layla decided she really wanted sushi for her tenth birthday.

By the time July roles around, I will have a five year old, an eight year old and a ten year old. My oldest is ten. TEN. My youngest will start school next fall. It feels like we’re entering a very new phase of this parenting/family gig. Continue reading

Always growing

I’ve recently had a few good reminders that I don’t know it all. I can’t do everything 100%. I have more to learn, more stretching, more strengthening and more growing to do.

At 35, I am young enough to still be considered young (particularly by my doctors or my children’s  teachers) but I’m old enough and have lived enough… that I know I’m really a grown up now. Like for real. And as I’ve  “grown up” and lived different life experiences (as an individual, a friend, a wife, a mother, a daughter, an employee, a boss, a colleague… etc.) I have also gained some measure of perspective and confidence.

I worry less (at least a little) what others think, I am becoming more and more sure of who I am, and more inclined to stand up for what I feel is right. I also, for whatever reason,  actually feel more attractive and dareIsayit “sexy” than I did in my 20s (before 3 kids and stretchmarks and early white hairs and wrinkles…) when I really should have been like “damn, I look good!”.  Go figure. Aint hindsight 20-20.

But; despite all I’ve learned, all the “tools” I’ve acquired to navigate through life’s ups and downs, successes and failures… and all the in between; I’m realizing more and more that life is rarely (if ever) a journey from point a to point b. One where you build up all the experience and knowledge and tools you’ll need to get to a specific destination; and if you do things just right, you’ll get there, safe and sound. Continue reading

Winter: you don’t own me (anymore)

cropped-20161023_092800.jpgThis week I finally completed the yoga challenge (Revolution 31 days) that I started on the first day of 2017. Kind of embarrassing to admit but considering that I did about 25 consecutive days in January, but couldn’t find the motivation to finish until now (among all the other resolutions I set aside during the same time) – it would seem it’s just a symptom of the creeping negativity that high-jacked my  thoughts, drive and motivation through the better part of February.

Do I suffer from the winter blues? Is that even a real thing? Come on Andrea. Take control. Snap out of it. Sigh. Before I go on, I’m not saying it was all bad. There are lots of happy moments, laughter and good memories from this winter, but my spirit – sometimes for real reasons, sometimes for no reason – just kept “slumping”. Continue reading

Politics, a carnaval and intro to lice

This next post was supposed to be a bit lighter after a family weekend in Québec city. Alas… the public events of the last week or so have left me disturbed, frustrated and… grateful for my ordinary life.

I have kept my political views and opinions relatively quiet because, honestly, I still don’t really understand how what is happening is actually happening. I  opted not to share pictures and updates on social media of our family adventures, challenges and mishaps over the weekend because it felt wrong  to be focusing  on everyday ups and downs with everything else that was happening.

The simple excitement of a family getaway… of staying in a hotel with elevators, a pool and continental breakfast, of spending too much on a poutine supper, waiting in line to slide, failing miserably at axe throwing, watching Layla ride a mechanical bull (or moose?), watching Trolls in our hotel room, exploring the Quebec aquarium, meeting Boris the walrus and petting the sting rays…

The stress of finding lice in one of the girls’ hair at said-hotel a few hours after arriving and turning into a crazy person because this is what I’ve dreaded and feared since they started school… and how the heck do we take care of it… at a hotel?!

And then chastising myself for being so upset about something so trivial and mundane when… well… when…!!

And then soon after arriving safe at home and going on a hot water laundry and cleaning frenzy, I read about the shootings at the mosque in Quebec. Everything slowed down a little. What? No. Why?

My heart breaks for the families, for the community, for my Muslim friends…but also for the young man and his family… and all the people who can’t seem to see that our multiculturalism, our differences, and our many commonalities despite those differences, make us better, stronger, richer. That our differences don’t pit us against each other.

Like many, I am deeply concerned about what the future holds. I wonder how we heal, connect, prosper and avoid disaster as we move forward.I wonder how our country will be affected by the policies and deep division of our powerful neighbours across the border. I wonder how we teach our children – the next generation – to be critical thinkers, and wary of strangers, but not to be afraid, fearful or judgemental.

And the lice… well they still bug me (no pun intended). And I’ll keep searching the girls’ hair to make sure they’re gone, probably for weeks to come. But in the grand scheme of things, if this is my  small burden to bear this weekend, this week or this month… it’s pretty insignificant. I am blessed. I am lucky. I am privileged. I am fortunate.

 

Building strength and letting go

With the beginning of the new year, a friend – who I’d been chatting with about resolutions – sent me a link to Yoga with Adriene‘s 31-day revolution along with an excited “I’m doing this!”. I hesitated for a second and then, thinking, “what have I got to lose?” signed up too.I have about 10 resolutions this year, so why not add another?!

I’m pretty happy to say that I’ve made it to day 17 and only missed one day of practice (for a massage…yes. a massage!!) It’s been surprisingly easy to make it back to my mat every day. But I won’t lie. Some days are easier than others. And not just the “getting there” part.

Is that just a yoga thing?  or maybe just a human thing… 😉

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A new me: building on all I’ve learned

 

2017 is a year of new beginnings for me in more ways that one.

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Running late. Or just running.

Last week I wrapped things up at the organization where I’ve been working since last May. I was taking advantage of an opportunity to work somewhere else, take on different responsibilities and gain experience that I couldn’t get where I was. It was quite the ride and I’m very grateful for the challenges, the lessons, and the team that welcomed me (like really welcomed me). I worked hard, I laughed, I struggled, I grew…. and I felt very appreciated, professionally and personally, by those around me along the way. It wasn’t always easy, but it was definitely rewarding.

Tomorrow, I go back to my former agency. The place where I’ve worked since (and during) my undergraduate studies. I’ll be re-integrating into a team and organization that I know well… but I’ll  be starting a new job, taking on a new role, with different responsibilities.

When I left last May, I was nervous, but that seemed normal. While I’d taken on development opportunities before and have consistently welcomed new challenges throughout my career, this was really the first time I was stepping outside the world that I knew. Outside my comfort zone. It was hard to leave.

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To new beginnings

It’s a new year.  Again. Typically a time to reflect on where we’ve been and set new goals to help continue the process of becoming a more authentic and better version of ourselves.  I’m into accepting and learning to truly love who I am these days, but there’s always room for a little self-improvement and refocusing. 

Two questions from dear friends this past week have brought me to start writing today.

 1:  “So Andrea… top 5 goals for 2017?”

Hmmm… despite anticipating the New Year and new beginnings, I hadn’t really thought about tangible, (measurable) goals. But okay. I naturally started with goals for “more of”. For instance, I want to: 

  • be MORE active (I’m on day 3 of yogarevolution and  toying with the idea of signing up for a 5 km with my bestie)
  • read MORE (of everything – factual, inspirational, self-help, novels… maybe start that book club I’ve been wishing for?)
  • have MORE fun (i.e. skiing, playing silly board games and going on mini adventures with the kids, going on more dates and having more sex with my B, and spending more time sharing and laughing with friends)
  • save MORE money (or spend less?!)

… and that’s kind of where I left off.

Then she asks: “And what about writing again?” and proceeds to encourage me to do so. And the wheels started  to turn.

 2: “What’s your word for 2017?”

Confusion. My word? Yes. A word to describe my intention for the coming year. Hmm. For my friend it was contentment, for her sister it was acceptance. I struggled to find a word that would reflect my desire to come out of the heaviness that characterised 2016; and to grow and bloom right where I am while building upon the many lessons I learned this past year. 

I couldn’t put my finger on it right away. But the next day, another friend wished me a “gentle” new year and just like that, my word for 2017 was named:  “gentleness”.  Not less, not more, not free of challenge or effort… but softer and gentler. It reads weirdly when I write it out… but it makes sense it my head.

 So now what?

And somehow this all comes together to bring me back here, to AOK, to write again. No doubt the encouragement to do so is a strong motivator. But so is the desire for gentleness (and personal growth and healing).

I abandoned blogging (and any form of personal writing) over the last few years. Not because I was lacking inspiration or things to write about, but because life got busy (as it tends to) and complicated. It became harder to make the time and more difficult to decide what to write about.  But that’s so…  2016 (!)

It’s now time to get back to writing out my thoughts and ideas. These are often complex, intertwined and somewhat (or very) messy. At times, you might even think there’s a ping pong ball bouncing around in my head making the strangest links between different things.  I kid you not.
However, the process of putting them in black and white helps me sift through, analyze, find links, accept, learn, remember and celebrate this life I have. 
I have no specific goals for frequency or subjects to write about.  I’m just going to start. Gently. One day, one week, one month at a time. Sometimes here. Sometimes in a private journal.  And we’ll see where it takes me.
Here’s to a happy and gentle 2017.
A. 

Sweet Vi is Two… and a bit…

I started writing this back in the summer… just around the time of Violet’s Birthday. Alas… life got busy and true to all the tales of how the third child gets a little less “attention”… I am only now (finally) taking a moment to complete this little narrative “snapshot” of just how uber cute and wonderful (and mischievous) Miss Vi is at two years old…

To my sweet baby girl,

All too often I find myseIMG_0873lf sheepishly grinning; shrugging and saying “third child” to excuse or explain the fact that I am more permissive or less cautious… less concerned… or dare I say it… increasingly lazy (!) than I was when your older sisters were your age. As a case in point, it would have been all too easy to let your 2nd birthday pass without taking the time to sit down to consider, reflect on and attempt to put into words (and somehow freeze in time) the way that you are today, at two, and what you bring into our lives that is special, funny, sweet and uniquely… “Violet”.  Continue reading

The words escape me…

I want to write again.

It seems like a pretty simple thing, no?

The problem is… every time I sit down and start working on a post my thoughts go in a million different directions. Family, love, religion, school, friendships, success, career, struggles, exercise, food, fashion, home decor, wine,… what to do with all this bloody Easter chocolate that there is no way I’m letting the girls eat every last bite of… no seriously, what do I do with it?  Continue reading