Dream Day

If I could be anywhere, doing anything today, my day would likely look like this:

  • Cozy blankets and fluffy pillows surround me while sitting in a window seat surrounded by books. Likely be re-reading an old favourite – one of those fantastic stories that you become a part of, that take your breath away, make you laugh with the characters and cry when they cry, and long for more once you’ve flipped the final page
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Maybe a nook like this one found at blog.styleestate.com

  • Of course I’d be sipping on my favourite tea: Vanilla Cinnamon herbal tea with a splash of honey just for fun!
  • When the reading was done I’d love to sit and listen to recorded episode after episode of CBC Radio’s Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean! I can never, ever get enough of his story telling! Vinyl Cafe is now available as Podcasts which is so great! I sometimes can’t listen in on Sunday’s when it is aired on the radio but now can have it on my iPhone whenever I want it!
  • Part of me thinks I’d stay in my PJ’s all day, but another side of me is more realistic than that. I do love structure and productivity. I feel icky when I spend the entire day in my PJ’s. Rather than PJ’s all day I’ll settle for some comfy yoga pants and my coziest hand-knitted sweater.
  • Lunch would be my newest addiction: kale! Steamed with some peppers and onions, some hot pepper flakes and loads of garlic. Throw some salmon on top and you’ve got my favourite meal. Of course I won’t have to make it, it’s my dream day after all!
  • I really couldn’t sit still for an entire day regardless of how appealing that sounds, realistically I’ve got far too much energy for that! There would have to be some type of physical activity going on. Perhaps a beautiful hike on the Bruce Trail with my 4-legged friend (like we’ve done before!). 
  • I’m a very social person at heart so this dream day wouldn’t really be complete if there weren’t other people involved. Maybe a good old fashioned family hockey game on my parents backyard rink (that we’ve been making for nearly 20 years now!). There’s home-made nets my brother welded together about 15 years ago and always a pot of hot chocolate ready when we’re finished (thanks Mom!). 
  • After skating, all 23 of us (that’s my immediate family!) would squeeze around the table in my parents kitchen. We’d devour a giant bowl of my own home-made chili, enjoy a few beers, and laugh about this & that until it was time to put the kids to bed. I’d end my dream day sleeping in my old bedroom, squeezed into the single bed with one munchkin on either side of me. One snoring (like she always does!) and the other with his fingers wrapped around strands of my hair so tightly I can’t move without acquiring a bald patch. Those are the best sleeps!
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Us playing hockey in January 2013. It is always best under the lights!

Don’t get me wrong, my reality really isn’t all that bad. Sure I don’t get to spend hours escaping to fictional worlds and I don’t even have a window seat! I don’t get to see my family as much as I’d like but when we are together it’s like no time has passed at all. I’m thankful for my reality, but love to dream every now and then! What would your dream day look like? 

Happy Friday!

“In our push to see women as equals, do we sometimes mistake “equal” for meaning “the same,” to the advantage of our daughters and with contempt for our sons?”

….wow! Such a great topic I just had to share! It is an issue I battle with in my house as well.
It is much easier for me to encourage my daughter to reach outside of her stereotypical roles than it is for me to allow my son to simply be a rowdy boy.

[writing] between friends

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Here is the immediate context in a long-term process: right before Christmas, a school shooting, killing children who were the age of my twin boys, sitting diligently in their classrooms like mine do every day. My quiet tears at the simplest moments in the following weeks, self-censored, because they do not know, don’t need to know, and feel responsible for their mother’s emotional health. Next, a letter to Santa, written in 7-year-old, erratic hand, “nerf gun and bullets” at the top of the list.  Then, a New York Times piece, hypothesizing, with some flaws, that as we usher in “The End of Men,” we will see an increase in white, young, male-inflicted violence as those creatures, previously at the top of the chain, bluster around without a way to be.

Finally, the Eureka! moment at the ice-skating rink: skating slowly and steadily with my toddler girl, around the…

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Happy Monday: Project Optimism

As I typed that title I realized, I actually mean it! In general I hate Mondays. I am definitely one of ‘those’ people who complains and groans and uses the day of the week as an excuse for the entire day’s failures. Today had it’s fill of failures.

It all started during those cold, quiet, still hours of the morning. I, freezing cold and wishing I was still in bed, jumped into the shower hoping the warmth would somehow wash away the usual Monday blues before the day even really started. I very quickly realized I was not alone in the shower – an 8 legged friend decided to join me! I hate spiders! Rather than scream or panic I decided to make him a deal. I told him (literally) that if he didn’t move I’d spare his life and share my shower and in approximately 12 minutes we’d each go our separate ways and hopefully never mingle again. I ended up spending the entire 12 minutes staring at him – my eyes still sting from the suds! What a way to start a Monday…

It really didn’t get much better from there what with the overnight dumping of snow turned freezing rain, kids who hate Mondays as much as I do, and absolutely no empty parking spots at school – does no one stay home when the roads are slick?! Slipping and sliding my way to my first class started out fun, but alas, the fun always ends once someone gets hurt. Falling didn’t hurt my butt nearly as much as it hurt my ego, but hurt nonetheless.

By now it’s nearing noon and I’m in full blown I hate Mondays mode. Here is when I grab a coffee and open my lap top searching for a little break from it all, an escape. Here is when I realize that not only is it Monday, but it is MONDAY! It’s Project Optimism day! Sorry moody Mondays, but with there’s a new Monday in town and I like him!

Funny how random people out there somewhere in the internet can basically say, “Let’s all be optimistic on Mondays” and that can change my day! Rather than wallow in a pitiful Monday I grabbed it by the horns and steered in the direction of my choosing! I even shared in the Project Optimism love myself, turning my closed doors into life lessons.

I kept this attitude up and by the time my school day was done and my munchkins and I were home I was in a completely different mind set – and it spread! One kid offered to do the dishes all by herself (I looked the other way and ignored crusty porridge left on the breakfast bowls!) while the other gave me a hand making what ended up being a delicious dinner – chicken breast with steamed kale & green collards with garlic, peppers, and onions! And then to top it all off we made (for the first time ever) cauliflower crusted garlic & cheese breadsticks!!! How can Monday not be great with all that combo?!

It just goes to show that there is truth in the age old saying, “A smile is contagious.”

Photo from, “20 Days Toward Happiness and Health”
http://draggarwal.org/2012/06/

If you’re interested in spreading OPTIMISM, here’s what you need to do:
  1. Write about something that makes you feel optimistic. Whatever it is, write from your heart.
  2. Post on MONDAYS. Include “Project Optimism” in your title.
  3. Grab a badge by going to your dashboard and clicking the “IMAGE” widget. Adjust pic size 200h x 200w. The image URL: (http://mylifeisthebestlife.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/project-optimism.jpg)
  4. Link over to The Best Life, and invite friends to join in.
  5. Encourage the person who linked up before you, because that’s what it’s all about. Kindness is contagious!

Hitting Bumps

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The bumps in the road make life fun

I don’t know exactly who said this but I’ve definitely hit a bump or two in my days. For the most part I’m grateful for the bumps. Sure, they aren’t exactly pleasant at the time but they always provide an opportunity for learning, growth, and shifts in perspective. For the most part I’ve been able to buckle up and ride them out, safely making it to the other side with lessons learned.

Lately I’ve felt a lot more than merely bumps in the road, it’s more like a large, getting-nowhere, circular, bumpy, knot!

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Doors that were opened have suddenly closed. Changes in my carefully laid out life plan have been made without my consent or control. Every recent flicker of hope has been quickly followed up by a smack in the face. The completion of my degree (which is basically my ticket into the “real” world) is proving to be trickier than I imagined.

I don’t do well when things are carefully organized and planned out. I’m not talking about having my kitchen’s junk drawer neatly organized, I’m talking about my life, my kids lives! For the past few years I’ve been happily following along on my ambitious journey, slowing ticking checks off my list and things going relatively according to plan. Of course there has been bumps and even some hard falls along the way but those are to be expected, and in retrospect, they’re now embraced. They have shaped and created me as I am today, and brought me to where I am today.

The recent weeks have been bumpy, to say the least. Perhaps explaining my lack of blogging…..but in times like these, something has to go! But, in honour of Project Optimism I’m using this experience as an opportunity for growth and personal improvement. It is a chance to practice being patient; an opportunity to look into avenues I didn’t even know existed; a chance to practice letting go and feel that it is OK to not be in control. I won’t lie, it sure isn’t easy for me, but I’m trying, and things already look a little brighter!

Today, my optimism is coming in the form of believing that everything happens for a reason! In the past I’ve had doors shut, felt smacks to the face, heck I even had 2 very large bumps that, 9-ish months later, ended up being the most beautiful little things I had/have ever known! There is reason behind the madness and one day it’ll be clear, until then, I guess I’ll just buckle up, enjoy the ride, and steer whenever I can!

project-optimism

 

Let a little sunshine into your day today (even if it’s grey and freezing rain outside!). If you want to get in on Project Optimism, check out The Best Life or follow her instructions:

Project Optimism is passionate about wanting to spread the joy. Check out the blogs on our page to feel some love.

If you want in on this glorious action:

  1. Write about something that makes you feel optimistic. Whatever it is, write from your heart.
  2. Post on MONDAYS. Include “Project Optimism” in your title.
  3. Grab a badge by going to your dashboard and clicking the “IMAGE” widget. Adjust pic size 200h x 200w. The image URL: (http://mylifeisthebestlife.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/project-optimism.jpg)
  4. Link over here and invite friends to join in.
  5. Encourage the person who linked up before you. Kindness is contagious!
Project Optimism

Project Optimism

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I absolutely love the entire premise behind Project Optimism. This comes at such a perfect time for me what with my new-found quest for Happy Living, kudos to The Best Life and her partners for creating this joy sharing project!

I do think of myself as a fairly glass-half-full type person. I try to see the bright side and try to spread happiness wherever I go. To toot my own horn, I think I’m really good at it when it comes to other people’s lives! Is it just me or is it actually easier to see what everyone else has got going for them and what they’ve got to be thankful for? Not that I think everyone else has got everything going for them and I don’t, that’s not it at all. In my past internships I’ve had to work with some pretty amazing people who’ve been dealt some pretty crappy cards: patients who’ve acquired a traumatic brain injury, amputee patients, those with serious mental health issues, etc. In working with these people I’ve discovered that I’m skilled in facilitating optimism – but do I internalize it myself, in my own life contexts? Not so much.

To be quite frank, sometimes it is hard! Sometimes I just haven’t got it in me; the good is too hard to see through a layer of crap thrown at me; sometimes I’m just not feeling it, plain & simple! Sometimes I want to be miserable and lay in my pj’s with hot tea and snap at anyone/everyone who tries to cheer me up. Sometimes I don’t want cheer! 

When these Debbie Downer days are upon me I find it hopeless to try to force myself to see the silver-lining. Instead I try to take a step back and refocus; regroup my thoughts; rearrange my perspective. I find it helpful to analysis the good rather than dwell on the bad. Acknowledging the small stuff enables me to be hopeful for what is to come.

So here it is, the things that – within the past week – made me feel warm & fuzzy on the inside, made me tick, inspired me, challenged me, or just simply made me smile:

  • When a random stranger chases me out of the lecture hall, nearly tackling me to the floor, only to return my iPhone – which I hadn’t even realized fell out of my pocket! Thank you kind stranger! 
  • A hike that is good for the mind, body, and soul – and the dog!
  • Not just one bottle of red found on the shelf, but two!
  • A Friday night spent with one of those above mentioned bottles and a new ball of gorgeous blue-y/green-y yarn – my new hat is nearly done and is adorable & cozy! 
  • Booking my first trip away in over a year and a half: a snowboarding birthday getaway for the man in my life with two of our closest friends! Snowboarding, cross-country skiing, a loft, hot tub…..how could I not be optimistic when I’ve got this to look forward to! 
  • Dance parties with my kids to great Canadian singers!
  • Facebook posts that go like this:

Brother: Name that tune sister – “We all wanna be big, big stars”
Sister: “But we don’t know why”
Me: “And we don’t know how”

  • The tune was Mr. Jones by the Counting Crows – one of mine & my sisters favourite bands and just one more reason why I love my crazy family!
  • Being called into a kid’s bedroom after bedtime, feeling frustrated & annoyed, “why won’t they just shut up & go to sleep?!” is exactly what’s going through my head until I hear this, “I just wanted one more hug goodnight.” And then through the wall the other kid (not to be left out) requests an extra kiss. No Debbie Downer can survive moments like this!

Happy Monday everyone! Find something that makes you happy, take your good & make it better, share & spread your joy, join the optimism party – it’s what all the cool kids are doing today!! 

Bruce in the Winter

Have you ever done one of those things you’ve ALWAYS wanted to do; something that has been on your wish          list for ages; something you’ve dreamed about?
And then when it finally happens, it’s like magic!

If you’ve never heard of The Bruce, you should most definitely do a google search! It is Canada’s longest & oldest footpath. The main trail is approximately 900 km long (559 miles). There is also about 450 km of off-shoot trails to explore. The scenery is breathtaking – especially along the Niagara Escarpment which is one of only 16 UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves worldwide!

From Niagara to Tobermory!

From Niagara to Tobermory!

By now I’m sure you get it, its fantastic!

Back in the summer it was on my Summer To Do List to hike along the Bruce – it didn’t matter where, just ON the Bruce! It’s been something I’ve always wanted to do and ended up being all I expected and more!  But I wasn’t done with the Bruce. No, not at all! Now I had more plans for us: doing an end-to-end hike of one of the main sections, winter hiking, etc. This past week I got the opportunity to cross one of these off my wish list: Winter Hiking!

The weather was spectacular, the conditions a little icy but manageable, most importantly, the company was great! 

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A few amazing girlfriends from school met up with me in Ancaster, ON. The three of us are scattered around the area so this was kind of a middle point for us to meet. Even better than having them as great company, we also brought our four legged friends! Roxy & Sophie had never met but were instantly friends!

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What do you think of my hat?! I made it myself 🙂

They frolicked & explored, and even swam, while we gabbed and shared stories of our holidays. The kind of great friends who you can go without seeing for weeks, but can pick up right where you left off as if no time has passed at all! 

Hiking the Bruce is in no way an easy feat. We definitely felt a burn in our legs after climbing steep, icy inclines.

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This may not look steep but the picture was taken from halfway up the hill. Only the dogs & I made it up this one. Sliding on my rear end was the only way I managed to get down!

We decided to trek off the beaten path a little for some extra fun & adventure. We conquered hills and fallen trees, and ended up finding the BEST picnic spot!

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These old building ruins are considered to be haunted according to my girlfriends story

It was here, at the top of a steep climb, that the sun seemed to shine it’s brightest. We laid out a blanket and feasted!

 

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My favourite peanut butter wraps with a side of raw veggies, fruit, and the most delicious little donut holes from a local bakery for dessert!

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The last half of our loop was similar to the first, with a few more splashing areas for the dogs.

 

 

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…and a few more steep climbs for us. By the time we reached our starting point 4 hours had passed.

Time flies when your having fun! 

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The arrow might show the way but its our hearts are what take us where we need to go

 

 

 

Taking the Plunge

Be forewarned: I don’ eat protein bars or make shakes. I don’t count calories or weigh my food. I don’t know my BMI or even my weight. I am just your regular, everyday mother trying to live a healthy, active lifestyle and be the best possible version of myself I can be!

After having children my activity level has gone down a few notches. As they do, babies limit your free time but even more than that, they’ve introduced me to a new-ish feeling: guilt. When my kids were younger I was overwhelmed with guilt when I did take time to better myself. There was always this nagging voice listing the things I should be doing for them instead of crunches or running or taking that aerobics class at the gym – or even taking the time to shave my legs in the shower!

I continue to struggle with finding a balance between my own needs and their needs. Everything else (outside of myself) always seemed more important. After years at battle to find this balance, I have finally come to the conclusion: I am important too! 

It has become clear that when I’m happier, my kids are happier. When I’m feeling better about myself, I feel better about everything in my life. And when I’m active, I feel better about myself. Rather than having a vicious circle, I call this my positivity circle!

So, I’ve taken a plunge! I have officially started a 30 Day Challenge!

I’ve challenged myself to be as healthy & active as possible in the next 30 days – and hopefully thereafter as well!  There are some rules of course but I don’t like to think of them as rules – rules were meant for breaking! Instead of rules, I prefer choices. I am not following a premade plan that confines me and my diet, exercise,and overall life. Instead I am choosing to make changes in my daily life that will enable me to reach my overall life goals and be the best possible version of myself I can be.

These choices are as follows:

1. Healthy Eating
2. Active Lifestyle
3. Happy Thinking

All too often I get on a roll and feel fantastic and then I quit. I start exercising, see some results and then stop working at it. It is so frustrating knowing how great I could be, feel, and look if only I’d put in more effort. And then, when this type of thinking seeps in, I start to wallow in self-pity. And then I generally eat a lot of cookies. Suddenly my positivity circle turns into a negative vicious circle: feel bad about self, feel bad about other aspects of my life, be less active, feel worse. Then cranky Momma Bear enters the picture and it’s bad for everyone!

The point of the 30 Day Challenge is to keep me on track and focused. It isn’t about working really hard for 30 days and then going on a binge because “I made it.” No, it’s a lifestyle I’m trying to create, not a temporary fix. For now, this is my challenge, this is my focus, and these are my choices.

Of course there is more to each one of these but this is the gist of it. For further details, click each choice I’ve made. Maybe something will be similar with you, maybe you’d like to join me, maybe you’d like to encourage me (I need a cheering squad!!)

I encourage you to join me, make choices of your own to change your life and become the best possible you!