Sometimes it’s all Random and Stuff

So, I’ve been a little (a lot) MIA as of late.  Life is happening.  A lot of life is happening and if I’m being honest, getting to my blog just hasn’t happened.  Oh the things I have to say…they abound.  However, taking the time to stop and write a post has just fallen to the wayside.  

My brain is full of posts I’d like to write, maybe I’ll get to them one day, maybe I should start a YouTube channel, or experiment with Snap Chat and then I can just put them out there when they happen.  hmmm….

Life happening has revolved a lot around my health and the fact that it’s not exactly awesome at the moment.  Well, it’s not that my health isn’t awesome, my body is being an A-Hole with a capital A and Hole (apparently).  I’ll go in to detail, probably, later but in short it’s taking a large amount of my energy to function.

I’m seeing different modalities of physical therapy each week.  Being stuck with needles.  Shipped to Vancouver (3x in a week) to specialists and for testing.  I’m still working out (because it’s my sanity, my love & my “happy drug”) and caring for my body, but I’ve definitely had to modify things.  I’m so thankful I know how to do that.

It’s good, it’s Ok, we’re making progress though we have yet to figure out the root cause of my problem.  I’m learning to cope with it.  I’m learning that some of this might be my new normal, and that change happens whether we want it to or not.

On top of that we’re dealing with Audrey’s little body and it’s continued problems.  Again, not something I’m doing to delve into at the moment but what I will say is that this kid is an inspiration and an example of how to keep going.

With life, and therapies and work and kids and all of the everything – you can see how this has slipped a little.  I’m sorry everyone.  I needed to focus inward a little, so I did.  So I am.

Coaching is coming a long.  Have I mentioned I LOVE health & fitness?  Have I mentioned that THIS was my purpose?  Not just helping people with programs, in fact that’s the smallest part of my purpose.  

It’s the helping them find HAPPY inside of healthy, working on creating meal plans for them.  Getting into the nitty gritty of their health struggles, seeing them lose tons of weight and find that they CAN do it and it WILL last because we’re working on new habits.

Man, if you were sitting here the sound of my fingers flying over the keys those last few paragraphs would probably annoy you.  (Anyone else find typing an annoying sound?)  I’m excited about it, passionate, and in love with it!

The trouble?!

I want to help more people.  I NEED to help more people and I’m struggling on 2 levels.  

Sometimes reaching out feels hard.  Not because I don’t want to help, but because I don’t want to offer help to someone who didn’t want it and then offend them.  I’m working on it, and a lot of people don’t even know that I’m coaching.  They have NO idea what I can do to help them.  I need to put myself out there more.

The other problem?  

Well, when you want to change the world.  Help families (not just one member of them) get healthy, it’s a big job.  I need help!  I need other people who want to learn about getting healthy.  People who are works in progress who want to help others they love become works in progress.  

I need a team.  An army.  A FAMILY! of people who want to coach along side me.

Is that you?!!  If it is please, please, please let me know!  Reach out if you want help getting healthy, if you want to learn about coaching, if you just wanna chat about the fact that sometimes watching YouTube videos about bacon cheeseburgers feels good.  Whatever, I wanna chat! 

Wow, this post is disjointed and has gone in 100 different directions.  But if I’m being honest, that’s kind of how my life feels.  No, not kinda, it IS how my life feels.

As God and I are working through all that is happening.  All that is changing I need to learn balance. I need to learn to be still (I suck at sitting) and I need to learn to put myself out there more.

So, my friends I am here.  I’ll always be here.  Sometimes I’ll be quiet but I’m here whenever you need me.  I’m here!

What do you think should I start a YouTube channel and spew forth all that’s in my brain?  What would you like to hear more from me about?  Life? Fitness? Nutrition? Healthy families? Recipes?

Help a girl out and let me know what you’d like to hear/see and I’ll do my best to oblige!

 

Stretching our definition of Beautiful

stretch-marks

With great nervousness and trepidation I shared this photo on social media the other day after a conversation I had with one of our girls.  It took all the courage I could muster to take it, to look at it and then to click “post”.

Here’s the story I wrote to go with it:

“Last week one of the girls walked into the bathroom while I was getting ready for the day.

As I stood there putting on my make up, in my underwear she was quiet. I could see her studying me in the mirror and her “wheels turning”.

After a few minutes had past she stood up and traced her fingers over my hips “Are those veins Mama? The ones that shine a little?”

“No lovie. Those are my grow marks from when I was younger. Some people call them stretch marks but they just tell the story that I once was small and then grew up” Taking a breath, I waited for the critique that can come from an outspoken, honest child.

She was quiet again for a moment and then said softly, “You know what Mama? I think they’re beautiful!”

Then she jumped up, kissed my arm and ran off to play while I just simply stood there – stunned

As I looked in the mirror at a part of my body I’ve hated for 20 years I realized something… She’s right. They are.

They are a beautiful, shiny reminder that I grew up. That I’m alive, that I work hard, that I exercise, that I once was unhealthy and now I am not.

This photo wasn’t easy to take and it certainly wasn’t easy to share but now that it’s out there it’s my accountability. My reminder for me and for you to look at our grow marks, through the eyes of a child & see them for what they are. A beautiful story of who we are, where we were and where we’re going.”

It’s a sweet story right?  Something endearing and encouraging from the heart of one of my little loves.  So why?  Why on earth was it so hard to share?

Because I had to be vulnerable.  Because I have spent the better part of 20 years trying to hide those stretch marks.  Because the world says that “beautiful” is perfection.  She’s got long lean legs, perky “pecs covers” (aka boobs), shiny hair and blemish free, smooth skin.  There are no stretch marks or bruises, you can’t see her veins and she doesn’t have freckles.  Then, when you meet that criteria and only then, the world looks you straight in the eye and says, “Hang on.  Let me grab my airbrush and I’ll fix you.  Just a little here, and some there.  Ahhhh yes, now.  Now you are beautiful…”

And my friends, I am none of those things.  While my legs are long, lean they are not (strong they are!), I’ve got some perky pecs but sadly they have no covers and my hair is only shiny when I forget to wash it for 4 days.  And even then, the shine kinda smells a little.

I’ve had acne since I was 11, stretch marks since I was 13 and the fact that ALL the furniture in the universe jumps out and smacks me, means that bruises are kind of like my “thing”.  Freckles litter my nose, arms and chest and I’m pretty sure if I had an airbrush I’d end up accidentally removing one of my limbs or something.

In the eyes of the world I lack beauty, which translates to unworthy and with that comes the belief that I shouldn’t share my story.  Posting that photo shows the world my “ugly” and that was scary.

Except – I’m not who the world keeps trying to tell my I am and I’m not who it keeps trying to tell me I should be.   Instead, I’m flawed, I’m faulted, at times I’m even broken and you know, I’m OK with that.

It’s taken me years to get to the place where I can say that but I am because I am exactly who God created me to be.  He placed the freckles on my nose, gave me life to grow & stretch marks to prove it and for whatever reason turned the furniture against me.  He also filled this body with a heart that loves people, that desires deeply to serve Him and that would sacrifice all that I have for the children who are mine.

In the eyes of those beautiful babes, I am beautiful – flaws and all.  And if that doesn’t make you feel worthy, I don’t know what will.

So, I took the photo.  I wrote the story and I clicked “post” because I need to do more than tell myself I am worthy – I need to tell you that YOU are worthy too.

Look at the thing you try hardest to hide and see what He sees, what my girl saw.  A beautiful woman, living inside a strong body – worth being thankful for, worth taking care of and worth being loved.

The Other Side of Abuse

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I remember that night with a clarity I wish would fade.  It was 12:30 AM and I was locked behind the safety of the bathroom door, in an old, cigarette smoke filled house.  The door had light blue paint that was peeling off in one corner, and the bath mat on the floor was tattered in one corner.  The ceiling was nicotine stained and the faucet dripped.  It always dripped, no matter what you did, it dripped.

I wasn’t in there to use the toilet.  I wasn’t even there to fix my hair.  Though I flushed the toilet, just for effect, it really wasn’t why I was there.  I was in there to hide.

I could hear him on the other side of the door.  The sound of his voice slurred by the multiple bottles and cans of beer he’d consumed in the past few hours.  The rage in his tone, the reason I’d said I had to pee in the first place. 

He was angry, and nobody could miss who he was angry at…me.

We’d been out that night at a local pub.  There was live music and it had been packed.  We’d gone out for dinner with a group of his construction friends and then to the pub for the show. 

I’d driven.  I always drove.  That’s what you do when you’re the girl who never drank, you drove.  So I drove.

It had started out to be a fun night.  Most of his friends were good guys.  A few even had some pretty great girlfriends, the others didn’t have girlfriends but they were friendly enough, I didn’t mind hanging out with them.  They didn’t mind hanging out with me either, I was just his girl, and I knew how to talk hockey and the difference between a skill saw and a reciprocating saw.  I was also a good “girl gauge” giving the “go for it” or the “get out of it” signal as they checked out the women in the room.

That’s what I was doing when it all began to unravel.  His one buddy, a guy who’d become my friend.  A guy who’d warned me that was the one who needed help many times, leaned over and asked about a girl.  It was loud that night, so he couldn’t hear me say go for it.  I tried to say it louder but still he couldn’t hear, so I stood up on my tip toes, leaned in and said, “Go for it!  She seems great”.

He saw me and his blood began to boil.  

Not more than 5 minutes later it was announced we HAD to go.  It was time to go and that was that. I knew better than to argue, so I grabbed my purse, said goodbye and we headed for the car.  

The minute the doors were shut and the engine running, the shouting began. 

I was a “whore”, a “nasty, dirty b***”, “fat, ugly”, worthless”, a “cheater”, a “useless piece of…*, the ranting went on as I drove, silent, knowing better than to try to defend myself.

We reached his home (his mother’s home actually he just rented a room in the tiny old house) and it continued.  We walked through the door and still he raged.  Drunk beyond words, he stumbled in and slammed things around.  His shouts got louder that night, more aggressive, more cutting and with each word I got smaller, less confident and ready to admit defeat.

Needing a break from the sound, and a place to feel safe, if even only for a moment I went to the washroom.  That’s where the nightmares always start, from that moment in the bathroom.

I knew I couldn’t take too long or he’d try to come in.  I knew he was listening so after a few minutes I flushed the toilet and turned the knob on that drippy faucet.  And then, I wasn’t sure what I would do.  

I wasn’t sure where I would go, how I’d have the courage to open that door.  I never knew what would happen when he was like that, and I wasn’t sure I had the strength that night to face it yet again.

Then I heard a different voice.  Not the voice of his mother mind you, she was home.  She was always home but she just left me when he was like this.  I don’t know why she did, but she did and I knew I was on my own.

No, the voice I heard was another male.  His brother, and it was close, really close to where I was. 

Cautiously, I opened the door and I saw the back of a short, stalky man standing in my way.  

He’d happened to need something (in the middle of the night) from his Mom’s house and he’d come home.  He’d heard the raging from outside, and when he came, realized I was locked in the bathroom.  He put himself between us that night, standing his ground telling his big brother that he was drunk and to sleep it off.  Refusing to move until his brother, my boyfriend had moved to his room and slammed his door.

Then he turned to me.  Looked at my tear filled eyes (I didn’t cry there.  I couldn’t cry there.  If I did, he’d know.  He’d know he’d won and while I was broken, damaged & defeated, I refused to let him see he’d won.  I was too stubborn for that.) and asked quietly, “Are you Ok?”

All I could do was nod.  I didn’t have words and to this day I can’t remember if I thanked him.  But in those quiet moments, he grabbed my backpack, and my purse, walked me to the door and asked if I had the strength to drive the 25 minutes back to my own home.

I did.  I got in my car, opened the windows and then as I drove, I cried.  Hot, broken, pain filled tears poured down my face as I drove.

Even though I knew he was wrong.  I knew I had done nothing wrong, his words stung and somewhere, deep inside I’d gotten so used to hearing them, I was starting to believe them.  

That was 11 years ago about now.  That girl was broken, damaged and convinced she deserved all that she got.  Certain that she wasn’t worth anything more and nobody else would want her, could ever love her. 

When life gets tense like it is right now, that nightmare starts to creep back to haunt me.  Though I no longer try to physically run away in my sleep like I did the first few years we were married. I still wake up in a cold sweat, desperate to get away, barricaded in that bathroom, terrified of the pain that would come when the door opened.  Shaking, overwhelmed and panicked.

Then I see him.  Corey, my husband, the man who is the polar opposite of that boyfriend and my heart rate begins to slow.  The shaking begins to subside and as I take a few deep breaths, and curl myself into his warm back the fear begins to ease.

There aren’t words for how grateful I am for the husband I have.  How safe I feel in his arms.  How secure I am in his love.  How I cherish his quiet voice, tender ways and peace making heart.  Even now, all these years later, not a day goes by where I take for granted the man who rescued this broken girl and for the love he pours over me.

That girl back then had nothing, her insides felt dead and she truly believed she wasn’t worth anything.  Her self-esteem didn’t exist, and confident wasn’t a word anyone would have used to describe her.

That girl has changed so much over the last 11 years.  I have changed in the last 11 years and that change has come at the great mercy of a God who loves me and a man He gave me, who’s love has healed my hurt.

I believe with my whole heart that God allowed (not caused) that to happen to me for a greater purpose.  He allowed me to live in abuse for 2 years, to face pain, to choose to stay when I should have left – to bring me to this place, to where I am now.

Here, where I am now is a place of gratitude.  Abundant, unending gratitude for the man I am married to.  If I hadn’t lived the other life, I’d have taken him for granted, I know I would of because I wouldn’t have know how bad it could be.

When those dreams come though, I remember deeply how bad it can be.  It takes me a minute to remember, I’m not there any more.

 I am here, now.  On the other side of abuse and I am eternally grateful for the light & love that has come after dark nights of pain.

 

Posted in Me

Confessions: Buyers Remorse (and why nudists have the right idea)

Wedding heart

Confession: I, am a TERRIBLE shopper.  Well, let me re-phrase that, I’m a terrible shopper when it comes to purchasing things for me.  I’m so bad at it in fact, I basically don’t do it.  Which is why, at the moment I have a problem.

In general, I like to think of myself as a good shopper.  I’m frugal, check flyers, use coupons, purchase things on sale and can make a dollar stretch pretty well.  I work hard to be careful with how we spend our money, and I try not to take for granted the fact that we are unbelievably blessed compared to the majority of the rest of the world.  

I love shopping for our girls.  They are in a fun stage right now of trying clothes on and really deciding what their “style” is.  I love and loath it.  I love seeing WHO they are and I loath waiting while they check themselves out at every. single. angle – twice.  (We have conversations of vanity and modesty often, because those things have a fine line). 

Anyways, when it comes to life’s general necessities I’ve got it covered.  I can get it done and I’m find doing it.

However, when it comes to me (deodorant aside) I have a massive issue making a purchase.  And often times when I do, I return it less than 24 hours later.  I think it boils down to a few deep seeded insecurities…

First, I really don’t know what looks good.  I’m terrified of looking inappropriate, like I’m squished into clothes that are too small or that my body shouldn’t wear.  I don’t want to embarrass my children or my husband, I don’t want to look frumpy but I also don’t want to look flashy (no metallic shirts for this girl).  I don’t know how to dress my body and in general I’m just worried I’ll do it wrong.

Second, I always, ALWAYS feel like there are better things I could put the money towards.  I can’t necessarily list them off, but I feel like there MUST be better things.  This has nothing to do with our budget either, I have 1.5 years worth of birthday and Christmas money sitting put aside that I’m struggling to spend.  It’s just that in my brain, I wonder – what if I need it for something else?

Third, who the frickety, frack has time to go shopping?!!  Between taking care of my home, feeding the people who sleep here, school, gymnastics, work, groceries, laundry and the necessary sleep, I’m not sure how one is to fit it in?

Just to be clear none of these issues involve Corey!  Well, they do involve him because he’s often heard telling me I NEED to purchase clothes and I SHOULD make time for me – and “Those pants look good, WHY ARE YOU TAKING THEM BACK?!”  But he’s never, not ever said or done anything to make me feel any of these things.

Here’s what happens – I’ll carve out a little bit (read 15 minutes) of time on one of my 2 days off (which are NOT days off they are the 2 days I have to get everything else done that I can’t do when I’m working) to try on a few clothes.  I’ll find something I think is OK, put it on 8 times in the change room.  If it’s pants I’ll bend over and check for underwear (nobody want’s a peek-a-boo-panties moment), do my best to quiet my own negative self talk and decide to buy them.

I pay the cashier, get in the car and already decide nobody’s really going to like them, I should probably take them back.  But my pride won’t let me do that and neither will my time schedule so I keep them.  I get home, I “model” them for my family, they like (or if you’re short and disapprove of everything your Mama buys that you don’t have one that matches dislike) them, say keep them.  I look in the mirror 15 more times, think about the price and then return them because “I really don’t like them anyways”.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

So, where did it come from?  What’s the problem?

I think it came from years of feeling ugly.  Of hating my body.  Of wishing I could hide and not be seen.  Of the words I heard from girls in high school, boyfriends later and the joy of being a female in a a “you’re not good enough” world.  

I work hard to ignore those voices, to fight them, to turn them off.  Most times I can do pretty good at it.  I’m proud of who I am and where I’ve been, and when I do finally buy and KEEP clothing, I generally feel good in it.  It’s just getting to the buying and keeping part that’s hard.

I need clothes now.  Badly I need clothes, predominantly I need more workout gear (that I LOVE, it’s my favourite.  Though I still suck at buying it) and stuff I can wear this summer.  Oh and bras that don’t come undone mid conversations resulting in armpit boobs.  

The other thing I need – a personal shopper or at the very least, someone(s) to take me shopping, be my eyes and help me make keeper purchases!

Anyone else struggle with shopping?  Anybody loath the process?  Anyone willing to shop for me?  Or better yet, dress me daily?  Sometimes I wonder, if maybe those nudists have it all figured out…

 

Posted in Me

Your Children Are Only Young Once: Your Dishes Can’t Wait & Your Clothes Are Starting To Smell

Dishes can't wait

“The dishes will wait, your children are only young once”, “Leave the housework until later & play with your kids, they grow up so fast”, “There will always be work, your kids won’t always be at home”.

Whether you’re having tea with a mother who’s children are all grown, or scrolling through Facebook – these platitudes are everywhere.  They’re based in good intentions, said by those who miss the “yesteryear” and shared by those who’s children are asleep after a day of terrorizing their home (you know, when they look so sweet & peaceful that you feel like your heart is going to explode with love.  It’s the opposite feeling to when your brain is going to explode from hearing “But MOOOOOM, SHE….” and “You are the WORST mother EVVVVER!”).

Regardless of who shares it, I believe they all have the best of intentions – to encourage parents in busy, fast paced world to prioritize their children.  In an effort to make them feel special, loved & important & to avoid regrets later in life. 

I get it, we DO need to pour into our kids.  We need to put down the devices, close the laptops & look into their eyes when they’re speaking.  We need to soak up the snuggles, read stories, have “yes kids” days (we plan those days where they throw out suggestions and I do my best to say yes to all of them) and be present with them.  

There are times it’s OK to do a puzzle instead of the dishes & dress Barbies rather than fold yesterday’s laundry.  We all want to LOVE them and doing those things sometimes will absolutely make them feel just that, valued & loved.

Which is great, but we also have a job to do.  Those platitudes & the behaviour they promote are threatening the successful product of that task.  

Our #1 job as parents is to raise upstanding, responsible, compassionate, confident people, who not only have the wings but the skills to take flight when the adult years come.  No matter how much we love them, no matter how much we’ll miss them, they won’t stay at home forever and when the time comes for them to leave – WE need to be confident that they’re prepared to succeed.

And that, my friends is where I call BS on the whole “it will wait” movement.

Now, more than ever we are living in a destructive, self centered, selfish world.  The statistics coming in show that children & the young adults coming up through the ranks are the most narcissistic, entitled generations we’ve ever seen – and that scares me.

These brilliant young people lack social skills, struggle to maintain a job because they don’t have good work ethic, & they seem sad, missing the self worth that comes from a job well done. They also feel very strongly that the world owes them something.  

Um, HELLOOOOO – NOBODY OWES YOU ANYTHING.  If you want it, WORK for it!

I can’t help but think that our desperate need to full fill our kids, paired with the fact that we’re so bloody worried about not hurting their feeling is one of the major contributing factors to why we’re looking at such a social mess. 

Maybe if our kids had to wait a little more, maybe if they had to self entertain (without the aid of technology), maybe if they had to pitch in a help & even have to re-do a job 3 times over until it’s done right – they wouldn’t grow up feeling like victims.  Maybe they’d grow up feeling like warriors, capable of doing anything, being anything & achieving it all through hard work.

Dishes done

As the mother of a 9 and 7 year old, I certainly can’t claim to be an expert on parenting, then again I don’t really think anyone can.  I am however, the product of parents who invested in us while still managing to do the laundry & provide home cooked meals served on clean dishes.  I’m walking proof that this theory doesn’t damage the heart of your children, I always did & still do feel overwhelmingly loved & important to my parents.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t EVER put aside your chores and focus on your kids.  I’m just saying you shouldn’t ALWAYS make your kids the most important thing in the room.

I believe whole heartedly, that it’s OK to make them wait until you’ve finished a conversation to speak to you.  Just like it’s OK to do the dishes and ask them to help, do laundry instead of playing Lego and pass out consequences when there is attitude dripping off their words (even in public).

I Want my Children to Know I Believe in Them!

Desperately I want our children to know I believe in them.  By giving them jobs, I’m teaching them I believe they can do it.   By making them wait, I’m showing them I believe they have good manners.  By doing the dishes instead of playing with them, I show them I believe they are capable of creating their own fun.

No matter how much time we give to our kids, I think those regrets will still come.  Not because we didn’t do enough, but because we will miss them.  Sadly, no matter how many hours we do or do not invest, nothing will stop that growing up from happening.  It’s the inevitable part of life, like grey hair & acne (at the same FREAKIN’ time over here?!!).  

I don’t know about you but if I can’t slow down the growing up process, I’d rather spend my years building into our girls in a well rounded way.  I’m going to guess, since you’re here and you’ve made it this far, that you feel the same way too.

So, I want to encourage you today!  Go ahead, wash those clothes so you don’t stink and grab your kids to help put away those dishes.  

Then when the jobs are all done, gather them up, curl up on the couch (with leftover Easter chocolate) and “fill their buckets”.  You can tell them what a great job they did, how proud you are of them and you’ll all feel accomplished loved.

Happy Un-Valentine’s Day

Happy

The whole retail premise of Valentine’s Day bugs me.  I spent nearly 10 years working in retail, and the amount of money spent each year on V-Day gifts, cards and chocolates always blew my mind.

It’s NOT even an actual Holiday!  

Technically it falls into the same category as National Pancake day, Dough Nut Day and Houseplant Appreciation Day (it’s a thing you guys, Google it.  For at least one person this day is serious business).  They don’t come with a day off work, stat pay or missed school, they serve no real purpose at all.  There seems to be some, something or other to celebrate for each day of the year and to be honest, the majority of them seem completely stupid to me.

You don’t see the aisle lined with doughnut shaped chocolate boxes, or cards wishing your cactus another great year.  Sure, the baking aisle is filled year round with flour, baking powder & all the fixings for the perfect pancake but I think that’s just pure luck.  I mean is it really some big conspiracy to entice us to eat another flapjack or two?

Leading up to Valentine’s day however, it’s all roses & chocolates, sappy cards & adorable stuffed animals.  The price of flowers increases (though their longevity seems to decrease) and there’s enough helium balloons sold to turn an entire football team in to a choir of “Chipmunks”.

It’s absurd.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not against loving people.  In fact, I am pro-love, it’s how we truly build people up.  I just think it’s something we need to do year round.

There is also a large group of people who don’t have someone to make them feel special on Valentine’s Day.  Divorcees, widows, singles, orphans, neglected children or those who’s spouses/significant others are oblivious to the “holiday” and completely let it pass by.

It is a day with the potential for great love or devastating disappointment.

For me, the flowers mean more on a regular day (or our anniversary, always on an anniversary).  The hand written note discovered in the van sinks into my heart.  The pictures on my pillow from the girls after a night out makes me feel special.  And, if I’m being completely honest – the dishes being done without me having to do them makes me feel cherished & appreciated.

Corey knows this is how I feel and he respects it.  I’m fortunate to have a very affectionate husband and I do feel loved by all the people in my life year round.  I wish everyone could say the same.

This year, we had our annual conversation about not purchasing gifts for each other on Valentine’s Day.  We, of course still do small things for our girls because we can, because we DO love them and because we don’t want them to feel left out or unloved when they see everyone else celebrating love day.

We also have always chosen to spend the day together as a family.  If we are choosing to celebrate love, then we want to spend it with the people we love the most and that’s our girls & each other. 

Anyways, February 13th, I got up as usual at the butt crack of dawn for my morning sweatfest, quietly crept down the stairs and flicked on the kitchen lights.  Then I stopped, something looked weird and…sadly it took a few seconds to figure out what it was. (5am you guys, give me a break it was 5 AM)

There sitting on my counter were three vases of roses and some cards.  Corey had sneaked (I know it sounds like it should be snuck, but I checked..it’s sneaked) out the night before and bought us girls some “Un-Valentine’s” flowers.

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He’s the best.

They are still sitting on my table and every time I look at them I smile.  Not just because I got flowers, but because I’m married to the kind of guy who knew my heart, felt his and did what he could to make them both meet in the middle.

As the year wears on, our girls will continue to receive “Un-Valentine’s Day” gifts, notes, love and treats from us because they are loved.  Every moment, of every day, of every year.

How do YOU feel about Valentine’s Day?  Do you love it?  Have you felt the sting of being single for it?  Do you loath it or it’s commercialism like I do?  

Posted in Me

The Sum of My Fears

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On a daily basis I battle with fear.  Fear that something will happen to my family.  Fear that I will hurt someone’s feelings.  Fear that I will say wrong, do wrong, be wrong.  Fear that I will take my last breath and the people who matter the most won’t know that they mattered the most.

It’s a battle I’ve fought for as long as I can remember.  As a child I was afraid that something would happen to my parents.  Or that I’d be less than the “perfect” I thought everyone expected me to be (in reality that expectation was & often is mine, not anyone else’s) and in turn become a failure.  

No matter what the present fear may be, it all boils back to one root fear – that what is my normal, my routine, my safe will be shaken and I will be forced to face change.

As an adult, with perspective I can look at those past fears and even my present ones and recognize where they come from.  Every last one of them, even my root fear hinge on the fact that I like to have control and any or all of those things happening would mean I lose control.  And if you know me, even a little then you know that I hate to lose control.

The last few days have seen my fear levels rising.  Things are happening in our lives right now (which aren’t things I can share here, at least not right now) that are causing my tummy to turn, my brain to spin and my nights to be filled with fitful, interrupted sleep.

My thoughts are going 100 miles a minute running through the “what ifs” of how I’ll handle what may be to come, trying to get a grip on what could potentially capsize my boat of “normal & routine”.  It’s my way of trying to cope with my fear but let’s be honest…

it doesn’t work.

“What if” never works.  I know that. I can even rationally tell my children that but when it comes time to applying it to my own life, I get sucked in to its vortex just like the next gal.

In truth, 90% of what we worry about never even happens & even when it does we rarely, if ever draw on our “what if” scenarios.  Instead we dig our heels into the moment and focus on adjusting, adapting and coping with what is in front of us.

So, then why do allow the “what ifs” & fear in?

I don’t really know but I think it has something to do with where I let my eyes focus.

When I choose to focus on the hard things, the scary things, the flat out bad things that may lay ahead I miss all the good things, the beautiful things, the incredible blessings that God has placed right here, in my present.

It’s much the same as embarking on a long hike for the first time, alone.  Looking up at the top of the mountain alone from the parking lot, the end result feels daunting & even unattainable.  The reasons why it’s “too hard” flood out the reasons that brought us there in the first place and we may be tempted to get back in the car and leave. 

If we take a friend (or 6) with us though, the experience is completely different.  Instead of focusing our eyes on the top of the mountain, we’re laughing in the moment.  Stories of kids crazy antics, trips to the dentist (we’re cool that way), husband blunders and life fill the air, and motivate your steps.  Pretty soon you’re halfway up the trail and right about that time you feel like you can’t take another step, someone turns back and grabs your hand.  

Sometimes it’s figuratively, in the form of words of encouragement, other times physically helping you over that last hump.  Either way you’re not alone and before you know it, you’re at the top – feeling satisfied, accomplished and victorious.

That’s something like how life works too.  When I choose to try to work through all these fears and stresses alone, I feel like I’m drowning.  My chest actually hurts and I struggle to breath – fear takes over and then, it wins.

Then I realize I’m not on this journey alone.  The God of the universe, the one who put the stars in the sky & the planets into motion is right here, walking beside me.  When I choose to talk to Him, to focus on His continued faithfulness and to listen for His quiet whispers, my fear doesn’t seem so big.

I wish I could say I’ve mastered trusting God in all things.  I have not.  I still struggle every single moment daily with my need for control but I’m trying.

Going into this holiday season I’m going to change my focus.  I’m going to do my best to relish in what Christmas is REALLY all about – the birth of a baby who’d one day die to save my faulted & dirtied soul.  I’m going to try hard to not only sing about the peace that His birth brought but rest in it as well.

Because I know, no matter what our future holds, God truly is greater than the sum of all my fears.

 

The Quietest Loud Voice

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I like words.  I’m a talker, a hand talker (DUCK!).  Writing makes me happy and I read as much, as often as I can because information is AMAZING!  And often times, as my friends can attest to, my text messages require a coffee and a 5 minute interlude to complete.  With the exception of talking on the phone, which makes my ear sweaty and my shoulder hurt – I love any chance I can get to make myself heard.

God has given me a strong opinion, a lot of words (believe it or not there are even MORE inside my head that I don’t let out) and good lungs to facilitate the long windedness.

I used to be embarrassed by the fact that I talk so much.  I used to get made fun of, teased, scolded and feel the sting of comments like “she has verbal diarrhea”.  I used to think that there was something wrong with me and it made me so self conscious.    

Then I had a little girl who has the same gift and I had to start digging deep into what to do to survive it (did you know that it’s possible to feel like your ears might actually bleed from listening to so much talking?!). During that search I learned something…God made us this like this for a reason.  He has a plan for our voices, we just have to learn how to use them in the right way.

For me I’ve learned there are times I have to pull back on my words.  Times I have to delete entire paragraphs in a blog for fear of cresting 2000 words.  Times I have to apologize to my friends because I’ve cut them off (again) during an intense conversation.  Even times when my emotions run high, my brain is running fast and silence is the best I can do.  

Then there are times when I have to stand up and use that voice.  I’ve been given this voice to advocate for my children’s health, to facilitate their education and to build them up with my words.  I have the ability to be a “truth-teller” with people I love when everyone else is afraid to say what’s hard (if the pants look bad, I’m gonna tell ya the pants look bad.  Then we’re gonna find ones that look smokin’!) and do my best to lace that ability with a silver thread of tact & compassion.  And I have the ability to use my voice to affect change in my life and the lives around me.

Today, I used my voice in a powerful way.  It was the quietest my voice has ever been and yet it will join with others to be expressed loudly, across this country.

This morning after kissing Bethany goodbye at school, I walked into the gym and did something I’ve never done before (because I was afraid)(which was silly because it was SO easy) I voted in our federal election.

A lot of sacrifices happened & people died to give you a voice.Show your gratitude and

It took less than 5 minutes.  In fact it was 3 minutes from the moment I walked through the gym doors to the moment I walked out.  It took 3 minutes to do something that thousands of Canadians won’t do today, many of them for the same reasons I didn’t.  

If that’s you I want to beg you, to push you, to SHOUT AS LOUDLY as the internet will allow GO VOTE!  (Check out this link to show you the differences in the parties)

Thousands of men and women fought, suffered, sacrificed and died to give us the freedom to vote.  If you celebrate & remember them on Remembrance Day, then you need to take today, place your vote and silently say Thank You for all they’ve done.

Friends, we live in Canada.  One of the greatest countries in the world.  In comparison to the rest of the world we have good health care, clean water, safe streets & the freedom to be who we are.  We’ll never be completely satisfied with everything that’s human nature but we can be pretty darned thankful for most of it.  

So, grab your voter card (or a few pieces of ID) and go vote.  Now is your chance, to say thank you, to use your voice and to affect a change.  

Every. Single. Vote. Counts.  That means YOU too!

*Those two people at the top of this post, (my grandparents) made great sacrifices so WE could use our voices today!  Please honor that by doing it!*

Posted in Me

“The Talk” across the Years

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I had the rare opportunity the other day to have the house to myself for a few hours.  Corey & the girls were out, I’d finished running in 82 different directions and decided to push aside the massive guilt cloud and sat down to watch a little TV.

(Side: Am I the only one who has a few hours to herself and ends up filling it with groceries, house work & errands? Please tell me I’m not.  I just always feel like I should be doing things that are responsible and I shouldn’t be doing things that are fun.)

Anyways, I was watching a very grown up show (OK, let’s be honest….I watched 90210 because I’m cool like that.) (Also because HELLO 90’s I MISSED YOU!) with the intention of letting my over working brain unwind. 

However, not long into things the topic of sex came up.

If you grew up in the 90210 era you know that sex was basically the center of any & all story lines.  Each episode seemed to revolve around someone “doing it”, someone else not “doing it”, if they weren’t “doing it” they were talking about it, or the rest of the world was dreaming about which one they’d choose if THEY could, ya know… “do it”.  (Oh, yes you did, you know you did, we ALL did!)

As I giggled my way through the innocence of the episode a different reality hit me.  No longer am I seeing these characters through they eyes of a teenager, I’m seeing them through the eyes of a mother.

And I had a heart attack. 

We haven’t even had the full “sex” talk with our girls yet and all of a sudden I was picturing my future.  The talks we are going to have when they are little, the way those talks are going to evolve as they get older and the role those conversations will play in the choices they make.

I know the message I want to send them about sex, about God’s plan for it in their lives (believe it or not, I believe He intends for it to be an excellently, awesome part of their lives.  When they are married.), about choosing to wait until they are married and all of the things in between.

I also know the part of those conversations where I have to be real, to be raw and explain that I am not necessarily speaking from a place of example but rather experience and sometimes even a place of regret. 

Despite being raised in a Christian home, with supportive parents, and good strong morals, I didn’t always make the right choices (um, hello sin nature).  As a young girl I swore I’d wait until marriage, I wore a purity ring and I was sincerely convinced I would wait but I didn’t.  Temptation and circumstance bested me and I made choices, more than once to give that part of my body, of my heart to someone who didn’t end up my husband.

I knew the consequences those choices could have in the moment, on me but I had no idea how they would affect my future, as a wife, as a mother.

As the scenes from the show passed by so did my life choices.  I really began thinking about how the things I have done, the things that happened in my past will shape my girls’ future.  Will they hear those stories and make wiser choices?  Will they want to emulate them, ignore them or hide their heads under their pillows?  While there is no doubt in my mind that I will be truthful, I do wonder if I’ll have the courage to allow that truth to also come with the emotions that those memories hold.

Our future as parents is filled with unknowns.  If having newborns teaches us nothing else it’s that all that we think we know is a fallacy and our best laid plans are actually recipes for disaster.

So, I won’t play the “what if game” because it won’t do me any good.  Worrying about it now won’t change anything but I will think about it and pray for all that is to come. I will pray that the words that I say, the conversations we will have will prepare them, protect them and empower them to do what they believe is right. 

How do YOU feel about your children, you past and the conversations you’ll have about their futures?

*Please know that if you disagree with our opinion of what God’s plan is for marriage & sex that is OK, no judgement here.  We respect everyone’s right to an opinion and I’m certainly not going to force mine on you.  However, this is my space, and just like I try to live my life authentically I promise to do the same here, which means sharing who I am & what I believe.*

Dirty Little Secrets

Silly Stones

You know what I have?  Secrets.  “Dirty little secrets” that I rarely if ever let anyone see. The things I keep hidden from the outside world, the thoughts I never say (shocker – she does have a filter), the things I try not to let you see and the habits I work to hide.   

Until today.

In an effort to live my life as authentically as possible (which I’ve always tried to do with sincerity & honesty) I’ve decided it’s time to share the things that make me, me.  The quirky, silly, annoying & sometimes even embarrassing parts that make up the whole of me. 

Why?  I guess to encourage others that we’re not alone in our idiosyncrasies.   Social media has made perfection easy to fake and I don’t wanna fake it.  I want to be the true, faulted human God has created me to be, because it’s in acknowledging my failings I can work to be better (or embrace them completely).  

So, deep breath here we go!

DLS #1 – My Kitchen looks like something exploded: when I bake.  No kidding, I do my best to avoid having anyone see what my kitchen looks like when I bake.  Back when Baking Life Healthy was running, I’d keep the front blinds drawn so that customers coming to the door for warm baked goods couldn’t see the catastrophe behind me.

In general it’s a pretty clean place, especially now that we are living in a constant state of Gluten Watch but when it’s time for the magic to happen, all bets are off.  Flour flies, dishes are everywhere and there are always multiple items being constructed & experimented with at the same time.  I mean, if I’m gonna have a mess to clean up anyways, I might as well make it worth the while right?Sweat

DLS #2 – I sweat, uncontrollably: when I workout.  It’s seriously disgusting and there’s not a thing I can do about it.  I’ve got fancy workout gear, I keep the house as cool as possible, I use towels & I drink copious amounts of water.  The only thing I won’t do is reduce the intensity because, dude – if your heart’s not thundering, what’s the point?!

Now I wear deodorant (see DLS#3) but let’s be real that stuff is only meant for under your arms.  I’m pretty sure applying it to my forehead would go against manufacturer’s instructions.  That and I’m guessing nobody’s tested what happens with the aluminum sinking into your brain….(I have no idea if it does, but I wonder)

DLS #3 – If I could afford it I would TOTALLY get Botox: in my armpits! I know, I know weird right?  But not really.  You see I sweat, A LOT and it’s really gross.  I have tried all different antiperspirants/deodorants and while some work better than others, I’ve yet to find one that really does the job.  And I haven’t found ANY that help when I work out (see DLS #2).

It’s not just the sweat either, it’s the smell.  Sweat itself doesn’t smell, but the warm, moist environment is a prime location for bacteria to grow which equates to bacteria stink &  me a nasty, smelly mess.  The other problem is that I really don’t love the idea of putting aluminum on my skin, in my armpits near any breast tissue I may have (HA!), but natural deodorants are completely ineffective.  To date armpit Botox is coming up as a safe alternative to antiperspirants/deodorants.  Since it’s gonna be years before I’ll be able to afford the treatment, I have time to wait and see if it stays that way.  

DLS #4 – Sometimes I go the bathroom not to use it but to: get my children’s attention.  Sadly, this is not a joke.  There have been days when nobody is listening, nothing is getting done and I am getting hoarse from yelling (see DLS #5).  Instead of completely losing my mind or moving out, I just head straight for the nearest toilet.  Within seconds of the “click” from the light switch both my girls are meandering in there.  Then we have a meaningful conversation as I sit on the toilet, lid closed.  It’s stupid that it works, but trust me it works.

(WARNING: Should you begin to employ this method of parenting I strongly suggest you stop hiding in there to eat the chocolate you don’t want to share with them.  IF they find you with it, you’ll never EVER pee alone again.)

DLS #5 – I’m a yeller: and a cryer.  I truly hate this part of me, and it’s something I’m working really, really hard to change.  I hate that my frustration amps up my volume 25 fold in 5.2 seconds.  I hate that post hollering I end up in tears because I didn’t like to holler and I loath that there are times I hear my girls mimic that tone back to me.  

I, like everyone else am a work in progress, and I can truly say it’s getting better.  But, in an effort to be transparent it’s not as better as it could be.  I don’t yell when other people are around (unless they have really, really pushed mama’s buttons) so there’s no reason I need to do when it’s the 3 most precious people in my life.

So there you have it, just a few of the things that I’ve worked so hard to keep hidden way down deep.  I hope my being transparent with you has made you feel better or even laugh a little at my expense.  

What Dirty Little Secret are you hiding from the “real world”?