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Patience, My Friend, Patience.

“Patience is the ability to count down BEFORE you blast off.”

There’s a scene that is repeated over and over again in my life.  It happens at the gym – I have a barbell in front of me, it is loaded with a significant amount of weight, it is near the end of my workout, I am tired, mentally and physically, and all I want to do is go home and have a shower.  But I have to lift the barbell up.  One.  More.  Time.

“Patience” says The Coach, in a way that is as much a gentle reminder as it is a threat (of what, I’m not sure, although there’s always the possibility of death by burpees, I suppose).

You see, in weightlifting, if you are patient in lifting the bar off the ground, when you hold out for that perfect moment to really initiate the lift, it will feel almost as though the barbell is lifting itself.  Not to get sappy, but the feeling you get when the timing of a lift is just right . . . well, it’s almost magical.

I’ve been working with The Coach for almost 5 years now, and he’s still reminding me to be patient . . . what that says about me as a student, I’m not going to delve into . . . but I do like his little reminder, because it’s as meaningful outside the gym as it is in the gym.

As I sit now at my kitchen table, I have my list of goals for the month of January beside me.  I’ve been reviewing what worked well over the past month, what didn’t work so well, and thinking about what I’d like to try and tackle this month, which is how I got to thinking about patience.  (I’ve also just returned from the gym so the words of The Coach are still fresh in my mind).

Some of the goals I’ve set for myself this year are going to take the whole year to achieve them.  It’s going to take time, and effort, and the process is going to seem mind-numbingly slow at times.  Let’s face it, it can be really, really hard to wait patiently to achieve your goals.

We all want to be able to achieve our goals, to live our best life, to look our best . . . and we all want it NOW!

But then, if we didn’t slog through the hard stuff, the work of of achieving our goals, would meeting our goals have the same exhilarating feeling?

And that’s when I realized all the slow, steady work I’ve been doing over the last five years to heal, to get back to being “me” (the version of “me” that didn’t worry about doctor’s appointments and test results and tumours growing), to improve my physical fitness, has got me to a point where my goals can be “fun” (even if they are going to take a while to achieve).  Or, put differently, the past five years have been my own personal countdown, so that now I can blast off into my best life.

As you embark on your February, I hope you are able to set some good goals for yourself this month, and that you can find it in yourself to be patient while you go about achieving them.  Because amazing things really do happen when you have patience, my friend, patience.

 

 

 

 

 

What if it was Easy?

 

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I heard this quote a few weeks ago while listing to the Rich Roll Podcast.  It’s a long interview, with a LOT of interesting trains of thought, but by far, the concept that stuck with me the most was this idea of making things easy.

With the start of a new year, and ten new goals that I’d like to achieve over the course of the year (all lovingly developed and explored in my favourite PowerSheets), I’ve been employing this technique with great success.

One of my goals for the year is to have improved time with the kids, and together as a family.  In the past, I would have gone about this goal by trying to create “special” things to do with each kid, and to do with both kids together.  I’d get caught up in planning something for each month, start off with a bang, then end with a whimper.  And in the process, completely loose sight of the intention behind the goal.

But not this year – because, as I wrote the goal, I also worked on how I could achieve this goal in the easiest way possible, and in what is turning out to be more meaningful for both me and the kids.

Step 1 in achieving this goal was simply to create more time to have with the kids – it’s easier to have improved time when there is simply more of it.  Put differently, I tend to have a better time when I have more than 5 hurried minutes at the beginning or tail end of a day with the kids.  So, in planning our activities for the winter term, anything that wasn’t deemed a “must-do” by me or the kids was cut.  There are things the kids would have liked to have done, classes they could have enrolled in, but that would simply have added things to do on the calendar with little added benefits for anyone.

Step 2 involved looking at the “pain points” in our day and figuring out how to improve or eliminate them entirely.  Since it’s winter and overall, it’s been pretty freezing cold so far, the kids need to be in full winter gear to go to school each morning.  The logistics of squeezing my daughter’s uniform tunic into a pair of snow pants each day was taking significantly longer than it should have and resulting in whining and/or tears, which was grating on all of us.  The purchase of a smaller tunic and a new pair of snow pants, has added ten minutes to the time we have in the morning, and eliminated the whining and/or tears.

And while unnecessary activities were eliminated, the kids still do have their fair share of activities, in and out of school.  Which means bags for school and after-school activities need to be packed.  While we have been in the habit of doing this the night before, assembling gym uniforms and dance uniforms right before bed had a habit of drawing out the bedtime routine and often times winding the kids up after we had just spent time winding them down.  So . . . the easy solution . . . as soon as the kids get home, backpacks are emptied of that day’s items, and refilled with whatever is needed for the following day.

And lastly, Step 3 . . . removing screen time.  My kids wake up early.  Really, really early.  Like 4:50 early.  And it was really, really easy for me to let them watch tv to help fill in the time in the morning.  But, because I have 2 kids of opposite genders, and I do like to be fair, tv time in the morning has evolved over the years from 1 episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to my son watching a half hour of sports highlights and my daughter watching a half hour show of her choosing.  I was going nuts listening to my daughter whine when my son was watching sports, and listening to my son whine when my daughter chose to watch Barbie.  In other words, what I thought was the “easy” way, was turning out to be problematic for all of us.

So I instituted a new “easy” solution – no screen time in the morning.  The kids can read when they get up.  They can help me pack lunches and make breakfast.  And they can get all the little things they need to do in a day done, like practicing piano.  Everyone is happier, calmer, and, as an added bonus, we’re all ready to go about 45 minutes before we need to leave for school.  And in those 45 minutes, we play games, we read, we investigate things the kids want to learn about . . . . we spend time together.  And when it’s time to go to school, we can be dressed and out the door in under 5 minutes – there’s no last minute scrambling for items they need for the day – they’re all packed – and the kids can easily get themselves into their winter gear.

I’ve also eliminated screen time in the evenings during the week.  While they weren’t watching much, the shows they were watching, and the squabbles over who got to choose the show to watch, were driving me nuts.  In it’s place, we chat (often while all making dinner together), they play, or read.  And after dinner, they can help clean up, or play or read.  But whatever it is they choose to do, we’re together and we’re all happier.  And I’m achieving my goal.

This concept of “easy” is helping me with my other goals too . . . instead of setting specific goals for the gym this year, I created one overarching health goal “personal vitality”.  In the past, I’ve focused on learning pull-ups, or setting new personal bests when I lift weights . . . but the complex methods I developed to meet these goals were inevitably thrown off by a sick kid, or, you know, life in general, and my goals were abandoned, un-met, leaving me, deep down, with a sense of failure about it all.  This year, by working out consistently, and continuing to commit to eating well, it’s easy to meet my goal, and I feel a whole lot better about myself because of it.

As you go about your day today, think about what aspects of your day might be improved if you made it “easy” . . . you just might be surprised at what you find.

 

 

 

2018: A Year of Magic

Magic

The power to make impossible things happen;
Something with special or mysterious qualities that makes one happy;
A significant or desirable quality;
Wonderful, marvellous, exciting;
Unaccountably enchanting;
Effective in producing results, especially desired ones.

Each year, for the past few years, I’ve chosen a word to accompany me through the year. Two years ago, it was Joy – because I was still figuring my way out of recovering from the tumour and I felt I needed to focus again on finding the joy in the big and little things in life.  Last year, I chose light – because I wanted to see the light, be the light, and honestly and quite simply, be light.  Along with choosing my word, I’ve dabbled in the One Little Word workshop (meaning I’ve followed along, done some of the prompts, but never actually followed through with all the prompts each month), and used my word to help me form my goals, plans, aspirations for the year.

Last year, despite my best intentions last year, the rhythm and feel of life didn’t line up at all with my word.  In fact, it almost felt like life was the opposite of what I had intended.  I tried to find the light, but it was a difficult year to see the light.  I tried to be light, but it’s hard to be light in spirit when you can’t make sense of the world around you.  And I certainly didn’t get any lighter (which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t a big deal, but I won’t lie, frustrated me).  But as much as my word last year didn’t resonate with me (or maybe it did in ways I haven’t yet realized),  and at times even seemed to taunt me, I wasn’t ready to give up on this concept.

As the days in December ticked by, and my social media feeds become increasingly filled with posts on choosing a word and goal setting and New Years resolutions,  the word “Magic” kept appearing; both literally in things I was reading, and figuratively as flashes through my consciousness.  The more I thought about the word, the more I grew attached to it.  And eventually, I sat down to look up the definition.  Taken from a few different sources, I cobbled together the definition I started this post with . . . and with a definition like that, who wouldn’t want to spend a year working with this word.

And so, on January 1st, I declared (to myself, and now to you) my word for the year to be Magic.  (I also declared that I would faithfully follow through with the One Little Word class and actually complete all 12 prompts)

We may only be 12 days into this new year, but already this word is having an impact on my life.  I know, it sounds ridiculous.  But hear me out.  I’ve done lots of work in the past with gratitude.  How many times have we been told to “focus on the positive”, “make a list of things you’re grateful for”, “don’t forget to be grateful”.  But I’ve turned this process around and started to look for the magic instead of just things for which I’m grateful.  And it’s amazing how my perspective has changed.  Try it!

Never mind that it’s way more fun to look for sprinkles of magic in your life than to simply trudge through endless gratitude lists . . . .

I’m not kidding when I say one of the best parts of my day is when I sit down to journal about just one piece of magic I have found during my day.

So on that note, I wish you all a magical start to this new year, and I’m off to make a note about some magic that happened today.

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The little one and I finding a little magic recently at the most magical place on earth.

 

 

 

 

 

My Wish For This School Year: An Abundance of Kindess

Both my kids happily walked into the first day of school this morning.  I know I’m supposed to be just bursting with excitement that I finally (!) have both my kids in full day school.  But if I’m being really honest, the idea of having both kids at school all day is kind of sad; I’m no longer a mom to little kids.  They’re bigger kids now, who know how to read and write and amuse themselves (for the most part).  So when I thought about this year, and what I’d like to try and teach my bigger kids, it wasn’t specific skills, but instead I wanted to explore a theme with them, a theme that pervades all aspects of our lives: Kindness.

Obviously, I expect my kids to be kind to each other, and to their friends.  But what I want this year to be about is so much more than that.  As I was piecing this all together in my mind, I came across this article in the New York Times last weekend, about memorizing poems, so I set about finding a poem about kindness that might be appropriate for the kids to memorize, and I found the most amazingly fitting poem:

A Memory System by Priscilla Leonard

Forget each kindness that you do
As soon as you have done it;
Forget the praise that falls to you
The moment you have won it;
Forget the slander that you hear
Before you can repeat it;
Forget each slight, each spite, each sneer,
Whenever you may meet it.

Remember every kindness done
To you, whatever its measure;
Remember praise by others won
And pass it on with pleasure;
Remember every promise made
And keep it to the letter
Remember those who lend you aid
And be a grateful debtor.

Remember all the happiness
That comes your way in living;
Forget each worry and distress,
Be hopeful and forgiving;
Remember good, remember truth,
Remember heaven’s above you.
And you will find, through age and youth
True joys and hearts to love you.

I couldn’t have come up with a better manifesto for living a good life, than is articulated in this poem.  Not only does it outline just how to be kind, to yourself and to others, it reinforces the idea that being kind leads to a lovely life.  The kids read it last night, and I’m looking forward to working with them on this poem over the coming weeks.

But, as much as I LOVE this poem, I wanted to figure out at least one other way to incorporate this idea of kindness into our lives.  And it came to me yesterday.  On a recent trip to Target, I made an impulse buy of a little chalkboard for the kitchen.  My intention for it was for the kids to use it to write up menus for big family dinners and the like.  But last night, I found a new use for it . . . a weekly kindness quote.  I hope that we can use these quotes as a jumping off point to explore lots of different topics, and to help us remember to be kind.  For this week, I had to choose one of my favourite quotes of all time – from Cinderella – one that I thought was particularly appropriate for the first week back to school – and the first week at a brand new school for my littlest one.

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(I know, awesome penmanship on my part – but in the spirit of being kind, I’m going to be kind to myself, and give myself a pass on this one, and accept that my chalkboard writing will improve over the course of the year.)  

On that note, I’m off to show myself a little kindness and pick up some new workout clothes to celebrate this milestone in my kids’ lives (and mine!) – and also because I’ve got a few personal goals to work on this year in the gym . . . and it’s always more fun to work on new goals in new clothes, right?

Welcoming the New School Year with Open Arms, a (solid) Plan and (good) Intentions . . . And My (new) Favourite Peach Crisp

I love September; it’s a month filled with promise and excitement, hopes and dreams for the school year to come, a month that gives you a chance at a fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning.

As I started to plan out our weekly schedule for the fall, I realized just how quickly and easily it would be to fall into the trap of over-scheduling, a trap that is as shiny and exciting on paper as it is excruciating in its consequences.

From sports, to arts, and everything in between, our kids today have a veritable buffet of activities to choose from – and of course, there are competitive streams for just about every activity too, just in case you want to take your training to the “next level”.

After a summer that has been nothing sort of spectacular – a summer in which, aside from short stints in camp at the very beginning and end of the summer, we have had no set schedule – I am in no hurry to bring to an end how we are all feeling right now.

So this year, as I started to plan out our year, I did something different – I spent some time alone with each kid this week and discussed what goals they had for the year, and what it was that they really wanted to do with the time they weren’t in school.  Their responses fascinated me.  And gave me some pretty clear insights into their personalities.

After we talked about goals, we talked about how they could go about achieving their goals, and what activities they really wanted to be involved in this year.

Next up, I spent some time reviewing my goals for the school year and what I would like to accomplish.  I asked the Husband to think of what he might like to do/accomplish this year.  And most importantly, what we, together as parents, hope for/want for our kids and our family this year.

And then I got down to work reconciling everything we’d all like to do with how much time we have, how much driving in circles we’re all willing to put up with, how many disrupted meal times are acceptable to us, and how much family time we’re willing to give up in order to feel a sense of accomplishment come June.

With both kids in full day school, I’m extremely lucky this year in that I’ll be able to finally tackle some of those goals that I’ve talked about for ages, but never really turned my attention to (hello pull-ups and six-pack abs . . . . oh, and training for that half marathon I signed up for . . . looks like the Coach is going to have fun training me this year).  But, there are lots of other things outside the gym that I want to try.  Have I mentioned I took a knitting class this summer – it’s somewhat addicting – and I’d like to master a 3rd stitch, maybe. . .  And there are about a million recipes I’d like to try.  And then there are all my photo book projects that need attention . . . the list goes on.  But these are all things that can be scheduled in around my gym training and dropping off and picking up the kids.

Where things get tricky is the after-school time slots.

So here’s what I did.  I made an excel spreadsheet that listed each of the days of the week and had half hour time blocks from 7:30 am through to 8:30 at night (when the kids should ideally be in bed and asleep – given that they’re still waking up at 5am).

Then I put in all the “must-do’s” into the schedule.  For now, piano lessons are a must-do – which isn’t exactly a hardship since both the kids love piano.  The lessons that have already been co-ordinated with skating coaches also went into this calendar.  And from there, we could figure out if the other things the kids wanted to do were do-able and/or reasonable.

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My criteria for do-able was simple – given the pick up and drop-off schedules for each of their schools, traffic patterns, and must-do already-scheduled activities, could I reasonably be able to get the child to the activity they were requesting.  My criteria for reasonable was slightly more complicated – but not much – a) would the child suffer enormously by not participating in the activity; b) would the rest of the child’s life be affected if they didn’t participate in the activity; and c) did the timing of the activity reasonably work with our evening/weekend schedules.

The working schedule that we’re left with is one that makes us all happy.  The kids are going to be doing some great after-school things.  The amount of time I’ll be driving in circles has been kept to a bare minimum.  While dinner will be shifting from our norm of 6:00 last year to 6:30 this year, we will still be able to eat as a family in the evenings (a priority for the Husband an me).  And of course, there will still be sufficient time, in the evening and on the weekends to get homework done, and do everything else that we like to do.

While the kids aren’t going to be doing everything they want to (it looks like my daughter will be giving up her tap dancing career, and I’m not sure just how much golf practice my son will squeeze in), I also know, as their mother, that they will be better rested, and consequently happier little humans than if I had gone along with all of their extracurricular requests.

And I’ve never heard of a kid who’s complained about being too happy or well rested.

Now on to the bit about peach crisp.  I’ve mentioned in previous years that I have a mild obsession with peaches at this time of the year.  It’s like I see a basket of peaches at a farmers’ market and I loose any sense of reason (and completely forget that my kids don’t enjoy fresh peaches) and buy the largest basket I can.  This year has been no different.  After our last trip to a farmers’ market, I immediately made a massive peach crisp.  But STILL had a dozen peaches left over, which I had put into the fridge for storage.  This particular batch of peaches was perfect in that none of them were overly ripe.  Which lead to my latest great discovery: Slightly unripe peaches make the best peach crisp.  And by best I mean slightly underripe peaches lead to a thicker, less watery crisp.

Summer Peach Crisp

  • Servings: 6-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

For the Fruit:

  • 12 just under-ripe peaches
  • scant 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries or raspberries (totally optional)

For the Topping

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick COLD unsalted butter cut into small cubes

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and generously butter a 6×9″ pan.
  2. Slice the peaches into eights and peel each slice (I find it easier to peel them once they’re sliced than to peel the peaches first.  If your peaches are riper, you can certainly submerge each peach in a pot of boiling water for about 1 minute, and then immediate immerse them into a bowl of ice water – this will make the skins very easy to peel off.)
  3. Combine the peaches and any berries you might be using with the sugar and flour.  I usually use a flexible spatula to do this so I don’t bruise the fruit too much.
  4. Pour the fruit into the prepared pan.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the topping ingredients.  I use my fingers to mash the butter up a bit and really combine it with the flour and sugar.
  6. Spread the topping evenly over the fruit.
  7. Bake for 35-60 minutes – the length of cooking time will depend on just how ripe the peaches you used were – cooking time will be shorter the riper the peaches are.  Just take a look at around the half hour mark and judge accordingly.
  8. This is a dessert best served warm with vanilla ice cream!

Emerging From the Proverbial Cocoon & The End of the 100 Day Project

For the last TEN weeks, our house has been under renovation.  What was supposed to be a quick and painless project turned into a long and tedious one that culminated last week in most of the contents of the house residing somewhere other than where they’re meant to be.

I had been prepared for a 6-week adventure of living and cooking out of our basement.  Six weeks, I figured, was nothing.  We could totally get by using 2 bar fridges, a chest freezer, a barbecue and an instant pot.  Six weeks, with the end of school, the start of summer, and all the activities that happen during that period, would fly by.

But as six weeks turned into ten, the project started to take a toll – at least on me, anyway.  My entire way of living was thrown for a loop.  Meals were consumed at odd times, composed of things that didn’t need to be cooked (no eggs), that took up little room in our compressed refrigerator space, or that could be prepared in about 5 minutes flat.  Daily visits to the gym were more often that not cancelled as I found myself running out to Lowes or Home Depot for emergency supplies, or simply waiting in my house for tradespeople to show up.  For someone who has such an entrenched routine (one that has been devised over the past few years to produce optimal vitality), and who craves consistency, predictability, and order, this past month has been nothing short of torture.

With that being said, the final aspects of the project should be completed on Friday, marking the end of this long cocooning period, with my new kitchen emerging out of the dust and debris like a beautiful butterfly.

Which means . . . I can go back to life as usual.  I can cook and eat the way I want to.  I can exercise when I want to.  And of course, I can putter around my house and my garden without having to look out for where the tradesmen might be working.

Sadly, over these last ten weeks, #the100dayproject has also been running.  And while I have been taking photos of the sky every day, for the last few weeks, I simply haven’t had the energy to post my photos and quotes.  As day after day went by without posting, the guilt grew over my inability to complete this project the way I had intended to 100 days ago.

Taking a page from Emily Ley’s Book, Grace Not Perfection, I decided to cut myself some slack, relax, and and be content that I at least managed to take a sky photo every day, even if they weren’t all posted.

And as I was contemplating all this, while I stepped out tonight to take my 100th photo, I found a very fitting sky . . .

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An absolutely stunning show of a sunset . . . with . . . a few dark clouds rolling through for good measure.  Proving once again, that nothing’s perfect.  And that perhaps the sunset was made even more beautiful by the start contrast with the dark storm clouds.

So, with that wonderfully, metaphorical photo, I will once again be bringing my 100 Day Project to an end.

However, with my new kitchen, renewed time now that I’m not dealing with the multitude of issues that arise from any sort of renovation project, and the bevy of wonderful things that summer brings, I will once again get back to sharing stories and adventures, and workouts and recipes, and other assorted good things with you.

xoxo

Why I #runDisney

Goodness . . . it’s been a LONG time since my last post.  And while I’ve missed jotting down my musings here, there’s been a few things going on . . . like a little kitchen renovation project . . .

and gardening season . .

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which, after several days of planting, is turning into this:

and of course all the end of year, planning for next year, stuff of life that happens when you have kids.

But as crazy as the past month has been, in those quiet moments, when I’m driving to an from schools, or design stores, or I’m speed planting flowers in my garden, my thoughts keep returning to the #runDisney event I did four weeks ago.

Those that know me, know that I love to be active.  I’ve joyfully participated in crossfit of some form or another for years now.  I faithfully train with the Coach a few times a week.  And it’s rare for a day to go by without me finding my way into the gym.  But I have NEVER, EVER considered myself a runner.  The fact that my running “form” has been compared to both a bunny rabbit and a kangaroo perhaps offers a clue as to why I’ve never been a natural at running.  Although, quite frankly, running was always the one form of physical activity that I just could never find the mental fortitude needed to see my way through a run that lasted any longer than about 20 minutes.

But something changed this fall.

Over the summer, I had gradually, unconsciously, built up my ability to run.  With just a kettle bell, a skipping rope a yoga mat, and dirt roads at the cottage, short running intervals played a large part in my daily workouts – if only to break up the monotony of burpees and skipping.

Then my son signed up for the cross country team at school, and was able to earn “bonus miles” for runs he did at home. We started doing short runs together, working up to 5k, earning some virtual Harry Potter run medals in the process, and culminating in finishing the 5k portion of the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.  Those runs I did with my son taught me a lot – the gentle encouragement and support I offered him as he worked his way through our runs made me realize how I talk myself through a workout – let’s just say my self-talk sounds distinctly different, and I wanted to work on changing that.

During those first few weeks of September, while the Husband was starting to question what I would like to do for my 40th birthday, something, I wish I could remember what it was, runDisney and Tinkerbell-run related arrived in my in-box.  Our annual trip to DisneyWorld often coincides with the Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend – hearing the runners’ stories, seeing them walk around the parks withe their medals has always intrigued me . . .

And so, I found myself registering for the Tinkerbell 10K.

Before I knew it, race day arrived.  My fears that had built up in the intervening months melted away as the start of the race drew closer.  My fears of being alone (it’s the first time I’ve done any sort of sport without a coach or a teammate) dissipated as I met and chatted with other runners in my corral.  My internal debate as to whether I should run the race to see how fast I could run, or whether I should run the race for fun dissipated with each character photo stop I passed along the way.  And my worries about whether or not I could even run a 10K disappeared as I caught sight of the finish line and the Husband and the kids cheering me on.

When you run Disney, every mile really is magical.  Running alone allowed me to take it all in – to marvel at the ages of some of my fellow runners (and just how fast they could run), to admire those running in costumes, to smile at the parent/child running teams, the husband/wife pairings, or the groups of women running together.  It seemed as though everyone on the course, was happy to be there.  Myself included.

But more than anything, running Disney reminded me that just when you think it’s getting too hard to keep going, when you really just want to stop . . . you round a bend and come across something truly magical – whether it’s another runner that inspires you, the sight of a favourite attraction, the view of the sun rising through the park, or a silly character interaction.  And you’re inspired to keep going, to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

And so . . . now that I’m hooked on running Disney,  I’ve already signed up for my next runDisney race . . . the Princess Half Marathon.  I’m also looking to find a way to justify going back to do the Tinkerbell 10K again next year too . . . (but don’t tell the Husband that).

In the meantime, I will actually work on my running technique – hopefully by February, I’ll look like I actually ran the race . . . not bounced my way through it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Problem is Not the Problem . . .

The problem is not the problem.  The problem is your attitude about the problem.

-Captain Jack Sparrow

If ever there was a phrase to describe how I’ve been acting outwardly and how I’ve been feeling inwardly these past few weeks, it would be “a tempest in a teapot”.  Like the saying suggests, I feel very much like I’ve been a force of nature whirling around the house, touching everything and leaving a mess in my wake . . . while inside my thoughts and emotions have been swirling around making it difficult to settle and get myself (inwardly and outwardly) in order.

So, what exactly is my problem?

What has turned me into this whirling dervish?

Well, I’m not entirely sure.

It could be that we’re about to embark on a renovation that is going to render me kitchen-less for about six weeks.  It could be that in about eight weeks, my little one will graduate from her little school, a place that has been part of my routine for the last six years, and move on to grade 1, a sure sign that my little ones are really and truly growing up.  It could be that if I’m not a mom to little ones, I’m not entirely sure of my role in life. It could be that health issues affecting several people close to me have had me revisiting the time in my life when I had health issues, and all the emotions that surround that time in my life.  It could be that I’m standing on the precipice of my life changing in so many ways, and while all of these changes are good, change has a way of making me (just a little bit) scared.

Last night, the kids were begging for a “good breakfast”.  I heard tales of how other boys in my son’s class get bacon and eggs EVERY DAY MOM.  And how other kids in my daughter’s class get to eat fun cereals like “Frozen Flakes”.  So, I compromised as best as I could in the moment, and promised the kids pancakes for breakfast.  (I don’t like smelling like bacon when I’m trying to do a workout, so bacon is out as a weekday breakfast food.  And “sugar cereals”, well, they’re just not happening in our house.  Period).  Pancakes, on the other hand . . . well, I can make a reasonably healthy pancake reasonably quickly, that makes everyone happy (even if I did smell faintly of pancakes at the gym this morning . . . sorry Coach).  Added bonus: I doubled the recipe, made extra to freeze, so we can reheat them in the toaster when the kitchen renovation is happening.

But I digress.  As the kids were eating and I was cleaning up, my son bounded into the kitchen to tell me that there was a beautiful sky outside.  Because I was up early to make the aforementioned special breakfast for the kids, I was dressed and presentable enough to grab my camera and run outside.  And what I found was a truly beautiful sunrise.

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But as I turned to walk back to the house, I was faced with a very different looking sky.

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In other words, the skies this morning were kind of like a metaphor for my life.  Focusing on all change that’s going to happen, and resisting that change, is like standing glued to one spot looking at the gloomy, grey sky.  But opening up to, and accepting the changes that are inevitably coming, I can start to see the good in what is to come, like turning physically around this morning to watch the beauty of the sun rise.

“The problem is not the problem.  The problem is your attitude about the problem”.

 

 

Learning to Let Go (aka Accepting that My Kids are Actually Growing Up)

Can I make a confession?  It kills me that my little ones are growing up.  I miss hearing the little high pitched voices, the little footsteps running through the house, the happy sounds of the little kid cartoon shows and the giggles that went with them.  My house is filled with bigger, louder voices now, heavier footsteps (still running through the house), and annoying “bigger kid” tv shows that have me alternating between gritting my teeth and demanding the tv be turned off – at least the giggles have remained!

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I’ve been in denial about this for quite some time now.

But my great Lego project has helped me to start to put things in perspective.  Let me explain.

While the majority of our crumbling Lego sets reside in the basement, my son had a decent-sized collection of lego decorating his room.  Sadly, it was facing the same fate as the Lego in the basement – namely, it was slowly disintegrating, with bits and pieces falling off as the sets got moved.  And so, last week, I took it all out of his room and added it to my pile of Lego to disassemble, sort and bag.  While I was at it, (and while he was at school), I took the opportunity to clean out the rest of his room.  I went through the bookcases, and removed books that were clearly too young for him.  I boxed up all the Mickey Mouse ear hats we have collected during our trips to Disney.  And while I was at it, I did a good sweep of the Little One’s room too.

As I continued through the house, cleaning up the detritus of the kids’ toddler years (I was amazed how much was left), I got to thinking about clutter, and tidying up, and letting go.  While I love a neat and tidy house, I love being a mom and having my kids around more.  And thus, my house has, for the last eight years, been a jumble of toys and clutter.  Sure, it gets straightened up, on a not infrequent basis I might add, but its still there, lurking in bins and behind closet doors.

But, as the Lego, is slowly getting sorted and boxed, so are my emotions about the kids growing up.  We’re entering a new phase with them, one where we can adventure more, explore more (unencumbered by a stroller, no less!).  A phase that stands to be equally as fun and rewarding as the phase of toddlerhood has been.

And so, I’m going to start looking less towards the past, and more towards the future.  But in the meantime, I’m going to treasure every time my son holds my hand, every time my daughter climbs into my lap for a snuggle, every Disney movie they want to watch (even if it means seeing Frozen for the 1,000,000,000th time), every chance I can get them to still wear matching pj’s, and of course, every early morning wake-up (well, maybe not every time we get called by one of the kids waking up for the day at 4:30am), and every bedtime cuddle, because, as I look to the future, I know that all these lovely little moments will get fewer and further between.

 

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