Tag Archives: gratitude

bench in a filed

Getting Some Distance

There was a time when I was involved in everything that peaked my interest (and everything that I thought I should be involved in as a mother of school-aged children).

I was on several committees at church, on the parent council at my daughter’s school, on the parent involvement committee for the school district, volunteering with the heritage society in my community, and basically burning out faster than I could stay lit.

All this was to grow I told myself. To expand my horizons, meet new people, get involved and help out. And it was invigorating and exciting for a time.

But the more I got involved, the more I felt I had to be involved.

And the joy went out of the volunteering. I already had a full-time job. And now the volunteer commitments were adding up to another full-time job. My family was not getting my focus. I was rushing from one thing to another. My kids were cranky and reacting to the rushed pace of my schedule. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was cranky, too. I worked late into the night on projects for the various committees on which I sat. Then I went to bed and tossed and turned for hours, going over in my head other things that still needed to get done.

I was also trying to manage a chronic pain issue. I could ignore it mostly. But some days it was so bad that I didn’t want to get out of bed. My husband encouraged me to revisit a specialist I had seen years ago to see if there were any treatment options that might alleviate some (or all) of the pain. Of course, with my busy schedule and “I can do it all” attitude, I put off going to the specialist.

Eventually I caved, or my body gave up and I didn’t have a choice. I don’t really remember what the final straw was.

But after several visits to the specialist, it was determined that something could be done for me, and the surgery that was offered might alleviate most of the pain for a good period of time. (I’m talking years here. I could be relatively pain free for years to come following this surgery.)

In those consultations with the surgeon, I was told what to expect in terms of recovery (very long) and he offered some advice about how to prepare for the time that I would be mostly reliant on others for basic things like meals, help getting dressed, moving around, and other things that I’m still discovering that I can’t do on my own.

His advice was to slow down. Remove myself from some if not all of my commitments. Do only what I have to do (which is work full time).

And so, about 11 months before I had a firm surgery date, I started to cut back. I stepped down from committees. I said no to other, new opportunities. I spent more time just hanging out with my kids instead of shuttling them around to activities, camps and school. I kept them home and did simple activities with them, played games, read books…all the things that I had always wished I’d had time for.

And now that I’ve done that, I’m more focused on what’s truly important.

As much as I’ve enjoyed volunteering and helping at church and my children’s school, my children need me at home. And I need more time to myself. This is what I’ve discovered.

And this discovery has led to another discovery.

My children need more time for the things that they enjoy, the things that spark their interests, things they wish to pursue.

And school and our busy life is not the place for that. I have thought long and hard on this for quite some time. It’s not just about me giving up commitments to scale back and spend more time with my littles. Space needs to be created for my littles, too. What does that look like?

Fewer organized activities; fewer commitments outside of the home; fewer big plans to occupy our time on the weekends, the only two full days we get together each week. More time with family. More time moving slowly, truly absorbing what we’re learning. More time meditating. More time in nature.

Distance from over-commitment has improved my perspective on the need for space to grow and to learn. If there is space, there is room to be together, to learn together, to grow together. This new view is why we are looking for ways to make the simple life our life. It is why we are not enrolling our kids in so many activities this session. (It is also because I cannot drive and it’s easy to be simple and distanced when you can’t get around on your own and create your own busy-ness.) And it is why we are going to bed earlier, spending more time reading and less time looking at screens. It is why we are considering making some big changes along with the little changes.

Distance from it all seems to be just what we need. And with faith and courage, we will follow this new path.

Advertisements

Reflecting

I haven’t written in this space for a while. Life has taken over again.

But this I must put down in writing somewhere and I do not have my notebook with me today.

On the way to daycare drop-off this morning, my sweet little girl was in one of those moods. She grumbled and whined all the way to her babysitter’s house. She wouldn’t let go of whatever it was that was turning her beautiful smile upside down.

Normally, this would irk me. I would let it get to me and it would force my smile upside down. Which in turn would make my daughter worse and my little boy a grumpy or sad mess.

I’ve read tons of parenting magazines, books, articles, blogs, etc. Many of them give fantastic advice. Some of them are ridiculous (they’re good for a laugh, though). But one piece of advice that I have read over and over in my lifetime (and not just from parenting “experts”) is that how other people treat you is not a reflection of you, it is a reflection of them and their circumstances.

Until this morning, I never really applied that to my children. I often think of it in terms of the adults in my life. But I have always taken more of a I-control-how-my-kids-feel attitude toward the little people in my life.

But today, my little girl was grumpy and whiny and I looked up at the grey sky and thanked God for her, grump and whine and all. And my gratitude reflected back to me and I felt good. All the way to daycare.

And when I dropped them off, she gave me a wonderful kiss and a hug. And she walked happily over to her friends. Perhaps my gratitude for her shone some light into her and cheered her up.

Whatever it was, for the first time, I did not feel like her mood was my problem. People get grumpy sometimes. All we can do is stand by and be there when the sun comes out for them again.

We made it!

I don’t have much time to write tonight. I am running an event at my church this weekend and I’m just swamped swamped swamped.

But I wanted to reach out to all my readers with a great big THANK YOU for voting and reading my little blog.

I’m so blessed and so honoured and I think it’s just fantastic that you all voted for me in the Circle of Moms Top 25 Canadian Mom Blogs. I landed at 21 and I’m feeling so blessed and filled with so much gratitude. (It really does make you happy to express it.)

So, as soon as my event is over this weekend, I promise to sit down and dedicate some time to my blog and to my readers. I’ve got some pieces in the works. I just need time to polish them off and get them up on the blog. And right now, I’m running a little ragged and having a hard time keeping up…but there again, with this event for my church, I’m full of gratitude for all that has come together to allow me to pull off this event. I faced down fear that it would not be successful, but I’m riding a new high. Much prayer and meditation have shed light on what can only be a success this coming Saturday!

God Bless!

Last day to vote!

The Circle of Moms Top 25 Canadian Mom Blogs list is closing today at 4pm PST (that’s 7pm in Ontario and 8:30 in Newfoundland). You can vote here up until that time.

Before this list closes and we find out the results, I want to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who has voted for Life Takes Over.

I watched a video today over on Upworthy.com about the science of happiness. Great video. It reinforced something for me that I think we all know deep down (or at least have heard or read somewhere; it’s not a new idea).

But it’s so true. Gratitude and the expression of it leads to happiness.

But that’s not why I’m expressing my gratitude to all of you who have been voting for Life Takes Over in these last few weeks. I’m expressing my gratitude to you because, no matter what the results of the voting are, I’m so deeply touched that you made the effort for me. It really means a lot to me. Thank you. (And it does make me happy to express my gratitude to you, so I guess the science is right.)

Having kids

Some time ago, I read an article on msn.ca about celebrities who have chosen not to have kids, and it got me thinking, “How many people in this world have really sat down and planned out how they want to live their lives and what they want their lives to look like, and then stuck with that plan despite outside pressures?” Probably not many. And the few who have are the really successful ones.

I thought I had it all worked out when I was in my teens. I was going to be a writer (think Danielle Steel), I was going to live in a condo overlooking water, I was going to drive a Porsche 911 and I wasn’t going to get married or have kids.

Then I fell in love. And then out of love. And then in love again. And then university was too expensive and I really liked the job I got straight out of college and working full time at it seemed like a good idea at the time.

And between working and an active social life, I didn’t have time to write. And I didn’t really have anything to write about as it turned out. (Or maybe the hard work of writing got me down one too many times and I just gave up. I’m good at that. Giving up, I mean.)

I never really wavered on the not having kids thing, though. It looked like a lot of hard work and a huge of loss of freedom. Not until much later did I realize that having kids could also bring much joy (even though there was still a huge “hard work” component attached to it).

And, eventually, I fell in love and stayed in love long enough to begin to contemplate a future with one person and maybe the addition of one or two little people.

Call it a biological clock. Call it the desire to leave something behind when I go. Call it whatever you want. I came around to the idea of having kids probably much in the same way that a lot of people come to the realization. I had done everything else I wanted to do and I had some energy left over, so, heck, let’s have a baby.

And for all my griping, exhaustion, frustration, hair-going-grey-faster-than-I-can-dye-it, possibly selfish attitude, having kids was, hands down, the best thing I have done in my life.

I could not have been one of those people who excel at sticking to their plan. I don’t measure success that way. I would like to, don’t get me wrong. The whole idea of having a plan and sticking to it is very appealing to me. But, if I’m honest, it’s not me at all.

I measure success by how much laughter rings through my house, how efficiently we get out the door in the morning with lots of time left over for hugs and kisses and last minute bug hunting in the yard, how cuddly my kids are when I tuck them in and they ask me to tickle their backs just one more time before I leave the room. My success in life hangs in the air after I dry tears away and hug the hurt out of little hearts. The sweetest success, the best measurement of how successful I am as a human being lies in the little sleeping children that I brought into this world and that I work so hard to raise. They are my success. Every other accomplishment in my life is sweeter because of the success that those little people make me feel—even on the days that, from the outside, look like a failure, the success of having landed in this life, with this wonderful husband and these two fantastic little people cannot be measured except by love and laughter.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Please vote for Life Takes Over in the Circle of Moms Top 25 Canadian Mom Blogs

Rethinking Weight

In an effort to be healthy, I poured myself a bowl of dried fruits, seeds and nuts.

I was starving. Having eaten breakfast at 6:00 am, and not a very big breakfast at that, I was running on fumes. Which, of course, resulted in my eyes being bigger than my belly.

NutsandSeeds

And since my life is full of rush rush rush right now, I poured a bunch of stuff into a bowl, grabbed a spoon and sat down at my computer to work (and not really pay attention to what I was eating or how it was making me feel, because, really, who has time to savour their food anymore? Certainly not me.)

After about six tablespoon-fulls, my tummy and my taste buds were making me sit up and take notice. Continue reading

Thank you

An open letter to my children on this Monday morning.

To my two beautiful children,

Thank you for your happy smiles this morning. Thank you for your tired eyes that opened when I gently shook you awake. Thank you for holding tight to my neck as I carried you each down the stairs to breakfast. Thank you for eating your breakfast and doing so without complaint.

It is Monday morning and I know you are tired. We had another busy weekend and some late nights. But we spent it all together. We watched movies and ate popcorn at home and we took Little Brother to his first movie at a movie theatre. We visited family, we went out for dinner together, we went to the park between rain storms and we played board games at home when the rains came. Continue reading