Family

Reflections of 2015

2015 is over, 2016 has just begun. Christmas celebrations are over and I find myself thinking about this past year. It’s been a good year and it’s been a hard one.

I feel blessed by God and think of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians “…asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.  I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.” (Eph. 1:17,18 NLT) I grew in the knowledge of God this past year and have more peace and confidence in the hope we have: God’s abundant grace and love for all people.

And though I stumble and can get stressed, “if our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts…” (1 John 3:20 NIV) I have peace even in the struggle for God is for me, not against me. And I know He walks with me through the pain (I am not alone) and the ultimate goal is healing, restoration, and relationship with Him.

But it’s been a hard year, too. There were a number of people who passed away in our extended family and friends (my mom being one of them). We had to walk through some difficult things in addition to all of the above. Feeling weary and worn out is part of this season. So I continue to learn what it means to rest and trust.

And I am hopeful for the new year. One day at a time. Growing in my knowledge of God and His amazing love and grace. The more I learn to let go and receive His grace (without me doing anything about it), the more peace I experience, even in the midst of the ‘hard stuff’. His grace makes all the difference in the world. And I will not give it up or stop talking about it.

I pray that you will be able to receive God’s abundant grace for you and would know that you are not alone as you enter this new year with it’s blessings and hardships. Grace and peace to you in the name of the Triune God – Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit.

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Bittersweet

I spent this evening going through boxes of old photographs, looking for photos of my mom. There were lots of photos of when my two sons were little. It was kind of hard looking at them. They reminded me of who I was back then. I was so young and insecure! I wish I knew what I know now. I wish I was who I am now. I would have done things differently. I would have had more patience, more gentleness, more grace. I couldn’t help feeling regret  – that I could have done so much better by them. I know I was doing the best I could. And yet…and yet…I still feel the pang of regret. (sigh)


My daughter likes cars

Just about every time my daughter & I head out shopping…if there’s a car in the mall, she wants her picture taken with it. She really loves cars.

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Three generations

I started scanning photos of my mom this evening (I’m making a photobook of her for myself and my family). I found a picture of her in grade 4. Just this past weekend, I happened to dig up a photo of myself from grade 4. It didn’t take much to locate a photo of my daughter from this past October (she happens to be in grade 4 this year). So there you have it – 3 generations all taken during each’s grade 4 year. Crazy, huh?

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Sick

My daughter’s been down with a cold for the past two days (she’s extra sweet and snugly when she’s sick) and our cat is under observation at the vet’s as he doesn’t seem to be doing so well either. I hope everyone can get better soon. As much as I love the extra hugs, it’s hard to see those I care about under the weather.

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Snip snip

Today our boy kitten became a eunuch. And because he was licking his wound so much, he now has to wear the “cone of shame” – boy, was he ever mad when we put that thing on him! The next few days could be interesting…

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“Glitter” & Spice & Everything Nice

Today is my daughter’s 9th birthday. She brings us such joy! She is our little ray of light (her middle name means that). She’s fun and quirky and has so much love and empathy in her heart.

To celebrate her birthday and my “birthing day”, we both went shopping with her grandma Jan at the Glitter after hours shopping night at Lawson Heights Mall. Grandma bought her some books she’s been wanting and some necklaces.

And I found some fantastic deals – a pair of red boots which I love (an early birthday present from grandma Jan) and two sweaters. Here’s me with my boots and one of my sweaters.

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I don’t go shopping for myself very often and there are many times when I’m trying to find something specific and I can’t find it (which is so frustrating). But the most fun I have is when I’m not looking for anything in particular and then I come across things I like AND they’re on sale. What fun!


Photo albums

I spent some time at my dad’s today, pouring over photo albums. I was looking for pictures of my mom because I want to create a photo book of her for my family for Christmas. It brought back a lot of memories, some good, some not so much. But I saw photos of all my children when they were little and that brought a smile to my face.


Behind it all

I devoted last month to talking about the things I’ve learned about shame and vulnerability and grace. I mentioned the impact of actually experiencing grace and love and belonging but I didn’t go into detail about it. When I wrote about my experience, there was always something in the back of my mind, a fact always present, but I didn’t realize that I hadn’t articulated it. It has had the greatest influence in my experience towards knowing grace and love and belonging.

It’s my husband.

Without him, I wouldn’t know half of what I do about grace, love, acceptance. It has been Leighton’s constant grace for me particularly when I dive into self-berating that helps me believe that it’s okay for me NOT to beat myself up. I am learning to have grace for myself as I experience grace from him. For me, a large part of the “beating myself up” tactic is a learned protective measure – if I blame and beat myself up first (before someone else has a chance to) it won’t be as painful. Which, of course, is not actually true. Damage is done, it’s just at my own hands and not at someone else’s. As I live with Leighton (it’s been over 10 years now) and he doesn’t berate me when I mess up, I’m slowly unlearning this really unhealthy pattern.

While no one’s love is perfect, my husband’s love for me is unconditional. He has always maintained that he loves me and he affirms that particularly when there is tension between us. Leighton understands me and knows I will immediately go to the dark place of self-hatred and believe that he must hate me, too. He makes a point of telling me that isn’t true. In addition, he gives me daily affirmation – telling me that he loves me, that he believes in me, that everything will be okay… I need to hear these things over and over again. It helps override my internal tapes that tell me that I’m not lovable, that I’m a screw-up, that everything is all my fault.

I didn’t experience unconditional love when I was growing up – it felt to me as if there were always strings attached, that I needed to be perfect to be loved. In experiencing unconditional love, I am learning more about what God’s love is really like. He has much grace for us – but I wouldn’t really know that unless I experienced it with other human beings. The reason I know this to be true is that the opposite is true – if we experience the opposite of unconditional love, if we don’t experience acceptance and grace, particularly from the people we are in closest relationships to, we grow up living in a tremendous amount of shame. And when we’re living in shame, we don’t understand grace.

So my husband has been a significant influence behind it all. My journey would look very different without him. We are shaped by the people in our lives and I am a better person for my relationship with Leighton. I have learned so much and am incredibly thankful that I get to experience this life with him.

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Trying out new technology

My husband is an IT person (he has his own IT business). And this means he is constantly researching new technology. He loves technology. I, on the other hand, am typically suspicious of new technology.

“Do I REALLY need this iPod Touch?” “Why do I need a SmartPhone?”

The history of our (IT) relationship has been one of my husband dragging me along towards new technology and innovation. He basically has to buy it for me and once I start using it, I absolutely love it! So I’m not “against” technology – I’m just not going to be the first one to go out and get the newest thing.

My husband has been fairly successful with his approach of putting the technology in my hands and me realizing I love it. Currently, I own a very large smartphone (I call it a Phablet – tablet and phone rolled into one). It’s a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (with a 5.7″ display). My reasoning was that I couldn’t justify owning a tablet and a phone when I would use them for the exact same things (other than making phone calls).

I use my phone for everything. Now that I’m writing so much I thought I’d try blogging from my phone (I have the WordPress blogging app). But typing on a phone keyboard (even a big phone) isn’t very convenient.

So tonight I grabbed my husband’s compact bluetooth keyboard, paired it up with my phone and typed up this post. It works pretty slick!

I do like it when technology enhances my life (which is the case most of the time, I just don’t realize it until I actually try it – which takes some coaxing).

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The temptation to numb

I woke up this morning feeling the weight of the world. Actually it felt like I was drowning in manure. I was feeling very intensely a lot of dark, despairing emotions. And my thoughts jumped right on that bandwagon. I was not in a good place.

There have been a number of things churning up for me in the last while: the passing of my mother, processing memories and emotions from my past, family dynamics, outside circumstances. It makes for a pretty overwhelming mix of emotions at times. I understand this is a process and it’s going to take time. I believe I will be more healed and whole on the other side of this. And…I need to allow myself to feel what I’m feeling, as painful and excruciating as that may be.

And yet…and yet…

When I feel those intense, dark emotions, there is such a temptation to numb. There’s a part of me crying out, “I don’t want to FEEL!!!” I certainly felt that temptation this morning. The temptation to distract myself, to eat or drink something to make me feel better, to mindlessly read Facebook, to not think. I understand why so many people in our society turn to all manner of activities (some more destructive than others) to numb the pain in their lives – TV, video gaming, shopping, eating disorders, addictions. The emotional pain we experience is very real.

How do we learn to sit in our pain? Not to wallow in it, but to acknowledge it’s presence and to not run from it.

Being in community helps. My husband continues to encourage me and speak of hope and truth even when I can’t see it (or feel it). My children offer love and hugs and acceptance. Friends express care and concern…

I had coffee with a friend this evening. Being able to talk with her about my pain and to be able to hear about hers helped. I know I am not alone. We are not in this alone.

We are not in this alone.

When we learn to carry each others’ burdens, to empathize with each other in our struggles – we learn that we are not alone. And it births hope within us. To not despair. To receive love. To experience connection and belonging. It is the beauty of the human experience.

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Surrender

I want to talk about surrender. Dictionary.com defines surrender as follows: “to give oneself up, as into the power of another; submit or yield; to give (oneself) up to some influence, course, emotion, etc.” Surrender involves a tremendous amount of vulnerability. You can’t surrender without becoming vulnerable.

Sometimes we surrender to a process. I remember when I was giving birth to my firstborn. I had never been through childbirth before, I had no idea how long this was going to take, and I was experiencing A LOT of pain. Somehow I knew I needed to yield (surrender) to the process going on in my body; if I fought the pain – trying to stop it – I would end up in more pain (and it would probably take longer) than if I just let things happen.

I believe God asks us to surrender to Him. Because God is love, the surrender is to love. And it is the love of God that heals us and transforms us…if we surrender to it. This comes in the form of little steps of trust, taken over time. We learn that God’s love brings life and wholeness and healing and so we learn to trust and surrender in deeper ways.

When my first husband was dying and the paramedics were trying to resuscitate him, I was desperately begging God to save him, to not let him die. I was so scared. In the midst of my pleading and terror, there came a moment when everything became still inside me – it was as if I was in the eye of the storm. And in that moment, I laid it all down. I said to God, “You are God, and I place EVERYTHING in Your hands.” I surrendered my life, the life of my husband, and the lives of my two sons into God’s hands.

I believe it was God who enabled me to surrender at that moment – I don’t think I could have done it without Him. But I had walked far enough on my journey up to that point that I believed God loved me and that I could trust Him with my life, even though my world was shattering into a million pieces around me. I knew I could cling to God, that He would not abandon me (and that He wasn’t abandoning me in that moment).

And I believe that because I surrendered my life to Him, it opened the door for God to take care of me and my boys in ways that I could never imagine. Through that experience and the journey I have had since then, I have been transformed for the better. I am more healed and whole than I ever thought possible.

I would not wish what I went through with losing my husband on anyone. But I understand now, more than I could understand before, the power in surrender. It’s not about striving or fighting. It’s about yielding and giving up. When we can do that, God is able to work His Life within us.

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20,21 [emphasis mine])

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Debunking the myth that a little shame is good

Some people may argue that a little shame is good for modifying behaviour. I’ve certainly run into that attitude before. And I felt plenty of it growing up. “How could you be so stupid?!” “Don’t be such an idiot!” Here’s the thing: shame did modify my behaviour. Or more like fear modified my behaviour – the fear of being berated (i.e., the fear of feeling shame). From the outside it looked like using shame worked. But what it did to me on the inside produced self-hatred and anxiety. It wasn’t a good thing.

I think this is why significant portions of our society still believe that using shame is perfectly acceptable. On the outside, it looks like we’re getting the results we desire, but at what cost? The research is abundantly clear: “there are no data [emphasis mine] to support that shame is a helpful compass for good behavior.” (Daring Greatly, p. 73). As I mentioned yesterday, “shame is highly correlated with addiction, violence, aggression, depression, eating disorders, and bullying.” (Daring Greatly, p. 73).

Remember that there is a difference between shame and guilt according to the research. I am not advocating to not hold people accountable to their actions. But it is just that: holding them to their actions. I know that for my own children, if I address the behaviour and affirm my child’s worth as being intact and not linked to their behaviour, I have much greater success in motivating positive lasting change.

Tomorrow: I’ll be talking about shame and pride – two sides of the same coin.

Source: Brown, B. (2012). Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. New York, New York: Gotham Books.

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Leaning into trust

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I find trust to be somewhat ambiguous. It’s hard to nail down. One minute I’m feeling fine and secure, the next I’m anxious and catastrophizing. All it takes is something to change in my circumstances to knock me off balance some days.

I wish it wasn’t so. I wish I felt confident and secure all the time and that my circumstances would not have such sway over my emotions. I imagine if I just understood more of who God is and the incredible depths to which He loves me, I would have no fear. My trust would be perfected and I would lean solely on Him. Yet I’m learning to accept my ‘humanness’. I am not perfect, nor will I be in this life. And that…is…okay. Sometimes trust is believing the things that my head knows but my heart isn’t hearing (or vice versa).

I wonder if one of the reasons we live in this broken world is to learn to ease into trusting: trusting God, trusting others, trusting ourselves. It doesn’t work all the time. Sometimes our trust is broken by others, sometimes we break it ourselves. After these kinds of events the question becomes, will I risk to trust again? We must learn to accept that we are all human and that means we make mistakes, bad choices, and generally screw up (not all the time, but sometimes). So what do we do when that happens? The temptation is to close ourselves off and not trust anyone. We believe this is a way of protecting ourselves. But it doesn’t really work that way. We are wired for connection – we want to feel loved and that we belong. And the way we experience that is in relation to others. So when we close ourselves off from people we are starving a part of ourselves.

At the same time, depending on how badly we’ve been hurt, learning to trust again can be very, very hard. Who wants to put themselves in a place where they’ll be hurt again? It may take baby steps over a long period of time to come to the place of trust again. And there are other cases where the other party has consistently broken trust and the healthy choice is to walk away from the relationship (because remaining in it will only mean continued pain).

Then there are those circumstances beyond our control that wreak havoc on our ability to trust. There are many things we take for granted and when those things are shattered we end up rather gun-shy. I assumed my first husband would be with me until we were old and gray. As that didn’t happen, there are moments (especially when my husband doesn’t arrive home when I think he will) that I get a sick feeling in my stomach that he’s gotten into a car accident and died and that I’ll have to go through the ordeal of losing another husband and enduring the pain all over again. It’s a real joy crusher, I’ll tell you that.

I know there was a time in my life when I was very closed off from everyone. I wouldn’t have put it in those words, but I certainly had trust issues. I don’t think I even trusted myself for I didn’t let myself into the deep, dark recesses of my soul, much less let anyone else. I’m not in that same place now, so what changed for me? After learning how ‘not to trust others’ I started learning to trust as a result of love. It was love expressed to me that was freely given, with no strings attached. And I soaked it up like the dry, parched, thirsty sponge that I was. Looking back I recognize this was dangerous territory for me. I was so desperate for love and connection that I would have done practically anything to get it and keep it, which could have proved disastrous in the hands of a less decent person. The relationship had its faults to be sure (we were both so insecure), but I was generally confident in the other person’s love and care for me. The person? He would become my first husband.

That was a starting point and through the love of others in my life along the way, I have become much more trusting and at peace (generally) than I’ve ever been. When I look back on my journey I see that love has been the springboard for so much positive growth in my life. And love is something we experience predominantly in relation to others. Love is the glue of relationships. And when I speak of “love”, I’m not referring to the gushy feelings one might have. It’s much more solid than that. It is expressed as grace… forgiveness… choosing to look past the other persons’ faults… choosing to do the right thing even when it is the hardest thing. Love takes vulnerability… letting your guard down so the other person can let down theirs. It’s not always easy and sometimes very uncomfortable, even painful, but it is necessary for our well-being and the well-being of those we care about.

God is love. He wants us to experience it in this life. And in experiencing His divine love, we learn how to love others. But it takes trust. Do I actually believe that I am loved (and worthy of love) and that this has absolutely nothing to do with how I perform or what I produce? I know for myself there are times I do not trust that this is true. But for the times when I do ease into that trust, believing that grace is real, I experience much peace and freedom. It is so much easier for me to love others. I am more willing to be vulnerable. And that’s where connection and belonging happen and this great web of relationships we’re a part of is strengthened and blessed.

So I will continue choosing to lean into trust (especially when my negative emotions are hijacking me). And when I get hurt? Some re-adjusting may be in order and I might be tempted to close myself off, but I will choose vulnerability and the path of love. It is where I find true connection and the most fulfillment and joy.


I believe in feminism

I read an article this morning entitled “I Am A Mother of Two Children and I Cannot (And Will Not) Support Feminism” and a following response article, “To The Mother Who ‘Can’t Support Feminism’ While Raising Her Sons”. It got me thinking.

First, it saddens me that there is such divisiveness over this issue. The first article points to the extremes of feminism and uses that as the argument for why the author won’t support it. This reason doesn’t bear weight with me. I identify myself as a Christian yet there are extremes in Christianity that I do not support. That doesn’t mean I need to stop being a Christian (and I won’t).

The definition of FEMINISM is this: the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men (taken from Dictionary.com). THIS I believe in with my whole heart.

Yes, there are extremes; yes, even male bashing. Yet…yet, the conversation I hear and read on the internet lately is turning more away from “us vs. them” (i.e., women vs. men) to an inclusive movement with women AND men working alongside each other to bring about equality for all. I was encouraged by Emma Watson’s speech to the United Nations this summer as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador launching the HeForShe campaign.

I see progress through the lens of my children as well. It’s interesting that the author of the first article I linked to above has two sons and it is out of her concern for her sons that she has chosen not to support feminism. When my 18 year old son asked me this year what feminism was and I told him it was the belief that women should have equal opportunities and rights as men, he took that as a given. He was appalled when I told him that on average women still aren’t paid the same as men for the same work. And I am delighted to see my 8 year old daughter up in arms over the insinuation that she can’t do something a boy can do (of course she can do what a boy can do!).

There are many campaigns and websites to raise awareness and shed a different light on things. Like the Always #LikeAGirl campaign, like A Mighty Girl website and Facebook page (which is a resource for “smart, confident, and courageous girls”). One of the major things they are doing is combating stereotypes of what it means to be a ‘boy’ and what it means to be a ‘girl’. I love a quote by Joss Whedon (creator of one of my favorite TV series, Firefly, and director & writer of the “Avengers” movie). He was asked in an interview “So, why do you write these strong female characters?” and he responded with “Because you’re still asking me that question.” (“American Rhetoric: Joss Whedon – Equality Now Address”. American Rhetoric (May 15, 2006)

I believe gender stereotypes hurt everybody. Should my daughter be thought of as less of a girl because she likes action movies like the “Avengers” and “Captain America”? Should my son be thought of as less of a guy because he is sensitive and still gives hugs to his mom? Stereotypes put people in boxes. Stereotypes can also justify inequality. Until very recently in human history women were still considered less than a person and the property of others. Although our culture has evolved to the point of discarding these views (most people would think it ludicrous today to refer to a girl as property), our gender stereotypes serve to compartmentalize what women and men are capable of. This puts limitations on everyone. I believe it hinders the gifts that each one of us can bring to the world (particularly when those gifts don’t fall along traditional gender-determined lines).

My dream would be for respect for all people, that we would see ourselves together on this earth, not separate, not us vs. them. That we could feel safe with each other (and thereby eliminate our need to be combative towards each other). We share a common humanity in that we all breathe the same air, feel the same emotions, experience shame and empathy. We are not so different from each other. On the flip side, we are all unique and we bring our own unique gifts to the world, the gift of who we are, individually and collectively. We each have our own unique limitations and these limitations can be genetic and/or environmental. Some limitations can be overcome, others cannot. But let us not add more limitations onto our brothers and sisters. Let us encourage each other to reach for the stars in our pursuits in this life, no matter who or what gender we are.


Our Beautiful Land

Canada is a truly beautiful country. I had been to the West Coast before but never to the East Coast and this summer my husband and I took a trek out to the East and saw A LOT of Canada. We took the train from Saskatoon to Toronto and then rented a car and spent time in the Niagara Falls area, drove through upstate New York, spent time in Montreal, drove through Maine, hung around the Bay of Fundy, and ended up at a wonderful bed & breakfast on Prince Edward Island. For the trek back we stopped in Quebec City and then drove back to Toronto to take the train back to Saskatoon (stopping in Winnipeg to see friends for the last leg). It was a wonderful vacation and through it all, I was struck by the diverse beauty of our nation. I also realized that Canada has a lot of BUSH and I don’t know why people complain about the FLAT of the Prairies when most of them are surrounded by BUSH!.

Anyways, I was looking through the photos I’d taken on our trip because I was putting together my annual Christmas calendars. I usually just do one with photos of our family but I decided to create one of landscapes from our vacation for myself to hang in my office. Here’s some of the photos I’m using:

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The invitation

I sense God the Father extending an invitation to me. An invitation to try, to risk, to step out of my comfort zone.

I think He’d like me to start writing again, on a much more consistent basis. Although I live in less fear than I used to, there is still so much that holds me back, particularly when it comes to anything with the possibility of failure. What if I start writing and then stop? What if I can’t be consistent? What if I can’t think of anything to write about? It’s all very frightening to me. I realize there are other people who see these things as an opportunity to grow. But I don’t fall into that category. Shame lurks behind that door, the door of trying something new. When it comes to risking failure, somehow my identity, my self-worth, is at stake.

When it comes down to it, I believe I am not enough. Not good enough to do it, to try. There are others much more capable, more gifted, who can do it better. Who do I think I am?

If I don’t succeed it means that I am a “failure” (not that I failed while trying something). Why is my self worth at stake? Why am I blasted with shame in this land – the land of trying, of exploration, of opportunity, of making mistakes? My rational self knows that true creativity and innovation live in that place. Yet my heart and emotions hijack me and keep me paralyzed.

When I lay it out there, put it on the examining table – making mistakes – it’s not so bad. So what if I make a mistake? Isn’t this what I say to my children all the time: “It’s okay to make a mistake. Learn from it. Try again. I won’t be mad at you.” Why can’t (why don’t) I tell myself the same things?

There is grace for making mistakes. If I wasn’t afraid to try I would have so much more freedom in my life. And I know the only way to really know if something is “safe” is to take the risk to try (and find out in the trying that it really isn’t so scary – that I actually am “enough”).

So I will accept this invitation to try…and remember the grace I have for my daughter (who doesn’t want to practice reading because its too hard and scary). I keep encouraging her that she is learning and getting better at it, that she doesn’t have to compare herself to others (and how much better they are at it). All I’m asking her to do is to try. And it’s okay if she makes a mistake.

I want to learn to have the same love and compassion for myself.


Sometimes the hardest part…is letting go

Parenting is hard work.  It can tax you, frustrate you, and drive you crazy. Sometimes the hardest part is to “let go”.  And when I say let go I mean let your children have freedom to choose a bit of their fate…even if that means they are going to fall down.  Even if it means they will fail.  Sometimes the only way we learn is the hard way.  It’s not pleasant but it’s necessary if we are ever going to learn and grow and mature.  But as a parent, it’s not easy…this “letting go”.


My beautiful daughter

IMG_5708  My beautiful daughter turned seven years old today.  She is such a joy.  She is smart and determined.  She is silly and a tease.  She loves freely with all her heart.  She is our “ray of light” (that’s what her middle name means).  I am so blessed to be her mom!


The Laughter of Little Girls

Picture if you will, seven girls running wildly through the house, with peels of  hysterical laughter ringing from every corner.  This is what I experienced this afternoon.  My daughter had her birthday party and had 6 of her friends over to our house for cake, scavenger hunting, crafts, a piñata…and freeze tag.  This last was what brought about the uproarious giggling.  I couldn’t help but smile.  There is nothing like the laughter of little girls.  If you bottled up “joy” I’m sure it would sound like that.  What an awesome afternoon!


A year this weekend…

IMG_4524  A year ago this weekend, I was here: in the Okanogan.  On the spur of the moment, my husband and I decided to visit our friends.  We had to brave a wicked blizzard on the way there but we made it.  I ended up spending the weekend at a swim meet with Jacki and Leighton spent his time with Jeremy.  It was a good trip.  It was a memorable trip.  Living at the pool, I got to meet one of Jacki’s friends, Colleen, and we very quickly made a connection (so much so that she and her daughter stayed at our place in February attending a swim meet in our city).

There are times when I get the impression that our decisions are divinely ‘influenced’.  If we had not decided to go there on the November long weekend I would have missed the swim meet and probably never met Colleen.  I also would not have had the opportunity to get to know Jacki on a deeper level than I had before.

Colleen would have never stayed with us in February and I wouldn’t have been able to get to know her even further.  There are similarities in our stories and it is precious to me to find a connection with those people who understand what I’m going through, who have lived in the midst of it.  And we can sigh and say, “I cannot change your situation, but you are not alone.

It means so much to me to know that I am not alone.  Someone understands and does not pass judgement and feels my successes and discouragements.  When these people ‘coincidentally’ cross my path, I wonder if there wasn’t a bit a divine prompt to bring a new layer of richness, encouragement, and hope to my life.


Home reno projects stress me out

I find them disruptive.  They generally take longer than anticipated.  Things don’t go as planned.  I don’t have the expertise or experience to do them perfectly (I mean ‘well’).  I get frustrated.  I get discouraged.  I feel like a failure.  I think it will ‘never be done!’  My tendancy to ‘catastrophize’ comes out in full force.

Today I tried to finish up the last little touches to a reno project that I’ve been working on for quite some time: my home office.  Of course it didn’t go as planned.   A screw was stripped.  One screw head broke off completely…in the wood (how am I going to get THAT out!?).  I probably shouldn’t have been working on this after spending most of the day out and about birthday party shopping with my daughter (my patience was quite thin by the end).  At one point in my reno work my daughter said to me, “I think you need to take a break, Mom.”  That’s saying something, isn’t it?


My voice…my story…me

I developed a bad habit years ago: I talk over people.  This habit came about somewhat as a survival technique.  When I was in high school I hung out with a group of friends who were highly talkative.  The only problem was I felt like I could never get a word in edgewise as I didn’t want to interupt anyone.  I finally expressed this frustration with my friends and they offered up this solution: just start talking in the midst of a conversation and eventually they’ll get the cue and stop talking to listen to me.  I was a little tentative at first but eventually got the hang of it and this seemed to work for everyone.

Unfortunately this carried on into my adult life and I use it in many situations.  It happened this week with my husband.  I hadn’t even realized I’d done it until he brought it up afterwards.

And I felt terrible for doing it.

I don’t want to overpower or silence anyone’s voice. 

And yet I wonder if there is something deeper going on for me.  Am I afraid of losing my “voice”?  That somehow I will not be heard.  Or that there will be no opportunity to express myself unless I “barge in” on the conversation.  And if I lose my “voice”, then  my “story” cannot be told or heard.  And if that happens, will I lose a sense of my identity?  Will I feel that I am worth-less and that my “story” is not important.

But I want to feel worth something, that I have value in this world and in my relationships.  I wonder if this is what happens to people who truly do lose their “voice” (or never had one).  Whether it is a result of gender or race or socio-economic status, they have no “space” to tell their “story” and so experience feelings of worthlessness.

I am not one of those extreme cases.  And yet because my “voice” had no “space” to be heard by the people close to me (and not just with my friends but moreso with my family), I felt worthless.  Empathy goes a long way.  Unfortunately I did not experience much of that growing up.

And so here I am, at 40 years of age, with this unconscious fear that my “story” is not important (that I am not important) and it propels me to override conversations in an attempt to maintain my sense of self-worth.

I can only say that, hopefully, with a greater understanding of what is going on at the unconscious level, I can start to “unlearn” this bad habit and learn how to tell my “story” and honour everyone else’s “stories” as well.


Fried and thinking of Spring

Stayed up too late last night.  Woke up too early this morning.  So here I am…staring at my computer screen…wondering what I am going to post for today.  I have a thought-provoking post brewing but my brain is too fried to crank it out today.  Does this count for a post?

I’d just like to say my daughter is REALLY photogenic.  Here’s a pic from the summer…when it was green outside (sigh, 5 months to go until Spring).

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