Category Archives: Musings

Everyday Wisdom 15

Having children fills every day with awe and wonder.

Sometimes it’s amazement and joy.

Other days its incredulous speechlessness and mind-numbing confusion.

But everyday your perspective will be changed.

And everyday, you will be better because of the experience.  Really.

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Everyday Definition #13

Contentment is living the principle of enough.

Enough is less than you think and yet more than most.

Contentment is something that you must work to earn.

Yet it is easiest achieved when you aren’t working at it as hard as you think you should.

You’ll find it fastest when you work at giving others joy.

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Cycling in a Fast Paced World or Does cycling change you?

While I sit here and moan inwardly at the flash-freeze that has seen a 17 degree Celsius temperature drop today which keeps me from cycling tonight I let my mind wander. [Cold weather weenie tonight! I’m okay to admit it!]

What came to mind is a conversation I had with a friend on Sunday. We talked about the cycling culture. About cycling as parents and as a family. We shared about how we’ve adapted and changed. Then one of asked, “Did we change how we approach things because of cycling, or was cycling just one part of a conscious choice to change our lifestyles?”

We concluded that it’s not a chicken and egg topic. For both of our families we came into cycling somewhat deliberately and somewhat reactionary.

For both of our families cycling became the best option for us because we were not wealthy and when our vehicles ceased to be a viable source of transportation In her case: it was old and broke down. In our case: it was stolen, destroyed and too old for insurance to pay enough to replace it.

Still, both families had moved into cycling before those circumstances. For myself, I had cycled a lot from high school on. I’m not certain about the other family’s specifics but I remember meeting up with them during the summer before their vehicle had to be retired.

So, we were making deliberate efforts to cycle.

However, when we had to cycle we changed because we were cycling. Having lived rural, I have very good habits when it came to grocery shopping and errand running. I take the car out once a week and do several errands in one go while trying to arrange to go to one location and walk out from there.

Cycling meant that I continued to do that but to seriously consider the items I was taking home with me. I’d point out to the kids that I wasn’t willing to cycle home a case of pop. So we’d get one there and split it as a true treat. Sometimes Daddy would come with and because we had more legs and ability to distribute weight, we would come home with a case of pop or whatever. So the change was more careful ‘consumerism’ and family participation.

Cycling changed how people react to us. We find (all of us) that we do a lot of defence. Now, until recently we home-schooled, so we’re well practised in explaining our choices.

We’d still get invited out to people’s houses. In fact, I think we got invited out more than we do now. Only the invitation would come with a, “We’ll come and get you.”

And we’d explain that “Honestly, we can bike as it is really not that far!”

The concession we made, in the summer time and would be outdoors, was to ask if we could bring the dog. This was because we found the main change was that our visits would last longer. Instead of quickly running over for lunch and then leaving to hurry home, we’d stay. We’d really get to know our friends.

And then, we’d have a riot riding home together. Giggling, laughing, and if it was late at night, flashing the drivers. [Bad joke, our rear lights are set to flashing but the joke amused my 9-year-old immensely!]

The change? Overall, cycling had the effect of slowing us down, but living more deliberately. We choose our moments and tried to have purpose to what we choose.

But, those changes were and are a part of an intentional choice to change our lives. These choices go far beyond the choice to cycle.

Note: In all fairness, both of the families now have vehicles. Theirs was gifted and we bought a really old vehicle that was rebuilt by mechanic students. Both my friend and I feel that in Ontario, during the winter not having a vehicle and having young children makes cycling a poor choice for year round transportation. Also, we have bus transportation in our city. I’m actually scared about using it (my goal for the year) but they use the bus to transport just one of them or when they need a second vehicle.

Sorry for the tense changes. Most of this is written thinking about things that have happened in the past. Some of what happens today. And its late and my daughter has been sick but I still wanted to write!

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Change the Batteries

It appears that my policy of the last two years regarding our digital camera has backfired.  I’m hoping to be wrong but I think our digital camera is broken.

 

Still, my computer hard drive is filled with funny pictures taken by my kids.  Silly little videos made by them while they play with the playmobile and lego.  So I am far from complaining!

 

It got me thinking.  I think I’m at that stage.  I need to ‘change my batteries.’

 

Often it seems like I live from crises to crises.  Currently an Aunt of mine who lives close to me but is close to me as well has been diagnosed with progressive MS.  It’s a very quick-moving disease and she’s basically given up.

Then there is the change we went through in September.  I’m supposed to be sending in the form with our intentions for next year and I have it sitting on the coffee table and I really don’t want to send it in at all.

 

Teasingly I asked the daughter if she really wanted to go to school next year.  She came out so strongly in favour of school that it hurt.  I shouldn’t have set myself up for that one!

 

I’m really grateful that today is a quiet day.  The first Wednesday in a long time that I’m getting a chance to just be.  I’m going to turn on the audiobook shortly and just knit and listen.

 

Try and change those batteries my friend!

 

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Capacity

Capacity is a word that appears in my vocabulary repeatedly. Perhaps its because I’m getting a bit more introspective as I get older. Perhaps due to the limitations placed on my productivity by my seemingly reduced emotional capacity which have caused me to be aware of my ‘new normal.’

Writing that down makes me realize that I talk about capacity because of my reduced accomplishments. Which is interesting because there was a point where I was actually did far less activities and volunteering than I do today. But today I am not pleased with my current personal state because a few years ago I was in a much more societally acceptable level of behaviour and function.

Hmm, sounding cryptic even to me!

Okay. So… hmm… In high-school I was the kid who had the door removed from her bedroom door because my parents were attempting to shame me into cleaning up my room.

Moved to University, and I was a neat freak. However I was still slovenly in my course work. Then I had to start to work to pay for my food and rent in university and… the apartment went slovenly but I routinely won awards for at my employment. The course-work stayed slovenly. In fact that was the point that I wished to quit and work because I didn’t know what I wanted from my university education but due to, what I consider not well thought advice, I continued on with my slovenly approach to higher learning.

Then I got married. We lived in a teeny tiny apartment. Then I got pregnant despite doing every single thing we could to prevent it! At which point… every thing went down hill.

From there we moved to a big farm house that was in poor condition but the space and country air and having my job on the property meant that for the most part the house and work were doing well again. Incidentally ditched the university education at this point.

Sticking with me here?

Then comes the second child. Major complications with her birth, near death on my part. It took 11 months to get my red blood count back into a normal range…

But I couldn’t understand why I was so slovenly with my work and house again. It wasn’t until I switched doctor’s and he sat me down and had a really long talk about what a horrible thing had really happened to me that I could give myself the grace to realize, I actually did miraculously given the circumstances.

Just prior to learning that… it was fear that a call to Children’s Aid Society might be made by some concerned neighbour and they’d seize my precious babies that prompted a change from within.

About a year after the start of my inner changes and I met the Flylady program. That was the crowning touch and I changed things around.

For the first time I was able to shine at work, at home, and in my volunteer work which is very much part of my identity. I did everything and I did it so well.

For about 5 years.

Then… crash! This time I could see how many of the factors were kind of out of my control *and* I could see how external factors affected me and reduced what I could do (ie. capacity!).

I was starting to come out of this slump and a move to the city and and a second opportunity to do a massive purge of our excess weight meant that I was gaining back my abilities once more.

Then there was last year… This time I knew precisely what factors were affecting me but darn it… there was just no way but to live through. The focus was, literally, getting through the day. My capacity for life was very limited.

But this time I had many external pressures on me and I kept giving to them even though I should not have done so. I can see that now. I thought that helping them would help me. In some ways it did but I think it has prolonged my journey through the valley this time.

Today I would say that I am functioning at the level that I did before my second child’s birth. At that time I knew I could do better but for the most part I was happy.

Today, I’m not mostly happy. Because I look back and I can remember a time when I did it all.

So I have to remind myself. Live to my capacity today! I’m just going to trust that as I heal there will be a time when I can do more than I can today.

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Mom, my hands look like yours

Today, while I was making the dough for our dinner, I looked down and I saw my mother’s hands.

Mom, my hands look like yours.

I remember, as a child, standing beside you as you kneaded bread dough for the family. Your strong hands moving in rhythmic motions while you talked to me.

When we would be out, walking somewhere and your hand would rest on my shoulder. I’d glance over and see your hand there and feel safe and secure.

Coming to you in righteous indignation over some wrong my brother had committed and you’d stand there folding laundry. The crisp even lines emerging from chaos as each neat shirt was ironed, the towels were folded, and the sheets snapped.

I’d watch you pulling dead foliage off the plants, using your thumb to test if they needed a water; using your hands to grow some of the most beautiful plants.

At the table I’d watch as you picked up a simple pencil and drew amazing drawings, although infrequently. I remember squirrelling away a few of those drawings.

When I was sick, it was reassuring to feel your cold hands touch my forehead. A sign that things were going to get better soon. I felt safe.

Your hands got dirty.

Then your hands were clean.

Your hands were firm.

Then your hands were soft.

Sometimes I wished a little less firm.

Yet as I remembered back in that moment today what I saw was your hands. Then I glanced back at my hands, grateful for the blessing that now my hands look like yours. I just pray I can bless my children with my hands the way you blessed me with yours.

I love you Mom.

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Never Done

I recently started a job after 3.5 years as a Stay-at-Home, homeschooling Mom. I’m now the Caretaker of the church that we attend which happens to be across the road from my children’s school.

Really, its just like being a Mom and getting some money for it. You pick up after everyone. You organise the closets and your never done! Just finished for now!

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