Day 51: Too many good excuses …

I am shamed that I did not keep up with my once per week posting goal, but truthfully I have been delightedly distracted by two new hobbies.  I thought about breaking from them to write about how much joy they’re bringing, but that sort of defeated the purpose. 

One of my new joys – baking bread! I had pinned this over night bread recipe from The Baker Chick

This is how mine turned out ———-> No Knead Bread

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty awesome if I do say so myself! I am also perfecting “French Rolls to Die For”.  I have to say – those are turning out fantastic too!

My other new hobby was fully inspired by the ending to How I Met Your Mother latest season.  We finally get to meet mom, and she is wonderful! I can fully see why Ted fell for her, and of course married her.  In the final scene of a recent episode she longingly strums away her ukelele while singing La Vie en Rose.  I happen to be a rather devout fan of vocal jazz music, so this rendition hit my sweet spot.  Of course, I don’t know one chord on any instrument, but I can read music, play the flute, the recorder (as good as The Friendly Giant) and I can sing.  So I was up for the challenge.  Listen here for my inspiration.

We have also added five additions to our family.  No, no, no I did not have or adopt quints – we did, however, adopt five little chicks;

Image

Please meet (in alphabetical order) Bleu (as in Chicken Corden), Chippy, Honey, Kuritsa (Kuri for short) & Nugget

Currently they live a secured bunny pen (to keep the kitties out) in our breakfast room.  Peach is quite infatuated with them, favouring Bleu and Nugget.  Eventually they will move to the gorgeous coop outside, where they will be kept to lay their eggs, and live a good free-range life.

I will be writing a lot about our chickies, as they bring me great joy. 

So, between baking bread, learning the ukelele, raising five new chickens among all the other busy things that keep me hopping I have slid a little on my blog.  But only with real, great joy.

Oh … there’s one more distraction.  Big confession … my mom got me hooked on that silly Candy Crush game! It’s a little sweet treat at the end of these full, joyous days. 

 

Day 40: All you need is love …

First, Happy Valentine’s Day!
Why is this such a complicated day? It’s supposed to be about appreciation, adoration and friendship.  The story I know about St. Valentine was he was a priest that would marry couples for love, rather than for religion. This day was dedicated to him, to honour true love.  Today it is most commonly celebrated by young children scribbling their classmates names on little paper cards with favoured cartoons, eating gluten free cupcakes and paper bag mailboxes to carry those little cards back home.

I remember a few Valentines fondly.  My favourite took place in grade five, or fifth grade if you will.  My grade school sweetheart sneaked in a puffy stuffed velveteen heart.  There was no tag, but I knew who it was from.  It made me blush, but in a wonderful way.  As it would turn out my first real kiss would be shared with him a little over a year later.

It was a  school sleep-away camp trip that all grade six students had the chance to attend. It was the last night of our week away.  There was a silly carnival with funny booths.  One was a wedding chapel.  My girl friend dared me to go up and wait for my husband. I took the dare and thankfully my sweetheart joined me.  We exchange our pipe cleaner rings with a promise to always pick up each others’ pencils, offer a piece of fruit for lunch and other harmless vows. There was no kissing at the end, but rather a firm handshake.

The sun had started to set.  Most of the kids were playing soccer in the big field, a few others were starting to search for sticks for marshmallows and hotdogs.  Sweetheart and I decided to do the same.  We were walking through the woods, when I tripped and twisted my ankle.  I wasn’t badly hurt, I just needed to sit down.  He led me to the end of the dock that overlooked the lake.  Swans started to swim up. (I know … out of a movie … ) The sun was a bright ball of orange just hovering above the horizon line.  My feet dangled in the water.  Sweetheart asked if I felt okay.  I nodded, not wanting to break the magic around us.  He turned his beat up ball cap backwards, and slowly, gently, sweetly kissed me.  Closed mouth. Innocent. I beamed, so did he. He held my hand until we realized the sun had set, stars were starting to twinkle in the early twilight, and it was time to re-join the group.  Vintage Valentine Card ChickieHis last words before we departed; “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older?” Maybe … but that memory is still as alive now as it was when I was eleven.

So why then is this day so complicated? What if we stopped focusing on the commercial side and refocused to the emotional side. There is nothing wrong with giving cards, flowers, chocolates, or singing stuffed toys, but this may be the day to go beyond that.  Those things are honestly pretty easy.  Go to store. Pick out chocolate. Give chocolate. Try not steal one, or two, or three.  Maybe though, we could think outside the chocolate box a little.

The secret, at least in my opinion is truly knowing your special someone.  Whether it be your child, who you know loves shaped cookies more than most treats, or your husband that really just wants two extra hours of uninterrupted shut eye, your wife who would love nothing more than a few hours alone to browse the aisles at her favourite shoppe, your mom who appreciates a handmade card more than a Hallmark one, or a quick facebook post of a vintage chicken valentine to a best friend  … you get the idea. When we go above the expected, we can truly make that person feel extra special. Just as St. Valentine did so very long ago.

Day 37: My rabbit hole

Sunshiny inspiration.  A tree full of winter birds. A child painting vibrantly.  A day to just be still. All I want to do is paint, draw, and lose myself in my own personal wonderland. Where has the time gone that I no longer remember the way to my rabbit hole? So lost in the seriousness of daily life I forget how to laugh and let loose.  I sometimes crave the easiness of that single life where I had twenty-seven hours to dedicate to just painting a faux brick wall. The time that was just mine to fill.   No worries about dinners, and healthy snacks shaped like Mickey Mouse.  Endless hours to sit out on a porch and let time just slip by. No longer able to be time-zone free, I miss these moments.  I was never a party-girl.  I preferred to sit in coffee shops and read books about famous people and their memoirs. Old enough to appreciate what I had, and yet still young enough to dream of being something bigger than I was.  Countless moments that were never interrupted. Somehow all these vines of adult life have covered the entrance to that little hole that was my escapee home for so long.  Somewhere along the line I have forgotten what it is to truly laugh. I am so caught up in what I should be doing, I forget to actually do them.  Make sense? This is a very difficult feeling to explain.

I really believe that a life without laughter is a wasted one.  I want those moments back and I fear I forget how to just be that person I was for so long, yet so long ago now. I’ve started to re-listen to the music that takes me to those points, and my hubby snarks and tells me to change the station.  He does not quite understand what it’s like to be lost in this journey called motherhood.  Fearing you will never remember what it was like to be you, and that that person is forever lost.   As my mind stirs through all it needs to remember, and wants to remember, there are glimpses of a life that once was.  To be a mommy was all I ever wanted, but then again I never really thought I would lose my entire being in this heavy role.  There is no map, just bread crumbs to follow back to that spot in my life where it was just me.  I know one day I will crave the interruptions. I guess my ultimate fear is that by the time that day comes I will be so lost, I won’t even remember what the bread crumbs looked like.  I have to believe though, that when that time does arrive I will be able to look back and know that I made the best of all those years.

There’s supposed to be an illustration to go along with this post … it’s still unfinished.  I started writing this four days ago … and I have not been in the right frame of mind at night to complete the drawing.  When it’s finished I will be sure to link it back to here.

Day 31: per-fect

per·fect
adjective
adjective: perfect
ˈpərfikt/
1. having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.
2. absolute; complete (used for emphasis).
Why such an obsession with this word? Even its definition makes it seem unreachable. “Having all the required or desirable elements.” So why focus on being it? It just sets us up for failure.  For myself it puts my entire self on pause, or worse stop.  I am already thinking of how I cannot do something to its utmost perfection, so why even start to try? Because without trying there will never be chances of success.
I have this horrible habit of starting something with such exuberance only to let it wither away.  Just look at my plants – they all have the same fate. It’s not that I stop caring, I just lose my inspiration within the frustration of the middle parts.  But that is for a whole other post in the future!
When I was little my dad called me a printing press.  I would zoom off art work one piece after another.  I did this with that true-kid excitement.  I didn’t care if it was perfect, my passion was much more important.  To me the extra bits of paint were supposed to be there, even if they weren’t.  It was about the expression, and the joy I knew I could spread by sharing my love of painting.
Then I grew up.  I took formalized Art classes.  I was surrounded by talent that I can only describe as immensely intimidating. I enjoyed what I was learning, so I tried my best not to compare, and to appreciate my own work for its own uniqueness.
Soup Can It was the first time in my life where I felt rushed though.  I was struggling to keep up with the Picassos, Manets, and Adams. I was far far far from that level, so any hope at catching up required a lot of time at home.  I finally had a chance to shine. Our focus was Pop Art – think Andy Warhol’s Tomato Soup Can.  Our project was to take something close to our hearts that was mass produced.  I chose a box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.  I ate a lot of them at the time, and I liked the rooster, Cornelius.  I spent close to sixty hours painting the replica. I was extremely confident I had finally matched the talents of my classmates.  I brought it in, gleaming. I started to look around at the other projects.  One gal had made the Double Bubble bubble gum, and included a Bazooka Joe Comic inside with a foam stuffed wrapper.  Another guy painted a giant replica of the shaving cream his dad had used to teach him to shave.  If you pressed the sprayer on the top it squirted foam! My Corn Flakes was flat. Two-dimensional.  I felt deflated, as flat as my project.  I had no idea how these people had time to do this! My simple project had taken me so many painstaking hours to make.  Of course I had scraped and restarted half a dozen times, working towards my perfect project. I asked my cohorts how on earth they managed to make these amazing projects.  The gal was pretty blunt.  Basically she had thrown it together, and went in the direction it wanted to go.  It wasn’t long-term perfect, but in the time frame we were given it was perfect.  Of course, she was correct, and was granted a close-to-perfect 98%.  I on the other hand, the one who tossed the other pieces as they were not conforming to my ideals, was given a mere 79%.  Kellogg's Corn Flakes
Later in life I learned that some of the best art comes from a mistake, or working with a mistake. I still find this difficult, but I forced my students to work without an eraser for many months.  I watched them, frustrated by their ideas being morphed into new beings.
I am still learning this.  I have started to apply it to all arenas of my life.  I still paint and draw.  I still get frustrated by that mind-to-paper translation fail.  I still struggle with letting my ideals go to the place they want to go.  I can venture to say that I have these unrealistic expectations so ingrained, that letting go is by far the most difficult aspect of my life.  It’s also where a lot joy is sucked out.  Since it’s not how I wanted it be, or go, I get internally pouty and shut down.
Before I was married and had my littles I was like all other single people with these bold statements “My children won’t watch TV, unless they’re sick.” or “I won’t sit around in my pjs all day.” or “I will always be that happy wife, and treat my hubby with only love.” or “All my meals will be well balanced, and my children will be adventerous eaters. I won’t be one of those that makes a second meal just for the kids.” or “I’ll still make time for Yoga everyday.” or “I’ll run my own business, and the children will learn from this.” Yes – a lot of ideals.  If I were to grade myself on any of these perfections I would be failing miserably. Most days the TV is on, more for my sanity than their entertainment.  I am slowly weaning all of us off of it. I end up in my pjs many days because my hubby is sleeping in our darkened room before I have a chance to go in and get dressed.  Poor excuse maybe, but it is the truth. Meals are what they are – edible. I am certainly not the happy wife I wanted to be, and to fit in Yoga could possibly mean only 5 hours of sleep.  I know, writing takes up a lot of precious time etc. etc. but this is my avenue to feeling better about myself.  Now if I could only figure out how to type and stretch at the same time.  I would like to improve these things, but I have made a promise that I won’t beat myself up for allowing my life to go where it needs to go. I don’t want every meal to be an argument, so I give in, within reason.  Maybe Yoga doesn’t have to be a daily thing, or so long that it takes a whole hour.  Little by little I am finding that letting go of perfection is one of my life lessons.  It’s not about being perfect, it’s about doing what is perfect to you and standing by it, learning from it and trying again, and again.
My goal is to stop reaching for perfect all the time.  There’s nothing wrong with setting your goals high, but perfect isn’t high – it’s unattainable.

Day 30: Slow down you move too fast …

Slow DownThe other day I was running errands with Little Pea and Peach.  We only had a few stops, and two happened to be in the same plaza. Little Pea is starting to walk from place to place, and thankfully listening and holding my hand.  We were walking hand in hand, three abroad.  Little Pea has teeny legs, and although can move quickly when he wants to, holding hands slows him down.  He will doddle from place to place, taking in all the sites, sounds, and smells.  Sometimes distracted enough to come to a full stop.  When you’re running errands it can be easy to become impatient with this promenade.  A man noticed us walking and stopped to comment how I must be frustrated by the lack of speed in which we were moving.  I didn’t really have time to reply, as he whisked himself away faster than my mind had to to arrange a response.  But I soon realized that I didn’t care that we were walking a snail’s pace.  I wasn’t busy.  Yes, I had to pick up a few things, and still had to drive home, start dinner and continue on the usual rush of the day.  But this was more important.  Little Pea looked up with one of his usual grins and we continued to walk hand in hand.

When we arrived home Peach found another Lady Bug.  Frankly this makes me laugh, as our home is full of random lady bugs.  Some homes have spiders, we have lady bugs.  Peach wanted to give it a home, as all lost lady bugs are missing their mommy.  I haven’t taught her that little rhyme yet, so I find this rather amusing. By the time I found a better jar for the poor thing it had flown away.  Peach insisted it was just playing Hide & Seek, so we had to find him.  He might be scared after all.  I still had yet to the dishes, take out the recycling, bind all the cardboard, and of course do the whole bedtime routine to complete.  Instead we searched for a lady bug.  We found him, but we chose to tuck him into the basil plant for a good night’s sleep. 

It can be hard to give up our precious time.  It is easy to say and believe that we do not have the time to stop and smell the roses.  Frankly though, it only takes a few moments to refresh our perspective.  You don’t have to be hand in hand with a child to slow down your pace.  Taking a breather from our usual hurried speed could result in seeing something for the first time, experiencing something new or even meeting the love of your life.

My hubby and I have one of those fairy tale stories.  I was a single gal living downtown Toronto.  I was heading back home after visiting the Craft Fair.  I had been walking around the rather large International Centre all morning, so at Union Station I opted to grab a transfer, in case I was lucky enough to catch a streetcar home.  Fate decided to intervene that day. A rather dapper young man happened to be a little displaced in the station closest to my home.  I had a moment to decide if I should stop.  I chose to.  Tapping him on the shoulder I asked if he was lost.  He said yes, and we discussed possible methods for him to reach his destination.  I offered up my transfer, since he had not grabbed one, and told him I would show him the way to the streetcars at street level.  Once we reached the street he asked if I would like to get a coffee.  I agreed.  We shared a very long walk through my neighbourhood, and finished up our spontaneous date with an exchange of phone numbers.  One day shy of one year we married one another.  It’s a little crazy, and there have been a lot of growing pains from such a quick marriage, but I wouldn’t change one bit about any of it.  I think back now though.  He was on a mission, which he completely postponed to take a chance on me.  Had he not offered that opportunity we would certainly not be here together today. 

Slow down … you never know what you will find.

Day 28: A Horse is horse of course of course …

First, yes I know I skipped a few days.  I had family come and visit, and frankly time with people is much more important than time with the internet.  But let’s not let a little gap ruin my momentum, and pick up where I left off.

Visiting with people inspires so much to write about too.  This comes from two places – one conversation in real time, and another via a personal online conversation.

Sometimes a passion turns into something that is more useful than just a hobby that you love. It becomes a healing-tool.  A method to help you over come depression and anxiety.  It gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning, look forward to each day, and greet the day with a brighter outlook.  Psychologists call this Assisted Therapy.  Using a hobby, or extra-curricular activity to aid in the process of over coming grief, depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.  Most of us have heard of these therapies.  Art Therapy, a love of mine, is considered a therapy with assistance as its ability to heal usually relies on an outside medium as well as the standard talking and listening techniques.  Others include; Drama Therapy, Music Therapy, and a newer one Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT). 

Equine Assisted Therapy or EAT is working with a horse, usually one-on-one to alleviate any mental distress.  It can also be used to Imagehelp in physical rehabilitation.  Many times, these two go hand in hand.  This was shown in extreme depth in the movie The Horse Whisperer where the young girl who sustains sever physical injuries and a loss of a best friend turns to her wounded horse to teach her how to get back up.  Although a slightly long story, it is incredible.  (I am shushing my dad’s side comments here, as he is not one to appreciate subtleties in movies as The Horse Whisperer)

Horse.  A hard working animal most commonly found on farms, pulling wagons, or giving joy-rides to young children.  To some, that is all a horse is, but to others they stand for so much more.  After a brief, but inspiring conversation through good old facebook chat, led me to look up Equine Assisted Therapy.

It makes sense though.  I have known a good handful of young women and men who I could easily describe as ‘horse obsessed’.  My dear roommate was.  She pined for her horses.  Going back to my Grade Eight year, my science partner, another horse lover insisted that our Science Fair project have something to do with horses.  I am personally not on this horse wagon mind you.  I can appreciate the beauty, but I have a pretty decent fear of them.  But when I saw how my roommate would return after a weekend with her horses, or my Science partner in the barn while we carefully combed our Horse-Hair Conditioner through her beloved’s long tail, I can sincerely say, horses have a way of connecting on a deeper level.

My Little Pony: Friendship is MagicI believe it would be safe to say that having a passion gives life purpose.  When you feel you have a purpose, your mind is less inclined to go to that darker place.  Sometimes two or more people can share that same passion, and together you all find a purpose, and a place of belonging.  This happened with the funny phenomenon called the Bronies. Basically a quickly-growing group of grown 20 or 30 something men have latched onto the tween TV program, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic which stars cute candy-coloured animated ponies. It seems odd, but they say they appreciate the plot lines.  Having seen the show a few times – as it airs on Treehouse – the beloved channel of Little Pea and Peach I can attest that the stories are much more suited to an older audience.  I personally find the show to be too mature for Treehouse’s target audience of Pre-school to Primary.  My children walk away when it comes on.  Although Peach appreciates the rainbows and the one purple horse which i do not know the name of.  But these men have found something to love in it.  Within that adoration they have brotherhood, belonging and simply something to look forward to.  Having a place to belong is one of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  According to Maslow, in order to be Self-Actualized, confidence in oneself to pursue inner talent, ending in creative fulfillment, one must have belonging, among a number of other important aspects of life, first. Without those, Self-Actualization is not possible.  Horse Says Neigh: Little Fox & Froggie

Passions have a near magical way of keeping the joy in our life.  They can heal souls, mend broken hearts, ease worried minds, and bring smiles to our faces, even in the darkest of moments.

I may not be super passionate about horses, but I know whenever I have been down picking up a pen or pencil and doodling something in one of my little sketchbooks immediately puts me in a new, lighter frame of mind.  For years I have kept a journal, or sketchbook where I would scrawl out all my insecurities, worries, joys and ideas.  Thinking of new ideas always brings me out of my slump.  It gives me confidence to try the new ideas, face potential failure, and trust in my own abilities.  I like to call this Joy-Therapy.