Wednesday, July 27, 2011

sunflower days

Golden Highlights

Today is going to be a sunflower kind of day.  I wasn't going to post today, but I really wanted to after I had a conversation with my girl Julie this morning.  And she loves sunflowers as much as I do.  I love the monarch nectaring on the sunflower.  It makes me happy.

Sunflowers must be the happiest looking flowers on God's green Earth.  They turn their beautiful faces to the sun everyday.  And who doesn't love yellow against the blue-sky backdrop of a mid-summer day?  When my faith is feeling tenuous, I just need to look at the sunflower to make it all better.  That would be something to remember instead of getting all wrapped up in myself.  But alas, I am only a frail human, and humans often forget these simple truths.

Julie has made the courageous move to be closer to her family in Virginia.  She has left behind 3 adult children, her friends and her career.  And for now her husband.  I am praying that John can soon join them, and that the US immigration situation moves quickly.  If you are of the praying kind, please pray for them too.  Julie and her whole family need those prayers now.  Especially "E",  their littlest boy.

I can honestly say I will miss Julie with all of my heart.  Thank God for facebook!  It is going to be the means to keep Julie and I in touch until we see each other again.  I know some people aren't fans of facebook, but when used to connect with those far away it is a Godsend.

I know you're reading this Julie.  I love you.  And I am wishing you a sunflower day too.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Happiness Project ponderings

As promised, no more morbid, whiny posts.  I'm over it.  And myself, incidentally.
I've continued reading The Happiness Project.  And I like it.  As painful as some of it may be to put into practice.  My favourite resolution?  Be Gretchen (the author's name).  I've decided to adopt that one for myself.  Be Nicole.  While I don't really think I'm not good at being myself, I know I need to stop apologizing for being who I am.  I am slightly neurotic (maybe alot?).  I overthink and overanalyze everything.  I am a lover of nature (in educational terms, I'm a Naturalist learner) and our wonderful Earth, but I guess anyone who knows about the zoo that I keep at my house already figured that out.  For those who don't know--1dog, 2 cats, 3 rats, 2 rabbits, and a deep seated desire to have another dog, chickens, alpacas and a horse (or 5).  You can see why my darling hubs, non-animal person that he is, does not want to move to the country.  And accuses me of being a babystep away from being an animal hoarder.  But I digress....  I am creative.  I love children.  I am a teacher, and I am bossy.  I am a perfectionist, but I don't expect others to be perfect.  And I love learning.  Taking a university course is what I love to do in my spare time.  And I am a voracious reader.  Of anything and everything, but I really love Marian Keyes novels, and magazines.  Magazines are my favourite.  But they are expensive, and I have discovered reading blogs tickles my fancy just about as much as magazines.  And blogs are free reading.  I love to exercise, and yoga is my favourite.  Something about getting into asana is so freeing.  Even when I''m practising a bind.

I'm working on clearing the clutter that I blogged about before.  Both literally and figuratively.  I'm looking at my kitchen and family room right now, and it occurs to me that I have a ways to go.  But I'm working on it!  The one thing that I could say about The Happiness Project book, is that it has given me fresh new ideas, and things to consider about happiness.  Clutter-clearing is just one of them.

If anyone is feeling a little dissatisfied with their life, I suggest giving it a read.  You might be surprised at what you discover.  Or maybe not.  I know I have been.  

See, no more whining.  I am in a much better place today.  And I think part of it might just be because I spent some quality time with 2 of my nephews last night.  Something about hanging out with 4 & 1/2 year old and almost 1 year old boys gives new outlook on things.  They are darling.  Did you know that the cheetah is the fastest animal on the African savannah?  Just one little tidbit of knowledge imparted to me by my nephew.  And it's a fact well worth knowing.

Wishing everyone happiness, however you find it.  Because happiness and good health go hand in hand.

Monday, July 25, 2011

friendship pt 3

This is my last whiny post.  I promise.

Despite my belief that I have made a good decision for myself, it still hurts.  The kind of hurts that makes you cry when you're running, and you try to pretend it's sweat you're wiping off of your face, 'cause you're running through town, in your neighbourhood and everyone can see you.  The kind of hurt that gives you a stitch in your side, or at least that's what you tell yourself when you're running, wiping the *sweat* off of your face.  Maybe it's actually pain in the vicinity of your heart.

Now I'm not real big into emotional pain.  I don't like it one bit.  But I am trying to meet it head on, look it in the eye and conquer it.  I'd like to take a big stick and conk it over the head.  You see, I inherited my family's way of dealing with hurt.  Get really angry at it, and everything around you.  Anger hurts less than emotional pain.

I've been torturing myself, wondering what it is about me that makes me vulnerable to these kinds of friendships.  The ones that leave me behind, and can't understand what the big deal is.  Why do people think it's ok to treat me like that?  Why is it there's lots of time for other friendships, but not ours?  I don't get it.  I don't know that I ever will.  But I can tell you hearing about the great times with those other friends really hurts.

So I'm still working on letting it go.  And I thank the people who have been supportive of me in this journey.  I don't know that others will understand this, but I can't control what others think or do.  I can only control my actions and reactions.  

I'm not foolish enough to seriously believe that the people who I'd like to see this will read it, or understand it.  Maybe I'm not actually foolish at all?!  Maybe I just am.  Me.

Take me as I am.  Or don't take me at all. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

friendship part 2

Apparently my post yesterday hit a few nerves.  I have been accused of using my blog to intentionally hurt others.  While that was not my intention, I do acknowledge that those that saw themselves in the things I wrote may have been hurt.  I apologize if anyone's feelings were hurt.  But I find it interesting that some people were sure it was specifically aimed at them.  Very interesting.

And I it's also interesting to me how my feelings and desire to be treated with the same care and respect as I treat others could cause so much anger and hurt.  They are my feelings.  Written about generically in my blog.  No names were mentioned.  If one has a clear conscience, then what's the big deal?!  By writing about my hurt I made people angry?  Standing up for myself, even if I never do it directly but only write about it, is not wrong.  But the reactions of others do confirm for me that my feelings are not what they are concerned about.  And that's ok.  But it's also ok for me to not want that kind of friendship.  With anyone--no specific people in mind.  I deserve better than second-best.  I deserve better than leftovers.  And I would tell anyone that they too deserve better than that.  That just boils down to respect.  And every single person on this planet deserves to be respected.

So if I have lost friendships over my last post, for that I am saddened.  But chances are, if those friendships are forever lost, then I would have lost them anyway. 

Enough sad stuff.  I am done crying for the day.  Promise!  There have been way too many tears lately, it's time to move on.

Running update--Rick signed us up for a 5k race!  We have entered into the Ferguson Memorial Run, the weekend of the Orangeville Fall Fair (for anyone who knows where Orangeville is!).  It's very exciting.  I'm nervous, but excited.  I don't expect to run it very fast, but I just want to finish the whole thing running.  My knees are good (knock on wood!), none of the usual injuries are rearing their ugly heads.  Thank you yoga!  And of course my trusty New Balance running shoes :)
I'm also considering entering a women's run in October.  I'm trying to work up the courage to enter the 8k.  I still have awhile to enter, so I think I'll see how the 5k race goes first.  There is a 5k option at the women's run too, so I could just do that.  I'm not sure if Jessie knows it yet, but she will be coming home from uni to take pictures of us crossing the finish line.  I want that memorialized!  I will look all red and sweaty, but I still want a permanent record that I ran that race!  And Rick too.

I haven't written about it, but I spent Thursday and Friday at a fabulous workshop about Monarch butterflies.  It was the hands-down best professional development I've been to in a looong time.  So exciting.  I will be looking for Monarch eggs and caterpillars to rear, once we get lacrosse provincials over with.  They are fascinating creatures, and I can't wait to use them for the entire first term at school.  My mind is awhirl with the possibilities!  And as door prize I won a couple plants to get my monarch garden started.  The garden that I have been planning in my mind for the entire time I've lived in this house.  Now I have all of the information I need.  My little naturalist learners are going to love this year with their naturalist teacher.  I'm all for teaching to the multiple intelligences--and this year the naturalists are going to love it!

Wishing everyone love and gratitude.  Gratitude is sent to all of my friends.


Saturday, July 23, 2011


I think I'm a good friend.  I'm the kind of true blue, always got your back, good listener friend that most people like to have in their life.  Unfortunately for me, I'm also the kind of friend who gets bailed on, quietly takes slights (intended or unintended) to heart, and cries tears of hurt and frustration in the privacy of my own home...or car...or shower.  Wherever, you get the picture.  I know in my heart that I deserve better than this, that I too deserve true blue friends that have time for me in their lives.  And who want to actually spend some time together in person.

I don't think I'm generally a jealous person, but I don't much care for hearing or reading about the great times they have with their other friends, when I don't even rate an HOUR for coffee over the course of a few months.  I wouldn't want anyone to give up their time with other friends, but if they are my friend I should rate at least a smidgen of their time.  And expecting me to still be their true blue friend is unfair, and unrealistic.  In that vein, I am no longer willing to take the leftovers.  I deserve better than that.

As a part of my personal happiness project I blogged about before, I am not willing to "make do" and be there always.  I need to have friendships in which I feel equally as valued as I value the other person.  I don't feel valued when I never get to see them.  I don't feel very good about this decision, it goes against my entire way of being.  But I deserve friendships that are nurtured and in which I am cherished, not just a convenient listener when things aren't going well.  Try your good time friends.  I'm guessing that you'll find they are not the true blue friend that I am.  I'm thinking that perhaps you will wish you had nurtured our friendship and wanted to spend time with me.  If not, whatever.  At this point I'm not really caring.

So there!  I am going to focus on nurturing and cherishing friendships and taking them to a deeper level.  I deserve to have those kind of friendships.  Period.

I wish everyone the deep, nurturing friendships that they deserve.  You deserve it as much as I do.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

summer heat

I don't like to complain about the heat, I really don't.  I am not a fan of winter, I can't wait for summer, I dream of it all winter long.  But the heatwave in southern Ontario coupled with hormonal yuckiness, the stress of the course I'm taking, and the stress of parenting/being a wife, have all combined to make me feel like crap.  A headache kind of hovering around my head, general feeling of malaise/discontent/restlessness.  Ick.  A trip to the beach would likely fix most of it, but alas, the beach is not an option.  Appointments for my boys the last couple of days have nixed going to the beach.  And I have to get some work done on the course (I'm almost there, almost done!), and I don't think the beach would be the best place for my laptop, even if I could get internet.  I'm really starting to think that my absolute heels-dug in opposition to central air-conditioning, we can live without it, it's bad for the environment-stance is just misplaced stubborness.  And it may be a small price to pay for some relief, if it means the safety of my family.  (not from the heat, from me when I give into my feelings of hormone induced, irrational rage--ok, not really, but it has crossed my mind)

I'm kicking myself for not getting my butt outta bed and dressed to run when I was up at 5:30 this morning.  Because now it's too hot and there's no frickin' chance that I'm running outside in this heat.  I have no desire to cause myself heatstroke, which is what I fear would happen.  So because I was lazy, now I have to run on the treadmill today.  Although catching up on Season 2 of Glee while I run is actually kind of appealing.  I can pace myself by singing along, instead of talking to myself to make sure I'm not working too hard.  Hmmmm.....things are suddenly looking up.  Of course the kids and critters will need to wear protective earcoverings to muffle my singing....

I am heading to a workshop tomorrow and Friday, about Monarch butterflies.  It's for teachers, and I'm really looking forward to it!  I will get to tag butterflies for their migration to Mexico this fall.  And I will hopefully pretty much have the first couple of months of school planned with butterfly stuff.  Nice!  I am a little concerned about the weather forecast, I hope there's a lot of shade.  My fairest of fair skin cannot handle too much sun, no matter how much sunscreen I slather on.  And a large part of both days is outside.  I'm guessing a hat will definitely be in order.  Dorky or not.

I picked up Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred dvd last week.  My friend Melissa has been doing it, and says she is enjoying it.  Thought I'd give it a try.  Now I just have to actually do it.  Funny how workout dvds don't work unless you actually use them!  I'm thinking that it will be another basement activity, where it's cool enough I won't collapse.  Given that I need to exercise down there, I really need to get on the cleaning up of the man-boy cave.  I have a very difficult focusing when I look around and it's a total disaster.

I think I've procrastinated and whined enough for one day.  Time to get some real work done.  I sincerely hope everyone is ok in this heat.  Please take care, don't get too overheated.  On the plus side, it's perfect for hot yoga (very hot, I'm thinking!)

Namaste friends.

Monday, July 18, 2011

running in the heat and food diaries

After a beautifully soft morning rain, it cleared up and is beautiful and sunny.  And humid!  My day was off to a rip-roaring start at about 5:20 a.m. when hubby called from the car (it`s his first day back to work after 2 weeks off), a little panicky that he had gotten gas at the swipe and go station around the corner, and then couldn`t find his visa.  Of course it was raining fairly hard at this point, but I am a good wifey (sort of...anyway...) and threw on shorts and a jacket over my tank/jammy top and jumped in the van to go see if it had fallen out of his pocket at the station.  Of course I wandered around in the rain, half asleep and without glasses to see if I could find it.  Had fun trying to find his name in my blackberry address book without my glasses, to call him to say I couldn't find it.  Headed back home, and a few minutes later he called to say he had found it, it had fallen down between the car seat and the door.  Glad he found it, but then I was up for the day.  So I opened all of the windows and made coffee, and listened to the soft rain while I checked my email and facebook.  At that point, didn't really have time for my run and didn't really feel like it to be honest.  So I decided to wait until after I dropped  Jess off at work.  And the rain cleared up to afore mentioned sunny skies.

Headed out for my run, and quickly discovered that at 8:30ish, it was already starting to heat up for the day.  In fact, I think I sweated as much during that run as I have on any yet this summer.  I even folded up my shirt and ran with my white belly exposed.  And if you know me, you know how careful I am to never expose that white belly to the world.  I have to add for your peace of mind that I run at the track, sheltered from public view by trees, completely alone.  Whew!  But I got it in, and drank a bunch of water, and did some glorious yoga stretches when I got home.  Beautiful and I feel great!

So inspired in fact, I decided to take the slipcovers off of my Poang chairs (Ikea) to throw them in the washing machine.  All part of my happiness project I blogged about yesterday.  Kind of hard to find peace when filthy slipcovers are mocking you every time you sit in the family room...but I digress.  I may live to regret taking the foam out of them.  It was like wrestling an unwilling toddler into a carseat.  I can only imagine what hell it's going to be trying to get the foam back in them!  Good thing I was still sweaty from my run.  Would have ticked me off to get all sweaty again after my shower!

Another part of my "renewal" project that is designed to bring me happiness is to tighten up my diet again.  I have been eating stuff that is not good for me or my allergies, and is not going to help to make the white belly shrink to flatness.  My ND asked me to keep a food diary for a week, and to email it to her.  Of course that request in itself has given me the kick in the a** needed to clean up my eating.  So I'm back on my strict allergen-free diet, and that includes no alcohol, no sugar, way fewer carbs (goodbye rice, my old friend!) and only 2 servings of fruit a day.  Bring on the veggies, beans and more veggies!  More water is in order too, and also the 4 cups of green tea I'm supposed to be drinking a day.  I'm thinking iced, with lots of lemon and lime.  Maybe a touch of agave syrup or stevia to make it palatable. 

I also decided when I was running that perhaps I need to give myself a break.  I have given birth to 4 babies, my tummy is NOT going to look like it did when I was 20 and childless.  At the beach the other day, I was amazed to see so many bikinis, and women who clearly were quite fine with their real women bodies (flipping the bird to the media images of what women should look like!).  If they can do it, so can I!  Maybe not publicly at first (I don`t want to blind people with my white belly!), and I do need to work up to it.  I have not worn a bikini since I was in Florida when I was 19!  Maybe its time.  I do know I won`t be trying any on at Winners though--those mirrors are likely responsible for many eating disorders and slashed wrists!  Maybe by the end of August.  So if you're planning trips to the beach later this summer, you might want to be sure you have super shaded sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare.  There's only so much that a few weeks of  bikini top wearing on my deck can do to turn my flesh from white to lightish pinkish, beigeish.

Hope you are all keeping coolish and enjoying this all too brief glorious summer weather. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Happiness Project

I just started reading the book, The Happiness Project.  My best friend in the whole wide world is working on her master's thesis, and one of the books she used was The Happiness Project.  And if the happiest person in the world got something worthwhile out of it, then I'm thinking it's a read for me.  Me, who's motto could aptly be, "the season of my discontent".  In all areas of my life.  It's just the way I'm wired, I'm thinking.  Anyhow, one chapter into the book, and I've already made a connection with the author.  One of the things she tackles to increase her happiness is the clutter that comes along with families.  She talks about how freeing cleaning out her closet was, and buying nice jars for all of the little junk that her daughters accumulate (you know, like Littlest Pet Shop, and Barbie shoes!).  I almost heard angels singing!  I look around my much cluttered, untidy house and I realize that part of that niggling discontent I feel in the pit of my belly is caused by STUFF!  We have more junk than any normal person (well, as a normal person, I guess).  Hello Hoarders?!  Somedays I think we are but a hop-step-and-jump away from being featured on that show.  We collect.  And every time I've lost a grandparent in recent years, I end up with more STUFF, because I am a sentimentalist.  And because my hugely sentimental family (Mom) doesn't want it at their house, but want to keep it in the family.  And I'm an idiot.  I can't say no.

Anyhow, like the author, I need to get the stuff and clutter under control.  What is the point in spending hours exercising, yoga-ing, taking courses, etc, etc, if I don't get rid of the stuff that is cluttering not only my house, but my mind.  I know how good I will feel if I conquer this monster.  And make no mistake, it is a monster.  Ever heard Bill Cosby's act about the Blob that ate Manhattan?  The Blob is in my house.  And we're all going to be gobbled up!

One of the big clutter making things is papers.  Papers that need to be filed.  Extended health care receipts and forms.  Mixed in with lacrosse schedules.  And scholarly articles about how use of technology helps to bridge the achievement gap in literacy between boys and girls (my teacher inquiry project).  Guitar tabs for songs I've never heard of (Jackson the guitar master, always learning new songs).  Just papers.  Piles and piles of papers.

So it is my goal to conquer the clutter.  Pitch the papers we don't need, and file the rest.  Clean out the cupboards.  Take all of the kids' junk to their rooms, they can deal with it there.  Unpack the boxes in the basement that have been moved from house to house for almost 20 years. I'm thinking if I haven't missed it, I don't need it.  Take all of the unusable junk to the dump.  Take the rest to the Salvation Army thrift shop.  At this point a garage sale is the last thing I want to do, so much work, so little profit.  And then I still have to take it to the Sally Ann anyway. 

Step one in my personal Happiness Project.  I think it might take me the rest of the summer.  But it will be time well spent.  And a nice break from this *&?"/! course I`m taking.  And really, the basement is nice and cool, cleaning that disaster up will be a break from the heat, right?!

Once I get a head of the clutter, I will finally throw a coat of paint on my antique desk (I've only been planning that since Jess was a toddler.  She's going away to university in September).  Recover the cushions for the livingroom (that's only been planned since March Break).  And work on some other small painting projects.

It's only a start, but happiness is really what I'm after.  Aren't we all?

Hope you are all enjoying this glorious heat!  Speaking of happiness, spent the day at the beach yesterday, after a very hot long run at the running clinic.  The beach was pure bliss.  Georgian Bay is actually sort of warm.  Warm enough for me to go in anyway.  Seamus spent hours playing in the water, and Jackson was fairly content reading on the beach.  No major sunburns, just beautiful sunkissed skin, and LOTS of freckles.  I am polka-dotted!  But in a good way :)

Have a glorious Sunday.

Namaste.  My your peace and happiness be easily attainable.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

teenagers, accutane and general bumps in the road

It has not been a great couple of weeks.  Teenage growing pains and poor decisions, coupled with disagreement over parental decisions make for some stressful times.  My son, with his father's support, has decided to begin taking Accutane for his severe acne.  I blogged about this before.  I am adamantly opposed to Accutane.  I feel that on top of some of the poor choices he's made lately, Accutane is perhaps the straw that will break the camel's back.  Or cause me to have a nervous breakdown.  I cannot condone taking a medication  that requires signed parental consent.  The possible side effects are horrendous and possibly damaging long-term.  "But the doctor says...."  Does anyone else realize that the studies she quotes are funded by the companies that produces these horrible drugs?  Seriously.  Is it possible that I'm the only adult in this equation who researches studies that are NOT funded by pharmaceutical companies??  And does anyone really believe that I do not have my child's best interest at heart?  I am not amused.  In the least. 

But, I am maintaining my running schedule, and even did an easy run this morning that is optional on the plan.  Yes folks, I am running even when I don't have to.  True story.  To add an additional truth, I think it may well have saved my sleeping husband's life.  The urge to smother him and smash large objects over his head in his slumber were very difficult to quell.  So I went running instead.  I'm considering buying a heavy bag to kick and punch the stuffing out of too.  Shim would really like one, we could both take our aggressive urges out on it.  But then I might spend all of my time in the basement.  Might be safer for everyone involved.

Sorely missing my yoga class.  Still sad it was cancelled for the summer.  Home practice is just not the same.  But I will keep practising at home, even though it's not as fun.  I think my dog laughs at me when I do it, but she deserves a good laugh now and them too!  :)

I just want to say, God bless the parents of teenagers everywhere.  If you are navigating the parenting waters I am currently (haha, get it?  current/water....) then you deserve a medal.  Getting through this shite realtively unscathed is truly miraculous.  And you should get a medal and a large cash prize.  I'd even settle for a nice chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and a quiet, clean house.

If you don't have teenagers, but are parenting little ones, God bless you too.  I'm sorry you are exhausted and run ragged by the busy-ness of young children, but please savour it.  You will someday get more sleep, but never again will you be able to control the environment in which your chicklets live.  And having that control and ability to protect them is something to be savoured.

Wishing everyone summer blessings, I hope you are enjoying this beautiful summer weather.  The sunshine has been truly brightening my day.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hip Mountain Mama blog

Go check out the Hip Mountain Mama blog for some great 3rd anniversary give-away draws!

Great green living ideas and products!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I love summer!

A little update on summer so far:

Running is going well!  So pleased to be doing so well with my new running program.  I am thrilled that yoga has balanced and corrected some tight areas of my body, and running is soooo much more accessible to me.  It is my goal to be able to run 5 k inhaler-free.  Not there yet, but on the way.  Woohoo!

Received an email from the lovely Sarah cancelling the summer yoga session due to lack of enrollment.  I almost cried, I was so bummed out.  I absolutely love going to yoga, it is my break, my thing that I do on my own without anyone from my family.  I love my family, but it helps keep me sane to have time away.  I know I HAVE to practice at home.  There is nothing stopping me but myself.  Time to break out Shiva Rea and Eoin Surfer-yoga dude dvds and get my asana on.  I`m also going to do some drop-in classes at Buddha Rider.

Started new course, so far, so good.  Very enjoyable, but yet again I am one of the more experienced (that means older!) teachers involved in the course, and while I enjoy the enthusiasm of the youngers teachers, some of their pie in the sky ideas about education can be a little irritating.  I try to be understanding, but sometimes--puleeze!  Let`s be realistic folks!

Rick and I went for a drive to Brampton to the car dealership to have his car looked at, test drove an SUV.  Couldn't make the numbers work.  So we stopped at another dealership to test drive a mini-van, and left having bought a van!  Not thrilled to be driving a van again, eco reasons, etc., but it is going to be sweet not listening to the kids fight about being in the middle of the backseat.  We will no longer look like the clown car at the circus with all of these huge people getting out of a tiny little car.  My over 6 foot son will no longer have his knees up around his ears riding in the backseat.  And the kids are thrilled that they'll be able to invite a friend to come places with us, since we'll have enough room.  I haven't driven a van since Shim was just a little guy, I did kind of think that part of my life was over, but once again I will fit in with the young mommies driving a mini-van :)

Hope everyone is enjoying these blissful, easy days of summer,

Saturday, July 2, 2011

good run

The running clinic this morning went really well and I was feeling great.  Then I went for an overdue haircut.  Thought I'd try something different, time for a change.  Let's just say it's a good thing hair grows.  I remember why I've had the same haircut for about 7 years--it works.  This does not.  I'd like to say I'm not vain, but that apparently would be a lie.  I'm hoping it will look better once I've styled it myself.  Oh well, it was my choice to get this cut.

I'm trying to get the good run energy back.  Tomorrow will be a better day--at least for hair I hope.