Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

I’ve mentioned before and I’m sure I’ll mention again that October is not a great month. I’m not a fan of the darkened days. I *really* don’t like getting up in the dark. The chill in the air is apparent and as much as I do love the cool crisp fall air, I’m not a fan of snow. We’ve had one snowfall so far and could potentially get a dumping this weekend.

And I’m just not ready for it. The only time I can really ever say I was ready for it to snow was the year we didn’t have any until almost Christmas.

I live in Canada. Northern Alberta. It’s supposed to be cold in the winter. We’re supposed to have snow. But despite living here for 8.5 years, I’m still not loving the winter. If I could live where there was a 2 month winter, or where you could go see snow on the mountains within an hour, I’d be all over it.

And shit just seems to HAPPEN in October. We have family members going through treatment for various things. We have anniversaries of deaths in and around October of people who left us too soon. I’m going through a particularly bad spell of anxiety and am now trying a new medication which is resulting in me being dizzy. Not slightly light-headed but downright dizzy. I look out the window and do a little “woooo” sound as the world moves for a second. I can’t drive so my kids have missed school. Chef Husband is doing his best to get the kids to school around his teaching schedule and we have an amazing friend who took the kids after school yesterday until Chef Husband could get them, but today they’re home.

But you know what? Even though all of this is shitty and I’ve really had better days, it’s all small stuff. (Well, the sick relatives isn’t so much small stuff). I still have my family. I still have my friends. My firey little spunky daughter is about to be 5. My best friend next door and my best friend across the country are there for me every day. I am lucky.

I see what I’m going through as a blip. Tracy said to me yesterday that she feels like I’m on a huge journey and you know what? I am. I’m on a journey of self discovery and despite needing to go back to the medication route, I feel more comfortable with this decision than I ever have before. I know that with medication and everything else I am doing, I can get back to being an active member of society. I can get back to participating in events and walking into the mall to get something without having to ground myself first and sometimes run out the doors the second I’ve walked in them.

I’m on a journey. It’s like my own never-ending vacation. Some people go on retreats to find themselves; I sit in my living room and think. (As an aside, I’d absolutely love to go on a self discovery retreat, yoga retreat, silence retreat.. any retreat really, but finances prevail). And I’m still learning. I’m still on that journey as long as I remember that all of this is happening because I need it to. It’s happening so I can be stronger, be more aware, and grow as a person.

I’m not going to lie. I’ve cursed more than a few times this week. I’ve prayed about why everything is happening. I’ve crumbled and whined. Because through it all, I’m human. But I have to believe that all of this is for some greater good. There has to be a lesson in everything. It’s what I have to believe and what I do believe.

So do me a favour. Try not to sweat the small stuff today. Because the small stuff may be what makes you great.

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You Gotta Know When to Fold ‘Em

Ah life.

Today was day 20 in the yoga challenge. I took a class called Hatha Raja. It worked with pranayama (breath) and long-held postures. It’s a bit of an intense class – basically it can bring up a lot of shit. It was hard for me, but I did it (every time I do something I think is hard mentally, I consider it a large victory). And now I’m exhausted.

I’m exhausted. All. The. Time.

On Wednesday I decided I needed to make some changes in order to help me get through this. So I’ve decided to take a step back from my 30 day yoga challenge. I’m realizing that my physical and mental body is extremely fatigued. I can barely actually make it through a yoga class right now without wanting to leave it because I’m exhausted in some form or another. Yoga typically helps me – it grounds me, teaches me to focus, teaches me to have strength, and teaches me that I’m stronger than I often realize. Right now, I feel like forcing myself to do this challenge is working against all of those things. I will still be partaking in some of the classes, but not all of them.

I need to do this for me. In order for me to be a better mother, better wife, and better me, I need to respect myself and follow my gut. I’m very aware of my current limitations and I need to let that be okay.

I’m trying to be more gentle with myself. The other night I decided I was going to take a bath. I brought a book in – Living Your Yoga by Judith Lasater. My mother had bought me this book when I was in Ottawa this summer and I had loved reading it. Sometime between then and now though, I’d forgotten about it. I picked it up the other evening and the first page I opened to was the chapter entitled Letting Go. I literally snapped my head back in shock, and then I burst out laughing. Life has a way of leading you exactly where you need to be at any given moment.

This morning in the Hatha Raja class (Sean was the instructor), he closed it by saying “Respect you. Love you. Be you.”

And that’s just what I’m doing.

I’m Gonna Make It

Oh it’s been a rough week.

I’ve missed yoga. I’ve been sick. And I’ve been really overwhelmed and frustrated.

“In the midst of difficulty lies opportunity.” — Albert Einstein

Last yoga challenge I experienced some rough goings around week 2-3 and it appears I’m having the same-ish experience.

Today was day 17 so I’m not going to go through all of the different classes I took over the last week but I will say this:

Sometimes, you need to know when to let go.

Friday I stayed home. I got an extra hour of sleep after also having napped Thursday afternoon. Miss A and I hung around most of the day as she’s been having her own health issues and didn’t go to school. I went Saturday and Sunday but Monday I awoke feeling miserable. So I picked up and went off to yoga, but instead of participating I meditated. I found a lot of stillness that I desperately needed and it was well worth it to meditate.

Tuesday (yesterday) I again opted out. I couldn’t get back to sleep because of body pain so I laid awake until it was time to get up with the kids. I got Mr Man off to school and then felt awful. I wound up back in bed while Miss A played around me. I slept a total of about 4 hours during the day yesterday. Miss A missed school again – this time because of me – I literally could not take her. She was an angel and I was so appreciative.

We managed to go and get Mr Man after school and when we got home, down I flopped onto the couch again. Mr Man advised me to go to bed. I insisted I was okay on the couch and he deemed it okay, but also decided that he was going to be in charge so I didn’t have to be. I obliged and he did a great job abiding by the house rules. When having our bedtime snuggle he said to me “Okay mama. Until you’re all better, no sugar and lots of naps.” I said “Okay love” and he said “I’m not kidding mama. Those are the rules.”

While on the one had it saddens me that my 6 year old has way too deep an understanding of an occasionally unwell mother, it also elates me to know that at 6, he’s already kind, compassionate, and thoughtful. Migraines ravage my brain sometimes every month, sometimes every other, but migraines have been a part of our family’s existence for a long time. The kids know exactly what I mean when I say “Mama has one of her headaches” and they go into quiet play mode. Mr Man in the past has even made me tea (with supervision of course) and gotten me hot packs.

“Find the sweetness in your own heart, then you may find the sweetness in every heart.”~ Rumi

I don’t want my kids to have to “take care” of me, but at the same time, I appreciate what this is teaching them.

It really hasn’t been a good week for me, and yet through all of this I’ve found that in moments, I can still be grateful – grateful for my children, my husband, my opportunity to practice yoga within my own scope, and to learn how to treat my body with kindness.

As Heidy said in our class this morning – You don’t need site to have vision.

 

For All There Is – I give thanks

I live in Canada. And in Canada, we do Thanksgiving a little differently. For one, it’s in October. For two, although a family celebration, it’s not the giant holiday it is in the US. But, it still involves a lot of food.

This year, I’m really trying to focus on what I’m thankful for and I’ve come up with a few things.

1 – My family, near and far. My husband and I live in western Canada. Both sets of parents live in eastern Canada. Our siblings don’t even live in this country. (Mine is in the states, Chef Husband’s is currently in Jordan). It’s hard to always be away from family during these “family” holidays, but then we’ve created our own little family here which brings me to …

2 – Our friends, near and far. Our friends span the entire length of Canada and we have a few in the states as well. We are lucky though – some of our closest friends live right next door. It is with them (J-Money and family) that we spend holidays. We could up a feast each Thanksgiving and Christmas (I think we’re going on year 4 of doing this). She cooks the turkey; I cook the ham. She does the potatoes; I do the sweet potatoes. She does stuffing; I do a gluten-free version. She does gravy; Chef Husband does gf wine gravy. We have it at her house; I bring dessert. The kids play, we talk, and we feast.

3 – Our health. We have our little health issues with some celiac disease floating around, a little man that’s prone to severe bouts of croup, a little girl who reacts to many vaccinations, and various other things that pop up but you know what? I’m thankful for all of that. It could be so much worse. And, the things that we have experienced have taught us so much and made us able to help others.

4 – Our physical bodies. This has been a difficult year for me – anxiety has taken a front seat and made me really work to lead a normal life. Yoga has helped me so much in mind, body, and soul. We are intact, and we are able. For that I give thanks.

5 – Our lives. Over the last few years we have been to too many funerals. Chef Husband and I have each lost a grandparent. I lost a dear uncle. And I lost a cousin at far too young an age. I miss them all.

Thanksgiving reminds us to give thanks, to express gratitude and to share love. Hug your family members. Hug your friends.

And please, eat.

This is my kitchen. It’s little and it drives me crazy, but I can cook up a storm in this bad boy. Today, I’ve done just that.

I made sweet potato casserole today. I made this a couple of years ago and everyone loved it. It’s also really, really easy to make.

Here’s what you need:

3 sweet potatoes
4 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp butter or margarine (I used vegan becel)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg
a tiny sprinkle of salt
Jumbo marshmallows

Cook the sweet potatoes until they are tender (I peeled and chopped them to speed up the process).

Once they are done, drain all the water.

Add everything into the pot and using your electric mixer blend it all up.

Put it into a deep dish pie plate or casserole dish.

Add a layer of marshmallows over the top and bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes until the marshmallows are browned.

I haven’t thrown mine into the oven yet, but here’s what it looked like before it went in.

On top of that I also made a crustless gluten-free dairy-free pumpkin pie and 2 full batches of apple sauce. The ham is in the oven and the stuffing is all I have left to make.

Can’t wait to actually consume all this food.

To you and yours, happy Thanksgiving!

You get the class you need..

You don’t always get what you want… but you get what you need”

It all started with the Rolling Stones.

And then I re-learned it with pregnancies and birth. My midwife for my second child said to me that I won’t necessarily get the birth I want, but I’ll get the birth I need.

Even then I saw it was applicable to my first birth. A month early, I went into labour with Mr Man. Three days before a scheduled external inversion to attempt to turn my footling breech baby he was born. Turns out that he had not only his feet stuck resulting in club feet, but also the cord wrapped around his neck – something that would have meant an emergency c-section when he went into distress during the version.

And then with Miss A, I went for a homebirth. Instead I got a 44 hour labour with eventual hospital transfer (by car) and help with forceps and vacuum. BUT, I had a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean).

I got the births I needed.

And every time I walk into the yoga studio, I end up getting the class I need.

If you might recall (catch up on days 1-2 here, days 3-6 here), I was feeling very raw and exhausted. Mr Man had been hurt on the Sunday which is where we begin:

Day 7:
Studio 1: Yoga Flow – Donna
Studio 2: Yin Flow – Heidy

Weekends are for restoration for me. I was all over the Yin. Yin yoga is one of my favourites. It’s the one I do at home the most frequently, and the one that I find to be the most relaxing. Yin involves holding poses for long periods of time – usually 2-5 minutes but sometimes even long. You get right into the tissues of your body (because you know, the issues are in your tissues). What you can hold for a short time in a flow class, you hold for a long time in a yin class and may not be able to go as “deep” for such a long period of time. We did some great hip poses and I loved it – Heidy was delightful and I think it’s the first class I’ve taken from her. She was sweet and made us think, while leading us into poses that don’t often get covered – like the dragon series. I left feeling rejuvenated.

And then Mr Man got hurt later that morning. And I lost that rejuvenation and all my energy went directly into him. Lots of reiki and snuggles later he peacefully slept that night.

Monday I got up feeling very vulnerable. And that led to..

Day 8:
Studio 1: Chakra Yoga Flow – Isabelle
Studio 2: Yoga Flow – Sean

I love Chakra yoga flow. But the lottery system started today. When you come in, you draw a cube with numbers on it and that tells you which studio you go to. My cube led me to studio 2 which of course, was what I needed. Sean focussed on “Inhale. Exhale. Let go.” Could it have been any more perfect? Sometimes when I’m in a yoga class I secretly wonder if the instructor can scan our brains and create a theme or class around that. I spent the class letting go, and chatting with Sean after he reminded me to carry that through my day. I remember the class being strong and my legs working hard, but truthfully, I don’t remember the class itself. I remember that I learned to breathe and let go. That’s what I needed.

The afternoon of Monday we saw the dentist who gave us good news about Mr Man’s injury in that it would likely heal within about a month. He will need further x-rays and monitoring of his teeth, but it could have been so, so so so so so so much worse.

I was exhausted Monday. I read to my boy and fell asleep before 8:30. Tuesday I was ready for…

Day 9:
Studio 1: Vinyasa Flow – Jaya
Studio 2: Yin Yang Flow – Angela

Oh Vinyasa flow. The flow that ignites fear and excitement within. It’s a very strong class where you often do flow with your breath in sequences you would never think of. Jaya spoke of gratitude. Again, could it have been more fitting? I was so grateful for Mr Man’s health, and for everything really – my ability to take part in this challenge, the health and happiness of my family, the friends I surround myself with. It was a tough class. I went into child’s pose on more than a couple of occasions to rest, but I did a lot of the flow sequences also. My legs were sore from Monday’s class, but I went for it. Tuesdays I have to leave early, so right around 7:05 I went into some floor twists and then a mini 2 minute sivasana on my own. I left feeling exuberant. I needed that.

Then last night, I stayed up too late (10:00pm..), and Mr Man slept horribly, ended up in bed with us, and neither I nor Chef Husband slept much after 3am. The last thing I wanted to do this morning was get out of bed. I almost didn’t. But I convinced myself it would be worth it because whatever class I took, I would get something from it and it would be okay.

So I dragged my tush out of bed…

Day 10 One third of the way through!!!
Studio 1: Akhanda Flow – Donna
Studio 2: Vinyasa Flow – Heidy

I pulled a 2. Of course I did. Who wouldn’t want to do Vinyasa 2 days in a row? I was exhausted from no sleep, sore from intense classes Monday and Tuesday, and yet I went for it. Heidy was fantastic. Her theme was love and her quote from the end (which I wrote in the dark in my journal twice- the first time I wrote the second line over the first because I couldn’t see! ) “You don’t need to give when you have love, but you will never love without giving.” Think about that. Meditate on it. Be giving and loving and likely, you will have happiness. I loved how bubbly Heidy was this morning. She made us laugh, she assured us that we could rest any time we wanted, and then she kicked our asses. Flow sequences I’ve never done before, core work, so many leg balances. When we got to the floor we tried to lift off with an arm balance. Heidy demoed it and literally the class laughed. Her legs moved around in the air with complete control while she balanced on the ground. I will say though, I got my hips off the ground for the first time ever. My legs still stayed in place, but serious progress! I had the pleasure of chatting with Heidy after class and it was the perfect start to my day. I obviously needed it.

The lottery system and really putting yourself out there and going to any yoga class, fitness class, meditation group, church, anything – it usually ends that you will learn something. It will teach you something small if you let it, and you can carry that through the rest of your day, week, month, year. Let yourself get what you need, not necessarily what you want.

 

Making it a good day

I had this boss, and he was amazing. Actually, I’ve been rather lucky in that I’ve had a few direct supervisors who have molded me into what I am now professionally. It all started with Joe back in the day in university when I worked for a high tech giant. Then Dan when I worked in sales for another giant company. Marc when I worked for a rather dominant coffee place followed by Peg. Then Harmony when I worked for a big tea place.

Until this moment I never realized how many “big” companies I worked for. I worked for a few start-ups back in my high-tech days, but apparently, mainly bigger ones. Dan and Marc were 2 supervisors that really made me think. They gave me lots of great feedback, and were always encouraging. They grew me up and gave me confidence.

But this title, this is about Marc. You see, Marc had on the end of his voicemail not “have a great day” but rather “Make it a great day.” And that always stuck with me. We can make our days great.

Sure, shit happens. There’s an anniversary coming up that fills me with sadness and dread that certainly was part of no one’s great day. But overall, we do have the ability to make it a great day. At least a good day. Breathe. Always remember to breathe. Think before you speak (something I’m still working on). Take a moment to think of something amazing. Take a moment to look into the faces of someone you love and just breathe them in.

You have the ability.

This 30 day yoga challenge I’m participating in is hard. Keeping track of my children’s food crap is hard. Hell, keeping track of my own food stuff is hard! But I survive it. Day by day I get through. Each day I become someone new – like a snake shedding its skin. I shed my cloak of yesterday and become new today. It’s a brilliant rebirth each day.

Something I’ve also started during this challenge is journalling. I don’t normally journal. A therapist once told me not to because I tend to over think and judge my journalling. Kind of defeats the purpose huh? But during this challenge, I journal every morning. I sit in the quiet of the studio while going with the theme of silence and I write. Most of the time, I don’t even notice people coming in or moving around. Rather, I get lost in my own mind. It’s amazing.

This morning I feel a bit rejuvenated. Yesterday I was exhausted. Miss A was up twice on Sunday night and it took me a long time to get back to sleep each time. Mr Man was up at 5 with mouth pain from his minor accident. I was stressed, overwhelmed, and when my yoga instructor asked how I was, tears sprang to my eyes. I was vulnerable and still raw. I listened to my body. I ate good food, but truthfully, not very much of it. I kept Mr Man home from Beavers while his sister went and got him into bed by 7:15. He chose a National Geographic Encyclopedia for his bedtime story. Yes, he’s that kid. He corrected my mispronunciation of the word echolocation and then explained to me how it made bats unique. He wowed me with his 6.5 year old knowledge and then hunkered down snuggled up against me. I kept my phone on to help me stay awake and once Miss A got home, I said goodnight and went off to my own dreamland. Or dreamless land as last night’s sleep was. I awoke wanting more sleep, but I got up and went out the door anyway. And it was brilliant (yoga class post coming tomorrow).

Each day is a new one. Today, it rains. And while I curl up under my blanket drinking my homemade vegan pumpkin spice latte, I am grateful. We went 25 days without a drop of rain. I can imagine that at this point, our animals and plants are in desperate need of water before hibernation.

And yesterday, as the weather started to change from summer to fall, I saw a rainbow. I witnessed the beauty of the entire arc and I swear I spied a few leprechauns bouncing around at each end.

Make your day amazing. You are that powerful.

View from the front of my house post-yoga.