Tuesday, October 16, 2018


The big 4-0

All the clichés come to mind as I have began writing this: "age is just a number", "you're only as old as you feel" (when sleep deprived, this number is 80), "life is a highway" (just kidding - but Tom Cochrane was my grade 8 grad song and there's some truth in those there lyrics), "time goes by so quickly"(good grief - I have a kid in grade 8! seriously - that parallel just really hit me hard)... and this is all true.

I had wanted to be more reflective about this transition into another decade because it is definitely a benchmark of sorts.  However, life.  I know this is not a full sentence but the reality is that the schedule hasn't afforded me the bandwidth for the contemplation I had when I turned 20.

So instead, I took some time this morning to write about 40 things I have learned so far.  These are random, not necessarily even the most important things I have learned but they are the ones that are coming to mind at 6 in the morning.  Because kids.

Here goes:
  1. Joy.  Choose it.  Fight for it.  
  2. Plans: Go ahead and make those plans... but sometimes the best things can be the most unexpected.  Roll with it.  (Okay, even as I write that I think I can't begin to get too philosophical, sound like I know what I am doing or be overly simplistic... because twins.  So when you face the unexpected, prepare to have to change everything, for your world to be shaken up in every possible way and that could be the everything kind of change you needed)  
  3. Life is far harder than I ever expected it to be. 
  4. Life is far more amazing than I could have imagined.
  5. Times: The pattern is hard time, hard time, hard time, ridiculously amazing time - and repeat
  6. 80/20: Thinking about things in a 80/20 split helps; 80 percent hard work and hustle, 20 percent awesomeness.  For everything. 
  7. People: Spend time with people who bring out the best in you.  These may be the same people who bring out the worst in you... because children.  Developing a sense of curiosity about what comes out when you're under pressure helps.  Developing a sense of humour is non negotiable. 
  8. Write stuff down.  Write it: even in a discount dollar tree book as you are remembering something fantastic your BFF, your Dad, or your kid said.  
  9. Write your stuff down.  What would you tell your younger self?  I am so grateful for what happened in 2011; it keeps me aware of the reality that we don't know how much time we have and that each day is a gift.  So write stuff down - what would you want your kids to know about you? What do you want them to go out into the world of adulting knowing?
  10. Be creative.  I know that not everyone is creative in a traditional pick up a paintbrush kind of way but taking time to find what you find creative and to be creative is life changing.  
  11. Get outside. Plan for it. I remember a picture at a friend's house when I was a teenager that said "find joy in every season".  I believed that impossible of winter. 
  12. Get offline.  I took about 2 years off social media for a whole list of reasons.  Two years is a bit extreme... but taking some time offline is a good thing.  I learned a lot. Being intentional about it - even for an hour - can change your perspective. 
  13. The unexpected: look for the little stuff as big stuff.  The unexpected hug. The pun that makes you laugh (I know that this is for 8% of the common population but at least 92% of my people who I call friends are in this rare group so thank you for the laughter).
  14. Grace.  I have learned so much about grace... and love.  This is another one of those things that requires another post.
  15. You are enough - more than enough.
  16. Accept.  Accept help as it's offered - it's a beautiful thing.  Accept who you are.  Accept the perfectly imperfect.  Accept the moment (as much as you can - even in the chaos... or behind the bathroom door as you hear the chaos on the other side).
  17. Let go of the stuff - the emotional, social, and material baggage.
  18. Be gentle to yourself - you don't have to do it all (still learning this one but thought if I wrote it down maybe I will pay better attention).
  19. There's always, always hope.  These will come: challenge, tragedy, loss, grief and sometimes the hardest seems like when you are grieving for those you care about who are grieving but there is always hope.
  20. Boundaries are important; choose your best yes and don't be afraid to say no.  Give yourself margin wherever you can (pardon me as I laugh at myself and hope not to spill coffee on the keyboard as I haven't learned this one either (clearly) but see #18).
  21. Dig deep.
  22. Upwards, Inwards, Outwards (see #14).
  23. Diversity is good.
  24. Forgiveness is a discipline that changes the course of your life.
  25. It takes courage to keep on keeping on.  Keep showing up. 
  26. "The truth is that falling hurts.  The dare is to keep being brave and feel your way back up.  Hurt is hurt.  Empathy plus compassion equals healing".  (Not even sure if this is an exact quote - my apologies - but go read Brene Brown.  Rising Strong.  For reals: read it. 
  27. Examine that thing that you think you lack and go out and see how you can make a difference, even in a small way (see #14). 
  28. When someone comes to mind, send a text or email.  Or better yet, if you can, pick up the phone or make plans.  Write that note.  Send that card.  Encouraging others can be simple and can make all the difference in the world. Thank you for all the encouragement. 
  29. Ask yourself what inspires you... and then see how you can carve some of it into your life.
  30. Connecting with others is key (and the old adage of treating others as you would want to be treated is true) but be sure to also have boundaries (see #26 Brene Brown and #18 - still.haven't.quite.learned.this.yet). If you are feeling lonely right now I can say that #12 and #27 apply.  
  31. Do something new that is out of your comfort zone every season.  For me that has concluded in discovering some things I am not interested in investing in as well as some things I love like sushi, Zumba, and karate.   
  32. Be active. Keep active. I read once that sports are good for teaching you how to win honourably, lose gracefully, respect authority, work with others and manage your time.  I would say that finding something that gets you active is enough reward in itself and its a bonus if you love it (like Zumba and karate for me at this season of my life) and an even bigger bonus if you love the people that you get to do it with (like Zumba and karate).       
  33. But read the book.  AKA: do what makes you recharge.  I love Sundays.  We have been trying to set it aside as a no-work day.  I have been trying to make time to read books.  Not my regular "learn-everything-about-the-kid" non-fiction books but novels and short stories.  
  34. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. I have made a gazillion.  And am still counting.  It's a process. In that vein, challenge yourself to keep growing and excelling (but in a healthy way - see #14, 15, 16 & 18... and for that matter #14 in the sense of "Lucy, you've got some 'splaining to do").
  35. Contentment is a way more effective pursuit than comparison.  
  36. Thankfulness: "Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom" Marcel Proust.  I am so thankful for those friends and family and friends who are family who have been there on this journey with me.  Thank you.  
  37. I have adopted a 3G network and highly recommend it: practicing Growth Mindset
  38. Grit 
  39. and Gratefulness. Definitely in the same line as thankfulness but writing down all the things I am thankful for has made all the difference (1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp)       
  40. Finally, I sign everything and start everyday with three acronyms: JJ HSD SDG.  It is possibly the most significant thing I have learned in my 40 years.  Bach would start every composition with JJ which stands for Jesu Juva (or Jesus help) and end with Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be the glory).  I have added HSD which stands for Holy Spirit Driven.  I am definitely not drawing comparisons to what I do to one of the greatest composers in history.  But in my belief that every life matters and has significance, I think that what happens in the scope of everyday is a musical score of sorts.  So in all the things I pray JJ HSD SDG; at the end of the day and at the end of my life, that is my goal.  
This is not everything.  I had meant to be far funnier (but it's way too early) and I wanted the list to be double spaced and I am sure that there's editing I still need to do (because look at even this sentence with all its "ands" - but I will post because it's my birthday and edit later because I can't help myself).  I wanted to add pictures.  I am sure I am forgetting things; but then I read #14 and accept this as it is.

So I end with the truth that I am still adding to this list as I go forward and, being a relentless optimist, it's only going to keep on getting harder, better, and immeasurably more than I could imagine.  

Because all the numbers.

JJ HSD SDG.     

Friday, October 21, 2016

A little more...

Life has continued to be immeasurably more for me - challenges and joys and everything in between. It's hard to summarize but here goes...

I am so thankful for the amazing birthday wishes that came my way this week; it is humbling to be encouraged, surrounded, and loved by such wonderful family and friends who are family.  Thank you; I am so unbelievably grateful!  

This September was a bit of a rough start in our house: from the youngest two adjusting to full time school to the eldest taking on a whole new workload at school, we were stretched in new ways.    Here are a few photos of the boys in some of my favourite places: 
With Bart at Heritage Park
At the new Quarry Park Library  
Ice Cream at Fish Creek Park
The boys are starting to establish their routines and it's amazing to see how much they are learning each day.  I am still finding out what this new chapter looks like for me all while continuing volunteering, coaching and connecting as I had in previous stages of the game (the motherhood game?  Doesn't quite fit (at all) but I am lacking in a better metaphor so for the moment, I'm going to roll with it).      

Since I am behind in posting to instagram, facebook, etc, I am excited to announce here that my dear friend Elizabeth Anderson who is an author, a speaker, a Lt. Governor's True Grit award winner (I could go on and on because she is so amazing... but you can also read more on her site) asked me to be the artist for her latest book, a colouring book: the ABCs of Being Mentally Healthy.  The photos below are from her book launch earlier this month.  

I am very excited about her book and the honour to illustrate for her project - and here I could go on and on again, but for now can just recommend that you pick one up :).

There's so much more I would write about - the wonderful visit with my parents, the summer and fall adventures and visits, the ups and downs of life with boys in grades 1 through 6, the new beginnings of this year... but the boys are almost done school and there's a load (or 4) of laundry I need to tackle before the busyness ensues.  So I will leave you with a blessing for your day...

Walk in His presence today. Delight in Him. In due time, He will satisfiy the deepest desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).

Thursday, July 21, 2016


Shore break -- when small waves abruptly break in shallow water -- can pull swimmers off their feet and into the hard sand at the ocean's bottom.

The beaches of Maui were more beautiful than I could have imagined.  It was afternoon and I had been snorkelling; to call it a peaceful moment seems like an understatement.  I was leaving the water and didn't feel the wave coming until it was too late.  This wave wasn't anything remarkable by any measure, but it took me off my feet and sent me slamming face first into the sand. At first thought I had broken my neck.  I couldn't see what way was up; next I thought I was going to drown.  I got tossed a couple of more times before I struggled onto the beach - face, arms and legs bleeding and scared senseless.

I hadn't known what a shore break was.  They have since put a sign on Big Beach where it happened (this article, giving the above definition, goes into more detail of what the danger of shore breaks can be).

Although I had been respectful of the waves previous to this, the shore break taught me a reverence for the ocean.

The last few months of life have felt like a series of shore breaks for me.


I am thankful for the chapters which have come before this one... the lessons which have prepared me for the ones I am learning of late.  At the same time, there are some things that we have to face in life that just don't have primers.

One of the most important lessons I learned in Guiding has been most relevant now:
it is best to be prepared.

Be prepared to be courageous.
Be prepared to have your heart hurt in new (and unimaginable) ways and be prepared to do the hard work involved for healing.
Be prepared to laugh when it seems impossible.
Be prepared to be strong even when everything seems to be broken.
Be prepared to keep keeping on in spite of your own limitations.

Be prepared to hope.

I write today because I realize (and have realized many times in the past) that the lines between disappointment and discouragement are thin and shifty. The ones between discouragement and despair are nearly non-existent.

I find myself often in the middle lands of gray and it is a conscientious effort to choose joy because ultimately there are many things in life that you simply can't be prepared for.  From the place I'm in in motherhood today, I can only anticipate the challenges my own sons will face as they go forward into each of their own journeys.  However, from this season I would share five small but essential words:

Be prepared to choose joy.


Every day following my PE back in 2011 felt like a gift.  I was so grateful for those 24 hour periods of time.  Part of me doubted recovery and anticipated a bigger incident.  Part of me expected The End.  Time was different, in the same way it is when you are child and hours seem endless.  I learned a reverence for life.  Now time is different again and it's because many days it's hard to know what way is up - where I can get my feet into the sand.

I have a new respect for life - for the days that come in gently without the storms and an awareness that the small waves can also have unexpected impacts.


As messages of loss from dear friends come to me in my inbox, I feel breathless and I think about messages in bottles - and how life is much more complex than I had ever expected it to be.  Losses that seem insurmountable and how words fail me.

Messages in bottles.   Finding myself reading these notes in the middle of shards of glass feeling helpless.  The scope of losses in this world is broad and incomprehensible.

I can only imagine how each of us would have such a struggle to limit our own messages, the ones we'd write if we could if we had the time and the courage, to write them all on a tiny slip of paper rolled into a bottle to float into the endlessness of sea.

What is to be done with an SOS?

We have to be honest; and I am so thankful for the ones who share their hearts and hurts.  My prayer journal fills up with names and requests and entire communities in this broken world we live in - for sadness and grief, for conflicts and tragedies - and as these words are written down, I add to the thankfulness lists.  From the front of each book, I write requests and starting from the back pages of the book working towards the requests, I write down the gratefulness list; and although I enumerate the joy, it is not a mathematical equation - there is no balance.

It's a question I keep asking myself: where will I find joy?

I am fascinated (and definitely disconcerted) by the chronicles of pirating life in the carribean which has been romanticized by our culture.  In this time of overwhelming life, of things in so many hard boxes, I feel like I am being forced to engage in piracy; I am stealing moments of joy.  I am not trying to be poetic; it is a real choice to not be defeated but to search for things - to even carve them out of what seems to be an overwhelming set of circumstances - to be thankful for.
It shouldn't be that hard as I have so much to give thanks for; but the reality is that shore breaks happen.

The joy in simple things, the things that seem so very mundane, is what I am laying hold to.  It is like sifting through the sand to actually look at the grains and see how beautiful the crushed rock is when you really look at it.
It is experiencing the expanse of life in the microcosmic and being awed by the scope of miracle in the everyday.  Listening to My Lighthouse as it is sung by my two littlest (who are now so very big - what happened to the preschoolers of last summer?) boys as it brings tears to my eyes.  This is joy.
Joy in the midst of it all.

Nothing can be taken for granted.
Everything is a gift.
Every. Thing.

Perhaps I am learning that the breadth of small, everyday joy can be expanded in the margins of the depths of challenge, of the seemingly impossible.

Be prepared to give thanks.

Facing the waves, I am also having to be deeply intentional about where I set my focus.

The shore break taught me that knowing how you are going to go into and out of the water is essential and that sometimes (as my Dory key chain reminds me) you just need to keep on swimming.

Be prepared to preservere.


There are very few 'quiet' moments in life with four boys, especially now that the days of summer vacation have begun.  It's somewhat amusing to me that after being on the receiving end of observations of how busy I must be with 'all those boys', I often get asked what I do with my time when they were in school (the 2.5 hours of kindergarten were primarily filled with volunteering, appointments, and tasks that couldn't get done during the regular hours).  But in those few quiet moments, my thoughts would turn to the words that I had wanted to write, of the lessons I was learning...

And yet.
And yet, I see how little I have posted in the past year.  Before writing this post today, I went back to look at my blog. Where has the time gone? When I last wrote it was close to winter's solstice and now I write long after summer's solstice.  Half a year has passed and life has been happening... but writing has not.

I have been taking the time to write in small moments in the evenings because there have been so many lessons from the shore breaks and in the tidal waves and I don't want to forget what I am learning in the middle of it all.

I write because so much and so little has changed since my last post where I wrote about the letter C.  It doesn't take much new news to come to the conclusion that we live in a world which is so broken on so many levels.   C is for change.  I want to be a part of the change in the tide in this world and I hope to see this pass into the lives of my young sons.  I hope that they grow into men of integrity who will be courageous and stand firm against the darkness in this world - against everything from terrorism to apathy.  I have learned that in the dark times, the light bearers who bring the simple but remarkable gifts of laughter, encouragement and hope are invaluable in this world; I want to be a part of that change for others and hope my boys see that in me.

C is for Compassion: this past winter has involved a long period of testing for my amazing, intense, out-of-the-box second born.  There are a whole myriad of emotions that go into a process like this but what really impacted me the most was the compassion that he has received by those who not only "get" him but celebrate him in spite of (and sometimes even because of) his uniqueness.  C is for Curiosity: I am in the process of and have developed a sense of curiosity about this boy (and these boys who are always changing) and the remarkable things that keep happening and keep me wondering why the sand is shifting under my feet as the waves come in.

C is, probably not surprisingly, also for Choosing joy.  I adored the movie Inside Out.  In the winter I read the book "Choose Joy" by Kay Warren; there were many parts (like her definition of joy) that resounded with me; however, for me life hasn't been about train tracks, it's been about waves and shore breaks.
It's been a season of diverse pressures, of losses, of heart ache and heart break.  The fires of RMWB and Fort McMurray and, specifically, how they impacted those who are a part of our family were devastating.  There have been challenges from the minute and insignificant (but how these can cause erosion is no small matter) to the dramatic (and in this vein, I am taking this moment to say water safety, water safety, water safety... after helping a family who's young son went under in a matter of minutes at the lake but was unresponsive for what seemed like an eternity, I cannot stress this more), it is tricky to still choose to be seeking joy.
For in the global tragedies to all the little stuff that builds up, a girl might want to give up.

But if we learn anything from past experience or the fictional heroics of Lucy, Frodo, Dory and Joy working with Sorrow, the simplest of acts when all seems lost are always the ones that turn the tide.


There are so many things that I am thankful for....  and this is where I start with a new letter - one that seems to be coming up in all sorts of places and so I write my F list as I have been learning so much more about Family, Forgiveness, Forces of Nature, Forgetfulness (both opportune and inopportune), Forging forward, and Faithfulness.

But most of all, this season of shore break has taught me about Friendship.

“Holy places are dark places. It is life and strength, not knowledge and words, that we get in them. Holy wisdom is not clear and thin like water, but thick and dark like blood.”  C.S. LewisTill We Have Faces

In these dark places of this season, the often times lonely treks along the beach, I have been overwhelmed by the few but mighty kindred spirits who have come alongside and given encouragement, insight, laughter and light.  In the same way that I was helped at the beach after coming in from the shore break so many years ago, these beacons have made all the difference in the world.  To you, I say with deep appreciation ~ thank you.


I had no idea almost a decade ago that I would be so thankful now for that lesson in the shore break.  At the time I was thankful to not have lost mobility or life; but the thankfulness of the metaphor all these years later, in learning how to move forward in new knowledge, awareness and wisdom in spite of the pain is a gift all in itself.

These gifts do not come easily by any means and most of the time as I am in the middle of the trial I am trying to shake of the feeling of being thrown; but even as I am coming out of being tossed, I see that everything from the perspective reset to learning how to let go can be of immeasurable value.

I don't know what lies ahead, what tomorrow - or even what the next hour - might bring.  What I do know is that one other thing I will send with my boys as they go will be another short but powerful phrase that I hope they will hold onto... and it is with this lesson I am learning that I conclude:

Be prepared to trust 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

C is for...

C is not just for cookie (though I have chosen to have no less than 5 dozen to bake - and C is for that choice I have made despite a wonderful sign reminding me daily to "Just Say No...").

C is for the chaos and the circus life of boys. 
C is for the coffee, vital, and C is for the challenges of life that build up and blindside at times.
C, lately, is for cleaning and most especially control.  Control: I am weary of it, but feel almost as though I can't help myself.  If things are chaotic all around me, I can try to buckle down and control the piles of laundry, dishes, and tiny pieces of paper from my children's creative endeavours. 

C is for checking tasks off the endless lists.  I feel like cleaning and clear spaces can somehow remedy the tide that overwhelms me.  But all of those daily things - the laundry and dishes and paper and the endless lists - are just that: endless.  And I know this and yet, even as I type this, I am here to admit that it's not "almost as though" as I've just written above: I cannot help myself. 

Our two household words for December are Contentment and Compromise; it flowed over from a family meeting (this is a new and welcome initiative - a time where we can all sit around the table and talk shop and bring up concerns, discuss manners and how we can help one another and (ironically) make jokes about farts.  Admittedly, I don't make those jokes but I just have to laugh.  These are boys, in my house, after all).  But contentment and compromise - these were selfishly chosen from my own weary discussions and negotiations with my boys.

And somewhere in the middle of it all, I realized that these words were equally meant (especially meant?) for me.

Compromise of my personal preferences.
Contentment in the flow. 
Contentment in the lack of flow. 

There's been so much lack of flow... on every level.  For a tangible and tellable example, I present this minor frustration as an allegory for larger issues: a lack of flow of words. 

For as long as I could write independently, I have written independently - intentionally for study or income, in journals, and even on tiny scraps of papers.  Words flowed.  I cannot claim that the sentences any had merit, but the words were a part of me and I couldn't stop the medium or the message.

And then there was (there is - even this entry has been such a challenge as though I am trying to open and use a jar of paint long dried out; I struggle even to gather the thoughts together to knit a simile which isn't a complete cliché) silence.

I have sat with it, feeling nothing for a while, save a certain resemblance of comfort with the knowledge that somehow this has been designed to be a season of silence.  A season that extends far beyond the spring, summer, fall (when did it even begin?) and, in spite of feeling a deep sorrow for my craft (I comfort myself in the words of others), I wait.

Then there's the lack of flow and a lack of contentment when A is for Anger and Anxiety, flowing up in ways I never expected and from situations that are far beyond my control.  These As made their appearance after a weekend of restoration at the end of November - and somehow that is how it happens in life as you come out of a furlough - and if there were places where this empath could be wounded, I was.  Each morning I battle the current, trying to shoulder my hope against the flow. 

I have been thinking a lot lately of B.

B is for broken.

In the midst of news that takes the breath away and relationships in pieces. 


It's a refrain.

I hear it in two syllables even as I move things around the house.


My son works on his haiku for Language Arts at the dining room table and simultaneously the cat breaks one of my ornaments.  Broken.  Two syllables.  And I think of how I am trying so hard to suspend judgement but then there's just something an optimist like me has to declare in order to be able to sleep at night: some things are just broken.

And I could focus on the broken because there's more ornaments to be found in shards and more hurts than lights on my Christmas tree.

The days are darker this close to the solstice and it has felt that way for me this season, in spite of knowing what I know and how I know it, the shadows of pain carve deep grooves in my thinking and the only way I can combat it is by calling it for what it is and then countering by choosing to seek out the joy.  It is truly a process of countering as it's counterintuitive; I just want to curl up around my wounds and the hurts I am carrying.  Choosing instead to plant my feet and face the next wave has been a test.  I falter.

I reflected this week on the fact that of the fruit of the Spirit, faithfulness is by far the hardest.  Don't get me wrong, I wrestle long and hard with self-control and imagine I have and do and will continually need divine intervention to even begin to show any progress in that department.  Undeniably, every fruit is a supernatural gift that I couldn't ever obtain on my own.  But faithfulness: this is the stuff of perseverance.  It's the medium of making the choice that is the hardest when the easiest is available within your reach and it's the medium of picking yourself up and learning from the mistakes that you made when you took the easy route.  It's the semi-colon when you want to put a period. 

Faithfulness in action: being a joy seeker and taking it on as a part of my daily objective.  Looking for joy when it seems impossible - and maybe it is impossible from looking at it from this perspective - to even catch a glimmer of it. 

Sometimes the joy finds me. 

Joy in embracing the silence in the midst of all of the noise and demands; practicing the art of breathing (when times get tough, you have to go back to the basics) these have been the bricks of the wall I have been building amidst all of the regular actions of keeping on keeping on.  And the mortar between the bricks are tiny pieces of paper - the only words that have come of late to be written- prayers, that I have folded carefully and pushed in the cracks - my very own wailing wall for the ones whose lives touch my own.   

There are times like this that I long for Home and for when all will be made whole again.  Home: it's no small thing.

It's no small thing, the encouraging message from a friend who took the time. 
It's no small thing, when I stumble over beauty in the midst of my mess and I am filled with wonder.
It's no small thing to hear small ones belt out "Thank You God for Baby Jesus!" at a Christmas concert... a kindergarten performance can have healing powers. 

Jesus coming in the middle of the broken.  It's no small thing. 

The small things that don't seem to be ever meant to be anything more than small things.  The tiny light of hope that I'm tending.  It's no small thing.  And so even though I see the broken, and I am the broken, I am choosing to change the two syllables I hear as I battle for joy.

I have changed it to Thank You.

It's an effort, this Thank You.

It doesn't come naturally.  Gratefulness is not a natural reaction of the heart which is overwhelmed, of the heart which has been broken.

It's no small thing to rename, refocus, renew in the midst of it all.  It's no small thing to be intentional and to really experience a moment. It's no small thing to discover joy.

I had a moment like of deep intentionality recently.  I really heard the lyrics of a song - really heard them - and it has been an echoed refrain in my heart since then:

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart, a brand new heart
You are free indeed

It's no small thing to be reminded who you are.  

It's no small thing to be reminded who God is.

And that is what I would like to recognize in the midst of all of this: I may try to logically draw my own conclusions about the challenges and every other C that comes to mind, but this chapter hasn't been finished yet.  Learning how to faithfully wait for a conclusion, knowing that the ending will be immeasurably more amazing than I could possibly begin to imagine, shifts my perspective entirely.   

I'm not sure where you're at this intense time of the year.  Even in spite of all of what I've processed as I've written, I'm not sure even where I'm at; but for all of the C words that keep on running through my mind, I am writing this for my heart:

C is for Contentment
C is for Compromise
C is for Change
C is for Choosing Joy,
             Choosing to keep the faith,
             Choosing be thankful. 
C is for Conclusions based in truth and wholeness
and, most importantly, I gently remind myself:
C is for Christmas, when love came down, the best beginning to the greatest grace.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I am still processing the information yet I cannot but help to share the news:

I no longer have to take warfarin.


Nate's wearing a shirt today with this saying that completely expresses my reaction.

No more coumadin?  No more INR checks?  No more dietary restrictions and medication conflicts?  No more bruising?  No more medic alert bracelet?


My hematologist is amazing but his communication method is hard to interpret.  I felt compelled to confirm this information several times in order to be sure.

No more warfarin?
As in: tonight I can stop taking this medication?
I never have to take it again?


Apparently, three years is sufficient time for a PE patient (with an unknown source of the clots - which is approximately 1/3 of PE patients) to be anticoagulated (according to 95% of the specialists).  I could choose to continue to be anticoagulated but the risk of bleeding outweighs the preventative measure.

I was surprised.  I had anticipated a lifelong obligation to warfarin.  It isn't the easiest medication to take as there's so many things to balance and check.   However, in many ways, I had been comforted taking it; it was a safety net for my brain, an assurance that I would never have another PE again.  There is a small part of my brain that flagged anxiety - which I discussed with the doctor - around my concern about reoccurrence as asthma does often signal with chest pressure and (unsurprisingly) shortness of breath.  However, the larger part of my thinking process reminded me that when I knew, I knew that something major was amiss.  Ultimately, I know that I am ready to face that anxiety.  I am ready to start taking a low dosage of asprin for 3 months as I transition off.  I am ready to eat kale (and a dozen or so of other foods high in vitamin K) in copious amounts.  I am ready to cancel those future bloodwork appointments.  I am ready to move on.

Just two weeks away from the three year mark of the trip to the ICU, I can't help but feel a sense of freedom.

Ephesians 3:20 indeed.   

Friday, April 4, 2014


It's very interesting how timing works, isn't it?

I wrote my impressions on Pinterest in this previous post. Less than 18 hours later, I met a fabulous friend for coffee and was introduced to a brand new perspective on this site.

She explained this: it's about inspiration.

Essentially, my new friend explained, it's like a magazine where every page is a great article.  She chooses the content and who she follows very carefully.


There's two opposing views on Pinterest here by other moms-who-blog.  I had picked up a Today's Parent magazine in my doctor's office to read Bunmi Laditan's comments: "I don't pin.  [Pinterest for me is all about] crafts I'll never do, meals I'll never make."  Yes. That's how I had felt.  More, I do deeply appreciate her take on not trying to make her children's childhood magical and I did like this excerpt from her blog entry that's been circulating this week:

Do we want to teach our children that the magic of life is something that comes beautifully gift-wrapped -- or that magic is something you discover on your own?
Planning elaborate events, daily crafts, and expensive vacations isn't harmful for children. But if the desire to do so comes from a place of pressure or even a belief that the aforementioned are a necessary part of one's youth, it's time to reevaluate.
A childhood without Pinterest crafts can be magical. A childhood without a single vacation can be magical. The magic we speak of and so desperately want our children to taste isn't of our creation, and therefore is not ours to dole out as we please. It is discovered in quiet moments by a brook or under the slide at the park, and in the innocent laughter of a life just beginning.

I agree with the principles behind this.  And yet, as I have discovered, there is that flip side: Pinterest can be a tool for creativity and fun.

So for a few days - in moments here and there around every day life - I've been pinning things to my pinterest board.  Not everything that I will pin will be done.  Nor should it be.  Each pin has potential to be a useful tip, technique or idea for my life - a busy, noisy, messy, wonderful life - that in ideal circumstances, could use a think tank's resources for life made simple(r).

I imagine that, like most things in life, Pinterest is a resource to be used with much about wisdom, discernment and moderation.

It's a resource.  It's not a plumb line.  It's not a goal-orienting-tool.  Used by perfectionists and the perfectly imperfect alike, it's important to remember who you are and whose you are when contemplating any project.

And as I was about to post this today, I read this very wise and articulate article which effectively sums it all up for me.  The highlight for me from her post is this:

As a Christian, I absolutely love what Edith Schaeffer writes in “What is a Family?” about how we are created in the image of God, and thus we are to be creative people.  Just think about the world that God created – the variety of animals, the beauty of a sunset, the flowers of spring.  We appreciate that beauty because we are made in His image!  There are a thousand ways to express that creativity, and as moms, none of us have to be the same!  All of us are to find beauty in everyday things and to encourage creativity in our homes.  Some of us may enjoy doing arts and crafts projects with our kids, while others excel at working to create a garden or a chicken coop, or cooking, or writing, or computer programming, or music, or babysitting, or any number of other things.  If done for His glory, God is praised in all of our creative efforts!
As parents, there is a balance between turning our kids loose to entertain themselves and overindulging them with fun things to do.  The balance is providing needed support so that they can learn to become creative individuals.
Although I will not be planting jelly beans (and reserve the right to not suspend my disbelief about content), I humbly admit that I am now actively interested in Pinterest because I see now that limiting my exposure to the creativity that's accessible on media is counter-intuitive if I am daring to be open to let God do immeasurably more in my life and, by extension, the lives of my boys.  
You can see what I've found interesting by going to the board immeasurably more.  

Friday, March 21, 2014


Before I even start writing this blog entry, I feel as though I should put out the caveats that I wasn't even going to attempt to write it because I was anxious as to not showcase my quirky side.  I was worried that writing it would be opening the door to judgement.  There is a part of me that knows I am going to make myself vulnerable in telling the world some of the things I do which could be perceived as nothing less than odd.  I am writing it because I read a wonderful post about an amazing mama who is sewing her children's bedsheets in the cutest of cute flannel fabric. And to her (and so many other of my talented, amazing friends) I say "Eshet Chayil".

I'm not writing it to receive accolades or invite critique or, not that I believe that it's even a possibility, promote some kind of strange peer pressure where others feel obliged to do what I am doing.

However, all this aside, I decided to write it because it was an epiphany of sorts.  One that has come from the fact that because of this journey, I am a different person.  I see the little things as much more meaningful.  Even if the little things mean pulling out a Sharpie as I am preparing my eldest's lunch and drawing on a banana peel.  Really.

Five years ago I had a radically different outlook on my life.

Five years ago, I was working on a scrapbook layout for my little boy who was fourteen months old.  It was an enjoyable experience, scrapbooking.  I had two wonderful sisters-in-all-things-scrapbooking who encouraged me on an experience that became more about life art than simply cutting and pasting pictures on a page.

We'd get together and work, talk, eat, and laugh for hours.  I treasure those times. Yet one layout from that time had left me with the feeling that it was still incomplete.  This layout was made during a particularly challenging time of my life.  It was following my maternity leave and then another 2 month leave due to chronic post partum depression.  I was almost finished this labour of love of a layout and at the very end had stopped.  I never truly completed what I had started.  I stopped because I thought that this layout was indicative of a need for me to go back to work.  Here it was - a scrapbook page with photos carefully chosen, stamping for each letter in the subtitles, backgrounds to match the colours and even a font researched and cut out to go along with the Curious George signature.  I had spent so much time, energy and creative resources on it that surely, I thought, it was a sign that I was ready to spend that time, energy and creative resources in the realm of my career.  

I see now that those pages of the scrapbook - with a journalling page I also included about 10 things I love about this boy - indeed required much time, energy and creative resources.  But I have also seen how much that boy enjoys the experience of reading his story.  By extension, I am given the gift of joy.

What once was insane and a reason to divert creativity, I now see as a language of love, a creation for each boy.

It is not to say that my previous work at the college was not significant - I hope that it was resourceful for the students and faculty I worked with - but I have somehow gained a new perspective on day-to-day investments of my time, energy and creative resources.  

I have found through talking to others who have gone through a medical journey that they often come to a place of recognizing significance in the minutiae of their lives.  Significance of the momentary gifts that they are given - or simply the significance of the time that they are given.  There is a weight which comes following recovery and in a way, it makes me reconsider so many different elements of my daily life.  

This is a good thing. 

I am more intentional, more thankful, more joyful and more willing to do unusual things.  

Like drawing on bananas.  My nine-year-old loves when I draw him pictures, write jokes or wish him a 'purr-fect' day with happy-faced-cats on the peel of his bananas with a Sharpie.  Mentioning this to another mother, however, I was met with skepticism. I know that as a parent, I'm going to face criticism.  I feel like I do often when interacting with other mothers.  But, as Jennie Allen points out - being liked is overrated.    I think this applies to my interactions.  Not only for fear of the perceived criticism that they may direct my way but rather the criticism that I hold for myself. 

So when I'm misunderstood by another parent, that's one thing.  Yet there's an internal monologue occurring sometimes when I'm drawing on a banana skin or making a pair of mat men for the twins - a voice that is making fun of what I'm doing, sarcastically pointing out that you have a university degree and faculty position on your resume and you are currently employing your time doing what?  I know that I have to stop myself from undermining the significance of what I'm doing.  

There is significance. With boys - or at least in this household - a significant dialect of our love language is spoken through food.  There is significance to what we do on the small scale as much as the large scale.  There is significance to the individualized gestures we can bring to the lives of our little people.  

But, as with all things, there is a flip side.  

Its name is Pinterest.

For so many Pinterest is a wonderful resource.  For me it is a source of angst (and I don't even have an account... I merely survey the postings which end up on facebook).  I am sure that this is not the case for everyone, but in my case I know I need to avoid the lure of the polished perfectionistic projects.  I am concerned about a society that seems bent on seeking out perfection in all things.

For his sixth birthday, my son was given the game Perfection.  The kids have had a lot of fun with the game but I have seen it more as an illustration of something that eludes me.  The game came with the correct number of pieces but instead of a turtle shape, there were two of one piece.  Based on the way it's set up, this means that the player can never truly reach perfection.  More, the timer goes and prompts a boy to frenzy - placing those pieces in as quickly as possible only to have the whole thing to pop when the timer is over.  The pieces fly everywhere and the player is obliged to start again.

It seems like a perfect illustration of perfection to me.   And that's how Pinterest could be for me.  Case in point:

I saw a posting on facebook from Pinterest for an activity with kids where you go out in the early evening to plant jelly beans in your yard and the next day the children wake up to find a lawn erupting in lollipops.

Although part of me finds this a whimsical idea and I imagine it would be a great deal of fun, I am concerned.  I see how I live in a society bent on happy children where there's already an overabundance of sugar (why was it that my childrens' Valentine's boxes were filled with candy this year?) without having it bloom outdoors.  As a gardener, I have a bit of a problem with teaching urban kids that planting a bean produces an overnight harvest of lollipops.  I think that I am even more concerned that life is presented to these little ones with many, many unrealistic expectations (related to a great article called "Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy").

However, all this aside, possibly the thought that seemed the most revealing was the fact that in trying to manufacture magic, parents and children alike lose track of the magic – very real supernatural and natural beauty – which exists within (and in) our reach. The good, the hard, the real, the mundane – in the extraordinary and significant lives which we each lead.

As for me, I will keep on drawing on banana peels, fashioning cucumber arms for Mat Men and writing down memories in books for the boys.

There's a kind of magic in that... beyond a momentary sugar rush and a significance behind the gesture.  I am giving thanks for the food that I prepare, for the moment in which I am experiencing it and for the child it is destined for.   

What if we give thanks for the gifts that we already have?

What if I take the resources I already have (bananas) and make it fun?

What if I take the learning platform (for the twins it's been Mat Man from the Handwriting Without Tears program) and make it accessible?

What if I capture the moment by living it out with the child and then recording it for them, even in point form and cement a memory for the both of us?

What if each mother was able to determine what she could do which was significant for her little one and the ones she loves in a given day and find that she is supported in her endeavors?

What if I find the significant in the seemingly insignificant?

What if I count my blessings in a habitual way?

I have discovered that the "what if" questions answered lead to joy.

It is a wonderful place to be.


“And when I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me.”
― Ann VoskampOne Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are