Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hello, God? It's me, exercising

For the last few months(!), I've been planning to start running and meditating. I've done little of either. Yesterday, my practical, supportive, husband suggested that I put my guided meditation CD on an iPod and do both at the same time.

I was doubtful, but today I remembered that I do have an old MP3 player, and I decided to give it a try. I'm pretty sure that I was procrastinating doing something else at the time, but anyway, the old MP3 player worked and I was able to put the guided meditation file on it.

In the process I discovered some old photos on the MP3 player, including the only ones we have of our son's baptism. I look about a million years old in the baptism photos. I was wearing clothes that were two sizes too big, since breast-feeding had temporarily sucked all the fat out of me. And I was in beige from head to toe, except for hot pink lipstick apparently applied in a moving vehicle. Little J looked sweet but skeptical in his lace bonnet. Fitting for a baptismal candidate?

Back to the present. After mucking about on my laptop for most of the morning, I rushed off to yoga. This was only my third class, but I'm (still) loving it. No matter how I feel going in to yoga, I feel (and even look) radiant afterwards. Possibly the result of a very brief nap during the restorative part of the class.

I felt so good that I decided to take our dog and my guided meditation MP3 file for a walk. We strolled to the end of our street and hit the trail. I listened to the guided meditation twice, which took us to a spot on the very edge of the city. Two deer grazed peacefully in a farmyard 100' away.

I turned off the MP3 player and headed home, slowing to say hello to a pair of ducks swimming in a swampy creek. A little further on a rustle in the bushes drew my attention away from my breath to a fawn and his mother, just a couple of yards from the trail.
I'm not (very?) religious, but at times like this it's hard not to think that God is pulling out all the stops to encourage me to get fit.

Charley didn't even bark or tug, much. He did lunge at one bicycle, two toy dogs, and a massive bulldog named Thumper, but he let several other bikes, animals, and joggers pass in peace. 

I've walked on this trail hundreds of times without paying any attention to the trail markers, but today I noticed that we walked 2 km, plus to and from the trail. I know, that's not very far!

The best part is, I enjoyed it so much that I'm looking forward to doing it again tomorrow morning.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Is it just me, or is nine hours of consecutive socializing cruel and unusual? I wouldn't call it punishment because I don't think I deserve to be punished... Or do I? Nine hours of socializing wouldn't have been half so bad if I hadn't stayed up so late and got just four hours of sleep.
That's what's wrong with this day -- I needed nine hours of sleep and four hours of socializing, not the other way around!
I know, nine hours of socializing probably sounds absolutely normal to many people, such as, say, everyone to whom I'm related by marriage.
Yes, I'm introverted. Why does that feel so unacceptable?
This was my day:
  • Stayed up way too late the night before, clutter-busting, writing (about clutter-busting), and reading a book called Clutter Busting. Um, seriously. Okay, I have to acknowledge that that sounds utterly freakish. But is it wrong to want to purge some of the stuff that is filling our house? No, not at all.
  • Woken way too early by the sounds of my beloved toddler: (a) kicking the wall beside his bed; and (b) singing. Husband is nowhere to be seen; recall tucking a blanket around his snoring body and turning off his televised sports at about ten-ish. Someone's having a long sleep, and it's not me. Force my brain into focus and hurry into our toddler's room to say good morning before: (a) he kicks a hole in the wall; or (b) he realizes that since he's no longer in a crib he could just get out of bed, open his bedroom door, and be free. Clearly (b) is the greater threat.  
  • Crawl into toddler-sized bed with toddler. Mercifully, toddler says, "This is a fire truck mommy. Let's sleep in it." Doesn't last long. Dress toddler. 
  • Husband awakes and takes toddler to kitchen. Eat. Shower. Dress. 
  • 9:00:
    • Invite mother-in-law to join me and toddler at park, by voicemail. 
    • Husband points out that mother-in-law just left for church. 
    • Husband departs to partake of fence-building at his brother's house. 
  • Play with toddler while awaiting mother-in-law's post-church response to invitation.
  • 10:30: Mother-in-law accepts invitation.
  • 11:45: Mother-in-law arrives. Eat. Go to park and explore amazing new children's garden at length. When nearing saturation point, toddler discovers simulated beach. Toddler nirvana. Sit on bench with mother-in-law and observe child's play. Realize that mother-in-law has a migraine. Realize that I have splitting headache. Seriously regret decision to leave sunglasses in car due to "cloudy" weather. Mother-in-law says, "Let him play." Okay... Abandon nap-time in favour of play-time. Want to play with child. Mother-in-law says, "He's fine." Okay... Finally get assertive and get out of park at about 2:30ish.
  • Five minute stop at home to pick up belated birthday gift for sister-in-law, while toddler and mother-in-law wait in the driveway.
  • 3:00: Drop in at sister-in-law's to: (a) deliver belated birthday gift; and (b) visit fence-building job site. 
  • Accept unexpected invitation to stay for supper. 
  • Foolishly quaff large glass of red wine, hoping that it will alleviate my headache (judgment is seriously impaired by sleep deprivation). 
  • Realize sadly that: (a) my headache is worse; (b) I'm starving and dehydrated; and (c) the glass of wine went straight to my head and I can't drive home any time soon. 
  • 7:30: Begin process of extricating toddler. 
  • 8:00: Arrive home. 
  • 9:00: Toddler in bed, an hour late. Start to read random blogs, courtesy of blogspot's "next blog". God are there ever a lot of running blogs. They make the mommy blogs look modest. And then there are the running-mommy blogs! Like the triathlete with newborn twins. At least she questions how to fit mothering into her passions(!). Sigh. Make it my personal mission to write the first running-mommy-minimalist blog as soon as I start running and home-schooling and ditch 90% of our possessions. Acknowledge that that blog is already out there, somewhere.
  • 10:30: Husband arrives home from fence-building and brings me a glass of water. Realize that I feel better already. See, all I needed was some alone time! And a glass of water. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Joy of Pruning

When I am pruning, time stands still. In fact, it's all I'm doing this afternoon. I just ran inside to look up a particular plant, and then I'm getting right back at it. The house is a mess; I don't care! There are shrubs to prune, flowers to plant, beds to amend, weeds to pull, and a forecast calling for rain all weekend. Today is my day to sculpt in the backyard.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A bargain at any cost?

Since quitting my job earlier this year, we've cut our spending dramatically.
The best side-effect has been time saved, but trying to save money is time-consuming too. I'm saving lots of time not shopping for unnecessary things, but spending too much time trying to save money on everything else.
I shop the big-box stores to save on the groceries they carry, but at what cost? There isn't one store that has all the groceries I want at the prices I want, so I end up making multiple trips, trying to remember what I want to pick up at what store. I suppose there's a learning curve, as I learn what's worth the trip and what isn't. But I would so much rather be learning something else!
I'm not sure I'm saving that much money either, as I sit here in my (cheap!) new Costco Polo tee and my son runs around in his (cheap!) new Costco Crocs...
As I walked past the $1,000 patio furniture in Costco yesterday, I couldn't help feeling that Costco is where we go when we want to spoil ourselves while feeling frugal.
Anyway, time to make hamburgers out of the giant tray of Costco ground beef, and enjoy them on today's Walmart buns.

P.S. Damn those burgers were tasty!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ashtanga wow!

I just tried Ashtanga yoga for the first time. Wow!
I haven't done any yoga for a long, long time, and I know from past experience that I always love a first yoga class. But this one was a real eye-opener.
In the past I've tried Iyengar yoga. I appreciated the careful attention to the postures. It all seemed so safe, and, in hindsight, soothed my inner perfectionist. But it could get a little dull. A little slow.
I once tried a "yoga flow" class at the office, but the teacher primarily taught aerobics, there were about 40 students in the class, and a techno beat played throughout the class. I did not return.
This was completely different.
First of all, the teacher did not play any sort of music or recorded soundscape. The only sound was her strong, calm voice, and my classmates' strong, but not always calm, breaths.
Second, we moved. We barely stopped moving, except for a few explanatory moments. I got warm. I got hot. It was not a hot yoga class. True, I am completely out of shape. But I have never been hot in an Iyengar class. This exertion felt good, although next time I'll dress a little lighter.
Third, I stretched. I mean really stretched. Shivaun even helped me stretch at a couple of points. Who knew that I could bend that far forward? Who knew that I could crunch my abs that hard to maintain that forward bend?! What a great feeling.
Looking forward to next class.
In the meantime, I'm going to try an Iyengar class in the same studio. I'm hoping it will be the perfect complement, because I do like to position myself just right, even when I'm travelling at 100 poses per hour.

Monday, May 9, 2011

More posts. Less filling.

I've decided to spend less time writing in my blog for a little while.
Not because I don't enjoy it. I kind of love it actually.
No, I've decided to limit my time doing this for a little while because there are some other things that I want to focus on right now.
This will be a bit of a challenge for me, because I've been enjoying it so much. But challenges can bring unexpected rewards. From that perspective, I'm looking forward to it.

The Suburbs

First thing this morning, my two-year-old gave me Arcade Fire's album, The Suburbs, for Mother's Day. I hope to never forget the happiness on his face when he handed me his little bundle of card and gift. Then the title track triggered an impromptu dance party in our kitchen. I couldn't ask for a better Mother's Day present than that.

A little later, my son and I headed off to a Mother's Day Plant Sale in a big white tent five minutes from home. The tent was packed but he stuck with me, and didn't even complain when a woman walked right into him. It's tough being 3' tall. We headed home happy, mud on our boots, bearing a tomato plant, three buttercups, and two Hens and Chicks sprinkled with Fairy Grow Dust.

Turning onto our street, we watched a deer, grazing in a grassy space between the homes.

As if that weren't enough, I came home to an email from my mother's childhood best-friend, offering to share some of her memories of my mom.

Then we hosted my husband's family for brunch in our little 1970's bungalow, and ate strawberry shortcake and sipped wine and dodged plastic golfballs in the backyard.

And at the end of the day we walked our dog around the block while distant thunder rumbled, and dashed home when the rain began to fall, and I was grateful.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


It turns out that if I spend half the morning sobbing, and then apply contact lenses and watch construction videos with my son: (a) my eyes will be burning by mid-afternoon; and (b) he will not want to nap. No, he will want to go outside and play.

Here is the thing. I am broken-hearted. I am angry. I cannot begin to express this pain. What can I say, then?

I can say, try not to lose your mother. No, of course you don't have any control in that regard. Life is cruel that way.

Okay then. Perhaps the best that you can do, if you are fortunate enough to have a relationship with a living mother, is this:  Be aware that she will not live forever. Do not consider this fact morbid or shy away from it. No, be aware of it; be influenced by it. Make the most of every opportunity to learn from your mother. To appreciate her. To respect her. To show your love for her. To accept her love. To ask questions of her. Make the most of every opportunity to laugh with your mother. To argue with her if you must.

Because one day, you will not be able to. Either because you will die or, more likely, because she will.

And then she will be gone.

And you will suffer. You will suffer badly. You will miss her very, very much. And as time goes on, you will continue to suffer, a gaping, aching hole in the centre of your being.

And on the day before Mother's Day, this may be all that you are able to muster.

But if you are fortunate enough to be a mother, and if your son won't nap, though he needs a nap, you may say to yourself, "One day, I won't have this opportunity. I won't have this opportunity to spend the next hour with a moody, un-napped toddler." And you may retrieve your warm, sweet boy from his little toddler bed, and scoop him up into your arms, and hold him close, and take him to the park, and show him how to poke a stick into a pond, and you may smile at his smile, and inhale his little boy scent, and hope that your mother can too.

And in your sadness and anger, you will know that you are blessed. Betrayed and bereft, but blessed. You may see, if you dare, that you are becoming a little bit of the parent you've lost. And you will miss her all the more.

And you will find some strength to carry on.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rorschach tea caddy

The other day a friend was over and I offered her some herbal tea. "Let's see," I said, opening the cupboard, "I have Sleepytime, Sleepytime Extra, and... Tension Tamer." How embarrassing.

I remember the moment my husband gave me the Tension Tamer tea. It was in December. He was so proud to have done something so thoughtful for me; I felt queasy. It was one of many moments when I realized that stress was affecting my life and my family and that I needed to make a change. In hindsight, even though I didn't open the tea, my husband did do me a favour when he brought it home for me.

Now that the mere thought of Tension Tamer tea doesn't make me feel bad, perhaps I'll give it a try.