Moving mountains, never mind they are just boxes

Well, it’s been another 7 months, so guess what time it is? Yes, that’s right – it’s moving time. Joe and I are moving to our own place. Again. A decision that has not come lightly and I am both loving and hating it the same time.

I hate it because…

Packing. I hate packing. I absolutely despise labeling and putting stuff in boxes, and making lists, and throwing stuff out and deciding what to throw out and what to keep. I don’t like packing, and organizing, and EVERYTHING ABOUT PACKING.

The actual moving is HORRIBLE. Something always goes wrong, something is always forgotten, and someone usually gets upset at least once. It is always a long day, and it’s always so tired, and after things are moved into the house, it takes days, weeks, months to unpack every single box…and sometimes things never get unpacked.

Although it is time for Joe and me to move out, I am going to miss living with Hanna, Josh, and Justin. They are good people and are awesome for letting Joe and I have a landing spot for a while. So that does go on the hate list.

AH! I'M SURROUNDED!

AH! I’M SURROUNDED!

Things I love about moving?

I have missed being able to be financially responsible enough to be able to afford to move out again and being able to have a home again. I am not saying that our current house is not a home, but that’s the thing, it is a home. It just isn’t my home. Our home. This is going to be a home for just Joe and me and that is something that we have waited so long to have again. I can’t wait to have all our kitchen stuff in the places that we want it, to be able to move furniture at 2 o’clock in the morning and not disturb people (yes I do that).

I miss being able to walk around not fully clothed. I, like Jacqui, do not like pants, so they are generally the first thing that comes off when I get home. But you cannot just take your pants off when you walk into a house that has 3 other people living in it…it would get VERY awkward.

Overall I hate the process, but as someone who has moved A LOT this is going to be the last time for a while…or so I hope. Wish us luck – I’m going to go pack another box.

~ Andreah

When love is no longer served

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as a soul sister of mine is not having the greatest time in her life. In fact it’s down right shitty for her right now.

With a tendency to absorb the hurt of the hearts I love, my heart is truly aching for her. It aches because I see so many of my own battles faced in her present circumstance and my empathy over flows for her. Her experiences have triggered some reflection of my own path and the relationships I have experienced, outgrown and moved on from. It is a bit easier from the place I am in currently to reflect honestly about each one and the person I was when involved in them. It is easier for me to see now what the root of the pain might be.

Without being too personal or airing details of their life that are not mine to share, the just of it is, needing to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served.

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This is a bitter, hard, transforming lesson. It is a lesson that can leave your heart hard if you’re not careful and create barriers around yourself that were not there before. Or, it can soften you through finding the strength to demand the people and energies in your life be good for you, good to you and feed your soul. If you let it, can catapult you into the wisdom of some of the most evolved souls where you won’t settle for less than you really deserve.

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Removing yourself from said proverbial table might need to happen anywhere in your life.

This could mean your job when your joy has been sucked from you and you no longer recognize why you do what you do. This could mean from a family member who refuses to work on the parts of your relationship that are weak and leaves you feeling abandoned more often than not, using words as weapons to lash out on you. This could be the emotionally draining friendship you’ve outgrown completely, yet continue to partake in only because of how long you’ve known each other. Or, it could be the partner who does not wish to look at their own demons in order to play kindly with yours and uses you as a verbal punching bag.

Whatever the case, you have to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served. Or if it never really was and you’re finally waking up to the reality and dynamic of the relationship.

Sadly, no amount of love, effort, compliance, or attention can ever get these people to love you the way you deserve. Some people are just not meant to be in our lives. Some people will never know or learn how to love us and understand us. You could kill yourself going to the ends of the earth trying to show them how incredible you are and how deserving of love you are, and it still won’t change a damn thing. Not one fucking thing. That is the hard, awful, real truth.

You do not have to make excuses for removing these people from your life either. There should be no guilt in cutting ties to those that do more harm than good. Yes, one thousand times yes it is easier said than done. But when you start to pay attention to your energy and who it increases and decreases around, and who leaves you feeling lifted, or drained, you become a little more protective of it. Especially, well hopefully, as you age. When it is apparent that time is fleeting and passing faster and faster, it becomes more precious and you become more selective with who is given the most valuable thing you have to spend.

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Some of these ties you will feel need to be cut with an explanation that is usually more self serving than for the party you are outgrowing. You have things you need to say to them, need them to hear, need them to feel because you do. The cold truth though is that if they really cared, the behaviour or issue would have been addressable. If they cared when you told them that they were causing you harm, they would have loved you enough to work on it with you, or walked away from you recognizing that they did not serve you. The walking away part is usually reserved for a relationship with a base of respect though and you don’t always get that lucky. It is because the biggest act of love is always the truth. The act of showing someone exactly who you are and being aligned with your words in your actions enough that allows the person you love to either accept you fully or choose to walk away. We’re not always this lucky. In fact, it is becoming more and more rare.

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On the other hand, some of these ties need not a single word explanation and you just need to rip off the band aid by shutting the door in silence. This is the most powerful message that you can send, yet is not guaranteed to be received at all. They may not even notice you’re not there anymore. Which, while sad, should also be the loudest response to confirm you were right in your stand.

I think I’ve come to the realization that not everyone deserves to be witness to my life. Not everyone deserves my love and attention. In fact, as I get older I realize that very few really have the right intent in seeking it.

I still battle with this of course. Cutting people out seems heartless and cruel, but vitally necessary. I struggle too in doing so with people I want to believe love me or care about me, the ones I want to believe have my best interest at heart and means me no harm. Mostly people I want to believe are good for me because of how I feel about them. People I absolutely need to learn to get up from and walk away from because love is no longer being served.

But just as I will, she will get there in this lesson too. I have faith in hearts like ours. The ones that learn the hardest way possible, just to make sure the resulting wisdom is good and ingrained into our being so we change a little more each time, being challenged not to shut off our hearts for good.

Soul sister, I innately know that these storms are just here to wash you clean. Have faith in what is to come, keep hope in your heart and stay open, the way you’ve always been.

And most importantly know your soul’s growth depends on this act of getting up from the table when love is no longer being served.

~ Toni

Cecil, it’s not personal

On July 1, 2015, a tragedy struck the world – the internet forgot that human beings are worth more than animals. Cecil, a famous lion, was killed in Africa and outrage ensued, leading to the online and real-life lynching of the man who killed him. Literally, the hunter became the huntee. And while the fallout of those actions lead to ‘justice’, the tragedy wasn’t in the death of a protected lion. The tragedy lies in the lack of reaction to other more horrific human deaths that were overlooked without a thought or care.

I appreciate animals. I understand that they have the power to heal, to help, to create meaning in people’s lives. I get it. But their lives should not be the only ones we think about, defend, and fight for. They are not the only ones we should be angry about when they’re cut short. They are not the only ones we should weep over and grieve. We should be angry and grieving over other human lives more than we grieve animals we hear about on the news.

At the beginning of June, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its report on the cultural genocide wrought by the Canadian government, people, and churches against our indigenous people. From 1883 to 1996 (yes, as recently as 19 years ago), over 150,000 aboriginal children were ripped from their families and placed in residential schools, resulting in the documented deaths of 6,000, with the understanding that there is a high probability of more children who died at the hands of officials. This means that the children in the schools had around the same chance of dying as a soldier in World War II.

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Languages were wiped out by the schools, forcing the children to learn English and leave behind their cultures, their history, and their homes. People were destroyed by the abuse and ‘teachings’ administered by school officials. Families were ripped apart when children were taken from their homes, away from their parents and everything that they had known. And these actions were taking place in force until the 1980s. THE 1980s. Think about that. Only 30 years ago, the Canadian government was involved in a genocide of our most vulnerable people.

The horrific implications of these actions will last generations and will take generations to repair. For the families that were affected by this, for the children who survived this, for the cultures that were destroyed by this, this horror will be felt for all time.

It’s unconscionable. It’s disgusting. It’s unbelievable. And it’s true. It happened. The active residential school program has been officially over for 20 years, but the effect is still here and will be here forever.

Did you know about this? Did you tweet about this? Did you make your outrage known? Did you track down the politicians, the teachers, the church officials who did these horrific things or allowed this horrific things or put these horrific things in motion and set up protests outside of their offices or their homes? Did you lynch them online and demand justice? Did you talk about it endlessly, worried over it and felt grief over it? Did you feel guilt? Did you feel enraged? Did you feel anything?

Did you even know?

This is my problem with Cecil. I personally believe that trophy hunting is disgusting and harmful – that it’s simply a power trip whereby humans get to murder and then gloat about it. It’s gross. If you hunt to eat, fine. If you hunt to adorn your wall, you’re scum. But to freak out about one lion, then go after all the trophy hunters who boast online, and spend energy and emotion on an animal on the other side of the world and have no idea what is happening here is disgusting and makes you scum.

I am a privileged white woman. I may not have been party or integral to the residential school system, but my people were. My people killed other people because they didn’t agree with their culture. Their centuries old, were here before we were, rooted in all the good things like respecting and honouring our natural earth, culture. My people did that. They are scum. I am scum by proxy.

I am tired of hearing about Cecil. I’m sick of hearing about all the animals in the world that are being abused at the hands of horrible humans.

I want to hear about the human beings that my government killed. I want to know about the children that survived and who they are now. I want to know how to help the people whose lives were destroyed by my people. I want to help with the reconciliation piece. I want to be part of the path to healing.

Don’t you?

To learn more, visit the Truth and Reconciliation Commission website. For a summary of the findings, take a look at this article by the CBC.

~ Julia

Down the rabbit hole, and in my purse

I am a very random person. A free spirit my sisters call me. I have had a weird collection of clothes, weird collection of art hung up around my bed room/apartments, and most definitely a weird collection of things on my person. At any given time these things lurk in my purse, in my car, etc.

My friends and I used to play a game called “What’s NOT in Andreah’s Room.” There were few and far between things that were not located in my sanctuary. One friend jokingly said a kitchen sink one time. I then produced a small miniature kitchen sink from somewhere, and laughter of course ensued.

The weird/strange/obscure things I have found on my person are the following:

Jars of dirt
I have a jar of dirt from Ireland, PEI and Nova Scotia, and for a while after I collected, or received them, I carried them around for a couple months. I know it’s weird, but it’s fun being able to carry around a piece of a far distant place that I either have been to or am dying to go to.

A beard
Yes. That’s right. I own a fake beard and used to carry it around and whip it out when certain situations called for it.
If you are currently asking yourself what situation would call for a beard, then you don’t understand life and the many simple complexities it involves. Or you are just not a strange person who used to carry around a beard.

Handcuffs.
I actually don’t want to explain this one, other than they are an interesting conversation piece. NOTHING SEXUAL. Just used to have them in my backpack.

My button collection
I have a button collection and used to carry around a few key ones that I loved to look at when I was in college. I even found use for some of them along the way.

I am a strange person. With strange things and a strange personality to match. Although I don’t find myself with these things on me on a normal basis, I still have all of them. I still am that strange girl with a beard in her bag, even if it is not a literal beard anymore.

Do you have strange things you used to do? Please tell me someone else has a fake beard.

~ Andreah

Sisterhood Spotlight – More Love Letters

The Weather Vane Sisterhood is no stranger to mental illness – we have that badge in the bag and we wear it for all to see. We don’t hide our crazy, we advocate.

A little while ago during one of Julia’s bouts of PPD, I was trying to find a way to make her feel more loved, and supported from our family. That is when I came across More Love Letters.

Their mission as it is posted on their website is simple – to make love famous. Imagine going through a rough patch, anything from a sick family member, to depression or PPD if you will. Now imagine while you are going through this tough time getting a flooding of love letters. Letters of encouragement, letters of hope. Just a little note to let you know that you are not going through this alone, and a complete stranger is thinking of you. That is exactly what More Love Letters is.

It is a blog where weekly posts let the anyone who wants to know who they should address love letters to and their background story. You can nominate anyone as well – all you need is to take the time to write an email or a letter to the ladies of More Love Letters and tell them why you think they deserve more love! Once you see who needs your love letters it’s up to you to write what your heart desires. As of late I when I have been feeling down, I write what I would want someone to say to me. Something as cheesy as “Don’t stop believing” to more sentimental. There is something so uplifting by telling a complete stranger that you are in their corner and something so heartwarming knowing that you made someone’s life a little brighter with your words.

After writing all my thank you cards, I still have some umpteen note cards left. These cards as slowly being sent all over the world with notes of love and support. I encourage everyone to join this movement and start sending love letters.

The world is a pretty crappy place sometimes. It’s scary and dark, and sometimes it’s hard to find the love and light in the everyday. But if you can be that love and light to someone else then suddenly you have a little slice of optimism yourself.

The other day I was exhausted, it was a horrible day at work and all I wanted to do was to come home and sleep. On my walk home I had made a plan, home, bath, bed. Which is exactly what I did. I came home, drew myself a bath, and then got into my pj’s. I turned on my computer to watch some much deserved Netflix, but when I opened my computer, the last page I was on was More Love Letters to their recent letter nominations. I came across a nomination for a couple who had been together for 36 years. They fell on hard times with their health, he with a stroke and her with lupus. Their children nominated them for the bundle of letters. Suddenly I felt guilty – I had a rough day sure, but I have my health, I have a roof over my head and food on the table – and yet I was grumpy and complaining.

I decided then to write a letter to this couple. I wrote telling them that their love for each other and their years of marriage was an inspiration. I wrote to them telling them I was thinking of them and sending them love from afar during this bump in the road. My problem of a bad day at work seemed so small and insignificant compared to the troubles that these two were going through.

I encourage you to take time today to write a love letter to those in need – make it a weekly routine. During your Saturday morning coffee, grab a pen and a pad of paper and start spreading the love!

~ Love, Jacqui

Just me

I don’t know if it is something that happens to every one, or even every woman, but at some point in this last bit of my 20’s, I’ve really grown to like me.

Just me, as I am. Right now.

I know it sounds silly, or like I am boasting, but I’m not. I have lots of demons and areas of myself that I know need a shit ton of work and things about my being that I would rather not have to face. But I do. And I am.

Constantly.

What I mean by really liking me, is that I really like who I am growing into. I really enjoy my own company and find myself craving more time alone. I am really comfortable with myself today, even more so than yesterday and even more so than the day before that.

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It’s an evolution I am enjoying the more and more I learn and understand about life from a spiritual perspective, a topic which is sometimes met with eye rolls and sighs. A few that are closest to me have started to referring to me as a hippie when I speak about being more conscious and awake or the adventures I get up to – a title I am fine with because I know what they mean and that they mean it with love. I have come to the realization that people can only meet you as far as they have grown themselves and that is okay. I have also noted on this journey that when some people cannot accept you for who you are or struggle with who you’ve grown into, it is okay to know their time in your story might be coming to an end.

I am okay with not being normal or what is expected. I am aware that I am a bit different and it feels good to me. I am enjoying being in a place where I can look back and say, I have come so far from who I was and I’m getting even closer to who I really am.

In fact, if you met me last year and then met me again today, I would bet you would say, “You’ve changed”, and I bet I would laugh and say “Thank you”. It would be even more apparent if we were close in a past life and you met me today…if you’ve not been here for the past few years, you definitely do not have a clue who I am anymore. And I am pretty cool with that.

This whole idea began spinning in my head this past holiday Monday. A last minute change in Michael’s schedule meant our plans for a few nights away were no longer an option, leaving me to find my own entertainment for what should have been a holiday Monday for him too. The let down of Michael not hanging out with me definitely bummed me out, but I was not against a day alone.

Now, early 20’s Toni, I will admit, would have panicked a bit about not having anything planned to fill my day with or people to hang out with and it would have been a scramble to try to fill the space with shenanigans with a girlfriend or sister. Late 20’s Toni though, she’s got this. Instantly I began to think of all of the places I have been wanting to explore but either hadn’t made the time or had a willing partner.

Michael started work at noon, so we spent a lazy morning together in bed, had breakfast and coffee and then off to work for him and upstairs to pack a bag for me.

I had no idea where I was going to head, so I threw in a sweater, a sports bra, shorts and extra tank, a bikini, book, towel, earphones, some water and snacks. I grabbed my hiking boots, a pair of sneakers and threw on my flip-flops.

Instead of worrying about directions or a GPS, I just got in the Runner and drove.

I drove myself straight to the coast of Lake Huron and parked there for hours. I read, wandered, laid out in the sun and grabbed a beer by myself in a small town along the way. I didn’t pay attention to my phone, I didn’t take a single picture to capture the beauty of my day and I barely spoke a word to another soul all day.

It was perfect and peaceful and my soul felt full by the end.

During the drive home I started to think of how many other people I know would do such a thing on a day of freedom. I also started to think about how much I had enjoyed my day. How much I needed my day, and my very own company.

Just me.

It made me very aware that while I do love the companionship of my man, my friends and especially my sisters, there are just some days when you need to sit alone with yourself for a bit and be comfortable with whatever you find, good or bad.

As I was finishing up with this post, the most suitable email from Elephant Journal floated across my screen and it read:

“No matter where you go or what you do you are always yourself.
There is nothing you can ever do, nothing you can wear,
no story you can tell that will change the basic fact of who you are.
Instead of running from it, accept it, trust it, embrace it,
love it because it’s all you’ve got.
” ~ Kino MacGregor

I am okay with me.

Just me, as I am. Right now.

~ Toni

Binge

I am a binge-er.

I binge on most everything you can think of (except, maybe that…I’m too busy bingeing on dreams of sleep to that to a binge-level).

I binge-watch TV. Netflix? It was made for me. I used to binge-watch Gilmore Girls and Grey’s Anatomy and Friends because I had those series on DVD…but NOW?! Now I can binge-watch EVERYTHING. Whole seasons, whole series one show after another after another after another after another – there is NO END to how much I can binge, and all without changing a single disc or getting off the couch. DREAMY.

Truth.

Truth.

I binge-read. Books, blogs, gossip, magazines – I devour the written word. Some of it is escapism, which our dad would get SO mad about when I was younger, and some of it is pure curiosity (hello, how does Brangelina do it??). But most of it is an unadulterated love and comfort with the written word. Bad day? Read. Bad week? Read. Scary thoughts? Read. Lists won’t shut up in my head? Read. Want to be awed and transported and thrilled and moved? READ. And I can read a whole book in one sitting. When I was growing up, our mom would buy me books specifically for vacations at the cottage, telling me not to read any of them until we got there. I’d always have them read before we even got in the van to make the drive. I limit how much I read now, because an adult stuck in a book all day and all night long does not a good parent make.

I also binge-surf, which can lead to trouble with watching children. There have been times I’ve been scrolling through a Pinterest rabbit hole and realized someone has been calling my name for a minute or so. Tricky. Luckily, I hear screaming through all of the project- and recipe-wishing.

But the biggest binge that causes the most problems for me, is binge-eating.

I am the queen of drowning my sorrows, my boredom, my anger, my anything-feeling in food. And more food. And more food.

GET IN MY BELLY.

GET IN MY BELLY.

I can eat 2 1/2 pounds of chicken wings in one sitting…after eating a whole meal. I can eat a whole bag of Oreos…after a whole meal. I can eat a whole bag of M&M’s…you know, the bowl/party size…in one go. I can totally eat a whole loaf of freshly baked bread, or most of a batch of cookies, or a bag of chips, or 4 chocolate bars (Snickers, Wunderbar, KitKat and Coffee Crisp), without breaking a sweat.

Do I feel like crap afterwards? Absolutely. Am I consumed with guilt and shame when all the food is gone and my belly aches and my head hurts and I know (I KNOW) I’m going to have a sugar/food hangover the next day? Yes. But does that stop me in the moment? When I’m hurting or unhappy or ridiculously craving crap after eating well all day? Nope. Not one bit.

Because I feel like there is something missing inside of me. I feel like there’s an empty cavern, aching to be filled, and so I do. I fill it. With all the food.

Of course, this is why I am chubby. This is why I am overweight. This is why my butt has more jiggle, and not in a Kardashian way, but in a dear-god-think-of-the-chairs kind of way. And it’s the reason that I feel like crap more often than not.

I had it under control after my miscarriage and after Isaac was born – exercise and healthy eating and sleeping and hobbies filled my time and space between parenting and housewife-ing. Not only was there no time or energy for binge-eating, but I filled up that empty hole in my face and brain with endorphins, friendship, and fulfilling activity. I lost 30 pounds. I was fit. I felt fantastic. And I wasn’t tempted as often and when I was, I wasn’t sucked into eating all the food all the time.

But this May I ran a half-marathon…and it was really hard and it took a long time to recover from it mentally and physically. I took a break from running and exercising for about a month…just in time for me to severely roll my ankle…twice…and lead me to be unable to put any weight on it for weeks. Which lead to more laying around, hating life, and wishing I were anywhere but on my couch.

So the hole in me grew…and grew…and the monster inside that wants all the chocolate and crap food started screaming again, demanding to be fed, demanding to be noticed and heeded. To answer the cries, I did what any smart person would do. I caved. I gave in. I fed it all the food in the world.

Now, my pants are tight. And my back has more rolls. And my arms feel flabbier. And the hard as rock calf muscles in my legs have been replaced by marshmallows…literally.

I sank. I’m sinking. I’m drowning in the itch for the binge, for the feeling of being so full I can’t move and something else hurts instead of the hurting that started it all.

I refuse, though, to go down without a fight. Refuse to let the monster and hole consume me. I don’t want to be that person again. I don’t. I want to be strong, and fit, and enjoy food, not look at it like a means to an end. I want treats to be treats and not the regular nighttime ritual. I want sugar and chocolate to be the exception, not the rule. And I want to stop feeling like all the food in the world must be eaten.

So, I’ve started doing things a little differently.

I’ve stopped buying crap. No more chocolate-bar or chip or junk-food runs after the kids are in bed. What we have in the house is what we have in the house, and since I don’t buy all the bad stuff during our regular grocery shop, there is no more crap here.

I’ve replaced eating with drinking…green tea. At night, when the craving to consume the world comes over me, when my stomach is desperately trying to convince my brain that I’m STARVING even though I just ate a good meal, I turn to drinking a cup of tea. Not only is it good for me and calorie-free, but it gets me all warm and sleepy, perfect for going to bed (unlike the sugar and caffeine rush from chocolate and crap I’d get from binge-eating).

And the big one? I’ve started MOVING again. I’m walking in the mornings. I HATE how I feel while I’m doing it – I ran over 21 km, people! A walk shouldn’t kill me. But, I don’t make the twice-daily trek to school anymore (which racks up about 4 km while pushing 25-55 pounds in a stroller), and I don’t go running anymore, so, I’m walking in the morning, with the goal of running again in September (giving my ankle plenty of time to really heal before I start pushing it). I’m resentful of how far I’ve fallen, but I know that getting it back little by little is the only solution.

Now, I need to know – do you binge? Or do you have magical self-control? And if you do binge, what are your tips and tricks for keeping your head above the water? Because I know at some point, I’m going to want to put all of the things in my mouth again…and it will be SO hard to say no.

~ Julia

I implore you

I am a bit of a fitness/overall health nut…most days.

I too, like everyone else, am human and have days where the rules or guidelines I happily adhere to normally, go out the window. Whether it is work, my social circle, my fur babies, my man, my real(ish) babies or my super busy family, I am a pretty on the go person. Sometimes this means slipping up due to lack of carved out time to prepare what’s required.

I really do have a hard time sitting still though, so as a coping mechanism, it is my own damn fault that I am so busy. I try to have something planned for my day the night before – even if that is a ‘me day’ where I barely do anything with anyone else and soak up my own time with a hike or some other adventure.

Everyone knows deep down that staying active and eating nutrition-filled foods, in well balanced portions, is one of the hardest yet most rewarding ways of staying healthy. And when you start doing it consistently it becomes second nature and your body actually rejects the crappy, processed stuff and sitting still for too long and you suffer side effects like headaches and tummy troubles when you do indulge.

If you’ve ever been turned-on about something, I hope you understand that I speak from a place of passion and genuine love for this lifestyle I’ve pursued. I just want others to realize what I have come to understand about the body’s natural capabilities – no matter how limited that still may be for me in comparison to what is truly possible. Like I said, I suffer off days and harder days and days where the fastest thing is the first thing I eat because I am stressed, or have gone too long without eating, or have an insatiable craving that I just need to itch…the point is I am human too and far, far, far from perfect. So, so far.

I have a few favourite motivators for why I work out and am conscious about what I ingest – maybe they’ll kick your butt into gear, or maybe they’ll remind you why you get up and do what you do every day to stay healthy and motivated to workout/stay active. Either way, the intent is to inspire just one person to make a small change for the better and I will be the happiest girl in the entire world if that is accomplished.

1. It kinda kicks butt to be able to kick butt: I really do get a giddy high when I accomplish something regarding my health. It could be getting a handle on wheel, crow or a headstand in yoga, or running the side hills of McLennan Park in Kitchener at a faster pace each time.

Had writers block while writing this blog...so this happened for a change in perspective

Had writers block while writing this blog…so this happened for a change in perspective

Running a half-marathon or hiking steeper hills without struggle. Or, it could be the realization that I can mentally control certain parts of my brain when pushing myself through a challenging kilometer or workout set – this ability filters into everyday situations too. I feel more confident in my body’s physical abilities now more than I ever have in my life – and I can’t even imagine how that will feel when I’m 40, 50 and beyond. I love the look on Michael’s face when I clamp my legs around him on the couch a-la-monkey cling and he winces because I’m strong. Or when he trusts me to load our canoe with him because he knows I won’t drop it awkwardly resulting in injury of person or the vehicle. It really kicks butt to be a fit-chick.

2. Having a shit-ton of energy also kicks butt: Really – being up for anything because I have the energy is a huge plus for me. Needing to explore and create and exert energy physically is part of keeping me sane. Normally this might be hard on top of working 50-60 hours per week while balancing every other responsibility. Lucky for me, the circle of exertion and creation of energy is an amazing natural phenomena. PLUS, energy keeps you HAPPY and that’s good for every one, especially Michael – just ask Elle Woods.

Seriously though, if I am free and not ill and you ask me to go for a run, workout, grab a yoga class, hit up a concert after a long day of work, meet you for a beer, catch sunrise on a Saturday morning, play cards, grab dinner/lunch/breakfast/any food, any time, I am usually down.

That leads me to my next point:

3. FOOD: The majority of people really don’t know how FOOD is supposed to taste. I mean veggies – both raw and cooked, fruit, nuts, legumes, lean meat and seafood (if it’s your flavour – there is a huge movement that part of me wants to explore of vegan-ism…but I’ll save that post for another day), real fresh, filtered spring-fed water. Real, from the earth food. We live in a society that desires convenience over effort and with that comes the easy out – the microwave this, the packaged/prepared that, the greasy processed burger…you get the point. Yum, right? No. Not even close to what your food could and is supposed to taste like. On top of the DELICIOUSNESS of the whole foods, add in the perks of moving your buns and you get my most favourite reason for working out EVER – eating. I love food. Like a lot. Like there are only a handful of things that I enjoy more than eating – none of which are SFW enough to mention here. I eat to nourish my body so I enjoy the simplicity that it’s become, however this also means that I get hungry a lot and get to eat A LOT to fuel me and that’s pretty kick-ass.

4. Gettin’ down: I won’t elaborate as I know some of our readers blush easy (not to mention my mom is an avid reader…hi mom), but the increase in stamina, interest and desire when it comes to intimate things – working out and eating right do incredible things for your sex life! The added confidence when you feel good about your body and have the energy…need I say more? Seriously, try it out and thank me later.

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For me it’s all three, but this is funny

5. Life in your years, years in your life: The two go hand-in-hand perfectly when you are in control of your nutrition and exercise regime. If you add in an all around lifestyle geared to being health-conscious, the chances you’ll have a better life and longer one, increase tremendously. I truly believe with the right lifestyle, nutrition, meditation/prayer life and diet, an insane amount of the diseases that we are plagued with can be cured. Our lifestyles and diets are killing us – it’s a fact, not just my opinion. Google ‘Lifestyle Disease’ and see the numerous medical publications regarding the study. The more educated you become, the easier the choices become too.

I would not say I am afraid of not being healthy, but I definitely do not take my abilities or my health for granted – I know first hand those things can change at the blink of an eye, and if you don’t take advantage while you can I feel like you might be wasting a bit of your life. It is a definite motivating factor for me and probably an all around driver for the lifestyle changes I am slowly making.

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What are your main motivators for keeping active and eating right? I’m always looking for motivation and my inspiration comes from you too.

I’d like to leave you with this: if you’re considering working on you, stumbling through or are well on your way, I implore you – keep working on you. I promise you won’t regret it.

~ Toni

English rage

I am a snob. I am a highbrow, high standards, high expectations kind of girl…when it comes to the English language.

I was trained that way – it’s not an excuse, it is simply the reason. I have always been in love with language, and good at spelling and grammar (was that grammatically correct???). And I went to university for professional writing…in English. Writing has always come naturally for me and reading has always been my constant companion (I carry a book everywhere I go…and totally did it waaaaay before Rory Gilmore made it hot).

Of course this means that I have a list of things that irk me. Things that make my eye twitch and my skin crawl and my heart weep for the future of the English language. Things I think are unacceptable and inexcusable.

Mispronunciation

It's SO meem. Just so you know.

It’s SO meem. Just so you know. And *it’s…SERIOUSLY. 

In high school, I totally thought melancholy was pronounced melon-sholly. EW. And I, of course, pronounced this word in front of my arch enemy at the time (we were both vying for the affections of our shared very best friend). She took great pleasure in making fun of me…because I was the English guru, for goodness’ sake! DAMMIT. I still burn with shame and embarrassment. It’s melon-kolly. SERIOUSLY. When I hear people pronounce these words incorrectly, I can’t help but feel like they should be burning in shame…but mostly they’re oblivious or, WORSE, they think they’re being cute. Bleh. For me, these words are the worst:

Supposedly – Did you know that there is is no ‘b’ in this word??? And yet people still say supp-oh-ze-Blee. REALLY??? Supposebly. It doesn’t exist. And if you’re over the age of 7, you’re not cute. You sound uneducated. It’s a ‘D’, people.

Specifically – It frustrates me to no end when people pronounce this word without the ‘s’ on the beginning…like pa-sif-fik-lee. Like the ocean. Pacifically. As opposed to Atlantically??? Is it a geographic adverb that you need in your sentence? Or did you just ignore the first letter, like the first step, and now you’re falling UP, which takes an incredible level of clumsiness and anti-skill. It’s spe-sif-fik-lee. And it has nothing inherently to do with oceans. I promise.

Especially – What’s with words with ‘ally’ in them? This one gets an ‘x’ thrown in where the ‘s’ hangs out. Instead of ‘ess’, we get ‘exs’. It’s weird. And wrong. That is all.

Library – This one is just ridiculous. Do not pronounce the place that holds the books, the things that contain the words, improperly. It’s a slap in the face to English. And there’s no reason for it. It’s lye-br-ary. NOT lye-berry. There’s an extra ‘r’ that demands and deserves respect. Please.

Pumpkin – I don’t know what it is about this one, but it is by far my most enraging mispronunciation on the list. I HATE the word ‘punk-in’. There is no ‘n’ there. There is an ‘mp’. And I feel like anyone who says it this way is a twit. There. I said it. You’re a TWIT. I even correct my 6-year old. There’s just no getting over this one. If you say ‘punk-in’ near me, know that although I am polite and will continue our social interactions like I’m supposed to, in my head I’m throwing a tantrum and smacking the ‘punk’ out of you. You’ve been warned.

Not a 'punk' in sight...

Not a ‘punk’ in sight…

Incorrect spelling

I get it. Spell-check is everywhere, no one needs to know how to spell things, and texting and messaging and Facebook-ing makes spelling things out redundant and time-consuming. I KNOW. I still text in full sentences, but I don’t think everyone should. That is NOT what this is about. This is about people not spelling things the right way when they spell them out. You can LOL and BRB all you want, but PLEASE, for the love of all things holy and contained in the OED, avoid these WTF moments:

Congradulations – In a world with everyone’s every milestone being posted on Facebook, this one gets used. And abused. A LOT. Did you know there is no ‘d’ in congratulations? That it’s a ‘t’?? And that when you use the short-form, ‘congrats’, it’s STILL a ‘t’? NOT A ‘D’. Please, please, please stop ‘congradulating’ people and get back to ‘congratulating’ people…because although their daily workout may not be entirely congratulatory, it’s definitely NOT congraDulatory. And, speaking of which…

Such a dumb-ass.

Such a dumb-ass.

Definately – There is no ‘a’ in ‘definitely’. There just isn’t. Do not ‘definately talk to your doctor’ about your kid’s rash, do not ‘definately get together’ with the high school friend you found on FB, do not ‘definately’ confront your neighbour about the crappy way they park their car in front of your driveway. DEFINITELY do any or all of those things. But NEVER ‘definately’.

Your versus You’re – Look. I get it. They sound the same. They practically look the same. But DUDES, they are SO not the same! Your is all about ownership – that’s yours. Your hair. Your new car. Your drama. YOU OWN IT. But you’re??? It’s a contraction, a smashing together, of two words: you + are. And it is used EVERY time someone says ‘thank you’ to you. You’re welcome. As in, YOU ARE welcome. Not, here is YOUR welcome. You own this welcome. But, I’ve done something awesome, you’re (THERE IT IS AGAIN – you are) grateful, and now, I say, you’re welcome! Like, YOU ARE WELCOME to my awesomeness. Bah. Please? Please. Let’s work on this one. It’s almost as cringe-worthy as ‘punk-in’. Almost.

So...which one are you? Feeling up your nuts, or feeling a little crazy?

So…which one are you? Feeling up your nuts, or feeling a little crazy?

And last, but NOT least:

Words that don’t FREAKING exist

There is only one word on this list and it is enough of a blight on the English-speaking world to make up for any other made-up word you can think of.

Irregardless. There. That’s it. There is no such word as ‘irregardless’. There is regardless, which means ‘without regard’, and then that’s it. THERE IS NO ‘irregardless’. There is no word that means ‘without without regard’. The ‘ir’ is redundant and nonsensical. It makes the word a double negative, but it doesn’t make a word that means ‘full of regard,’ it just makes you sound dumb and me lose all respect for you. You are stripped of your credibility. I can’t be friends with you anymore. Go stand over there with the ‘punkin’ users.

And if you're not, man you sure SOUND stupid.

And if you’re not, man you sure SOUND stupid.

***

Okay. English rage rant over. Now, tell me yours. What makes your skin crawl, your hatred level rise uncontrollably and irrationally (that IS a word), and your need to punch people in the face to surface? Tell me – what are the language ticks that make you wanna go BOOM?

~ Julia

Guest Post – Stay-at-home moms, I salute you!

Because she loves us SO much, Julia’s mother-in-law and the Sisterhood’s second mother, Dianne, joins us AGAIN as a guest blogger. WE LOVE YOU TOO! 

As you may know, I am Nana to 7 amazing grandchildren. They range in age from 6 to 2, or almost 2. I gave birth to and raised 4 wonderful children. During that time, I was a working woman.

This kind of working woman…

African American Woman

…not this kind…

Grandma hooker

I recently had the privilege of spending a day in the life of Julia. With Julia comes her accessories, Sophie, Lillian and Isaac. These are numbers 1, 2 and 6 in the line-up of grandbabies, and they are aged 6, 4 and 2 (okay, almost 2).

Unlike Julia, my day started at a leisurely 6:45. We had planned to spend the day together, but hadn’t worked out the finer details. A text from Julia and I was on my way to their house to bring Nana-Jam, have breakfast and coffee, and swap vehicles with Ben. I arrived at 7:30. By this time things are hopping at the Mills’ household. Everyone but Lillian is up having breakfast, Ben is dressed and ready for work while getting toast for Isaac; Julia is trying to manage 13 things at once, including launching that day’s blog post; and Sophie is being the sauciest six-year-old granddaughter anyone could have –  I wouldn’t have her any other way. Lillian emerges from deep sleep before Ben sprints out the house.

I tell Julia “Sit still, have a coffee and just relax.” HA! DOUBLE HA!

We chat about the things we want to accomplish that day: go to St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market to get fresh strawberries to make more Nana-Jam, a visit to the dollar store, make Nana-Jam, a drop-in kindergarten boot camp for Lillian at the library, a quick run to Costco, lunch at some time, nap for Isaac and down-time for both Sophie and Lillian, supper together and bed time before Ben arrives home after footie practice. That is a fully-packed day for adults, never mind dragging along 3 children.

I am so naïve; I think I can handle this day. I forget what it’s like to be kept in line by the terrorists. They have needs and demands. Lunch is not something that can happen whenever, snacking is a necessity and a nap for Isaac is a must. There are the required bathroom breaks; no, Lillian cannot hold it any longer – either stop and pee in the bushes behind the van at market, or you risk having an accident. And that accident, that one is your fault for not recognizing that children have a bladder the size of a walnut.

Undaunted, we start our day. Because not everyone moves at the same pace, we don’t get onto the road until almost 10.  It’s a Thursday – going to market at 10 am should not pose a problem. But, it’s the Thursday after Canada Day, which means it’s a virtual long weekend. Every man and his dog is at market. We had to park in an area I didn’t even know existed!

FlagThere are so many good things about market. Does it get any better than shopping in the sunshine, smelling the produce, sampling local food? Fortunately, the snacks are plentiful. Bananas and mangoes are the snack of choice. Disaster averted.

It was busier when we were there!

It was busier when we were there!

After the market, we should be thinking about the drop-in kindergarten boot camp. Nope, it was off the list before we got to market.

Okay, let’s visit Aunt Toni. Her office is 2 minutes away from the market. Easy. We don’t get lost, we find Aunt Toni. I am grateful that our visit is in the parking lot; my feet are sore, my knees ache and I really need Tylenol. We get to help make Aunt Toni’s day. The visit has elevated everyone’s spirits.

Next stop, let’s visit Grammie at her work and go for lunch!  Before we arrive to pick up Grammie, Isaac has succumbed to sleep.  No worries – some fuel and he will be good to go until we reach my house for a proper nap.

While Isaac is napping, Julia curls up on the couch. The cool of the rec room, the lull of the TV playing in the background, the calm of the afternoon and she is out too! It’s at this point that I realize she has worked for this nap, and she really deserves it. Me, my feet are sore, my ankle hurts and I’m tired, but I can do this! Besides, it’s hard to nap when grandbabies are talking to you and expect an intelligent response.

It is now just after 4 pm. Isaac is scheduled to wake up. We haven’t started supper yet, there has been no afternoon snack, strawberries are not cleaned let alone made into Nana-Jam. There are so many casualties to the list we so industriously made this morning. I suggest to Julia that we get some grapes for snack while I make supper. Nope, there is that Costco run yet. So, snack then Costco. Easy! HA! TRIPLE HA! I AM SO NAÏVE!

Costco without children is a challenge; Costco with 3 children is insane. But, I can do this. In case you missed it, I didn’t mention that we haven’t unloaded any of Julia’s purchases from market yet. We have only been to my house to unload my purchases.  But, let’s go to Costco to buy more! More necessities, more toilet paper in giant packages, more family-sized boxes of cereal, more over-sized bags of chips, more gallons of yogurt, more cases of diapers and all things family-sized.  And, just to add to the mayhem, let’s pick up these things for other members of the family too!

The hunger is starting to overtake the children. Sophie sees sample tables and begs for a taste, Lillian and Isaac are not far behind. By the time we are done at Costco it is close to 6 pm. We have managed to stuff the van with everyone’s purchases in such a manner that we can actually distinguish my groceries. This will be handy since we are off to my place for dinner. I like this idea as I won’t have to unload groceries by myself later that night.

Julia, an expert at squeezing everything she can into a day suggests that we venture to the dollar store. I implore her, we can’t fit another thing into the van. Off to Nana’s house for a quick supper, thank goodness.

If you refuel children, they get their second wind. Dinner is over at 7:15, Sophie and Lillian are looking to sneak downstairs where all the “good” toys are. No can do, bed time is in 15 minutes and we won’t make it home before then. Did I mention that my feet are killing me, my ankle has started to balloon, my knee aches like a son-of-a-gun and there isn’t enough Tylenol to satisfy me? But, I can do this! I have to do this, Ben still has my car.

After dinner is cleared, it’s time to pack up and head for Ben and Julia’s. Julia drives and I am so grateful. I am yawning like crazy. We make it all the way to bed time for the children. I love them so much and I love them even more when they are tucked in.

We unload the van of the day’s purchases. By ‘we’ I mean Julia unloads the van and walks everything to the door of the house, I just need to place things in the kitchen or in an area for pick up by others. I am so tired.

Oh, did I mention that Julia was going to do some freelance writing that evening, after our monotonous day? Just sneak in an hour or two, that’s all. Nothing to it if you haven’t spent every ounce of your energy running after children. I get set up to watch some TV while waiting for Ben, Julia is busy writing. Mercifully, Ben is not late – he arrives shortly before 9 pm.

I’m exhausted. Julia looks relaxed as she easily jokes with Ben. He has a small gift for her. A while ago, Julia ran a half-marathon with three of her best buds. Ben presents her with a commemorative mug – it has a picture of the victorious ladies. Just another day in the life of.

This day has been long and it has shown me that being a stay-at-home mom is not a life filled with bon-bon eating and watching TV. My ordinary day consists of sitting behind a desk to crunch numbers; I’m a whiz with a calculator and a computer. Saturday and Sunday I’m a regular weekend warrior – I cut the grass, clean the floors and do laundry. I don’t try to manage a plethora of duties including child care, household management, first aid, sanitation for the nation, logistics and supplies procurement. I take my hat off to all the stay-at-home-moms. Their job is the hardest anyone will ever do, but it is the most rewarding. It is the job that will determine the direction our nation will take. These domestic engineers mold our future doctors, teachers, politicians, ditch-diggers, farmers and car mechanics. We should never take them for granted.

~ Dianne (a.k.a. Nana)

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!