Guest Post – Pursuit of Passion

Toni’s friend from college and fellow marketing grad, Krista joins us today for her first blog post with the Sisterhood!

So I have been laid off from work for over five months now. Yeah…still hard to say it.

Your work becomes part of your identity. People meet you and they say “so, what do you do?” or “where do you work?”. For some reason having to say you have been laid off can feel like a failure. I got down on myself, spent a number of days having a Netflix binge and seeing 5 pm roll around feeling so unproductive. Another failure.

I wasn’t fully happy at my old job. I wasn’t used to my full potential and felt where I did excel, they didn’t need me. Don’t get me wrong, having a job is great. You get to talk to people, finish something, work on projects, have that team atmosphere, get paid…all that good stuff. But what I have failed to realize is how important passion is. Passion drives all of us and unfortunately I had put mine in the back seat.

Slowly, I have been trying to work at discovering what I am passionate about. Finding tasks, projects, or events (or parts of them) that really light that fire inside of me. Get that inspiration going that makes you feel on top of the world. So I started keeping tabs on what makes me feel that way:

I know I love helping and doing random acts of kindness

To me I find helping people so selfish. I get this high from doing it that I have never experienced anywhere else. I have always been like that. Whether it be sending gifts at Christmas to families that can’t afford toys for their kids, buying coffee for strangers and having a conversation with them, always being there for my friends (any time, any place), complimenting people, holding doors, waiting for CAA to arrive to help a stranger who locked their keys. I never expect anything in return and it is shocking how many people are surprised. What I do know is that one act of kindness has a ripple effect. Not just for the other person but for myself too. I knew I needed to volunteer more to experience this more often. I am organizing the kids area at this year’s Waterloo Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation walk. This is a whole new world for me, but I have already met some amazing people and couldn’t be more excited to see how it all turns out. I also volunteer with Victim Services of Waterloo Region as a Crisis Responder. I offered to come into the office to help to get some extra hours in on top of the shifts I take every month. Both these organizations I am passionate about. I am a Type-1 Juvenile Diabetic and have been a victim of robbery at gunpoint. I know why both these organization exist and it gives me so much satisfaction being able to help in areas that I am really passionate about.

I know I love being creative

I have always been that person, trying new art projects, taking classes or just randomly grabbing a paint brush and hitting the canvas. I started being more creative. I got out my old jewelry making supplies and made some necklaces, I painted a few pictures, I started colouring, and taking photos. I realized that I love creating something that has no guidelines. Something purely personal that probably only I will ever see. I know I could never make a living with it but I know now that I need to keep the creativity in my life. It is something that lights that fire of passion inside me.

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Garden creativity at its best!

I know I love connecting with myself

I took a yoga class. Yoga is an activity that gets me back to the present. It keeps me focused on the here and now. Not what was or what could be. I realized in my funk of being laid off that I was focusing too much on the past and the future. What good is that going to do me? I guess it was something to think about while zoning out on another One Tree Hill episode. That cycle had to stop. I know that wherever life leads me that I need something to keep me grounded and focused in the present. I could spent a lot of wasted energy in the past or the future while my present becomes the past….something I can’t change.

I know I love animals

Spending so much time with our dog Wallabee has been AMAZING – do I ever love that guy! When they say petting a dog reduces stress, they were not kidding. There is something about that wet nose on your lap and that wagging tail that makes me so happy. Wallabee and I were close before but being home all day with him as made our bond so much closer. He got sick the other night and when he came back to bed he wanted to cuddle up right next to me (and not my boyfriend which I think made him mildly jealous lol). Melted my heart. I need animals in my life – it lights that fire, plain and simple. That unconditional love you receive is like nothing else.

Wallabeeeeeeeee ♥

Wallabeeeeeeeee ♥

I know I love baking

I started making pies, cookies, cupcakes, and cakes. There is something therapeutic to me about mixing things together and out come these delicious treats. That not only taste good, but you can make them look good. I get to be creative and make treats! The fact that I get so excited about it leads me to believe I have some serious passion for it. It makes me so happy to see how much people love my baking. I sent some cookies off to my boyfriend’s work and someone asked for the recipe. I was so proud and then realized that I really improvised the recipe….now to try and recall what I did…uh-oh. But I knew that feeling of passion is inside when I have the oven on and the house smells delicious.

Yeah, I did that :)

Yeah, I did this 🙂

Finding a life full of passion is more than a job. I am looking at this lay off as an opportunity to figure out what I need in my life to feel fulfilled on all levels. It is unlikely I will find a job that incorporates all of the above. What I do know is that it has to have passion. I need to keep checking in on myself and ask “what do I need?”. I need to ensure that no matter what job I end up at that I remember what is important and it is not the pay cheque. I am truly lucky to have a really supportive and loving boyfriend who wants me to get the right job, not just any job (did I mention I am passionate about him? I totally am). When I have days full of all the things I am passionate about I notice an immense difference of what comes my way. The positivity from people is almost overwhelming. I want that feeling every day of my life.

I am a 29 year old woman on the pursuit of passion and I wouldn’t have had this chance if I wasn’t laid off.

~ Krista

 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!

You don’t want kids!? But…

Every time I say, “I don’t think I want to have children”, I tend to brace myself for the response and reaction I’m going to get. The responses are more times than not less than desirable. The statement is usually met with negativity, judgement, or the instinctive reaction of trying to convince me differently.

Over the course of my long-term relationship with Michael, I have compiled a list of the most common responses I hear – we call them ‘but-responses’ – and they generally sound something like this:

1. But, having children makes your life fulfilling!

Firstly, saying something like this makes it seem as though a woman who chooses not to reproduce leads a life that is lacking something…well, really, that’s exactly what you’re saying. Yes, the choice is non-traditional; however, it should be accepted that it is a choice and not a requirement to create life – something I think should be explained to more women. I do not need to give birth to know that I have an incredible life and on top of that, I am going to experience so many different opportunities that some who choose children as their adventure might never get to experience.

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2. But, you’ll change your mind one day, trust me.

Well, trust me then. I’ve felt this way for the better part of my adulthood and for as long as I can remember to be honest. I have never had the burning desire to make mini-me versions of Toni and I feel more strongly about this choice now, with where I am as a person, the life I forsee myself living, than I ever have. It seems to get stronger the more birthdays I see, the more Michael and I grow together as a team, and our blended-family grows more in love. It’s not necessarily my mind that I’ve made up, so much as listening to the silent pull in my heart.

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3. But, what will you do when you’re older?

This one irks me a bit…and then makes me wonder if that is really a reason people have children – as a retirement/old age plan. I have a hard time with this one usually, and I have to really force my filter to stay in place and be kinder than I would like to be. I usually point out that there is no guarantee that your children will be there for you in your old age as it is all in how you get along and treat each other that matters – not just that you’re family.

4. But, you would make such a great mom!

Thank you! And not to toot my own horn, but that’s what makes me such a kick ass step-mama and auntie. I’m a mama bear for anyone I love, and it seems to come pretty naturally. I also love being an influential person to the children in my life, but not having it rest completely on my shoulders. You know, that whole “it takes a village” mentality? I’m one of the villagers that will always be there as a support for my babies from other mamas. I love being that person for my sister’s babies, my step-babies, and my friends’ babies – the person who shows up for them all the time as a teacher, mentor, guide and friend.

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5. But, it’s what’s natural!

So is nudity, but it’s illegal. In all seriousness though, just stop judging what you don’t know. Statistics prove that even if I did want kids, there are still a ton of chances that I might not be able to conceive, carry to term, survive the birth, and have a fully healthy baby, etc. etc. the list can go on and on. Determining what is right for my body and my life is what is natural to me. Let’s all remember too: at the end of the day, I’m the only person who has to live with and answer for my choices.

I know many women who are choosing not to have children of their own, each armed with their own reasoning, each reason as personal as the next. Please try to remember to support each other in our right to choose our own path for this life – what is right for you is not what us right for everyone. So next time you hear a woman express her choice not to have children of her own,  instead of one of the above cringeworthy but-responses, celebrate her choice, thank her for being true to herself and maybe ask “why?” without judgement – the answer just might surprise you.

~ Toni

A retail Christmas

If any of you lovely readers have ever worked retail during the Christmas season, you know how much of a mixed blessing it is. There are moments of joy, moments of frustration, and moments of embarrassment.

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You get to see families shopping, you get to see significant others trying to find the perfect present for their person, and you get to see friends shopping together. When you have little people running around your legs, running to Mommy or Daddy, asking if this would be a good present, it is just a downright cute kind of season. You get to help those girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, wives, partners, etc. trying find that perfect gift, the one that they saw online, and called in, because your store has it! It’s sweet that you see the love in their eyes when you hand over that thing they were looking for and you get to see how excited they are that they get to check this off their list. Friends shopping together is always fun to see – they have a different language than the rest of the world. And the jokes that fly at each other…always entertaining. Especially when you see the looks on random passersby.

The moments of frustrations are met with a flushed face and a calm stance. Trying to soothe emotions during the holidays? You might as well be trying to diffuse a bomb in Times Square. You are blamed for things that have nothing to do with you and have everything to do with ordering. You try to stay calm and find a solution, but when you have to say no?

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Might as well stand in front of the firing squad right now for all the help you are! I try and think of something that is completely away from the store I work at, and think of something nice, or what this person if going through…because if they are yelling at me, there has got to be something else wrong out in their universe. I try and mend the situations, and if I can’t help, hand it over to a higher up, which again is frustrating.

I am embarrassed at least once a day every day, but at work it is especially embarrassing. Say you almost fall off a ladder? Red face. Say you are lifting that heavy stacks of books and a toot slips out? Quickly look around, and hope like hell your coworker isn’t beside you, in the next aisle, or anywhere within earshot! What if they are? Red face. Finally get those gold embossed mugs in your manager has been trying to get in, and what happens? Drop it on another cup and cue the red face.

I think the hardest part of working in the land of retail during the holidays is that everyone is frazzled, and in the end it is your job to keep a level head and do everything you can. Is the customer always right? No, but they are right to themselves, and that is all they care about. So the job is to do your best, whatever that could be, and try not to crack or rip anything.

~ Andreah

The darnedest questions

When a child asks a question, there is no hidden agenda, no secret motive, they simply are just curious and want to know; however, they are very impressionable. Who their parents choose as their immediate circle have a direct impact on who they are – those people are their entire world.  Everyone looks different, dresses differently, has different personalities, body types, etc., which means new things to little minds bring out the best questions EVER!

Question: Why did you write on yourself?

Grown-up answer: I have two tattoos, so far, which are located on my wrists. When I wear anything that does not have sleeves they are there for the world to see, including you, Little One.  One reads “força” which means strength in Portuguese, representing my dad who has taught me in many ways to be strong; and the other one is “beauté” which is French for beauty for my momma, to whom I attribute my dashing good looks! I wrote on myself to always remind me where I came from. And Lillian when you are 18 and want to get tattoos, I am going to tell you to wait, a year, two years, three years even, and think long and hard like I did, and make it meaningful. And regardless of what others may say, it’s your body. Your mom may have a different response to this.

Actual answer: Because I was silly and wanted to write I myself. It’s something you do when you are older, much much older…like 40.

Question: Where are the rest of your panties?

Grown up answer: I have no idea! No, really. When you grow up, suddenly it becomes the norm to pay more for less fabric. It becomes more uncomfortable to wear something that is more “appealing.” Don’t get me wrong, sometimes less fits better with an outfit, and sometimes it’s nice to wear something scandalous.

Actual answer: My bum ate them.

Question: Why do you have owies on your face?

Grow up answer: Well beautiful, they are called zits because I like chocolate and chips and sometimes fall asleep with makeup on. I also touch my face when I am stressed, which happens very often when you become a “grown up.”

Actual answer: I dunno, Baby Girl, I just don’t know.

Question: Why did you kiss Uncle Cody? Are you getting married?

Grow up answer: I kissed Uncle Cody because I wanted to. Unfortunately you don’t always love people when you kiss them and you aren’t always going to marry them. You may think you love them, but you will find out the hard way that you have to kiss frogs to find your prince. And yes, Baby Girl, we are getting married.

Actual answer: Yes, Baby Girl, I love him and that is the only time you should kiss someone – when you love them and only when you are going to marry them.

Sophie’s response: Ew, gross!

~ Jacqui

Momfessions

I am a stay-at-home mom. In another life, where I had time to straighten and then curl my hair, where I didn’t drink coffee because I didn’t need it, and where there was far less crazy around me, I was a professional corporate writer. Super sexy, I know.

Now, I wear jeans every day, except bad days or days when the laundry is waaaaay overdue, and then I wear yoga pants. Or pyjamas. All. Day. Long. (Living the dream, right here).

My standard hairdo is a messy bun that inevitably comes apart as I chase babies, sit on couches under babies, and change countless bums. Oh, the poop.

My fancy, or the bit of sparkle in my outfit, is found in the pearl earrings I wear and the eyeliner and mascara that I count as part of my daily uniform. Without these three things, I feel tired, depleted, and run over.

There is an underbelly to this super-relaxed-yet-never-relaxed lifestyle that I want to expose. Things that I feel kind of dirty about admitting. And things that I feel other moms or dads or people whose job it is to chase children will understand. Here are my Momfessions (mom+confessions = I’m super smart).

I brush my teeth in secret. Sometimes. Not all the time, because technically I’m supposed to get my babies to brush their teeth all the time too. But sometimes, when I just don’t feel like hauling out four different toothbrushes, two different toothpastes, and helping one daughter balance on the toilet while the other one hogs the sink, I sneak a teeth-brushing. It’s bad, I know. And kind of sad. But let me tell you – I LOVE brushing my teeth. It’s like a massage for my mouth, it makes me feel fresh and clean even if I can’t remember the last time I had a shower, and I hate having bad breath. Or worrying about having bad breath. So sometimes, I quietly uncap the toothpaste, slowly turn on the water, maybe flick on the bathroom fan to cover me, just so I can brush my teeth without having to help other people spit or clean up the spit that just didn’t make it into the sink.

I have admired Sophie’s hair while she was puking. Sophie, my oldest daughter, is a puker. Any car trip longer than 15 minutes can turn into a full exorcism of everything she’s ever eaten, ever. We have a stock of Gravol on hand and she has become quite adept at puking into a large plastic cup while we’re driving and not getting any on herself. One time, when she wasn’t carsick, just flu-sick, I was holding her hair back as she heaved over the toilet, I noticed the stunning, natural highlights in her hair, the way her hair beautifully gathered and fell in her own version of a messy bun, and how shiny and new it was. And then I got jealous. Of my daughter’s hair. While she was puking.

I can fit a whole Oreo in my mouth. And then chew it without giving myself away. There are moments when the chief cook-and-bottle-washer needs a little treat. And usually those moments require that I don’t share the treat…because who wants to give their kids sugar right before lunch or right before supper or in the middle of the afternoon or ever, really. This skill can be transferred to spoonfuls of peanut butter, handfuls of chocolate chips, or cold chicken wings leftover in the fridge.

I would rather keep driving than go home when the babies are asleep in the van. Waking up sleeping babies is against everything I believe in and the quiet that comes from babies asleep in a moving vehicle is like no other. I wish that gas were free so I could keep driving forever, so that they would be asleep for longer, and it would be quieter for just a few more moments.

I cherish the quiet outside of the van. In fact, it is one of my favourite moments in a day when we have appointments we have to drive to. Normally, Ben has the van and, as a one-vehicle family, we walk or stay put. But on days where wrangling everyone out of the door includes seats and buckles on top of the usual winter clothing and negotiations, my favourite time is when all the doors are closed, when the screaming is contained, and when all of them are strapped into their seats. There is nothing more peaceful than being by myself for a few seconds, no matter how fleeting.

My favourite day of the week is Thursday. And not because of the hot TV on at night (Grey’s and Scandal…SO good). But because of the flyers that come in the local free paper. I love flyer day. It’s the day that I get to sit down and find the best deals on groceries, dream about shopping at the local crafting store with the 40%- and 50%-off coupons, and then satisfyingly recycle all of it, clearing away a pile of paper and clutter. LOVE Thursdays.

I hate that the girls like bacon. There was a time, not so long ago, when both Sophie and Lillian couldn’t eat bacon. It was too chewy for them and either they would choke, or simply chew and chew and chew and then spit it out. So having bacon and eggs meant that Ben and I got some of the delicious salty pig and the kids did not. Now they are older and their eating is more sophisticated and skilled. And they actually like it. In fact, Sophie will often ask for more than one piece and with all of the fabulous counting skills she’s learning at school, she knows when it’s divvied up fairly or not. Hate that we have to share our bacon.

Momfessional over. I’m not sure if I feel better or not.

Anything you’d like to share?

~ Julia