Monday, February 17, 2014

release

I wrote this post exactly one month ago. I'm finally ready to share it with you.

::   ::

I have to write it all down. I have to write it all down before it is lost.

I cut my dreads. After three and a half years, with my longest dreads reaching nearly to my waist, I cut them. I cut them just above my shoulders and then combed them out. I have loose hair again. My dreads are utterly gone.

To be frank, I had grown to hate washing them. They were, as I said, nearly waist length, and there were a lot of them, more than average - I have a lot of hair. They weighed a lot at the best of times, but wet? Oh, wet they were insanely heavy. I had neck pain every time I washed them, and they would be wet for 24 full hours after washing them. We've been having cold snaps and I would keep putting off and putting off washing them because the thought of having long, cold, wet dreads for a whole day when it's -30C outside and only about 16C inside was just intolerable. Practically, it made sense to let them go.



And then there's the whole thing with my mother's health. I have been intentionally vague in this space because it is a public space and because it isn't really my story, in the strictest sense, but hers. Suffice it to say that her health crisis has left me in an existentially considerate state, combined with a real inclination to avoid procrastination. Add into it that I found the thought of losing her before I had a chance to return to the loose, curling hair of my youth completely unbearable (I can't quite explain it, but there it is) and I found myself very devoted to the idea that it was time to lose the dreads.

But even so...I questioned it. I questioned whether I was just reacting to an impossible, insane, unfathomable situation. I debated with myself the value of releasing the dreads rather than just waiting, giving myself some time to adjust to our new paradigm. But every time - every time! - I would consider the possibility of releasing my dreads I would find myself thinking the same thoughts:

Who will I be without dreads?
How will anyone know that I am interesting if I don't have them?
What will make me special if I don't have dreads?
How will I be anything but boring if I don't have dreads?



Seriously.

I know that these thoughts are, at best, unfounded and, at worst, completely ludicrous. I know this. And I kept telling myself precisely that. That my dreads don't make me anything, that my dreads are not a sole source of interest or specialness or "cool". I told myself these things over and over and over again.

And I had a remarkably hard time believing any of it.

When I first started my dreads, I knew that they would look pretty horrible for a long time. I knew that there was a process and that I needed to respect or better yet embrace the process in order to get through that initial hard period before they started to really take shape and achieve a level of maturation that would make them finally look like dreads and not like a complete abandonment of personal hygiene. I prepared myself for that. What I was utterly unprepared for was the change that would take place within me. Within days of starting my dreads I felt...free. Liberated. After years - decades! - of trying to make my hair conform, of worrying about fitting in and looking "right" and feeling like a giant failure in those regards pretty much all the time I found that, with dreads, I didn't care. Smooth, shiny, controlled hair? Impossible: I have dreads. Look like everyone else? Can't happen: I have dreads. Conform to the constraints of North American standards of beauty? Nope: dreads! So I was free of it. Free of worrying about it, of caring about it, of trying to achieve the impossible and, frankly, the totally unimportant. And it was glorious, glorious, I tell you.





The challenge, when I first dreaded my hair, was to feel comfortable and like myself with dreads. And it most certainly was challenging. The feelings of liberation began within days of starting my dreads but I only really entirely cast off the shackles of conformity months later. It took a long, long time to reset my own self-perception, my own priorities. It was work. But once I achieved it, I felt more myself, more genuine, more true, and far, far more beautiful than I ever had before. I woke up every morning and looked at my dreads in the mirror and felt just plain glad to look the way that I did. For all I know, it all helped me survive the post-partum depression, because as much as the PPD told me lies about myself - that I was a failure, that I was a terrible mother, that I was worthless - I did at least feel like I actually looked like myself for possibly the first time ever.


At five weeks

At five months


At thirteen months

So for more than three years I felt challenged but comfortable, myself, beautiful, in large thanks to my dreads. I don't like to say that my dreads made it happen, because that's unpleasantly passive and takes away all the agency I had in making that change happen within myself. Instead, I like to say that my dreads created the opportunity, they created the space for that inward change to happen. They did for my outward self what my inner self needed, and the change worked its way inward. And it was awesome. Awe inspiring. And I am forever grateful.



But lately, oh, lately it's been another matter and it quite took me by surprise. I thought of releasing them because of neck pain - and, perhaps, because of a general sense of boredom - and then was met with a faceful of low self-esteem and lack of self-worth and self-identity thoughts. I was astonished, truly. And I told myself over and over how ridiculous such thoughts were but they persevered. I couldn't shake them. 

I realized that the freedom my dreads had originally afforded me had slowly transformed into a sort of dependence. Whereas when I first considered starting dreads, the nasty high school girl in my head said "But you're not cool enough to have dreads. Poseur!" when I began to consider releasing them I heard my own scared, high school-y voice whimper "But how will I be cool if I don't have dreads? I'm not cool enough to not have dreads!" My dreads had become both a crutch and a stumbling block. They were standing in my way.

Many people describe their dreads as a journey, and when I first began my journey I thought it was simply because they are a long process to get to mature, formed locks. Now, having walked that journey for three and a half years, I can honestly say that that is not the case. They are a journey because I began in one place and I have ended up in a very different, very wonderful place. I can look back and see my path and appreciate just how far I have come. My dreads helped me walk that path. But in recent weeks I felt that I had arrived at my destination, that I was standing in the dusty road outside the door but could not enter so long as my hair remained the same. My dreads were for the journey, not for the destination. I had to let them go.



Because I am special. I am interesting. My dreads didn't add anything to me, they simply created the opportunity for me to realize these things about myself and the minute I began to question my own authenticity was the minute I was finished with them. But because I needed to be finished with them, not because I wanted to be.

****

A photographer, fellow babywearer and fellow dreadie friend said she wanted to photograph them before I cut them. Friday afternoon she came over and we took photos in our living room and out in the fresh Ottawa snow. After she left I felt a sense of closure, that I had done what last needed doing before I could take my big step. We ate dinner. We put the girls to bed. I had a big glass of wine, my sewing shears, a giant bottle of coconut oil conditioner and some combs (including the comb I had originally used to backcomb my dreads three and a half years ago) lined up on the dining room table. I took a photo of them. Then I stood, staring at the table, playing with my dreads. I gathered them in my two hands and piled on my head and let them fall over my shoulders. I twisted them up into a big knot, one of my favourite ways to wear them. I held them and stroked them and marvelled at the twisted, chaotic mass of them, the softness of the loose, curling ends, the stiffness of them. And I loved them. I loved them



I started to cry. 

Jon stood across the table from me and I felt embarrassed because it's just hair, it shouldn't matter, my God, after the last few weeks we've all had why do I even care. He hugged me and I tried to explain - and I think I maybe succeeded - why I knew I needed to let them go but all the fear I had about what would happen to me after. That I would return to feeling unremarkable, feeling easily overlooked, feeling ordinary in the most pedestrian way possible. I cried and talked for a good twenty minutes. Maybe longer. Jon asked me if I needed help to cut them, and I said no; it was something I needed to do myself.

Then I picked up the scissors, walked down the hall to the mirror and started cutting.

I instantly regretted it. But I was committed. And yet...there was a teeny glimmer of something in that moment when I felt the shears sink into that first dread, a tiny spark of something strong and astonishing. It was powerful. I felt powerful. I stood there, hating what I was doing but with a complete sense of conviction that it was what needed to happen and a true feeling of pride that, despite desperately not wanting to do so, I was doing what I knew in my heart to be the right thing.

Still, I wept. And I mean it, I wept audibly. As the pile of dreads at my feet grew I expected to feel more calm, as the sense of inevitability grew from getting further and further into the process. But I wept harder, realizing just how impossible it was to undo what I had done. I got no sense of relief from the knowledge that there was no going back. 


But then, another glimmer. As I dropped the last dread at my feet I looked at my short, choppy dreads objectively. "Actually," I commented to Jon as I stared at myself in the mirror, "it's kind of cute." 

A big part of me still wishes I had stopped there, just left them short. I wish I could say differently, but honestly, I do.


But I didn't stop there. I slathered my short dreads up, one by one, with coconut conditioner and started combing. I sat on the couch with my glass of wine and combed. I combed for three hours Friday night.

I combed for seventeen hours Saturday. I took breaks to eat and refill my cup of coffee. Seventeen hours. And then I combed for another ten hours Sunday.

Twenty-nine hours. By midway through Sunday afternoon I was rather wishing I had just hacked them off at the roots and been done with it, though realistically I know that I would still be crying today if I had actually gone that route. Ultimately, I am very glad that I have the length that I have.

Today is the fourth day post-cut. I still feel raw. In a way I feel rather exposed, naked, vulnerable, which to my mind is just further evidence that I was hiding behind my dreads, or wearing them as some sort of armour, or using them as a sort of crutch. I was depending on them in a way that wasn't contributing to my being free and liberated anymore. I think a large part of my aching for my dreads boils down to a sense of failure: had I only been able to cast off those feelings of inadequacy without dreads, that sense of my dreads being what really made me interesting or special, I could have kept them. I could have had more time with them.

I suspect that a lot of the tears were not just fear or sorrow over letting go of my dreads, but catharsis from the past month's madness. I hadn't really let myself release everything, I hadn't allowed myself to experience my feelings. Even in cutting them, in ending my dreadlock journey, my dreads served to create a healing space, an opportunity for me to let those feelings out. Amazing.

I haven't yet adjusted to how I look now. I still feel a certain sense of shock that I actually did this. But my hair - hair that has only ever been washed with baking soda and vinegar and water and natural conditioner - is in remarkable condition. It is incredibly soft, not at all frizzy as it used to be. It turns out that all those years of struggle with frizziness could have been avoided by simply foregoing commercial shampoos and what I am left with post-dreads is soft and lovely. My daughters are already enjoying playing with my hair, and perhaps most helpful is that they aren't reacting to the change in my appearance all that much. It's reassuring: I am still me.

Releasing my dreads has thrown into stark relief some of the matters about myself that I have avoided examining. I find myself left with a feeling not of conclusion but of a whole new work to do. It's good work, valuable and worthy, but work nonetheless. Before I released my dreads I found that I kept visualizing standing in the path outside of a town gate. I felt that I had to release my dreads in order for that door to be opened to me. But now, I find that beyond that door is not a destination as I had imagined but simply another stretch of path.

The journey is the destination.


|| All watermarked photos care of  Amy Jay Photo

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

it's been real

I have a cold. It's my second sinus cold since the beginning of the new year and while it's hardly terrible, it's inconvenient. My joy in winter is wearing thin between repeated deep-freezes and repeated colds. 


Nine years ago today, Jon and I married. But I'm sick, so to celebrate he stayed home from work. He worked a bit this morning, made lunch, took Peanut to dance class this afternoon. We gave Bubby a bath. Peanut was in a foul mood through much of the day.


It wasn't the most romantic or special day, but it was real. Life is real. It's beautiful and it's ugly and it's wonderful and it is hard, hard, hard. It's colds and meals and loads of dirty dishes and stretched budgets and petulant kids and brushing tangled hair and cleaning up all manner of bodily messes and wet dogs and frustration. And it's toddlers sharing your pillow and long cuddles with a 5 year old who hasn't yet grown into her feelings and witnessing beautiful little people growing up and having the privilege of walking this road together.

Nine years. It's been real. Here's to decades more real.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

the farther shore

You trust it's there.

You trust that over, through, beyond the heaving waves there is solid footing. There is a place of rest and deep, easy breaths and calm. 

You trust that there is a farther shore. You trust that you will reach it and walk again. 

You trust you will not always be swimming. Grasping. Gasping.

You trust. 

Because there is nothing else for it but to cast yourself into the waters and swim.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

one shining moment

It's as delicate as a soap bubble. Fragile and glistening. Beautiful. It's a moment, one moment, one shining, glimmering moment and it happens almost every morning. I wake in my bed, Bubby curled into my shoulder, Wembley cuddled up to my legs, and...she's well. Everything is normal and as it should be. She's at home, drinking her tea, petting her dog, chatting with her husband.

All shall be well, and all shall be well...

It's a moment. One moment. And like a soap bubble it bursts and leaves behind reality, a reality in which she is in the ICU and I feel adrift. Because what am I to do when my anchor is lost at sea? I love her so.

We muddle through, amidst terror, remembering to laugh and eat and sleep and drink water, not only coffee. I desperately try not to become hopelessly intangled in a labyrinth of what-ifs. Because I do not know what tomorrow holds. I do not even know what today holds, only that I will hold my mother's hand, stroke her face, listen while she chats and find little moments of calm, shining bubbles of normal in the midst of complete and utter chaos.

And all manner of things shall be well.
~ Julian of Norwich

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

more hours for my days, please!

One of these days I will come up for air. Right now I am in the thick of getting stock sewn up and listed online and preparing for my first craft market on December 14 (it'll be awesome! If you're local you should totally come check it out!) and it's pretty much all I do. Yesterday Jon noted that he hadn't seen me at all yesterday. Really, it's been days since I had time to have any sort of conversation. It's madness.

Someday I will post actual content again, with photos and words and thoughts and stuff. Someday. I promise!

DSC_8605

Sunday, September 29, 2013

michaelmas

Pinterest scores again: fallen leaves sewn together to make Michaelmas crowns
We celebrated our first Michaelmas this year. Today was the feast of Michael the Archangel, a feast day that, as a pair of bred-in-the-bone Presbyterians, neither Jon nor I had ever celebrated before or even really heard of before we embarked on the Waldorf journey. Last year we almost entirely neglected all the seasonal festivals that are such a key component of the Waldorf year. This year, though, I feel a little more solid on my feet with a better understanding not only of what the festivals are, but what they mean and why marking them is important. Also, I'm just more organized (finally).
gathering leaves
running away from Mommy: thank heavens for dead-end streets!
The feast of Michael the Archangel occurs one week past the equinox, one week past the tipping point of the year, from the day of perfect balance to the slow slip into darkness. The tales told for Michaelmas all incorporate the theme of good overcoming evil, of light overcoming darkness. The traditional story of St. George and the Dragon is a little more intense than is necessary for our girls at their ages, so we opted instead to tell the story of The Star Children. They've quite enjoyed the story, learning it immediately. 
gathering leaves in her new Urban Sprout corduroy tulip skirt
strolling through the leaves
Today was the feast day itself, and we made a loaf of gluten free dragon bread to have as part of our feast. The girls helped with decorating him with seeds and raisins for scales and eyes and did so enjoy devouring the dragon during our meal. While he was cooling and the rest of our feast was cooking we gathered leaves and made golden - more or less - crowns for the girls to wear during our Michaelmas feast. 
our gluten-free dragon, ready for the oven
leaf crowns
We told the story of The Star Children again at the end of dinner, the girls wearing their golden Michaelmas crowns, both of them pretending to fight with our partially-eaten dragon loaf, and recited some Michaelmas verses throughout the meal.
Golden crowns of leaves...possibly a little on the small side
golden crowns
Our dragon loaf
Feasting!
It's a slightly odd thing, beginning a tradition. It can feel a little forced or even hokey in its genesis, but it is lovely, also, to see how we have begun something that will continue in years to come, something that will grow and develop new meaning for us all as the girls age and mature.

Brave and true
Will I be
Each good deed
Sets me free
Each kind word
Makes me strong
I will fight
For the right
I will conquer the wrong

Michaelmas is over

autumn's promise

And suddenly autumn is here.

While mid-day is still hot, the sun still shining brightly down, early mornings, evenings and nights are cool. The duvets are on the beds, housecoats are once again in morning rotation, and socks are increasingly warranted.
walking the rails
It is a subtle shifting, a promise that the dog-days of summer will come to an end, a gentle warning that winter is coming and that it is time to make ready. Soak up the warmth and sun while you can, the aging summer tells us: colder, darker days are on their way.
into the corn field

ready for harvest
We heed its call. We revel in the last days of summer, while also looking ahead to the coolness of autumn and making plans. Apple picking, perhaps? Autumn cleaning (let's scrub those windows while it is warm enough to have them open!), sewing up warmer clothes to ensure our cool weather wardrobes are ready. Redecorating in autumn leaves and autumn colours.
Enter the corn

Scarlet walks with Daddy and Gran
Letting go of summer and its joys makes room for embracing the vibrancy of autumn. After months of bright sunlight and green on green, autumn in eastern Ontario is a glory of colours. While summer's colour is near the earth on flowering bushes and plants in gardens, autumn paints the canopy with an array of shades, a last burst of brilliance before the gathering dark approaching the solstice: something glorious to remember as we enter the dark months of the year.
cousins
damsel fly in the corn maze

"uuuup!"
As each season ages, I begin to look forward to the season's change, not only for the novelty but for the reminder of rhythm, the new breath that it represents. The final days of summer a great, desperate exhalation; the first days of autumn an awed gasp of inhalation.

sunny girl

Cumberland Museum train tracks



Sunday, August 25, 2013

a deep breath of calm

My girlies cuddled up on the couch together Saturday morning. Entirely spent after a long week away from each other each day, they took some time to reconnect, curled up under a blanket quietly watching The Littlest Hobo (any Canadian readers will likely remember the Hobo: it's actually the only television the girls watch). Still and calm. Sisterly love.

cuddled on the couch


Peanut had a fun week. She enjoyed herself, learned things, got to know more of the other children from the congregation, sang songs, played games...a fun time all-around. But as lovely as it was for her, it came at a cost. Thursday night was pretty dreadful; Friday afternoon at daycamp had multiple meltdowns. If a typical Waldorf day can be thought of in terms of gentle breathing, daycamp is the equivalent to a week of hyperventilation. No down-time, no self-direction, no eating (my goodness, this kid can't eat a bite when there is any distraction) and almost no hydration (ibid) left our high-spirited and sensitive little soul a little exhausted and rather out of sorts. And once again, it serves for us a confirmation that our decision is valid, that homeschooling is the wise choice for our Peanut, at least for the foreseeable future.

Yesterday was our day of calm, a bit of Sabbath-taking, reconnecting as a family, as a sisterly pair. We didn't leave the house and just focused on finding our breath.

Today, more Sabbath. We're opting to skip church this morning, instead having a late breakfast and a leisurely walk to the nearby farmer's market. We'll pick up some seasonal veggies, have a little lunch of some pretty epic samosas one of the vendors makes, enjoy the sunshine and generally take it easy. Another calm, deep breath.

Monday, August 19, 2013

homeschooling and sibling love

Just like last summer, Peanut is spending a week at a daycamp offered by our church. She's excited, she has two of her favourite church friends who will be with her all week, and she remembers having a great time last year. We're excited with her.

 Being down one child for the majority of each day is certainly strange. Bubby will get to enjoy some long walks alone with Jon or myself as we pick up her sister. She has unfettered access to the toys - no older sister "helpfully" directing her play - and lots of free cuddle time. The freedom seems to have gone to her head a bit: our normally pretty weird Bubby is now completely out to lunch. It's a whole lot of fun, honestly, watching just how strange she can really be. I think it will prove to be a very fun week for all.

following

Peanut's absence has got me thinking about school, though, and about one of the benefits of homeschooling that is infrequently discussed. How wonderful that our children who - as much as they may fight and argue, push and shove and hit and scream all-to-frequently - truly adore each other can spend their days together. Not only that, though, but Peanut has not yet learned to avoid younger children, to fear being perceived as a "baby" by virtue of playing with someone younger than she. This is a beautiful thing. Frequently she will come home from the park and remark to me about a new little friend she has made, telling me that the little girl or boy was very nice, or very cute, or very sweet, "just a little baby" while also telling me what fun she had playing with this child. No one has told her that such behaviour is considered odd, and for that I deeply thankful.

by Brown's Inlet

I want my children to appreciate people, full stop. People younger and older can make good friends, can make fun playmates, can make interesting companions. But traditional school can inadvertently send the message that it is appropriate to associate only within one twelve-month age span. Classmates may ridicule and shun those who entertain friendships from without their specific grade: I've certainly seen this myself. What I have never seen, however, is a homeschooled child react to younger or older children in such a manner, but instead have only ever seen home educated children welcome and embrace whatever playmates they encounter, regardless of age. Friends are chosen based on personality compatibility, rather than merely age or proximity. Perhaps worst of all, though, is watching siblings reject each other based on these same principles, because they are not the same age.

Oooh!
goofs

My daughters love each other immensely. Their love for one another is a fierce and wonderful love. Peanut is more distressed by Bubby's injuries - of which there have been many, in the past few months, including her own tooth through her upper lip - and is more deeply offended by any perceived slight or misdeed toward Bubby than even Bubby herself. And that is challenging and often infuriating - "Yes, Peanut I can take Bubby's toy if she is using it violently. No, screaming at me will not get her toy back for her." - and glorious and heartwarming. She wants so desperately to protect and care for her sister. And Bubby, likewise, wants to be with her Peanut, wants to bring Peanut her toys or books, things she knows Peanut likes to have near her or play with. They hug each other in greeting every morning. They tell stories with their Playmobil people together. They giggle - in excess, often - at the table. And while it is by-no-means perfect, it is wondrous. 

under the willow

Enrolling Peanut in school full-time would not guarantee an irreversible change to their relationship: I am certain of that. But I do appreciate that in choosing homeschooling, we have inadvertently avoided a scenario that may have threatened their burgeoning appreciation of one another. Because while Bubby is enjoying having the apartment to herself today, I expect elation when her big sister comes through the door this afternoon. She has, afterall, spent the majority of the afternoon singing songs about her.

telling stories

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Urban Sprout Clothing

A dear new friend of mine recently said that when she is trying to keep something inside, something her spirit is calling out for her to do, her body rebels. Illness and unwellness follow, a sort of pathetic irony of the body. Maybe that's what I was processing for these past months: the desire and the drive to create and to begin something, my attempts at fighting it pushing me to the point of spiritual unwellness and confusion.

Remember how I said that professional challenges have spurred our family to new opportunities? Well, this is mine. And it's pretty exciting, though a little daunting, to be quite honest with you. 

I'd like to introduce my new venture, my first Etsy shop.

Urban Sprout Clothing logo
18mo yellow cord swallow FULL FRONT
18mo yellow cord swallow CLOSEUP
12mo natural linen retro paisley bunny FULL FRONT
18mo green linen-cotton bunnies MODELLED
18mo green linen-cotton flower SIDE PHOTO

For literally years, I've had friends encouraging, urging, goading, and generally cajoling me into doing this. It's taken more than three years, an additional child, one move, one nerve-racking change of circumstance and much apprehension to finally get going. But now here we are, and I'm absolutely thrilled with this new opportunity.

The shop is still very new and not terribly full, but it's there, it exists, and I'm slowly going about the rather tricky business of building a name, a brand and gaining exposure. 

18mo green linen-cotton flower MODELLED

About the garments: currently I'm only offering dresses, though I have other plans in the works. The dresses are based on the idea that when we put a lot of time - or in the case of a purchaser, some money - into a garment, we want to really get our money's worth. A dress that is outgrown in a matter of months feels, to me, like a waste, so my dresses are designed and fit in such a way that they continue to be wearable and fit well for upwards of two years, possibly even more. The photos of the modelled dresses, for example, are 18mo size dresses worn by my 2 year old. They fit like a tunic, rather than a knee-length dress, and look great with leggings or jeans. She can even wear the 12mo size dresses as an apron top (and, toddler-willing, I'll manage to get some modelled shots of that someday soon). Longevity, comfort, and an uncommon sense of style are what I focus on for each and every garment I produce.

The blog isn't going to turn into one big advertisement for my shop, so not to fret about that. But since I write about our life, and this is now a central part of our family's life, I wanted to share. Urban Sprout Clothing has a Facebook page, as well as the Etsy shop: I am deeply appreciative of every follower we have. And if you follow me on Etsy, you'll get immediate updates whenever a new product is added to the shop.

18mo yellow cord swallow MODELLED

I can't even tell you how excited I am to have finally opened the shop, and I am so glad to be able to share that excitement with you.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

onward

Three months with no blogging.

It's interesting, really, how sometimes when I'm processing things I reach out, get verbose and hyperlexic and want to share share share. But sometimes not. Sometimes I process quietly, internally, intimately, personally. I share nothing. I work through whatever it is in my own head, often very slowly.

always laughing

Three months of slow, internal processing.

The craziest part is I can't even tell you precisely what it was I was processing. I just...was.

Lots has happened, yet everything feels very much the same. All the girls of the house are a year older: Bubby had her second birthday May 3rd, Peanut had her fifth on May 19th, and I rang in my thirty-third (yes, I'm airing my age on the internet: does that make me brave?) on June 22nd (and conflagration-free, too!). Even Wembley reached the ripe old age of eight in mid-May.

new headband and a new dress

Last year I struggled with Bubby's birthday. This year I journeyed toward it with a greater sense of calm, of acceptance. Time will go on, my children will continue to grow and age whether I would will it so or no. And they are glorious, these children of mine. They shine like stars and glow like beacons and every new ability and milestone is a mark of the wonder of them. If I spend too long looking backward at what we are leaving behind, I may miss seeing all that they are doing now and will do in the days to come, and what they do is so amazing, so hilarious, so fabulously silly and astonishing and brilliant that I would never want to miss a moment of it. So we move onward. Onward and upward, into the new.

what does this face mean? I have no idea
silly faces
early morning tea party

Just before my birthday, I had a personal realization as well. It occurred to me that after almost six years of retirement from dancing, I had gotten soft. My body had gotten soft. I had lost muscle mass and strength and I didn't like it. I also know that with my history of pregnancy induced hypertension, pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome, I am at a heightened risk of having hypertensive issues later in life, not to mention the family history of hypertension. And I vowed to myself, "No more." 

If you follow me on Pinterest, you likely noticed that I've started pinning a lot of exercise and strength training links. The fact is, I know that it will be a lot easier to establish a pattern of healthy, vigorous activity at the age of 33 than at 43 or 53 or or or... And all the better to try and stave off hypertension than to attempt to undo years of damage. In the past weeks I've discovered - to my great surprise - that I love high intensity interval training (HIIT) and I now try to fit in at least 12 minutes of it every day. Less than two months in, I can honestly say that I am stronger and fitter than I have likely ever been before, and without ever lacing up a running shoe - because try as I might, I cannot find the running love. I'm lifting, as well, and feeling good about the fact that I can carry a basket full of wet laundry more easily than before. 

At first I struggled with allowing our girls to see me working out, out of fear that I would encourage body image issues. Quickly, though, I realized that all I am doing - because I never, ever comment on my body or anyone else's - is modelling healthy activity levels for them. "Mommy is exercising! Mommy is getting strong!" is what I hear from Peanut many times a week. Hopefully, they are learning not that their body should look any particular way, but instead that strength and exercise are worthwhile and healthy, that movement and activity are enjoyable at any age and will help them to be fit and happy, lifelong.

Canada Day "soccer"
by Brown's Inlet, watching the ducks

The past three months have seen me take my first real henna clients, have seen me connect with other local women who are focussed on community-building, and have seen two short articles of mine published. It's been a time of transition in many other ways: our church community is seeking a new minister after almost fifteen years with one wonderful minister, a man I have been privileged to call friend, leader and mentor, who has encouraged me and spurred me in my writing and in my spiritual investigation. We miss him desperately, but as with my children, I know we need to look forward in hope rather than look back in sadness if we are to grow. Time marches on: we must march with it.

Our family has seen some transition, as well. Faced with professional challenges, both Jon and I have branched into new opportunities, new possibilities to help our family prosper and thrive. Moments of - frankly - terror, have given way to hopefulness and vision and renewed purpose. After all, we've been through some pretty challenging times and came through it stronger and better than ever. It's perhaps a little Pollyanna-esque, but we're choosing to view unexpected challenges as good opportunities and motivation to try new things. It's easy to be comfortable and stagnate when things are more-or-less simple: when things are not, what is there to lose?

Canada Day
a hilarious frog was under the willow tree at the Inlet
investigating the frog

With that in mind, I have some very important and special news to share with you. My in-real-life friends have been goading me - thank you! - to do this for literally years, and I am proud to have finally done it. I hope you'll enjoy reading about it.

picking dandelions

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