When the Gratitude Jar cracks

We’ve officially exited 2016 and the big collective sigh was given.  Many people  have dubbed 2016 as one of the worst years ever.  With horrific world tragedies, many celebrities dying,  political upheaval either at, or close to, home.   Personally, it wasn’t much of a cake walk for my family with my accident and resulting brain injury on the last day of February.  What I have appreciated over the last week is seeing people highlight the positive thing in 2016 trying to drag us out of our funk and start 2017 in a better frame of mind.

January 1st 2016 started with high hopes and a positive outlook. I had decided to try the Gratitude Jar with my family. I see some posts about this floating around on Facebook right now.  The idea is you (or members of your family) put in one note or comment about something that happens each day that you are greatful for. When opening the Jar recently I saw happy things like having done my YMCA Tri groups New Years Day event, having seen Star Wars The Force Awakens, moments about my class, and simple snuggles on the couch. The sad thing I noted was the contributions ended the day before my accident.

Since March however, I’ve had more awareness of my ability to be greatful than ever before. My accident could have been so much worse. Yes, my day to day life is impacted. Yes, I still have long term challenges from my concussion and whiplash. No, I’m not back to any kind of Tri Training. Yes, I have a long way to go. I have slow but continual progress, an amazing support system and hope.  These hiccups that my brain now work with, these imperfections, are now part of me and I am still valuable.  Like the Japanese tradition of Kintsukuroi (filling cracks in pottery with gold) I am filling these cracks with gratitude, patience and acceptance. 

Now just because the calender has changed our collective stuggles have not.  So here is what I hope for our/your 2017.  I hope it is full of all the love you need, all the excitement you can enjoy, and the bravery to be vulnerable.

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Is there magic in the number 30?

30 days seems to be popping into my life a lot right now.  Right now with recovery from concussion and whip lash I’ve been in cronic pain for over 6 months. Movement over not purposly moving my body has always proven to be successful. So why do I stop?   In August , in a effort to get back to being more active with out hurting myself further, I set a goal of  two 30 day challenges.  The first was really about getting more daily movement through steps , and to play with my new step tracker. The goal was to hit 8,000 steps a day. It was harder than I thought. Reviewing my month I was about 85% successful.  Weekly I averaged out over 8,000 but not always daily.  Maybe if I was able to add in missed steps from doing things like holding hand rails on steps and walking while carrying things with both hands  I might have made it but …. Still a little disappointing .  Decision : keep going until I actually do it 30 days in a row

                                       
My second 30 day challenge was inspired by this post about 366 Days of Yoga from my favourite blog Fit Is A Feminist Issue.  I’ve now done yoga on and off for close to 15 years. I love the peace and challenge it bring me,the feeling of strength it can provide, but mostly the ease to my sore muscles.  Like Laura I set a goal to do some yoga every day even if only 5 mins.  That small a time garunteed that I at least stopped and purposefully stretched every day, something I’d stopped doing.  My success was closer to 90% on this one. Things I learned, best to do it in the AM for me it starts the day right and makes sure it’s done.  I MUST follow a YouTube video or possibly a class. I do not know enough to make sure I’m doing  the correct poses/counter poses to not hurt myself.  After  I stopped trying to go it alone my success rate was 100%.  My body and mood started feeling better.  Even my “brain trust” of  people helping me recover started seeing th changes with out me even mentioning it.  Decision: keep at it 366 days here I come!

Last but not least my current fun is supporting my partner Chris Loblaw as he launched his  30 day Kickstarter project to help self publish his newest novel The Ember and The Knife.  This is the fourth book in his Spellbound Railway Series.  WitchKids , book one of ‘The Spellbound Railway” series  was published in 2011 and was about two best friends trying to adapt to the hectic life at high school, just like any normal kid. But they discover that they’ve suddenly gained the power of wild magic,  and normal goes out the window.  From there books two and three take you on wild advetues.  As Larrisa, one of his readers, said

“I can testify that the first 3 books are intelligent, well thought out, easy/fun to read books with original ideas and a wide appeal. I can’t wait to get my eyes on this new one!”

I’m so excited to see this fourth book come into reality as my concussion brought this almost to a stand still.  Chris dropped everything to take care of me, our son ,and every aspect of  our combined lives.  If your interested in learning more about his books check out  his website or the Kickstarter  (which is sort of a fancy way to pre book the fourth book)


Well, I don’t know if the number is magic, but it’s certainly leading me in a possitive direction. 

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Under Construction  

                                                                                 

There is a sign from an auto shop that regularly changes it’s signs with quirky quotes and joke. This week’s is “The road to success is always under construction “. I liked it but the more I thought about it I liked it less and less.  It leads to that idea that at some point it stops.  You are now successfulI, poof.  It’s not like that or at least I believe it isn’t. Like happiness, success is a constant ebb and flow. Is it something you always work on, if you stop,  will it go away? Is it a state of mind? The minute you question it will you stop feeling successful?

I likely question this as I feel like I’m always under construction. I enjoy learning and improving two of the main reasons I went back to school last year. But right now, it’s a little different as I’m working on getting back to “me”. In February, I was involved in an accident that caused whiplash and a brain injury.  They called it a concussion, but that is what a brain injury is.  I was off work for a month, I had to stop reading and doing 90% of my regular life. Training, done. school, done. Even things like seeing friends or reading bed time books to my son, done. So now I feel like I’ve had to go into and hire a disaster recovery team to deal with the overhaul.  Plus, there are many things I have to do all by myself.  Some of it is time and patience, other is relearning old tricks, some of it is adapting to make it work.

Like all reno projects , you get sick of the construction zone. I admit, I am.  Here’s the thing though, I can’t just stop it’s not an option.  So grab your hart hat it’s gonna be a construction zone for a while.

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Everything Old is New Again – Going Back To School

Today I got ready for my first class at university, my first in person class in over a decade.  I did a online course this summer but I was not “in class”I didn’t think I’d be scared but it was worse than any interview I’ve ever had.  I had all the nerves including a desire to lash out at my husband for a dirty kitchen and a snarky comment  for both he and my son for sleeping in on my “big day”.

Grateful for the learning and reading I’ve done recently, mainly Brene Brown who I’ve mentioned before,  I recognized what was happening and shut it down before it came out. I started dressing to “look perfect” and almost cried when I put on my dress inside out and got deodorant all over it, instead of panicking and trying to fix it I changed to something that made me feel comfortable.  My jewelery (admittedly  sometimes worn as armor) became a reminder of unconditional love from my husband, confidence and worthiness of my mother, support from my one sister, and that there are greater struggles than my own from my other sister.

Got into my car with a big breath, extra snuggles and kisses ready to go. Like my son, who’s first day was yesterday, I was excited and scared so left early.  With more than an hour to get to across the city, find parking and my classroom I was good.  I climbed up the steps to buy my parking pass cash in hand, I was prepared.

So apparently today is NOT my first day of class… The nice lady at the front desk explained that classes don’t start until next week, but not to worry I wasn’t the only one for that class who seems to have read the email wrong.  My gut instantly went to there is a chance I read the email wrong and there is a chance my prof wrote it wrong I mean I’m not the only one right.    I’ve decided not to check.  This is another urge I’d like to stop, the need to prove I’m right.  Ultimately it doesn’t matter either way, we are both human.

Really felt my way through all these emotions today, maybe next week will be easier now that I’ve had a trial run and on the plus side my homework is done

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Passion and Pain

No, despite what the title leads you to believe I’m not about to add my 2 cents about 50 Shades.

I started this year with a few desired new habits, one of which was writing/ blogging more.  You gain new habits by practice and consistency and as you can see it’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  I’m trying to be gentle and kind with myself so want to talk about where I’ve been.

It’s been a struggle theses last two months.  Two days after my last post I was in the pool and mid stroke my right arm felt close to blinding pain . My elbow felt like someone was inserting a steal 1 inch rod through it. Admittedly the signs of tendonitis had started to show a few days earlier.  Having had it in wrists and elbows before I knew the signs and had started my excerises and stretches.   I feel I should mention here I’ve been told many times I have a high tolerance for pain.  

It took us (physiotherapist and I) nearly three weeks to get it under control, slowly eliminating activities that might be the root issue.  At one time my arm was so swollen I was instructed to not use it it for two days, two days later we added on a week.  Have I mentioned I’m right handed? I was on medication giving me mouth ulcers ( which I didn’t realize for overall  a week).

I really want to be ready for Kincardine this July and having not been able to train these last two months ( heck some weeks I was only able to stretch with gentle actions) my love for triathlons and physically activity has been a stress and not a pleasure. I’ve never felt chronic pain before and after this is done I hope I never do again.  It is exhausting, frustrating, and mentally defeating.  I’ve felt pretty desperate and to combat that, add in my desire to not let others down, I may have pushed myself too hard. Likely slowing down my progress or possibly triggering other issues. 

During this time many wonderful things have had those around me exploring their passion.  Yesterday’s post about my husband’s new adventure has been so exciting.  Every book he writes is a new adventure in learning more about the writing process and about himself.   This kickstarter project is really stretching his ability to talk about himself and his craft talk about leaning into the discomfort.   My sister has successfully achieved something she’s been persuing on for close to two years.  My dear friend has decided it’s time to jump into self employment.  Watching her work through all the joy and fear that comes with that.  Even my 7 yr old has been able to cope with his first test in Karate.  He’s loving his practice more than I could have imagined, but when asked to publicly prove he’s ready to move on to the next that truly tested his limits.  He’s very shy when it comes to public participation.  I use to joke he’d try to return to the womb every musical performance his preschool did. This time he stood there with pride and determination, focused on the Sensei, and even managed to get through the fact that mom tried his belt wrong and he couldn’t get it off when it was time in the ceremony.

I’ve realized that these people are my hero’s right now. They are facing their challenges, fears, and emotions.  As Brene Brown refers to, they are standing in the arena.  Currently my arena is literally painful, but to successfully get to the other side I must first get in and be gentle with myself.  Ignoring what people (including me) might expect of me, or say to me, and give my body all the time and support it needs to heal.  Moving away from the pain and back to the passion.

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Where the story started

Right now my husband is leaning In and asking the world to support his latest venture, the third book in an awesome serious of books. To learn how it started here you go

Chris Loblaw's Blog

I cast a spell over the west to make you think of me, the same way I think of you

The “Spellbound Railway” series started back in November 2010. I decided to break the rules of the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) by taking a pre-existing story idea and writing past the 30 day deadline. I knew that I could write a 30 day, 50 000 word story, but I wanted this one to have the room to go longer and take more time than that.

I started with the idea of high school kids finding out that they could manipulate the world around them with their new magical abilities. It’s magic at the quantum level, nudging probabilities to create the effect they wanted. And if you try to explain exactly how your spell works or what your casting process is, your magic will stop working that way. This is loosely…

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Expectations And All That Lies Beneath

Expectations, a hot button topic in my brain for a while and always front of mind at holidays.

Late this fall when I met my mentor (did I mention I have a mentor, no? we’ll get back to that someday) I ask her to help me figure out what is a reasonable expectation is when it comes to work. Big task huh? I’ve recently realized I’m a pretty hard task master to myself. Since I was 14 I’ve always worked at jobs where you worked hard and you worked until it was done. You also did it as close to perfection as possible. That is what I thought was expected of me. With age, experience and a lot of tears I now know it’s my job to set those expectations.

What I’m also realizing is our expectations also set the mood for how and if we enjoy something. These last few weeks has been a great example. I was on holidays for two weeks (use it or loose it) and had for the very first time spent no time pre planning what we would do. I obviously new a few things would happen ie Christmas, but their was no expectations of play dates, day trips, a to do list of cleaning projects like usual. It was my best holiday ever. Everything happened as it needed to. We set a goal of one physical activity a day for my son – this often equated to me doing more than one which was fun and kept me active. Sometimes friends were involved but little was planned more than a day ahead and allowed us some pleasant surprises along the way.

My son on the other hand had a bit more in mind of what he thought should be happening. He has been over the mood excited every morning that has been give a tittle. Think about mind of a six year old and Christmas, for many they wake up and there is presents under the tree. Well when you give titles to other days like Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, mom’s Birthday isn’t it all going to be filled with wizbang fun? Let’s just say we’ve had lots of teary mornings.

Even if your not six, holidays come with expectations. Will you be seeing family? Does a certain family member dictate how the meal has to be done? You need to have money to spend on others, do you have enough? You want people to know you well enough, or you want know to them well enough, to give gift that will be enjoyed. Then what about New Years? If you stay a home that night why do so many people feel cheated or less than? For those who go out why does it need to include alcohol? Do you need to set a resolution? Halloween, Easter, even the first day of school comes with their own set of expectations.

What about the really personal dates like Anniversaries or Birthdays. At some point your old enough to plan your own celebrations but for me this has never felt right. I like being asked about what I’d like to eat or if there should be someone specifically invited but to me it seems part of the gift that someone else plans it. When it’s a anniversary who takes the lead?

So here is what I’m working on:
Thinking about these events or other instances in advance. If I have expectations, what am I doing to set them up to be achieved? Where can I leave my expectations behind? Where is my wiggle room? Am I expecting someone to read my mind? And lastly, what is really fair to expect of someone else or for them to expect of you?

What are your expectations when it comes to holidays, are you traditional? Do you have high expectations or does someone else expect you to behave in a way you feel is unreasonable at holidays? Is there something you “must do” but really would like to do?

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