Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Joanne Grineage: A Bit of a Balancing Act

Joanne Grineage: A Bit of a Balancing Act: I am on my last day of a 21 day challenge that I was doing with my daughter , that suggested that we not eat "junk food" for three...

A Bit of a Balancing Act

I am on my last day of a 21 day challenge that I was doing with my daughter , that suggested that we not eat "junk food" for three weeks straight. I also gave this challenge to a few of my friends and everyone seems to be doing quite well. The specifics were really pretty obvious. If it wasn't a fruit, vegetable or healthy protein, don't eat it. No chocolate, no chips, no donuts, cookies, cake. No candy, no white bread, no pop, alcohol, or fast food. I went through withdrawals from the sugar the first two days, but then it really was not that difficult. It was the candy. I love chewy candy, and it took everything in me to not cheat, especially on my run days. Swedish fish are my fuel, so I tried to justify it in my mind, but I held up, and did not eat ANY candy for the entire three weeks.
Wait...that is not entirely true. Today, after my daughter that is doing the challenge with me, finished performing her repertoire for her grade 8 piano exam, we toasted with two Lindor truffles, on the drive home. We both smiled, and then complained at the same time, "it's too sweet"!!
I share this because I am not a big fan of "dieting". It is so frustrating to watch people starve themselves, or eat things that are so far from what they might normally enjoy. It is usually a quick fix.. I need to lose 10 pounds fast, but I have no intention on sticking with this for the rest of my life. Those are the diets that drive me nuts. I say to people all the time that it is a lifestyle change. It involves all areas of your life, and not just the food you eat. You can try to limit carbs or increase proteins. You can do the Paleo thing, or be a vegetarian, but I'm sorry, if you are not getting enough rest, or if you are stressed, if you aren't physically active, or work is driving you crazy, you will not see the results you might want to see. It all has to work together. it all has to be in balance. I so wish I had it all together.
I don't get enough sleep. I am up early every morning (just after five am), and I usually don't fall asleep before eleven at night. I never sleep sound, and I blame that on the fact that I listened for waking babies for so many years. That and my Bear, who snores every night. I rarely get 4-5 good hours of sleep and that is not nearly enough.
The stress part of it comes with the territory of having seven children, and just doing my best to keep on top of things. I think I deal with that fairly well, but yes, I do get stressed. Every once in a while, I send Barry a text saying, "I'm done". The kids aren't helping, the house is a mess, we need more money, I'm tired of I'm checking out.  It's hard somedays, and I feel the pressure of bills and meals and laundry and teenagers. So yup, stress is part of my day too.
I am always challenged at work, but that is a good thing. I work with children, and every day is an adventure. I never really know what I'm going to get to experience at any given moment. That's just the beauty of children. And I love my workouts, so I think this part of my lifestyle is where I want it to be. I have a passion for bootcamp, and running, I really enjoy working out on my elliptical. I just feel really great after I push through and sweaty training session. And the food part of it, well...this is part of the reason why I did the "junk food" restrictions for the 21 days. Everything in moderation....that is what I have to remind myself. I have lots of room for improvement.
So how can I talk about balance, and be so out of balance myself? It's similar to how a teacher teaches but doesn't  know everything, and should still always be willing to learn. I am always working towards a healthier lifestyle, and I want that for everyone that asks me questions, or looks to me for inspiration. But I want to be real with them and let them know, that I am always working on things just like they are. I'm not always on a diet, I'm not striving for perfection, I'm just doing my best to find my balance in all the areas of my life. My areas include family, work, church, fitness, sleep, stress, food, and probably five or ten million more things :) Figure out your areas, and lets try to find balance together.
So celebrate with me, not because I made it through the challenge without many cheats, but because I have seriously made some lifestyle changes because of the restrictions that I had during this time. I have lost many of the cravings that I might have had, and I don't have a bag of Swedish Fish in the pantry to gobble up after the challenge is over. I have found a balance when it comes to the junk that I might have considered a treat, and my body thanks me for fuelling it with more natural foods like dried fruit and organic honey. Cheers (with a Lindor truffle), to finding a bit of balance!!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Dead or Alive?

The best way for a forest to replenish itself, is to let the trees that have fallen to the ground stay where they are. What might appear to be just a dead lifeless piece of wood, will eventually be the life source for fungi, and insects, and even new tree sprouts that will then grow into another strong tree in that same forest.
Sometimes I feel like we do not give enough credit to the people and situations that have come into our lives, provided a great service and then fallen out of our lives, like the mighty tree in a forest. When a tree is standing firm, with its roots deep into the ground and its trunk strong and wide, and its branches reaching to the sky and providing beautiful shade and protection, it feels as if it is serving its greatest purpose. It gives us life
 oxygen, and it defines
 resilience as it develops from a tiny seed, surviving through harsh winters, appearing dead and lifeless, but then in spring coming back to life. But when a tree has fallen, it seems as though that is the end. Good isn't. The best part about it, is it can be a new beginning for many new things. I am always very excited for new things, especially new life.
So when a tree dies, if we drag it out of the forest, and out its natural surrounding, we are taking it out of its element. It might still be able to supply life to something else, if it was in a controlled setting, but it will do so much better where it fell. Things will start to crawl around, and live in the old tree, moss and mushrooms will start to get nutrients from the decaying wood and with moisture and sunlight, it becomes filled with new life. Life from death!!
I am so thankful for people that have been like trees in my life. People that have given so much and proven themselves so strong, and then although their role might have changed, they continue to give back. It might not be in the same way, when it seemed more important or useful, but they still continue to give back in different forms in my life. Think about how many people or even situations have affected you in that way. Wise friends and mentors that were once maybe very prominent people in your community, but have maybe fallen away, or even died. Think about how many people were able to learn and grow from that person. And how they still are benefitting from what they received from that person.
So this is what has been on my mind. Sometimes things have to die to create new life. Sometimes a really good thing that at one time was thriving and full of life, has to fall away and make room for something new. It doesn't mean that it is gone forever, it just might mean that it is time for new and exciting things to happen in the lives that I have helped. I don't always do well with change, but I am learning that change can be really good. What is more exciting than NEW?? A fresh start, a clean slate, a new adventure, those things are really exciting to me.
I am going through lots of different transitions and changes every day, and I want to be able to discern what needs to stand strong, and what needs to fall away. It isn't always  clear and I think more then anything, I just need to trust the process. I need to realize that even in a different form, I can be productive in other peoples lives. They can still take from me what they need, but I can sort :)
Taking me completely out of my element won't be the best way for me to help give back what I want to, so no worries people, Im not "going" anywhere. I'm just, as we say in "teachereeze"...transitioning. All these things are good. Change, transition, new growth, new life....very, very good things!!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Joanne Grineage: You Can Quote Me On That!!

Joanne Grineage: You Can Quote Me On That!!: If I had a choice to hide away in my bedroom today, I probably would have done that at about 10:30 this morning. I am not even really sure w...

Joanne Grineage: Release, Rely, Relax, Receive

Joanne Grineage: Release, Rely, Relax, Receive: So what is this thing about being patient that has me all tied up inside like a crazy woman? Why do I have to be patient, or maybe I should ...

Joanne Grineage: Party Time

Joanne Grineage: Party Time: So, I went to  a fondue party last night, and I had a wonderful time. I almost didn't make it to the party because the roads were not th...

Joanne Grineage: I"m Not Going To Blog Every Time I Cry!!

Joanne Grineage: I"m Not Going To Blog Every Time I Cry!!: So, I wasn't going to blog tonight, because I thought I would give my first entry a few days to settle in...and then my sister came over...

Joanne Grineage: I'm Every Woman!!

Joanne Grineage: I'm Every Woman!!: This has been a very long time coming my friends. I am so excited to begin this new journey for myself and my family. I have held off and pl...

Joanne Grineage: He Is An Amazing Man!!

Joanne Grineage: He Is An Amazing Man!!: It has always been my practice to try my best to educate my children about the importance of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr did for people o...

He Is An Amazing Man!!

It has always been my practice to try my best to educate my children about the importance of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr did for people of colour around the world. It has also been rather annoying that in Canada it is not recognized as a day of importance. I'm not so sure how many people actually take the time to acknowledge all that Dr King accomplished in his time fighting for the rights and freedoms of minorities, or if it is just another day off of work for those in the US, but at least it has not gone unnoticed there.
 I actually wonder how many of you reading this blog right now even knew that today was Dr Martin Luther King Jr Day. Maybe the ones who used Safari to search for something were prompted by the picture that was on the screen, or maybe I am not giving credit to some of you who actually did know this was a day set aside to remember Dr King.
It matters to me. It is very important to our family, and if you were like us, and were one of maybe five families that are a part of the visible minorities in this community, it would matter to you too. Our family stands out, because we have lots of children, because we homeschool, and because we are black. There are so many stereotypes that we have to fight through for all three of those things, but I think the most difficult is the latter. Although we all know that the discrimination that the people faced when Dr King was alive and fighting for our freedoms is not comparable to what we might deal with today, there are still far too many people who hold ill will against those who do not have white skin.
I don't want to make this a big political rant about why I think things should change in Canada with regards to this holiday, and what today means to all black families. What I do want to share is something my parents shared with me.
What is really hard to take in, is that even in the small communities that we live in, my own father sat in a restaurant for over an hour without getting served because of the colour of his skin. My parents grew up knowing what families they could associate with, and what families to stay away from. Snide comments from teachers, or subtle suggestions were things that my dad can share with me from  when he was growing up. That makes it all very real. When someone you know and love went through that type of blatant ignorance and obvious discrimination, it is a tough pill to swallow. I am so glad that my father never hardened his heart, and was able to forgive, and teach us how to love....everyone.
So today matters to me and my family because I need to show them how far we have come and the struggles and sacrifices that people before us made to allow for us to have the things that we have today. It's just that simple. I could go into all of the amazing words that were spoke in the I Have A Dream speech, but I don't need to do that. I just wanted to express how much it matters to me.
He was an amazing man. He spoke eloquently and he changed the face of the black communities all over the world. He spoke about peace and love and equality for everyone. It is something that should happen in all of our communities every day.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Turnaround

I haven't had a chance to blog about my running much, because frankly, I haven't had a chance to run much. It has been extremely cold for the last few weeks, and when it is -27 with the wind chill, I take that as a sign from God to train indoors. I know I'm Canadian, and any hardcore Canadian runner might be out there bundled up to face the frigid temperatures, but not this girl. Call me what you want, I run when the temps are not cold enough to make snotcicles on my face.
So this morning, as I set out for my run, it was a balmy -7 outside without wind chill, and funny as it may seem, that felt mild. Well, it did until I could feel that there was a slight wind blowing at my back. There is good reason why the saying "wind at your back" speaks volumes to some people. I have come to really love that saying, and I often wish that on my fellow runners whenever they are going into a race or doing a long run. The saying holds much more weight to it when the wind is blowing at -7 degrees making it feel closer to -15 during your run. So this is me, setting up the scenario for you as I headed out. It was a little cold:)
People ask me ALL the time why I run. I am not even going to scratch the surface on all of the reasons in one single blog, but I will touch on one reason today. Running is full of similes and metaphors...and I mean full of them. Today I want to share what I was feeling and how it relates to many moments that we all sometimes feel in our everyday lives.
I decided when I headed out this morning to do 10k. Sometimes people do timed runs, so they might say,"I am doing a 45 minute run today", and they set out and see how far they get in that time. You can also do sprints, or paced runs, which are great for training purposes, and distance runs, like I did today. I wasn't really pushing my pace, I just wanted to do a comfortable 10k. So when I headed out, the wind was at my back, and it felt like a good run was in store. I was on my usual pace, the roads were dry, and it seemed I had just the right amount of layers of clothing to keep warm, but not sweat too much. All these things matter , especially for winter runs. I had two pairs of socks on, and a neck warmer, the only thing that was really getting cold were my fingers. I have running mitts, but they are not the best. I should have doubled up.  I had a good playlist going today, one that I hadn't listened to for a while, and I was relaxed and feeling good. And then I started to think about the turn around.
See, when I do my long runs, I usually head out of town and run straight out down Jane Road, a nice long straight country road that is about 20km long to the end from my house and back. I train on this road often. I am very familiar with it...not too many dogs, no hills, and most people wave and pull around me as they drive by. I like that about this route.
Today, as I ran out with the wind behind my back, I started to think about how hard it was going to get at the 5k mark when I had to turn around. I seriously thought to myself,"I will just keep running with the wind, and then when I get to 10k, I will call Barry to come and get me!!" There is absolutely nothing wrong with that right? That is a good strong run in the freezing cold. Ten kilometres is a heck of a long way in this weather. He was awake when I left, so I knew he wouldn't mind coming to get me. I hadn't even turned around yet to face the wind, and I was already talking myself out of being able to finish my run.
Has anyone ever said to you, you have to conquer that"head-on". Well, this is probably what they were talking about. Running into the wind is hard. Running into the wind when it is freezing cold outside, is hell. Even though I had all the proper gear, and everything seemed to be in my corner, I knew what it was going to feel like, and I began to talk myself out of  what I was capable of. It hurts to run like that. I mean, it can hurt anyway. My legs can feel painfully tired, or my knees might ache a little, but when you run against the wind in sub-zero temperatures, it's a different kind of pain. My eyes get cold, and then they drip,(and no, thats not me crying!!), and then I can't really see properly. My chest tightens up and the pain from breathing in hurts my nose just as badly. The wind seems to cut my cheeks, and it is hard to stay upright because I think I slowly start bending my body into the fetal position as I feel like death is imminent . And so now you ask me why I feared the turn around.
You will be glad to know that I didn't call for a ride home. I hit the 5k mark, was still feeling good, and just turned myself around on Jane Road and headed home. It was colder, and I was not nearly as comfortable as I was with the wind at my back, but I kept going. I started to think about all the things that were at home waiting for me to make me hurry up, a hot bath, kleenex, food. I always do this. Lots of self talk when I am running to encourage my body to go forward. I met up with someone doing some yard work out in the country, and he yelled out,"Nice day for a run." I barely heard him over my music , but I managed to yell back,"it is indeed". I'm not so sure I meant it in that exact moment, but he was right. It was a very nice day for a run.
This is where I point out the obvious. When we are going along at a nice steady pace, and it feels good, life seems easy. It might not be perfect, but it is  a comfortable state of "good enough". When the wind is at our backs, we don't have to work quite as hard, and it is not really painful for us. But then we start thinking about the turn around. Before it even happens, we can talk ourselves out of what might not be so bad after all. We want someone to come and save us from something that we can conquer ourselves if we put our minds to it. I can't always promise that after the turn around, it will be easy, because for me, it got really hard. But the rewards are much sweeter when you realize you stuck to it and didn't talk yourself out of reaching the goal.
I'm not saying you can't ask for help. There are going to be times when you will need to be picked up off the side of your road. Even when you have all the right gear, and you've done all the right things, it still might be very hard...fetal position hard!! But don't talk yourself out of at least trying. You will find, like I did today, that it isn't always easy, but it is worth it. And there will be people along the road with an encouraging word. And even if you might feel the pain of the struggle "head-on", there is a hot bath and good food at the end of it. Think about what is at your finish line and do some positive self talk to get there.  My strong finish today was with frozen fingers and toes, and a tight chest, but I felt good. I didn't call Barry, I finished my run and I stayed on pace, even amidst the struggles I faced. Everyone can take on the turn around "head on". You can do it.

Here I am after my run this morning. There is a little smile there, if you look hard you can see it :)

Thursday, 15 January 2015

You Can Quote Me On That!!

If I had a choice to hide away in my bedroom today, I probably would have done that at about 10:30 this morning. I am not even really sure what exactly went wrong  to make me feel so incredibly irritable, but I am not feeling super positive at the moment. The littlest things can really chip away at me, and before I know it, I am ready to throw my hands up in the air. This is why I decided to create this blog. I want to be able to share and motivate and encourage, but I also wanted to be real about some of the things that make up my day, good,bad, or indifferent... however the chips may fall.
So let me start by saying that if I see one more meme, or read one more inspirational quote about  "make the rest of your day the best of your day", I"m gonna lose it. Don't get me wrong, I am as guilty as the next person for posting all of those amazing Pinterest posters that we save in our albums and then share all over Facebook. They really can be a marvellous boost for someone who needs to see something funny or read a powerful quote. Today, they are all just annoying the snot out of me, so I am scrolling over them really fast, because I just want to figure out on my own how to work out whatever this day is challenging me with. Im not really doing a great job at it, but I don't want some crazy chipmunk with its cheeks stuffed with nuts telling me to smile. Grrrr!!!
When I look back on the day, and even the week, what I can see happening is a good deal of effort on my part for certain things to move in a certain direction, with very little change. Not just big projects that I am working on, but a lot of little things too. Things that I deal with every day in my busy little house, things at work, things with my bootcamp class, things at church. It gets to me a little when I have to keep going back to the same issues, with no improvement. I often wonder how many times I will have to remind my kids of their daily responsibilities before they will actually just get up in the morning and follow through with what they know is expected of them to help our home run smoothly. I always point out to them that it benefits EVERYONE as a whole when we each do what we need to do as individuals. There are a lot of bodies in this house, with a lot of stuff, and it only takes an instant for it to get really crazy around here.
And then I wonder how much I can offer of myself, time, energy, advice, time...time....time...before I start to see that maybe I can't keep doing the same things and expecting there to be change. We all know what THAT defines. I love to help people, but sometimes people have to start to help themselves. I've been trying to put a few things into perspective with regards to my time spent on my family, my jobs, my goals, myself. The thing that has really been difficult, is I just get a little fed up. Yes, yes I do. I can't always think of what is for supper, or keep the floors clean. I can't always give someone the best advice about running, or hold their hand all the way to bootcamp. I can't always stay on top of my programming at work, or keep my car clean. And when all these responsibilities pile up, I start to feel like I do today.
I know that there are other people out there that can relate, but I also know that for me it is on a different level, just because of sheer numbers. More food, more laundry, more lovely children and all of their schoolwork and lessons and hormones. So for one momma, it can get a little overwhelming. I think more than anything, I just don't want to have to apologize for being a crab today. I sent Barry a text today that said "today sucks". I know that is not very mature, and my kids are not even allowed to say that work in that context, but that was how I felt. When he asked why, I replied'"because it just does". So now that your all thinking that I am just being a big baby, you know what, that's your prerogative. But I have had a very ugly, day. I am very blessed, I am not complaining about all of the wonderful things that I have, I am just crabby and tired and I'm hoping to be out of this funk tomorrow.
So maybe I can make up my own meme today; my own little quotable quote. Here goes...
When you have a life like mine, then you can tell me how I should feel. Until then zip it and let me whine today!!
Thank you...that felt good.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Release, Rely, Relax, Receive

So what is this thing about being patient that has me all tied up inside like a crazy woman? Why do I have to be patient, or maybe I should just have patience, or is there even a difference? To be something means I have to change who I am, but to have something means that I can acquire it. I'll tell you what...I think I am a very patient person, but I am a little tired of waiting. But doesn't that sound like a huge contradiction? And does having patience even mean to wait? I hate waiting. Hate is a strong word, and we couldn't even say it in my house growing up, but I'm older now, and there are few things that I really despise, and that is being late, and waiting!! I don't really think many of use enjoy waiting, because it takes away some of our control. We can't make things just happen faster because we want them to, or can we?
See this is exactly why it makes me so nuts.
When I look in my thesaurus, (and this is something that I love to do by the way), some of the words that share the same meaning as patient as an adjective are submissive, forbearing, unruffled, passive, persevering, calm. but THEN, patience, as a noun, there are words like forbearance, fortitude, composure, endurance, persistence. I think I want to pick noun. Being submissive , and forbearing, or passive, are not really things that I choose to be. But words like fortitude, and endurance and persistence I like!! Unfortunately, I don't really get to choose. I have to be both in order to reap the benefits of the idea of this word.
So now that you have all had a little taste of what goes on in my head somedays, and you have had a peek into my "teacher" side, let me try to break this post down. I am ready for things in my life to change. Im not complaining about the way things are, but I feel like there is a pull towards bigger and better things for me and my family, and I don't want to be in a tug of war against that pull. Life is like that sometimes.We are fighting against things instead of just letting things happen. I know that there are seasons in our lives when we do have to practice patience, and be passive and forbearing, but I also know that being a little aggressive, and persistent can really start to make things happen. I said I hate waiting and I feel like unless I take the bull by the horns, things are just going to stay the same. I have to decide...we always have to decide, whether to sink or swim. I don't feel like I am sinking, but I'm just kinda bobbing up and down in the water. Swimming is forward motion, towards a destination, with determination and drive. I liken it to the idea of being in a circular pool. We had a pool in my backyard growing up. If all of the people that were swimming started going in the same direction around the pool, initially it was a little tough to get things going but very quickly, that water would start to flow in the same direction with force, and almost push us in the direction that we wanted to go!!
Isn't that an exciting thought. That if I start to move my life in the direction that I want it to go, and I have the people along side me to help me get it going in the same direction, that soon we will all be going to that place together with much less effort and struggle. Patience applies, because it doesn't just happen right away. I can't just dive it and expect to go. I have to endure, and submit. I have to persist and forbear. I have to sometimes wait...grrr!!
Thank goodness for my level headed, reasonable, realistic husband. He is supportive, but he does his best to keep me grounded. I would take off with all cylinders fired up and then crash and burn many times if it were not for him. He brings me back to the "calm" part of the definition, as in "calm down". There is a longstanding saying, that tells us not to pray for patience, because then you will have it tested repeated until you have shown that you have attained the ability to be patient, so I stopped praying for it a long time ago. I have however, learned that there are substations for that saying,"be patient". Two of my favourites are "be still" and "cease striving".
Be still. Don't run ahead of what is suppose to happen in your life. Calm down and relax your mind. Listen and wait.
Can you just see why this is like slow torture for me. I run. That is what I do. It is my passion. So when you tell me not to run, I get a little anxious. Wait...seriously? One of the two things that I hate, and I have to do that too. And how do I calm down and relax? I have seven children and a husband and a house and a job and lessons and laundry and dust and dinner? So this can't be for me. This has to be for someone who can do all these things well. But then there is this awesome catch to this. I am given permission to wait expectantly!! So really, its not as hard to wait when you know that there is something worth waiting for.  And I like the word expectantly. Look it up!! You see words like HOPE, and ANTICIPATE. I like those words...a lot.
So I think I can be still, but how do I cease striving. That feels like I am whimping out. It sounds like "stop trying". But it is not those things at all. It is part of human nature to strive, especially when things get tough and we want them to change. It gets frustrating when we are working so hard to reach goal or work towards change, and then nothing seems to be going our way. this is what I learned. In Hebrew the expression "cease striving" means to "let your hands drop" or to "let go" or "relax". Relax is good. I could use a little relaxation in my life. I need to let go sometimes too. I can be a control freak, and taking a step back and letting go of a situation can be very freeing. So I think I can do this.
I feel like I am starting to convince myself that I can still have all the things that I want without all of the stress and pressure that might come along with it, but only if I make wise choices along the way, and keep my character in check. Here it is in a nutshell for you today...(but mostly for me:). Release. Rely. Relax. Receive. I won't dive into the thesaurus on these ones, but I think you see where I'm going with all of this.
Patience is complex. Being patient is difficult. I am working on it every day. I am going to hold on to those words like hope, and anticipate, and persist, because they keep my whirlpool moving in the right direction. I don't have to strive when the current is pushing me forward, I don't have to run ahead, I can just go with the flow. But I do have to work to keep things going. I can't just leave that up to everyone around me. I am committed to what I know is in store, and I and going to be patient, cease striving, and be still and let it happen.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Party Time

So, I went to  a fondue party last night, and I had a wonderful time. I almost didn't make it to the party because the roads were not the greatest, and there were some serious whiteouts on my drive, but I'm glad that I continued on. Anyone that knows me, knows that I am  a little bit of a home body.  I am not one for hanging out with girlfriends, sharing pleasantries, or chatting about my day. I like to be at home with my family. I have busy days, so when there is down time, I like to be at home, on my couch with Barry and the kids. I really love my girlfriend who was having the little get together , she is like family to me, and so I went to party...fondue style!!
It is always nice to be around other woman that I have not meant before. I like to observe, and learn from other woman. We have a lot of really neat things to offer each other. I met a "whole foodie" last night, who new a lot of very interesting things about the nutritional value of various foods that I have never even heard of. I started to feel just a bit unknowing when she began to share some of the things she understood about food. But it was very interesting and very informative, and it did help me to recognize that I probably should pay much closer attention to the what I use to fuel my body. We all should.
The best part of the night came when we gathered around the table to fellowship over the fondue. Funny, I don't even like cheese..or the dark chocolate that was served, but it was all still very delicious and presented beautifully. As we sat around the table, we began to talk amongst ourselves and share a little bit, and then someone mentioned that I have seven children.
We joke about this ALL the time as a family, because it always stops people in their tracks. Sometimes the reactions are typical and expected, and sometimes, I just shake my head and smile. People can really say some ridiculous, and almost offensive things. I have a pretty tough skin when it comes to this, because it has happened so often, but really people, we do know how this works. To imply that we are unaware of how babies are made, is just a bit ignorant, and frankly, I stopped responding to those comments a long time ago.
But last night was different. I was sitting beside a very lovely woman who looked straight in my eyes and said, "why?" She asked me in all sincerity,"why did you have so many kids?" And then she began to say,"that is a lot.' "that is a lot of responsibility, a lot of  time, a lot of money, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of being pregnant, and breast feeding, a lot of stress and sacrifice!!"
I appreciated her honesty so much, and by this time, most of the conversations turned in our direction and they all were interested in my response. I told her that I was glad she asked me that so honestly. I usually don't give people in passing much of an explanation, but I knew that she was sincere, and quite curious about why I chose to have a big family. My answer really is simple, but I was just impressed with her complete honesty...although she did look at me like I was from another planet. It is a question that many people ask, because having more than 2-3 children is almost unheard of anymore. The simple answers this. Yes, Barry and I know how to make babies, and we also know how to use birth control. We didn't always choose to get pregnant, however, we considered every pregnancy a blessing and in Gods time. WE did always want a big family, and I was very fortunate to be able to get pregnant quite quickly after I stopped nursing, which was usually for the first year. In fact, my grandma used to joke with me, and say, "All Barry has to do is hang his pants on the bedpost, and you get pregnant." Grandma was feisty!!
So we had the seven children in nine years. I was 22 when we got married, I was 23 when we had our first, and I was 32 when we had our last.(this is when you stop and read that again because it all happened so fast, I know). I was pregnant or nursing for 10 years straight, and I was a sickly pregnant momma, usually spending a portion of every pregnancy in hospital with kidney issues. I appreciated what my new friend had said, because she was right, it is a lot. it is a lot of time, and money, a lot of sleepless nights, and responsibility, a lot of stress and sacrifice, but it is so much more than that. At no point did Barry and I decide that we would have a big family, and then expect handouts and sympathy for the sacrifices that we have to make. We consider it a privilege to be able to raise these seven amazing children. They are not ours, they are gifts given to us, and we just do our vey best every day, to pour love and respect and guidance and nurturing into their lives.
So yes, it is all of those things, but it is also laughs, and hugs, and music and singing, and football games, and braiding hair, and snuggles and kisses multiplied over and over again. This house is busy, and I explained it to my new friend. there is always lots going on. It was very busy and very crazy when the kids were younger, and I would function on sometimes 3 hours of sleep. But I am coming into a different season in my life. As the kids grow, as we all grow, I am able to appreciate every moment. The tough sleepless nights, the quiet mornings, the arguments, the sharing, the laundry, the meals around our table. We have something very special, and I know that.
So after all of the questions, and there were lots, we got back to our fondue. She still couldn't believe that I had so many children, and sometimes, neither can I. Sometimes, I really don't feel like I can take on all that comes with raising seven children. Sometimes I doubt myself, and I wonder if I am doing the right things for my family, and sometimes, I don't feel like I deserve all that I have been given. But she left with a different look on her face. She encouraged me and she made me feel less like an alien and more like a really great mom.
On my drive home, I decided that I probably need to try and get out with other woman a little more. I can learn from them, and they can learn from me. We have so many wonderful things to offer one another, getting together is really good. My new plan, is to try and leave something and take something,(not actually, that would just be wrong:).I want to leave something with someone that they will remember and be able to apply to their life, and I want to take home something of the same. I know that I have a different respect, for the benefits of dark chocolate and whole grain crackers, but I also made a new friend and she gave be a boost, a little push to keep going as a mother, and to keep sacrificing and doing what I feel I do best. And I think she went home with a few things from me as well.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

I"m Not Going To Blog Every Time I Cry!!

So, I wasn't going to blog tonight, because I thought I would give my first entry a few days to settle in...and then my sister came over to say goodbye. She has been doing mission work in Bolivia  for the past nine years, and was able to come home for the past month, and spend time with us for the holidays.  This is the first Christmas in nine years,  that she was able to come and be with us, and it was time that I will treasure.
People always talk about the bond of sisters share something between them that is almost magical. I believe that there is truth to this, but I also believe that it might not always be the case. I will be honest, my sister and I have not always been super close. We are seven years apart and when I was growing up, we really didn't have much in common, although we did share the same bed. We laughed when she was home because I was a bed wetter, and she remembers quite clearly, those nights when she wished we weren't so "close"!! I apologized.:)She moved out to Alberta to go to school when I entered high school, and then was married and started her family when I went to college. It wasn't really until I started my family that we began to connect and share things that sisters share. And then it seemed like when we started to become the closest, she left. When she left, was when I felt like I needed her the most. I wanted to talk and share with her like a best friend, and I needed her advice, her help. And anyone who knows my sister, knows just how amazing she really is. She is one marvellous person.
So when she came to say goodbye tonight, I cried. I cried like a big 'ole baby. I cried in front of my kids, because they were there to say goodbye too. I felt a little selfish about feeling this upset, but I really didn't want her to go back. I know that Bolivia is now her home, but in my selfish way, I wanted her to consider me and my feelings in all of this. Even though her husband, and her adopted son are there waiting for her, I want her to stay. I need her. I want her to be here to talk to me when I am having bad days, or when I want to go shopping with my sister. I don't want to Skype, and have our conversations delayed by 12 seconds. So for about ten minutes, I cried, and I made it all about me.
 And then I started to appreciate the situation for what it really is. I am so blessed to have a sister. I am so proud of all that she is doing thousands of miles from home. I am so glad that my girls saw me cry, because I want them to appreciate their own sister relationships. I have six girls, so there are many bonds between the sisters in this house. you should just see some of the sister moments. Sometimes they share, sometimes they fight, sometimes they, laugh, cry, play, pout...the list goes on. Some of the girls seem really close, and there are times when I feel like they are not going to survive under the same roof. But then I think of how much I love my sister and it feels amazing. It feels amazing to know that I will be able to see these sister bonds get stronger and stronger between my daughters. I will share with them tonight, I will tell them not to take their sisters for granted, because they really are your best friends. And for those woman out there who do not have that blood connection, I know that along the way, you have found a sister... girls are cool that way. We will hook up with another soul and connect in a way that only a sister can understand.
"And I felt closer to you. Because you knew me so much better than I'd realized-and still loved me."Rosamund Lupton
And this is why I cried. Because she knows me. My sister knows my heart. She knows my good stuff, and my bad stuff. She's known it all along...even back when I would warm the bed for her in the middle of the night. and in spite of all of the things that I bring to the table, my sister still loves me. So I will miss her while she is gone. But we will see each other soon, God willing, and we will laugh and cry together just like sisters do.
                     This is me and my sister with her adopted son her!!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

I'm Every Woman!!

This has been a very long time coming my friends. I am so excited to begin this new journey for myself and my family. I have held off and planned and prayed for the right time in my life to take a really big step in a different direction, and now I'm diving in!!
"Although some people have the misconception that being humble means to put yourself down, it really is understanding yourself and being free and secure enough to recognize the things you do well and the things you don't do well. In essence, being humble is a true recognition of our strengths and our weaknesses." John C Maxwell
What does it mean to be "every woman"? What does it even mean to be a woman in this moment in our society? Has the definition become so clouded, that we've lost ourselves, and what is expected of us? Is being a woman simply the ability to fit into a socially constructed category rather than a biological one?
I am a  forty three year old woman. I am the mother of  seven amazing biological children,(six girls and one boy), and the wife to my adoring husband of  twenty one years. I have homeschooled my children for the past fifteen years. I work outside of my home as a Before and After School teacher. I teach bootcamp two nights a week. I participate in leading worship at my local church a few times a month as well as being an active member. I provide home daycare during the day to my darling niece while her parents work full time. I am a runner, having completed six full marathons and numerous half marathons in the past six years. I love fashion, and clothes and beauty. I did some modelling before I started my family, and I am ready to return to something I loved. I am thrifty...almost to the point of "hoarding" , especially when it comes to my wardrobe. I pride myself on being able to feed my family of nine on a very limited budget and keeping them happy and satisfied.
I love to inspire women. I want women to be the best that that can be. I want to give women a new voice. I want to be real and relatable with women. I want to provide an opportunity to talk and share with woman about many of my love experiences, but more importantly, to just share many of the things that women want to open up about.
Everyone says that no one wants to hear about the scary or nasty things that happen during childbirth, but we do!! Everyone thinks that homeschooling is just for families that wear long dresses and don't associate with the rest of society, that is just not true. Everyone thinks that it is impossible to be healthy and fit, and still be able to enjoy food....and life....but it is NOT impossible. Everyone thinks that going to church  means that you are a crazy religious freak trying to force your beliefs on everyone around you, but this is not the case. Everyone thinks that you have to spend hundreds of dollars to look amazing and measure up to what today's woman is suppose to be, but believe me, you do not.
I could go on forever about the things that I feel "every woman" could be. I am passionate about what I know is going to happen. I know that woman want an opportunity to be related to other woman around them who shove  dirty laundry in the closet when the doorbell rings, or who pee their pants a little bit when they jump around at exercise class. We all just want to be real. About the good things and the bad. About marriage, and children. About feeling empowered at work and in the community. About fitness and feeling fat, about fashion and  what looks ridiculous on us. Well, I am taking this opportunity to follow my heart and make some big strides to attain what might have seemed impossible in the past. This is going to be big...and I want YOUR support. I want you to respond. Ask questions. Share how you have been inspired or empowered by another woman in your life. I say we get rid of all these crazy "reality" television shows that sensationalize the ridiculous, and make room for reality. Normal is real. Frustrated, busy, tired, ugly, moody, messy, is REAL!!
People have said to me for many years, " you should write a book", or " you should have your own reality show...I would watch for sure!!"  Well my's about to happen. With your support of this blog, and personal messages and prayers, this is going to be the year it happens!!
"People don't follow people by accident. They follow individuals whose leadership they respect. Unlike charisma that will let you through the door, respect guarantees that the room will be full of your followers you have earned their respect by your talent, your successful work, and your loyalty to them. But mostly, they respect you because of your dedication to adding value and making a difference in their lives"..John C Maxwell

PLEASE share this blog today. I want to start a movement. A real woman, mother, daughter, sister, friend!!