No one can change your life except for you

by , on
May 31, 2014

I went outside for a walk. I needed some exercise, some time away from the computer. I put on my playlist full blast and started out, not entirely sure where I was going, but thinking I was heading for a long walk, that might be hard. It would take some time too – I hoped an hour or thereabouts.

I was hoping I could handle it, but I wanted to push myself.

There is a place near our house where the sidewalk ends. It just stops and a field starts and I kept on walking and that’s when I noticed I wasn’t alone.

IMG_9971A little yellow butterfly, fluttering by my side, into my view. Around and around.

I saw it again at mid walk, and then near the end just before I turned back onto my street.

My supportive little friend and my music pushed me through. I walked over 5 km and felt just fine. Now I know I can keep walking that circuit and getting faster, maybe even going further. A day later I went out and tried to run a bit. Ten minutes walking, followed by a run. I chose a place in the distance and tried to push past it. A street sign, a pylon, a driveway. And I did it.

I got on the treadmill and decided to see if could change it, make it a bit faster. I walked five minutes then ran, kept going. I did 40 minutes without struggling to get through. I did it and I felt fantastic about myself.

A friend told me that once you’re running at all you’re a running. She’s finished marathons and she told me to call myself a runner. So here I am, a runner. Working towards my first 5k.

 

Yes, me too

by , on
May 30, 2014

On Saturday I started reading the #YesAllWomen tag on Twitter and I stayed up late to keep reading. It is tweet after tweet of powerful, simple stuff. There’s also the #YesAllWhiteWomen tag, which through my for a loop. Reading all these things that I’ve taken for granted. Things that have happened to me that I’ve shrugged off, things that have happened to people I know without my knowing.

Reading the hashtag thread I recognized a lot of things. I recognized a lot of people. I found memories that I had put away. Discomfort that I have felt. Fear.

My single contribution to the tag so far has been simple: The memory that in Grade 9 the girls’ gym class took a week of self defence while the boys played basketball.

I am grateful for that week, though. It taught me a lot and I rarely feel real fear when I’m out by myself. I stay aware of my surroundings, I don’t get backed into corners, and I walk with my keys in my hand in case I have to push the panic button on the way to the car.

The truth is that yes, there have been time when I have kept my mouth shut because I was in a situation with a man I didn’t know and it occurred to me that if he reacted badly I wouldn’t have a way out. The fact is that it has occurred to me that this is not something most heterosexual men have ever thought about. Sizing another man up in case of a fight? Maybe.

I have the privilege of saying that I have never feared for my life. I have never been raped. I have feared, I have had men put their hands on me when I didn’t want them there, I have been catcalled, but I am one of the lucky ones. I don’t have a long list of stories for #YesAllWomen. So many women have faced so much more.

I am proud to have found a husband who read the thread and decided that more men need to read it, that men and boys need to be taught about the way some men treat women, and why women react certain ways sometimes. That some ways to treat women are unacceptable, and that not being a part of the problem isn’t enough.

I hope that this continues. That women share their stories and the rest of us read about them. I hope that I can learn from #YesAllWhiteWomen to see things differently too.

Dear kiddo

by , on
May 28, 2014
I’m still on the train heading to Toronto, but I was thinking about you and missing you kiddo. You’re going to have such a fun today tomorrow, but I was thinking about the day we spent together and getting the chance to watch gymnastics with you for a bit.
I love watching you in your activities. We seem to have found a few that you’ve fallen in love with. You’ve loved swimming you’re whole life, always excited to get in the water – bath, pool or sprinkler. You’re getting so good at it too. Just this weekend you told me that you didn’t want to go to your lesson because you didn’t want to put your face in the water. And then you did it anyway. In fact you swam halfway across the pool under water.
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We started gymnastics together before you could walk. It was something for us to do together, to pass a little time in the day. Now I get to sit back and watch you – balancing, flipping, climbing and bouncing. It’s a wonderful thing for you to get exercise and built your muscles, but I think it’s turning into something you love too.
Watching those girls compete with you in my lap – watching the parents and coaching around them, watching the determination, strength and skill, and the smile it all brought to your face – I could imagine you in a competition like that someday. Swimming or diving, gymnastics or dance.
I can see it now. You’ll excel at whatever you choose. You’ll have to learn that these things take hard work, that not everything will come easily. You’re strong and you can do these things if you figure that out and stop getting so frustrated when things don’t go exactly as you want them to.
I know why you get frustrated, because I was the same way. But I gave up on a lot of things and regret it. I don’t have what you have the opportunity to have. You have the strength, you have the potential, so go for it.
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Summer of Awesome 2014

by , on
May 28, 2014

Lynn put up her post and ideas, which reminded me that I want to get a list going. I’ve been keeping a list of awesome things I’ve been doing, books I’ve been reading and movies I’ve been seeing but summer is special – especially since the kid starts real honest to goodness school next year. I mean, it’s kindergarten so I’ll still be able to pull her out and take her to a movie if we want a day together, but it’s still something big.

And this summer is going to be awesome. Seriously (and with much thanks to GM Canada). I’m heading on two trips with the kid and GM has been kind enough to loan us a Buick Enclave for the first and a Chevy Traverse for the second. I couldn’t be more thrilled.

So here’s our plan for this summer, the last summer of awesome before shit gets real.

  1. Sesame Place (June) – this is where we’re taking the Buick, and it’s going to be awesome
  2. Explore Philadelphia
  3. Halifax (August) – This is where we’re taking the Chevy, across the country and next to the ocean, and while we’re in Nova Scotia…
  4. Discovery Centre
  5. Lunenberg
  6. Peggy’s Cove
  7. Cape Breton
  8. Take the kid to vote (June 12)
  9. Rideau Hall movie nights (August)
  10. SoCapOtt (June 26)
  11. RCMP Musical Ride
  12. Diefenbunker – a great rainy day activity and I’ve never been
  13. Mackenzie King Estate – we haven’t been since the kid was the baby girl
  14. Upper Canada Village – I loved it when I was a kid, but I haven’t taken mine yet
  15. Ottawa Farmers’ Market
  16. Strawberry picking – we had a great time last year
  17. Skyzone – we went once and she’s been wanting to go back every since
  18. Karters Korner – Got a recommendation from a friend
  19. Ottawa Fury FC – soccer is a great game live
  20. CHEO Teddy Bear picnic (June 21)
  21. Of course, the RedBlack (we have three season tickets)
  22. Community garage sale
  23. Wild Bird Care Center
  24. Pakenham and Almonte – If you haven’t been to Scoops for ice cream, you’re missing out

To be continued…

Family tradition meets new style

by , on
May 23, 2014

Growing up whenever I got an ache or a pain – when I was stung by a wasp or my nose was stuffed up – my grandmother offered the same solution: Watkins.

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She had to get it from her sister in Saskatchewan, but we always had some in the house, and it was the cure all. The above is the tin I still have, which I believe I stole from my mother’s medicine cabinet when I moved out.

Imagine my surprise when I moved to Alberta for a job, went to a small town farmers’ market and met my local J.R. Watkins representative. I had no idea the company, founded in 1868, still existed, and I certainly had no idea of the range of products they now offer. You can still get their cure-all medicated ointment, in slightly snazzier packaging, and you can also find all sorts of toiletries, products for the home and ingredients for your kitchen pantry. These products are all natural (you can see the list of ingredients the company has vowed not to use in their products here), and the brand guarantees consistency.

Recently Watkins released a new scent for its bath and body line: Pomegranate Acaï. The new scent was meant to be fresh, but not overpowering. I got the chance to try the Pomegranate Acaï hand cream, body scrub, bath oil and body lotion.

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I was excited to try the bath oil – I love a good bath, and my skin is exceedingly dry. Unfortunately the first time I slipped into a bath to try it my daughter decided that she desperately needed me for something after about five minutes…

The next day when I had time to shower I tried out the body scrub and body lotion and I smelled so good the kid asked to try some for herself, so I let her use the hand cream.My skin felt smooth all day.

I’m very happy to say that this brand that has been a part of my family for generations is still doing great things, and I got the chance to pass these products on to my mother and to my daughter.

Disclosure: I was provided with the Watkins products to write this review – my family loyalty to the brand is all true. 

Fat Mom

by , on
May 21, 2014

I took the kid to a dance class this week. I signed us up because it gets us both moving in the mornings and I knew she would enjoy it. She also has missed out on spending time with me since I’ve been working so often.

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It was a good class for her, though she might be a bit old for it – she was the oldest one there. But what kept distracting me was the full length mirrors on one side of the room.

It’s one of those times that I was the fattest one in the room. I noticed it. I noticed it when I danced around, trying to be carefree with my kid. I noticed it in my knees as we jumped up and down. I tried not to pay attention, I tried to focus on my kid, her enjoyment, and every time I caught sight of myself I was self-conscious all over again.

And my kid is SO not self conscious and I want her to stay that way. I want her to not notice that I am, to not figure out why I am.

There is no logic in how I feel about myself, though. I know that. Some days I feel totally fine, looking forward I feel confident about making improvements. And sometimes I feel like it’s all a waste and I’m not going to feel good about myself.

I wonder if I can any more.

My goals aren’t outlandish. I want to be able to buy clothes from any store. I want to be able to walk up stairs without worrying if I’m going to make it. I want to spend a few days without a sugary treat and not flinch.

I want to go somewhere with my kid and a mirror and be able to focus. I want to not feel like the fat mom.

Taking the pledge

by , on
May 20, 2014

I got an email from Greta at Billing Bridge – If you’re in Ottawa and your online you’ve probably run into Greta. She told me that Billings has started a campaign to get people to take the pledge against distracted driving.

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I have to be honest, before it became illegal in Ontario, I did text, BBM, use my phone, all while driving. It’s difficult to spend that time focusing when you’re busy and things need to get done. It’s something I have tried to avoid since my daughter was born, understanding that it’s not the safest thing. And something that I’m determined to avoid as more and more evidence comes out about the dangers we face if we’re driving distracted.

Last year we traded in our old Tiguan for a new one, and one of the main reasons to do this was the bluetooth capability. I don’t like being out of reach when I’m on the road, and the bluetooth had solved that. I have also been able to call the police a couple of times when I’ve noticed others driving dangerously.

Of course, getting involved in a conversation on the bluetooth can be a distraction, sometimes just having a child in the car can be a distraction. While I drive, as I get older, I try to always retain the awareness that the other cars around me are filled with people, and that the car I’m driving could do major damage to them and their lives.

We’ve all heard the stories – lives lost and ruined by split second decisions about a message that was “so important.” And we all know the people who have decided that it could never happen to them.

Here’s the thing – police are now saying that distracted driving is more dangerous than drunk driving. So if you would never think of getting behind the wheel after a few cocktails, then don’t pick up your phone or check your makeup or try to find your jam on the radio.

You can head into Billings Bridge to take the pledge and have your photo taken by the Distracted Driving street team or you can take the pledge online and share it with your social networks, encouraging them to pledge too.

Disclosure: I was compensated by Billings Bridge for this post, all opinions are my own. 

Creatures of Light

by , on
May 18, 2014

I had been planning to take the kid to see the new Creatures of Light exhibit at the Museum of Nature for a couple of weeks, and when I got the email that the museum is now serving breakfast and brunch on Sundays it all fell into place. She and I would leave the house early, go and have breakfast together and then explore the museum.

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We sat down to eggs, bacon, pancakes, hash browns and pastries, plus a nice glass of juice for her and some good coffee for me. We dined under the giant inflated jellyfish. When breakfast was done we headed up to the fourth floor to learn a little about bioluminescence in nature.

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The kid has long been interested in fireflies and the first room is full of everything you would ever want to know about them.

She was a little scared of the dark at first, but as we wandered she got more comfortable, especially after I showed her how much her pale pink pants were glowing in the black light. It was pretty cool to see all these creatures that glow in nature, especially the things like the flashlight fish that live deep under water.

When we were done in the Creatures of Light we went to explore the rest of the museum. We looked at the minerals and gems and went to say hello to our turtle friend, as always.

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And said goodbye to the wooly mammoths on our way out.

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It was a great morning at the museum, and after our breakfast at 9 am it wasn’t too busy, though when we were leaving around 11:30 there was quite a line-up to get in.

On the way home we stopped for a little treat to cap off the day.

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Disclosure: I was provided with a family pass to the Creatures of Life exhibit. All opinions are my own. 

Commit to fit

by , on
May 15, 2014

When I saw the opportunity to participate in Subway’s Commit to Fit campaign in my inbox I jumped at the chance. I am trying to change the way I eat, cutting out my bad snacks and skipped meals. I’m pushing myself to be healthier – to exercise regularly and eat better. And it’s working.

So taking the challenge to replace burgers and onion rings with something from Subway’s menu fits perfectly with my goals for right now. And I can go on Subway’s website to check the nutritional information before I choose my meal. Since part of weight loss success is honestly tracking what you’re eating, this is important. And I have become a big fan of Subway’s flatbread BLT.

What I like about the Commit to Fit challenges is that some of the challenges you can take are very simple and easy to fit into your day, like parking further from your destination and getting a bit of a walk.

The Subway Commit to Fit program is meant to encourage Canadians to commit to a healthier, more active lifestyle. You can make your commitment on their Facebook page here. Users can win monthly Subway cash cards and the $10,000 Grand Prize winner will be announced in November.

You can also see how others are doing by following the #SubwayFreshSwap hashtag.

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Disclosure: I am part of the SUBWAY® RestaurantsCommit to FitBlogger Campaign and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions on this blog are my own.”

Chance of a lifetime

by , on
May 14, 2014

This post is part of the YummyMummyClub.ca and The Art of Leadership for Women #YMCLeadership sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.

I have learned over the past year or so how inspirational it is to spend time with great women, listening to them talk about the lessons they’ve learned over the course of their careers and their lives.

Attending Blissdom Canada last year pushed me forward for months, and that’s why I am ecstatic to be attending The Art of Leadership for Women conference at the end of this month.

The day is guaranteed to be chock full of lessons, inspiration and shared experiences and I couldn’t be more excited.

Spending the day in a room full of women with different experiences to share while listening to the likes of Martha Stewart and Hayley Wickenheiser talk about balance and leadership will keep me rolling for weeks if not months.

I am most excited to learn about Martha Stewart’s approach to life-long learning. Learning new things is always something I strive for, but it can be so easy to rest on your laurels. Clearly Stewart is not a woman who has ever done that. And she doesn’t stay down either. Wickenheiser will also talk about avoiding complacency and striving to be better.

Taking a lesson in confidence and pushing myself from six women who have spent their lives proving themselves in a man’s world can only make me better.

Sharing the experience with other women who will be asking questions, taking away their own lessons and blogging about what they learned is going to add another level to the experience.  Coming away from an event like this, you can read through tweets and blog posts and learn more new things through different eyes.

Together, over the course of a day, we will become a community that can teach each other.

I am so thankful to YummyMummyClub.ca for the opportunity to attend, and I will be sharing my experience throughout the day. I’ve always found that live-tweeting or live-blogging really helps me retain what I’m learning, as well as helping others learn.

The event takes place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on May 29, and if you think it sounds as awesome as I think it does there’s still time to register at this link, using the code YMC32 to get a discount of up to $100 off your ticket. If you need a day to recharge, to connect, to learn about balance and growth I have to recommend it.

On May 28 I go to Toronto and on May 29 I will be coming back energized and ready to move forward with what I learn.

You can comment here to win a pass for the day from YMC and Erica Ehm.

Discover how you can close the gap to achieve the career you want and deserve at The 2014 Art of Leadership for Women Conference: One Day, Six Inspiring Women.

Enter here for your chance to win two tickets to the conference in YMC’s “Achieve Your Dreams” contest.

Even if you don’t win, YMC Members receive a special discount of up to $100 off admission by simply using promo code YMC32.

Buy your ticket today for a conference that will inspire you for the rest of your life.

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