Committing to Bliss

When I was pregnant, I read a really powerful book recommended to me by my very cool ex-doctor from B.C. (she was only my ex-doc because we moved away. If I could have cloned her and brought her with me to PEI, I would have in a heartbeat!) called, “Birthing From Within.” The concept of the book is to help birth in awareness and to understand and embrace what is happening to your body during the processes of pregnancy, labour, delivery and postpartum. It’s a pretty awesome book and I connected with its ideologies immediately. One of the postpartum exercises was about following your bliss. Bliss, as it turns out, can be rather challenging to come by after the birth of a child, and so the book provides an exercise to help.

As Pam England (the author of Birthing from Within) writes,  “Too many parents at the end of their baby’s first year, or even eighteen years later, realize that they gave up the things they loved to do and that gave them bliss when they became parents. Becoming a conscious parent does require sacrifice, and it also requires modeling for our children how to live creative, balanced lives.”

The goal is to do the exercise before the birth of your child so you remember what bliss actually feels like (wink). I think this is a valuable exercise for everyone. We should probably start with a definition of bliss so we’re all on the same page.

bliss/blis/

Noun:
  1. Perfect happiness; great joy.
  2. Something providing such happiness

Okay, now that we have that laid out, the goal is now to brainstorm what are the moments/things/experiences that give you bliss. From there you are to commit to a timeline as to when (with the goal being within the first year or so) you are going to follow through on 3 of these things.  My 3 things were:

  1. Take in a breathtaking view somewhere scenic and new (within the first year).
  2. Plant a vegetable garden to start growing my own food (Spring 2012)
  3. Go on a nature filled overnight camping trip with my husband and son (Summer 2012).

So far, I’ve accomplished the first (albeit that it has been here on PEI), I’m seriously planning the second (upcoming gardening blog post to follow!) and I’m loosely planning the 3rd (I’m feeling an overnight canoe-camping trip in my summer plans).

To that end, I recently got back from a 5 day trip to NS to visit my parents. I had gone for several reasons. For starters, my husband was away over-seas and it’s always nice to have an extra set (or two) of hands to help look after Fin. Secondly, I wanted to take the opportunity to see my folks (and let them see Finlay) before starting back into the routine of work. Finally, a trip to “the big city” always allows me to pick up a few things that I can’t get here on PEI. And this is where my, “Follow Your Bliss Path” took an interesting turn. For starters, I got inspired by a trip to MEC to commit to my 3rd bliss goal. I bought a book on being in the wilderness with babies (called, “Babes in the Woods”) and started to really think about the logistics of an overnight camping trip with Finlay. After some preliminary reading, I think it’s completely feasible to plan for a close to home over-nighter this summer. Also, I purchased a yoga DVD.

I like yoga a lot. I did it semi-regularly (at home) prior to getting pregnant, and even attempted some challenging programs with success (like the P90X Yoga, which if you’ve never tried it, is a killer!). During my pregnancy I did prenatal yoga (again via DVD at home- I’m not much for going to classes with others. I know I could benefit a lot from an instructor, but I am bad at sticking to schedules and the idea of paying for classes that I may not be able to go to just isn’t in my nature). Anyway, I digress…I had decided that I wanted to try to get back into Yoga and was looking for something a little bit less intense than P90X and also a program that had some more diversity. I read a recent review article in Canadian Living on Eoin Finn’s Blissology Project and it sounded great, so I decided to pick up a copy from the Lululemon store in Halifax.

Here’s where the everything comes together. Eoin’s program is not just about yoga. It’s all about following your bliss. I have only done the Friday yoga program and meditation, but I’ve got to say, so far I’m pumped.  While I like Pam England’s concept about planning for future bliss, this was even better because I got to feel bliss in an unplanned, unadulterated form today. When Finlay went down for his nap this morning, I slipped in the “Friday” DVD (There’s a different program for each day of the week- LOVE!). It was a hugely pleasant surprise. The program was challenging (especially for my postpartum, lacking exercise body!) and it’ll be a while until I’m fully able to participate, but I like where it’s going and I love the philosophy behind it, so much so that I decided to sign up for the free Commit to Bliss 4 week challenge. I came away from the workout super charged, feeling great and committed to living in bliss not just 3 times a year, but EVERY day. On the one hand, I’m looking forward to getting into some form of physical shape, but more so, the mental workouts provided are what have me really excited. The idea of practicing yoga daily, taking time for daily meditation, focusing on appreciating the world around me, eating in awareness, and being thankful for what I have really resonate with me. Anyway, this is starting to sound like a sales pitch (which it’s not….I paid for my DVD in full and have no affiliation with Blissology, not to mention I have only looked at a sixth of the program so far) but I just wanted to share this in order to remind everyone (myself included) how important it is to step out of the bog that so often becomes our life and to follow your bliss as frequently as possible.

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”
~Joseph Campbell

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Raising Hell…When is it Worth it?

After my husband’s recent traveling debacle where he got re-routed, re-booked and delayed for more than 36 hours on his trip to France, I started to think about the oxymoron, “customer service.” What is the best way to solve conflicts with large corporations?  Life is short. I think most people would agree on that. As such it’s often hard to justify getting into arguments over “trivial” things, but where does one draw the line between letting the small things go and getting walked all over in a big way? When is it worth it to raise a little hell in order to get stuff done? We’ve all seen it; the pushy A-hole who’s screaming and yelling his way to the front of the line. Most of us roll our eyes, but amazingly, more often than not, this guy gets what he wants. Unfortunately, there is some truth to the saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” While it’s one thing to “squeak” once in a while, where is the line between being vocal about your concerns and turning into the aforementioned A-hole? And if the squeaky wheel gets the grease, what about the saying, “You attract more bees with honey than vinegar?” Is there still room in our instant gratification, impersonal, busier than busy society for a little honey? I’d like to think so and I also think that combining these two ideologies is the best approach. I don’t like being walked over and take pride in the fact that I can stand up for myself. In my marital relationship, I tend to be the “squeaky” one when we have a problem with telemarketers, corporate mishandlings and the likes. In the last several years, however, I’ve learned that sometimes a little sugar-coating can get you just as far (or farther) and is MUCH more pleasant. Not to mention, it’s easier to look at yourself in the mirror when you’re nice to people. So, for what it’s worth, here’s my approach. If I’ve got something that’s actually worth complaining about (and this is a fairly personal barometer with more variables than this post has time to deal with) I’ve learned to start with the sugar. There’s no sense throwing venom around when sugar can get the job done! Sometimes even a little extra sugar comes in handy too. But when sugar fails, as it sometimes does, forget the WD40, and let the wheel squeak!

WANTED: A New Home For Our Lovely Cat Lexie….

I have to face reality. It’s been staring me in the face for years (but I’ve been in denial). Yesterday, though, it hit like a bag of rocks. My husband is allergic to animals. I am a veterinarian. It’s one of the few points where we lack compatibility. Don’t get me wrong, he loves the animals and has suffered through runny noses, watery eyes, wheezing episodes and the likes to put up with them. But yesterday, after a particularly bad episode of night time wheezing and having to sleep in the cat-free guest room, Jarrod decided it was time to see the doctor. The doctor, who had Jarrod’s allergy tests in hand, told him that he was severely allergic to the cat and in no uncertain terms that we should get rid of her. And while Jarrod is also allergic to the dogs, it’s not as severe, dog dander is not as allergenic, and the dogs are kept in an isolated area of the house (unlike the cat, who has free reign and can even come up into our bedroom). So, here I am, facing the reality of trying to find a new home for our lovely cat Lexie. Lexie will be 11 this summer. She is no spring chicken, but she is in excellent health and is a lovely cat. People who have met Lexie have commented on what a sweetie she is. She is not your average cat. She is cuddly and friendly. She comes when she is called and she is warm and social (she wants to be around you all of the time). The hardest part is she loves our son and he loves her too. In fact, he loves her so much that I’m quite certain his first word will be, “kitty.” (He already says, “kheee” whenever she comes around him). But, after the scare of epi-pen and anaphylaxis  talks from the doctor I have to face the reality, that as much as I love Lexie, I love my husband even more and I want him to be able to breathe in his own home. So this is as much an advertisement as it is a post. I’m on the hunt for a loving home for Lexie. I want her to find a home where someone knows and appreciates what a cool cat she really is and someone who will love her. Prior to adopting her out, I’m more than happy to have her go in for a full check-up, get her vaccines updated, get geriatric blood work and urinalysis done to ensure she is in good health and get her teeth cleaned so that whoever takes her is starting with a clean bill of health and not having to undertake any major expenses for her. I think ideally she would be happiest as the only cat in the house. She can get along well with dogs, but at this point in her life, if she was the only pet in the house she’d probably prefer that. She really is a great cat, the best as far as cats go, and has very few issues. If you know anyone who would love her as much (or more) than we do please contact me. Here are some more pictures of our sweet Lexie:

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Motherhood is a FIVE letter word…(Well really 5, Five letter words)!

Going out for a cold winter's walk (it wasn't quite -20C on this day).

GUILT. Motherhood has been good to me. In fact, it has been great! It has been challenging but rewarding, full of simple pleasures and abundant joy. But through it all there’s been this lingering bit of guilt that’s around every turn. Every Mom I talk to has the same feeling (and I think most Dad’s do too). It’s just a fact of parenthood that no one tells you about and you don’t fully experience pre-child. It happens because now there is this little person dependent on you and you so desperately don’t want to let them down. So, you feel guilty when you leave them (he shouldn’t be on his own), but then you feel guilty when you stay (how will he ever learn to be independent). You feel guilty if you give them certain things (those silly electronic toys), or if you don’t (he really should be playing freely). You feel guilty if you don’t do certain activities with them (we really should be outside on this glorious day) or when you do (It looked so nice out, how could I not have checked the weather before we left. It has got to be -20C and the wind is howling!). And, you feel guilt if you indulge in a blogging session (even if they’re napping, because you could be spending this time running a load of laundry or getting meals ready or getting some other endless household chore ticked off the to-do list).

“Food, love, career, and mothers, the four major guilt groups.”  ~Cathy Guisewite

I had just finished my old job about a week before this photo was taken. So much has changed!

You may be wondering where all of this is coming from…As some of you know (but most of you don’t) I’ll be starting a new job TOMORROW. Finlay is not quite 9 months old. I still have more than 3 months left of paid maternity leave that I could be taking. So why am I taking a job now? Why would I ever want to willing go back early? (Trust me, these are questions I’ve asked myself once or twice). But, it’s the person who has the security of a job to return to after maternity leave that asks these kinds of questions. You see, before Finlay was born, I was working on a short-term contract  that ended the day I went into labour. The place I worked for owed me nothing and 2 months after he was born my old part-time, contract position was converted into a full-time, permanent position and I was unable (or really was unwilling) to apply. We also live in a place where people in my career are not exactly in demand….there’s just too much supply. So, as you can imagine, it was about this time that I started to sweat. Not knowing what I would be doing when my precious maternity leave pay expired was something which has plagued me throughout this time off. Many of my friends would say, “Don’t worry about it. Something will come up. Just enjoy the time you have.” Excellent advice, but impossible to follow. While I know you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff, I was! So, there’s another 5 letter word for you….WORRY!

“That’s the secret to life… replace one worry with another.” ~Charles M. Schulz

Little dragons may not be very flexible, but as a Mom, I have to be!

With that in mind, when a good position came up in my field about a month ago that offered flexible hours, the opportunity to work from home and the chance to work part-time, I jumped on it. If this meant I wouldn’t have to worry about where a paycheck was going to be coming from in a few months time and the work looked rewarding (which it does) why wouldn’t I? My husband and I are not big spenders and live within our means, but there was never a question that I’d have to return to work. Like most people, we have debts (mortgages, loans, etc) which need to be paid. We like to live a certain way, which requires two incomes. We have dreams and future aspirations that require money. But aside from the financial aspect of returning to work, I had a rewarding career. While motherhood has been wonderful, I do find myself lacking a certain mental stimulation that I used to receive from my job and from time to time (usually while singing goofy songs, and juggling toys) I find myself missing adult interaction! So while there has never been a question of returning to work after maternity leave, coming back this early wasn’t quite on my radar either. I guess that’s another 5 letter word..ADAPT.  If there’s nothing else, I’ve learned from life as a Mom, it’s that change happens, you have to learn to adapt, you have to learn to go with the flow.

“Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change – this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.”  ~Bruce Barton

The Jolly Jumper reminds me that I should, "Leap, and the Net Will Appear." ~John Burrows

I will say this, the job I have lined up has a lot of pros. While it’s in the field of veterinary medicine, it’s doing something I’ve never done before and will be a challenge (I like challenges). I can work from home for a lot of it. For the month of March, Jarrod can help out with the childcare so that we can avoid day care for another month. And even once I do put Finlay in daycare in April it will only be for 2 days a week as I can work around his naps, in the evening and on weekends. Even still, it does feel a bit scary and stressful. I find myself wondering, “Did I do enough for him in the time I had off?” (That damn guilt talking again). And, I find myself thinking of the future. How will I manage doing everything that I did while I was on maternity AND take on a job without burning out?!? I guess that’s the point. I won’t be able to do everything (which makes me think of the saying, “If you try to be good at everything, you will end up succeeding at nothing.” ~Unknown). I can only do what I can do and I will have to rely on others, on childcare providers, on my husband and perhaps on my crock-pot! I will STRIVE to do the best job I can at being a working mother and know that it will come with successes and failures.

The family that I adore!

And so that brings us to the last 5 letter word, ADORE. In order to embrace change and all of the uncertainty that it brings, to embark upon the new challenges and paths in my life, I have to focus on the important things. As I’ve stated in previous posts, the important things aren’t really things at all, they are the people I love; my family, my husband, my child, my friends, and the experiences I have with these wonderful people. Love isn’t a strong enough word to describe the feelings I have for my son, for my husband. I adore them. And so while I may not be around as much to make culinary creations, to keep the house in order, to change diapers and wipe snotty noses, as long as they know I am there for them and I love them, than that is what really matters!

“A mother’s love is instinctual, unconditional, and forever.” ~ Unknown

Really, we all live under one roof, so let’s be nice to each other!

Our New Roof Being Installed

One of the main reasons we wanted to move back home to the Maritimes is for the people. Having come from here, I could never understand it when we lived in places where people didn’t want to be neighbourly. I’d pass people on the sidewalk waving and smiling to have them turn their eyes and glance at their feet to avoid personal contact. In extreme cases, people would even give a dirty look as if to say, “why are you looking at me!?!” And in some places even your neighbours don’t want anything to do with you. In many parts of this country there is a cold front that is completely unrelated to the weather, where people are content to live in their own little worlds. Not here though. Here, people smile at you on the street and nod hello. People wave at each other through their car windows when they pass on the road. Complete strangers strike up conversations with you in the supermarket line-up or at the Tim Horton’s counter or in the aisles of Canadian Tire. And people want to help you. So much so, that they’ll go out of their way just to help others out.

Just today for example, we had a leak in our new roof. We called the fellow who installed the roof and not but 3 minutes later he was returning our call. While we were waiting that whole 3 minutes for the call we also called our contractor. While we were on the phone with the roofer, the contractor actually showed up to come check out the situation. So within 5 minutes of discovering the problem we’d received two phone calls back and had a house call to help us out. Now the problem stems from our recent ice storm. It has caused a real mess and to top it off, after two days of -30C weather the temperature rose to +7C today! This freak weather has caused ice damming and leaks even on the best (and newest of roof tops). And as such, we’ve been affected and have sprung a minor leak. The ice just needs to be cleaned off of the roof and the moisture in the house is nothing that a dehumidifier can’t handle. The contractor is even planning on coming back tomorrow to bang all of the ice off of our roof. Talk about service! Now this isn’t a post about the weather, or ice-damming or roof repair/maintenance. This post is about the goodness of people and the neighbourly spirit that exists here on this Island. It’s nice to know that when you have a problem, that someone has your back. It’s nice to know that people care about the work they have done for you. Most of all, it’s nice to live in a place where you can wave and smile at strangers and receive the same in return.

Sunday Morning Pancakes a la Jarrod…and it’s not even Valentine’s Day!!!

Pancakes with Maple Whipped Cream and Strawberries. Delicious!

I’m not sure what I did in a past life to deserve the life I have, but whatever it was it must have been good! I got especially lucky in the husband department. Now, I can hear a collective groan coming from the audience, but it’s the truth. Jarrod is by all accounts sensitive, respectful, caring, hardworking (the list of attributes goes on and on) but MOST importantly, he’s domestic! Okay, this may not be his most important quality, but as of late it’s a pretty great one. With a new baby in the house, it’s so nice to have a partner who can run laundry, cook meals, and help with the housework!

Case in point. I got my haircut yesterday and got talking to the stylist. She was a single mother and I sympathized aloud, “Wow, you have my respects! I could never do this on my own.” She said that actually she felt sort of lucky because she was the center of her child’s world and got all of her affection for herself, and on top of it, she only had to worry about looking after her baby and not a husband. She recounted how many of her girlfriends felt like they now had two “children” to look after once the birth of their first child. This is something that, thankfully, I just can’t relate to! I’ve certainly never professed to be a domestic diva and I would NOT want to be the only one responsible for household chores. As my husband will tell you, I’m a great cook….but when it comes to cleaning, that’s a whole other story! So, it’s nice that he’s willing to shoulder a lot of this burden. And Jarrod’s a great cook too and that’s how this whole story starts.

Finlay's Pancake Fingers. These are perfect for baby!

Jarrod got Finlay this morning, changed him and brought him up for me to feed him (as he does most mornings). Then he took him downstairs to let me get a bit more sleep while he made pancakes. And what a production he put on. They were so good and the plates were so pretty that I just had to show this to you all. Now, try not to be too jealous! This pancake recipe is fantastic and I’ll share it with you here. This one is topped with maple whipped cream, strawberries and more maple syrup and is served with breakfast sausage, bacon and more berries. Delish! This recipe serves 2 adults and a hungry baby (or child) perfectly. Double it up for more.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • cooking spray

DIRECTIONS

Finlay enjoying his pancake fingers

  1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into “soured” milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side. (I prefer to use butter in the pan over cooking spray as you don’t need to babysit the pancakes as much to prevent burning).

To make maple whipped cream. Mix 1/4 c whipping cream on high speed with 2 tsp of maple syrup until medium-stiff peaks form. Top with berries and more maple syrup. Serve immediately. Mmmmm!!!!!!

What’s a Dog To Do???

Quiggs enjoys a cocktail to help him cope with a new baby in the house!

I always knew that having a new baby in the house was not only going to be a huge transition for my husband and myself, but also for our 4-legged family. But it was never more apparent than today when I found that Quiggs had dragged the empty bottle of Carolan’s (A cheaper version of Bailey’s Irish Cream Liquor) out of the recycling bin and was licking the remnants of the booze off of the outside of the bottle. Had it really come to this. Had life become so bad with us, that Quiggs had resorted to alcoholism!

A bit of background on our pets….I have come to share my home with (and force my allergy-ridden husband into accepting) our two dogs, Summer and Quiggs and our cat, Lexie. All of these pets are rescued pets. Lexie was rescued from an anatomy lab (she was too small at the time to make a useful cadaver for the students…seriously). Quiggs, was a reject from a broken family and at 11 months was brought to my clinic for euthanasia after spending the last 8 months of his life tied up behind a barn. Summer, was a stray puppy who’d been hit by a car and found in a ditch by the Summerside Police (hence her name). Anyway, as you can see, my furry family comes with some baggage. OKAY…admittedly they come with A LOT of baggage and all the behaviour problems to boot. But as a veterinarian, I struggled with turning my back on this lovable, albeit dysfunctional, menagerie. My poor husband is really the one who suffers here. He is seriously allergic to all of them, and is forced to wheeze, hack and sniffle his way through our life with them.  But this isn’t about him, or me, or even Finlay for that matter (who by the way LOVES the animals and may be the only one in the house right now that currently does), it’s about them.

Finlay with his favourite furry friend, "Kitty" (previously known as Lexie).

While I have struggled my way through motherhood, they have struggled with sharing their home with a baby and with owners who now seem to have a more pressing priority in their lives. Gone are the days of snuggling on the sofa and tummy rubs, of being allowed to beg at the table for scraps and for long walks. Now, the dogs have a huge property with an electric fence perimeter to roam on and a room of their own in our new house. The, “DOG ROOM” (which they know by command) is their place in the house, which is great (they have big comfy beds, food, water, shelter, all the necessities of life), but it’s different. They used to share the common space in our old home (not because we really wanted them to, but because we didn’t have a dog room) and now they find themselves banished to the dog room, whenever they are in the way (which, sadly, is a lot these days). And while they have lots of room to run, the one-on-one interaction that they used to receive from us during walks is gone.

The cat has made her stress about the move and the baby known by barfing and defecating all over the new house. She has decided that using the litter box in this house is rather inconvenient and would rather poop on Finlay’s mats. Really, it’s not just restricted to Finlay’s mats. You never know where you might find a little, “Kitty Surpise.” Just yesterday (as he was about to start an important phone call) my husband bent down to pick up a chunk of “dirt” off of the floor (not an unexpected event either….we live in the country off of a long dirt lane). But this time the dirt was “kitty surprise” and he got to spend the phone call with poop on his hand. And then there’s the hair. It’s everywhere. Tumbleweeds of fur the size of large rodents roll through our house (and we vacuum every day!). Decidedly, we could amass all of this hair together and create a new pet. Perhaps, not a bad idea, as this one likely wouldn’t poop or barf in the house.

It's not all bad. Here the whole crew of us takes a walk on the beach together this past November.

Oops, there I go again. Tangent! The point of this was not supposed to be a slam-fest on our pets, but to empathize with their struggles of having to share us with another little person. It must in fact, be really hard to be top dog (pun intended) and then be cast to the “dog room” to spend your days. And there’s really no good way to explain to them what’s happening and why life has shifted so radically. I know the changes have knocked me around once or twice (or perhaps a few more times than that) and I KNOW what’s going on. We did our best, however, to try to prepare them for those changes. I read and followed the very same handout sheet that I give my clients who are going through this same thing (See Veterinary Partner’s Wonderful Handout entitled, “BEFORE THE NEW BABY COMES HOME”), we hired a dog sitter to stay with them while I was in the hospital and for a week after we brought Finlay home so they could get lots of extra attention and walks, and we eased them into this transition. But you know what….I did lots of things to prepare myself for the birth of my child too and it was still a pretty earth-shattering event. So how could I expect it would be any different for them?! I guess I should take Quiggs’ new found drinking habit as a reminder to be more kind to them, to remember that at one point in time they were the “kids” in the house and that it really is very difficult to become unseated from the proverbial throne. Maybe as a treat, I’ll bake them some cookies for a change. Or maybe, Quiggs is just trying to teaching me a lesson. Perhaps he wants me to recognize that there have been a lot of changes in my life in the last year and that when you’ve had a rough day that it’s okay to put your feet up and enjoy a cocktail.

Summer says, "These cookies are delicious!"

P.S.- Ultimately, I chose to make the pooches some home-made dog biscuits as a peace offering for turning their worlds upside down. The cookies turned out great and the dog’s LOVED them. I got the recipe off of my favourite recipe site (allrecipes.com ….who knew they did canine cuisine too!). Here’s the web link for those that want to try these at home: DOG COOKIES. I hope your furry friends enjoy these too!

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