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I’m So Mad

This week I am having an angst ridden week, and there are many reasons for that. And before you assume, no, it isn’t ‘that time of the month’, which makes me SO mad in itself that immediately people think that if a woman is upset, she is crazy period chick. Sigh, let me continue…

Firstly, I’m angry about Trump. I’m mad for so many reasons I can’t even go there right now. I’m angry that woman still have to have massive protests to be heard, to demand wage equally, equal rights as human fucking beings. I’m mad that men are still making decisions about our bodies. So fucking mad about that.

I’m mad that my mom likes Trump.

I’m mad that both my parents chemo schedules are so complicated and rigorous they need special calendars to keep their meds and appointments straight. I’m so mad that there isn’t a damn thing I can do to help them.

I’m mad that my kids think yelling at me all day long is acceptable. I’m mad that they have no clue how freaking lucky they are. I’m mad that my son had a mental break on the weekend. A melt down so violent that I had no idea how to handle.

I’m mad that even though I’ve been self employed for over 10 years, sacrificed work success to be a mother (which I never regret), I still feel ‘less than’ next to people with lots of money and amazing careers.

I’m mad that my daughter will start thinking about body image way too fucking young. I’m mad that every day that passes I still hate my own body.

I’m mad that I’m still shy about a book I wrote (and loved to write) because I wanted to talk about sex and not be judged because of it…but judged is exactly what people are doing.

So yeah, I’m mad.

There are so many things I can expand upon from my rant, but this post started with a specific topic in mind and so I will jump back to the whole body image thing. What pushed me to write this was my little 5 year old girl telling me she has a big belly this morning and that she shouldn’t. Which was most likely her innocent way of tell me she needs to shit, but it made me think. And get mad. My brain is on the protests, the marches, the incredible women out there fighting to be heard, and yet it ALWAYS runs right back to how we look.

I’m no different, I mean, I’ve starved myself, worked out constantly, I’ve compared myself to everyone I know, always feeling like the ‘fat’ one in the group. No matter my size, I’ve looked in the mirror daily and mostly hated what I saw. I’m not looking for sympathy, or encouragement that I look ok. It’s not about that. It’s the fact that I’m 99% sure anyone who reads this will feel the same way. Maybe not to my extent, but it’s constantly shoved down our throats that we are imperfect and need to be better. It’s constantly shoved in our faces that in order to be a success as a woman, you have to be pretty and skinny and (this one makes me so mad) quiet.

Last summer I posed a question during a girls weekend that still sits heavy with me. Let me preface that these are all beautiful women. I love each one dearly and I asked ‘What’s your favourite body part?’ So immediately they laughed at me, like the question was so ludicrous. They made jokes which we must do :)

But no one gave me an answer.

No one could think of a damn nice thing to say about their amazing bodies. Well except for the fantastic answer of ‘my vagina!’ You know who you are who said that and I love you :)

So even though I didn’t like what was in my mirror, I had an answer and none of my friends did.

So that has sat with me, and I’ve tried really hard to be less hard on myself, but it’s a daily struggle. Now, this brings me to a more current conversation that I had with my better half. His response to body image issues with women was simply this and I would assume that a lot of guys would agree with him.

‘You could weigh 40 pounds more then you do right now, if you still wanted to have sex with me and show off your body, that would be incredibly sexy and I would still find you amazing’

So I thought about that a million times since then. The media is one thing, stop looking at it, it’s toxic…seeing yourself the way others see you and actually believing it, is absofuckinglutely the hardest thing you can do, but you must try. For the sake of this next generation of kids who look to us, we have to figure this shit out, and stop being so fucking hard on ourselves.

In February, a doc called Embrace is coming to iTunes Canada, and I think it’s worth a watch for all of us. The trailer resonates with me unbelievably. So while I feel less angry after writing this (whew) what matters above all the hate I feel about the world, is making sure my kids don’t feel the same way I do when they grow into themselves. I’m still not sure how to do this, but I will always be trying.

Ok rant over, thanks for listening :)

PS. In case you were curious to know my answer for my fav body part? Obviously it was my hair :) and my butt in jeans :)

 

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How do you Curate with Minimalism?

Wow that intro title sounds super complicated. Let me back track. So on the weekend I watched the doc called Minimalism on Netflix which has been recommended many times over and I was struck. Struck with so many ideas and answers to my long internal debate over my living situation.

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My wee house is just that, so we’ve toyed with ideas over expanding, building back and down. A basement and a large back room with vaulted ceilings, huge windows and my only wish list item – a scandi style fireplace in the middle of the room. Sounds great right? Well let me stop you there. It’s expensive. Big time expensive. It will disrupt our lives for an extended period of time and I work from home. There are a lot of negatives but we made the decision to start on it this year.

Until last weekend.

When I watched the doc they touched on a study of how much of your home you actually use…

40%…yes you heard me. I mean, that is like half your house. So when I thought about our new living space, and how it would be used, I really feel that it would become simply a grand room you pass through to get outside. Our kitchen is way smaller then our living room which sits right beside it and NO ONE ever goes into the living room unless they are watching TV and when you are entertaining, NO ONE walks past that line. It’s like an invisible wall separating the two.

Honestly, my footprint in this house is my kitchen and my bedroom and a small corner for my office. My kids hate going upstairs so they are in the living room always. Troy tries to escape us all and spends all his time at work…lucky guy…

I know for a fact that people will still converge around the peninsula, and that is where they will stay no matter how large the house becomes. From May until October we have options of hanging out in the bunkie which is my favourite place to be, the hot tub or back deck. Or we can meander to Chez Ivison next door for a swim. Our great back yard is our little private forest and we love it. It’s only the winter months that we struggle.

So on that note we made the final decision not to expand. I do not want to be ruled by a house and things and once we made that decision a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. If I expanded I’d have to decorate, buy more stuff which is exactly what I want to avoid. Getting back to minimalism, the whole concept of buying only what you use. How many t-shirts does one need? How many bottles of shampoo? How many dishes? Cups? Why do I have an entire bin of light bulbs taking up valuable shelf space when I haven’t changed a light bulb in god knows how long.

I love this explanation of the concept:

Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.

That doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with owning material possessions. Today’s problem seems to be the meaning we assign to our stuff: we tend to give too much meaning to our things, often forsaking our health, our relationships, our passions, our personal growth, and our desire to contribute beyond ourselves. (Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus)

So on that thought, we have a small space yes, but we love it. I don’t want another room to clean, I want to sit outside on my ass and read a book in my hammock. I don’t want to go into debt over one extra room and sacrifice finally taking my kids to Europe. I don’t want to be 65 with a house full of shit that I have to stay home and clean and maintain. I want to be free of all of this.

So we made a few plans.

I get my wood stove, we fix the floors finally, we remove everything we don’t use daily, and reconfigure each living space we have to be highly functional and free of crap.

Sounds simple right? But how do you let go of all the kids art you’ve kept? How do you pare down your favourite book collection? How many sheets does one really need? That quilt you got as a gift – how do you part with it? That’s when you start to doubt your decisions. You think maybe I should keep that extra 5 sweaters just in case you feel like wearing them twice a year. That just in case will kill the project.

The whole concept of minimalism I’m on board with. I don’t want excess. I want life to be simple and open for experiences and not stuff. I’ve always felt this, but the issue is how far one goes in this. It’s a completely personal choice and I love to decorate so I won’t ever be that ‘one chair in a room’ type person and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean I’m cheating or not living simply.

This morning a good friend nailed my personality to a tee. She was inspired by me because I curate my house to satisfy my need for visual inspiration.

Another friend always does a walk through of my house when she visits to see ‘what’s changed’ and it’s true, I am constantly evolving my surroundings. I work in my living room and need that constant adjustment to keep me sane.

So I need to find that balance. To keep what’s important to me, but let go of all the rest. If I buy something new, it has to have a purpose, or it has to replace something that I want to change. I will focus on quality clothes and ditch the ‘just in case’ wardrobe. I always tell my mom you don’t need a physical reminder to keep a memory alive. Keeping a picture you want to display on your wall is great. But perhaps you can get rid of that dish that Aunt Flo gave you 30 years ago that you never use.

Keep your footprint small, simple. Don’t buy that fancy car because your friends have one. Own the beauty of a car that is paid off even if you have to start it in neutral…it builds character! My kids don’t need an ipad, they need to learn how to climb a tree, and build a kick ass blanket fort. We surely would love a second bathroom…obviously…but my parents grew up with an outhouse so I think we’ll survive. I mean, 50% of our house pees outside in the summer anyways so who cares.

So there’s my new years social rant. Blah, do what you want with it :) Anyone want a bunch of furniture?

 

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The Super Fun Literary Kitchen Table

So Happy New Year to you all! I’m currently still in a house with a Christmas tree but lack the energy to dismantle so we are still in holiday mode. It was a whirlwind last week, travel, booze, food, travel, booze, food, booze, food…more booze. We have decided to go for a cleanse this week and so far 4 days without it feels like we have run a marathon. I don’t know what the next few days will hold but so far so good. But that isn’t what this post is about. Nope. Today I am talking about something way more fun.

BOOKS!

I have come to a realize that I have been buried so far in my Kobo that I’ve forgotten how amazing tactile books are. I have 549 books on my device, which is the perfect place for them as they are novels and not the flip through type variety. This year I focused on giving books as gifts, funny and cute books. Books that look amazing on a table, readily available to enjoy. I’ve done this before, placing a pile of adult cartoon books on the kitchen table to replace a centrepiece and the results were people popping in and immediately pouring over them. Reading the good parts out loud for everyone to giggle over.

The Table

Our kitchen is our hub, most walk through the door, grab a beer and go no further then the 10-15 feet that encompass this room. We have a small round table, which I normally have the typical candles, vase or strange ceramic creature perched on, but after the holidays I decided to bring back the books and so far it’s a style I need to keep up.

This week I placed an old (gigantic) book of fantasy Manolo Blank photo shoots, an Orly Kiely pattern book (one of my fav designers), Rosie Revere, Engineer that Wren got for Xmas, Amazing animal facts, Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea (another comic gem for Wren), The Jose Bautista Bat Flip book (thanks Chad!), and 2 editions of Ladybirds comic genius – The Midlife Crisis, and The Shed.

Narwhal – Unicorn of the Sea is so cute

Narwhal - Unicorn of the Sea

A wide variety and one that the kids and I have enjoyed every day this week. Wren was obsessed with the pattern book, Finn, the bat flip one, and I pick up a random one daily, flip through and giggle, every time I sit at the table. It makes me so happy to see them stacked, or strewn open as the kids look through each one, laughing or pointing at something interesting. It’s made me realize that static centrepieces aren’t really my style and though it might look nice, it could be so much better with something that can make us think, dream, or imagine.

Wren and I poured through the Manolo book the other day which I was in awe over, no wonder they cost more then our car. Lately I have enjoyed the random book section at Homesense, the design and travel books alone are a great start to a Literary Table and so much more amazing then some dried flowers, or a bowl of fruit. Instead of watching TV, the kids can learn about Italy, or giggle over a comic book. Chapters is a HAVEN for me, the large size, colourful kids books are incredible even for an adult to look through. I have a wonderful friend who sends me kids books all the time and they are my favourite things.

Rosie Revere is a great message for wee girls

Rosie revere, Engineer

People always say they want to read more, the resolution I’ve heard so many times, but it doesn’t have to be a 700 page novel, that is overwhelming and sometimes unattainable with our schedules. It can be as simple as leafing through Zombie Apocalypse comic manual, or a gorgeous book on pattern or colour. Architecture books are incredible, or even a lovely cookbook that inspires you to try something new. You don’t have to read adult content to enjoy reading. I firmly believe a little imagination is mandatory in our daily lives. Embrace it and so will your kids. Happy Reading!

This Orly Kiely book is incredible

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The Shed is my husband to a tee…

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How Calvin & Hobbes made me (ME!) get emotional

This post is going to make Kristin laugh. I know, I expect the jabs to come soon. Aw Kelly, you’re going soft! But I can’t help it. I had a moment last night. A genuine top ten moment and as it nears 5:30AM this morning I’m laying here thinking about it and I need to write it out. Record the occasion.

Let me backtrack a second, like I always do. My son Finn is now in grade 3. I mean, he looks about as tall as a 10 year old, but he’s still just in grade 3. Reading is supposed to be a regular thing now, I see his other classmates crushing chapter books with a vengeance and yet Finn has never been jazzed over it. I’ve sat through countless PAINFUL reading sessions, choosing quirky books to get him at least interested in reading but he’s always done the groan and eye roll when I suggest we read together. And when he reads it out loud, it’s almost painful. That monotone voice he uses, just reading the words, not really getting the story.

Anyone who knows me, knows that his reaction will have me screaming in pain from the inside. Reading is beyond important to me. I run through about 8 or 10 books a month. I just prefer it over TV, and I love jumping into a new world for a few days, the book wraps up, I get closure and then I delve into another one. It satisfies my overtly non committal nature and relaxes my whirring brain.

I know it’s a possibility, I know I can’t force a love of reading on my kids, but it’s something I’m not ready to admit defeat to. I’ve begged to read Harry Potter to Finn, but he’s (GASP) not into wizards or the supernatural or anything of the sort (DOUBLE GASP). At least there’s Wren whose already has shown a fondness for monsters, so I’m hopeful.

Anyways, Finn’s never been that way, preferring watching cartoons over anything. So as he continued to read a chapter books out loud, a painful monotone retelling of a subject that even I’m bored of, I had to think. I had to come up with a new plan, this wasn’t working.

For either of us.

He still hated to read, and I hated to listen to it.

One night I watched a doc on Bill Watterson. Creator (genius) of the comic Calvin & Hobbes. It was a fascinating watch, due partly to the fact that I grew up reading and adoring these books. These books that I can still pick up, flip to a page and almost recall the strip. So this would be 10…ok…15…OK! 25 years later and it’s still relevant, still funny, still incredibly witty and astounding to me.

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The books belonged to my sister, which she still has, so I realized I needed to get some comics in here…stat.

My new plan unfolded.

We began to read 10 pages a night or so. I would read them, out loud, frame by frame, and obviously explain it as we went. Calvin isn’t a normal little kid, he’s brilliantly smart and understated. His imagination might be hard for a little kid to grasp in comic form, wondering why all of a sudden the strip is drawn from the Jurassic period. Or understanding the political references during G.R.O.S.S. (Get Rid Of Slimy Girls) meetings in the treehouse. Finn would only smile at first, not truly figuring it out but loving the drawings and relationship between a boy and his stuffed tiger.

But eventually he started to giggle.

After a few weeks, he would carry around his 2 large books and ask me when we would get cozy in bed and read them together. HE ASKED TO READ (TRIPLE GASP).

As Seuss would say: my heart grew 3 sizes that day…

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I’ve decided recently, my kids watch too much TV, not that I care, I mean I grew up in front of the tube, and I turned out ok…relatively, but they turn into little A-Holes for some reason and I had had enough. Restricting the TV didn’t bother Wren in the least. Last week I took it away all week and when I finally put on a movie, she walked away to colour. Finn on the other hand was DEVASTATED. But after a few days, we came to a routine. We’d play cards (which was right up Troy’s alley), or lay in my bed with Calvin and start to giggle (this was my alley).

So last night was my moment.

I told him we would read out loud for 30 minutes and then he would do it quietly beside me. But as we sat and laughed together it was so much fun, we continued for an hour. Then it happened…

MY SON READ ON HIS OWN AND LOVED IT!

I picked up my kobo, but found myself peeking at what he was reading, smiling when he smiled. His lips moving over the long words, I mean, some of those are really hard words for a kid. I did have to explain what a tyrant was and why Calvin’s mom was being one, but after my dictionary lesson, he would smile and keep going.

So yes, I had my moment, I almost verklempt at the sight. It will be a top ten, ingrained, a flick in time that maybe I did something right as a parent (those are few and far between, it feels). I mean these are the times I will remember when he doesn’t want to hang out with me anymore, when he’d rather spend his night with his friends, when he leaves for university one day to start his own adventure. I will always remember last night. Cuddling in my bed, the snow falling outside, reading the best comic ever written, and laughing uncontrollably over a little kid, his imaginary tiger and decapitated snowmen. It was perfect.

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Don’t Forget to Remember, Canada

Remembrance day is tomorrow and I hope that we aren’t so anger fueled by our southern neighbors that we don’t stop for a bit and think about our own country. I get insanely nostalgic for this day, from birth to now as it holds so much significance. Adding to that, 8 years ago tomorrow, I gave birth to Finn, so it’s a pretty important date in the eyes of an 8 year old as well as to me. No less important, in fact it’s even more so as I reflect on this world and the things our ancestors went through to make it so amazing for my kids to grow up in.

Let’s backtrack for a second. I’m sure most of you know I was born into a military family. A base brat through and through for nearly 2 decades of my life. So much so that when I thought about my future I almost enlisted to remain in the military circle. See we moved every 3 or 4 years, we were far from actual relatives, we only had each other but I never once felt bad about that. In fact, I remember with such distinctness all those faces that were always popping by in civilian clothes but then seeing those same faces, dressed in their crisp uniforms when I woud visit my dad – Sarge – in his office. I recall very clearly spending some time there, but it could have been just a handful of times.

From the terribly painted hallways, an extremenely shiny paint, everything was always so similar, gleaming in this whitish paint. All furnishings had a purpose – utilitarian but always clean. From base to base, it remained the same, but then again maybe that happened for alternate reasons – maybe it was a way to make it feel familiar, so that you didn’t get homesick. You were there, after all, for more important reasons. It wasn’t just a job to many. It was a way to give back, serve your country, but to me it was all I ever knew. To me it was my whole universe, or so it seemed in my kid brain.

Those faces, I recall so many, and really it was the best life. THE. BEST. LIFE. I never felt strange always moving, it was part of it and every one I met, every new kid, was living the same life – we had free reign of the base, or again, so it seemed.

My favorite place to live was located in northern Alberta, close to the B.C. border. It was a tiny speck of Canada, the smallest base perched on a hill, neslted in Albertan trees and rough terrain. We woud ATV around the woods, play tennis in a court in our backyard and then they would flood it in winter to entertain us during all those frigid months. No one was worried about strangers taking us, my best friend, Erica, and I would roar around on bikes, playing spies, organizing wee baseball games due to the miniscule amount of kids – the ages ranging from very young to teenagers. We all had to play together as there was no one else but it was fine, no one seemed to be too bothered by it. We’d head to the Canex for 40 cent candy bars, and there was even a small theatre on base that showed all the best movies on Sundays.

As a kid it was amazing.

I don’t know if my parents would agree with that, I mean we had to live in a tiny trailer to start with. There was one channel and it was blurry at best. Although we did get our first VHS there which led to my obsessive watching of The Lost Boys to the point that I could recite it. Sigh, my first vampire love…

In order to get to town for groceries or a Zellers fix, my mom had to brave countless winter storms and always that winding hill going up the side of the mountain was a freaking nightmare. My older sister has since lamented on how awful it was to be a teenager there, I mean, parties in ‘Beaverlodge’ were impossible to get to and she had to deal with me all the time. Sorry Laurie, I love you!! But for a little kid, I just needed a bag of chips, Corey Haim movies and I was content. There would always be parties for the kids, it was extrememly family oriented. Military life was, in my mind, the very best way to grow up.

Sure I missed out on being close to biological family, but I also learned from birth to adapt. I could move tomorrow and be ok with that. I’ve lived all over Canada, my appreciation for this country is vast. It was tough but being forced into a new class every few years sure makes one self-sufficent, and making new friends was old hat. I didn’t have to sit with the same people for years, growing up with the same circle, I had new ones every couple years. Perhaps it makes me flippant about relationships a tad, I’m not sure, but it’s given me the ability to walk into a new place and quickly turn around a social life.

This isn’t saying that I don’t care about the ones I leave behind. I care greatly, I miss them all very much, but I can also see the possibilities of gaining new people to excite me, entertain me and add to my life. I view it as a gift. Something maybe my parents know about, maybe not. If you’re reading this mom & dad – thank you!

I feel so much fondness when I think of my life as a military brat that I actually physically miss it. During Air Show days I sometimes feel like bursting into tears. Not that I’m sad, but I just miss that ‘family’ connection with all those people in uniform. I wasn’t a solider, I didn’t do a damn thing, but I was there for the ride and I loved it. I was included and felt a part of something bigger, something amazing.

Every November 11, I attend the ceremony (well aside from that morning I was pushing Finn out), and again I’m close to tears. When I see the vets in their blazers, their medals displayed proudly, many with watery eyes, plus the men and women in their crisp uniforms, their shoes shined to perfection (I recall my dad shining his every single morning…like every day…I even remeber the box he kept with all his supplies, shining a mirror into his toes). Then I see the young cadets and their adorably perfect outfits, I can’t help but feel sad that I’m not one of them anymore. I feel like I should be able to walk up and share that bond like everybody on base had. No matter who you were,  you belonged and you were in it together.

When I think about my job now and how little I contribute to society, how these men and women devote their lives to our country and risk their lives in combat to keep our lives safe, I wish perhaps I would have chosen differently. Not that anyone reading this could picture my hair in such a tight bun, keeping the collars clear of hair and to code! Or see me running through physical training with 50 pounds of gear on, in the pouring rain. Or having to wear the same thing every day, or shoot a gun…although I have been thinking of taking up archery…

Regardless, I think about all of this every single Novemeber, I feel sad but so very blessed to have had that connection…and now I get to add a happy component to the day. I get to watch my kid beam with pride that he was born on ‘Poppy day’. I get to eat cake (Pokemon cake in case you were wondering) and I get to celebrate the day with my new family even though I will always remember my first one. The life my mom and dad chose, I will always be grateful for and I thank them for giving me that. I am also so so beyond happy that they are here for another Remembrance Day, their health still going strong :) They are so important to me and my kids, I just wanted them to know how much their sacrifices meant to me.

I also spend a few minutes of tomorrow looking up to my grandpa in heaven, thanking him for his navy service, and I ALWAYS blubber (espeically with my sister!) during the procession – darn those fecking bag pipes…

Happy Poppy Day :) Cheers mum and dad!

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Troy, (Sargeant Lawrence) Dad & Mum 

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