Category Archives: family

quality time

I value quality time with those I love.  Spending time together is worth more than any store bought gift, in my opinion.

This weekend was one of those weekends where we didn’t have anything pressing to do.  Being a long weekend on top of it, we decided rather last minute to take a trip to the zoo.  Since it is a three hour drive each way, we made sure to get up nice and early.  We packed up the cameras, water bottles and music for the drive and away we went.  We always stop for coffee and breakfast before leaving town.  It’s just what we do.  The kids eat while I drive, and I have my caffeine fix.  Sometimes they fall asleep on the drive, sometimes we all sing along to whatever song is playing.  Sometimes they read.  It’s always enjoyable no matter what.

I’ve come to crave these little day trips.  The adventure of getting away, of taking a trip unplanned.  Just drop everything and go.  Sometimes these are solo trips if the kids are not home that week, but I love the ones where they come along the most.  It’s good quality time well spent.  On top of that, my eldest had a chance to continue developing his photography skills in a different setting.  He’s getting very good at it, and I am very proud of him.  But there’s something to be said for getting away from home for just a little while.  A change of scenery.  A little excitement.  Spending time outdoors, and believe me, we were out there walking around and enjoying the sun and the setting for a good five hours at least.  These are the little things that they will remember as they grow into adults.  These are the things I will remember as they grow up and move on to live their own lives.  I will know that they will have those happy memories to draw upon.  They will have that influence for how they might like to live their lives, and should they have children, to do what they enjoyed as kids for their own.

Quality time.  I read somewhere that you have 18 summers with your children before they are grown.  This is what I’m doing with my 18.

mother’s day

Mothers, enjoy your children.  While they are young, as they grow, and when they are adults.  Every stage of development for your child is special.  I don’t need to tell you that; you already know.  Every stage my children have been at has been my favourite.  Why?  Because it’s where we are in the present.

Don’t wish for the past when they were young, or perhaps before they were born.

Don’t wait for the day they’re grown up and out of the house so you have peace and quiet or a clean home.

Be present.  Enjoy what today gives you.  It is the ultimate gift.  Love your children no matter who, what, or where they are.  Love yourself too.

Enjoy this day as if there are no others.  Give thanks for the life around you.  Be grateful for the ability to have them in your life for not every woman is as fortunate as you.  Hug your children.  Tell them that you love them.  Mean it.  Every day.

cultivating creativity

Creativity is a huge part of my world.  I see my world through the lens of a photographer, remember things with a writer’s pen, and dream with a painter’s brush.  My soul breathes creativity, and it warms my heart to know that my children have inherited that gene from me.  While it sometimes breeds frustration when we cannot achieve the product that we have dreamed of in our mind’s eye, the process is still very important.  As I watched my younger one crochet his own creations at the tender age of ten years old, he can see what he wants to create.  He has taken my guidance and moved beyond what I have given him and created more…turned it into his.

What comes with this territory is frustration, upset, sometimes a couple tears, but then it ends in pure joy.  The joy that you don’t get from buying an item, but one of soulful satisfaction for doing it yourself.  It may not be perfect.  It may not be the product envisioned, but it is a unique, one of a kind item that was created with love, determination, creativity, positive reinforcement, and joy.

what strength means

You could look at the literal word and think of bodybuilders or construction men or firefighters even.  That is simply physical strength though.  What about the other strengths out there?

Strength to me is determination and courage.  Strength is the struggling student who works a full time job, still makes it to classes and still completes all the requirements to graduate and move their life into a new plane.  Strength is the cancer survivor who stays positive during the surgeries, the radiation treatments and the chemotherapy while still being that positive beacon for her children and her husband.  Strength is the father going into that surgery knowing full well that he may not wake up from the anesthesia yet taking the chance because if he doesn’t, the cancer still wins.  Strength is the wife who stands by his side and supports him because that’s all she can do.

Strength is the child who stands up for his friend against the schoolyard bully, even though he fears being the next target.  Strength is the single mother who gets up and goes to work every day to a job that causes her pain, yet she goes anyway because that is what her children need her to do.  Strength is the woman who leaves an abuser before it goes too far.  Strength is the man suffering depression, but he still gets out of bed every day.

I see all these people around me.  Perhaps they do not see their strength, but others do.  Strength is all around us.  We all have our own battles.  Some are more visible than others.  Don’t judge others based on what you think you see, for their story is like an iceberg: you may see the tip poking out above the surface, but the rest of the story and reasons for who they are and why they do what they do are hidden underneath in the dark waters.

Have an open mind and an open heart.  Give acceptance and love.

soul sisters

There is something spiritual about having friends who are like-minded.  Ones that can finish your sentences just because they know exactly what you want to say, or ones that can read you in an instance and just know that all you need at that exact moment is a hug.  Until I experienced it, I did not know it existed just like that, and it amazes me how quickly that bond can develop.  It’s as if something was lined up in the stars to make it all happen.  Sometimes it makes me miss my beautiful, dearest soul sister even more because we have that same bond even with two thousand miles between us, but to feel it almost every day is a blessing.

There is something to be said in sharing each others joys and sorrows.  The pains and celebrations.  The unspoken words and language that can be said only with that look in one’s eyes.  This is the joy I had been missing all of my married life.  I am grateful for my new beginning.  My freedom from that controlling, manipulative man I now call my ex.  My free spirit that was once just a ghost in a dream has been given permission to come out to play, and she has found more soul sisters to be with.

And I am, for the first time in a truly long time, happy.

do more of what you love

I have had a week where I was able to spend time doing the things I enjoy.  There were still things that needed to get done, like take the little ones to school and make dinner, but I did these things in a way that I preferred.

We walked to school, which is a convenient 5 minute walk.  We brought the dog both ways.  We didn’t need to use before and after school care this week, and that made a huge difference in how much time we had to do things together and the free time they had without having homework or meal time.  Our days suddenly gained a lot of time.

We made meals that were fun and delicious with organic whole foods that were deliciously vegetarian.  Dinner became a joy instead of a chore.

It’s amazing how the simple things take on more enjoyment when you have time.  Less stuff means less to clean.  Less to own means less to owe.  This gives way to freedom.  The less you need to work to pay the bills for the stuff you need to clean.  Seems pretty straightforward, no?  With less, you can do more of what you love.

christmas 

This Christmas was the best one I have had in as many years as I can recall. It wasn’t the gifts under the tree. In fact, it was the absence of them this year that made me happier than before. Perhaps it is a change in perspective. Perhaps it was a change in me. I did not need gifts under the tree to make Christmas special. 

I needed my family and I needed my friends. I needed to do things for others and for strangers and for those in less fortunate situations than I found myself in. 

I kept the gifts lean this year, yet my youngest thought it was the best Christmas ever. This tells me that it isn’t the money spent that makes Christmas special for them either. It’s the love that is shared. 

Having said that, there was a surprise for me this year. One of my very best friends took it upon himself to ensure my boys had gifts under the tree for their mom. He did it without me knowing and it was particularly touching. 

the holiday spirit

I have noticed that in removing the pressure of gifting, I have found space for enjoyment of the holiday season.  I have discovered there is time for social gatherings and enjoying the company of my loved ones.  I have removed the pressures of creating the perfect holiday setting with the decorations and lights and the tens of thousands of calories in baking that I certainly do not need to eat, but would if left to my own devices.

I have found joy in spontaneity and planned outings.  I have frozen my toes just to spend two hours with a small circle of friends as we enjoyed the subzero temperature outdoor concert on the CP Holiday Train.  We have those memories to share.  Of finding a new restaurant and a wonderful new ginger cider.  Of bonding and sharing.  Of quality time without expectations.

I have five holiday parties planned just by my colleagues and employers…departmental, multidepartmental, corporate, family, and our own small staff.  These things do not pressure me this year because all those other stressful components of the holidays are now gone.

Don’t misunderstand me, please.  I do have some decorations up and I adore them.  I have bought presents for my children.  I have asked for them to please stop worrying that they cannot find a way to buy me a gift.  I asked for them to create with what they have if they want to give, but that they themselves are the greatest gift I have or could ever get.  I will bake cookies, but just two kinds and it will be a labor of love to be enjoyed with my children, not one where I scoot them out of the kitchen because they are underfoot.

The holidays are about people and joining together.  Enjoying each other and giving back to the community and those in need.  It’s supposed to last year long, but we all know that people tend to give more at the holidays than they do year round.

This year, I am truly enjoying the holiday season more than I have since being a young child and having all my extended family nearby for that wonderful multitable, multifamily Christmas dinner.  That is what remains in my memories.  It isn’t the gifts I was given.  It was the people that I was with.

the gift of joy

The old adage “‘Tis better to give than to receive” has been spoken so many times.  I feel like sometimes it has no meaning left anymore.  In this world of materialism, of keeping up with the Jones’ despite what it does to our bank accounts or stress levels knowing the financial strain it places on us just to keep up.  The world we live in wants more and more.  Gluttony abounds.

For so many years, I would go and buy presents for myself (including when I was still married because my ex couldn’t make any effort to do anything for anyone).  I would wrap them and place them under the tree.  On Christmas morning, as I unwrapped these gifts that were labelled as being from everyone else, I would pretend to be surprised by the gifts.

I am no longer doing this.  This year, I have been forthcoming with my children and told them that I do not need gifts under the tree.  You see, my sons, knowing that there is not a significant other in my life and knowing all my family lives far away, they realize that there is nobody who can take them out to buy me Christmas presents.  Their father? I think he would sooner see me dead than help them buy gifts and they know it all too well.  They don’t dare ask.

So this year, I have invited my boys to join me in choosing a senior from the community who is in need of items.  We went down to our local London Drugs and chose a card together off the tree.  They wanted to choose a man, so we did.  Many asked for essential items such as deodorant or razor blades.  Our senior did also, but he also needs a blanket and would like some socks and such.  We have gathered up the items requested, and added in some chocolates, tea, and handmade men’s slippers.  I am currently making a new hat for the gift also.  We will together write our holiday wishes into a Christmas card, and when finished, we will take the package back to the store where they will give the gift to our senior.

The other gift I am giving myself is the gift to another single parent.  Being in the position I am, I know how sometimes the holidays can be difficult without extended family nearby, and to do all the Christmas stuff yourself as a single parent.  I am gifting a photoshoot to a single parent (maybe two, dependent on time), who has no family nearby.  The photoshoot is for the parent and their family.  No strings attached.  No contracts.  No expectations for ordering images.  The photoshoot is going to be done because it feels good to give something to someone else without any expectations.  The parent will receive all the photos edited on a memory stick and they can be printed or not, shared or not.  Totally up to them.

This, to me, is what the holiday spirit is about.  It isn’t about how much you get.  It isn’t about how much you spend.  It isn’t about outdoing the other parent in a bidding war over the children’s love.  It’s about integrity, compassion, and caring for those in our lives and our communities.  Christmas is about loving one another regardless of race, creed, personal preference.  Christmas is about harmony.  Christmas is about joy.

I believe this will be my best Christmas yet.

living a good life

This has been a challenge of a week.  It’s been a week of pondering, and of considering the words spoken to me merely seven days ago, although it feels like it was a lifetime ago.

My father has cancer.  The big C.

Huge deal right?  Well, my mother had cancer also.  She spent a couple years in treatment, and her follow up appointments have all been positive, showing no signs of new growth.  All positive.  She’s not without her health issues, and the scare we had in summer thankfully was not a malignant tumor but still dangerous in its own right.  But I digress.

The words my father spoke left me feeling oddly at ease, even though we still do not know all the details of the severity or chances of survival.  I’ve had a good life.  I have no regrets.  I have done in my life what I aimed to.

Nobody likes to consider life without their loved ones.  I am not the exception.  My father came back into my life once my marriage fell apart.  My ex kept me from having a relationship with my family, so once he was out of the picture, they were there, waiting all those 20 years for me to come back to my senses.  I feel like I have just gotten my father back, so of course I have considered life without him once again.  I’m not ready for him to go.

My father explained some things to me, and I understand completely.  He is not afraid of death, and for the record, nor am I.  I do not believe it to be the end of our existence.  He has lived the life of his choosing.  He has done all the things he has wanted to do, he has no regrets in this life.  He has lived a good life, by his standards.  He was never rich in monetary ways, but that never mattered to him.  He was rich in much better standards.  He has a family he loves dearly.  He has friends who are family of his choosing that he loves equally as much.  He gives from the depth of his heart and would give what he had if it meant someone else could use it more.  Don’t get me wrong, my father is not a saint.  He is human, and in that, he has made mistakes.  He has made some choices that were less than desirable.  But in that, he is 100% human and we all know there is no one living on earth that is perfect by any stretch.

So I considered the words he spoke.  All week, and likely still will.  I know that he will fight for his life should he need to, but if it is meant for him to leave our realm in any short time frame, he will have no regrets.  He will not weep for the things he had not yet done.  He does live a good life that will be celebrated whenever that time comes.  But I still pray that time is not too soon.