If I had my life to live over again, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax. I’d limber up. I’d be sillier than I’ve been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances, I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would, perhaps, have more actual troubles but fewer imaginary ones. you see, I’m one of those people who was sensible and sane, hour after hour, day after day.
Oh, I’ve had my moments. If I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else- just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.
I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot-water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute. If I could do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.
If I had to live my life over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances, I would ride more merry-go-rounds, I would pick more daisies.
– Nadine Stair, Louisville at 85 years of age
I love everything about this. The perspective that one has at the end of their life… it’s something that I would like to have now.
We are motivated by the desire to fulfill these 6 core needs:
Uncertainty / Variety
Connection and Love
We all share these needs, but we place different value on each. It’s what makes us different.
Based on his experiences working with over 3 million people, Tony Robbins is the one who has coined these 6 fundamental emotional needs. They form the basis of every choice we make and your top 2 needs are said to create your destination in life.
Do you know what your top 2 would be? Tony has a free online quiz to help narrow down your driving force. It’s worth a try to see if you connect to the results or not.
I should also say that when I think of Tony Robbins, I immediately picture a guy on stage who is an evangelist of sorts (sorry, no offense). I’m a bit skeptical. But after reading the list of needs, I was curious to know more. Developing awareness of who we are and why we do what we do…that stuff is fascinating to me. I do my best to try and stay open to the ideas regardless of the source.
If you like learning more about yourself and thinking about your actions, here are a few things to check out…
I want to write something so simply about love or about pain that even as you are reading you feel it and as you read you keep feeling it and though it be my story it will be common, though it be singular it will be known to you so that by the end you will think – no, you will realize – that it was all the while yourself arranging the words, that it was all the time words that you yourself, out of your own heart had been saying.
I decided not to use Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Pinterest for 30 days. I journaled daily and it wasn’t until I wrote this post, that I realized how good the time away was for me…
I wrote 41,380 words (172 pages typed) for the book I’m writing for the kids. I love it and it’s still a work in progress. There are some really beautiful pieces in it and I’m learning so much from writing it.
I’m happy with the progress I’m making with the kids book. It’s as though our whole family is coming together to write it for them, which I love. It makes me a little teary. I hope I can organize it and write it in a way where the kids can learn from it and make their own connections. (Day 3)
I talked to my parents on the phone. It’s hard to have a good conversation over Face Time with the kids performing in the background. On multiple nights, we laughed and reminisced. Mom and Dad shared funny stories from when they were in school. And there were some stories that were sad and hard to share. It helps me understand.
I connected with people I care about. I wrote letters, on paper, and tucked them into envelopes with photos. I sent them to friends and family back home. I got two letters back and it was such a nice surprise.
“Thank you for remembering me… I still miss Bill, especially at night…” (from our neighbour, up at the cabin, who lost her husband to Alzheimer’s).
“I feel special you wrote me!!! A real letter. You made my day…” (a family friend that I worked with when I was a teenager.) She said that her writing stinks, but wrote me the best three page letter that was so utterly her. I laughed out loud when I read it.
It was so nice to read about how she’s doing. It’s been so long.
I discovered that I have underestimated our local library.
We went for a walk after dropping Tate off at school. We mailed two letters with photos to a friend and family member back home. We bought cheese. We went to the library to pick up a book I had on hold. I actually spent time looking at other books for myself. Travel. Craft. Photography. Biographies. A wealth of resources right near our house. (Day 2)
I had dinner with a friend.
Dinner with Nika is filled with stories and laughter. Four hours later, we’ve had dinner, dessert, and are hugging outside in the snow to say goodbye. I needed this catch up. (Day 3)
I enjoyed little moments with the kids.
Big Day. Costco Day! The kids love Costco, especially Thatcher.
We spend our time looking for the “Sneaky Cheese.” I pretend that I can’t find the big bricks of marble cheese and the kids are on the lookout. It’s always been in the same place.
We have the same route. Granola bars for Tate’s lunch and for snacks. Down through the aisles to grab some crackers or tortilla chips. On the way into the milk cooler, Charlie is quick to pull on her toque or put her hood over her head. “It Cold.” We go by the “raw meat” on our way to the bakery section. The produce cooler instantly has Thatcher asking for grapes. A loop to grab bread and some ‘nanas.
Thatcher is quick to pop up when we arrive to the check out. He likes putting everything on the conveyor belt, while Charlie tries to eat the butter through the silver wrapping. Afterwards, it looks like a little mouse was nibbling on it.
And the visit usually ends with hotdogs. They like to have them torn in half so they have two smaller hotdogs to hold onto. Thatcher likes the works – ketchup, mustard, and relish. Charlie gets a little ketchup – more because I’m the one who will be cleaning her up afterwards. After we fill our cups with ice water at the pop machine, we are ready to find a seat. They like to sit at the picnic tables with an umbrella.
This day I take pictures of them eating their hot dogs because I want to remember these days. Of our little lunch date, them swinging their little legs and being so engrossed in eating a sketchy $1.50 hot dog. There will come a time where I will be doing the grocery shopping on my own. I won’t have my little companions who keep me moving quickly to avoid their boredom and fighting. (Day 4)
And today I think I figured out an idea for what to hang over the fireplace mantel – a quilted wall hanging. I think it would be cool to use a collection of fabrics – family photos transferred to fabric, handwriting of family members transferred to fabric, pieces of the kids baby clothing, wool from home, and more… I would make it all in triangles. (Day 7)
I signed up for a workshop.
I finally signed up for a 10 class yoga pass at a studio near our house. I signed up for a mala making workshop being offered this Saturday. It’s a weird thing for me to sign up for but there’s something about it that has grabbed my attention. Each time I’m in the yoga studio, I look at the poster. When I went online today to buy my yoga pass, I read over the workshop information again. I checked out her Instagram account and website. Lainie, enough. Just go. I’ve learned to trust my intuition on things like this. If I don’t let something go and keep revisiting it, I need to do it. I know nothing about malas and look forward to learning more. (Day 8)
I realized that I need to do things for myself.
I decided to take Thatcher and Charlie to the ROM. They went ooh and aah over the dinosaur bones. Thatcher loved walking right beneath the dinosaur in the main lobby – looking up to see its ribs hanging above us. They stuck goggles on their faces and grabbed paint brushes, to act like archaeologists moving around glittery sand to find the bones hidden underneath. We saw the bones of snakes and were surprised to see how thick walrus skin is. I think they will nap this afternoon – so much stimulus.
And for me, it was exactly what I needed. I was inspired by everything. I loved how they displayed collections; they were beautiful. I wanted to remember them for my own work and took pictures like a nerd. I was noticing the headings of display cases and taking pictures to remember them. I revisited the massive tree slices and nerded out over the tree facts and how they connect so much to our lives. I need to go back on my own one weekend while the kids are napping and Eric is home. It fills me up.
I went back on my own and loved it.I missed having Eric with me, someone to talk to about the pieces. We like going to museums together. (Day 5)
I went to three yoga classes.
Off to a yoga and writing class at 6:30 p.m. I kiss the kids goodnight and grab my mat. It’s a class about grief. I feel really good. I actually feel like I’m in a good place. What would I even talk about? I don’t think Grandma. Maybe my former self?
And yet when I start to talk to a dim room, lit with the warmth of candles and strangers sitting on their mats, I find myself getting choked up.
I don’t remember what year it was. I don’t remember years.
(I remember how long she’s been gone by Tate’s age. She passed away 3 months before he was born.)
My Grandma passed away four years ago. We were very close. She was like a mom to me. After she passed away, my life completely changed.
(This is where I get choked up.)
I quit my job. I had three babies.
And then I can’t talk anymore. I know if I do, I will cry in front of everyone.
And it’s weird because I’m not getting emotional because I’m sad. I think I’m realizing just how much has changed since she’s been gone. She has missed so much.
We had Tate. We sold our first home. We bought a new home. Eric left the Argos. We had Thatcher. We renovated. We had Charlie. I quit my job.
I think what I need to grieve now is who I used to be. (Day 4)
I researched things.
I started researching grief. There was a question from last week’s yoga and writing class that I have been thinking about: How do you manage your grief? It surprised me. I never thought of grief as something that we have control over. I’ve never managed my grief – clearly, since I am carrying pieces with me decades later. I loved the question and wanted to see what strategies might exist (hence my google search).
I want to write to the kids about grief. What it is, my experience with it, and ideas for them to consider for managing it. They will experience it someday and I want them to know more about it.
These are a few lines that stood out to me from my initial research (as in just a few articles I found online so far):
“Many people think of grief as a single instance or short time of pain or sadness in response to a loss – like the tears shed at a loved one’s funeral. But grieving includes the entire emotional process of coping with a loss, and it can last a long time. Normal grieving allows us to let a loved one go and keep on living in a healthy way.”
And these were some suggestions for how to manage grief: express yourself, allow yourself to feel sad, keep your routine up, sleep, eat healthily, avoid things to numb the pain, go to counselling if it feels right for you…
I wish I would have known these things. From my experience, it feels like death happens and then you try to move on. You go back to school. You start a new job. You try to ignore the feelings. You don’t talk much about those who have died because you know the tears will come. I just carried it. I carried it all for so long. Counselling was never an option. We lived in a small town and psychologists were something we saw on TV. We called them shrinks. (Day 8)
We went to see friends out of town one weekend.
Today we packed up the kids and drove up to Collingwood to see Sean, Becky and the kids. It was nice to have a change of scenery. The kids played non-stop in the basement and the adults could sit at the table and talk. It was glorious.
A night of wine, beer, watching Queer Eye. I don’t remember the last time I went to bed at midnight. (Day 19)
I learned how to sew leather pencil cases upcycled from leather found from a thrift shop.
Naptime was spent cutting up a leather jacket to make pencil cases and doing some work on the kids’ book. (Day 21)
I read The Year of Magical Thinking and now have a girl crush on Joan Didion and her writing.
I finish Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. If asked about it, I would likely say it gets repetitive. But it’s also the point. She was grieving the death of her husband and daughter. She replayed the same events over and over in her head for a year and beyond. She was trying to make sense of what had happened and kept revisiting facts and memories. Her book is truly about grief and it is beautiful in its sheer honesty. (Day 15)
I spent more quality time with Eric.
I had sent him a text earlier in the day that said, What do you think about no TV tonight and no phones? I wanted us to talk about our finances, plans for travel and projects around the house, etc. It felt good to talk about where we are at, how we plan on paying things off, and talk about our trip together like it’s actually going to happen. It feels like we have little time to talk about things like this – our plans and goals. When the kids are awake, we can barely hear each other. When they nap, we want to use the time to get things done or have some time on our own. And after bedtime, we are brain dead and tired. TV and phones become our default. (Day 10)
I drank wine.
I know why Happy Hour became a thing; it must have been invented by Mom’s who are at home. Around 4 p.m. the kids start winding up and are miserable, right as you are trying to get dinner ready. I really should keep a bottle of red in the kitchen for such an occasion. (Day 9)
I tried meditation for the first time at our yoga studio.
I’ve signed up for a half hour meditation class. This is way out of my comfort zone. I have no idea what it is like but I’m willing to give it a try. All I know is that I live up in my head all day long. It’s exhausting. I would like some quiet up there.
I walk into a small room filled with candles. There’s a blanket and a cushion for me to sit on. There’s the instructor and one other girl named Jess. They are both wearing malas. Ah, crap. Was I supposed to bring my mala?! (so funny, never thought I’d EVER say that. What is happening to me?!?)
We are instructed to sit on our cushions but towards the front so we can properly rest our legs on the floor without straining some particular body part – I forget which one. We are asked to close our eyes and all I think is, how in the hell am I going to be able to sit here for a half hour with my eyes closed?? I won’t be able to last that long. The 30 minutes actually flew. (Day 14)
I’m starting to take care of myself.
Today at lunch, I got the kids plates together and accidentally grabbed a third plate – habit. Before I put it away, I decided to make a plate for me. What the kids eat, I should eat. I feed them so well and never do it for myself. They had cucumbers, tomatoes, homemade dill dip, blackberries, strawberries, and a few tortilla chips (they had a little sandwich earlier). It’s a new habit I need to start. What they eat, I eat. Usually it seems the opposite – mom’s gain weight because they eat their kids food – chicken fingers and fries. I just don’t eat or just have carbs – quick and easy to grab. (Day 24)
I’m learning more about myself.
I quickly write up my Lainie List even though I know that no one will read it. I realize how much I need other people’s approval. Working on that. (Day 18)
I tried potty training Charlie.
We Face-timed with Mom and Dad. I show them how I’m potty training Charlie with chocolate chips. I feel like a circus / animal trainer. She pees on the potty and waits for her two chocolate chips. Then stands there and says, I want three! Mom bursts out laughing. And I’m impressed by her number sense. She knows that three is more than two! (Day 16)
I spent four hours in Chapters and it was amazing.
I went out for dinner with a friend. I was invited to another friend’s place for dinner. I’ve seen more friends this month than I have in a year.
I used my time to do things I enjoy.
It was a good month.
I felt inspired. I felt grounded. I know what I need to do.
And I’m worried.
I’m worried that I’ll go back to it – the scrolling that happens when I’m bored or want to escape the chaos in the house or in my head. I’m worried that I’ll go back to posting things for others and not necessarily for myself.
And so, I’ve decided to go back to it slowly.
Go after what you want – cautiously. Stick to the self care practices that you are building. Nurture relationships. Be present at home. If not, back to the woods you go my dear. (Day 28)
So I’ve decided that I will only go into my social media apps on Mondays for the next month or so. Hopefully it will be a fun way to start the week by reconnecting with everyone. The rest of the week I will focus on my health, the book for the kids, and my family.
Yah, yah. It sounds nice and all, but a little hippy dippy (no offense).
But I’m learning.
Today I decided to go to FIKA.
I’ve wanted to go there for over a year. It’s a little Swedish-inspired coffee shop in Kensington Market.
FIKA is a Swedish verb meaning, “to go out for coffee.” It can also be used as a noun: “coffee break” (your fun little word facts for the day!) It’s common in Sweden to invite friends to fika every few hours during the work day. And coffee also means a small snack like a cinnamon bun or a piece of cake. Now you can see why this magical sounding place was on my must see list.
I wanted to sit. sip. nibble. and write.
I was disappointed.
The place was packed; there wasn’t one seat left. The majority of the coffee shop was filled with people working alone on their laptops (which I can’t say anything about; I planned to do the same). And I found it ironic that a coffee shop named after a custom involving friends and going out for coffee together was filled with customers flying solo.
It felt like the opposite of fika.
I spent $12 for a latte and two cookies. And I left.
This is what I learned:
I need to be careful about building things up in my head. I had a year of imagining how magical this place would be. The FIKA instagram account is amazing. Once you see the pastries, you’ll wanna go too. Pictures of warm wooden tables, perfectly poured lattes in cute mugs, and traditional cinnamon buns make this space look warm and inviting.
Things aren’t always what they seem.
When I got there, it felt very different. Maybe it was just me. Maybe it was just the day. It felt like any other coffee shop and it made me think about the connection between branding and experience. Does it feel the way it looks online? What is the experience like for the person who visits? Is it different than what they expected?
I’ve been in coffee shops that reserve tables for people to socialize. I kinda like it. Even though it has relegated me to sit on a stool facing a brick wall with my laptop, I get it and can appreciate it. You know what they value. And with a name like FIKA, I was expecting it to feel different.
Now back to the journey part. I totally went on a tangent.
The best part of my adventure to FIKA today was my walk back to the subway station. Seriously.
I walked by the AGO and thought, it would be nice to go in there and just wander around. I wonder what admission is… I bet their gift shop has nice stuff. I bet I could go in. They would want people to spend money…
And it was amazing. A beautiful curation of books, art, and stuff. The books were so creative and beautiful to look at. They had the best selection of children’s books and toys, and their Canadian themed products… I was in my happy place.
If you ever need to buy someone a gift, go to the AGO gift shop. You will find something great.
After the AGO, I wandered into a Curry’s art store before hopping on the subway. I began looking for little things that I could tuck into the writer’s kits that I’m making. Old school pencils. Flat carpenter pencils. Pink Pearl erasers like when we were in school.
I was able to find the Rhodia notebooks. I love their design and the feel of the smooth paper inside. I thought to myself, I would love to create something like this one day.
The AGO, an art store… the walk back to the subway was the best part of my adventure. And going home to Eric with an oatmeal, chocolate fig cookie for him from FIKA.
Maybe I’m starting to get the hang of this journey thing.
It’s 8 bells, Dad would announce. Rob and I would run as fast as we could to the hope chest sitting in the living room.
The long, heavy wooden chest stretched the length of our picture window and came up to our chests. We knew it wouldn’t move.
We clasped our fingers around the hardware. We thought that if we were able to hold on long enough, we wouldn’t have to go to bed. It didn’t work.
Mom would quickly tickle us. Our hands struggled to hold on. Eventually, we would lose our grip and be taken off to bed giggling.
But it didn’t stop us from trying again the next night.
you would never know.
When I was a kid, I didn’t realize the treasures that were inside.
To me, it was just a big piece of furniture. A place where we kept our fish bowl and some picture frames.
The hope chest now rests in my parent’s basement. It no longer has such a prominent place in the house.
It sits in the furnace room, usually covered with newspapers and flyers that are used to start the wood fire. Mittens and toques are often scattered on top. You would never know that it’s filled with amazing things.
a treasure box.
Dad’s first pencil box. Mom’s baby book. Their high school yearbooks.
Dad’s boy scout sash with badges. Newspaper clippings of Mom on the high school curling team.
My first pair of shoes. My brother’s drawings. Our kindergarten scrapbooks. My grade 2 writing journals and the little vest I wore for school photos one year.
Little artefacts of our family, tucked away for safekeeping.
Mom and Dad saved up to buy the hope chest before they were married. Mom said she used it to store her prizes from curling bonspiels.
Back in the day, hope chests were meant to store items that women would need when they became wives – bedding, tea towels, and things they made. A makers version of a dowry.
For our family, it became a place to hold our keepsakes. My dad is sentimental. Mom is too. I think Eric and I are the same way. We keep first birthday candles and pieces of the kids art work.
After Grandma Lainie passed away, I made Mom a recipe book one Christmas through Shutterfly.com
I scanned some of gram’s favourite recipes and included family photos. Some recipes were scribbled onto scraps of paper or envelopes, along with her doodles. I included them all. I loved seeing her writing.