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my family story.

Things aren’t always what they seem. part 1.

If someone were to see my Instagram account, they might think that I’m a big family person.  She must be so close with her family. She’s making a family wall hanging. She’s writing a family book for her kids. Family seems really important to her.  

And for a long time, I would have said the opposite.  

I chose to live 20 hours away from my family.  

My mom, dad, aunts, uncles, cousins… are all 20 hours away. I’m the only one living in Southern Ontario (or as we say, “down east”). To see my family, we need to fly to Thunder Bay and then get into a car to drive for 4.5 + hours west.

I grew up in a small town of 1,200 people.  It’s a place where you wave at vehicles passing by because you actually know who it is.  A place where you can say that Eila lives in the blue house and the Reid’s are across the street.   Weekends are spent in arenas, curling clubs, or at the lake. It’s a community where people look out for each other.  

It’s also small in more ways than one. 

Emo is a little bubble. You’re surrounded by the same people you’ve known since you were a kid.  The closest bookstore is 2-3 hours away. The newest thing to happen… there was an accident, a new baby was born, someone got a new boat or truck, or someone new moved into town (in 9 years, I got two new classmates).

When I call home, I often ask Mom: “What’s new?  What’s new in town?” Which is another way of saying, what’s going on with everyone? I get updates about people’s health and family.  Local gossip is what’s “new.”

And there is an ease to that lifestyle. 

I love going home.  There’s no rushing around.  People don’t talk about work; they talk with each other.  They ask, How are you?  They just sit down and visit.  They enjoy each other’s company and laugh.  They don’t need to go anywhere in particular.  Being is enough. 

And yet I know that living back home is not for me.

I wanted to live somewhere with bookstores, museums, and new things to do.  I wanted to go away to university and experience something different. I wanted to meet new people.

I love my family and I also value learning and growing.

Sometimes I question whether I’m a selfish person because I should make family my number one priority.  If I did, my parents wouldn’t be forced to see their grandchildren only when one of us makes the flight from one place to the other. 

It’s a weird pull between loving where I am (in Toronto) and being so far away from my family.  It’s like being stuck between two places.

Thankful. Part 2.

I love my parents.  They are very supportive and have given me the space to be myself.  

I was in grade 8 when I got on a flight to Chicago by myself.  I wanted to visit my friend, Kim, for New Years Eve. I was 12 years old and navigating the Chicago O’Hare airport on my own.

I chose to attend a university 20 hours away from home with no one close by to help me.  My parents made the long drive through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and back into Ontario to get to St. Catharines.  They helped me set up my room in residence.

I chose to live in Southern Ontario.  They have made many trips to Toronto to help us move into various homes and to help with renos.  I will never forget the number of boxes my mom moved around (filled with my books) and the work my dad did in tearing down walls, installing flooring, and doing electrical.  They did so much.

They are not parents with a lot of advice to give.  Well, Dad tries and then Mom usually steps in to remind him that it’s our decision to make.  That’s for them to decide.  She’s big on that and I’m so thankful.  She gave us the gift of freedom and choice. It’s probably why I value freedom so much.

Families can be complicated.  Part 3.

Our family feels volatile. 
liable to change rapidly and unpredictably, especially for the worse.

We never know what will happen when we’re together.  

We love each other and always hope for a good visit.  A visit where there are no fights or blow outs. Where everyone gets along and there are no hard feelings.  Those visits are starting to happen more often.

my family.

Mom bottles things up. She doesn’t talk much about how she’s feeling unless it’s related to work. I can remember Gram saying, she never says anything.  She could be going through something and never say anything to anyone about it.  Mom can take a lot until she blows.

Dad is very moody. One moment he seems fine and the next he is pissed off about something. The littlest of things can set him off.  Drinking makes things worse; then he’s either angry or crying about the past. 

And I’m a combination of them both.  I can keep a lot inside too and then eventually blow.  My mood is also up and down. I often think about how difficult it must be for Eric to live with me.  He never knows what he will be coming home to. I’m working on it though.

And my brother, for those who know me, might not even know I have one.  And it makes sense why – I never talk about him. I felt like an only child for 20+ years.  

So an emotional family all under one roof made for an interesting childhood.  I’m not trying to make anyone look bad or to place blame. I was a part of it too.

We are highly emotional.  We feel deeply – which can be a good thing. We are quick to help others and are very empathetic.  We care about people. It’s just challenging as we navigate one another. 


Gram was the family member I felt the closest to (besides my parents).  She was steady and always the same. I knew what I was getting with Gram.  She was quick to say how proud she was of me. She was affectionate. I can remember her running her fingers through my long hair.  She knew my love language.

She was our glue.  She didn’t try pushing my brother and I together.  She recognized that we were different and I so appreciated that.  My mom, on the other hand, was the one who tried to get involved (which is likely what most moms would do). 

Gram was an example of freedom to me.  She encouraged me to pursue what I wanted to despite the opinions or concerns of others.  I know a lot of who I am is because of her. And yet her and Dad didn’t always get along. 

Like I said, families can be complicated.

New Beginnings

I do believe that kids bring people back together, especially families.

For the sake of our kids, I’m now doing the hard work of mending relationships and having uncomfortable conversations for the purpose of starting again and moving forward in a new way.

I find myself interested in family for the first time in a long time.  I admire those families that get together for Sunday dinners every week.  I admire families where the siblings are actually close friends. 

Family is a concept that is feeling less foreign to me.  It feels like something I get to create anew. 

I am excited and hopeful for the family my kids will experience.

I want our kids to grow up celebrating the holidays with as many family members as possible (from both Eric and my family).  I want us to have silly family traditions: of waking up to early morning surprises of balloons and presents on birthday mornings.  To make pizza and have movie nights on Fridays. I want us to create a family mantra – for how we care for each other and others. I want to teach our kids that you treat your family like gold.  They aren’t the ones to take your crap. I want to be very intentional in how we nurture and support family in our home. It will impact their lives.

my love story.

part 1: Childhood and Love

When I was younger, I was in love with the idea of love.

I loved playing with my Barbies and creating love scenes. There was always a love triangle where two of my Barbies fought over a man.  

I loved romantic comedies. 

Mad Love.
Romeo and Juliet with Leonardo Dicaprio.
Serendipity – where the only way for two people to find each other is through a dollar bill with her phone number scribbled across it.  
Fate brings them together. 

And yet I wasn’t one to be boy crazy. I stayed clear of girls who spent all their time talking about boys or flirting with them.

Instead I dreamt of the boy I would meet. I didn’t picture our wedding. I never thought about wedding dresses or bridesmaids.  But I thought about meeting my person. And now I have him, I still question everything.

I don’t think I understand what love is, which may sound ridiculous.  I think I’ve wrapped a big, idealistic blanket of perfection around it.

Love is something that comes only once in a lifetime.
There’s only one true love for each person.
Love is magical.
Love doesn’t take work. It should feel easy if it’s right.
Love is affection.

I’m a sucker for love stories where older couples find each other again after a lifetime of being apart. They might have married someone else and lived a completely different life.  In some series of events, they reconnect. The love is as strong as ever. It makes me believe in one love. A magical kind of love that spans a lifetime even when apart.

part 2: Love is hurtful.

I grew up admiring two relationships:

1. My Auntie Carolyn and Uncle Bill.
2. My Uncle Kel and Aunt Lyd.

My Auntie Carolyn and Uncle Bill were very affectionate with each other. He would pinch and grab her bum. She would sit in his lap. They kissed.

This was very unusual to me.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen my parents kiss. Like an actual kiss, not a peck. I’ve never seen affection like that in my parents.

My Uncle Kel and Aunt Lyd – I loved their love story. She had been married to a not so nice guy (was the story). Auntie Lyd and Uncle Kel would secretly meet up to see each other.  They married and had two kids of their own.

And both relationships ended.

My Auntie Carolyn died.
My Auntie Lyd too. 

And I saw what happened.

20+ years later, I think my Uncle Bill is still struggling. He once told us how he looks up at the stars at night and talks to Auntie Carolyn. It’s devastating to me. He lost his one love.

Uncle Kel remarried. He still wears his wedding ring from Aunt Lyd.

Love can destroy people.
It can leave them lost and hollow.
There’s drinking,
and other marriages
to fill the void.
Families fall apart.

I think I need to mend my relationship with love.

I don’t love myself.  I say the most hurtful and mean things to myself.
I’m afraid to love others.  I’m afraid of how I’ll feel when they are gone.  
It feels safer to keep a distance.  If something bad happens, I’ve tried to prepare myself for it.  

I’ll be fine without them.
I’m in control of that.

part 3: Mending my Relationship with Love

I think I idealized the relationships around me. I saw what adolescent me wanted to see.

With my Auntie Carolyn and Uncle Bill, I bet they had their share of fights. I bet it wasn’t all rainbows. Auntie Lyd and Uncle Kel, I have no idea what their relationship was like either.

I don’t think I understood what love was.  I think I wrapped a big, idealistic blanket of perfection around it.

Love is something that comes only once in a lifetime.
There’s only one true love for each person.
Love is magical.
Love doesn’t take work. It should feel easy if it’s right.
Love is affection.

I decided to do a 30 day love project.  I read articles and books about love. I watched videos and talks on the subject.  And where was I at the end of 30 days? Humbled and relieved.

There are different kinds of love:
the love we feel for our children,
the love we feel for a partner,
the love we feel for our parents, family, friends…
and there is no shortage.

Everyone is worthy of love.
It’s not reserved just for the deserving or for a select lucky few.
It’s something to nurture. It’s something to appreciate.
It’s something to share with others.

Love always felt like something I needed to find. 
It was something outside of myself.
Coveted and precious.

What a realization that it actually starts with me.  It’s already in me.

my love story is starting again.

my death story.

my death story.  part 1.

Death isn’t the hard part. 

Death is science.

A person can rationalize how the human body works and functions.   Death is a body no longer breathing. A heart no longer pumping blood. Organs no longer functioning.   We are not immortal beings. Death will happen for us all (spoiler alert). 

Loss is different.  Loss is the hard part.

Loss marks the end of a life.   It’s knowing that you will never see their face again.  Never hear that laugh, feel that hug, or hold that hand.  

Loss feels unfair.  It’s painful. It’s counting the number of days. weeks. and months. that they have been gone.   It’s when a week without them feels like an eternity, and a year feels unbearable. You can’t imagine what the rest of your life will feel like.  They are gone.


We try to hold onto them in our own ways.  We keep mementos. letters. a piece of jewelry.  a business card. a pin. We think about the moments they are going to miss.  And we wonder if they are watching over us.

It was loss that consumed me.  Loss and trauma.

my death story. part 2.

My experiences with death and loss changed my life.
How I dealt with death and loss changed my life.

I spent a lot of time living in fear.

Fear of being Happy.  
If you’re happy and things are going well for you, that’s when something bad happens. 

Fear of Love.
When someone you love dies, it destroys you.  Why leave yourself open like that?

Fear of Losing People you care about.
Fear of Dying at a Young Age.
Fear of Being Vulnerable.
Fear of… so much.

Death and Loss.  
Baggage I carried for far too long. 

After having the kids, I knew that I needed to deal with it. I wanted to be in a good place to teach the kids about it.  I wanted the kids to see death as a part of life. I wanted them to know that it’s okay for loss to hurt and there are ways to work through it instead of avoid it.  And for myself, I want to see death as something more natural and beautiful – if that’s even possible. It’s been hard but I’m getting there.

This is my story of death.

my death story. Part 3.

1990 – 1999 (9 years)

Grandma Beatrice (1990)

My Grandma Beatrice passed away when I was in grade 6.  Although I remember feeling sad, it felt natural and normal to me.  She was in her 60’s and I knew that older people passed away. I remember my brother and I standing outside on the deck of our house.  Mom told us, Grandma is gone. 

There was a funeral at the Knox United Church in Emo.  She was buried in a casket. I remember crying only when they carried her past me as I sat in a pew.  It felt like they were taking her away. 

My Aunt Bev came back.  I had never met her before.  She lived out West. She seemed drunk sitting on Grandma’s kitchen counter, wearing bright pink lipstick and a fur hat.

Auntie Lyd, Jessica, Seth, Dustin, and Dillon (1993)

Losing Auntie Lyd and my cousins impacted me more than I thought. 

I was in grade 8.   It was Easter weekend.  My Auntie Carolyn and Uncle Bill were visiting from Dryden.  I don’t remember the phone call in the middle of the night. I don’t remember the next day. 

I went to LaVerendrye Hospital with my mom.  I only remember black. His face looked like a black swollen basketball.  Uncle Kel was unrecognizable.

He wore a blue silk shirt stained with dark spots.  Salve or vaseline making contact with the thin silk shirt.  The only thing he could possibly put against his skin. He wore it to Jess and Seth’s funeral.

Vague recollections of a funeral for my cousins, Jess and Seth.  They chose to play, I will always love you by Whitney Houston, in the service.  A popular song at the time which meant it played in every store and unexpectedly in the car when you were driving somewhere.  A constant reminder.

A memorial service was held at Jess and Seth’s school.  I wandered the hallways and looked into classrooms. Which desk did they sit at.  Were their shoes lined up in the hallway with the others. The Rose.  Auntie Lyd’s favourite song.  Grandma said that she liked to sing it.

One weekend we were at their house for a birthday party.  A few weekends later, they were gone.

They died in a tragic house fire.  Somehow I gathered really graphic details of what had happened.  I carried them. It wasn’t until I talked to my mom 20+ years later, that I was finally able to let them go. 

You can read more about it here, The Fire.

Jennifer Carlson (1994) 

There was a bus accident on our way home from school one day.  We were in high school. 

We never saw what happened.  We heard about it afterwards.  The bus carrying my brother and I was ahead of the accident scene.

A truck had driven over a set of train tracks.  A steel signpost became dislodged from its’ back.  It smashed through the front window of the school bus.  It travelled to the back of the bus, hitting kids along the way.

It hit Andrea, a girl who went to our elementary school.  It hit two boys, Tyler and Jason. It killed Jennifer Carlson.  She was a few years older than me. We grew up in the same small town and skated in the same figure skating club.

It could have been our bus.

Ross (1999)

One of my dad’s close friends ended his life.  We called him Uncle Ross. He taught us how to water ski.  Our height measurements are still etched on a wall in his cabin.  When I think of happy moments from my childhood, they often include him.

I never knew anyone who had committed suicide before.  I tried to understand why he might have done it. 

Uncle Ross.

Auntie Carolyn (1999)

Losing Auntie Carolyn was devastating to our family. 

It was unexpected. We didn’t understand how someone who was so active and busy, could get a random virus that shut down the organs in her body.  Doctors didn’t understand it.

I was away for my first year of university.  I had no idea what was going on. Within 24 hours of flying home for Christmas, she died.  My aunt died on Christmas Eve. My dad fell apart. My uncle was lost without her. My cousins no longer had their mom.  

We have felt her loss for the last 20 years.

Grandpa Pud (2001)

My grandpa passed away when I was in my third year of university.  He went to sleep under a star-filled sky and didn’t wake up. Grandma lost her partner, lying at her side.  Mom found out in a Canada Customs building. A message was left for her to call family. They were driving back from dropping Eric and I off at the airport.  We had just been home for reading week.

From my teens to university, I experienced a lot of death.  It felt like I was just waiting to see who we might lose next. And yet, my biggest worry of all – was losing my Gram.  

Grandma Lainie (2014)

Saying goodbye to Gram always involved a hug where I had a hard time letting go.  I just held her and cried – whether we were holding each other in the middle of the The Circle D Restaurant parking lot, at the doorway of her little house, or standing outside in her driveway at Flanders. She always said that we had a hard time saying goodbye.

When Gram passed away in 2014, 3 months before Tate was born, my fear of death felt over.  There was nothing left to worry about. My biggest fear in life had happened. She was gone.   

But now I worry about losing those closest to me.  Those times when Eric has taken the kids up to see his mom for the weekend, I think about how my entire family could be wiped out in one fatal accident. 

I worry about losing my mom.

And now I worry about my own death. I have tried to prepare for it. I write books to leave behind for the kids. The control freak in me has drafted my obituary, because if anyone is going to tell my life story – it’s me.  I have left notes for Eric saying what I want the funeral to be like. Pieces have been written for him to read aloud to those who come. Seriously. I know it’s a little disturbing, I get that. 

I want to create my death box.  I learned about the idea in a talk I watched online.  I want to have everything done and ready in there. My obituary written.  My funeral planned – it’s going to be like an art gallery with music and booze and pieces of my life on display.  I hope it sparks lots of storytelling. I want my wishes in that box. I want to write a list of who is getting what – nothing of value, more of sentiment.  And then I want to fucking live my life.  

I want to take that box and shove it in the bottom of some dark closet.  I want to believe that it won’t be found or needed for decades. I want to plan trips, enjoy my life, and know that I’ve done everything I’ve wanted.  The rest is out of my hands. I have to live before I die. That’s the whole point.

my death story is over.

becoming a parent.

Parenting unlocks something in you.

I don’t think you could anticipate it
or prepare for it.
It’s a feeling of wanting to give
your absolute personal best
to someone
and you don’t know how.

It’s thinking about their life.

The impact that you want to have.
How you hope for them to be in the world
and then realizing
the role you play in that.

How much learning and unlearning
you will need to do
in order to make it happen.

Being open to looking at
your own flaws
your own challenges
your own tendencies
your past.

Because you know
that they will become a part
of your child’s story.
And you want better for them.

So you have to figure out your shit.
You have to be the person
you want your child to see every day.

Because sure, you made life,
but now you have the huge responsibility
of possibly shaping it –
for the better or
for the worst.
And there’s no pressure like it.

planning for the ultimate adventure.

it’s time.

I’m about to go somewhere
I need to go
but I’ve been avoiding.

I’m great at finding
random projects
to keep me busy
and away from the place
that’s been calling me.

What is it?

A place with scary shit.

A place with
and hurt.

A place I try to move beyond
but end up back where I started.
I’m lost
and going in endless

But I know
it’s on the way
to this amazing place
I want to go.

A place that is bright
and beautiful,
full of inspiration
and pure joy.

A place where I feel
at ease,
and grounded.

I’m going to pack my bags.

What will I need?

Hiking shoes,
my turquoise ones.
The ones I wore in Iceland.
A bright splash of colour on my feet
as I trudge through this rough terrain.

I’ll bring my notebook and pen.
I will record and observe
what I see and feel.
I don’t want to forget these things,
they will be important.

I’ll pack a camera.
I want to document everything.
I want to remember what I came across
so I can write about it later.

I will pack layers of clothing.
A light coat.
My bright pink fleece.
Depending on how I’m feeling,
I can either shed some heaviness
or add a layer for warmth.
I’ll see what I need
as I go.

And I want to go alone.

I don’t want to be distracted.
I don’t want to worry about others
and their experience.

Are they okay?
What do they need?
Would they like to do something different?

I need to focus
and take it all in.

I need to see
that I can do this
on my own.

What’s Ahead?

I might come across
things that scare me.
I’m going to be unsure at times,
but I’m going to trust
my gut.

I will want to push myself
to go
as far as I can
in a day.

I will tell myself
to soak it up.
I’m only going through this
I need to make the most of it.

And in the end,
I’ll come out the other side
with the most unbelievable story
and a sense of accomplishment.

I did it.
I’m better for it.

I’m ready to get started.

I wrote this over a year ago.

It has definitely been an adventure – the last 12+ months. Through writing and making, I continue to work my way through the scary shit and I’m starting to see the beginning glimpses of that amazing place where I want to be.

So I’m ready to begin my next adventure.

In the fall of 2019, I will begin writing a book for our kids. The kind of book that every mom should write for their children – the story of their life. I’ve decided to create a space where others can join me as I tell my story. My hope is that others might feel inspired to write for their kids or for themselves. coming soon!

Listen to the Universe.

I hear you.  Message received.

I was working on my computer one day, when suddenly a document appeared on the screen. It was someone’s academic paper…

I didn’t recognize any of the names.

Did someone send it to me by accident?
I went to my Shared with Me folder.
The document wasn’t there.

Did I click on it when doing a search?
I Google searched the title.
How the hell did I get this?

And how amazing
to get a random paper
about a topic I’ve been thinking about
for 3 years

Something that I know
deep down
is what I’m supposed to do,

I just don’t know how
to bring it all together

I also love that the paper was written December 3, 2014.
December 3rd was my Grandpa Pud’s birthday.  
December 3rd was the day he proposed to Grandma Lainie.  

I’ll take it as a sign.

I’m not usually a big woo woo person,
but I’ll take this.
I’ll hold this one close.
I’m going to figure it out.

a wall in our bedroom where I collect inspiration and ideas.
the front cover of the paper is top right.

Note from Lainie:

I did a search of the course code.  It seems as though THEA 250 is a course code for an undergraduate course out of The University of Fraser Valley.

And I told my Mom the story of getting this paper. She smiled. She told me about her experience with something similar. While she was working one day, a window popped up on her screen with a job posting. She had no idea how it got there. It ended up being for the job that she’s currently in.

If I had my life to live over again…

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.

6 human needs.

We are motivated by the desire to fulfill these 6 core needs:

  1. Certainty
  2. Uncertainty / Variety
  3. Significance
  4. Connection and Love
  5. Growth
  6. Contribution

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…

Would love to hear what you think of this. Feel free to add a comment.

I want to write something so simply.

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.

Mary Oliver


30 Days without social media.

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.

a picture I’ve never seen before – of my Dad and his grandma.

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)

I came up with my idea for #the100dayproject.

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.

It was a good month.  

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