The Journey

Weight has felt like an issue to me for most of my adult life.

I don’t know if it started with a modelling agent slapping a chocolate bar out of my hand when I was 13/14 and telling me I wasn’t allowed to eat it.

Me – Summer 2021

I don’t know if it was hearing about how hard my mother and grandmother and great grandmother were always fighting to lose weight.

I don’t know if it was the fact that I towered over most of my friends, both male and female, in height and stature.

I don’t know if it’s the fact that at 16 (and so thin) that I outweighed my peers by at least 20 lbs.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that food and I have had a crappy relationship. I have eaten to feel better. I have eaten to avoid and escape. I have eaten to reward. I haven’t necessarily eaten to nourish myself; to show love and respect to myself.

In August of this year, I asked my Doctor for a referral to an Obesity Clinic.

He was reluctant to refer because they have “strict criteria”. When I explained that I definitely fit their expected criteria, he took me for a height and weight check because he didn’t believe me. I don’t have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart problems or any of the other comorbidities of obesity. But, at 243lbs and 5’7” – my BMI was 38 and I was definitely considered obese.

If proving my need for a referral wasn’t difficult enough; there were communication issues between my Drs. Office and the Obesity Clinic and it took a month and me personally chasing down the referral for the process to actually get started.

If I’m being honest, I really don’t even know what I’m getting into other than I’m overweight and overwhelmed and I want and need something to change.

I’ve “been apart of the program” since September. It’s a process. It’s a slow process.

I had it in my mind that “something” would change. Something would be different. Something would be life changing.

And you know what, I think it is. But it’s also a process. I’ve spent probably 30+ years making decisions that have gotten me here and a few weeks won’t undo or reverse those decisions.

I have my third “group session” on Tuesday and I’m dreading it and looking forward to it. Both sessions 1 and 2 have had meaningful – to me – aspects and I’m sure this session will be the same.

Shame tells me that someone’s gonna call me out or tell me I’m doing something wrong or that I’m bad. (We’re starting the nutrition section of the core sessions; and food and I have such a complicated and complex relationship.)

Experience tells me that these people are lovely and supportive and want to help.

Fear whispers that I’m not going to be able to do this.

Courage calmly states that I can.

And so, I make little changes. I take small steps. I summon courage and make the best decisions that I can for today, for this meal, for this moment. I trust that I can learn new skills. I believe that I can make significant and impacting life changes that will benefit me now and in the future. I recognize that this is a long game.

If weight management was as simple as, just do it. Just try harder! Then I wouldn’t be here. But for me, this is more complicated than that. And while I wish I wasn’t in this position. I’m so thankful that I’m healthy and that I’m receiving help and support so I can be even healthier for longer.

Procrastination

Do any of you use “procrastination” as a tool?

I hired cleaners, at the beginning of the year, to come every other week and do the “cleaning”. (I’d like to pause and say that this has been the absolute best gift that I’ve given myself this year. I like a clean house and the rest of my family is ambivalent enough to not help out as much as I would like. So rather than overextending myself to do it or bagging at everyone, we make sacrifices so this can happen.) This means that every other weekend, we spend a day tidying our house for the cleaners to clean.

I don’t “clean” the house; I just clear it of all the daily living crap so they can apply soap and water to all the surfaces.

I need to be tidying right now; but I’m not highly motivated to do so. So I’m sitting in my bed, polishing off a piece of birthday cake, playing phone games, surfing social media and apparently writing this blog post.

I’m not worried because I know that as the day winds down I will have a shorter window of time to accomplish what I need to and I will kick it into high gear and “git-r-done!”

And then I wondered if any of you do this too. I like to think of it as using “procrastination” to my benefit – like it’s a power boost in a video game.

I’m probably just counting on the rush of adrenaline to help me do what I don’t want to do; and I bet there is a much “healthier way (emotionally and mentally) to motivate myself but it is what it is!

So, do you do this, too? Or is this just me and my unique brand of weirdness?

Sandpaper Towels

Do you know how long it takes for a large load of laundry to hang dry?

Drying laundry by the fireplace

Too long. Too! Damn! Long!

Our dryer stopped heating on Saturday and as of today – we’ve made it through our most beloved clothing.

If you don’t have favorite clothing, then you might be Neuro-Typical! Our family is full of incredible neuro-divergent people and the “soft” clothes are the best.

The last load I did had jeans and towels in it and let me tell you…..jeans and towels dry much faster in the dryer. They even dry much faster on a line, in the sun or wind. They take more than 3 days when it’s kind of grey and “blah” and you hang them indoors.

So, today I washed the “soft” clothes and have hung them beside the fire. Only the best for our favorite clothes.

PS. I’m really hoping that the heating coil arrives soon!

PPS. Our towels feel like sand paper. It’s EPIC! You shower and then exfoliate. It’s a win. Fortunately my kids have good memories of crunchy towels as I used to line dry everything when they were little and I had boundless energy and optimism!

Investment or Insanity

Sometimes I feel like a broken record.

I’m exhausted. SO exhausted! ALWAYS EXHAUSTED!

it sucks.

Right now, we are focusing a lot of our energy on our business and I understand that I’m working hard towards a goal; but I’m a firm believer in working smarter and not harder and yet I feel like I’m just working as hard as I can to just not drown.

What I struggle with is working so hard, for so long, that I end up feeling like I can barely function. This is kind of where I’m at right now.

When I boil it all down, I think I’m talking about trying to find balance. At this exact moment, I’m definitely way beyond actually “living in balance”; but where do you draw the line between investment and insanity.

It’s stupid to think that I can “invest” at this level for the next few years.

So where do I go from here?

That is one of the big questions in my mind, these days; and I don’t know that I have a quick or easy answer for myself.

Waiting For the End…or the Beginning

With 2 weeks left in this year, I’m desperate for the year to be over.

I’m exhausted. I’m overwhelmed. I miss hugging the people I love. I miss…..everything. I miss normalcy. I miss the way it used to be.

Too often I feel miserable!

Not the sad, despondent kind of misery but the angry, annoyed, grouchy kind of miserable.

It doesn’t really make sense to be wishing this year away because between December 31, 2020 and January 1, 2021 nothing magical will have changed. There will be no “returning to normal.”

I think what I’m desperately seeking is HOPE.

Hope that things will be better.
Hope that things will get easier.
Hope that things will change.

I’m so tired of “holding it together”.
I want to cry when my kids start to squabble.
I want to send them to their rooms just so I won’t have to muster up the energy to help them navigate their own feelings of exhaustion and stress.

I want to be on a beach, in the sun, doing nothing.
I want a magically clean house.
I want time to be able to take care of my responsibilities.
And the energy to actually do them.

I want space to breathe without feeling like I’m gasping for air.
I want space to be able to paint and draw and write.
I want to feel like I’m enjoying life and not like I’m constantly having to search for the glimmer of light within the darkness.

There is no “returning to normal.” I’ve been through enough trauma and tragedy to know that life doesn’t work like that. I know that holding on to the idea that things will go back to the way they were is not helpful for me. I need to grieve what has been lost and move forward. To find and create a new normal; but that’s not always easy…….

I’m tired.
I’m so very tired.
And that’s okay.

It’s been a tiring year.

Maybe in the “waiting for the end”; I’m also waiting for the beginning of what is to come.

HOPE

Why I Choose Joy

This is not my first rodeo with social distancing. In June 2010, our daughter was diagnosed with Cancer and just like that, isolation became our new normal.

On Chemo, her immune system was compromised. We had 4 younger children and we all know how kids are incredible carriers and conductors of germs and viruses and basic filth. It’s like their super power. Anyhoo…..we basically holed up and all social life halted for the 2.5 years that she was in treatment.

There are differences between then and now. One, we’re all in this together. That’s HUGE. Do not underestimate how incredible it is to have others know what you’re going through. Two, back then we were fighting only for our daughter. Today we are fighting for our world. Again, knowing that you’re not the only one going through this situation is incredible for the mind, body and spirit.

2.5 years of isolation is a long time. It’s long enough for friends to move on. It’s long enough for you to lose so much of yourself in the monotony and loneliness that you’re unsure you if you will ever find yourself again.

I’m not some naive “Pollyanna” and my life is not in any way, all rainbows and roses. Social distancing and isolation can either destroy you or make you; and I fully believe that you have a say in how you respond and move forward.

I remember the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that I felt back then. I remember standing in my living room, trapped in my home, with no end insight. I remember feeling so incredibly powerless and out of control. my only option was to hold on tight and ride this journey, until it was finished. I felt like I had no control and no power. I felt like a victim of the whole situation. I was miserable, scared and lonely.

I remember the day that I decided that I would reclaim every bit of power that I could. The sun was shining. The warm air floated in through the window. Geli and the baby were both sleeping and the other kids were occupied. I pulled out my camera to find something good, something beautiful, something that was full of life. The situation had taken so much from me, from our family. We were surrounded by the hardship and struggles ; but I was determined to balance the scales and shift my focus.

I couldn’t change the immediate situation but I could choose to look for and see the good things that were happening in spite of, or even as a result of the hardship. That was the day that I was reborn. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now I see it so clearly. It wasn’t an immediate change. It was a slow, gradual process but looking for the good. Searching for the light. Finding the joy even in the middle of the darkest times, was life changing for me.

There are studies about the practice of gratitude rewiring the brain. I didn’t know this at the time, I just knew that practicing gratitude was like air to my drowning soul.

It is a practice. It requires effort, at first; and then it becomes a part of you; a glorious, life giving, transformative part of your very being.

I’m not encouraging that you lie to yourself, or that you pretend that everything is perfect. BECAUSE IT’S NOT! These are tough times that we are living in. Acknowledging the difficulties and finding the joy are compatible.

What I am encouraging is a shift of mindset.

My kids and I are trapped in this house and fighting like idiots because they are anxious and uncertain; but I am so thankful that we have this time together and that we are healthy.

I didn’t get my complete order of food because of panic and hoarding and now I don’t have any orange juice or Mr. Noodles; but I am so thankful that we do have food to eat and that I have time to bake and make meals for my family.

I can’t go out and be with my friends right now; but I’m so thankful that we have technology that enables us to connect through the internet so I can still see and chat with them.

Even finding the beauty in little things, helps to shift your focus from what you don’t have to what you do have.

That tiny bud on the tree that’s just emerging shows us that everything moves according to seasons and where there is a winter time, that a spring will follow with new growth. That the desolation of winter is always followed by the glory of spring.

Food spilled on the floor by your children is so annoying but it also means that you have food for them to eat.

My windows might be dirty but the sunlight shining in, is glorious.

There is good. There is always good. Sometimes the good things are easy to find and sometimes you have search harder. What I know is that searching “the good” is life changing. I do find that if you can acknowledge what you see in a tangible way, it seems to imprint on your soul. Whether that’s making a list on a piece of paper or in a journal; taking a picture to save on your phone, sharing your photos or thoughts with a friend or posting on social media…..there is power in acknowledging the good. It encourages you and it encourages others.

This is why I choose Joy and why I encourage you to choose Joy, as well. There is so much benefit from a shift of focus and a bit of perspective, right now. We are all in this together.

Are we listening?

It was almost a decade ago.

She sat in her chair in a small room at BC Children’s Hospital ADHD clinic and calmly and quietly spoke to my child as if he knew and understood himself.

As if he, this frantic, frenetic child who couldn’t seem to slow down enough to eat or sleep or play appropriately or articulate well, could communicate the mysteries of his mind.

I don’t remember exactly what she asked or what he said. What I do remember is thinking to myself,

She sees HIM. She really SEES him and in truly SEEING HIM; she’s giving him the opportunity to speak and to share from a space of being KNOWN. And in being seen and known, he has the permission and confidence to speak and be heard.”

This one moment is one of the many “pivotal” moments of my journey through parenting.

I remember the awareness hitting me so hard and fast that it was almost a physical impact.

My child, who I thought was an impressionable, immature being – a chaotic, unsleeping, hyper, frustrated, frustrating, exhausted and exhausting person……

I was shocked to find out that even at 10 years old, my child had insight, wisdom and knowledge of what he was feeling, dealing with and going through AND he could communicate that with us , even though it seemed he was only reactionary and impulsive.

I remember him sharing something profound about the way his brain worked, how his body and mind felt; and what he wished he could change.

I remember looking at the Dr incredulously while she carefully wrote down a few notes and thanked him for his input. She had a few suggestions for him and us. She spoke to him like his thoughts really mattered. Like he was “the patient”. Like he had some say over his life.

She wasn’t ever patronizing. I truly believe she saw and heard her patients and really believed them and cared about their input.

This moment changed my life forever. Jeremy was 10 years old when we met Dr. Jokhani and I am forever grateful for her care and support of him; but the impact of this encounter radically changed my understanding of how we interact with our kids.

Too often, we think or assume for them. We assign them thoughts or words based on what we see. But what we see, what they feel, what they perceive, what they know and if they have suggestions, desires or wants gets laid aside.

I’ve been asked how it is that my kids seem so self aware and insightful. How I’ve taught them to be able to share so eloquently? Is there something special about them?

The reality is that I’ve not taught them anything except maybe to trust themselves. Too often what we need to do is JUST ASK and then WAIT! We need to really listen to what they say. Listen to truly understand.

As an example, when Jeremy was asked to share what it felt like inside of his brain when he was at school; he explained that it felt like his brain was moving so fast that he couldn’t catch any of his thoughts. It felt like everything was buzzing so loud.

But when he took meds……everything got quiet and slower; and he could hold one thought until he wanted to put it down.

It might sound childish and simple, but it’s a brilliant explanation of the ADHD mind both on and off of a stimulant.

Mind you, he did all of this explaining, with his back to us while playing with LEGO.

Our children are going to share like children.

  • Will we stop long enough to ask them questions?
  • Will we listen long enough and with open enough hearts and minds to be able to really hear them?
  • Can we trust them to know themselves?
  • Will be give them opportunity to make a mistake and to teach them that mistakes are just a part of learning?
  • Can we give them the safe spaces to practice communication and advocacy?
  • Will we allow and champion opportunities to practise this skill?

I believe that we, as a society, win when we teach our kids self awareness. That we win when we teach our kids to self advocate. That we win when our kids believe that they have a voice worth listening to – when they believe that they have value and worth. That we win when our kids believe that they are valuable not in spite of who they are but because of who they are.

I’ve seen this play out hundreds of times with my younger sons…..starting at early as 3-4 years old.

Our kids are never too early to be heard, seen and known and loved.

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I’d love to hear about a “pivotal” parenting moment for you?

Priorities

If I’m being honest with you, I could care less what he learns as far as academics or what his grades are.

With equal parts liberation and hesitation, earlier this week I shared this statement with my child’s teacher, case manager and support staff.

I don’t mean that I don’t want my child to have an education. I don’t mean that I don’t want him to learn.

But….at this time, I care more if he feels safe at school. I care more if he has a desire to learn. I care more that he learn to confidently advocate for himself. I care more that he learn to communicate respectfully. I care more that he learns self awareness and self regulation skills. I care more that he learns to confidently interact with those in authority, and with peers. I care more that he finds his voice. I care more that he believes in himself. I care more that he has empathy for all. I care more that he eats. I care more that his digestive system is functioning smoothly. I care more that he gets enough sleep. I care more that he gets enough exercise.

It’s not that I don’t care about his education. I just have SO MUCH MORE that I care about. There is so much that a typical child would learn by osmosis, by watching and listening and absorbing; those seemingly simple things….they have to be taught to my child. Over and over and over……and so while I may say that I don’t care about academics……what I truly mean is that it’s just not as high on my priority list as all these other things.

I wonder what life would look like if my biggest worries were what grades my kids were getting; or if “grades” were even on my radar.

But that’s not my life and so I don’t dwell on that. Partially because I just don’t have the time or energy to; but also because it doesn’t serve me to hold that ENVY.

It all comes down to priorities. I only have so much energy and I just can’t hold “it all”. So I pick and choose what is most important to me.

Teaching my kids to be loving, respectful, compassionate, hard working and contributing members of society who have mercy and grace for themselves and others…..that’s my goal.

I try to remind myself of that every time I feel caught up in “what we’re NOT doing” or in the fact that we aren’t “typical“.

It all come down to priorities.

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I’d love to hear what your priorities are or what you want them to be or wish they could be. Do you follow societal norms because you want to or because you feel you have to? Would you do something differently, if you felt you had the freedom or power to do what you wanted to?

With my Humanity Faltering….

We took a Mental Health Day, today!

Jude had climbed into bed with us, at some point last night. First thing this morning, He opened his eyes, looked at me and said, “I just can’t go today.

Like I mentioned yesterday, we have a kids day camp this week. It’s fun. It’s amazing. It’s epic. It’s theme is “Power Up”. They do Fortnite dancing, and crafts and have snacks and an epic water day. It’s AWESOME!

And in the last two days, my kid has used up any and every bit of emotional and mental reserve.

So, I declared today a Mental Health Day and we did nothing taxing; and only things that we wanted to do.

I have pretty firm opinions on parenting. I don’t like to put up with any garbage or judgement from others. It makes me sick when I see children being treated as bad or devious or evil. I do understand that there are some children who have been so hurt that they need extraordinary help and support; but so many children are spoken to as if they aren’t real people.

Real people who have rights, deserve dignity and autonomy. Real people who deserve respect and kindness regardless of whether they are non-compliant, misbehaving or just young.

But for all of my opinions, I’m still human.

I grew up with old school thinking that disrespects children. Thinking that says that I’m the boss and if I’m just tougher or more authoritative or just force a child to do something that they will get over their issue. Their issue, that isn’t legitimate anyway. They’re probably just faking it, in the hopes of getting away with something.

I don’t believe that line of thinking for one second. And yet, within the stress and chaos and exhaustion of parenting high needs kids, there are times that my resolve falters. I question my moral compass. I question my parenting skills. I question my ability to know or think or believe anything.

In that space, I allow the worry, the questions and the self doubt to surround me, for a moment, before I shake them off. Those thoughts don’t fit on me. I can’t wear them with pride, courage or confidence

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I believe that children, innately, want to succeed and do well.

I believe that if a child is not succeeding and thriving; that is not because they are intentionally misbehaving. They are struggling.

I believe that children try to do their very best and if we feel that their best is some how “missing a mark” then we must step along side and support them, in ways that are meaningful to them.

I believe that behaviour is communication and as the adults, it’s our job to detect what they, the children, are struggling to put into words and to help them…..not judge, shame or criticize.

I believe that our children should run to us when faced with problems and not try to hide from us, out of shame and guilt. It’s our actions, words and reactions that reinforce those beliefs and actions.

So in this moment of humanity, when I question my ability to parent my child, to help him to be resilient, to help him find his strength and his voice, to help him find his way in this world knowing that he is valued and loved and capable…….I pause.

I remind myself of what I believe and why I believe it.

I remind myself that it’s okay to not be okay.

I remind myself that taking a Mental Health Day is a gift and not a punishment.

I remind myself that I’m teaching my children invaluable life lessons by honouring them, respecting them and teaching them to be in tune with their needs.

I remind myself that this season will not last forever.

With my humanity faltering, but my beliefs unwavering, I carry on; doing the best that I can, in this moment and knowing that it’s okay to not be okay.

It’s okay!