Posts Tagged "year to year"

Nurture This Year

Posted on Jan 17, 2013 in Featured | 1 comment

Nurture This Year

I started off this year with a delightful houseful of family guests, and their departure was followed immediately by Aaron’s departure to work for three days on a remote island. For three days, I parented on my own, got my son back into the routine of school after several weeks off, and tried to get my kids back to a normal bedtime after a week of falling asleep at midnight with their much older cousins. Aaron returned from work with a brutal chest cold that left him with chills and a poisonous mood. Somehow in all of that, I managed to find a quiet evening to reflect on the last year and the new year, and thankfully, a word bobbed to the surface of my mind, like a cork. The word was NURTURE. nur·ture Care for and encourage the growth or development of.   This word is so perfect for our 2013 that it actually sings to me. My youngest child is turning 2 next month. I know that this year most likely holds his weaning and his potty training. This means that sometime this year for the first time in 8 years, we will no longer have a baby in our family. For the first time in 8 years, there will be no diapers, no night waking (ok, realistically, there will still be some, but there will be considerably less night waking with the direct result being a drastic improvement in my quality of life), no more breastfeeding. This is monumental. This is me saying goodbye to childbearing. This is our family moving on from baby days. This is me reclaiming some autonomy as a person, not just as a physical baby grower and tender. This is my last baby becoming physically independent: walking, talking, eating, and using the toilet on his own. This is us entering a new season. Yet, none of this is here yet. It is only on the horizon. Now is the time to nurture myself in preparation for the unfolding that will happen next year and the following years when I will have the freedom to explore some of my interests. This is a time to explore what my own hopes and wants and needs are so that when that new season arrives, I will be ready to begin. This is the year to nurture my last baby as he begins all of these tasks of making the final physical separations, to hold him tenderly as he becomes more independent, to honour the slow start-and-stop process that his weaning will likely be, and for me, to cherish the few remaining days, not just of his babyhood, but of babyhood in our family. This year, 2013, is the year my daughter begins Kindergarten so this is a time to nurture her growing independence and to respect and honour her needs and emotions when that process feels frightening and overwhelming. Lastly, we have many projects that need nurturing before they will blossom. We have our family business to tend, our partnership at the farm to develop, our cabin to finish, our yard and garden to cultivate. There is all that and more in our lives that is ready for nurturing. In this moment I see so much of our family life just like the seedling pictured above. We have planted all of these seeds, and we have watered, and we have waited, and now, the first tentative sprouts are peeking above ground. Now is not the time to forget them, to become busy and distracted. Now is the time for tenderness, for love, for attention, for caring, for forgiveness, for grace, for nurturing. Before I sign off, I wanted to share a couple of posts I came across while working through my annual reflection. Some of the things I’d like to do to nurture myself come from this great list of 10 New Year’s Resolutions You Can Keep (though I think it might be a bit much to try to implement all of them at once) and there are some great ideas for nurturing that...

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Reflecting on 2012

Posted on Jan 8, 2013 in Eliza Brownhome, Featured | 2 comments

Reflecting on 2012

At this time last year I was lying in bed trying to think of my word for 2012 and I was terrified about what the upcoming year held. Sure, I was excited, but I was also feeling a lot of doubt about moving back into the bus with SO MANY CHILDREN. A year ago, this plot of land where I am now sitting was a clearing in a forest on the edge of a dirt road through a farm. This part of the forest was thinner, with fewer trees to remove,  a lot of salal and rocks, and unfortunately, plenty of 60 year old glass bottles. Apparently, this spot had long ago been a dumping ground on the farm. Today, where once salal dripped with rain, there is now a toasty warm 500 square foot cabin joined up to our bus. We moved in to the cabin in November after driving Eliza under a little carport and inching her right up against an open door frame on one side of the cabin. Then Aaron insulated the gap between the two structures, and finished it nicely with a pretty jam, and suddenly our space was doubled. I have been waiting to announce that the cabin was finished and we were moved in because it isn’t really finished. Still so much left to do (details, details), and I didn’t want the pictures to show the boxes, the plywood tub surround, the tarp and lumber outside the front window…but I can’t really sum up this past year without the recognition of what we accomplished. Every year, I spend the last week of December reflecting on the closing year, and visioning for the upcoming year. To see what my practice looks like you can read this. Today I also want to share with you some other nice formats: The Liberated Life Project (similar to mine, but includes option for yoga/meditation AND specific goal setting as part of the practice) and The Art of Non-Conformity (if you’re a little bit more Type A – it has a spreadsheet!). And you can always check out these others that I shared in the past. A year ago, none of this was here. A year ago, I was so worried about how we were going to do it, about how crazy it was. Now? We are once again living in a home of our own creation, on land that is shared, in a situation that feels symbiotic, and with a rent payment that allows us some financial independence. Funny how in 4.5 years we’ve come full circle, to echo the very living situation we were in in Vancouver in my sister’s backyard. The place is different, the people are different, and we are different, but the fundamentals are the same. (Now if only we can get my sister close by). And here’s the thing: despite how hard we have worked, despite how tired we have been, despite the tight spaces and lack of amenities, we have loved this year, particularly the latter half of the year, once we finally moved on site. This year we came home to Eliza, and despite my panic and worry, it went perfectly, and we’ve felt perfectly at home, every minute. Honestly. The word I chose for 2012 was Energize and something I’m discovering about the practice of choosing a word of the year is that I’m far better at summarizing the past year in a word than I am at focusing on a word for the next year. What can I say? I have a short attention span – ahem, which is why I don’t like resolutions. While we certainly poured a ton of energy into our project, we never really felt energized. In fact, a more apt word for 2012 might have been ENDURE. We worked really hard and we made something huge out of nothing, but it was mostly a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other-slog rather an Energizer-bunny-hop. I also fell off the wagon of my Project Energize posts after one post summarizing 4 months. Alas, once May came around and we were...

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2012 in a word

Posted on Jan 5, 2012 in Eliza Brownhome, Featured, Simple Living | 2 comments

2012 in a word

Yesterday, I looked back. Today, I’m looking ahead. And there are big. HUGE. things staring back at me. In addition to the revelation of my word for the year, I guess I have an announcement to make: I’m excited and terrified to announce that Aaron and I have made arrangements to move back into our bus, Eliza Brownhome, this coming summer. We converted and lived in her in the middle of Vancouver for 5 years, part of the time with a baby and a black lab. She’s pretty comfortable and we’re intimately acquainted with life in a small space like that. However, we’ve never done it with 3 very loud kids before. With these kids in the middle of a rainy Wet Coast winter, I often feel that our 1900 square foot rental is too small so I’m really not sure what it will feel like to squish everyone back into Eliza. On that front, I’m feeling some, um, trepidation. However, I’m so excited about how this fits in with our bigger dreams to eventually live rurally, build a house, garden, support local agriculture, create community, reconnect with my sister’s family and centralize home life – that is to say, live, work, learn and play all on the same site. I realize that I haven’t publicly described this vision before so some of this may seem fuzzy to you…but suffice to say, that moving back into Eliza for the summer is the first tangible step in the direction of making our dreams a reality. The initial plan is to do this for the summer and reassess in the fall. The hope is that some of the considerable money we pay in rent will be freed up for investing in our dreams. It will be fun, and exciting, but we’re also facing a lot of hard work to make this happen which brings me to my word for 2012: ENERGIZE. en·er·gize verb /en&#601r j&#299z/ Give vitality and enthusiasm to Supply energy, typically kinetic or electrical energy, to (something) This word came to me late at night on New Year’s Eve, as I lay in bed tossing ideas around. I had considered DO, ACT, ACTION, COMMIT but they all seemed a little heavy, a little bossy. You see, I was looking for a word that would mean just do it, don’t be afraid, quit procrastinating, you can do it, you have it in you, go for it. Even without this bus plan, I have a handful of projects that have been hanging over my head for quite some time: finish the kid’s baby books deal with the clutter spots (closet floor, top of dressers, junk drawers) clean up computer (sort 5 years of digital photos, clear out inbox, purge favourites/bookmarks) back up computer make slideshow/video for Silas’ first birthday finish making a useful household notebook organize all the loose paper recipes laying around And now, on top of those, I have to sort, store and declutter so that we can fit the five of us in 500 square feet. These projects will be very freeing, but they take time and require action and commitment. They can be boring, easy to start dreading and easy to put off. My plan is to assign one project to each month and do it, no more excuses. I like the word energize because: It’s a verb so it suggests action. It reminds me to be enthusiastic about my projects. It encourages me to put in the energy, not to procrastinate. I love the bit about vitality and enthusiasm – it means that with our energy we can bring life to our dreams. There is room for me to prioritize self-care so that I feel energized too. The flip side of our plan to live in the bus again this summer is that we’ve also agreed to help a local farming family with some of their projects, to help make their dreams more attainable and I look forward to bringing our energy, vitality and enthusiasm to their farm. It’s going to be big year. I can’t...

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Looking Back

Posted on Jan 4, 2012 in Featured, Parenting | 1 comment

Looking Back

Last year at this time I was in the middle of my third trimester of a surprise pregnancy. I wanted to spend the last week of 2010 reflecting on the previous year and anticipating the next. I wanted to choose a word of the year. But I just couldn’t get past anticipating how the new baby would change our lives. All I could think about/plan for was the upcoming birth and my fears/excitement about becoming a family of five. I felt like I had just boarded a roller coaster and well, a roller coaster isn’t the best place to write in your journal or have a strategic planning session. I let the planning and reflecting go and I sat back to enjoy the ride (or hold on/white-knuckle it as it were). This year I am again in a mental space that allows me to step back and look at the bigger picture. This year I’ve chosen a word and I’ve been able to look back at the last two years to see the themes and lessons that brought us to today. 2010 began with me seeking a clear vision of my path, and consequently, faith and trust that my dreams were achievable. It was supposed to be a year of planning and moving forward, but we got thrown a curve-ball mid-way through the year, in the form of an unplanned pregnancy. Just like that everything changed: I forgot all about my intentions and plans from January and focused on the baby we would be welcoming. Yet, looking back, I see that the year was still embodied by vision, faith and trust. I had to rewrite my vision of our family and our plans and I again found myself looking for clarity of purpose as I reconsidered my dreams. I learned to trust the process and have faith in myself and my family as I fearfully wondered whether we had the energy to welcome/care for another child. I learned to relax and believe that it would all work out. 2011 ended up being a year of being, of presence. Mindfulness is a bit of a catch word in the last decade and I wish I could say that I consciously chose to be present but the reality is that it just happened. This summer, Aaron and I made the decision that our family was complete and Aaron went in for a vasectomy which meant that 2011 was the last year I will ever be pregnant, or give birth, or hold my own newborn baby against my skin. I spent 2011 reveling in the anticipation and feeling gratitude for the childbearing phase in a woman’s life. I spent 2011 watching my baby grow and trying to soak it up, knowing now, the third time around, how very fleeting it is, knowing that I can’t slow it down, knowing that I won’t experience this first hand ever again. After all the fears and uncertainty and surprise of 2010, we were delighted to welcome Silas into our lives. He has been a wonderful ray of light and sweetness in our family. He balanced us out and healed old wounds and the first 5-6 months with him were so beautiful and—I still can’t believe it—easy. I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have him. The last few months have been harder as sleep became a huge challenge and as a result, 2011 echoed 2009 in being a year of family, a year of being still and getting to know each other, a year of not taking on too much. I even went so far as to broadcast on facebook that we were struggling with sleep deprivation to the point where I was focusing only keeping my kids’ fed and clothed and as such my friends would have to forgive my lack of phone calls/visits. 2011 was about living day-to-day. 2011 was about the moment. 2011 was about now. But here we are: it is January. The days have slipped by. We have a new year. We can see Silas’ first birthday there on...

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Gratitude: the last word on my last pregnancy

Posted on Mar 7, 2011 in Featured | 12 comments

Gratitude: the last word on my last pregnancy

For many years now, I have taken the last week of December and first week of January to reflect on the closing year and anticipate the coming new year. Last year, I even chose a word of the year. I had every intention of doing that again this year but alas, in my advanced stage of gestation, I found that I could not think beyond the task set for me for mid-February: birth. Between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, all I could focus on was preparing for the new baby. My blog was quiet. My life was full. And tiring. So, this year there was no word of the year. But there was a word. The word that continued to bubble up in my mind every week was gratitude. For my pregnancy. For my baby. For the fact that it was my last foray into childbearing. I was grateful for: pregnancy perks: my strong fingernails my shiny & manageable hair gaining weight (I’ve struggled with being underweight since high school) bigger boobs friends and strangers who revelled with me in the anticipation of waiting for a baby to arrive (being pregnant in the winter with bulky coats and sweaters over my belly meant that even at 9 months few people noticed that I was pregnant so I didn’t have a lot of people asking about my pregnancy). the wonder and magic of pregnancy – feeling baby’s kicks and rolls Rain’s utter delight in my pregnancy and growing belly and his excitement as the birth drew near a complication free pregnancy an informed pregnancy (knowing that I could decline diabetes screening and other tests, knowing that I could dialogue with my midwives about our hopes and expectations for the birth, knowing my body and intuitively understanding the process I was going through because I had experienced it twice before) access to midwifery care access to modern medicine like the routine 20 week ultrasound that re-affirmed that our baby was healthy, hospitals & specialists should we need them, and an ever-growing body of research about pregnancy and childbirth a healthy baby an amazing birth team and excellent prenatal care my beautiful pregnant belly Lest you think I am one of those annoying people who have perfect pregnancies with no discomforts, I did have my fair share of complaints. There was the debilitating all-day nausea that plagued me for the first 20+ weeks. There was the nasal congestion that started the first day and just got worse and worse until I was sleeping propped up on 3 pillows, spraying saline up my nose daily and wearing the oh-so-fashionable Breathe Right strips nightly (have you seen what those cost?!?). There was the middle of the night acid reflux – waking up because you have vomit at the back of your throat is not very fun, but it did give another reason for sleeping on 3 pillows. I also have to mention the restless leg syndrome, swollen cankles, bleeding gums, and unmentionables like hemorrhoids. But the worst? The worst was the awful SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) in the third trimester. SPD is caused by the hormone relaxin which softens the ligaments and causes the pelvis bones to begin widening and separating in preparation for birth. The last 10 or so weeks of my pregnancy I could barely walk as I suffered from sharp shooting and grinding pains in my pubic bone and SI joints. Rolling over in bed, getting up from the couch or out of bed (every 1.5 hours for a trip to the bathroom to pee) was agony. The muscles supporting my belly and the weight of my growing baby felt permanently strained. Essentially, I was in almost constant pain for the last trimester. Yet, I was even grateful for all of the pain and discomfort because it gave me the peace needed to accept that this is my last pregnancy. It confirmed for me that I am totally  fine (ok, maybe 90% fine) with never being pregnant again. It reminded me that I am getting older and pregnancy isn’t as easy as...

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