The Game of LIFE

I’m more productive when I’m busy.  I work well with deadlines and tight timelines and quick turnarounds.  Too much idle time gives my Type-A mind time to feel bored, ineffective, and squirmy.  I work best with goals and to-do lists.  And yet….

I need downtime.  Every day.  Even if it’s five minutes with my book in a quiet room or ten minutes on my yoga mat.  I need time for reflection and introspection and time to just “be.”  The introverted side of me craves this.

As a parent, I’m trying to identify these types of needs in my children early on, so that I can help them find ways to manage their emotions, their coping skills, their lives.  I already see that my eight-year-old son also needs daily decompression time, and I protect that time for him fiercely; he’s the best version of himself when he’s had time to regroup and recalibrate.  My five-year-old daughter seems to be able to roll with the punches a bit more, similar to my husband, and go with the flow, even if the flow is really busy.

thegameoflifeThis past weekend was a crazy one for us.  Over-scheduled and over-booked, Saturday was a day of running from one place to the next.  But Sunday was the opposite- it was one of those days at home that I love so much- puttering around the yard, playing in the backyard, tidying the house.  Just “being.”

I’ve written about things like this before, so I’ll re-post a little bit of what I’ve already shared with you, in the hopes that you’ll relate to a part of my message:

“Lately I’ve been talking to my children about “who they are.”  We’ve been chatting about things they like, things they don’t, things that are/aren’t important to them, and their hopes and dreams.  I’ve been trying to give them the verbiage of introspection, to open up their childhood minds to the language of what characterizes them, and makes them proud to be unique and special.  To be themselves, whomever those selves may be.

For now, my job is to give them opportunities to learn.  I see each exposure to something new as a chance for personal growth.  That’s why we spend our Summers traipsing around Southern Ontario and our Winters at every event within an hour’s drive.  We go to see monster trucks and rodeos and conservation areas and waterfalls and baseball games and theatres and ceramic studios and Teen Tour Band concerts and beaches and outdoor rinks.  We show them the world and try to help them figure out their role in this wonderful community of life.

I posted this on my Facebook Page a few days ago: “I really think a happy life is about balancing all of your favourite things.  Lower the stressors you have control over and prioritize the things that you love.”  And how are they to know the things that they love if I don’t give them the tools to discover that?

“Happiness results from the possession or attainment of what one considers good.”

And it seems to me that if you figure out your good, you will figure out your happy.”

The Game of Life rolls on…


A Wrapping Cabinet

I have a wrapping cabinet.  And it brings me so much joy.

What’s a wrapping cabinet, you ask?  Well, a wrapping cabinet is just that; a cabinet that houses gift-wrapping supplies.  My wrapping cabinet has a hanging shelf for giftbags of various sizes and occasion, coloured tissue paper, ribbons and bows, and enough space for several rolls of wrapping paper to stand.  It’s in our basement,  in the corner of the room, with a large, open area of carpet beneath it.  I have boxes of greeting cards, gift tags for every holiday, and even bacon-printed wrapping paper.bacon-wrapping-paper-3736-1287950355-58

These supplies are things that I’ve accumulated over the years, and yes, I am that person that folds all the tissue paper that comes with the gift bags I receive at Christmas and birthdays, and re-uses it again, wrinkles and all.  I am nothing if not ecologically thrifty.  But the part I love the most about my wrapping cabinet, the part that brings me the most joy, are the thoughts I have about the person for whom the gift is for.  I value my relationships above most other things, and I find giving to be a great way to outwardly express my love for the people in my life.

Now, I’m certainly not talking about spending wads of money and being extravagant and excessive.  I’m talking about sending the perfect card for the perfect occasion or finding the perfect offering for the perfect person.  I take great pride in gift-giving and card-writing, and often buy things months in advance, knowing they will make the eventual recipient very happy.  I’ve been known to mail care packages halfway around the world, spend more on shipping than the gift itself, and send birthday cards week ahead of time.  It’s the act of giving, the thoughts behind giving, and the emotion involved in giving that makes me so happy.

I love to sit in front of my wrapping cabinet with a cup of coffee and a pen, and find the words to convey my thoughts onto a 5×7 birthday card.  And I’m definitely better at communicating through the written word than I am the spoken word (hence this blog), so perhaps that’s why I love it so much.  I’m able to say what I really mean, and channel the strength of my emotions.

Wrapping cabinets are good for the soul.  Trust me on this one.

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Be Yourself, For Yourself

Running makes me cry.  Exhaustion makes me cry.  Come to think of it, a lot of things make me cry.  I’m an emotional sort.  I’ve been known to sob mid-Crossfit workout (you didn’t know that, did you, 6am crew?), and wail over Facebook videos of elephants reuniting and Johnson & Johnson commercials.  Oh, my poor husband.  And here, for your viewing pleasure, is the most unflattering ugly-cry picture that I could find in my preparation for this blog post:

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This picture was taken just after I’d finished the Toronto Marathon in 2002, which subsequently qualified me to run the Boston marathon.  My qualifying race happened at a very pivotal time in my life- I had just moved to Toronto six weeks prior, not knowing a soul, and I set my sights on seeing the city through my long training runs, with the ultimate goal of running a Boston-qualifying time that October.  The first week of September came and went, and I was immersed and swallowed up into the intensity that is Chiropractic College.  I made fast friends, and those friends rallied around me and supported me like true friends do, even hosting a carb-loading potluck for me, and crawling out of bed on a cold Sunday morning to watch me cross the finish line and cry, cry, cry.

April 2003 rolled around, and Boston came and went.  The actual race is a blur for me; I was too high on adrenaline and I-can’t-believe-this-is-actually-happening to take it all in.  But I remember the hills, I remember the sunburn, and I remember scanning the finishing stretch on Boylston Street for my parents, who had stood five people deep for four hours just to catch a glimpse of my dream coming true.  And it was a dream come true, as it is for many distance runners- the ultimate goal, the Shangri La of races.

After that, I ran a few more marathons.  Five in total, actually, until I realized that my desire to slog through 26.2 miles was waning.  I embraced the half-marathon, where my brain and body seemed to find a better fit.  Then I finished school, got married, started my practice, and had my babies.  And I ran through it all.  A jogging stroller is my must-have, my running wardrobe is ridiculously large, and pre-dawn runs are still common.  But running has become less I-have-to and more I-need-to; I need to feel the air in my lungs, I need to hear my feet on the ground, I need to do my very best thinking.

And now there’s another I-need-to: I need to show my children passion.  For me, that passion manifests in running.

But whatever your passion is, I hope the people around you can see it.

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My three-year-old daughter and I sat together yesterday and watched the elites cross the finish line.  I tried to explain that “Mommy ran that race” and “Grandma and Grandpa came to watch.”  She asked me if she can “get big, and run that race too?”  “I’ll do it with you Mommy,” she said.  “No, I’ll do it myself,” she reconsidered.  And then she jumped off the couch and ran through the kitchen, in her sparkliest shoes and brightest pink tights, and showed me how she can “do it myself.”

Exactly, sweet girl.  Find your passion and follow it.  Be yourself, for yourself.