91, each with a story.

My family got our Christmas tree on the weekend.  It’s a bit earlier than we usually do, as December is not yet upon us, but the kids were asking and we had a free weekend afternoon with mild weather, so we took full advantage.  We get a real tree, and we do as city-people do, and trek to one of the local rural Christmas tree farms for the full urban Instagram experience.  Gone are the days of my Albertan prairie childhood, when we would drive country roads and walk through waist-deep snow in search of “the one.”  The opening scene of Chevy Chase’s ‘Christmas Vacation’ comes to mind.  These days, my husband and I do our best to give our kids a new version of that experience, and it’s definitely a Christmas tradition that we all look forward to.

We borrowed my father-in-law’s saw, again part of the tradition, as my husband remembers his childhood Christmas trees being cut down with that particular saw.  I marvel at the changes in our children each year, and remember the early years of babies in carriers and blankets, sneaking in tree-cutting between naps and feeds, worried about the cold and the little legs that couldn’t hike very far.  Now our kids are involved in the whole process, from cutting to carrying, unloading to decorating.  My daughter’s choice of tree got the nod this year, a point of pride for her, and my son placed the star on top.  In fact, once we got it home and in the tree stand, the kids decorated the whole tree by themselves while my husband and I sat on the couch, acutely aware of the fact that we’re in the midst of a wonderful stage of parenting, sandwiched between the emotions of toddlers and the moods of teenagers.

We carefully unwrapped the ornaments from their newspaper homes and laid them on the coffee table one by one.  And as the table filled, we counted: 91, each with a story.

IMG_3149

Each year, I get a family photo made into an ornament.

Many come from my parents, as they give both of my children an ornament based upon their current interests- we’ve got everything from Thomas the Train to Elsa, Captain Phasma to Dora, Harry Potter to the Toronto BlueJays.  When my kids move out, they’ll take their ornaments with them and have a head start on filling a tree of their own.  Many come from my husband’s childhood, the most precious being a tiny stocking from the year he was born.  Some come from gifts from friends, some from Winter weddings, some from school crafts.  But consistently, year after year, the most magical part for me is not the ornaments themselves, but the stories they tell.

We’ve got 91 stories on display;  91 feelings of nostalgia, 91 tokens of gratitude, 91 memories of happiness, 91 reasons to give thanks.

Merry Christmas.

IMG_4041

 


I have Thursday guilt.

I have Thursday guilt.

You see, I don’t “work” on Thursdays, at least not officially, not at the clinic.  In fact, I haven’t worked on Thursdays for many, many years.  And at the clinic, we’ve built our practitioner schedule around that; on that day, my treatment rooms are free for the taking by other staff.  Over the years, the clinic has grown into such a busy place that we’re bursting at the seams, and the reality is that we’re now at a point where I wouldn’t be able to work on Thursdays even if I wanted to, because my rooms are full with other practitioner’s patients.

When my daughter began full-time Kindergarten in 2016, joining her older brother in the all-day-school world, I envisioned lazy Thursdays of long runs and naps, hot coffee and newspapers.  Fast forward more than two years and I think I’ve taken a nap once.  Once in about 112 Thursdays.  Because the reality is, Thursdays are usually my busiest day of the week.  They’re the days that I get groceries, tidy the house, squeeze in appointments for myself, run errands, arrange coffee dates, and do all the things that my other days do not allow; they’re the days that I do life.

But inevitably, when a patient asks to book in on a Thursday, and I reply that “I don’t work Thursdays,” guilt nags at me.  I’m a people-pleaser, by nature or nurture, and it niggles at my brain when I can’t be all things to all people.  A character fault for sure, and one that I’m working on, but part of me wonders what they think when they hear that my work-week doesn’t include a traditional Thursday.  Now, logic will tell you (and me) that I work more evenings than the traditional work-week and more Saturdays than the traditional work-week, but logic doesn’t always win.  Logic will also point out that I have very carefully constructed my practice life to align with my values, and Thursdays off have given me the space to find balance for both myself and my family.  But again, logic can be easily strong-armed by guilt.

Is guilt a mom thing?  A female thing?  Or just a me thing?   Perhaps it’s a bit of all three, rolled up and exponentially powerful, a wasted emotion that has no positive value.

Do I work Thursdays?

I sure do.

(And even if I didn’t, that would be okay too.)

Screen Shot 2018-10-30 at 10.14.02 AM


Thank you for September.

We’re approaching Thanksgiving, so this post is about giving thanks.  More specifically, it’s about giving thanks to my team at work, who do such a great job and who I’m so grateful to have.

We have had a crazy month at Burlington Sports & Spine Clinic.  As you may know, our clinic is a part of the Complete Concussion Management national network of clinics, and as such, baseline concussion testing has become a big part of what we do.  For the last several years, that’s meant that we schedule a couple of September weekends dedicated to conducting pre-season baseline tests of hockey teams.  This year, that meant three full two-day weekends, and well over 400 baseline tests performed.  We collect valuable data on each player to compare against, should the player become concussed in-season, and this allows us to make safer, more reliable return-to-play decisions.  It’s a great program, and we’re happy to be involved with it, but the logistics are demanding, and that’s where the thanks comes in.  Thank you to Emilia, who kept this ship sailing with late Friday nights and long days on Sundays.  Thank you to Dave, who organized and planned and made this all happen.  Thank you to Amber, Kristy, Mike, Damian, and Britnie, who keep the clinic running smoothly while all this “extra” takes place every September.

A big part of my job, and one of the things I enjoy the most, is talking with my patients.  And what I hear again and again, are work stories that make people happy versus work stories that make people unhappy.  Work is a big part of many of our lives, and I’m ever so thankful that I’ve found a crew to make workdays fun.  They say that you’re the sum of the five people that you spend the most time with, and in September, I was the sum of the people at Burlington Sports & Spine.  Thank you for that.

I won’t bore you with the details of the other side of my life in September: the teacher/football coach husband, the back-to-school rush of two young kids, the puppy, and let’s throw a half marathon in there (bad idea), but I will say I’m thankful for it all.  I’m thankful for the choices I’ve made to get me to this point in life, the opportunities I’ve been given, and the luck that’s come my way.

And as I look towards October, I’m thankful for an under-scheduled Thanksgiving weekend and for the chance to restore some balance and take a breath.

thank-you-kids-ThankYou