Snapshots- 7/21/2019

I am grateful for… alternate routes. In the past I’ve been very grateful that work is a short 5 minute commute away. These days it is heartbreaking every time I pass campus – wishing I was there, wondering what’s going on, guilty for inconveniencing others. I’ve driven by numerous times in the past few months, but last week when I discovered I would be driving by it twice a day to drop off/pick up Jo from a day camp down the road, I decided that for now it would be better to take an alternate route on a parallel road, and i’m thankful to have options.

I’m grateful for one of my mentors Jamie, who I met over a decade ago, and that we randomly reconnected earlier this year and how his role as a coach/parent of sporty kids has allowed him to impart some wisdom/understanding of this situation.

I am grateful Clara’s made some strides this weekend with the toilet training. It has been a focus over the past year and more so in early 2019 until things got a bit hairy – now I’m feeling less anxious about her upcoming start to school.

I am grateful Clara is excited to go to school and often will fuss “but I want to go to school!!!”, not understanding the concept of summer break. (Though is rather her not fuss about it for 20 minutes…but I’ll take her eagerness!)

I am grateful for a delicious bbq dinner in our backyard tonight – just the four of us. The weather was perfect – warm with a breeze and surprisingly not too many uninvited flies. Josephine, in particular, relished in her meal with many “Mmmm’s” and moments sitting back in her chair with her eyes closed and a smile on her face. I hope that never changes for her. I wore my sunglasses and hat and thought about how I look forward to when the photosensitivity lessens and I’m less of a “vampire”. 🙂

I am grateful for a day of rest. I have been fighting a cold and stomach bug this week, and when I woke up this morning with a strong headache it seemed wisest to stay at home and rest. I’m glad that was an option.

I am grateful Herb did groceries and ran errands today.

I enjoyed … doing some dollar store water painting with Clara yesterday. She has the cutest pout when she’s focused and concentrating.

I enjoyed spending some quality time with Herb this evening, and laughed when I half-jokingly asked about having a third (for the hundredth time) and, without missing a beat, he shook his head “no” with both an innocence and definitiveness to it.

I enjoyed our house more, seeing less clutter on the floors (after friend help and cleaner help).

I enjoyed catching up with Antonia and her family, and watching our kids play with each other – especially Elise and Josephine, who had many pictures taken together as babies (and many pictures taken again, 5-6 years later).

 

————

I was feeling quite frustrated earlier at some struggles I was having with somewhat straightforward things. I decided to journal in hopes of  rechanneling that energy, leading to a more positive mind frame and restful sleep.

Advertisements

Snapshots – 7/15/2019

Today was a harder today. I followed up with two neurologists and was told I wasn’t accepted as a patient by one in Toronto, and haven’t heard back from the other in London. I spoke briefly with a potential local recovery psychologist that ended up not being a good fit (which also left me feeling a bit down), and the kids were extremely tired and fussy…and we went to see one of daddy’s very rare 6pm hockey games, which was a recipe for disaster with Clara. Oops! Tomorrow will be a very low key and down day.

I am grateful for… determining a psychologist was not a good fit prior to booking them and spending close to $300 (!) and hearing some news about the neurologist referrals so I can start looking into other options.

I am grateful for the privilege of being a mom (despite the tough times).

I am grateful for friends who reached out today – for Stephanie’s regular quickie calls, uplifting emails and pictures today from Dor, Evelyn, Lindsay, Patty, Ingrid and Uncle Rex; countless prayers, an offer to drive Jo to camp (but unfortunately by Don, a man, i.e. a Josephine-repellant, but still very thoughtful), a delicious fajita meal and quick & teary visit with Cara; and take out money from Stephanie – a way to show her love and support when she wants to make a meal but life busyness gets in the way. God truly has blessed and surrounded me with amazing, amazing people.

I am grateful that I am becoming more ok with being vulnerable about my requests for help, even if it includes picture requests.

I am grateful Josephine’s Day 1 at her camp this week went well and that when I asked her what was her favourite part she said “all of it”. I am grateful to have childcare for Clara, when things were looking dicey a few months ago.

I am grateful for discussions with Herb where we both talked about how hard this situation is and both understand that we want to be there more for each other. At this point I can’t be the supportive wife I want to be and he can’t be the supportive husband he wants to be because we are both maxed out – but we still want to be there for each other and still love each other … and when this is the reality of the situation, knowing we each wish we could do more is almost just as good as actually doing more.

I enjoyed … my first float therapy visit – I learned about it in passing from Cait’s blog several years ago – who knew it would be a therapy that would aid my concussion recovery? (apparently it’s medically recognized and recommended in the Netherlands for concussion recovery) It was an interesting first experience that I think would be even more healing with subsequent visits.

I enjoyed using the facilities at the float clinic – from their natural showering potions, their “vanity room” where I took my time to use the curling iron as a treat (which happens once every 4 or 5 years?), to my favourite chai tea in their lobby – it was nice to feel good.

While Clara was a real pain at the rink, it made me laugh when I tried to coax her from the “driving video game” into the rink and she said (in her 3 year old, professional salesperson voice) “Sorry Mom, I can’t! I’m practicing my driving … and practice makes perfect. I really have to go focus now.” Ughhh – so terrible yet so terribly cute, that one.

I enjoyed watching Jo cheer “Go green #16!!” for her dad. Too bad he didn’t see us there until he was almost in the change room! *Wuh wuh*

I appreciated that Jo knew today was a tough day and was thoughtful to think of going downstairs before getting ready for bed to handwash her lunch bag dishes and let me know she did it to try to help and make me happy, before grinning and skipping away. She is empathetic and takes such pride in being thoughtful and caring towards others and I’m happy to be on the receiving end of those gifts.

I enjoyed seeing Herb mid day and bringing him a coffee. Admittedly I had to see him because one of our car seats was left in Sarnia, so I needed to borrow one from his car…but it was nice to see him for a couple of minutes and saved me from visiting a 3rd store to find a replacement.

Our home tidiness slipped a bit today, but it was a busy day and it’s okay to give yourself a bit of grace.

Snapshots – 7/14/2019

I am grateful for … a clean house, thanks to Lori and Alice Ann. How lucky am I to have friends who think of and offer to clean your house when you’re away so you can come back feeling like you’re starting at square one, and not negative 20? It’s been helpful for me to attempt taking bite size pieces, because things  look and feel more manageable.
I’m grateful that I felt up to folding 1/2 a basket of laundry when I needed the basket (vs. my typical pouring it into another laundry basket to be piled up).
I’m grateful that Herb put the girls to bed and got groceries.
I’m grateful for ear plugs and eye masks (and Herb and the tv) that gave me a chance to have a 2 hour nap uninterrupted.
I’m grateful for a nice hot cup of tea that feels relaxing, indulgent and healthy all in one.
I’m grateful that so many share how hard they are praying or how we’re in their thoughts. People’s attention is one of the rarest commodities today, so to even be in someone’s thoughts or intentionally prayed for is so meaningful and such a blessing.
I’m “kinda” grateful for the palatal myoclonus, as it’s a frequent physical/audible symptom/reminder to slow down, be present, and move at a pace that feels right to me right now (despite my subconscious thoughts thinking otherwise).
I enjoyed … playing make believe with the girls (thankfully the Fort included a “bed” that I could sit in while the girls faffed about), letting Clara rinse the dishes and load the washer. I enjoyed supplying Jo with her requested “big box to make a craft” and watching it evolve from a box to a spaceship and seeing Herb join in. Thrifty me also loved that the spaceship buttons came from one of Herb’s old shirts with a rip in it.
2A84C059-7AA7-4FB2-81EE-12D16B972D8A
————
I wonder if and how this incident may impact my career and what God’s plan is for me. On the one hand it feels dramatic to say, but on the other hand (and based on others’ experiences) it’s not unrealistic that it may be the case. The important thing is that in this moment (and hopefully for longer), the idea of this potentially impacting my career is something that if it must happen is something I feel like I can accept and will see where things land.
It feels weird to say I feel okay-ish where I am. Almost wrong…because don’t I want to be better? But want is not the focus. Stay afloat, go to your appointments, follow your medical team’s direction and keep floating.

Snapshots – 7/13/19

I previously posted a series of daily snapshots – numbering them and trying to maintain the same format. It was a way of practicing mindfulness and gratitude (often during difficult times).
After a brain injury in March and many ups and downs in the last several months, there are still many challenges faced and a recovery path that I’m on.
My abilities now are different from my abilities before, so I’m starting fresh, in a way that feels manageable to “new me”. Including, not numbering posts (which is one more thing to process and feel like I’ve put expectations on myself), not setting challenges with updates, and being ok with writing simpler, shorter descriptions. I’m learning that it’s ok to be right where I am, and that I am still a fully human and worthwhile individual, even thought it feels different and my capabilities are different.
———————————
I am grateful for … better awareness of capabilities and when symptoms arise; friends and family who either understand or try to understand the situation; many friends who strive to show their love and support in any way they can, and weird coping mechanisms that help a bit. Like the “nose trick” pictured below recommended by the optometrist, for dealing with highway/driving stimuli (essentially blocking the vision close to your nose). With hat, sunglasses, nose trick and iPod distraction, the ride to the airport was still difficult but no panic attacks – which is absolutely a win.
EC90A9ED-4405-47E1-A449-D104537CBBCF
I’m also very thankful for Suze, who has sustained a brain injury and can share her perspectives and ground me a bit in her advice and experience, when I feel lost and like I’m both failing and flailing. She empathizes and speaks truths in a gentle but firm and matter of fact way that I need.
i am grateful that I had the ability to nap today and that I was able to put away toiletries from our trip, 10 pieces of laundry, and make our bed. I am grateful I could type this and while my brain is working quite hard, that I can find most of the words I want to use.
I am grateful for down-to-earth and loving humans we met on our trip. Herb and I couldn’t sit together on the plane ride there and I had the most amazing seat mates who helped keep me calm, adjusted lights to reduce symptoms, and checked in to make sure I was ok. Friends we made at the resort who were very sensitive and understanding to my aversion to alcohol, flickering lights, and other seemingly innocent things – and made me feel loved and accepted just as I was.
I enjoyed … spending a week with Herb, with no children, no responsibilities and all sorts of flexibility to use my brain power for fun things like aqua aerobics and socializing, knowing I could lie down and be mindless when symptoms sometimes arose. It was absolutely glorious to feel healthy and have the brain capacity to be social, generous, joking and fun. I also enjoyed minimal screen time and being present.
———————————
I’ve found it helpful to think of this brain injury as a bit like being lost at sea. No one chooses to get thrown from a boat and get lost at sea – it just happens. And while you can try your hardest to swim to shore you don’t know which direction it is or how far or how long it will take, so you’re better off conserving energy and floating. Floating, staying calm, staying aware of your surroundings, staying positive but adjusting your expectations and not ruminating in what went wrong or where you wish you were or why this happened to you, but accepting where you are.
Sometimes the waves will be rocky and sometimes they will be calm. Sometimes you’ll be able to swim a few strokes in what seems to be the right direction, but remember that just floating takes effort too. Floating is a worthwhile endeavour and an accomplishment in and of itself that’s worth celebrating – when swimming isn’t an option all you can do to avoid sinking is floating.
For now, floating is the imagery and feeling I’m using to stay present and remind myself to accept and love myself where I am.

Unexpected Beauty

Last week, H & I went to Niagara Falls for a mommy/daddy trip. With his new job it was an opportunity to both celebrate the occasion and also reconnect after months of stress and busy-ness.

Our plans were somewhat predictable – book one of those hotel deals on wagjag, stop by the outlet mall on the way in, go for dinner, use that free $25 casino voucher, check out the falls, have a blissful child-free sleep-in, then meander our way back home the next day.

All went according to plan, except the next morning my body awoke at 6:30am (it’s usual “with child” time). After lying in bed, by 7:15am I came to terms with the fact that the blissful child-free sleep-in was not happening.

I had a goal to incorporate more nature into this trip and, after checking the sunrise time, thought this would be a perfect opportunity to catch the sunrise over the falls, while H finished his sleep-in.

My way down to the falls was a mini adventure in itself – taking a ridiculously roundabout way to get there, chatting with a lovely elderly tourist from Korea, and discovering 2 Tim Horton’s that I hadn’t knew existed in the area.

Once I arrived at the main falls viewing area I was glad to see the sun hadn’t quite appeared yet, and I soaked in the quietness and bliss of being one of 15-20 people viewing the beauty of the falls, sharing this special moment kinda together, but not really together. As I searched out my perfect location a few of us smiled in acknowledgement as we passed each other.

Eventually I found the perfect spot, right in front of the American falls, where the sun crept up over the trees, glowing across the sky.

Niagara Falls Sunrise

The view. A picture doesn’t really do it justice. 🙂

I thought about how many times we’ve visited the falls and how this was that one perfect time where my body naturally woke itself, there was no breakfast buffet to hurry to, and the weather was relatively mild. Then took a moment to pray and give thanks for the beauty I was witnessing.

I opened my eyes and after a few seconds, a gentleman I had passed and smiled at earlier came and leaned on the railing next to me and started chatting. He was in his early-mid 40’s, had kind eyes, a charming smile, facial scruff, slightly taller than me, and was wearing a red and white hat (which reminded me of Where’s Waldo) and a grey hoodie. We talked briefly about the erosion of the falls and he turned to me smiling and said “You sound like you’re a teacher.” As he talked I became acutely aware that he smelled faintly of alcohol, casually took notice of the # of people around me, regretted leaving my wedding rings in the hotel room (one less thing to mug me for!) and thought “oh snap…this could get really awkward, really fast.”

We introduced ourselves (his name was T), shook hands, and shared our line of work – he was a lumberjack – super Canadian. I asked what brought him to Niagara Falls and he shared that he was from London, Ontario and that he was having a rough time in his life so took a little roadtrip. I said I was sorry to hear about his rough time, then (still aware of a potentially awkward situation) I casually shared that I was here, with my husband, on a mommy/daddy getaway while the kids were at their grandparents.

What happened next was fairly unexpected.

He mentioned that he could hear God calling him to walk with Him, but that the devil kept tempting him to do things he shouldn’t do.

And with that opening we spent the next 45 minutes conversing back and forth. He shared about his setbacks in life, his lack of support, his career difficulties, his 2 sons & how he felt he led a double-life and was ashamed of the things he did & hid from his children; his pastor, his passions, his father, his kids, his faith…how his mother had told him he was a waste of life. At times he openly wept, and at times we hugged. He showed me pictures of his beautiful sons and explained their idiosyncrasies. I shared details of my own life and struggles, shared pieces of my faith journey, offered suggestions that I hoped were helpful, but most importantly, listened.

Later, when our conversation turned to the casual topic of “I wonder if we could swim down there?”, and I was super aware of the large tea I had consumed earlier, I said that I should get going and asked if I could pray with him.

So side-by-side, we leaned on the railing, bowed our heads and prayed together, as the sun rose in front of us, over one of the wonders of the world.

44DB7F9C-D1B2-4663-B75C-BE5B1DDBC7A8

Our exact view for those 45 minutes.

As we started to part ways I asked if I could give him my e-mail, and said that he could reach out any time he needed someone to listen (at the same time, I hoped this wouldn’t be a move I’d regret and mentally weighed my urge to love with my risk-averse analyses). With one final hug I told him it was a blessing to connect with him this morning and walked away, with a mixture of emotions. Sad for T’s situation, in awe of the special moment that had transpired, thankful that all the right things were in place for that conversation to happen (I had nowhere else I had to be but there), guilty for the “dilemmas” I faced the previous day at the outlets (e.g. do I really need this pair of shoes or not?)…as well as anxious to find a washroom and slightly concerned that H would wonder what was taking so long (he was still sleeping when I returned).

As I headed back up I realized I hadn’t gotten T’s information, and would’t be able to reach out to him, so headed back down to see if I could find him, but unfortunately he was gone.

It’s been just over a week – and everyday I think and wonder about him and how he’s doing. Everyday I check the e-mail account I gave him, hoping that he’s written so that we can keep the conversation going. I did that nutty kinda thing where you search for them on Google and Facebook with super limited information, typing in things like “T lumberjack London, ON” to no avail. I hope he’s doing okay and, with time, will turn things around.

It was so special to share that morning with T, and I am continually amazed by the life I get to live. “On paper”, there’s nothing remarkable about my career/awards/resume-type accomplishments at this point in my life, but I am continually blessed with unexpected beauty & experiences everyday that leave me feeling lucky to live a quietly extraordinary life.

Found & Lost

(I snaffooed in trying to make this post private – so rather than have it mysteriously show as “password protected” – I decided to just make this one public too. :))

Earlier this week I had an amazing experience. After a meet & greet with J’s new music teacher, I exited the door to someone asking “is this the door to go in?”

When I looked up I saw M – a man I had helped write a resume for 2 years earlier. It was an honor working on his resume as he had significant physiotherapy education and background in child physiotherapy, but was having difficulties conveying it through his resume. This resulted in him taking temp jobs, sometimes out of the city, which was placing all sorts of stresses on his family (including financial ones). I recalled how he regrettably could no longer enroll his daughter in piano lessons, as it was not within their budget.

As I worked with him, and learned more about him I could see what an asset he would be to Kidsability and suggested he apply there.

Imagine my surprise 3 months later when he emailed to let me know he would be starting at Kidsability the next day.

Imagine my further surprise bumping into him, while he was enrolling both of his children in violin and piano lessons, and to learn he had moved to an established neighborhood around the corner. How far he had come from when we first met 2 years ago.

For me, it felt like a message from God to encourage and say “you don’t know how I use you on my plans, but I do use you, and while you don’t understand how or why, your work makes an impact.” Often, more than you will ever know.

 

That evening, I came across the news that one of my favorite artists (and astronauts), Alan Bean had suddenly passed away a few months ago.

I was struck with a true sadness in my heart for our loss, but also felt grateful for another nudge/encouragement from God. The thing is, about 1 year ago I decided to email Alan to let him know what his work and career path (engineer –> astronaut –> painter) meant to me. In someways it was comforting to know that there were others out there who recognized they had amazing gifts to offer, beyond their impressive educated background/experience – and to pursue their callings and God-given talents. Even when others may wonder/mock/comment.

Alan wrote a short but lovely note back to me to share his sincere thanks and best wishes. I was so grateful for the opportunity to let him know what he meant to me, and maybe even make him smile that day, and to know that while I was sad to have lost him that I had no regrets in seizing the day  and letting him know his impact on me.

To me, that day felt like a real affirmation to continue to listen to God’s nudges and take the small steps I can take to improve or positively impact another’s life.

 

Now if I was more on top of it, I would have written this 5 days ago and stopped right there. But today, after a long day, feeling tired from multiple Church commitments, a lunch date with a friend, cleaning, then company over for a casual dinner I ended the night feeling a bit empty and, quite frankly, a bit lost.

I was confused. Just yesterday I shared with H how happy I was and how our home life and relationship had improved with my shift in focus from career to family. We had an *amazing* day – kicking things off with a 6:30am “PJ Hike” in a forested trail in our neighborhood, Tim Horton’s breakfast, completing errands, visiting an old friend with a new baby, visiting my parents and capping it off with some more errands and to do’s crossed off our list (including getting C a necklace matching J’s). With the finale of retreating to bed early for reading. Truly – I could not have asked for more.

 

Yet here I am today not feeling like I am “enough”. I think its because our company shared some job changes both they experienced and mutual friends experienced. While I was very happy for my friend (who had been contemplating a job, after being off for a year) it almost seemed like I envied these new adventures with higher pay cheques coming their way. It almost seemed like the affirmations I received earlier this week were just “meh”.

 

But as I reflect – I remember our sermon this morning. And how one of the messages was about how those people who are focused on their God-given purpose do not have time to be “kings over others” (which I interpreted as having fame, fortune, and brag-worthy things/titles). But are too busy focusing on their purpose and using their talents as God intended. Its easy to get sidetracked and want shiny new experiences/titles/things. But when I remember my purpose – to let those who don’t feel seen feel both seen and loved…to know that they matter…and when I remember the small actions/steps I take to continue that work, it seems pretty foolish to have allowed/convinced myself that I was less than others. That I wasn’t enough.

 

In God’s eyes, I am always enough, and I am always worthy of His love…yet I am always encouraged and reminded that I am capable of doing more to be His hands and feet…right here, right now.

 

 

 

 

I Overthought It…

It’s been about 3 months since I last wrote, and when I reflect on why there’s a gap, I realized there were a few reasons why I hadn’t written:

  1. I endeavored to have a slow summer. So much so, that I wrote an e-mail to my “e-mail update”/coffee date/lunch date friends to say I wasn’t going to make any plans for the summer and wouldn’t really be replying to e-mails. After a year of doing too much, I realized I needed to temporarily say no to some things, to give me a chance to refocus on my sleep and priorities. Getting run down wasn’t doing anyone any favours.
  2. Family time. Over the summer I shifted my hours to spend mornings with my daughters, then work while they were at daycare for lunch and naptime. It was great to have time for crafts, museum trips, baking, park visits, porch picnics, and creative programs at the library. No regrets, for sure. But this also meant I rushed to work after dropping them off, rushed from work to pick them up, and was not very planful or prepared for dinners (there were a few questionable meals that I threw together using random ingredients in the fridge! I raised my own eyebrows at myself when I made Asian stirfry using Italian spaghetti :P). By the time bedtime rolled around I was pooched, frustrated from meltdowns and mishaps, and not up for anything more than some mindless tv or reading.
  3. We did a 2 week road trip. While it wasn’t part of the plan for a slow summer, we have a relative in Nova Scotia whose health has been declining over the past few years and while it was unplanned (both time-wise and budget-wise) we knew we would not regret taking the opportunity to visit and make memories…but that we would regret it, if we didn’t visit before it was too late. This meant lots of research and prep. Some prep was for what we would see, but it was mainly planning for toys/distractions, meal plans (to keep them reasonably healthy and reasonably within budget!), and how to schedule our 19 hour car ride (over 3 days to get there and over 2 days to get back). With all that planning, it left little mindspace for other things.
  4. I overthought it. I’ve had a lot of personal growth over the past year and done more things than I ever imagined – as small as making bread and granola bars from scratch for the first time (I found yeast scary!) to other more significant and spiritualchallenges. There would be times I thought of a topic to write/reflect on/celebrate, but then I thought “mm, this is really just something I want to journal for myself…” and wouldn’t write, because sometimes when you’re celebrating things, depending on the reader’s perception, it can come off not as you intended. I overthought it (which, in my “About” section, was something I said I wouldn’t do!).

I’m all about change, trying something different, seeing how it works, and changing it again to see if a tweak or different direction works better.

I initially started the blog to give myself a creative outlet, a place to reflect, and an opportunity to connect with others. As readership grew I focused more on “what am I experiencing and how would sharing this experience help others?”. And now, I’m back to the original intention of tracking my memories and writing for me to look back on and share with my daughters. So for now, I’ve decided to stick to writing just for me.

And, of course, this could change again in time! 🙂 (p.s. I still need to figure out the technical part of how to make future posts private, so if I flub some of the first few, subscribers might see something again!) But for now, this feels right.

Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for sharing your support, experiences, and encouragement.

Until next time! 🙂

Tiffany