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While I was away, this funny thing happened which, admittedly, used to happen with greater frequency but has kind of stopped over the last years. I paid attention to myself.
Yes, yes, I pay attention to myself, but, like, in that I have health issues that demand attention. When on holiday, particularly when travelling without one’s family, who else do you have to focus on…but you?
Flash back about five years. I was in peak health. I had joined a gym, befriended the owner and had a personal trainer. I looked great. I felt great….physically. The problem was that I was all about how great I looked. I let a lot of relationships slide, including the one I had with myself. Because outwardly I was looking amazing and yes, I was very much enjoying grabbing something off the rack from the “regular” section of the store and knowing it would fit before I even tried it on, but, I was also in denial about a lot of internal struggle. And I needed to turn my spotlight back on my family.
So I did.
And then we moved east, and I spent a year looking for work and cooking and baking. And eating. And then of course Shawn’s health took a sharp nosedive and then so did mine.
A year of steroids and treatments and mandatory feet/ankle rest and, well, if you read the blog you know the rest. I gained a lot of weight. Yet the irony was, in ALL other aspects of my life, I was the happiest I have been in years. I found a job I love, made friends, became a proactive part of a new community, and basically started enjoying life again. I was heavier, sure, but that wasn’t the main focus of my being anymore. I lived in yoga pants, jeans and hoodies anyway. And all that mattered was that my husband and kids loved me.
Packing for my trip out west, I took along a bunch of clothes I hadn’t worn in a while. Because I knew that I had nights out, and a lunch with coworkers and plans that required me to dress up a bit. And I packed my makeup because, well, I *was* going to a wedding after all. But without kids to organise and a husband to keep me busy I only had me. So I spent time. And, I gotta say, I was really happy with how I looked. I felt like a more polished version of me. It was great. I texted my friend Dana that I looked good out West and sent her outfit pictures.
On my last day of holidays, Allison and I went out to run a couple of errands and, being early for one of them, we stopped at a store for plus sizes. I had never gone into my branch of it at home. I was still clinging to that memory of being an off the rack size. (Here’s the thing, when I put something on, in my head, I see myself wearing it in my old body so sometimes I get upset when I see how it looks on my current body)
Something dawned on me that day though, trying on clothes with Allison. If I let go of the number on the label and just put on something that fit, and fit me well, I looked great. I felt great!
So, I bought a pair of jeans. Then I came home, went to my branch of the same store, and bought another pair of jeans. And a top. And a vest.
Then I went home and looked at my closet. Big, heavy sigh.
I am a clothes hoarder. No, maybe it’s not that bad, but, I hang on to stuff with the idea that ONE DAY, I’ll get back into it again. It’s been five years. And even with the great new clothes that fit me well and with taking that bit of extra time again to ensure that I was putting a little effort in like I did out West, when I saw the things I had once loved that no longer fit me, the sadness crept back in.
Well, I don’t want to feel that anymore. It was time to get rid of the “I have a dream” section of my closet.

Saturday we took the kids into the city for the Buskers on the Bay festival. We spent morning to mid-afternoon watching the acts and then scooted home so our middle daughter could get to work on time. Kids scattered, hubs went to play his new video game and I went upstairs armed with an empty garbage back and a determination, albeit a slightly nervous one.
It was like ripping off a band aid. I started in the closet. There were skirt suits and dresses. A lot of them like new, and beautifully made. I posted those online in a “buy nothing” group so that some other local woman could get the benefit of my previously expensive taste. As I suspected, everything I posted was gone by mid day Sunday. But the closet wasn’t enough. I started in on my dresser. And my shoes. If it didn’t fit, it went. At first I was sentimental and sad, but as the chore went on, it got easier and easier. And then I started to feel really good. Everything left fit, fit well, I liked it and it looked good on me. Why hadn’t I done this YEARS ago? No more would I open my closet and immediately feel fat and regretful. Now I felt empowered and awesome.
My husband thought this was a good idea so we spent a few hours on Sunday doing his closet as well. And cleaning the room. Amazing how much clutter can build up without really being noticed.
I feel lighter today. I woke up and every option I saw was an actual option.
The only downside? Now I am noticing that the linen closet needs a purge. And the living room. And the kitchen. The joys of homeownership.

I took a vacation. I went to an amazing wedding and met with wonderful people and stayed with an absolutely beautiful friend. And I kind of found myself a bit. And I remembered that I like who I am.

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A while back I bugged, cajoled, whined, and sucked up my way into ballet shoes. Which, let’s face it, I was perfectly capable of ordering for myself, but, it’s more fun when I can act like a cat and talk the hubs into ordering for me. Which he did. He also ordered me some soft shoes, in black and in red, which came in this week. I am so happy!
Last year, when I was first diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, a lot of things happened and not really any of them good things. My feet and ankles swelled, a lot. Walking was painful for a long time. I had to go on a course of steroids, causing weight gain (ugh, yes again) and then I had a second, and third bout with Sarcoidosis causing more medications, more weight gain, more places in my body it decided to rear its ugly head. At the end of the calendar year, I had permanent scarring in my lungs, asthma, and feet that never really did go back to their normal width. Which meant, that when these beautiful shoes arrived, they are all, every pair, a bit too narrow for my feet. I mean, I can wear them, but they’re tight. The old me would likely have crumpled into a diva-like state of woe. Not me. Not me today. I’m in such a good place in my life right now.
I made a joke to a friend of mine the other day about wrapping my feet in plastic everyday until they become narrower (don’t worry, it was a joke) but, the truth is, I’m just moving more. I’m dancing in my living room and my kitchen and all over my house. I’m singing out loud, sometimes beautifully, sometimes badly. I’m laughing. I’m having fun! I find that the more I move and the more I dance and the more I let go of negatives in my life, including negative people, the better I feel. The more I want to dance!!!
I will get into those shoes properly eventually. I will keep wearing them and stretching them out in the meantime.
And I will keep on dancing.

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As November quickly winds down and December shows that it will, as it does every year, fly in and through the days faster than any of us are ready for, we find ourselves in the position of analyzing our Holiday wants and wishes once again.

When the children were young the holidays, as an entity, were relatively easy. Shop for pressies, Christmas socks (of course), some new clothes, toys and maybe a few movies. Small children are fairly simple to buy for. And the delights on the morning of were always something great to see.

But, our kids are so much older now. We are so lucky, if they need something, we can almost always provide it. If they want something, well, we can usually take care of that as well, within reason. So the much discussed Christmas wish list has become more of a lot of hmmm’s and I don’t know’s. Oh sure, they want bigger and better things but they know it’s unreasonable, no matter how well we do, for three teenagers to expect a laptop each for the holidays. It just ain’t happening.

So we talk. What do we all want? Well, we’d like to spend loads of time together, we’d like to be in our kitchen a lot cooking and baking. And, we’d like to see family. And of course, Christmas socks and oranges in the stockings. That’s about it.

We live a pretty good life, all things said and done and the older the family gets, the less the holidays are about ‘things’ and the more they are about each other and making new memories.

So, ahead of the Holidays, I’m not stressing too much about getting my shopping done. Because this year, as in the last few years, it’s much more to do with quality of time than quantity under the tree.

And that’s just fine with me.

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I quit smoking last year.

The thing that I used to refer to as “my one vice”.

Much to my mother’s chagrin, I am sure, I started smoking when I was 14. Call it curiosity, call it pure rebellion, call it what you will. I still remember that very first time. I was babysitting, of all things, and I was down in the basement putting some dirty clothes in the laundry room when I noticed a makeshift ashtray made out of tinfoil with a few butts in it. They were mostly smoked down to the filter but one was crinkled up and still had a good quarter of the cigarette left. Clearly, I thought, he was hiding this habit from his wife, his kids or both. So, there would be no one to tell if I took that crinkled up old cigarette. So I did. I stuck it in my pocket and grabbed a book of matches from the pile they kept near their barbecue and on my way home, I smoked it.
I remember being really intrigued by the taste, while coughing as my baby lungs were assaulted. And that moment of intrigue led to 25 years of on and off smoking.

Sure, I managed to quit each time I was pregnant, it’d be pretty shabby of me if I hadn’t. But always something would happen that would propel me back to it. Unfortunately.

And then there was the other big problem I had with smoking. I really loved it. Honestly, I always enjoyed the taste, I loved the way it calmed me down. I loved that it was a break in my day, a reason to go outside. The social aspect of it. I just loved it.

And then I got into my late thirties and I started to resent it. I resented all the money it took, I resented how I became a crazy person about people stealing my lighters. I hated that I felt like a slave to it sometimes. So, Shawn and I tried to quit. Last August we bought e-cigarettes and started “vape-ing” as they put it. It was a weird substitution and it was a hard transition. I know that we bought had secretly bought real smokes and were sneaking them from each other when we were at our jobs.

But then Shawn had his heart attack and it was clear that one of the factors was his smoking habit. 25 years of a pack a day will do that to you. So, I asked the kids at the time, who always hated me smoking anyway, to please just give me a week. Just a week, to deal with all the upheaval and emotions of their dad being in the hospital, and I promised I would put them down for good.

It took me two weeks.

But I did it.

And now it’s been a year.

For the first months, it was hard. Every time I smelled it, or walked through a cloud of smoke in the uptown I would crave it, hard. But then I would walk next to someone who clearly smoked for years, in their house, in their car, and their whole being was perfumed with old, stale cigarette smell and I would nearly gag at the intensity of it. Those were the times I was glad I was done.

And now here I am on this side of a year, not craving it, not even missing it. It’s one of the best things I’ve done in my life in recent years and I’m thankful that I got through it.

Now, I know those of you who are still smoking have all the same reasons I did for keeping the habit. It calms you, reduces stress, helps curb your appetite, etc etc. And yes, I know you all know the health risks. All smokers know this, so I won’t bore you with it again. But I will encourage you to quit. Just take a look at the people around you. Don’t you want to be here for them? Because I do. And if you don’t want to, or you’re not ready, then don’t. Seriously. You can’t make someone be ready to put them down. I tried for years. For my kids, for my friends. It was only when I did it for me that I could actually make the change.

I’m happy to be celebrating this anniversary. And I’m happy that it means that I’ll be around a little longer for other anniversaries just because I was able to do this.

Happy One Year to me!

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Yes.

Someone posted this saying as a meme in a group I’m in and I re-posted it on my wall on Facebook. It’s probably one of the best things I’ve read in a LONG time when it comes to self-care and making sure you aren’t working as hard as others at hurting yourself. And I think a lot of us are guilty of this. Especially when it comes to specific relationships. We allow whatever good or loving feelings we’ve had or have for someone to gloss over their bad and hurtful qualities and unfortunately, sometimes it opens the door for the same people to hurt us over and over again.

I have definitely fallen victim to this. I’d much rather not have people mad at me (or act mad at me or tell me they’re mad at me) than do what’s right and walk away from someone toxic. I get scared for how people will react when they hear (and yes, people talk, so people always hear about it) that I allowed myself to be used, bruised and hurt by someone. As if I am the one who should be ashamed. And that’s outrageous.

Many, many moons ago, I was seeing someone. This person was…well, not free to be “dating”. You know, seeing as this person was already in a relationship. But…I allowed them to walk all over me, hurt me, convince me to engage in behaviors that would not be my natural inclination. Because of this awful situation, a lot of people wound up hurting. It was ugly. And yet, I spent another year trying with all my might to justify what happened and make excuses. Why? Looking back now with A LOT more clarity and wisdom, I can say, well, I was dumb. And duped. And kind of gullible.

But here I am today, stronger, wiser, happily married and not caring at all about that person.

I bring this up not to hash up stuff from the past best left there, but to make a point, especially to my girls. Because I really think we women are FAR more guilty of this than men. Here’s my point, my lovely daughters: if someone has hurt you, stop thinking you can excuse their behaviour. Don’t tell yourself that it’s your fault for that thing you said or that thing you did. It’s not. Be confident that you are a magnificent being and you deserve someone who will treat you as such. Hold your head high and know that you are worthy of decency, consideration and kindness. Take that knowledge with you everywhere you go in your life. Live well, love hard, and let go of those who are not able to see you for the glorious woman that you are. I loved you hard so that you would know what it looks like. Remember that.

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Morning:
1. Get up
2. No seriously, get up. It’s hard to go through your day from in bed.
2 1/2 *wouldn’t it be great though? That floating bed from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Eat from bed, drink from bed, work out from bed, go to work from bed. Ahhhhhh
3. Okay, quit it. Get up.
4. Bathroom, brush teeth, yoga pants and tank top. My working mom’s uniform
5. Navigate hallway of teenagers yo-yo-ing in and out of the hallway bathroom
6. Downstairs for breakfast. Mine and dogs. Feed dogs. Feed face.
7. Fill water bottle and go back to bed.
Sleep?
No.
Damn.
8. If it’s a writing day, do some writing. If not, fart around on social media
9. Check emails
10. Don’t get distracted by YouTube. Don’t get distracted by YouTube. Don’t get distracted by YouTube.

Lunch:
1. Go back to kitchen.
2. Look at bowls and mess from breakfast/kids making lunches.
3. Think about cleaning
4. Don’t.
5. Make lunch. Talk to dogs. Be both my own side of the conversation and theirs. Use voices for dogs.
6. More water
7. Let dogs out again. Spend ten minutes trying to convince Katie to come back inside while she stares at me from fifteen feet away, totally not coming back in.
8. Work out
9. Sweat balls
10. Shower

Prep:
1. Time to get into fresh yoga pants and tank.
2. Clean kitchen
3. Plan dinner
4. Kids come home, listen to three teenagers simultaneously talk about their day
5. At least ONE of these kids will bitch about dinner choice. Ignore
6. Make awesome dinner. Seriously, that shit goes on Instagram.
7. Eat. Drink more water.
8. Time for television guilty pleasures depending on the night
9. Maybe some wii golf
10. Go to bed, can’t sleep, watch boyfriend Netflix until 1:30 or 2am
11. Sleep

Repeat.

My list of alternate sub-ins (to be used at my own discretion)

1. Sing show tunes or radio tunes at the top of my voice.
2. Be baffled that I was never offered a role on broadway
3. Watch YouTube videos of fav dance routines from movies
4. Try to learn them.
5. Paint my nails. Seriously, that shit goes on Instagram
6. Take my workout outside and go for a walk
7. Re-live previous “debates”, not arguments, in my head and have way wittier responses
8. Scenario act out conversations, or “debates” that never happened, in my head of course
9. Fantasize about what life would have been like if I had moved to Hollywood and been a movie star
10. Read
11. Blog
12. Nap

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I find it almost impossible to get any decent writing time in during summer. The kids are home all day with me and although they are all teens and older now and would completely understand my ditching them in favour of my laptop, they are actually really cool to be around and I like spending time with them. I like more, the fact that they still like my company and as they are all careening towards adulthood and their own lives with a speed that staggers me, I’d like to hang on to this willingness to “do stuff with mom” for as long as I can. I had a little reminder last night in the form of a message from an old friend just how fleeting that time can be. My own teen years seem like they were simultaneously seconds ago and an entire age away from me.

That being said…

Come September 8th my youngest baby joins his sisters in high school and my middle child embarks on her final year. I have two kids in their twenties now. One who no longer lives at home. Ash is off to university next year. The house is becoming exponentially empty.

So, as my wee littles who are no longer either wee or little set their paws upon the path of education and activities once again, so too will I return to my other sweet love. My keyboard.

I have let it all slide this summer, but, I have two books to finish come fall and I’d like to have at least one of them ready to release by Christmas. It’s a lofty goal, but I think I may just be able to pull it off.

I can’t wait to get back to it.

Bring on September. I have typing to do and worlds left hanging in the balance to right and release from my imagination.

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