2019 Check In

 

Well, we are almost half way through February but honestly it feels as thought 2019 has been here forever.  Anyone else feel that way? I usually don’t relate a lot to January being the longest month of the year but this year it really felt that way! Despite that, I think we had a pretty good month around here.  Nothing huge or spectacular but nothing memorably terrible either – so that’s a win!

Health wise my back seems to be progressing in the wrong direction, but I’m feeling at peace with my health team.  I’ve also been doing a lot of my own research on possible solutions (there’s not really any, and nothing is straightforward) and physicians who are more specialized in Marfan syndrome (the condition that predisposes me to all these issues).  Though my research hasn’t led me anywhere that gives me more hope, it’s helped me secure my feelings of peace about the physicians who are already working on my case.  In the last two weeks I’ve also become uncomfortable with my sedentary lifestyle that has been necessary but that has contributed to weakness and muscle loss as well as a 20 pound weight gain.  I’ve expected weight gain from the beginning but I was already 20 pounds heavier than my most comfortable weight when this all started so another 20 pounds on that makes my body feel much more uncomfortable to me.  Of course my diet has also been a huge contributor to the weight gain.  I’m not sure if there’s anything I can do about the sedentary lifestyle but I’m giving some serious consideration to increasing my pain medication frequency to accommodate some light exercises.  I’m also trying to make small changes to my eating habits – limit my after supper snacking, eating more salads and drink more water are the ones that come to mind right now.  Food has been difficult during this time because aside from my back issues I’ve also had a lot of GI issues popping up that we’ve been trying to deal with and figure out.  Loss of appetite, intense heartburn, and food aversions have been the biggest issues that has led to poor food choices just to get some food into my body.  Some of those have gotten significantly better so it’s time to COMMIT to making some changes to my habits.

In terms of my one little word and goals I have for 2019 I feel as though I’ve made a pretty good start.

  • In January I read 2 books (goal is to read one book per month): The Knitting Circle by Anne Hood and Educated by Tara Westover.  I recommend both, they were easy reads and really good stories.
  • For self care I got out of the house for an entire evening for some much needed girl time.  It was perfect and I’m so glad my husband nudged me to go when I was feeling doubtful that I should.
  • I have also made some clothing purchases! This is huge for me because spending money on clothes has been really hard for me to do in the last several years.  Making sure that I’m buying as much ethical clothing as I can has made me a lot more mindful of how and what I purchase.  Instead of just going out and checking items off my list to get it over with, which is what I would have done in the past, I am researching and thinking about decisions for days (sometimes weeks) before making a purchase.  Given that these items are much more expensive than fast fashion items I’m also going to be trying to take advantage of discount codes and sales which makes the process slower as well.
  • I have yet to get started on any new hobbies which actually makes me irritated with myself.  I have everything I need to start sewing and for some reason (fear of failure? Not wanting to go through the learning curve? Wanting things perfect on the first try? Having no one to hold my hand? All of those things most likely) I haven’t yet started.  I’ve made a lot of excuses that are truly not valid, so it’s time to just COMMIT.
  • The transition to plant based has been up and down.  I’ve tried more vegan products and meals and have enjoyed them but I’m not making any huge drastic changes (see above paragraph haha) beyond picking up new vegan food items each time I go to the grocery store.  I know it’s a long drawn out process but it seems more sustainable to me than doing an all or nothing approach.
  • One thing that’s not on my goals list (because every year I add it and every year I fail miserably) but that I’ve finally made the jump and COMMITTED to is a budget. This will probably be a whole other blogpost but I’m feeling really good about it and feeling much more in control and at peace with my finances and it’s only been a couple weeks!

OK, this is a lot longer than I anticipated! I don’t know if I can keep up a monthly check in but I think there is value in taking some intentional time to look at where I am versus where I want to be.  Seeing the small steps I’m already taking is encouraging and takes away some of the overwhelm I often feel when thinking about big goals.

Tell me how your 2019 has been going!

Live in the Grey

Hi friends! I want to tell you a story, it’s long and it’s mostly because I need to do a little more processing but here it is.

Yesterday I stumbled upon an Instagram post of someone expressing their disgust with the recent news of New York’s change of law on late term abortions. Initially I skimmed and internally nodded my head in agreement because I generally don’t believe in abortion (this isn’t a post for or against abortion stay with me). Then against my better judgement I opened the comments and started reading. When I did that I drug myself into an entirely different world. A world that seems to be full of black and white views, hate, and lack of empathy just to name a few (on both sides of the topic). I was immediately thrown into the grey of the subject, the extraordinary circumstances, the what if’s, and the buts because I used to be a very black and white person but along the way I developed a realization that love lives in the grey. The grey is very uncomfortable though. The grey says I don’t really believe what you are doing is right and it might go against every single core value I possess but I understand why you did that(said that, believe that etc). Don’t get me wrong, there are still many many topics and situations where this is so so hard and seemingly impossible for me to do, but I do think that if we can throw ourselves into the grey areas of life we will find that love lives there. Also, hear me when I say this: Living in the grey does not mean you don’t take a stand for what you are convicted of, it only means putting away your need to fix something or argue someone to your side and instead saying “I love you anyways.” Jesus definitely had black and white views but also definitely lived with people in the very messy middle grey area and that’s the kind of person I want to be.

Now here’s the other part of the story:

Last night I was fortunate to get a girls night out for a really good friends birthday. We were discussing TV and I mentioned how my sensitivity to news and the terrible things happening in the world has grown to the point that I find it difficult to even read a news article. I mentioned that I didn’t feel like I NEEDED to know everything happening in the world. My friend responded by saying she had felt the same but is now becoming aware that maybe she should know so that as a Christian she can join in a solution (this is highly paraphrased). Enter the abortion post, I used the example of that abortion post because of the initial way it had made me feel – anxious and upset. Then we had a long discussion about it, the ins and outs. I took the devils advocate side I think because of my knee jerk reaction to the hate I had been reading in the post. It was a very civil, respectful discussion but I could not get it out of my head. I’ve been thinking about it ever since and more than anything I’ve been thinking about how as humans we need community. We need community to help us hash out these hard parts of life, to help us process our own internal battles. Without that discussion last night I would have let myself dwell in the toxic feelings of others. I would have become upset and then put it out of my mind without properly processing how I actually felt about it. It is because I felt I had a safe space to verbally dump my brain even though most of what I was saying wasn’t actually how I truly felt that I could then have a clearer mind to think about and wade myself through the messy middle. Community is so so necessary and it’s something I’ve been missing for a really long time (for many reasons but myself being the biggest obstacle). Yesterday was vital for me to realize that as amazing and incredible the online community I have is, I still need a real life, face to face community and I think we all do.

Moral of the story?

Love people in the messy middle and get yourself into a safe amazing community of people.

❤️

Now for More Me

I started this blog with the intent of sharing the ways I attempt to live a more slow and simple life.  I was making huge changes in my life by way of clean eating, exercising, mindful parenting and the like, and I was passionate about it all.  I wanted to share all.the.things.  Yet somewhere along the way life ebbed and flowed, I felt less passionate, less inspired to share and less desire to write.

That brings us here, to right now.

I’ve had a blog for YEARS – I started one in high school as a project in either 2001 or 2002.  I continued blogging on and off but this blog is the first blog I’ve had that was supposed to be intentional with it’s content.  When I started it I dreamt of having a calendar full of ideas, generating content and “making it big” in the blog world.  Obviously none of that has happened!  I’m actually continually surprised by the little bit of traffic I get considering how lack-lustre my efforts have been in recent years.

Here’s what I’m beginning to understand about myself:

  1. Writing is something I love to do.  It’s therapeutic and necessary for my own internal processing.
  2. I really don’t do well with constraints, limitations, expectations etc. in writing but more so just generally in life. When I write I want the freedom to write whatever flows out of my fingertips.

So it is with all of this I come today to say – I’m going to write whatever and whenever I feel like it.  I’m not going to limit myself to “simple living” and I’m not going to be paralyzed by the completely made up need for a content calendar.  I’ve never been good at being anyone but myself and I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to realize this.

With the amount of time I have on my hands I think I’ll be here more often – but again I’m not going to promise or commit to anything at all!

I hope you are all having an amazing weekend, I look forward to more sharing of ideas and stories in the near future!

Ciao!

Lemon Cake

My husband has recently become obsessed with baked good, specifically baked goods that he grew up eating in Guinea-Bissau.  He’s constantly looking up recipes and sending them to me – he’s the chef, I’m the baker haha.  This specific cake he wanted a lemon flavour and I got the idea to use some lemon oil and the results were phenomenal.  This cake doesn’t NEED the oil but if you have it you should definitely use it because it takes it from good to amazing!  Let me know if you try it!

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients
2 Eggs
1 cup sugar (feel free to decrease this, it’s quite sweet)
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 drops Young Living lemon essential oil
Zest of one lemon
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda

Directions
1. Prepare a cake pan (we used a fluted tube cake pan) with oil and dusted with flour.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat eggs and sugar for 3 minutes.
3. Add oil, yogurt, essential oil and zest and mix until incorporated
4. Sift flour and baking soda into mixture and mix with wooden spoon until incorporated.
5. Pour into prepared pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
6. Enjoy!

Notes:
I like to double this recipe and love it with some whipped cream!

One Little Word 2019

It’s that time again!

I was finding it really difficult to think about what word I was going to pick for 2019.  The obvious one would have been something related to health but honestly I’m ready to not have 100% of my life focused on my health.  Of course that’s always something that’s on my mind but 2018 was bombarded with it and it’s just enough, you know?

The last couple months I’ve been acutely aware of something I struggle with.  It’s not something I’ve ever pinpointed as a weakness in my life previous to the past couple months.  I struggle with committing to and finishing things.  It’s typical of me to start something really strong and passionately and it’s uncommon for that commitment to last any large length of time.  It’s beginning to be something that I lament and wish was different.

So.

2019 is the year to COMMIT.

When I am about to embark on something – whatever it may be – I will be committing to see it to completion or commit to a specific length of time depending on the situation.  Of course, as is the case every year with my One Little Word this will take on it’s own life but I look forward to seeing where it will take me.  I am looking forward to the growth I’ll experience and the further insight into my inner workings.

On top of my One Little Word I’ve come up with a “Bucket List” of goals for the year.  Today as I was driving home from an appointment I began to feel the pressure of a New Year.  Being on social media there are a plethora of posts all about goals, resolutions, and hopes for the new year and all of them great.  I tend to feel pulled to include everyone else’s goals in my goals because of course they seem like great ideas! However, I realized today that just because a goal is a good thing for someone doesn’t mean it’s a good thing for me in this moment.  So, instead of adding to my list today like I was tempted to I left my list as it was last week when I wrote it.  I’m going to enter 2019 with an overall intention to be the best I can be each day.

So with my One Little Word of COMMIT and my intention to be the best me I also hope to check each of these things off my list:

  • Invest in hobbies – don’t be afraid to spend money on a hobby.
  • Learn two new skills/hobbies – hoping for it to be sewing and pottery.
  • Show gratitude and be generous in everything – keeping with my hope to be abundant minded.
  • Invest in relationships – put myself out there instead of shy away from the commitment.
  • Go away on a date weekend at least once – I hope twice.
  • Do more exploring with the kids – mountains will be visited more often.
  • Read a book a month – starting with Educated by Tara Westover.
  • Transition to mostly plant based – been feeling this shift for the last 4-5 months.
  • Invest in clothes – I have two pairs of jeans, a handful of layering tanks, a couple sweaters and that’s basically it apart from my pyjamas and sweats.  It’s time to make this change.  It will be largely ethically made or homemade clothing and I’m going to be checking off this list:
    • 2 Jeans
    • 2 Lounge pants
    • 5 Tanks
    • 2 Blouses
    • 2 Casual Shirts
    • 2 Long Sleeves
    • 2 Sweaters
    • Undergarments
    • 1 pair of runners
    • 1 pair of sneakers
    • 1 pair of Birkenstocks
    • 1 pair of Rainboots
    • 1 pair of Winter boots
    • 1 pair of dressier shoes – I hope Poppy Barley
  • Do one self care act a month – could be something I spend money on or could just be an afternoon away from the kids.

That’s it.  I feel like I’m keeping it fairly simple and attainable – maybe I’m getting the hang of this!

Happy New  Year friends.  I pray that 2019 is everything you need it to be.  If you are using a word or setting resolutions or goals I would love to hear them!

2018 Reflection

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Well it’s been a minute or two since I’ve been here.  I only wrote 7 blog posts in 2018 and truthfully I wanted so badly to write more but my capacity to do so was just not there.  I needed to step away from constant evaluation, my brain was (is) in such a fog that processing life was incredibly difficult.  I couldn’t make sense of my current life, my day in and day out.  I lived in a dichotomy of hating not being able to work but also feeling very blessed to be with my babies day in and day out.

The pain I now live with is unlike anything I’ve experienced.  Not too long ago I was claiming that I could deal with chronic pain, that it didn’t change my life or what I was able to do and accomplish.  I’ve had pain as long as I can remember and it was true that it didn’t greatly impact my life.  This new pain though, it’s stronger, more intense and greatly impacts my life.  I’ve been humbled and have gained a new perspective and compassion for those of us living with invisible illnesses.  The pain definitely seemed to take over my year and if I allow it it could steal the blessings and joy that 2018 also brought.

I’m not about to let that happen.  So here’s what 2018 brought into my life that was amazing. I’ve been able to watch my toddler grow and develop, I’ve been able to be by her side and she hasn’t had to deal with as much separation anxiety as she would have.  She is highly attached and us being together has made her year much more comforting.  She’s growing into such an amazing and hilarious little girl and it’s been such a privilege and blessing to watch that happen so closely.  I’ve also watched my five year old learn and explore and imagine and create and have been astounded at his capacity to learn and his passion for learning.  We’ve embarked on homeschooling and I’d be lying if I told you it went amazing, we are still learning our rhythm and figuring it out but it’s definitely been a blessing.  I’ve learned to live in the moment, to adapt my need for control, to trust in the One who holds me close, to live despite challenges, to dream bigger, to crush fears, to pursue the life I desire, to accept help, to lean on others, to be humbled, to slow down.

My one little word was ABUNDANCE and 2018 did not bring much of the ABUNDANCE I was hoping for but it did bring an ABUNDANCE of blessings in the midst of challenges.  When I re-read my One Little Word post for 2018 I still resonate with everything I wrote. This year was the first year I continually had my word in the back of my head, I thought of it often but was usually sad at the thought of it.  Perhaps I am a step closer to where I wished I would be, though I haven’t even come close to that place.  I am still learning to let go of my poverty mindset, to switch my thinking but I do think that 2018 helped on that journey.  It’s a lifelong journey, not one I imagine I will actually arrive at but it’s time for a new word and time to focus on a new journey.

In The Garden

I’ve been meaning to do a garden post for a while.  Of course I get inspiration at ten o’clock at night when I should be sleeping! I’ve been solo parenting for a week (my husband got a job! [YAY] but it’s in a different province [not yay]) and honestly I’m completely and utterly exhausted by the end of each day but also love the quiet solitude of the evening and I always find that I want to relish this time when no one needs me and I can do whatever I please.  So here I am organizing photos and writing a blog post.

This start of this years gardening season has been amazing.  It’s been full and busy and wonderful.  I hurt my back at the end of April which has prevented me from working but it’s also given me ample time to do little bits of gardening here and there.  Thankfully my husband did the majority of the physical labor before he left – filling the beds, emptying our failed compost, building a new flower bed.  I’ve been planting seeds, tending to seedlings, potting up and planning, planning, planning.

I started planning in February (separate post on that coming!) and then started planting the end of February with the peppers and tomatoes.  I didn’t order/buy any new pepper or tomato seeds the year.

This year I decided to grow a lot of leafy greens and brassica’s in hopes that I can try my hand at some fermentation.  So in April I started all the mustards, kales, cabbages, pac choi’s, and bok choi’s, as well as the lettuce that I hope to grow as head lettuce.  I also am trying my hand at growing more flowers than in previous years.  I’ve started snapdragons, sweet peas and marigolds.  The marigold’s will be scattered throughout the gardens as a form of pest control, the sweet peas will be planted in the new flower garden that is against the greenhouse.  I’m hoping to be able to grow a shade wall!

In May I’ve basically started and planted everything else! I started some pumpkins, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, watermelon, scallopini, and cucumbers.  I started them in solo cups because I’ve read they don’t like to be moved or root bound so I’m hoping this does the trick.  I also started some herbs, which I probably should have started earlier, basil, rosemary, peppermint, thyme, oregano – that’s all I can remember off the top of my head.

The last few days I’ve direct sowed almost everything else that we will be growing, aside from the beets which I’ll plant next week and some edible flowers which will be scattered around all the seedlings once they are transplanted this week.  The seeds direct sown – cilantro (between tomatoes and peppers), mixed edible flowers (between peppers and rest of garden), radishes (3 varieties including daikons), and zucchini in the large garden.  Carrots, spinach and arugula in the deck garden.  Peas, beans, and some lettuce in one of Ezekiel’s gardens and in the other morning glory, calendula, viola and bachelor button.  In the greenhouse shadewall garden Ezekiel and I planted morning glories and scarlet runner beans.  I decided to try out some garlic this year as well and planted some in the tomato grow bag.  Finally – where the compost pile used to be I decided to block off a small garden which will just be planted in ground.  I planted potatoes there today and will add garlic as well as marigolds.  I’ve started hardening most of the seedlings off and will start planting the gardens this week – I think it will take a while with my back the way it is but slow and steady wins the race!

Whew! Just writing that all out makes me realize just how much work has already been done! It’s amazing that none of it really feels like work.  This year gardening has been so good, with a 4 yr old helping along the way, bursting with excitement at every little change in the plants, and every worm and bee he sees, having a toddler running around my feet has been a joy as well.  I love to watch Eden as she explores the outdoors and learns what’s ok to play with/touch and what’s not.

Finally (thanks for getting this far!), this year I’m doing a new form of documenting over on Instagram which I’m really excited about.  I’ve been taking weekly pictures from the same spots, as well as weekly video walk throughs which I share in my stories and then save in highlights.  I can’t wait until the end of the season to watch the transformation in full.  I’ll share those pictures here as well for those of you who don’t obsess over Instagram like me :).  I’ll catch you up now and then hopefully be able to share them weekly!

April 29

May 6

May 12

May 20

There you have it! Until next week friends! Please leave me a comment and let me know what you are growing!