The Pot In The Parking Lot

On December 23rd, after a particularly stressful few weeks, I left a stock pot containing a severed head and limbs in the parking lot of the Burlington Mall. It was haphazardly wrapped in an old grey sheet, and I glanced back only briefly as I drove away and wondered who would be the first person to lift the lid.

When I reflect on the days leading up to that incident – I know several things to be true:

  • I had abandoned all of the practices that traditionally help me stay calm and grounded. No working out, no meditating, no reasonable bedtimes, no decompressing on the couch with a glass of wine or meeting up with girlfriends. I was woman on a mission. Why you ask? Well…..
  • Despite promising myself every year that I won’t go overboard on the holidays-  I inevitably become this harried list-making uber-mom – searching fruitlessly online for “the trendiest gift for a teenager”, “the most thoughtful present for your dad” and “touching homemade gifts for your closest friends.” It starts small and before I know it I’m staring red-eyed at my computer monitor at 1am ordering a $250 curling iron from a website in California.
  • I also took on an obscene amount of work to be completed by Christmas eve.  Justified or not, I still feel a nagging sense of guilt over the years I spent as a stay-at-home mom, and the financial burden that put on my husband. So – the writing assignments kept rolling in and I decided I could tackle them ALL goddammit.
  • It was only after I dug in that I realized what an intense undertaking I’d agreed to. I was burning the midnight oil writing about time traveling zombies and war and violence in 14th century Europe. In once particularly gruesome show, a contract killer was sent into the forest to ambush two members of the royal family. After he’d completed his task, he returned to the local courthouse and dumped a bag containing their heads, hands and feet onto the tiled floor. Many nights I was up until 2 or 3 in the morning rewinding and re-watching these images over and over and inserting appropriate description.

So back to the pot. On December 23rd, I dragged my little guy to the mall to retrieve one last “perfect” present. I knew I was overtired and strung out – but the end was in sight!

After we me made our purchase, we trudged back to through the lot. The first thing I noticed as we hiked back towards the van was that the back door was ajar. Odd. But I figured my son likely hadn’t closed it properly or had wedged a pack of goldfish crackers in the runner.

I opened the door and spotted a lump covered in a wrinkled grey sheet wedged between the back seats. “Buddy – was that sheet here when we left the house?” I asked warily. “No mommy. I’ve never seen that before.” My little guy answered. I nervously peered under the sheet and could see that there was a stainless steel pot underneath. I tried to lift it and found it was unusually heavy. In a flash I knew immediately what it contained – either a severed head or dismembered body parts. I had absolutely no doubt in my mind.

Then the question became what should I do next? I didn’t want to open the pot because I didn’t want the contents to frighten my young son. How would he ever recover from seeing such horror?

So – I did what any rational person would do. I lifted that pot out of my van and set it down in the parking lot. “What are you doing mommy?” My son asked. “You know what – I think this belongs to someone else so I’m going to leave it here and that person will come find it.”

He accepted my answer at face value, I set the pot down in the parking lot and we drove away. By the time we got home – the usual chaos of dinner prep was in full swing and to be honest, as odd as it might sound, I kind of forgot about the whole thing.

The next night I was snuggled up in bed reading with my son when my husband popped his head into the bedroom. “Hey hon – do you know what happened to Lisa’s chili pot?” he asked. “I left it in the van and I can’t seem to find it. It was wrapped in a sheet. Did you see it?”

I felt the blood drain out of my cheeks. Chili?! Chili!? Holy crap! The pot was full of chili. Not a head. Chili. My mind started racing – how was I going to explain what I had done to my husband? He already thinks I’m impulsive and overly anxious. What would he think if I told him the truth? He leaned in a little farther – “Did you see it?” he asked again.

“Mommy left something at the mall.” my son offered helpfully. “It had a sheet on it.” My husband met my eyes. I raced through a few different scenarios in my mind then decided I had to fess up. “You what?!” my husband said incredulously. I was hoping he’d see the humour – perhaps view it as proof of my adorable whimsical nature. But he just shook his head and drove back to the mall to see if the pot was still there.

In the end, he found the it but the lid was smashed and the sheet had blown away.  And a few days later, I had to sheepishly show up to Lisa’s house with her dinged-up pot and explain why the lid and sheet were no longer part of the set. Thankfully she has a forgiving heart and a great sense of humour.

Looking back, I keep trying to figure out why I didn’t just lift that lid. It makes me kind of uneasy that I so quickly jumped to such a rash conclusion and acted so impulsively. It took me a few days of pondering to refocus on what I could learn about myself from this experience.

I learned I need sleep. I need to go easier on myself. I need to stop taking on so freakin’ much. I learned that when I don’t have “time” to do the things that ground me – I absolutely, positively need to make time right that very moment – or chances are good that I will get a little loopy! (or a lot loopy ; )

I learned that when I try to be the perfect mom, the perfect hostess, the perfect writer – I only end up leaving a trail of wreckage in my wake…. and a severed head in a parking lot.

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An Imperfect Rockstar

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about an amazing contest that was being run by Tuja Wellness with the prize of a scholarship to Meghan Telpner’s School of Culinary Nutrition. They were looking for a “Nutrition Rockstar” – and I am thrilled and humbled to announce that I am the very lucky winner. I am beyond excited to dive headfirst into the learning that is jam-packed into this incredible course.

Actually, “Rockstar” is quite a fitting moniker for a gal like me given that I already like to think of myself as a young, fun-loving, cool, plant-eating vegetarian hipster. Something of a “green smoothie goddess” if you will. A veritable whiz kid in the kitchen – my family gobbling up my kale and quinoa-laden dishes just like they were candy.

Ok yes – the reality might not be quite so rosy. Actually, I’m just a 40-something mom- neither as young or cool as I used to pretend to be who’s mostly just trying to keep my family healthy and well-fed. And by “healthy” I mean getting them to ingest their green smoothies without gagging or complaining bitterly. And by “fed” I mean with as much humour, taste and nutrient-rich plant foods that I can reasonably achieve and afford.

Funnily enough, our first assignment in this course is to craft our very own food philosophy. Something along the lines of the brilliant Michael Pollan who wrote:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

In Defense of Food

So I started wondering about  my own personal credo and I’m thinking that maybe something simple like my lofty goal of keeping myself and my family healthy and well-fed might be a good place to start.:

“Feeding a family of meat-free, animal-loving, plant-munching, green-drink guzzling hipsters.”

Lori Wilson

That sounds pretty darn  good! I’ll start with my own clan and then branch out and hopefully my honest approach to cooking and eating will inspire a few others along the way. My goal is that in addition to my own growth and learning, I will also share the ups and downs of this educational journey with all of you.

Yep – I’m going to pick up that “Rockstar” title and run with it goddamit! Thank you to Tuja Wellness and Meghan Telpner for taking a chance on me – a decidedly imperfect rockstar. I am dancing around my kitchen, belting out a tune and strumming my wooden spoon air guitar as I get set to cook up some culinary magic. Let the fun and learning begin!

 

 

The Upside of Crying at Target

I recently had a really good cry. A long and stressful week culminated with a Friday morning trip to Target where I ended up at the cash with a big pile of goodies. After frantically checking my purse- I realized that I had no money and no phone! Shit! As I loaded the toddler back into the van to head back home the tears just started flowing. “Why are you sniffling like that mommy?” my little guy kept asking.

My oldest son was at home when I came to collect my wallet and immediately asked what was wrong. I told him it was nothing – I was just feeling a little sad and he said “it’s okay mom – it’s good to let your feelings out.” So darn wise for a 12-year old.

After I dried my tears, stopped my blubbering and blew my nose- I really did feel much better. I headed off for a coffee and repeat trip to the store in a much better frame of mind. I was able to laugh at myself and the absurdity of sobbing over something so ridiculous. (As a side note I’m pretty sure I freaked out the cashier at Starbucks because she asked me at least 5 times if everything was ok – guess the red puffy eyes totally gave me away.)

My son’s words got me thinking about how often I rush through life and suppress or ignore my emotions or just totally numb them out with coping mechanisms. My go-to’s – chocolate, reality TV, red wine, Candy Crush and People magazine just to name a few. Especially with the advent of our cell phones, it’s so much easier to zone out with mindless games, Facebook, Twitter and texting than to stop, breathe and really check in with ourselves and how we are feeling. And what I realized in that moment was that by feeling that sadness, I made way to feel better, to laugh and to move forward.

This video features the comedian Louis C.K. He’s actually talking about why he refuses to get cell phones for his children but the overall message is much more powerful. Have a watch and remember that as much as we all love our devices, it’s a good idea to put them down every now and again, to slow down and to let ourselves just be……even if that means crying in the check-out line at Target ; )

The Real Truth About Parenthood

I have learned so about myself much from becoming a parent. I’ve learned that I can be very patient until my 3-year-old starts swearing like a truck driver and then I completely lose my marbles. I’ve learned to be less self-involved and less concerned with my appearance- likely shortly after my daughter asked me why my boobs were so floppy and saggy. And I’ve learned that all of the years I considered myself fairly socially adept can be erased in a second when your pre-teen says you are “just so uncool!”

Of course there are tons of amazing and wonderful things about having children -but sometimes we can find more connection and understanding in our mess-ups and our common struggles. And maybe the very best thing we can do to support each other as parents and non-parents alike is just to share a good laugh.

I love comedian Michael McIntyre’s routine called “People With No Kids Don’t Know”. Check out this link or click on the video below to get some insight into the truth about parenthood.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/18/michael-mcintyre-people-with-no-kids-dont-know_n_4295847.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

Dinner Table Mix Up

I’ll admit I have been sorely uninspired when it comes to cooking lately (sorry about the lack of recent recipes) but I promise I’ll get my kitchen mojo back on once the fall weather hits, the kids are off to school and I get reacquainted with my kitchen.

In the meantime, I have been thoroughly enjoying my final week of summer holidays with the kids. We tried out a fun/interesting/slightly harsh family exercise the other night at dinner that I thought I share with you. If you are open to some real honest-to-goodness feedback about your parenting style and/or your personality – you can give it a try and see how it goes!

family dinner table

It’s very simple – all you do is mix-up your regular seating arrangement at the dinner table and then assume the identity of the person who normally sits in that seat. You can also do this if it’s just you and a partner by simply switching chairs. When we tried it out my husband was me, the toddler was my 9-year-old daughter, my daughter was the toddler, I was my 12-year-old son and the 12-year-old was my husband. Instead of setting any ground rules, we just decided to go with the flow and see where the experiment took us and it was quite funny and very enlightening.

Although I’ll bet you think you have a pretty good idea of how you act towards others, it’s most interesting to see how you come across from someone else’s perspective. Personally, I think my hubby was being a little too over-the-top as me….I mean am I really such a money spending, veggie pushing, overly enthusiastic, self-improvement junkie? (note to self: tone it down already!)

This can also be very helpful if you are experiencing any challenges within your family dynamic. Because you are all role-playing, it provides a fun and safe environment for your children to express things that may be bothering them. For example, in the course of our mixed up dinner, my daughter was able to share her feeling that my husband and I dote on the toddler and that we are always on his side. It’s not always easy to hear these things but it helped us gain a better understanding of something that was hurting her- and perhaps causing her to act out against her little brother.

I encourage you to mix-it up at your next family dinner and please share your experience in the comments below. My kids had so much fun that they’ve asked to do it twice more and each time we take on the role of someone different. If you are doing this with children, I would suggest you remind them not to make any personal attacks – keep the tone as positive as you can. And have fun with it! It’s refreshing to try on someone else’s role for a change and I’m betting you’ll learn something about yourself in the process.

Week #1 Family Learning Report – Laughter & Fun

fun

We kicked off our first Summer Learning week with Laughter & Fun as the topic to set the tone for an enjoyable summer break. We brainstormed some ideas as a family and this is what we came up with:

– See a funny movie (Despicable Me 2 was hilarious!)
– Water balloon fight (we blew up 20 but the toddler smashed them all before we could have a proper battle. We’ll try again soon)
– Pull off a prank (this one is still in the works….)
– Dance Party (we shook our booties in the living room to Macklemore, The Black Eyed Peas and Robin Thicke)
– Sleep outside in the tent (too hot but planned for this week if it cools down)
– Learn some good clean jokes (Why did the spider cross the road? To get to his web site!)

Although we didn’t hit everything on our list, we did have a mostly enjoyable week as the kids and I settled in to our new routine of spending a lot more time together (translation: the first few days were frustrating and challenging dealing with the incessant fighting. Arghhh!)
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10 Hilarious Ways to Lighten Things Up

I don’t know about you but I can sometimes take myself and life in general far too seriously. I’ll hear the latest gloom and doom story on the news and immediately start to fret about the state of the world. Or I’ll get down about an especially busy week on our schedule or a conflict with one of my children and I’ll blow it up as an imminent disaster. I’m already prone to worrying so it only takes something small to turn things into a crisis in my mind.

They say laughter is the best medicine and I know I always feel better after a good chuckle. I am becoming more mindful of when I start heading down the path of catastrophizing a situation and I gently remind myself to lighten up already. I have found that smiling, acting goofy or enjoying something  funny can totally change my mood and my outlook on life. And this works equally well with my children. When they are feeling especially blue- nothing is better than a good joke, a funny movie, an off-color remark from their impish 3-year old brother or a well-timed fart from my husband to remind them that life doesn’t have to be so heavy.

If you and your loved ones would like to try out some laughter therapy, here 10 ways I’ve found to really bust a gut:

1. Modern Family – the one television show that my husband and I always watch together is Modern Family and we laugh out loud during every episode. The writing is brilliant and I guarantee it will crack you up (we also love 30 Rock and The Office if you want to keep the good times rolling).

modernfamily

2. Bossypants by Tina Fey – Tina Fey is one of the smartest female comedians ever and her book Bossypants had me in stitches from beginning to end. It is well-written and hilarious and I even learned a few new words along the way (FUPA!)

bossypants

3. Kicking & Screaming – Will Ferrell is one of my favourite male actors and this family-friendly movie is a must-see for viewers of all ages. My kids adore it and have probably watched it a few dozen times and they laugh just as hard at each viewing.  We also love Will Ferrell in Elf and my husband is a big fan of his website FunnyorDie.com but be advised that most of the content on that site is for adults only (Will is also hilarious in Old School but again this is definitely for an 18 and over crowd)

kickingandscreaming

4. Stand-Up Comedy – whether it’s at a live performance or a pre-recorded show, there are some fantastic comedians out there who will make you laugh hysterically. My personal favourites are Ricky Gervais, Dave Chappelle, Jerry Seinfeld, Russell Peters, Daniel Tosh, Eddie Murphy and Jeff Foxworthy. Many of their stand-up routines are available on Netflix, On Demand or DVD.

russellpeters

5. Funny 820 AM– I spend a fair amount of time in the car travelling back and forth to Toronto for voice work and I stumbled upon a gem of a radio station while I was flipping around the AM dial looking for the news. I am so happy I found Funny 820AM as opposed to the dreary daily news because I am totally addicted to this 24-hour comedy channel. I now spend my time in the car laughing as opposed to obsessing over the latest tragedy or crisis.

funny 820

6. Diary of A Wimpy Kid (books and movies)- we bought the first Wimpy Kid book for my son a few years ago on our way home from a long road trip and he honestly killed himself laughing the whole way home. Both of my older children devoured every book in the series and the movies are just as entertaining. Even my husband and I found ourselves chuckling away watching the films and the opening scene at the public pool in the latest movie is my all-time favourite! (Captain Underpants and Dumb Bunnies by Dave Pilkey, The Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce, Mercy Watson books by Katie DiCamillo and Leslie Patricelli books for toddlers are also hilarious choices)

diarywimpykid

7. Kid Snippets– thank you to my friends Peyton, Parker, Corbin and Scarlett for turning me on to these hilarious vignettes on YouTube that have my whole family cracking up. It’s hard to describe these videos and you have to watch a couple to get the gist of it but basically, the producers recorded conversations between young children and had grown-up actors perform them. My favourites are Cooking Show, Fast Food, Salesman, Basketball Class and Math Class.

kidsnippets

8. A Good Joke – my dad is a master joke-teller and he is always the first one at a party to pipe up with a hilarious zinger. He relies on his own personal repertoire that he has honed by retelling his best material over the years but you can find some funny and family-friendly jokes at Funology.com and  Enchanted Learning.com. And here’s a goodie to try out on the younger crowd:

Knock, Knock.

Who’s There?

Smell Mop.

Smell Mop who?

(Gotta love potty humour!)

9. The Encyclopedia of Immaturity– friend’s of ours recommended this book a couple of years ago and it has been a source of endless funny activities and suggestions. Thanks to this book – my kids can successfully remove their underwear without taking off their pants! Genius!

immaturity10. Regular Show -my kids and my nieces and nephew are obsessed with this show and can often be heard quoting some kooky line of dialogue from one of the characters. Yes this is a cartoon but it’s actually quite funny and well-written and definitely worth a watch. Other favourites include Phineas & Ferb and Adventure Time.

regularshow2

I hope these suggestions will add some lightness and merriment to your life and that you will share the fun with your family and friends. To wrap up – here are a few tweets from funny-man Will Ferrell to leave you laughing:

funny quotes 1

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