There I Said It

Well hello! It’s been well over a year since I’ve written a single word on my blog.

I could site the usual excuses: Life is SO busy!, My three uber-successful and brilliantly-parented kids take up all my free time; I’m a super accomplished full-time writer now; I was tied up making homemade organic almond milk and fermented nut cheese; and my husband and I were busy planning romantic getaways to reaffirm our perfect love.

But I won’t bore you with the details. Sufficed to say, aside from the rigours of keeping myself afloat, the truth is that I simply got sick of my own writing.

I recently re-read the “About Me” page on my blog and seriously had to stifle a gag. My proudest accomplishment is getting my three kids to drink their green smoothies. Barf! How smug is this Lori Leigh Wilson character? And you people followed me…..what were you thinking?!

Ok, so if you’ll give me another chance then I’d like to start anew. Thanks to Jaclyn Desforge and her wonderful Nest & Story writing workshop, I feel reinvigorated and inspired – and I’ve decided that I want to use this space for truth telling, story sharing and vulnerability.

“I don’t even want to know someone who isn’t barely hanging on by a thread.” Amy Schumer, The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo

So let’s get this party started! Here’s the real authentic me as of today: First of all, I’ve totally lost my mojo for cooking. To be honest, my association with the “whole food” movement began to make me feel uncomfortable and preachy. And it probably works both ways since I’ve added frozen veggie meatballs and taco kits into my weekly meal rotation. 

My youngest child had a wicked bout of separation anxiety at back-to-school time that pretty much brought me to my knees. I think I might have cried more than he did and I’m pretty sure it took four years off my life.

My daughter is in full blown puberty which means mood swings from hell, and my oldest son frequently responds to my brilliant pearls of wisdom with the words “the cringe is real.” 

My husband and I mostly sleep separately because the 6-year-old stealthily inserts himself into our bed. And although I love my husband – I think we both secretly like the arrangement. I get to snuggle with my little buddy and he gets to watch Netflix on his phone without me badgering him to turn it off because it’s bad for his eyesight.

I deeply enjoy junky reality tv (Kardashians included). Most days I write in my pyjamas until I have to finally face the public when I pick up my kids from school. We have mice in our kitchen. I’ve turned worrying into an Olympic sport (I’m going for the gold!). My kids fight. My jeans are tight (perhaps because I’m eating Halloween candy by the fistful). My dogs bark a LOT….and the littlest one poops on the floor at least a couple of times every week just to keep me on my toes.

On a more somber note, there have been two shocking deaths in my family that have really shaken the ground beneath my feet. A vibrant adolescent boy was gone in an instant, and a loving and feisty grandmother took her last breath after a painful health struggle. Sometimes the brutal randomness of life makes me want to grab my family and hide in a cave ..you know what I mean?

What about any good stuff you ask? Well, after my worry reached a scary peak, I signed up for a mediation class and I’m learning to breathe and find space between what happens and how I respond. It’s amazing and I’ll talk more about it in another post.

I’ve read some incredible books including Lindy West’s life-changing memoir Shrill and Glennon Doyle-Melton’s raw and brave biography Love Warrior.  I can honestly say that they fundamentally changed the way I look at myself, others and the world. I mean it – read those damn books!!

And I’ve been writing my butt off, actually pulling in a paycheque and contributing to our family finances in a meaningful way for the first time in many years. That feels good.

Phew! There I said it. And I’ll keep on saying it if you’ll be so kind as to indulge me. And I promise no more smug posts or crappy recipes – unless you want me to guide you through the process of thawing and heating some mouth-watering veggie meatballs…..: )

Thanks for your support and I’d love to hear from you. How are things going in your life? Feel free to comment below.

P.S. I am working on rejigging my site so please bear with me as I make some changes.

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Over Halfway through! My Top 5 “A-Ha’s” From the CNE Course So Far

Hey there – Nutrition Rockstar here! As we head into mid-November,  I’m now over halfway through the Meghan Telpner Culinary Nutrition Expert Program. My brain is literally spilling over with information and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to participate in this powerful and positive life-changing endeavour.

This program has offered me everything I had hoped for and more. Within each comprehensive module, I’m learning about the power of food, how to prepare healthful and delicious meals, the science of healthy eating, how to avoid the pitfalls of healthwashing and “bad”vertising, how to extract medicine from food, how to live a healthy, balanced life and how to have fun and enjoy the process. And the best part is that I’m able to do the entire course from the comfort of my own home! I get the kids off to school, whip up a Dandy Latte, fire up my computer and settle in to learn from Meghan and her amazing team of experts.

Before I share my top 5 list from the first half of the course, I want to let you know that Meghan will be running this program again next fall and she has just opened up a limited time registration with the option of a 10-month payment plan. Trust me -if you are at all interested in learning more about nutrition or perhaps becoming a Culinary Nutrution Expert yourself – this is a gift that you simply must give to yourself. Just click on the CNE banner above or below to find out all about the program. And you can always contact me directly if you’d like more information about my experience (or if you’d like me to whip you up a superfood concoction with my newly acquired culinary skills ; )

And now onto my list! It was really freakin’ hard to narrow it down to just 5 things because my notebooks are literally filled to the brim with life-changing information, research and recipes. But after careful consideration, here are my Top 5 “A-Ha” Lessons from the first half of the CNE Course:

1. Preparation is Key – life is busy, busy, busy and it’s often easier to just hit up a drive-thru or order a pizza than to think about making dinner. But if you can spare an hour or 2 a week to plan out your meals and prep your ingredients – you’ll save time and money and your entire family will reap the myriad benefits of eating healthy, nutrient dense food.

2. Stop Counting Calories! – Ok seriously – this is one trend that I could never fully get behind. There’s just something about counting calories (and counting steps for that matter) that really seems like a surefire way to suck all of the joy and fun out of life. I’ve learned from Meghan that all calories are not created equally (thus the epidemic of people who are overfed and undernourished) and that it’s much more important to focus on nutrient load by eating whole, fresh, unprocessed foods than to worry about each and every bite.

3. Organics All the WayMeghan’s equally brilliant husband Josh Gitalis led us through a comprehensive module on “The Fundamentals of Nutrition“. I literally took notes until my fingers ached as he taught about the importance of healthy soil, fresh water, organic plants and the key macro and micro nutrients in our diet. One of the biggest “ahas” from this section of the course for me was learning about the difference between organic and inorganic farming. Did you know that the following things are prohibited from organic farming (but are often used on conventional farms): GMO’s, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizer, sewage sludge, drugs and radiation. Yeesh! Whenever possible – try to support farmers who are committed to organic farming principles so that you can enjoy the most potent nutrient rich food.

4. Don’t Fear the Fat – I was a teenager when the whole “low-fat” craze really took hold. I remember happily chowing down bags of candy and thinking I was following a perfectly healthy low-fat diet. Doh! There are tons of misconceptions about fats and sadly as a result of misleading advertising and healthwashing, many of us have become fat-phobic. But the truth is that our bodies need healthy fats for energy and optimal health (did you know our brains are 60% fat?) So don’t be afraid to incorporate healthy fats into your diet – nuts, avocados and raw, cold-pressed oils are a great place to start.

5. It’s Not Just About The Food– although the food we put in our bodies is a key to enjoying optimal health, there are also other factors that contribute to overall wellbeing. Meghan recently wrote a blog post about “Vitamin G” – the gratitude vitamin! Taking the time to feel grateful for the blessings in your life can have a major impact on your health and happiness. Also things like reducing stress (why not give meditation a try?), getting out into nature, finding a form of exercise you love, cultivating supportive and nurturing friendships and finding ways to be creative and have fun will all contribute to a joy-filled life.

Culinary Nutrition Expert ProgramI could literally go on and on about the lessons I’ve learned from the CNE course so far. Things like; why we should eat more plants, the importance of regulating blood sugar, how to use food as medicine and the straight poop on foods like dairy/meat/gluten/and white sugar. And I promise I’ll share more tidbits of wisdom in an upcoming post. But for now, I’ve got to get back to my studies! It’s not easy being a rockstar…but it sure is a lot of fun ; )

Grandpa’s Wisdom on My Son’s 13th Birthday

My oldest child turns 13 today. 13 years ago my life changed in such a powerful and profound way that it’s sometimes hard to remember what life was like before I became his mom. As I gathered my baby in my arms on our first day together on that hot summer day back in 2001, I had no idea the journey that lay in front of us.

cal newborn 2

I have struggled over the past weeks trying to come up with a post packed with wisdom and insight to share on the occasion of this milestone birthday but I keep coming up short. It turns out it’s pretty darn hard to put into words the feeling like my heart might burst right through my chest with the love I have for him. Or how much I admire his passion for life, his wicked sense of humour and his rock steady self-confidence. And it’s nearly impossible to articulate that even though I am enjoying watching him mature into a wonderful young man – I’d give just about anything to roll back the clock a bit for the chance to scoop him up and snuggle him in my arms one more time.

cal toddler

Luckily for me – my dad saved the day. He wrote a beautiful letter for my son and asked me to give it to him on his birthday. And it’s perfect. Simple, sweet and loving…and he kindly agreed to let me share it on my blog. Thanks for writing such a heartfelt piece dad and happy birthday to my new teenager. I love you more than you could ever imagine and I feel incredibly lucky to be your mom.

cal and dad

To My First Grandchild,

Before you were born your mom and dad announced that you were coming and I cried tears of joy.

The first grandchild is special and you are and always will be super special to us.

I remember your first steps, the first time you called me “grandpa”, the time you tossed your baby bottle and then cried for it, the first time you pooped on the potty and called to tell me, the first fish that you caught, the first time you tasted pumpkin pie and the time your mom pushed your face in one. All of these special memories and so many more! You were never shy to come and stay with grandma and I and we cherish the time that we spent with you both now and then.

And now you are 13 in what seems like the blink of an eye and I and wondering what wisdom that I have to share with you. Not sure I am qualified to do this but glad to share some thoughts with you:

Never be afraid to love, sometimes it hurts but it is always worth the risk.

Always make time in your life for fun and laughter.

Be quick to make new friends but cherish the old ones.

Stay in touch with your family. Friends come and go but family is forever.

Don’t worry. Be happy.

Grandma and I love you now, tomorrow and forever.

Enjoy your 13th birthday and all of your exciting life ahead.

Much love. Grandpa

cal now

 

On Turning Four

When my first son was born almost 13 years ago, I was a complete basket case. I was totally unprepared for the punch-in-the-face-like shock of motherhood and literally spent the first 48 hours with my finger stuck under his nose making sure he was still breathing (I also faithfully tracked every single one of his pees and poops in a journal for 3 months and had him sleep on a heart rate monitor for almost a year…..you get the point.)

When my daughter was born 2 years later, I was a much calmer and more confident mom but I was also busy with a toddler and in the middle of a home renovation and frankly just so darn frazzled that I’m afraid I forgot to savour most of her baby years. I do however remember that she was a beautiful and happy bundle of joy -unless I dared to put her down and then she turned into a screaming she-devil!

And then 4 years ago…just a month before I turned 39….I had my last baby – a boy. Almost 9 years younger than his brother and 6 years younger than his sister, he came into the world a whopping 6 pounds and as serene and content a little babe as I’d ever encountered. I  made a promise to him and to myself in that hospital that I would stay present and focused and not let the hustle and bustle of everyday life sweep away his infancy and toddlerhood and childhood in the blink of an eye. I was going to cherish the moments goddamit because I only had to look into the eyes of my 2 older children to get a reminder of  how fast time flies by.

k1

But here’s the thing – no matter how much I vowed to relish every milestone, somehow they still whirred past. The downy softness of his newborn hair, the weight of him on my shoulder as he fell asleep snuggled in a tight ball, his first gummy smiles and sweet gurgly laughs, watching his sister gently give him his first bath, his brother’s peels of laughter when he fed him his first taste of apple sauce, watching my husband bundle him up in the stroller and set off around the neighbourhood for yet another attempt at getting him to sleep……he just kept changing and growing and there wasn’t a darn thing I could do about it.

I held on to the moments and at the same time watched them slip through my fingers as he grew – crawling across the floor and then taking his first tottering drunken steps around the living room. And I had to constantly keep reminding myself to focus on the present and to not waste my time mourning the past or worrying about the future.

So here we are 4 years later. The serene little baby has blossomed into a feisty and funny and wild and tender and unique little boy who has completely stolen all of our hearts. He’s a lover of swords and hockey and scooters and climbing trees. He’ll be the first in line for a good game of mini sticks with his favourite cousin, he’ll hang with a group of 12-year-old boys like he’s part of the gang and (sadly) he’s not averse to dropping the occasional swear word. He loves to snuggle in bed reading stories, he insists on twirling my hair in his fingers when he’s tired and he often sneaks into my bed at night to wedge himself between my husband and I.

My little K – he’s my last baby and he’s turning 4. Just like that. In the blink of an eye.

k2

 

 

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.

Reflections on 15 Years

My husband and I are celebrating our anniversary today. I can hardly believe it’s been 15 years since a wide-eyed young couple walked down the aisle and began a life together that would include world travel, job changes, more than a few late-night parties, relocations, renovations, a dietary overhaul, some blow-out fights, lots of laughs, 3 beautiful children and a deep lasting love and friendship.

anniversary

Thanks to a brilliant suggestion from our close friends (who are also celebrating 15 years of wedded bliss), we decided to mark this milestone year with a trip to a spa in Grafton, Ontario called St. Anne’s. For 2 busy couples with 3 children apiece, this was a rare opportunity to focus on ourselves, relax and enjoy some much-needed pampering. And a few days away from the often hectic pace of our everyday lives gave us all some perspective on the things that really matter.

So in honour of the past 15 years, here are a few important insights that I took away from our anniversary spa getaway:

1. Sometimes just sitting together, holding hands and saying nothing at all can be as powerful as a deep conversation.

2. It’s important to treasure close friends. The time we spent laughing, talking, swimming, relaxing, playing euchre, drinking wine and eating gourmet food together was more potent for stress relief than months of therapy.

3. It’s healthy to talk about things other than the kids every once in a while. Oh yah – we had a life before those little rug rats came along!

4. A spa treatment involving disrobing and being sprayed down with a scotch hose will wind up being the butt of endless jokes ; )

5. Being pampered and focusing on ourselves isn’t a selfish act – it actually makes us better parents, partners and friends.

6. It’s super liberating to walk around all day in a bathrobe with no makeup on and a pound of massage oil in your hair.

5. The world won’t come to an end and my children won’t be heartsick if I leave them in the capable hands of their grandparents for a few days. In fact, they barely noticed I was gone.

6. Even after 15 years, I still marvel at my husband’s wacky sense of humour, his easy-going nature, his enduring patience and his unwavering kindness. Plus he looks pretty hot in a bathrobe!

And the biggest lesson of all? Perspective. Life is still busy, hectic and often uncontrollable- but I can reflect back on the peace I felt during those few days away, take a couple of deep breaths and bring that calmness into any situation that is thrown my way. It also helps if I’m wearing my robe.

Happy Anniversary Mark! I love you!