Keepin’ It Real

I woke up feeling on top of the world. I snuck out the door in the early morning light to squeak in a glorious hot yoga class while my husband and the kids slept peacefully and saved time afterwards to pop by my favorite spot beside the lake to meditate.

I closed my eyes for a blissful 15 minutes and when I opened them I had the most spectacular view of the sun over the icy cold lake that I felt inspired to capture the moment. I took a picture and posted it on social media with the caption “my post-meditation view”.

meditation view

The house was still quiet when I returned home so I hopped in a shower and managed to get myself dressed up in something that was NOT yoga pants and apply some grown-up makeup- more than just my typical  finger-full of goo from a tube of lip balm.

Although I felt a tad guilty, I left my husband to deal with the morning chaos and headed off to Toronto for a full day of voice overs. Traffic was light so I cranked up my favourite tunes, hit the drive-thru for a chai tea and belted out Salt ‘N Pepa songs the whole way to the city (Push it…push it good!)

My sessions couldn’t have gone better. The clients were appreciative and kind, the recordings ran on time and my voice was clear and smooth. A person I’ve worked with for years took the time to offer up some encouraging words and my agent texted right after the session with another awesome booking.  I was feeling like a freakin’ rockstar!

And then I returned home.

The first thing I noticed (aside from the fact that the breakfast dishes were haphazardly piled in the sink) was that the dog had chewed up the garbage in the bathroom and left a nice selection of used maxi pads ground into the bath math. My charming 4-year-old continuously shot me in the butt with his nerf gun while I tried to clean it up AND the entire time I prepared dinner- despite numerous semi-polite requests to “cut it out already!” I picked a fight with my husband about the state of the kitchen and he fired back with something about “being in the moment” with the kids (jerk!). My older two kids bickered non-stop while we choked down a less-than-inspired stir fry and even though I tried at least three times to start a rousing round of “family appreciations” – the only nice thing my son could muster to say about his sister was “well I guess she doesn’t suck too much.” Sigh.

Soon after dinner my husband had to rush off to hockey (double jerk!) and I was left with a sink full of breakfast and dinner dishes, three cantankerous kids and my own festering bitterness. What went wrong?!

If you had looked at my social media from that day – you might have thought the following about me: I’m uber spiritual (I find time to meditate by the lake for heaven’s sake!), my life is in balance (meditation…..by the lake) and I’m calm and contented (did I mention that I meditate by the lake?)

But the reality of my life is much more layered and complicated than social media would lead you to believe. Due to the miracle of technology, I’m able to carefully edit out the crappy bits and only show the world the very best parts of my life. And because we are so darn busy ALL the time – sometimes even the people who are closest to me check in with my Facebook or Twitter or Instagram to find out how I’m doing. And they assume that I’m killing it. But the truth is- sometimes I am and sometimes I’m not.

Most often we present a version of ourselves online that doesn’t match up with reality. We post our successes and accomplishments and moments meditating by the lake and conveniently leave out all of the fights and tears and vulnerable parts of ourselves. And when we look around and think everyone else has it all together, we can feel terribly alone with our own struggles. Ironically, this vehicle for keeping us connected can ultimately leave us feeling discouraged and disconnected.

I’ve been joking that I’m going to start my own site called “Keepin’ it Real” where we can share not only pictures of smiling children festooned with medals and uber positive motivational tidbits but also things that will connect us on a more honest and realistic level. Because that’s what life is like isn’t it?  One day you are sailing along like a boss and other times you want to hide under the covers all day and only pop out for an episode of the Kardashians and a giant glass of wine (or is that just me?).

So let me get the ball rolling with a selection of postings on Lori Wilson’s Keepin’ it Real account:

“Feeling Conflicted” – trying to reconcile my passion for healthy eating and green smoothies with my cravings for potato chips and caramel chocolates. Hoping that smoothie for breakfast cancels out the small bag of Doritos I just snuck from my son’s Halloween bag.

(smily face) Realized my 5-year-old hasn’t said “bitch” for an entire week. Booyah!

(frowny face) Caught myself standing off to the side of my mirror brushing my hair in an attempt to avoid looking at my own face. How did I go from loving the mirror to not being able to look at myself?

“Teetering on the Edge” – husband away for fourth week in a row and I’m sending out a 911 call to all girlfriends within a 10 km radius to proceed to my house asap with prosecco to talk me off the ledge.

(grossed-out face) Anyone else have a dog who won’t stop eating their own poop? Anyone????

So who’s with me? I’m looking for a new generation of social media superstars- some fellow brave souls who are willing to be more vulnerable and real with each other. Let’s break through the facade that we all throw up on the web and get a bit more honest with each other. Because sometimes we are sailing through life belting out 80’s rap tunes at the top of our lungs and sometimes we’re on all fours in the bathroom picking up garbage with a Nerf dart sticking out of our butts. Hey -I’m just keepin’ it real : )

Who “Gets” You?

When I was in public school, my dad came home one day with a beautiful new piano and my parents decided that my sister and I should learn how to play it. My mom signed us up for lessons at a local convent and our first teacher was a very elderly nun. Her name escapes me but what I DO remember is that she kept a wad of kleenexes stuffed in the wrist of her shirt and constantly re-used them to catch the steady drips that ran from her nose. She also had breath that smelled like a pungent combination of stale coffee and mothballs and she would blow it in my face when she leaned in to offer her frequent musical corrections. Needless to say – my piano playing was pathetic because I was way more focused on dodging the boogery tissues and chronic halitosis to focus on the music. Thankfully after a month or so my mom decided we should try out a different instructor.

Mr. Carr was a gentle, patient and talented musician who offered classes at my family church. I liked him right away. He was funny and spunky and his breath smelled like spearmint. And miraculously my playing improved exponentially. After only a few weeks together he offered up a challenge: “Lori” he said “I want you to sing along when you play this next piece.” I was only too happy to oblige because I was absolutely certain I was destined to become a world-famous singer. I belted out the song as I plunked away at the keyboard and after I was done Mr. Carr just smiled and continued on with our lesson.

Shortly after Mr. Carr approached my parents and asked if they would be willing to let me do singing lessons with him in addition to our piano sessions. Thankfully they said that would be fine and I embarked some of the most joyful years of my childhood. I adored my vocal classes with Mr. Carr – he made me feel like the most amazing singer in the world and even signed me up to compete at local music festivals. I was on cloud nine. Up in the choir room during those 1/2 hour lessons, I was free to indulge in one of my passions and I got tons of positive reinforcement for doing something I loved.

What I realize now as an adult looking back on my time with Mr. Carr is that aside from my family- he was the first person who really GOT me. He saw the real me and he acknowledged the spark that was inside of me. I’m not quite sure how he figured out that singing was what I really wanted to do during those lessons but he managed to tap into something that made me feel special. He didn’t think my singing was frivolous or a waste of time – he encouraged me to embrace my inner artist.

mentor

I have been incredibly fortunate to have had a long list of amazing mentors who have nudged me along my path in life. People who have encouraged me, inspired me, pushed me and taught me to become the woman I am today. There was Ms. Simmons in high school who took notice of my writing and taught me how to tell my own authentic stories. A university senior named Steve who recognized my homesickness and helped me to see the adventure and fun in the changes of life. My dear friend Gerald who heard me talking on the phone while I was working at one of my first jobs as a receptionist and decided he would help me get into the voice over business. Gentle sweet Paul who took me under his wing at a new job in public relations and taught me the value in being kind and appreciative to your colleagues. Alyson, Bev and Georgine who opened my eyes to a kind and friendly approach to parenting and marriage. Tanya who took my call just five years ago and has been generous enough to offer excellent mentorship in the highly competitive voice over industry. And nutritionist Megan who taught me to look at my diet in a whole new way…. to name just a few.

mentor 2

This business of “mentoring” is not an easy thing to do- one has to be willing to put aside their own ego and agenda to truly focus and nurture the needs of another. It’s a selfless act of caring and love. And the good news is there are lots of incredible people out there filled to the brim with knowledge and experience who would make excellent mentors. You just have to know where to look. Here are a few things you can intentionally do to uncover the people who will “get” you:

REACH OUT: Although some of the mentors in my life came to me by chance – I have also reached out many times to ask for guidance. Of course sometimes others are too busy or not interested but I’ve found that most often people are more than happy to help. Figure out what area of your life would benefit from some mentorship (relationships, parenting, career, fitness, health, volunteering), make a list possible candidates and reach out!

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER: Don’t worry if you feel too “young” or too “old” to start a mentoring relationship. I have benefitted greatly from special teachers from the time I was little right up to today. And I hope to continue to be inspired by mentors for many years to come.

LOOSEN THE TERMS: Perhaps asking someone to “mentor” you might sound a bit too heavy or intense in certain instances. Instead, ask a friend for coffee or a glass of wine and pick their brain about the things you admire or are curious about. You might ignite an informal mentorship and friendship at the same time.

BE A MENTOR: One of the best ways to connect with others is to offer your own mentorship to someone who is struggling. We all have unique talents that can be used to inspire those around us. Be careful not to force information on someone who isn’t interested – but if you find a kindred spirit who is curious about your approach to life- that is the perfect opportunity to share your wisdom.

APPRECIATE YOUR MENTORS: A few years ago I wrote letters to some of my own personal mentors expressing my gratitude. It was a wonderful experience to offer this appreciation and I also got the opportunity to reconnect with some of my heroes.

Now that I’m a mom, I am keenly aware of the people who take the time to acknowledge the sparks in my own children. I can see the beams of light shooting from them bright and strong but I know how valuable it is to have that light acknowledged by another. I try my best to surround them with people who make them feel special, who nurture their passions and who will lovingly nudge them along their own unique paths. Perhaps if they are very lucky, they will find their own minty-fresh breathed Mr. Carr. And they will feel seen. You just can’t ask for anything better than that.

When People Let You Down

About a year ago I received an email from one of my closest friends in the world. She started out by saying she felt she had to reach out because she had deep concerns about our friendship. I won’t go into all of the personal details but basically she shared that despite her best efforts to stay in touch – it really seemed like I wasn’t all that interested in our relationship and she was wondering if our friendship had run its course or if she’d done something to cause a rift between us.

My first reaction was complete shock. Of course I still wanted to be friends and no -she hadn’t done a thing! I frantically searched my memory for our most recent get together or email or phone call and it hit me – she was absolutely right. I had been a totally shitty friend. I quickly realized how brave my friend was for contacting me versus simply writing me off and I took the opportunity to apologize and sheepishly explain myself.

friendship

That email acted as a powerful wake up call for me. You see I generally consider myself to be a pretty darn good friend. Thoughtful and kind and present and practically perfect in every way ; ) But I’m not. And I’m willing to bet that you aren’t either. We mean to stay in touch but we don’t. We plan to go to that special event but we miss it. We want to bring muffins to a new neighbour but we don’t. We intend to make a lunch date or dinner date or pick up the phone but life gets busy and we forget. We want to support someone’s event but it conflicts with something else and we bail. We plan to visit but put it off because we are too tired.

A very wise friend once told me that “we judge ourselves by our intentions but we judge others by their actions”. So you see although I fully intended to stay in touch and make an effort and be thoughtful….I just wasn’t following through. I was skipping along thinking in my own mind that I was a stellar pal and all the while my actions showed otherwise.

Did I rectify the situation with my friend? You bet. Am I still a shitty friend from time to time? Absolutely. But I did learn a few things  from that experience that (I hope) has made me a better friend and has (hopefully) made me more patient and less judgemental with the people in my life:

  • Although it will make you feel extremely vulnerable – if you value a relationship and things have gone off the rails – it’s almost always worth it to reach out and clear the air.
  • You may not particularly want to hear what a friend has to say but you can almost always learn a lesson from the experience (I can certainly vouch for this one).
  • Some people come into our lives only briefly so don’t try to hang on to a relationship that has run its course.
  • If someone drops out of your life and doesn’t want to talk about it then thank them for their time with you and move on. You can’t make someone spend time with you against their will. (another friend recently told me that sometimes the reason people leave your life is so hurtful or painful that they don’t offer an explanation to spare your feelings. Very good point.)
  • Sometimes you will be a crappy friend. Sometimes your friends will be crappy to you. None of us is perfect so be forgiving and patient.
  • If you truly value a relationship – stay in touch, show up and be present.

I think we all have that one friend or relationship where we wonder “what went wrong? was it me?” Relationships can be tricky and if you are anything like me – your feelings can get hurt very easily. That email sent from my friend changed my perspective on this issue quite a bit though. Instead of rushing to hurt or anger or righteous indignation (a personal specialty of mine) – I take a deep breath and remember that I as much as I try to convince myself otherwise – I am far from perfect. Until I line up my intentions and actions with pinpoint accuracy I will continue to look inwards instead of pointing fingers at others.

And that’s all I’ve got time to write for today – I’ve gotta get busy baking some muffins for the neighbours who moved in a year ago ; )

My Friend Gemma & Her Mouthwatering Noodle Dish

I have an amazing friend named Gemma. She is originally from the Philipines but entered my life about 6 years ago when she became the nanny for a close friend of mine. I remember when my girlfriend sent around an email announcing Gemma’s arrival – she said that she had a wonderful woman who would be joining their family and that she was a “gem”.

Well I have certainly found that to be very true. We first met as we walked the kids to school together and over the years have become good buddies. As we got to know one another, Gemma would often tell me stories about her childhood. Let me tell you – her life story would make a heartbreaking and inspirational novel and I’m often moved to tears as she recounts the trials and tribulations she has faced and overcome.

Her father was murdered when she was just 2 years old leaving her teacher mom with 4 young children to raise on her own in a small Phillipino village. They had to struggle to make ends meet and Gemma learned from an early age that each member of the family had to work hard to contribute to their survival. Despite their dire financial situation, Gemma’s mom made sure that all of her children went to school and completed their education.

Gemma went on to get a degree in accounting and also married and became the mom to 4 children of her own. Unfortunately, her marriage was an unhappy one and she found herself desperate to make money to support her family. Although the thought of leaving her children was extremely difficult, she was determined to make a better life for them and took a job as a housekeeper in Saudi Arabia. Her time in Saudi was difficult and scary and she found herself becoming more and more depressed. Thankfully, her sister was able to pull some strings and eventually Gemma was transferred to Canada to become a nanny.

Despite life’s hardships, Gemma has a wicked sense of humour and maintains a very positive attitude. And I’m happy to report that today all of her children are thriving and Gemma herself has found love again. This past summer, she married her Canadian sweetheart…and I even had the honour of acting as emcee at the nuptials.

gemma 1

In addition to being a good friend who always keeps me laughing, Gemma is also an excellent cook. I love it when she whips up traditional Philipino dishes to share with my  family… and she always kindly remembers to make them vegetarian just for me. My absolute favourite dish is her Pancit. This beautiful dish is one of the staples of the Philipino diet and actually translates as “convenience food”. A mountain of noodles and veggies all simmering together in fragrant broth – honestly, I could eat it every day!

Gemma kindly offered to give me a cooking lesson recently and I learned the secret to her delicious noodle dish. It’s quick and easy and even the kids gobble it up. And it’s versatile – you could throw in tofu (or another protein of choice) and mix and match your veggies to suit your tastes.

gemma 2

Thank you Gemma for coming into my life. I truly appreciate your friendship, your off-colour sense of humour, your bravery, your perseverance…..and of course your noodles ; )

Gemma’s Pancit

gemma 4

1 pkg rice noodles (I used rice vermicelli)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup Soy Sauce (or more to taste)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 inch section of fresh ginger, grated
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
2 cups green beans, halved and sliced
3 carrots, sliced into narrow strips
1 red pepper, julienned
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large wok or frying pan over med-high heat. Add ginger, garlic and onions and saute for 3-5 minutes until softened. Add in veggies, broth and soy sauce and simmer together for 5-10 minutes until veggies begin to soften and heat through, stirring frequently.

In another pot, boil water and cook noodles according to package directions. Strain and rinse and set aside.

Combine noodles and veggies/broth together and stir gently to mix. Add additional soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

gemma 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judgement & Food Choices

As a result of the choices I make when it comes to eating, I sometimes find myself in the company of friends and family who feel the need to apologize to me about their own food choices. Recently, a good friend sheepishly asked if I would be okay if she ordered a steak while we were out dining together and another pal ardently defended her love of bacon at an early morning breakfast date.

veggie cartoon 4

Let me just get this out in the open – there is no need to apologize! I choose not to eat meat – that is true – but I promise to make no judgements about your selections. I will keep my own personal lifestyle choices private (unless you ask) and I will absolutely not jump to any conclusions about your character based on what you eat in front of me. Heck, I am certainly no purist. I ate meat until well into my 30’s, I will literally shove you out of the way to get at a fresh bag of potato chips and a glass of red wine and a gooey chocolate dessert are two of my very favourite things in the world. (Of course all of this is null and void if you are my husband – in which case I will freely offer my unbridled opinion….sorry Mark!)

I recently found myself browsing the housewares department at Anthropologie while my mom and sister tried on clothes (this likely explains why they always look fashionably dressed and I can most often be found wearing my track pants ; ) and I stumbled upon a beautiful book called Pure Vegan by Joseph Shuldiner that I just had to buy.

pure vegan

The recipes look amazing and the photographs are downright mouth-watering but what really hooked me was the introduction to the book. The author says:

“My intentions in writing this book are not to debate the virtues of one belief system over another, nor to promote the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet. Aside from having little interest in these debates, I’m not qualified to take up a pair of boxing gloves in their defense. Making my own day-to-day choices about what to eat and what not to eat is complicated enough without trying to tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat. And that, my friend, is what this book is about: making choices that feel natural and right to you; to sow a few seeds in the back of your mind and help you cultivate your own plant-based culinary repertoire.”

Well said! I felt an immediate kinship with Joseph Shuldiner and his lovely and non-judgemental philosophy towards eating. We all have to walk our own culinary path and it is often one fraught with allergies, preferences, mixed messages from food producers and the media, childhood eating experiences, guilt, weight-struggles and financial issues (not to mention the complications thrown in if you are trying to feed a picky family).

So order what you will and enjoy every mouthful. I won’t judge you….. and I trust you will look the other way as I wipe chip crumbs onto my jogging pants.

Guest Post: The Upside of Downtime

I first met Barbara Reade and her partner Roman at my Sunday morning bootcamp class and she struck me right away as someone who was friendly and warm but also strong and determined (she completed the Tough Mudder in the spring for heaven’s sake!) When I asked for guest bloggers about a month ago, she was the very first person to step up with an offer to write a piece on her painful, frustrating and enlightening journey back from a knee injury. Judging from the crazy number of backwards lunges I saw her do just this past Sunday in class, I’m fairly certain that she has made a full recovery. But I think you’ll agree that there is much to be learned from Barb’s struggles and observations as she healed her body over the summer and eventually made peace with the process.

Thank you so much for this insightful and honest post Barb! Check it out below:

The Upside of Downtime

By: Barbara Reade

Definition of “downtime”, according to the Free Online Dictionary – “The period of time when something, such as a factory or a piece of machinery, is not in operation, especially as the result of a malfunction.”

Every so often, life throws a curve ball in your direction. You can either stealthily duck to avoid it or, if you are less agile and perhaps involved in a sport that involves skillful pivoting in sand while looking skyward for flying balls, you can get hit squarely in the face. Or in the knee, which was sort of my case. In actual fact, I ended up spraining my knee while playing volleyball on the beach with a group of friends who had banded together to form a team for an upcoming fund raiser. The only caveat was that we needed to play beach volleyball convincingly well, so practising was imperative. None of us had so much as picked up a volleyball since our high school days, but we were all keen, overflowing with enthusiasm and ready to have fun. I should mention as well that every single one of us was involved in a number of athletic pursuits already, so we felt that we were ready for the challenge.

My initial reaction to injuring my knee, I’m ashamed to say, was embarrassingly immature. Shortly after the practice that cut short my volleyball career, when it was obvious that I had done something really unpleasant to my knee, I had a little tantrum back at home. I was feeling rather sorry for myself, quite hard-done by and blurted out to Roman, my ever patient partner in life, “I don’t even play volleyball!” As if I would feel much better had I injured myself doing something that I participated in all the time. Would I have felt differently if I had been inadvertently kicked in the knee during a boxing class, or if I had wiped out attempting a daring box jump in a small group training class? I mean, heck, I made it through the gruelling training regimen for Tough Mudder when there were literally dozens of ways to get hurt. Yet, in reality, it was an injury that resulted from a sport that I had tried just for fun and to help raise a little money for a good cause. It could have happened to anybody.

The day after that fateful twist of my knee, I hobbled off to the chiropractor to confirm what I already suspected; that I did, indeed, have a sprained knee. I was told to ice my knee every few hours and stop my usual physical activities until the knee had a chance to heal. In other words – rest. How lovely. Rest. So why did this one word, which normally conjures up pleasing images of reclining, lounging, napping, and basically draping one’s body over every available piece of furniture for hours on end, send me into an emotional tailspin?

Once the pouting, sulking and moping subsided, I decided to take stock. Why did I have such a powerful emotional response to what was, in the scheme of things, just a minor blip on the radar? I didn’t have a terribly severe sprain, but it was enough to sideline me from the things that I loved to do, for at least a little while. What was so important about being involved in the active lifestyle that I had worked relentlessly to cultivate? The answer became clear – my life had lost its former balance. I needed to rejig the scales in order to get through this recovery period. In other words, I needed to find the upside of downtime. I needed to acknowledge all the positives that had flowed from a negative experience. I started to make a list, a list which continues to grow as the days go by:

The Upside

  1. I now have indisputable proof that exercise and the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle are non-negotiables. Life is just a whole lot better with wellness at the forefront. The lack thereof, is worse than an injury.
  2. I know for sure that I have many wonderful people in my life because of item #1. Without them, I feel like I’m missing limbs. Their support and friendship sustain me.
  3. With fewer commitments, I created more time to spend with my elderly parents during the week following my sprain. This was a welcome change, as I had originally planned to spend the final week of my summer holidays tackling as many activities as possible before the launch of another school year. Instead, I met my folks for a leisurely mid-week breakfast, escorted them to a couple of favourite shops, drove Mom home from the hair salon, enjoyed ice-cream with the two of them on a bench, and simply had more time to hang out and chat. For the first time too, I kept pace with my Mom as she walked with her rollator, never feeling like I was going too fast. My slower pace was just right.
  4. I’m learning how to overcome my tendency to restlessly relax. I admit it, when I’m “relaxing”, I usually have one eye scanning my surroundings for something else to do. You can’t leap up every few minutes when you’ve got an ice pack positioned just so, and your leg propped up comfortably on a pillow. The battle is not yet won, but I am learning to resist those urges to flit from one activity to the next.
  5. You can’t read a great book if you’re perpetually on the move. Suffice it to say, I’ve done a lot of reading recently.
  6. As difficult as it has been to miss out on all my favourite activities, it’s good to know that they will still be there for me when I’m ready to return to them. My situation is temporary, not permanent. I’m so very thankful for that.
  7. I learned how to remove cat pee from a litter box in order to provide the veterinarian with a urine sample. Really. One day, I may write about it.
  8. Maintaining a sense of humour is everything. I’m glad that mine is still intact.

As I mentioned earlier, this list continues to grow and I have undoubtedly left out many valuable observations that I will kick myself for later. Speaking of which, I need to get back to resting, icing and healing my knee, so that I can resume all the power walking, lunges, squats, dipping birds, stair runs, boxer shuffles, and yes, kicking, that I have enjoyed so very much.

Well, maybe not the dipping birds.

By Barbara Reade

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!