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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Swearing, Connection & Vulnerability

*Warning: If you are offended by swearing then this post might not be for you! 

I think I’ve mentioned in the past that my 4-year-old has picked up some unfortunate bad language. I’m not 100% sure where it all started but with his 13-year-old brother and his buddies hanging around our house all the time and with a father from Montreal (not to stereotype but I have noticed my husband’s childhood pals punctuate most of their sentences with the f-word) – it has followed that he has picked up a few doozys. And brace yourselves because he has landed on a brutal one……his latest gem is “bitch”.

I can literally hear you gasping through the computer screen. Yep – it’s awful. We certainly don’t use that word in our home but somehow he picked it up and someone laughed (probably his brother) or overreacted (probably me) and he decided that “bitch” was going to become his bad word of choice. Now don’t get me wrong – he doesn’t go around using the word all day long, but if his buttons are pushed or he’s being taunted by his siblings or teased by his cousins- he’ll let loose with a “you bitch!”

And yes this is deeply embarrassing. As much as I try to remember that my child is not a reflection of me, it still stings when he calls his brother a “bitch” at Thanksgiving dinner (sorry mom).  And I have tried absolutely everything to get him to stop and nothing has worked. Not even the threat of no Santa presents has convinced him to clean up his language.

Frankly, before I wrote this post I tried not to tell too many people because I was afraid of being judged as a bad mother. The few times I have confessed to close friends I’ve heard “oh my, we don’t allow bad language in our house” or “my children would never ever swear!”. Ok well I appreciate the honesty (and I’m happy for you…sort of ; ) but in the end those interactions always made me feel a whole lot worse about my situation.

About a month ago I was chatting with a friend who also has a 4-year-old son. We were laughing about some of the challenges and funny things they do when she suddenly admitted “oh yah – and now my little darling has started saying “fuck-wad”! He’s even using it in public if he get’s annoyed. The other day he called my daughter and a bunch of her girlfriends “fuck-wads” right in front of a big group of parents standing around at school. I could have died!”

Well I literally stopped in my tracks. “What’s wrong?” she asked. And I told her my story. She just listened and nodded and laughed. And when I finished she smiled at me and said “Well, let me know what works for you and I’ll do the same. It’s nice to know there is someone else going through the same thing.” I cannot even tell you how much better I felt just knowing that I wasn’t alone – it was like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.

“When we show up in our perfect imperfection, it gives others permission to relax into doing the same.”

Ali Schueler, Wild Woman Speaks

So I’m sharing my story -this very personal (and embarrassing) story in the hopes that you will feel inspired to also let yourself become just a little bit more vulnerable. In this social media culture, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that everyone’s lives are composed of one perfect snapshot after another. But life is messy and wonderful and sad and scary and funny….sometimes all of these things at once. That’s what it is to be human isn’t it? If we are willing to share some of our challenges and struggles then we might just find more genuine connection with the people in our lives…. and maybe even encourage them to open up as well. Sometimes our screw ups and painful experiences contain powerful lessons that we can learn from and share with others.

Let’s face it – we all have those things in our lives that we wrestle with and that make us feel vulnerable. Maybe you don’t have a 4-year-old who swears like a truck driver but perhaps you struggle with feelings of depression or anxiety, or feel overwhelmed at home or work, or are dealing with a difficult child or spouse or are feeling stuck in your current situation. Whatever it is I guarantee you will feel so much better if you can open up and share with a trusted confidante. Maybe they’ll say “Hey – me too!” And you will realize (no matter how many swear words you have had to endure) that you are not alone. What a gift!

brene brown 1

 

 

 

 

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!