Life Lessons

  • Just Do It

     “Are you skating or just watching?” I asked my “significant other” over breakfast.

    “Um, just watching” he replied, “and you?”

    At this point, I briefly weighed both options and heard myself say, “skating” before I had really made up my mind. We were taking the girls to the locals sports and rec center for free skating on Family Day. My oldest daughter is a hockey player and skates like a pro, and my youngest daughter has spent enough time on the ice to hold her own too.

    I’ve only gone skating about four times in the past 4 years and I’m definitely no pro, but I do okay, kinda, sorta. (Other than that one time when, after getting a little too confident, I tripped over my pick and did a total “a** over teakettle” kind of move that was far from graceful. I laughed it off but my pride wasn’t the only thing bruised.

    I made my youngest daughter promise to hold my hand until I got my bearings, and told my older daughter specifically not to. (She likes to grab my hand and pull me while she skates like she’s on a breakaway and about to score a goal….scares the snot out of me because of previously mentioned “a** over teakettle” manoeuvre that I do not want to repeat.)

    As much as I wish I could glide effortlessly around the ice and weave around people like my hockey playing daughter does, I hate to even let go of my younger daughter’s hand. Eventually, I get my confidence up and don’t totally panic when she does let go of my hand. I manage to glide along (fairly smoothly…with the odd, whoa that was close!) and stay upright until she comes along again and takes my hand.

    By the end of the two hours, I’m feeling pretty good skating on my own but still very careful not to get too confident and trip myself. I’ve gone from being afraid of my daughter letting go of my hand, to actually skating away from my hockey player and letting her chase me. (Mind you, she catches me in about two strides, but still…) I watched myself go from being afraid to skate alone, to playing with the temptation to just give ‘er and see what happens. (If there weren’t so many people there, I think I would’ve just done it. However, fear of consequence prevented me from skating with such abandon.)

    After my experience with skating with my two daughters this afternoon, I’ve come to realize that sometimes, you’ve got to “just do it” as in the words of the legendary Nike ads.

    I had the fear in my head that when my daughter let go of my hand, I would spontaneously do a triple-sow-cow-type-wipeout and yet when she did let go, I did fine. Just like learning to (or teaching our kids to) ride a bike.  You might be a little wobbly at first but before you know it, you’re gliding along on your own like you’ve been doing it forever, without a care in the world. (This is where I would probably trip over my pick again, but fortunately, not today!)

    Whatever opportunity comes up next for me I promise to sidestep fear (which I’ve read stands for false evidence appearing real), and “just do it”!

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  • Beyond Fear

    Today I had to do a swim test as a prerequisite for an upcoming ice water rescue course that I’m doing this weekend. The test consisted of treading water for 15 minutes and swimming 100m with a PFD on. It wasn’t the actual test that bothered me so much as the going out without a stitch of makeup on and getting into a swimsuit in the middle of winter, and not with my family, which would’ve at least made it bearable just for the fact that it’s spending time with the family, and that makes everything worth it. Since this test is part of a training course offered through the volunteer fire department that I’m on, the lead instructor was there, an officer from my department, and a fellow firefighter from my station (who was also doing the test) were all there too.

    As a woman, if there’s ever a time that insecurities are going to come out, being in a bathing suit will do it to ya. I’m sure there are women out there that are extremely self confident and have no problem whatsoever in a bathing suit, summer or winter. I just don’t know any personally. And even though I get on my treadmill regularly and do weights often, I battle my own long standing insecurities any time I think of putting on a bathing suit. At least in the summer, one has the benefit of a tan to hide such imperfections and make one feel much better about themselves, in my experience anyway.

    As for the lack of makeup…don’t get me wrong. I’m not obsessed with my looks ( I believe them to be average), and I don’t spend tons of money on the latest and greatest beauty products ($5 mascara, $7 eyeliner and a little foundation here and there to cover the red spots and/or bags under my eyes…priceless.) I’m not sure if it’s an age thing or a stress thing but my skin definitely seems to be less than radiant most days, so if a little makeup here and there makes me feel better, so be it.  However, you do not wear makeup in the pool, it’s just not an option, so bare faced I went. Oh how I wish my “bare faced” was as fresh and clean and bright looking as the “bare faced” models in magazines…hahaha. Okay, back to the real world. (I suppose there is water proof makeup out there that may do the trick, but that definitely seems like going over board to “save face”.

    Makeup and body issues aside, I passed the test. I was glad I passed it, but not surprised. I had always been a strong swimmer when I was younger so I figured I could handle it, even if I don’t swim very often these days.

    The greatest victory for me today was not in passing the swim test, it was in testing myself and passing that I felt a victory had been won. I honestly didn’t care about how my body looked in the swim suit when I was at the pool (I felt good on the inside and that’s what mattered), and I wasn’t concerned with how I looked without makeup (did it really matter, after all?). I was also proud of myself for even doing the test and keeping up with the 20 something year old fellow firefighter that just happens to be training to become a full time firefighter and therefore is in extremely good shape. As a 40 year old mother of two, having the self confidence and self esteem to do the things you fear is hugely important to me so that I can be a good role model for my daughters.

    I don’t always feel as confident as I do at this particular moment in time, but I’m hoping that the more that I push myself beyond of my comfort zone and face my fears, the more my self confidence will grow, and someday become the norm. Fun Fearless Female. That’s what I’m going for. 40’s not too late is it???

    If you have that strong sense of self, nothing can stop you. That’s what I want for my girls….and for myself!

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  • My daughter’s Christmas present

    My twelve year old daughter asked for a massage for Christmas. She’s a hockey player and she often asks me for a back massage, but I must admit, I’m not very good at it. I’ve only had one massage myself, several years ago, but I felt like a million bucks afterwards and wondered why on earth I had waited so long to have one. I wanted to buy a massage for everyone I knew, it was that powerful of an experience. So when my daughter asked for one, I went and got her a gift certificate with the same RMT that had done mine.

    Her appointment was this morning and since she is only 12 and didn’t quite know what to expect with it being her first one, I went in and sat with her while she had the massage done. There was soft music playing in the background, the room was serene and welcoming and the RMT (Gillian) explained everything to Sydney before starting. When we told her that Syd was playing in a hockey tournament tomorrow, she was able to adapt the massage in order to target certain muscles that would specifically benefit her in her games tomorrow. I joked that she was just like the pro athletes that have a massage before the big game. (It wouldn’t surprise me if she wants one after the big game now too!)

    I was fascinated by how she worked with each muscle group and seemed to be almost listening to each muscle as much as feeling the tension in them. I noticed how she would tilt her head a little to the side as she worked on a specific muscle, as if to be waiting for it to speak to her through her hands. She reminded me of the movie The Horse Whisperer, I suppose we’d call her the “muscle whisperer”. She clearly had found her calling. She was both completely focused on what she was doing, but also ensured her patient’s comfort at all times.

    What struck me most about the whole experience was the moment when I felt insanely close to tearing up while watching her work on Syd. I remember thinking to myself, “what is that all about?? why do I feel like like I’m about to cry??” But as soon as the thought registered, along came the answer. It was  watching someone (someone that I’d only met once before, and that Sydney had never met before) treat my daughter (my pride and joy), with the same tenderness, the same presence, the same level of connection that I had thought only a Mother could.

    It was a tender moment for me. To be there to witness first hand how much Sydney enjoyed it and how it was a beautifully relaxing experience for her, and to see the degree of care with which Gillian took of my baby.

    As parents, we love nothing more than sharing our children’s happiness with them, but to be able to share such a peaceful, nurturing moment with my daughter was purely bliss.

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  • Life Lessons

    My oldest daughter, who will be twelve this month, plays hockey, loves hockey, and lives and breath hockey. She plays both forward and defense for her peewee team and although she prefers playing forward, she is an extremely good defenseman (person). In today’s game, they held onto a 1-0 lead going into the third period, which was fantastic for them as they’ve only gotten one win under their belts so far this year. Things were looking really good until…a goal was scored, in our net, by one of our own players, and after that happened, the other team managed to score 2 more goals and took the game 3-1. It was a real…bummer…and I felt bad for the player that it happened to. I thought it would be tough for even an adult to shake something like that off. And me being me, I’m always looking for the lesson in everything that happens in life, and I wondered how to put a positive spin on what had happened but it turns out that her Dad (the coach) had the life lesson covered for today.

    He’s not what I would call a motivational type person, or one for big pep talks or pointing out life’s lessons but I think he dished out a valuable one today. Apparently when the player that had accidently scored on our own team returned to the bench, the player was met with negativity from some of the other teammates. Once the game ended and the kids started to head off the ice, the coach called the team back to the bench and told them that if they ever treated a player like that again that they would be suspended. Like I said, he’s not the warm and fuzzy type, but I’m sure he got the point across, and more importantly, he had that kid’s back. It’s easy for kids to get caught up in the moment, and sure, it would be frustrating to have that happen in a game, but these kids need to remember that they are on the team together, and it could’ve happened to anyone. We all make mistakes.

    Our behaviour towards others has the potential to leave a permanent impression, good or bad. You may not remember what people say but you will always remember how they made you feel.

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  • Kids, you gotta love ’em!

    Kids, you gotta love 'em!

    I found this note this morning taped to the cupboard door where we’d hidden some Christmas presents…or apparently, not hidden. It made me laugh and then I sent the pic to significant other’s cell phone. He said we should tell daughter who wrote the note that we’re taking the gifts back. I think it’s hilarious because I never would’ve admitted to snooping when I was a kid, let alone leaving a note about it! Kids, you gotta love ’em!

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  • Woman’s Best Friend?

    What a pair! Here I am working away at my desk and in they come, park themselves beside me and sit…and stare…it’s hard not to wonder what they are thinking. Besides the obvious how awesome I am, of course. Or how much they love me, worship me, and just think I’m simply the best. Either that, or they need out. But usually when Piglet ( the larger one on the right…92lbs in fact!) needs out, she sits and the back door and stares at it. Not at me or anyone else, she actually sits and stares right at the back door. It’s the funniest thing because she often sits there for 10 or 15 minutes just staring at the door. Like maybe she’s waiting for her telepathy to kick in and open the door automatically. However, if she’s been there long enough and no one notices, she’ll let out one bark. And then she sit there for another few minutes. If no one comes and opens the door for her, she’ll bark again, but just once. So, often in our house with kids and tv’s and life going on, we may not notice until the fourth or fifth solitary bark comes from the back of the house. And then I will finally clue in and go to let her out if I happen to be the only one home, or if we are all home, someone (meaning hubby or I) will just call out “can someone let Pig out?”  Thank goodness she’s a patient dog!

    In this case, I think they just wanted to come and see what “mom” was doing, or perhaps they were hoping to distract me from whatever it was that I was doing because to them, it’s always a good time for cuddles, a good ear rubbing, or of course, the “ah-yeah-that’s-the-spot” belly rub that every dog lives for. Piglet likes to rest her head on the arm rest of whatever chair I’m sitting in and stare at me with those huge brown eyes of hers (again, I think she’s trying to use telepathy on me). Pooh Bear likes to put her paw on my leg and look intently at me in a way that makes me think she’s either a long lost family member reincarnated, or just wise beyond her dog years because she seems to be saying something to me with that look of hers, I just don’t know what the heck it is! And they are both all about the licking. They love to lick your face when you’re sleeping (which is great to use on the kids when I’m trying to get them up in the morning), or they’ll lick your hands if they happen to be at their eye level at any given time, or they lick each other. Piglet is always licking Pooh Bear because she’s the bigger of the two and seems to think she’s the momma, although they are sisters.  It’s widely accepted that it’s a sign of afftection when your dog licks you or “gives you kisses” afterall, they are just showing you how much they love you. Right?  Until you remember how often it is that they lick themselves and hope that they didn’t just….eeeewwww!

    Piglet, appropriately named, likes to eat socks (usually my daughter’s), underwear (usually mine…I still say that if  she’d eat hubby’s it would keep her full longer because there’s alot more material there, however…she prefers mine), anything leather (like my other daughter’s cowboy boot, right down to the sole, but just one so we have the other to use as a ? magazine holder??), and bread or buns of any kind left on the counter, and even bananas when she’s in the mood.

    Pooh Bear…Poopy Bear, Pooh Berra, Bear, Pooper, Poopy Pants…it’s amazing how many variations there are for her name. I like to say (when she’s lying on one of our beds), “ewww, there’s Pooh on the bed!”, or if she happens to lay on my feet, “there’s Pooh on my feet!”. Poor dog, talk about giving her a complex with a name like that. Suddenly, I think I know what she’s thinking when she looks at me so intently all the time…sorry Bear! Even Piglet’s nicknames aren’t too bad, Piggly Wiggly, Pigletta, Pig Pen, Piggy Griggy (hubby’s last name is Grigg). Mind you, Pig does seem to think she has to live up to her name by eating anything and everything…

    I could go on forever about the antics of Piglet & Pooh Bear, and I may even do so in future blogs, but for today I’ll wrap it up with this last thought…my dogs really must think I’m awesome because all I have to do is say their name once and they’ll be at my feet as fast as they can possibly get to me, eyes wide open, tail wagging, barely able to sit still and a look on their sweet, lovable faces that says…”Yes Mom?”

    Gotta love ’em!

    Piglet                                            

    Pooh Bear

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  • Who are you without a “job” to define yourself by?

    When we meet others, we often ask what they do for a living. It helps us to form an opinion of them, to define them in our minds, to describe them to others. We tend to identify ourselves with the job we do, whether it’s a profession, a part time job, a full time career, or just “work”. It’s interesting to note that I once read that “job” stands for “just over broke”, which is exactly where those who consider their place of employment as “just a job”, or “it pays the bills” often find themselves.

    I myself don’t have “a job”, (thank goodness because then I’d be just over broke). I’m not “gainfully employed”, nor do I have a profession, a career or full time work.  I could describe myself as a” stay at home” Mom, except for the fact that my kids are in grade 5 and 7, but I am a Mom and I am often at home, so it’s not entirely wrong. Or maybe, a “domestic engineer”?  Actually, I’d never call myself that but it is an accurate description, nontheless.  There are actually many benefits to this “not working” thing, short of the obvious “not having a steady income “.

    I am here for my kids for pretty much everything under the sun. I drive them to school, pick them up, keep them home when they’re sick, school trips, horse back riding lessons, hockey practices and games, homework, dentist appointments, doctor’s appointments, and of course, making sure they brush their teeth, wash their hair, clip their nails etc. etc. What it really means to me is that I don’t miss out on any wonderful (or not so wonderful) moments with them because I know that they aren’t always going to be under my feet, bugging me to make them something to eat, or help with their homework, or do stuff with them. Every parent plays a vital and unique part in raising their children, teaching them life lessons, and making sure they are taken care of. Right now, the best thing I can give them is my time and attention. I may not be able to buy them whatever they want, or take them wherever they want to go, but fortunately, their Dad can. (I’m partially joking when I say that because their Dad and I are not together, but honestly, we still share in their upbringing and always will. And I absolutely acknowledge everything he does for our girls, day in and day out).

    I get to indulge in my passion for blogging, reading, and whatever else my little heart desires. Most people don’t have the time to pursue what interests them. Most people probably don’t know what they would do if they did have the time because they are too busy working at that job and trying to pay the bills. They may have never even thought about what would make them happy. I remember asking my (ex) husband once what he would like to do if he could do anything he wanted. He looked at me like I had rocks in my head. He really hadn’t thought about it before. But to me, my passions are what my life revolves around. I may not have that steady income that others have, but we all know that a steady income doesn’t guarantee happiness. And happiness is something that I definitely do have.

    I have the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not out shopping everyday or travelling or having all these wonderful, exciting adventures. In fact, I’m mostly at home, on my computer reading or writing or doing housework, normal day to day stuff. The freedom I’m referring to is the fact that I don’t have to be somewhere Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, which I’d hate. Even when I worked full time, it was usually shift work, which I always found gave me more flexibility. The typical M-F job (there’s that word again!) makes me think of being put in a box. How does one ever get things done working like that? How do you get to a doctor’s appointment or dentist appointment, or any other appointment? Other than by taking time off. What if your child’s sick and needs to stay home? I get that it works for many, many people out there and they absolutely love working M-F and having their weekends off. I’m just saying it’s not for me, being the non-conformist that I am…heehee.

    So how is it that I am able to “live the life of leisure” as I like to call it, or “the life of Reilly”, as my significant other likes to say?

    The fact of the matter is that I work on an “as needed basis” for said “significant other’s” fire alarm business when he needs a second person to do fire alarm inspections. It’s actually something that I enjoy doing as I was a licenced fire alarm technician up until two years ago when I let my licence expire because I wasn’t working in the field anymore…but that was before he decided to go into business for himself…I’m contemplating renewing it, which now requires several tests and an exam…figures. It used to just be a matter of signing a piece of paper and sending in your money!

    But I digress…so I do work some, and I blog (which I get a little something from) (not this blog) (it’s another one, you should check it out sometime, http://www.firefightingincanada.com/content/blogsection/3/41/) and I am a volunteer firefighter (which does actually pay, it’s not entirely volunteer). But the biggest reason that I am able to stay home and meander through my days doing whatever my heart decides upon is my “significant other” that I mentioned earlier. I agree to be at his “beck and call” should he need me to work with him, and he agrees to let me come up with a way to “define myself” from the comfort of our own home. I also acknowledge every wonderful thing he does for our family of four and I love him immensely.

    I think I wandered way off topic there for awhile but it all comes down to this…how do you define yourself?

    As for me, I am a mother of two beautiful daughters, partner to “significant other” of my dreams, blogger, volunteer firefighter, and someone just trying to understand who I am and what I’m all about regardless of my employment status, or lack thereof.

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