Push

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Dear 2017,

My word this year is ‘Push’.  You will hear this single word when you try to slow me down.  I will push back if you try to trip me up.  I will push to stand up if you try to knock down.  I will push a little harder if I feel I am out of fight.

I.  Will.  Push.

I’ve worked hard the last two years.  2015 was my doorway.  2016 brought me beauty.  I have put so many things in place.  2017 will be when I will push to cross off the big items from my list.  It will be the year I push the boundaries.  It will be the year I push myself to overcome challenges.  It will be my year to push.

I am an author.

When I first found out that I was pregnant, after the hysteria passed, I got excited about all the things I would teach my child.  I would teach them everything I had learned.  I could show them what I knew of the world.  I planned on teaching them the same lessons I was grateful to have learned, and would avoid the lessons I wished I hadn’t learned.  But mostly I wanted to teach them the lessons I had learned too late; the ones that stung a bit too much to learn the hard way.  

Let me tell you, I was a way better parent before I had kids.  I was so wrong.  

When I met Halia, she let me know quite quickly that we weren’t going to be following my plan, because she had one of her own.  Halia has been my mirror since the day she was born, showing me how the world sees me, and always demanding to know the next step.  She’s kept me accountable for my actions, and forced me to be the best version of me I could be.  

And then I met Leona, who had a much different lessons for me.  

With Leona I’ve learned to stop and look around.  I’ve learned it’s okay to wander away from the crowd and dance when there’s a good beat, even if I’m the only one who can hear it.  I’ve learned the joy of being silly, and that it’s okay to wear plaid, florals and stripes in the same outfit as long as you have the attitude to go with it.  I’ve learned that everyone has a story, there’s an adventure to be found anywhere, and that there’s no limit to the number of times she can make me question my own sanity.  

So, having learned all these valuable lessons, I did what any parent would do: figure out a way to profit from their children.  

I’d like to thank everyone for coming and for those who helped make yesterday possible.  It’s been a fun ride and I’m humbled by the love and support I’ve been given.
A big thank you to Christina at Starving Artist Gallery Cafe for hosting the event and for her help throughout the planning process.  Everyone raved about the food, the art, the venue.  Everything was perfect.  And I even came home with some new art.
I can’t even express the gratitude I have for Becky, English Dave, and Del Davis.  Without their encouragement I might not have even tried.   I don’t know how I got so lucky to have such amazing friends as these three, but I am so grateful I do.
Thanks goes out to John, who still loved and supported me even when I was going (still am) a bit crazy with stress and being stretched too thing.  And of course for the flowers.
A big shout out to Chris Brown, an amazing and talented musician who played the entire event.  I received so many compliments on the music.  I’ve always been a supporter of musicians, but this guy… I’d fund every project he wanted to work on if I could.  

I was asked quite a few times yesterday if I am working on more books.  I am working on the second book in the Halia and Leona series with the working title “Mom, who’s Mackulay Culkin?”  

My kid brother is a jerk.

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My little brother, when we were young, liked to come up behind me when I was busy with other things, kick me, push me, or just plain bug me, and then skip away giggling.  It was annoying at the time, but hind sight has that thing it does…

The last two weeks were tough for me.  I was completely overwhelmed with everything.  The list of things piling up, piled higher.  Work was more stressful that it should have been.  My personal life was more stressful than it should have been.  My personal demons were clawing at my back.  I felt like I was drowning.  I felt like nothing was going right.  At one point, I stopped in the middle of doing three different things, and for the life me, I just couldn’t remember why I was trying as hard as I was.  What was I trying to accomplish again?  Why was it so important?  What’s the harm in just giving up?

That feeling stayed with me for a few days.  People told me I looked tired, and I was tired.  Tired right down into the very soul of my existence.  My uphill trek had gained me no ground.  I felt like a fraud, spouting off bullshit phrases about working hard, being positive, and progress being progress.
I almost didn’t make it, but I dragged myself to the first yearly meeting of my writing group, and had my battery recharged a bit when I received applause for the upcoming book launch and by being with those wonderful, creative people.  And then had it charged a bit more when I learned I had come in third for the poetry writing contest.
The next day I went to my publishers office, and held the proof copy of my book in hand.  I saw the pictures, the text, and my name on the cover.  It was one of those ‘Holy shit, I did it!’ kind of moments.

Progress is kind of like my little brother.  It arrives quietly without ceremony or a parade. It sneaks up on you when your busy doing other things, kicks your ass, and skips away giggling because of the trick it played on you.   Hindsight being what it is, I still think he’s a jerk.

Over the last two years, I’ve re-written my life.  I’ve bought rental property and renovated it.  I’ve started two businesses.  I’ve gotten a book published, and am working on more.  I’ve done so many new things, learned so many things, and grown in so many ways.  Sometimes we all need a kick in the ass to remind us to look behind us for a moment.

Work hard and don’t be an asshole.
Stay positive.  And if you can’t be positive, smile till you are.
Progress is progress, no matter how small.

A New Adventure

Last year I started a new adventure, which ended up rewriting my entire life.  Sixteen months later and my life barely resembles what it used.  The only mainstay are my girls, and my closest friends who stuck with me through the growing pains.

Part of my adventure was to actually do something with my writing.  I opened up a new site that will feature my novels once they are written.  But in the process, I actually wrote a children’s book as well.  It has been sent to the publisher, edited and translated into French.  The goal is to have it done this summer.

Lucky for me, the publisher allowed me to use my good friend to do the drawings, which I know will mean it takes longer as he is a busy guy, but it also means that it is a complete labour of love for my two lovely ladies who inspired the story and keep me going.  Being that it is a labour of love, I’ve decided to release the children’s books under my own name and not my pen name.

Below are a few rough sketches.  I can’t wait to see the finished copies.  He is so talented, yet so humble.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I actually finished this book last month, but it has stuck with me and inspired me till this day, that I feel I need to honour it with its own review.

I fell upon this book through the Todoist blog and borrowed it from my local library that night.

At first, I’m not going to lie, I thought it was fluff and a silly self-help book.  Gretchen is a full-time writer, has more time, resources, and it would seem money, to throw at her project than I would, but it is still none the less inspiring.  I will not be going full-scale like she did, but I did write my own 10 Commandments list, and feel this book lead to my epiphany to do what I want, and write.   The lesson she learned on earning gold stars is something I myself am working on and can see in others more now.  I will reread again to gain another dose of inspiration and happiness injection and recommend this book to those who feel like they’ve lost something, but can’t quite put their finger on it.

Thankful Journals

One thing I did last year to help keep me sane was to write a ThankfulI Journal.  I started the year off by writing everyday, but I started to actually resent writing that much gratitude, and changed to writing whenever the mood struck me.  Here are my ‘gratitudes’ from 2014
  • I am thankful for a daughter who likes craft as I do and is willing to learn from me.
  • I am thankful I have never known true poverty and have the mindset to avoid it.
  • Today I am thankful I have my own family that I, not only enjoy, but look forward to spending time with.
  • Today I am thankful for being self-motivated and avoided the TV traps.  I like that I always challenge myself.
  • Today I am thakful that I have found small creative outlets to keep my brain active.
  • Today I’m grateful for days that I am woken up by the sun shining through the window.
  • I am thankful that I have the opportunity to pursuit my interest in music.
  • I’m thankful I live in a place where I can get fresh fuits and veggies anytime of the year.
  • I’m thankful I have a logical mind and can work out most things on my own.  Being able to figure things out on my own is one of strengths I think.
  • I am thankful I have such calm and well adjusted girls who see eachother as not only sisters but as best friends as well.  I’m so thankful I enjoy, and not dread, spending time with them.
  • I’m thankful I was born in Canada and have been given all the opportunites that affords me.  I watched a documentary last night about prostitution in different countries.  In some places its a trade handed down from mother to daughter.
  • I’m thankful for all the services that Canada offers.
  • I am thankful for all the services that Canada offers to keep families fed and away from living on the streets.  I should remember that I don’t know everyones back story and eventhough I feel people are taking advantage, I may not have all the details.
  • I am thankful for my good health.  I have not had any major illnesses or surgeries.  Knock on wood that it stays that way, and if it doesn’t I will be thankful I live in Canada where we have decent health care.
  • I am thankful for interst rates and that Canda wasn’t as effected by the recession as the US was.  I’m thankful I didn’t loose all of my investments
  • I’m thankful for my mind and my intelligfence. Even when I have my doubts, I have to remember that I am intelligent, creative and resourcful.
  • I am thankful for technology.  Everyday I can keep in contact with my best friend in England with whom I never would have met if it weren’t for technoligy.  I owe many adventures to ICQ.
  • I am thankful I found veganism and all the changes it made to my life.  I know despite the challenges, it has made me, my family, and my enviroment healthier.
  • I’m thankful for having a handful of high quality friends who I know I can depend on even if its just for a glass of wine and a chat.
  • I’m thankful for the technoogy we have today and how easily it is to become knowledgable on any subject within a few short minutes.
  • I’m thankful my daughters have found a best friend in eachother.  I love watching them play together.
  • I am thankful for my kids Grandparents and how supportive they have been to the growth of my family.  It was tense at first but well worth the effort from both sides.  I’m not sure we would have gotten this far without them.
  • I’m thankful I have found assertiveness and got over my fear of speaking up.  It feels like I found it later in life, but if I found it any earlier, I might have missed out on all the observing I did and might have a different perspective on things.
  • I have a job with Liberty Tax and another coming up with Michaels.  I need to be grateful for that.  Its just work and is a means to an end.  It does not define me.
  • Today I’m having a hard time thinking of something new to be thanful for, so I will say that I’m thankful for being able to think of  things I am thankful for.  How’s that for a cop-out?
  • I am thankful my family has found activities we all enjoy and have fun doing it.
  • I’m thankful I’ve been able to encourage a love of reading in my daughters.  Squishie is reading so well.
  • I am thankful for having found two jobs and will not complain about being tired since I was so frustrated at not being able to find one for three months.  Its only till May.  I can do it.
  • I am thankful for this job and will do my best to become indespencable and valuable.  I will not let someone push me out.
  • I am thankful for found money just when things are tight.  Now I need to get some free groceries in there.
  • I am thankful for the opportunity I have been afforded through Michaels.  I am happy to feel a sense of pride in my workplace.
  • I am thankful for the good health both mentally and physically my family has been blessed with.
  • I’m thankful they thought I had the skills needed to do my job and eventhough I feel overwhelmed right now, my skills for the job have been recognized by others.
  • I am thankful for my job.  It is not a career, just a means to an end at this point, but none-the-less I am thankful.
  • I’m thankful Adam isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and be a parent.
  • I’m thankful for the hardships I’ve dealth with in my life.  It has allowed me the ability to foresee a short ways into the firture and prepare.  Let’s hope I’ve faced the hardest stuff already.  I’ve made a bold move, for me anyways.
  • I’m thankful for living in a country where I can trust the banks.
  • Some people wish for super strenght.  Sometimes I wish I could give mine away.  Sometimes I just don’t want to be the strong one.
  • I feel very selfish, thinking of my own mortality when my mother is facing her own.
  • What am I thankful for?  I don’t know.  I’m sure its meaningful and thoughtful or maybe even epic.  But I’m mad right now and can’t see passed it.
  • Blender died.  Watch died.  Over charged on my credit card.  Seems like Karma is trying to trip me up.  I’m frustrated.  Annoyed.  Down on myself for failing upwards.  Its going to work out.  I just have to wait it out and stop looking for something like karma to blame.
  • I’m thankful for the media that is available at any given time to me.  I can listen, read or watch anything I desire at any given time.  It makes me wonder what my children’s children will be like.  So much info at any given time; why go to school?
  • I’m thankful for summer and for the winter that makes me appreciate it that much more.
  • I’m thankful for my friend Dave and for the social media that brings us together. I can’t imagine my life without him.
  • I am thankful for the opportunities I have received, eventhough I don’t like them sometimes.
  • I’m glad the girls had a good summer at camp.  I’m glad work was found.  I’m glad the summer is coming to an end and everyone returns to their schedules and I can get the house organzied and cleaned.
  • Nectar List: I remember watching a meteor shower on the beaches of Long Point with my mom and brother.
  • I’m thankful I’ve been able to teach my girls how much more important it is to be with friends instead of getting gifts from friends.  The hand drawn pics the girls got yesterday were awesome!
  • I’m thankful I recognized my need for retail therapy and discovered minimalism and am working to get better at it.
  • ‘Mom, can I cuddle with you?’
I was tempted to edit my entries more than I did.  I changed some names, and ommited a few overly personal ones.  But as I was typing them out, I felt the need to add a parenthsis full of my trade mark snark and sarcasm, as if too much gratitude in one place was detrimental to my health and needed to squash some of it.  You can tell the middle of the year was really frustrating, just based solely on the lack of gratitude in them.  It also points out how much I enjoy watching my girls and how dependant on technology I am.
My BFF out east is making a jar to something similar this year, and I think I going to work on a nectar list this year, where I write down great memories as they come to me.  You can see I added one entry up above.
I’m intersted to hear how others observe gratitude and thankfulness.  Is it something that is an “in the moment” kind of thing?  Do others keep journals?  How do you turn that frown upside down?