Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

We had a really great Christmas. It was stress free, full of super yummy food, and completely magical. The Christmas angels brought lovely hats, a super fantastic red wagon with ski attachments and a knight on a horse that my son couldn't put down all day.

My husband made dinner today, such a treat. Well, I helped, but I wasn't in charge. Instead of turkey we had rabbit with a mustard-cream-bacon sauce....I can't begin to tell you how amazing it was.

So as I sit by the fire on this cold winter night, I am so thankful for such a wonderful day. It had nothing to do with a mountain of presents (although the children sure got some lovely ones), it was about being together, peacefully with lots of love and no stress at all.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas too, it sure can be a magical time of year when we can stop and appreciate it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

do you feel like Charlie?

If you haven't paid attention there are only 5 more sleeps until Christmas, actually 4 for those of us that celebrate on Christmas Eve. Something has happened to me this year, I don't know if it is having kids or my age or my lack of money, but I have become deeply reflective about Christmas this year.

The whole thing feels so soul-less. Stores open 24 hours a day, people buying whatever they can just to be able to fill the space under the tree, mothers sighing as they pass the credit card over the counter paying for things that are going to be broken by New Years (and they know it), people who are without the luxury of credit trying to figure out how they are going to give their kids a "nice" Christmas. There is no heart left in this season, it all feels like one giant pink aluminum tree.

Well, all is not lost, at least on this family. We don't have a lot of money, and it is one of the best things going for us. We have found a few family traditions to celebrate this season that has made it a wonderful time for all of us and it doesn't require us to take out a second mortgage on the house. And the best part? It feels like we are able to truly enjoy this season without all the stress and guilt and pile of broken toys at the end of it all.

The first thing we do is celebrate Advent. We start on the first Sunday and light a candle to celebrate the mineral kingdom. The second Sunday was the plant kingdom, the third the animal kingdom and today, the people. The anticipation and excitement around adding new things to the advent wreath and waiting for "The Child of Light" is something that is really nourishing our family, especially our children. This is the darkest time of year in our part of the world and it is so meaningful to look forward to "the coming of the light" whatever that is for you.

A few other things we do....attend the Waldorf Christmas Faire, make window stars, share St. Nicholas Day with our friends, go to the Nutcracker. Today we went to another Christmas fair that had beautiful music, yummy food and hand-made crafts, not commercial at all.

We have also been making presents. I have really been thinking about how we look at giving at this time of year. I don't know about you, but I have been bombarded by sales, discounts, free shipping, give to your mother, give to yourself, holiday buying guides, only three days left to gives me a stomach ache. I tried to rent a movie last night and I couldn't even look for my video without a staff member reminding me that previously viewed movies were buy 2 get one free. It's too much.

So as we approach Christmas Day and you find yourself last minute shopping, I encourage you to stop and think about what this time of year is all about. It's not about big presents or the "wow" factor. It's not about impressing someone or teaching our children that over-consumption is healthy. This time of year is about being with those we care about, kindness and love. Cliche I know, but it's true. Your nephew doesn't care about getting the big huge toxic made in China plastic toy; they just want to be with you. I think this is why we are all feeling so empty around this time of year. What we are all looking for, a spiritual connection to something greater than ourselves, whether it is God, the universe or our families, just can't be purchased at Wal-Mart.

Linus' response to Charlie Brown is timeless, share it with your family.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

happy St. Nicholas Day!

My father is Hungarian. He moved here in the 50's before the Hungarian Revolution broke out and with him he brought the tradition of St. Nicholas Day. December 6th was more exciting to me than Christmas. This is the day that I would wake up to see my brightly polished shoes sitting on the window sill full of treats. I loved it. I loved the Christmas Angels too, but more on that later.

So now that we have two little ones, it is so exciting to me to share this tradition with my children. They began polishing their shoes two days ago and this morning they woke up to find them full of Christmas oranges, a bundle of golden nuts (roasting chestnuts wrapped in gold paper), a candy cane, scarves and hats, and a few little toys. Since we were having a party for our friends today, their children's shoes magically appeared on our window sill as well, also full of goodies. And just so our children knew which way he came from, there was a trail of golden stars that went from the window sill all the way to the back door.

I have been pondering all day why this celebration is so special to me. Maybe it's because it isn't surrounded by all the pressure and hoopla that Christmas is (this is not the time for gift gluttony), maybe it's because St. Nicholas was a real saint and I can truly believe in him or maybe it is just the magical idea of this kind old man who fills the shoes of children while they are asleep with wonderful little presents. Whatever it is, all 7 children and 8 adults had a wonderful time today. This is a beautiful tradition to start with your family if you are not already doing it. Your kids will love it!

Here are the words to a song we sang as we played our St. Nicholas game...

"Kind old man St. Nicholas Dear
please come to my house this year
Here's some straw and here's some hay
For your little donkey grey
Please put something in my shoe
I've been good the whole year through..."

Monday, November 30, 2009

what do Doulas do?

I get asked this question all the time. While I was at a birth 2 weeks ago, sitting quietly, holding a labouring mum's hand, I began thinking about all the things I (we) do as doulas....

We educate women and their families on their birth options and support whatever decision they make.

We support women and their partners both physically and emotionally.

We put our lives on hold for 4 weeks while being on call so that we are available at anytime we may be needed.

But beyond that... we hold the space, quietly being there, reassuring the mum that she is in a safe, sacred place. As a mother myself, it is a place I know well. With love, patience and a stillness of spirit, I hold hands, wipe faces, dry tears, turn on showers, prepare baths, offer drinks, moan, breathe, rock, comfort partners, explain what is happening, sit quietly, breathe, rest, move, breathe, encourage, hold legs, hold mothers, sometimes even partners, open the space to cry, encourage time to process, wait...and then celebrate.

I take photos and bring warm blankets and tea, in joy of a birth, of being given the awesome privilege of witnessing a baby's first emergence into the world, it's first breath, it's first sight of it's mother that it knows already so well. I then hold the space for the baby as it finds it's way to it's mother's breast, un-rushed, and celebrate the baby's first experience at the breast.

I come to homes or hospitals, helping mum and her baby, I bring information, experience and love. I bring trust that women know how to care for their babies, unlike any book will ever tell them how. Again I hold the space for the new family as they share their experience, ask for support and find themselves on the other side of the river, in this new land of parenting.

While I don't offer medical care, that is the midwife or doctors role, I do offer compassion, love, support, understanding, knowledge, wisdom and a way of quietly being there offering reassurance that this her rite of passage. It is sacred work and I am always so honoured every time I am invited to witness a family's birth.

Monday, November 23, 2009

thankfully dry

This past 6 days have been intense. I was at a birth and then the next day, my husband woke up at 6:30am and said "Oh God, the road is flooding." He went outside where he was told that we had 2 hours before high tide. One of the dikes had breached and the water was rising. Friday was a blur of moving valuables upstairs, trying to keep calm, sandbagging, digesting an evacuation order and feeling completely helpless. By Grace alone, we were not the ones in this canoe. The water flooded our yard, front and back and reached the first of three steps of our home. Thankfully, we are dry and still in our home, with only a constant river of ground water that we are still trying to pump out of our backyard.

It's so odd to watch flood victims on the television and then find yourself being one (my mum called on Sunday morning to say she saw me on TV, so bizarre). When we moved here we did our research. We talked to people about the dike at the end of our road, about the potential for flooding and we were told consistently that it was a possibility, but with the new dike that was built we were quite safe. They were right, our dike was fine, it was the one about a dozen blocks away that was about 2 inches short of protecting us. I've thought about selling our home (as much as I love it) and moving to higher ground, but will that really make a difference? When you experience something like this, it sure reminds you that there is always the potential for some kind of danger, but living in fear, just isn't living.

Thank you so much to all of our friends and family that have lovingly offered their support and homes, it is so touching to know how loved and cared for we are.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

thank you

Have you ever noticed that when you compliment a young child on how smart they are, how cute they look or even their big muscles are, that the response they give back is always, Thank You.

I was at a retreat last weekend and there was a beautiful woman in our group who was wearing beautiful earings. Another woman who she had just met said to her, "those earings are beautiful, I love the color and the way they look against your skin." The woman responded with, "oh, yeah, they kind of hurt my ears and they are old."

Can you imagine complimenting a 5 year old on how strong he is only for him to respond "well, I'm not really, actually I'm really weak and my clothes don't really fit me either." It's ridiculous, they will more likely respond, " Thanks! Do you want to see just how big my muscles are? I bet I could lift this whole table!"

This has been something I have been thinking about for a long time. I went to visit my dearest friend in California this past June and when I went into her home I was amazed by how beautiful it was. Of course I complimented her on it and instead of her saying, "yeah well, it's alright, there is still so much work to do on it" She said, "Thanks".

She and my children have taught me a lot about accepting a compliment with a good solid Thank You. When you compliment someone on something it is like a gift and to have them brush it off or throw it back, well, it's like saying, I don't want your gift. There is also a shift in energy within one self when we accept a compliment, something that assists us in standing a little taller and not shrinking like a flower desperate for water.

So the next time someone says how beautiful you are, or what a great mother you are or even how strong you are (because you know that you are), instead of dismissing what others see in you, invite that compliment in. You are worth it.


Wondering what my son's shirt says? "Love Hoo You Are" I bought it on etsy for him for Valentines this year.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

in just one drop....

Before I begin with this post, I want to state that it is in no way intended to offend or make anyone feel guilty for not breastfeeding or for feeling that they were not able to. I recognize that there are many factors that need to come together for a breastfeeding relationship to work and without those pieces it can be nearly impossible.

That being said....

Did you know that just one drop of breastmilk contains 3,000,000 cells for the health of your baby? Just one drop.

There is something going on in our society, something that just isn't right. Women are being told that they don't have enough milk, that their babies are allergic to their milk, that formula is just as good as breastmilk, that babies do not know the difference between the bottle and the breast, that their babies just don't like breastfeeding, that mothers are not wise to their babies, that they should schedule and not feed on cue, that babies are ready to face the world on their own...they should be able to self-soothe don't you know? The list goes on and on and on.

In the process of all of these messages, women are giving up on breastfeeding, a decision that affects not only the baby, but also the mother deeply. We are not supporting mother-infant attachment nor are we supporting the health and well being of either member of the relationship.

Breastfeeding is more than just a transfer of milk from mother to baby. It is a relationship, a way of learning how to mother your baby and respond to their needs. It not only supports the baby's health, well-being, immune system, brain, eye and oral development.....It also supports women by reducing the risk of reproductive cancers, heart attacks and stroke, it helps us to respond to our babies in a loving way (studies have shown that women who are at high risk of committing child abuse are less likely to act in this way while they are breastfeeding) Oxytocin, the love hormone is a magic thing.

I understand that for many women, breastfeeding can be a challenging experience. Really, I get it. It took 5 weeks of hell for me to sort things out with my first child and 2 weeks with my second. The difference between the first and second child was that I was more educated, more experienced and knew where to go for help. My success came from amazing support both from my midwife and my husband, my own determination and good, evidenced based information. I am still breastfeeding my second child and she is nearly 2 1/2. A pretty amazing success.

The thing that is missing for many women is good, consistent information from skilled breastfeeding mothers and lactation professionals. Breastfeeding is not something that is medical and yet it is treated as such so often. By ignoring the emotional aspect of breastfeeding, namely confidence, many women are not supported in the way they need to be in order to successfully breastfeed their children. They are dismissed and discouraged. They are told that they are inadequate and not experts on their babies. While we do need to be careful and aware of how a mum and baby are doing since serious situations can arise, we need to give the ownership of being able to feed one's own baby back to the mother. Women need to be empowered about their abilities, their decisions and their instinct so that they may apply that to all areas of mothering.

Now that H1N1 is upon us, we need to do everything we can for our little ones. Who knew that just one little drop could mean so much.

Friday, October 30, 2009


I took the kids out for a walk the other day by the river and I couldn't resist taking pictures of them. Autumn is my most favorite season of the year. Warm wool sweaters, crisp days, leaves that look like lanterns hanging on the trees (that's what my son calls them) and that magical energy in the air of transition. I love this picture, the kids look like Hansel and Gretel on their way to the gingerbread house. Only in this scenario their mother isn't trying to get rid of them and there is no scary witch trying to eat them.

Nature calms, it's magic out there.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

the woman in black

Stefan took me out last night on a date, something we don't do nearly enough of. Since I was a child, I have always loved a good ghost story, so when he asked me what I would like to do, I said let's go see "The Woman in Black"

I have to admit, when we got there, I knew that it would be a good play, they usually are at the Chemainus Theatre Festival. However, what I didn't know was how unbelievably freaked out I could get from watching live theater. The audience was screaming, even my husband was a bit jumpy. It was an amazingly well done play that has been selling to sold out audiences in London for the past 20 years and although I am still a bit creeped out, I would recommend it to anyone. Just don't take your kids, it's not that kind of play.

Nothing like a good ghost story to set the mood for Halloween.....

Friday, October 23, 2009

pumpkin day

My daughter has stopped napping. Well, she would still like a nap and I would still very much like her to have a nap. However, when she sleeps in the day, that means she doesn't sleep at night. And as much as I dearly miss my hour in the day to do work, post on my blog, breathe, I am not a fan of a 9:00 bedtime. Without a nap, she is usually asleep by 7:00 at the latest.

So the other day instead of coming home and spending the day doing chores in place of enjoying nap time, I attempted to be a more fun mum and took the kids to the pumpkin patch. It was really great. The weather was fantastic, there was a horse drawn wagon ride down to the pumpkin patch and we all got to pick one of those Halloween fruits for ourselves. I still miss the nap, but it was a great day.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

giving thanks

So, yesterday was Thanksgiving for us Canadians. This holiday, like many often brings back memories, not of Norman Rockwell dinner tables, but of stress, tears, too much food and at the end some kind of let down and disappointment. It's just too much pressure!

So this year we decided to do something different. Our dear friend who lives down the street, who also happens to be Polish, came over and we cooked dinner together. Not turkey, not even Chicken, we made...homemade perogies! Yep, that's right, homemade perogies with Sauerkraut that had bacon, onions and mushrooms and I made my first ever homemade pumpkin pie (crust too!)

The day was fun. It was full of laughter, good conversation and really good food. We even stuffed some of the perogies with chantrelle mushrooms that Stefan had bought at the farmer's market. It was a lot of work, I think we started at 1:30pm and didn't finish until 5:30pm, but it was well worth it! And the best part, no tears, no stress and certainly no disappointment. This was one of THE best Thanksgivings I have ever had.

So, in the spirit of giving thanks I thought I would share some of the things that I am truly thankful for this year:

*a beautiful family, they really are. I couldn't be more blessed than to have these two amazing children and fantastic husband

*a beautiful home to live in. It's not fancy, but it's perfect for us and I am truly grateful that we live here

*our health. We have some friends that are going through some pretty rough stuff with health, and it really is true, your health is everything.

*good friends. I have some amazing friends, really. Women that are so full of light and laughter, intellect and creativity. They all inspire me.

*creating The Ruby Slipper Project. Being able to reconnect with my artistic roots has breathed new life back into me. There has been a very real part of me that has been in hibernation until now, it's really a gift to be able to do this work.

What are you thankful for this year?

Friday, October 2, 2009

here we go!

So The Ruby Slipper Project began two weeks ago and it is THE most fun I have had since I was in my 20's. We have 8 women in the group, all from different walks of life, all come together to make this such a rich experience for everyone. Most of the women in the group will tell you that they are not artists, but once they each picked up their paintbrushes, it was magical to see what could happen.

The beauty of the art group, is that it is not an art class that promises to teach you how to paint trees. This is an art group that offers the freedom to play with paint, explore the creative impulse in each of us, in a totally non-judgmental space. There is laughter, stories, challenging our own beliefs about ourselves as well as the pure ecstasy of being able to have a quiet space once a week to just indulge in the creative spirit.

One woman asked last night, "What is art?" Some said that a creative work could be titled as such when seen or appreciated by others. Some thought the work wasn't art until it was worth something and worthy of purchase. Here's what I think art is: "When the creative impulse meets the moment of manifestation."

What I mean by that is, we all have an impulse to be creative. Some of us do it through fine art, other through craft, still others through cooking, gardening, home making....the list goes on. There is an amazing woman in our group who has worked with art for almost 4 decades, yet she had never painted herself. The moment this woman put the paint to paper, I swear you could feel the electricity in the air. This was the moment that her creative impulse, that had been there forever, met the moment of manifestation on her paper. I'm telling you it was magic.

Just as the women in this group are learning about themselves, I too am learning about myself. This is such an amazing journey and I feel so remarkably blessed to be able to do this work. So, if you were hesitating before to come, hesitate no longer. I will be offering another group soon, this may be the most fun that you have had in a long time too!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

eight years

Eight years ago today, we got married in an old church in Vancouver on the first day of fall. We went to Tofino (my most favorite place on earth) this past weekend on our own (first time in 6 years) to celebrate.
We walked on the beach, through an amazing trail in the woods, ate super yummy food and watched the sunset. It was beautiful. Happy anniversary my love!

No, that isn't our son in the back ground. This was the best picture we were able to take of ourselves whilst holding the camera in my hand. This boy appeared in the background. Anyone skilled at photoshop?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Ruby Slipper Project has a space!

Something as special as The Ruby Slipper Project needs a very special space. Thank you to those at O.U.R Ecovillage for making this possible. The space is amazing, the land, breathtaking, the group....well, you have to come and see for yourself.

There are two spaces left...what's holding you back from being a part of this amazing experience?

Monday, September 7, 2009

the book of negroes

What kind of courage does it take to survive watching your parents die, stolen from your home, sold into slavery and sent to the New World?

I started reading this book two nights ago and I am hooked like a woman with PMS on chocolate. I originally bought it for my husband since I was already reading another book. He devoured it. He actually woke up early in the morning just to read. And now it is my turn.

I think if it hasn't been deemed this already, this is going to be the next great Canadian novel. I highly recommend you visit your local bookstore or library and start reading it. You won't be able to put it down.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Before I moved to the island, I was a full blown TV addict. I mean really. After my son was in bed (my little one wasn't here yet), I could easily sit down at 7:00pm and stay there until 11:00pm, just about every night. I had lots of reasons why I did it, but it wasn't healthy. When we moved here, we decided to leave the TV behind. It was definitely an adjustment.

We do have a very little TV that lives under the stairs. I still love movies and a few shows, I just rent them now and when they are done, the TV goes off. So instead of turning my brain to mush from shows I didn't even really like, I started reading. Now, I've become a voracious reader, as soon as one book is done, I pick up a new one. It's very satisfying.

So I thought I'd share a few of my favorites including what I'm reading right now. I have to admit, I am a bit of a lazy reader. If the first couple of chapters don't grab me, I move on. So if you are like that too, you'll love these:

The Birth House by Amy McKay is an amazing story of a young woman growing up in turn of the century Nova Scotia. She learns to be a midwife during a time when birth was becoming medicalized in hospitals. She is brave, smart and deeply interesting. She has women come to her home to give birth, hence the name. I was hooked by the first line.

Outlander is an older book that a good friend gave to me. It was a bit harder to get into, but I was encouraged to keep going. Once I did, I couldn't stop. A story of a young married couple in Scotland in the 40's. The husband is researching his family history. The wife, goes to a stone circle and is transported, without her husband's knowing back to the 1700's and meets the very man her husband was researching. It is an epic tale, full of love, romance, violence and intrigue. This is a good fireside book.

I just finished reading this last night. If you are into history, as you may begin to see that I am, this is a remarkable tale. It is a story the first woman settler on the Miramichi in the 1700's. At the age of 20 she leaves her home in England with the Jamaican butler and sails to the West Indies, hoping to start a new life for herself. After a harrowing crossing, she finds herself on a plantation, pregnant with her partner perished from Yellow Fever. From there she sails to the east coast of Canada and lives on the doorstep of history. Married and widowed three times, mother to 10 children, clever and strong with the skills of a midwife and an ongoing love affair with a First Nations man, this story is packed with everything that makes a good book. Based on the life of her great, great, great grandmother, Sally Armstrong delivers a fantastic story. I highly recommend it.

I'll post tomorrow and share what I'm reading now, it is so good I highly suggest to go to the bookstore or library and start reading it.

Who knew a TV addict could turn around and become a bookworm?

Friday, August 28, 2009

manifest goodness

Yesterday was a lousy day. Do you ever have one of those days where it seems like nothing is going right? Where it seems as though the entire universe has abandoned you? That's what I felt like.

And then, things started to shift. I received some good news, I spoke with a friend on the phone and had a good laugh about being mothers and went to bed with the feeling that tomorrow would be a better day. Well, for many reasons, today has been a great day.

But the best part? I went into the frame shop to pick up my art for the children's rooms and the manager, who is one of the loveliest people I know here, noticed my cute pink shoes, my most favorite shoes. She asked me what my size was, and then she said, "wait here." She went in the back and brought out two beautiful pairs of shoes. They weren't working for her, but they happened to be my favorite brand, and my perfect size. This shoe angel gave me two new pairs of shoes! I was just looking online last night coveting some new shoes but reminding myself that we couldn't afford them. And here they are. Brand new. You see? The universe never abandons us, we just need to be clear and ask for what we need. This was such a beautiful reminder that we are all being cared for, every day, even when it doesn't feel like it. Thank you J. this was such a gift, more than you will ever know.

What do you want to manifest in your life? All you have to do is ask.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

wash the dishes to wash the dishes

Huh? This was my first lesson in mindfulness. It is a story written by Thich Naht Hanh. It is all about a man who would wash the dishes at the end of the night only because he knew when he was finished that he would be able to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea. The task that was given was for him to wash the dishes, just to wash them, not for any other reason. Why you ask? Well, if we go through life always preforming our tasks to get to the next step, then we are never fully present in what we are doing and therefore never fully present in life.

This summer has not been an easy one. My 5 year old has pushed me to my limits most days and some beyond. I eventually got to a place that I began resenting his school. That's nonsense you say. Well, my son is enrolled in Waldorf. It is a great school, wonderful teachers, storybook setting. It is also not just a school. Being a Waldorf parent requires that we also make lifestyle changes. For the past 5 years, I have made those changes in our home, willingly, sometimes almost self-righteously. All of this with the idea that it would make my son a better person and validate that I was a good parent.

Well, this summer has proved me wrong. He is still 5. And for any of you that have a 5 year old, you know exactly what I am talking about. Back-talking, sassing, tantrums, tears, disobedience. He can also be really sweet, don't get me wrong. But it has been a very challenging time none the less. Where does the resentment come in? Well, I signed up for Waldorf, I mean really signed up. Our home and our lives are only one degree from peach walls. And I still have the child that I so arrogantly used to say, I wouldn't.

Then it came to me last week. It's not about the school, or lack of plastic toys or even the nature table that is going to support him to be a wonderful person. It's me and my husband. I know this sounds so obvious, and I believed that before too, but I held this value in his school as thought it would produce something different, something that public school just couldn't.

What I realized last week was that my love of nature, history, classical music and books, that all came from my dad. My love of being creative, my strong, willful nature and my compassionate and empathetic spirit, that all came from my mum. None of these came from the school I attended. And so will be the same for my children. That is the trust that has been bestowed in us as parents, as guardians for these little souls, to give them the gifts of life, from our heart to theirs.

So, in a couple of weeks, my son will go back to school. I still think it is a good school and a great place for him to be. However, I no longer believe that it will give us a certain outcome. That person I hope my son to grow up to be (loving, considerate, thoughtful, passionate etc) is partly my husband and I and partly just who my son is, the school is just the icing (and expensive icing at that). Because whether he goes there or some other school, we will still go for walks in the woods, eat dinner together at the table, keep the TV off and maintain the nature table. And with all of that, I can still have my cup of tea too.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

a wise woman once said....

"Attention is the most concrete expression of love. What you pay attention to thrives. What you do not pay attention to withers and dies." -Karen Maezen Miller

This past week, my attention and love has gone in different places. My son went to camp Nana for the week while I spent some glorious time with my daughter, alone. I realized that I had 3 and a half years alone with my son, but really no time alone with my daughter. Why I ever thought having one child was so hard I will never know. Although the daughter and the son are very different children.

I also gave my love and attention to my home, to the Ruby Slipper Project and to my husband. I can see them all thriving.

What I failed to give my attention to was my website. As a consequence, it is down for the next week or so. It was a serious mishap with a previous web host and a new web host that made switching look much easier than it actually was. The result...files deleted, website gone. Except for my amazing web designer who in his wisdom has all of my files and can breathe life back into the site when he returns from his vacation.

So there it is, so simply put, yet so very true. If you want what you love to flourish, give it all the attention you can, if it withers and dies, well, you know why.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

announcnig...The Ruby Slipper Project

Do you remember the story about Dorothy and her journey to OZ? By some befallen fate, she was transported to an unfamiliar land and bestowed with a pair of Ruby Slippers. All she wanted was to go home. But instead of the good witch just giving her the answer (wouldn't that have been so much easier?) she embarked on a long journey to find the answer to her question. Along the way she collected her heart (the Tin man), her brains (the Scarecrow) and her courage (the Lion). When she finally reached the Emerald City, what she discovered was that it was all an illusion. The Wizard didn't have the answer she sought, it was within her the whole time...a few clicks of her heels and there she was, exactly where she wanted to be.

Have you ever had that experience yourself? Maybe not in a land of munchkins, but searching for an answer and embarking on a long journey (either literal or emotional) to find the answer only to discover you had it within you all along? We women are wise and we often forget it. We get so caught up in our daily life of self-deprecation and doubt that we lose touch with our own instinct. So how do you re-connect with it? When you are going through a transition, feeling stuck or just wanting to re-connect with your creative self so you can then approach your challenges with a creative mind, you need something that is free and without judgment.

The Ruby Slipper Project is just that. It is a women's only process art circle that will meet once a week for 6 weeks. Women will come together, materials laid out for them and just paint. Can't draw a stick figure you say? Perfect. This is a group that focuses on the process, not the outcome, so neither myself or anyone cares what it looks like. What I care about is what the experience is like for you. Do you find a new freedom in making a mess? Have you found some clarity about yourself as you put colour to paper? What about when you get stuck and don't know what to do? What will you do? And how did you know how to do that? How can you apply that to your life? This is Self-Discovery through art and it is powerful. It is also just plain fun.

This group is a culmination of years of a dream that has evolved into something amazing. Come with me, this is going to be an amazing journey.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

being brave enough to dream a reality

Have you had a dream for a long time, or a short time, of something that you would love to do but think you can't? Does it seem impossible, indulgent, too big to accomplish? If you were given the opportunity to at least try, without any fear of failure or judgment, would you do it? If I told you that those fears of failure that are holding you back are just your story and are not necessarily reality, would you then consider to step out and try? What have you already done in your life that took a great deal of courage, but you found it and accomplished it? If you did it once, could you do it again?

I have created something new. Something that I feel not only passionate about, but also truly excited to put forward into the world. It is the culmination of a dream that started when I was 18. And now 16 years later, after traveling around the world, hiking the Westcoast trail, a university degree, marriage, two children, Birthing From Within and Doula certification, a move to the Cowichan Valley and a transformative journey to California (all which took a great deal of courage), I am not holding back any longer . It is interesting to me to see how my dream at 18 has evolved to what I dream now. It is the realization that I needed these past 16 years of experiencing life to be able to arrive here. The outcome is uncertain, but it doesn't matter, it's about the process. It's about being brave, about creating something born of passion and vision. Intrigued? Keep reading, I'll be announcing soon.

What is your dream? How long are you going to wait to make it happen? It no doubt takes courage but I know you are brave. The answer is always no, until you ask.

"And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in the bud was more painful that it was to blossom."
-Anais Nin

Saturday, August 1, 2009

God's country

So, it's true, I live in the most beautiful place in the world. Living on the island affords us the privilege of living in a small community in a sweet 1920's home with the ability to drive out to the west coast for a week of amazing camping, beaches and of course boogie boarding (I know that isn't the same as surfing, that's coming later when I hit Surf Sister in September). Wondering why I haven't posted for a while? This is where I've been....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

summer Yum!

Yesterday I decided to make a special dessert using all of our yummy summer fruit that is begging to be eaten. I also decided that involving the kids would give us all something nice to do together. My son loves to do the dishes, I realized yesterday this is a hugely undertapped resource in our house! I hate doing dishes.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

releasing attachment

I talk about releasing attachment to outcome all the time in my classes, in fact, it is the cornerstone of all that I teach. When we are attached to outcome, we miss the magic of the process, the purely transformative magic that happens when we see and experience each moment as it unfolds. For birth that means allowing ourselves to be fully in the moment, not doing labour math or worrying how hard it will be to push. Rather, being connected to the moment, to our babies and to ourselves. This is what birthing in awareness is all about.

But what about living in awareness? Or even better, parenting in awareness? As I move through each summer day with my children, I am faced each morning with the grand question..."What are we going to do today?" Are we going to have a quiet home day of playing in the garden, reading stories and painting? Or are we going to go on some kind of adventure? Whatever the activity for the day, it is often with the notion that my children will get something out of it, that they will feel like we spent a good time together and hopefully at the end of the day they will be tired and have had their need for one-on-one attention filled.

Some days this happens, some days it doesn't. Those days it doesn't it seems like I could have taken them on a space trip to the moon and still they arrive home unhappy, cranky, demanding my attention in all the wrong ways. They are upset. I am upset. Everyone is grouchy. I feel frustrated as though all that time I spent was for nothing. I also feel this way about cooking dinner when the reaction I get is "Ewwww, this looks disgusting" My cooking actually isn't all that bad, apparently my son just has a very discerning palate.

Anyway, what I realized tonight after yet another stressful bedtime was that maybe if I released my attachment to the outcome of the day, activity, whatever, with my kids and just enjoyed the moment, (even if it meant that later they would have a meltdown as though I had done nothing with them), I would be able to be present in the wonderful moment that I was in with them. Even if that moment was temporary. Well, I guess all moments are temporary, that's why they are called moments.

It really got me thinking, how often do we do things with or for our children with the hope and intention that it will result in something great. And when it doesn't, we feel let down, maybe even resentful. But if we were able to take the kids to the river (for example) just for taking them to the river, not for some desired outcome, we would feel a whole lot happier and maybe a little less frustrated. I guess this is what mindfulness is all about, have I unknowingly been practicing mindlessness? Is this a case of "those who can't do, teach"? No, I think we just all have to arrive on our own time.

Are you attached to outcome?

Friday, July 17, 2009

my new favorite movie

This is my new favorite movie. Some have said it is a love letter to Canada. For me, it was an inspiring film about courage, finding oneself and breathing in life every moment that you have. In my past life I had a serious wanderlust and this past trip to California reminded me how alive I feel when I am traveling. I love, love, love this movie. Oh, and did I mention that I also love Joshua Jackson? Yep, he got me through a full year of early morning feedings with Liam, every day from 7-9am, I would watch Dawson's creek while I breastfed.

Go rent this movie.

Monday, July 13, 2009


My daughter turned two yesterday. It was such a great day to celebrate her and her arrival in our family. It is also a day of reflection. A day to remember her birth, that excited entry into the world after a huge plate of guacamole and nachos. A birth that almost happened without our dear midwife (thankfully she got there in time), a birth that was so lovely, all four of us were tucked into bed and reading a book to her by 9:00pm. Her birth was a gift, as is she.

Happy Birthday love bug.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

finding some grounding

So, these past couple of days haven't been as wonderful as our boat float day at the beach or library day. Actually, they have been hell. My boy has been pushing every button there is, and when he is done with that, he seems to have invented some new ones. My daughter, who is now about to turn 2, is beginning to follow along with whatever her brother does.

It is official: I am outnumbered.

So after a ridiculous day that would put the Gong Show to shame and an only minor meltdown on my part, I left the house. No, not with the kids in it alone, they were with my husband. I went to a La Leche League meeting. For those of you that don't know much about La Leche League or perhaps have heard some rumours that they are just breastfeeding Nazis, I am here to set you straight. The local group here is amazing, the leaders, amazing, the support, well, amazing. It is the largest non-profit women's organization in the world. It is a group dedicated to the support of women and their children in their childbearing and mothering journey. The meetings focus on a topic every month and there is always time for women to bring forth their questions or concerns. In this supportive atmosphere, women are given mother-to-mother support. Honest, compassionate, non-judgmental support.

So tonight, after a day that should have been a joke on candid camera, I went to a meeting where I was met with understanding, camaraderie and wisdom. I feel more grounded and am reminded that like this tree, my roots are strong and although sometimes a gale comes and tries to knock me over, my branches are always reaching for the sun, doing the best they can each day. If you haven't been to a La Leche League meeting, consider going, you might be surprised what you find there.

Oh, and if you are wondering if I am still savouring the summer after all this, yes of course. I am still happy to be with my children and enjoy the break, but I realized tonight, that I just needed a break of my own, on my own. Maybe you do to?

Monday, July 6, 2009

a summer to savour

Summer is fully upon us giving us many opportunities to do everything and nothing. The school year is full of events, drop off, pick up, parent meetings, class meeting, meetings about meetings. It seems like during the school year there is always something that needs doing that our front door often seems like a revolving one.

Now that we are on summer holidays (notice how I said "we" not my son), many people ask if I have the kids signed up for soccer camp, drumming camp, swimming lessons, art camp, day camp or anything out of the house camp. It is as though it is too challenging for us to simply slow down and savour summer for what it is, a break.

So this summer, I am thoroughly enjoying not having to be anywhere for anything or anyone. The children are not enrolled in daycare or any other form of group activity. Some days we get up and enjoy the garden outside, some days we go to the beach and sail boats and some days, like today, we go to the library and stock up on a great pile of books. And even though there have been moments where I long for my morning "off", I really enjoy the simplicity of not having a schedule. Sure, trying to have lunch with a friend and finish a sentence with two children with me is impossible but I know that there will soon come a day when these days feel like a dream.

It's such a cliche to say it all goes by so fast, but it really does and if I don't savour this moment, right now, right now and right now, I will regret it forever. Children are magic, how do you savour the summer with yours?

Friday, June 26, 2009

a sea of possibilities

I've said it already, but this past trip to California was such a healing experience. June has been a REALLY hard month. Don't you ever find that when things go sour, they seem to make a trend of it? As though one rotten experience isn't enough, the universe needs to give you a few opportunities to really feel what it is to be in the ditch? I call this time being in the darkness.

We all go there at some point in our lives. Women in labour often go there, it is that place where they don't want to go on anymore, they want a way out or they think they may die. It is a dark place that we must go alone (even though those we love are all around us). But after that dark place, comes the light. The new emerging of the self, transformed. In terms of labour and birth, it is the emerging mother, a transformed woman.

June was my dark month. But while I was in California, I could feel a new emergence within myself. And as I was sitting at the Mother's Plunge Retreat listening to Karen, I knew that I was coming into the light, that a new possibility was waiting for me and all I had to do was say yes to it. It's funny, I was saying to my friend, that if this past month hadn't been so hard, so dark and ugly, then I wouldn't have been so raw and open to something new. Because when things are going really well, there is no need to create space for change, why would we? But when things are hard and we are wide open, then the magic can happen.

So, if you are in that dark place right now, open and raw, know that it is really a gift. Because this experience is preparing you for something even better than you could have imagined. There is a sea of possibility out there for all of us who are willing to say yes.

There is something wonderful on its way, something new I am creating and I can't wait to share it with you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

birth centre

In the U.S. women have an option that we don't have here in B.C, the Birth Centre. This is a wonderful option for women who would like a home birth type setting without being in their home. All of the women in the care of this midwife have their exams and meetings at the centre. The intention behind this is when a woman goes into labour, this is a familiar, safe place to be for them, allowing them to let go and birth with less anxiety. My good friend works in this birth centre in Ventura California, offering classes as well as taking care of the bookkeeping. I had the privilege of taking some photos of this amazing space, one of them with my friend standing next to the bed where she gave birth to both of her children. The midwife who runs this centre also offers well-woman care here, right on this bed. No stirrups in sight!

Sunrise Birth Centre

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I know my last post was pretty heavy. It was a heavy time. Since then I have gone and returned from the land of the avocados. If you have been reading for a while you will know that I have the best husband EVER! For mother's day he bought me a ticket to see my dearest friend Laurel in Ventura California so that we could both go to the Mother's Plunge retreat with Karen Mazen Miller.

I have traveled many times before, but this time was something else. It was not only an amazing place and unbelievably beautiful, it was also a healing place to be. I was given the privilege to step out of my life for a few days and really nurture myself. We talked about everything as good friends do and went to lots of great places. But the best thing about this trip, what made it so amazing, so healing, was to be with someone who is truly phenomenal, someone who inspires me to the core. Coming home from California I feel like a new person, I have a new clarity for my life and a new peace. Thank you Stefan for sending me on this journey and thank you Laurel for being brave to just be you.

There is so much to tell from this trip, I'll post more tomorrow.

P.S. This is a picture of an avocado from Laurel's tree in her back yard, it was dripping with them. I can't believe I am paying $2.00 each for them here! They were amazing.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

what is there to say?

What do you say when there is nothing to say? How do you find words when nothing in our language can express how you feel? How do you process the experience of holding a mother as her child goes with the angels right in front of you? How do you witness your partner go through the stages of grief as he wonders if there was anything else he could have done, knowing that he did everything he could? How do you take a breath as you tell you child that his friend has gone with the angels as he responds, "I want my friend to come back."

There is no making sense of the insane. That moment when you know that nothing is in our control and that being present is all we can do. It is in this moment as we experience our own grief and trauma and witness and support those who have lost a son, that we know there really is nothing to say, except, I love you.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

a midwife's window

If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that my great grandmother was a midwife in the 30's and had a birth house in Ladner BC. I'm not sure what it is beyond the obvious that is compelling me to dig deeper into her life, but for whatever reason, I am consumed by her story.

So, this past weekend I went to Vancouver and my mum and I went to her home. It is still standing and is now a health food store. Through my mother's stories and my knowledge of midwifery at that time, we both began to put some of the pieces of my great grandmother's life together. There is so much to tell that I can't do it all in one post. So, as I unearth more and more of her life, I'm going to share her story, one post at a time. I have photos of her on my desk here that I will scan in so you can see what the face of a woman looks like in 1912 as she is about to immigrate to Canada with six children all on her own. I have photos of her pregnant standing outside of the log home that she helped to build in the Crows Nest Pass and more photos of her later in life as she stands outside her birth house smelling her roses that are still growing today.

But for now, this is a photo that I took of her home, of the window in the front room where women came on their own or under the advice their doctor to give birth in my great grandmother's house. There was no universal health care at that time and no tunnel to Vancouver. It was a long journey for women to get to the hospital, even if they could afford it. So my great grandmother, along with three other women in the community had birth houses where they would not only have their babies, but also stay on for the next 7-10 days in their early postpartum time. Breastfeeding was still the norm (although it began to change for privileged women later in the 1930's) and women like my great grandmother, after having 8 children of her own, would have been an expert in the subject.

Our stories as women are a part of history, a part of how we have shaped our world. Unfortunately those stories often get lost or forgotten and our children, our grandchildren never learn about how important we were to the fabric of the community of women and families. My great grandmother's stories are a part of who I am, they are a part of the lives of so many. And as I stood in her house, I knew that my work was just beginning as I looked through the window of a birth house.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

hamster wheel no more

I hit a wall last night. The kids wouldn't sleep, it was too hot. I had been with them all day and was really looking forward to sitting down on the couch and watching a movie. It took until 10:00pm to get the kids down, normally they go to bed at 7:00 and I really look forward to that time. As I was struggling to wait for the sleeping faeries to come for our little ones I began feeling resentful. I work all day long and once the kids are in bed, I work into the night as well. I wasn't getting a break and I knew in a few short hours that the little one would be up in the night...back at it again.

My day often consists of: dishes, laundry, groceries, emails, snacks, phone calls, picking up and dropping off at school, errands, emails, preparing for classes, following up on how families are doing, making meals, refereeing childhood squabbles, cleaning the house, writing on my blog or reading others, paying bills, did I mention emails? I am constantly juggling so many things in one given day and with my work, I don't set any limits. This is the challenge of the work at home mother, especially when your office is in the house, just off the kitchen. It is all too tempting to escape to my computer any chance I get. Often it is because I want to make sure that I am always available and sometimes it is just to escape to some kind of adult conversation or thought.

So as I was sitting on the couch last night, feeling like a truck ran over me, I had a moment of clarity. I need to set office hours. That's right. I'm going to be making a sign for my door so that I can see for myself, a reminder of when I should and should not be at the computer. A reminder that it is OK to just let the emails go for the rest of the day, a reminder to be present with my children, with the meals, with myself. If I don't do this, I think I will keep running on this hamster wheel of exhaustion which doesn't leave me the energy to do anything whole heartedly and I am going to return to that place of burn out that I am all too familiar with. It's hard for me to set boundaries like this, it will mean that I will have to sit with my children while they eat snack instead of using it as an excuse to run to the computer. This is my first step to finding balance as a stay at home/work at home mother. I'm starting to think an open/closed sign for the kitchen would be great too....

How do you create balance?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

there is transformation at the centre

This past Thursday I held a labyrinth walk at Damali Lavender Farm. It was an amazing evening of women gathering together to experience the metaphor for surrender as they walked the path. Everyone came with their own purpose, their own intention and were all amazed at what came out of the experience for them.

When talking about the labyrinth as a metaphor for our journey, a place of surrender and trust, I liken the arrival at the center as a place of transformation. Whether we are looking at it as a symbol of labour and birth or a new arrival in someones life, as we reach the center, we are transformed. On this very special spring evening, the women not only found a transformation within themselves, they also found a butterfly sitting at the center. What is a more vivid image of transformation that that of the caterpillar who goes into it's cocoon and emerges something beautiful with new abilities that it never had before? So much like becoming a mother....