Monday, 30 January 2012

Belly Hoop Dancing.....WHAT????

So while checking out more hoop dancing on YouTube, I found this:

AHHHHHH!!!!  Talk about my ultimate dream hobby!!  Combining my favorite pastime of bellydancing with my new found love of hula hooping?  YES PLEASE!

So I have been watching videos of this dancer in complete awe (as well as other dancers, both belly dancing and hula hooping), wondering if I could ever in a million years be that good.  I want to be.  The thing is, I'm not really the most coordinated person, and I don't have much rhythm.  I can dance, mostly because I practice, but I don't have much of a natural knack for it.  Sometimes I think, "If only I had started when I was young!".   I so regret never having the confidence to do anything like this when I was a child or teenager.  If I had then maybe I'd be amazing at it now instead of wishing I were.

But it's never to late to learn something new right?  Ok, so this is what I figure.  I'm not naturally good at dancing, but so much of it has to do with dedication and practice.  I don't have much time to dedicate to practice these days (back before I had kids I would just bellydance around my living room every day and practice my choreographies for hours), but one day I will.  I am only 30 now, so I figure that if I give myself a few years to get past having babies and raising small children, then once things calm down in that area of my life a bit I will be able to pursue my dreams a bit.  Of course I will keep doing what I'm doing now, praciticing when I can.  There is no reason not to!  But be warned, once the doors open up, I'm going all out!  I would love to take dance lessons in a variety of styles to improve my coordination, balance, and rhythm.  I'm game for anything - ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, latin - anything that's fun and has music.  Even if I don't love it the way I love bellydance and hooping, it would still be good for me.  Awhile back I tried my hand at hula dancing, and didn't like it, mostly because the teacher wasn't that great.  But I would try hula dance again, and maybe even other cultural dance like Tahitian, African, and Indian.  I actually took a few short workshops before on African, Indian, and Irish dance, and they were all a lot of fun (especially the African), so I would be game to try them all again.

So yeah, sometimes I get a little down that I didn't start dancing sooner in life or because I'm not that great, but then I remind myself that there is still time.

Better keep practicing then!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Hula Hooping - My New Obsession

I finally took my first hula hooping class today (after making sure it with my midwife that it was safe to do in pregnancy).  I loved it!  I knew I would.  I feel very much the same way I felt when I started bellydancing, so dare I say this might be my new obsession from now on.  It was so much fun.  I found the initial movement of waist hooping to be quite easy, but was surprised at how difficult just about everything else was!  Still, even with just an afternoon of practice, I've already started to get better (especially at hooping to the right, which is my weaker side!).  I even bought my own hoop through the ladies teaching the class.  The only problem is what I can do at home is very limited due to space.  But I can practice some stuff, and for the rest I can just go and practice at the Y.  I'm sure a lot of other ladies will be doing the same, it was a very popular class!

So I've already been watching hooping videos on YouTube and in awe at how amazing some people are.  It makes me want to practice and get better!  It's the same way I used to feel when watching bellydancing videos.  When I watch them, I see the movements and my brain thinks "I can do that".  But it's so much harder in reality!  As with anything though, you can only get better if you practice, so that's what I plan to do, as much as possible! 

I hope to be able to hoop as much in this pregnancy as possible.  I've already seen lots of videos online of pregnant ladies hooping right up until the last few weeks, so that gives me hope that I can keep up with it!

I'm so excited to have found this new hobby, and I think I'll be enjoying hula hooping for many years to come!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Our Family Mission Statement - Take Two

I've gotten rid of The 52 Week Challenge in the title of my posts, just to avoid becoming to repetitive, but I'm still at it!  And yes, I managed to complete week 3's Mission Statement Challenge!

Oh boy, this one left me scratching my head.  I read it, and then I stared at the screen, and stared, and stared, and stared, hoping something would pop out at me but it didn't.  I felt completely overwhelmed.  So then I scrolled down to the links at the bottom and found a way to cheat myself through it - a website where you just plug in your answers and it gives you your mission statement.  Brilliant.  Clicked on that, logged in, got to the first two questions and stared at the screen....and stared, and stared some more.  Hmpf.  Ok, well I needed help obviously, and given that this was supposed to be a challenge that we should discuss with our partners and/or family, I decided to wait until Tyler got home and make him do it with me.

When he got home I asked if, after the kids were in bed, would he mind sitting down with me and talking about this mission statement challenge I was doing.  Sure, no problem.  Then he started spitting something out randomly, very mission statement like.  It started with something to do with sustainable growth...yadda yadda.  And that's when I remembered, duh!  My wonderful husband has owned his own business as well as working for several others and was very familiar with what a mission statement should sound like, something that I was really struggling with.  So right away I felt relief already, knowing that we could do this together.

Seeing as how we both have backgrounds in horticulture and landscaping, the word 'sustainable' really resonated with me, and I knew right then and there I wanted to somehow incorporate it.

Much to my surprise and delight, Tyler actually thought about our family mission statement while he was cleaning up from dinner.  As I was giving the boys a bath, I heard him yell up the stairs "Hey, I know what our family motto can be!"  Ok, I have the world's worse memory and I can't remember what he said, but his first stab at it was a complete joke.  Really, he was joking.  But he was still thinking about it, and next thing I knew he came back up with something written down:  "Live life to the fullest through good health, happiness, balance, and love".  Hmmmm, he was totally on the right track.  And it included balance and health, two of my core values from the previous challenge which I had not discussed with him, so it's not like he already knew they were important to me.  Good, this meant we were on the same page.  But I wanted to include more, so much more.

As he walked back downstairs I knew right then - I was going to throw the rule book out the window so to speak.  All this time I was going about creating a mission statement wrong.  I was focusing on a generic thought process to work through it, and not thinking outside the box.  So I decided, that was it.  No guidelines, or templates, or examples, or fancy websites that asked questions and created the statement for you.  It had to come from the our hearts, and it didn't need to be a certain way, it could be whatever we wanted it to be.

All while I was getting the kids ready for bed, and while I was hanging the laundry, my head was spinning.  I needed to write things down.

I got it!

Working towards a sustainable future for our family through:
FACING challenges
BUILDING relationships
EMBRACING differences
all while striving to
FIND balance
GROW in love

And further what I was thinking was the impact of what I wanted to say wasn't just in the words, but on the emphasis and placement of certain words.  So that brought about another idea for how to solidify and display our mission statement.  It's probably hard to explain the image in my head, but I would like to create a tree, with the first line at the top and all the components of our family motto as the branches.  I can see it crystal clear in my mind, I hope we can create the image I am going for.  My husband is an artist of sorts, I know he can design our tree of personal growth and make it beautiful.

So there, feeling quite proud of myself at completing another challenge, especially since I found this one the most difficult one so far and wasn't sure if I had it in me to follow through.  And man, I'm so happy that I did!  This challenge really got me thinking, and it's made me really excited about our future now that it seems to have more direction.


Do you ever feel like this?  What do you call it?  Nostalgia I guess.

My husband still likes to listen to the loud music of our younger years.  Back in the day it was all about the loud, angry, swear-word ridden stuff.  Oh how I loved it.  But I can't listen to it now, it's just noise.  Not that I don't appreciate it for what it means to me and the role it played in who I am, but it's just not the soundtrack to my life anymore.  Not to mention there's no way in hell I would play that stuff around my children. 

Now, when Tyler is in the basement working and blasting his Nine Inch Nails, I am texting him with "Can you turn that racket down", and I'm always saying things like "You should turn to music down, you're going to damage your hearing".  I thought you don't have to say those things until your kids are teenagers?

When I was pregnant the first time I went out and stocked up on Jack Johnson, convinced that it was the only stuff I liked that I'd be happy to let my kids listen to as well!  So now my music tastes consist of the same kind of sound.  I still listen to a few of my favourite bands as well who's sound has evolved and matured as I am, so it still appeals to my mellow-ish taste.  My favs like Incubus and The Red Hot Chili Peppers are always putting out new stuff that seems to be grown up enough for me to enjoy still.

But...every so often....

I'm by myself.  I get the urge to listen to a song.  Something loud.  And dark.  And depressing.  And angry.  And it brings me back, to a place that I have almost forgotten existed.  A time when I was such a different person.  If I close my eyes I can go back there, and imagine what it felt like to be that 'me'.  It's unreal, I almost can't wrap my head around it. 

Music really is a time machine.  When you are young you make fun of older people for hanging on to the 'cheesy' music of their youth, but as you get older you really start to understand and the next thing you know, you find yourself doing the same.

Of course I would never trade in what I have now for all the world (including the music I currently love).  Life is always moving forward, people grow and change.  It's impossible to stay the same person you were, to do the same things you did, to know the same people and go to the same places and have the same tastes in music, fashion, etc.  That is life for you.  But if only for just one day, to feel like that again. 

I know you've all been there too.

Anyways, it always passes, because we live in the here and now.  Doesn't make it any less strange to me though.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The 52 Week Challenge - Mission Statement

Ok ok ok, I didn't do this week's challenge.  Guilty as charged!  I read it, and I was really gung-ho, but this one seemed to need a little more research and thought than the previous two, again things I am not good at.  I like to be able to sit and pump something out in one sitting, not have to come back to it.  So in being true to myself, I put it off...and put it off...and put it off.  But I will admit, that I'm pretty sure I thought about the Challenge at least once every day.  Now it is the 11th hour and the week is over, and I have nothing to show for it.  That is not to say I have given up on week 3's challenge just yet!  It may still escape me, it may not.  Seeing week 4's challenge looming ahead has made me want to make sure I don't miss the last one before moving on.  I spied the word 'Balance' in the title which has caught my attention for the obvious reason that balance was my #1 value in the last challenge.

BUT, it's late.  And I'm tired.  And my brain is officially off for the night.  And I'm the woman of a million excuses.  So I'm going to bed, but I just wanted to post SOMETHING to make sure I (and you) know that it has not escaped me completely.  Yet.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The 52 Week Challenge - What Exactly Are My Values?

Here is my second post relating to Home Life Simplified's 52 Week Challenge, focusing on values.  A few days ago I read the challenge and my resolve already fizzled up.  Not because it didn't interest me, but because I thought "Ugh, when am I really going to feel like sitting down and actually thinking about this?"  See, thinking is not my strong point, but procrastination on the other hand is.  So I was ready to throw in the towel on week two.

Part of me likes the challenge of having to think about something.  Once again it's very much like a school assignment.  But the other part of me thinks, "Ok, school is over and I'm happy to keep it that way".  Unfortunately for me I think the years of being out of school (or even being out of the professional work force for that matter) have turned my brain to mush.  That is one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place, and a reason why I figured I should keep up with the challenge, at least for another week.  Though, once again I make no promises for next week's challenge!

Reading about values and how to define them felt very overwhelming for me, and very complicated.  But I started to realize that I am a simple person by nature, and after putting some thought into it, it was actually fairly easy to narrow down my list.  Once I was able to do that, the task of defining my values didn't seem so scary.

So here they are:

1) Balance
I am a Libra, and I have always felt a strong connection to this.  I like things to be in balance.  I like to feel balanced.  Whenever I feel overwhelmed by the negative aspects of life, I look to the positive ones and see that there are always just as many, if not more.  It's always nice to tip the scales in favour of positivity, but at least I never feel like they are every tipped towards the negative side.  I don't believe in extremes and you will never find me at one end of the spectrum or the other, rather I like to stay somewhere in the middle.  I feel like this value defines everything about me, from my personality to my background to how I try to live my life.

2) Family
I find family to be a tricky one because it can be so vague.  When I use family as one of my values, I am talking about the very special little circle that my husband and I have started together.  I love my husband and my children more than anything and they are the reason I do everything.

3) Health
I have always had excellent health and it is something I have taken for granted.  As I have gotten older I have learned to value my health and the health of those I love, to cherish it, and to take care of it.  It is an ever evolving process, to be 'healthy' in every sense of the world, but I feel like I have a really good handle on it these days and it is something that keeps me motivated and moving in the right direction.  I would like to see my health stay excellent for many years to come.

4) Authenticity
One of the things my husband has always said he loves about me is how honest of a person I am with who I am.  I wear my feelings out in the open.  I always figured I would make a terrible actor because I couldn't be anything other than who I am.  When I start to fret over what other people do or think, I just bring my thoughts back to myself and try to be true to the person I am.  It's very important to me that I be 'me' and not someone else, I think that is part of what grounds me and keeps my head from getting off into the clouds.

5) Reliable
This sounds like a strange value when you look a lot of the other ones on the list, but I have to admit reliability is always something I have felt is very important, and I do consider myself a reliable person.  It's not a 'deep' thing, the need to want or be reliable all the time, but I do hold a lot of value in it.  To me it is important to be where you are going to be when you say you are going to be.  If you can't commit to something, don't say you will.  I hate being let down, and I hate having to wait for people who are disrespectfully late.  Obviously there are always valid reasons in many situations, but in general it really bothers me when someone says they will do something or plans something with me and then doesn't follow through, or if they are late 'just because'.  It makes me feel like I am not an important person, so I am always careful not to do the same to others.

There you have it, my 5 top values in a nutshell.  I feel kind of silly when I see some of the other ones on the list, but then I wouldn't be true to myself if I were wishing I had different values.  I am who I am.

Oh, and I love Deb's last line on her post  about her own values: 
Your values are your values – this is the time to be true to who you are. If not now when?, only for the simple fact that "If Not Now, When?" is the title of the latest album from Incubus, my favourite band.  Of course this is not related in any way to my values, but it did stand out to me and just that little connection made me smile.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Getting back my green thumb!

My background is in horticulture.  After Tyler had started his own landscaping business many years ago, I took an interest in the planting aspect of the industry and decided to go back to school to learn more.  From 2005-2007 I attended Seneca College in King City in the Environmental Landscape Management program, and I loved every minute of it.  We took courses in horticulture, arboriculture, landscape design, and greenhouse operations (among many other things).  I always loved being in the greenhouse and thought that working in one would be my dream job.

Well, not only will I get a chance to work in one, I'm going to have one!  Tyler's parents have just bought two hoop style greenhouses for the property!  One will be needed to keep the hops rhizomes in prior to planting, but hopefully the other one can be used for growing vegetables year round.

I am already going to have a wonderful sized vegetable garden to tend to which I am so excited about.  I have been reading up on growing vegetables and have ordered several seed catalogues so I can start deciding what varieties I want to start growing.  It looks like we might also have a local source for organic seedlings as well.

I would absolutely love to be able to grow as much of our own vegetables and maybe even fruits as possible, and not only that I want to learn about the different ways to preserve our produce so that we can eat our own fruits and vegetables year round and have less need to buy them.

The problem I'm finding right now is that my horticulture knowledge is rusty!  Not to mention I have never dabbled in vegetables.  The short stint I did working in the industry after graduating and before having a family involved landscaping gardens, not growing vegetables.  So I have a lot to learn and re-learn!  I'm also not sure how active I can be with a new baby, though I want to make sure I am still playing a role in all of this.

I know that a lot of this is going to be hands on experience and trial and error.  And I have a great team of people to help and support me.  Tyler is getting my garden ready for me and will help me plan and plant it.  He is so great at this kind of stuff.  We will all have a lot to learn when it comes to running a greenhouse, but I'm sure that we will figure it out as we go.

Have I mentioned how excited I am?  I am feeling a bit nervous and overwhelmed at the thought of it, but I know that we'll learn as we go and in a few years we'll be expert fruit and vegetable growers, all year round.

I can't wait to see all this happen.  I also can't wait to involve the kids in this, and hopefully instill in them a love for nature, plants, the environment, and taking care of the land.  I think they will learn a lot from helping us on the farm, and maybe if I'm lucky they will eat more vegetables in the process!

My dreams really are coming true!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The 52 Week Challenge: 2011 - A Positive Outlook

I don't know what I am thinking starting a blog post like this in the evening when my brain has essentially 'turned off' for the day.  I can already feel my eyelids getting heavy and I just want to sit here and be a lump until I call it a night in the next hour or so. 


I just so happened to check out Deb's Home Life Simplified site and came across the  52 Weeks to Simplify Your Life Challenge and upon reading the first challenge felt compelled to partake.  I love Deb's site and think it is brilliant, though I must admit I am not one to jump in with gusto when it comes to these life/self-improvement gigs (mostly because I am lazy!).  This one really called to me.  Right now I cannot promise I will follow through with the whole 52 weeks, but I am definitely intrigued!  And well, this first challenge I think would be a good practice for anyone.

So here it is, a post to look at the bright side of 2011.

Now, I confess that I already feel pretty good about this past year.  I know that in a recent post I gave a run down of what the year held in store for us, and there were a lot of not so nice things.  But I felt like I did a lot of soul searching this year, and I learned a lot about myself in the process.

Anyone who has read my blog up until now might already know that a lot has changed for us in the past two years.  In 2010 we had a new baby, and moved our little family 2hrs away from the only area I had ever known my whole life, where all my friends and family were.  My husband started a new job, and we started a new life.  And it was rough.  I really struggled to find my place.  I spent that whole first year here in a constant state of regret for having moved here.  While I have never actually suffered from post partum depression, all these changes so soon after having a new baby left me feeling lower than I ever had in my life.  My relationship with my husband really suffered, and I felt so alone in the world.  I really struggled with myself as a mother, trying to parent my toddler while also taking care of a baby that never seemed to sleep and left me in a state of complete sleep deprivation 24/7.  No friends to talk to, no time for myself.  In addition to all this, the entire move took a toll on our already hurting bank account as well, which made our situation all that much more stressful.

I know this sounds like a lot of terribly negative stuff for a post that is supposed to be positive, but bear with me here because I am getting to the point.  Afterall, dawn comes after even the darkest nights, and I consider the second half of 2010 and first bit of 2011 to have been possibly the darkest night of my life and it seemed like the sun would never rise.

After what seemed like a cruel and endless winter, spring arrived and with it the hope for a new chance to be happy in our new life, and not a moment too soon.  Simply being able to get out more once the weather was nicer was a huge step in the right direction.  In the spring we got a membership to the local Y, where I finally found some time for me.  I managed to put aside the martyr syndrome that meant I needed to be with my children every minute, and take time for myself to exercise.

As spring emerged so did everyone in hibernation.  Finally I was starting to see the same familiar faces at the playgroups that I had been going to for weeks.  Next thing I knew friendships were blossoming, and I was starting to connect with other moms in my neighbourhood.  That was another huge step for me, a breath of fresh air.  Meeting these women and starting to socialize was one of the highs of my year.  Since becoming a mother in 2008 I longed for other mom friends, and had yet to make any really good ones.  I was starting to think I would never meet anyone I could relate to.  I can't tell you how good I felt when I saw these friendships with these special women starting to take place.

Over the course of the summer I really saw my life turn around.  In fact, I have already blogged about it here:  360.  The change in how I felt about our life, about myself, about everything this past summer was one of the biggest changes of my life.  I really saw our life start to take shape, to take meaning.  For years we seemed so transient, never knowing where things were taking us, and finally it seemed like we were becoming grounded and focusing on what we wanted.

The end of the summer saw my husbands parents buying a property, moving here, and starting a business.  My husband quit his job, a job that he didn't enjoy, to work with them in starting their business.  From the moment he starting doing this I saw a change in him, I saw how he was now doing what he was meant to do in life.  It's amazing how different people are when they are doing what they love best.  I have loved watching him take so much joy and pride in what he does.  This family adventure of starting a hops farm has been an exhilarating and exciting event for us, one that leaves us in anxious anticipation of what the future holds.

Fall brought with it the exciting news that we would be adding a new baby to the family, something that I had been hoping for for a long time.  Even despite having a rocky first year with our second son, I always knew in a heartbeat I would do it all again and had hoped that we would be able to grow our family further.  To say that we are excited about this new addition is an understatement, we are ecstatic.

There are no words really to describe what 2011 meant to me.  It has been a year of change, of maturity for us as individuals, and as a family.  It has been the year where we have discovered who we are, what we want, and where we are going.  We have learned so much about ourselves and what we want out of life, and we are feeling so good about things going into 2012.

So in a list, the positives of 2011:
  • I have taken control of my health and have started eating better and exercising
  • I have made wonderful new friends and no longer feel like a loner
  • We have finally sorted out our finances and taken measures to save and get back on track
  • We have grown stronger as a couple, and as a family
  • My older son started school and is thriving
  • My younger son started sleeping like a champ and has become an amazing little toddler
  • My in-laws have moved here and we have family nearby to support us
  • We have joined forces with them to embark on the exciting challenge of starting a new business
  • We found out we are pregnant!
  • We feel like we have found our place, our home, and have begun to put down roots
  • Oh, and I turned 30!  Which I have come to look upon as a very positive thing!
I don't feel like this post has done Deb's challenge justice, as I am just not good at articulating how I feel (though it is apparent that I am good at rambling on and on!).  Deb asked, and my answers are:
What energised you?  Exercise, feeling good about life, the new family business venture
What made you feel happy?  Making new friends, watching my children grow, seeing my husband happy at work
What made you feel at peace?  The feeling that we are finally on the right track
What positive people lifted you up?  My wonderful husband, my children, my new friends, my in-laws
What filled your "tank"?  Finally finding time to take care of myself
What worked to bring your family together?  Making a conscious effort to spend more quality time together
What is something that made you feel excited to dive right in?  Everything about this year!
What did you learn (positive things)?  I learned that I can be the person that I want to be if I think positively
What are you grateful for?  My husband, my children, my family, my health

I feel like a student and this was my homework assignment.  It has been a long time since I have been in school, and I think we tend to forget how good it is for us to challenge ourselves with assignments.  It's easy to think "I'm done with that part of life, I never want to go back to school!", but these kinds of challenges are what keep us sharp, and keep us learning new things.

Thanks Deb!