Viva Las Vegas

I know this is kind of crazy…but I have never been on a REAL vacation with Mr. Big. I’ve been across the country, things like that, but always with others.

Well…Mr. Big and I have been working our asses off. One of our bucket list places to visit before we have kids is Vegas.

So I just booked us 7 days there. And I couldn’t be more excited!!!

Anyone who’s been, I would love to hear your travellers secrets! Places to eat! Things we can’t miss!

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When is it a Crisis?

My heart is heavy these days. I’m wondering just when is this going to be considered a crisis? Or an epidemic? Or an emergency?

I imagine you’ve heard about this.

Another school shooting…another example of a lethal weapon in the wrong hands.

I’m not calling for gun control, because I know that’s a relative term and sparks an awful lot of debate…but obviously this problem is getting worse not better – and something has got to give….and it can’t keep being children and heroic teachers giving their lives. It’s time for change and for something to be done, immediately, before more people die.

I’m Canadian, and this doesn’t happen here. Sure, there are problems – there are school attacks. There have even been school shootings…but it’s NOTHING compared to the problem in the States and the main difference is the gun laws….so I think that’s the obvious starting point for change.

Regardless of your opinions on gun control or the NRA…I think we can all agree that too many kids and teachers are paying the price for poor management of a lethal weapon. I know anything can be lethal…knives, bats, etc…but the capacity for a bat or knife to kill 18 kids in seconds is completely different than a machine gun.

It’s time for change, for the love of all that is Holy. It’s time to call it a crisis, or epidemic, or emergency, or whatever it needs to be called to get immediate, and profound, change. How many more kids are going to die until they realize this?

Have you been following? What are your thoughts on this?

Being Kind to Yourself

Sidenote: I am blogging like a rockstar this week…4/4!

Throughout our marital counselling, there have been a couple more common themes that I, in particular, struggle with.

#1) Loving myself enough

#2) Being Kind to myself

Like many, many people… I am my worst critic. There is probably nothing you could say to me, that I haven’t said to myself. When I make mistakes, I am doubly hard on myself and I am constantly seeking perfection.

These two factors make personal growth tricky. You have be kind to yourself, to love yourself…and you have to love yourself to be kind to yourself…and you have to do both to grow.

So I’m working on them, hard. I’ve been given a couple tips by counselor P that I’d like to share…because I think we ALL probably could use them.

#1) Never, ever, judge yourself for feeling something. Emotions are real, but not always reality, but the fact that you are feeling them is always right (even if your perception of the situation is not).

#2) Don’t say anything to yourself that wouldn’t say to a hurting 3 year old.

#3) Never apologize for your feelings. You can’t control feelings – and they are never wrong. If you’re feeling scared, you’re feeling scared. You may not actually be in danger – so your perception of the situation may be wrong – but that doesn’t change the fact that you are feeling scared. Don’t ever say you’re sorry for them.

#4) The only person you are guaranteed is yourself. Love that person like you love you spouse, your child, God (if you’re religious), your family. Take care of that person – because they are all you truly have.

#5) Self soothe. Whatever it is that makes you feel good – for me, it’s blogging, reading, playing my violin, meditating and walking my dogs. I try to do them all every day so I know I get ample self care in my day. Honestly, they each take very little time and in the end – I feel so much better.

#6) Exercise, eat right and sleep enough. These are the most important, because a bad diet, bad sleep or too much pent up energy have the potential to derail every attempt you make to be well.

So there they are…the key tips to help love yourself more, and be kinder to yourself courtesy of Counselor P. They’re not easy, it is an adjustment and a lifestyle change, but so far it has really been helpful.

Try it!

Love…a Marriage Update

For the back story….please see here, here, here, here and here.

In short = Mr. Big, infidelity, marriage counselling, reconciliation.

Some people might be horrified that I’m sharing such personal details…but isn’t that what do in the infertility community? Overshare? Why is it OK for you to know the details of my CM and when we BD…but not that our marriage is struggling? So I decided to share in the hopes that it would help me cope, and maybe help some of you out there in similar experiences.

Because…infertility does more than affect your ability to have children.

Anyway…since it IS Valentine’s Day I thought it was appropriate to share an update.

Things are really good! We are communicating better than ever before. We are on the same page for possibly the first time ever. We are happy, really, truly, happy with each other. We’re dating again (so fun!). We’re making memories. We’re planning for our future. We’re in good spirits. We’re OK with what has happened. We’re ready to move on to the rest of our lives. We’re doing more together than we have ever before. We’re emotionally present for each other and with each other. We’re connecting physically better than before. We’re accountable to each other for our goals.

We still have some bad days, but they are few and far between now…and the way we handle bad days is SO different now. We talk, we support, we listen and we plan together…that has made ALL THE DIFFERENCE and, in the end, is what will safe guard us against something like this ever happening again. Our needs are being met now, by each other and God. We continue to trudge through the hard stuff with our counselor, fiercely determined to overcome our obstacles both individually and as a couple and we are reaping the rewards. Our love is stronger now than ever before and we both have really risen to the challenge to repair what’s broken. Overall, we’re both very positive that not only are we on the right path, but that this love we have is forever.

So there it is. A positive spin on a really shitty situation. It’s been the hardest, most emotionally exhausting 4.5 months of my life. It’s also been the one filled with the most growth, the most positivity and the most development. It’s shown us who we really are, and who we really want to be…and we’re well on our way to the latter.

I don’t wish my experience on any one, it was immensely painful and I don’t want to make it seem like it was all roses and sunshine – it wasn’t. It was painful, messy, angry, confusing, and it almost ended our marriage….but I am so glad it didn’t and now that we are well on the mend I can’t help but be a little bit grateful for the experience. Every day we become better people than we were before, and I know that will only serve us well in the future.

Do you celebrate today? How are you celebrating?

Book Review – The Supernatural Power of Forgiveness

The Supernatural Power of Forgiveness – by Kris and Jason Vallotton

You guys! You know how, sometimes, you read a book and every single word resonates with you so deeply and you’re forever changed because of it?? This book was that for me.

It felt like it was written for me – so many of the discussions and topics applied to my life right now. I could not put it down, but at the same time there was so much information that I totally felt overloaded. I know I will read it again and again because there is so much information, you need at least a couple reads to get it all. It’s a short read (under 200 pages) but it takes a while because there is so much information.

Surprisingly…Forgiveness is not the only focus of this book. It talks about everything else too – loving yourself, building healthy relationships, learning your value, standing up for yourself, forgiving yourself, it talks about abuse/trauma, mental health struggles, infertility…all things I can relate to. It also talks about porn addiction, substance abuse/addiction and divorce – things I can’t relate to, but that might be relatable to some of you.

It was just such a good book. It is Christian, and there are verses in it – but it’s not over powering and it is clearly written and easy to understand. My pastor gave it to me when I came to him with questions about forgiveness…and I am so, so thankful I read it because it answered questions that I didn’t even know I had.

So…IF you are Christian, or agnostic, or open to Christian material – I totally, 100% recommend this book. It is life changing, and it is really well written and easy to read. I know I will be coming back to it over and over again as a reference because it – literally – covers every topic (and in under 200 pages!). Definitely recommend!

#MicroblogMondays – Do you love yourself enough?

Forgive  me for the self-improvement blather, but i’m going through a phase right now. I just finished an excellent book on the Power of Forgiveness…and what it REALLY showed me was how little I actually love myself. This is in perfect time since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner…that day love!

Do you love yourself enough?

I don’t mean do you like yourself. I mean love, like the deep down natural love you feel for your children or nieces/nephews or spouse. The natural kind that comes without being cultivated, the unconditional kind.

I definitely don’t. I am the first to judge myself, critique to harshly or punish myself. Part of this is due to the helplessness of infertility (can I get an amen?) and part of this is just in my nature.

So I’m going to work on that…because, logically, how can anyone love me if I don’t even love me? As women, we so often sacrifice ourselves to care for others…it’s a huge flaw of our gender. But who are we really helping by not loving ourselves? No one. No one wins when we aren’t loving ourselves.

How about you? Do you love yourself enough?

For more on MicroblogMondays and how you can join to, please visit here.

Finding Meaning in your Career

Last week, had you asked me, I would have told you I was a “paper pusher” for a Hospital (really, I’m the Coordinator for Medicine). Not glamorous, but well-paid with full benefits and pension, and flexible. I mostly like my team, and I really enjoy working in health care and with my group of Doctors. Over all – a pretty good gig…. BUT I have to be honest…I have always dreamed of working for a non-profit, and doing something to really change people’s lives….directly help people….improve the world….you know, typical Miss Universe wish type things.

At church this week, our Pastor challenged us to find meaning in our current careers…to make them more than “just a job” or “just a way to pay bills”. Whether we’re cashiers, or nurses, or coordinators, or secretaries, or physiotherapists….find a way to make what we do meaningful and contribute to the greater good.

So I started thinking about it… how to find meaning in a job that is 99% behind the scenes and not directly helpful to society as a whole? One where most people don’t even know I exist, because I am a background worker? One that operates from a remote office and has almost zero contact with the public (except when I’m wayfinding!).

But then it dawned on me. I may not be saving lives every day, but the people I directly support do. They’re Doctors, caring for mostly very sick patients. And my role is the role that coordinates, arranges, and provides support to them. Without my role, they don’t know who to see or when to see them. They don’t know when to work, and they won’t get paid. They do not have funding, or stats, or meetings, or a budget. They do not have stethoscopes, or scrubs, or schedules, or patient lists. I do all of those things for them…so without me, or my role, they would not know which patients to see, let alone when to show up and what is wrong with them.

So … maybe I am not saving lives or directly improving the world…but what I do most certainly contributes to the well being of literally hundreds of patients, and I make the lives of the people saving those patients lives a hell of a lot easier (and freeing them up so they can save lives)….that has to count for something, doesn’t it?


What do you do? Do you feel like your job has meaning? Do you need to have a job with meaning?

 

Are you a Feminist?

I’ve learned that our male marriage counselor, also happens to be a feminist. As a matter of fact, I think he is more pro-woman than I, a woman, am.

And it’s made me consider…shouldn’t I be more of a feminist?

I mean…I’m a woman. A woman who has experienced cruelty, abuse and prejudice at the hands of men more than once. Given that…shouldn’t I be fiercely feminist? After all, I have been oppressed….for a good portion of my life. That, alone, should make me stand up and scream that I am a woman and will not longer tolerate oppression, abuse, harassment.

But for some reason it doesn’t… instead, I quietly observe the feminist movement – sharing posts, attending events, offering a hand up where I can to those who need it. And I live by example: my time as an oppressed female at the mercy of men is long gone. I have a well-paid, and well-respected career. I own my own car and go where I want, when I want. I have a husband who is happy to have an equal partner, and expects no more from me than I from him. I can hold my own in a political conversation and I always, always vote. I have helped more than a couple of my friends (and even my sisters) become more independent and/or escape a bad relationship. I also share my life with a lot of young girls and I like to think that living my life independently while still having a good marriage, a good career, etc… helps them to see that they can have or be anything they want to be – too. That no one else should dictate what they can and should accomplish.

Does that make me a feminist? I don’t know. I don’t know that I will ever be the kind of woman to publicly share my #metoo story, or stand in front of others and wind up a crowd. But I am still here, a survivor of the worst kind of male oppression, and I am thriving in an independent and free life that I hope is inspiring someone. I take every chance I get to quietly share the importance of being independent with all of the children in my life, especially little girls. And I always, always, help where I can whenever it is needed.

Maybe that’s not the kind of feminism you see on TV or read about in articles, but I like to think I am helping the movement in my own quiet, reserved way. So I will keep on, keeping on and the leave the voice raising to the voice raisers – because they’re doing a fabulous job of being heard right now.

Church

For some time I have been searching for a church. I wanted one that fit right, that felt like home, one that I connected with. I tried a couple places…but didn’t find they felt right.

I have never doubted God’s love and presence, but after some pretty crummy experiences with church in my childhood…I was kind of avoiding organized religion. When the whole thing went down with Mr. Big, I decided it was definitely time to find a church.

Ironically, our marriage counselor operates out of a church. He isn’t a pastor and doesn’t do religious counselling – his office is just there and he is a member of that congregation. But the more I entered the church for our counselling, and the more I perused the website for that church, the more I started to think this was something I might like. It just felt like I belonged there, and the statements of the church are completely in line with my personal beliefs.

So this past Sunday I went…it took forever to get through the doors (seriously, attending a new church all alone where you know no one = takes every ounce of courage!)…but I did! It was big for me, but I was SO GLAD I went. There is a live band that plays about 30 minutes of amazing music first, and then a 1 hour sermon. The Pastor is a lovely, lovely, kind man who I really like and the congregation is a huge mishmash of all kinds of people in all different places in their life. For real…there were all kinds of people there (including one guy who sat on the floor behind me, barefoot, and meditated the entire time), a couple of homeless people who come for the free coffee and muffins … but they stay for the service so hopefully they are getting something from it.

I was just…really impressed. The congregation seemed 100% open minded and loving of all the people there, which is really what I believe Christianity is about anyway. There was NONE of the judging or “thou shalt not” I remember from my childhood church experience. I think I am in love with this church – and I really hope it continues to be as open minded and loving as it sure seems to be!

Do you go to church? Do you find it difficult to find one where you feel like you belong?

Book Review Catchup

I’m majorly behind on my book reviews…so here they are: short and sweet.

Peach Blossom Pavilion – Mingmei Yip

This book is of a similar theme to some of my favourites – Memoirs of a Geisha, Pearl, etc. It’s the tragic yet powerful story of a child in China who finds her fate well out of her control, and rises to the challenge heroically to make something worthwhile out of something horrible. It was very good, and I definitely recommend.

Goodbye and Amen – by Beth Gutcheon

I like other books by this author…but this one was just – difficult to read. I couldn’t get into it, I found the way it was written was challenging and not engrossing. Overall a mediocre book, and I don’t recommend.

Shannon – Frank Delaney

This was quite a book. Initially, I couldn’t get into it – but over time I really did. It awakened in me a deep interest in Ireland (one of my bucket list places to visit!) and over all is a good read. I picked up for $3 from Dollar.ama…so it’s definitely worth that!

The Haunting of Maddy Clare – Simone St. James

This was a strange book…a story of 1920s ghost hunters trying to free a town from the grips of a powerful spirit haunting it. It was definitely interesting and page turning….but it was weird and kind of depressing.

The Piano Teacher – Janice Y.K. Lee

Again, an Asian love story (I so love books set in Asia!). This one was beautiful, but tragic, and the ending left me very frustrated and wanting more.

The Sparrow Sisters – Ellen Herrick

Ah, this book. It was like a fairy tale of modern times, but also a bit of a thriller/suspense and thoroughly addicting. Definitely recommend! (Also: this is my 150th book I’ve reviewed on this blog!! Crazy, right?? 150 books!)

What are you reading?? Any recommendations?