Toil, worry or boredom

photo credit: Cannon Eye via photopin (license)

photo credit: Cannon Eye via photopin (license)

“Broadly speaking,” Churchill said, “human beings can be divided into three classes: those who are toiled to death, those who are worried to death, and those who are bored to death.”

 

Winston Churchill, a very busy man, was a big fan of hobbies. “To be really happy,” he said, “one ought to have at least two or three hobbies.” (Early to Rise)

 

Until I read that second quote from Churchill, I wondered if I had too many hobbies. As soon as I had that thought, I realized how great of a problem this was! It wasn’t that many years ago where I was searching for hobbies. I wanted to have something to do with my time, a way to meet new people, and to feel like I was using my down time in a way that was productive.

I had gone through this period in my life where I worked too much and obsessed about it and I had no outlet except TV. I was too tired to read and demotivated. I needed something to do that wasn’t work. I lived with an intensity that never ended and it was hard work!

I needed to learn how to play.

Now… I probably need to learn how to work again! I read, I write (or I used to),  I crochet, colour, sew (sort of), I bake, I play piano…

I’m really proud of myself for the progress I’ve made with crochet. It was something I had wanted to for ages and finally decided to get down to it. Now that more people in my life are having babies, and with these incoming refugees to Canada, I have all kinds of people to make things for! Of course you’ve seen me post about colouring as well. It’s been nice to have a few different creative outlets to choose from because I can go all out with one until I’m sick of it and then switch to the other!

If you don’t have a hobby, you really need to find something that works for you. You don’t need to take up colouring or writing for it to “count.” Hikes, runs, woodworking, gardening, baking, cooking, the list is endless. Think about it. What would you like to do more of that isn’t work or housekeeping related?

Five simple reasons you need a hobby

  1. It helps you avoid burnout.
  2. It gives your brain a break and reduces your likelihood of depression and dementia! 
  3. It’s fun!
  4. It’s stress relief.
  5. You can meet new people.

“But I’m so busy, you don’t understand!” I maybe don’t understand but I also think you’re probably not totally right. You still need a hobby! Your seven kids can terrorize your husband instead for an hour while you go bird watching. Work 78 hours this week instead of 80 so you can finally start learning to breakdance. Just do something!

Let’s look at first Churchill quote again: “Broadly speaking, human beings can be divided into three classes: those who are toiled to death, those who are worried to death, and those who are bored to death.”

Which are you? Let’s be toilers of good things: faith, family, work, and meaningful leisure that fills our tank for more.

Gettin the groove back

I don't know who the artist is!

I don’t know who the artist is!

Life is starting to feel a lot more settled. I’ve been back to work (part-time) for a month and we’re starting to find the rhythm of me working. The feelings of being overwhelmed are gone, I’m adjusting to my “baby” boy walking and transitioning to being a toddler, and I feel like I actually have some time to myself again.

We love our new place. It feels gigantic and yet, it doesn’t take a million years to clean/tidy. Part of this, I think, has to do with how much I got rid of before we moved. I’ve been thinking a lot about housekeeping and the “zen” of tidying lately. I downloaded The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up because the entire internet is freaking out about it.  On Amazon.com it has over six thousand reviews and it’s still rated 4.5 stars. As I’ve been reading through it slowly, there are some things I’ve accidentally applied as we moved and as we had been feeling increasingly squished in the 800 square feet of our previous apartment.

Rather than obsessively colouring all the time, I started reading a bit again and I picked up my crochet. Though life is intense with a pre-toddler, a marriage to maintain, a house to not let fall into squalor, and friends to enjoy…. I’m finding a flow.

My new obsession

If you’ve been following me on Instagram or Facebook at all lately, you’ll know that I got into colouring this summer. I first saw an article about how it’s the new thing for adults (mostly women), and I immediately knew I’d love it. But I didn’t go out and get a book because I had just spent a bunch of money on sewing. I have this tendency to start projects and not really finish them — you may have noticed this as you’ve followed this blog.

Finally back in July, I was feeling pretty crappy and in need of a vacation from my life and I was staying at my in-laws. I was perusing a Chapters and I just went for it. It had been months since I was ogling these books.

I started colouring and I don’t think I stopped for weeks. Those few weeks I was at my in-laws it was basically all I did every waking moment. I would nap Jack, change him, feed him, and otherwise let my in-laws play with him any other time he was awake. Call it neglect, or self-care, or whatever, this mama got a holiday and it was BLISS.

Most of these colouring books claim they’re for stress, or zen, or mindfulness or whatever. There’s lots of articles claiming about the anti-stress benefits of colouring and why so many people are taking it up. I’ve heard of girls getting together to having colouring parties, and other people like me do it while watching TV or in church (It helps me focus!).

Why do I like it?

1. It keeps my hands busy

I enjoy doing two things at once- watching TV and colouring, listening to podcasts and crocheting, listening to music while cooking. Colouring is a great mix for TV and podcasts because I don’t need to focus so much on the craft, unlike crochet. I may have coloured with a friend while FaceTiming before….

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2. It helps me think

One of the surprising benefits for me was how much I ended up thinking and processing while I was colouring. If I sat quietly and focused on the colouring, I would think through hall kinds of different life problems etc.

3. It stimulates my creative side

I’m a creative type who likes pretty things and so this has been the perfect fit for me. It doesn’t require too much concentration (like crochet) and I have all kinds of control over it because it’s easy (unlike sewing. Or it has yet to become as easy as colouring). I was never great at doodling because things didn’t always come out pretty. But I can colour nicely!

4. It’s helping me learn to just be.

As I sit and colour, it’s challenging me because I’m not doing anything important. I’m not changing the world, raising a child OR worrying about not doing these things. I get to sit quitely, enjoy life and beauty, and just be. It’s really good for my soul.
Some of my favourite books are:
midnfulness
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It’s pocked sized so its easy to stick in your purse and do on the go. I only have a few more pages and I’ll be done this one!
stained glass 11325250_491167211043419_1419628379_n
This one is based on actual stained glass windows in churches and libraries. There is a legend at the back of the book to tell you where each is from. I usually look up the original on google images and copy the actual stained glass.

Try it out!

Chapters/Indigo have a great selection that you can check out online. And if you’re a dude that thinks it might be fun, don’t fret. There’s one on cities and a new one on Game of Thrones just announced. Or you can find some free printables online to test drive the idea. I prefer using markers but lots of people use pencil crayons (apparently this is a Canadian term? I guess it’s coloured pencils for my neighbours to the south).
Enjoy!

The 5 year plan

I should be packing right now. On Saturday we’re saying goodbye to this apartment and moving to our new home. The one we bought.

When we got serious and planned to put an offer on this place, I started thinking about the five years I’ve lived in this apartment, and what I thought my life might look like when I first moved in.

My friend and I saw this place and loved it despite its hideous chocolate brown and orange walls, purple glossy ceilings in the bathroom, and a few other awful paint decisions. When the landlord asked us if we’d be willing to sign a two year lease (which is unusual), we considered our life and both thought, “Well, I can’t see why not.” As far as we were concerned, our lives were going to continue as they were. Neither of us were dating or seemed to have any prospects and I was planning to stay in Montreal for a long time. Nakita and I moved in on the classic moving day in Montreal, July 1.

jess-nakita

Nakita and I (in green) are with a friend in our apartment.

I think it was a month after we signed our lease Nakita got her first phone call from her now husband. By December they were engaged and by April they were married. Willy and I started dating October of the year she and I moved in here. By January we were engaged.

This was the apartment we Skyped in when he lived in Quebec City. This was the apartment where he brought me flowers for the first time. It was where I got ready for our wedding, and the apartment we came back to live as husband and wife (the two year lease, remember?).

It more recently became the apartment where I grew a human in my belly and that tiny human learned to eat and sleep through the night.

If you had asked me five years ago what I imagined my life to be like, I probably would have said, “Maybe I’ll be married.” I would have never imagined being married, a mom, and moving in to a great apartment that we own.

Which leads me to OUR five year plan – Willy’s and mine. When we were first married, somehow we thought in five years time Willy might start seminary and we hoped to buy a house and maybe have a kid. but in our mind all of  these things would happen around the same time. Imagine: having a newborn, moving, and Willy starting school??? That was a foolish and crazy plan.

But we didn’t realize this until various things got turned on their head, and life twisted and lurched into a different direction. Willy started his Masters only a year after we were married. It took longer to get pregnant than we wanted. And when we started really saving for a house that was two to three years away, our circumstances dramatically changed thanks to generous parents and a house became imminent. Our five year plan was somehow accomplished in a different order in four years. And while that sounds like wonderful good fortune (it is), the road was not at all what we imagined and much more tumultuous than we had expected. But it turned out far more lovely than we would have planned.

marguerite-wedding

Getting ready for our wedding in my apartment. Photos by Chelms

How are you doing?

Version 2

Lately, I can’t decide how to answer this question when people ask. This summer has been bizarre. It’s been wonderful to experience life with my son, taking him to the beach for the first time, and going swimming with him etc. He’s such a joy. What makes it bizarre is that despite these swells of happiness and enjoyment I’ve been dealing with post-partum depression.

So when people ask “How are you doing?” I don’t know how to answer. Do they really want to know? Is it over-sharing to tell them right away? Or do I say I’m OK or I’ve been better and then further into the conversation I share what’s really going on. I’m not embarrassed by it — it happens to a lot of women. I’ve been in treatment for a few months now and it’s been going really well. But I have been thinking about a few things, like this blog. One of the things I often face is with goal setting. I talked about this with my therapist this week. If I tend to have too-high standards for myself, how do I know when my goals are too much? It doesn’t seem right to throw them out all together. So what do I do?

The weirdest part of this blog etc. is that I look around me and see people succeeding who have told me that I have inspired them. This is very cool! But it’s also strange knowing that in a few ways I feel stuck, but these other people seem to be flourishing after I have “inspired” them. As you can see I, like so many people, have the tendency to compare. I am “happy” with my life. I am content. I love my family, I love my job, but somewhere between J being born and June my train hopped off the rails. It’s the oddest thing to have this mix of such positive feelings and such lack of motivation, tiredness, etc.

So that’s where I’m at. That’s how I’m doing. It’s why I haven’t been blogging or running. Despite knowing that it’s really really good for my health, I can’t be bothered. But I am colouring…. and people, this is good for my soul! I’m so glad “adult” colouring is a fad right now because it’s the greatest thing!

What’s next after falling off the horse

The following is a draft post I wrote back in June. I never got around to publishing it but now it’s so far past the whole getting-back-on-the-horse and I’m not even thinking about it really anymore. I’m over it. Past that phase, and live has taken on new directions. Also, it occurred to me that the whole premise of the horse analogy was majorly off because the phrase is “falling off the wagon” not the horse haha.

horse

I’ve been thinking a lot about knowing when to quit again. This time it’s trickier because I’ve experienced success after many failures and wanting to quit. Remember all those pie crusts?

There are a few reasons for this. I fell off the horse with running. There were a few contributors: a rainy week, a week with my husband away on a work trip, a serious lack of motivation. And while I was doing great with a vision of me crossing the finish line of my first race, I started feeling overwhelmed with all my goals.

It got me thinking about this idea of “falling off the horse” and the horse itself.

In horse racing if a horse gets injured, oftentimes it is put down because the injuries are so enormous that it’s cruel to keep it alive. Or at least this is what I’m told, maybe animal activists will tell me otherwise (probably that racing horses is cruel). Anyways, as I was thinking about this image, I wondered if rather than getting back on the horse, I needed to put the horse down.

Maybe I should give up this goal I had of entering a race I had in mind (which I didn’t tell you guys about!)? Maybe it’s OK that life is a lot more than I had anticipated right now? Not that I’ll give up running entirely because it’s important that I have physical exercise, but right now maybe no race goal. I think the goal I need right now is to enjoy life and keep on top of my daily and weekly tasks because that isn’t as easy as it may sound. I guess it sounds kind of lame that I would give up this quickly, (maybe not because I still do have a growing and increasingly active 8 month old!) but there is more to the story that I will share in another post!

Then again, I spent 4 months with my son hoping his naps would just get magically better the same way they got magically worse until I decided to do something about it to help him nap better (hearing his cranky whining all day long was not a positive contributor to my mental health!). I kept thinking there would be a better time to do it or maybe I wouldn’t have to because it would just change. There’s always something that will come up to mess with our plans, but we need to figure out how to persevere despite those constant inhibitors.

Addendum: Where I am now: I plan to get my fitness life in order again but there are some big changes coming up in my life – two very major ones – that I will blog about. I’m just giving myself grace for now and crossing my fingers that the scale wont lurch any closer to my pregnancy weight than it already has.
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