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….

11875325_1633609376916959_1703485366_n

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
10661148_724006647704845_725849611_n
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.

Rethinking my morning routine

Photo by jencv

Photo by jencv

I guess its been a few years (!) now since I first wrote about morning routines. Since then I’ve had varying success and most recently since my son was born, continued varied success.

I’m sure you can relate. If you couldn’t you likely wouldn’t be following this blog.

You have a good routine or daily organization system going and then something happens and it messes it up. You fumble around for a little (or months?) until you remember it doesn’t have to be this way!

And so you reboot your system and try again.

This happens to me all the time and is the reason I tell people not to give up on a system until they’ve failed in this cycle a few times. If it worked for awhile then there’s hope. If it never ever worked then you should probably keep looking.

Routines

Since Jack was born I’ve had a few different routines that have helped me stay sane. For awhile I did at least 2 loads of laundry a day: one in the morning of Jack’s barfy clothes and one in the evening of his cloth diapers. Now I have more clothes and more diapers so I do laundry every other day.

Other mornings I had a routine of waking up, starting coffee, drinking a glass of water, feeding Jack, then shower and get my day in order during his first nap.

Then that got messed up.

So here I am working on a new routine to help me have a decent day despite the unpredictability an infant can bring. There are other routines that I would like to establish so that I don’t have to decide what I want to do or feel like doing. Because I will never feel like cleaning. Ever.

I went back and read those blog posts again and actually found them helpful!

Things that are helpful in a routine

These days I need habits that will help our life work more smoothly. This means that things like laundry, dishes, quiet times and meals get done naturally rather than haphazardly. I think something I need to institute is a consistent wake-up time. I usually wake up when Jack wakes up, which was 6:30 for a long time, then 7:00 for a long time, now it’s 7:30. I think I actually had better days when he was waking up earlier, even though I always needed a nap.

The other thing that has helped me operate well is dealing with clutter quickly, whether it’s unloading the dishwasher right away so it can be loaded as dishes are dirtied, or fold and put away laundry right away. (Sidenote: I have never folded laundry or put it away until Jack was born so let’s just all do a slow clap for me right now because I’m finally a grown up. It only took me becoming a parent).

So we’ll see how this goes! If anyone has any tips on what worked for them (or their mom) please leave me a comment!

When things turn ugly

Photo by Steve Bowbrick

Have you ever noticed it’s pretty easy to take a perfectly good thing and turn it into an ugly thing? A bowl of chips can turn into eating the whole bag, a conversation with a friend can turn into gossip, being organized can turn into being obsessive and controlling etc.

I let this happen all the time.

Lately I’ve noticed that I’ve been thinking about this blog and my bucket list and it’s become this ugly thing looming over my head. I think things like:

  1. When will you get it together, Jess, and workout more? 
  2. When will you stop stressing over your baby?
  3. If you don’t figure these things out then say goodbye to doing anything with your life.

These are the kind of things that are happening deep in the back of my mind. I try to tell them off:

  1. I just had a baby! (Four months ago, get it together, woman!)
  2. I will never stop stressing over my kids, it’s what mothers do! (Are you sure it’s all mothers? Can’t you be better than them?)
  3. I don’t need to “do anything with my life”! I still have value even if I don’t “do anything”. (Sure keep telling yourself that. It’s just an excuse for being lazy.)

It’s weird even writing these things out because I know they’re crazy. This blog and these goals were never supposed to turn ugly. They were supposed to add to my life: add challenge, fun, satisfaction, adventure (and bragging rights?). I think it’s that last part that made things go sour. Somewhere I developed a drive to show people I can do these things. When I admit it – like that one ugly response revealed  in #2 – I want to be “better” than other people and on some level I think I am. Doing hard things validates this in me.

The last few years I have noticed a frightening trend: I’m not better (surprise, surprise) and I actually give up on hard things pretty easily.

But really, I’m regular. I’m plain-Jane-vanilla-regular and I need to get it through my thick skull that it’s not a bad thing. I’m ordinary and trying to do ridiculous things to try to be different or prove something isn’t going to solve any problems I have but only make more.

So right now I’m going to keep trying to do my little goals:

  • Be more ok with letting non-relatives watch Jack
  • Get my hair cut
  • Go to the dentist
  • Try to care less what people think about me
  • Keep going to the gym

And maybe that means I’ll be able to do some of the other bigger things on my list some day. And maybe not. But I refuse to let this stuff define my happiness even if I really really want them. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way we hope or want them to and that’s ok.
Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to chill the frig out.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...