Daily Life

Heat, Baby & a Review

Holy heatwave, batman!

We’re roasting up here today. It’s brutal. I’m spending the day in my A/C’d office, worrying about my furbabies and hoping I gave them enough water and ice to get them through the day safely.  How hot is it? Well, this past year I travelled to two southern locals to warm up. In both cases, the locals told me it’s a humid hell in the summer and that they don’t recommend people visiting during this time. Today, we are hotter here than both of those places.

I am not ok with this. (For those in the US, that’s 95F, feeling like 117F here). I am one of those people who do best in the spring and fall. I can’t handle the extremes of the weather. It’s days like this (and days in January) that make me question my choice of cities.  We’ve been surviving thanks to popsicles, fans, and mostly naked lounging.

In more exciting and much less uncomfortable news, I’m a proud auntie (again!). S&K welcomed their baby boy yesterday afternoon. Both Mum and Babe are happy and healthy. I can’t wait to meet the little man <3

Gorgeous, right? Sigh. A ladykiller already <3

Reading my blogs and posts this morning, I fell in love with this from PHIT. I think it’s really important to ask yourself these questions every so often. Do a bit of a tally of sort, a review of where your life is.

1. Who do I love, and what am I doing about it? I love my husband, my family, my close friends and our pets. My husband and I have been through some really tough times together and haven’t always been good to each other. These days, I make a serious effort to let him know how much he means to me and to make time for him and for us. While I don’t necessarily agree that all relationships are “work”, I do feel that they require effort to stay healthy. We talk now more than ever and I think we have a better relationship now than we ever have.

After everything that’s happened over the last couple of years, the last bit of family that I have left is really dear to me. We all make an effort to stay in contact as best we can and see each other as often as we can afford to. I am very open about my love and devotion to them, having lost so much.

As for my close friends, this is something that’s always been a struggle for me. I tend to come on too strong, or am too flighty for people (A gemini thing, I think. It’s all or nothing for me, and I’m very fickle). Having said that, there are people in my life now that have gotten me through the worst and best moments that I’ll ever know and I cherish them more than almost anything. I call them family, and I would do anything for them. Despite never being a phone person, I make an effort to call and text when I can. We email and FB all the time and I try to show them in actions how important they are to me.

2. Am I pursuing my dream, or is fear stopping me? I am a person of many dreams. I dream about being a mother. I dream about working somewhere that I am happy and fulfilled. I dream of having a beautiful home that I’m proud of. We’re working towards our dreams as much as we can, though certain things are holding me back. I don’t know what that “dream job” is, or what to do to obtain it. I try to be honest with myself and try out as much as I can. I hope that one of these days I fumble into it and hold on tight once I’ve found it.

3. Am I doing something that matters? I think so. I work at the local college, helping students find work both during their education and after. I didn’t have this support from my University, so I am proud to help out students and grads today as they face such a difficult economic time. It’s super rewarding when we heard back from them that they’ve found work and that they are happy. I always told myself that I don’t want to Live to Work, but rather will Work to Live, so so long as whatever job I was in made me pretty happy and had a positive effect on the community, I would be content. I definitely have that :)

4. What am I doing to help others? Aside from what I do at work, I have been a volunteer with Mothercraft Ottawa, which is a non-profit organization which provides advocacy and support to mothers and families. I was a volunteer doula for young mothers, new immigrant mum’s and families in need. It was a super rewarding experience and I hope to get back to it when life calms down a little. Also, I do what I can to support the Canadian Cancer Society (right now that’s donations, but I will probably volunteer in the future as well) and RAINN. I could definitely do more, however I have spent the last 5 years of my life being a caregiver to my ailing parents, so my husband and I both feel that we need to take time for us now or else I’d burn out.

5. Am I as good a person as I want to be? I try to be, however I know I have faults. The estate drama has certainly brought out my less than appealing features. I’m impatient, lazy, a procrastinator and can be quick to anger. I’m emotional, sensitive and have worked hard to better myself. I do know that I am hugely devoted to the people I love, that I have a big heart and that I am reliable and trust worthy. We all ave room for improvement, right? Otherwise, what would the point of living be?

6. What am I doing to live life with passion, health and energy? Right now, I have to be honest and say that I’m not. I’m trying to make changes to that though. I need to live healthier. I need to find motivation and energy to be excited about life again. I do live with passion, but you need more than that.

Daily Life, Paganism

Big Tuesday Post

Another freezing winter’s day. Yesterday was especially tough. Made it that much harder to get out of bed and return to work when the wind chill is around -34C (about -33F).  Add to that some more dead parent nightmares. Yeah, it was a fun morning. Despite my post the other day, my whole day had this downness to it. I discovered around lunch time that my iphone has a massive crack on the back from it falling out of my purse over the weekend. My new iphone. Sigh. Then, on the way home from workmy new purse had its strap break. Literally as I was walking off the bus into the freezing cold night.

So, I went home, sat in front of the television, and refused to do anything. I didn’t cook. I didn’t clean. I didn’t do anything more than lay my ass down with an afghan, two cats and the dog. The husband forced me to eat something when he got home from karate (which he cooked because I refused otherwise. Yes, really mature, I know. I know my limits, and I know that in the mood I was in, I was likely to hurt myself if I tried to make anything more complicated than open-and-microwave)

On the plus side, I had a great weekend. Friday night, the hubby and I went to my mother’s home/estate to work on things there. Afterwards, as a treat, we went to see The Rite. I have a strange love for demon related movies (Constantine, Devil’s Advocate, you get the idea) and really enjoyed it. I love Anthony Hopkins, and really enjoyed him in another creepy role.

Saturday involved first going out with our friends S&K to see The Green Hornet (which was better than I was expecting. It was lots of fun) followed by some hardcore knitting to finish up a project that I’ve been super excited about. My Super Sekrit Knitting Project? It was a gift a friend of mine who had a baby shower this weekend. Pat and I are good friends with her and her husband and often give each other gag gifts at birthdays and the like. For the baby, I wanted to do something that was functional, handmade and hilariously awesome.  So,  I made this:

Cole the unwilling Viking

Pattern: Bella Knitting’s Viking Boy Hat

Yarn: Lang Yarns Merino 120 Super Wash

My Rav Project Page

And, as you can see, I also made some matching booties. I altered a pretty straight forward pattern to match the hat details. I’m really happy with how it all turned out, and have since had a few requests for more from a few of my other friends. Woo!

Pattern:  Textured Cuff Bootees by Zoë Mellor (from 50 Baby Bootees to Knit)

Yarn: Lang Yarns Merino 120 Super Wash

My Rav Project Page

Yay for actual crafting content! Sunday was the shower, and the gifts were very well received. :D

Unfortunately, the weekend also held some really sad news. The father of one of our friends passed away on Friday night. He had been fighting cancer for a while, and had a very similar experience as Pat’s Dad (healthy guy, suddenly afflicted with a very aggressive cancer). This Imbolc I’ll be lighting a candle in his honour and for his family. It’s so hard when close friends are going through such a difficult time.  I may, if we can afford it and if I have the time, make them a meal or a snack. It’s not much, but I know when I lost my parents, not having to prepare a meal was a god send.

Speaking of Imbolc, the lovely Laura Marjorie Miller shared another one of her great posts. Definitely check it out. My plans are pretty basic, actually. I’ll probably have a cleansing bath, maybe do a reading. I’m debating doing some kind of fertility thing…any recommendations?  I’ve heard that it’s traditional to open all the doors and windows to welcome Bridget in. Are we supposed to do that tonight, or tomorrow? I may also make a list of things that I’d like to have gone from my life and then feed the list to a fire.

We have plans with friends to visit my favourite Irish pub in town, Patty’s. It happens to be the very same Pub that Charles de Lint, his wife, MaryAnn and their band play at occasionally. Afterwards, we’ll be visiting L & S as an after-funeral gathering. It’s going to be a busy today.

Anyway, to wrap up this post, here’s my Tuesday Day Book entry:

Outside my window… is the impending storm.  It’s not supposed to be as bad here in Ottawa as other places (I hear apocalypse is being thrown around as a descriptor in the states for the storm. Really? It’s going to be bad, but not that bad people.)

I am thinking…about my upcoming trip to New Orleans! I haven’t talked about this here yet, because it was still being planned. One of my closest friends in the world is this lovely gentleman by the name of Isaac.

Isaac and I, about 7 years ago. Neither of us look much like this anymore.

He is currently in a fantastic job that earns him an obscene number of aeroplan points. He has invited me on a 5 day trip to New Orleans with him! We’ve been talking about traveling there together for as long as we’ve been friends (going on 12 years now). It’s going to be EPIC. We’re leaving in March and will be there for about 5 nights. SO EXCITED.

I am thankful for… my husband. I know, I say that a lot, but he puts up with a whole bucket of crazy for me. He’s super sweet and very good at helping me through crap times.

From the kitchen… I’m super happy with how my first attempt at home made Beef Stroganoff went.  I’ve been eating it happily for days now.

I am wearing… Plaid pants with a dark blue top. I have my wedding flats on too. Woo

I am creating… Hopefully tonight, the Guiness Gingerbread. YUM. I love you, Nigella.

I am going… to be running around like mad tomorrow.

I am reading… First Lord’s Fury by Jim Butcher.  Last in the series, I think.

I am hoping… to have enough money for both of my trips in the coming months. New Orleans in March, Calgary in May. Busy busy

I am hearing… A lot of crazy people freaking out over the weather.

Around the house… I’m hoping to keep the house clean for longer than a day. yeah. Right.

One of my favorite things… Planning and plotting for trips! I have a list of things we should do/see/eat while in NO. :D

A few plans for the rest of the week: Wednesday holds Imbolc, a pub trip and comforting friends. Friday is work on the estate, with Sunday holding the return of Family Dinners with Jan and co.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing…

Daily Life

Coming Out

Happy Monday everyone!

It’s extremely cold in Ottawa today. We broke a record, in fact. Unfortunately, as a result, our car wouldn’t start this morning, forcing Pat and I to face the cold head-on. Thank the gods for efficient public transportation! Thanks to this cold snap, the office is a little strange today. Not a lot of people in, so its both very quiet and very busy.

A lot of people in the blog world have been talking about The Bloggess’ recent post about mental health. I am definitely going to join in. So, first, go  here and read her entry. When you’re done, come on back.

All done? Thanks for taking the time to read that. Just like the lady asked, I’m joining in.

This is something that I feel very strongly about. I’ve posted about it before. Too often I hear about men and women suffering in silence, unwilling to “burden” their loved ones with their problems. Mental illness is a disease, not a weakness of character. It requires treatment from the medical community and support from your loved ones.

At the age of 10, I saw my first psychologist. I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder which was manifesting in OCD behaviours. I was taking all my stress and any external issues (fight with my parents, troubles at school) and taking it all upon myself. I had a massive guilt complex that would spiral completely out of control. I would end up physical ill due to all of this anxiety.  My treatment involved therapy sessions, meditation techniques and journal writing.

In my teens, my whole immediate family attended family counseling sessions. My sister and I were fighting with my parents a lot. We weren’t doing well in school and our teachers were concerned about us. We were both diagnosed with depression and as a family, we attended counselling sessions to work through our differences.

In university, I attended free therapy sessions with the on-campus counselor to assist me with my anxiety and issues surrounding the illnesses in my family. It was also then that I first started taking medication for my sleep issues and my depression.

Two years ago, after my father passed away, I started having terrible nightmares and as a result, had a really hard time sleeping. I had run out of my sleep aid, so I booked an appointment with my GP. He told told me he wouldn’t write me another prescription unless I went to see a psychologist regularly. So, I did. She turned out to be one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, and I’ve been going regularly ever since. I am no longer on medication for sleep, and I have many coping strategies that I use to manage my post-traumatic stress disorder, my anxiety and my depression. It’s still a battle, but I have had incredible support from my friends, Pat and my in-laws.

I can say, with absolutely certainty, that I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t taken a moment to tell my parents, my doctor or my husband how I felt.  Mental illness is something that is common in my family. My father struggled with depression and alcoholism for most of his life. I have a nephew who is schizophrenic, and both my sister and I have depression and anxiety. My parents created an atmosphere in which we were able to come to them when we were going through a hard time.

It’s so important to be there for our loved ones, to let them know that we are there to support them, and that we love them the way that they are. As someone who may be facing a difficult time, it is important to know that the first step is to speak to someone about what you’re going through. There is help out there, but you need to be willing to talk to someone you trust. Trust me when I say that they want you in their lives, no matter how broken or fucked up you feel.

Please, take a breath, reflect on the people you love and speak up. You’re not alone.

EDIT: I wanted to take a moment to add to this post. I’ve had a day to ponder more on the subject and I want to make sure I’m not misunderstood. Sometimes we go through hard times, and we need support and care from our loved ones. This isn’t necessarily mental illness, however I think it’s still important to ask for that help and support when you need it. Stress and hard times can be hell, without mental illness entering into the picture. Please don’t take from this that I think you are “sick” if you need support. That isn’t the point at all, but rather that everyone needs help sometimes. If you do have depression/anxiety/etc… or if you just need some understanding and support, know that there isn’t anything wrong with you, as an individual, and that it isn’t your fault.

Also, I think North American society has a tendency to diagnose and medicate every issue that comes up. I am not in support of medicating our problems away, however I am aware that some mental illnesses require medication for treatment. That is up to the individual and their caregivers. Whether you seek support from the medical community or from your loved ones, know that if you are going through a hard time that you are not alone and that there is help out there.

Thanks :)