Monthly Archives: December 2012

Feel the magic

When I was young, I spent a lot of time playing outside during the winter. I grew up in Northern Ontario where winter is long, cold and shoveling snow is as routine as doing the dishes. I remember my sisters, cousins and I spending hours frolicking in the snow. We would laboriously shovel snow to clear a patch of ice on the lake for skating, or make the perfect trail for sliding on the snow bank beside our house. We could tell from one look outside if the snow was sticky enough for snowmen or fluffy enough for snow angels.

My kids have a very different childhood from how I grew up. They are city kids. Winter is different here from the rural area where I grew up. They don’t spend all day skating outside or playing in the snow and I sometimes wonder if they know what they are missing.

This week, when we were up north visiting my parents for Christmas, we spent a lot time outside. I think it’s been years since I have gone out to really enjoy a winter activity. I have mostly faced winter with a dreary outlook that causes me to see this time of year rather grimly. Winter is definitely not enjoyable when you spend all your time just putting up with it and waiting for spring.

On Christmas Day we decided to go for a walk in the woods. I have never taken outdoor photos in the winter so I was excited to see what I could come up with. I know this probably sounds really cheesy, but looking through the lens of my iPhone, the snowy landscape looked different to me. It didn’t look cold and uninviting or like something I had to begrudgingly tolerate. The scenery stirred something deep within me – a vaguely familiar feeling from those days that my sisters and I would spend all day out in the snow. Back then, winter time seemed like a magical wonderland of possibilities and we couldn’t get enough of it.

We drove back home from our winter walk in the woods, and I wondered when I lost that ability to see the magic in winter. I doubt that I will figure out exactly when and why I lost it. All I know for sure is that I saw a hint of some familiar magic in the snowy landscape that day and I want more of it.

Photos taken with my iPhone3Gs and edited with Camera+, Snapseed, PicFX and DeluxeFX.

Follow me on Instagram: @callmeSheBear

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Pondering blog fright, and dealing with change

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I have to admit that I am feeling some stage fright, or should I say “blog fright”, since being featured on Freshly Pressed. I know that I already did my obligatory “post-Freshly Pressed” blog, but this fear only became apparent to me when i last looked at my follower count a few days ago and it sunk in that I went from a modest forty-nine followers to over three hundred in a matter of days.

Gulp.

So yesterday, I went down to the lake to take some photos because that always makes me feel better, and to ponder my fear…

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I never look at my blog stats, mostly because I don’t care all that much, and also because they don’t make a lot of sense to me. It could also be that more numbers and stats means more eyes watching me, and that kind of freaks me out. When I peaked at my stats this morning and started thinking about what to write about next, some silly thoughts started running through my head like “maybe I’m a one blog wonder”, a flash in the pan of the blogosphere and now I will just fade away into obscurity…

No pressure or anything!

I’m not complaining, really. Freshly Pressed was a pleasant surprise that showed up when I least expected it and because of it I have found some wonderful new bloggers to follow. It’s awesome!

Still, I’m feeling a rather irrational fear of not living up to expectations (my own), and not letting anyone (myself) down. Once again, I’m faced with either listening to that harsh critical voice in my head that makes me go silent, or that soft and quiet voice that tells me the only thing I should continue to do here is just be myself.

That soft and quiet voice is so much more sensible.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Follow me on Instagram: @callmeSheBear

Random happiness

A few days ago, I had the afternoon off from work yesterday so I could run some errands. As should be expected when applying for government records and documents, things didn’t go as planned and it turned out to be quite a stressful afternoon. I wasn’t able to get anything completed. Instead of getting upset about it, I decided to try again the next day, and go pick my kids up from school since I was in the neighbourhood. It’s such a rare thing that I pick them up. They usually get picked up by their After School Club.

At this time of year, we never get home while it’s still daylight. It’s dark and looks like ten o’clock at night when we open our door. But yesterday since we were off early, I decided to go for a drive down to the lake for sunset. We drove, sang along to some music and joked around on the way there. My daughter remarked that I was in a very good mood and that my “Happy Lamp must be working”. I’ve been using it every morning for the last few weeks or so, and I hadn’t really paid much attention to whether it was making a difference or not. It was almost like a surprise to me when she made mention of my good mood.

I don’t know if it’s the UV light therapy lamp that is making or difference or I’m just starting to feel better. Either way, it doesn’t harm me or anyone to sit in front of it for 30 minutes each morning while I check my email and catch up on blog reading

My kids are pretty amazing and every day they make me laugh with their candor and wit. They say and do the funniest things and I can’t remember what life was like before them. My daughter and I agree that her six-year-old brother could be one of two things when he grows up – a race car driver or a stand up comedian. I’m hoping for the latter because it’s not life threatening and far more entertaining.

My daughter , who is ten, says she wants to be a photographer when she grows up. She often comes along with me for photo walks taking pics with her iPod. She took these two shots below:

Caught red-handed, Instagramming.

Caught red-handed, Instagramming.

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“I also would like to be a writer, just like you”, she says.

We didn’t stay at the lake very long because it was cold. I think we were there for only about twenty minutes, but it was twenty minutes of pure quality time together, laughing, chatting and having fun on the cold shore of Lake Ontario.

On the drive home, my daughter said “I like it when you’re happy Mommy”.

I like it too.

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Follow me on Instagram: @callmeSheBear

Motherly Love

My ten year old daughter took this photo of me and my son yesterday when we drove down to the lake to watch the sunset. I think soon she’s going to be better than me with her photos! The magical edit is by me.

We dedicate this photo to all the victims and their families of the terrible tragedy in Connecticut today. My deepest thoughts and prayers go out to them. I came home tonight and hugged my children and didn’t want to let go of them.

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Motherly Love

Photo taken with my iPhone 3Gs, and edited in Camera+, Snapseed, Photoshop Express and PicFX. Follow me on Instagram: @callmeSheBear

Freshly Pressed, 15 minutes of internet fame and a self-realization to last a lifetime

Not that long ago, I came to a rather surprising self-realization that I have a lifelong issue with feeling that I never get heard. Let me explain (and share some of my iPhone photos that have nothing at all to do with this post)…

Lake Ontario

I grew up in a family that was tight-knit, loud, obnoxious, crazy and of course, REALLY dysfunctional. Being the oldest of three girls, I had a lot of responsibility. Both my parents worked full-time and also ran a small business during the summer which left me in charge of my two younger sisters a lot. Despite the amount of responsibilities I had, I never really had much say in the family because my parents were busy just trying to survive. I don’t blame them for anything. They did the best they could. I learned at an early age that in order to make myself heard, I had to kick, scream and put up a huge fuss about it. Since that generally didn’t go over with my parents very well (or anyone else for that matter), I mostly kept my mouth shut and did what I was told.

I only just recently put this all together and it seems so obvious to me now – I have spent much of my life either fighting to get myself heard or quietly blending into the wallpaper. As a result of this, I have held onto a lot of hurt, anger and resentment towards people in my life who probably didn’t fully deserve it.

Wait…some of them totally deserved it but not all of them.

So, when I received an email last week that my post was chosen to be featured on Freshly Pressed, I wasn’t sure what to do. I checked my email again a few times to be sure it wasn’t a hoax. Nope, not a hoax. It was real and it immediately sent me into a panic as if the Queen just called and said she was coming to visit.

I flung open my dashboard like a crazy lady and started to “clean up”. I ran a spell check, fixed some widgets, added some new ones, changed my About Me page fifteen times and then I waited. And waited. And waited some more. The usual two-day weekend felt like it was the longest wait of my life.

Fast forward to Monday morning, “My Life, Plan B” went live on Freshly Pressed and then the emails and WordPress app notifications started to roll in – right as I was in the middle of an intense two-hour long meeting at work. Gah!

For the next two days, it was an avalanche of ‘likes’, comments and follows that I am still astonished by. In that short time, my humble little blog received over 3,000 page views, 308 likes, 135 new followers and 144 comments. WOW! My iPhone was buzzing so much that I had to turn it off so I could catch my breath.

It was like a surprise party for me and I had absolutely no way of blending into the wallpaper at that celebration. It was fun, exhilarating and damn scary all at the same time. Talk about feeling vulnerable!

Three days later, my post slipped off the Freshly Pressed page and then…there was silence.

[Insert cricket sounds here]

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I’m still going through comments and likes and clicking on profiles to check out all your wonderful blogs. This will keep me busy for the next little while. I would like to respond to each and every one of you, but I’m afraid I will set myself up for disappointment if I commit to that. Please know, that I have read every comment and I appreciate everyone taking the time to leave some encouraging words. I must admit, I was so touched by the outpouring of support, it made me cry.

(sniffle, sniffle)

Seriously, I was so deeply moved by your words that for the first time I really understood the reason of all reasons for my need to write and put myself out there on the internet…

I write because I have a Voice and I deserve to be heard.

That deeply ingrained, unconscious belief from my formative years does not have to have so much power over me, and I see that now. I have something important to say and there really are people out there who are genuinely interested. Imagine that.

Thank you Internet, for stopping by and listening. It means the world to me.

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(Todays photos were taken last Sunday on the shore of Lake Ontario, Ashbridges Bay in Toronto, Ontario, using my iPhone 3Gs)

My Life, Plan B (or what to do when life doesn’t go as planned)

I’ve blogged here before about my struggles with Seasonal Affective Disorder. I know there are some people who think S.A.D is bullshit, but guaranteed, those people have never felt depression like I do. Whatever. Anyways, before I get side tracked on a rant about that, I should get to my point.

There’s been a lot more than the weather that has been dragging me down. In no particular order, my worries include how to balance being a working mom with being a good mom, grade 5 math homework, keeping track of bank accounts, bills, spreadsheets, accounting, an ongoing health problem, stress at work, stress at home, sibling rivalry, not enough time in the day, global warming, war, famine, violence against women, and on and on…

Oh and there’s the seven years of bad luck I might be getting from accidentally breaking a mirror in the bathroom the other week. Not that I am superstitious, but with the way my life has been going, you never know.

On the right path? I'm not so sure about that.

On the right path? I’m not so sure about that. (an Inukshuk at Cherry Beach)

Life sure hasn’t gone the way I planned. That’s an understatement. I thought things would be different. As a kid, I used to think that life got easier as you got older. Now here I am pushing 40 and boy was I wrong about that. The older I get, things seem to get more complicated and every decision I have to make feels like the weight of the world.

Being a grown up is hard.

Sometimes it's good to look back on your past to understand where you are in the present

Perspective. Sometimes it’s good to look back on your past to understand where you are in the present

I’m sick and tired of complaining. I do have many good things going on in my life that I am happy about, planned or not. We just booked a two week winter vacation to a tropical destination in January. I can’t wait for that and I’m very excited about the photo opportunities this trip presents. I have two fabulous children who are funny, healthy and light up my day when I pick them up after work. I have a husband who works hard to provide a good life for our family. I have a good job and friends who assure me that I am not crazy for feeling the way I do, and that their lives also have not gone exactly as planned and they survived! That does make me feel better and not like a complete f#$% up.

I figure that instead of fighting this, and holding tight to my plans, the only thing I can do is let go and come up with something different.

So what’s my new plan?

“My Life, Plan B” is not a plan at all. It’s more of an intention. It’s an intention to let go of the tight grip on my big expectations, take things one day at a time, do what’s in front of me to the best of my ability, and trust that the blur coming up for me on the horizon will become clear to me and worthwhile when I get there.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Blurred horizon

Blurred horizon