Wednesday, December 15, 2010

wow...i can cook! I admit it, I'm not a good cook. The phrase that often follows a statement like this usually goes something like "but not for a lack of trying". However, the apt phrase that should follow my statement is "I'm not a good cook, but it is for a lack of trying". Over the years I have not been one to enjoy cooking. It was a task that needed to be completed in order to have food, and food, well, its kinda an important part of life. When I was single cooking a whole meal just seemed a bit of a waste of time, seeing it would be eaten alone in a matter of minutes. With a family, yes, there is more of a social aspect to it. But, its still eaten in a matter of minutes. Why practice, why put the time into it when I could buy something cheaply, relatively healthily and have it done with little to no effort? I discovered the reason why the other day.

I was in the process of making dinner for my family, because that's what you need to do when you're home on maternity leave. There is no excuse for me not to cook. I looked around my kitchen to see what ingredients we had to make dinner. Spaghetti, check. Pasta sauce, check. Onions, check. And some garlic. My intention was to do a simple spaghetti, but to saute some onions and garlic to add to the sauce. As I started cooking I looked around the kitchen. Sitting on the table just behind me was a bowl full of fresh, plump, juicy red tomatoes. I started dicing those up, they were the perfect ripeness, just soft enough so some extra juice ran out of them and onto the cutting board. I tossed those into the pan. I looked at my canned spaghetti sauce, basil and mushroom. I looked in the spice cupboard and decided to add some basil to the onions, garlic and tomatoes. The kitchen smelled alive with the aroma of the sauteeing ingredients. I did a quick taste, good, but something was missing. I added some more olive oil and a dash of salt. The tomatoes softened more. Another taste. Some more basil and a hint of oregano. I looked in my cupboard again. Yes, tomato paste. I added two spoonfuls. Tasted it again. A bit thick. Some more olive oil. Another taste. Perfect. It truly was perfection. No recipe. No canned pasta sauce. All me. I trusted my instincts. The smell...tomato, a hint of garlic, some basil. The taste. Fresh and alive. The meal. Amazing. Complicated? No, simple, but simply amazing. My discovery: I can cook!

Monday, December 13, 2010


We live in a time of 'stuff'. Am I a part of this 'stuff' machine? Do I need to acquire things to be happy? What about the 'stuff' I have? Do I use it all? What am I teaching my children about 'stuff'? We live in a time of increasing materialism, increasing waste, increasing want mistaken for increasing need. I have been contemplating more and more about what it means to be happy, and what someone truly needs to be happy? More importantly, what I need and what my kids need to be happy?

I realize that I don't really need a lot to be happy. Time with family, time with friends, time with my children. I need to have books to read, I need to watch movies, I need to meet friends for coffee. I need to be able to take my kids to the park. I do need a computer and connection to information in the great wide web. But a simple computer is all I need. I need a nice glass of wine. A trip every couple of years would be nice. I would like to be able to buy clothes from local designers. I would like to support small business.

I need a morning coffee.

I need to better understand the importance of fresh flowers.

I need to spend less time in the house and more time with my family walking outside, enjoying nature, enjoying places. A smaller space would force this issue.

I don't need a big space. I don't need a lot of things. I don't need a lot of clothes. I don't want designer purses, I don't want nicknacks to fill my house and mind with clutter. I don't want to buy things that will rarely be used. Then why is my tiny house filled with lots of things that I don't use. Why does my 4 year old have lots of stuff she never uses. Why does she get it and I don't? Why don't I listen when she says we need to sell stuff in a yard sale? Why do I feel I need to buy her more and more 'stuff' for Christmas?

I need to get rid of stuff. Stuff is not good for the soul.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The 4 year old ballerina

30 three and four years old at a ballet recital. There is nothing like it. Dancing in time? No. Completely graceful? Of course not. Self critical and self judging? No way. Enjoying the moment? Completely. Enjoying the dance and the music for what it is? 100%. Something to learn from? Everything to learn from.

Friday, December 3, 2010

the perfect 4 year old

Yes, another blog about being perfect, just the way you are. This perfection comes from my 4 year old, and reminds me that yes, I am a good mother. Yes, I know what's important. I am raising a confident girl who loves herself just the way she is.

My little girl wanted to share some of her morning snack with me. I thanked her and said I wasn't hungry, and that I was trying listen to my tummy. I told her my tummy knew I wasn't hungry. I said that the doctor had told me I was a bit too big and needed to exercise and eat less and lose weight to be healthy. She looked at me and said, "I don't need to lose weight, I'm perfect". I told her "You're right. You're perfect." I smiled, knowing I had taught her that.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The comfort of good friends...

We were in the midst of a lovely dinner with friends last night---good friends. Thankfully good friends. As I was taking a mouthful of food I felt the twinge. A few months ago I would not have paid any attention to that twinge. I now know the importance of listening to my body-it seems to know me better than I do. I waited about 30 seconds to see if the twinge would pass or intensify. Instead of intensifying the pain radiated to my back. Then I knew. "Here it comes..." I looked at my good friend who was about to serve me more pasta and asked if she had any apple cider vinegar. My friends who have been privy of the saga of my gallbladder know what it means when I ask for apple cider means pain will soon be following. In the middle of a nice dinner my friend's husband, without hesitation, left the dinner table and went to the store to bring me some apple cider vinegar.

I made my way to the bathroom as I could tell this one was a bad one. Nautiouness quickly followed....then the throwing up. Now that had never happened before. Only because it was a dear friend did I ask, in the midst of our dinner party. "Can I have a bath?" She just smiled and said "of course." I could see the look of concern on her face. She later told me that she could almost feel my pain. Sipping my oh so lovely concoction of Apple Cider Vinegar and apple juice, I relaxed as best I could into the scolding heat of the bath. I could hear them all talking in the other room, debating whether or not I should be brought to the hospital. Curled up in the bath in pain I hoped the Apple Cider Vinegar would work its magic yet again.

Still in pain I walked from the bathroom to the bed that my friend had prepared for me. I lay down and heard my little girl and her playing in the other room. My husband holding the baby and chatting about cameras to my friend's husband. A few minutes later I made my way to the living room and lay down on the couch...then suddenly the pain vanished as quickly as I came, and we continued the evening...

Simple pleasures in life include those friends with whom you can most rely on and be yourself with... That evening was perfect and was a reminder of the comfort of good friends...

Thursday, November 25, 2010


This morning when the alarm went off at 6:10 am, I admit it, I did press the snooze button BUT I only pressed it once. More sleep was tempting, but then I realized something quite remarkable. I had slept for 7 hours straight! This may not seem like something phenomenal, something to be so grateful for, but when you have slept 7 hours straight less than a dozen times over the past 4 and a half years, it is something to feel oh so grateful about. It's its own little miracle. So instead of being greedy and stealing more sleep, I did something even better for my soul. I got up and let the house sleep while I enjoyed the peace, the solitude and the quiet of the morning.

As I sat in silence, legs crossed on the plush carpet, cat sitting at my feet, the aroma of fresh brewing coffee filling the room, I felt peace. When I felt ready to stand, I walked out my front door, took a breath in of the brisk morning air and felt comforted by the greyness of the sky. I bent down, and picked up the newspaper. I ate my breakfast in silence, with a coffee on one side of me, and the newspaper on the other. And when I heard first my little girl call "Can I get out of bed now?" and then the baby start to stir, I felt refreshed, at peace and oh so ready to start the day. Because the day was going to be perfect, as perfect as it should be.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I am perfect

.Bit by bit I am discovering my Buddha nature. Unfortunately it is not of the spiritual or existential kind. It is of the physical kind. Bit by bit my belly is beginning to resemble that of a laughing Buddha statue. Hmmmm. How is this happening? How can I use my increasing spiritual awareness and Buddhist practice to impact my health and my body? How can I use my wish to embrace all that is simple and divine to help battle my increasing weight, my battle with food, and my increase sloth like behaviour.

I meditate, read about mindfulness. I have read articles, bought books on mindful eating. I know basic arithmetic: one plus one equals two. Calories plus calories less exercise equals pounds. I know that pounds plus pounds equals disapproval of myself, and I know that this disapproval plus judgment equals calories plus calories…… It is a vicious cycle. I know the theory. I know the practice. I know that after I put the food into my mouth I feel no better. I feel worse. I know there is something missing from this basic equation.

The answer really is quite simple (and divine) Metta. Metta is loving-kindness. It is the practice of opening your heart and wishing goodwill and compassion on oneself and other beings. It’s often easier to practice loving-kindness towards others than it is towards yourself. But until one really, really accepts where they are at, and who they are and can hold themselves as they are in this very moment then really, how can one truly practice loving kindness towards others. My lack of acceptance of where I am in this process of physical health and well being, my lack of acceptance of my body, of me, of where I am at this perfect moment in time is quite the opposite of loving kindness. I am wishing myself to be somewhere, and to be someone that I am not at this present moment.
And so, all that it is needed, the missing piece of the equation, is to remember that I am perfect in this very moment. I am exactly where I need to be. And with that:

May I be filled with loving-kindness
May I be well
May I be peaceful and at ease
May I be happy

And this moment, it is perfect, as perfect as it should be.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Trusting (and not trusting) myself

I'm not sure where the time has gone. It's been over three months since I last posted. There's been a significant change in our household. We have added a new little soul to our home. Lilah Grace came fast and furious on June 20th, 2010. Through the pregnancy and her birth I discovered much about myself. From the moment I knew I was pregnant I worried about her birth, about what was the 'right' thing to do.

Her older sister was a complicated delivery that ended with a healthy (big) baby via c-section. I had difficulty deciding whether to simply schedule a repeat c-section or to try for the natural birth I never had with her sister Sadie. Again, we had a midwife as our practitioner. She was amazing. However, at times my perception was that there was some pressure to have a natural birth and I found myself feeling ashamed for even considering a c-section. And then at times I felt like I was being selfish for contemplating a natural birth, because I wondered if I was then putting myself and my unborn child at increased risk. In my heart I actually began to forget what I wanted. I was lost in my thoughts, in my worries, about what the midwife thought was best, what my husband thought was best, what my parents thought was best. I lost my own sense of me, and what I wanted. I even got to the point that I hoped someone, anyone, would just tell me what I should do. I gave up my power to everyone. In the end, my Lilah and my body new what was best.

During the evening of June 19th, with Sadie in bed and while having a glass of wine (yes, I admit it, I had a glass of wine), I felt a slight pop, that's the best way I can describe it, a pop. In a matter of time I realized that my water had broken, and the cramping began. Again however, I doubted myself. I think I had convinced myself that I was not going to go into labour on my own. I thought my experience with this baby would be similar to the one with Sadie. I again had neglected to be in the moment, to trust the process, to trust that things would unfold as they should. The cramping began, but still I did not trust what my body was telling me. I thought there was no way this was the real thing as the contractions were happening too quickly. They started at five minutes apart and quickly moved to four minutes. I was told I should be at the hospital by five minutes apart due to the possibility (though rare) that there be complications due to the previous c-section. It took both my husband and friend (who had come by to watch Sadie if needed) to tell me it was time to call the midwife. She was out at a dinner party, and her pager was not working. By the time she did arrive (dressed to the nines), I was well on my way. We arrived at the hospital with little time to spare. My midwife, student, back-up midwife and husband were all flying about as the pain increased. As the contractions intensified I had nothing to do but to trust my body. Even if I had wanted pain management there was no time. There was no time. It was then that I was truly in moment to moment awareness. I withdrew into myself. My eyes shut, hearing all that was going on around me. I put my trust in all those around me, and in myself. I knew I could do it. The sensation, although it was pain, was not scary. I knew there was an end to it. I knew I had to go through it. I, by nature, am a quiet person. I am reserved. I don't like standing out. The process of birthing Lilah brought me to a point to realize that didn't have to be me. I trusted myself, I trusted the experience. It was amazing. At the end, I got my beautiful soul, Lilah Grace. And the day, the moment, it was as perfect, as perfect as it should be.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Scrubbing Floors

One of my favourite book titles: After the Ecstasy, the Laundry. Spiritual living does not occur during 'spiritual activities', instead spiritual living is in the moments. I try to remember that in the moments of the day. This however, is not as easy as it sounds. I get caught up in my thoughts regularly. I am a worrier. I need to fight this on a daily basis as I can get caught up in the little things in life, instead of realizing my moments are all perfect. They are perfectly as they should be. They are what they are. Today my discovery was not during the scrubbing of the floors, but after the scrubbing of the floors. I am a work in progress, as the moment to moment awareness of the perfection of the world should have been in the moment. But what is this 'should' word I use regularly. I 'should' be like this, I 'should' have done that. The fact is, I did enjoy scrubbing the floors, I just did not realize it in the moment. The patio door was open. The spring breeze was not too hot, and not too cold. The radio played cbc, it was a gardening show. But I was busy thinking about the imperfection of the cupboard doors. The tiles that are falling off. The money it will cost to fix all that needs to be fixed. Yes, our house is an old house. Yes, there is a LOT that needs to be done to it. Yes, we lack the money to do what needs to be done. But--the floor shines, and it smells of lemons. And the day--the day is perfect. Perfectly as it should be.