Friday, October 28, 2011

I will be back....

I have transitioned back to a full time job, but feel the need to write again.... Stay tuned for more posts!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Open heart

In our lives we all have teachers. We have mentors. We have people who have guided, coached, encouraged, and taught us indispensible knowledge. There are people who arrive at pivotal moments to help us along our paths. The ultimate teachers are those who are able to illuminate in us aspects that were always there but were buried or forgotten. They show us the light, they show us the truth. They show us without trying…

This is about my youngest daughter, my one year old teacher, Lilah Grace.

"Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful." -Thich Nhat Hanh

I aspire to begin each day with an open heart, an empty mind and with the openness to meet each passing moment as it presents itself.

I hear her calling in the only way she knows how. She stands in her crib and she yells. Her yelling is not sad and it is not angry. But it is persistent. She wants to be heard. She doesn’t want to waste another moment of this day. It is her way of saying “Come, come get me. I’m ready to start this day. I want to get going. Come, come now.” I however, am not ready to start this day. I would give anything for another 10 minutes, another 5 minutes…2 more minutes even. But she is persistent. She knows how to be heard.

I wonder, as I open her door, what thoughts she has as she sees my face, greeting her face. In her world words are beginning to form. She understands more as each day passes. I watch her as she looks at my lips and as she begins to follow my gaze. I see her making the connection between sounds and objects. I know she is beginning to realize that these sounds have meaning. She is unearthing that these sounds are perspective, but they are perception. In her mind is she is yet to make meaning? Is she yet to make thoughts? To her, in these moments, the world simply is. Her world is this moment because that’s all it can be.

How liberating to live in the world without the need to attach meaning or judgment to every interaction. There is no good, no bad. No better, no worse. There are needs, yes. And she does also have wants, this I know for sure. But her needs are exquisite in their simplicity. She needs shelter. She needs food, she needs clothes. But most importantly she needs love and nourishment for her soul, as she becomes.

In that moment, as I open the door, I am love. I am perfection. I am everything. She sees me for who I am. She does not judge. She seems image, body, and perception all rolled together as love.

As she moves about her day each moment is alive with newness and with awe in everything she touches, everything she sees, everything she tastes, hears and smells. The world is alive with possibility. The universe presents itself to her in her moments of pure joy, of learning and of unfolding.

As we pass people on the street, her arms outstretch as she perfects her greeting. She greets everyone we meet. Her eyes light up and her mouth turns to a grin. The word ‘hi!’ forms easily from her lips. If she is not met with a hello or a smile in return, she simply smiles wider. She worries not what people think, she worries not if they greet her in return. She simply smiles and waves and allows for her love to shine. It matters not, colour of skin, ability or disability, millionaire or homeless, everyone is welcomed. Everyone is equal. Everyone is loved. Everyone is love.

I aspire to begin each day with an open heart, an empty mind and with the openness to meet each passing moment as it presents itself.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coconut Love

Walking through the grocery store, my 4 year old ran towards the coconuts with much excitement. "Coconuts! Mommy, there's coconuts! Can we get one? Can we get one?"

"No, I don't think we need to get a coconut" I responded.

As I was saying no to her, I was wondering why. Such a simple request. A coconut. She was so excited. A little bit of the exotic in her 4 year old life.

I saw her excitement turn to disappointment as she heard me say no. Again, I wondered what my immediate reaction of 'no' was all about. Perhaps it was because it wasn't on my 'list'. Perhaps it was because I had never in fact eaten an actual coconut before. Perhaps it was because I had no CLUE how to open a coconut. Perhaps it was because I was anticipating many requests for frivolous junk food, and in turn I was ready and waiting with my 'no' response. To be honest, I am not sure where my immediate reaction of 'no' came from. But, regardless of where it came from, I was in the wrong. So I corrected my mistake immediately when I realized how ridiculous I was being.

"You know what Sadie, I was being silly. Of course you can have the coconut."

"Yeah! And can I hold it while we shop? How do we open it? How will we get the coconut milk out? Can we open it as soon as we get home? I thought we can only get coconuts in the jungle, how did it get here? Do you hear it? When I shake it, you can hear all the milk moving around. I can't wait to try to open the coconut."

And to think, I was going to deny my daughter such simple and exquisite pleasure. A coconut. Joy can come in the smallest packages.

And yes, with much determination and a little help from her dad, we opened the coconut. We all enjoyed the fruit of our labours.

Now, I walk through the grocery aisles with my eyes a little wider and with my list safely tucked away in a pocket. I am saying 'yes' more to new flavours and new experiences. I am paying attention to colours and textures. "No" no longer waits upon my tongue. "Yes" abounds.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Here I am, starting my own private counselling practice. It is starting say the least. I know this is to expected. But, I also know that money is an important part of the equation, a needed part of the equation. Therefore I have been applying for jobs to provide stability while my practice develops and takes off. The phone calls for interviews have not yet presented themselves. No, I am not yet discouraged. I hold true to the fact that everything unfolds for a reason. I know that a year from now I will look back at how it all the unfolded and be amazed at how everything did in fact happen for a reason. I will be successful, prosperous and fulfilled in my working life, and my home life. This, I know in my heart, is a truth. I breath deeply and trust that the decisions I am making now are the right ones for me and for my family.

However, I have in fact been approached with a job. It is not a job I feel is destined for me, it is not a job I have asked for. It definitely does have possibilities and could provide me with stability for now and for the future. But by taking this job I could also be giving up things. I could be giving up time with my girls, other possibilities that are yet to present themselves. Life will definitely unfold in a way that is different then how I would been planning. But in what ways? For now, I sit and meditate and trust that the best decision will present itself...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In Respect of Difference

Just picture a society where everyone interacted under the exact same set of rules. Can you imagine a place where everyone thought about things in the same way? Can you picture a culture where everyone was predictable and where sameness was the norm?

Thankfully, this is not the way of the world. Difference is the norm. Difference provides our richness, our truth. It is our reality.

Neurodiversity is a term that describes difference based on neurological attributes. Most commonly attributed to those with Autism or Asperger Syndrome, it asserts that this difference is a natural part of human development that should be respected and appreciated.

Many people with autism have the ability to see things in ways that most of us do not. They often have strong ability at systematizing and seeing logic and rules and patterns where others do not. But, they struggle socially. The set of social rules that most of learn so easily at a young age are foreign to many people with autism. Imagine you were dropped in a foreign country where you were expected to know all the conventions, traditions and ways of interacting. You would want to get it right. You wouldn’t want to offend someone, to do something wrong, to say something wrong. You would likely feel on edge and be anxious about doing something wrong or saying something wrong. You would spend your time watching others, reading books about the culture, reading websites about tradition and you would try to use your intellectual part of your brain to figure out this foreign culture. This is often the life of someone with Autism or Asperger Syndrome.

But it doesn’t mean they are less. It does mean that the challenges of those who are seen to be outside of the norm should be seen through a lens of acceptance, understanding and openness. Their struggles in a world where difference is sometimes viewed as less are real. I compel you that the next time you encounter a person who may not behave the way you expect to look at their way of being as different, but not less. Do not pity them, but do give them the patience and understanding they deserve.

To quote Temple Grandin, doctor of animal sciences and a professor, a woman with Autism, and advocate for persons with autism, “After all, the really social people did not invent the first stone spear. It was probably invented by an Aspie who chipped away at rocks while the other people socialized around the campfire. Without autism traits we might still be living in caves."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Midnight Laughter...

I was awoken in the middle of the night.

"Steph, Steph...are you okay?"

My husband thought I was chocking or coughing. It took me a moment to realize I was laughing aloud. In between sleep and consciousness, I did not remember my dream. I only knew that I was happy and I was laughing.

What a joy--to be laughing in your sleep!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Destined for Greatness

Yesterday morning I decided "Be open...."

As I sat in the doctor's office waiting room with both my girls, a man walked in. I didn't notice his face, his body, or any of his attire, except what was written on the front of his shirt. It said "Destined for Greatness" Yes, this was just a shirt, on some man I didn't know. It was probably a shirt a friend got him as a gag gift, or perhaps one that he needed to buy for himself in a moment of self doubt. Yes, at face value, this shirt had nothing to do with me, nothing to do with my life, nothing to do with my outlook. At face value....

But, the reality is, it had everything to do with me in that moment. The fact is that after weeks of procrastination I made a doctor's appointment the previous week to have a referral to an audiologist. The fact is, I made that appointment for last Thursday, and we got a specialist appointment for yesterday morning. The fact is, that man also had some sort of appointment that morning. The fact is, he chose to wear that shirt out of all other shirts that morning. The fact is, as he walked in I looked up at exactly the same time. The fact is, I didn't see him or his shirt. The fact is, I saw those words. The fact is, they were the exact reminder I needed in that moment. The fact is, those words were meant for me...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cinnamon in my coffee

The sun shines this Monday morning...

The promise of change...

I hold my baby a few minutes longer before putting her down for a nap...

Cinnamon in my coffee...

Cat bathing in the light...

Welcoming goodness..

Knowing uncertainty is the only certainty...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Welcoming the world

My 11 month old Lilah and I walked down our busy street. She sitting on my hip, embraced in a lime green sling, accented with yellow and blue paisley. The sun shone down on us. She wore a smile so broad. She sang and chatted as we went. And to each passing person her eyes brightened, her face shone, and she rose her hand in greeting. She uttered the latest word she has learned. "hi!"

To welcome strangers like this...a wonderful lesson from my baby.

Monday, May 23, 2011

What the body needs...

Right now I am exhausted! My Lilah has been waking at 5:15 in the morning. I am enjoying a weekend in the country with my two girls at my parents. My Lilah is napping and my Sadie is spending time with her grandfather. Me? I am trying to get some writing accomplished. But my body has other plans. Even right now as I type this I fight to keep my eyes from drooping shut. I fight to keep my fingers moving along the page. I fight to keep my thoughts focused on the task at hand. I long to lay my head upon a pillow. I think to myself, "I can close my eyes for just this moment". And I do. I close my eyes as I type. Just for this moment. But I feel that moment lengthening. I feel my fingers slowing, and I feel my eyelids heavier, more difficult to open. Then sleep, sleep. Why don't I just sleep?

I don't sleep because I want to jog, I want to write, I want to read, I want to meditate, I want to do yoga.... I want to, I want to, I want to, I want to.

But, my body is clearly telling me what I need. It is telling me I need rest. I need sleep. I need to use this moment to recharge. This is what I need. I need to care for myself and listen to what I know is true. Simple. Quite simple. My body is telling me what it needs, not what it wants. And in this moment of quiet I was listen, and I will sleep.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Just breathe

Okay, so today I am having some mini panic attacks. I will admit that. I decided not to go back to my full time employment--a job that I have had for 12 years--after my maternity leave. Here in Canada we are very fortunate as we get 12 months of (partially) paid leave. I knew when I left last June that I would not be returning. I wanted something different, something new. Through much soul searching and discussions with my husband I decided what may be best for me and for the family would venture out on my own. I am a social worker. My background is supporting teens and adults with Aspergers and helping parents who are on the verge of burnout. I love it! And we figure if I can work a couple evenings a week, and some weekends then I can also stay home with my girls. Best of both worlds.

So...I have an office close to my home. Great. I have started to advertise. Great. I'm hoping to get a website up and going. Great. I have no clients. Not great. I know it will happen. My gut, my intuition tells me it will happen, and that everything will unfold as it should.

The question is: how do you continue to have faith in moments of fear? How do you not continually second guess decisions that have been made? How do you not attach yourself to the worry but continue pressing on in the moment to moment awareness? Because, right now, there is nothing wrong in this moment. There is no need to worry in this moment. This moment is perfect. The moments following too will be perfect, they will be exactly what the need to be. So for now I welcome the thoughts. Accept them for what they are, sensations, energy--all fleeting. I welcome them in. And then I let them go lovingly. And I move on......

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hope floats

I was at my office last night when I received an email from my husband--subject line: Sad evening here. I, of course, became worried and anxious. It was likely Sadie who was sad, and I wasn't there to put her to bed, to read her a book, and to give her a cuddle.

I then read the email.

With everything else going on in our life lately Sadie's goldfish has taken a back seat. Yes, he's fed, but his tank has not received the attention it should. It was pretty grungy. Apparently as Sadie was going to sleep my husband heard her yell from her bedroom "Daddy! Daddy! Fishy's not breathing! Fishy's not breathing!" Tears were streaming down her face. Yes, it did look as though Fishy was gone. But upon closer inspection they realized there was still some fight left in the little fellow. Emergency after hours tank cleaning commenced. Fishy was still barely moving, but looked perkier then he had. Sadie was praised for realizing Fishy was in trouble, but her dad also prepared her for the fact that he may not make it. And yes, we both thought that in the morning we would finding him floating atop the fish tank and we would need to again remind her she did all she could.

At 7:00 am this morning we heard another yell from Sadie's room. She was in bed. This yell had a different tone. "He made it! He made it! Fishy made it!" Ecstatic. That is the only word I could use to describe her tone. Ecstatic. Fishy is indeed happily swimming in circles. He appears to have made a full recovery. Sadie saved his life.

Fishy was given a second chance because of the care of a 4 year old. And now we will ensure his tank shines. Perhaps we will even drop in another tree or two.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


...I said I would write more on this little space o mine. And I will. I will. Please stick with me. It's time. Time, time, time. That abstract thing time. But abstract as it may be it still determines if, when and how I get things done. One priority on top of another. I write this, towel in hair, dishes in sink, and newspapers strewn over my tiny living room floor. I write this because my writing is MY time. It is for me. And so I will return. I will return to this page over and over again. Because its mine. My time...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

In Appreciation

Below is a wish for myself. It is the future of me, as I become.

I did it for me. I did it for my daughters.

I stood before the mirror. Naked. I had scars and I still have scars. Scars that can be seen by the eye and scars embedded deep within. The beauty was always there but my eyes could not always see it.

It took love and it took time. It took acceptance. It took love.

Love. Love for me. Love for my daughters.

But my weight and my rolls kept me at bay. I looked in the mirror. Naked. And I finally saw. Me. I am not my body. My conscience, my being, my soul--they are not this body. But my body is my home in this life. Its health, its strength, its vitality is paramount to feel joy, to feel pain, to be. It is the eyes through which I see, the hands through which I touch, and the mouth through which I taste. It allows me to see love, to feel love, to taste love. In that moment I looked and I looked and I looked. I looked with love, with care and with compassion. I cried. I understood. No matter size, no matter shape, no matter moment, this body carries me. This body houses me, and this body deserves me.

That was the moment it all changed. That was the moment I decided to feel love. To be love. That was the moment I first uttered these words aloud:

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

From that day forward, I began my mornings with those words, I ended my days with those words, and I repeated them in the moments of self doubt and in moments of pain. Slowly and surely I bathed myself in compassion, in the compassion I readily gave to others but rarely gave to myself. Things began to change.

No longer did food take mindless prominence in my life. It was integrated in a joyful and loving way. I took pride in my food and created meals with love. Gratitude and thanks were spoken before food was eaten. Farmers were acknowledged for their time and energy and my girls came to learn from where our food came.

And I ran but no longer from myself. I ran because it was love in motion. My heart beat loud in my chest. My breath strong, rhythmic, urging me forward. My legs slowly felt stronger, the jiggle dissipating. I felt strong and worthy. As I ran and as I nourished myself a strange thing happened. I realized it wasn’t about my weight. It was about my worth. I felt joy readily and I allowed myself to feel pain. And, the weight---it came off. And I walked tall and proud.

The chip bag crinkles loudly now. No longer do I shamefully sneak cookies hoping no one will notice. No longer are candy wrappers hidden in bedside table drawers. I eat them, blissfully enjoying each bite. And yes, there are still moments of weakness, moments I am not mindful, moments I am not compassionate. But I acknowledge those moments now, and I repeat to myself:

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

I put it out there...

...and I waited to see what came back. What came back was love and acceptance and appreciation for me and for my words. I am a half-assed writer. I don't write every day and feel I often have nothing to say. I vow to change this. I vow to work on my story that has not been looked at in 5 months. I vow to post a couple of times a week, and I vow to let the words flow. I have so many excuses why I can't write. And yes, they are actually valid excuses. I need to parent my children (yeah, that'd be a good thing to do). I need to make sure the house stays in some semblance of cleanliness. I need to make sure my girl makes it to and from school (yes, another good thing to do). I need to meditate. I need to read. I need to exercise. I need to spend time with my husband. And...this one. This one is a biggie. I need to make some money.

I very recently resigned from the job I had for 11 years. I was a social worker. I am still a social worker, one who is trying to work for herself and one who is trying to find odd jobs here and there. My intuition tells me that I do not strive in the 9-5 work environment. I want freedom, flexibility and less boundaries. I am trusting my intuition, I am trusting that it will all come together as it is meant to. Things have a tendency to do that. Is it scary? Yes. Does my heart pound regularly? Yes. Do I wonder if I made a huge mistake? Yes. Do I know in my heart I made the right choice? Yes.

Here in lies the challenge though. How do I find enough time in the day for all the things that need to be done? How do I find enough time in the day for all the things I want to do? As of yesterday I have moved writing from the 'want to do' list, to the 'need to do' list. This is something that is good for my soul and good for my brain. I spend a lot of time supporting and caring for others. I do this as a mother and I do this as a social worker. It is time I care for and support myself. Hence writing and exercise have both moved to the 'need to do'. These two things need to be integrated into my life on a daily basis. As they are I believe the gifts in my life will be amplified. If the joy I felt yesterday after putting my words 'out there' is any indication of what's to come then I will keep the pen flowing and the fingers flying over the keys!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


As summer approaches my thoughts drift to camp....

I always had a certain affinity for that dock. It was old, it was worn, and its safety was at times questionable. But, every summer, in the sometimes frigid mornings of mid June, I, along with my friends, who are now my family, would drag the heavy, cumbersome pieces of wood down the steep hill. Without grace or agility, the wood, more battered each successive year would be pushed haphazardly into the water. With torn shorts and worn t-shirts, we’d follow each section of the dock into the chill and fright of the awaiting water. The shore, bare and lonely seemed to be awaiting our arrival. In a matter of days the screaming, laughing and splashing children would fill the silence.

Each June those battered sections of dock were put together with love, with care, with humour and with patience. That dock, like I, had waited through fall through winter through spring to that day in June, that day in June when, with love, with patience and with humour it was to be put together, to be made whole. That place and those people gave those pieces of wood purpose. The pieces of battered wood were so much more than their separate parts. They became that dock. They became whole. They became what they were meant to be. And they were necessary. They became the focus; they became the gathering spot for laughter, for fun, for frolic and for quiet moments of contemplation. Like that dock, that camp also gave me purpose. It made me whole. It made me worthy. It was those late June days and early August mornings where I became. It was home.

The path down to that dock was surrounded by tall, straight, pine trees. Walking through the majestic trees gave the feeling of being part of something bigger, of walking through a path of history. The seedlings had grown, the birds had made homes, and if you listened closely, the woodpeckers could be heard under the shrill song of the cicadas bathing in the heat of the August sun. The original forest which had burnt to the ground had been replaced by hundreds and hundreds of pine trees planted in perfect, symmetrical rows. One path cut between them. Stopping on this path, and looking up, as I often did, and as I had seen others do, had a dizzying effect. It felt as though the trees had stood still, and that I was moving. I sometimes even put my ears up to the rough bark of those trees. I loved the sound of the creaking, the movements reverberating down the trunk. At times the slight winds that swayed the thin tips would change in an instance, and turn loud and howling. In those moments the creaks became loud crashes as the tops of one tree would bang with such force that branches would come tumbling down to the ground. In those moments I had to trust those tall thin trees. They were not brittle but flexible. They moved with the wind, became a part of it. They had stood tall and purposeful for decades. They did not fight the wind, they played in it. In this home, I learned too to stand tall, to play in the prevailing winds, and to be flexible in the moments when my nature wanted me to be brittle.

This was the place where I became. I became who I was meant to be. I learned to live, I learned to love and I learned to be. It was the place where I learned that who I was and how I was, was who I was supposed to be and how I was supposed to be.

In the spaciousness of the air, the sun, and the trees I felt free. There were no doors, no gates, no boundaries. It was freedom. The surrounding forests were thousands of variations of green. Light greens, darks greens, mint greens, more greens than my brain could decipher. The forests were dense and full of hidden treasures. In those days, I looked at the ground often. I looked at the sky often and the water and the stars often. I noticed the green moss that clung desperately to the moist rocks in the sun filled clearing. I noticed the grasshoppers maneuvering precisely but elegantly over a sea of browning grass burnt by the August sun. I took the time to lie on my back on that prickly August grass, staring up at the sky and enjoying the never ending characters that would appear and then seemingly vanish in the blue vastness above. I would lie on my stomach at the water’s edge, peer over and watch the tiny fish poke their heads out from the safety of the dock, looking for its next meal. The water rippling in the distance signaled the defeat of a small water spider. And the stars. At night I would put on my flannel pants, my mismatched vibrantly coloured wool socks, my tattered tan Birkenstocks, and my purple hoodie that would inevitably smell of sweet yet acrid scent of numerous nights spent in front of smoke from the campfire. I would lie on my back. It would be silent. The stars would be so bright they seemed to be talking to me in a language I could not quite understand, but they were telling me things I knew I needed to know.

I learned there that home is in the comfort of the moments. Home is in the comfort of the little things. Home is feeling whole in the majesty of the details. I was taught the value of loving the old. Canoes, buildings and tools showing the signs of age were not discarded but instead were lovingly and painstakingly brought back to life. There was little garbage, little trash, little waste. I composted before composting was trendy. I learned about the great value of a tiny earthworm. I learned that what looks like a most insignificant creature, can change the world. We were encouraged to look deep in the soil, to see the land, and to grow our own food. No, not everything we ate came from the work in the garden, but we had meals with fresh berries, crisp lettuce and the reddest, juiciest tomatoes I had ever seen. And, I played a part in that meal. The children played a part in that meal. We learned about what it meant to treat the earth with respect, to treat materials with respect and to treat each other with respect.

A fresh coat of paint, some oil here, some nails there ensured the preservation of time. I had my hands in that, I had my heart in that. Hours were spent patching canoes, sewing holes in tents, scraping old paint off the side of buildings, and then passing a brush over it to bring it to new life. And likewise, children were brought to a new life. Children who had been given everything they had ever wanted, who went to the best private schools and who had the latest fashions lived side by side with children who didn’t even know what it was like to have a home. They were equal. They were all important. They thrived, they were given a fresh coat of paint.

In the sometimes frigid mornings of late August, I donned my now even more ragged shorts, and worn t-shirt, and braved the cold of the water. Screw by screw, we took apart those docks. We pushed them to shore and with more care and more caution then we had in June, we rested them on the bank. They needed to last another fall, another winter, another spring. They needed us to be patient with them. We gently pushed and pulled the large pieces of wood up the embankment, just nudging them along, careful to not hit a rock too hard, to not drag it against the sharp pebbles and tree roots. They were guided to shelter to weather the months to come, to wait until the following June, when they again would be placed in the water. When they would be home.