20 December 2013

Busy hands are happy hands?....

Busy hands are happy hands...or so the saying goes, but are they?

I have been thinking a lot about this lately, in the context of my own life, the lives of the women I know and in the context of the changes I am making.

Here is what I am coming to see and understand. In today's society women are expected (often by other women) to be successful, and it seems to me that it is hard to define success and so by default success has been defined by how busy someone is. How many volunteer committees are you involved in, how many nights a week are you running to and from meetings, or children's activities, how many mornings do you rise with a full plate of things to do places to be? How many businesses do you have your hand in? How much networking are you getting in, to push those businesses? How many hours do you spend working to get ahead?

I stopped...

I stopped to ask myself these questions and to take a moment to define what success meant to me.

via my pinterest

I stopped and looked at my life from the inside out, not from the outside in as I had been, and here is what I saw.

I saw someone who from the outside in may have looked like she had it all together.
I saw someone who was busy on this committee or that committee, going to that meeting and this meeting.
I saw a woman who worked to make her business successful and who spent many hours away from her family in order to do that ( even if she was physically present).
I saw a woman who spent quiet moments alone wondering about how her children were but not being with her children.
I saw a woman who was living with her shoulders up around her ears tight with tension and stress trying to please everyone around her, trying to be heard and seen doing the 'important things'
I saw a woman who missed an entire session of her children's swimming lessons because she had a business to run.
I saw a woman who when the weekend came and her children's eyes would light up at the idea of being together as a family had to tell her children no, she had to go to work.
I saw a  woman who had no time to visit her eldest daughter as she begins her life and career.
I saw a woman who had lost sight of her priorities.
I saw a woman I did not like, nor want to be.

Now, not everyone will stop to look and not like what they see. Some people will be completely happy to spread themselves thin and stretch their limits and challenge themselves. For some people this will give them purpose and meaning. It will fill them with pride and contentment. Some will be able to balance the many facets of their lives in a way that makes them feel whole. Not me.

I love my family, my children, my husband and they are my priority. I want to have as much time and flexibility to be with them as I can. I want to be able to be present in all ways, not just physical. I want to stop checking emails and messages every ten seconds because I might miss something. I want to not have a tension headache all the time. I want to feel normal again...whatever that is.

You see, the thing is only you can decide what is right for you, but many of us are trapped or wrapped up in this notion that being busy equates to being successful...it does not...in my case it just makes me tired.

And so as change is the only constant in this world, I am making changes, and I am happier for it. I left all the committees I was on. I stepped away, and the world did not crumble. I am closing the business we have worked at for the last four years because now is not the time for this...now is a time to be a mom, and while I will have to work outside the home, I will come home at the end of a day and be present. I will have weekends to spend with my children and I will have vacations to take. Hopefully my shoulders will drop and the headaches will lessen. I will be a dedicated employee but when it is time to head home, I will be a dedicated wife and mother. This will be my definition of success.

I wish each of you your own definition of success.
Jo




26 November 2013

The universe is talking to me...

Yes it is true...the universe (via pinterest) is talking to me.

In this, the last month my business is open, the universe had this to say to me today:
via my pinterest
via my pinterest

Both messages so very appropriate for me at this point in time and very befitting how I feel at present. I feel strong and powerful for letting go of that which I have worked so hard to achieve and maintain, but that I also feel it is time to move on from. I am also very thankful for all the lessons learned over the last four years and very ready for what the future now holds.

And as I prepare to finish this post the radio starts to play...'have a holly jolly Christmas...it's the best time of the year' and yes it is. Here is to a great December and a wonderful New Year!

19 November 2013

Life evolves...

Life evolves and then it ends... This statement is not meant to alarm, it is merely a fact.

My grandmother, 'Nan' passed away a week ago. I was with her as she left us and moved on. She was ready she wanted to go and was, I believe, waiting for my mom before she left. There were four generations in that room as she passed and while it was a peaceful transition, it was and is difficult to see, and to convey what it felt like to watch as she took her last breath.

It was a surprise to many that she passed. But I knew the moment I laid eyes on her in that hospital bed that she would not be returning home. She had been admitted for a minor complaint, nothing life threatening had raised anyone's concern, but to look at her was to see life leaving her. When the nurse was called because we suspected she was not breathing she chirped to my mother ' well let's just see what's going on shall we?' It was shock pure and simple on her face when she entered the room and touched her hand to my Nan's chest. It's a scene I am trying to erase, not because I want her back, she is truly where she wanted to be now, but because it was painful to see my mother and my daughter gripped with sorrow and shock.

My daughter and my Nan

I loved my grandmother, but to say that we had a warm and fuzzy relationship would be a lie. She was cool, showed clear favorites among her grandchildren, had a tendency to speak harshly of others, was not terribly tolerant of opposing or alternate lifestyles, and said what she thought whether it was appropriate or not. When I found myself pregnant at 16 she wrote me a harsh letter speaking of her disappointment and how she thought I should handle things, admonishing me that 'it was not this baby's fault that he or she was being brought into this world'  It was that baby who witnessed her leaving this earth a week ago.

I loved my grandmother. I have few memories of her as a child, none that involve hugs or playful experiences, but a few snapshots that I will hold dear. And though she could be a bit of an old crag, and never did I hear her say so, she loved her children, her grandchildren and her great grandchildren.

A grandmother is a constant to many, and she was to me, the matriarch of our family, the glue that kept us all together, and now that she is gone one wonders what will happen to our extended family? Will we drift? She was always the conduit of information between the four siblings and their children. She was how I knew my cousins were engaged, expecting, moving, had given birth...she was the operator in our family, she had all the information. And so while she may not have been a warm fuzzy Nan, she will be missed. I will miss her.

Sometimes you don't understand someone until you look back on them, and this is how I feel today looking back on my grandmother's life. It was not an easy one, from the depression to raising four children alone while my granddad was in the Sanatorium recovering from Tuberculosis to outliving three grand-daughters, to caring for her husband as he died from lung and liver cancer, she saw so much in her life, overcame it all and lived independently until the day she entered the hospital three days before she died. She was strong...and I hope I have a little of that in me...I think I do.

So...life evolves, it has highs and lows, happy and sad times, easy and hard times, and then it ends

Goodbye Nan...I loved you...I always will.

26 October 2013

9 Saturdays...

I don't know if you count or not, but I do and it is 9 Saturdays until Christmas.

via my pinterest
I love Christmas, I love the lead up to it, the change of the seasons, the cozy feelings that come with that and the planning and build up to the big day. I love the anticipation of young children and the reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' . I love the decor, the yearly argument with my husband about how soon we can put a real tree up, the planning to get the outside lights up before the weather turns too cold and we freeze while doing it. I love it all. And while for many it is too soon to even start thinking about it, this year I have added reasons for having Christmas on the brain.

You see this Christmas will mark the end and the beginning for us. Our little gallery here in Muskoka will be closing at the end of the year, and so this year Christmas marks the last time I will see many of my loyal patrons and it marks the end of this remarkable journey, and the beginning of a new stage in our lives.

It has been an excruciatingly difficult time deciding to close this business we have dedicated ourselves to over the last four years, and that has been a fixture in our community for 15 years, and while we are trying to sell it, we have also had to plan for the possibility it won't and we needed to put a date on things to move on. So it is that we decided to call it a day at the end of the year and go out on a Christmas high.

via my pinterest
We have been blessed and though being a small business owner is harder than most would understand, with much less monetary reward than many think, we have loved it, but realize now that this is not the time in our lives to be doing this. With two young children we need time to be able to spend with them. Weekends, Holidays, vacations...we need those things. As we move forward I am excited to be returning the world of Interior Design and will be working with some wonderful people who have been extremely supportive during this time. I'm not gonna lie, I am also looking forward to a regular pay cheque and two days a week off. That will be heaven to me!

At the heart of it, we are returning to simplicity where we can refocus on ourselves and our family and put that first above all else. My husband and my three girls that is what it is all about.

So as I count down the last 9 Saturdays until Christmas I face many things that need doing, but I know that at the end of this mountain of work lays a wonderful new road ahead and I am grateful and excited and sad and nostalgic all at once. but above all else, I am at peace and I am happy.

Jo

*note* If you or anyone you know is interested in purchasing a wonderful art gallery and gift shop in the heart of Muskoka please contact me at art@silverbridgegallery.com

11 October 2013

To Be Thankful...

Today, for many, is the beginning of an extra long weekend as we here in Canada celebrate Thanksgiving, so today I thought I would share why I am thankful.

Today I am thankful for my husband and children. Jake is my best friend and I truly do not know what I would do without him. He makes each day brighter in some way or another, can always bring a smile to my face even amid tears and he loves me like no other. My Girls bring me innumerable moments of joy, whether it is my oldest settling into life as a grown woman, and doing so with strength, courage and a great deal of poise, or my middle daughter running her first cross country race to my youngest who decided to sail to India this morning in a wicker laundry basket.


Today I am thankful for my mother, father and brother. My mother who cares for my wee girls when I cannot and who does so with such joy and happiness that the moment she enters the room they run screaming  N A N N Y !!!! and jump into her arms...even though they see her every day. My dad who at this very moment is tiling my tub surround because I have to be at work, but more than that he is a man who would do anything for his children and we know it. My parents are full of the most important kind of love, the love that abounds and lets their children know that no matter what and above all else they are loved. I am thankful for my brother who is going through a major life change and has sacrificed a lot to do so (perhaps more than he should). We are excited to have him in our home as he starts this new chapter in his life and we are excited to have 'Uncley J' around for lots of fun and games with the girls.

Today I am thankful for the friends I have...though not many they are the best kind of friends who are there when you need them, no matter if it has been three days, three weeks or three months since you last saw them.

Today I am thankful for the changes we are about to undergo as we begin the process of closing our business and moving on to the next stage in our lives. I am thankful for the opportunity that being a small business owner has given me, for the things I have learned and the people I have met along the way. And although we will be open for the balance of the year, I am thankful for the many words of kindness and understanding that we are receiving after having shared this very difficult decision.

Today I am thankful for the job I have waiting in the wings and the people who have so generously understood my current situation and are still willing to wait to take me on board. I look forward to the new challenges this job will bring, to returning to a world I love, and to be working once again with some amazing people whom I have had the pleasure of working alongside before.


I have so much to be thankful for, I am brimming with gratitude and hope you have half as much to be thankful for and moreover that you are able to recognize all that you do have, it is a wonderful state to be in, and I hope you can join me...what are you thankful for?

Cheers,
Jo

19 September 2013

Of days gone by...

Oh how joyful it is to watch your kids grow up. My wee girls are both in school now, the youngest in Junior Kindergarten. OY!

Time is flying and we often feel the need to record every moment because the things that they do and say are so very precious we are terrified we will forget them.

Some of my favorites...

Lilah asking if she can sit 'benext' to me or if we can go on a b'venture. Even more precious was Lilah saying the other night 'I miss the old days...I miss being three...being four is hard'
Or Izzy when she used to sing 'Kwinkle Kwinkle' Little Star.

Then there is Lilah and her wiggle dance that she does...primarily when she is naked...or 'nakey' as she calls it, and Isobel talking with her hands like what she is saying is the most important thing on earth...which it is!

They grow up so fast and before you know it they are getting their first raise (like my oldest daughter Cait). Take the time today to put down the phone, tablet, newspaper...close the computer turn off the TV and watch and listen to your kids...today will be tomorrow before you know it and there will be so many yesterdays you wish you could get back. Sing  to them, read to them, dance with them...play with them. they need you more than they need anything else and the most precious gift you can give them is time...and it is really all they want.

Looking for some more parental inspiration? Check out this post over at A Cup of Jo and then read anything over at Hands Free Mama.

My favorite time of day is bedtime when I crawl into bed and sing to each of my girls...three songs each and then I give them snuggles, kisses and say goodnight...I always say 'I'll see you in the morning'...and they always say 'not if I see you first'. It doesn't matter what has happened that day, how frustrated I have been with them...it always makes me smile.


I can't wait until bedtime...you?

16 September 2013

Monday Musings...

Happy Monday!

It has been a few days since my revelations and realizations took hold, but let me tell you that the shift is palpable...and welcome...and wonderful...and joyful.

I'm not completely there yet, accepting myself wholly and fully is going to be a process but I can see it happening...feel it. This morning I walked down main street and where I normally look at myself in the shop windows and think negatively, today my inner dialogue was different...it was more accepting and appreciative, it liked what it saw.

All around me the world is changing and the direction is a glorious one primarily of acceptance and appreciation how can one not help but be happy? When you are happy those around you are happy, and supportive and appreciative and loving and generous and kind...it really is true...the energy you put out into the world is the energy you get back.

I stumbled upon a new to me blog last week and today's' post was a good one. Over at Marc and Angel Hack Life they are talking about the 9 Things you Do NOT Need to Be Happy. Check it out, it is worth the read and will have you realizing how true this list really is.

And because every post needs a photo I thought I'd share something from my 'Beautiful Inspiration' board on Pinterest...
via my Pinterest

Happy Monday! Hope your day holds beauty love and laughter!

12 September 2013

Revelations and realizations...

When I turned thirty my world changed...I settled into being me I cared less and less what those on the outside thought or said about me and I found a new sense of self. Now as I approach my fortieth birthday I am feeling a further awakening or embracing of who I am and who I want to be.

My whole life my weight has been an issue for me. I always thought my life would begin if I could just lose the weight...and we are not talking a little weight, we are talking about 75-100 pounds at different points in my life. Then I met my husband and he fell in love with me...curves and all. It was powerful and maybe should have ended my fixation on my weight, but it did not. Together he and I struggle and while we generally eat healthily, we are both stress eaters and he in particular tends to nurture others (read me) through food as he loves to cook. I have devoted so much time and energy to thoughts of my weight and longing to change it, willing the scale to move in my direction, cheering when it did, scowling when it didn't. Too much energy...energy that I can and should be directing elsewhere.

I came across a wonderful photographer who is compiling a book called the 'A Beautiful Body Project'. Jade Beal is an Arizona photographer and mother who is essentially wanting to show the world and it's women just how beautiful our bodies are no matter our size. The images she is compiling are compelling and I will admit, difficult for me to look at at first. I have never seen a real body represented in mainstream media. I have never seen images of real bodies in magazines, or in the movies. I grew up with the Molly Ringwald's the Julia Roberts', the Gwenyth Paltrow's...the apparent ideal body type and image, the one we all strive to become. The one we all relate to as beautiful and sexy. I will never be a Julia Roberts, though I do have a killer smile that could giver her a run for her money... So after I came across Jade's project and read a quote (I do not remember if it was Jade or another photographer and I am paraphrasing) about how he/she has photographed many many women naked and all of them whether a size 0 or a 22...all of them have rolls when they sit down, I realized that perhaps it was time to find a way to embrace this body of mine.

Following Jade on Facebook led me to The Militant Baker who is the fierce young women who took on Abercrombie and Fitch via her own photo-shoot and subsequent media popularity (check her out here), which started a slow paradigm shift in my own mind. I looked at her images and thought why can't that body, not dissimilar to my own be considered sexy? But still it is not what I had been hardwired to consider as appealing and so I continued to fight with the scale, and my wardrobe...or desired wardrobe. I would continually go to my Pinterest board 'Personal Style' and pin outfits like this

via my pinterest

As you can well see this beautiful woman is no where near a size 18-20. All of the fashion on my board is of this nature, so far from my reality that all I could do was continue to try to reach that ideal. And then slowly something started to change...slowly I started to see a shift in the fashions showing up on Pinterest for repinning...slowly I started to see this

also via my pinterest
And then I had the thought to search plus size fashion on Pinterest and whole new world flooded in to me. It had me starting (just last night) a new board called Embracing Me... and I have vowed to immerse myself in this board regularly so that I may see the image of myself, the kind of woman I am beautiful in all my curves.

both images via my pinterest

And so as I move into my forties I will let the number on the scale go...it won't be easy it has been my nemesis for so long. I will focus on my current beauty not an unattainable beauty, and I will focus on making this body, the healthiest it can be, because...
via my pinterest




11 September 2013

What I want to be when I grow up...

Oh my, it has been a very long while since I sat down at the keyboard in this way to place my thoughts on the digital page and share them with whomever stops by...it feels strange, unfamiliar and a little frightening, but here I am.

It has been over a year since I left my thoughts here on this blog, and for that I would say I am sorry but I am not. The past year has been one of many ups and downs, trials and tribulations, all of which have brought me back here so hello once again.

I read a comment somewhere last week from a teacher that noted that she treats September as her New Year and she was making her resolutions now and I thought that was quite interesting, and appropriate for so many...and me this year in particular.

Both my wee girls are in school full time now, my big girl has graduated college, settled into a good career as a wedding and event planner at a boutique hotel and she has now just gotten her first big raise as they recognize her dedication and hard work...something I am very proud of myself!

My husband turned 40 this winter and I threw him a huge surprise party where I managed to get a personalized video greeting to him from his favorite singer. We traveled to Boston once again to see said fav singer in concert and had a wonderful mini vacay.

I am about to turn 40 and while the number doesn't really bother me too much, I am now at a point where I am trying to decide what I want out of my life, and whether or not I have found it. In many regards, I have. My husband and I just celebrated our fifth anniversary, my children are happy healthy and thriving, and now it seems it is time to turn my attention inward and find out what I want for me.

I see big changes afoot and while I am not sure exactly how things will pan out, or how to make them pan out, I am working on it. I am scared excited and tentative, but know that the direction I am headed will be what is best for me, and for my family. I see relief in the distance and I am anxious to get there.

My mom has always said that 'A change is better than a rest'...here's to more change!