Hello, Inspiration {5}: Mountains

Rocky Mountains in Alberta

“Mountains seem to answer an increasing imaginative need in the West. More and more people are discovering a desire for them, and a powerful solace in them. At bottom, mountains, like all wildernesses, challenge our complacent conviction – so easy to lapse into – that the world has been made for humans by humans. Most of us exist for most of the time in worlds which are humanly arranged, themed and controlled. One forgets that there are environments which do not respond to the flick of a switch or the twist of a dial, and which have their own rhythms and orders of existence. Mountains correct this amnesia. By speaking of greater forces than we can possibly invoke, and by confronting us with greater spans of time than we can possibly envisage, mountains refute our excessive trust in the man-made. They pose profound questions about our durability and the importance of our schemes. They induce, I suppose, a modesty in us.”

Robert Macfarlane, Mountains of the Mind: Adventures in Reaching the Summit

A visit to the mountains doesn’t always result in reaching the summit of solace. More later.

hello inspiration

Eating Like a First Grader

With Connor in Grade 1 this year, we’ve entered the world of making school lunches. Rich was excited about this on the first day of school and insisted on making Connor’s lunch, and I happily allowed that to turn into the new routine. But I’ve started doing them lately in an effort to make mornings easier, and it helps with my own plan to not feel like crap anymore. If I’m making lunch for Connor it’s easy to put together two containers of veggies and two of fruit and two of crackers and hummus (and give myself a pat on the back for eating healthy while I’m at it too).

Connor, of course, has a cool lunch kit with coloured containers that all fit nicely in his Batman lunch bag (which even has a cape), but now I do too, because I got a Rubbermaid LunchBlox set.

LunchBlox kit

This has been awesome for a few reasons. For one, it encourages the above-mentioned healthy eating. We have a great market in the building I work in, but it’s a little too easy to wander down and get some chocolate banana bread when the 3:00 hunger hits. I’ve swapped that habit for a different one – filling the orange container with veggies and the green with hummus. My veggie intake (definitely the hardest part of healthy eating for me) has gone way up.

LunchBlox small container

The blue section can be used as one big container, or there are a couple of inserts you can use to split things up as well. I’ve been taking a salad mix to work, so this works well for that, and I can add salad toppings (nuts, seeds, cranberries) to the other containers and mix it all together at lunchtime.

The containers snap together, and the whole lot snaps onto a layer of Blue Ice, which is handy when I don’t feel like putting my lunch in the fridge.

LunchBlox snapped-on Blue Ice

I’ve struggled for a long time to get in the habit of taking a lunch that has more things that are good for me than things I like. (Hi, my name is Robin and I’m a carbaholic.) I don’t know why this helps (maybe it’s similar to how fun-coloured pens always made doing homework seem easier), but it does.

Got any lunch tips for me? Sooner or later the carrots and snap peas are going to get boring, and I’d like to find ways to keep things interesting.

Disclosure: I am part of the Rubbermaid Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Hello, Inspiration {4}: It’s a Breeze

I’m not big on resolutions, but I am big on opportunities for self-renewal. January is peak self-renewal time for me and this year I took extra advantage of it.

By the end of last year, after an illness-plagued fall, I was feeling rough. I hadn’t been eating well and my last good workout was becoming a distant memory. I could have acted on that nagging suggestion to change my habits in mid-December, but mid-December is a pretty ridiculous time to start making those kinds of changes, wouldn’t you say? So I planned for January and its brimming potential instead.

January 1 found me working up a sweat and feeling much better for it. I got a new phone for Christmas and spent some time browsing for apps that would keep me going; I ended up downloading a whole bunch intending to stick with the ones that worked best.

A lot of the healthy-habits type apps were either annoying or not especially motivating. Many of them, as well, seem to attempt to do everything, as if a major overhaul is the only way to make health goals succeed. (Maybe that’s the case for some people, but it doesn’t work for me.) I did find one I really like though – enough that I thought I’d share it.

It’s called Breeze and it’s made by Runkeeper (which I also use). It popped up as a suggestion on my phone and since I like Runkeeper I figured I’d give it a shot. It’s really simple – it just tracks the steps you take each day using the tachometer in your phone.

I think I like it because it’s friendly, and it offers motivating comments as you go throughout your day.

Breeze app messages screen

It gives a goal each day, based on your own activity level rather than suggesting the unattainable-for-the-average-person 10,000 steps. And when you reach your goal, it gives you confetti. I like confetti.

Breeze app confetti screen
It also assigns you a spirit animal. I’m not sure exactly what the point is, but I think it’s cool. (I started off as a lion and then became a fox, evidently due to my short bursts of activity. See? Walking down to the Starbucks in my office building does have its benefits.)

Breeze app spirit animal

In any case, now that January is nearing an end I figured some people might be looking for a bit of inspiration to keep going. This is one of mine.

Breeze-app-goal-met

Hello, Inspiration {3}: Fat Snowflakes

Last weekend, one night after the boys were in bed, my dog came up from the basement and asked to be let outside. When I opened the door to let him back in a few minutes later, I looked outside and realized it was snowing – big, soft flakes, the kind that accumulate quickly and muffle the world.

It doesn’t often snow that way here, but it’s one of my favourite things. We mostly get the kind of snow that shoots rather than floats past the streetlights; it looks nice once it settles but it’s not nearly as romantic when it’s coming down.

At that point in the evening I had mostly settled in and was enjoying the quiet, but that snowfall was not to be missed. I snapped a leash on the dog and out we went.

It was perfect. Pure joy. We walked through the snow, which was already almost to his tummy and over my boots, and listened to it squeak beneath our feet. At the field near our house, with no one else in sight and nothing in view but pure white, I let him off his leash. He bounded away, running large circles around me, as I cut a path through the deep snow. He was happy and I felt at peace.

snow scene framed by trees

I highly recommend this. The next time you notice your equivalent of fat snowflakes, get out there and breathe it in. It’s worth it to stop and notice joy, whether it falls from the sky or presents itself a different way.

Just breathe it in.

hello inspiration

Just as they are

 

canvas print family photo

I cherish this photo. The photo session that produced it was a total freaking gong show but I barely remember that when I look at this picture. What I see is Connor’s laugh and his sense of humour in this moment that actually captured what he looks like when he thinks something is funny (rather than his goofy photo face). And I see the absolute joy that is Ethan.

I was talking to a colleague and friend at work a couple of weeks ago, and she mentioned that when her kids go to school on picture day she lets them go however they are – messy hair, weird clothes, the whole deal. And if the proofs come back and they have goofy expressions she buys them up, figuring that she’ll have a record of just who her kids were at the time.

I’m not sure I have quite embraced that approach. If we had purchased the proofs from this session that showed just who my kids were as demonstrated by their behaviour at the time, we’d have photos with Connor’s sour expression indicating just how much he didn’t want to be acting nice for the camera and Ethan with a soother in his mouth, probably crying after we tried to remove it for a picture. We’d probably have a photo of Connor hitting me and body-slamming Ethan, and one of Rich sitting with Connor to try to calm him down. We’d have one of me looking frustrated and possibly trying not to cry.

Needless to say, the family photo sessions we have done were nightmares. We did one resulting in the photos above and an earlier one when Ethan was six weeks old, and I remember them both as horrible, barely-worth-it experiences (except for the part where newborn Ethan pooped on Rich). But after both sessions we looked at the proofs (and I mostly looked past how terribly unphotogenic I am) and I saw my kids just as they were at that time. Not the cranky, goofy sides of them but the happy, full-of-joy sides of them and how they look like Rich and sort of like me, and I was glad to have them.

For a while now I’ve wanted a canvas print, so I chose this photo and got one made and hung it on the wall opposite the foot of our bed. Now those joyful faces, already looking younger than they do now, smile back at me every night and, nightmare or not, that’s all I ever really wanted out of those photo sessions anyway.

 

 Disclosure: Canvas Factory gifted me this print but my love for it is my own.