Hawaii honeymoon

Redemption

I never really wrote about the few days we spent in Radium, BC. Partly because I’m not really sure what to say about it and partly because it seemed ungrateful to whine about time away with my family in a lovely location with an almost ideal place to stay.

I love visiting the mountains. I love how they sit silently and provide a backdrop for whatever I might feel like pondering. I love how in my head they’re always covered in snow, even in the summer.

When we went to Radium the snow was in short supply, and that’s sort of where the problem started.

I went hoping to find the sort of place that has its own rhythm and order of existence, but when I got there I found that all the rhythms I’m used to had followed me – the morning rhythm that results in antsy kids if we don’t get out of the house soon enough and the lack-of-inspiration rhythm that still leaves me with a complete blank when the plans I had in mind fall through. I wasn’t confronted with much of anything except my usual frustration and the wish that the four of us could get our own rhythms more in sync.

When I was little we used to go through Radium on the way home from our cottage. At least I think that’s where we were going to and coming from. Nothing about my memories of that time fit with this experience over 30 years later. What I wanted to do was relive that experience of soaking in the hot springs and putting jammies on and feeling cozy and falling asleep in the car. I was even willing for it to be my kids falling asleep in the car instead of me.

I wanted to go and try some winter activities that have long appealed to me but that we haven’t really done, even with all our winter exploring here. I wanted to skate on the lake and go snowshoeing and possibly even ski for a day. But when we got there the lake wasn’t frozen and there was no snow on the ground and the hot springs weren’t at all like I remembered them. Still nice, but decidedly less relaxing with a hyper, impulsive six-year-old in tow.

It just wasn’t a good trip, you know?

In the end I think my feelings about the lack of inspiration that trip provided were more about my own (possibly unrealistic) high expectations and subsequent disappointment than anything to do with the place itself.

Luckily, I have found redemption.

Aerial view of Grande Rockies Resort

Suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, we had a chance to visit Canmore. Another of my favourite places, Canmore is a truly lovely mountain town. It has a backdrop of snow-covered mountains and a pub I like and trains running through it.

So we went.

We stayed at a place I hadn’t been to before, in a nicely appointed two bedroom suite. Do you know how heavenly a two-bedroom suite is when travelling with kids? Of course you other parents do. You know that you can put the kids to bed (and not in the same room!) and not have to sit in the dark trying to be quiet. And that you can take advantage of the kitchen to feed your early risers some toast and cereal without having to change out of your pajamas and do something about your morning hair. And that you can make yourself a cup of tea whenever you damn well feel like it.

Two bedroom suite at Grande Rockies Resort

There was still no snow on the ground, but that was quite nice. We went out for lunch and for a bike ride and swam in the pool.

Indoor pool with waterslide

We floated in the indoor/outdoor hot tub at night and looked up at the stars.

Indoor-outdoor hot tub

I went for a run along the train tracks and wandered into a few stores and stopped for a drink at a coffee shop that I love and that reminds me of the time we went to a winter festival and went cross country skiing right down the middle of main street.

I’m sure it was just a coincidence, but I feel as though someone sensed my disappointment from our earlier trip and said, hey, I can fix that. 

And then did.

 

———-

We were offered a chance to stay at the Grande Rockies Resort in Canmore and said yes before we could check whether they were teasing us with mountains. (They weren’t.) It was a great place that we hadn’t been to before and it had everything we needed to make a really good weekend out of it. They offered us this great hospitality without any expectation that I’d write a post about it, but I did because we really did enjoy it and I’m grateful for the time and experience our stay allowed us to have. 

All photos copyright Grande Rockies Resort. 

Hello, Inspiration {1}: Beauty Shots

I looked at my WordPress year in review and it told me I had 30 new posts in 2014. Thirty. 30.  That seemed a ridiculously low number to me until I realized it was less than one a week and then, frankly, it seemed high. I really didn’t write a lot last year.

I’ve sort of lost my writing mojo. I started feeling vulnerable for reasons I haven’t fully determined (or perhaps have chosen not to fully explore). I would start to write a post in my head and not get past the first sentence. First paragraph, sometimes, but mostly the words just never came together. I wrote a lot of posts in my head that way—far more than 30—but it’s not a terribly productive approach.

I closed out 2014 with a little bit more inspiration than last year, though not my usual, perhaps over-exuberant, dose. As of this fourth day of the new year I have all kinds of goals and plans and no shortage of sources of motivation, because, dammit, I’m ready to get back to feeling inspired. And one thing I’m going to do is create some of that inspiration for myself.

In my very early blogging days, I used to do regular posts under the Hello, Inspiration heading. They featured things that inspired me, like the ones that seemed to appear when I needed them or those that came up in several different places as if to say pay attention. After a while I just randomly tagged things with that category when it seemed to fit, but I’d like to go back to deliberately sharing things that inspire me. So here’s the first in the official series of my sources of inspiration, which I’m hoping to update weekly.

Neil Zeller Photography: Aurora Borealis &emdash;
One thing I love is amazing photography. Not long ago I found the Facebook page for a photographer named Neil Zeller who is local to me, and his shots are amazing. Breathtaking in the most literal sense of the word. He photographs things I love, like mountains…

Neil Zeller Photography: Explore Alberta &emdash; Waterton, Alberta…and cityscapes…

Neil Zeller Photography: Downtown Calgary &emdash; Downtown Calgary

…and our tower, which I have such sentimental, childhood feelings about. I have to get a copy of this print:

Neil Zeller Photography: Downtown Calgary &emdash; Downtown Calgary
He also shoots trains (oh my heart):

Neil Zeller Photography: Train Travel &emdash;

…and scenes that are so stunning it’s hard to believe they are from this same planet where we do mundane things like buy groceries:

Neil Zeller Photography: Country and Mountain Scenes &emdash;

Neil’s images fill up my Facebook feed, and I like them all so he knows they’re appreciated (and so Facebook’s fancy algorithm will keep showing them to me). Seeing them creates the sort of pause in my day—the deep-breath, contented-sigh kind—that I so desperately need. The first shot above is one from his Aurora series, which might be my favourite. Seeing that is on my life list, and I’m inspired at how often he manages to catch this sight. Maybe one day soon I will as well.

hello inspiration

All images © Neil Zeller Photography

Ten Thousand Villages (+ Giveaway!)

I got a little gift in the mail this week and I want to share it with you (both literally and figuratively). Ten Thousand Villages asked me to tell you about their personal accessories (earrings, necklaces, bracelets, scarves etc.), which I’m happy to do.

Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade retailer (the oldest and largest in North America) that sells personal accessories, home decor and gift items made by artisans from around the world. Here’s their mission:

Ten Thousand Villages creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships.

I’ve been a Ten Thousand Villages customer for a long time (as have many members of my family) and I have several pieces of their jewellery. Here are some of my favourite accessories from their current collection, including their 2014 holiday guide.

Summer rain necklace 

summer-rain-necklace

Twisted silver cufftwisted-silver-cuff

Stony garden bracelet

stony-garden-bracelet

Starlight splendour ring

starlight-splendour-ring

Silver moon scarfsilver-moon-scarf

River rocks scarf

river-rocks-scarf

Planet cluster necklace

planet-cluster-necklace

Hoopy loopy necklace

hoopy-loopy-necklace

Forest floor earrings

forest-floor-earrings

Falling leaves earrings

falling-leaves-earrings

Crimson scarfcrimson-scarf

Want a piece of Ten Thousand Villages jewellery for your own? I’m going to give away one of these gentle forest bangles, which features hand-hammered embossed leaves on silver-plated metal.

gentle-forest-bangle

To enter this Ten Thousand Villages giveaway and maybe score yourself a little early Christmas present, complete the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Postpartum Progress: 10 Years of Magic

“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy. But remember this – you have friends here. You’re not alone.”

– Dumbledore in Harry Potter

postpartumprogress10

This week, a group of Warrior Moms and bloggers is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Postpartum Progress. I’ve written about the site and its founder, Katherine Stone, before, because this site, and by extension Katherine, was an integral part of recovering from my experience with postpartum depression. It wasn’t the first source of help I found, but it was one of the most important.

Looking at things now, as we celebrate this milestone anniversary and all Katherine has done, it’s perfectly clear to me: Katherine Stone is basically Dumbledore.Katherine Stone compared to Dumbledore

This is no simple comparison. She’s not merely magic (though certainly there is an element of the magical about her). Like Dumbledore, Katherine isn’t afraid to say it like it is while at the same time providing much-needed reassurance.

The struggle with PPD (and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders) is a dark time in any new mom’s life. Time and time again I’ve seen Katherine reach out to a new mom and acknowledge her experience, saying Yes, this is a horrible thing. It feels dark, and it will continue to be difficult for a little while yet. But you are not alone.

There’s a reason Katherine refers to struggling moms as Warrior Moms. Fighting PMADs is tough, and it involves choices that are sometimes difficult and definitely not always easy.

It would be easy (relatively speaking) to ignore your distress and try to carry on. I tried that and it didn’t work. It wasn’t the right choice.

It would be easy to choose blind trust that a small, white (or orange or blue) pill will make everything better without doing any of the hard work that must go with it.  That was another choice I made that was the easy, but not the right, path.

It was when I finally realized I wasn’t alone and that I did, in fact, have friends in that dark place that the hard choice to fight became easier.

These are more words of Dumbledore’s that I find inspiring, and that I think link him to Katherine and her work with Postpartum Progress:

“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Katherine, thank you for being the source of that light for so many. Congratulations on 10 years.

Now We Are Six

Dear Connor,

Last night after dinner we put together the loot bags for your birthday party. They’re Star Wars themed, like your invitations, and your dad had selected a bunch of things along that theme that six-year-olds might like. As we put them together, you helped sometimes, and ran around sometimes, playing with the various extra bits, pretending you had a light sabre, and it struck me once again, in that moment, that you are six. You know things about Star Wars and light sabres and you are six.

Star Wars birthday invitations

For the last couple of months as we led up to your sixth birthday, my chest has been tight thinking about it. I don’t know why. There isn’t anything particularly noteworthy about turning six; at least not that I can think of. You might notice that this year, unlike other years, I have titled this letter, “Now WE are six.” For some reason this birthday, unlike other years, feels more like it’s about us and not just about you.

I have thought about this a lot, trying to figure out why. The closest I can come is that it has something to do with the stage Ethan has reached. At 18 months (and then 19, and then 20) it became clearer and clearer to me how different he is from how you were at that age. And in so realizing, it became clearer and clearer just how hard those first few years of parenthood were when you were a baby.

boy in skull shirt with spiked hair

My darling boy, I love you so much, but a lot of things about being your mom in those first few years just sucked. I look back on those things now and I wonder how we got through it. Sometimes I think maybe I didn’t actually get through it intact, but maybe this is just how things are and were meant to be. Maybe some of these things would have come about anyway.

You are an entirely different person now. Well, maybe not entirely. You are still full of life and energy, but you have evolved into a person who has two speeds: high speed and off. You are either moving through life at mach speed or completely still, focused on Lego, or a movie, or fast asleep. For the last couple of mornings I’ve had to come and wake you up so you could be at school on time, something I don’t actually recall ever having to do in the last six years. You were curled up in your sleeping bag on your camping cot (which you’ve insisted on sleeping in since returning from camping last weekend) and you didn’t even move when Ethan and I came into the room. And then I left the room for a moment to tell your dad that you were still totally passed out—because it really was that remarkable—and Ethan jiggled you enough to wake you up and the next thing I knew you were out of bed. You went from completely OFF to completely ON.

Hoo doos in Drumheller

Recently, I have become better at catching you in, or encouraging you into, quieter moments. I have worked on regulating my own settings so that your high-speed setting doesn’t inevitably push me straight into overdrive. Our relationship is better now than it was. Better now, I think, than ever. I can see more clearly what you need, and you can express your needs more clearly to me, and we aren’t always jockeying to each have our own needs met RIGHT NOW.

I have struggled recently with the things your birth brought into my life – things I didn’t ask for and didn’t expect. But I struggle less with you, and as a result you struggle less with me. We have found a balance, like the point of a spinning top that stays in control, en pointe, and fully supported by the forces around it. It took us a few years of working to build the strength and structure to appear to dance more lightly, but we got here. And as I look in the mirror I see us dancing a choreographed dance that we perform mostly in unison, spending less time treading on each other’s toes.

silhouette in front of water wall

I like this dance, my darling boy.

Now we are partners.

Now we are six.

I will love you always and forever,

Mama xx