Music for My Heart


Music is definitely a support to me. From my teen years, to low times in university, and now as a mom to young kids, music gets me through the witching hour and times when i just need to scream.

This summer, at our annual trip to Hillside Music Festival on Guelph Lake, i discovered Old Man Luedecke. Particularly this song: The Early Days. It’s a perfect anthem to my life right now. Yesterday, after the kids tore away from the breakfast table and we yet again had to remind ourselves that they are grateful to us, this song came on our Spotify mix. Perfect timing – because it wasn’t deliberate it really made me stop and listen and be mindful how i was feeling. I love that my kids have an appreciation of music too, and can really hear the words and recognize the melody. Dance hour is a special and purposeful time for us at our home – it gets the sillys out and also helps us re-focus our energy into a more positive direction.

Here are the lyrics – it really speaks to me and i suspect it will for you as well.

The Early DaysOld Man Luedecke

I was standin’ out at Stanfield, had to go away
Saw a brand new baby and the mother’s face
I knew that it was over, all those early days
Our babies are not babies, we’ll never be the same

Shopping cart full of toddlers at the Superstore
They were eatin’ Goldfish, askin’ for more
An old man lined up behind us, and he shook his head
The kids were strangely quiet
I heard him when he said

You’ve got to hold on, it goes so fast (Chorus)
These early days, well, they don’t last
Got to enjoy them, they go so fast
The baby days, well, they don’t last

Look forward to the evenin’ when the monkeys go to bed
Then we talk all night about ’em, we feel half dead
We used to be too tired to eat in but it’s a total crap shoot to eat out

(Chorus)

Oh you’re gettin’ rid of diapers that you washed every night
And we’re saving up for date night so we can have our fight
If its quiet for a moment, oh you better run upstairs!
‘Cause the toothpaste in the bathroom is redefining everywhere

(Chorus)

Oh, I like the way you talk now, you talk like me
All the funny things you’re saying, you’re real good company
Oh, the odds are strong and crazy, and our love profound
you make our messy house feel like holy ground

Pretty awesome right? It puts things in perspective when my 4 year old is being especially challenging. What are some songs you gravitate to? Does music carry the same tune for you heart?

Everything is Better Outside

fire
We went camping recently with our little ones. We like to do it once annually and haven’t yet gone this summer. I’m a fan of camping and being outdoors, but I’m not a very experienced camper. I am amazed by friends who can go camping for a week – I’m more of a two-night camper. And there has to be a large lake nearby to seal the deal.

On the morning of our planned trip, my daughter was having an especially strong bout of strong will and disagreement. She started Junior Kindergarten this month, and Saturdays have been especially tiresome as she is adjusting to this new routine. And, I think her quota for being nice nice to everyone and cooperative was done.

So, she argued with her big brother, she argued with me, she argued with her dad. If she could have, I think she would have argued with our turtle and cat. That said, the empathic and wise side of me knew that it’s about her feeling tired, excited and full – but in the moment, all I want to do is get the car packed asap, eat breakfast, and get her dressed. In any order.

My partner looked at me after yet another difficult moment and declared, ‘that’s it, we’re not going camping’ and I promptly stated ‘oh yeah we are, we can’t stay here all day like THIS. Remember our mantra: Everything is better outside.’

Let me explain: a few years ago, after a hard few months being indoors with the winter blahs, I was looking for support from a friend. I was sharing our feeling of cabin fever and she, a wise friend, told me that ‘everything is better outside.’ She shared that it’s almost instant, the change our body and mind feels after getting outdoors – be it your backyard, porch, sidewalk, a park.

Being the therapist that I am, I looked up more info about this theory. And sure enough, studies show that being outdoors improves mental health and well-being, fights off feelings of depression, and it also helps heal physical health issues like colds and more. Win-win, right? Here’s a good article that explains this more.

And now, I can confirm that this theory is true. On days that the kids are at each other, or are bored, or I’m feeling low or drained, I suggest going to our neighbourhood park (or even our backyard if I’m too unmotivated). My kids usually are quick to get ready and burst out the door – and if they aren’t, we pack toys and the best. snacks. ever and go.

This past weekend was the icing on the cake to prove this theory to be true. We were camping for just over 24 hours, and in that time, there was not 1 fight, we all were jovial and excited, the kids slept well and through the night, we swam our last swim of the season in a lake, and I remained calm. We all relished the outdoors and were even content with the flies and fire smoke.

So the next time you have a day that is just too much to bear, take it outside. You don’t have to do it with the kids even. Why not go outside to read a book (or who’s kidding, your social media news), enjoy a tea? You will also see that everything is better outside.

Vacations

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As today begins a new school year, summer break is officially over. This is a time for a big shift in routine, rhythm, and real life. While most of us as adults don’t have a break from ‘real life’ like our children do, summer still brings a slowness to life and a happier approach to daily living.

I like to think of September as an opportunity for change and renewal. It seems like a more realistic opportunity to make space for New Year’s resolutions and the pledges we make for change. Maybe I’m just being optimistic though: I like to think September as the new January.

One pledge i am working on is to hold on to the summer slowness as long as possible. Here’s why:

I was listening to a story on the news last week that shared new research about the vacations we take. It really sat with me. As I was able to go on a vacation with the family this summer, I truly relished the gift of being away from home and everyday life. It was a wonderful trip, though it came with stressors of heat waves, stitches (we’re all okay now), sibling arguments and spending over budget. What this new research shows is that it takes just about a week (or two if we are lucky) to get back to this so-called real life after we go away, or at least take a break from it. It also shows that it’s best to spread out our vacation time over the course of the year, so that we don’t use up all those great relaxed and happy feelings that come being on a break. The article further shares that people who do (and can and are privileged to) take vacation, are healthier both physically and mentally.

Of course, as a mama to 2 young children, my vacation time is not truly a break for me but rather a trip to a new place where i still have to cook, clean, pick up, tidy, and coordinate my kids daily lives. Sometimes a trip is actually more work than being at home as we don’t have the luxuries of our usual appliances, etc. So, it’s important to be mindful and intentional with what you need too. Maybe we can’t take a trip without our children – or you don’t want to – but in that time away, make a point to take time for yourself. Be it a long shower, reading in bed after the kids go to bed, morning walks, a quick get away in the canoe, and even turning the work of cooking in a leisury act.

It also helps to do things to savor the good memories from you summer vacation. This helps us reflect and stay mindful of the moments we hold dear. In our family, we keep a weekly Highlight Jar where we share things that happened in the week that made us happy. We do this each Sunday at dinner. We also make a communal art work that depicts something we cherish. This year, we are making a painting together where each of us share 1 thing from our trip that we loved. Other families I know make photo books just as summer is ending so that they can look at the books in the Fall and Winter, in order to stay connected to the good times of summer. And look at this sweet crafty idea, a new message in a bottle of sorts!

What will you do to help you stay mindful to the things you loved about this summer?

Nurturing You


I was having a conversation with a colleague recently about the term ‘self-care.’ We both noticed that it is used quite often and in abandon, but maybe some of us still struggle with how to incorporate it into our lives. And then she told me that we in fact need to look at things that nurture us – Nurture.

I held onto that word for a bit and it really resonates with me. To do something nurturing is to feed my body and mind in a way that is both cleansing and invigorating. And more importantly, something that is nurturing also lasts for a while – be it a day, part of a day, or days and days.

Like for example, something I find nurturing is being close to water. Playing on the beach with my kids, floating in the water, feeling the warm sun on me – that nurturing moment last for at least 2 days for me. Self-care acts don’t typically last as long. Something I do for self-care is watch a funny TV show, eat some dark chocolate after a stressful day, or knit with music playing in the background.

Do you see the difference?

We definitely need self-care, but I think we need to increase ways we nurture ourselves too. We are taught that we need to be nurturing to our children – to cuddle them, hug and kiss them, to provide food and shelter, to help them fall asleep, to nurse their boo boos, you get the picture. But who reminds you to do that same for yourself as a mama?

So, what can you do to increase both your self-care acts as well as your nurturing moments? What can you commit to doing each day so that you are nurturing yourself as well? There are some simple daily rituals that can be so meaningful and life-affirming. Like, a morning shower that cleanses away the yesterdays, a quiet moment drinking a cup of tea before others are awake in your home, time outdoors admiring yours (or others) gardens.

It can also be the monthly date you have with your girlfriends, or the long bike ride you haven’t had the chance to go on in months. In our world of needing to accomplish, stay busy, and multi-task, sometimes the best thing for us is to just sit with a good book or a fun magazine AND a box of chocolates. Put your un-pedicured feet up and savour the quiet. That is a nurturing moment that reaches you deep inside and sustains us.

I read about something called the “Beauty Vitamin” and it captures how I feel about self-care so well: “Start with doing something creative you know you love. Do that. Keep doing it. Follow the beauty in your life and ingest it daily, like vitamins” (source: Creative Light Studio )

Think about consciously celebrating the small thrills. It can be the way fresh strawberries taste, seeing a child play outside, or listening to birds sing outside your window. These little moments are so easy to skip by. And yet, it can be so healing when being present with the beauty around us. Think of these moments as ‘beauty vitamins.’ In the journey of self-care, acknowledging beauty both inside and out is essential. Collecting small moments like this trains your mind to find it everywhere and it then becomes something you can draw from when skies are greyer and you need a boost.

So, take a moment today to think about what your daily rituals of self-care and nurturance can be. Write the list out and keep it handy like a grocery list. Refer to it, practice it. Brainstorm things you love to do, things you used to do, and see how you can get them back in you life, one way or another.

You deserve it.

With a Cup of Tea in Hand

Welcome to the BLOG!

Have you heard of the Forth Trimester? Its the idea that women still are adjusting and growing their babies in the first 3 months after the baby is born. This can be such a challenging time – exhausting, emotional, trying. We are feeling mixed feelings of joy, loss, excitement, pain, and it can be quite taxing. The Forth Trimester works on the premise that babies today are being born too early but our bodies are not made to give birth to babies any larger.

So, we need to remind ourselves and each other that it is okay and even imperative to S L O W down after giving birth. Asking for help may be a challenge of its own, but remember that your only job as a new parent is to be present and nurturing your little one. That means to stay in bed, be skin-to-skin, rest and take care of both your needs.

Herbal teas provide a great source of wellness for you. This tea will give you some added energy to give you a boost in your day, will help cope with those low feelings that come up, and support you as you heal and recover after giving birth. Here is a great recipe that you can make ahead of time, to be ready for when your baby comes. You can find this dried herbs in most health food stores.

Mama Moon Tea

In equal parts;
– red raspberry leaf
– alfalfa
– stinging nettle
– oatstraw
– red clover
– lavendar buds
– calendula flowers

Combine in a large jar and add 1 tsp to cup of hot water. Steep for about 10 minutes. For the first 7-14 days postpartum, drink it daily, twice a day.

For more ideas about the Forth Trimester, click here to read other wonderful ideas.