Summer Break/Posting Schedule

It’s not actually summer yet, as the periodic frigid mornings are quick to remind me. But, in Canada, Monday (an observed holiday) marks the unofficial start of summer. The seasonal shops are opening, people are testing lawnmowers that have overwintered in backyard sheds, and I’ve loaded a tote with bug spray, a picnic blanket and sunscreen into the trunk of our car.

And me…well I’m going to use the onset of this pseudo-summer as an impetus to pull back from regular (as in five-days-a-week) posting. I thought of setting a MWF schedule, but summer is all about flexibility so I’m forcing myself out of my imagined comfort zone to say: “I’ll show up when I can. And I hope you stick around and continue to join me here!”

Our family has a happy mix of fun adventures and low-key home days planned for the summer and I want to savour it all. This too shall pass – the sabbatical, the kids being at this stage, the beautiful Canadian summer.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a Casual Friday post and have something cued up for Monday and then…we’ll see where the sunshine takes us.

Thanks to everyone who shows up to this space and for supporting me (and the community of readers that gather here) with such practical and thoughtful comments.

Header photo by Rafael Cisneros Méndez on Unsplash

Recent Demerits (and Gold Stars)

Well. That was quite a weekend. It’s Monday and I’m ready for Friday and a good long nap. More about recent events – some fun, some funny, and some frustrating – later in the week. But, today, let’s chat about demerits and gold stars.


Listeners of Gretchen Rubin + Elizabeth Craft’s podcast Happier will be familiar with their weekly segment that involves sharing demerits and gold stars.

I’ve always enjoyed this section of the program because it seems so…relatable. But one thing has consistently frustrated/puzzled me: they always apply demerits personally and award gold stars externally. This failure to acknowledge positive momentum in their own lives is something I’ve never fully understood. In addition to being motivated to tackle “demerits” by giving them a name, I tend to learn just as much from the positive reinforcement of gold stars.

This got me thinking about recent demerits/gold stars in my own life. So, without further ado…

RECENT DEMERITS

  • Not going to the dentist. I don’t actually mind going to the dentist, but hate the bill. That alone is primarily responsible for my inertia, especially since I know most of the time there is nothing that needs to be done and a cleaning is…expensive. But it has been over a year and one of my remaining wisdom teeth has started to poke through. I need to put on my adult undies and just make an appointment. [Update: I’ve made an appointment but, whomp, whomp, couldn’t get in until June.]
  • Not snuggling with the kids for 5 minutes at night. I was on such a good roll with this habit and then…stopped. This coincided with John starting his sabbatical which meant, for the first time in years, night after night someone else was available to handle, or at least share, bedtime. But I really enjoy this special time with the kids. Want to hear one of my (ridiculous) excuses for this behaviour? I’ve been taking my watch off earlier in the evening, which means I don’t have a timer strapped to my wrist. And that 5-minute timer was a big motivator for me to carve out the space for post-bedtime snuggles (having a limit makes it feel more manageable because the kids want me to stay for approximately forever when I come to snuggle).
  • Eating too much dairy. I haven’t been eating that much dairy, but every time I succumb to a slice of cheese (I don’t even like cheese that much) or put a splash of cream in my coffee, I end up paying for it later. It seems to trigger allergy symptoms (sore/itchy throat, itchy eyes), and it’s never worth it. Sigh. Thankfully, butter doesn’t seem to have any impact, and I continue to enjoy butter on my favourite muffins daily.
  • Not drinking enough water. For YEARS I consumed huge quantities of water, but recently this has really dropped off. Some of it, I think, is the fact I’ve been trying to avoid bathroom breaks at night. I have a very large (~12oz+ of water) mug of tea early in the morning and drink several Yeti Ramblers full of water, but it’s still a lot less than I used to drink.
  • Taking so long to switch my watch band. I adore my magnetic watch band – being able to specifically dictate the fit on my wrist is wonderful. But, over time, the metal edges started to catch on my sweaters and jacket. Constantly. After living with this issue for over 6 months, I finally switched the strap (gold star?). But the left-hand cuff of my pink puffer coat will never look the same.
  • Going to bed with mascara on. I rarely do this, but then did it THREE times over the course of a week. It felt icky in the morning and it irritated my skin. I know better. Sigh.
  • Not buying new sneakers. Mine have carried me far more than the 500 recommended miles and I can tell they need to be swapped out for a new pair. But, oh, how I hate sneaker shopping. Just because I find a pair that fits in the store doesn’t mean they’ll be comfortable long-term. And there are also just too many brands and features. On a related demerit, I really should try using my orthotics again. I have a pair sitting in the closet. I never liked wearing them, but they might help relieve some of my recent discomfort. [Update: I’ve now worn my orthotics for several days; time will tell if this helps.]
  • Not getting a password manager. I really want/need to do this since I use approximately one million different sites that require unique logins (and some require regular password changes) and it’s a messy nightmare.
  • Stalled 50th-anniversary plans. My parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in August. I’ve started communications for a big photobook/memory-montage book (I put out a call for pictures/writeups from their siblings and friends), but then no one really responded and I’m, quite frankly, lacking the enthusiasm to continue (though I adore my parents and like creative projects).

GOLD STARS

  • Staying on top of clothes that need to be donated/consigned/discarded. I’ve been keeping a regular pulse on what is in everyone’s closets.
  • Photo organization. It’s not perfectly up to date, but I’ve been making an effort to categorize photos at the end of each month which expedites the photobook prep at year-end.
  • Shutting off my iPhone at night. When I catch myself falling into a scrolling pattern at night – when I can tell it won’t be productive or fun – I have been shutting down the phone completely and it still feels liberating! I’m proud of myself for sticking with this habit.
  • Cleaning up my work space at the end of the day. My office is out of the way, so leaving it cluttered and messy isn’t a big deal, but there is something so refreshing about showing up each morning to an organized space. I turn off my computer, put the pens and highlighters back into their holder, push my chair in under my desk; a minute of tidying provides a wonderfully clean slate for the next work day.
  • Using Magic Bags – a lot. I know I’ve talked about this topic more than one would think possible, but my love/gratitude for Magic Bags is unending. It is a nuisance to wait the 4 minutes and 30 seconds required to heat up my two favourite bags, so I often skipped this step until bedtime. But lately, I’ve been doing it 4-5 times a day, especially while working at my desk. One goes at my feet, another into my lap and it makes life so much more pleasant (I still use the space heater, too, but having something warm touching my body is such a help) when I’m warm.
  • Having a good attitude (90% of the time) for our Family Chopped Competition. More details on this Thursday, but over the weekend we divided into teams (John + Abby; Elisabeth + Levi) and cooked an elaborate 3-course meal for friends based on secret ingredients they selected. It’s a daunting prospect for me (cooking with the kids, three courses), but it ended up being a lot of fun.
  • Writing in my One Line a Day journal. I have loved doing this every evening before bed. I’ve forgotten a handful of times but just caught up the following day.
  • Making space for adventure. I spend a lot of time tired, but I’ve also learned that “I can be exhausted, or I can be exhausted with memories.” (And, thankfully, my energy levels have been better lately!) I’ve been carving out lots of time for rest/restoration, and then also trying to show up with a positive attitude for things like our trip to PEI. While John does much of the planning, it takes a lot of mental effort for me to be upbeat, especially if I’m worn down physically. So, gold star to me!

Your turn. Any demerits or gold stars you’re wanting to share this fine Monday?

Header photo by Crystal de Passillé-Chabot on Unsplash

A Health Update Circa May 2022

People have been so kind with their inquiries about my health and I thought it was time for a little update.

Things are (mostly) good.

It does feel a bit daunting to put this in writing because I occasionally succumb to thoughts like: “What happens if/when everything starts to fall apart?”

But that’s no way to live – so I’m acknowledging the presence of those thoughts before slipping them into my back pocket. I carry them around with me, admittedly, but I’m mostly able to keep my hands free to get on with enjoying life.


For new readers to this space, TMI alert: I have extremely heavy periods. I’ve had this issue since I was 12, but the fallout has been most acute in the last decade or so. Near-constant fatigue and anemia which culminated in iron infusions last year. I joke (though it’s not funny) that I average about one “good” week a month. I have at least a week of PMS symptoms, then a week of hellish period-life, and then a week to recover physically. In addition to impacts on my energy, it takes a mental toll as well.

Over the last few months, my mental health has improved significantly, my energy levels have nudged higher, and my sleep is…better (definitely still working on this issue, though).

I still tire easily, have to watch physical activity levels, and just generally pay close attention to my body. But I’m (mostly – this week has been especially tough, ironically) feeling a lot better.

things that are helping right now

  1. John’s sabbatical. I recognize the immense privilege of being able to make this decision. But I also can’t deny the positive impact it has had on both my physical and mental health. I’m getting better sleep, I’m eating more healthfully, the division of labour has shifted considerably, and everyone is more relaxed. In short – it has been wonderful. It’s impossible to know if some of the other changes listed below would have had as much of an impact without this unprecedented level of flexibility/rest for our family. Despite my diagnosed physical challenges, I think the exhaustion of being immersed in start-up culture for so long played a big part in my burnout.
  2. Making a decision about surgery. I don’t think I realized how much this was weighing on me. Some back story: my former OB/GYN was in favour of a hysterectomy (she moved), my family doctor has always been hesitant, and my new OB/GYN also discouraged this approach. Because of major scar tissue from my C-sections, the risks associated with a hysterectomy are higher for me. It also rules out the more obvious option of an ablation (which, regardless of scarring, doesn’t work well because I’m so young, and the procedure would need to be repeated before I reach menopause). Surgery has been on the table for years now, and it’s confusing when medical professionals you respect don’t necessarily find consensus. Having finally made the decision to go ahead with surgery (now I wait – it could take two years) feels like a major burden lifted.
  3. Trying/going off an SSRI. The end of 2021 was brutal. In December, I asked to try an anti-anxiety medication. I have always managed low mood/anxiety with various forms of behavioural/talk therapy. But starting in November, I was averaging 3-4 hours sleep each night and it was not sustainable. Unfortunately, the SSRI didn’t work well for me. I had panic attacks, lost 10 pounds in the span of several weeks, and felt sick around the clock. I am, however, so glad I tried this approach. Everything I try that doesn’t work takes one possible treatment off my radar which, for someone who can be paralyzed by choice, is very helpful. It was/is so hard to tease apart what is physical and what is mental. I consider these medications to be wonderful assets (and recognize, at another time, I might opt to try a different medication), but it wasn’t the right fit for me, which ended up being helpful in its own way.
  4. Going off hormone treatments – for good. I have been off and on hormone treatments (in a BROAD range of doses and applications) since I was 14. Yes, you read that correctly. 14. Not a single treatment has worked properly. If it fixed one problem, it created three more. Again, I love my team of doctors, but I eventually had to go with what my body was telling me and it was telling me…stop. So I stopped. Mid-treatment! What works for others isn’t necessarily going to work for me. And to get to the point where I say yes to the surgery and no to any other intervention feels liberating.
  5. CBD oil. I’m not sure how much impact the CBD oil is having, as I started using it at the same time all the other things were falling into place (#’s 1-4). I haven’t had a single side effect (CBD oil has essentially no THC) and I think it has helped – in subtle ways – with anxiety, sleep issues, energy levels, and overall physical discomfort.
  6. Removing a large work project from my portfolio. I tend to overlook this final development, but for the last five years I have been in charge of a project that required intermittent – but completely unpredictable – work. There was an underlying tension that I felt at all times, 24/7/365 about this project. It was an unreasonable response given the sheer amount of time I invested was quite low, but it’s the response I had nonetheless. Finally moving this off my plate has also undoubtedly played a role in my improvement.

So there you have it.

This week has been tough as I wade through the physical fallout from an especially awful period. But with so many big decisions made, it still feels like I’m moving in the right direction.

A huge thanks to everyone for the love, support, and inquiries about my health both in this space and from friends locally. It really does mean so much to me!

Header photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Waiting For The Tomorrow That Never Came

I love the power of a story. This is a sad one, but it left a lasting impression.


I’ve described my friend Dot on the blog before – she was my 80s-something spitfire “landlord/surrogate grandmother” when I was in university. Dot had the most active social calendar of any senior I’ve met. There was Bridge Club. And Birthday Club (12 ladies and they celebrated one woman each month – I mean, can you get better than that in your 80s? And let me tell you, those women knew how to celebrate a birthday). She was on every board at her church, volunteered for charitable committees, and had more friends than you could shake a stick at.

One of those friends – let’s call her Gail – came over for supper every Thursday night. (Dot and I ate supper together in her tiny kitchen every evening; food was included in my rent and those meals spent together are some of my happiest memories from university. Bonus – Dot happened to be a fabulous cook. But on Thursdays, I knew my place was in the kitchen. Alone.) Dot and Gail laughed over gin and tonics (always, always gin and tonic) and ate a fancy meal together in the dining room before gallivanting off to Film Club together.

Gail was a force of energy. She was big and boisterous, with a larger-than-life personality. She loved to laugh and had a rich British accent that magnified her charm. But over the course of many Thursday-night visits, I pieced together more and more of her heartbreaking story.

She was retired, though from what career I can’t recall. She had been married to a university professor who had made a name for himself as a top researcher in his field. Their lives were hectic as they raised two boys and managed work responsibilities. Their vision for the future had a singular focus – retire and travel the world together.

If I remember the story correctly, Gail’s husband – let’s call him Jim – kept putting off retirement by tiny increments until they had delayed their plans for several years. But that was okay as the best was yet to come.

Finally, the day of retirement dawned; they packed their bags and headed for Hawaii.

Mid-flight, en route to this first destination of retirement wanderlust, Jim had a stroke. He survived for over a decade but was confined to a wheelchair, requiring constant care and, eventually, a nursing home.

They had waited for a tomorrow that never came.


Gail was cheerful and friendly; she drank her gin and tonic and she and Dot made quite the cane-toting pair when heading off to Film Club. But I bet she would have given anything to have been off traveling the world with her life partner.

Two points jump to mind, though this story could leave each of us with different lessons to unpack:

  1. Time is finite. If there is something we really want to do, why wait? We scrimp and save and plan for a day we’re not guaranteed to have come our way.
  2. Hard stuff happens; we adapt. I’m sure Gail shed many tears over the situation. I suspect she regretted Jim’s decision to delay retirement. She visited Jim every day, helped care for him, and provided me with regular updates on his health. But she also carved out time for friends and fun (she was also a member of the aforementioned Birthday Club) and didn’t let her life – which looked so vastly different from what she had planned – pass her by.

I don’t necessarily have a key takeaway from this story, but I think of it often, even though I was only a teenager when I met Gail and, obviously, felt like I had all the time in the world.

Which I don’t.

Thoughts?

Header photo by Sacha Verheij on Unsplash

Casual Friday + A Power Outage

Um…that was weird! Yesterday at lunchtime the power just…went out. It always feels disconcerting to lose power, but it’s somewhat expected during a windstorm or in the middle of a blizzard. This was just a random, sunny afternoon in April with nary a cloud in the sky.

The power came back on late in the evening, but not before it changed the trajectory of my day.

For starters, I had a work meeting in the morning and came away with a list of action items…of which I accomplished zero. The soup I took from the freezer for supper – well, that doesn’t get warm without electricity! I did manage to seize the opportunity to tackle an external landscaping project I’d been putting off for two years, which provided a giant dose of satisfaction.

Despite that morale boost, I’m quite happy the power is back on, hope it stays on, and want to acknowledge how very much I take electricity and related conveniences for granted. Wifi and hot water and laundry are truly gifts of the modern age. Want to know the first thing I did when the power came back on? I marched right to the microwave and warmed up two Magic Bags!

This morning I’m going to wrap up some loose ends at work and then have lunch plans at my Soup and Sandwich Oasis (visit #2 of 2022).

The week that was…

ENERGY | I felt very tired this week. Overall, my energy levels have been significantly better lately, but every morning this week I woke up exhausted and felt like I was wading through a giant vat of molasses. I ended up taking a long nap Wednesday afternoon (my first in over a month!) and then again on Thursday (there was no power so what else could I do). I gave myself lots of margin and scaled back on exercise.

EXERCISE | One short run (I felt awful and stopped after 2.5 km) and daily walks, including several with the whole family and another with a friend and her toddler! I wanted to do more – especially when the weather was nice – but tried hard to listen to my body.

EASTER | Easter is, and always will be, focused on faith. The rest of the typical activities fall flat for me; I don’t have any established food or family traditions at Easter. There is no special meal or annual egg hunt. Other people always fill in this gap for the kids and Abby and Levi ended up with chocolate goodies (among other treats) from three sources. So they’re doing just fine. But still…

Look what happened overnight – our own little pint-sized Easter elves!

When I woke up Easter morning the kids had DECORATED (I have a tiny bin with a few small decorations for each holiday, which I often don’t even bother using) and set up a candy hunt. I opted not to view this as a failure in parenting, but rather as a sweet gesture from the kids – and it was surprisingly fun to go on an unexpected hunt as an adult. I felt slightly guilty as the day wore on, and ended up repurposing some chocolate eggs (given to them by a friend for Easter), giving the kids a little surprise in-house hunt (granted this was for candy they had already received).

FRIENDS | Before Easter, I spent a lovely afternoon with author/illustrator Jan Coates. We talked about writing and life and exchanged reading suggestions.

The first book I ever read by Jan remains my favourite – Rainbows in the Dark -which happens to include a character named Abby and a storyline that centers around second-hand clothing (see below).

Jan has also made 1000s of beautiful masks during the pandemic and gifted me 4!

We were able to host two families over the long weekend for supper meals. Friday night we had meatballs, rice, peas, and cornbread with pecan pie (boughten; I draw the line at making pie). Monday night I served Chicken Mango Curry, rice, cornbread, and homemade lemon bread. Do you sense a theme? One-pot meals with rice and cornbread are my go-to. Both families are new friends, so I expected the kids to be a bit on the shy side – not Levi who ended up convincing people to play chess with him both evenings!

WORK | This week work felt very…meh. I have a big surge of responsibility around the middle of May and as much as I want to be proactive, much of it can only happen last-minute. It was also a weird week because of Easter. Everyone was off on Friday, but then some colleagues I work with at various universities were working on Monday, but contacts within government/industry were not. And then the whole no-power/internet schemozzle yesterday. Everything was fine, albeit uninspiring.

WATCHING | Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King. This documentary about a bitcoin conspiracy had a geographic connection as some of the main people in the story were based in nearby Halifax.

We finished Race Against the Tide, a New Brunswick-based sand sculpture contest. We watched it as a family and everyone really enjoyed this show.

And John and I started the recent Masterpiece version of All Creatures Great & Small. James Herriot books – and the original All Creatures show – were family favourites in my household growing up, so I was happy to see a few episodes of the reboot.

READING | I ended up skimming/abandoning the books on my bedside table this week. I also started reading a poetry anthology from my bookshelf which is failing to wow me.

We did read a few fun picture books.

recent thrift finds

I’ve written before about how years ago my friend and I would thrift every Friday night while our kids attended an activity. Schedules have changed and we haven’t been able to do this together for almost a year, but squeezed in a few hours on Saturday. In addition to being a great way to source things inexpensively (and keep items out of landfills in the process), it’s also just a lot of fun for me. With this particular friend, we end up in hysterics over the crazy items we find and also love to act as theoretical personal stylists for our friends (as in: “Can’t you just see So-And-So loving this outfit?”).

I came away with a relatively small haul, but that’s okay! I prefer to keep things minimal and just fill in holes/upcycle as I’m able.

I got the Levi’s shirt for Abby ($4) and a sweater and flowing T-shirt for myself. And then two pairs of Spandex because…I only have one good pair at this point and that was not enough Spandex…along with an exercise skirt and a pair of Birkenstocks (they have some wear, but at $4 for GENUINE Birks…it was too good to pass up). The skirt is a wildcard (it has built-in spandex shorts) – I’ll either wear it constantly or will end up consigning it after a few months. Time will tell.

I also “shopped” my closet; I store seasonal items in the guest room and switched out some winter dresses/sweaters for T-shirts and summer clothes. (As a reminder, this post showed every item hanging in my closet for the fall/winter season – and I’ve since consigned two of those items.)

Then on Monday, John took the kids to source summer gear. Like me, they have a relatively minimal wardrobe, but they were in desperate need of some new warm weather gear.

They came away with great finds (not pictured: sneakers for Levi @ $2.99, new cleats for Levi in like-new condition@ $8.99, knock-off Birks for Abby @ $3.99 + 20% off those prices because of coupons we get for donating). Other highlights were a Levi’s sweater for Abby @$2.99, a Messi jersey for Levi, and a Star Wars shirt that matches one John owns.

I’ve chatted a few times about thrifting and several people have asked what/how we thrift.

In terms of where we buy things we use Kijiji (a Canadian equivalent to Craigslist) or shop at stores belonging to two chains: Frenchy’s and Valu Village. I go to Frenchy’s about 6-8 times a year, and we go to Valu Village about once a week for about half an hour while the kids are at an evening activity. Occasionally I also visit a local consignment store.

In terms of what we buy secondhand…just about everything. I would say at least 75% of everything we own comes from either IKEA or thrift stores/second-hand sources. At least half of the artwork in our home came from thrift stores, and virtually every single item of clothing has been thrifted! Our record player and records, various computers, various sets of LEGO, books…

I will say that it takes a certain willingness to wait for items, and I have to keep a running tally of what we need to shop effectively. By living with minimal stuff, it tends to be simple to keep tabs on what we need and I find it a relaxing “hobby” of sorts. It doesn’t feel like work and the money savings are especially rewarding. That said, I can appreciate it not being for everyone and/or it takes the right combination of proximity to thrift stores to work well.

And that’s all I got for this unusual week.


Your turn. Was I the only one who neglected to plan a chocolate egg hunt…and then felt slightly guilted into doing one after my children took it upon themselves to organize one for the adults?! Does anyone else like thrifting?

Header photo by Autumn Mott Rodeheaver on Unsplash

Things I Wish I Liked (Or Loved)

A few weeks ago Suzanne wrote a post that included a rundown of foods she wishes she enjoyed (if you’re curious they were: tomatoes, oatmeal, and eggs which, incidentally, are three of my favourite foods). She asked readers what food(s) they wished they liked (or at least tolerated), and it got me thinking…

You can choose what you do but you can’t choose what you like to do.

Gretchen Rubin

Sing it, Gretchen.

So here, in no particular order, are things I wish I liked (or loved).

  • Spicy food. I manage to hobble through life avoiding spice – I’m talking heat, not flavour – but occasionally the only thing on offer is spicy and it makes me miserable. It also feels like bring-your-own-Sriracha/(insert other specialty hot sauce) has become a cultural phenomenon – one in which I can’t participate which leads to some version of #FOMO.
  • Mornings. I am not a morning person. I can interact with people and get things done (and, with kids, early mornings are unavoidable). But I wish I was the sort of person who could leap from bed singing the Newsies soundtrack and rush to embrace the day. In reality, I’m more of the swing-one-creaking-leg-over-the-edge-of-the-bed-at-a-time-while-moaning sort of morning person.
  • Pets. Hear me out, all you dog and cat lovers. My mother was, and is, terrified of dogs. Some of my earliest memories are of my mother avoiding and/or actively running/biking away from dogs. I’m also allergic to cats and dogs (with fur). So the fact that I tolerate (and even like) most dogs is a huge leap forward. But I wish I loved them. And it’s not just dogs, I feel very meh about pets in general.
  • Running. Again, bear with me. I appreciate running for utilitarian reasons. I cover ground more quickly and, yes, there are great endorphins yada, yada. But it hurts my knees and it makes me sweat (and I hate sweating), and it makes me dislike hills even more than when I’m walking them. I can appreciate and even “like” running, but I wish I loved it.
  • Sweating. See above. I actually know people who enjoy sweating. I loathe it. And I almost always end up cold after I’ve been sweating. Ick.
  • Rollercoasters. There is a hit of adrenaline, but I’d rather stay on terra firma.
  • Classical music. I like classical music, but I wish I loved it. I feel so out of place when I look around at a concert and see people with their eyes closed in this trance-like state; I’m more likely to be thinking about my grocery list than paying attention to the music. I often put on classical playlists when I’m working, but aside from Beethoven’s Symphony No.7 in A major op.92 – II, Allegretto, which I enjoy immensely, it’s mostly pleasant background noise to me. (I do love lyrical music, though.)
  • Winter. No matter how I approach this subject…I don’t like winter. I’m well aware of the fun of sledding and skiing and skating. I still don’t like winter. Do I try to make the most out of it? Yes. But it all happens through gritted, chattering teeth.
  • Home renovations. One acquaintance actively looks for areas in her home to have renovated (she does outsource everything, but loves the whole process -from planning through to having contractors at her house for months on end). Another friend will randomly text that she decided to paint a room over the weekend – like this is NO BIG DEAL. To someone like me THIS IS A VERY BIG DEAL. I dislike every aspect of renovations – DIY or not. I can’t paint or use an electric drill properly and I can barely manage to hang a picture on the wall. But I also stress when someone else is in my house painting or hammering. Sigh.
  • Fresh flowers. I love the idea of fresh flowers but they always strike me as depressing in my own home. When I receive flowers I see a) another living thing I have to keep alive (I already have this responsibility with children!) that will, inevitably, b) die quickly, which means these flowers are c) a waste of money. (I do like plants, though, and seem to have good success keeping them alive by only watering once every 2 weeks – it’s my only “secret” and may have more to do with good luck than anything.)
  • Big groups. I’m introverted and wish I didn’t feel so ill-at-ease in any group bigger than 3-4 people.

Sometimes it makes sense to work on certain areas so they become more tolerable, but Gretchen Rubin’s right: generally, I can’t choose the things I like to do.

This means I’ll have to accept I’m unlikely to become a dog-walking, rollercoaster-riding, paint-brush-wielding gardener in my retirement years.

And that’s totally okay, right?

Your turn. Anything you wish you liked (or loved). Do you love fresh flowers, winter, home renos, and spicy food? Please tell me someone else dislikes sweating and mornings?!

Header photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Why Am I Rushing? This Is My Favourite Part…

A few weeks ago I carved out time to work on some blog posts before supper. The kids were occupied and I had tackled all my pressing to-do’s for the day.

I love showing up here; I enjoy working through my ideas over time and slowly seeing them take shape on the screen in front of me.

I also love taking pictures. And while I post lots of personal photography on the blog, I also enjoy time spent browsing the free stock options on Unsplash – there are so many beautiful and inspiring (and funny) photos. I find the whole experience relaxing and part of the fun of blogging.

On this particular evening, I was looking to complete a post and all that remained was finding a header photo. It was a tricky one to figure out – usually I have a specific search string in mind, but this time I was stymied.

After a few minutes of coming up empty-handed, I started to feel a familiar sense of panic.

You’re wasting time, Elisabeth.

Just pick something and move on.

This is taking too long.

I entertained this voice for a few minutes before I gave my shoulders a proverbial shake and asked myself: “Why am I rushing this? It’s my favourite part!


I liked what I was doing, I just didn’t think it was an efficient use of time.

So I took a deep breath, tried more search strings, browsed more pictures and – from what I remember – found something that was suitable and moved on.

I repeat the same behaviours when copying quotes out of books – I often rush the typing process or won’t allow myself the luxury of re-reading sections of the book that surround the highlighted quote. Why? This is my favourite part!

I’ve been known to do this at bedtime (let’s rush through these picture books, let’s rush through these snuggles), mealtimes (let’s hurry up and eat), and while out on adventures (stop dawdling, let’s get to the park so we can have fun).

Which means I’m missing out on savouring some of my “favourite” parts of life.

Why not enjoy the meal I lovingly prepared? Why not re-read the section of the book that captured my imagination or made me think so deeply? Why not snuggle in close and talk about the day with the kids?

I don’t have a good answer. Sometimes life is busy and things have to be rushed. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to stop and smell the roses – proverbially or literally. But most of the time I’ve arranged things such that I have enough margin in my days to enjoy things a little bit longer, without the anxiety that comes from rushing.


P.S. Don’t Quote Me: What Am I Saving My Energy For?

P.P.S. In Praise of Dawdling (Now There’s a Word You Don’t Hear Everyday)

Do you ever find yourself rushing through something you enjoy, simply because it seems inefficient (or for some other inexplicable reason)?

Header photo by Andrew Draper on Unsplash

He Was Right About the Dishwasher…

Fact #1: I love our dishwasher. Until a little over four years ago I had never rented, owned, or otherwise lived in a space with a dishwasher. I know some people willfully go without, but I hope never to be without a dishwasher again.

Lest you worry about my home economic skills – I still find myself elbow-deep in suds at least twice a day, so I keep my dishwashing skills finely polished.

Fact #2: I have a tendency to act like an obstinate toddler, especially when someone is telling me how I should do something.

Fact #3: I love to be “right”.


For years my husband has (only occasionally, to his credit) suggested my method of loading the dishwasher is less efficient than his own. Depending on my mood that day I would either nod absently or launch into a 10-point lecture about how my method is very efficient, Thank you very much, and likely superior.

John recently asked if I could please start loading the dishwasher his way and instead of nodding (with no intention of actually following through) or bursting into a tirade, I agreed – believing that I’d soon prove this dishwasher debate once and for all and emerge victorious, complete with a Dishwasher Genius crown upon my head.

You know where this is going, right?

He was 100% correct. Absolutely, indisputably correct. His way is not only more efficient, but it is also much easier to load and unload the dishes.


For years, mostly because of my pigheadedness I’ve stuck to my way. Why?

Now lots of the time I am right when I enter a debate over big – or small – matters (there is, for example, only one correct way to load toilet paper and I will never back down on that debate; thankfully John and I have always agreed on this critical point).

But lots of the time I’m not right. And it can be hard for someone of my personality to cede an inch. Why do I have such resistance to being open-minded? Why not learn from others, why not try new things?

Sigh. I’m not sure, but I’m now very happily loading the dishwasher “his way” which leads me to wonder what other things I’m making unnecessarily difficult because I’m channeling my inner toddler.

Your turn? Have you ever had to serve yourself a giant slice of humble pie?

Header photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash