Casual Friday + Joyfinding

Let’s start with the big news first, shall we? I washed our sheets. Even the mattress protector and duvet. And I will admit it does feel nice to crawl into crisp, clean sheets.

Last weekend was tough. My period started Friday night (just what the internet needed to hear), and since this fact impacts my life in very direct ways, it coloured my weekend. I emerged from Saturday relatively unscathed; we’ve been working on a major overhaul of our furnace/storage room and the transformation was rewarding. John spearheaded the project and it looks and functions so well. We had celebratory sushi takeout for supper. All good so far.

But Sunday I woke up feeling absolutely lousy. The instant I opened my eyes I could tell everything was…off.

My energy drain is both physical and mental. And while I love margin and puttering, I get to a stage where I’m run down (but not sleepy) and nothing seems to make me feel better. Not even organizing a sock drawer. I’m just off. And I felt SO off all day Sunday. When I’m in that state it can literally feel like I will never be okay again. (Anyone else?)

And then I realized one of the reasons I find these cyclical downs so hard is because I lack any sense of control. This is a fact. I can’t control when my period comes or how terrible it is. And with all sorts of fun summer plans ahead, it also felt heavy knowing that I have landmines like this to navigate, often away from the comfort of my own home.

I woke up on Monday and felt better. Was the week terrific? Nope. Plenty of moments when I felt drained. But such is life. Some things simply have to be endured, for now at least.

But there is also much good to counterbalance any hard. This includes the weather forecast for next week which shows only sunshine icons. April went overboard in the whole rain-and-grey-skies department. Let’s bring on the sun…and do some #joyfinding. It’s been awhile.


  • A robin’s nest in a tree pine tree in our backyard. Extra joy: walking into Levi’s room and seeing him perched on a chair just…watching the robin feeding young inside her nest, just outside his window.
  • After walking the kids to school on Monday, John and I continued following our typical route, unexpectedly crossing paths with one of our best friends. She recently started a job in Wolfville and decided to find us before her workday started. She knew where we usually walked and followed that path backward hoping to find us. What a delight to see her face and walk her to work!
  • Levi wore rain boots to school one day and lamented how awful it would be for playing soccer at recess. I ended up having to drive by the school and John suggested I pop in with his sneakers. I did and it was pure joy to see him run to the office to collect them, happy to see the sneakers and his mother (though in what order of ranking, I’m not sure). What a treat to squeeze in a mid-morning hug and kiss. Someday he might not allow that level of public affection, but he did this day and it was lovely.
  • Sunshine, when it dared to show its face.
  • Sunday morning (a WEEK before Mother’s Day), I walked out to the living room to find a present and tissue paper flowers all over the fireplace. Abby decided to prep early and it was the highlight of an otherwise rough day.
  • The moment I’m drafting this post = a sunset.

In other news…

LISTENING | I have all but stopped listening to podcasts. It just isn’t the right season of life for me. I haven’t been walking solo, can’t listen to them while I work, and don’t have a commute (the 30 seconds it takes to walk downstairs to my office doesn’t really count). And I’ve never gotten into audiobooks. Mostly, I suspect, because I like to skim/re-read and take notes, all of which is virtually impossible with an audiobook. But…John and I have started walking together while listening to an audiobook (we each take one AirPod), and it has been great. Currently listening to Charles Cuhugg’s The Power of Habit (I’ve read this book before).

READING | Reading has been a bit of a slog lately. I got a huge stack of promising books from the library and most of them were, in Abby’s words, “duds“. Perhaps because they had been recommended to me, so my expectations were a bit higher?

Notes on a Nervous Planet? Loved it. Midnight Library? Not a fan. The Comfort Book? It was fine, but…a weak 3/5 for me. I just can’t figure Matt Haig out.

The first 30 pages of This One Wild and Precious life? Solid. The next 250. Ugh. Circular writing, confusing tone changes. But my biggest quibble: the author talks at length about her disdain for anyone that uses a single-use cup, discussing times she approached strangers at coffee shops to (kindly) berate them…but then she flies all over the world to go on hikes. She does try to explain this away, but it soured my perception. I skimmed the whole book waiting for it to get better but, alas, it didn’t (for me).

I’m not listing two other, recommended books, I didn’t even finish. So much disappointment.

I appreciate so many insights/quotes from C.S. Lewis’ body of work but have to wave the white flag on reading his non-fiction. Surprised by Joy was all about his early life/spiritual journey and contains one of my favourite quotes…but the book as a whole was a tedious read for me.

Currently reading/loving:

I just finished These Precious Days by Ann Patchett. Yes, please! Such wonderful, relatable essays.

Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci. Hilarious. Fun.

I’m still reading little bits of All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot and enjoying that.

One good picture book this week, Oi Frog – the kids found it hilarious (as did I). Also reading and loving the weekly poems posted on our neighbourhood loop which were timely: one about blossoms and another about how people in our local area love to collect things during Big Garbage Day.

WORK | What a roller coaster. I knew the middle of May was going to be busy with many converging deadlines and little opportunity for proactive preparation. I ended Friday on a high, thinking I had gotten a few major things completed, only to have a complete crisis on Sunday as I realized there was a good chance I had misinterpreted the brief and worked hard to prepare…the wrong things. On Monday I admitted I had no idea what I was doing and what was required. Turns out a whole bunch of things I thought I had to do…I don’t have to do. And one particularly gnarly task I get to explain away with a single sentence. Phew.

NOTABLE EATS | John and I had takeout sushi Saturday (for the first time in almost 2 months) and…yum.

I bought a small ham at Easter and made a special orange juice/brown sugar/cinnamon sauce for Monday’s supper. This meal takes me back. It was a family favourite when I was growing up, and the first thing I ever cooked for John when we started dating. I made mashed potatoes (thanks to my friend kindly donating 6 potatoes; I use so few potatoes and am loathed to buy a big bag). Also…yum.

Ready for a weird but true factoid. I can remember a specific The Rest of the Story episode by Paul Harvey that relates to this meal. It was all about a nanny (working for a wealthy family about to travel on the Titanic) who had a nightmare the boat would sink. I think she boarded the boat anyway and survived? Can’t remember the specifics now, but do remember I was eating this ham-in-orange-sauce + mashed potatoes meal when I heard it on the radio. Isn’t it fascinating what little details – I was probably 6 or 7 at the time – our minds store away.

Speaking of the Titanic

maritime museum of the atlantic

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has been on our radar for several years and we finally made it (the kids had a half-day of school on Tuesday).

What a great experience! We saw a torpedo and learned all about the inner workings of that device; it strikes close to home as my grandfather was in the Canadian Navy during WWII and his ship was torpedoed and sank. (He survived.)

We explored a display about the Halifax explosion in 1917 (at that point, the largest human-made explosion in history); 9,000 people were wounded, almost 2,000 died. My kids have learned a lot about this event in school, so to see actual wreckage was both heart wrenching and an incredible immersion in history.

I loved that kids were allowed to touch so many of the items on display . I remember being at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa where one enormous room houses military vehicles…and kids aren’t allowed on them. I understand matters of liability and we always respect the signs, but when I asked a worker if they really could touch the ships (and twisted metal artifacts from the Halifax explosion), she said it was encouraged!

There was a volunteer who builds miniature ship models (to scale). We stopped by his kiosk for a while to marvel at the intricacies of his work. There was a parrot. Wasn’t expecting that!

A model of the Halifax harbour – one of the largest natural harbours in the world, and a critical location for Allied troops.

Levi had a singular focus – find Titanic artifacts.

This cabinet is the only intact piece of cabinetry that survived the sinking; seeing the carved newel-post from the Grand Staircase gave me chills.

The highlight for the kids ended up being the interior replica of a fishing boat. There were cupboard doors to open and explore, a small window/TV screen that heaved back and forth making it look like you were out on the open ocean. There was even a small (fake!) rat on the pitched floor. They loved this spot!

On our walk back to the parking garage we found a painted rock to rehide, and I had a chuckle over some marketing. A caffeine bar? Maybe this is a new thing? I suppose dry bar hair salons are very hip (or maybe they’re no longer hip; I’ve never been). Why not spin the marketing for coffee and tea, I suppose…

Finally, a quick tangent…

blog topics

Things will slow down in this space over the summer; I’m going to post less frequently and, well, generally fly by the seat of my pants in both life and writing. But I’m keen to have some ideas waiting in the wings. Any burning questions for me or topics you’d like to see covered in more detail/again on the blog?

That’s it from me this week. Did anyone else grow up listening to The Rest of the Story by Paul Harvey? I listened to an episode on YouTube and his voice made me so nostalgic!

Header photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

21 thoughts on “Casual Friday + Joyfinding”

  1. I have These Precious Days on my stack right this moment! I picked it up on a whim and will be getting to it soon.

    Ugh, your period sounds dreadful. It sounds to me like the surgery will be life-changing for you.

    I do remember The Rest of the Story! Fun!

    1. I think you’ll really like These Precious Days! I’m excited to see your review. But, obviously, no pressure to enjoy it. I’ve had several duds lately that came highly recommended and realize that books are not one-size-fits-all!

  2. I’m to the same point as you about podcasts. I LOVED them in the beginning but lately find that I want to be alone with my thoughts when I can be. Too much chatter in my ears does me in, I feel confused.

    The maritime museum looks wonderful. I enjoy seeing history in museums, it seems more real to me than reading about it in books. The idea of a museum, I suppose, eh?

    As for flying by the seat of your pants about blogging, I’ve already started down that road this spring. Highly recommended, the breather is doing me good and I’m feeling more balanced.

    1. Yes! Between work and kids and life it feels like if I DO have time to myself (on a walk, puttering with chores, in the car) I’d rather listen to nature, have quiet, or listen to music which allows me to lapse in and out of paying attention. Somehow I feel guilty about missing all the great podcasts, though. Maybe something I’ll find space for over the summer holiday. Or not. Literally nothing bad will happen (as I love to say about various and sundry things) if I don’t.

      I love the writing and since it has only been a year of blogging consistently, I think I needed to be somewhat regimented at first. But with summer fun coming, I’m also ready to just let things flow a little more sporatically.

  3. As someone whose hormones throw life into disarray, I have so much empathy for you.

    The Maritime Museum looks amazing! I love that your kids got to have such a hands-on experience.

    And as far as future blog topics: I am super nosy, so I’d love to know more about how you wound up in the career you are and what you might have done otherwise… how you met your husband and how/when you KNEW he was the one… how/when you decided to have kids (and I LOVE birth stories!).

    1. Thanks for the suggestions/questions – not nosy at all. These are some great topics!

  4. I didn’t love The Midnight Library but wonder if it was overhyped by the time I read it? That can impact my reading experience. I liked The Comfort Book, though. There were a couple of quotes/passages from it that really resonated with me. It was a fast, enjoyable read for me but I can see it’s not for everyone! These Precious Days was sooo good!

    I have never listened to The Rest of the Story! I know of it, but it was never something we listened to. I am still all-in on podcasts, though. I listen to them in snippets, often when doing meal prep, while showering, on walks. It’s tough to listen to all of the ones in my queue but I am not a person who likes silence! So if I am not running or walking with someone, I am listening to a podcast!

    1. I think I would have liked The Comfort Book more if I had read it before Notes on a Nervous Planet. The two books are quite similar in many ways, but I just enjoyed Notes on a Nervous Planet so much, that I think the Comfort Book fell short because of my comparison?
      I could have kept reading a whole other book full of essays by Ann Patchett!

  5. I’m currently in a slew of not great books, including some that have gotten strong recommendations from people I know and trust, and I’m starting to get cranky. It’s making me reach for my phone instead of a book and order non-stop books from the library, despite the fact that I should probably read the books I already have. It has been five days since I’ve completed a book and I usually complete books every 2-3 days. It’s not great.

    It’s still grey here, but temperatures are now officially above freezing, so I think we can safely say we’re done with snow, which is a great relief!

    When I was a senior in high school, I took a class at the local community college. It was the first time I was really allowed to drive anywhere relatively far away (twenty miles or so) by myself. Paul Harvey came on just as I was pulling into the driveway of the college and I remember being in the driver’s seat and listening to the end before I would go to class. It’s such a vivid memory and his voice was so memorable.

    1. I hear you on getting cranky. I wonder if I’m being too picky, or how someone else can recommend a book so highly that falls completely flat for me.
      Onward and upward, though, and I have had a few great reads in the last week.

      Paul Harvey’s voice is so iconic and it fills me with nostalgia as it is definitely part of the soundtrack to my childhood.

  6. It sounds like you had such a full week – often, at the end of the week, I feel like I just sat at my desk all week and didn’t get to do anything exciting. It’s hard to fit in sometimes when you work 10-hour days.

    I am sorry that your period derailed your sense of well-being this week. I absolutely hate feeling off… especially if there seems to be nothing to get you out of the funk but to wait it out.

    1. Yes, the waiting out a funk is hard. And when I fight the funk it seems to take longer. Thankfully it was just a single day of feeling very “off.”
      Onward and upward 😀

  7. Ugh- that sounds like a rough Sunday for you. I feel bad you have to go through that, on a regular basis. I’m sure your “Mother’s Day Preview” helped a little though.
    Other than that, sounds like you had a good week. That museum looks fascinating, and a great spot for kids. Yes, it’s super boring for them if they’re not allowed to touch anything!
    Funny you should mention that about podcasts, because recently none of my usual favorites have been interesting to me. Maybe it’s a strange lull in the quality of podcasts! I’ve been running without my headphones (which is fine) and sometimes have just been putting the radio on in the car. I hope this phase passes soon because I normally really do like my podcasts.
    Anyway- I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

    1. Yesterday I marked all my podcast episodes as “listened to”, deleted a podcast (so I’m now down to 3), and then proceeded to selectively download just a handful of episodes from what remains. It felt liberating!
      For me, I think it is mostly a case of overload. There are just so many podcasts and not much time I have to devote to listening!

  8. I am definitely also currently very all-in on podcasts!! I do listen to them in snippets, like Lisa said. A big listening window for me is the 10-15 minutes when I first wake up and am brushing teeth, flossing, contacts in, washing my face, etc. Then later in the day I usually shower after the gym, so I listen on a bluetooth speaker while I’m IN the shower, plus my “getting ready” time, which is usually another half hour at least. Then I listen on walks. Occasionally if I happen to be alone in the car, but that’s not too often. Or like if I’m making myself breakfast on a weekday in an empty house, I’ll pop one on. I like it this way, actually- many I listen to are a bit longer (45 minutes+), so I just listen as I can. Sometimes that means over several days, which is fine! I really enjoy them. I do NOT listen to audiobooks though. I have, but am just not super into them. It’s funny though- I introduced my Dad to the library audiobook app a few years back, and he is now OBSESSED. He walks 4-5 days per week for exercise, at least an hour- or 1 1/2 hours at a time…he says in part just so he can listen to his audiobooks! haha. It’s funny.

    The museum looks great! We went to the Bath Maritime Museum on the coast of Maine last summer and REALLY enjoyed it. I love that type of place.

    Sorry about your reading slump! It seems many of us have been going through that! And that one book- oof. If I read about someone going up to complete strangers and clucking about their personal choice of a coffee cup, I think that would have been the moment I closed that book!

  9. Oooooh that Anne Patchett book is on my list!
    Is there anything you could do to feel more in control of your cycle? Maybe the strategy of pairing that Gretchen Rubin talks about to at least feel more in control of how you respond? Like, a treat you could look forward to that you will indulge in when you get your period? Or a little basket of snacks and pampering supplies that only comes out then? I did this by accident a few months ago when I had the funniest period Target drive up order: midol, dark chocolate truffles, diet coke, a couple of sheet masks for my face, a romance novel, and fuzzy PJ pants one size bigger than normal (plus pads and tampons, obvi). I was like OMG I am getting these things (minus the pants– only need those once) every month, and now I look forward to this ritual. When I feel terrible, I put on my cozy clothes, eat my chocolate, do a face mask, and read garbage– sometimes with a heating pad and a wearable heated massager. It’s something I can look forward to as I slog through a tried, crampy, uncomfortable day.

    1. What a brilliant idea! I read something similar recently about having a “down day” basket – a list of favourite songs, some tea, a candle. It was like a care package of sorts.
      I really just need to be kinder to myself. It always feels like a failure, of sorts, that I feel like I’ve lost control (mostly over my energy levels which just tank). It’s not because I’m doing anything wrong (though it does sometimes really mess up my sleep cycles, too – but I’m being responsible and going to bed on a good schedule etc)…it just takes over my life. I should be used to it by now.
      But having a designated “Get Well” soon routine is so smart. I’m going to think through how to incorporate this for my next period which, sadly, will happen while I’m on the road!

  10. YOU WASHED YOUR SHEETS! Good job! Gold star! I washed my sheets last week but it’s been way too long since I washed my quilt. It’s just a pain to wash it at my apartment because I have a small washer/dryer so it takes, like, 4 hours or something silly to fully dry the quilt. I’ve started bringing it over to my mom’s to wash and dry but I keep forgetting to bring it over.

    I’m sorry your period has such a massive impact on your life. That has to be very frustrating! I know the feeling of “everything is terrible and nothing will ever be good again.” Sometimes when I am DEEP in my feels, I’m all “Was life EVER good??? I was just fooling myself, wasn’t I?” Oh, it’s a fun time!

    I’ve been abandoning more books than usual this month, which has been a bummer. I’m starting to wonder if I’ broken! Ha.

    1. I washed my sheets! It shouldn’t be this big a deal, but it is. Mostly because the duvet (which is actually a giant blanket I wash) is such a nuisance to deal with (like you, ours takes forever to dry).

  11. Go, you! Washing your sheets, taking the kids to a fun museum, surviving the Period From Hell. You deserve a whole row of gold stars for this week, in my opinion. I’m just sorry that it started off with such a horrible day, but glad that Abby helped you feel better, and that things improved over the course of the week (or, rather, that you MADE them improve!).

    For me, the hardest part of those days is the “this will never get better, I will never feel better” thought cycle. I also do this on GOOD days – I feel like I need to squeeze as much as possible out of them because who knows what tomorrow will bring? Sigh.

    Abby seems quite empathetic. Do you think she is really in tune with how others are feeling? Particularly those she loves (like, you know, her mom/mum)? She (and Levi, if I’m being honest) just seem like such lovely, loving children. I know they drive you crazy – they’re kids after all! – but it sure seems like you’re doing a rock star job raising them. 🙂 Makes me oh-so-slightly optimistic about our future. (Sighhhh…. )

    Take care. May the Periods from Hell stay away a few more weeks…

    1. It was a busy week, eh?!
      Hmmm. I do the same thing you describe on the good days, too. I try to avoid this, but it still happens more than I’d like. A sense of impending doom, of sorts. But I guess this is all natural, too. It’s not that I don’t want to work to maximize positive experience and minimize the negative, but I think part of my problem is trying to control situations too closely. Sometimes I just have to let myself feel like things will “never get better” because, deep down at least, I know they well in one way or another.

      Abby is such a curious creature – she can be so empathetic at times. I’d say her biggest gift in terms of interpersonal skills is how good she is with small children. I get comments about how she’s such a natural quite regularly, often from strangers if we’re at a playground, for instance. She will take other kids under her wing. They are pretty great kids…but, yes, also drive my CRAZY.

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