Like many people I have a bit of an obsession for succulents. Mostly for plants. I just really like the way plants liven up a room and make me feel better. Like I can breathe easier. SoI like plants, but I really love succulents. It started back when I was a little girl. My mother had this incredible garden, seven raised flower beds, an L shaped bed running alone the house, and many flowering baskets. Each spring she would meticulously plan her flower garden, save the hundreds of dollars it cost to put them in, and then over the course of a week plant it all. We lived closet the mountains so even after the May Long Weekend, when the risk of frost decreased, she often would still cover her flowers with old sheets so the frost wouldn’t kill them. In one of her raised beds she had a group of Hen and Chick succulents. I loved this particular garden most, one because of the Hen and Chicks and two because she had those pebble covered cement planters in the shape of a hand basket. I always imagined a jolly giant coming along and picking it out from beneath the poplar and taking off with the scented pinks.
Fortunately that never happened. Anyway, here my love for succulents was born. I loved how exotic they looked compared to the rest of the flowers. I was amazed at how much they could spread, all the little babies they would make. No matter how much I touched their little rubbery leaves they never died.
So not long ago I decided to start filling the house with more plants and of course succulents were top on the list. Mostly because I figured I wouldn’t kill them. I didn’t. But a lot of leaves fell off in the process of getting used to their new home when they were replanted. They are in a lovely sunny window, not too much, not too little, and they get the most care because they are in the kitchen where I see them most.
Alas, their stems were getting long, their little heads would turn towards the sunny window so I rotated them often; but the stems were getting out of control and they were going to topple over if I ever wanted to move them, which I will have to when it gets cold out soon.
I did a little research on propagating succulents, but what inspired that was I had already did so accidentally. A leaf had fallen off behind the pot that I never saw and it sprouted little roots on its own. I was so amazed at this hair coming from the calloused end of the leaf that I gave it a drop of water and watched to see what would happen. A tiny little baby plant began to form at the base of the leaf. I was so excited that I had actually grown another succulent! Eventually it got to a respectable size so I covered the roots in dirt and let it take root in a new pot. The old leaf eventually rotted away and now I have a new little plant that has taken off!
This is whats left of my succulents, their leaves left to dry and callous in the sun. Hopefully they will sprout in a few weeks and I’ll have a house full of little baby plants!
love and light
So I have been exploring the idea of minimalism. Its something I unknowingly was getting in to years ago before I even knew it had a name. It originally started when I moved in with my boyfriend, my now husband. We were living in his house, a tiny 692 sq ft two bedroom home. Perfect for two people, although small, it was cozy. I learned, a tiny house, two newly dating people, and a whole lot of clutter was a breeding ground for fights; so I began to purge what I didn’t need, didn’t like, didn’t want, didn’t fit, you get the idea.
Fast forward a few years later, and we had a one year old with a lot of shit, plus our shit, plus two dogs, three cats, fish, hamsters, a fucken lizard, and a shed full of shit. It was outrageous.
We freaked out and thinking we needed more room we bought another house; the housing market was still in the toilet and unable to sell our little place we got a tenant. I filled the basement of our new home with our stuff from the shed and was slowly unpacking. That summer we had a massive garage sale. I’m talking we made over $1000 from selling our stuff. Ironically, we learned very little and only bought more stuff, a painting, some renovation materials, some books I don’t even remember.
And now, today, here I am still going through stuff but actually getting rid of it and not replacing it. In order to prevent myself from “replacing” it with something of either higher value, or something I think we “need” I have made a must list; a list of things I must do to make my life more fulfilling. It is in no particular order of importance, but simply things I feel I must do to lead a more meaningful existence. This must list is inspired by the “Minimalists” who over a 21 day period gave up their possessions to live a more free life, you can see their site and how they did it here.
- I must change.
- I must stop wasting money.
- I must spend more time with my kids, my husband, my cats and dogs.
- I must eat healthier.
- I must exercise daily.
- I must get off my phone.
- I must get outside daily.
- I must read/learn daily.
- I must play or listen to music daily.
- I must meditate or do yoga daily.
- I must travel.
- I must have a meaningful way of making an income.
- I must love more.
What is your must list? Does your current life situation reflect this? No? Adjust accordingly.
Growing up, we went on one family vacation together when I was seven to Disney World. I still have mementos, a journal, photos and tons of memories of the time we spent there. I really wish we had done more trips together as a family growing up but other things always seemed to take priority.
Since having my own family, travel has been a major dream of mine. My husband has never left the country and did very little traveling as a child too. So when my husband and I got married we decided we would save for a family trip/honey moon and picked Domincan Repbulic. Most people go to Mexico, or Jamaica, or Dominican Republic as you can get a lot of cheap tickets to these destinations. I saw Mexico when I was 16 with my mum, and it was okay. But I had little desire to go there again.
In preparation we went to get our vaccinations up to date, as well as a hepatitis protection for our 14 month old daughter as we were taking her with. The nurse giving us our vaccinations was a little concerned because of the water quality down there since the Haitian earthquake and she asked if we really had our hearts set. It was then I said “Why not Costa Rica?” She smiled and said,
“Actually they have the most stable of the Central American countries, and health care that is comparable to that of Canada’s.”
Unfortunately just before booking there were some life circumstances that prevented us from going. I was really bummed; I didn’t think it was ever going to happen. We then bought a house. And then I got pregnant. And Mila was about to turn two and we would soon have to pay for her seat…
However, come November and an unnaturally cold day here even for Canada I decided to hell with this, I’m booking. I had kept asking my husband what he thought of this place and that place and he told me
“Just book it and tell me when to pack, and where to go.”
So December 7th we packed our bags and set off for the airport. It wasn’t exactly a smooth ride. Our van started acting up, we almost got in a head on collision among other stuff. We made it to the airport and through customs, our two hour wait for our midnight flight and a hyperactive toddler; side-effect of children’s gravol (news to me, to. Finally we were in Toronto where we waited for our flight to CR.
The plane from Toronto to CR was seriously the smallest plane I’ve ever been on. But after being up all night Mila slept the entire way to CR, only waking long enough for us to change her out of her fleece jammies to something more tropical climate friendly.
We took a taxi to our hotel, as we didn’t realize there was an air-conditioned shuttle waiting for us. (Again read the fine print folks.) If anyone has ever taken a taxi ride in a Central American country you’ll know they drive the windey-est roads at mach 1 speeds. So about 20 mins in, 30 degree weather and Mila refusing to sit on my lap,I knew what was coming when she started to panic and began to climb on my lap
A quick break, a sneaky gravol later (this time no side effect, figures.) we were on the road at a slower pace and arrived at our resort.
We chose a resort because it was our first family vacation and my husband’s first time outside of the country. I didn’t want to worry about cooking, messes, safety or anything else during our trip as I was 27 odd weeks pregnant. My husband was already completely out of his element and I wanted things to be as smooth and carefree as possible. Our resort was very mountainous, and overlooking the ocean. There was even a shuttle to take us from the beach to the lobby and even some of the rooms higher up the mountain. I requested a building near the pool because we were in and out of our room so much because of Mila.
The first few days were just for settling in; getting the restaurant schedule down, finding where everything was, and finding our new routine. Tuesday my husband discovered what “all inclusive meant” (booze) Wednesday morning he discovered what “all inclusive cheap liquor hangover was like.” (lame.) And by Wednesday afternoon we were bored, believe it or not. We are not a family that sits in one place long. Both our toddler and us really like to explore and take everything in.
There were excursions nearby we could go to, but most were a little too extreme for us in our current situation (pregnant, and a two year old.) I wasn’t looking for pre-term labour so we nixed the snorkeling and zip-lining, as well as horse ride through the jungle. But the one trip was a boat ride to a nearby beach town to do some shopping and see some sights.
Although the thought of being stranded in the ocean with a toddler on a boat seemed terrifying, it turned out to be the best part of the trip!
We saw dolphins swimming and jumping beside our little boat. Mila was fascinated with the boat and sat nicely. We got to Coco beach and after traveling with our guides through the town we were set loose to have lunch and shop. We saw a local grocery store that looked just like ours at home. It had organic apples and other fruits and vegetables as well as cheap coffee and dried beans.
We bought some snacks, coffee, water bottles and oreos for Mila and headed back down the main strip for lunch.
We made some friends and had a pretty American-esque lunch. I was hungry and afraid to try anything too out of my comfort zone, and the waiter had a difficult time explaining what was in the dish.
We did a little shopping; the normal mementos for friends and family, some chocolates to share, a book for Mila, and cigars for my husband. I’m not a big trinket person, so I opted for a straw fedora that I could wear lots at home as well as for the rest of the trip.
By that weekend we were both anxious to get home. Justin was home sick, Mila was bored of the few toys and books we could bring, and I was sore from walking up the mountain all the time. The resort food was pretty good, but got rather repetitive. Central American diet consists of a lot of rice and beans and squash!
So come Monday, we had breakfast and quickly packed our bags. We enjoyed a bit of time at the beach, fed the monkeys again, played at the resort playground and waited for our shuttle back to the airport. We had a quick lunch at the airport and prepared for our flight back to Toronto. The plane was just as small and just as packed, but as always, the flight home seemed to take much less time. Mila had a few naps and was a good girl. I still had a lot of leftover snacks from the flight down plus all the oreos we bought at the grocery store.
We had little time between getting off the plane in Toronto before boarding for Calgary. The flight from Toronto to Calgary was nearly empty and we each had a row to ourselves practically. Mila slept in my lap and woke when we touched down after 1 a.m.
We still had a 90-minute drive home, and we were exhausted, but it was well worth the work and trip. We had so much fun as a family, playing on the beach, and taking in the culture. As always with traveling I learned something that radically changed my life; mostly about giving grace; both to my husband, my daughter, and myself.
Traveling a toddler was challenging, but I learned it is not impossible and can very much be enjoyed. I was reminded of just how young she is. At home she is determined and independent which makes her seem so much older than she is. However being in CR she was out of her element, and while she seemed to do fine, I saw just how much extra comfort she needed. At first I responded with frustration to her tantrums and behaviour. I contacted my best friend who had traveled with her daughter and she reminded me to cut Mila some slack, have more patience, and that everything had been disrupted. It seemed so obvious after she said it,but in the moment and the selfishness of wanting to enjoy myself on vacation too, I realized I was not taking this into consideration.
After taking her advice we all enjoyed the trip more. In fact I just continued it at home even after we had settled back into our routine. Everyone was less frustrated, there was less yelling, less tears and I felt better as a parent.
All in all, I am so thankful we embarked on this journey together. It was a great bonding experience for my husband and I; and I learned valuable parenting lessons. Many people were very negative in response to us wanting to travel with our toddler.
“She won’t remember it anyway.” Was a big one. No. She won’t. But I will. I have so many memories with her in this beautiful place that now holds a very dear spot in my heart.
We have already started planning our next trips. We hope to be in a position eventually to visit Costa Rica annually. We are planning our Europe trip when the children are a little older. And in the mean time to see our own country and all the beauty it holds.
I originally wrote this for my blog…which was not up and running. I instead shared it to my personal Facebook page where it garnered many likes and shares. I’m sharing again, because I believe my sisters need to be reminded, as often as possible how amazing they are, and how perfectly imperfect they are, and just how OK that is.
I have always struggled with “fitting in.” I’m adaptable, change, although makes me uncomfortable at times, I’m not afraid of it. I like many things; I love being barefoot in grass, but have a closet full of worn stilettos. I’m a tom-boy at heart, but I’m dapper in a maxi dress and 70’s turquoise jewelry topped with a oversized sun hat; my go to outfit for summer. You find me, up to my eyeballs in gardening, dirt under my polished fingernails, iPhone always within reach. Diamonds, or semi precious crystals, it doesn’t matter. They’re worth the same to me. I love death-metal, but find myself cooking to indie rock. Vegan is my favourite cuisine. I love yoga, I meditate, I eat hemp hearts. I vaccinate my kids, and have been known to eat a hot dog on occasion.
Labels have always been something I’ve struggled with, because I don’t fit under just one. I sometimes fear people see me as a wannabe this, or that, but quickly sweep it under the rug. I remind myself of how I was as a child, where I didn’t care what people thought of me and the fear goes away. However the thing I wanted to be since I was a child, and the label I know fits me best, is Mother.
I am a Mother. I have been blessed with a life where I have two healthy, living children, to prove to the world that I am a mother. Although motherhood is heavy at times, I’m unable to see myself being anything else. Even in the thickest of things, I come out a better human being every single day. A little more patient. A little more wise. Much more compassionate.
Today, however, I caught a glimpse into the world of misogyny and motherhood perceptions I am trying so desperately to change; mostly, for the sake of my own daughter. My sister in law and I were at the park, and a young girl babysitting two other girls eavesdropped on our conversation. She then brought up the topic of having children, and how she “didn’t want to have kids because it just wasn’t for her, and they kinda, stretch ya out y’know?”
My sister in law and I giggled at her comment and continued to swing the kids. My husband used to shake his head at the amount of Bio Oil I used daily to ward off stretch marks. I’ll probably get cancer from it someday…maybe it worked, or maybe it’s my genes, but I actually did not get any stretch marks. Unfortunately, I know this is not the fate of the majority of mothers so I consider myself lucky.
I told her “that’s okay, not everyone is meant to have kids. If it’s not something you REALLY want, then I wouldn’t do it, its just not meant for everyone.”
“You never know,” my sister in law, piped up. “feelings change!”
The Girl continued on.
“Yeah, I just don’t want to go through all that pain and have all those stretch marks and be all stretched out down there”
“and have a baby and then the guy just leaves me cuz I’m all stretched out and he thinks I’m gross cuz I’m pretty much USELESS NOW. Nope, no thank you.”
I’m in utter disbelief at this point. Vaginas. She’s talking about vaginas. You don’t want to procreate because you’re worried that your man will leave you because you have a stretched out vagina, and therefore that makes you useless?
“Lemme tell ya something,” I said. “Your body is amazing, it can take a lot. And if a man leaves you because you grew his child and you have the marks to prove it, he doesn’t DESERVE you.”
“Yeah but,” she insisted. “I just don’t think it’s worth it.”
I glance at my daughter, praying she forgets these words as quickly as she hears them. How could you not be worth it, I think. She’s my little…I’d say princess, but she’s more of a bohemian goddess. Bronzed skin, sun bleached wild hair, dirty fingernails, little sundress, always barefoot.
I think about how much I loved her before I met her. I think about the love I have for my little boy, the love he has for his mummy; the family I always wanted. I think about how fucking worth all the pain, the blood, sweat, tears that went in to my husband and I’s relationship. How many times we packed our bags, ready to call it quits, but ended up in a puddle of tears embracing one another on the front lawn. How we could never give up. How, that love made these two perfect, beautiful, bright-eyed children. I think about how I could never live without them. How full they make my life, despite their impact on my body.
I don’t really know what to say to her. I know these aren’t her words, but maybe her own mother’s or friends’ mother’s coming out of her mouth. I can see she already made up her mind.
“I’ll tell you this,” I said. “I have more scarring from my bellybutton ring, than I did from growing a baby. I’d take the pain of pregnancy and childbirth, every day, for my children, if it meant they could be in my life always. Nothing could take away the love I have for my children.”
“Yeah, my mom says you forget the pain in a year anyway.” she agrees.
I forgot it the moment I held my daughter. The pain with my son, was emotional not physical, because he was premature and he was taken away within minutes of being born. I felt like my heart was in two; I couldn’t take a deep breath. Numb. So torn because my son was critically ill and needed their care, but I needed him.
I looked over at my husband holding my now healthy five-month-old son, clearly uncomfortable with the conversation. I wish I could see myself through his eyes most days. He doesn’t see the extra ten pounds I’ve been holding on to since Asher’s birth. He doesn’t see my deflated breasts, one usually bigger than the other from nursing. He doesn’t see my dry patches, or hormonal acne break-outs.
He sees this woman, juggling a baby on one hip, and a toddler dangling off one leg, cooking dinner, wiping noses and teaching alphabets all at once. He sees a queen, with long brown hair kissing boo boos and folding laundry. He sees my legs for their strength in carrying our children, in picking myself up when I’ve fallen, not their cellulite. He appreciates me. He thanks me. He tells me how sexy I am, how strong I am.
He sees the Goddess I am, nurturing our little sprites, emptied breasts, “stretched vagina’’, the tiny pooch tummy from growing seedling to baby. He sees me, the real me, the only label I will forever wish to be identified by: Mother.
“Yep, the boys at school play a game, how much would you pay to date her? All men are the same,” she scoffs.
By now I’m lost in my own thoughts. Sad. Because this is the world my daughter will be navigating in a decade. The one where she cares what people think, she’ll change her clothes, her hair to make someone else happy or to fit a certain identity. I see her looking in the mirror, pinching her stomach, something I’ve fought to stop doing myself, but something I refuse to do around her. I see her looking at my body, my marks, the evidence I carried her.
I see myself telling her how much she changed my body. How, it’s better now because it’s known the sound of her heart beating alongside mine. How it survived her great kicks and punches and twirls. How strong it was to fight through the pain of labour and how alive that made me feel. How I grew her, and fed her for her first year of life with my own body. How strong I am mentally. How capable I am. I will tell her, this I know because of You.
I see myself telling my son to see his partner as the goddess she is, the way his father sees me. I see myself telling him to love her curves, her fierceness, and her compassion with the same intensity of love he has for his mommy. I see myself growing him up to appreciate, to take the time to know this creature; the fury that resides within, concealed, often mistaken as weakness, but what is known as a ‘woman.’
I see myself thanking my children, for all they have brought me, for all the ways they have changed me.
But today, I thank the Universe for meeting you, Little Girl at the Park. I thank you for all your opinions on the topic, the identity I hold so dear to my heart. Because it forever will strengthen what I already know; that I am more than my cellulite and stretch marks, that I am capable in much more than just pleasing a man. That I need to keep teaching my daughter how to be a proud woman, to never let a man dim her shine; and if she does become a mother someday, to love every stripe and dimple. Thank you for reminding me how brilliant it is to be a Woman, and how fucking proud I am to be called “Mom.”
Its pretty amazing what one year can do to a person. One year ago I attempted to bring my dream of blogging alive. I wouldn’t say I failed, because I learned a lot, and ended up going on a bit of a journey, but it didn’t work out as I had hoped.
I still have this dream to blog, and that is why I am here. I’m back with more knowledge, some HTML experience, another baby, mildly less sanity and wavering confidence, but its there. So, hope you enjoy and find this resonates with you!