Bliss.

Everything is better when you’re on vacation. obviously.

The sun shines brighter.
Food tastes yummier.
Even the dreariest days are just an invitation to curl up and breathe in some stolen moments.

I’m heading back to work in the morning after 10 extraordinary days filled with intimate acoustic shows in coffee shops, fits of giggles on my deck with lifetime friends, piles of books, bike ride dates, dreamy afternoon naps, kayaks, heart pressing hugs, a meditation retreat, family reunions and so much love.

I am currently so blissed out that nothing can faze me nor prepare me for my return to reality in the morning (mere hours away).

I’m wearing a special blend of denial and a sweet conviction that I can keep this feeling alive in a world of alarm clocks, deadlines, meetings and meal-planning.

A close friend and I used to describe this feeling as a vacation high and when we would return to work (typically after exotic getaways), we would rally together to help each other keep it as long as possible. #VacationHighForever

This time, I’m lucky. I only have to keep the high for 2.5 days at work and then I’m off again on a first ever blended-family camping trip for a week!! (Now there’s an adventure – stay tuned!)

But really, aside from the obvious… what is stopping us from keeping (at least a portion of) vacation bliss all the time?

This break in routine has really shaken something loose in me. Or rather, it’s confirmed and emphasized the importance of leading with my heart.

No matter what is happening around me, I need to take time to pause and listen. If the vibration is out of synch with my natural rhythm, it’s best to move on to option B (or C, or D, or T).

Life is not a competition. It’s not about who can win more, earn more or do more. It’s also not about being able to do whatever I want and have everything work out perfectly (because trust me, that did not happen on vacation either).

It’s about knowing that there is an abundance of love and beauty for everyone. And accepting it with an open heart.
It’s about keeping my actions in line with my priorities.
It’s about holding space for others, without the ownership of being responsible for them.
It’s about waking up every morning with a heart full of gratitude.

Because at the end of the day (work day, vacation day, retirement day, Saturday..) it just keeps coming back to love.

So, find love. Find beauty. Find bliss. Accept them into your heart and express your gratitude daily. Keep your high as long as you possibly can.

But don’t forget to set your alarm clock!

xo,
e

#TeamAdventurers

Twitter: @pixiepaperdoll7
Instagram: @pixiepaperdoll

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Summertime and the livin’s easy.

I’m pretty sure that my boyfriend had his son’s summer fully planned (campgrounds booked, summer camps registered, family visits scheduled) in March.  I’m also pretty sure that was when I was first asked to submit my own summer vacation requests at work.

Yo guys. It’s still snowing. I can barely make plans to put on real pants and leave the house let alone plan my summer.

The actual date of my final vacation request submission: June 27th (2 days before the last day of school).

I’m not much of a planner. (this is the secret to all of my kick-ass road trips!)

And to be fair, Rain and Moxie are now old enough that they don’t need constant adult supervision, nor do they want it. Trust me, I’ve put in my time of coordinating 10 weeks of summer. I’m done.

But mostly, I just didn’t want to.

I didn’t want to have to wake them up before work and drag them out of bed to make lunches for summer camp.

I didn’t want to spend hours searching out summer vacation spots and all the logistics that go along with that. (how many pairs of underwear do we need? did we pack enough food?)

I didn’t want to feel like I was rushing all summer long to cram as much awesomeness down our throats in fear that otherwise we’d be wasting this time sensitive and precious season.

So I didn’t.

Well not really.

I did book us tickets to go camping at Shelter Valley Folk Festival for a weekend.

I will be coordinating the merchandise table at the Peterborough Folk Festival again this year (come visit!)

We are going camping with my bf and his son for a week (three cheers to him for booking the campsite in March!!).

The kids will spend about a week with each set of grandparents. (Yahoo!)

We will spend a weekend in our hometown having some much needed family-time with aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and grandparents!

And there will be incredible paddling trips sprinkled into the mix with a close, family friend. (they’ve already been happening almost weekly since April).

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So for sure, there will definitely be some pretty awesome stuff coming at us. But in between those weeks, it will be unstructured, easy breezy summertime sublime.

Doin’ Time – Sublime

Last week was week 1 and a blank slate.

I was at work and the kids were home all day. They stayed up late every night reading, giggling and sneaking their iPads while I slept (somewhat) soundly in my upstairs bedroom.

They slept late every morning. I left a note with a couple chores to do and reminders (eat breakfast, brush teeth, put clothes on…).  The first couple days, they spent a LOT of time on their iPads. In their pjs. Typically in bed. Food was optional. As was teeth-brushing. (So much for my reminders).

I’ve never really set limits on screen time. Mostly because they’ve always been able to self-regulate at a pace I can live with so it didn’t seem worth the hassle of timing, tantrums and god forbid – planning – their screen time usage for the day!

And sure enough this week they did decide on their own to go outside to play road hockey, climb their favourite trees at the end of the street and they traded their iPads for paper (books/drawing/writing).

On their second day home, they biked downtown to the Farmer’s Market. I’d suggested they could go get a snack with their allowance. Moxie bought 4 tarts and Rain bought a whole pie, all of which became their entire lunch that day. (Eat lunch. check).

The next day they biked to the beach (fresh air AND exercise!). This also included a stop at Mister Convenience where they pooled their money so Rain could get some groovy new sunglasses and Moxie could get candy. (Eat lunch. Check.)

By the end of the week they were on their iPads less and less. They rediscovered the giant Lego bin and they (along with the neighbours) spent hours in our living building all sorts of creations.

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I’ve also started a musician of the week activity where they have to listen to 3 songs by a featured artist and be prepared for a family discussion about them and their music at the end of the week. First was Joni Mitchell, this week is Run DMC.

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Rain is also playing baseball a couple nights/week and refereeing soccer about once/week. (you gotta make some dough to buy the pies)

All in all it was a pretty rad week.

This week they’re spending about 4 days at my parents.  No doubt, they will all have a blast!

Me? I’m working and living the easy summer life at home with Lucy. She totally feels me on this summer lifestyle thing.

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I’m also learning how to fix my bike up at our community bike hub, checking out (mostly free) live music in town whenever I can, going for runs around the lake and spending a lot of time on my back deck with popsicles. I love the slow pace of hanging my clothes on the clothesline, stopping at the farmers market before work and picking herbs out of my garden. Nothing epic to see here…just bliss.

 

And secret confession? Tonight’s the first night they’re gone and despite my list of things I was going to get done around the house, I’ve brought home take-out, went for a run and then just sat outside on the deck writing for hours.  (apparently I follow check-lists as well as Rain and Moxie do in the summer.)

The kids will be back home by the weekend and they’ll have about a week and a half before the next grandparent trip.

Maybe they’ll spend it sleeping, eating sugar and staring at a screen until their eyes are completely glazed over. They’ll survive.

Guys look, I love adventure. I mean, I love it in a way that burns through my veins and gives me cravings that keep me up at night.  And if you are off having an epic adventure somewhere in the world, I will definitely feel pangs of envy. But right now, I’m pushing the summertime easy button and it’s kinda like magic.

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xo
e

#TeamAdventurers
@pixiepaperdoll7 (Twitter)
@pixiepaperdoll (Instagram)

 

I run to lose weight….(wait for it…)

I got home from an exceptionally long Monday & was on the brink of shrugging off my originally planned run. Excuses were there for the taking: I was tired. (Yeah I know..join the club). I’d already missed the last 4 days..what’s one more? I can’t leave the kids for another 30 minutes, that’s poor parenting. (Psst…they’re too busy playing outside with their friends to notice). I’ve pretty much lost my layer of hibernation so what’s the point? 

Then I read a post by Jennifer Pastiloff who, looking fierce AF stated, “I exercise because if I don’t, I’m a mess.” #preach 

Running clothes on & out the door I started to think about why I run and realized it IS to lose weight. The kind of weight that sits in my mind. It’s not clutter or cobwebs or dustbunnies. It’s heavy & makes it hard to move. It’s atrophic. Being outside alone with my thoughts & minimal distraction helps me shake that shit loose. I practice my own style of active meditation (even though I like to insist I suck at meditation). I come home clearer. And lighter. 

Side benefit is setting a good example for the kids about how to deal with daily stress & anxiety. Had I not gone running, I most likely would have poured a glass of wine for dinner &/or scrolled through social media numbing my brain. And let’s be honest, I still might pour a glass of wine & tada here I am on social media..cause (thank Gawd) I’m not perfect but I’ve managed to changed the tone of my evening. 

I’m not fast. Nor do I typically run more than 5km at a time. But this is not a contest. And even though I’m not trying to win anything, I gain so much …. by losing this weight. 

Thanks for the reminder Jennifer!!! 

How do you lose that extra weight in your mind?

xo,
e

(Ps-how lucky am I to have this gorgeous lake to run around?!?!)

twitter: @pixiepaperdoll7

instagram: @pixiepaperdoll

March is for madness.

 

I don’t know about you but I am not at my best in March. All of my strategies to get through the long dark winter have been tossed aside along with the chip wrappers, wine bottles and dirty casserole dishes. I’m tired. I’m hiding an extra layer of fat under my sweat pants and tights. I feel gross. It’s become painfully clear that once again, I will not be dashing away for a hot weather, scuba adventure. I am bored and even worse…I am boring. I have nothing to talk to anyone about except for my own misery which makes me retreat from everyone to save us all my moaning.

Having said all of that, you may not believe me when I tell you that I actually consider myself a fairly enlightened person. I spend time in gratitude every morning before getting out of bed and set my intentions for the day. I walk to work and spend my lunch hours power walking by the water listening to uplifting podcasts. In fact, in a recent attempt to make the best of this lull in my life, I decided to throw myself into active waiting, a term I learned from Danielle LaPorte podcasts. While waiting for nicer weather, I started tackling some of the winter house projects that have been accumulating on my to do list.

If I can organize my entire house, redecorate rooms, create every meal from scratch, work full-time, care for both of my children, ensure all household chores are done to perfection, find time for close friends and spend at least one or two evenings/week with my bf, then I’m winning right? IF I can pull all of that off, then maybe I’ll be less gross and boring.

Or maybe instead I will become completely overwhelmed, have a house full of half-finished projects and dwell on all the areas in my life where I am failing, which now also includes active waiting.

*insert sad monologue about the disappointment of not being able to do it all

Lately the biggest feeling of failure for me has been in the parenting department. Because while I’ve been struggling to keep afloat in my lifeboat, my kids have been floating along beside me. (Thank God they are good sports and good swimmers!)

We’ve always been a tight team and I try to keep a strong connection with them. I spend about 10 minutes of 1:1 time with each of them every morning, we eat a (mostly) home cooked meal together every day and we read aloud together every night before bed. But even still I constantly worry that they spend too much time on their electronics, feel immense guilt when I don’t have time to play cards when they ask, and have no idea what goes on in the mind of a teenage boy. I don’t know if it’s their ages, my schedule or my anxiety-driven imagination but I worry that we are losing our connection.

Last week I decided to take action and booked a cottage for the following weekend. We needed to get out of our daily routine and shake things up. I wanted to be fully present with them, without the distraction of life.

On Friday I loaded the car with our comfiest clothes, board games, books, art supplies, journals, a cooler full of quick and easy meals and a hopeful heart and we drove 2.5 hours north to our little cottage retreat.

And for the entire weekend, I was entirely present and available to my kids.

We watched movies together. We played umpteen hands of gin rummy, board games, and scrabble stopping only to meander to the mini fridge for more snacks. We explored by the water without having to rush so I could get home and start dinner. And when we wanted time alone, we created art and read books.

It was bliss.

Now that we’ve reconnected and I feel assured that they feel assured that I am available to them, the next step is to keep this momentum alive. It’s completely unrealistic to take a vacation every time I want to spend uninterrupted time with them. And despite the fridge magnet that says, a messy house is full of memories, it’s also full of anxiety ridden chaos which makes it just as unrealistic to stop cleaning.

So instead I will simply acknowledge that there will continue to be highs and lows along this journey. There will be moments when I feel I have it all together and others where you’ll find me under my covers eating ice cream.

The good news is that warm weather is on the horizon and no one is ever boring while wearing sundresses and flower crowns.

Be grateful. Be present. and it will be okay.

(But really….what actually goes on in the mind of a 13 year old boy?)

xoxo,

e

#TeamAdventureres

@pixiepaperdoll7 (twitter)

@pixiepaperdoll (Instagram)

 

PS.

This beautiful song kept coming on my playlist while we were away and it definitely needs to be shared. Rain and Moxie, you are and will always be, safe and sound with me.

 Safe and Sound – Hawksley Workman

 

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Exploring. Of course they both fell into the lake. Don’t worry, it was shallow.

Sunshine gives me superpowers.

I woke up this morning before 6am.  I felt more awake than I had in months. I felt refreshed. I felt like my skin was going to explode in energy.

As I let this feeling wash through me I recited my gratitude list, which was soon backed up by the harmonies of the honking geese flying past my open window.

“I am thankful to wake up to the sounds of nature.”

I wanted to leap from my bed.  I wanted to do everything. All at once.  I wanted to go everywhere. Nothing could stop me.

The cold cloud had lifted and the sun, the glorious warm sun, had returned.

After months of being frozen to my couch, dreading any outing that required me to wear real pants, I was suddenly daydreaming of sundresses on patios (and although dresses are still not technically pants, they are much prettier and happier than my sweats).

I felt free.

It was contagious.

My kids eagerly walked a 2 hour journey with me. They explored the patterns of melting ice while I positioned myself in the direct path of the sun’s rays.  I stared at the dark blue water in front of me until hypnotized by the sparkles which danced in the waves.  Surrounded by snow and ice, I felt complete warmth and nourishment from the sun. I planted myself to the ground, drawing its energy into me.

Wonderwoman. Wildflower. Willow. Me.

xo

e

@pixiepaperdoll7

#TeamAdventurers

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Ice fishing in a stream with a skipping rope.

Ice fishing in a stream with a skipping rope.

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i am your willow

i am your willow
and i will keep you safe.

i will bend.
i will adjust.
i will surrender:

to the process
to the storm
to myself

i will flex to the best of my abilities
and i will not break.

i will wrap myself around you, and
weep with you
through
joy and grief.

i will survive thrive
no matter how challenging fucking impossible life gets.

and i will keep you safe,
for i am your willow.

 

 

e

Twitter @pixiepaperdoll7 

Instagram @pixiepaperdoll

Tattoo artist: Tedd Hucks 

Instagram @tedd2s