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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My 2016 life in live music

This year, live music took on a whole new life for me. Well actually, it provided a whole new life for me.

When I moved to Peterborough just over a year ago, I could never have anticipated how quickly and significantly my life would change.  Live music has not only been my refuge but also my connection to this community.  There is an abundance of live music and phenomenal local musicians in town and I’ve lost count of how many shows I have attended.  I’ve also had the true joy of bringing my kids to matinee shows and outdoor festivals.  They read their books or draw pictures while letting the notes wash over them.  They recognize local celebrities on the streets and I catch them humming their favourite songs during quiet moments. This energy. This love. I can’t get enough. And thankfully I don’t have to.

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Live music in ptbo feels like soul-nurturing jasmine tea over-flowing my chipped but unbreakable cup (with a shot of whiskey thrown in for good measure).

I’ve watched bands whom I’ve adored for years and stumbled upon new and instant favourites. I’ve watched them perform in small intimate spaces in a haze of love. And I’ve watched them under the warmth of the sun and the glow of the twilights while wearing flowers as crowns and arms as scarves.  In these moments when I’m surrounded by people sharing the same love for the music that consumes us, I feel a true sense of belonging (finally!).

Quite often I attend shows without any previous knowledge of the artist. Sometimes I head out with peeps and other times I venture out on my own. Discovering new favourites while meeting new friends is glorious memory-making material. But then again, I’m a sucker for surprise adventures.

When I was in high school, my best friends blindfolded me and drove me to London to watch my favourite local band, Myth of Innocence. They only took the blindfold off once so that I could pee on the side of the road. (oh, country living how I miss you.)

This year was like that, only minus the peeing. It was that feeling of not having any idea where I’m going but having complete faith that whatever is on the other side of this ride is going to be so incredibly rad. With lots of warm belly laughs and the most love-filled people along the way.

As a Christmas present to myself (and you!), I’ve created a playlist of some of my 2016 highlights. Although it is not exhaustive, every single song holds a distinct moment of joy. Each artist brings a smile. All venues provided the most deserving ambience.

I encourage you to listen over and over and over to these songs and to spend some heart-to-heart time with each artist. I wish for you the same warm feelings each note brings to me. You’ll have to create your own memories for mine are sacred.  But who knows, maybe we’ll create a memory or two together in 2017.

xo,

e

#TeamAdventurers

@pixiepaperdoll7

(in no particular order)

Scott Cook, spotted at Shelter Valley Folk Festival


Irish Mythen, spotted at Shelter Valley Folk Festival


Winona Wilde, spotted at BE Catering & The Garnet


Dan Mangan, spotted at Peterborough Folk Festival


Steve Poltz, spotted at Harwood Community Centre, as part of Shelter Valley


Evangeline Gentle, spotted at PFF & The Garnet


Leonard Sumner, spotted at Shelter Valley Folk Fest


Wayne Petti (from Cuff the Duke), spotted at Ptbo Folk Folly and MY very own living room!


Sean Conway, spotted at The Garnet


Corin Raymond, spotted at Gilmour Street Music Hall (Rob & Annie’s living room!)


Mayhemingways, spotted at Catalina’s


Amelia Curran, spotted at Folk Under the Clock


The Mae Trio, spotted at Shelter Valley Folk Fest


Emily Millard and Aerialists, spotted at The Garnet


Joyful Joyful (Meagh Culkeen & Dave Grenon), spotted at Catalina’s

  • Hot June Night

David Ross McDonald, spotted at Shelter Valley & BE Catering


Thomas McCallum, spotted at Catalina’s


Sarah DeCarlo, spotted at The Garnet


Fortunate Ones, spotted at The Gordon Best Theatre as part of PFF


A Tribe Called Red, spotted at The Red Dog

And Sew It Goes..

It’s been a cozy weekend and as I am puttering around and mulling over writing a new post, I’m drawn to this older one I wrote just over 2 years ago.  It’s about the practice of mending: fabric and emotions.  It was published in Bunch Family and they even secured amazing photos by Karyn Valino to accompany the writing.

A couple of years makes a huge difference. These days, it’s very rare that I sit down to stitch up worn out knees or repair a ripped stuffed animal. Their toys tend to require more technical and less traditional support these days. Rain still destroys all of his clothes but he prefers to wear them ripped as a badge of honour.

So today this post is reflective at the realization of how life changes, within a stitch in time.

And Sew it goes..

 

City fix.

Last week I went into Toronto for the first time since moving to Peterborough over a year ago. After over 20 years of living in the GTA, this was the longest I’ve gone without a city fix and I didn’t realize how much I needed it until I made plans to go.

Don’t get me wrong, I have thrown myself into this new community – heart first! It’s been a great place to live and the friends I’ve met in such a short time feel like souls who have been part of me throughout all my lives.

I have no doubt that my peeps across the 401 have watched me unfold and wondered who has stolen their non-conformist friend and replaced her with this love-drenched, socially active member of society.  For most of my life, I was a self-declared ‘non-joiner’.  I rolled my eyes at community involvement and group outings.  I had a great clan of close friends and when we were together, it was non-stop fun. But everyone was busy with their own lives (myself included) and our outings would be sporadic.  And to be honest, I liked being alone.

I grew up in small rural town of only 2700, where you couldn’t get away from community if you tried.  And I did. I spent high school lusting to live in the city while secretly loving the small town life. Maybe too much. My mom was the local librarian and would find out everything I’d done that day before I’d even get home from school.  Typically this would result in being banished to the basement of the old town library with a bag of pencil which I’d have to sharpen by hand with the wall-mounted sharpener.  Where she ever found so many dull pencils, I’ll never know.

I think it’s my roots that have drawn me into the depths of Peterborough.  It felt right to live somewhere that you will always meet up with someone you know, no matter where you go. And typically at least 5 more people who know someone you know.

But after months of weaving my own thread through this new town, meeting so many people and expanding my tribe, I started to feel a bit like that angst-filled teenager in Dresden.  I needed a city fix before I ended up in the basement sharpening pencils.

I started to crave anonymity and being immersed in a city where I could be invisible. Oh how I’d missed that place where nobody knows your name.

I couldn’t wait to move, with purpose, through the crowds in head-down, eyes-forward angst. And for my mouth to be poised in a 1/2 scowl which is city-speak for ‘you stay outta my way and I’ll stay outta yours.’

I yearned to become swallowed by sounds that hold no ties to me: random conversations, street cars, sirens and horns.  To be deafened by the noise around me, my mind could finally become a cocoon of focus. This is a meditation I can get from no other place.

And last week, I got that fix .. well ..  sort of.  But also something else that merged both worlds into one.

It started at the subway station.

I was about to walk into the Wilson station when approached by an older man asking, “Token? Do you have a token?” Before I could respond, a guy coming out of the subway told him that he could buy tokens inside from the machine.  The man looked at me with sweet pleading eyes and of course I said

“Come on, let me show you how to do this.”

So he shuffled along beside me with a big smile repeating, “It’s okay. It’s alright.”

I showed him how to put his money into the machine and take the tokens that spilled out of the dispensary.  I was about to get my own token when he gave me one of his and said in this thick accent,

“From Russia, with love.”

Next, I demonstrated how to put the token in (no, that’s a nickel) and push through the metal gate (push harder!).  We were heading in the same direction so we found our way to the platform together. The whole time he spoke to me with such happiness.  Over and over I heard, “I’m 81 years old. I don’t know how. I can’t believe I’m 81 years old. Where does the time go? It’s okay. It’s alright.”

He told me his name was Levi and that in Russian it meant ‘lion’ and in Hebrew it meant ‘heart’.

“So your name is Lionheart?”

He smiled and gave me some candy.

“From Russia, with love.”

We rode together most of the way.  He got off the stop before me giving me more candy, a pat on my shoulder and murmurs of “It’s okay, It’s alright. From Russia, with love.”

So much for my scowl.

I called my brother when I made my way up to sidewalk to firm up our plans of meeting for pre-TIFF dinner.  He had also just got off the subway and would you believe that we had been riding on the same train. He actually got off at the same stop as Levi, though he wasn’t lucky enough to get candies.

So much for anonymity.

Keeping my eyes forward, I meditated my way through Queen Street and into Kensington. Unable to resist the $10 rack outside a 2nd-hand (or rather 3rd or 4th hand) store, I grabbed a handful of clothes and lurked inside to embrace the cluttered dark space. I eventually landed in the change room and when I came out to inspect my choices in front of the only mirror, I head a voice from the front:

“Holy shit – that looks so good on you!”

Before I knew it, my city armour was displaced by a change room of treasures and I was in fits of giggles with the girl who was working. She kept tossing me new clothes to try on and we’d debate each item as we laughed and shared random stories. I left with a ridiculous amount of bags, a grin and eyes that were now wide open and awaiting my next encounter.

So much for angst.

The day continued with these unexpected meetings, including the girl who took my shoulder while waiting for the light to change and pointed at some chaos happening across the street.

“Yikes – let’s stay safe together over here!”

She walked with me to the next block and waved good-bye.

So much for staying out of each other’s way.

Later on, I met up with my brother and we had a great visit over dinner (mmmm… Salad King).  Then we watched the film Those Who Make Revolution HalfWay Only Dig Their Own Graves which just further exemplified that even those who oppose everything about establishment still maintain their own sense of community.

On my late night/early morning drive home, I sucked on my candy from Russia and contemplated my day.

As much as I had driven there this afternoon eager to detach myself from everyone, I have since realized that there is no escaping this big community called life.  It’s always around us. There are good people and new friends around every corner and subway stop.

The thread I’ve been weaving in Peterborough has actually been with me since birth and I’m starting to see the beauty and feel the warmth of the massive quilt it’s been creating all along.  And I know that because of this, I will always have comfort and love, no matter where I end up.

It’s okay. It’s alright.

From Erica,

With Love.

@pixiepaperdoll7