The Self-Care I Am Worthy Of

I often don’t sit down to write until I feel like I may burst if I don’t sit down and get it all out. When I do that, oftentimes it all pours out of me resulting in an entire blogpost that I have basically been formulating in my head for a month. I will catch myself phrasing and rephrasing things to myself and ocassionally out loud. So here we go.

What do you say when you someone asks you how you’re doing? I used to be quick to get things off my chest, give my list of ups and downs, regaling friends and family with my stories. How does that change when you become a mom? Especially one who is doing this gig full-time and who hasn’t been alone in her head for 13 hours of the day for years and years?

People will ask me how I’m doing and sometimes I will say, “oh we’re fine” or “Ben is …” or “The kids are..” and other times I will say, ” I have no idea.” Because its true. Most of my hours are consumed with the needs of others and that is a wonderful way that God is teaching me to put others before myself. To consider that the world does not revolve around my feelings. Something I am prone to falling into.

I guess part of the reason I write is that I am always in pursuit of this girl I used to know named Katie. Have you seen her? I need time to process. It feels indulgent at times or that its somehow not legit enough to require time alone. The funny thing is that I’m the only one who considers it not worthwhile enough. My husband is practically pushing me out the door to have that time and the kids don’t even look up as I walk out the door. My Facebook keeps telling me that people are checking my blog site and yet here I am …

Questioning whether or not my voice matters at all.

Does what I contribute have value at all?

Why bother at all?

Nearly nine years into motherhood and I am figuring out that if I don’t care for Katie, who will? What can I say? I’m a little slow on the uptake. It’s not my husbands job to make me happy full time. My kids will not be my ultimate fulfillment no matter how much I love them. My home, though grateful I am for it, does not need to be immaculate and show ready at all times, thereby taking up all of my “free time”. Can we just stop and have a laugh for a minute about the concept of “free time”? Good one, Katie.

That’s why this January I decided that I was going to endeavour to do the work of self-care that I have been pushing aside for years.

I can sit and drink coffee, knit for hours, marathon a fun little show on Netflix and practically live in the bath, all in the name of self-care. When I do these things, I feel refreshed and pampered and like myself and its a comfort. But here is the thing, brownies for lunch is not *actual* self-care. Sitting on the couch for the duration of winter and pretending that the outdoors and fresh air doesn’t exist is not self-care.

Self-care does not mean shit I want to do. It means to care for yourself. And last time I checked, we are not only souls inside of bodies. We have bodies. We are our bodies. They are Gods gift to us and we need to be good stewards of them. I have not been a good steward of my health for a long time. Yeah, I’ve been busy making, growing, delivering, nursing, raising, and educating the little people God has given me, its true. But here’s the thing…

I have daughters, but I am *also* a daughter. I am also a child of God. I should be modelling the care of my mind, spirit, AND body to my girls. So here’s what I did.

I booked a doctors appointment for a PAP. A dentists appointment. An eye appointment. A physio appointment. A therapy appointment. I ordered an exercise and diet program. Nothing extreme but enough to radically change my days. I am getting uncomfortable over here, people. I am getting up and moving my body every day even though its not my idea of fun. I am dutifully eating my veggies and proteins and showing my kids that caring for ourselves as adults *is* work and we *are* worthy of the time and level of effort that requires.

To be clear here, I don’t give a hoot about what that number is saying on the scale. It is not a relevant part of this journey for me. It would just be nice to feel good in my clothes and sleep well at night and get out of bed in the morning without my lower back burning. And for my kids? They’ve asked, “why are you doing this, mummy? Why do you want to be strong?” And I tell them with a wink, “It’s so I can carry your Daddy in my arms.”

 

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Be Here Now

This is not the summer that I thought we would have. 

Our last few summers have been pre-planned with dates for a vacation and a cottage stay booked, swimming lessons, near-daily trips to the beach and meals thought out ahead of time and well-balanced. 

This summer has not been that. 

This has been the summer of sleeping in, boxed cereal, backyard kiddy pool, too much tv, ice cream for dinner and naps all around. It’s been staying up late, hanging out at home in our pjs and not many plans.

Our house went up on the market in March and it is still sitting there. It has forced us into probably the least eventful and quietest summer we’ve had for years. And you know what? 

I am so, so glad. 

It has meant more sleep for me than I have had in probably 8 years. I’ve read a stack of books as tall as my three year old. I’ve been forced into letting go and giving in to what is instead of wishing for what isn’t yet. 

God is teaching me so much about being in this very moment instead of dreaming about tomorrow when the kids are older, life calms down, we have more time, we have more money, we have stuff that no one has covered in their bodily fluids. 

Discontent is a damn cancer and it will quite happily spread through our homes if we don’t cut it off at the knees. A spirit of discontent is the single most stubborn and ugly of chronic illnesses. 

I need to Be Here Now. 


Be here now and grateful as hell that my crew is still so totally delighted with a blow up pool and freezies. Tickled pink with family movie nights and pizza. Thankful that the kids still go to bed so early so I can spend time hanging out with my husband and hearing about his day. Too busy counting all the good and wonderful blessings that God has showered me with these last five years in this house instead of moaning about our mismatch furniture or the trip to New Zealand we can’t yet afford to make even though we are desperate for it. 

I know this is so cliche but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present. How will we open it and find joy and beauty in the now?

A Day In The Park 

My husband recently blessed me with an entire afternoon to myself. Looking at it as a mini-retreat helped me to narrow down how I wanted to spend those hours.

I decided to park in the downtown area and do as much walking as possible. This was the best decision I could have made. Less time in the car meant less driving in traffic and more time to clear my head. 

I spent the first hour, at least, just reading in our new central library and standing on the rooftop looking out over the harbour. I was struck anew by the blessing it is to live in a coastal city. I found a little gem of a book on Saint Therese of Lisieux and let my heart be reminded that when I am over-stretched and over-spent, what I really need is an infusion of Divine love. To be reminded of who’s I am and why I live the way I do. 

This led to a leisurely stroll through our city’s public gardens where I literally stopped to smell the roses. It is perhaps the thing I miss most about doing anything without children. Lingering. The slower pace of walking, taking in the sights, the smells, the sound of the birds and the wind in the trees. Deciding on a whim whether to go left or right without feeling pushed or pulled in all directions, or stopping to sit and just breathe it all in. 

Imagine my surprise then when I found all but maybe a handful of people staring into their phones instead of appreciating the beauty that surrounded us. I am just as guilty of being on my phone at times as the next person but I couldn’t believe the number of people that didn’t look up from their phones once. Someone actually walked right into me because they had their eyes on a screen. That was enough to keep me from my phone for the rest of the day.

 I don’t want to miss the gifts God is trying to give me. I don’t want to miss His voice trying to break through the noise of my daily life. I know it’s there. I have heard it. Felt it. 

I remember spending many of my single days much like I spent this. Afternoons spent this way were a regular, normal, no-big-deal occurrence but now? All a gift. My time is not my own in the same way anymore. I am armpits deep in parenting and trying to keep some sense of myself, Katie, the person. The one that God made, loved, called and shouldn’t be left behind now that I am a wife and mother. 
I am a child of God. Why is that so hard to remember? I think it’s because as primary caregiver and educator of my children, it’s easy to let myself believe that it is all on me. 

For this, I have Jesus. He calls me to come away even for a few short hours to be reminded of His goodness and provision and love. When I know who I am, I look at my husband and children differently. I know who and who’s they are and it makes me a better wife and mom. When I know who God is, I can rest in His love. I can be sure that He is at work in my life and in our home, helping us to become more like Him. 

This is strength for the journey. 

Welcome September!

Here we are already September and i’m asking myself where the entire summer went? The days didn’t feel busy or rushed but come the end of the week I wondered how it could have flown by so quickly. The furthest we ventured from home this year was to visit my sister and her family in Moncton. Other than that we stayed pretty close to home enjoying our first summer with a backyard all our own and a few day trips nearby. There has been a lot of time spent eating watermelon, hanging out in the kiddie pool, playing on our neighbours swings and just being together. A good part of our summer here wasn’t the warmest and I needed to bite my tongue to not wish the time away until Autumn. I cannot tell a lie, I am so happy to see cool days coming with the promise of sweet hot drinks, warm blankets and good books.


Easily my favorite picture taken last Autumn

Everything about this weather makes me want to cook using our stockpot, light candles and knit. I know that Autumn inevitably brings Winter but I ignore that and fall madly in love with this season every single year. Here is a short list of things that I love about Autumn…

The excuse to drink more hot drinks

Dark house = more evenings by candlelight

It feels nearly time to watch my favorite movie, “You’ve Got Mail”

The rhythm of daily school bus sightings from our living room window

School supplies

Everything pumpkin flavored / scented

Apple pies, apple butter, apple sauce, sour cream apple cake (Ben’s favorite)

Pumpkin Loaf

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Hawksley Workman – Autumn’s Here

My mom’s birthday

Lucy’s birthday

Exciting feast days

Soup

My crockpot

Playing outside without hats, sunscreen or sweat

My red boots

Hibernation

My first Autumn of knowing how to knit!!

KNITTING

Putting my pajamas on mid afternoon

More desserts after supper

Fall decorations

How everything is sad but beautiful and still so full of life

Changing of the leaves

If you are a lover of fall, I would love to hear what you are looking forward to as these days get cooler and darker….

God Has A Plan

There really is nowhere to start except by saying that six days after moving into the house we got water in our basement. I know, right?? We had a pipe blocked by a build up of previous owners dog hair and other random stuff. We don’t have a water problem, it was just bad timing that it happened right after we moved in. Someone came to clear the pipe out for us but the damage was done at that point and there was water under almost all of our laminate in the basement. You could hear the water squeak when you walked on the floors. Thankfully Ben came home to help handle the situation while I kept the girls upstairs and out of the way.

We are covered by our home insurance, minus the first $1000.00 thanks be to God! Not that we have $1000 just sitting around, but at least we don’t have to pay the entire cost. The following morning they sent a contractor and some workers to tear the floors out of the hallway, our bedroom and the girls room. They also had to cut a bunch of drywall out since the moisture had started climbing the walls. They set up a huge dehumidifier to help dry out the floors and went on their way. They’ve been here a few times to take care of little things and we had someone come and measure the rooms and hallway to get an estimate for the floors. Our insurance is now just waiting on some quotes from contractors to decide who will do will do the job for less. Once that is decided I suppose they will start laying new floors. We are praying that it will be this week sometime.

I really wish I could say I handled all of this like superwoman. I wish I could say I was positive, strong and trusting that God was taking care of all this. But it wouldn’t be the truth.

The truth?

I cried. I cried and cried and cried. I chewed my lips. Bickered with my husband and wasn’t very kind to my children. Suddenly we were right back to being unsettled and bringing things back up into the living room, boxes and boxes worth. We were told that our home was ‘habitable’ for the process of changing flooring. Clearly these people don’t understand or appreciate the importance of napping children.

The past week and a bit has been spent living out of a suitcase, trying to keep the girls busy while we take care of business and praying that this rain would just end already so we can play outside and feel the hope that warm sunshine brings.

This is not how I imagined our first week in our first home. I don’t suppose anyone really sees these things coming. What has given me great comfort in the last few days has been this scripture verse:

“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you.”
-Jeremiah 29:11-12

I know why we had a blocked pipe but I don’t know why it happened when it did or why it happened to us. But I do know one thing. One truth. It is what I cling to when I am ready to throw in the towel.  Wanna hear it?

God. Has. A. Plan.

God’s plan is not always clear in our lives. Actually, it rarely is. It’s not always what I had in mind or what I think I needed at the time. In the moment I might cry and crumble and show my weakness and distrust in the Lord, but after a little time, a little prayer, some quiet with my husband or a hot bath, God’s peace starts to settle into my heart. Why is that?

Because I have been here before. I’ve tasted disappointment, anxiety and uncertainty and have come to the other side of it. God loves us just as we are but He loves us far too much to leave us there.

Water in our basement? God has a plan.
Hard times financially? God has a plan.
Waiting nearly 4 years for Ben’s permanent residency to come through? God has a plan.
Losing baby after baby in miscarriage? God has a plan.
My dad dying at 48 years old? God has a plan.

God is faithful. Even when I don’t feel him near, I can see his faithfulness to me when I look back at all the difficult moments of my life. I would bet that I am not alone in this.

With everything going on in the house (plus my own personal intention) I decided to start a novena to Mary, Undoer of knots. I am on day 8 and can say that it has already bore fruit. In the closing prayer of each day there is a line that chokes me up everytime and it says, “O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me”. I have known this to be true when I am struggling and Christ feels far away, His mother is an ever gentle presence in my life waiting with open arms to receive me. Telling Mary about the frustration of our situation and about my personal intention feels like I am talking to my own mom on the phone, which I am thankful for because my mama was in Florida last week. She is a comfort to me in the hardest of times, Mother of sorrows, she knows what it’s like to walk a hard road. She never had more than one child to deal with at a time that’s true, but she did have to stand back and watch people hate her only son and crucify Him. She is there to hold our hands when we need her.

I don’t have a poetic way to bring this post to an end. I guess I just want you to know, since we all need to be reminded from time to time, that God has a plan. He knows where we’ve come from, where we are and where we’re going. The choices are entirely up to us, we do have free will, but He is right in the thick of it with us. And His mama? She’s right next to Him (i.e right there with us)

*Please say a little prayer for us if you could, that all would happen as it should…and soon, God willing!!*

Our First House!

It’s official!
The house inspection went very well! Our Uhaul is booked, our walls are bare and our hallway is beginning to look like a storage space. I’m trying to take it just one day at a time and not let myself be overwhelmed by the overwhelming amount of work to be done and details to be taken care of before we move. Who am I kidding? I am feeling overwhelmed. I have been fighting it with scripture and praise. When I feel the never ending to do list flooding my mind, I turn the Christian music up a little louder and sing my heart out to the One who will give me true peace. And when I just can’t bare the mess of the apartment anymore, the girls and I leave for a walk or get in the car and take off for a few hours.
It is so funny to me how we waited literally years for Ben’s residency to come through and then once it did, BOOM! Ben goes to NZ, he gets a promotion, we get approved for a mortgage, we buy a house. The roller coaster just sped up a whole lot these last few months and we are holding on and trying to give thanks in every moment. We have been so very blessed! God is so good!!
Only 21 days to go now! Owning your own home is really nothing like paying rent. In our apartment building if something breaks, we call the landlord. In our house, it’s all on us. It is going to be really special but also requires trust in God that He knows what we can handle. I thought that Lucy would be very confused by the whole thing and get upset when she saw me packing but she has been great about it! She asks everyday if we can see the new house and asks when she can play in her new backyard. She has even been helping me pack sheets, blankets and some toys.
Look what I found when I was taking the garbage out the other night? A really sweet little picnic table for my munchkins to enjoy their outdoor meals on. They love it and Abigail is forever climbing it. I have given up on trying to stop her. She has also figured out how to climb the double bed in the spare room by gripping with her toes and pulling herself up.
There hasn’t been much happening here other than lots of packing, playing, praying, feeding, bathing, and changing the girls. There isn’t really time for much else and I am perfectly content with that since I know that in a few short weeks we will have lots of time to unpack and enjoy our first summer in our new home. I hope that this whole house thing isn’t boring you guys. It’s just so consuming when it’s all going down! I did want to share a picture with you though of a little planting box that our home owners are leaving behind for us. What do you think we should plant? We’ve never planted a proper vegetable garden before and we are super excited about it!

Two Years Today

It’s been awhile since i’ve found some quiet time to sit and do any thinking or writing in this space, but this morning I found myself up early enough to see Ben off to work. I’m sitting here drinking my coffee while the girls sleep, and although I would love to be sleeping, too, it just feels so good to take in this quiet morning all on my own.

(blue daisies that Lucy picked out for me at the grocery store)

Things haven’t been too busy around here per se, we’ve been keeping our regular rhythm through the day, but my heart has felt busy. The girls both have a cold and I think Abigail is working on cutting her two top teeth. At least I hope that is the reason she has been up nursing twice a night for the last two weeks now.

I can’t even believe that we are already almost half way through November. Today is the second anniversary of my father’s death. There is no real poetic way to say that. It is what it is, and today my heart aches to be with him. To see him hold and hug and kiss and play with our girls. He would have loved them dearly and spoiled them rotten. One of his brothers came over the other day to bring us some furniture given to us by my Godmother, and watching him play with Abigail nearly tore my heart out. This day wouldn’t be so hard if Dad’s birthday wasn’t also just around the corner on November 22nd. Today I will take the girls to get some Poinsettia flowers and we will go to his grave and spend some time. I will make sure the girls are respectful of the other graves around us, but I will let them play on his. I know he would have wanted them climbing all over him. The girls are growing, always growing and I am trying as best I can to just breathe their littleness in and give thanks that I am here to enjoy them. If you have an extra moment to pray today, could you please offer up a prayer for all of our family who will surely be missing my dad, Alan, today. Thanks so much! I hope you all have a blessed weekend.