Spring Break

I have nothing to do until September.

Of course, that’s not entirely true. I have no Coquettes shows to work on until September, but I have plenty to keep busy with. Namely, parenting, which is my favorite full time job in my work history. I love my kids, and with our two weeks of March Break now concluded my days are so much less full; I wasn’t really sure how to start this week.

The Noodle is eating solids now, and sitting up mostly unassisted. He’s so long that his five-month-old body is wearing nine-month-old clothes, and his only intelligible word is “Mama”. Every day I love him a little bit more.

Hannu spent most of the break with her dad and I while Mama S whisked Aylu away to Texas to visit Auntie Crystal who just had her third little boy. Hannu and I got to bond over crafts, books, and baby. It was such a delight to have some real one-on-one time with her. She’s an angel, and that’s no exaggeration. We spent a leisurely weekend at the Niagara house working on building a Gnome Home for Ayla’s seventh birthday, and even Daddy got in on the fun. I also took Hannah to Smock – this fabulous craft café on Roncesvalles. She had a blast, and we need to go back there soon. It’s such a peaceful space, and I felt inspired just being there. 2013-03-19 13.40.24

Ayla came back from her trip mid-week during the last week of the break. She was a fire ball, and I had to get used to her amazing energy all over again. What an incredible girl. I harnessed her power in a very fun game of “Let’s Do Spring Cleaning”. She took such pleasure in cleaning our home together, and I was seriously impressed at her attention to detail. We cleaned and cooked and had a big celebration for the Equinox and Navroz, which is the Muslim New Year.  Our menu included sautéed asparagus with butter and lemon pepper, this amazing soufflé recipe from Alton Brown and this yummy strawberry rhubarb crumble for dessert which I found on Epicurious. I would make the crumble the day before next time, because it was so much better for dessert. Ha!

2013-03-21 17.46.45I’ve always wanted a ‘Spring Tree’ to decorate, so Nekky hacked some low-sprouting branches from the maple tree in the back yard and we potted them. I then spent all day on Thursday creating ornaments with the girls, and then we decorated our tree. When Hannah and I were out on our Roncesvalles adventure we picked up some pale pink tulips and pussy willows to adorn our home. It’s really quite festive in here. I think it’s really important to honour the changing seasons in our home because I think it helps to keep these city kids connected to nature. It’s also really meditative for me; I find myself really noticing the subtle changes that are starting to occur in our neighbourhood gardens while I’m out strolling with Noodle, and I’m really appreciating each increased degree in temperature.

Spring is all about new beginnings, and this is a huge theme in our household. Our home business is getting tired, and we are craving change, and greater prosperity and adventure. What happens when it looks like the end of the road is in sight for one era, and a new road is opening up before you? The three of us grown ups are united in our dreams of travel with our children, and a lifestyle that affords us such opportunity, and we all want to be pro-active in creating our own dream life. I want the very best life for my children, and that life consists of huge horizons, adventure, family and friends, opportunities to do good for the world, and a thirst for knowledge and experience. 2013-03-21 12.15.30

We are talking about exciting possibilities, we are making plans together and dreaming together, and working together to make great things happen for our family, and the very best part is that we are doing this together.

What They Don’t Tell You

On this Labour Day Monday of my first-ever pregnancy, it’s time for some true confessions. Despite having read nearly every reputable book on pregnancy (and a handful of really stupid ones) this third trimester business has completely and totally caught me off guard.

I suppose I believed that because my first and second trimesters were a breeze, I would sail through this entire experience feeling like I had sunshine blazing out of my ass. Like I had been somehow blessed by the goddess of fertility who had granted mercy on me and helped me avoid all of the usual symptoms. I’m telling you friends, this is no longer the case.

Everything you’ll read about pregnancy will tell you that you “may” feel “some discomfort” in the third trimester. Not one single source (except for a girlfriend or two) has told me that my body would feel like it as been hijacked and that I’m trapped somewhere deep inside my head watching it waddle, lurch, bump, and heave it’s way through the next two months. They warned me, but I felt so good and I was so happy, I didn’t think it could happen to me.

DISCLAIMER: In no way should the following words be interpreted as ungrateful, or as a sign that I hate pregnancy. (This should give you an idea of the kind of guilt I feel complaining so publicly about this miracle that is happening, and frankly I think having to feel guilty at all is some kind of bullshit!)

My third trimester sucks. There’s nothing delightful or magical about what is happening right now. I do not feel radiant. I do not feel sexy. I do not even really feel like myself. Some of you moms out there are reading this and thinking, “Well yeah, what did you expect?” But honestly, did you know how you would feel once your body succumbed to all of the symptoms described as possibilities in your pregnancy books?  Were you seriously able to take it all in stride?

I’m going to bet you didn’t chuckle merrily at your ENORMOUS feet and entirely vanished ankles. It’s entirely likely that you didn’t find it funny every time you squatted down and got stuck there, only able to rise again by shifting slowly to your hands and knees and curling up (or hoisting yourself up by yanking on the freezer handle to then be concussed by a cascade of toppling sunscreen bottles). If you tell me you enjoyed feeling like you have to pee every moment of the day (and often peeing when you’d rather not be) I will straight up call you a liar. And nobody, not nobody enjoys the experience of having a fart squeak out and then being unsure if it actually even came from you in the first place.

Up until now I have loved being pregnant, and there are still days (or at least portions of days) where I can really savor the feeling of having this little being inside of me, but I’m now mostly frustrated at my inability to do so many things that used to be quite simple. The first seven months literally flew by, but now it seems as though time is suspended. Last night in one of my daily crying jags (this particular one was not a moment of happy tears) I think I nailed why this has become so challenging. I’m a control freak, and I’m realizing I’m not in control anymore. My inability to accept my limitations is now making me fearful that I won’t be able to handle the rigors of labour!

I think if there were more focus on the spiritual side of being pregnant, this would be easier to take. (If more books examined the sacred power and mythology of pregnancy instead of focusing so heavily on the experience as a medical condition, for example.)  Imagine if we were taught to really embrace the experience of losing control and having something much greater than us at work in our bodies?  Then maybe we would know to just sit back and relinquish control knowing how temporary this all is, and how the end result (beautiful baby) is our reward for our discomfort.

Maybe this feeling of no longer driving the ship is perfect training for labour when trying to hold on to any semblance of being in charge is the worst thing we can do. Maybe when I wake at 4 am because my pelvis is aching from sleeping on only one side I can breathe and relax and trust that in a matter of weeks that feeling will be replaced by not sleeping because I’m feeding the little soul I have created.

Maybe I can try to have faith that even if I don’t like what’s happening; my body knows exactly what it’s doing. That some ancient feminine wisdom is guiding me through the next chapter of this pregnancy and simply being a vessel for that wisdom makes me blessed and strong (instead of awkward and incapable). Maybe learning to embrace this loss of control is the best training for motherhood I could ever ask for.

 

 

The Wild Geese

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
call to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
Mary Oliver

This week in Schnooville

We adopted a six-month-old bunny. After conclusively deciding that my man is only mildly allergic to rabbits (a very hilarious trip to the Menagerie Pet Store involving a rabbit face-rub was our scientific study) our tribe decided it was time for our first pet. Floppy was the first rabbit I discovered with my lady on Kiji, after the kids had been tucked into bed. Her family was near by, and had made the sad decision to give her up because she was terrified of their terrier. Terriers were bred to hunt small game and rodents. Sigh. They described her as gentle, fun-loving, eager to be pet and stroked, mostly litter trained and adorable. Their photos supported the adorable theory, and she came with her massive cage and all of the goods for a very reasonable price. A steal, really. I sent a note and the next day we went to gather her up. The children decided to call her Ella because she is a lovely mottled grey, and elephants are also grey. She is as affectionate as described – perhaps too much. She keeps making chortles, giving me little nips and peeing on me. Based on my bunny research, she is trying to do what rabbits like better than carrots. Ella will be spayed on Friday which should help with her marking and garlic-smelling poo. So not okay. Nothing I read told me her crapola would smell like cooking. Feeding her more parsley only made it smell like French cooking. Hmmm…rabbit stew. Just kidding, I’m already quite in love.

I have the weirdest cold. One day I’m just a tad sniffly, the next I can’t talk, am hacking up a lung, and wondering whether I might be expelling brain matter from my nose. The cold arrived before the rabbit, so I’ve dispelled the possibility of my own allergies. I’ve cleared my social calendar completely and am behaving like what my friend Natalie would call a “nana” – like a contented old lady who takes naps and sips tea by the fire.

I discovered the amazing poet Mary Oliver through the lovely Liz Green – thank you Liz! I’m hungry for her words like I haven’t been in a long time, and look forward to reading more of her work.

One of my ‘Besties’ (a title reserved for my very closest friends) is relocating to Los Angeles. He’d already moved far away to Montreal, but his lovely Toronto girlfriend kept luring him back for visits. Now they’re shacking up and heading off for new adventures. I’m thrilled for them, but he will be missed. I can only hope that they will follow through on their plans to settle in Toronto permanently.  Spring has me thinking of babies, and I’d like to rear all of my young with my friends who I love so dearly close by.

I’m trying to do good and right by the ones I love. I’m taking big steps, reaching out, and reaching in. This week I came to realize how profound one of my big-time low moments in life has affected my present tense. When you have royally fucked up, there are always consequences. My former tendency was to run, under the guise of sparing others from the misery that I decide that I’ve caused them. Grown-up Schnoo is willing to stand and face the music and do whatever it takes to make things as amazing as they can be. It’s abso-freakin-lutely terrifying to stare down the barrel at your own weakness and stupidity. I want to crawl out of my skin or disappear in some moments, but there is such immense power and tremendous love in humility. I wish to foster humility in my girls, because I was only able to embrace it after smashing my head repeatedly in the same spot over and over again. I’m still learning how to really embrace the humble openness that seems to consistently make magic. Nothing is scarier than being that open for a Schnoo like me. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. I’ve been whispering my feelings into the Internet for several years now. Naming them to real-live people is another matter entirely.

With that, off I go to my head shrinker. We’ll have lots to discuss today. I’ve fueled up on a giant maple flavoured coffee while I’ve been typing here. I hope your Hump Day is happy. Tell someone you love something brave and beautiful that is deep inside your heart, and then congratulate yourself for being so bold.

xo

Eternal Sunshine and My Spotless Heart


2011 is off to a very, very good start. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

My world is being put back together very carefully, and with so much love. I am so very lucky to have another opportunity at forging the life I’ve wanted with the clarity and awareness and understanding that I now have. That we all have. We are truly blessed.

So many of you reading this have reached out to me with your own stories, and your encouragement, and your love. I really can’t thank you enough. I have no secret solution for solving matters of the heart, but I can try to distill what I have learned, and what I am learning.

You cannot love or be loved without the willingness and ability to make yourself vulnerable. The more you fight that, the more you will encounter strife, grief, and heartache. It’s terrifying to open yourself up, particularly once you’ve learned a thing or two about life, but nothing less will work. Especially when the one who loves you is willing to open themselves up for you. Vulnerability is essential, and sometimes impossible. It’s a constant struggle to check in and identify what is preventing your heart from opening up.

Trust is paramount. You simply have to give it over. For me, giving over trust was like stretching my hamstrings. It fucking hurts, and at first I could only stretch a little bit, and the next day I’d be aching. Eventually, as my body realized I wasn’t going to rip or tear anything by trusting, the hamstrings of my heart began to relax and I could go further and further. I was hurting myself and everyone around me a lot more by tensing up and resisting. Strains, sprains, and tears everywhere. Not pretty.

Trust cannot be taken away. At the end of the day, trust is not about hoping people won’t take advantage of your vulnerability and annihilate you. We really have no control whatsoever over what other people will do. Trust is about trusting yourself and your heart to survive anything life might throw your way. Trust is about knowing you have the strength and tenacity to rise above whatever difficulty or heartache you face.

Love is everything. When you find someone who loves you well, for who you are, who believes in you and inspires you and makes you want to be a better person, hang on to them. The way to hang on to them is to constantly strive to know and understand yourself. Understand what you are contributing to the relationship. Understand how you might be damaging the relationship. Know yourself. Love yourself. Understand that you are worthy of their love and that you won’t make a mess of it.

Don’t listen to fear. Though it may roar louder than the angriest ocean, it is almost always false. The more you have to lose, the louder the ocean of fear. Only you can quell it. Take a deep breath, do a quick survey of what is actually happening around you, understand the difference between what is happening and what you are afraid might be happening and tell fear that it is simply reminding you of how much you have at stake. Then be grateful for the abundance that you have and move forward. This will have to be repeated on a daily basis for some of us.

Communicate. Open your mouth and breathe out the things in your heart and your mind. Breathe them to your loved ones, breathe them to your confidantes, breathe them to your diary, breathe them to yourself, breathe them to the Universe. Speak with love. Listen with love. Listen with more love to the things that are difficult to hear. Accept difficult truths and embrace them with love. Understand why they hurt you and understand the call to change. Answer the call with love and resolve. Understand when words should be ruminated upon and when they should be shared. Share with calm and with peaceful intention.

Banish anger. It will eat you alive. Hear it, look at it, hold it in your hand and then send it away. Find other words to describe that feeling, peaceful words that open the door to transformation. Anger is a wall that is high and mighty and will shadow you from the healing light of love.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’m sure there will be many more lessons to share. I welcome your lessons too. Share them here, in comments, so we can all grow wiser.

In the background some chilled out trance music with a smooth beat and a sitar woven through its rhythms acts as a backdrop. This quiet moment where I can share my heart with you feels like an awakening.

I know what I want. It’s what I’ve always wanted. I have it, I accept it, and I am eternally grateful for it. This is my time to shine. Are you ready? I finally am.

All the Bells Rang Out, There Were Tears of Joy and Laughter

In the face of so much uncertainty, I know this is true; I never want the holidays to feel like this again. This has always been an important time of the year to me, and I want to honor it without so much confusion and sadness for all of the rest of my days. Perhaps that’s naive, but this is how I feel today.

Initially, I thought I would forgo the extended family Christmas Day feast, a tradition I’ve observed since birth, every single year of my life. I’ve been so emotional lately, and putting on a brave face seemed totally impossible. I was also worried that I would be facing judgment, which is difficult on a good day.

As the days leading up to Christmas unfolded however, my reality shifted once again, and I found myself yearning for something as familiar as the sight of my own face in the mirror.

I felt great calm wash over me as I arrived at my parents’ house, my house for my entire life. Right after walking through their door, I knew I had made the right decision. As the day would unfold, I knew I was where I should be, but I also knew that four important people were missing. I felt their absence as profoundly as I felt the waistband of my jeans constricting around my turkey-filled belly.

It was a beautiful day in my aunt’s beautiful home. My family were generally warm and unobtrusive. I was so happy to play and snuggle and dance with my cousins’ beautiful children. We went through a spell where there were no little ones for several years, but now my generation is pro-creating and there is tinkling laughter and the exuberant energy of little monkeys all over again. I still hope that one day my own little ones will be part of that music.

Yesterday I learned that members of my family are actively reading this blog. I also learned that reading this blog seems to create some confusion for some of them. For those of you who are confused about who I am writing to, or for, or about I would like you to just ask me. Please send me a note. Please don’t speculate and create further confusion and possibly hurt feelings. This made for a really awkward moment on an already difficult day for me yesterday.

I have great love, respect, and admiration for my collective family. They have survived a lot of pain and loss. Despite this, we continue to come together. For me, that impulse comes from honoring the idea that there are some constant, deeply rooted things that tie us to the earth, and add meaning and purpose to our lives. Family is one of them.

Watching everyone spontaneously rock out to Boney M after dinner, with percussion instruments in hand or babies in arms reminded me of where I come from. Life is deeply painful, incredibly confusing, and exquisitely beautiful all at the same time. I come from people who deeply understand this.

The people who make us can’t fully know us, the people who know us can’t really make us. Our hearts belong only to ourselves and are our beautiful worlds to govern.

This heart of mine needs family. Deep, true, real family that I can belong with and belong to. This is at the top of my New Year’s wish list, and will shape the woman I am in 2011.

I hope that your Christmas Day was warm, and that your Boxing Day will suitably be devoted to eating too much, drinking too much beer, and watching the Canada/Russia game. This is what will keep me rooted to the world today.

People shouted ‘Let everyone know, there is hope for all to find peace.’

Oh November

Transcendence by Susan Seddon Boulet

A baby fell six stories from out of a window, bounced off a restaurant awning and was caught by a doctor who just happened to be walking by.  This is a true story. Check it out here.

That’s some kind of crazy luck. That’s the kind of luck that I’m calling Paris Luck. I believe that Paris holds some kind of magic, because of my own experience in that fair city – an experience that launched this here blog.

Paris Hope is another great thing I discovered in the City of Lights. I’m clinging hard to that now. When I arrived in Paris my life was in total chaos, and over brimming with uncertainty, yet I had the strangest sense that everything would work out somehow.

That’s just what life does. It works out. You get disappointed, your heart breaks and then you get that new job or new opportunity and you meet someone new to love. That’s my life experience, anyway. Doors open and doors close.

This doesn’t diminish the pain in those transitional moments. I can clearly remember sleeping on air mattresses and sofas, wondering what would happen to me, and wondering where I would find myself once all of the debris had been shoveled away. I’d lie awake at night wondering what was going to happen to me.

At the tender age of 34 I am starting to understand that I have no control over the bigger picture, but I will always have a pretty great sense of what the next day is going to look like, and if I can look at each day one at a time, nothing feels as scary as it once did.

I’ve also learned exactly what I need to build trust, both in myself and in the love I have. I started to worry that I would never find this thing, but in an entirely revealing moment I realized that trust begins with me. When I began to learn to trust my own ability to handle difficult moments, I learned that nobody could shatter me.

This week I learned some very important things:

There is a big difference between being utterly helpless and simply not yet having the tools to deal with conflict, crisis, and distress.

The opinions of people who love me when expressed in a carefully composed, very loving email are received like precious gifts instead of harsh judgments. Thank you for being brave enough to reach out like that. When you emphasize the love you are speaking from it makes all the difference to my ears.

I have made good choices about where to put my heart, even if the big picture has changed.

I am afraid of what will happen next in my life. Though honesty remains the very best policy, it can often come with immense pain. I was and continue to be committed to the love with which I have expressed myself. When you have to deliver difficult news, always do it with all of the love you can muster.

My emotional welfare professionals are incredible, compassionate teachers who I feel have blessed my life. Any one of us deserves to search for a great therapist and open our hearts to the experience of having their support and guidance. You are never too old or too broke to enjoy this.

My body isn’t working the way I want it to. I wait to see if science has a solution, but realize that I have so much that even if science doesn’t have the answers, I am full.

Love is a powerful, magical force that we can only really feel the benefits of if our hearts are as open as they can be. I feel the most strength and safety from love when I allow it to burst forth and wash away my fears.

My work is the baby of my soul. It feeds me as I feed it and fills me with inspiration and purpose. It is my rock in times of pain and confusion. I work every day towards the freedom to always only do the work that is meaningful to me. I will never do a job I hate again.

I am a mother. Wholly and completely with all of my soul. Anything ever said to tarnish the relationship between step-parents and their step-children is a lie. Those girls are as much in my heart as they would be if I had birthed them.

I never knew love could be so deep, so safe, and so inspiring.

You know, perhaps November isn’t really so bad? Perhaps it’s all of the change and transformation that can feel dismal if you forget that spring is around the corner, and will always be right there, no matter how many leaves fall.

 

 

White Nights, Grey Days

A broken heart’s manifesto…

I could not bring myself to participate in the revelry of Nuit Blanche because I am exhausted on a level I have never before touched on. My bones are tired. My hair is tired. I’m getting a cold, and I just want to stay in lycra and sweaters and fuzzy socks and not move.

Since this is just not possible, I will instead pull together my most fashionable lycra outfit, cover the black circles under my eyes with concealer, take a thermos of tea about with me, and try to get through my day.

I feel as though somebody turned my skin inside out and forgot to switch me back to normal.

Actually, as I consider this, I realize that my normal for the last several years has been afraid and anxious. The time spent in the Fortress had just reached a place of peace, but I didn’t linger there long enough. Now I have to find that again. If I sit alone with my own thoughts, I can hear that constant voice that has always told me “you will be okay”. I’m always grateful for this, but I wish that I wasn’t straining to hear it again on the tails of heartbreak and upheaval.

I will be okay.

I know this must be true because this is the first time in my life that I have listened to my gut and moved forward, exclusively taking cues from my heart and my intuition which seem to be working in some kind of harmony that I have never before realized.

I am sorry that this new pairing of heart and intuition prevents me from being who and what I am desired to be,what I once desired myself to be, but I believe that if everyone pairs their heart and intuition and allows them to speak louder than fear, they will understand, and perhaps even realize for themselves that this course of action is the only true, honest path. That any love that springs from denial, from a lack of self-awareness, from trying to will away the skeletons in the closet cannot blossom. That we cannot be the best lovers we can be unless we are truly honoring ourselves, and are honest with ourselves, and honest about our limitations.

I hope that the love I am able to give will be accepted. Anything beyond this acceptance is a rejection of my heart’s truest offering. I have spent all of my life desperately wanting to be accepted and loved as I am, and now more than ever do I understand who I am, and what I need from love. Maybe the Universe didn’t bring me to this most recent love for the reasons we originally thought.

I am a whole, good, vibrant, passionate, vulnerable, creative, loving person. Everything I have done in my life has been borne of a desire to feel love, and give love, and though I have “failed” at this countless times, with each failure came a greater understanding of what I want love to be. Each of these “failures” has taught me to be more of my actual self.

I want a love that is safe, and borne of truth, emotional honesty, and deep communication.

I want to be wanted 100%, and have that love demonstrated in ways that I clearly understand.

I want to be inspired by my love, and clear and proud of my role within the context of that love.

I want to feel proud of what I am giving, knowing that I am giving my beloved 100% of the love they seek from me.

I want my love to be something that fuels my forward motion in this life. To encourage my work, my passions, my drive. I do not want to be stunted in my ambition or aspirations by fear, instability, or emotional turmoil.

I want my lover to be self-aware, honest, inspired, driven, open, sensual, noble, faithful, and present in the world.

With a kiss, I’ll send that to the Universe and continue to hope for the best.

A very special thank you to Natalie who pointed me in the direction of a costume rental place that was selling off bag fulls of old inventory for $35 per garbage bag. That was some of the sweetest retail therapy I’ve ever experienced.