Sixth Day of Gratitude – sisters 👭 

Siblings are important. They are the only people who have known you almost as long as you’ve known yourself. You were raised together with shared values, experiences, and understandings. In my family, I hope to foster in trio the love and support I feel with my sisters. 

Today marked the first full day of no-contact with Mike and I struggled. After having a tea with an amazing friend, I felt lost and unsure about what to do with my time. I didn’t want to be alone. I needed to get out of my head but not have any expectations put on me from others. 

My older sister called completely unexpectedly and we met up with our younger sister and all came together. It was exactly where I wanted to be. We didn’t do anything per se, but ticked off a lot from our respective lists to get ready for Christmas. We have a ton of inside jokes, make obscure references, offer support and hugs, be present, and gently challenge each other. We spent the afternoon together, and they came over to mine after dinner until the wee hours.

I realized this afternoon that we have unconditional love for each other. We may disagree with a choice made, or not talk for a while, or get irritated with each other… but there is an underlying bedrock of love that nothing has shaken. It’s easy to be malleable or roll with what’s going on, or let go of irritation when there is that solid base under us. There is a free flowing and reciprocal love/support/giving that exists between us – even if one sister seems to be doing a lot of the giving, it all eventually flows back. There is a faith in each other and in our relationship that leaves tallying favours redundant.

For my sixth day of Gratitude I’m grateful for my sisters. For our laughs. For unconditional love. For a model of how I hope my trio will be as adults. 

xo Mto3

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Seventh Day of Gratitude – Love ❤

Today I am grateful for friends. 

I cried through the first meditation this morning at my meditation group. Knowing that everyone in the room knew I was crying made me even more aware of my emotions because I didn’t want to make others uncomfortable. And the more I tried to stifle my sniffles, the more intense they seemed to get. 

I listened to our guide’s words, letting his warm, soothing voice wash over me and I struggled to just focus on my breath. When my mind started wandering into how much I might be affecting others and into whatever thoughts were bubbling to the surface, I tried to offer myself lovingkindness and refocus on the sensations of breathing. It took nearly the entire set, but by the end I felt more connected with my body. 

The second set was moderately easier, maybe only in as much as I didn’t have hot tears running down my face and dripping into my scarf. Again, his voice calmed my spirit and I just focused on how present I was in that moment with my body and my breath. That I’m still here. I’m still breathing. And I found some calm and peace. 

Afterwards, my friends in the room gave me warm hugs as they left, with understanding winks and whispering that they love me. And I felt the love. I felt it in the room when I extended my awareness out to them during meditation. I felt their support and non-judgment. No one tried to engage me in talking about why I was crying. They just gave me the space to Be and feel whatever I needed to. It was beautiful and profound. 

Everyone has felt loss. We’ve all cried when we didn’t want to. I felt the presence of my friends tucking in beside me just as much as trio last night when we all snuggled. 

So tonight I’m grateful that I have people in my life who are able to share their lovingkindness. Those who are at meditation with me, and those who are not. Its amazing that they will reach out to connect and let me know they are there, without any expectation. I don’t know if I realized how much their presence and warmth is there. I’m blessed to have such love in my life. I’m humbled that we are sharing this part of our journey together. 

xo Mto3

Quiet tears and being present 

The last few days have been kinda hard for me. I’m feeling raw, slightly fragile, and yet frenetic at the same time.

There is something so soothing and warming when someone just meets you in your sadness and hangs out with you there. It’s a gift when someone can do that naturally.

Lil miss came in to my room after I excused myself from the after-dinner kitchen-tidy argument that had broke out among trio, and just crawled into bed beside me, being quiet while I leaked tears into her hair and snuffled against her forehead. Amazingly she didn’t seem uncomfortable – she just seemed to intuit that a cry was ok, and gently asked if I had anything on my mind that I wanted to talk about.

We chatted a bit (honestly, I was crying the whole time, even when I was smiling or chuckling about what she said) and her message was

3-be

Gradually the boys came up, and although they appeared more uncertain with my emotions, they laid on the bed and joined the chatter. We joked and laughed (through my tears, sheesh) about this old song* we used to listen to and still sing together sometimes. Because it *is* alright to cry.

I literally could have cried and laid there with them tucked in around me for the rest of the night. But. I hustled them out to choose a movie and lay out popcorn and chips, and I sat on the bathtub edge and continued to cry by myself for a little while longer.

While it may be true that I’m feeling less resilience for regular-level stress because my knee really hurts, and I’m not sleeping well, and Christmas is late in my house, and I haven’t baked *any* Christmas desserts this year…
…but I’m also keenly feeling the loss of Mike and I the last few days. Every once in a while my heart catches a glimpse of understanding and then recoils in horror at the feeling of letting go of the love.

Being vulnerable and sharing (thanks to Brene Brown and my book club):
My heart was secretly hoping that he and I would eventually be able to figure out how to be together. My mind and spirit acknowledge that he and I aren’t in alignment right now, and maybe never will be. But fuck – that’s hard and painful for my heart to fully grasp. So there are these very uncomfortable moments when that understanding pierces me and it hurts so much.

So I strive to take the advice from Lil Miss – I can be present with my sadness and feelings and tears. It’s mutable. I am, too. Everything is. And there’s beauty and magic in that.
It’s not a reach to be positive and know that I am ok and will bounce, and there are happy times ahead. In the moment of tears, it’s hard to deeply know and believe, though.
Be grateful. Be grateful. I hear this and feel not only grateful to Mike for all of the gifts and challenges from him, but also for the quiet acceptance from lil miss. And the support and love I feel from my friends. For opportunities. For my warm house and full freezer… I am profoundly grateful for them, and all of it.

Last year I posted my 30 days of gratitude and was full-up of holiday spirit – and this year I only just put up the tree yesterday. (It’s cool – I’m present, positive, and grateful)

I have 7 more days until Christmas and would like to post a truncated 30 Days of Gratitude … so, 7 days of Gratitude. Already I can feel my heart lifting.

xo Mto3

 

*”It’s alright to Cry” by Darius Rucker on the first “For the kids” cd… I cannot find a youtube copy. That CD is certainly worth the purchase, if you’re looking. 

Final thoughts…

30 Days of Gratitude – day 0

Posting my thoughts about gratitude each day didn’t pan out as I expected. If this had been a school assignment I *may* not have passed.

However! Also unexpected was the trickle down effect on trio. My gratefulness somehow swirled through the house and into their bodies. Even if I didn’t communicate it to them, it seems they sensed my shift in how I perceive the world and reached to join me.

A note left on the whiteboard in our kitchen from lil miss to oldest read:

Brother I see youv gron out of grumpe so I love you a thasin times more

And middle found a way to highlight a strength in lil miss which could easily be seen as irritating or a challenge area.

And oldest thanks me and acknowledges my efforts when I’m doing regular mum stuff around the house.

Whaaat! I mean, really. And there’s more!

OK,  it’s certainly not rainbows and butterflies over here all the time, but it’s these forays and steps (albeit with a step back) into a wider awareness of people that fills my heart.

So yes, although I didn’t blog each day in the way I intended (and I’ve totally forgiven myself about that!) I have realized that gratitude can change perspectives, create dynamic energy in a person, and reach out and affect relationships with others.

On this Christmas morning, I am grateful.
For the tangible things:  cinnamon buns rising in the fridge for a Christmas breakfast! And gifts under our tree. And our cozy house.
For the intangible things: a safe community, an open culture, and health care.
For my relationships: trio (of course!). My dear sisters. My mum and grandma. My friends (especially she who introduced me to the gratitude idea).
And for the luxury of time and emotional energy to devote to contemplating and exploring these topics.  

Thank you for joining me on this part of my journey – even if you’re one person, you’re part of my story and I appreciate your time.

Whatever holiday you might be celebrating (…or not celebrating) please consider seeing things in your day to day for which you can be grateful. It’s a lovely seat to rest in while the holiday busyness dances around you.

Merry Christmas!

Children, Gingerbread Zombies, and The Simpsons

30 Days of Gratitude – Day 11

I grew up in a family predominantly female: sisters, mother, grandma, aunts, and “auntie” friends of my mum. It was also the 70s and 80s and little girls were still somewhat expected to follow the gender stereotypes of dolls, pigtails, and dresses. I was woefully out of touch with anything but this type of childhood.

And, given that I grew up with The Simpsons (thank you Tracey Ullman!) I believe that everything can relate to an episode.

So – the connection between the two above, combined with the Christmas season, can be summed up in the following clip:

bloody spearheads for bart

Don’t know it? Marge thoughtfully baked Christmas trees for the girls, and bloody spearheads for Bart. When I first saw this episode, I thought it was funny, but it became much more real to me when I had kids of my own. Thankfully… still funny!

gingerbread zombie

Whaaaat! Zombies… as a cookie…?!

bloody santa

Santa! What have you been doing??

macabre bunnies

Oh those poor bunnies. (Um, who’s idea was it to have Christmas bunnies, anyhow? We’re more familiar around here with the Dust variety…)

It really was because of this Christmas episode from The Simpsons that I felt (more) comfortable relaxing into this idea of decorating, because traditionally my gingerbread people looked similar to this one, designed by Li’l Miss:

happy gingerbread person

And, y’know what – it was sorta fun, doing something different and not taking things too too seriously.

Being open and not tethered to my preconceived traditions encourages me and trio to be in the moment, even if it is very different from what I feel it should look like. Because, really, we’re still together, decorating cookies. We’re laughing and sharing, listening to Christmas carols. I would love to keep trio at my table for as long as I can: decorating, chatting, soaking them in, making memories just. like. this.

However, trio’s great-grandma may prefer the Christmas trees, and snowflakes, and ornaments! We’ll include those more Christmassy cookies on our dessert plate. Mmm!

gingerbread cookies

 

…I didn’t put meat in the mincemeat

Baking is one of my favourite things to do. This is something that could possibly occupy all of my time – *especially* if I had a sous-chef, chopping ahead of me, and cleaning up behind me. heaven.

Alas! None of trio are interested in this position, yet will reluctantly participate when pressed. They want Chef status; or at the very least to spice, stir, and sample. And that’s it.

On my 2015 Christmas Baking list (because of course I have one) is mincemeat. I remember not liking it [at all] when I was a kid, but I feel I’d like it as an adult – maybe not from the jars at the grocery store. Not that I am a snob about using pre-packaged food stuffs (…powdered chicken gravy is my not-so-secret shortcut), it’s just that I think I could find a recipe to tailor to my taste.

It’s my first time making this. ever. Being guided only by the vague smushy, sour, deep flavour from my childhood, I began combing through online recipes to find one that I might be able to gently modify to my imagination.

Before I even found a recipe, my imagination was telling me that I wanted a mincemeat that *wasn’t* strictly raisins and currants; one that included dates (that I already bought because I was sure they were going in), prunes (as above), cranberries, maybe some dried pineapple, and more other delicious stuff.

Mincemeat in the pot

Joy of baking’s HomemadeMincemeat is the recipe I followed, and gently modified to include the dried pineapple. I substituted prunes for the figs (darn! I wasn’t going back shopping, but this would be so gooood), and dates for the currants, and accidently added the zest and juice of a lemon and an orange. I probably also reduced the sugar amount – but only because more sugar was erroneously added through the candied peel I added.

So! Part of the reason that Mincemeat stayed on my list so long, was because I didn’t like the look of the candied peel in those little plastic containers in the grocery’s baking aisle. I wanted to try my hand at that too.

Sugary candied peel

This recipe at  The hungry mouse is amazing! I used 2 medium oranges, a lime, a lemon, and a grapefruit.

For my future self (or for those of you who are interested in following in The Hungry Mouse and Joy’s footsteps) I wouldn’t sugar coat the peel prior to adding it to the mincemeat recipe.

And in terms of time frames: I chopped all the fruit (oh ya, I also added in some chopped, toasted almonds) this morning (about 20 nonconsecutive minutes in and among helping trio get ready for school), and then threw it in the pot to simmer while I took them to school. The candied peel took some focused effort (maybe because it was my first time) but it was easy! The thinner the peel, the quicker it will cook, so I would stagger peel entries – starting with the grapefruit.

I am very grateful today for the experience of other bakers!

I will post photos of the mincemeat pie nearer to Christmas!

If you have a favourite mincemeat recipe, please let me know!