I like to think that I am thankful of things in my life all year long, but there is something about the holidays, namely Canadian thanksgiving in October, American thanksgiving in November, and Christmas (which, I hope you know by now is on December 25th) that makes me feel a little more thankful for all the things I have in my life that are truly special.
we live in a world that moves at an extremely fast pace, and as time goes by, sometimes we forget some of the little things along the way. and the little things aren’t necessarily all that little afterall, but it seems as though it is human nature to replace the things we are thankful for, with things we want or think we need.
2013 has been a transitional year for me, filled with challenges I have never faced before and painful choices, but also there has been a lot of beauty in it too. I would like to use tis opportunity to remind myself of some of the precious moments of this year that I can look back on at the same time next year.
1. My husband and I saw the 2nd year we lived in a space that we selected together for the first time. It feels more and more like a home every day.
2. I celebrated the 2nd year in a home with stairs, which in my 30+ years on this planet, is the first home I’ve had that occupies more than one floor.
3. 2013 also meant celebrating our five year wedding anniversary, and I can say with confidence, that this is the best year of marriage we’ve had so far. We also celebrated 10 years together, which Is another milestone in our relationship. yay, us!
4. Early this year I made a promise to myself that I would start taking care of myself better, in mind, body and spirit. I have been on a weight loss journey for over 2 years, and have seen results, but very slowly. I started in making a lifestyle change, not adopting a diet. To maintain my weight loss, I needed to change the way I thought about food. This year I made a really conscious effort to eat healthier, using foods that I could recognize all of the ingredients so my body would too. I learned how to make kale chips, spinach chips, different types of smoothies, and did some “experiments” with going gluten free and corn free to see how it affected my health. There were positive changes, and I did very clowly add some gluten back in to my weekly nutrition, but I limit the amount of starch I eat everyday. I feel that I have come very far this year in terms of eating better and making better food choices.
5, Also in the weight loss department, since my progress had been slow, but fairly steady, I decided to amp it up a bit. In may, I joined up with the Rideau Valley Roller Girls (rideauvallyrollergirls.com) to do their fresh meat program, which is in derby-lingo the training program new recruits do. They make it look easy. It’s not that easy, trust me. Falling and the fear of really hurting yourself as an adult, is very different than the childhood belief of “yeah, I got this!”. At the end of each session, a standardized skills test is given, and those who pass go into the league. Those who don’t, either give it another go, or sadly, give up. When I joined, there were 30+ other women who all had the crazy notion that skating would be fun. Not only skating, but knocking other people on their bums in the process would be fun. When the session came to an end, 14 of us showed up on testing day. Me and one other girl didn’t attempt the mins test because we felt we weren’t ready, but we both did decide to give it another shot in the next session. I did give it another go when the following session was offered, until some health issues were interefering, but I hope to give it another shot in the new year. I struggled with having to give up something, even if temporarily, that I was really growing to love – because of the comraderie between women, that those same women are tough as nails and who wouldn’t want to be a part of a group of women who are that kickass?, because it was good for my body and I was seeing rapid changes in my body (I lost almost 3 inches in my waist line in the first three months), and also because I was learning a new skill. I skated as a kid around a wooden rink, but hadn’t done that in probably 15 years. I had never learned how to skate backwards, or do any of the other fancy things derby girls do. (You should youtube a tomahawk stop, and you’ll see what I mean). I started out in may unsteady on my
feet,, err, I mean skates. In our first practice I spent most of the time holding on to the wall and being scared of falling down. Part of a minimum skills test is doing 25 laps of the track in 5 minutes. There is a technique to doing this so that you can actually skate 25 laps of the track in 5 minutes. The first time I attempted it, I did 3 laps in 5 minutes. Part of me felt ashamed, as there were many other people around me who did 22 laps in 5 minutes, which for a first attempt is pretty darn good. I second guessed myself. Wondered what I had gotten myself into and if this was all a huge mistake. I fell twice doing those three laps and required help to get up on my feet again. I struggled for weeks getting over the mental aspect of trying to stand up on my skates again after having fallen down. In derby you fall down a lot, and there is skill in falling to lessen the likelihood of injuring yourself or someone else, and there is also skill in getting back up again, especially if you are afraid that in the process you will fall down again. The second time I did the 25-in-5, I managed 10 laps, which was leaps and bounds better over 3 in 5 minutes. By the end, my legs were shaky and felt like jello. I plan on keep trying until I can pass my mins. This
6. Over the summer, my husband and I kindled a new friendship with some of our neighbours who live just a few houses down from us. We share similar senses of humor, and similar relationship dynamics, and it’s the first time in a long time that we’ve regularly spent time with another couple. We even spent a day with them at the end of the summer going to Calypso Water park. We had been twice before, but it was great to share the experience with new friends.
7, The new friends we have, I will call S and C. S is the guy, and C is the girl. C told me about this class that she had taken in the past called Nia, and that it was something she wanted to try again, and asked if I’d be interested in joining her. My description of Nia is that it’s a lower impact, less crazy version of zumba, it’s been around for 30 years (yeah, I didn’t know that either). It is a blend of choreographed movements that draw from different disciplines of dance, martial arts, and yoga. There are usually portions of the class where emphasis is placed on exploring how your body moves, and the message for the entire class is to move how it feels right for you. Nia came to me at a synchronicity moment this year. Synchronicity is a term used by Julia Cameron in her books The Artist’s way and Vein of Gold and is the idea that if you need something, you put it out in to the world and then your call is answered. I was in the process of making the decision to take a break from derby and I needed something that would serve two purposes in my life – a) something that would keep my body moving and further my weight loss goals and b) something that would speak to me on an emotional/spiritual level that would encourage me to be more introspective. Nia fit the bill on both counts for me. I tried it, and realized later that it wasn’t really for me, but in the process I learned that it is ok to not like something, part of the joy comes in trying new things and figuring out what works and what doesn’t
8. The reason why I decided to take a break from roller derby – those health concerns I was speaking of earlier? it took me some time to realize, but since may, when the only thing that had really changed in my life in that month was skating twice a week for four hours total, was that my sleep was suffering when it hadn’t previously and I am prone to migraines, but it had gotten to a point where I had a migraine almost every day. Something had to give so I could function again. Part of taking care of myself this year, has meant that I started doing acupuncture once a month with a lovely woman who practices acupuncture and naturopathic medicine, two things that I believe very passionately in. I am happy to report that my migraines are back down to just a few a month, which is where they were before.
9. Also related to taking the reigns on my health, I went to the dentist for the first time in a very long time.
10. I also went to the eye doctor for the first time in a very long time. I was given a new prescription and the new eyewear I am sporting seems to also make a difference in the frequency of migraine headaches I have.
11. With the support of my naturopath and some extremely knowledgeable friends, I have also been looking at some herbal supplements to support my overall well-being and health. Alternative medicine is something I have been a big believer in for a long time, and I was finally in a place in my life where I was able to embrace more options to western medical care. Western medicine does also have it’s place in my life, I have had asthma since I was a small child, and I use traditional medications to treat it, especially where I have had no success with alternative care. I believe in an ideal world, both options would be available to everyone, and can help for a myriad of things that there may be no other answers for. This is my personal opinion, and I realize it may be fallible. I am human and haven’t had any medical training.
12. I have been out of work for a while. At first, it seemed like a pain. I feel blessed to have a supporting husband who is encouraging me to find the thing that makes me happy. I have applied for many jobs in recent months, even had a few interviews, and unfortunately things haven’t panned out. While it can be frustrating and stressful, I am trying to think of it more positively – that I am waiting for the right opportunity to come along.
13, Because of waiting for this right opportunity to come along, I have been doing some soul searching. I am thinking about going back to school next year to become a veterinary technician. My dream is to work with big animals someday – farm animals in particular. I have been told often in my life that I have a gift for dealing with children and animals – both tend to naturally gravitate toward me.
14. Because of being out of work for a while, having free time on my hands allowed me the opportunity to spend some time with the children of the family I was a nanny for, shortly after I first moved to Canada and was legally able to work. When I was hired, the family had a 2 year old son, and a baby on the way. When I started work, the boy was still in his twos, and the little girl was a tiny bundle of joy at 5 weeks old. I worked with them for 4 and a half years, watching them grow, change and evolved into great kids. I was able to visit with them this summer, and also in the fall, and I feel fortunate to still be included as such a big part of their lives. The little girl is 6 now, and her brother is 8.
15. I can’t remember exactly when it happened this year, but both of my cats have become more cuddly. Smee, is the youngest of my zoo, and by far my favorite of our three pets (we have another cat, Finn, and a dog, Wylie) She took to kneading this year and also being a lap cat. Every night without fail, she and I cuddle in our bed. She lets me use her belly as a pillow, and she purrs contently, I begin to drool and drift off to the land of nod. She waits for the right moment where my breathing changes and I’m about to sleep, and she gets up, cleans herself off, still purring, and then lies across the backs of my knees. I turn my head, looking for the cool spot on my pillow and sleep. It’s the same every night, and I love her for it.
16. I had the pleasure this year of stepping foot into a pottery studio and falling in love for the fourth time (with pottery). Whether it be handbuilding, or throwing on a wheel, the act of getting messy and making things with my hands is meditative for me. With a studio membership, I learned how that studio works, and about myself on many different levels. I learned more about me as an artist, and as a person since keeping my hands busy allows my mind to wander. this isn’t only true for making pottery, the same can be said anytime I am working with my hands – knitting, felting, weaving, spinning, painting, sewing – I love it all. the finished product is part of the reward, but it’s mostly just about the process.
17. Being elbow deep playing in clean mud and falling in love with it for the fourth time in my life, really got me thinking more seriously about selling some of my handmade wares. it was a dream of mine since before I moved to Canada, and moving here made it more likely to be possible. I’ve had many people in my life over the years encourage me to make a living making stuff, but like most things in life it’s complicated. there are fears, and that’s another story in of itself. I keep going back to the idea though that it would be better to have tried it and failed at it then never to have tried it at all.
18. getting to go to the sheep and wool festival was a fabulous experience. I posted about it not all that long ago, so I won’t bore you again with the details. It was great to be surrounded by so many other people who also love everything-to-do-with-fiber-of-the-animal-kind, and it certainly got the creative juices flowing – and got me thinking more about selling some of my handmade wares, and how it could be a real thing I could be successful doing. the experience also made me think more about the future – my life as a vet tech, and that I would some day like to either work on a farm, or hopefully, live on a farm.
19. before I went to new York in October, I had been meditating a few times a week, mostly in the evening, while in bed, in hopes of promoting a better nights sleep. A few years ago, while in a local yoga studio, I saw these beautiful handmade cushions for meditation in bold, graphic patterns, and while I loved them, I really couldn’t love the price. For a sit set, I would’ve been looking at almost $200. crazy, especially for something likely to get covered in pet hair. Since I had been meditating more regularly again, I started to wonder if I could justify the purchase of sit set, and even the less expensive ones were still around $100 before shipping. while in new York, I was having difficulty sleeping and mediated every night before bed, which made it easier to fall asleep. I decided it would be a far more rewarding experience to make my own zafu and zabuton (aka, the sit set). I made them both without drafting out a pattern, which was a big deal for me and they have been the biggest sewing projects I have completed to date.
20 – last, but certainly not least has been reconnecting with family this year. my mom came up to visit over the summer and we went to bluesfest together. I saw her again when I went home in October, which was really great. we’ve also had some epically long phone conversations recently (one of them was almost 6 hours!) which is awesome when I’m missing life in new York, when I need some mom advice, or some love from my mom. I also had an opportunity while back home to reconnect with my cousin, who has been more like a sister to me when we were growing up. we had grown apart in our adult years, and seemingly more so in the last few years. it was awesome to spend a day with her just talking and catching up. my sister and I are ten years apart,(she is 10 years younger) and we didn’t grow up under the same roof. our age difference, not living under the same roof, and a complicated relationship with our father was not a good recipe for us being close growing up. when I got married in 2008, it was the first time I had seen her or my brother in many years. this year we have had a few good heart to heart discussions, and I’m hoping we can continue that well into the future.
the idea for this post came from reverb13 (more info can be found at katmcnally.com under ways to play) where the prompts were what precious things have you gathered in 2013? what memories from this year do you hope to keep with you always?
thanks so much for reading!