How not to be bitter when it’s Just. Not. Working.

stars quote

Before you read too far looking for a quick fix to being happy or a guide on how to be “all good” no matter what happens in your life, I should tell you right now: that’s not what this is.  I don’t know the answers for that stuff, and to be honest, I’ve been pursuing them my entire adult life.

I’ve had many happy moments, many funny, many poignant, many frustrating, many hopeless.  And I’ve had precious things that have been taken away.  Who hasn’t?  There’s this saying that I’m sure you’re familiar with that goes something like “your character is defined not by your actions, but by your reactions”, and I believe it to be true.  I’d like to take it a step further though, and say that your character is defined by how you react when something precious has been taken from you.  Right now, I’m coming to terms with my ideas of a family of my own being taken away.  Not by another person, or the government, or God or any of the typical people it would be easy to blame: just by life.

I remember one time I lived in a building in a dodgy area of New Westminster.  I borrowed my Mom’s bike so I could ride with my husband and his new bike.  I chained the bikes up in our laundry room to some big wooden pillars.  The next day I went to do laundry, and the bikes were gone.  I managed the building at that time, so I didn’t know it was someone in the building who’d taken them or if I’d accidentally left a basement door open.  Whether it was my fault or someone else’s, I got so angry about it.  I looked at every stranger differently for weeks, wondering if they were the ones who’d taken something that was not theirs to take.  I’ve always been a sunny person, but I realized during that time how easy it was for me to slide into suspicion, anger and bitterness.  A crappy thing happened, yes: but the worst part of it was how I let it change my thoughts and my spirit, even for a short time.  I made a decision then to take charge of my mind with more force.  I didn’t want life to determine my reactions, I wanted ME to.

broken heart

This conviction has served me during my divorce, the death of my brother, and bad experiences with friends, jobs and various situations.  Until now, it’s served me very well.  This latest struggle is getting to me in a way none of my previous struggles have, and I thought I’d experienced the worst of it already.

The dreamboat and I were told last Thursday (our fourth anniversary, no less) that our chances of conceiving naturally are about as low as they can get without being impossible.  I was told previously that it was a different, more fixable issue, but when we met with our new doctor at the fertility clinic, he had a different take based on the test results and what he sees every day.  People in our situation tend to go for IVF (in vitro fertilization), a course that we never wanted to resort to.  We want kids: to meet them and watch them grow.  To discover who they are and guide them as they navigate their own lives, and enrich our lives by just existing.  To see the product of the two of our bodies in a little person who is just his or herself.  I have wanted this ever since I fell in love with the dreamboat.  But now with this new information about our fertility, we’re faced with some choices about how we want to proceed.  If we want to proceed.

sonogram

I’m still reeling from all this, and trying to keep our family and friends informed because I know people have been praying and hoping for us to start a family for years.  We were, too.  No one ever thinks they’ll be the ones affected by something like this, yet people are all the time: that’s life.  But I’m angry.  I’m incredibly sad.  And I’m tired.  I’m angry that all I see on social media are peers getting pregnant so easily, and expanding their families and living the life the dreamboat and I want, without a real thought about the possibility of it not happening because it has happened for them.  I’m sad that when I see a pregnancy or birth announcement, I’m happy and incredibly bone-sad at the same time.  I’m sad for the dreamboat, who has been dealing with a sad, frustrated wife for far too long, as well as his own dreams for a family.  And I’m angry at our misfortune: because this is no one’s fault, there is no one to blame and no way to obtain justice.  It just IS.  I want to blame someone and I just can’t.  I’m tired of having all these feelings, and of watching everyone else (it seems) get what I so desperately want.  I’m tired of knowing too much sadness, and wanting to go back to when I didn’t.  I’m tired of feeling like a disappointment to the people who want to see us have kids, and of being gracious when people tell me “you guys have to have kids soon, get on it!” or the dreaded “just relax and have a glass of wine!”.  ***On a side note, please don’t tell anyone who has fertility problems to just drink more.  Most of us understand how sex works (and have had a lot of it with wild abandon), so this comment is rude, thoughtless and condescending.***  Most of all, I’m just tired.

heart

So now I can see my options, but they’re so foreign to me I don’t know where to turn.  I always was firm in which direction I would take in the case that we couldn’t have natural children, but now that I’m faced with the actual choices I really don’t know what to do.  I may not know for a while.  And the choice to have joy in the face of this huge injustice?  It is TOUGH.  Yesterday though, I met someone who has battled this same battle, and come out a stronger, even more beautiful person than before.  She and her husband weren’t given what they wanted in terms of children, and she’s ok with it.  Of course there must be days when she isn’t, I’m not naive enough to think that it’s ever easy.  But she told me that she’s glad she tried for the family she wanted.  She tried incredibly hard.  So the real question for me is: am I strong enough to try, fail, and move forward with my life?  Whether it’s adoption or IVF: can we give it our all, not come out with a family after all, and still have joy???  If at the end of my life I can say yes to that question, I think that nothing will make me feel more proud of myself, or more stretched.

rain

There is always the financial part too, and this seems impossible (and terribly unfair) to me at this point.  I have always said that money problems are the easiest problems to have.  I suppose now it’s time to find out if I really meant it 😉  And of course, this is not the only area of our lives that is not going so well right now.  What IS going well?  I love my husband, even when we’re in an impossible situation, we’re in it together.  I love my family, and right now everyone is healthy and relatively happy so I count that as a huge positive.  I love what I love: blogging and image consulting and clothes and being creative, and I get to do that stuff more and more lately.  We may never have the fattest bank accounts or the fittest bodies, but we have each other and that makes all the difference!

So my answer for how not to be bitter when life’s just not working?  So far all I know is that you have to choose joy every day, all day long.  I don’t feel all that happy lately, but I have found joy in little things: my dogs cuddling each other while they sleep, a good book, some rays of sun through the January sky and the smell of woodsmoke in the fog.  It has to be small right now, because this is a dark time.  I know it won’t always be, but for now it is.  And I suppose that has to be ok.  And it is.

~B

Advertisements

5 Rules for being a polite citizen on social media

 

It’s funny that I’m the one writing this because I’m usually the champion of all things social.  It irks me to no end when people say things like “texting is making kids stupid!”, or “facebook makes people nasty!”.  No, they don’t.  What these platforms do, however, is highlight that something ‘special’ within a person for many, many people to see.  If you don’t read, you probably can’t spell.  If you’re a thoughtless person, you will be thoughtless online.  I’m all for learning new ways to communicate, and all things considered, my online experience has been overwhelmingly positive.

What I’ve been noticing lately though,  is that the grace and politeness we all should have been taught in our formative years is severely lacking on social media.  I know a lot of people were not taught how to be polite, and all those people can do is watch people who were taught and emulate them.  But there is also a faction of people who were taught politeness and for their own reasons, feel that social media is the place where they need not employ the finer graces.  So be it.  What I see though, is that the person who can employ old school values with new practices will have the business/social world at his or her feet.  This is simply combining basic psychology with technology: you have the power to reach a lot of people with your message, so make your message a good one.  Be the person who makes people feel good.  Here are five ways to do exactly that:

writing blog

5) Reply.  This is a simple one that people are doing less and less.  If someone were to walk up to you in the workplace or at a party and ask you a question, you would answer them, right?  Social media is simply the new way of being at work or a party.  This is your community, speaking to you and listening to you.  Not replying to a direct message is incredibly rude.  Okay, we’ve all forgotten to reply a time or two.  Or ten.  I have been guilty of this before, for sure.  But I never want someone to feel they have been ignored by me, whether I know them or not, so I make a point of going through my messages once a month or so to make sure I haven’t forgotten anyone or left our conversation at an awkward point.  This takes time, yes.  I may have to watch one less Mindy Project a month or get an hour less of sleep, and it’s worth it.  You’re not too busy for other people, and if you are, you need to step back and assess your priorities.  When you give people your time, even just a little bit of it, that affirms them as people.  And since they are just as important and valid as you are (yes, it’s true!), they deserve to be affirmed.  It’s a small thing, but it makes all the difference for you and them.

talking blog

4) Reply (and comment) cordially.  I can’t tell you how many times I have asked someone a question or introduced myself and have gotten a thoughtless or rude reply back.  These include but are not limited to “huh?”, or “wtf”, or derogatory comments.  Would you speak this way to a person standing in front of you?  I really hope not.  And if not, don’t write it.  There’s a phenomenon called dehumanization, and it’s how we can give someone the finger while driving, or get mad and say awful things about a person not present: we make others less than ourselves in our heads so they’re not really human, then address them as such.  Do people do stupid things?  Yeah, of course.  Do you stupid things?  You do, all the time.  You have probably even posted something dumb in your life.  So be gracious when you feel others do it.  Realize that they may have been in a hurry that day, or mistaken you for someone else, or accidentally posted something that you believe to be false or stupid, or…whatever.  Whoever did it is an actual person, just like you, who has a job and a life and people who love them and good days and bad days.  Don’t be a part of them having a worse day by being rude online.

campfire blog

3) Engage.  You know those people who reactively shut down their facebook pages, then come back when they need something?  Maybe they started a new business and need to market it, or maybe they just want to creep people’s vacation pictures.  Whatever the reason, it’s ridiculous to do that, and here’s why: social media is a community.  Yes, I know we’re not all sitting around a fire right now signing camp songs, but we are virtually doing some version of that every day.  Imagine being at that campfire for awhile, then throwing a mini tantrum and announcing you’re leaving because you’re just sick of it!!!  You can’t just come back when the marshmallows are out and it’s time to make smores: that’s not cool, bro.  Because this is an online COMMUNITY, if you want to be a part of it you will be expected to contribute to it.  And here’s the truth: if your community sucks, it’s probably because you suck.  If you have a complainy, whiny, low achieving, lame online community, guess what?  Those are your friends, and that’s probably you too.  It’s a lot easier to see yourself reflected on a screen than it was before we were all writing and sharing our lives on it.  It’s easier to have a crap group of friends and pretend they’re just down on their luck, or the world is unfair, or they’re actually cool deep, deep down when they’re not posting affirmations of their lame selves.  So check out what facebook, instagram, pinterest, and twitter are telling you.  Are they good messages that are hopeful and productive?  Are they encouraging you to share your best self?  Are they accepting of you when you’re down, but encouraging you to get back up again?  We have an amazing opportunity to create our lives online, which become our lives offline nowadays.  Make friends on social media, engage them in real life, BAM!  You have new friends.  So choose wisely, contribute thoughtfully, and understand how community works.

like blog

2) Stop inviting me to like stuff.  And if you do, limit it to your business.  Facebook “liking” has gotten to the point where it’s completely pointless.  I know when I see a business page that less than half of the people who “like” your page don’t even know what’s on it. So yay for you, you pressed the little button inviting people to like you and they aren’t jerks so they said yes.  I have done this, I know how it works.  But some people invite me to like something every day, and I don’t like it!  I don’t know who you are or what this thing is, and you’ve given me no reason to care.  You know what works?  Maybe a handful of people have done this to me, and I have appreciated it immensely: writing someone a quick note when you’ve invited them to support a page telling them what it is and why they should care.  It’s personal, it’s informative, and it connects people.  Does it take more time?  Yeah, lots more.  But I’m way more likely to actually engage with you and your business if you do.

baby_puked_on_dad1 blog

1) Be positive, be real.  I keep reading about how social media isn’t “real”, and I’m flabbergasted.  How many of us have family pictures from the night your little brother got sick and threw up at the dinner table, and your brother started crying and your Dad yelled at him, so your mom got mad at your Dad and everyone was fighting and puking and crying?  Probably no one.  Ever run into an ex and told them how terrible your life was?  NOPE!  You’re fabulous, it’s fabulous, everything is fabulous.  We take pictures when we’re happy, we chat when we’re happy, we post when we’re happy.  This is human nature: we want to remember good and project good.  And the good in our lives is not fake (hopefully), even though when you look at your page it may look lopsided.  There’s so much opportunity for us all to share our real bits if we so choose, like this here blog.  I started it to be honest about things that I thought probably a lot of us could relate to.  On my most “real” posts I’ve gotten tons of private messages from people who have thanked me for writing because they have similar stories, but they won’t share them with the world.  And that’s ok, they don’t feel a burden like I do to share my private thoughts and experiences.  We all have different levels of comfort with sharing ourselves, and if you feel you want to be more authentic, do it.  If not, don’t.  Keep your judgments to yourself and realize we all have different purposes on this earth.  And if you delete a social media account because it’s not “real” enough, that’s your fault, no one else’s.  Social media has no parameters about personal authenticity, only you do.  You want it to be different?  Change it.  You’ll be surprised by how many people thank you for saying or doing something new.  Now, some people are so negative (their version of being real) that I end up blocking them.  If you’re going to post awful pictures all the time of world atrocities or denigrate other people, I’m out.  I have only deleted two people for this, but I have blocked a few.  Those I blocked I love in real life, but they feel the need to be overly critical or negative or just mean on social media all the time, and I don’t want to see that every day.  It’s perfectly alright to filter people, but try not to drop them.  Getting rid of people you don’t want to listen to is a slippery slope, because you may end up with a small group of friends who all think the same as you, and that’s how cults start.

 

So that’s the list I stick to in an effort to be polite and gracious on social media.  Let me know if you agree, disagree, or don’t care, I would love to hear it!

Until next time, everyone!  Be kind!

 

How do you KNOW?

Wedding dinner

Sometimes (often, actually) I wonder when I’m going to become a real adult. I look around at other people who are around my age and think they’re adults, and I wonder if people think I am?  Then my thoughts invariably pass to “well, what makes an adult?  A mortgage?  Breeding?  A career?  A beard?”  And what if you have only a couple of these things?  Ok, and what if you used to have them, and now you don’t?  Are you demoted back to teenagehood?

I’m in that last category these days, having traded in our house for a basement suite so I could go back to school.  We haven’t been able to get pregnant yet, so there’s that.  I’m working on the career part but I had a career before, I think.  I’m pretty sure I did.  It depends on how many years a career needs to last for to be called a career.

And all these thoughts, this ambiguity, takes up a lot of mental real-estate for me. I know it shouldn’t, but it does.  I don’t have the distraction of kids or work right now and life seems to loom like an unscaleable grey tower of choices, but no answers.  How’s that for imagery?  It’s not that I’m dissatisfied with my life, far from it.  It’s just that I have always operated on the assumption that there are good choices and poor choices, and have set my course to good ones.  As I stand at a crossroads of career, family, and ultimately purpose, I’m seeing that there are a myriad of choices, ad they’re all neutral: there are advantages and consequences to each and every one of them.  Like kids for example: I look around and see people having fun with and enjoying their kids.  I also see single people and couples enjoying their free time and personal development.  You can see parents frustrated and unable to cope with the demands of parenthood, as well as childless people and couples lamenting their loneliness because of not having children.  It does not seem to matter what you choose, you will experience happiness and sadness, abundance and deficits.

The trick, as far as I can tell, is choosing the thing that makes your heart sing at the time.  Is that a corny way to say that?  Whatever makes your pulse quicken, your eyes light up, your knees weak and your smile erupt.  When a proactive choice is required, this is always the right one, I think.  Choosing a career for the money or a mate for the security produces none of these reactions.  Going after what and whom you love, that’s what it’s about.  And when you choose the thing that makes your heart sing, whether it’s a person, a job, a place to live, an area of study, or a dessert, you’ll never have to apologize or feel guilty about it, because it will be right.  Even if it’s not right later and you end up having to change it, it was right then.  I think this is how you take responsibility for your choices and your life, and know that of all the choices you could have made, you chose the right thing: when you can accept the good and the bad side of it, and still hear your heart sing.

Maybe that’s what it means to be an adult?  I’m not sure, but I’m sticking with this definition for now.  School is almost done for me, and now I must choose whether to go to graduate school, work for awhile, work and go to school, work and get coaching training…and the baby issue is still there.  Do we have the money and resources to go for adoption now, or should I get established in my career first, and buy a house?  How many specialists should we see before we give ourselves a break and just be happy with however life is?  (a note on that: we haven’t stopped doing anything in order to get pregnant, and the dreamboat and I are both happy with our life together.  I checked with him the other day, so this is fresh confirmation)  Because all of these things take mental focus, and I’ve been too focused on too many things at once for too long.  I want some simplicity.  I want choices to be made for me, dammit!  But that’s teenage Brianna talking.  Adult Brianna knows that I will choose a path, and soon.  And it will be good and bad, but it will be the right thing, because I chose it.  And until then I will agonize, and maybe blog.  And that’s ok.  In the end, it’s all ok 🙂

My Struggle with Infertility

My latest nephew, Bruce.  We went to see him an hour after he was born, and my heart just about exploded with love: it was amazing.

My latest nephew, Bruce. We went to see him an hour after he was born, and my heart just about exploded with love: it was amazing.

The title might suggest that I’m pregnant, but sadly I’m still not.  It’s not for lack of trying though.  This summer I quit my job with the intention of focusing on my health and starting a family.  My logic was that since I had gotten pregnant and miscarried both in July/August (years apart), that my body was more fertile in the summer.  If I tried hard enough, I could get pregnant in the summer, finish school by Christmas, and we’d be on our way to starting our family by…well, now.

The dreamboat and I had been trying to conceive for 2 years already, but we’d been living apart for one of them (makes getting pregnant rather difficult), and I hadn’t started tracking cycles or charting or anything.  I had been praying though, and I gave God (and myself) four months for me to get pregnant.  I set this goal because It had occured to me that I had been scared to get serious about getting pregnant because I was worried it might not work: so I hadn’t really approached the goal like I would have any other.  I talked to the dreamboat about it, and explained how I needed him to be involved in the behind-the-scenes conception effort with me, and he was happy to help.  We started by odering an ovulation test kit.  We had to order it because no drugstore near us carried it, which was weird start to the whole thing.  Everyone carries the sticks, no one carries the actual tester.  Like, no one.  Isn’t that weird?  Anyway, When it finally arrived, hubby poured over the instructions and we got excited about our shared goal.  I felt pretty hopeful starting out, like the difference between pregnant and not pregnant was just our effort.

I got checked out by the doctor and everything looked good, so we started trying to get pregnant in a more targeted way.  I looked up what works best and found out a whole bunch about how often you need to babydance (a term used on the internet for sex when you’re trying to conceive) every second day during the short window before and during ovulation.  I looked up so much during those summer months that I thought I was pregnant every month, and the two weeks between trying to conceive and finding out if it worked became torture.  I came across the website twoweekwait, and would pour over the conception stories all day, every day.  I felt pregnancy symptoms I’d never felt before (psychosomatic), and spent most days wondering if I was pregnant.

Nope, No one loves it.

Nope, No one loves it.

See, the thing about trying to get pregnant and not being successful is that while you’re suffering silently, people around you are succeeding, and often really easily.  I went to a baby shower, and it was lovely, but I spent the night longing for what the honouree had.  A little person that I can carry and feel grow, then welcome into the dreamboat’s and my home.  Someone to hold and watch grow up, to care for and love and introduce our favourite things to. A little person we can guide through life’s exciting, amazing, sad, happy and all other kinds of moments.  Watching other people get what we’ve been hoping and trying for is hard.  I’m happy when my friends get pregnant, don’t get me wrong.  But part of me aches when it happens.  A big part.

I really thought I was pregnant in July, and I still think I might have been in the very early stages when my hopes were dashed once again.  I happened to do a home staging job for some long-time clients of mine and the name of a local naturopath came up, with the suggestion that I check him out.  Since I know that I want no part in the fertility drug business, and have heard often that doctors will suggest that first, I decided to give him a try.  He immediately tested my thyroid and we had a big problem: the thyroid was there, but wasn’t bonding at all, rendering the hormone useless.  I went on meds right away, and my father-in-law recomended iodine as well.  That was back in September, and my dosage has just been doubled because I haven’t experienced a full recovery yet.  The other thing that happened was that I got severe asthma first in August, resulting in 4 trips to emergency and one overnight stay.  So right now, it seems like my auto-immune system is going crazy: and that is no good at all for a growing fetus.

The good part about all of this is that I haven’t been feeling myself for a few years now, and now I’m working on getting back to normal.  I have complained about weight gain on this blog, but I haven’t mentioned how tired I’ve been for the past few years, or how achy my body has become.  I really just thought it was all a part of getting older and I needed to get in better shape.  I do need to get in better shape, but being ridiculously tired and sore all the time, as well as not being able to breathe much of the time has sort of gotten in the way.  When I think that this has been going on the whole time I’ve been back in university, I’m kind of impressed with how well I’ve done.  I’m working on getting back to where I was healthwise when I turned 30, and now I have hope that it will actually happen.

My nephew Holden.  He's almost 3 now and still so precious.

My nephew Holden. He’s almost 3 now and still so precious.

Our baby plans have been put on hold until I get better, which to be honest feels like another failure.  From my first miscariage in my first marriage until now (about 8 years), it’s been a long, emotional journey: too long to tell in one blog post.  It’s hard not to feel like I’m being punished by God sometimes, or like I’ve been found unworthy for procreation.  I know these ideas are crazy, but they pervade my thoughts.  It’s tough to hear people gush about their babies or about being pregnant, and I smile and try to act excited when I just feel a knot in my throat and a pit in my stomach.  And it’s hard when people ask innocently “do you want kids?”, having no idea about the struggles I’ve been through with my body and in my marriage and in my friendships for years.  The worst thing is people who try to give me advice.  I know they’re well-meaning, but the idea that I haven’t quite figured out how to have sex, or simply need to relax, or that I “just need to get drunk” are ridiculous.  Believe me, the ones who can’t conceive know far more about conceiving than most people with kids: it’s insulting and unecesary to offer us simple advice.  What I’d prefer is just a handsqueeze, or an acknowledgement that infertility sucks, or even just nothing at all.  I know that everyone has their cross to bear, but lately I feel like I’ve been given about 17 to carry.  I try to be positive and most of the time I’m successful: because I really do love my life.  I couldn’t imagine being married to a better man, I love our families, I got to quit work and go back to school which is amazing…but we want a family.  We have so much to offer a little baby, and so so much to learn form him or her, that I really want to get started.  And I want us to have as much time as possible on earth with our kids, but it feels like our time is running out.  I suppose because it is.

I know that God doesn’t work in my time, but I wish he took suggestions more often.  I wish that my body worked like most other people’s, and I wish I had less to worry about.  I hope that, if nothing else, I can help others who are in this situation.  I know what it is to have an empty, quiet house for too long, and to get really tired of only having myself to focus on.  I know what it is to have no control over the thing I value the most.  And though I can’t produce a picture of what I’ve lost, it’s a loss nonetheless.  All I can do now is keep focusing on getting healthy, mentally as well as physically, and looking for the good that can be found in this.  Like everything else, there’s always something 🙂

I got this out of a fortune cookie about a year ago and have kept it, because I really hope it's true.

I got this out of a fortune cookie about a year ago and have kept it, because I really hope it’s true.

Summer Reads

I haven’t gotten to read a lot of books of my choosing the last couple of years because I’ve gone back to school and the textbook reading has been non-stop…especially since I’ve taken classes through 2 summers.  If anything, it’s made me even more determined because if I have to read all this other stuff, I’m damn-well going to read something I want!  So I spend a significant amount of time finding books I want to read in Chapters, Amazon and in my parent’s library.  My sister reads a lot too so she supports my habit on birthdays and Christmas.  When the dreamboat and I find our forever house, I want a library in the dining room.  I can dream!  For now though, here’s a list of what I’ve been reading: Enjoy!

003

Ahh, the sisters.  I was watching a WWII documentary in the Spring and Unity Mitford was mentioned as one of Hitler’s girlfriends. So I looked her up (I always look stuff up when I’m watching tv: what did we do before laptops, smartphones and ipads???), and it turns out she was part of a fascinating blueblood family in England who were in the news a lot for being so political, on both sides of the spectrum.  I’m fascinated by English nobility at the turn of the century (oh, Downton Abbey!), political families and especially sisters.  These sisters did not disapoint!  I would recomend this book to anyone who likes history and drama, this book had oodles of both!

???????????????????????????????This one’s a re-read, originally read by me in school…grade 4 or 5 I think.  I remember loving it then, and in line at Chapters a month ago I saw it and freaked out!!!!  I bought it, read it again, and totally understood why my young self was so smitten by it.  It’s about 5 kids and their adventures in a secret world under their playhouse, what kid wouldn’t love that?!?  I’m so excited for my neice to be old enough to read it, I’m almost bursting!  I think it’s so, so important for kids to get a healthy dose of fantasy in their lives.  My imagination, I believe, was formed this way and it’s still a source of immense pleasure and even tangible use for me.

???????????????????????????????Inside the Land of OG!

???????????????????????????????I read this for an online course I’m taking until the end of August, and it’s a fantastic book!  If you’re at all interested in the most studied religious relic of all time and wonder at it’s legitimacy, give this a read for sure.  The book goes through the trial and crucifixion of Christ, the history of the Shroud, the possible scientific explanations for it and reasons why some call it a forgery, as well as the 1988 carbon-dating that declared its origins in Medieval Europe.  This book got me really excited to write a paper on the topic of the shroud, and that’s no small deal!

 

???????????????????????????????On the lighter side, I can never resist a book on French style!  This one is replete with drawn pictures and photographs of stylish women, as well as rules, tips and ideas on how to present more like a chic Parisian woman today.  I will use this as a reference for years to come!

???????????????????????????????Oooh La La!  Style me French 🙂

001

A stack of books I’d love to have done by summer’s end…but realistically, I’m hoping to have 2 of them read 🙂  I may be the last person on earth to read the shack, it’s kind of embarassing.  So I should probably get on that first.  The second one down was written by my first religion prof at Trinity, and he kind of blew my mind every class.  I can’t wait to read NT theology and its quest for relevance, because I think this is so relevant for Christians post scientific revolution!  Present Perfect I picked up after I learned I’m a perfectionist, and a perfectionist is not what we’ve always thought it was (!).  I’ve read the first part, it’s very enlightening.  Then we’ve got F. Scott, near and dear to my heart; this was a gift last Christmas, so it’s been waiting patiently in line.  Bill Maher is the Dreamboat’s book, and I always find him equally chalenging (to not want to punch him) and thought-provoking.  I try not to just read stuff I already agree with, and although I do agree with a lot of what he says, I don’t agree with a lot of it too.  It’s a good challenge.  Then last but not least, we have the human trafficking book.  I know this won’t be a feel-good read, but I think it’s so important to be informed on the evil in the world so we can contribute more to the good.

So there you have it, my reading list!  Let me know what you’re reading this summer, good or bad 🙂

 

Bit of a Mess

???????????????????????????????

Do you ever get the feeling that you’re far less capable of juggling the requirements of North American life than other people?  I mean all of them.  Well I do. When I stop to think about it, it kind of makes sense. I’ve had no real routine in my life for longer than three months for years. My house is in a constant state of torn-apartness and renos. I’m either trying to do school work, or attend classes, or go to work sometimes all in the same day most of the year. We’re trying to conceive and it’s constantly on my mind. My husband and I spent a year living apart due to circumstances and we’re still trying to get back into our groove. I feel like I can do really well at maybe 1/2 of this stuff, or pretty well at maybe 3/4 of it, but I can’t seem to stay on the ball for all of it, ever. Because school is such a priority right now and so’s the dreamboat, I’ve really been letting my friends down lately and it’s starting to get scary. I value the people who want to hang out with me even though I’m a bit of a mess most of the time, I really do. But in the past couple of months I’ve literally stood up a couple of them for plans we had together. Like, legit did not show up to something I said I’d do. Now, I never, EVER thought I’d be this person. Like EVER. I get annoyed when people are late, nevermind not showing up at all. So what gives? I definitely never have the intention of not showing, I just think I have everything under control at the time and I definitely don’t. It makes me wonder though: are my priorities wrong?

Like ok, I was listening to the book Mad Women on CD last summer when I drove to Vancouver from Edmonton, and she talked about a very succesful woman who said that she learned early on that she did not have time for personal relationships. If she wanted a family and a career, she just didn’t have time. And I’m not sure if that was ok with her in the end or not (I guess you’d save on funeral costs with no guests), but at the time I remember thinking “you know, she’s right. There’s not enough time in the day for everything.” If I want an amazing, worthwhile career where I use my gifts to make a difference in the world, a marriage where we work together and stay in love through our whole lives, well cared-for, well-rounded and well-loved children, is my plate full? Is there no more to give?

You know, I’m not sure. I know life is about relationships, and people end up being there for you when you’re there for them, so that’s probably why I feel like a complete a-hole treating my friends like an afterthought. Whether on purpose or by accident, the results are the same. And if I feel this bad behaving this way, I guess that tells me something, right? I need to make some room, because relationships are important to me. At the end of the day, I want to be able to share all the stuff I’m doing and going through with the ladies who’ve been there through it all, and I want them to share their stuff with me. And I don’t know what I’m going to have to give up, but I’m going to figure it out. Because it really matters.

The odd and wonderful decor items found in my home

As I’ve gotten older, more mature (haha), and learned more about who I am, my decorative expression has grown decidedly weirder. I used to love show homes and would always want to copy the bland, one-style-fits-many esthetic that most of them have but these days the idea of blandness leaves me cold. I have grown into a sort of Alice in Wonderland meets Grey Gardens meets bi-polar 50s housewife kind of style, which I’m super proud of. Mr. Dreamy and I spend much of our free time hunting for unique items in antique shops that express our special brand of freak. In this post, I’d like to share some of these items with you. Enjoy!

370

I got this chair at the Salvation Army Thrift Store for $25, and painted the wood teal. I added a bright floral cushion from the same store for $3. The canvas painting of the woman is from Coombs Genaral Store on Vancouver Island (bought years ago), and the starfish on top was painted black by me. The bamboo tree and lamp are both from Homesense, and were bought to stage homes when I had a homestaging business.

365

This is an antique picture of an Asian boy I found in my Grandmother’s collection of family photographs. I’ve had him in different houses and different frames, and I’ve named him “Grandpa”. In front is a little Logo frame from an old coal stove, and a dead grenade, both from the Dreamboat’s collection. Books are everywhere in our house; it’s always a challenge figuring out where to put them all but I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

367

Part of my jewelry and hairband collection. The frame is found, and it was brown so I painted it white and stapled chicken wire inside to hang pins and earings on, as well as hooks on each side for necklaces. The tiered tray is from the Bellingham antique mall and the necklace holder (used for hairbands) was a gift. The round crystal perfume bottle is from my MIL, and is very old from Holland.

371

This painting I found at Napiers Antiques in Langley, and I painted the frame a rich yellow. We have two mini-daschunds, so it’s totally appropriate.  It reminds me of the Kramer portrait.

374

This is our entryway closet. I don’t like closet doors, so a long time ago I converted it to a bench and hooks. More recently, I installed paintable wallpaper, painted it teal (it was a teal phase), and put in an antique coat rack we found in an antique mall in Edmonton. I found the cushions a little later, and voila! Welcoming entry closet.  The umbrella was used over 60 years ago by my husband’s Grandma, and given to me by my generous MIL.

372

We found these little framed silhouettes at an antique mall in Leduc, Alberta. Look closely, they’re Dickens characters! I love the literature theme, and that there’s no way I could ever have found these on purpose.

364

I found this big fish thing at Goodwill in Edmonton, and decided it would be agreat place to stash my dishcloths. The picture to the right of it is of me and my now deceased brother Tyler, and the little Eiffel Tower was purchased by me at the actual Eiffel Tower.

368

This is a signed picture of Robert Loggia. Never heard of Robert Loggia? Yeah, that’s kind of why I got this picture. I used to travel every second week for business, and one night I was sitting in my hotel room being totally bored, thinking “you know what would be awesome? A signed picture of an obscure actor in our living room.” So I went online and found this beauty for $40. He’s been a part of our decor ever since. Behind Mr. Logia are some manzanita branches, and above him is an exit sign from Napiers and a flower painting from Goodwill.

???????????????????????????????</a

This little Day of the Dead skeleton was found by Mr. Dreamy this past New Years Eve in the Bellingham Antique Mall. He has moving parts, but mostly just sits on the windowsill behind our bed.

377

I use fake flowers in sort of an ironic way, and also because I have a proccupation with 50s vases and there are only so many empty vases a person can take. This one disguises the ugly oven clock, and above it is a picture I took in Venice.

So that’s a little bit of where I live! Let me know what you think, and share some of what’s in your home!

~B

Hawaii: A good distance from the vomit pile

The best sermon I ever heard was at Creekside Community Church, given by pastors Jim Gaull and Colin Griffiths called The Vomit Pile. The two pastors delivered it together right after New Years, about the things they do over and over and over that they wish they didn’t. The term “vomit pile” is taken from a verse in the Bible found in Proverbs 26:11 that says “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” You know when a dog throws up, then goes back to eat it? Yeah, we all do that in life. Metaphorically. Pretty disgusting right? It’s also pretty human, unfortunately.

So I think about my vomit pile a lot. I know that I have a tendency to be aggressive with people who are close to me. I know that I overdo eating and shopping when I’m stressed. I forget the little things, and put way too much presure on myself. The thing is, I know these things, but daily life gets in the way of conciously knowing them and actually correcting them. Enter: reflective vacation.

I’m in Hawaii right now, siting on a patio while Mr. Dreamy sleeps in our rented condo. I have two cups of coffee, one for now and one for five minutes from now. There’s a little stream with coi in front of me, with a lush jungle setting around it, and birds and other unidentified animals calling all around. This trip was a surpsrise to Mr. Dreamy and myself; my co-worker told me she owned a condo in Kauai and that it was vacant just four days before we flew here. We had been planning a vacation for around now but had decided not to take it because I started working and Dreamy hasn’t started yet. We’ve spent the last year living apart trying to accomplish our seperate goals to set our life together up properly, and once we got to living in the same house again we thought it called for a vacation celebration. So even though we thought it wasn’t meant to be, when this little jewel presented itself we decided that it was the right time after all! We made quick flight reservations and got here Tuesday afernoon. Siting here in paradise, reflecting on our good fortune, I think it’s a perfect time to take a bird’s eye view of my life; my choices, my triumphs, my failures, and my blessings and situate myself within them. Hence: the vomit pile.

May 2013 131

I told Mr. Dreamy the other day that on the whole, I’m proud of my choices in the past few years, and that’s the truth. I went back to university, which wasn’t an easy thing to do. I moved away from my love to do it: even less easy. I found work in a profession I’m honoured to be a part of, funeral and cemetery. I look around at my friends and family and am proud of the relationships I’ve built. But there are some things I want to stop doing, and that’s what this post is about.

My Vomit Pile
I am so darn fast. In regular life situations it’s good, but interelationally it’s very bad. I rush people, I get visibly and verbally frustrated and annoyed, and generally make others feel crappy when they’re slower than me. And most everyone is slower than me. A good friend once said to me “Brianna, the thing about you is that the stuff it takes most people a year to get to will take you maybe a month, and you don’t understand that about them.” It’s true, I don’t. I understand concepts faster, I figure stuff out faster, I move faster…and I have very fast patience that runs out much too quickly. I need to slow down. Part of the problem of being too fast is that I miss things, like appreciating the world around me, or appreciating the people. I need to take stock, take a breath, and slow it down. Ironically, I married a man who is quite literally the slowest person I know. He takes his time, he double and triple checks things, he is careful and consistent. I love and hate that part of him every day, but I know I fell in love with him for a reason, and part of that reason is to help me slow down so I can be a better me.

I have a highly developed sense of self-loathing. This is a big one. There are diferent schools of thought on how best to attempt self-improvement. The first school says that self-love is what inspires a person to improve, and the second says that self-loathing is the thing to do it. I have always said self-love, but acted on self-loathing. I tell people to accept themselves while completely rejecting myself. It’s a funny thing. I’m fairly certain this idea comes from my Dad, who has since mellowed out tremendously. But growing up, I really internalized that anything short of his idea of perfection was not ok. And it’s not that he meant to be such a hard-ass, it’s just that he saw the world a certain way. So now I have to really get in to my brain and do some renovations. Is it ok to not be at the peak of physical fitness? Yeah. Is it ok not to be exactly where you thought you’d be career-wise a year ago? Yeah, it’s ok. There’s a big difference between wanting to improve and beating yourself up for what is. That’s something I want to not just say anymore, but really believe and practice. Because I think that relaxing my inner dictator would help me accomplish my goals even better: it’s a carrot vs. stick thing.

I worry about how everything looks. The part of this that I like is my personal style: I always try to look put-together and reflect who I am in what I wear, how I decorate etc. The part of this I don’t like is the neuroses that stem from it. And because my vomit pile is all interelated, this involves a lot of self-loathing. Because I don’t always look the way I think I should, I agonize. For example: gaining weight. It’s a fact of life for a lot of people, and as I’m sure we all know, it’s about more than just eating and exercising; it’s about what’s going on in your head. Just before I got divorced I lost 30 lbs, fast. I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating. People everywhere told me I looked great, so I kept it up. I was miserable but at least I looked good! When I moved to Alberta and felt isolated from the life I had created in BC I put on 30lbs. These two incidences were both all about how I felt and the fact that I dealt with both scenarios through eating or not eating. In high school I toyed with bulemia and anorexia, though no one would have guessed, and at this point I just have to be honest about myself: I deal with a lot of life’s problems through food control. Me and Oprah, and like thousands of other men and women do this. It’s pain avoidance through creating a new pain. Makes no sense, but there it is. It’s not just my body though, I worry about how my house, my car, the people around me and how my life looks. And the problem with that is that instead of feeling my feelings I spend way too much energy worrying about how I am perceived by others. It’s a waste of time, and I know it. Because it means that other people’s values and ideas, which I have no control over, end up being more important than my own. And I know it’s ridiculous, but it’s something I do. I’d like to stop though. I’d like to feel what’s in me and deal with that, and have that be the end of it. I’m working on it.

So that’s the condensed version of my vomit pile. It’s there, I see it, and I’d like not to go back there anymore. I guess this is life: being honnest about who you are and what you do, and trying to become the person you want to be. The effort of doing this, the experience of evolving is what I think living is about. And I suppose that without these struggles we’d be awfully bored. So hooray for self-realization, hooray for epiphanies, and hooray for Hawaii, where I can ponder these things in between snorkeling expeditions. I hope you can identify your own vomit pile and make a plan to stop going there. Let me know how it goes, ok?

~B

May 2013 147

5 Things: A list of what I’m loving right now.

For those of you who’ve been following for awhile, you’re aware of my love of listing.  Those of you who are new, I’m going to tell you something: Lists are gifts to us directly from baby Jesus.

This week I’ve been thinking about being more mindful and thankful for all the great things I have in my life, in order to focus on the positive and maybe even enhance it a bit.  Cuz my life is cool, celebrate!

*My new nephew and I, enjoying some cuddles!*Me and Batman.

So here’s my five for January, enjoy 🙂

5) No wheat diet. I never thought I’d be one of these people, because I likes me some wheat, but I could no longer ignore what’s happening around me: we are living in an increasingly wheat free world, and it seems like every one of my friends who goes to a naturopath ends up giving up wheat and immediately raving about how good they feel.  Well now it’s ME raving!!!  I’m eating almond flour bread, coconut flour cookies, lots of veggies and a a little meat.  I feel so good right now!  I’m working on the dairy component, and I have to say coconut yogurt is yum.  I ate some cheese today though, so you know…baby steps 🙂

almond flour bread

4) My history class.  Right now I’m taking Tudor and Stuart England, and oh my goodness, it’s like watching an amazing documentary twice a week, only better because I get to ask questions.  I can’t beleive this is how I get to spend my days!

Henry-VIII-and-his-wives_-252x300

3) Harry Potter.  Right now I’m on The Goblet of Fire, and I’m alternating between that and the movies.  I never got into the books when they came out, but my sister told me I had to do it so I started the first one during Christmas break.  I’m finding that reading something for myself during school is actually helping me focus on my school work even more, because it makes me happy.  Nice 🙂

 

2) My new yellow peeptoes.  Sometimes a pair of shoes really does lift your mood, and these are just so special and fun!  I got them from Modcloth, and I’m just itching for Spring to arrive so I can wear them outside.  Because, you know, I’ve been wearing them inside every day.  All day.
006

 

1) My husband.  I know I know, he’s always on my list.  But right now, I’m so super duper proud of him I could burst.  While I’ve been in school basking in the comfy world of academia, he has finished our renovations, staged and sold our house, then sold a whole bunch of the stuff we didn’t want to move and packed the rest to come live with me in BC.  He quit his job, he’s leaving the home he worked hard to buy on his own, and he’s just done it with so much generosity and patience that I am in awe.  The icing on this perfectly baked man cake is that the other day, I realized that maybe one of the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place is that he looks like a blond JFK…Seriously, I don’t know how I got so lucky.

JFKcandyheartpink

 

 

 

I had to share this amazing couple’s budiness and life story from one of my favourite blogs, A Pretty Penny. Hope you like it!
~Brianna

Keira Lennox

I have a big major crush on the poor porker. They moved across the country, from L.A. to a Florida town nearby, and now they’re spreading sweet sugary joy around our community with a big dose of style and substance.

Robyn and Jarrid’s story resonates with me in so many ways. Two people who are crazy about each other take a giant risk and jump head-first into a business together. They do it for the love of what they do, and not for the money. They work hard, and live in the moment; and know that with a whole lot of faith and elbow grease just about any dream is possible.

I haven’t even had their famous beignets yet, and I’m already swooning.

View original post