Facing Fears.

When is the last time you did something that scared you?  For me it was today, I went on my first duck hunt. 

I have been wanting to try hunting for maybe the last 5 years.  Last year I took the first steps and I went and got my CORE. It was a check mark off my bucket list.  However, it was kind of like I got certified and stopped there.  It is easy to take a classroom course and pass a written test (sort of) but to actually go out hunting was a lot scarier. I felt overwhelmed by all the information I had just been given and intimidated by all the experienced hunters around me.  The course did inspire me to learn more about conservation, hunter’s ethics and the responsibility we have as hunters to protect the land and animals.  I think it gave me a new opinion of hunters, but it didn’t get me out in the fields or forests hunting. 

Hunting is not new to me.  My family and friends and even my husband all enjoy hunting.  We grew up eating game meat and I love the idea of truly eating local and knowing where your food comes from.


Lately I have been envious of hunters and going out, and figured if I didn’t just jump in, despite being scared and nervous, I would never learn. I am not sure if it is COVID and cabin fever or the appreciation for where we live and the opportunities all around us but whatever it was, I decided to get out and try.  I have been so badly wanting some hands-on experience so I can understand the stuff I learnt and apply it to the real thing.  

I am always telling my kids to try new things, and that it is okay when new things feel scary but they can also be fun and rewarding.  I finally took the leap and went out.  I am grateful for friends who not only encourage me but also teach me.  I have two good friends who hunt and both are always encouraging and reminding me that I can do it.  These girls have inspired me to step outside my comfort zone and enjoy the privilege of hunting.  We can all do hard things, hell we are adapting and living through a pandemic!

I think it is hard for me to do self-care things inside my house or with my family around. I love my kids and husband but trying to work out in a living room while my kids are screaming and running around, or meditating in my bedroom while I see stacks of laundry that need doing can be challenging. Forcing myself outside in rainy weather (perfect for duck hunting) and just escaping for an hour to basically watch the sky is a whole new self-care. I left my phone in the car and left the family at home and just took some time for me. I actually think when you are dressed for the rain it can be nice and feels good to have fresh air. Plus, sunset has always been one of my favourite times and it doesn’t matter sun or rain, clear skies or cloudy cover the sunset is magic.

This year has been challenging on so many levels so it is easy to stray away from adding any more challenge to your life but sometimes it is that discomfort and fear that can bring great inspiration and leave you feeling more alive.  I have really been trying to come up with a bucket list and things that I want to see, do and accomplish however most of these things would include travel or experiences.  Knowing it could be a long time before travel outside of Canada is possible can leave you feeling uninspired.  However, realizing how many opportunities we have that are unique to BC and Canada has had me trying to learn to appreciate them and take advantage.  

I am a lover of heat and summertime so exploring in the summer is easy. We loved having our boat this year and getting to explore the Gulf Islands a bit. It is funny now that I think about our first boating season and the many things we did where I was super nervous and scared. I survived these moments and wouldn’t trade our time on the boat for anything. Scary things don’t have to be bad, when we are willing to face fears we often come out with an incredible experience and new perspective. We also learn the things we are scared of might not be as bad as they seem. So despite fearing the long winter and cold weather I’m going to really try to embrace it this year.

Tomorrow I am going to find a recipe and cook up the duck meat, that I actually butchered myself. I think I impressed and surprised my husband when I started to cut up the duck. I was nervous and unsure if I could do it but it was so much easier than I thought and I think with practice and experience it will start to feel like second nature to me. I also have registered for my PAL at the end of this month and am going to continue working towards becoming a hunter. I am super nervous about this two-day course but know that I need this to be able to own and carry a gun, so I want to continue to challenge myself and know that with that will come rewards. I hope you don’t let fear stop you from trying new things! What things have you always wanted to do but fear is holding you back?

Riding B#@$%

The motorcycle has always been fun for me, but that was before we were responsible for 3 little kids. Everything changes with kids, and one big change is the way I view the world. I used to love riding, I was proud of getting my bike license and looked forward to getting on the bike.

Now the idea of leaving our kids both on the back of the same motorcycle can be terrifying. If you have ever been on a bike you know the feeling of being exposed. No one gets on and rides and doesn’t know the risks, accidents can and do happen.

Plus before kids I owned and rode my own bike, when I took on the new title of Mom I decided to sell the bike knowing it might be a while before we would get out enough to make it worthwhile. This has meant when we do get out for a ride I’m on the back. Now for those of you that know me it might not come as a surprise that I like to be in control. Riding on the back means I give up my control and trust in my driver.

Sunday was a planned ride with a group of our friends and family. A friend had told us about the Bikers for Autism group and their Shuck It Forward Event and we had got together a group for a fun day out for a great cause. Obviously this event was near and dear to our hearts as we have a son with Autism. Without fundraisers like this, public education initiatives and amazing supports and therapy I am not sure where we would be as a family or how well Rowen would have grown over this last year and a half.

Here is the really cool thing, because we have such amazing supports in place and Rowen has worked so hard we are able to take date days out and not worry about how our kids (particularly Row) will do. Plus our day doesn’t revolve around discussing the future of our kids or our concerns about them. We can truly go out and enjoy ourselves knowing our kids are safe and happy and when we get home they will all be there.

Despite all this it doesn’t mean I just hop on the bike and let my hair down without a care in the world. As we were making our way through the tunnel and I was focusing on my music and breathing I realized that I needed to relax or my nervous energy would impact Fraser, who was riding with a passenger, driving downtown to a place we had never been and leading a group of others bikers. So I decided to trust in my partner, breath and listen to the music, slow my mind down and just enjoy the moment.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in our feelings or emotions we can miss what is right in front of us. In front of me was a beautiful blue sky, snow capped mountains, alone time with my hubby and good friends plus yummy food and great drinks at a beautiful patio downtown. It is so easy to get caught up or be rushing to whatever is next to miss the right now. As I near my 35th year around the sun I am trying to find ways to slow moments down and enjoy this time right now. I am trying not to stress when we are late or things didn’t go as planned.

It’s funny how hard and easy this idea can be. It got me thinking about parenthood and even marriage and learning to trust in each other. Much like riding on the back of the motorcycle and trusting Fraser to drive while he trusted me to co-pilot and google map our route, we are learning to trust each other in parenthood. It is a constant struggle with wanting control over every decision and knowing how important it is for my sanity and for the greater good of our whole family to share these decisions, responsibilities and control of parenthood with my husband.

Before I turned 30 learning to ride a motorcycles was on my “30 before 30” List and was a challenge I set for myself. I realize I still love it but the challenge is different now that we are parents… and as I near 35, getting closer to 40 I start to think about things I want to accomplish before my next decade approaches. I realize parenting is a big challenge, and just when you think you might have got a handle on something a new thing pops up… my kids are a constant challenge. So my biggest goal is to continue to work together with Fraser, trust in each other and share our responsibilities and know that not every day will be easy or perfect but if we slow down and take time to enjoy it we might surprise ourselves. To continue to check in with our feelings to help keep each other calm but also to help teach our kids how to manage our emotions.

I think my biggest lesson is every day is different and we might feel like we got it one day and the next day might be a huge struggle, that is human nature and no one is perfect. Plus we have a fresh start anytime we want it, so don’t let one action define your whole path! It’s okay to ride B#$@& sometimes, I don’t always have to be the driver. I’m gonna try to take time and enjoy the scenery!

90,000 Reasons to be Passionate about your Work.

I believe in doing things with passion. I also believe the people you surround yourself with are reflections of you and should share some of your beliefs or goals. So, although my friends and family may not all have the same background, parenting styles, schedules, money management, political beliefs I think we share some common values.

What ties me to my people? I think honesty and integrity, selflessness and caring for others, family and respect especially in regards to prioritizing people and experiences over stuff are just some of the values that bond my friendships with people.

That being said over the last little bit I have noticed a common trait in my girlfriends that has not only left me feeling fairly inspired but super proud of them and all their accomplishments! My tribe is one of diverse careers, ranging from entrepreneurs, government employees, corporate boss babes to stay at home moms and more. Some even wear more than one of these hats and do it with ease making it look much easier than I know it is. I have discovered what I think it is that makes them so inspiring and so good at their jobs and its Passion!

I am lucky enough to have the full time job of CEO of the Farlow House. This means I manage 3 kids schedules and 1 busy longshoremen’s finances, household, social calendar and more. In addition this full time gig I also have been working part time and sporadically at my girlfriends family farm Emma Lea. I love being at the farm and getting to see everything they do as well as meet new people and share this special place with the community. It is a pretty great job and one I totally value. Last year we were asked to take 40 locals on a tour of the farm and tell a little bit about what we do. Katie (my boss, good friend and one of the farmers) was phenomenal at this. She blew me away with her ability to simplify something very complex and explain in in such a condensed version, within half an hour, people could really get a feel for how special and how much work and love goes into the farm. Not only did I learn some new things about how the farm runs and what cool voluntary programs we participate in as a member of the farming community, I also got to see my boss and friend show and share her passion for the farm and her job. I hate calling it her job because when you hear her speak it doesn’t sound like a job at all but more of a privilege and a choice. One thing that makes the farm unique to me and became evident with Kates tour was how the farm, although a business with a bottom line, was also a place that wanted to be known for employing people fairly and with integrity, treating animals ethically, and contributing to a greater good. I think when businesses or people go above and beyond what is expected and make decisions with more than just money in mind it is really something special.

I left the farm tours and started to think about other friends and their careers, does everyone do such amazing things… Then later I was out getting the kids haircut by our hairstylist, as well as good friend and I saw more passion for a job. I know she loves what she does and she is great at it (you just have to search the community facebook pages and hear all the recommendations or watch her in the salon to know). The thing is getting your hair cut can be emotional for lots of people. My son has ASD and sometimes struggles to sit in the chair (as do many kids) and she does every cut with patience and love. Plus she knows just how to turn a crappy day into a great one and help transform my mama pony into a beautiful hairstyle worthy of the magazines. She is a hard working mom herself, yet still manages to volunteer her time and talents whenever she can for the many charity events her salon takes place in including fundraisers out at Emma Lea. She is continually working towards bettering herself with workshops and training and recently advanced to a higher level of stylist. This girl cuts hair with passion and style all her own and being one of my youngest friends (only by a few years) she does it with so much confidence and class for someone who just turned 30. She is super passionate and super inspiring in her work life, reminding me that you can be a busy and great mom still working on building and advancing a career all your own. It is a great reminder and example.

I am super lucky to have at least a dozen examples like this of friends and family who inspire with their careers and I think that is something super special. The reality is most people have to work, and most people spend a lot of time over their lifetime at their jobs. With that in mind shouldn’t we have some passion in what we do and enjoy our time at our job. I think it is unrealistic to say you will always love your job or only do things you can do with passion because sometimes a job is a job and we do what we have to do. But hopefully it is short term while you work towards something you love. If you are like us and have kids I think there is no better example to show then your kids seeing and hearing about your job in a positive light. Imagine facing a future knowing you will have to enter a workforce and hearing your parents talking with dislike about their own careers.

I think of one of my friends who has three kids like us and not only went back to school while having kids but also started her own home based business as a mortgage broker. It meant leaving a very reliable and good job for something risky and unsure. She is super passionate and continually challenging herself and building her business. As hard as I see it is for her working from home with three little kids she is setting such a great example for her girls, and she definitely is a good example of a career woman wearing many hats… I mean she manages her own business but also raises three beautiful girls, did I mention she is a Sparks leader? Like this lady knows no limits.

Like I said the list goes on and on, we are so fortunate to have many inspiring friends. I feel incredibly blessed to have at least a dozen or more examples of friends and family who have passion for their careers and excel at their jobs. It is not often you get to see friends and family in their workplace, doing their magic but if you take time to ask about work and what they do you might be surprised at the answers (good or bad) and you might be surprised at the passion people can have for sometimes overlooked jobs.

My sister works for Children’s, Women’s and VGH Hospitals and she has the coolest job but it isn’t one easily explained or one that I can even understand. She encourages and supports parents and patients to get informed and become active in making their healthcare decisions. To hear her speak about her job and even the learning and stats she does on some really tough illnesses like mental health and cancer in kids is really amazing. She is always doing extra learning, courses or acting on boards to learn more in her field and be a better support to her patients, plus she is enthusiastic and passionate about what she does.

I think so often we think to be passionate you need to have a glamorous or cool job or job title but I completely disagree, I think its about attitude and the way you share your stories. The people who inspire me are enthusiastic, always learning, knowledgeable in their fields and most important they show passion for whatever it is they are doing.

I hope our kids can see us do our jobs with passion and enthusiasm and that whatever they decide to do in this lifetime it is something they enjoy doing. The best thing I think we can do to encourage that is to set the examples ourselves. So, if you are getting ready to go to bed tonight and setting your alarm to get up and go to a job you feel less than thrilled to have may be its time to ask yourself what would make it better? How can you light a little fire and get a little excitement to get up and go?

Living a life we love, managing stress and coping with anxiety

So, my first 30 years were the years I didn’t know how to manage my stress. I often felt overwhelmed, suffered from chronic headaches as well as feelings of depression and anxiety. Everything from relationships to money to work to any sort of responsibility would be stressful for me.

Today, I rarely get a headache and now instead of having them caused by emotional stress they are usually brought on by forgetting to eat, too much sun and not enough water or on occasion cheap wine or one too many drinks!

I have recently been really wondering what was so stressful before that isn’t so stressful now? Like seriously I am now responsible for three tiny humans, I should be more stressed. I am realizing though, with life experience you gain confidence, hopefully some coping mechanisms for anxiety and stress and of course the ability to recognize and ask for help.

I think there are a few things for me that lead to stress and the feeling of being out of control.

  • Overwhelm. Always saying yes to everything. With the best intentions but I struggled to set realistic goals.
  • Avoidance. Ignoring issues past or present. Not communicating and afraid to make changes. Avoiding confrontation or difficult conversations.
  • Caring too much about appearances and what others think, instead of prioritizing myself. Doing things to make others happy instead of being true to myself.

I think often people see my blog or even a picture I post or an instagram story and are happy to believe that my life is pretty good and I have it really easy. I agree my life is really good, but a really good life still takes hard work and compromise and everything comes with a price tag. As for having it easy, I think grass is always greener on the other side. We have chosen to try and see the bright side and the best in our situation. It doesn’t always work, but for the most part I think we have created a life we are happy with and really are living our best life.

I have been told “you make it look all sunshine and butterflies”. It has really got me thinking, and it has reminded me that I shouldn’t care what other people think. This is so much easier said then done. It is far from sunshine and butterflies we have lots of challenging moments. However it also has got me thinking about what has changed in my life that I feel less stress than I ever did. The truth is I don’t believe anyone lives a stress free life however I do believe that it is all in how we deal with our stress and choose to live our lives that impact our quality of life.

For me personally a lot of my typical stresses are gone but a lot are gone because of choices and actions I took.

Schedule. First I make a big effort at using our calendar and scheduling in everyone’s stuff (Fraser’s ball, Rowens ABA, kids activities, parties, family social stuff, work, etc). Then when things come up we can check the calendar and try to avoid over scheduling. This sometimes means saying no or prioritizing. It has taken us a while to get to this point but I found we were so busy some days or weeks running from thing to thing that no one was having any fun and I was super stressed. We like to be flexible and plan as we go but having a bit of a schedule to work from has really helped to alleviate stress. This has also helped us to see improvements in the kids behaviour. When they are over scheduled we see more behaviours that we don’t love, which is a good sign to slow things down or take a day off. I also have realized that although I use a calendar and plan ahead, on a busy week it is best to take one day at a time. That has been a huge stress reliever.

Rituals. These are hard to think of but they are things we do to keep peace and order. They feel good to everyone because we know what to expect and they are calming. I have worked really hard at trying to not only have rituals with the kids but for myself. Prior to kids Fraser and I loved being sporadic but now with three kids we see the benefits to having some routine and rituals in our life. For me these rituals include things like journaling, moon circles, using oils, meditation, taking time to work on the farm once a week and girls nights. For the kids some things are our bedtime rituals (bath, reading, talking about our day and what is happening tomorrow, etc), baking with the kids and even our dance parties (which weren’t always popular with Rowen but we found a way to include him). I think these help to feel safe, in control and just regroup without surprises or unknown.

***Side Bar on rituals is that I have just established a plan with the help of my naturopath of a few things to do to try and get back on track and one of her suggestions was setting an hour, 10pm-11pm, where I do the same things every night to prepare for bed. Similar to how we do for our kids bedtime. I love this reminder of how important these rituals are!

Setting Boundaries. This has been something that has been difficult and caused some upset amongst some family but we are learning to set our boundaries. What I am learning about boundaries is that even workplaces and friendships can benefit from boundaries. I love knowing what other people expect and want and when things are clear it eliminates a lot of stress. Setting boundaries often can avoid feeling like you are being taken advantage of or even getting into awkward or difficult situations. Some examples for us of boundaries that were difficult to set but helped eliminate stress were things like limiting our visitors every time we had a new baby, declining some Christmas family activities because it was overwhelming (limiting how much we do right around the holiday), trying to leave Sunday as a family day, and really being clear about how we like the kids being treated and raised.

Practice Self Care. I am really proud of how well Fraser respects this and is really good at acknowledging when I need some me time. He will often notice if I am nearing a breaking point and suggest I go out for some solo time. He also is good at taking time to go work on a project solo or go to ball, just be on his own. I wouldn’t have ever believed this would take persuasion as I have always been great at self care. However once you have kids things change it is almost like I feel guilty sometimes taking time for me. I do think the more you practice self care the easier it gets because you realize you come back refreshed and ready to take more on!

Self care for me is often taking time away from the family and doing some of my rituals. Self care is even something as simple as working outside of the house, its funny to say that but having three young kiddos has meant we made the choice to have me at home. It was a team decision and a lot of it was it just made financial sense but it was also logistically for the lifestyle we wanted (kids activities, Fraser and I being able to see each other, parent participation in things, etc) that it made sense for us. As nice as it is that I am able to stay at home we both know it would be nice if I could work a little, unfortunately working a little means hiring some more help, having Fraser help out a bit and just more scheduling… I realize that self care is a priority and we make it work but it is a bit of work to take the time for me.

I think that you do not have to eat the same meals every Monday night, do the same thing every Tuesday morning, etc to create routines in your life. I know my resistance to creating these healthy habits was loosing spontaneity but that isn’t true at all. These are just ways to help manage stress and anxiety. Everyone is different and sometimes it takes a bit to figure out what will work for you but I encourage you to try. Often we know what we need to do but we just need a push to get there so whatever that push looks like for you… maybe it’s having an accountability partner, hiring a coach, seeing your naturopath or maybe its as simple as a checklist. Whatever it looks like take the time to do it! Living with less stress and anxiety usually means you get to live with a whole lot more of other stuff!

Fill your Bucket First

Do you believe in syncronicity? I do. I love how many reoccurring themes I can find when I look for them in my life. The last little bit has been busy, but really nothing different from our normal routine of chaos. I attended two different workshops through the farm, my kids have been on Spring Break, weather is finally starting to warm up, we had a triple baptism for our three kiddos, my youngest daughters birthday party and a family friends funeral just to name a few things. During all these things I noticed a common message, and I think it is important so I thought I would share.

I feel like it is hard to sum up this overall message into one idea but rather a broader goal of living in todays modern world and dealing with all the pressures and obligations. It is about living with anxiety and stress and how you can cope with it. Although the times are different from “when I grew up”. The principles from when we were being raised and from our parents childhood on “how to be happy” have never really changed. If we go back to some of the basics and make time in our busy schedules we might be surprised the impact it would have on our lives. The messages I keep hearing in all the areas of my life are similar and it is go back to the basics, make time and spend energy on the real important stuff and the rest will follow.

My favourite take away was from one of the speakers at a Summit I attended for young farmers. The speaker was a doctor and was speaking on mental health. His message was simple, it was that we all want balance in our lives and stress that our demands outweigh our resources. We don’t have the time and energy to meet all our demands but instead of removing every demand, which isn’t realistic always, we should add things that give us energy. We are so quick to take away the stuff that gives us our energy, it is easy to say we do not have time to eat well, exercise or even sleep but how much more productive are we when we get a good nights sleep.

He even went so far as to compare stats of what our parents and grandparents lives were like. Every decade the human populations looses an hour of sleep so back in the day my Great Grandparents slept an average of 10 hours a night, we are currently at about 6.5 hours per night. Did you know that in Canada approx 25% of meals are eaten in our vehicles and the average length of dinner is 15 minutes compared to our Grandparents who’s meals lasted about 1 hour and 15 minutes. These stats were surprising to me, but not unbelievable.

I feel like it is sad to think that although many things have hugely improved with evolution some things have gone the opposite direction. With all the advancements you would think we should have more free time! It seems like people have less and less time to just enjoy their lives, families, food and all the fun stuff. So here was his list of 10 S’ to help make you happier. The idea of these things is that they have all been shown to increase serotonin and we all know that low serotonin is linked to depression and serotonin levels help to regulate mood. These aren’t opinions but backed by science, I did feel like it was kinda of a cool list.

  • SUCCESS| Think back to a time you were successful or felt successful. Just remembering a successful time makes your serotonin levels increase.
  • SUN| It’s here, so get outside and don’t waste it.
  • SLEEP| Deep sleep, the hours before midnight. Set yourself an alarm and go to bed.
  • SMILING| For real you get a surge of serotonin just by smiling.
  • SPORTS| Doesn’t matter what you do or how good at it you are, just get your heart rate going.
  • SOCIAL| See your friends, hang out in a group. Socialize.
  • STEAK| Eat a high fat diet to feed your brain. The brain is made of 80% fat and 10% protein, feed your brain.
  • SAND| Contact with the earth, feet in sand or soil is grounding and good for you.
  • SEX| You don’t even want to know the stats on this one, it’s sad!
  • SPIRITUALITY| Again doesn’t matter what spirituality just that you have it and you practice it. Practice prayers and gratitude. Gives you meaning and purpose.

Seems simple but I know it isn’t. Do I think if you practice all of this you would never feel sad? No, absolutely not. I do think this idea of taking time to do the things that bring you happiness and fill your bucket is super important. I also think it is what gives you the energy to then be able to face the rest of your life.

I always say to my husband we need to put our own oxygen masks on first before we can help anyone else, when the presenter showed that slide and used that same example I couldn’t believe it. I actually took a pic and sent to my husband right away.

As a mom you learn selflessness and putting others needs before your own like you have never known. However it is easy to use this as an excuse to why you aren’t taking care of yourself. You are not a bad mom, partner, daughter, sister or friend if you put yourself first. Most times it makes you a better mom, partner, daughter, sister and friend. I know anytime I am truly taking care of myself I end up with more energy to do the other stuff I want to do.

Weird to think after two weeks of busy Spring Break and lots of fun with my husband and three kids I am starting off back to school with a bit more enthusiasm and energy. Usually after two busy weeks I am burnt out and exhausted. I think I am trying to keep these reminders and lessons fresh in my mind and practice them daily.

The funeral we recently attended was for a longtime family friend who I have known since childhood. Although the circumstances and situation was heart breaking and I truly believe it is hard to find any good to a loss of life when someone is so young the one thing I loved hearing about was how no matter what he took the time to make others feel heard and important. He went out of his way to do little things for people. I think it was a reminder when your time comes the most remarkable thing you can do is have left this Earth a little better.

I guess we have been spending a little more time than usual at Church as we also recently had all three kids Baptized (that’s a whole other blog post…). Before we could do the Baptism Fraser and I had to attend a nighttime class of sorts to go over the purpose of Baptism and a little 101 on the Catholic faith. It was a good refresher for me and maybe a bit of an eye opener for Fraser but it also was nice to have a little reminder of what Faith can do for people. The priests chat with us was really a reminder that raising kids with a community who has Faith can give you greater meaning to things and can help guide you to live a good ethical life without placing so much importance on material things but instead on the greater good. It just all tied in for me with having just heard that spirituality is important, having experienced a death recently and also a birth in our family and really just wanting to raise good kids. I don’t just mean well behaved but kids who care, and who show others empathy and respect.

So, in summary I am going froward with a grateful heart for all the amazing things and people we have in our lives but also with the reminder of how important it is to take care of myself and make sure to fill my bucket. When I do those things that make me feel whole and good and fulfilled then I can share with others and sharing with others can be as simple as engaging in a meaningful conversation and showing someone you heard them, they matter and you care.

Collaboration, the power of partnerships.

Being part of something bigger never used to matter to me. I hated relying on anyone else and thought I could do most things on my own. In my mind if you wanted it done right you should do it yourself, boy was I wrong. I dreaded group projects and always felt they would have been better individually. I didn’t have the skills to work well with others or to compromise and try to see things more than one way (my way).

I still at times want to shut out the rest of the world and just be in a bubble. But the difference now is I don’t believe I am better solo, I think sometimes I need time to recharge solo but I believe I am better with support.

I parent better when I am parenting with the support and help of my husband, I work harder at fitness when I am in a class with an encouraging group of women, I am inspired when I surround myself by my girlfriends and I bet if you ask anyone you know they may have a favourite Plain sister but they will say it is even better when you get to be with all three of us. I am so happy I have learnt that as great as I am independently, I can share my talents and strengths with others and team up to be even more effective as a team.

Since starting our family and having kids you learn it takes a village. I love having a circle of close girlfriends who are there supporting you through some os the best but also the worst times in your life.

Working at the farm and helping plan and run our events I know the importance of a team. You cannot accomplish great things without support and the more I learn and lean into the idea that having support doesn’t make me weaker but in fact builds me up and makes me stronger the more I can accomplish.

The idea can be applied to all areas of my life, when I ask for help from my team with my kids the more they succeed and experience. I can not physical be in three places at once, nor can I support three little people all at the same time so we have an amazing team of family, friends, teachers, educators, therapists and babysitters who help us with the kids. Without this team I cannot imagine how tired, impatient and cranky I would be. Day to day it is Fraser and I who are driving the kids, helping dress, feeding and just generally caring for our family but I am starting to have a real appreciation for those who do help us. I am also learning to ask for help when I need it or make sure we take the time to hire help if we need it.

Apply the same idea to work, I have casual/ seasonal/ part time employment at Emma Lea Farms but when I do work we are usually go go go! Think special events like our Markets, during the busy berry season at the U Pick Stand and most recently to help plan and host a 2 day Farm Tour for farmers from the Pacific North West to see different farms (12 of them actually) from our area. What I learnt was without an amazing team of farmers our tour would be nothing, and without an amazing group of vendors our markets would not hold the same value and without an amazing team of staff our U Pick stand would be impossible. Never underestimate the power and growth that comes from building a strong team.

At a presentation I was at recently the speaker pointed out that Competition is no longer a thing, that we each have a niche and a target market. If we excel and worry about our strengths and pair up with others in the area we actually create a bigger and better reason to come visit. For example breweries independently are good but everyone is all about going on an Ale Trail or a Booze Cruise so when you team up with your “competition” you are actually creating something really special.

I love this idea of being a part of something bigger and really embracing each other instead of competing. Think of it in parenthood even, Moms are always comparing themselves (I think). I always see something and think I wish I could make lunches like that mom, or come to school drop off with make up on and my hair styled and look presentable like other moms, etc. But realistically when I start to chat with the mamas and learn more about them and even start to share our strengths with each other. The one day my girlfriend made my sons lunch and I picked up her son from school it was fantastic, my son was super excited and ate it all and I had such a stress free morning of no lunch making, my girlfriend was thrilled she didn’t have to pack up her daughter and pick up her son. It doesn’t have to big things, small things matter.

Moral of the story is value your friendships and teams, ask for help when you need it or offer it when you notice someone who could use a hand. Sometimes just doing is better than offering, I often say No but if someone just shows up and does it there is no opportunity to say no. If we are open to collaboration great ideas and things can happen. We are stronger together.

Clean Eating (with dirty kids)

Over a year ago we embarked on a lifestyle change and for the first month we followed a plan of strict clean eating. It was the start of some major changes in our house and it was amazing. After just 30 days not only had we both physically changed (by loosing some significant weight) but we also had huge emotional changes, we both had more energy, less mood swings, and naturally started making good changes and choices regarding balance with our lifestyle. We started to make exercise a priority and included activity in our week.

I no longer had any headaches, my stomach was for the first time relatively flat (I mean in comparison to what it had been, basically lost the bloated feeling) and my head felt clear (I mean as “clear” as it can be with three kids running circles around me).

Slowly over the last year we have fallen back in to some old habits and veered from our original plan. Some things were not feasible (or we have chosen not to make them a priority) for the long term for many reasons among them being limited resources (time and money being the big ones).

What started out as exciting, things like making time for meal prep, planning, exercise, etc, became all consuming of our time and life seemed like we were struggling to fit everything else in. Our kids have since started activities plus in the last little bit my son has started a therapy program which involves a lot more driving and time away. Slowly our homemade goodness turned to “healthy” premade/ processed convenience food.

Some of the changes we made were easy to stick to but unfortunately over time we have slipped with others and I have noticed my old “symptoms” coming back. Headaches, upset stomach, bloating and always feeling drained, no energy.

I went to the doctor, she ran blood tests (which showed nothing terrible) and I tried to change a few things but nothing has made as big of a difference as this last week when I started to go back to a more clean diet. All of a sudden I am feeling a lot better again. It has had me re-evaluating our meal planning and trying to determine how to balance clean eating with a busy family, mainly not spending my whole day meal planning, meal prepping, doing dishes and repeating.

SO, here are my clean eating ideas. I am hoping if I can stick to these basic guidelines it will help us make more lasting changes towards a healthy diet and happy bodies!

PLAN & PREPARE.

Take the time twice a week (my goal is Sundays and Wednesdays) to clean and cut up veggies and fruit, pre cook chicken, marinate any meat or any other prep work I can do ahead. Also for us snacks are important, so taking the time to bake goodies that I know are “healthy” but also yummy.

SHOP LOCAL SHOP SEASONAL

One great way to budget and still stay healthy is shop local farmers market with local produce. We are coming into our favourite time of year, berry season! We are so fortunate to live where we do, just this weekend I went out and got a flat of local strawberries (breakfast- smoothies, yogurt parfaits, lunch- strawberry spinach salad, dessert- strawberry shortcakes) and we just bought two cases of BC Prawns from a local fishermen. These will last us until next year and although we try to avoid doing too much frozen some of the things that are seasonal like fish and berries we do buy and freeze.

These are some of our favourite local places.

BE YOUR OWN FAST FOOD

One big thing that I notice about our “clean eating” is avoiding any processed or pre packaged food which is tough to do when your busy and just want fast! But making salad dressing or dips like hummus or even your marinades all on the same day saves you time through out the week. I also will make and freeze portions of things like soup or muffins that can be easily taken out for a quick snack or meal. One goal we have is to do a little more canning. Last year we canned potatoes and although we try not to eat potatoes that often when we do it is so nice to drain and just fry up our tasty pre-seasoned and cooked potatoes. Sometimes stuff like canning seems like a lot of work and money at the beginning but in the long run it saves you on both!

ROUND UP THE TROOPS

In our house everyone loves being in the kitchen (well maybe with the exception of me). So I try to include the kids in meal prepping (they love to sit and “chop”, measure, mix, etc). This can also be time consuming and a lot messier than solo cooking but I do think the benefits outweigh the mess! The kids love it and are a lot more invested in trying or eating if they have helped. Plus they are so proud to share whatever they have made with anyone willing or brave enough to sample:)

SSWAPS AND SWITCHES

We have also made some choices to not have certain ingredients in our house. So these are changes that have stuck since our initial change in diet and have stuck. At first I guess they seemed extreme or drastic but in reality these really were easy changes.

We do not have white flour or white sugar. We have replaced our white flour with a lot of different flours including almond flour, brown rice flour, coconut flour and spelt flour. This was a gradual change and we unfortunately had a case of moths who invaded our baking cupboard and I ended up having to throw everything away. I have just slowly bought the flours as I need them for recipes and really find that it is better to have in smaller quantities and buy fresh as you need. Sugar is a lot harder for me as I am a sugar and dessert freak! But I was surprised at how easy and how many natural alternatives they have so we now stick with honey, maple syrup and raw cane sugar.

One other change I made was pastas, I have switched to all brown rice pastas and am surprised at some of the good alternatives I have been able to find.

Our last big switch was with anything premade (sauces, marinades, etc). This was actually pretty easy for me but the rest of my family had a tougher time. I would like to say we have removed ketchup from our house but we have not (I try to avoid it) but the kids and Fraser still love it. However we do simplify our sauces and opt to stock Tamarind, Braggs Soy Sauce, Greek yogurt, Chili Paste, coconut milk, olive oil and a few other essentials so we can mostly try to make our own marinades and dressings.

EACH DAY IS A NEW DAY

The last really important thing is a mind set, we do go to McDonalds (but now we usually just get for the kids and try to go to White Spot instead of the Golden Arches if we want take out), I buy processed food, we eat white flour baking (because we don’t live in a bubble and Nan bakes with it) and we frequent the Delta Bakery because everyone loves donuts and its a great bribe. I will rarely say no to an Emma’s Ice Cream Sundae. We are far from perfect but what I do know is each day is a new day and we get to start all over with our choices. So maybe we treat ourselves on Tuesday but Wednesday we try to stay true to the plan. I am working on finding a balance of how I want us to eat but also what is realistic and how we do eat. Plus we are social and I never want to make other people feel bad about how they eat or go to special trouble. Everything is about balance and if we can aim to do our clean eating 80% of the time I will be super happy!!!

So the reason I wanted to write about it is because sharing helps me to be accountable but also because I know a lot of you are families and struggle to stay healthy and make good choices while still being practical. SHARE with me your successes and things that work for you! We have our go to recipes and staple grocery items but I would love to hear from other families and find out how they manage meal planning, prep and staying healthy.

Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from some of you!

My wish for my kids… an “ordinary” life.

All my life I have been searching and dreaming. I wanted the best clothes, more money, success in a career and movement. I love learning and wanted to constantly be growing. But instead of focusing on the now I was busy caught up in future plans and dreams. Today I realized that without even trying I have everything I ever wanted and more. I don’t event think I was aware of what I wanted, and somehow the world provided and I got it all!

Friday I went to work. I recently decided I wanted to go back to work just one day a week at a friends farm. I have always wanted to be a farmer, but figured it was impossible with the cost of land (well and I guess the fact that I have no experience or knowledge about farming, minor details). Here’s where I was wrong, today I was a farmer, even if it was just for a couple of hours and even if I had no idea what I was doing. I helped in the raspberry fields, rode on a tractor, visited the cows and saw the newborn baby calf (born this morning), collected the eggs, loaded up a trailer of hay and spent the day with one of my girlfriends. Talk about a dream job. The funny thing is my paycheque isn’t huge, I don’t have a prestigious job title but I feel happy. I am outside, I am contributing to the care of animals and to growing food which is kinda incredible! Plus it feels so good. It reminded me that I don’t have to be doing something extreme or have a masters or degree to be doing a job I love and find meaning in it. Value and meaning can come from any different places and sometimes I find I forget that, so it was a good reminder.

After the farm I went home and grabbed my kids and spent the afternoon at the park with my sister and nieces. Not only did I get to hang out with family but we saw multiple friends and even friends parents! It was a great play, quality time with my kids and a few visits with people I hadn’t seen in a while. Fraser came out on his motorcycle and played too! I put away my phone, unplugged, let my kids run around without shoes (and tried not to worry about what all the other parents were thinking) and just played. It didn’t cost a thing but a little bit of time and we all had fun and left tired and happy.

When we got home I made a homemade dinner (this almost never happens and usually means being organized, tonight I just quickly did it), almost everyone ate it and I spent time just having fun bathing my daughters. The older two kids read me books, told me they loved me and asked me to lay down with them before bed so I did. It was the perfect ending to an amazingly ordinary extradorinaiy day. I even got to spend a bit of quality time with Fraser after the kids went to bed and before he went to bed (graveyard shift!).

When we were at the park earlier I was chatting with a friend and commented that we are going for a tour of an elementary school we are considering and that I was surprised at the things that are important to me about schools. I always thought I would have certain requirements for my kids school but I never thought those things would be more about emotional intelligence and not academic. Having kids has changed everything, My wish for my kids is to be happy and lead a life that makes them happy. I want their school years to be spent having fun, learning life skills and values like honesty, community, integrity, heart and the importance of friends and family. It has really changed the way I evaluate an look at a school and life in general. I feel incredibly blessed to have attended a local elementary school and to not only still see and have relationships with so many elementary school friends but to still see and talk to the teachers and support staff as well. These friendships have played a huge role in my life and I want the same for my kids.

I used to think I wanted them to succeed and success meant good grades, working hard on academics, following through with post secondary and more. Now success looks a little different to me. I want them to make quality friendships and know the importance of not only having good friend but being one. I want them to learn empathy and compassion, to travel and experience things like different cultures, religions and food. I want them to be adventurous and do things even if they scare them a little. I also want them to make mistakes and learn from them.

I think the biggest tool we have with our kids is modelling behaviours we want to see in them so I hope that Fraser and I can slow down long enough to enjoy the fleeting moments we have with our young kids before they grow and don’t want us around. I hope we can show them what is important in life and some of those things are just simple everyday things like playing in dirt and being outside and making good food and being together. I know we are not perfect and that we slip up or that some days are better than others but thats all part of learning about life. Life is meant for living and we intend on doing that and encouraging and supporting our kids to do the same. They continuously remind me of what’s important and to make time to laugh and play so I only hope I can do the same for them.

I love my far from ordinary Plain Life, and hope it doesn’t change too much but just evolves into an even better version! Regardless I will take time and enjoy this life. XO

Create a life you don’t need a vacation from.

So in all honesty I have what might appear to some as a fairly relaxing life, but here is thing about relaxation it is different for everyone. I may not have to be at a paying job everyday and that might seem relaxing but I still have commitments and I still have doubts or moments of self doubt.

I am an over thinker and a worrier.

I am a planner and I am an organizer who wants everything to go a certain way.

I also suffer from anxiety and care what other people think even though deep down I don’t think it should matter.

I feel like I hear “Relax Carly” a lot or at least I used to and it never bothered me, I would try all my usual things (rescue remedy spray, yoga, eating properly, drinking water, going to bed early) but I have never felt more relaxed as I do right now. The funny thing is it has taken a little into our vacation to figure this perfect balance between the five of us.

Fraser and I have discussed what can we take from life on vacation and apply to everyday life to keep that relaxed feeling going. We discovered for us the reason we could just let go and have fun was because we didn’t have obligations, and I don’t just mean work I mean activities, school, commitments, social stuff like birthdays and family dinners, even things like cutting the lawn, making sure we went and paid property taxes or utility bills, arranging dentist appointments or cutting the lawn. These things are all obligations and expectations.

On vacation we had no responsibilities. We had to make sure we were fed and kept three tiny humans alive, that’s it. I don’t think we can avoid all commitments and obligations so second best thing is to take small breaks or time outs to relax, or at least this is our plan.

The biggest thing I am learning about relaxation is it looks extremely different to everyone. This is what can be challenging. I feel a lot of what we know or how we relax is learned (mostly from family but I think it could be said it is learned from a young age so anyone who during those years might have had influence on you).

For Fraser relaxing means no rush, no plan, watching TV or staying inside on the couch, etc. For me this can be stressful because we were raised if it was nice you should be outside, there is no reason to have the TV on and that we always had some sort of a plan for the day with a little structure. Sleeping all day or being lazy was rarely a thing we did. So, relaxing to me is still shutting down but it might include a little more structure (like being to the beach by a certain time) or making sure that we are outside everyday if it is nice out.

We both do find relaxation in taking the kids for walks or getting outside for some exercise. Taking time to play and feel no guilt about it. Playing could be jumping on the tramp, building forts or even just tickling and laughing. I really want to make play a priority in our house for all of us.

For our kids relaxing is even different again, all of our kids find the park relaxing Grace is a swing addict. Like could actually swing all day, but likes to be pushed. Rowen on the other hand likes to be chased, he is a kid who seems to really like to be engaged and kept busy physically. Eleanor is hard to tell yet but I think her most relaxed is being held. If you are calm and just hold her she is so happy and relaxed. Rowen and Grace seem very relaxed with TV Row even more so than Grace (I really dislike this and try to fight it). However what I am learning is if Rowen and Fraser tried to take away my books, writing, time at the spa or time at the beach I wouldn’t like it. So, if TV is one of their ways to relax and shut down then I need to appreciate that. I know it is hard for Fraser to understand how reading or even painting with the kids is relaxing, but I don’t understand how watching you tube is relaxing but that doesn’t mean we both shouldn’t do these things.

I think the biggest thing is to realize that a little relaxation can restart and reset the tone for your whole family. It is not reasonable to think you can just keep taking vacations to escape reality (I would know, I tried to convince Fraser of this plan!). It is however reasonable to find ways to incorporate relaxation or down time. For me that means locking the bathroom door and just taking a 10 minute shower, or putting the kids in the car and going for a bit of a drive or getting outside, going outside to the park or the beach or even the backyard. The dishes and laundry ain’t going anywhere! So I watch for signs that any of us need a little break and then we act on it.

I encourage all of you to take time to relax, give yourself permission and don’t feel guilty. And try not to judge or be mad at your spouse when he or she takes down time. It’s in everyone’s best interest that we do this! This may not look like the spa or yoga it might be zoning out in a garage and listening to music really loud, or playing video games or just lounging and watching you tube. Whatever it looks like make sure you take time to do it;)

I hope you all get to laugh more and take time out to play without guilt.

Mind, Body & Soul…

I have always loved to consider myself spiritual, but I am not sure that I was doing intentional activity to feed my soul. I have lots of beliefs on how to take time for me and to make sure mind, body and soul are all being looked after, but beliefs are different than action. My goal for 2018 is to feed my soul (while still exercising my mind and body… always striving for a bit of balance).

2018 has really started off strong for me and for my family. Fraser has taken a parental leave from work that started December 30th and doesn’t end until February 24th. We left January 16th for a family vacation and are in Maui until February 16th! This has lead to many amazing days as a family, including simple stuff like somehow easily transitioning all three kids into their own beds while on vacation and sleeping almost through the night with no wake ups, successfully bringing 3 kids 3 and under on a plane without any issues, watching the kids swim in our pool and demonstrating lots of what they learnt at their swimming lessons last year, and so much more! But the purpose here is not to go on about all the good things that are happening in my life but instead to share some of how I got to this happy place and what I am planning on doing to stay living this good life!

First, I really like this quote and really believe it. With that in mind I really have tried to remind myself to stay positive and think good thoughts, when in doubt of what is happening adjust my feelings/ attitude and see what I attract and of course imagine possibilities and they will happen (manifestation/ synchronicity). This is defiantly a belief that I want to keep in mind through out 2018!

I also started off 2018 taking a few risks or doing a few things that scare me!

First I put myself out there with my This Plain Life stuff and participated in a Pop Up Retreat, at this retreat I lead a guided meditation that I was super proud and happy with, I also got to have an oracle card reading, something I have been wanting for a while. I actually enjoyed the reading so much that I bought my first set of cards and have been pulling them when I feel I need one. My very first pull from the set I did three cards and couldn’t even believe how much they fit with where I am with my life and my intentions fro 2018 align with these cards.

Basically Sulis to me represents where I am right now. In Maui, ocean side everyday recharging my battery. I am a water baby, love being on the water, but also in it. I love showering, even my recent spa treatment involved lots of pools, water treatments, Vichy baths etc. I really love this card and think it is completely speaking the truth about where I am right now and what my goal with our vacation is.

Of course sooner than I want to admit we will return back to reality and when we arrive I am thinking of it as my start to the real life of 2018, also it is a new start for our kids with habits and routine. The first week we get home Rowen, Fraser and I will take part in his 3 day private Autism Assessment. I am really looking at Kali as a sign that I need to release my old expectations and desires for Rowen and focus on this new beginning. One that includes support, advice and most importantly ways for Rowen to be successful in all aspects of his life. I loved this card as a reminder that endings aren’t always sad and beginnings are such a great opportunity! With that in mind I look forward to coming home and starting fresh.

Then Ishtar was my final card and couldn’t be more fitting. I have always struggled with boundaries and making sure to love myself and my time and energy. This is something I will always try to work on and definitely have been thinking lots about how I will bring this into 2018 with me. Sometimes we give too much or do things out of guilt or obligation, but Ishtar reminds us that we aren’t truly helping others if we don’t take care of ourselves first. I definitely want to check in when I am doing things and make sure I am doing them for the right reasons and from a good place, I also don’t want to fill my time so full that I miss out on all the little things with my family.

Pulling these cards was another sign for me that these are the types of messages and reminders I want to pay attention to and really work on the power of thoughts. I feel like 2017 was a year full of manifesting lots of really great things that all happened and felt unbelievable. Cannot wait to see what 2018 will bring!

I loved this quote and have used the first month in January as a time of reflection and evaluation… what things excite me? Do I prioritize these things and am I wasting time on stuff that doesn’t excite me??? This has been a good time for me to really think about it. When you are out of your regular environment and all your day to day stuff you get to simplify your life and see what are the things you are missing. It is not often people at our age with young kids take the amount of time we have to do this and I gotta say it has been amazing on some many levels. I can’t wait to see how I can transfer some of the stuff I have loved on vacation back to our home life.

Before I left for holidays the cards that reading I had was messages from my spirit guides and my angels. This was the first card pulled, a message from my spirit guides that a loved one in heaven is there for me whenever I need her and she will leave messages I just have to be open to seeing them. The coolest thing happened the first day we arrived in Maui we are on the beach not even 5 minutes and my son brings us a heart rock saying it was for Nan (my mom). Her sister, my aunt, is the loved one in heaven I assumed is here fro me and my mom loves heart rocks. Not only that we stay at the same place my aunt and uncle spent lots of time at and this beach was where they would often sit. You can’t help but feel that this rock was a message from my aunt!

After an incredible start to 2018 I am feeling full of Synchronicity and to follow this path when we get home a few things I will be doing are

  • Spending more time outside, in nature. Even if the weather isn’t as nice, this is always a struggle for me and for my whole family who love the summer months and tend to hibernate through the winter. However I feel like we are all happier when we are outside and definitely all sleep better when we have been outside!
  • Make time for myself and healthy habits. In tangible ways such as eating healthier and meal prep, but also in spiritual ways such as taking time to meditate or just breath, going to moon circles (so excited to join Goddess Moon Circles New Moon Monthly Circle).
  • Pay attention to little things or coincidences! Find meaning to stuff that I normally am too busy to even notice.

How do you feed your soul? I would love to hear what other people are doing and what you find helps bring you happiness and peace.