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Monday, February 23, 2015

Canada the Polite, America the Adventurous

Mom and dad went home last week after visiting with us for about a week and a few days.  Ellie cried every time they tried to hold her for long.  It isn’t Ellie’s fault she isn’t used to them - she does the same to Bill’s family when we visit them in New Jersey and we see them a fair bit more than my family.  It hurts to think the two people I admire most, who taught me everything I know aren’t able to be closer to my daughter as she grows up.  I would hope she could bask in the love and support I’ve known and to what has made me the loving person I am today.  She will still bask in the love I suppose but the distance between New Brunswick Canada and Houston, Texas are like moon glow as opposed to the full glory of the sun.  It’s there but it’s just a reflection of the source.  
Ellie will be more cowgirl than Canuck - will she even understand where I’ve come from?  The beautiful, dark, cruel cold of deep winter.  The warmth of a roaring fire while the snow falls outside?  The relief and wet release of a warm spring.  The cultural admonitions to be a good person.  To be polite, to let others go first, to be kind to one another.  To be humble is better than to be brash.  Confidence, not arrogance.  Stoic love of country not blind patriotism.  The belief that everyone in the society deserves access to care for their health.  To support and dignity.  That our society isn’t a mad scramble to the top but a network of individuals where EVERYONE matters.  Even the ignorant, even the needy, even the ill.  If one is in a position to help their fellow man, it is therefore their imperative to do it.  
These ideals and values are often at odds with those I find in the US.  I’ve traveled a little out there in the world, and every time I do I realize how lucky I was to be born in North America.  Freedom really isn’t free.  Being a woman in some parts of the world is like a death sentence.  A death sentence for the soul but just as easily (and often) for the body as well.  I love the country I was born in and I am growing quite affectionate of the country I am adopting.
Globally speaking the differences between Canada and the US are minor compared to our similarities.  We stand together more often than we stand apart and often criticize each other good naturally (or not) which is a sure hallmark of family.  If countries are families Britain is the parent, of course and I would say the US is the rebellious older brother who moved out at a young age and went to find adventure and fortune on their own.  They found that fortune and so now are insufferably proud and think themselves very wise.  Canada is more like the ‘good’ younger brother who stayed close to family and for that reason isn’t half as proud, or interesting.  Historically, anyway.
I hope we raise a global child as at home in the quiet solitude of a New Brunswick winter night as she is the riotous rodeo afternoon in Houston.  I hope she experiences the world in such a way she realizes both how lucky she was to be born here but also how much more we can improve.



Monday, February 16, 2015

Baby Bites Back



I’ve been bitten on my boob.  No this isn’t a knock-off of 50 shades of grey, I’m a nursing momma who let me tell you has just begun the weaning process!  Ouch.  She’ll be ten months in another couple of weeks, I am hoping to have her weaned by then.  I don’t know who is having a harder time stopping me or her!  It’s a comfort for her, I say.  Well, it is and it is also a comfort for me.  My baby needs me now in a way she will never need me again.  The way she cuddles so close, with one tiny hand on my neck or reaching for my hair, and the way her head bobs like she’s nodding when she eats.  Soooo cute.  Once this stops, it’s all growing up and bad haircuts and boys I don’t approve of and sneaking out at midnight.  I realize I may be getting ahead of myself a TEENSY bit.  But not by much.  Life happens so fast sometimes I just want to hit the pause button.  SLAM.  Everything stops, just for a second, so I can soak in the picture of the baby falling asleep as she feeds.
Truth is it has taken me a week just to get rid of the noon feeding.  I’ve been working on the three pm feeding without much success.  I’m so sore by 5pm I feed her even if she would have taken a bottle.  She takes the bottle at the noon feeding like a champ but doesn’t have much at the 3pm feeding.  Since I’ve been nursing I don’t know how much is normal.  Is she not drinking a lot because she wants to nurse or because I didn’t have much to give her at the 3pm feeding anyway?  There are no set guidelines for this, no black and white items I can check off the list.  WHY ISN’T RAISING A HUMAN EASIER?  Why aren’t there safe little checklists?  Why are there instruction manuals for my hair dryer but not for my baby?  Why do I need a license to drive my car but not to take care of a child!?  Shouldn’t someone at least have checked my eyesight?  (Can you SEE the baby Mrs Yeh?).   
Can’t I just let her nurse FOREVER?  And yet….and yet it is nice to be able to have a second cup of tea and not worry.  To be able to take a decongestant if I am stuffy and not worry.  To not worry, for a little, that I didn’t eat healthy food for every meal.  Not to mention, margarita’s for lunch anyone!?  Ha, ha, ha.  (Ahem…)
To leave the house and not have to be back in an hour or so to nurse her.  I could leave the house WITHOUT my little bundle of joy and have a massage AND lunch out and not feel guilty.  It means more freedom.  FREE——EEEE——DOM.  It means Bill can get up with her for her nighttime feeding and I can SLEEP through the WHOLE NIGHT!!!  I’ve forgotten what that feels like.  Won’t that be AMAZING?
Life is never one thing or the other.  It’s hardly ever pure joy or pure misery.  It’s often a messy mix of both.  I’m not sure I would ever want to change that.  The shadows, sad as they are, give depth to the painting of my life.  They bring out the singing, zinging shafts of joy that pierce my heart from time to time.  Like a baby, falling asleep on my lap as she nurses.




Monday, February 09, 2015

Goodbye Winter



There is beauty in winter, a deep stillness devoid of any distraction or stimulation that allows you to deeply connect with yourself.  The uncontrollable rush and tumble of thought, desires, intentions and worries all dwindle to a trickle.  You can’t feel this in any other season.  Even the blood in your body pushes inward, protecting the vital organs.  White crusty snow crunching underfoot, black sky dissected by the bare brown arms of hibernating trees.  All sounds muted in the world except for your own breath, your own lonely heartbeat.  It’s wonderful.
And for most of my life I’ve HATED it.  Now that we only have a couple months left of a ‘real’ winter, I find myself waxing nostalgic about both the Canadian winters I grew up in and the Virginia winters I’ve adjusted to recently.  I’m really going to miss it in Houston.  Recently a friend told me hey, there’s humidity in Houston but you don’t have to shovel it….very true.
THINGS I WONT MISS: I won’t miss shoveling the driveway.  Then shoveling again when the plow goes by.  Scraping the windshield before work in the morning.  Scraping it again when I leave for the day.  Navigating icy side-walks and sweeping all the extra sand and salt out of the entryway five times a day.  Taking twenty minutes to bundle up before I leave the house.  Cold steering wheels, cold engines that take forever to heat up.  Dry skin, static electricity hair, getting up in the dark and coming home after dark.  Wait, what was I going to miss about winter again!?   
It was warm enough one day last week to open the windows for the first time all winter.  There is nothing like the feeling of letting in a flood of warm sun and fresh air after a stale couple months of dry heated air.  Hello JOY.  Fresh air, warm sun, is there anything better!?
We went for a walk down King Street in Old Town which is always fun on an unusually warm day last week.  Loads of people and THEIR dogs and babies were out in droves to take advantage of the first warm day in months.  We had a fun encounter with a VERY LARGE, beautiful great dane who came about to my shoulder.  He had to bend down, waaaaaay down to touch noses with my little Chihuahua mix, Toby.
The whole walk was like a reminder that there is life beyond the stifling cold of a house-bound winter.  It’s weird but it's like I’m a different PERSON in winter.  I’m more subdued, reserved, as if the layers of clothing serve to layer my heart, too.  I feel muffled and stifled and cold not just in my body but in my soul, too.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I am a completely different person in winter but I am definitely more fun, more outgoing, more adventurous, friendlier, in short, happier in summer.  More free.  I wonder what it will do to my personality not to have ‘winter me’ show up at all.  It’s just a move to another state but is it possible it will move ME to another state of being?  A happier one maybe, a warmer one for sure.  Change is scary but it’s FUN too.  Anyone need a straight laced button-down turtleneck with holes for the thumbs?  I’ve got fifteen and I won’t be needing them anymore….

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Rejuvenate


Rejuvenate.  That is the word of the week for me.  Between building a home thousands of miles away in Houston and getting this one ready to sell in the spring, things have been ramping up.  Throw into the mix a nine month old teething, an elderly parent also getting ready for the move, and you’ve got some stressful days ahead.

The important thing to remember at least for me is that: 
1)This is temporary.  It won’t be this crazy for long.  
2) How does a mouse eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  
3) To try to find time EVERY DAY to do something that makes me feel happy, even if that one small thing is going to sleep early.  (Cut to me, falling in an exhausted heap on the bed.  Sometimes I even make it IN the bed.)  Sometimes it means splurging on a new purse, or a chocolate treat that I normally wouldn’t allow myself.  (Ah, who are we kidding, I ALWAYS allow myself a chocolate treat.)  Sniff.  There’s always SOMETHING going on that requires some sugar fortitude after all this is LIFE.  

Rejuvenate.  Taking the time to replenish the supply of patience, good humor, love and sacrifice that motherhood (heck life itself) requires.  A hot bath.  A long, lazy shower where you risk mold invasion of the highest order.  A nap in the afternoon.  A manicure, a massage, a brand new book by your favorite author.  (And someone to watch the kids while you read it!).  For me, it’s all those things and yoga, of course.  In the past my snobby yoga self has snubbed the TV yoga shows but now that I’ve got a baby in the house I’ve embraced it.  I’ve managed some TV yoga every other night all week (thank you Wai Lana!) and it has made a huge difference for me.  It’s like a massage for your inside muscles.  

Writing this blog right here, right now makes me feel like my parched spirit is being doused in a deluge of cool, fresh water.  Ellie’s fussing but she’s with her dad and she will be fine for a few more minutes while I allow the joy in my life to reach through the numbing monotony of daily chores and responsibilities and quench my thirsty soul.  Ahhh, refreshing.

Rejuvenate.  Reminding oneself that life is actually, really and truly AMAZING.  It’s magical and mysterious and full of wonder and joy and surprises and adventures.  We live on the ground but our spirits, our souls live in the sky, in the hot sun and the cool wind, in the net of stars in the forever black sky.  It lives at the horizon and it doesn’t look down it only looks up and away into an eternity of new skies and different stars.  Sometimes we need to visit that creative space within ourselves even if we don’t consider ourselves ‘creative-people’.  Being creative isn’t pre-destined like eye color and height, its a muscle we use just like our intellect.  It’s like a work out for your heart.  Work it people!  Rejuvenate!

And now, instead of taking my own advice I’m going to get a hard apple cider and watch Super Bowl 49 with my hubby.  I’ll rejuvenate tomorrow.  Go Sea Hawks!