Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hiccups and other progress

Hello again!

As I've mentioned before my writing hunger has subsided as of late however I felt the need to come clean with you all about something.

First of all, I know I started a 'body blog' but I seemed to abandon it weeks ago as I clearly am unable to juggle two at once. Oh well, the apocalypse didn't occur so I think I'm safe.

The past 2 weeks of my clean eating pursuits have been less than stellar. In fact they have been a genuine struggle for me. Which is rather odd since I have educated myself so greatly to the effects and consequences of 'unclean' eating. I guess it goes to show you that ultimately it all comes down to our own choices in the end.

It's been the social times that have been my downfall and have slowly but surely steered me away from my usual clean choices while out. On a good note it has seemed to have hit me in a trickle of situations that I have made choices to consciously and seemingly rationally go against my commitment in such a way that didn't seem to be breaking my own rules at all (ok so I'm not sure if that's really a good note).

Now, if I felt ready to begin my allowances for 'cheating' (you know, the so loved cheat meal) I would not be bothered so much, but since I have seen how one choice leads to another and so on and so forth I now know why I have made the decision to be so strict with myself and why.

Though I will confess I am to some degree disappointed with myself, in another way I am very proud because my weakest point in my past with food has been the emotional binge that occurs alone and with baked goodies. And that my friends, I have not succumbed to. THAT am I so proud of and must sit and celebrate because this means I am still awake and aware of what I am doing and have just trusted myself a little too much with liberties I am not yet ready for.

I was going through the grocery store yesterday to pick up a brownie mix to make for some of Wally's school friends (yeah, I don't clean bake for anyone but Wally, me I'm way too cheap). I had thought about my less than stellar choices lately and almost picked myself up some chocolate covered almonds, I mean almonds are good right? and what does it matter anyway I knew I'd be enjoying some oil filled, artery clogged brownies later anyway as I'd gone astray...

I even walked myself out of the way right to the bulk candy section to purposefully indulge in one of my favourite treats, having a mental competition with myself as I made the journey.

I shocked myself completely when I floated right past them without even stopping. Somewhere along the road I had a conversation in my head and quickly won the battle. I'm not even sure how. I believe a brief flash of reality whipped through my mind and I admitted to myself that the one thing I had yet to fail myself with during my past two months of clean eating (or my version of such) was the fact that I had yet to personally, on my own, by myself, purchase anything like this and I knew that meant a great deal. (Any 'cheating' was done in a social context which still isn't ideal but is somehow redeeming for me).

I won that very important battle and it made me happy. Very happy.

After enjoying pizza at our social occasion (and brownies and oatmeal cookies that would've definitely all been banned at a Tosca Reno convention, I mean they wouldn't have even been allowed to be burned at the alter).

I decided it was time to shape up as I had certainly learned and was reminded why I had made the decision to go clean for 6 months in the first place.

I made the decision to learn the flavours and tastes of pure whole foods without them being tainted by manufactured .... crap (sorry no other adjectives seem appropriate).

I wanted my taste buds and body to become accustomed to natural healthy foods so that when occasions occurred including my former addictions I'd be prepared with a highly trained palette and body to react in such a way that I either wouldn't want to eat those things again OR that it would only be capable of enjoying a taste before turning on me.

I have come a long way in training these things however I am still in the process not to be let go of. I have learned in the past two weeks that when you reacquaint yourself with the old ways on more than one occasion in a short period of time it is not hard to get used to them. This is a great lesson to learn and one I am thankful for. (Though I am not looking forward to going through the craving stage again, I'll get through though - I'm determined).

The old me would've taken this opportunity of what seems to be failure, to quit. The new me sees it as a chance to learn and be reminded of what I really want for my life. This doesn't make doing it any easier. However by sharing my struggle with you I feel as though it may help you know that perfection in the journey does not exist. You will fall, you will disappoint yourself, and you will make mistakes.

But, as we often hear: It's what you choose to do afterwords that makes the difference.

I'm so glad with every lesson that comes along we don't seem to get the first time, we almost always get a chance to try again.

It's so strange. This is the first time in my life that I have been able to hold on to what I believe, in regards to my healthy life, through the struggle of getting there (yes, even though I'm not there yet). Usually I give up and tell myself that my goal or dream is for 'other people'. Not anymore, now I know it's for me too if I truly want it. And I do.

As I've journeyed my dreams have expanded very little by very little. I never started out day one to become a bikini model or an advocate of eating perfection. Neither one of those things are my current goals. However the further I maintain focus and allow myself to fixate on the things I do want, the more I believe the others things are also possible. It's quite amazing.

I am continuing to learn that this and probably everything else is about the process, making me less anxious about my 'lessons' along the way that seemingly trip me up but in reality probably skip me steps forward because they are permanent lessons learned. What an amazing thing!!!!!

I mean the reason that I used to give up diets and new eating plans or exercise tries so often was because they were 'all or nothings'. I either had to start Monday and get it right all week or I would give up at my first failure. Now I realize that failure isn't failure, it's learning what not to do, what attitude to release, or what behaviour needs to be tweaked. All of these years I've been fighting the process and now I'm submitting to it. (Slowly but surely).

If you are walking through this little journey (whether it's about your body or anything else) with me don't give up when things don't go perfectly, hang on tight and keep your eyes on the prize. You will get there. IF you don't let go. Just make sure it's something you believe in.

When I started I would never have believed in my current goals, so I had goals that I could believe in. Then as I got closer they changed and I set new goals and I'm still doing so (again, not just with my body but many other things!!). You will amaze yourself!

My intent isn't to sound all new agey and stuff. Just to share with the lessons I'm being taught. Trust me when I say that I'm quite sure I get far more out of writing these things out than you do!


(P.S. I have also come to realize that we can be taught the same lesson a hundred times over, not because we've failed - I think they are just reminders).

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I'm workin' on a project. I'm really excited. I will share very soon!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Granite, formica or ... plastic tv trays?

Wow, it's been a while. Well for me that is. I've been busier than balanced in general but it's ok, I think. I've been scheduling, scheduling, scheduling social time and enjoyed every visit I've snatched up in the past couple of weeks. My how I love connecting with people, especially the ones who I know want to be connected with.

I've been trying not to allow myself to write for the sake of writing because it tends to allow me to be more negative than I'd like to be known for. However as of late I've had a couple of (ok so I'm avoiding the Oprahism 'A HA' so bear with me as I think of an appropriate term ...) 'I get it' moments. Some were more 'Why don't you get it?' moments (sorry but it's true.)

The other day I was invited to go to a bridal shower of one of my colleagues at work. Generally I hate showers of any kind (you know what I mean) and I avoid them like the plague. However in this case my co worker herself invited me to this little shin dig and insisted that I come. Initially I was told (by her) that it was a night on the town with bars and fun and such, something I don't really fit in well with but I thought this would be a great opportunity to try as this would be an older bunch and I figured a good group to ease into this party situation with. When I read the original invitation I laughed at the wording and how NOT young this group was (not that there's anything wrong with that).

It wasn't until I checked my e-mail and learned that the planned 'outing' was a ploy to trick this chick into thinking it was just an outing when indeed it was a good old fashioned bridal shower. yay.

I had already committed to going so off I went to suburbia to party hard with the ladies surrounded by toilet paper and trays of party food.

I arrived miraculously with little confusion which was surprising considering the fact that there were at least 3 turn-abouts (is that what they are called?) and well I think I've mentioned how terrible I am with regular directions let alone ones that require astute attention with every turn.

The shower was at another co-worker's place which I quickly noticed was in a newer development. I didn't give this a whole lot of thought until the door opened up to a wondrously beautiful home. Dark wood cupboards in the kitchen covered with granite counter top, a large beautiful island that worked perfectly for the buffet of snacks. The fireplace and large open concept welcomed many, without fears of claustrophobia honing in.

Now remember how I don't think it's wrong for people to enjoy these sorts of things? Well I don't, in fact I celebrate it and love it, especially when I get to visit and enjoy and be a part of a comfortable gathering. I love when people can open up and share what they have with others, no matter what it is that they have.

I need to take you back about a week and a half to a conversation I shared with this co worker while we were coming and going one afternoon. She knelt over my open car window and said 'I think it's time for me to give up working weekends. I've worked weekends and evenings for 40 years. I want to enjoy my time!'.

No doubt. I've been working evenings and weekends for a year (in this field) and I think it's for the birds (what the heck does that mean anyways?).

In that moment as she shared her fatigue of her unwelcome schedule I slouched further and further down into my car hoping and praying she didn't know what me schedule was. Feeling like perhaps she was testing me to fess up with the fact that my unearned schedule was pretty good. I was waiting for thunder and lightning to strike and her eyes to go red and start glowing at me. Seeing down to the deepest part of my soul.

Fortunately for me the moment passed and I didn't get found out. Phew!

Let's get back to the shower.

As I quietly walked into this incredible home and appreciated each little extra feature it held I immediately remembered our conversation a few days earlier.

By no means is my intention to judge her and hand down a sentence of 'serves you right lady!', though clearly I had my measuring tape out very much ready to do these things. I couldn't help but wonder if she knew the secret and was ignoring it, or if she hadn't found it yet.

So often I have heard people at work go on and on about being 'over hours' or 'always working' or whatever. I generally assume they have to do it because of financial reasons (we don't exactly make millions in our field). And by financial reasons I mean for food and their survival, not for granite counter tops.

As the ladies at the shower visited at one point the conversation steered head on into various thoughts about this beautiful home. Many were commenting on it's loveliness but our host wasn't so sure. Apparently they'd built before (maybe even a couple of times) and they just couldn't seem to get it right. She listed off the many things she didn't like about this home and someone retorted jokingly 'When are you moving?' Everyone laughed but inside I couldn't help but feel very relieved at my discovery.

Life is people. Life is enjoyment. Life is relaxing. Life is love. Life is ... what we make it out to be.

I know, I know, you (along with my psyche) are saying 'Yeah and life is hard, life hurts, life sucks, life is sad, stressful, heart breaking, a pain in the ass, and a boat load of other negative descriptions. Have you lost your friggin' mind Eva?!'

Well, probably. But I have to point out how much we bring a lot of these things on ourselves. Think about your car payment ... does it stress you out? Either it does or it doesn't. It may because you know it was a bit out of your price range, or it may not because you were smart enough to know what you could afford in the first place (and you may even be laughing if you're a genius without one!). How about rent or your mortgage? That trip you went on last year or the clothes you bought last weekend.

Is it really life that stresses us out or is it how we approach it. I know I'm speaking more right now about material things but I think the notion can easily be transferred into emotional things. I wouldn't trade for one minute my house back (although I talk about it a lot) for the lessons and skills Wally and I have learned over the past 2 years of living in a city in an apartment starting over.

I wouldn't add an extra hundred dollars to my paycheque in exchange for the time I've enjoyed with friends over the past couple of weeks. None of it's worth it.

Try it, try looking at how you organize your time, your talents and your affections. You'll be absolutely amazed at how many little things you can change and how much more joy you can experience. I'm learning slowly, yet quickly that life is so much more valuable than money and stuff.

I realize that it's easy for me to say as I have a partner to share life's financial burdens with but I have no doubt in my mind that we can all free up a few things in the name of our peace of mind.

We owe it to the time we've been given to use it wisely. So .... do it and enjoy!

Disclaimer: As I said earlier I don't think it's wrong to have nice things. I do think it's sad when our focus on these things causes us to overlook the limits of the time we've been given. I would not have mentioned this story if I hadn't first heard the musings of a discontented heart.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Getting the hang of things

Well ladies and gents, it's been a whole week without any blogging and the world is still a turning which tells me something. I'm but a simple addition to this little thing called life, and that's ok with me.

To be honest I haven't had a whole lot on my mind. (Ok so that's not entirely true but what I have on my mind I cannot blog about).

I've been trying to settle into this new 'balanced' lifestyle that I'm working on. I have to say, it's going pretty well.

I've been spending my time working, playing, resting, exerting my physical energy, talking, rekindling some friendships and trying to patch up others.

I cannot emphasize enough how much my incredibly unbalanced work life over the past 10 months has affected the rest of my life. I sort of feel like I am just noticing a tornado that whipped through and now am trying to assess the damage and figure out where to start to 'clean up'.

It, at times, has felt overwhelming. Closets over run with scrap booking supplies and pictures waiting to be creatively placed (I've realized I don't think that I even like scrapbooking just the finished product). Friends we haven't visited in over a year waiting to be seen. Other relationships that have been put on the back burner that have boiled over while waiting for attention. Then there’s my spirit that is overjoyed that I’ve allowed this miracle of time to be found.

If someone had told me a year ago that my 30 hr contract along with school and my 30 hr placement would have lead me down a wretched path of unbalanced disarray I wouldn’t have believed it. I would’ve argued that I was immune to relationship follies (especially with those closest to me), that I ‘could handle whatever comes my way’, and that ‘there’s no way I could gain 15 pounds in a few short months'.

I sacrificed everything, my body, mind and the wellness of my spirit to accomplish things.

My body, mind and spirit, I have since learned are worth far more than ‘things’.

Things being money, stuff, peoples’ opinions, earning respect, feeling needed.

It’s kind of strange. It’s only been over the past couple of weeks of trimming the fat of my life that I’ve realized the extent of the damage of my past actions.

It's like I turned my head and the garden that was my life became weeds. Not great news to a non gardener.

On a good note I have enjoyed rediscovering lost friendships, and am determined to do the necessary work to bring others back to life (as long as other parties are willing and welcoming). We'll see how it goes. I certainly have no right to float in and out of lives at my willing, therefore much is dependent on others and grace.

I have really enjoyed time with some acquaintances, old friends and possibly new friends as of late. I think over the past 2 weeks I've met up with at least 4 people I haven't seen since or before our party and I've been able to have good visits with them. I have a bunch more reconnections planned for this week and next and I am very much looking forward to it.

I'd love to go somewhere deep with this but I got nothin'.

Have a happy day :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


This is just a little review of some funnies that have occurred lately with us...

The other night we made some 'Clean' cookies with the main ingredient being hazelnuts which needed to be toasted first. I couldn't help but giggle after I said to Wally 'Hey can you give those nuts a shake?'

I have recently decided that wearing thongs to bed just doesn't work for me. The other night I was in my pj's and said to Wally 'My thong keeps getting stuck up my butt', at which time he replied with: 'Isn't it supposed to?'. I say 'Yeah.' He then just turns his head and laughs.

Wally and I were taking the dogs for a walk the other day and Wally turned to me and said in a manly yet sassy voice: 'That's a nice piece of ass you have'. I smiled with pride.

A conversation followed the previous statement. Wally was telling me about a woman who's boss stated what a fine piece of ass she was. In short she paid him back with humiliation and quit her job. I told Wally: 'If my boss said that to me I'd turn to him, take his hand and sincerely say 'Thank you. Thank you so much. I've worked very hard for it. Thank you.''

Yesterday we were visiting friends of ours who live a fair distance away and we haven't seen in a while. The husband is a pastor. They have a little girl who's 6 years old. We were sitting in church and she was drawing on a little note pad, something small on each page. I loved her pictures so much I later asked if I could have her book and I would pay her a dollar. She looked at me with almost apologetic eyes and said 'You can have it, but you don't have to pay me.' I paid her the dollar and got the notebook just to keep with me to make me smile.

In quotes are some of the words she wrote and then an explanation of the pictures she drew ...

'God' - drawing: a stick person with long hair and a dress.

'God's first person Adam' - drawing: person with a belly and arrows pointing to it with the word belly (she later said 'He has man boobs but we won't talk about those things anymore' Ha ha ha!!!).

'God's second person ever' - drawing: same as God's first person ever only with long hair and two stick arms.

'God's laws don't touch nothing unclean' - drawing: stick man with beard with what I'm guessing was the tablet of laws (When I asked her about this she said she didn't write it word for word as she did not want to plagiarize!!! This almost killed me).

'Jesuses last diner' - drawing: a table with round dots on it (would've loved to see what a diner back then looked like, I also love how it was supposed to be the last dinner and not the last supper!)

Hope these brighten your day!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Balance. Not a four letter word?

1,2,3,4,5,6,7. Nope, it's not.

However it often feels like it. Both when you are trying to get it and then trying to maintain it. Oh and let's not forget when others are jealous of you having it.

I have not quite yet reached the last stage but I sense that it is fast approaching (or at least I hope so, more in terms of just me having balance than people hating me for it).

This topic is brought to you by the letter F which stands for Food. (Although considering what I've written so far could be used in many other ways. Such a versatile letter, especially when put in 4 letter words :)

It's interesting that I have just recently been successful (or at least closer than I've ever been) at trying to balance my work, family, and social lives. Of course I am at the infancy stage in learning this technique and perhaps could be considered only barely able to walk. I know that I will still fall down once in a while and bump my head and probably scrape my knees but at least I have finally pulled myself up onto my feet. It's one step past crawling, so I'll take it.

As most of you know I started the journey of balance in regards to my body several months ago. I suppose I could say I've been working on this for years but really I was doing the equivalent of crawling on a hamster wheel. Not going very fast, only in circles and I definitely hadn't yet pulled myself up yet.

I started really working on things nearly 6 months ago when I signed up at the gym with a personal trainer. Initially I had images that I'd lose a few pounds in the 12 weeks committed to see him and then I'd be on my merry way. I had no crazy ideas that I'd become a swim suit model or gain some super muscular physique or anything. I really just wanted to be at a healthy weight and learn how to use the gym.

After my first 12 weeks were up I still wasn't happy. I was beginning to see that there was so much more to my struggle than I ever knew before (or at least than I was willing to admit).

I really just wanted to show up, do the work with Dee and go home. I didn't have any desire to completely change my eating for life, or give up my binging. I just wanted to lose the weight from the past few years and then try and keep it off. Little did I know or want to accept the fact that part of keeping off my departed weight would require me in fact change my whole life.

Once I got into my final 3 months with Dee I got a little more serious about learning about food. I researched, read and learned more than I ever knew about putting good things in my body. Once I was empowered by knowledge making good choices seemed pretty easy. Well .... until I started experimenting.

In my studies I learned healthy ways to lose the last 5-10 pounds. I thought 'Hey! That's where I'm at, I should give it a try!' I'm not sure why I thought this was necessary as I was doing great making 'Clean Eating' my lifestyle. It honestly wasn't all that difficult and I had adjusted very well. However I'd stopped losing weight for, well, a week.

I guess what frustrated me was the fact that I was holding onto my last ten pounds like my life depended on it. This was very frustrating. Rather than take a look at my new 'clean' diet and deciding to tweak here or there I skipped that idea altogether and went straight for the extreme (yet still healthy) food plan. I knew it wasn't dangerous or anything it was just very unappetizing and really needed dedication. I was able to stick to 3 of the 7 days - my goal was to get through 5 days. I would have been overjoyed even with my 3 days if it weren't for the fact that by the end I was in 'give up mode'.

I had not experienced 'give up mode' at all during my 4 weeks of 'clean' eating, not once. Probably because during those four weeks my goal was simple: 6 meals a day, all clean, no extremes. It worked. I loved everything I was eating, there was tons of variety and I felt no guilt over anything I put into my body. It was great.

After 3 days of less than appealing food, monotony, and more water than one wants to put in or out of their body in a day I was done. I had forgotten that 'clean' eating wasn't an extreme and I was ready to leave it all behind for Doritos and cupcakes.

So during the next few days while at social engagements I enjoyed the coincidentally available treats as often as I could. (Hmmmmmm ... no coincidence that I took cheesy salsa chips and dip, along with cutely decorated cupcakes to our family picnic on the weekend).

Last night Wally and I decided to be responsible and make 'clean' cookies that did not end well when the cookies stuck to my baking stones. Our stove top appeared to be host to a serious cookie massacre by the end of the evening. We collected all of the crumbs together and I 'tested' them through the evening. By the end of it I knew I'd probably eaten at least half the batch and I felt horrible - in every way. It was the feeling I had after a binge in the olden days. I hadn't felt that way in months and it was heart crushing. As if the 'cheating' during our social times wasn't enough I had to abuse my alternative too.

I woke up still depressed with myself and had Wally saying to me over and over 'Turn your frustration into motivation!' I was really to turn my frustration into something. And it wasn't motivation.

As I puttered about this morning, trying hard to avoid going to the gym to practice working out on my own I began to think of the newly acquired balance in my work life. Then I thought of how I tried an extreme method to lose my last 10 last week. I realized I am still getting used to my new eating lifestyle and I had lost my general focus completely. I wanted the end result now (as usual). I don't want to have to work out for the rest of my life to get to where I want to be, I just want to do it for a little while in hopes that I can get there quicker and enjoy it faster.

But life's not like that, with anything. Both with work or with food, it's easy to think 'Oh if I work overtime for the next 6 months I can save up for that house faster' or 'If I try this strict diet I'll be where I want to be so much faster and then I can have what I want again'. Instead we forget about all of the other things in our lives that we need to give up to get there. Some of them are good sacrifices, things that we can do without, trimming the fat so to speak, but some of them are necessary 'fats', things we need to be and stay healthy.

I am beginning to see that fast anything isn't healthy, extreme anything isn't healthy. BALANCE is healthy.

Right now I need to step back once again and reassess my physical goals and see where balance is lacking. I need to refresh my mind and simplify things because I know all of the answers are indeed right in front of me. I've been struggling a lot lately knowing that I have only 6 more sessions with Dee and that after wards I'll be all alone. This scares me ... a lot.

However this time I must remind myself that I am equipped with knowledge. I know what to do, there are no secrets, I just need to do it.

Dee pulled me up initially, but in the mean time he taught me how to walk. Though I was very shaky at first, I fell a lot, I got bumped and bruised (figuratively and literally) this doesn't take away from the fact that I now can walk. I just need to remember to use my balance.

Hmmmmmm .... 1,2,3,4,5,6,7. Wow, it seems like a four letter word.

Maybe one of these days it will make sense.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Following my gut

This week I gave myself a challenge. OR maybe I should say I took up a challenge that I have been trying to give myself over and over during the past few months.

I had received an e-mail about scheduling that would be taking place at work. I, as usual, procrastinated sitting down and responding. If I was interested in more permanent hours I was supposed to send in my current permanent schedule. Because of recent changes at a home most of my hours come from I had just gone under my necessary requirements in hours for keeping in my wait period for my benefits. This put me in the place of needing more hours. Which in turn put me at the mercy of the managers, which put me in a spot of taking whatever they offer, which takes me away from my goal of developing a schedule that's right for me.

I finally sat down and went through my current work times and decided that while I was at this I would commit to making myself a weekend every single week (which would be 2 consecutive days off every week). The expectation is that you will work every other weekend for sure and many go beyond and work every weekend and take their days off during the week. For the first 5 months I did work any and every shift offered to me and quickly learned that doesn't provide for a healthy marriage or a healthy me.

Recently I mentioned how much I have noticed the toll my family, friends and self have taken. Maybe I'm weak, I don't really care, I just know that for me and what I want out of life it wasn't working.

As I sat I carved out one week with Saturday/Sunday off and the other with Friday Saturday off. Perfection really. I left all other days open to their willing. Though I wanted to limit evenings I didn't because I thought that may be pushing it.

I was really proud of myself when I clicked the 'send' button and said good bye to my rather bold e-mail. Though there was a little part of me that feared what the managers thought, a larger part of me had given up on caring. OR perhaps wizened up.

I had decided ahead that by no means did I deserve in work terms to receive anything I was asking for. I decided it was ok for them to say 'No way honey, we're not giving you the schedule of your dreams. You haven't been tortured long enough to have earned it. So, no more shifts for you, say good bye to your benefits!' In that moment I accepted the attitude that may (or probably would) arise and the ramifications of it. I also accepted the fact that work is just work and that old saying (or maybe it's just a saying, or maybe it's just something I heard once) 'Does anyone ever say: I wish I'd worked more, on their death bed?' No they don't.

I decided that I would not feel guilty for being at a place in my life where having my husband/partner at a successful job meant that I didn't need job security in a way I had become accustomed to. By no means am I saying I won't be working full time or that it will always be this way, but rather I am trying to put myself in a place where I love every thing I'm doing at my job (the best I can anyway) and be in a place emotionally where I am not dreading any part of it.

I knew it was a risky and seemingly selfish move but one I was finally ready to make. I was worth it and so were the people I supported that had to put up with me day after day - they deserve to have a worker that is excited to see them. I did it. I put me first. And in doing so I put others first too.

Later the day of the scheduling I was in the office with someone I was supporting for something else and we had to talk to my manager about something. While there she mentioned a possible shift that had come up. I looked at it and it fit perfectly into my request - perfectly. It got me to my 'benefit requirement', it averaged out my permanent schedule to 28.5 hours every week (24 one week and 33 the next), leaving me needing to only pick up a couple of shifts every couple of weeks and I'd reach my balanced goal of 35 hrs a week. It was indeed exactly what I hoped for.

But, as with most things, there was a catch. I was asked to give up a 3 hour every other week shift with someone I had only really gotten to know recently. She was a young lady relatively new to the agency, completely new to getting support and really left without family in her life and struggling to figure out how this life thing is supposed to work. She only has myself and one other staff as supports and still has not really gotten to know any other staff yet. I clicked with her well and she has become fairly comfortable with me (in my opinion) and I was being told to give that up because 'it's 4 hours every week Eva, that's much better than 3 every other'.

Initially I didn't get it. I thought I was being offered a new awesome shift and I just had to rework my schedule to fit my shorter shift in. Then I realized I was being asked to choose and it was a whole other ball game. It was no longer about the person I was supporting, it was a numbers game - one I had no interest in playing.

By the time I had left the office (still with the young lady I was supporting - not the one this shift was regarding), I was doing everything in my power to hold back the tears. My manager had assumed I would jump at the shift. It was clearly everything I wanted. Who wouldn't want it? Was I stupid? No. I wanted it. Really bad. BUT I couldn't fathom giving up on this young lady. I know I am not the be all and end all in her life. In fact I am only 3 hours every other week, equaling very little in numbers. However, I am one more consistent person than she has had in a very long time. Her life over the past couple of years and especially the past several months has been anything but consistent. She needs consistency right now more than anything, and she deserves it. If it were a year from now it might be a whole different story, but it is now and right now I am not ready to leave her.

I continued on with my shift and let myself feel and cry (though as dryly as I could). Luckily the girl I was with is not all that observant and we were very busy so it was ok to do so. When the shift was over I went home and cried for real. I bawled my eyes out, my nose caught a flame and my make up disappeared. I blubbered out an explanation to Wally as best I could as to why I was so distraught.

His response was different than I expected. As I told him I felt that I had no choice but to give up the permanent longer shift they were offering because to give up on this girl just wasn't right, he advocated for what might be right for me: consistency of my own, time for myself. I stopped and listened to his point. He was right in a way and I was glad he was being my reasoning in that emotional moment, but I knew in my gut that for some reason this situation wasn't about me sacrificing my needs but more a gut feeling of doing what I felt was in me to do. Nothing heroic just what fit. He understood and supported whatever decision I would make.

I knew beyond a doubt that I would turn down the offer and stay with the person I was currently supporting. By no means, was this an easy decision to commit to just because I knew it was the right thing to do (and by 'right thing' I mean what my gut was telling me I should do), I mean that's much of the reason I was crying. It wasn't painless to turn down something that seemed so perfect, it hurt to know that I would stop my wait period for my benefits (even though I don't need them it's something I would really like to achieve on my own), it pinched to think that management would likely see me as casual and complacent about my career goals. However it's not all about me, right?

Just as I was about to e-mail my manager and give her the likely unexpected news to decline the larger shift over the smaller one, I ran into the manager of the girl I was asked to give up my shift with, she knew the situation. She too was disappointed in how things were turning out. She knew this young lady wouldn't adapt well to yet more change and told me to hold on for a little longer as she felt it necessary to advocate for this young lady to keep her current staff. It was a glimmer of hope. For both the young lady and myself.

Part of me wasn't really worried about this young lady because I had no intention of leaving but I suppose I was concerned for how management would react to me turning down a perfectly generous shift offer. It would look even worse than the fact that I asked for such a particular schedule. I held tight.

By the end of the next day I had opened my e-mail and learned that all involved agreed that it was best for me to stay with this young lady in the end and because this is what they wanted I would also be allowed to take the offered shift. As far as I know now everything should work out smoothly.

I feel rather guilty because I know that I have only been around for 8 months working (almost a year including my placement) and I have a decent schedule, my perfect one. I will certainly not ever be complaining about it and if I do I sure hope someone is there to kick me in the pants. With that being said though I do feel like following my gut during my time at this place, all the way from the beginning, has rewarded me - I don't mean through people either.

What I mean is, so far I have followed my gut each time I've felt unsure or uneasy about a situation. I accessed my first manager when I didn't feel comfortable with how a situation was being handled and made myself vulnerable to share my feelings, rather than pretending I was good enough to just handle everything myself.

After an unusual med error after 4 straight months of chaos and doing everything asked of me and knowing instantly it was due to fatigue and burn out I fessed up to my then manager that I felt I was in need of a break and I soon took one.

I spent numerous team meetings speaking up and asking questions after questions about how to problem solve or what answers we could come to after being given a bit of a run around. I know that I was becoming an unwelcome voice but one I wouldn't quiet.

Recently I had the privilege of helping Vivvie reunite with her brother in a way that kicked up a little sand in the agency and probably changed how some people looked at me - not sure if that's so good or not, but I don't care really.

I have been avoiding one of the strongest pulls of my heart for a couple of months now to pull back and be more deliberate about my work. To do what is right for me. This was my first step to doing that and I was challenged back with the question: 'But are you willing to do what is right for those you support?' I have mentioned before that I have wanted to be more genuine and immediate in my response to these challenges, I wanted to be able to answer sooner with a real, heartfelt 'yes!'.

I am happy to say that in this newest case I was able to respond quickly with my gut and I felt good about it. No doubt, I was feeling the pain of the possible consequences and selfishly wanted everything my way, but I can't change the human part of me overnight. Ultimately I am happy that I overcame two obstacles: doing what was going to be right for me by carving out a workable schedule and then when what seemed perfect came up being able to still trust in the process of waiting enough to still do what was right for the person I supported.

I don't point out these things to glorify myself, though I'm quite sure that I'm not all that convincing right now. I just need to use these as reminders to myself (and whomever can learn these lessons with me) that by truly doing what's best for you, with the best intentions, you inadvertently do what is best for everyone.

We are so conditioned to play by the rules because we think that is always the safest way live. In this case I was expected to play the numbers game and put in the hours, the years, the time with whatever schedule was given to me, in hopes of someday earning one that would give me time for me. In the mean time I would put experiencing my life on hold to play the numbers game and thus give up on doing what also might be the best thing for many I support as well.

I understand that things may not always wrap themselves up nicely with a ribbon like all half hour sitcoms, but it's been good to learn that by following your heart you live with more assurance than regret, more excitement than disappointment, and more peace than emptiness.

I am beginning to get excited about the new ways I will be able to give back in my life, even in my work, as I do my best to follow my instincts more and discover some time for things that aren't directly related to a paycheque, yet seem to pay much higher dividends.

There is so much more to life.

As usual, I can't wait to share what I discover!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On my mind

I've had a lot on my mind lately, a lot.

I'm not sure if any of it is all that earth shattering or remotely stimulating, but it's there to carry and mull through all the same.

I've been trying to sort out a few things and in the pursuit feel like I've just gotten myself more tangled up than I was before. Sometimes I don't think it pays to think. I wish it did pay me to think because I'd be rich.

Ok I am rich in all the necessaries I'm just being selfish.

What's on my mind you may ask? (Or you may not and I'm assuming).

Too many things...

* the 'kid thing' - both adoption and the 'do it yourself' version

* work schedules

* money

* hobbies

* friendships (or lack there of)

* family (and the distance I am feeling from mine)

* the vacation Wally and I are avoiding planning this fall

* churchy stuff

* internet stuff (facebook and blog)

* being bored out of my skull .... kind of shocking I'd be bored with all that stuff on the brain.

I had (or should I say guarded) this past weekend off, which included 4 whole days off in a row. Which considering my July is like a vacation (for real!). I'm now excited that I don't have any more long stretches of 'Yikes I don't think I can do this anymore!' times. (At least not in my work life and I don't have kids so otherwise life's a vacation).

Anyways, Wally and I had the weekend commitment free, which over the past several months has become the way. I just recently came to realize that my work has taken over our lives over the past year since I started working 'in the field'.

As we chatted about the fact that we no longer seem to have friends to hang out with, we have no connection to a church type family (something that used to take up much of our time), or any hobbies that we share we came to the conclusion that we (or at least the I part of we) are/is bored.

At first I wondered why things seemed so empty all of a sudden, then I tried to look at what's changed and when I first noticed it. It was definitely my job(s) that took over my life. I let it of course. What else do you do when you are in school and you are trying to work full time in a field that new hires basically have to earn their way up to working weekday day ours? This generally takes years (if you ever get it).

To be honest at first I didn't care at all, I was just so excited to get work and be challenged to do something totally new. To be honest if I was single I probably wouldn't even care. But I'm not. I'm married to someone who works during the day, during the week.

I'm not trying to complain about my line of work and how bad I have it - I don't. I love it, I am fortunate to have found a place (though not perfect) that is the best fit for me right now - or maybe ever, in my chosen field. I'm just explaining how I clearly cashed in the rest of my life for a job. And now I'm learning that my life was worth more than I sold it for.

I guess I feel a little foolish.

I mean before I went back to school I had 2 businesses that I enjoyed. I worked my hours the way I wanted them (although I have always had challenges saying 'no' which made it difficult for me to fully take advantage of enjoying this). I did enjoy what I did but I needed new mental stimulation.

Well, I got it for a while. Then school ended. I love school.

I'm not sure what I thought would change in my life after school but I feel sort of like where I started. Only now without a life.

I'm not all that excited about how this post is going.

I guess I just feel like something's missing.

It's kind of odd, lately I've really been missing my youth worker days. I've been thinking about when I worked with kids and teens and (I can't believe I'm saying this, because they also stressed me out) how much I loved it.

Of course I say this after having had several years off. I experienced burn out doing that work as well. I'm not sure if it's my nature or if it was my immaturity, or my passion. Who knows but I find myself missing organizing, creating and interacting the way I used to.

Of course I could just be pining for the next natural step in life ... having a family. Something that would include all of these skills.

This weekend Wally and I had some good chats about 'the kid thing'. Although Monday's chat left me wondering if he was really there for Sunday's chat or if we were really speaking two different languages.

I want to adopt so bad. So bad.

I began getting so excited when chatting with Wally about it on the weekend. We even talked about possibly being open to adopting siblings (something we were never open to doing at our young age - always more later on, after we'd raised a couple of kids already).

I began to think about the challenges that would come with older children, the complexities of dealing with what they would have witnessed already in life. Blending a family, figuring out the parenting thing. All that stuff.

I know it wouldn't be easy but I think it'd be worth it.

However there's just a few things in the way....

Wally would still love to give the old fashioned way a whirl as well. In his wisdom he feels doing so before adoption would be the best plan. (Whatever a plan is). When I really stop and think about it I think he's absolutely right (for us).

Initially, I wanted to adopt first because I wanted our kids to know they weren't 'Plan B', but rather wanted first from the start. Clearly I wasn't giving a whole lot of care to whatever possible child we'd bring into the world through biological means later on - I guess I just assumed they'd feel wanted since, you know, I would be tortured through labour for them.

Really, I don't think there's a best way to do things, like anything else you do what's right for you.

Admittedly I do have fears that I will chicken out of adoption once if we do things the 'old fashioned way'. Then again, I don't know how, it's soooooooo in me.

There's also the baby issues I have.

I don't dig them really. I know, I know, I'll love my own blah, blah, blah. I believe you. I guess a big part of it is the fact that Wally and I have been married for 9 1/2 years and I know that it would be a big deal for us to have a baby both in regards to our families and friends.

I feel like there would be a whole audience of people in the front row watching for how we'll screw it up, or at least to say 'we told you that you'd do things differently when you had them for yourself!'

I was told the other day that I would learn how to apologize properly when I had kids. Also that perhaps Wally and I over think things (perhaps true). And that when you don't have kids you tend to be more into yourself (duh).

Because of all of these things I've heard I want more than anything to something unconventional and adopt first. Because at least when everyone's giving me their two cents I won't have to give it much thought as the majority of those who sprinkle our lives with their opinion don't have experience with adoption.

I also get super annoyed with the push I get from so many to have to bear a child myself. One lady at work said 'Oh Eva, don't you want your own?'


No child could be more my own than the one I welcome into my life. Honestly I don't understand why people don't understand how I'm feeling, except for the fact that I don't understand how their feeling.

I've had relations try their non existent persuasions, for reasons unknown to me, to get me to want to have a baby biologically. Why? Why does this matter so much? Why can't adopting be just as exciting?

(By the way, I had a reader comment on a post in the past couple of months about if we'd be up for adopting children rather than infants. Wally and I have actually never planned on adopting an infant as we don't feel it necessary FOR US to have a child from infancy. I guess I assume you all just read my mind ;)

Anyways, I realize I'm just babbling through my thoughts and none of them are really all that intelligent at the moment but I do feel like it helps me figure things out better.

I am learning that I can't 'go against the grain' with something as serious as expanding my family just to prove a point. Wally and I have to do what's right for us, whatever the heck that is.

I suppose I just need to accept that there's something about a newborn life that people get excited about (as they should, they truly are miraculous). And maybe Wally and I will just have to do our best, if and when the time comes, to welcome in new members of our family and to love them the best we know how. Ultimately it's our job as parents to love unconditionally, and teach our kids what family is all about.

So what do I do while I wait a bit longer?

Hmmmmm ... something that will prepare me probably.

No. I'm not working in a daycare. Unless of course you want me to renege on the whole thing.

In the famous words of Lady (a woman I support): 'We'll figure it out'.