Friday 29 December 2017

My word for 2018

Guys, I'm sitting here at my little desk, hot coffee close by, and I feel a beautiful sense of contentment.
Rich is sick, but we have a diagnosis, and one week in, we can see that the treatment is working. It will be a slow discovery, but every step towards health is a step in the right direction, and gives us more confidence and joy. Yesterday he drove himself into town for the first time in 5 weeks, and visited a friend on the way home. While he was in pain afterwards and needed to rest, it felt wonderful for him to do something "normal" by himself! He even helped me with the night chores, which made it the most productive day in a very long time.

Saturday 23 December 2017

A Christmas miracle

Last Monday I called the doctor's office, heart pounding. "Are my husband's test results back?"
I heard the clicking of the keyboard, the breathing of the receptionist, and nothing else. 5 seconds, 10, 15 - it felt like an eternity.
Then: "Yes, they are."
Me: "And???"
The receptionist: "Did the doctor call you?"
Me: "No!" I wouldn't talk to you if he had, I added silently, exasperated.
The receptionist: "He would have called you if there was anything. It must have been negative."
The disappointment hit me hard and fast, like a punch in the stomach. I knew that there was a good possibility of that happening, but still - I made an appointment for Rich to see the doctor later in the week, and hung up.
Fuck, I muttered to myself.
Rich was still sleeping, and I was in no rush to tell him the bad news. Not knowing what else to do, I sat down in front of the computer to learn more about Lyme Disease.

What I found reads like the script to a movie:
In the early 1970s, a debilitating mystery illness was making the rounds in the small town of Lyme, Conneticut. Several people were plagued by unexplained headaches, skin rashes, swollen knees and excrutiating pain. Doctors couldn't find a cause. The patients kept suffering, while the medical community tried to figure out the reason behind these symptoms: was it something in the air or water? What had caused the rash?  While the symptoms varied widely between patients, they all had one thing in common: they had all been bitten by a tick.

It wasn't until 1981 that the scientist Willy Burgdorfer discovered the bacteria responsible for the disease. In honour of his discovery, the bacteria was named after him: Borrelia Burgdorferi.
Borrelia is sneaky. It doesn't circulate in the blood but interacts directly with the cell tissue it infects, making it difficult to detect. It also replicates slowly, meaning the number of bacteria found in the patient stays small. These characteristics are responsible for the difficulty of diagnosing Lyme Disease; those damn bacteria hide well.

To diagnose the disease, the doctor has to not only look at lab results, but also take into account the medical history, symptoms and exposure to ticks.

I felt better.

In the meantime, Rich had woken up, and I shared everything I learnt.
"I wish I could just talk to somebody," he said wistfully.
"Let's see what I can do," I replied.
I went to my trusty Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, found a contact number, dialed and handed the phone to Rich.
After 2 rings, someone picked up. An actual person, not a computer! Turns out, we had managed to get Jim Wilson on the line, the founder of the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation.
He took his time listening to us, and shared a bit about his and his daughter's experiences with the disease. Just talking to someone who knows what you're going through is such a gift!
He also told us something important: Rich may have gotten infected in Germany by the European strain. He was very sick when he was 8 years old and was hospitalized for 6 weeks at that time. The tentative diagnosis was rheumatic fever, but the truth is, they never figured out what was wrong with him. He slowly got better, but he still remembers the doctor's dire prediction: that he may be in a wheelchair by the time he was 40 years old.

"It sounds like you may have contracted Lyme Disease back then," Jim said. "If it's never treated, the bug will stay in your system all your life. You need to get tested for the European strain, not the North American one. I can give you the name of a specialist for Lyme Disease here in BC."
And he did. Dr. DeMonte is a naturopath and Lyme Disease specialist, who herself has Lyme Disease. After reading her own harrowing story, I knew we have to meet this woman.
We made an appointment for January, and felt hopeful again.

But that's not all. On Thursday, I ran into our doctor at work. He works at my hospital, and I usually see him at least once a week. Every time we see each other, he asks about Rich.
"We were bummed that the blood test was negative," I said.
"It wasn't," he replied. "The screening was positive, just the follow-up test was negative."
Say whaat?!?

I'm still confused on the specifics about Lyme testing, but what I do know is that it is a Two-Tier Testing process. The first is a screening test that detects if someone has the disease. The second test is to confirm the diagnosis.
Since his test results are ambivalent, we will get yet another one done that will be sent to Germany to test for the European strain.
But due to his symptoms, medical history and positive screening, he has been officially diagnosed with Lyme Disease, and we started his antibiotic treatment two days ago. Is it a coincidence that this happened on the winter solstice? One of the comments I received upon sharing the happy news on Instagram was this: "It's interesting ... Yesterday was the solstice which is the turning point from encroaching darkness to the return of the light. This sounds like your and Rich's personal solstice."
I LOVE that.

Finally knowing what's been going on since August is incredible. We are positively giddy with relief. It may seem strange to be relieved about a serious illness, but the not knowing was horrible.
If it weren't for this blog and Michelle's helpful comment, we still would have no idea what's causing Rich this debilitating pain.

We are feeling very grateful. This has been our personal Christmas miracle.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Love, light and peace to you all,

Miriam xoxo


Sunday 17 December 2017

An Instagram scroll that will make you happy!

Happy 3rd advent!
In case you're stressed out right about now (and you probably are, it's a busy time!), I have a solution for that. Drop everything you're doing, pour yourself a cup of coffee or hot chocolate (don't forget the peppermint schnapps, it's Christmas season after all!), and indulge in some Instagram. 
But not the kind that makes you slightly angry because everybody's life seems so much more perfect than yours (even though that's an illusion, and you know it), but in the kind that gives you the warm and fuzzies. 


Thursday 14 December 2017

What to do when you feel trapped

The thoughts come unbidden, without warning. 

I'm scrolling through Instagram, and when I see a post about Sedona, I get a sudden jab of pain right in my solar plexus. We wanted to go there in January. 
I wonder if we will ever get to see it now? 

My friends tell me they miss us, and ask when we'll come down for a visit. 
If things continue the way they are, it will be only me. Or none of us, because I can't leave him.

I go to work, do chores, go to every doctor's appointment with him, do all the shopping, cooking and cleaning, pay the bills, do his business correspondence, administer medication, soothe, listen, go back to the doctor for more medication, clean up messes, respond to worried friends' emails, ward off intruding visitors he can't handle, and do more chores. And I do it gladly, because I love him. 
But sometimes, I resent it. 

I wonder: is this our life now? Will it always stay like this? 
Omg. How can I learn to live with this?

I haven't shared much about my husband's mystery illness until recently. I don't know why. Maybe I was hoping it would just go away one day. Don't acknowledge it, and it's not real.
Every morning, I'd ask him, hopefully: "How do you feel today?"
And every morning, without fail, the same miserable answer: "Terrible."

It's been 4 months. 4 months of pain, grouchiness, uncertainty, fear, brief hope, only to be dashed the next day by an attack worse than anything we've had before. 

I can't tell you what it feels like to live with chronic pain. I've never had it. My husband is the one who has been suffering from debilitating pain, yet "everything is normal" test results for the last 4 months. As you may know or can imagine, it's beyond awful. 
I think the only reason why I can talk about it now is because we have hope. We think we may have figured out what his mystery illness is. We are currently still waiting for the results of the notoriously unreliable blood test, but we need hope (and we believe in the power of positive thinking), so we pretend that the test will come back positive, that he will start on antibiotics, and that "in 2 weeks, everything will be so much better!" We cling to that. We need it.  

Rich is wrapped up in his illness. He's on the couch/in bed 90% of the time, only venturing outside once a day to feed his birds, because he feels better (physically and emotionally) when he does.

But what about the caretaker?
What about me?

I still have to live in the everyday world. I have to deal with all the little and big nuisances that crop up in a normal life, while having to stay positive and upbeat for Rich's sake. 

How do I keep my sanity?

In the last few months, I have developed a few routines that help me cope with my normal tasks, his illness, and all the extra crap that you have to deal with when your love is suddenly out of commission, scared, and in dire need of you.

1. Don't take it personally. 
He gets crappy. He is in constant pain, he can't sleep, all of life's joys are suddenly taken away from him. He is scared, and uncomfortable, and he doesn't know what's going on. It's understandable that he is crabby. Omg, we all would be!
But, I'm just a person. I have my own shit to deal with, in addition to his illness, and sometimes I get sensitive, and I get hurt, and I want to scream at him that "I can't take it any more!"
But, of course, neither can he, and we're back at square one.
We talk very openly about each other's feelings, and he knows (and understands) how frustrating it is for me as well.
The most important fact about this is to remember: It's not about you.
We both have to deal with a shitty card that's been dealt to us, different for each, but shitty just the same. In the end, we have to remember: We are in this together.  

2. Make time for what makes you happy. 
I need to walk. Need to. If I don't walk, I get antsy, and angry, and dissatisfied, and slightly stabby. So, in the name of public safety, I carve some time out every day to walk in some form or another. It may be a long, satisfyingly strenuous hike uphill. Or it may be just 10 minutes around our own property. Whatever it is, it's me and the dogs, and usually a story in my headphones via audiobooks, to transport me away from the everyday hassle to my happy place.
I swear, it works every damn time.

3. Escape. 
Don't be ashamed when you want to escape for a while. I do it every single day. I love our life, but I'm really afraid that our current situation might turn into a permanent one. To escape the incessant obsessing, I like to immerse myself into other people's lives for a while. I've been watching Mad Men almost since the beginning of Rich's illness, and witnessing all the drama and the desperate housewives' lives on there makes me feel grateful for my own.
I've also been reading lots this year, and listening to audiobooks as much as always, which gives me great comfort.

4. Share. 
Writing is my life line. It's kinda impossible to describe what it feels like to share my struggles on here. It's - well, it gives me peace. Clarity. Insight.
It makes me feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, in the place I'm supposed to be doing it in, with the person I'm supposed to be doing it with.
It feels good. Right.

5. Don't be hard on yourself. 
You know, for a self-proclaimed yogi, I should be doing yoga all the damn time, and get all the above benefits from it.
Well, I don't. I'm a flawed yogi. By the time I have done chores, work, walked the dogs, cooked dinner, and spent some time with Rich, the last thing I want to do is yoga. I plop myself down in front of Mad Men, pour myself a glass of wine, and veg out. And I made myself be okay with it. It won't be permanent, but for now, I only have the energy for a couple of yoga sessions a week. And that's just the way it is. It has to be okay. It is okay.

6. Be amazed at yourself. 
To be honest, I've expected to burst into tears every day for weeks now. Yet, it still hasn't happened.
Every time I get angry outside at having to carry another fucking heavy hay bale to the horses, I simultaneously think of a story I could write about it, and I smile inadvertently.
When I come to work, weary and in a less than cheery mood, one of my co-workers will make me smile, just by being their cheerful, black humoured-selves (who can be down when you hear about the "poop cloud"? Remind me to tell you that story some time.)
You are much stronger than you think. 
Be proud of yourself. 
You deserve it. 

xoxo Miriam


Tuesday 12 December 2017

Achievements of 2017

Some of the things I'm proud of this year:

- started a newsletter (you should subscribe to it here!) I have 105 subscribers, and I'm so happy about it! You all mean the world to me 💓  
- lived up to my word of the year: Determination. 
- wrote the damn book (which will be out early next year, I promise! For a sneak peek, click here).
- found a job at my dream small town hospital

Sunday 10 December 2017

The sweetest word: Hope

This post is dedicated to Michelle D. Thank you for giving us hope. 

I click on the website and start reading. At this point, I have done this dozens of times, and I would be lying if I said I have much hope that this will be a solid lead. Probably just another dead end.
I skim the list of symptoms: bone pain, joint pain and swelling, tennis elbow, stiff neck, muscle pain. My eyes widen, and I start to read more slowly. All of these apply!
The list continues: night sweats, unexplained chills, chronic fatigue, shortness of breath.
Then there are mood swings, unusual depression, insomnia, sleep apnea, memory loss.
And the clinchers: "pain migrates to different body parts", "continual infections (i.e. sinus)", "increased effect from alcohol and possible worse hangover". Check, check and CHECK!

My heart is beating fast now. This is it! This must be it! Rich has every single one of these symptoms!
The disease?

Lyme Disease. 

Lyme disease is an inflammatory disorder that is spread to humans through tick bites. Ticks pick up the bacteria through infected animals like deer, mice, or birds, and pass it on to whoever is unfortunate enough to be bitten next.
Lyme disease is sneaky.
It is dubbed "the mystery disease" by some due to the difficulty to diagnose it. There are more than 100 symptoms associated with Lyme disease, which may or may not show up immediately. In many cases, patients won't have any symptoms for months or even years. If you are bitten by a nymph tick you may never know it; they are the size of this period →.

Some people get the telltale bulls-eye rash, but many people don't. Blood tests often come back with false negatives, particularly in the early stages of the disease. The test is looking for antibodies in the blood, and they need time to develop.
To make matters even worse, there is no universally accepted test for Lyme disease; apparently, Lyme tests in Canada are largely flawed (source).

How did we come up with Lyme disease  as a possible diagnosis for Rich's mystery illness?
One of my readers told me! Michelle D. mentioned it in a comment on a recent blog post, and for that I am extremely grateful. She herself wasn't correctly diagnosed for over a year, despite seeing numerous doctors and specialists.

After she told me I immediately booked an appointment with our doctor, who listened and agreed with us. We have now done the blood test and await the results, which will take another week or two. Despite not knowing if that's Richard's diagnosis, we feel hopeful for the first time in months, and that is a precious, precious gift. Chronic pain is horrific, but not knowing what causes it is almost too much to bear.

I will keep you updated with developments, but in the meantime, here are some of the websites I have found useful in regards to information about Lyme disease:
Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Knowing that you are not alone is also a huge relief. Here are some lists of celebs who have Lyme disease:
19 celebrities who have struggled with Lyme Disease
Famous people living with Lyme Disease

Michelle, thank you again from the bottom of my heart for reaching out! It means more than you'll ever know. ❤

xoxo Miriam


Wednesday 6 December 2017

A letter to my 38-year-old self

Dear 38-year old Miriam, 

it's your birthday today. You've been 38 for about 18 hours, which means you have roughly 8,742 hours left of your time as a 38-year old.
That's lots of time. Don't panic. 
Seriously. Stop with the panicking!

Okay. Deep breaths all around. Feel better now? Good. 

Let's reflect on the last 38 years for a moment, okay? Just for shits and giggles. 
I know you sometimes feel like you haven't accomplished that much yet. 
Let's recap, shall we?


Monday 4 December 2017

Snow and dogs - the best cure for diarrhea

It's been a while since I shared a few photos from around here! We had a massive snow dump at the beginning of November, which seemed way too early for everyone involved. Luckily, it melted after 10 days, and the next snow waited respectfully until December to arrive. It's been positively magical!
The dogs and I have been hiking every day lately, and their exuberance is infectious. 
You all know my boundless love for dogs, and reason #847 for it is their ability to enjoy life to tremendously. They are an example to all of us!

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Taking absentmindedness to the next level

The last few weeks have not been the greatest.
Rich has been plagued by mysterious pains for over 3 months, and nobody knows the cause. The pain usually likes to hang out in his knee, strolling down his leg towards the ankle on a daily basis. But it gets bored by the same scenery after a while and likes to adventure around his body, visiting his elbows, neck, and sometimes the other knee, just to see if the grass is greener there (it isn't). 

We're regulars at the lab, inadvertently giving the old blood letting a go by giving copious amounts of blood in the hopes that it will reveal what's going on in Rich's body. So far, no luck, but hope dies last, right?  
We've also seen a specialist who did the most thorough note-taking of Rich's health history I've ever seen, filling several pages with everything from his chickenpox when he was 5 years old, to the bump he had surgically removed from his wrist a few years ago. 
At some point, she kicked me out of the room, on the pretense that she had to do a physical "and it's so crowded in here" (it wasn't). 
In truth, she asked him about any possible STDs and sexual partners, wondering aloud if what's bothering him is Chlamydia (it's not!).

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Boss Women: Suzy

I'm thrilled to introduce you to the next incredible woman in my Boss Women series: Suzy
Ever since I found her blog, I've felt a strong connection to this powerhouse of a woman. She's living the life I'm striving for: writing books, teaching yoga, being comfortable in her skin and stylish to boot! Also, she's a fan of BC, my home province, and everybody who adores Canada as much as I do has my heart!
Since I'm a newbie to the world of book writing and publishing, I'm eager to learn a bit more about the tricks and habits of a successful author.  

Q: You have published 12 books. That's an incredible accomplishment! When did you start writing book?
A: Thank you Miriam! I actually started writing when I was made redundant from my job as a magazine editor about seven years ago. It was the kick in the backside that I needed. 

Q: Did you always want to be a writer?
A: I guess I'd always been interested in writing - when I left school I became a trainee journalist before moving on to become a features writer and eventually, editor. Writing was always something I was quite good at, but I didn't think about actually writing fiction until I was in my 20s. I wrote my very first book then, but put it away and didn't do anything with it until recently. 

Q: How does your editing process work? Do you work with the same editor all the time, or with different ones for each project?
A: To be honest, I've used a few different editors over the years. Most have been good but I've yet to click with anyone in particular. I must admit, editing is my least favourite aspect of writing books. I love the creativity more than anything else. 


Saturday 18 November 2017

Good people

The doorbell rings and I look up, surprised. It's 8:30 in the morning - who could that be? I get up, annoyed at the intrusion, and open the front door. A young man is standing there, looking at me uncertainly. "Hi, Jake sent me. He said Richard might need help with the farm?" I'm momentarily speechless, before finding my voice. "Wow! That's - great," I say, taken aback. "Let me check with him. I'm Miriam, what's your name?"
"I'm Tony. Very nice to meet you," he says politely, shaking my outstretched hand. 
I smile at him gratefully before turning around to talk to Rich about this unexpected gift from heaven. 

Richard has been in pretty severe pain for the past 3 months. It started out with some swelling in his ankles and calves, and has since evolved to bad knee pain and limited movement. We have no idea what's causing this pain, and are regulars at the doctor's office. We are suspecting rheumatoid arthritis, but the blood work is inconclusive, so the doctors keep looking for other explanations. 
Anyway, our friends know that he's been having a hard time with his mobility, so Jake offered to send us some help. 

Tony stayed for several hours, cleaning out the chicken barn and putting fresh shavings in, and we've agreed to have him come by once a week to help out. 

Then, last night, we stopped in at our friend Todd's place. He has an old shed with a wood-burning stove, and we love to hang out in there. There's nothing better than fire heat! We were sitting around, chatting, and I said something about how I thought we would be finished with all our projects at our place, and that I'm bummed we are still not done. 
He looked at me kindly, and told me: "You are still on coastal time, kiddo. Relax! You've done a lot, and the rest will be finished in good time. Stop rushing."

What good advice! I've always been an impatient person, and I have the unfortunate habit of setting myself a multitude of tasks with unrealistic deadlines. When I inevitably fail to achieve everything I've set out to do, I'm disappointed in myself and think I should do better. Todd's reminder came at the perfect time! One of our goals with the move was to slow down and relax more, and the only person standing in my way is me. I'm working on it!

Last but not least, the door bell rang again at 4 in the afternoon, with our smiling neighbours standing in front of it, bearing gifts: a bottle of wine, homemade caramel popcorn, and fresh sausage rolls. They hadn't seen us in a while and wanted to see how Richard was doing, offering their help if we need it.

There are good people in our life, and we are so grateful. 

xoxo Miriam

Top and bottom photos found on Pixabay, a great place to find copyright free photos and videos!   


Friday 17 November 2017

Shop my closet!

Hi guys, I'm on a downsizing mission, and I've decided to sell a few of my clothes. Since our move to cowboy-land, my style has changed, and I don't wear some of the girlier items I own any more.

You can see the clothes in my brand new section Shop my closet on the top! I will add more stuff over time, so check back once in a while 😄

Happy Friday!

xo Miriam


Wednesday 15 November 2017

One year in our new home!

Today we've lived in our new home for exactly one year! To mark the occasion, I am going to take you on a nostalgic look back. Ready? Let's do this!

Fun fact: At the beginning of last year we had no idea that we would be living in a new place in a new town by the end of it. 
In May we had no clue, as evidenced by this post where I escaped into an elaborate daydream to escape my dreary reality. 
In June we still were blissfully unaware of the upcoming radical change in our life, because otherwise I would have never embarked upon this tedious kitchen renovation project.
But then, July rolled around, and with it a cryptic blog post. Don't you just hate those? So do I, which is why I revealed what was going on only 4 days later. 
In August we kicked our selling and buying adventure into high gear, and I documented it all

As anyone who has bought a house can attest, the process doesn't go by without some dramaconfusion, and near-fatal mistakes
But we survived, and on November 15, 2016, we officially moved into our new home!

So, what has happened since then?
A lot.


Thursday 9 November 2017

Things that are in places where they shouldn't be

The other morning I stepped outside - and found a deer head on my front stoop. Attached to it wasn't the body of a deer, but our dog Tom Snow, happily chewing on the deer's face.
I should have been more surprised, but I really wasn't. It's hunting season, and I assume that one of the hunters in the neighbourhood cleaned his dead deer and flung the head over the fence, where Tom Snow found it and brought it home, like the good gatherer he is (he's not a hunter, the sweet boy). 
Gives the expression "Don't lose your head" a whole new meaning, doesn't it?

The dogs took turns chewing on the head, but eventually we took it away from them. Raw deer makes for terrible farts.

Finding a deer head in front of my house made me think of all the weird things I have found in places where you'd least expect it.
I always hear from my friends with kids that kids are crazy inventive when it comes to putting stuff where it doesn't belong. An entire toilet paper roll stuffed into the toilet, lipstick in their face, marker on the walls, peas in their nose, batteries in their stomachs - that's all just a normal morning in a kid's life.
I don't have kids at home, but I have a husband and animals, and seriously, that might be worse.


Monday 6 November 2017

Cut the bullshit

Have you ever lain down in the grass on a warm summer night, look up at the sky, notice the trillions of stars (really notice them, as if seeing them for the first time), and had this deep, profound moment of realizing just how small you are? I hope you have. It's an oddly satisfying experience. 

It makes you appreciate the fact how tiny and insignificant you really are. And how tiny and insignificant your problems are in the big scheme of things. I mean, when you get a glimpse at the vastness of the universe, you can't help but see your seemingly larger-than-life worries from a new perspective. 

Like all of us, I get caught up in the tedious annoyances of daily life. He hasn't emptied the dishwasher; she never cleans up after herself; this person is so fucking annoying. Work sucks, my husband has the longest man cold mystery illness ever, why am I losing so much hair, dusting is the most pointless job in the world. The list of petty little grievances can quickly become a long one - if you let it. Looking at the stars helps with that. How can you worry about dust when dust is even smaller than you? When the entire world is made of dust? When it will all be gone in the blink of an eye?

Photo credit @itseriksen

But looking at the stars is not something you can do all the time. There are several prerequisites necessary: It has to be night; it has to be cloudless; you have to be in the right frame of mind. It's a wonderful occasional reminder, but it doesn't help in a pinch. 

You know what does? Pretending that you only have one year left to live. 

If you think that's a horribly depressing thought, and the last thing you want to do when you're already fed up with the world is thinking about death, hear me out.
I believe that being aware of your own mortality is an incredibly powerful tool that works for you. 
It's my secret weapon that I pull out when I feel scared, overwhelmed, or unsure which way to go. 


Saturday 4 November 2017

Where I want to be in June 2022

... still in bed with Tom Snow. The end.
That's the short version. If you want to know more, here comes the long one! 😉

Last night I went through the drafts folder of my blog. In case you don't know what I'm talking about, the draft folder is where blog posts go to die that are unfinished. I tend to write down titles or quick notes when I have an idea, and save it in the drafts folder, with the intention of getting back to it later. 
Well, good intentions are apparently not enough, because I've collected 110 unfinished posts in there. Yikes! 
Many were a lost cause (I only had a title and no clue what I meant to write down), but some might just see the light of day. This is one of them! I can't remember exactly why I settled on June of 2022, but I'm assuming that I planned on doing a 5-year-plan post back in June. You know, like the interview question about "where do you see yourself in 5 years?".

I looove making big plans for the future, writing them down, and then looking back on them a few years later. Almost exactly 3 years ago (it was Nov 18, 2014), I wrote a post describing my dream for the future. At the time, we had no idea when, how, or if we'd ever be able to turn that dream into reality. Three years later, a lot of my wishes have come true, which is freakishly awesome and reinforces my belief in manifesting your dreams.

Let's do another round, shall we?


Wednesday 1 November 2017

You are not responsible for other people's opinions

Words are powerful. They can heal, and they can destroy. They are a weapon that needs to be yielded carefully; because if it isn't, it will cause pain. 
Unfortunately, while everybody learns to speak, not everybody learns to speak with kindness.
Most people aren't mean on purpose, but careless; however, the result is still the same: we are getting hurt. 

The good news is that we can learn to shield ourselves. Instead of being helpless against barbed comments and sharp words, we can create an armour weaved out of even stronger words. The power of words goes both ways!
I'm one of those people who gets easily discouraged. When I was younger, I wanted nothing more than for people to like me. Fitting in and being accepted were my two most important goals in life. 
However, I also have this wild streak in me of wanting to be wild and free and not giving a damn about the naysayers of this world! How can I become this fearless woman I want to be when I'm also annoyingly oversensitive?

I'm currently reading Mark Manson's book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck (I highly recommend it!), which is all about learning what to give a fuck about. The opinion of other people is not amongst them.
On my path to self-empowerment and fierceness, I've been reading lots and lots of life advice from people much smarter than me. 
And it has dawned on me that I've been making lots of mistakes in the past. 


Saturday 28 October 2017

I'm getting myself a she shed!


The other day, there was a knock on the door. Lily, my corgi, was outside, and I assumed it was her wanting to come back in - she always knocks gently on the door when she does. (She's remarkably smart, obviously.)
But when I opened the door, my big, goofy dog Barney was standing there, smiling up at me.
You may remember that Barney was an unplanned dog. In his short life, he had been passed from one home to another, and ended up at our place, to be given to yet another new home. Rich, Barney and I fell in love with each other, and we decided to keep him. That was back in July, and he has been grateful to us ever since.


Tuesday 24 October 2017

Is happiness real?

I've been  pursuing happiness since I was a little girl. When grown-ups would indulgently ask me what I want to be when I grow up, I would shyly say: "I want to be happy."
Of course, this is not a revolutionary idea. On the contrary, it's the most common sentiment there is.

Everybody wants to be happy. We want that for ourselves, for our children, and for the people we love.
The wish is simple; to get it is trickier.

The thing about happiness is that it is misunderstood. We believe that it is a destination, and once we have reached it, we will be able to stay there without another want or need for the rest of our lives.
At least that's what I used to think. I had a few items on my list: love, a fulfilling job, great friends, a pack of dogs, finding my passion, a fit and slim body. Once I had found all the items on my list, I would be happy forever, right?


I started ticking off the items on my list one by one, and I noticed something unsettling.
While it was true that these items brought me great joy and happiness, they came with their own set of challenges. I had expected pure bliss and the end of all my problems, and this wasn't what I got.

The love of my life? Still frustrating sometimes.
The fulfilling job? Still annoying sometimes.
The great friends? Maintaining friendships requires work.
The pack of dogs? Smelly, dirty, oh-so-hairy, and barky.
Finding my passion? A whole lotta work, doubt, and frustration.
A fit and slim body? To get it and maintain it, it's a whole lotta work, dedication, and pain.


Thursday 19 October 2017

When comparison *brings* you joy

I’m sure you have heard the saying before: “Comparison is the thief of joy”. I have used it myself many times, when struggling with the envy that comes when you compare your life with the highlight reel you see on social media.

But you know what? You can actually turn it around and use comparison as a way to make yourself feel better.
Just this morning I read a confession from an author - let's call her Miranda - whom I equally admire and dislike. Admire, because she has achieved the dream – making a living by writing books – and dislike because I find her to be quite overbearing and obnoxious. Still, she is a great writer, and I keep reading her stuff and following her on Instagram, always curious what she will do next. This morning, she was characteristically honest – and uncharacteristically humble.

She said that making a living by marketing yourself and having to be interesting and innovative enough to have people pay money to hear you talk about yourself is incredibly exhausting.
Her advice to other storytellers is to not rely on earning your money solely by marketing yourself. Constantly sharing your vulnerabilities with the world will leave you raw and brittle. It will burn you out.
I always suspected that I would never be cut out to be one of those women who build their own companies. I get too scared. Too unsure of where I want to go. Hell, I’ve had this blog for over 4 years, and I still don’t know exactly where I’m going with it. I don't have a crystal-clear vision; I'm more of a vague-idea/let's-see-what-will-happen kinda girl.
The thing is: I like taking mental breaks. I need them for my sanity. And while I know that about myself, there are times where I look at other boss women and wish I could be more like them.  
Hearing Miranda share the downside of it all, and telling us that she is looking for a way out of it, is – well, it’s amazing. I’m so grateful for people who share the truth. And that’s why I continue to follow her, despite her loud personality. 


Wednesday 18 October 2017

A confession

Hi there! Remember me? It's been a hot minute since I've been here. I've been wanting to write every day, craving it, needing it, but then ... something happened. 

::dramatic pause::

I got lazy. BAM! Yup, that's it. Nothing bad happened. 

I've fallen into a terrible rabbit hole, and I've been desperately trying to crawl out of it. Every morning I'd wake up with the best intentions, promising myself that as soon as I was done with work, I'd go home, write, do yoga, and cook something healthy. 

And every day after work I plopped myself down in front of the TV, poured myself a big glass of wine, and fell into a Netflix stupor. 

Guys, it's been bad. And embarrassing. I really debated if I should share this on here, because I'm ashamed. I was on such a great path last year! And the year before!
Doing yoga every day, getting stronger, feeling in the best shape of my life mentally and physically. But I've fallen completely off the wagon. And once you're off it, gosh damn it is it ever hard to climb back on!
Instead of doing the things I love, I've become one of those lazy couch potatoes. And honestly, I barely recognize myself. I never thought I would end up here again, in a carb-filled, wine-soaked lazy-land. I was there before, and didn't care for it. And yet, here I am, like in a bad dream. 

The thing is, writing and yoga make you examine yourself closely. A little bit too close for comfort, apparently. And after reliving the last 17 years of my life for the book, I guess I needed a time out. No more looking at all my flaws, mistakes and quirks. No more feeling all.the.feelings all the time. I wanted to pause my brain, and I did it via the oldest trick in the book: good ol' booze and Television.

I've been trying to unpause my brain and rejoin my life for a few days, but you know how it is; once you've started a bad habit, it's really hard to break it. 

But then, today, I got three signs. You all know how I believe in the power of signs, don't you? I have asked for-and received them- all my life, and today was another powerful reminder of how magical the universe is. 

Old photo - but new ones are in the making once again!


Friday 6 October 2017


It's Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, and I thought it appropriate to write out a list of everything I'm grateful for.
It's been a whirlwind of a year. Within the span of one year we sold our old property and moved to our dream place. I quit my job without knowing if and when I would find a new one; but I did, and it's better than I dared to hope.
Richard fulfilled his dream of owning cows.
We adopted another big, fluffy dog.
I wrote a book.

It's been a crazy, overwhelming, beautiful year, sometimes harder than expected, but mostly better than I could have ever imagined.

Here is my (hopelessly incomplete) list of things I'm thankful for:

I'm grateful for Richard being back home after being gone for 18 loooong days. I missed the old fart.


Monday 2 October 2017

Boss Women: Jenny

Happy Monday and welcome October! After a period of mourning for another summer gone too quickly, I'm now ready to embrace autumn with all its leaf-crunching, candle-burning, soup-cooking and scarf-wearing glory. I hope you are too!?
One of the best things about the colder months is that it gives you more time to spend on indoor projects. Fall and winter are the best months for creating, crafting, writing, drawing ... which brings me to this week's boss woman.

I 'met' Jenny several years ago through blogging. She used to run a lifestyle blog, and I was immediately drawn to her wonderful writing voice. Jenny is an avid reader, and wise beyond her years, and her writing reflects that. I always felt better after having read one of her posts, more prepared for what life may throw at me. She has a way of making sense of the world that I deeply admire. You will know what I mean once you start reading her interview!

How Jenny came up with the idea for her business Carrot Top Paper Shop is just wonderful - she is literally (pun intended!) doing something she was meant to do.
I let her tell you her story:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your business?
A: My husband and I moved from Washington D.C. back to my home state of Oklahoma when I was eight weeks pregnant with our daughter (who is now two-and-a-half!). I knew I wanted to stay home with her, but I also knew I wanted to do something creative, that would hopefully allow me to contribute financially to our family. At the time, that felt like too much to hope for!
When preparing Violet’s nursery, I couldn’t get this idea out of my head to create a banner for her room with all my favorite literary heroines on it. I’ve always been a big reader, and my favorite book as a girl was Anne of Green Gables. When I found out we were having a girl, being able to share Anne with her was one of the things I was most excited about!

But I couldn’t find a heroine banner online, or anything close to what I wanted, so I made my own. It wasn’t long after that I realized I couldn’t be the only mom out there looking to inspire her young daughter with the role models she grew up with. Once I had the idea to start selling my literary heroine banners, it soon became something I knew I wouldn’t be able to shake, and I started selling my work on Etsy when my daughter was seven months old.

Q: Was it always your dream to have your own business?
A: Strangely, no. Ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to do something creative when I grew up, but my creative interests didn’t feel cohesive to me: I loved to read, so I “ran” a library out of my bedroom for my friends and family (I had a mini card catalog system), I loved to write and draw, so I wrote a magazine that I mailed out to my friends (I think at my peak, I had twelve subscribers), I loved Anne Shirley, and wrote a play based on the book, and coerced my sisters and friend to act in it with me (let’s just say I was much better at set design than acting).
A business owner, specifically, was never something I really considered. But looking back, I realize that’s because for me, the passion has to come first. Once I had a cohesive, creative idea involving something I loved, being a business owner was just something that came with the job. And now, I love it!

Q: What does a typical day look like?
A: The first two years of a child’s life are a roller coaster ride, to say the least. I’ve learned to be flexible in my goals and not set strict expectations for myself. Otherwise, I would just be constantly setting myself up for frustration.
But structure can still be flexible. Each night, I look at that week’s to-do list and decide what will be manageable the next day. I decide what can be done when Violet is awake, and what would be best to do while she is asleep. I find it is crucial for my productivity to know exactly what I will be doing first thing in the morning, ahead of time.

A typical day for me means waking up around 6:30, working out (briefly), and drinking coffee while tackling whatever I planned for my early morning hours. Violet wakes up around 8:00, and I’m all hers for the next couple of hours. We have breakfast and play for a little while before I do some work in the same vicinity (household chores, or answer emails while she plays). During her afternoon nap is when I pack orders and do as much of the behind-the-scenes work as I can.

Right now, my husband works from home most days, which is hugely helpful. We let Violet “help” us in whatever small ways we can (unloading the dishwasher even when it takes twice as long, or throwing away the trimmings from my heroine bookmarks. Don’t judge – she loves taking things to the trash can!). She definitely thinks the three of us are a team!
I rarely get through my entire to-do list for the day, but I love my flexible schedule, even if it does mean longer hours most days of the week. There’s something to be said for simply being content with doing your best for the day. I end each night with a good book, which is a must for me when it comes to recharging!

Q: How do you come up with your ideas/designs?
A: Inspiration comes from all different places, and often, when I least expect it. I write down half-baked ideas in between product lines, and create Pinterest boards to help me visualize a certain look I’m going for. Mostly though, my ideas evolve as I sit down to draw or paint. Rarely do I have the complete product in mind from the start. Although, actually, one of my favorite things in my upcoming collection came to me like a vision while I was washing my face one night. That never happens, and it was weird. But I’m not complaining! And, of course, most of my ideas are inspired by my favorite books, so I always have a book by my muse, L.M. Montgomery, on my nightstand.

Q: What is the best part? What is the worst?
A: The best part is the community that has formed over something I am so passionate about. I kind of can’t get over that there are so many wonderful people in the world who share this love of Lucy Maud Montgomery and her work, and just a love of reading in general. 
The worst part is that there are never enough hours in the day. Ever. Have I mentioned that?

Q: Did you take any business classes, or do you learn as you go along?
A: I read a quote from an entrepreneur recently that said something like, “Building a business is like jumping off a cliff and learning how to build a plane on the way down”. It can feel like that a
lot of times, but thankfully, I have an amazing business coach! I am technically learning as I go, but having a guide means I’m not winging it. Also, both of my parents have experience in owning their own businesses, so I think I grew up thinking it was possible for anyone. I’m grateful for the confidence they instilled in me that if you want something, you go out and make it happen.

Q: Do you do it alone, or do you have help?
A: Right now, I’m a one-woman show. But that doesn’t seem fair to say because my husband’s emotional support and willingness to run to the post office for me is not to be underestimated!

Q: Do you ever get self-doubts, or think you can't do it?
A: Yes and no. I have never had doubts that this is the job I am supposed to be doing. But do I have doubts that I am talented enough? Creative enough? That I can sustain what I have created? Yes, absolutely. You would think that if I believed I am supposed to do this job, I should also believe I am equipped for it. But somehow that one requires more faith.

Q: How do you balance being a mom/wife/and running your business?
A: I try to take one day at a time, and remember that I can’t see the future, as much as I like to imagine I can. You can do almost anything when you take it one day at a time! And as Anne Shirley says, “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet”. I’m learning to be present in whatever I’m doing. I try not to think about work when I’m with my family, and I give myself permission to give 100% when it is time to work.

I’ve learned that creativity begets creativity, and sometimes it feels like I’ll never be able to do everything I want to do. But I also know that raising my daughter comes first, and I am perfectly okay with the fact that some of my ideas might take ten years to come to fruition.

Q: Any tips for others who want to start their own business?
A: If you don’t believe in your product, no one else is going to care either. Enthusiasm is contagious. Don’t underestimate your passion as an important part of your business plan.
But also, passion isn’t enough. Don’t guess. You don’t have to go to business school to run your own business, but you definitely need some sort of guide. Whether that is a business coach, online classes, or a stack of recommended books. Start with a plan, ask a lot of questions, and look for answers from people a few steps ahead of you. Also, read The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber!

Q: How did you come up with the name?
A: In the book, Anne of Green Gables, an overly-confident schoolmate tries to get Anne’s attention by making fun of her greatest insecurity: her red hair. He calls her “carrots” in front of the whole school, which is an unforgivable act in her book. Anne holds a grudge for years before she finally finds it in her heart to forgive him, and they become friends (and, spoiler alert, a love interest!). My shop name is a cheeky homage to one thing every reader around the world loves about Anne: her greatest insecurity. 

Thank you Jenny!

Check out her gorgeous designs at her
↠ Etsy shop and
↠ Instagram

Join her Kindred Spirit Club (e-newsletter) and get a free print by signing up to her

Or how about joining her Instagram Book Club? You can get Jenny's book recommendations and enter her book giveaways!

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