Posts Tagged "personal story"

Combining past and present selves

Posted by on Nov 29, 2016 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

“If we think of Baudrillard’s division of collectors into the young and the old, we might account for the seriousness of the older collector by noting that often the nostalgia involved in a hobby is to do with the wish to reanimate an earlier incarnation of the hobbyist.” – In Defense of Hobbies I’ve been thinking about this article–and, in particular, this quote–a lot lately. It seems that my hobby is walking, and watching any animals I find. It doesn’t have to be anywhere in particular, and there doesn’t have to be a destination. If I’m outdoors, I’m happy. I especially love hikes in the woods. I always say that I wouldn’t go back to my younger days because I love the life I live now, and some aspects of my childhood were challenging. But, there are little pockets in my memory that are calm and happy. There was one fall, somewhere between 1996-2000–Dad and I can’t seem to agree on the year–that the two of us were out for a little drive through the Laverty Lake auto trail. We got out of the car when we reached the lake and we took a little look around. I heard a rustling nearby, and I turned around to see a small baby raccoon lying on its back and tossing a leaf around with its little paws. It continued to play, mostly unaware of or unconcerned with our presence, until we drove off. I named the little raccoon Meeko–Disney’s Pochahontas film had been released around this time–and we occasionally drove back, hoping to see it again. We never did. I thought about it for a long time. Recently, I took my daughter down to Alma again for a brief visit with my parents in the middle of the week, just after Halloween. Mom, Amelia, and I decided to go to McLaren Pond in Fundy Park together and walk around the little trail loop that encircled it. We got a little way in and saw a large beaver dam, and watched as four beavers started swimming and working around it. After a few minutes, a little way down the path, a massive beaver–one of the adults, we later learned–wandered into our line of sight. She grabbed a stick in her jaws and tossed it in the air until it got the correct balance, then went back into the water to continue working. We continued down the path, and the second adult walked out of the water further ahead. He turned his head to observe us, and my daughter pointed at him and said “hug!”–she wanted to go over and give the beaver a hug. Something about this entire experience brought back the long-forgotten feelings of that day by the lake, with the baby raccoon tossing leaves in the air nearby. Suddenly, I was a much younger version of myself, standing there and watching the creatures swimming around us and standing before us. The lost feelings of humanity intermingling with nature and the desire to embrace it fully bubbled back to the surface. This feeling of nostalgia that I felt that day was a visitation by my past self. It’s amazing how parenthood forces so many of us to relive our past in a new way: with heightened awareness and appreciation for experiences we may have taken for granted earlier on in our lives. Our children invoke often unexpected memories. November is a strangely nostalgic month for me. It’s the stillness between Halloween and Christmas, and that’s why I like to wait until December first to even start thinking about holiday preparation. This time of year, I’m obsessed with the smell of smoke, and anything that tastes smokey. I love woodsmoke smells and the tastes of smoky coffee, beer, cheese, and Lapsang Souchong tea. It’s a comforting smell during the colder months, but I think a big part of it is the nostalgic reflection I subconsciously feel when I smell it. At our home in Alma, we had a wood stove that Dad would light to keep us warm in the winter. Smelling wood smoke brings me back to cold days at home as a...

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(Re)treat Yourself

Posted by on Oct 28, 2016 in Life in Writing | 1 comment

I mentioned a few posts ago about how much I miss spending time in the forest and what an important recharge it is for me. That period of time–early September–became a turning point for me. The downward spiral I have been suffering from a period of heavy depression for a good part of this year. Essentially, it began and April and only started to taper off in August, and I didn’t even really realize it until I started feeling better and more like myself again. Most days, I could just do the bare essentials of taking care of my daughter–taking care of myself was hardly a part of the equation. I haven’t even done any meal prep since May. I haven’t posted much in this blog all year. I can’t say what brought me out of it, but I remember walking to the library in early August to talk to some kids about writing and being a writer, and it hit me that I actually felt like myself. I hadn’t felt that way for awhile. It hurt a bit. But I felt something else, too–the drive to continue on this route. I don’t even remember feeling awful, but I don’t really remember June or July at all, so that might be telling enough. In late August into September, for about two weeks, my back went out. I was finally starting to feel better mentally and my body decided to betray me! So I had a meltdown. I remember sitting on the living room floor sobbing about what a terrible mother I was because I couldn’t move (?!). I spent some valuable recharge time in Alma that week, hobbling through the forest as best I could. And then, two weeks later when I was feeling better, I started thinking about what I could do to spend more time in the woods. I had spoken to my therapist about it as well and she talked about finding strategies to take that feeling of being in the woods with me. Being in the woods is beneficial for many people, which explains why I feel so good when I’m there. The next steps I spent a whole week out and about with my daughter. We’d wake up at the crack of dawn, as we always did, but we’d eat our breakfast and then go out almost immediately. There’s a lovely little playground that’s very toddler-friendly about a fifteen minute walk away, and we often go there. We went every day that week. I packed a plethora of snacks to ensure our stay was well over an hour long. One of my co-workers had been talking about going to a horseback riding retreat, and it got me thinking about how nice a writer’s retreat could be. This led to a little mental back-and-forth of me telling myself there likely weren’t any in the area, and certainly not ones that would fit my schedule. Maybe not even retreats that would be the kind of wilderness escape I was longing for. So what was I looking for, then? Well, I told myself, you don’t have to be around other people to do it. And that was what set the wheels into motion. I started thinking about what I could do, and when. And I settled on September 29th, in an oTENTik in Fundy National Park. Why oTENTiks? I’m not prissy or anything, but let’s be real: camping in late September in a tent on the cold hard ground–where there are critters, and you need to duck down low and huddle up in your tent, sleep on rocks, and hide your food from potential predators–was not my idea of a relaxing and inspiring time, especially when I was doing this to escape obligation, not create a different one. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it wouldn’t have suited my purposes. oTENTiks are basically the baby of a cabin in the woods and a regular tent. Perfect. I had been wanting to stay in one for awhile anyway, so this was the ideal opportunity. I decided on Point...

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Adventures in Breastfeeding

Posted by on Apr 27, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Disclaimer: I am about to talk about my boobs. I’m not really the type of person who ever thought she’d be sharing this online, but breastfeeding is hard and I want to share my experiences, especially with those who might be struggling in their own way. Please feel free to share your stories, too. I think it’s really important to talk about struggles, because often people try to silence mothers who dare to express any frustration or difficulty.  Difficult experiences are still as valid as the happy, positive ones, and getting support is important.  I hope it goes without saying that I have been incredibly grateful to be able to breastfeed at all. From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew that I’d want to breastfeed. There are health benefits for both mother and baby, and that was and remains my number one reason, but on top of that, it’s also free. For some reason, despite being told by several people how difficult breastfeeding was, I expected the biggest hurdle to be establishing a good milk supply. I had no idea that a good supply would actually be the least of my problems. I had so many friends and acquaintances that weren’t able to breastfeed due to supply issues, so the concern was at the forefront of my mind–I didn’t understand the variety of problems that could come with breastfeeding and really thought, for some reason, that it wouldn’t be difficult. As you’ve likely guessed by this point, I was very wrong. Here’s where the boob-talk comes in. I’ve had an inverted nipple for as long as I can remember. This was a slight concern when I was pregnant, but for some reason, I thought the issue would magically correct itself when Amelia was born. I was a little too optimistic, because… yeah, it didn’t. Moments after Amelia was born, I tried getting her to latch to no avail. I was whisked into my room in the obstetrics unit of the Moncton Hospital, and before I knew it, a nurse was in the room trying to get her to latch. I was both physically and mentally exhausted from labour, but I knew my baby had to eat, so we tried–but my inverted nipple had other plans. The nurse left the room and came back a few minutes later carrying a nipple shield. And, with that tool in hand, Amelia successfully latched, and our nursing relationship began. If I any illusions of simplicity remained at this point, they were shattered pretty quickly. The shield and I developed a love-hate relationship pretty quickly–and I understood when fellow nursing mothers looked on with sympathetic familiarity when I brought the shield out for a feed. It seems it’s a common tool, and while it’s useful, it’s easy for the baby to form a dependency on it, and can cause problems of its own. I had follow-up appointments at the breastfeeding clinic–twice in the first week–and discovered that Amelia wasn’t gaining any weight, at first. When my milk came in, I had a huge oversupply, to the point that I was informed I could likely feed twins with what I had, but Amelia just wasn’t getting to it. So, we tried a few things. I had been trying to wean off the shield, but because my oversupply had been filling it up, Amelia had just been sipping on the excess. Thus, when I tried to nurse her without the shield, she wasn’t trying hard enough to extract the milk, and, because of that, she ended up losing weight. We were back on the shield, and until she gained again, we were checked in at the clinic every two days. After a month, she got back to her birth weight, at last, and we only had to visit every two weeks. I kept with the shield, because it was working well, even though I had to pump daily to maintain my supply. She gained reasonably well for a couple of months–about the minimum of what would be expected, but still steadily gaining. One day, one of the lactation consultants told me that, given my supply,...

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Having less money is better–for me, at least

Posted by on Mar 12, 2015 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 0 comments

When I left my full time job to go back to school and finish my degree, I was concerned. My husband and I have a mortgage. We have a car. Though we didn’t at the time, we now have a daughter. We have two cats. We like eating every now and then and we have utilities to pay. It always made sense for us both to be working full-time, even if it seemed like I always had a little extra money to burn each paycheck. I had been able to save up quite a bit of money as I wasn’t in debt, and I bought some nice clothes for myself. I also had a bad tendency to blow quite a bit of cash at work, because I genuinely liked the product I sold. Upon going back to school full-time, I dropped work to part-time in a different job,  and I quickly had to begin budgeting based on necessity. Suddenly, I didn’t have the luxury of the extra $200+ a paycheck. I had no money to burn. Every dollar was accounted for in some way or another. Coupons became more important, I used any discount I can get (10% student Tuesdays at Sobeys became my new best friend), and I saved up various loyalty points from any shop that offered them. Most “wants” dissolved entirely. We stopped going out to eat and eliminated expensive or unnecessary items from our grocery list. I started cooking and meal-prepping more often. Cooking quickly grew into a hobby as a result–it was already something I did fairly often and enjoyed doing, but the frequency with which I was now cooking meant I was constantly trying new things and making an effort to have a variety of foods on-hand, as well as challenge my burgeoning skills. Another interest of mine is money management. I love budgeting, and the tighter the budget is, the more fun I have distributing funds. Putting my budgeting skills to good use was a bit of a side-perk of needing to drop the money a bit. It obviously wasn’t a factor, but kind of a nice bonus. Dropping to part-time work was also a life choice for me, and not just in order for me to get my degree. I decided that rather than focusing on working or finding a career, I wanted to spend more time with loved ones. This especially rang true for me when I found out I was pregnant, knowing well that I would want to spend as much time as possible while the baby is still a baby. My grandmother’s death in October would confirm this for me. I wanted the flexibility to see people when I could. Since my daughter Amelia’s birth, this has only been further affirmed. My writing also influenced my decision to work part-time only. My one overarching goal in my life has been to do something with my writing, even if it’s to a small degree, and I’ve been trying to focus on it more and more in the past year–the launch of this website is a testament to that. I’ve had less and less time for my writing, with school at first, followed directly by the new baby, but since January, I’ve already managed to write a short story that placed in the first heat of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. Even with Amelia taking up most of my time, I’ve managed to work sporadically on blog posts, and I’ve been keeping a journal to keep track of my experiences as a new parent. I’ve also been working as a copy editor for Animaritime when I have a few spare minutes. All of this is to say, in part, that I don’t always like the person I become when I work full-time, and I tend to build up a number of work-related resentments while I work. I am much happier if I only have to work part-time (or, as with the present, not at all). The time away from full-time work has helped me to realise that making more money wasn’t making me happier–having the freedom...

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Aunt Doris and Uncle Gordon

Posted by on Sep 21, 2014 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

Aunt Doris and Uncle Gordon

Many years ago, on a previous blog, I wrote a poem for my Great Aunt Doris, who had Alzheimer’s. She and my Great Uncle Gordon were very special people in my life, and I learned a lot from both of Aunt Doris. Photo from the Albert CountyFuneral Home’s website. them. Aunt Doris passed away in April of 2008, and Uncle Gordon left us just two weeks ago. Rather than making this a sad post, I’m going to reflect on some fond memories I have of them. There are a lot. I was lucky to have loving grandparents growing up, but I also had some very special great aunts and uncles. Aunt Doris, my Nana’s younger sister, would visit with Uncle Gordon to stay in the cabin in our lower lot–a cabin Aunt Doris’s parents used to rent out to tourists many years prior. Due to the frequency of their visits, and the time we would spend together, they became like a third set of grandparents to me. Their care and love was so strong. They were also very generous with their time. They never had any children of their own, thus having no grandchildren, so they always treated me like the granddaughter they didn’t have. They took me on drives in the park, and, with my parents, we would all go on hikes together to enjoy the natural beauty of Fundy National Park. They told me that when they were visiting, I could come over anytime. Once, I took this entirely too literally. I was invited to come and see them for breakfast one morning. I combined the two offers and decided to show up to visit for breakfast–at seven AM. A much older picture of UncleGordon. I was still in my pyjamas and I was excited. I went down to the lower lot and knocked on the cabin door. Uncle Gordon greeted me in his own pyjamas, his hair dishevelled–obviously they hadn’t been expecting me so early. But he didn’t turn me away. He greeted me with his booming “hello!” and welcomed me indoors, and I had breakfast with him and Aunt Doris. Aunt Doris made these beautiful little shortbread cookies, and she would feed them to me with milk every time I visited them. These shortbreads were always topped with colourful rainbow sprinkles, and I would dip them in the milk to let the colours run. We would eat them together while playing dominos. She was a fantastic cook, and I would join them for suppers and lunches on a regular basis, as well. Both of them were very patient with me. When I couldn’t figure out how to tie my shoes, Uncle Gordon, knowing I learned things a little differently than other kids, showed me the “bunny ears” method. To this day, I still use that method. I’ll end this with a poem I wrote in the years that Aunt Doris’s Alzheimer’s got to the point she didn’t recognise most of us. I’ve edited it recently. A decorated tin filled withWhite shortbread cookies topped byRound rainbow sprinkles that make theMilk turn colour Sits on theKitchen table.A fold-out table made of tin withSturdy aluminum legs and the scene of aForest brook in autumn, surrounded by sepia foliage andThe glimpse of a deer is set up before theCouch, with aSmall box of dominoes spilled over: aGame to be played.I can’t quite tie myShoes yet, but he helps me.Two bunny ears. Tuck under. Pull. Now it’s aBow.An overstuffed yellow armchair sits by theDusty screen door, and beyond that, thePorch, where theJune bugs used to collect at night and buzz in our ears.Strawberries grow here too, hidden in theTufts of grass.She has me gather them in aPorcelain dish. I pick them andShe washes them for me.We eat them together.This is what I remember, and thoughYou cannot, I will keep rememberingFor both of us. Please follow and like...

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