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Sometimes Success Looks Like Failure

We live in a perfect world. A world that rewards perfect and only perfect.

The world’s filled with beautiful ideas, shared in awe by others while the ‘Pinterest fails’ are shared in mockery and mirth. As adults, we often belittle ourselves and, in some cases, others, when we make mistakes. So often we hear words like, “I could never do that, I’m not a [fill in the blank].” As adults we’ve learned that unless we’re perfect, we shouldn’t even try. We became square pegs in square holes.

Take a moment for that to sink in.

When we limit ourselves to what we’re already good at, we are merely square pegs.

For a long time I was a square peg, unhappily sitting in a square hole. Fear of mistakes crippled me and held me in place. My self worth hinged on being good and right all the time. If you’ve never lived in that kind of world, let me tell you, it’s a miserable place to be! When I saw my children showing signs of living in a perfection based world, I knew something drastic needed to change.

How can we teach our children they can learn anything, be anything, do anything if we constantly send the message that we need to be perfect the first time we try something? How will our children learn that practice makes perfect, if they see us never try anything new? But also, how will they learn that not being perfect is okay, if we never point out our own mistakes?

I made a cake this week. It’s not the first cake I’ve made, but it was the first time I’ve tried this technique. It turned out great! (For a first try). Everyone gushed over it (well except that one person that sneered and said, “it’s okay.” But we won’t talk about him anymore! lol).

As I made the cake, Ella and Agatha gushed over how awesome the cake was and how amazing they thought I was. Nothing feels better than knowing your children admire you!

My cake wasn’t perfect. Not even close! It looked like a zombie garden gnome (a la Harry Potter). Not pretty! The fondant ripped in a few places, and the entire thing looked a little creepy. I’d go so far as to say it’d be worthy of a ‘Pinterest Fail’ post. Except, I’m ridiculously proud of this cake. No. It isn’t perfect, I’m very aware of the differences between mine and the professional’s cake. But I tried.

I tried something new and I think it turned out really good, for someone that doesn’t do this every day, or even every month.

I’m not a cake decorator, a baker, or a chef in anyway (sometimes I despise anything to do with cooking), but it makes my children happy to have fun parties and fun cakes. It makes them feel loved and so I do it. Even though it takes all my will power to place that cake, with all it’s faults, in front of other people, I do it.

Today it’s cakes, a different day it was wire sculptures. Sometimes it’s words. I try. I work. I make mistakes, a lot of mistakes. Sometimes it looks like failure. Sometimes it feels like failure.

I tried something and it didn’t go the way I envisioned. I compare myself to others. I compare myself to the person I wish I was. That person that knows what to say and how to say it. The one that makes gorgeous cakes and throws elaborate parties, while also looking amazing. I see the dissonance between who I am and who I wish to be. Sometimes the distance seems so vast, and then I see how far I’ve come.

It may look like failure to some, but to me, it’s a huge success.

I want my children to see these moments of failure as success too. I pointed out the differences between the way my cake looked and the way I wish it looked. Together we watched the video I used as inspiration. We talked about the differences between what she did and what I did. We took maybe 3 minutes to really pick apart the problems with my cake, then I changed course and talked about how wonderful I thought my cake was. No, it wasn’t perfect, but it was still a great try and I was able to see where my mistakes were, which meant I could learn from it.

Success!

Now that you’ve seen my cake, this is the video I used as inspiration:

 

 

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The One Trick that Changed Our Life

I have a secret. I love lists! It doesn’t matter whether it’s a shopping list, a to-do list, or some other random  list. I love to write things down!

I discovered a new way to use lists that brought our family closer together and helped accomplish even more every day. Plus it decreased our stress and increased our fun! What could be better than that?

Check out these two lists and how we use them:

 

Daily List

The daily list is a list of no more than 3 items (except rare cases when something out of the ordinary happens). One item is something we’ll finish that day. The other two items are things we hope to finish, but don’t need to.

Each evening, after supper, we talk about what we accomplished that day. Then the whole family makes plans for the next day. We use ‘Reminders’ on our apple devices so we can all access the list during the day. It’s important for everyone in the family to know what everyone else wants to do, that way we can work together instead of against each other!

Once we check off each item on the daily list, the rest of the day is free. We don’t add to the daily list except at the end of the day.

 

Weekly List

The weekly list is more flexible than the daily list. We add to it during the day and throughout the week. Anything that pops up, we just add it to the list. If the list gets to be 50 points long, that’s okay. This list isn’t about importance or how quickly something needs to be done. It’s about reminding us of things we wanted to do.

We use this list to help generate the daily list. I usually read this list once a day. It helps me decide what’s most important to do the next day. It also helps me see any patterns develop. For instance if I’m adding a lot of extra cleaning to the list, it lets me know the mess has gotten to me and it allows me to either shift my perspective, or do something about the mess before it overwhelms me.

 

How These Lists Transform

One of the greatest feelings is checking something off your to-do list. But that pales in comparison to finishing your to-do list! Because our daily list is so short, we finish it everyday. It feels ah-mazing!

Every life success amplifies the way we feel about ourselves and our life. Each small step makes the next step that much easier and more enjoyable.

But the real transformation is on the whole family. Our children learn to set their own goals.  Even Brom makes a goal each day (admittedly his goal is the same every day: Play more video games). Talking about our goals together, increases the connection between us in so many ways. They see what Ryan and I need to finish each day, so they either help us, or give us space so we can get it done quickly. We know what they want to do, so we help them with their goals. Once we’re done our items, we then have a lot of time in the day to do things together as a family, or spend special one-on-one time with the kiddos.

At the end of the day everyone feels more loved and respected and we all feel more peaceful.

This simple daily activity takes no more than 15 minutes each day, it’s impact on our day is immeasurable!

 

 

 

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Embarrassment, Failure, Growth

Recently, I submitted some of my artwork to the Strathcona County Art Gallery@501. I hoped people would like my work. I hoped the county would buy my art to display. I hoped for a lot of things, but beneath, and on top of, that hope something else whispered to me.

Something whispered that I wasn’t good enough. Something whispered that people would laugh at my work.

I felt embarrassed by my submissions. I told myself the gallery accepted all submissions. I didn’t even need to be good and they’d still display my work. People would see my work. They’d see it for what it really was.

I saw derision.

In my head I picture people telling my they like my work just to be nice. In my head I see other people thinking my work is childish. They’re only saying nice things about my work to be – well – nice.

In my head I hear a lot of things.  In my head I hear all the reasons I should keep my art hidden at home. In my head I hear all the reasons I shouldn’t talk to real artists. In my head I am not good enough. In my head I do not deserve to have my art on display. In my head my art is not valuable to others. In my head I doubt myself. A lot.

I submitted my work anyway.

Even though I never received a phone call saying my art was selected, I attended the unveiling reception at the gallery. I talked to other artists. I praised other artist’s work. It was so hard to go. I felt rather sick while I drove to the gallery. I wanted to leave before they made the announcements. I wanted to leave as soon as the announcements were done and I knew my work wasn’t selected.

I stayed anyway. I was uncomfortable. But I stayed. I chatted. I looked at a lot of art. Particularly the art that was purchased. I wanted to see what the selection committee saw. I wanted to learn. I wanted to open my eyes a little wider.

I was sad my work wasn’t selected for purchase. I was sad my work didn’t win the people’s choice award. But in my sadness I was also happy I tried. In my sadness I see hope. I see growth. I see a chance to learn more and do better next year.

I don’t know if I’ll feel anymore worthy next year, but sometimes it isn’t about feeling worthy, it’s about proving worth just by showing up.

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Self Development

When Ella was a new baby, Ryan and I attended a parenting conference, I couldn’t tell you much about it now, except for one speaker. I barely recall her name, Ivy Shawl Song (or something like that), I don’t know anything about her, but she had a very powerful message.

She said in order for a person to have a fulfilled, happy life, a person needed ten ways of identifying themselves that had nothing to do with their work or family roles.

At the time I was an RN, a wife, a mother, but beyond that I had few interests or hobbies that I could pursue. The act of becoming both a nurse and a mother meant I needed to give up other aspects of myself. At the time, it hurt. I fought it. Looking back, I’m not happy with the person I was, though I know that person was me, and made me who I am.

That person was empty, but she tried.

I picked up various hobbies, tested them out, saw if they fit. Many I put back. Others I held onto. But mostly I remained where I was.

Over time, 1 child turned into 2, then 3, then 4. Plus 3 cats and 2 dogs. Our lives became very busy. But those titles of mother and wife weren’t enough. I needed more. I needed to find myself.

It’s taken time, but now I have many different hobbies and interests that help define who I am as a person, singular. Myself.

I am spiritual. I’m still not sure if this falls into one of the categories that doesn’t ‘count’ or not. But my spirituality brings me comfort, and it’s a part of who I am outside of my relationship and work roles. If it wasn’t for my faith, I don’t know if I’d have made it through the past ten years or not, and I know my faith brought me so much comfort and healing while I had cancer and was going through chemo.

I love Disney. I enjoy reading about the company, the parks, resorts, and entertainment. And of course, I love spending time at Walt Disney World. I can hardly wait for the day when we can experience all the things we’ve yet to experience there!

I sew. Not often right now, but I make dolls, stuffies, and even clothing. I’m self taught, and sometimes I feel very insecure about my sewing abilities.

I enjoy reading. Often my reading is done online, but at least once a month I pick up an actual book and I read. I just took Lisa Scottoline’s book, “Most Wanted” as well as Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” out of the library, both highly recommended books by people I like.

I love to craft. Most recently I’ve been working with wire. I’m really excited about my newest creation and can hardly wait for it to be finished!

I enjoy entertaining. This includes creating party themes, decorations, activities, and the food.

Cake decorating is an interest I have as a result of our dietary restrictions. But I enjoy the challenge, even if the results frustrate me to no end!

Gardening is my passion. It’s how I spend my time relaxing. It doesn’t matter whether I’m digging holes, or sitting staring at my flowers, I find both equally refreshing.

I’m a dreamer and a planner. These two are intertwined so closely, even as they’re almost polar opposites. I love to plan for everything, and change plans as needed, but I also love to plan for the ‘what ifs’ and the one days’. What if this dream of mine came true? Then what? I know what I’d do. It’s something I find great joy doing.

It’s taken time for these interests to develop organically. There were times I had neither time nor energy to devote to anything other than the basics. But I’m now happy with where I am and the person I’m becoming. A few years ago I wouldn’t have been able to say that.

I can hardly wait to see who I am in a couple more years!

What are ten interests that define who you are?

 

 

 

 

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Spreading Abundance Around

When we travel to Walt Disney World Resort, we love to stay on property, we purchase the dining plan, usually deluxe, and let Disney take care of everything. Our vacation is so relaxed, full of joy, and magic. But one of the things we love best is spreading a little pixie dust on others.

We usually use extra meal and/or snack credits to treat other people. There’s something so wonderful about stepping in just before someone hands over cash and offering to pay for them, and seeing the smile spread over their face as they say, “Really?”

Our goal for our family is to bring that Disney magic into our home. We want to be able to spread that kind of happiness to others. But at Disney those credits are pre-paid and really we don’t notice not having them for ourselves because Disney feeds us so well to begin with. But if we were to offer to pay for that many meals or snacks at home, it’d cost us a large amount of money.

Using some ideas from Riley Dayne, we decided to spread some happiness without spending a thing. Tonight we printed off some fliers, that Riley provided to us, offering positivity to others.

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We then went around our neighbourhood and placed them on seven different mailboxes. ready for someone to take what they need. The girls are so excited to walk round tomorrow and see if anyone took any strips for themselves. They love the idea of brightening someone’s day with such a simple act.

If you see a flier, take what you need, and when you’re able, spread a little happiness to the next person.

If you have other ideas for spreading positivity to others without spending a dime, I’d love to hear them!

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Pride and Accomplishment

The past week’s brought so much to us! We weren’t sure what to expect when we stopped using our second vehicle, but we wanted to try.

We’ve now walked or biked to almost everything this week. I did use the other van to run to Costco when we had unexpected, but very welcome, company, and Ryan uses it to get to work. Otherwise we’ve left ourselves to the mercy of the weather everywhere we’ve been.

It’s been amazing! I know it’s only been a short time, but we’ve put more thought into our outings because of the effort involved. We’ve also used them as a way to connect with our children while we go about our day.

And we discovered Agatha needed a new bike. Poor girl. Turns out we live downhill from everything in our town. Hahahaha Coming home is nice and easy, but leaving home always requires a bit more effort. Agatha’s back tire was a little wobbly, the bike was a little short, and there were no gears. That ride uphill was a lot of work for her!

I hopped onto kijiji and found a nice bike for a good price, and even better it was just around the corner (and up a steep hill lol). I rode my bike, Agatha used a scooter and together we went to check out the bike. On the way home, she rode the bike, I carried the scooter in a backpack, and she fell in love with gears. 🙂

Today she practiced riding her new bike around our neighbourhood, tomorrow we’ll take it out for a longer ride to see how she does.

While she was checking out her new bike, Cordelia decided  learn how to ride a bike. So she did.

The first time she tried, she fell after about half a meter. She looked back at me with a look of such discouragement on her face. I knew the wrong response would end her efforts immediately.

I looked at her, beamed, and said, “That was awesome! Look how much farther you went today compared to any other day. All by yourself!” Then I high fived her. She beamed the biggest smile and demanded I help her do it again. And again!

We moved to the top of a small hill, I steadied the bike, let her get her feet ready, then gave her a little push and let go. She peddled and made it to the bottom of the hill. We all cheered her on, including random people out for a walk. High fives all around. Within a couple minutes she was off down the path, wings spread wide. Ready to soar!

There is nothing more amazing than a smile of pure pride on the face of a child after accomplishing a huge task like that!

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Change and Mindset

There’s a difference between wanting to make a change in your life and thinking you should make a change in life. In the first instance you want to make a change, in the second an external force encourages change.

When an external force wants you to change, it’s a lot harder. Sometimes you dig your heels in, refusing to let change happen. Sometimes you sabotage yourself. Maybe you talk about needing to change, but you don’t act on those words. Either way, the result is the same, you don’t change. Not really. Certainly some people may change for a while, but often end up back where they started.

When the desire to change comes from within, when you have your eye on a goal you can clearly see, when that goal excites you, then change happens easier than ever!

We recently read “The Secret Garden” as a family. In the book Mary Lennox’s cousin, Colin, can’t walk. He’s spent his entire life in bed, or on a couch. Sitting up was a good day for him. But one day he decided to change. He decided he was strong, and would live forever! He didn’t sit and wait for strength to come to him. He knew he already had the strength, he just had to find it.

The first day he made his decision to no longer be an ‘invalid’, he stood up. At ten years old he decided to be strong and healthy and stood up for the first time in his life. Previously, he’d believed it was impossible. He believed he could die at any moment. But after he put his mind to changing his destiny, things happened quickly.

In our life I see the same magic working on us all the time. When either Ryan or I talk about what we should or shouldn’t do, we often ignore the decision after a week or two (sometimes longer, often shorter). But when we make a decision to change our reality, things happen quickly.

We’ve made a decision to change our home life, to change the way we approach opportunities. We decided to bring magic, a deeper faith, and #unforgettable into our daily lives.

Some things change quickly, but others are more difficult. In some ways we’ve lacked a clear vision of what we want our life to look like, we flounder and falter because we don’t have that clear idea in our mind. Sometimes fear of failure hold us back.

Our vision for increased financial security and a more active lifestyle has been easier to visualize and make a reality.

We knew we wanted extra money each month for savings, to pay down debt, to spend when we see something we think would be awesome. But we also decided we wanted Ryan home more often, which cut our monthly income by almost 60%. Yikes!

How could we make both of these things a reality?

We currently have two vehicles. We own one (and will make the last payment on it very shortly), the other owns us. We decided to sell the vehicle and drop down to one vehicle instead.

It’ll mean some big changes for us, but it’ll free up so much cash! For the first time ever our monthly expenses will be less than our base income. This is HUGE!

But this change also works with my wanting to walk more and be in better shape. Yesterday I dug out the bikes, hooked the chariot behind Ryan’s bike (my bike isn’t capable of pulling a trailer), loaded Cordelia and Brom into the chariot along with tons of water, a mini picnic, cell phone, library cards, camera, and a couple toys (just in case). Ella and Agatha rode along behind me and together we all rode to the library, just over 6KM away, uphill almost the entire way!

I forgot to time us, but going home, down hill, took us only about 25 minutes! Dropping down to one vehicle will change a few things for us. We’ll need to utilize the bus a few times a month in the winter. We’ll also change where the girls do some of their classes. Instead of driving to Edmonton to take gymnastics, we’ll go to a closer gym.

Instead of shopping at Costco and the specialty pet food store we used to shop at, we’ll buy all our groceries and pet supplies at the stores closest to us, and walk or bike when we go shopping. It also means we’re less likely to ‘just run out for a minute’ to buy something we would like. Instead we’ll actually think about how important something is to us.

We’ve weighed the pros and cons of owning a single vehicle. There are a few things I worry about, but I think the pros out weigh the cons by far and once we get a new rhythm in our life I’m sure we’ll hardly miss the second vehicle.

These are only the first of many changes we’re making to improve the way we feel about ourselves and our life, and I’m so excited to embrace this change!

I am strong! I can bike across town pulling 100lbs of children and stuff behind me. I didn’t wait to try until I convinced myself I was strong. Instead I just did it. I hopped on the bike and rode. We stopped several times to take a break in the shade. We drank water. We rested. Then we rode some more. I could use the rest breaks to ‘prove’ I can’t do it. Or I can look at the total outcome as proof that I can do it.

Positive thinking says I’ve already done it once. Next time will be easier!

Have you ever made a big change like this? What was it? How’d it go? I’d love to hear of your successes as well as lessons learned!

 

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Self Care Leads to Unforgettable

While waiting for a flight to take off, the flight attendants go over the safety instructions. “In the event the oxygen masks drop from the ceiling, put the mask over your own face before helping your companions. You cannot help anyone if you’re unconscious.”

It makes sense. And it’s something many parents need to remember more often.

Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out when your mask is already on and when you need to help someone else.

Over the past year and a half since diagnosis, Ryan and I have focused on ourselves a lot more. We’ve trusted that our children are resilient and that we’ll be able to help them once we’ve helped ourselves.

So far that’s proven true.

Even though we’ve managed to put on our own oxygen mask, that’s all we’ve managed to do. Yes, I’ve slept in and spent days on the couch when need be. Yes, we’ve had frozen pizza for dinner more times than I care to count. But that’s the minimum. That’s self preservation, not self-care.

Now we’re ready for self care.

For the past few weeks I’ve spent at least 15 minutes of each day with each child. I’ve listened to them, and helped them process their fears and lifted the weight that’s on their shoulders. But, I won’t be able to do any more than that unless I also increase the amount of time I spend taking care of myself.

Honestly looking at my life, my physical fitness and my eating habits. Taking a good hard look at how I spend my time, and how I wish to spend my time is the first step.

I spend a lot of time at the computer, or another screen. I spend a lot of time thinking about doing things, but never doing them. I also think about eating, but then don’t eat, or eat a giant bag of chips in one go (and I won’t mention the box of truffles I’ve hidden in our playroom)!

I have a lot of personal goals. I want to easily lift each of my children in my arms if they ask. I want to walk 7k a day and be able to easily run 5. I want to actually run at least 3 times a week.

I want to finish a sewing project weekly. Some of mine only take a few minutes, some can take much longer, but I want to average one a week. I want to step out of my comfort zone and try new things.

I want a full active life. When we travel to Disney, we walk roughly 10 miles a day, after we do one thing, we don’t go home, we keep going, we do more, see more, feel more! At the end of the day we chat about how much fun we had and what we hope to do the next day.

At Disney we feel alive and it shows. At home, we tend to sink and shrink. In order to achieve our goal of bringing magic into our home and making unforgettable happen here, we need to expand and grow. We need to get up and do more everyday to show how important our family and our lives are to us.