Blue Skies

Almost six weeks ago, I boarded a plane to Toronto for the sixth October in a row to attend Blissdom Canada. I haven’t written about it yet, because life was beyond crazy, for many reasons that I haven’t shared (yet) and some that I have. I also had a packed work schedule on top of life and kids and renovating and I gave myself the grace to write about it when life slowed down a bit. A work contract ended last week, and I’ve been spending free moments unpacking the boxes we’ve brought here from the (now empty!) moving container, but unpacking is on hold until we finish the basement. So, 2020?

All of that to say that I finally feel like I have a few moments to give my time at Blissdom some justice.

I have been a part of Blissdom each and every year, beyond just being an attendee. I have spoken on panels with fellow writers I respect and adore, I have co-hosted round table discussions on photography and blogging, as well as hosting a solo table on taxes and deductions (Riveting!). This year, I was paired up with my friend Gillian who designs systems for businesses. Accounting is a part of a good system, so we worked really well together. We wondered if the topic would be too dry, but we had a great turnout and a lot of good discussion.

The thing about Blissdom is that it’s Canadian. I’ve been to a number of conferences over my past ten years of blogging and there’s just something different about us Canadians. We’re inclusive, I’ve yet to hear wind of any cliques, or even see them in action, because we all look out for each other. You can plop yourself down at a table with anyone and are greeted with a warm smile and included in the conversation.

I was a little bit nervous heading out this year, because my regular roommates were not attending. It’s always nice to have your roommate as a wing man when heading to an event, you know? What helped with my nervousness was knowing that many of the friends I made (or made deeper connections with) at ROAM (an offshoot of Blissdom) were in attendance. They were my home base, as were many other longtime friends I’ve connected with over the years at Blissdom and beyond. The added bonus: Gillian was in the room next to me, and became my honorary roommate.

My creative tank was filled up (and has been constipated ever since, due to my schedule) and I have some ideas about what I want to write about and what I want to focus on. Now that my anxiety is dialed down, I will be able to focus and use this space for what I want it to be. I’ve always loved the ability to have my space here, and am excited to take a break from the left side of my brain and give the right side of it time to shine.

Blissdom will not longer be a big conference, which makes some people sad, but after ROAM I have to say: DON’T BE SAD. The one complaint I heard at Blissdom was that people had a hard time choosing between sessions. At ROAM, there was one session per time slot and we all went to each session together. Nobody missed out on the great content, and we formed strong bonds with each other over those three days.

Thanks to Jennifer and her team for always building me up, empowering me, and inspiring me.

Thanks also to our major sponsor Chevrolet Canada for letting me drive this baby from Blue Mountain Resort (host of the conference) to Vaughan Mills where my driver took me the rest of the way to the airport.

My Equinox!

(I am used to driving my Suburban, but this equinox got me through the snow storm that rolled in as I was rolling out at 5 a.m.)

We were spoiled, per usual. Our sponsors made a memorable experience more amazing than it already was, even though Matthew is cursing the fact that Vaghan Mills gave us selfie sticks. I’ll be trying it out in the next few weeks and will report back. Wait for it.

If you have a chance to go to one of the smaller conferences spun off from Blissdom in the future, GO. You will not regret it.

Here Comes The Sun

I am a big fan of traditional medicine. If it wasn’t for Doctors who knew how to operate on a three-week-old baby with pyloric stenosis, I would not be sitting here typing right now. I have a three-inch scar that starts at my belly button and heads north, and is a constant reminder of what a gift it is to be alive and living the live I get to live.

I gave birth to all three of my babies in a hospital. I applaud those who choose home birth, but I have a fantastic family doctor who would give me drugs if I asked, but didn’t push them at all. I had a natural birth with Graham. It was a fast labor and it went well until he got stuck. It was a Sunday, and we had to wait for the anesthetist to arrive, so I pushed for three hours to no avail. The OR team was in the room waiting to take me for an emergency C-Section, and the anesthetist gave me a complete spinal because they all thought surgery was going to happen. My doctor persevered, though, even after the suction she used let go and her wee frame flew backwards. She brought out the forceps, and asked me to push despite having zero feeling below the waist, and Master G arrived without having to be surgically removed.

(I ended up with a 4th degree tear. Please do not Google it.)

He was 9 pounds, 12 ounces ON HIS DUE DATE. Because of my fast labor and his size, and the fact that subsequent babies are usually larger, I was induced ten days early with both Nathan and Emily. I hear so many people speaking negatively about induction, but it was…fantastic. A few hours of labor, no ridiculous tearing, and they both came out at 8 pounds, 5 ounces. Ten days early. It was the best choice for our family.

All of this to say that I love my Doctor and all that she has done for me. We all made it through birth (and ear infections, etc.) alive, thanks to her.

Two years ago, I found myself feeling anxious. This was new for me, because I’ve always been an eternal optimist. I still am. So why did I have a nervous stomach full of butterflies and sometimes have a hard time catching my breath for no reason at all? She thought it might be a case of hypo-thyroid and sent me for tests. It wasn’t my thyroid. I decided to go see our friend who is a Naturopathic Doctor and he explained that sometimes things aren’t firing right, and you need to replenish the building blocks. He gave me supplements that worked. I felt better and kept taking them and how it always goes, I felt good and stopped taking them.

Fast forward to the last year or so and the anxiety has been worse, likely because of the chaos that we’ve been living in. I met with my family doctor and she asked how often I felt anxious. When I told her that it was daily, she said that an anti-anxiety pill is addictive, so she recommended that I take anti-depressants. One of the side effects: It will feel like butterflies in your tummy. THAT’S WHY I’M HERE. I’m done with the butterflies.

I am not against anti-depressants, at all, because I have family and friends who need them to function. I think that knowing what they endure every day made me put a pause on filling a subscription, because I do not have anywhere near the daily struggles that they do. I just wanted the butterflies to be gone and my breath not to catch for no reason. I wanted to try the naturopathic route first and if need be, cash in my anti-depressant prescription.

I went back to see my Naturopathic Doctor that same day, almost two weeks ago. He gave me the two original supplements and one more. One week after I started taking them, I no longer struggle with a stomach full of butterflies all day, I don’t feel anxious, and I don’t find myself fighting for breath at random moments.

This is day five of feeling like me, and I’m pretty excited about it. I missed me.

*It’s not really a this versus that, but taking the best of both options that work for you. I like to try the natural options first when it comes to medication, because I don’t want to take chemicals with possible side effects if I don’t need to. It’s what has worked for me, thus far.

I considered holding off posting photos of our new bedroom and ensuite bathroom until the trim was put up, but patience is not a virtue I hold. And, based on our last house renovation where we finished the trim in rooms the week before we listed it for sale, it could be decades before the trim is up. (We don’t plan on selling here until we’re being sent to the old folks home.)

I shared photos of when the walls off of the dining room came down, and how that first bit of space off of the dining area is now my home office. Let’s now look at the space we made for ourselves at the other end of the house from the kids’ rooms, shall we?
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As you saw when I posted the photos of the house we won in court by ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN DOLLARS AND TWENTY CENTS, the kitchen was built in 1965. It was cute, for its era.

The Kitchen!

I had a different vision, which had everything to do with ripping the old out and replacing it with the white IKEA kitchen I fell in love with this summer. Our house has a lot of natural light and I wanted a change from the wood kitchen we had at our last house. Besides, if we want to hang out in a wood-themed house, we have our log cabin up at Apex.

First, we had to tear out everything. (For the record, when I say “we”, I mean Matthew and his brother. My job consists of saying “This is what I want” and also shopping for the new things we want/need. It’s a decent gig.)

The plan was to move the cupboards downstairs to the room that Matthew has claimed as his Man Cave Tool Room, but back in 1965 they didn’t install pre-built boxes — they built right into the wall. That lone Island and cupboard is all that survived to serve another duty.

Here is why we got to eat out for a week:

Empty Kitchen

It’s been a long process, but this is what it looks like right now:

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Channeling My Inner Monica

Anyone else out there who writes their feelings on the Internet knows that it’s a form of therapy. It’s free (aside from web-hosting costs), it’s a way to dump out your brain, and it’s a chance to let others know you are struggling. You hit Publish, you walk away from the computer, you curl up under your duvet, and you wake up to comments and emails and texts. You wonder if you were overly-dramatic, but no. You were being honest. Writing it out released the pressure, much like a big exhale, and then you reply to everyone that you know it will be fine, because it always is. You realize how blessed you are to have SO MANY AMAZING PEOPLE who love you (or like you)(But I love you, for the record) who reach out and it’s carrying me through.

Life has been UP TO HERE for, what, TWO YEARS? The factors change, but the year that Matthew was taking Masters courses, while selling our old house, and living out of suitcases for four months (among other things) add up. But. But! Downsizing means that we have funds available to take a family trip. We are going to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico as a family next month. Matthew and I have been before, as long-time readers know. It will be a first for our kids and I know it will be amazing. Blue water, white sand, and a week to recharge.

(My kids are excited about the fact that they can get ice cream ANY TIME THEY WANT. I’m excited for sand and sun and time to read, because when you have preteens, they swim and you read and it’s like how we do summer here, but in December.)

The last time we were in Mexico, the two of us, was in 2008. My hair + the humidity = exactly what Monica Gellar from friends looked like, so that’s what I went to Amanda’s Halloween party as this past weekend.

Monica in Barbados
Thanks for building me up, friends. This past week was a reminder of the great people I have surrounded myself with. We’ve got this.

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