Sometimes I wish you could step inside my mind

Yesterday the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and a whole beautiful Saturday was stretched out in front of us.

I sat with my morning coffee and felt dread seeping in. Why? Because my mind felt heavy and thick, I couldn’t concentrate, and my body felt immobilized.

I was getting an emotional migraine. That’s the term my husband and I give to my Blue Days. 

I hate them. And I especially hate them on beautiful sunny days. It makes me feel all the more guilty for having them.

All of my insecurities, regrets, and I-can’ts come raging to the surface. All I want to do is shut myself in a room and cry. 

And I usually do. Yesterday morning I cried for a while in the bathroom. Then I gathered myself together the best I could to get dressed and prepare for a day out with the kids. I told my husband it was a Blue Day (even just telling him helps). He offered to take the kids but I knew that today the kids would help: their smiles, their excitement at going to a big park, even their random, incessant questions (“What’s 5 with a hundred zeroes after it?” “Why do some people only have one kid?”).

On my Blue Days I wish you could step inside my mind. See the nasty black fog. Hear the swirling voices blaming, accusing, and chastizing. And understand why I cry, and why I just…can’t. Why I just want to disappear, if only for that day.

Then I would like you to give my mind a hug. Then please whip out your vacuum and suck up the voices, the fog, and all the tears-inducing I-can’ts. A temporary solution, I know, but at least you would be helping me enjoy the rest of the day migraine-free.

I’ve experienced emotional migraines long enough to know that I can usually sleep them off and the next day will be migraine-free. I woke up this morning after a 12-hour sleep (!!!) as if nothing had happened. I would like you to step inside my mind again, dig around, and see if you can find this secret emotional-reset button. Maybe you could press it for me earlier in the process.

Eight (or twelve?) reasons why I love June

Today is June 1, the beginning of my favourite month of the year. 

Why do I love June? Here are six reasons:

  1. It’s spring! The sun is warm! The grass is green! Flowers are blooming! (Wait, have I used up four reasons already?! I must be excited.)
  2. Bumblebees are out and about after their winter-long stasis. (Although I haven’t seen many thus far this year, making me somewhat worried…)
  3. There is the anticipation of summer.
  4. I can drink iced tea and not feel like it’s out of season.
  5. Daylight stretches until 9:30 or 10 pm, meaning I can sit on the porch and read for a bit after the kiddies are in bed.
  6. Three awesome ladies were born in June: my mom, my aunt, and my grandma (I miss you!).
  7. The month reminds me how lucky I am to have found my husband, since our anniversary is in June.
  8. The name “June” with its “oo” sound is gentle-sounding and pleasing to say. And I find that’s what June usually is: it’s gentle and pleasing.

Happy dog!

Hi! My name is Spirit and I am a happy dog. Do you know why? Because today one of my Masters took me to a park with trails and a forest and he let me off my leash! Woo-hoo!! MY MASTER IS AWESOME!!! 

I love to run! I love to jump! I love the grass and the sun and the air and the trees and I am a puppy so I love EVERYTHING!!!

Except for baths.

I noticed something recently. My world is getting bigger. It used to be just the house where I live. And my Masters and their two little human puppies. Now it’s also the neighbourhoods where we walk. And the people who meet me (I LOVE meeting people!). And now this park with trails and a forest.

I wonder how much bigger my world will get? Just how big is the world out there?

I’m a little curious (after all, I’m a puppy!). But really, it doesn’t matter. Even as a puppy I know that all I need are my Masters and their human puppies. That is all I want. They give me food and water and toys and walks and snuggly-cuddles and company and I love everything they give me!!!

Except for baths.

I cannot resist the alpaca…

Sometimes I just need to visit a yarn store to wander, soak up all the colours, to touch the textures… It calms my mind. It sort of floats in a pleasant space, going back and forth between serenity and a happy jumble of ethereal, half-baked ideas.

Then I come across alpaca yarn. So soft! The colours! And it’s so nice to work with. And hey, who doesn’t like alpacas? 

I didn’t intend to buy anything. But then I saw the alpaca yarns and I literatlly stood there for 15 minutes trying to decide on a skein. 

I finally chose this one. Reminds me of fall and apples. And it’s soft! So soft… 

My wallet is whimpering a little bit, but my eyes and fingers are thankful.

A wink of purply-blue

Today I found these little beauties that had somehow popped up in our winter-ravaged, ragged-looking lawn:

I’m not sure what it is. A wildflower? A weed?

Whatever it may be, these small winks of purply-blue spell S-P-R-I-N-G!

And they gave me prickles of hope. Hope for warmer weather, hope for more green, more colours overall, more warmth, and more sun. 

Hope for a thaw.

A thaw from winter. A thaw in my brain from the icy plug that has slowed my words to a mere trickle these past weeks.

Hope that these small winks of purply-blue also spell T-I-M-E-T-O-W-R-I-T-E. Hope that I will carve myself out some time amongst the busy-ness that is small children and puppy and 9-to-5.

The purply-blue gives me hope that I can do it. That the words will flow again. That a balance of patience, perseverance, and persistence is what I need.

I have already written this much–hooray! I have snatched a moment of playing children and napping puppy to breathe upon the page (or screen). And it feels great. Like going for your first run of the season and remembering how good it feels. Realizing how much you missed it and how you want to feel it again and again and again.

Inspiration can come from small places.

Thank you, dear little flowers. 

Prague: Antidepressant beer and bees

My husband and I took a trip to Prague, Czech Republic: I had to attend a conference and he tagged along. I had a full conference-free day so we squeezed in two 3-hour walking tours: one of the Old Town and one of Prague Castle.

Somewhere in Old Town, Prague

I love the architecture! The cobblestone streets!

The Astronomical Clock and our tour guide, Rob, in yellow.

At one point a bee landed on our tour guide’s shoulder and stayed there for quite a while. I was surprised because it was cool and windy that day–not a good combo for bees.

Spooky spires. Does Dracula live there?
No, this is not a Dementor from Harry Potter…

A view of the city.
The exit to Prague Castle (the entrance was way less interesting, trust me).
Guards.JPG
Changing of the guards.

One of my favourite parts of the tour was when this truck pulled up near us…

ABeer

Apparently a group of monks nearby brew a beer they call “Antidepressant Beer,” and there are zombies on the van. A pretty hip bunch of monks if you ask me.

Meal
My first traditional Czech meal. I have no idea what it’s called or how you pronounce it.

Finally, when we returned, outside our hotel there was a big, blossoming, bee-friendly tree (apple tree?). Despite the chilly breeze I stopped to look for a minute or two. And there was a bee! I had to zoom in quite a bit, since she was rather up high, but here she is. She’s probably a honeybee or a solitary bee.

PragueBee

Now to go enjoy a few (antidepressant?) Czech beers before we head back to Canada…

Exhaustion (yawn…)

It is 7:17 pm and I feel like I could crawl into bed.

My husband took the kids and the puppy to a park to burn off some of their interminable energy. I know my husband is likely just as tired as I am so I am eternally grateful.

There is the dull ache of fatigue at the back of my head and strain around my eyes. It hurts to think. Yet I feel restless.

Sometimes I wonder what I’ve done. Two kids under seven and a puppy. What was I thinking? Am I insane? These days I go to work to relax.

To summarize some of my day:

Let puppy out for a pee / Supervise three-year-old as she goes for a pee / Make lunches / Make breakfast / Eat breakfast / Referee emotional warfare between three-year-old and six-year-old / Let puppy out for a pee / Clean up kitchen / Shower / Let puppy out for a pee / Referee emotional warfare between three-year-old and six-year-old / Clean up dog poop on floor (Dammit! When did that happen?!) / Brush children’s teeth / Referee emotional warfare between three-year-old and six-year-old / Clean up more dog poop on floor (Seriously?!?!) / Engage in high-level negotiations for three-year-old to get dressed / Coax puppy into crate / Haul backpacks, hats, children, into car…

And that was before 8:15 am.

I know many people will say these are “special times.” Yeah, they are special because I feel I can hardly breathe. Sometimes I think the kids and the dog have so much energy because they suck it away from their parents…

ZZZzzzzZZZzzzz……

Sit. Stay.

As I write this, there is a sleeping puppy in my lap.

I was busy cleaning the kitchen of dirty supper dishes, preparing lunches for tomorrow, and thinking of 39485938457 things that I still needed to do when I happened to look down and saw Spirit sitting on the floor, looking up at me with her I’ll-melt-you eyes.

I put down the dishcloth. I sat cross-legged on the kitchen floor and little Spirit happily bounded into my lap. She flopped down with a satisfied sigh.

And you know what? I sighed, too.

I breathed.

With puppy in my lap, I just sat and let my 39485938457 thoughts swirl down the drain.

I stroked Spirit’s fur. Felt her warm body on my legs. Marvelled at how soft the fur on her ears are. Soaked up the quiet.

Spirit fell asleep. I fell into peace.

Puppies can sure make a household busy. Crazy busy. But at the same time, I realize that they can teach you to stop, breathe, and enjoy the moment.

No matter how busy you are, you can always take the time to stop and love your puppy.

Welcome to early morning walks…and lots of other life changes

This morning I went for a walk at 6 a.m.

Why?

Because of this:


Yes, a puppy! My husband and I took the plunge. The kids are ecstatic. The house feels so much warmer.

She’s nine pounds of border collie and Labrador, and a ton of steal-your-heart. We named her Spirit–an homage to our wonderful old border collie Lab who passed away about a year and a half ago. Plus, she seems to have a beautiful spirit: curious, loving, sensitive, and smart. (My daughter started crying over some perceived injustice and Spirit immediately sat in her lap. Spirit already walks well on a leash, and knows that a hand in my pocket equals treats!)

I’m sitting here in my bookstore/coffee shop with 75% of my brain distracted by the fact that I can’t stay long because Spirit is at home in her crate. Almost like leaving your child with a babysitter for the first time: you relish the temporary freedom but you can’t help worrying…

And my brain is like a foggy windshield, temporarily swiped clear by caffeinated washer fluid. At eight weeks, Spirit’s bladder only lasts 3 hours, tops. Baby-induced late nights have returned!

At 6 a.m., Spirit was full of beans and ready to go. We went for a walk. I forgot just how quiet and full of peace the world outside can be when it is dark and everyone is still asleep. I soaked up the windless mild air and the fact that there was a little black furball bounce-running beside me, everything new and wonderful and amazing. She didn’t care what time it was.

And you know what? I didn’t care what time it was either.

With two kids and a new pup, the days will be longer and leisure time will be scarce. At least for a while. 

Then I feel a little body curl up on my feet, or hear my son and daughter laughing, and I know it is all totally worth it.

Puppies and Homemade Muffins

Yesterday my husband and I visited a litter of 14 puppies! They are six weeks old.


The mom is a Rhodesian Ridgeback and the dad is a Boxer. And the puppies, as you can see, are out-of-this-world CUTE!

Fourteen puppies = adorable chaos. I reached my hand into their pen and there was frantic clamboring to sniff/nip/lick my fingers (and sleeve, and rings…). They were so friendly and excited! I managed to pluck one out and hold him for a while. My heart grew ten sizes. Then I saw the runt, sitting alone off to the side, trying not to get run over by her bumbling siblings. We managed to coax her over and we held her, too. 

Then we heard the wonderful/evil news: “Only two of the puppies are spoken for.”

Uh-oh.

We have been dog-less since our old poochie passed away a year and a half ago. We know we’ll get another dog one day.

We eventually left the puppies, miraculously without making any commitments. (Is there anything more persuasive than the pull of a puppy??)

We talked and talked on the way home: Should we? Shouldn’t we?

This morning I decided to bake some muffins: let my thoughts stir and mix around like the batter in the bowl. 

Puppies are a lot of work.

We have two young human puppies already.

But a puppy would bring so much JOY!

The kids would LOVE one.

But puppies are a lot of work…

The muffins are now done baking, but our decision has not.