Friday, December 21, 2012

2012: A year in review

This has been my "winter solstice" tradition for the past seven It may seem like a strange little tradition, but I love going back through memory lane and reading about how far I've come over the past year...or six. 

Sum Up Your Year In A Nutshell

2012: What a great year. Truly. Yes, there were hard days. Yes, there were hard things. But overall, it was a year filled with celebration, with friendship, with birth, with renewal, with growth, with happiness and with an overwhelming inner peace of knowing that I am exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing, for exactly the right reasons. 
2013 will have its work cut out for it if its going to top this one. 

1) What did you do in 2012 that you have never done before?
Held a newborn nephew in my arms. 
2) Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions and will you make more next year?
Yes, and no. (See next post). I will be making new "resolutions", but these are more guiding principles than actual tangible goals.  The one thing I am learning to (slowly) accept is that life has a way of handing you unpredictable hurdles and that- while goals are important- focusing on flexibility and adaptability are more important life skills for me than accomplishing specific tasks. 

3) Did someone close to you give birth in 2012?

Yes! I welcomed many new babies into my life this year, including a new nephew (Nico), a new godson (Dominic), a new goddaughter (Alexia), and a several new babies who are very close to my heart (especially my "girls" Allison, Elaina, Danika, and Claire).  There are also many 2011 babies who became very close to our family over the past year. We are lucky to be surrounded by so much cuteness.

We also have half a dozen friends who are expecting babies in 2013 so it will be another exciting year for us!

4) Did someone close to you die?

No one close to me died, but I did feel the grief of friends of mine who lost their loved ones this year. My heart continues to with them.  This was also the 10th anniversary of my dad's passing- an event that marked me more than I expected.

5) What countries did you visit?

We stuck to good old Canada, sneaking in one final visit out East before Sammie turned 2. It is always nice to visit family and friends out there.

6) What did you lack in 2012 that you would like more of in 2013? 

I can honestly say that 2012 was a truly wonderful year, in which I "lacked" very little. I would always welcome more sleep, but I doubt that's very high on the agenda. I would also welcome a slightly slower pace as it sometimes felt like this year was a whirlwind of activity. But overall, I really and truly can't complain. It's been a great 365 days!

7) What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory? 
Many amazing events stand out, but these were probably the biggest:
August 20th: My nephew Nicolas was born.
February 18th: I welcomed a new sister into my family.
February 29th: My husband and I celebrated our first "leap year" anniversary

8) What was your biggest achievement of the year? 
Honestly, this year really wasn't a big "Go Zita" year. I was pretty mellow in general. I worked, I played with Sammie, I enjoyed the company of my friends and I lived vicariously through the many amazing accomplishments of my loved ones and friends. This was much more a year of celebrating others, and it was wonderful and refreshing.

9) What was your biggest failure?
I'm not sure there was a "failure" to speak. I did learn a lot of lessons- many the hard way. I gladly pulled away from people who I felt were poor influences on me and on my priorities and re-shifted my attention to those things and people that matter the most to me. While it meant losing some friends along the way, it was totally worth it, in every way.

Last year, on this question, I wrote: My goal for 2012 is to stop defending myself. My beliefs and opinions are not on trial, and I simply can’t control how others react to them.  I anticipate some friendships ending because of these choices, but must believe in my heart that those who respect us as people will also respect the choices that we are making as parents and as a couple. I have faith in our friendships.

I think I can safely say that I was right. 

10) Did you suffer injury or illness?
Ha ha. Every single year this question makes me laugh. You'd think I'd be killed by now for all the health problems I've encountered over the year? 2012 was actually one of my healthiest years to date. Aside from the inevitable complications that accompany my high-risk pregnancies, I've been in generally good health!

11) What was the best purchase you made? 
Usually my best purchases are gifts. There are a few Christmas gifts that I'm proud of. But I think the best purchase I made for myself was my DSLR camera. I am loving learning how to use it and getting beautiful pictures of my family :)

12) Whose behaviour merited the most celebration?
This is always one of the hardest questions, but this year I have a super easy answer for it.
A lot of people lived amazing things this year, but when it comes to "meritous" behaviour, one person stands out from the crowd and that is Jason.

This year, Jason's career took off. He was hired in October of 2011 as an "Accounting Clerk" after taking a year off to be a stay-at-home dad.  We knew that it was a "step in the right direction" and that he would need to work really hard to prove his skills, knowledge and capabilities.  He remained a student throughout and- half through circumstance/luck and half through hard work and dedication- he found himself promoted to Financial Controller (basically running the entire 50 million dollar, international company) in a matter of months. He has done this while maintaining his amazing standards of being an incredible husband and father, an excellent student (who is constantly at the top of his class) and a loyal and present friend.

I seriously could not be prouder of him if I tried.

13) Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? 
As always, I will not name names nor will I point out one or two people. Instead, I will chose to focus on specific behaviours and patterns that particularly annoyed me this year. In no particular order:

1) Hypocrisy: I have been noticing a lot of people who, either through ignorance or sheer stupidity, seem to engage in incessantly hypocritical behaviours. Passive-Aggressively using social media to attack others for being passive aggressive...telling people not to judge others while engaging in judgement themselves....holding up their beliefs (religious, politicial, philosophical, etc.) as impervious and superior, and then attacking others for not being "respectful of everyone's opinions".  Seriously, the whole world needs to gain some perspective and self-awareness.

2) Negativity:  Bad things happen. This is life. Being negative is a choice. No one wants to hear incessant complaining. Yes, it is ok to have a rough day or a rough few weeks. But when you start turning on everyone around you, getting frustrated at everything and acting as if every conversation, event, or situation should revolve around you and your drama, it is excessive. Figure out what makes you happy and chase after it. If you can't, keep your whining to yourself. Otherwise, not only are you ruining your're ruining everyone else's too.

3) Blaming others for your mistakes: This one really should be obvious. Just don't do it. It's annoying.

Disclaimer: I have zero doubt that I have engaged in these behaviours on more than one occasion, and I would like to take this time to sincerely apologize to those impacted by my actions/words.  Truly, there are times when I am "most appalled and depressed" by myself, and I am also continuing to grow as a person. But please know that I am *trying* and that's all we can really ask of ourselves and others.

14) Where did most of your money go?

To paying for the memories that make life amazing.

15) What did you get really really excited about?
My brother's wedding, my brother's baby, all the other babies in my life, my anniversary party, Sam's second birthday party, our awesome "staycation" was an exciting year!

16) What song will always remind you of 2012?
I hate to admit it, but "I'm Sexy And I Know It". And I blame Kasha, Erie and Erin for it.

17) Compared to this time last year, are you?
Happier or hardened? Happier. I don't know if I've ever been this happy.
Thinner or fatter? Fatter. Tends to happen when you're in your third trimester.
Richer or poorer? Richer- thanks Jason!

18) What do you wish you'd done more of?
Spent more time smelling the roses and just "playing" with my baby boy. He's growing up so fast.

19) What do you wish you'd less of?
Caring about what other people think. Trying to "convince" others on issues that don't matter in the slightest. Spending time with people that I genuinely don't like just because I feel like I am "supposed" to.

20) How did you spend Christmas?
We're not quite there yet, but this will be the first Christmas spent entirely in Edmonton since I can't be on the road more than 20 minutes away from a hospital. I am looking forward to a much more laid back, relaxed holiday season.

21) Did you fall in love in 2012?
More and more every day.

22) Any one night stands? 
Nope. But a couple of single-serving friendships. :)

23) What was your favourite program?
My favourite all time show will probably always be Lost, but this was also the year of Community and Buffy.

24) Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate last year?
Hate is such a strong word. I choose to not carry that kind of anger and hurt around with me. But there are people who are no longer welcome in my life. And so it goes...

25) What was the best book you read?
I really enjoyed reading the Dragon Trilogy...finally.

26) What was your greatest musical discovery?
I really didn't spend much time exploring music this year. I should put that on next year's to do list.

27) What did you want, and get?
A baby in my belly.

28) What did you want, and not get?
A hot tub- but it's been put pretty high on next year's priority list.

29) Favourite film of this year?
Hard to tell. Many of the films I'm looking forward to, I haven't actually seen yet. I suspect this will be "The Hobbit".

30) What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I'm pretty sure this was the year of the great ER Adventure of 2012. We had a lovely dinner at Erie's and then Sammie decided he was tired of not being the centre of attention and decided to smash his skull in and open up his forehead. :P It's amazing how the scar hardly shows now!

31) What is one thing that would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Not a whole heck of a lot. 2012 was pretty damn awesome.

32) How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Um. "It's clean. It'll do."

33) What kept you sane? Family, friends and Sammie's awesomeness.

34) Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I have a total love-on for George Takei this year.

35) What political issue stirred you the most? 
Alberta Vote 2012. And I'd like to not think about that any longer than necessary.

36) Who do you miss?
My dad. And my family/friends who are far away.

37) Who was the best new person you met? 
There's nothing quite like meeting your "foil" in person. I must give credit to the great Kathleen on this one. While we "technically" met in October 2011- we really got to know each other in 2012. So I figure this counts.

38) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:
A couple of my favourite quotes on friendship can do this much better than I can:

"Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence." George Washington

"Never explain yourself- your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway."
Elbert Hubbard

"Suppose you were the last one left. Suppose you did that to yourself..."
Cormac McCarthy, The Road.

39) Quote a song lyrics that sums up your year:
Gotta love Ani. She always has exactly the words.

"joyful girl" by Ani DiFranco

i do it for the joy it brings
because i'm a joyful girl
because the world owes me nothing 
and we owe each other the world
i do it because it's the least i can do
i do it because i learned it from you
and i do it just because i want to 
because i want to

everything i do is judged
and they mostly get it wrong
but oh well
'cuz the bathroom mirror has not budged
and the woman who lives there can tell
the truth from the stuff that they say
and she looks me in the eye
and says would you prefer the easy way
no, well o.k. then
don't cry

i wonder if everything i do
i do instead 
of something i want to do more
the question fills my head
i know there's no grand plan here
this is just the way it goes
when everything else seems unclear
i guess at least i know

i do it for the joy it brings
because i'm a joyful girl
because the world owes me nothing
and we owe each other the world
i do it because it's the least i can do
i do it because i learned it from you
and i do it just because i want to
because i want to   

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It’s not me…it’s you.

I read a blog post today that launched a challenge. At the end of this post, I want to issue a challenge of my own. But first, a rant:

This post introduced to a quote today by celebrity-author Jenny McCarthy. Let me preface this by saying that, while I seldom agree with McCarthy's take on the world, I do believe that she is a genuinely intended person. However, this quote stirred a lot of strong feelings in me, and it took me a little while to process what it was that I was reacting to. While I often have opinions on just about everything, I very seldom have emotional reactions to any given topic unless it directly relates to my emotional experience as a human being, so I was surprised to find myself so upset. 

McCarthy, in an article entitled Haters Will Be Haters- Or Will They Have An Awakening, states:

I learned about something called “projected identification.” This is the medical term that shrinks use to explain why people say mean things. According to this theory, when you feel bad about yourself and you don’t know what to do with it, you project it on to other people so you’re able to see it. I’m sure you’ve heard some guru say, “Everyone in your life is your mirror.” This is one of the best laws of the universe. When you say something negative, you are talking about yourself. When you say something positive, you are talking about yourself. Whatever emotions you’re experiencing in your own life, that’s exactly how you view the world. Love yourself and you love what you see. Hate yourself and you hate what you see.”

While I can certainly appreciate that this is probably true in some situations, I take issue with McCarthy’s overly simplistic rendition of a very complex psychological theory, which is still very theoretical in nature and much more specified than she would indicate above.  For a brief introduction at Projective Identification Theory, including some limitations and distinctions that are very important to understand, please see this article.

Before I go into my total reactions to McCarthy’s statements, I’d like to recount a brief anecdote from when I was about 14. I had been invited, along with my father, to spend a week with my brother and his family at a cottage on a lake in Quebec.  I had a wonderful time with them and met many kids about my age who were all ‘regulars’ there.  We played together, almost incessantly for the week and when my time with them was over, we exchanged phone numbers and addresses, and promised to keep in touch. I thought that I had made friends for life.

My father and I were supposed to head to Montreal to spend a week trotting around his childhood city.  This sounded ever so boring to my 14 year old self, so I begged and pleaded that instead we would return to the lake and I could spend another week with my newfound soul mates.  My dad conceded, which was shocking since he had been really looking forward to our Montreal experience.

Upon my return, my friends were less than jubilant to see me. In fact, they seemed to be outright avoiding me. They ignored calls,  and when we ran into each other it felt forced and awkward. After a few days, I tearfully asked my sister why they were being so mean to me.

She answered very plainly: “They aren’t mean. You know that. You like them very much. They just don’t like you as much as you like them. And I think they’re trying to tell you that you overstayed your welcome.”

I was shocked. I had come to her for support and commiseration, not to be told that I- the victim in all of this- was to blame!

And then I started to really think about it. And I knew that she was right.  These were old friends who probably looked forward to spending their summers together. While it may have been nice to have a stranger join them for a few days to change up the dynamic, they were really mostly interested in spending time with each other.  And, in their shoes, I would probably feel the same way.

And I realized then,a lesson that has stuck with me my whole life:

Sometimes, it’s not them. It’s me.

Getting back to my original point, I take issue with McCarthy’s claim that “when you say something negative, you are talking about yourself”.  Don’t get me wrong- this is hardly a new or innovative stance- and McCarthy is far from the first to “go there”.  But it’s an attitude that I really fundamentally disagree with, and one that I believe has led to great ills in our society.

At 31, I have witnessed trends within my generation and the one that follows it that genuinely frighten me.  As an employer, I’ve witnessed turnover rates that would blow your mind.  I’ve received phone calls from parents yelling at me for terminating their (adult) child, who had failed to show up for three shifts in a row.  I’ve been told that certain types of work and salaries are “beneath” people, and have witnessed the rise of an academic ‘elite’ that seems to think that it is somehow better to be unemployed than it is to work in a field where you have to pay your dues and slowly rise to the top.

We were told, as children, that we are all special and unique snowflakes that should be cherished. This is absolutely true. There is no other hand that bares your fingerprint, no other voice that lilts in quite the same manner as yours. But what we failed to remember was that this is equally true for every single person that you meet.  You are a beautiful and unique snowflake in a blizzard full of beautiful and unique snowflakes. You are one part of the sum of society. That’s it, that’s all.  And you are far from perfect.

When we forget this, we tend to get narcissistic.  We tend to err on the side of “it’s all about me”. We find ways to explain why others feel, think or act differently. And when we don’t agree with them, we find ways to blame our discomfort on them- as if somehow their right to be an individual with opinions, beliefs and values of their own is only in relation to how it makes you feel about yourself.

McCarthy’s quote highlights this self-centricism perfectly.  She goes on in her article to say: 
“When people come up to me and say mean things, I become sad. Not because what they’re saying is mean, but because I know they’re hating themselves somewhere in their lives right now and I’m their mirror.” 
What she is really saying here is that the ‘mean’ person’s opinions of her are invalid, and they must be unhappy, sad and miserable in their own lives to allow themselves to be negative in the slightest.

This is a false sense of zen that has perpetuated itself through modern psycho-analytical babble.  And while there’s a certain truth to it, I’m sure, it’s so overly simplistic as to be downright offensive.

First- what do we even mean by ‘mean’?  What does this word represent today?  Like ‘nice’, it’s an empty word, used to describe situations that are so vague or boring that more powerful and descriptive adjectives would feel out of place.  

I was called ‘mean’ when I fired a thieving employee. I was called ‘mean’ when I said that feeding your three-month old baby a pizza might not be the best decision for their health. I was called ‘mean’ when I stated that I was voting for a political party that held some unpopular opinions (that I disagreed with) because I placed more emphasis on the policies that I did agree with.  I was called ‘mean’ when I stood by my right to religious freedom, and called ‘mean’ when I equally stated that my religious rights do not (and should not) trump those of others, including the right to not believe.

Over the years, I’ve been called ‘mean’ a lot. And sometimes I am. But honestly, it’s usually a word that is used when they don’t have a better argument to make against me…like deeply personal out-of-context insults such as ‘bitch’, ‘slut’ or ‘whore’,  ‘mean’ seldom really means anything at all.


There are many times when I’ve been called arrogant.

There are many times when I’ve been called judgmental.

There are many times when I’ve been called callous.

There are many times when I’ve been called elitist.

And there are many times I’ve been called ‘mean’ aside from the aforementioned.

In fact, there are many times when I’ve been called countless pejorative terms.

And, though it pains me to admit it, in many of these situations the person in question was absolutely right. I was in fact being arrogant, judgmental, callous, elitist, or mean.

Here’s the thing. I’m not perfect; far from it.  There are times when, despite my best efforts, I find myself behaving in ways that are really unlike the person that I want to and strive to be. 

These are the times when I have to take a huge step back and ask myself: What am I doing?? And how could I have done it differently?

Now, the kicker with these kinds of situations is that, many times, if no one had ‘called’ me those names, I wouldn’t have had any impetus to look at my own actions. I would have remained oblivious to my behaviour and its effects on those around me.

Was the person calling me a name being kind? Not usually. Were they acting beneath themselves as well? I would venture to say yes. Could they have framed their words better? Decidedly so.

But they were, nonetheless, 100% right. And they were, nonetheless, 100% justified in expressing their feelings as they see fit, just as I am justified in expressing my feelings when I am upset and/or hurt.

I could postulate that some of the triggers that led them to reacting in this way were ‘mirrors’ into their own insecurities.  This is quite possibly the case.  But frankly, that’s irrelevant. They were still in the right, and I was still wrong.

Let’s not be obtuse here.  If I said something cruel, and they reacted by saying “Wow, you’re really cruel”, they aren’t “mirroring behaviour” by calling me cruel. They are responding to my behaviour, which is the one that caused the initial conflict.

Let’s try a more direct example:

Zita hits Person A in the face. Person A responds by saying “Wow, that bitch Zita just slapped me in the face! She’s a bully!”

Now, unless Zita is actually innocent of slapping Person A in the face, she really does not have the right to turn around and play the martyr saying “How dare you tell people that I slapped you in the face! How dare you call me a bully! YOU are the real bully! You are obviously so insecure that you need to attack me.”

This is a classic case of blaming the victim.

If we need another, more extreme example: Man rapes woman. Woman accuses man of rape. Rapist says “She had it coming because she’s a slut who dresses provocatively. She's just being whiny.” 

Again, here- the Woman accusing the man of rape is defending herself.  She is standing up for her rights.  She is being strong in the face of adversity. 

She did not ask to be raped. Nor is she projecting her hatred, negativity, cattiness or gender issues on the rapist.

She is responding to an attack. She is the victim here.

You see, one of the critical components of Projective Identification is that the identity being ascribed has to actually not belong to the person it is being ascribed to. 

Otherwise, it’s just called being honest and factual. 

(See, this is why it’s really important to understand terms before you throw them around in articles.  But I digress…)

Recently, a group of women and I took issue with some wording, optics and undertones of an event that appeared to be forwarding age-old concepts of gender-discrimination in the work place.  These discussions, for the most part have been great. They’ve been animated. They’ve been balanced. Both sides have been represented fairly equally, with men and women weighing in on other side of the coin.  They were, by all accounts, really good debates and I- for one- was actually initially even more motivated to go to the event in question in order to experience these discussions in person.

I’m not interested in wading too deeply into that story, as others have simply done a better job than I could.  (For more on this topic, I highly recommend reading Brittany's ( post here or an almost full transcript of one of the discussions captured by Allison ( here.)

What I want to address instead are the allegations that were made that those who opposed the event were simply "overthinking the issue" (Cue Scarlet O’Hara voice-over: Oh, I’m sorry that my pretty little head was busy being full of big bad thoughts…How awfully unbecoming of me…I sure wouldn't want my background in Socio-Political Science to get in the way of being a lady”).

I want to address the allegations that we are just being ‘catty’, ‘negative’, ‘malicious’, or have “gender issues” and can’t “see past the penises”.

I want to address the idea that, somehow, my concerns about not propagating gender stereotypes, striving towards gender equity, and my commitment to building bridges between the sexes is somehow antiquated or unnecessary since these disputes are nothing but rehashing the gender wars of the “1990s”…(yes, this was actually a criticism made by one of the panelists. I’m not kidding.  ) 

More importantly, I want to address the underlying belief that just because I disagree with you, your opinions or your event, somehow that means that there is something miserable, unhappy or broken in my life.

I'm going to be pretty damn blunt here: my life kind of rocks. I have a spectacular marriage to a man who is patiently proofreading every word of this feminist rant. I have an awesome kid who is pretty much the most easy going toddler in the world. I have boatloads of friends and family members who add deep value, texture, love, and excitement to my life. I have a great job that I love. My husband and I are completely financially stable. We have a perfectly healthy baby on the way, a beautiful home and everything you could ask for in life. Also, we have lots of sex. Tons in fact. No voids that need filling here.

I am far from miserable.  

Believe it or not, I just don’t agree with you. It really is that simple.

The only “mirror” I’m looking at right now has a bunch of powerful, opinionated, beautiful women, pretty damn pissed off that we’re being told our voices and our opinions don’t matter.

We wrote comments. We voiced concerns.

You SILENCED us. You CENSORED us. You TOLD US that our voices are irrelevant and that WE ARE MEAN PEOPLE for thinking differently from you. 

So yeah...we're pretty freaking pissed. And understandably so. 

There’s no “projection” here. There are only facts. You are accountable to your own damn actions- stop trying to blame us for your mistakes.

I’ve said it before, in this discussion and in others, and I will say it again:

The greatest trick patriarchy ever pulled was convincing women that we are each other’s enemies.

And now I’ll add to that by saying, the greatest lie we’ve ever told ourselves is that we are not accountable for our own decisions and our own actions.

I am far from perfect. I am fully prepared to admit that. 

But this one's not on me. It's on you. And I will stand by that come hell or high water. 

So here's my challenge: Are you able to admit when you made a mistake? Are you able to admit when you are in the wrong? Are you able to look at the situation at hand and ask yourself FIRST what you could have done differently instead of pointing a judgmental finger at everyone else? 

Because if you're not, take your challenge and shove it. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Catch Up Post: Thanksgiving Challenge #17: New Experiences

I'm not a person who ventures out of her comfort zone very often.


The odds of me watching a movie I've already seen on Netflix over a new release is almost 100:1.

The idea of travelling to Mexico terrifies me because I don't speak spanish.

And if I'm tired and don't know exactly where I'm going, I make my (very patient) husband drive me to my destination and pick me up.

Despite all appearances, my social anxiety tends to affect almost every aspect of my every day life.

I am extremely social with people I already's the new people/experiences part that I have a really hard time with.

But every so often it's good to push myself out of this bubble and to venture out into the big, bad, scary world a little.

Yesterday, I did this and, despite the overwhelming fatigue and exhaustion I felt upon returning home, I'm truly glad that I did.

I pulled off a huge Zita-feat. A triple whammy of social-anxiety if you will...

1- I went out with a new person that I am still getting to myself.
2- I went to an event I had never attended before in a room was full of people I didn't know...
3- I met and interacted (very enjoyably!) with a complete stranger.

After months of trying to coordinate a coffee/met up, I finally got to together with my online-friend Tamara. I really like Tamara's perspective on life, and have had the pleasure of meeting her several times in brief encounters over the years. I was truly looking forward to the chance to get to know her better and had a wonderful time.

Tamara invited me out to my first "Pecha Kucha Night".  This is an event put on by Edmonton's NextGen group, and features a handful of presentations, each about 6 minutes in length, accompanied by slide shows.  The topics were interesting, and while some of the presenters love something to be desired in terms of public speaking skills, the show was overall an extremely entertaining and thought-provoking one.

Tamara introduced me to her friend Tammy who is Sr. Web Developer and an all round very interesting person.  I seldom feel very comfortable with completely new people, but Tammy is one of those people who instantly puts you at ease by her casual, unpretentious friendliness.

When the event was over, I was ready to go home. I was tired- being a crowd always drains me. And I was very much looking forward to snuggles and cuddles with Jason, who seems to be the best 'grounding' force in the world. As expected, the inevitable post-event anxiety attack struck me, but I got through it relatively painlessly and slept generally well.

I woke up, grateful for the new experience and very much looking forward to my next outing with Tamara and Pecha Kucha 15. :)

This is post is part of the October Thanksgiving Challenge. I will post a new Thank You blog post every day during the month of October. I encourage you to follow Kevin, the mastermind of this challenge at and fellow blogger Natasha at And, if you're up to it, consider doing your own challenge, big or small, to remind yourself to focus on the many blessings in your life.  I've also added a slight 'writing' component to this month's challenge: No posts are to exceed 500 words.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thanksgiving Challenge #16: The only thing I need.

When I have a bad day, I sometimes find myself falling into lapses of self-pity. It's so easy to forget how good you actually have it.

Then I see my son's twinkling blue eyes, the perfect replicas of his father's eyes, and I remember...

I have everything I need here to be happy. And nothing can tear that away.

This is post is part of the October Thanksgiving Challenge. I will post a new Thank You blog post every day during the month of October. I encourage you to follow Kevin, the mastermind of this challenge at and fellow blogger Natasha at And, if you're up to it, consider doing your own challenge, big or small, to remind yourself to focus on the many blessings in your life.  I've also added a slight 'writing' component to this month's challenge: No posts are to exceed 500 words.  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Post #15: Reflection

Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Every second.

Each is a gift.

A miracle, in and of itself.

To take one for granted is to forget just how quickly everything can be taken from you; how life can change in the blink of an eye.

And the saddest part is that- all too often- it takes a tragedy to remind us of just how fragile we really are.

I hate that I needed this reminder. But the message has been received.

In this moment, I am grateful for simply being alive.

And hopeful that those I love will be protected and kept safe.


This is post is part of the October Thanksgiving Challenge. I will post a new Thank You blog post every day during the month of October. I encourage you to follow Kevin, the mastermind of this challenge at and fellow blogger Natasha at And, if you're up to it, consider doing your own challenge, big or small, to remind yourself to focus on the many blessings in your life.  I've also added a slight 'writing' component to this month's challenge: No posts are to exceed 500 words.  

Make up post: Thanksgiving Challenge #14: Hard to find the words...

By the time last night rolled around, I found it extremely hard to find anything to be grateful for.  Despite having had a beautiful day, and a near perfect weekend, our family was handed some shocking and sad news that completely consumed my thoughts and my attention for the remainder of the night.

I was too sad to be thankful.

But I wasn't too sad to be prayerful.

In moments of despair and tragedy, when I have no where else to turn, I turn to God. His love and support have gotten me through more than I ever could have handled on my own.

So this morning, still shaken from the awful news of the night before, I am grateful for my Faith.

I know that it will get me, and those I love, through this and through anything else life throws at us.

This is post is part of the October Thanksgiving Challenge. I will post a new Thank You blog post every day during the month of October. I encourage you to follow Kevin, the mastermind of this challenge at and fellow blogger Natasha at And, if you're up to it, consider doing your own challenge, big or small, to remind yourself to focus on the many blessings in your life.  I've also added a slight 'writing' component to this month's challenge: No posts are to exceed 500 words.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Thanksgiving Challenge #13: All in a day's work.

I recently read an article from Time Magazine's Newsfeed that intrigued me.  You can read it here: And the world's most educated country is...(thanks to Kathleen for sharing.)

It congratulates Canada for being the most educated country in the world. Amazingly enough, in ten short years, our post-secondary education has gone from 40% (of what I assume is the "adult" population) to 51%.  These numbers are remarkable, and place us a full 5% above our nearest competition. 

I loved being a student. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
However, as happy as I am to think of all the Canadians taking advantage of our phenomenal higher learning opportunities, a part of me reads this article with a critical, skeptical eye. 

For almost every pro, there is an equal and distinct con. 

Every year, I am growing more concerned by what appears to be a gap between university graduate job seekers and careers requiring this type of education.  I am witnessing many of my peers take on pseudo-"professional student" career paths, many extending their student years well beyond a decade. Eventually, most come out as highly qualified and successful doctors, lawyers and PHDs. However, a significant minority comes out with a lot of paper and no clear career direction in the slightest.  

I personally know at least a dozen university grads who are struggling to find gainful employment in *any* field, let alone one related to their education.  Others keep themselves stuck in dead end jobs because they don’t want to take a pay cut or a job that is beneath them.

The reality is that a bachelor's degree is no longer an "asset". It is par for the course, and doesn't carry the same weight as it used to. So don't expect an $80k starting salary just because you did well in school- those days are gone. You are now competing with the remaining 50% of the population that is just as- if not more- educated than you are. 

So my thanksgiving post today goes to my parents, who taught me the very important lesson of hard work. I was raised knowing that, if I wanted to succeed in my career, I would have to claw my way there. It would not be enough to simply have an education. I would need to prove that I had grown as an employee and had skills beyond acing exams. 

I have never struggled to find a good job, and have found excellent career mobility everywhere I went.  But my "path" hasn't always been a straight line, and I've had to work in jobs that seemed "beneath my education" as I built up my experience.  

And this is exactly what I needed to do to succeed in the long run. 

I can't take credit for my work philosophy. It’s the result of being raised with strong values of work ethic, reliability, seizing every opportunity, and having patience.  Without these,  I’d be lost, degree or no degree.

Word Count: 498

This is post is part of the October Thanksgiving Challenge. I will post a new Thank You blog post every day during the month of October. I encourage you to follow Kevin, the mastermind of this challenge at and fellow blogger Natasha at And, if you're up to it, consider doing your own challenge, big or small, to remind yourself to focus on the many blessings in your life.  I've also added a slight 'writing' component to this month's challenge: No posts are to exceed 500 words.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Thanksgiving Challenge #12: Fragile

I had my mid-pregnancy anatomy scan this morning.  

For most expectant moms, this is an exciting day! Many will "see" their babies for the very first time.  This is the moment that their pregnancy starts to feel "real". 

I remember that feeling. It was how I felt when I went in for Sammie's anatomy scan. 

February 5th, 2010. 

A day I'll never forget. 

It was a wonderful day. Our baby was so beautiful that we cried the whole time. 

We basked in our new parent-to-be joy for three days. 72 hours. And then it came crashing down. 

I received a phone call at work that would change my life forever. It was my doctor, telling me that the ultrasound has revealed "serious abnormalities." Usually, he would have asked us to come into his office but he was leaving for Mexico for two weeks and we had to "act quickly" if we were going to "do anything". 

My baby's heart had a pericardial effusion.  And there appeared to be effusions on his lungs, and 'unknown spots' on his brain as well. To make matters, the ultrasound also showed that he had a single umbilical artery.  All of these, combined with some complications with my own organs led my medical team to one, terrifying conclusion:  The baby had no hope of survival. 

Even if Sammie made it through the pregnancy, which we were told was doubtful, the chances of him being healthy enough to have a high "quality of life" were questionable.  

Standing there in my office, surrounded by my young staff, I was told by my doctor that we should strongly consider “termination”. 

Thankfully, Jason and I were agreed that termination not the right decision for us. After years of struggling with infertility, we simply could not ever envision willfully parting with our child. 

Most of you know the rest of the story.  After a traumatic end-of-pregnancy, resulting in my being hospitalized for over a month, Sammie was born prematurely.  

He was tiny. But he was perfect.  

No heart problems. No lung problems. No brain problems. 

No chronic life threatening diseases. No syndromes. No death-prognosis. 

Today, we as we went through our scan for BabyToo, the experience was quite different. The fear, the trepidation, the panic was palpable.  But in the end, the results were so much better.  With the exception of a few issues to follow up on, the scan came back clearly as: "You have a health looking baby". 

And while I'm thankful beyond belief for that information, a part of me is equally thankful for the experience that we gained from Sammie.  I think that the appreciation of the delicateness and fragility of the human life process is so much more real to me now than it ever could have been. I feel more connected now than I ever have before. 

I can not- will not- take my babies' health for granted ever again.  

And that's the deepest kind of gratitude. 

"Baby Too"- 19 Week Scan

Word Count: 500

This is post is part of the October Thanksgiving Challenge. I will post a new Thank You blog post every day during the month of October. I encourage you to follow Kevin, the mastermind of this challenge at and fellow blogger Natasha at And, if you're up to it, consider doing your own challenge, big or small, to remind yourself to focus on the many blessings in your life.  I've also added a slight 'writing' component to this month's challenge: No posts are to exceed 500 words.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thanksgiving Challenge #11: "I get by...

...With a little help from my friends." ~The Beatles

I can be a pretty complicated person.

My mind works a little differently than most people.  So does my heart. And often, the two don't quite sync up the way that they're supposed to, leaving me at odds both with myself and with society in general.

For better or for worse, I've always felt a little removed from the world even when I'm right smack in the centre of a huge group of people.  I'm usually pretty good at faking it and pretending that I'm 100% comfortable standing amidst the crowd...but most of my time is spent looking for an exit strategy.

If this sounds a little bit like you, you might be an introvert too.

I get a lot of shock and surprise when I tell people that I am an INTJ. They somehow seem to think that just because I'm "good" with people and able to comfortably lead a crowd that this is fulfilling for me or even a dominant personality trait.  The truth is that I genuinely prefer to spend time alone, or in the company of other generally introverted people.

In my home, my husband, my mom and I are all INTJs.  Given that only about 1-4% of the population would fit this personality type that's actually quite surprising. And yet, in many ways, it's totally inevitable. Introverts tend to flock together.

Which brings me to my "thankful" topic of the day.

I am so lucky to be surrounded by friends and people who "get" me.

I spent most of my young life trying my very best to fit it. I dreamt of being a chameleon who could easily blend in with any group and any dynamic. I fantasized about what it would be like to be one of those 'easily liked' people who seemed to float through life without a care in the world.

I've also always known that I'm a polarizing figure. As loved as I am, I am often equally hated.  This is ok by me. I really have never felt the need for a lot of friends, and being loved by a few beats out being liked by many.

But this is the first time in my entire life where I can say that I feel 100% comfortable being who I am with the people that I love.

I love that I can tell them "I just need a few days to disappear" and they "get" it. I love that I can ask for emotional support because I have to brave West Edmonton Mall and go into the horrible, colourful, hugely overwhelming Disney Store.

For better or for worse, I'm surrounded by people who seem to understand how my brain works. And if they don't, then they're happy enough to pretend that they do and that’s just as good.

Being "just me" is a great feeling. I'm looking forward to the next two thirds of my life being spent that way.

Word Count: 498

This is post is part of the October Thanksgiving Challenge. I will post a new Thank You blog post every day during the month of October. I encourage you to follow Kevin, the mastermind of this challenge at and fellow blogger Natasha at And, if you're up to it, consider doing your own challenge, big or small, to remind yourself to focus on the many blessings in your life.  I've also added a slight 'writing' component to this month's challenge: No posts are to exceed 500 words.  

Thanksgiving Challenge #10: Denouement

Today, I closed a door.

It's supposed to be "ajar", closed only temporarily, but the truth is that we never really know what will happen with closed doors.

Today, in a way, I bid farewell to the project that has been dominating my attention for two years.

Although I still have paperwork and transition documents to clean up, for some reason today felt more final than any other day.  It was my last "work appearance" for what will be at least 65 weeks.

I do have a few meetings to attend, none of these feel quite the same as what I did yesterday.

Yesterday, I said goodbye to the vendors of the farmers market. 

Some I said goodbye to over the phone. Many I sent emails to personally. Others, I was privileged to get to say goodbye in person. But, no matter what the medium, the message was the same.  

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night...


Many of these faces have been with me since the start.  Many will be there when I return. But for some reason, it feels 'heavy' just the same. 

And with this heaviness comes the realization that my life is truly, and forever more, going to change dramatically very soon. 

My days of being a full time 'work at home' mom are drawing to an end.  With two young children to watch, I simply won't be able to justify the long hours spent at a computer any longer. I've learned that you really can only do one, maybe two things well at any given time. I am choosing wife and mother.  It's an easy choice. 

I know that my career will be there waiting for me when I do decide to return, whether that be after my mat leave or further down the road.  It will be dusty and in definite need of reconstruction and tender loving care, but the truth is that the knowledge, the experience and the skills I have acquired aren't going away.  They are simply going to sleep.  And when they wake up, rusty as they might be, they will be ready for me. 

And hopefully, I'll be more ready too. Renewed. Once again passionate. Once again engaged. 

In the meanwhile, I'm going to focus everything I have and everything I am into the only career choice that has ever really mattered to me: raising my children and caring for my family. 

And I am thankful for the opportunity. 

Word Count: 409

This is post is part of the October Thanksgiving Challenge. I will post a new Thank You blog post every day during the month of October. I encourage you to follow Kevin, the mastermind of this challenge at and fellow blogger Natasha at And, if you're up to it, consider doing your own challenge, big or small, to remind yourself to focus on the many blessings in your life.  I've also added a slight 'writing' component to this month's challenge: No posts are to exceed 500 words.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Thanksgiving Challenge: #9: Someone to watch over me...

October 9th is a special day in my life. It’s my brother’s birthday.

I think that most people who know us would agree that my brother and I, despite being almost polar-opposites, are exceptionally close. For a long time, it really felt like it was the two of us "against the world".  My parents had divorced when I was quite young, and my mother worked full time in a very high pressure job in one of the most demanding fields there is.  My father relocated to Edmonton which was a four hour (or five hour, depending on road conditions)  drive away.  Antoine and I were often left to fend for ourselves. 

We had our share of sibling rivalry- sometimes even pushing this term to extremes.  Our world had just fallen apart and we didn't know how to cope with the extraordinary changes happening all at once. Yet, even through all the rocky times, he was my protector and defender and I knew that no matter what happened, he would keep me safe. 

Somehow, through the years, the rivalry slipped away. Despite our rough patches along the way, our sibling relationship evolved into one of the most beautiful friendships I could hope for. We tell each other everything- or at least as much as would be appropriate to share between brother and sister- and we are always there for each other through thick and thin.  And despite being intensely different people, we somehow understand each other and balance each other out.  Our relationship is, in my opinion, a perfect blend of 'family', 'friend', and 'counterpart'. 

And today he turns 34. Wow.  

When did we grow up?

It feel likes yesterday that we were still a couple of children playing kick the can in the park. It's incredibly hard to believe that it's been over 20 years since those days were over.  They remain, in many ways, some of my happiest memories of all time. 

Antoine will have his work cut out for him if he plans on trying to top "33".  This really was his year. 

At 33, he proposed to and married to the woman of his dreams. 

At 33, he learned he was going to be a father and he witnessed the birth of his child. 

At 33, he solidified his career, transitioning away from being a corrections officer and finally becoming one of Edmonton's finest peace officers, an Alberta Sheriff.  

33 was the year that everything fell into place for him. 

And I could not be happier or more proud. 

Allow me to assure you that there is no person on the planet more deserving than the kind of happiness that has found Antoine at the age of 33.

So this year, my “happy birthday” truly is about celebrating the year that passed. And what a year it was. 

Can he top it? I hope he tries, and succeeds!

Bonne fete, Antoine. Thanks for always being there for me. 

Word count: 485

This is post is part of the October Thanksgiving Challenge. I will post a new Thank You blog post every day during the month of October. I encourage you to follow Kevin, the mastermind of this challenge at and fellow blogger Natasha at And, if you're up to it, consider doing your own challenge, big or small, to remind yourself to focus on the many blessings in your life.  I've also added a slight 'writing' component to this month's challenge: No posts are to exceed 500 words.