Category Archives: Self-Reflection

It took 2 years… but its done

iphone photo's are blurry

This is the sweater I knit. Yeah, that’s right, I knit it.

The actual knitting part I finished the other week, but tonight I sewed on the last buttons.

The funny thing about it is that this sweater took me 2 whole years to knit. I started the project in January 2009. I was pregnant with Audrey and soaking up a little me time before she arrived. I wanted to do something for me. It was the first ‘complicated’ pattern I had tried.

Looking back, this sweater was made over a two year period in my life where more things changed for me then just about any other time. Pregnancy, birth, maternity leave, learning to be a Mom, going back to work, getting promoted, learning to be a work outside the home Mom… so much change. We moved over this time period. I started writing. Really, in many ways, I know myself better now then I did two years ago. All this change and challenge really showed me who I am.

There were time periods where I worked steadily on this sweater. And others where I didn’t touch it for 6 months. I would pick it up again when things slowed down or my motivation came back.

Finishing it seems somewhat symbolic for me. Like that crazy first two years of motherhood is coming to a close. Not that things are getting any less crazy any time soon (WOW toddlers are difficult to parent!), but that the immense change is slowing down.

I know, it is kinda silly to get all sentimental over a knit sweater. But you can’t always choose the things that feel symbolic to you. And this just does.

Challenge to myself

So, I keep getting sick. I have been sick on and off since before Christmas. I have had two stomach bugs, the flu, strep throat, laryngitis and a lingering cold. Essentially, my immune system sucks right now. Its probably a bunch of things- a toddler bring home constant germs, stress at work, stress with life, height of flu season ect. ect.

But I was thinking today that my diet is probably not helping. You see, I find in the winter I crave a lot of warm, hearty meals. Now these meals aren’t void of veggies- we eat a lot of onions, garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, mushrooms ect. But raw veggies? Pretty much not in my diet at all right now. Except the occasional avocado I put in my sushi.

I have been pretty honest about my thoughts on food. I am a big fan of fresh, healthy, home made food. We buy organic when we can and try to cook at home. We don’t eat a lot of fast food. But I am overweight and have a serious addiction to things like muffins, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream ect. I eat them more then I would like to admit. I love to bake. I need to get better. I need to be a better example for my kid (who hates all veggies currently. But you know- she’s a toddler).

So anyway, back to my challenge. In the hopes of building up some immune defense and generally trying to replace the carb and sugar high indulgences- I am giving myself a challenge this week.

I am going to eat all of this in a week:

It is probably about 4 cups of fresh veggies. Celery, broccoli, zucchini and carrots. Why those veggies? Because that’s what I had in the fridge.

We have been getting deliveries every other week from Spud for a couple weeks now. They bring us all sorts of fresh fruit and veggies. This last week I thought I had changed my order to not getting carrots or celery… because I already had carrots and I am not a big celery fan… but I hadn’t saved my changes… So. Now we have a ton of carrots and celery to eat up. So I am going to eat it.

This will not be my only veggies this week. There will still be veggies in dinner and lunch- I have some squash, zucchini, lettuce, sweet potato, onions and carrots still to cook with. These will be my additional raw veggies.

I am going to make up a Tzatziki sauce to dip them in. Yum.

Anyone want to join me on a one week raw veggie binge?

amoment2think blog: 2010 in review

So, I got this really cool ‘year in review’ e-mail from WordPress yesterday about how my blog did in 2010. I am sure some of the rest of you on WordPress have gotten this too! (Thanks WordPress!) I thought I would share and thank you all for such a great year. You have all been very supportive of me and I appreciate it.

amoment2think Year in Review:

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2010. That’s about 31 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 144 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 54 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 15mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was August 10th with 189 views. The most popular post that day was Thoughts on Attachment Parenting.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were fearlessformulafeeder.blogspot.com, twitter.com, ht.ly, mmeperpetua.wordpress.com, and Google Reader.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for amoment2think, chorizo stuffing, baby eats books, equalization payments, and hearing a baby cry.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Thoughts on Attachment Parenting August 2010
64 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

2

Breastfeeding; lets move on to the ‘third wave’ January 2010
19 comments

3

Questions for the #NoNestle Boycotters October 2010
15 comments

4

The persistent ‘Phantom Baby Cry’ January 2010
16 comments

5

An Alternative View Point August 2010
29 comments

Fortunate

Photo by Team Dalog via Flickr Creative Commons License

As some of you know, this month I decided to participate in IComLeavWe:

“Welcome back to IComLeavWe. It stands for International Comment Leaving Week, but if you say it aloud, doesn’t it sounds like “I come; [but] leave [as a] we”? And that’s sort of the point. Blogging is a conversation and comments should be honoured and encouraged. I like to say that comments are the new hug–a way of saying hello, giving comfort, leaving congratulations.”

I am all for conversation, as you know, so I signed up. Probably not the best decision in the craziness that is December, as I believe I have fallen far short of the 6 comments a day benchmark. The interwebs have been pretty quiet this week, and this challenge was made harder by the fact that many of the participants weren’t really posting much in the frenzy of the holidays. And I didn’t have much time in the frenzy of the holidays.

But there is also an other reason I found this challenging. IComLeavWe is hosted by Melissa at Stirriup Queens. Now Melissa is pretty much, so far as I can tell, the Queen within a community of those who have suffered with issues of infertility. She wrote a book called “Navigating the Land of IF”. As such, a lot of the participants in IComLeavWe are bloggers who also spend a lot of their time blogging about issues of infertility (not all, but many). IComLeavWe is open to all, but in practice, most of the participating blogs are tied into infertility experiences in some way. To be honest, despite clicking through and reading many of the blogs, and being moved by their experiences and stories… I really didn’t know what to say.

That’s right. It left me kinda speechless.

I can sympathize and empathize, but I haven’t shared that experience. I am very fortunate that I haven’t shared that experience. But it left me feeling as if I just didn’t have anything to contribute to the conversation. I didn’t want to seem smug, with my child conceived within a month of our wedding. I tried and tried to think of what I could say; how I could relate. And in many cases I just drew a blank.

I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain in IComLeavWe (though I tried). But I did get something out of it.

I have always talked about having a second child as an “if”. Part of that “if” has always been “if” we decided we have the energy/strength as parents for my husband and I to have a second. Parenting is hard. Also, there is a question of “if” in terms of being able, financially, to handle two children with the costs of maternity leave, child care, ect.

But always in that “if” has been the question of “if” we were fortunate enough to conceive again. I do not take that for granted.

When I went to my doctors for a routine check up, right before my husband and I were married, my doctor asked me if we were planning to try and have kids. I said yes. And she told me that we should try for 18 months and then we would start fertility treatments.

I have symptomatic, but not clinical, diagnosis of PCOS. And, prior to having Audrey, I had a 45-65 day cycle. Which put us at fairly high risk for issues with fertility. My doctor was trying to prepare me for that possibility.

But we were fortunate. I don’t take that for granted.

(As it turned out my PCOS did, at least partially, contribute to breastfeeding challenges, but still. I consider myself fortunate none-the-less.)

Reading all the stories from so many women who have experienced infertility has reminded me of that. Both about how lucky and grateful I am to have the amazing daughter we have and how, we may want an other child at some point, but that that doesn’t mean it will happen.

Life throws curve balls. There is no difference between me and many of the women out there struggling with infertility. It could happen to anyone. To some extent it is luck of the draw; a roll of the dice. Our lives all take different paths. We all get different fortunes.

You know, we know so little about women’s reproductive health. It’s maddening, really. From fertility, conception to birth and breastfeeding, it seems we are really in the dark in a lot of ways. You’d think with all the knowledge we have that we could learn more about these things. Particularly how we live our lives in today’s society/environment and what impact that could be having. Have the statistics on infertility and other reproductive issues gone up? Is it our canary in the coal mine?

I often wonder.

What do you think?

ControverSunday Topic: Resolutions for January 2, 2011

Why not just keep going with the ‘stay in keeping’ with the season thing for ControverSunday?

What is it about the way you parent or the way you take care of your self that you want to change or work on this year? What are your resolutions for you or for your kids. What have your challenges been? How will you accomplish them? Why do you want to accomplish them?

Do you think New Years resolutions work? Are they reasonable or realistic? Can we start fresh in the New Year? Can we make big shifts in how we do things? What does it take to do this?

What do you think?

Ambiguity and the Quest for Right

I used to be very very uncomfortable with the idea of ambiguity. That is to say, I was addicted to the idea of being ‘right’. I had to get that A. I had to be on the honor roll. I had to have the answer to the question.

And more then that, I had to believe in something 100% or not at all. When I was a teenager, I decided I was agnostic. Why? Because I didn’t feel like the church had all the answers. The irony, of course, is that agnosticism is just about the most ambiguity choice when it comes to religion. I couldn’t buy atheism either; not 100%. There seemed to be ‘something’ behind everything. I have always had the sense that ‘every thing happens for a reason’. And so far, science has not be able to explain that for me.

Anyway, my point is that I very much tried to live my life in the ‘right’. I strived to either made the right decision or have the right answer. If I felt the debate was too many shades of gray (like religion) I would opt for ‘no answer, thank you.’ Ambiguity wasn’t my friend. Unless I actively choose ambiguity as a cop-out.

In highschool there is a winner of the debate. When your on the debate team, at least. Problems come with an answer. A gold star. A grade. A check mark on the page.

In life, conversation, discourse, disagreement do not lead to a winner. Debates rage on and on and on. Sometimes our whole culture or society shift in one way or an other. But this doesn’t happen from one debate, it is a result of many many many small, short interactions that slowly change people’s minds. It is a result of new and different life experiences that shape our perspective. Everything around us and everything that happens shape our society. Tiny tiny increments at a time.

And it is in this knowledge that I have become more and more comfortable with not having the right answer. Changing my opinion. Considering multiple perspectives as partially valid all at once. So many things hold value and meaning for me. I can’t just pick one.

Did you know that I don’t have a favourite book, or meal, or color (well, maybe green) or song or day of the year or anything like that. How could anyone pick a faviourite? One thing against all similar categories of things that holds more meaning for them then anything else? I just can’t do it.

But that’s just the thing. Identifying or aligning oneself with one thing, one choice, one perspective, does not negate the possibility of finding meaning in something else as well. You can find yourself drawn to one thing, while still recognizing that it has its faults, downsides, missing links, and holes. You can believe something and at the same time think, ‘maybe that’s wrong….’

Despite our politics which says ‘flip flopping’ is the ultimate sign of a weak politician, I see flip flopping as the ultimate sign of openness. Of respect for the value of the perspectives and ideas that others bring to the table. I believe it is a sign of maturing (at least me maturing) to the point at which the goal is not ‘right’ the goal is simply to understand within the limitations of the extent to which we can understand. There is no one answer. Life is about the interaction of millions and millions of little tiny ‘answers’ that all criss-cross and over lap and wind around each other to paint a picture of what is ‘reality’. Or at least reality for you.

So I am embracing the ambiguity. The nuance. Having an opinion but recognizing that I ‘think’ I do not ‘know’.

Self Promotion

So I have been thinking lately about self-promotion when it comes to this blog. I have said it probably 10 times before, I don’t write this blog with any hopes of being widely read or making any money from blogging what so ever. This is a hobby. Something I love to do, something that inspires and challenges and excites me. Blogging is my relaxation technique, it keeps me connected, it allows me to talk to really interesting people. I could go on.

But I also love it when people read this blog. I like watching my stats go up, though I don’t analyze them intensely. I LOVE comments and have learned so much from all of you. And I would love to have more people read.

But I am not a ‘toot your own horn’ kinda of person. At least I don’t think I am. I know I am confident person for the most part, but I don’t feel really comfortable self-promoting. I don’t have a facebook page. Lots of bloggers tweet their posts 2 or 3 times. I usually forget. I haven’t joined any blogging networks and this NaBloPoMo thing is the first ‘blogging thing’ I have joined.

Do you notice that badge that appeared on the side of my page this last week? Quietly I put it up. It is a “nominate me” badge “fresh voices 2010” for Momversation. I stumbled upon this when I was on Fearless Formula Feeders blog. She had the same badge and I promptly went and nominated her. Because I think she brings a very valuable, unique perspective and a lot of support to Mom’s.

And then I wondered if I should maybe ignore the feelings I have about being really uneasy with self-promotion and put the badge on my site too. I mean, I am a new voice in blogging of 2010, albeit a very quiet one. I really don’t want anyone to feel obligated to nominate me; there are so many amazing blogs out there. But I think it is a good thing to nominate someone; someone who’s blog really touches you. The idea behind the nomination, as far as I understand it, is to help discover yet undiscovered blogging talent. Well, there is a lot of that out there.

Anyway. I still don’t know how I feel about self-promotion. I am starting to get to the point that I would like to give myself the challenge of growing my readership. I like marketing and social networking and I love challenges. But it makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like asking for people to say they like me. I don’t like asking for people to spread the word about my blog. I don’t like that kind of stuff. But lots of people do it and lots of them do it in ways that are just fine. Some people, yes, go overboard and end up sounding desperate and end up annoying people. I don’t want to do that. But I do think I could get out of my comfort zone just a little…

What do you all think about self-promotion. Do you feel comfortable with it? Where do you think the line is between good marketing and annoying desperation? What do you think are the best ways to grow a blog’s readership?

Me. In 500 words or less.

So, I was on twitter yesterday and I tweeted:

And the lovely Accidentsss from Accidents Will Happen (whom if you haven’t read you should…. she is too funny and smart and interesting! And one of the first bloggers I connected with out here on the big scary interwebs.) suggested this:

First off, thanks and all. I don’t feel smart most days, but I do like to ask questions. Secondly, sure… I can share the background story. Doing this though, reminds me of this awesome post from Susan over at life.inbalance.sortof. wrote this great post a while back about catching old friends up on 20 years of your life via Facebook in a short paragraph. Go read it.

Anyway, I feel kinda the same way trying to answer Accidentsss questions. What to say? I don’t know. So I am just going to start writing and see what comes out.

I grew up in Calgary. I have a wonderful family, wonderful parents, (now) wonderful siblings. Life was pretty good.

I moved to the west coast to go to university and did my Bachelors of Arts in Political Science at SFU in Burnaby. I met my future husband. I studied international relations and thought I would go on to do a Masters in Poli Sci looking at the way language is used to set precedent in international law. But I needed a break and didn’t get into the school I wanted, so I started working in retail management. Which is essentially the easy way out for an arts grad. Work took us back to Calgary. Eventually I saw the light and got out of retail and took a job at the university doing, more or less, admin. I worked hard and did good stuff and now I am in a strategic marketing, business development and program coordinator role.

We got married. We wanted a family. We were told by my doctor that because of my PCOS it could take years for us to start a family. So we decided that we would start early and see what happened. I was pregnant a month after our wedding. HA!

And now I am here. I started blogging while on matt leave, because I needed something for me, I love writing, and I wanted to reach out and communicate. I have a great job, a great husband and a great daughter. Great family, great friends and great online friends that I hope to someday meet in real life.

Wow. I did that in 400 words!

Look, Look! A new look!

Hey Guys!

Have you noticed my blog’s new look? And my new matching twitter icon? Isn’t it pretty?

Cheryl over at PicPoetProse designed it for me. Go over and tell her you love it as much as I do.

I wanted to make this change after some serious thinking about my “one word”. I got some amazing suggestions from people. Including:

conscious
aware
initiator
inquiring
thoughtful
inquisitive
searching
seeking
interrogative
penetrating
why
probing
contemplative

But ultimately I realize that I had already identified my one word. It was already there all along! It is in the name of my blog and it was already on my twitter icon. “Think.”

And I wanted to change up my look a bit to better reflect that. I love the concept of the tree, particularly with the roots into the ground that are visable. There is something that just says deep thinking to me about that image. I also wanted a more simple, less flowery look. So, my amazing (and very pregnant) friend Cheryl indulged me and pulled this together in just a couple days. Yeah, she’s amazing.

So, what do you all thinking?

Anxiety part 2: So now what?

So, now that I have made my personal confession re: anxiety… now what?

What I want to do now is share with you some of my frustrations with…. you guess it… with how our society and our health care system deals with mental illness. First off, I count myself very lucky that my anxiety is not something I consider a serious mental illness. I am sure that it is for some people that have it, as everyone’s experience is different and there are varying degrees of it. But I am lucky in that I can get out of bed everyday, take care of my beautiful daughter, work at a job I love and spend time with the people that matter the most to me: husband, my daughter, family, friends. My life, despite my bitching sometimes, is wonderful. So please don’t take this post as oh woe’s me.

But. I do find the lack of support from the health care system very very frustrating. And if I were one of the many many people who is suffering from a mental illness that does severely impact their quality of life, their health, their family, their livelihood.. I would be livid. (Did you know that one in four people will experience some mental health issue at some point in their lives? And I suspect that number is grossly underestimated.)

Here are some of my issues:

Mental health care is not like going to see your doctor. It is separate and much of it is not covered by health care in Canada.* (And I know it is worse in the States, but I know the Canadian system, not the system in the states.) One of the first things I talked with my doctor about when I decided I needed to do something about this was that I needed to look into what my extended health benefits cover. She had suggested that I contact my extended benefits provider to get a list of registered psychologists that they cover. When I called them they said they can’t provide me with a list, but I could call them back with my list of who I might go see and they could tell me which person was on it. I mean, I get it, it is all about privacy I assume. But making the patient do the work?

I am not against work. But I think we need to realize that mental illness is not like having a sore back. The symptoms of most mental illness make it less likely that I would have the motivation to actually do that work. So instead, my tendency is to drop it.

The same thing happened when I tried to get help for postpartum. I called a help line. They sent out a ‘team’ to evaluate me. I guess I convinced them that I needed support but not urgent support, because they suggested a group therapy type option. Here is the thing: Group therapy may be awesome. And it may have been a good suggestion. And maybe I should have taken them up on that. BUT.  Suggesting to someone in the midst of even mild postpartum who also deals with anxiety in group social settings to call up an organization and ask to go to a group therapy session? Um. Yeah that’s not going to happen. It should happen. I should have done it. But I didn’t. But again, symptoms of the illness make that counterproductive to put on the patients shoulders to arrange.

The other thing I have found interesting through this whole thing is that most of us downplay how much we are struggling. Let’s go back to the idea that I must have convinced the team that came to evaluate me for postpartum that I wasn’t all that urgently in need of help. I think that many people have a survival instinct that we shouldn’t show our cards, especially when it comes to weakness. And I think with mental health particularly, with the stigma attached, we have a hard time not downplaying. We have a hard time exposing ourselves as ‘weak’. So we don’t get the help we need. I do think this needs to be taken into account when working with people, particularly those with anxiety, depression and postpartum. I am sure it is, so some extent. But I did find this to be a barrier to getting help. (You are probably wondering now if I am downplaying right now, in this post. I am trying not to. I am trying to be as open as I can.)

Lastly, I find it deeply troubling to what extend mental health is seen as something so different from physical health. Why is it outside the system in many ways? Why isn’t it just like going to see your doctor? It is my belief that when it comes to anything in our ‘social safety net’ in Canada, we pay for these issues no matter what. If we don’t value, prioritize and make accessible mental health we pay for it in employment insurance, lack of work place productivity, long term disability, policing costs in the case of the co-morbidity of mental health and homelessness. We pay for it. In countless other ways. It is just about choosing to pay to prevent and treat the problem or paying for it via the effects of not doing so.

Again. I am lucky. Very very lucky. And I can’t say I didn’t have most of these opinions before my anxiety got worse. But having anxiety and trying to figure out the system has made my feelings grow stronger. And I think we need to talk about it as a country.

So by this point you may be wondering, okay- so where are you at right now? As I drone on about my philosophical ramblings about society and the political system and our inherent nature. A bunch of you commented on my last post and really showed concern for me, which I so appreciated. Thank you.

Here is where I am at. My doctor put me on medication which is typically prescribed for either depression or anxiety. At first I was very much against the idea of medication. I believe we are over-medicated as a society and that we don’t focus enough on prevention and less pharmaceutical treatment methods.

But. I needed something, a bridge, to get me through until I could set up and start to see results from therapy. I needed something to get this under control, because I was feeling on edge 95% of the time and it was starting to really impact everything. My attacks were long and I was on the edge of an attack all day, every day. Anything was triggering.  So I went on this medication. It was HORRIBLE for the first couple days, and didn’t really kick in for a couple weeks; something my doctor told me to expect. But now, it is a lot better. I am A LOT better. I feel like old self again.

The bad news is that I still haven’t set up the therapy aspect of the plan. I had asked people I know to recommend someone, but couldn’t find the contact information for who they recommended. I should ask if they could help me, but I haven’t. I asked my doctor a couple weeks ago to recommend someone, she hasn’t gotten back to me. I need to phone her. I will get it sorted though and then it will get better. The idea is to wean off the prescription in a couple months after I start therapy.

Again, I am lucky. I have the support. I have a wonderful family. Amazing friends. I am lucky and I will be fine. It is all the people that don’t have what I have that I worry about.

(*I should clarify. There is still many mental health care professionals within the public health care system. I know many. But, from a patients perspective, it is much more confusing to navigate the system then dealing with a physical aliment. Although, now that I write that I have heard many stories about the difficulties of navigating the system with many chronic physical illnesses too. Regardless, I do think most people could agree that mental health is not as integrated and supported as it should be.)

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