It’s Okay NOT to Celebrate Mother’s Day

 

 

We are mere days away from that glorious holiday. That one day a year, we set aside to celebrate Moms just a bit more. The air will be filled with scents of lilacs and lilies. Wee ones will spread globs of jam onto burnt toast to surprise Mommy with breakfast. She will do her best to eat it with a smile. If you have given birth and pride yourself on the job you have or are doing in the department of parenthood….celebrate this day! If you admire and respect your own Mama, celebrate this day!

But what if you detest this day? Calm down, I can almost hear the gasps from here. WHAT?!?!! Not LOVE Mother’s Day???? How is that even possible?

Try to picture it like Valentines Day. All of those who are either single or in crap relationships simply dread this day approaching. The store shelves are dripping in pink and red sarcastic romance. Every radio commercial is a reminder that you must get your flower order in soon. Did you make your dinner reservation yet? Before you know it, social media is lit up with pictures of every Tiffany and Brittany taking selfies beside their long stemmed roses. *disclaimer* I am in a ridiculously lovely dovey sappy relationship and adore my roses every chance I get them. But I digress…My point is, not everyone enjoys THIS day. It comes as a reminder of what one doesn’t have.

I am now here to tell you that not everyone looks forward to Mother’s Day.  We have to respect that.

Let’s take a stroll down the dysfunctional family highway for just one minute. We have to imagine that not all families get along. I know, quite shocking. These holidays pop up, and prove to be painful. The many images flash across our screens. The constant reminders to be sure you have placed your order for the elusive perfect Mother’s Day bouquet. Standing in front of that wall of greeting cards, washing over the endless words of “I am so glad you were always there for me.” After what seems like an eternity, you grab the generic one that is blank inside.

The point is these days can spark up memories we try to bury all year. I recently had a client admit to me that as Mother’s Day approaches, she hides from social media completely. Removes herself from that path of what she feels like is destruction. Not at all like those cute Hallmark commercials I once remembered. This is the other reality many don’t talk about. We need to be mindful of it.

We need to be mindful of those who have longed to be mothers for years, without success. We need to be mindful of those who have lost children. This day to celebrate Mother’s is like a hot dagger through their soul. We need to be mindful of those who grew up with absent mothers, abusive mothers, and sick mothers. We also need to be mindful of those who lost their own mother’s far too soon.  So much extra love to all these souls.

So, if you didn’t HAVE a Super-Mom or you didn’t get to BE a Super-Mom, then maybe you feel a little bit like so many others at this time of year: like you’re having your nose rubbed in it.  This holy image of motherhood and all that it is “supposed to be” and it’s all because of the hype where we’re trying to make Motherhood and Sainthood the same thing! All the while, spending millions every May on flowers, spa treatments and greeting cards, because God forbid we don’t honour our mothers, right?

The truth isn’t like that. Reality is not sunshine and rainbows. Not all were so lucky in the Mom department. If you were, either because you had or have a wonderful mom or because you became a wonderful mom, then I’m happy for you and I don’t want to take away from your personal experience. You deserve it. Celebrate.

I just ask that you remember those who aren’t feeling so celebratory.  Please do not judge them for not posting tributes to their mothers. Respect their decisions and be mindful of their feelings. Be kind.

Before you are convinced that I have rained all over your Mother’s Day Parade, understand this. I am a Mom and my children have filled a void in my soul like nothing else. I celebrate this day because I feel successful as a Mom. Notice I said successful, not perfect! 🙂 I celebrate this day because of the thousands of hours of lost sleep, disgusting diapers I have changed, millions of dollars in groceries, and stress I have endured watching them grow. There are so many reasons to celebrate motherhood.  I guess for me it is less about this one day and far more about the journey.  I made the choice to bring them into this world, upon doing that, I vowed to protect, care for and love them unconditionally until I part. For that, yes you can make me some toast. 🙂

I merely wanted to write this blog and point out that we need not judge those who find this day shitty, difficult, toxic, painful, or a waste of freaking time. You do you, whatever you need to do to get through the day.  I for one will be forcing my spawn to make me breakfast, and then roping them into making me dinner as well. Just mentioning my episiotomy scar will terrify them enough not to challenge me on this one. If this day for you means dropping out of social media, don’t feel judged for that. If you are questioned about why you don’t celebrate with your Mom, please remember that no explanation is needed. Your journey, your way.

Much love,

Christine ❤

Bubble Baths and Balance My Spin on a Pandemic

 

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We have all woke up in what feels like a dream state. We went from “don’t over react,” to “self-isolation,” in a matter of twenty-four hours. These are unprecedented times. Uncharted waters. Historical even, as borders between countries have been shut for the first time.

From one control freak to another, this is what have I learned from this and what I would I like to share with you.

Breathe, just not too close to anyone else! Oh right and don’t forget, we are still allowed to have a sense of humour in the face of adversity.  Everything feels as though someone hit the fast forward button. People are rushing to find that elusive last can of corn or roll of toilet paper. Slow down and breathe. I get it; we have never been in this place before. As I mentioned, we are writing history. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer my great-grandchildren read about this and hear of stories of kindness and communities coming together, rather than toilet paper hoarding. Slow down and breathe.

I too have had many angry and anxious moments. We have had to close our business. Our university son may not get a graduation ceremony. Our daughter, who is an esthetician, is still doing very intimate services on clients during this pandemic because there is no mandate on her employer to close. I began homeschooling our seventh grader earlier this year, so that impact is less. More on that later.

I am an admitted control freak. I function best when I know what is happening hour by hour, day to day. I do not like surprises. I am a planner. When something throws a wrench into that, I can usually be found cleaning my house top to bottom, at 3 am. Doing puzzles, colouring and writing, anything to distract myself from the out of control thing in my life. This pandemic has taught me a few things.

There is strength in numbers. Many of us do not like to have our freedom taken away. It truly is normal to feel anxious when things do not run according to plan. If you look hard enough, you can find a positive in situations. Slow down and breathe.

What am I unsure of?  How long this will last. We are ALL unsure of this. We are ALL in this together. I am not alone. YOU are not alone. I find peace knowing we are travelling this together. I have many unanswered questions, so instead I am turning to what I know for sure.

What do I know for sure?  Our son will still graduate and get his degree with or without a ceremony. He has worked hard for five years and we will celebrate that. Our daughter who is in her first year of University will complete her first year, another reason to celebrate. Even though we had to close our business, I am now spending some quality time with my husband and he is getting time to refuel. All of our family remains healthy, and that is the most important reason to celebrate.

I have found reason to smile every day as I notice people out for walks. Kids riding bikes, giggling ridiculously. Families gathering around bonfires in the backyards, on a random Tuesday, us included. Those people who would have been spending countless hours in a high pressured and stressful job are now enjoying their morning coffee and then going for a peaceful walk. They may have just added ten years to their life.

I am not oblivious to the fact that all of this missed time from school and work doesn’t come without a price. Right now, most of us are in a holding pattern until those resources become available and that is scary. That is also a bit out of our control.

My advice in the meantime? Enjoy these moments with your family, children and with yourself as much as you can. Been putting off clearing out those closets? Do it now. Want to tackle that yard work? Do it now. Want to spend some down time to refuel?  I am on board with that! As for those kids who may be home from school for a good while, here is my two cents. I have seen post after post about help to home school. Please know that home schooling is more than keeping your child “at home” and teaching them. We too are feeling the pinch of not being able to get out and be social. We spend a significant amount of time putting together a well thought out curriculum that best suits our child. Let me just begin with this. Try not to overwhelm yourself or them. There are so many online sites and available resources. Take your time researching them to find what may work for your child. Ask yourself this question. How many times have you said, “I wish they would teach my child (blank) in school.” Well now is your time to do just that. Consider using this time to teach your child some basic cooking skills, how to do a load of laundry or your teen to check their oil. You will be amazed how soon they will leave the nest and won’t know the basics. How to grocery shop, change a furnace filter, fill out university applications, file taxes, open a bank account. Don’t be surprised at how quickly your child may go through the lessons at home.  With less distractions and one on one teaching this is often the case. Slow down and breathe.

As I am writing this blog, I am isolated with my amazing husband and both my  dear sons. I have had to put my earphones in twice to distract myself from my husbands loud chewing and my teen spawn’s narrative of whatever game he is playing.  My sweet daughter has called four times in two hours, as she scours the city for toilet paper, feeling the need to update me as she goes. 🙂  Everyone knows I love my family dearly, but I am a realist. These next coming days will be challenging for those of who thrive on our alone time to recharge. ❤ Do not feel guilty for taking the measures you need. I will not feel bad for hiding out in my office or taking hour-long hot baths to keep my sanity. I advise you all to find your balance. Slow down and breathe.

Lots of Love ❤

 

 

I WANT TO LIVE WHERE THERE IS NO CELL SERVICE

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I had breakfast with my best friend a few of weeks ago. We manage to squeeze these rare events in when we can, and I had been rushing out the door to get there. As I was scrambling out of the car, I quickly realized I had forgotten my cell phone at home. What do you suppose my next response was? That’s right, sheer panic.

Now, my bestie, bless her beautiful soul, is normally a wee bit late. That being said my brain instantly thought things like, “What if she can’t make it and needs to let me know?” Despite the fact that we were literally in touch a mere hour before.

Wait, what about my husband? I always let him know I have arrived safe. Will he think something has happened? What if a client emails, I miss a business call, one of my children need me, there is a weather bulletin or the earth is going to end?  But I digress….

I ordered myself a tea as I awaited her arrival and began to feel my tension dissipate. My head swirled with the hypocrisy of it all if I am being honest. How had I become this person? The same disconnected and dependent person I counsel my own clients about. Alas, there I sat eating humble pie.

When my friend arrived, I giggled telling her my fretful story. She had a message from my husband who had noticed my phone left behind at home. All was well, the Earth was still round for one more day. We were able to enjoy each other’s company despite the fact I was not able to photograph my waffles. 🙂

Over these last two weeks, I have done some soul searching and paid close attention to how my body reacts to the constant pinging of my phone. I have observed people as well.

I can recall being a child and hearing that piercing ring of the telephone. Far before the days of answering machines, it would ring off the wall, as you would attempt to ignore it or unlock the door carrying groceries to answer it. Rarely was there ever a sense of urgency. If you were downstairs doing laundry, you would not stop what you were doing to race up those stairs to answer. If it were that important, they would call back. If you were in the bathroom, you most certainly did not cut the job short just to answer the phone. There was a respected written rule that people just did not call you during the dinner hour. If you were not in the mood to hear it ring, you just took it off the hook. 🙂

I personally do not know how many times my adult children have called me while in the bathroom. True story. It is no longer about making sure we have our phone with us when we leave the house, but we actually take it from room to room. It has given us a purpose or an outlet everywhere we go.

When is the last time you read a newspaper or a book while tending to your business on the toilet? I bet Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest gets a lot of traffic though. What about your bedtime routine? Years ago, it was dinner, evening news and a bit of late night television in the living room prior to hitting the sack. Some of us progressed from that to having televisions in our bedrooms. Now? We can fall into that vortex of Netflix for hours, all cozied up in bed so easily. Climb into bed at a decent hour, glance at the time (on our phone of course), blurry eyed and be horrified that it is now 2:00 am and we have a mere four hours before our alarm will sound.

I myself can admit to more binge watching than I would like. Hitting that next episode button while justifying how many hours of sleep I will get. Bam, progression to television in the palm of our hands just watching it on our phones.

These powerful devices are the first thing we reach for as our eyes open. The alarms are set to wake us, as we shut them off, we begin to check weather, check the news updates and scroll to see what our fellow humans are doing in their lives.

That I have no issue with. We live in a technologically advancing time. My issue is this. Do you feel an addiction to your phone? When you hear a notification, do you feel you have to look at it immediately? Will you stop a conversation you are having with someone to check it? Do you hear the ping and have the ability to ignore it? Does your mind begin to wonder who it is? My phone is smart enough to have unique sounds for each notification. Text messages ping! Snapchat pong! Email bing bing! Facebook beep! You get my drift. The incessant barrage of noise has taken a sensory overload on my brain and body. 

We, as adults are very quick to jump upon those soap boxes when discussing the children of today and how they are doomed because of the screen time they have grown up with. 

What do you suppose the outcome is going to be for all of us? The average adult checks their phone 47 times per day. 1 in 5 people have answered their phone DURING sex!!! The average person uses their phone for 171 minutes per day. 61% of people sleep with their phones and 75% reach for their phones when they wake up. Our brains are getting far less time see the world around us. Our eyes are spending fewer hours seeing natural light instead of artificial light. Our necks slumped over text. You get the picture.  This type of addiction can lead to sleep deprivation, anxiety, stress, depression, and injury. It is not just the youth we should be focusing on. 

So, what is the answer? I have had to have a real honest conversation with myself. It is no secret to me, that I have an addictive personality.  If I taste something I like, I will eat it obsessively until I will never eat it again. From 2009-2011, Jumbo Freezies made up most of my diet. I also drank most weekends when I was only twelve years old. I am mindful of the balance.

Addictions come in all forms. My own personal addiction to my phone is having a negative impact on my life. For me, I am challenging myself to do better. I am so jealous of my oldest son who does not bat an eye at letting his phone battery die…..for five days at a time. “Mom, if someone needs to contact me that bad, they will find a way.” 

Despite the anxiety I feel when I think about missing an important call, he is right. We are not meant to be connected 24/7. We need time to disconnect and quiet our brains. While doing so we can truly connect with others, ourselves or nothing at all. 

What can you do? A good old fashion digital detox. Be mindful of the times you spend on your phone. Is it when you are bored? Get up and find something else to do. Turn your phone off. When I started this process, I could not remember the last time my phone had been turned OFF. I am committing myself to turning it all the way off for three hours a day. Baby steps. Turn your phone off or at least to do not disturb by a reasonable hour each night. Remember, if here is an emergency, you will be contacted. I have asked clients in the past to set their alarm, and then place their phone just outside their room. It takes the temptation away to continue scrolling social media, playing games or watching Netflix. 

I for one am taking more breaks from the constant need to be connected in my life. I am not asking all of you to do the same, just a consideration. 

Much Love ❤

Christine

Guilt For Not Living Up to My Holiday Expectations

Exactly two days until the holiday madness explodes into all of our faces like a confetti cannon, and I have to admit, this year I am ready to hide under the blankets. Those thick, warm, sound deadening duvets of comfort. I know after reading those sentences that it would appear I am staged to run down to Whooville and steal all the tinsel, but I in fact love Christmas. It is the stress that goes along with it I loathe.

As a wee child, we are oblivious to the orchestra that must be planned and manipulated in order to pull off that one fantastic occasion. We just roll from the warmth of our beds, Snuggles the bunny tucked under one arm while wiping the sleep from our eyes. Magically all appears. The gifts, the smells of holiday food, tah dah.

As the conductor of said orchestra, my eyebrows are graying, I am stress eating cream cheese and I am exhausted. I have lists and those lists have lists. Paper lists, electronic lists and voice recorded lists. Screw the lists, I can’t remember where they are anyway. Counting…..did I remember this person and that person. Wrapping until you resemble the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Each year I buy ten more packs of tape. Each year I cannot find tape. Who is eating the DAMN tape!

The holidays bring out so many emotions in us. Whether it is the stress of choosing the right gift, eating or drinking too much, getting together with relatives we may not particulary get along with, the holidays can be hard on your health.

After having a rather difficult few weeks, I personally visited my doctor. He is a wonderful man and knows I am a straight shooter. We only visit when he knows I have exhausted all “psychological” or “natural” remedies. 🙂 When he walked in and asked what on earth brought me in, I began to sob. He sat and held my hand and said, “Oh those damn holidays.’ This will only be my second holiday season since losing my best friend and sister.

Much like in my line of work, he too sees a spike in patients during this crazy time of year. After I walked through a few troubling symptoms I had, he stopped me dead. He asked me if I forgot that I had Lupus. Out of my mouth came the word no, but my brain was saying, well of course I did, I just have to get shit done. My amazing doctor held my hand once again and kindly pointed out that if he was treating a patient with any life long disease he would have to tell them to rest, slow down, hydrate or they could be hospitalized. He asked why I thought I would be any different. He quickly reminded me that heart attacks in woman rise by 40% during the holidays season. READ THAT AGAIN. 40% because of the perfect tree, getting that perfect gift, dinner just right, and not wanting to disappoint anyone. That is me in a nutshell. A classic perfectionist, hell bent on not disappointing a single soul.

I left his office terrified, but with a whole new perspective on the holidays. I love the holidays because it brings family together. I cannot enjoy that if I am not here. I have very strict orders to alleviate some of the biggest sources of stress from my life. I am going to start with my own unrealistic expectations of what the holiday is supposed to be. Christmas on a beach next year sounds perfect to me 🙂

If any of this sounds familiar to you, take a deep breath. Have a good long cry like I did. What can you alleviate from that list? Would your holiday season be truly ruined if you had to say no to one or two family functions? Yes you will feel like you are letting people down, but your health must come first. I don’t know how to put this any other way to make people, and myself understand this. Stress will kill you.

My husband is a gentle soul, and yet there I was, heart racing, almost afraid to tell him of my holiday restrictions. As I write that sentence, I can hear his voice. “I want you, nothing on this earth means more.” That sums it up right there.

No amount of wrapping paper, sweet potato pie, perfect table settings or missed family dinners can replace you. That is it in one little pretty gift package. You are the most important piece of this holiday puzzle.

So put those warm fuzzy socks on, make a hot chocolate, heaping with marshmallows and watch your favourite Christmas movie. Relax. Breathe. You may be perfect, but you are not indispensable.

Happy Holidays from our home to yours xoxo

To my baby sis, I hope you have the most relaxing Christmas Ever xoxo

Much Love ❤

How To Calm An Anxious Young Athlete

No matter how good your child is or isn’t at playing sports, according to a survey conducted over 30 years by two coaches and athletic administrators what young athletes want to hear most from their parents after a sporting event is,
“I love to watch you play.”

I have been a therapist for a while now. I have been a mother for a much longer while. 🙂 Approximately five years ago, my last born dragged me, kicking and screaming, into the world of becoming a hockey mom. Yes, I was the one doing the kicking and screaming. This world unearthed so much passion in me as both a mother and a human that I added Sports Psychologist to my repertoire.

It is quite common for elite athletes in extreme sports to have one of “us” on their team. The competitive nature of their lives makes it necessary. Throughout my life as a mom, and a hockey parent, I have started seeing a trend. The frustration, anxiety, tears, anger and ultimately young players leaving the sport. Most of these are just children. We need to do better so these children can enjoy the sport they fell in love with.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work with some amazing kids, and their families. To get them back on track, loving their sport and accelerating their confidence.

Here are some things you can do to help your nervous or anxious child athlete when it’s game time.

BREATHING

Help your child slow down their breathing. This helps for two reasons. First, slowing one’s breathing slows the heart rate. When our heart is beating slower, we typically don’t label our emotion as anxiety or nervousness. Second, breathing can center an individual, or bring them to the present. When people are overly nervous, they are usually focused on the past (which can’t be changed) or the future (which hasn’t happened yet).

REFRAMING

This is just a fancy psychology term for looking at something in a completely different way. For example, ask your child how they feel physiologically when excited. They may say their heart beats faster, their breathing speeds up, they perspire, and/or they get butterflies in their stomach. Now ask them how they feel when they are nervous. You will find that the answer will be very similar. In fact, researchers have found that excitement and anxiety are the EXACT SAME emotion. The only difference is that we label one as positive and one as negative. So, help your child reframe their anxiety as excitement.

HAVE A PLAN

Sometimes anxiety can be fear of the unknown. Have your child make a list of the things that they are worried about, and then help them come up with a solution or strategy for each concern.

PRACTICE UNDER PRESSURE

You can’t expect an athlete of any age or ability to perform well under pressure if they do not practice under pressure. Shooting free throws or penalty kicks in a completely calm state with nothing on the line doesn’t prepare us for the real thing. This is why so many golfers are great on the driving range and then terrible on the course.

HAVE A CONSISTENT PRE GAME ROUTINE

Routines provide consistency and can serve as trigger to remind our brains to let go. They can range from using the same warm-up routine or stretches to listening to the same music.

FOCUS ON WHAT CAN BE CONTROLLED

Pressure is often the result of trying to control something that we cannot control. We can’t fully control outcomes of games, so trying to do so is not only futile, but it will also lead to more pressure. Help your athlete focus on things that are in their control, such as tactics (quick passes or getting to the end line), effort, or attitude. Focusing on mechanics is usually a bad idea, since it typically worsens performance.

HAVE A GROWTH MINDSET 

Help your athlete learn from mistakes or losses. This is the only way to get better! By seeing mistakes as learning opportunities, you can remove a lot of the anxiety surrounding losing.