Monday, June 20, 2011

Health & Happiness

When I was young my grandmother Kelley used to say a prayer before every meal that would only ask for two things, "health and happiness" for her family.
When I used to ask her what she wanted for Christmas she would say "health and happiness".
As a child and young girl I always thought this was a stupid answer and did not understand how she couldn't actually want something.
I had NO IDEA how important her wishes were.

I did not realize that she struggled to find her own happiness all throughout her life. She was very likely depressed for decades. She found solace in "inappropriate" places but happiness was all she was looking for.
Years later she would live through losing her husband to Alzheimers disease and then not long after that she developed it herself. 
Suddenly wishing for health and happiness made perfect sense.
Without those two things we have nothing.

My Wish
My wish for you is to find happiness
In the blooming of a new flower
On the blossom of a tree
In the sound of laughter
Hopefully your laughter.

I also wish for you to find health
In the strong and even beat of your heart
Within the air that offers you life
On your two legs that carry you
Hopefully carry you towards happiness.

Health and happiness are all I wish for you but they are a huge wishes that will last you a lifetime.
I hope you hold them dear when you have it and never give up on finding them when you don't.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Strength of a Woman

Strength : The quality or state of being strong, the ability to do or bear, the capacity for exertion or endurance, whether physical, intellectual or moral. Strength of body, strength of mind, or memory or of judgment. 

For most of the women that I have in my life, the past few years have been filled with STRESS!!!
Unexpected pregnancies,  marriage break-ups, drug abuse, gambling debts, house renovations, too much work, children with serious behavioral issues, serious marriage troubles, hospitalized children or close family members, personal illnesses, incredibly tight finances, sexual abuse, deaths, big moves, children leaving home (or coming home) and just about any other stressful situation that you can imagine. Many people, myself included dealt with more than one of these issues one after the other.

I can not even count how many times I have heard the saying "I just don't know how I will handle this." or "If just one more thing happens I am going to explode!". If not these sayings that something similar. I am sure you can all relate?

Life can be so hard for many of us at different times. At first I lamented in the difficulties and asked myself why life had to be so hard. I had no answer except my usual "if things were never hard, I wouldn't appreciate the good". That great reason is starting to wear a bit thin on me no matter how true it may be.

The next thought I had was about how incredibly strong we all are.
We women handle so much even on the good days. Making sure our homes are nice and welcoming, taking care of children/friends/family, putting our own needs on hold while we spend our time dealing with everything and everyone else on our never-ending lists of "Things To Do". I don't know about you but I don't even have enough time in my day to write a list, let alone follow it!

We care enough to remember our loved ones birthdays, who doesn't eat meat, which child likes peas and which one hates corn, who is allergic to red food dye, who needs a new pair of shoes, the dog needs it's nails clipped, the car needs gas, the electric bill is due, the date of a worrisome test that a friend is having, to send $5 to the school or $10 to a shelter, that the toilet bowl never got properly cleaned since last Saturday and a million other "little things" that we pack in to our days.
We notice the sad look on our child's face even when they say there is nothing wrong and no matter if that child is 2 or 42, we still care enough to make special time to find out what is wrong.
Not having a child of our own doesn't stop us from acting like we do have them either. We care for our friends children, our nieces and nephews or we turn that nurturing spirit towards caring for a furry/scaly/thick skinned baby that needs us just as much.
No matter what life has dealt us, we find ways to reach out and care for the world and the things in it.
After all these things are cared for we still go to work almost every day (paid or not) and take on more than our share.
So then we add any of my above list of huge stressors and we wonder why we feel so overloaded? Are we crazy? OF COURSE we are overloaded. We are women.
I am somewhat sure we are genetically predisposed to bite off way more than we can chew???

The most amazing part about every woman that I know is that despite everything that we do for others (more than willingly), the daily needs and wants of those around us that we respect and try to accommodate (also more than willingly) as well as all these huge life changing stressors that we are POSITIVE will bend us over to the breaking point... we are all still standing! We somehow manage to remain strong. We find the strength to go on one day at a time from somewhere deep inside ourselves and even though we want to curl up into a ball and do nothing but cry? We don't! We find the strength that we need to move on.
Some times we just need to stop and give ourselves a break and a pat on the back. Both are well deserved.

Take a bow ladies.
We are all amazing and the strength that we display (even if you whine about it) is inspiring.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


What is a family? Who gets to define it? 
Since this is my blog, it will be me! *laugh*

In my life I have struggled long and hard with this word and it's meaning. My own family is a group of wonderful people yet they have no ability to truly connect with each other and I have always missed that. Our relationships are like a broken glass. All the pieces are there but it is not really something that you feel safe getting close to. You might be okay but you also might get cut badly. Each interaction makes you question your willingness to take that risk.
Don't get me wrong, my biological family has given me many things for which I am very grateful. I was raised well, taught right from wrong, fed, clothed, sheltered and educated. I know that I was loved and I am sure that I still am.  I honestly do try to feel that this was/is enough but something always felt like it was missing.

When I had my own children I found that I wanted to raise my children very differently than I was raised but I did feel that everyone did that. Like it is a right of passage. Don't most people feel that way?
Soon I began to want to do things with and for my children that had not been done with me. Again... I just felt that I was doing things differently because that is how life is supposed to be. Each generation wants better for the ones that follow them.
Through the years I must admit that I began to question the way that I was raised and I often felt very uncared for. To outsiders we had the perfect family and the perfect life but behind those doors there was a lot of hurt. There still is. I suppose it is easier to shine a pretty light on it and pretend that everything is okay when everyone within it knows that it is not.

My proverbial "light-bulb moment" happened when I met my husband Lenny.
He called his family at least once a week and they called him too. They said "I love you" before hanging up and each one always seemed to know what the others were doing.
It did not matter what career you had, whether you had decided to marry or not or even if you decided to suddenly marry a single mother with three young children. The only thing that ever mattered was that you were happy. They supported anything at all so long as you were happy doing it.
If one person needed anything, the others were there. It was never even a question. I am not talking about money here but they would share that too if you needed it and they had it to give.
His family has not always had it easy. In fact they have been through more than you can even imagine. They are a wonderfully convoluted mixture of opposites and yet they stick together as a family.

Becoming part of this family was one of the best things that has ever happened to me in all of my life. They have shown me that it does not matter what you wear, how large or small you may be, what you know, where you travel, who you know, if you mess up your words when trying to talk, spill something on yourself every time you try to eat, what schooling you have, if you have chosen to have 3 children or none at all, if you choose to love the one who you have loved since you were a teenager or you find your love at a bar when you are 35... they just love you.
You can be born in to this family, married in or "adopted" in... it really doesn't matter. They love you solely because you are a part of their family and that means something special to them.
It is the most amazing blessing that this world has ever offered me and I love them dearly for showing me what family can really mean.

There is a reason why this is in my mind today.
I had a serious surgery 4 days ago and I was very worried about it. I hate to admit this but I even wrote some goodbye letters.Overreaction? Most certainly! ... but I was scared to death.
My own (biological) family has not even phoned. Not a card, a phone call... nothing at all. Not even one person. I try so very hard to say it does not bother me but it hurts me deeply. It makes me feel very unimportant and extremely uncared for. I can not imagine knowing that my child was laying in a hospital bed and not make the time to call to see how they were. I will never allow that to happen with my children. I promise you that for sure. I will be the Mom that you see driving the nurses NUTS.

I am not going to stick with this feeling for long because I have been blessed to be a part of the Mullaly family now. They have shown me every day before and since that they care about me and they have given me their thoughts and prayers every step of the way. There is not one that has not called, visited or contacted me in some way to show that they care even though some live in different provinces and they ALL have busy lives of their own. THAT is a family.
My friends have been amazing as well. I have been so blessed with more phone calls, emails and Facebook posts that I can even remember. THANK YOU ALL!!!

So when defining a family I am going to say that they are not necessarily the ones that share you DNA... they are the ones that share your life.

Thank you for sharing my life and thank you for being my family.

Monday, August 23, 2010


On August 23rd, 2002  I was sitting on this ferry traveling across the Atlantic ocean wondering what on earth I was doing with my life. Was I making it better or was I making a royal mess of it?

On August 24th, 2002 I landed on the island of Newfoundland with my husband Lenny, a truck packed with furniture and a car filled with pets. It was a huge leap of faith for us both. We were moving 3,500 kilometers away from most of my family and some of his to a place where he grew up but had not lived in for over 22 years and I had only seen once to attend his fathers funeral.

It felt like we were jumping off a cliff with no parachute.

The first days were filled with trying to unpack an entire home in the matter of a few days because the children (Travis 9, Cassie 7 and Megan almost 5) would be arriving by plane on the 27th.
It became very clear to my very quickly that I was not just in another part of Canada but that it was a whole new world. The food was different, the accents were thick, the stores were far away, everyone seemed to know everyone and I was immediately labeled a "mainlander". (Said like it is a swear word.)
Lenny's 2 sisters were wonderful to us and did their best to welcome us in every way that they could but to say it was an easy transition would be a lie.
Throughout the following 2 years we gradually all settled in to this place we now call home and I will not speak from anyone else but this is my home and I love it.

May I back up a little bit here?
Thank you. :)
My life was filled with moving from place to place and never having any roots set anywhere. Most people can not even imagine what it is like to live like I did until I moved here. I lived in 22 different homes in those 32 years and never stayed anywhere long enough to feel  like I was at home. My family was much the same and still moves from place to place to this day. No one is ever settled.
Some people see my life in a glamorous light and I guess in some ways it was. We always had enough money for everything that we needed, I saw different parts of this wonderful world that some people never have the chance to see, I had the benefit of a wonderful education even though I did it in many different schools. I was exposed to many unique situations both good and bad that have made me in to the person who I am today. I am grateful for all of that.

The one piece of the puzzle that was missing for me was "home". I had many houses but no homes. Moving so much never allowed for the opportunity to have memories of being in that place for years worth of occasions or having friends that lasted longer than a couple of years.

Living in this house for 8 years has been a real blessing. With Lenny's help we have raised our children here and watched them turn from young children in to teenagers and soon to be university bound young adults. They have had years worth of birthdays and Christmas's all in the same house and the same table in the same room with the same people. They may not know it now but this is a huge gift to them and their lives. They have the roots that I never did.
Lenny and I have been blessed to be surrounded by a fantastic family that is an honor to know. They are the true example of what family should be all about and they have made this place home for me in more ways than they know. That can be a blog for another day.
We know our neighbours and many of the people in our town and others. We have been inside our childrens schools many times and not only know our way around but also their teachers and many of their friends.
We planted little saplings when we first moved here and now those same trees are taller than I am (no short jokes required *laugh*). We have even been here long enough to repaint a room. Some of them twice!
We have even had the joy of welcoming other members of Lenny's family back to this area to live and it has been a wonderful experience.
I know which store carries what products and where the best place to eat is. All simple, mundane daily living things that might be boring to others but simply fascinating to me. I LOVE it!

So... even though I never grew up here, none of my biological family lives here and I do not have 40 years of memories here (yet), I am home.
Home Sweet Home

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Tely 10

The "Tely 10" is a 10 mile (16 kilometer) race that is run in St. John's Newfoundland each summer. Next year I am going to be ready for it!

This is a HUGE deal for me and I want to explain why.

I have had heart trouble for many years. It all started while giving birth to Travis where I strained the muscles in my chest and the inflammation irritated my heart causing it to beat far too quickly and irregularly. I was only 23 and each year I got slightly worse. There were MANY hospital runs over the years and as my symptoms got worse with every year that passed. I began to do less and less to avoid another hospital run. Unfortunately this meant that I gained weight and became less and less fit. It became a vicious circle of gaining weight -> more heart trouble -> more fear -> less activity then back to gaining more weight.

For many years (16 to be precise), the doctors would always just blame these "attacks" on anxiety and never looked any deeper in to what might really be the problem. It was exceptionally frustrating. If I am honest I must admit that I was fairly certain it was going to kill me before anyone ever took me seriously.

Then December 17th, 2008 came along and I had a horrible day of trying to control my heart rate but nothing was working. The final straw for me was when I was watering my plants and my heart rate shot up over 240. The ambulance was called and I was taken in to the hospital quickly.
When I arrived there was a male doctor there and he immediately blew me off and said I was being "just" being anxious. I am sure that raised my heart rate even higher! Grrrr!!! Thankfully it was the end of his shift and he went home soon after completely dismissing my issue.
I was blessed next with the sight of a very young woman doctor taking over the emergency department and I just KNEW that I had to get her to really listen to me. I do not mean to sound dramatic here but I really felt it was getting to the point where getting someone to help me was life or death.

She came in the room and asked me what I was having trouble with. Instead of answering about that particular night I begged her (truly begged her) to help me. I briefly explained that this had been going on for YEARS and although the heart racing did make me panic... the panic came after the heart racing began. not before. I also told her how fit and healthy I had been before all this started and how much I had declined over the years.
She listened! Really listened. She ordered 12 hours of tests and found almost immediately that there was a part to my heart that was overstimulated and causing major swings in heart rhythm. I would go from the high 90's up to over 200 every few minutes. No wonder I was so scared and panicked. Who wouldn't be?

The craziest part of the whole situation??? All it took was for this doctor to listen and leave the heart machine on me for an extended time rather than the usual minute. That's it!
It was a very happy yet angering time.
All those wasted (regarding health) years just because no one would listen to me. It made me want to scream yet I was also very happy that FINALLY I had an answer! I was prescribed a pill that is no larger than this "O" and I only take a quarter each day! My troubles began to be solved right from that minute.

The past 18 months have been an uphill battle to regain my strength. Just walking from my house to the next house would cause me to start breathing very heavily and my heart would bang so hard that I could feel it slamming in the back of my head. I was terrified but knew that I had to keep it up. It has been a bit of a longer journey than I had thought it would be but I have never stopped trying and now I need a goal to motivate me to get even stronger.

16 kilometers itself is not all that daunting but doing it with any degree of competence and speed will be my ultimate goal. I will not even try to run it but I will focus on getting to the speediest walk that I can manage. I will spend the next months building up my strength, endurance and speed.
I will time myself and measure my distance achieved once a month until the race.

I hope that you will all be there with me to celebrate the day that it is my picture coming through that finish line!
Just don't expect to see 51:21 on the clock!

To have you supporting me would be great but to see you make a goal of your own and strive to get towards it would be even better. It does not need to be a marathon but it should be something that you can not do now but would like to be able to do in a year.

Join in! We can all do an awful lot in a year!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mistakes of a mother...

When I thought of becoming a mother I knew it would be hard. It was the most incredibly important decision I ever had to make and I feared becoming a mother a lot because I was born to a mother who did not want me and never bonded with me. I worried that I would not know how to be a mother and sadly I was right. Instinct is only instinct if you are taught by your mother. This true for any animal. 
That said, I decided that I was going to be the one that broke that vicious cycle.
I had therapy (LOTS of therapy), joined parenting groups and literally learned how to be a mother step by step.
It has gone really well and I am proud of the relationship that I have with all of my children. The love in this house is palpable and I am certain my children know beyond a doubt that I love them fully. 

Of course I still screw up completely at times. I am only human.
My latest mistake was a BIG one.

For months now I have been dealing with my middle child Cassie and her illness. It has taken my time and attention and left me with little time for other things but I always tried to make sure that neither Megan or Travis felt ignored in any way. It wasn't easy but I felt that I was doing well.
Travis has certain needs so I made sure to fill those but Megan seemed to be doing really well sort of navigating her time mostly on her own and with friends. I made the assumption that she was okay.

2 nights ago I found out that Megan had done something that I was shocked by and I was very concerned for her. I asked her a few questions and expected some simple explanations and then we would all go to bed. Happily ever after.
My sweet Megan is so tough and appears almost bulletproof at times. She seems like she can handle everything and everything that comes her way and she never seems to get down or be sad. If she does, she bounces back really quickly and she is such a wonderfully optimistic young woman. I respect her more than I can even express.
That said... I really missed something. I never saw how worried that she was for her sister Cassie. I did not know that she has been terrified of losing her. I understand it. We have all been afraid of that even though no one likes to say it. In my attempt to keep everything as normal as possible at home and be positive about Cassie and all her troubles, I neglected to see Megan's heart was hurting. I think I also made Megan feel that she needed to remain strong and that we should not get these feelings out for fear of upsetting each other.

It was a huge mistake and I asked my sweet Megan to forgive me and thankfully she did.

The lesson I have learned is that my youngest girl has a side to her that I never saw before. Behind her tough, independent,  energetic and optimistic exterior is a soft heart that needs to be held no differently than someone who wears their heart out on their sleeve. 
I made a mistake and my sweet girl was hurt in the process by my ignorance.
That said, I have learned a big lesson that I will never forget.

Thank you Megan for teaching me and forgiving me fully. You are an amazing girl and I am blessed to have you in my life. I will never again forget to remember that you have a soft heart and I will do my best to hold it gently.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

My rat obsession.

Okay, it's official. I am obsessed with our rats.

Shall we back up a step?
How on earth did this happen?

It all began when my 2 girls started asking for rats about 2 years ago. My answer? NO WAY!
I said that rats were not pets and I was not having a filthy rodent in my house.
I assumed (yes... assumed without any knowledge on the subject) that they were dirty, gross, mean little creatures that would bite, stare at me with glaring eyes and eat through anything they came in to contact with.
There was no valid reason for my feelings but this was my gut reaction to the idea. Even I have some very narrow minded moments.

After a year of begging without any success they started showing me videos of rats on YouTube. These silly rats were not so menacing looking but actually a LITTLE cute. They did tricks, they danced, they did not seem to bite but I was sure that was only for certain lucky people. Not me!
Cassie finally broke me down when it was almost her birthday and she said that she would buy everything for the rats. I told her that so long as she and Megan were 100% responsible for them and did EVERYTHING themselves then fine. I would buy the actual rats as her birthday gift.

So she gets these little creatures and they are actually cute. I occasionally went down and looked at them but they still freaked me out. No touching them for me! It took me over 2 months to even touch one and holding one was another month after that. A little odd for me since I am usually very open to most animals but the idea of rats still bothered me.

What happened next has shocked me and everyone else in the house. I actually grew to like them. We all did. Lenny started letting them lay on his tummy while watching TV, I started letting them sit on my lap while I tinkered with the computer (as I write this now, Tali is here on my lap and licking my fingers causing me to type with one hand). Travis even began letting them climb up his arm and sit on his shoulder each evening. After a month or so of never being bitten (they never bite), never having one stare me down or hurt anyone in any way... I melted. I fell in love with 4 silly little rats.

We take them outside (no leash needed), we let them play in the living room while we watch TV, I even built them a "playground" so they could have fun while we had fun watching them. We are starting to think we should cancel the TV service. We only sit and watch the rats play anyways.
I am almost ashamed to admit this but my previous rule of the girls being 100% responsible has changed to me wishing they would go out so they rats can come play with me. *laugh*

So I must admit to all of you...
I am officially rat obsessed.

If you watch my video, you might see why. :)