on supporting those who are hurting.

there are people in my life who are hurting right now. people i care about deeply are losing loved ones, coming to the end of relationships, struggling with careers, dealing with big life changes.

when i think of these people who are so dear to me (which i do often), i wish i could do something to take their pain away. when i talk to them, i tell them (depending on the situation) "i'm sending you love and peace," "i'm so sorry you're hurting," "breathe deeply and take time for yourself," "these things are hard, and healing takes time," and i'm scared, because i don't know if these are the right things to say. i only know i can't make the situations better, i can't take the hurt away.

i have struggled in difficult situations in my life. i've had my heart broken, i've lost people i cared about, i've struggled with the vast unknown of the future and the uncertainty of whether i can handle it. in those times, there isn't anything others could have said to make things better. these are problems that cannot be fixed by others. i had my path to walk, and it was mine alone to travel. what i was going through couldn't be solved, or in some cases even eased, by anything anyone else could say or do.

what did help was knowing people cared. people still made time for me even when all i could talk about was what was happening in my life, or when i couldn't talk at all. people sat with me in silent solidarity on the phone or in person, sent me cards and messages of encouragement, related stories of difficult times they too had gone through so i didn't feel alone - so i felt normal while grieving or feeling overwhelmed and defeated.

the words they spoke or wrote didn't matter - their presence did.

i'm here for you.

i love you.

anytime you need me, just let me know.

so although i'm a fixer, when someone in my life is hurting, i am slowly learning that i can't jump in and make it better. i can't offer some miracle epiphany that will speed up the healing process or make a difficult situation easier. i can't push my way into people's lives and take over and fix everything to make it beautiful and happy again, as much as i would want to.

all i can do is sit in the background, sending love and encouragement, letting them know "i am here."

for my friends and family members who are hurting or struggling, please know that i love you, that i am thinking of you, that i am here, if you need anything at all, from a meal in your fridge to a hand to hold, to a silent ear on the other end of the phone. i don't know how to make it better, but i hope that helps a little.

{image from here}


mama says // a new normal.

{image from here}

if there was one thing that took me by surprise more than anything else when i became a mama, it would be how much different my life was in the months after giving birth than it was in the months before. of course i knew it would be different - obviously, heading to a cafe with an adorable little sidekick in my shiny new stroller would be a change from heading to a cafe with a thick book (but the baby would be charming for a bit and then amuse itself while i rifled through a magazine), and getting up a few times a night to nurse the baby would be a big change, but we'd cuddle and fall back to sleep and take naps together every day so the whole sleep situation would just work itself out!


what i wasn't prepared for was the all encompassing-ness of my new role. there is no off-switch with a baby, no pause button. while i expected to be me, plus a little one, in reality i was a totally different person as a mama. it was a much harder adjustment to make than i anticipated - having someone else constantly on my thoughts whether i was rocking him while humming a lullaby, out grabbing a quick solo walk, or even while i was fast asleep - he was always there in the corner of my mind. that might be the truly exhausting part about being a mama: you can never go back to thinking 100% about yourself.

i mentioned the other day to a couple close to my heart (who are about to become new parents) that those months with a newborn seem like they'll last forever when you're in them. the sleepless nights, the confused days, the attempts at finding normalcy when your world's been turned upside down (in a way that you can never *truly* be ready for), and being at the beck and call of someone who can't say your name, can't kiss your cheek, can't say "thank you."

when you're in them, they can seem like they'll never end, and that can be devastating when it's hard. i had many hard days where i'd have to plunk phoenix in the stroller or a wrap and get out of the house as fast as possible, sunglasses hiding eyes that were puffy from frustrated crying, because he just wouldn't fall asleep even though he was so tired and i couldn't take it anymore. there were the few months after we moved across the country and bought our first car, when phoenix hated his carseat and driving anywhere was a nightmare - i thought i'd be stuck at home forever! there were the challenging changes in routine, the going from four naps a day quickly down to two, the growth spurt that kept him attached to me, nursing constantly, for two days, the front top teeth that came in at the same time over christmas and made sleep a distant memory.

the hard stuff all seems like it will never end.
but it does end.
and when you look back on it, you realize, oh that wasn't so bad.
we made it through.
and then your little person looks up at you with delight in their eyes and lets out a giggle, 
and you think about how happy you are that they came
and turned your world upside down.

now, fifteen months in, this feeling of always having someone else on my mind is something i (almost always) relish. leaving on my free saturday mornings to come to a cafe and actually read a thick novel or do some writing myself is a bittersweet activity, laced with the sadness that i'm leaving my favourite person in the world, and i love that i've got another little human to care about and who thinks the world of me. now that i have the freedom to regain that little bit of normalcy in my life (those solo cafe trips with a thick book or my journal, the long chunks of nighttime sleep that are *almost* a mainstay at our house), i find i miss the little person who caused all the chaos in the first place. the jarring feeling of losing the person you used to be and the life you used to have is a fuzzy memory and you feel normal again. it's a new normal, slightly different, but it works.


happy canada day!

Today is the day we celebrate our beautiful country Canada! I feel lucky to live in a land where I have access to affordable health care, people have the right to love and marry whomever they choose, and we cannot be placed in jail for voicing our opinion about any political or ethical topic. Sadly, I am conflicted about my Canadian pride because of the negative impact our current government has had on the Canada I love. In recent years, we have seen the loss of protection of our multitude of lakes and rivers, the push for a pipeline, despite much protest, that has the potential to destroy our natural west coast, and the unfair division of citizens into "first class" and "second class" (whose Canadian citizenship may be stripped from them under the new Bill C-24). In the last nine years, we have fallen a long way from the values I hold dear as a Canadian - the values and priorities that I felt were instrinsic to our Canadianness.

However, I am very proud of Nanaimo, my new city, where we recently changed our "Empire Days (Victoria Day)" celebration to "Heritage Days" to be more inclusive of all the cultures that live in Nanaimo, and where we recently raised the Snuneymuxw First Nation's flag permanently over our City Hall, alongside the British Columbia and Canadian flags, to recognize the people who have lived here since before the land became "Canada". I am proud of our Truth and Reconciliation Committee for bringing to light the truths about Canada's settlement and its effect on the Native people who lived here before, and of all those who call for a national inquiry into Canada's plight of missing and murdered Indigenous women. I am proud of the natural beauty that surrounds us on Vancouver Island, and I stand in awe every day of the mountains and ocean that tightly hug this city I now call home, and of those who continue to fight, day in and day out, to protect this beauty.

We are so fortunate to live in a country where we are free, and for that I celebrate. But this also means that we have a responsibility to fight the injustices that we do see here in our own cities, in our own country. Whether you're able to write letters, write or share articles, stand in solidarity with those fighting for reconciliation, join a protest against the loss of protection of our land, or even just vote in the upcoming election (a simple act that may hopefully have great repercussions), do what you can, and make sure you're actively involved in creating the Canada that we all want to celebrate today: a Canada that treats all its citizens fairly, that respects the land upon which we live, and that is a leader and an inspiration to the rest of the world. 

Happy Canada Day to all.

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