To the Awesome Ladies In My Life (You Know Who You Are)

I am really really grateful.  So grateful I could burst.  I have managed, through no coincidence I assure you, to surround myself with some incredibly amazing women in my life.  When I think of these women, I remember this meme.

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First and foremost, I have my mom.  She’s been there since day one.  She’s the one who knows me better than anyone else (save for my husband, who might tie her in that category.  But since this post is about women, he doesn’t take top honours).  She can call me on my bull crap when I need to be called on it.  She knows when I’m taxed.  She even knew when I was pregnant with my third child before anyone else (again, save Tom) knew.  She raised me, for a good part of that time as a single parent.  I think of the days when I’m exhausted with three kids running me ragged, coming home late from work, hungry, and all I want to do is escape into my bed with a glass of wine.  I look at Tom and think, “damn…she did this on her own”.  You did good, Mom.  (I know that’s grammatically incorrect…she’s also the one who will call me within twenty minutes of any blog post and tactfully point out to me the grammatical errors I’ve made).  I’m proud of you.   I don’t tell you enough but I want you to know that I love you.

Mom & me in 1979.

Mom & me in 1979.

Then I have these amazing groups of women who I get to hang out with or chat with on a regular basis.

I have my accountability girls every other Wednesday morning.  Karen and Amy and I have been talking weekly or biweekly for over two years now.  We met at a seminar a few weeks after Maggie was born and bonded.  We share our wins, our challenges, our frustrations, our fears, our good days, and more with one another in complete confidence that we will listen – without judgement – and love one another for every strength and weakness we have.  We offer advice, give virtual high fives over Skype, and learn from one another.  We all started in a similar place – practicing chiropractic – and over time we started to embark on different professional adventures which has taken our accountability call in a different direction.  I want to see these women succeed both personally and professionally…but most importantly I want them to be happy in doing so.

I have my long-term friends from grade one.  Yes, grade one.  Maybe two.  I can’t really remember when they all entered into my life but certainly it was early on in grade school.  We don’t talk as often.  But I know my day brightens when my cell phone lights up or an email appears in my inbox from one of them.  We’re in different parts of the country and we can go weeks or months without being in touch but we can pick up from wherever we left off.  There’s no shaming or frustration for lack of communication…it’s just understood that we’ll be there for one another until we’re well into our senior years.  Even if our memories aren’t well enough to remember who is lighting up our cell phones at that time (will we even have cell phones at that time??).

I have my chiropractic girls.  The girls who I went through school with or met after graduation at a seminar or in passing.  Or we may have just gotten to know one another over Facebook.  Either way, they are there to connect with at seminars.  And to refer to when one of my most favourite patients moves away and I need to get them another amazing chiropractor in their new town.  They are there in so many ways that can’t be counted and yet are so appreciated.

My next group of amazing women is my CrossFit ladies.  This group isn’t a specific group…it changes day to day, week to week.  But often it’s the morning group that have bonded over the last few months and in some cases years.  What I love is that regardless of our physical capabilities, size, marital status, children status, work status, etc. we all support one another at doing better in the gym.  I can be in the middle of a really heavy lift, about to fail, and have one of them look me in the eye and say “You’ve got this” and it gives me the extra bit of strength to lift that weight over my head.  They’ve got my back.  They are there to support me.  And I’ve got their back and I’m there to support them.  One of the coaches calls it a “female wolf pack” and it’s true.  I can walk into the gym and see one of them and instantly I know it’s going to be a more fun workout because they are there.

And finally I have my new Desire Map book club girls.  They are all crossovers from CrossFit, which tends to be a thread that has weaved through many of my relationships.  But these book club girls are tremendous.  I feel like I’m diminishing it by calling it a book club…it’s so much more…we’ve nicknamed ourselves something that can’t be posted here but I assure you it perfectly describes this group of ebullient women.  I can be honest, open, raw, authentic and real with them in person.  They don’t make fun if I cry.  I like that.  Because the first time we got together, I recounted one of the most difficult times in practice for me, and they didn’t even blink when it caused me to tear up.  We only get together in person monthly but we’re there for one another through text and online as need be.

So so grateful.  Each of these women play an important role in my life.  I’d be less without them.  I wouldn’t be where I am without them.  You know who you are, and I appreciate you for who you are.  Thanks for being in my life.

Much love, andrea

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gratitude

Short but sweet, on this beautiful Thanksgiving Sunday.

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“I am thankful for a lovely house.  I am thankful for a nice healthy meal.  I am thankful for a warm bed to sleep in at night.  I am thankful for a bit and healthy life.  I am thankful for a safe trip to school.  I am thankful for my big caring family.”

I, Caleigh, am thankful that you are such a thoughtful, sweet, caring daughter.

Pretty big heart for an almost eight year old.

Happy Thanksgiving.

We Work Better as a Team

Last week my husband was away on vacation. He left on Sunday afternoon and returned early morning on Friday.  As I watched him pull away, and in the days leading up to his vacation, I was giving myself a few pep talks. This was the first time I would be on my own with the kids for more than a couple of nights.  Plus, because we own a business together, it meant that I was going to be covering his hours at the office too.

I knew it was going to be a long week.

When Thursday night came around, and I knew that for sure he would be home before the kids woke up the next morning, I was giddy.  It had been a long week.  I had organized nine people to help out with the kids (two sets of grandparents, our daycare provider, our office assistant, an evening babysitter, and two after school babysitters), I was at the office much longer than I usually am and was adjusting more people than normal, most meals were prepped the night before as my kids were sleeping, Maggie had decided that sleep was unnecessary on Monday night, and late Tuesday night (or early on Wednesday morning) I was so convinced someone had broken into our home and was roaming around that it required a call to our amazing local police department who calmed my nerves by checking through our home to make sure that we were, in fact, alone.

By Thursday night, I was tired, worn out, slightly irrational, and losing my patience.  Bottom line is that I realized that Tom and I work better as a team.  I missed him.  I missed bouncing ideas off him.  I missed him knowing when I had reached my limit and without hesitation jumping in to help with the kids. I missed stealing a private look when our kids were doing something incredibly funny that only the two of us could appreciate.  I missed telling him about my day.  I missed hearing about his.  I missed him taking care of all the spiders in the house so that I didn’t have to personally escort them outside (with a safe layer of paper & glass cup keeping the spider and I separate).  I missed lying next to him at night, feeling safe, knowing that he would have ripped that house apart himself if he knew I would sleep better at night.

We definitely work better as a team but there is a flip side to this scenario.  I also realized that it is essential for both of us individually to get time away.  He came back happier.  He hadn’t been unhappy before he left, but he definitely came back happier.  It was fun to hear about his adventures.  It was so great to see a big smile on his face that had not been as big in the weeks leading up to it.  He had spent the week golfing, sitting by a pool, meeting new people, enjoying time with “the guys”, eating good food, and kicking back at night over some beer.  He came back refreshed, renewed, and ready to rock.  And I can honestly say that I’m really happy that he had that time away, alone.

When we were younger, we couldn’t understand the benefits of alone time.  We were still in the “honeymoon-I-want-to-spend-every-minute-of-my-life-with-you” stage.  Even though I missed him while he was gone last week, it was really good for us both to have that time alone.  I wanted to hear about his week away.  He wanted to be caught up on the adventures at home.

I think his time away was a wake up call for me.  I’ll admit to giving Tom a few jabs every once in a while when it comes to things around the house.  Like when he calls at the office to ask a question about getting the kids off to school.  Or when I see the pile of dishes in the sink the next morning, used and left there after I went to bed the night before, and I wonder (audibly) over breakfast how hard it is to put the dishes in the dishwasher.

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On our wedding day. 9 years ago, this August.

The truth is I’m really grateful.  I have an incredible husband who is an equally incredible dad to our three kids.  He is caring, loving, kind, funny, intelligent, and strong.  He treats me well.  He takes care of me.  He loves me.  He works hard and he takes care of, and values, our family.  I may joke around about some of the things that bug me (I challenge any spouse to not come up with one or two things that bug them about their significant other), but I am a really grateful woman.  And I probably don’t tell him enough about just how grateful I am.  I’ll make sure I change that going forward.

 

 

 

 

The quiet days in between the busy days

So, last week a little busy.  We had THIS.  Then THIS.  Then we spent the night of Caleigh’s birthday at my dad’s place which was filled with the kids’ excitement of not being at home.  Then the day after we had another child’s birthday party followed by carving six pumpkins (five Ryan family members plus the dog’s….don’t ask).  The following words come to mind: loud, busy, fun, colourful, sugar.

Come Sunday evening, I was exhausted.

I literally sat on the couch last night, feet up, wine in hand, and watched a movie without having any idea what it was about.

So today I did pretty much nothing.  I had a quiet day.  I bailed on CrossFit (although did a home workout that lasted about 30 minutes, I just didn’t want the whole gym experience that I normally thrive on).  I wore yoga pants all day.  I laid on the couch and watched a movie with Blake and Maggie.  I visited my mom and stepdad with the kids.  When Caleigh got home, we made bracelets out of elastic bands.  I did a few loads of laundry, baked some muffins, and made dinner.  It was all very laid back, relaxed, and lovely.

These are the days that I need and love (the quiet days), in between the other days that I need and love (the more full days of adjusting and kids activities and everything else that comes with life of a family of five).  The quieter days that, when I lay my head down on my pillow in about a half hour, I smile.  These days leave me feeling rested and grateful for my family, my health, and our ability to provide such a lovely, full, wonderful life for our kids.

It is about having an appreciation the small things like scooping out muffin batter to make the easiest by design muffins with my son as he squeals with delight when the batter plops perfectly into each muffin cup.  Or like watching Maggie laugh hysterically as her older brother and sister run around in circles, convulsed in their own laughter.  Or like watching Caleigh fall in love with her latest obsession, the Rainbow loom bracelets.  Enjoying a glass of red wine, listening to a great mix on Songza, and now writing my blog post about it all.  It was all just great, every moment of it.

And now, I’m going to bed.

 

 

Giving Thanks this weekend

This weekend was Thanksgiving in Canada.  It is by far my favourite holiday to celebrate because it truly embodies the thing that is most important to me – family.  We don’t lose the message of it in piles of gifts.  It’s not forgotten amongst a hunt for eggs.  It is simply a time where the most important people in my life get together, laugh, talk, and feast.  A time for us to be a family.

This year was special in a number of ways for me.  First of all, it was our first Thanksgiving where we had all three kids (Maggie is not quite one yet).  That alone is enough for me to be thankful for.  It was also our first attempt at hosting Thanksgiving (which I hope I pulled off well, but honestly would not have happened if not for the help of each person who was there).  And what is special about my family is that while my parents have been divorced since I was six, both my mom and my stepdad and my dad and my stepmom all joined us around the table.  I don’t think many families have that unique relationship.  I’m pretty fortunate to have such awesome parents who can set aside whatever differences they have had in the past, and sit across the table from one another to laugh and tell stories and poke fun at one another.  Omigod, the laughs around the table this year.

Back to my kids though for this post.  Our three amazingly wonderful, funny, fabulous kids.  Each one makes me smile in their own way.  Something I’ve tried hard to imprint on them is the importance of gratitude.  I wrote about my own routine with this last week.  It is just as important for kids and so on Thanksgiving – a day dedicated to being thankful –  it was a great opportunity to bring awareness to the concept of gratitude.  When I asked Blake and Caleigh what they were grateful for, their replies made me feel so good.

Caleigh was grateful for her home, water, food, and her family.

Blake was grateful for his bed, his family, and his Elmo doll.

These messages were so clear.  They weren’t made up or funny, the kids were genuinely happy for the basic necessities of life – food, water, shelter, and love.  I didn’t hear about computer games, TVs, toys, and other material items (although I know the kids appreciate and have fun with all aforementioned things).  It was pure gratitude for the things that we give them each and every day, things that many would take for granted, including myself, sometimes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gratitude

Gratitude.  It’s one of my core values.  I am aware of the things in my life I am grateful for – my family, my passions, my abilities ,my health, and the opportunities I am presented with.  I take time each day to be thankful.

I find that Thanksgiving offer us an opportunity to tune in and be even more aware of the things and people in life we are most grateful for.  Each night, as I go to sleep, I think of the five things I was most grateful for that day.  It takes a short amount of time.  Sometimes it can be hard to think of something new so I go back to the easiest things for me – my husband, my children, my health.

The five things I’m grateful for today:

1) My amazing support system that kept me sane today while both physically and mentally I juggled getting Caleigh to school, getting Maggie to daycare, and keeping Blake at home while he healed from a 48 hour stomach flu all before 8:45 am.  Today, my support system was my mom (who took care of Blake at home while I worked this morning) and Kim (our amazing daycare provider who despite Maggie’s cries each time I drop her off, sends me texts through the day to let me know how well she’s doing and what she’s up to).  Without them this morning, I would not have been able to be present at my office and adjust the people I take care of.

2)  My husband, Tom.  He knows that I’m still getting up once or twice a night with at least one or two kids.  It’s been going on a while and it has definitely taken a toll on me.  So without even asking, he slept in Blake’s room and dealt with the vomiting at night, despite having the weakest stomach on the planet ever when it comes to watching someone else get sick.

3)  My commitment to my health.  With Blake being on the outs for the last two days, the germs have been aplenty in our home.  But because of being acutely aware of my adjustments, what I eat, my exercise, my sleep, my purpose in life, etc. I am strong and healthy and able to be there for Blake and know that my immune system is doing its thing to keep me well.

4)  Starbucks.  Sounds petty.  Sounds lame.  I make no excuses.  Sometimes it’s the caffeine that gets me through.

5)  My daughter, Caleigh.  She had her “flying up” ceremony in Brownies tonight and it was so great to be there for her.  I went through Brownies, Guides, and Pathfinders as a kid and now watching her embrace the traditions in the Guiding community makes me smile inside.  I’m just so happy to be able to watch her find something she really loves.

The newest Brownie.

The newest Brownie.

So this Thanksgiving weekend, I hope you take an opportunity to truly be grateful.  Be grateful for what you do have.  Because it can be as big as watching your kids do what they love or as small as a cup of tea.  But if it makes you smile, then take a moment at the end of your day to express thanks.

Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving.