The Truth Is

I haven’t written on here for ages… I really love writing and I used to really love writing on this blog, and it would make me so happy when other people would tell me they loved reading it! But one day I just stopped. Why? I felt as though my posts were shallow … it wasn’t what I really wanted to write about. So, what did I want to write about and why didn’t I just do that you might wonder… because I told myself that I couldn’t. Because, if I did nobody would enjoy reading my blog anymore and everyone would see me for the crazy lunatic I told myself I was.

The truth is, I struggle with mental illness. Anxiety and depression to be exact.
A few times over the years I would write up a very articulate blog post meant to spread the word about mental illness and shatter the stigma attached to it, but each time I would delete the post because I was so worried about what everyone would think of me if I admitted such a thing.
I worried that I would lose my job – I was a play school teacher then and I thought that if I opened up about this that all of the parents would surely think I was a mental person who should not be around their children.
I worried that I would lose my friends – I had heard some of them make comments about mental health, negative comments that came from a place of misunderstanding and ignorance. I did not want them to think those things of me.
I worried that I would seem like I was seeking attention – for those of you who have known the struggle of mental illness in your life you know that is entirely the opposite of what we want.

So with a screen of what I hoped was well articulated stories of my experiences staring me in the face, the truth staring me in the face, I would begin to feel nervous and afraid and my mouse would move over to the delete post button each and every time.

Keep it to yourself.

Nobody wants to know your problems.

You are crazy.

You are alone in this.

On and on the voices continued to tell me everything I feared would happen by sharing my stories, my experiences, my thoughts. So I kept quiet.

Recently I have come to realize that is the problem. If we keep quiet, if we shut up those thoughts and feelings, then we are continuing to let those negative influences dictate us. We are continuing to let the misunderstandings and ignorances of others hold us back in fear. We are continuing to tell ourselves that our stories don’t matter, that we don’t matter. But the truth is… we do matter. YOU matter. No matter what you are going through, no matter who you think will not understand or ridicule you for it or run screaming to the hills to announce that you need to be locked up in a looney bin (they don’t have those anymore, trust me I checked before writing this) I am here to tell you that it is time to let go of those fears.

It’s time to talk.

It’s time to recognize mental illness for what it is. An illness. Something that cannot be overcome by ignoring it. You can’t ignore diabetes, you would die. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can ignore your mental health either. You cannot. It will not go away. It is not just a phase.

I want to rally against the stigma. I want you to join me. Spread the word. Share your story. Talk to someone. Talk everyday. Cry if you have to. Talk and cry at the same time if that is what you need. I have been there. Nobody understood a word I was saying because I was crying so hard, but there was something uplifting in those moments of rawness where I felt I was so exposed that I could no longer hide. I could no longer lie. They knew. Now they knew what I was going through. How hard and painful it was for me. Find the strength to show someone that and I promise you will be so glad you did. It will open doors, doors of communication, of help, of understanding. Keep them open. Those are your ally’s.

We are not in this alone. We cannot come out of it alone either. So Let’s Talk.

 

A Distorted View

With the popularity of Instagram platforms ever on the rise social media seems to be in an uproar these days over what constitutes as “real” or “authentic” images. The idea that we are bombarded with images of impossible standards is nothing new but the perception of these “perfect moments” from ordinary people we see captured in photo’s may be hard to dismiss. Whatever your journey may be it’s easy to look at these pictures and think that we simply do not measure up. The problem however isn’t Instagram or Facebook or any other social media platform, the problem in this thinking lies within ourselves.

If we look at these pictures and all we can think of us is how we measure up (or don’t) then maybe it’s time we rethink our inner dialogue. While some images may in fact push an ideal standard of perfection the majority of accounts and images out there are not made to make you feel badly about yourself but rather to inspire you. If you feel you are surrounded by negative and impossible standards in your social media circle I suggest you do some selective de-cluttering of your account and who you choose to follow or befriend.You decide what and who you surround yourself with and this choice will affect whether you feel supported or drained in the world whether it be in the real world or your social media feed.

We are all made of the same stuff when it comes down to it, the only thing that sets us apart is our mindset. If you look at the world and think that everyone is better than you and that you will never measure up then I am guessing this outlook is affecting more than your enjoyment of social media. However if you look at the world and feel amazed and excited and inspired by what you see then you are probably feeling pretty good about life in many areas.

This isn’t to say that we don’t all have our bad days where we feel an unreasonable hatred to everything outside of the walls that confine us, it’s okay to be a temporary hermit sometimes and we don’t have to give 110% everyday… or at least our effort doesn’t have to be focused on the same areas everyday. Balance is key to anything we do and maintaining a balance between the mind, body and spirit is essential to our overall wellbeing. Maybe one day you choose to serve your body in a physical way and another day you decide to rest your body and put your focus on your mind and spirit, this is working towards balance. Everyday does not have to be or feel like a never ending race to show the world that you are great in every aspect. Nobody is keeping track of how many push ups/sun salutations/green smoothies/crosswords/etc. you do and you don’t have to prove it to anyone. So next time you are feeling down over your social media feed choose to take this as a cue that you may need to slow down, accept where you are at that very moment and listen to what your body is telling you it needs and do that.

Unplug and do something for yourself instead of worrying what everyone else is doing.

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Wine Wednesday – First Edition

Those of you who know me well know that I love grapes, but not in their natural form all grapey-on-the-vine. No… I like my grapes to be squeezed into juice and then fermented and bottled as wine. I love wine. I do declare that from now on the blog Wednesday will be Wine Wednesday {But incase you were wondering; in real life everyday is an acceptable day for wine!}

This week’s wine is Black Cellar Pino Grigio Chardonnay (pictured below)

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A Canadian wine made in Ontario, Canada. It is a crisp wine with fruit notes of pear and peach. I found it to be just the right amount of sweetness and enjoyed it on it’s own but I think it would pair beautifully with cheese, chicken, seafood or a pasta dish!

Please enjoy responsibly and do not drink and drive!

Auss-Eh! Bites

If you enjoy healthy alternatives and the occasional “Wait, how much did I just spend?” trip to Costco then you may have come across Aussie Bites before. They are a mini muffin type granola bar with tons of great ingredients like oats, dried fruit, quinoa and flax seeds. They’re a great mid-day snack or grab and go breakfast option for those of us who don’t have time to eat properly as we rush into our day.

After buying a few cases of these and going through them surprisingly fast I decided to try making them myself because as I mentioned above I seem to have a problem staying on track with my budget when shopping at Costco…
My first attempt making these I used applesauce in place of the honey and oil but I found it came out too moist for my liking so this time around I doubled the honey and they came out great with more granola bar texture which I prefer. Feel free to substitute the dried fruit or nut ingredients to your liking or what you have on hand. I have altered the recipe I originally found online, made it my own and renamed these Auss-Eh! Bites (it’s okay if I’m the only one who laughs at that… I’m no stranger to being easily amused by my own lame puns…).

Auss-Eh! Bites
Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dried raisins (I use a raisin, cranberry, cherry blend)
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup cooked quinoa
2 TBSP chia seeds
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup honey (or 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 cup oil)
1/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 24 mini muffin tins {I used coconut oil to grease}
In a food processor combine 1 cup of oats and pulse until finely ground. Add the remaining oats, brown sugar, apricots, raisins, coconut, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, quinoa, chia seeds and baking soda. Pulse until the dried fruits are in bits.
Melt butter and honey and add to mixture, pulse until ingredients are combined.
Spoon into muffin tins and bake for 8-10 minutes – when you can see the edges have browned they are done.
*Makes 24 mini muffin sized bites.

 

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Wife Lessons

With wedding season in full swing {and a best friend about to walk down the aisle} I am reminded that in a little over a month my Husband and I will be celebrating our own wedding anniversary {4 years!} which also marks 8 years that we have been together.
Looking back I would have to say that I have learned a lot about being a Wife and in saying that I do not mean that I consider wives as having specific roles, as you might remember from my past post I am not a fan of gender stereotyping, however I do believe that we have roles as partners in a relationship and when it comes to marriage we have the responsibility to uphold our wedding vows and to learn from our mistakes.

Here are a few things that I have learned along the way:

1. You shouldn’t make fun of someone at a country bar for having his collar popped (especially if he’s 6’7″) and then tell him that your husband will beat him up because he told you to f*ck off.

2. If someone bakes your husband cookies as a Thank You and they taste better than yours it’s not a good idea to eat them all before he tries one just because you don’t want him to think less of your baking skills.

3. You cannot de-clutter your Husbands t-shirt collection without asking him first because even if he hasn’t worn that shirt since high school you can be sure he will ask you where it is the minute he looks in the closet.

4. If your husband has an old beater for a car that he thinks is the best thing since sliced bread let him enjoy it and revel in the fact that you no longer have to worry about adjusting your seats every time you hop in yours.

5. You cannot machine wash a tie or THIS will happen…(you can, on the other hand, be thankful that your husband only wears a tie about once a year and he probably wouldn’t notice if you tossed THIS item)

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Feel free to share your own wife lessons {or girlfriend lessons!} in comments!

Beef N Taters

Today, I didn’t feel much like cooking. My house has become a labyrinth of box pathways that contain the majority of what I have accumulated in life thus far, most of my kitchen gadgets are in boxes because I figured that with 10 days left we could survive off easy meals that require one pot or pan to make so that is exactly what inspired today’s dinner.
Don’t judge the recipe by the name as I know it does not sound too appealing… you can fancy it up if you prefer and call it boeuf et pommes de terre which is beef and potatoes in french so it really isn’t that fancy of a name but everything sounds better in french, non?

Beef N Taters
1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
salt & pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp montreal steak spice
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp worchtershire sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 can (156ml)  tomato paste
1 can (428ml) diced tomatoes
1 can (341ml) creamed corn
1 pkg frozen tater tots
shredded cheese

Preheat oven according to package directions for tater tots.
In a large pan brown meat, add onion and green pepper and cook until onion is translucent. Add seasonings & brown sugar and cook for 2-3 minutes then add canned tomato paste, diced tomatoes and creamed corn and simmer on low until tater tots are done baking.
Serve tater tots with meat topping and shredded cheese.

Easy peasy one pan meal… I don’t count the baking sheet because I make the rules.

napoleondynamitetotsBecause I didn’t take a picture of this creation here is a picture of Napoleon Dynamite because I love him and he loves Tots!

 

A Typical Day

Today was an ordinary day, a day like any other day of the week in our household; I woke up and got my children fed and dressed, my eldest son (A) left for school with his friends and I went to teach for my morning Playschool class with my youngest (N) in tow, we came home at lunch and spent the afternoon packing before returning to the school to pick up A. We are now at home and my boys are eating their afternoon snack and playing/fighting with each other, all in all it’s been a typical day.

However there was one aspect about today that was not so typical and left me feeling a whirlwind of emotions. Upon picking A up from school I was told by one of his schoolmates that he had painted his nails with some of the girls in class. I replied with “Oh wow, thats nice” without a second thought, the parents in my vicinity did not seem to share my compliance with this as one of them told me “you better go home and take it off before your husband sees” I did not reply to this remark and instead went to my son and greeted him as I would on any other day because as odd as it may be to some people, I do not feel that this is shameful or weird behaviour. I told my son I heard he painted his nails and asked if I could see them, he outstretched his hand to me (that was previously buried beneath his sweater) to show me his nails that were covered in bright pink polish. I could tell that he was now aware of this being noticed by the other children as he looked around to see if anyone was watching, I told him it looked nice and asked him how his day went as we continued to walk home. Once at home he asked if I had any nail polish he could use to paint the fingers on his other hand, I told him that we could look after dinner and he went off to play with his brother.

This is not the first and I’m sure it will not be the last time that my son has done something stereotypically feminine, he used to play with dolls and watch Barbie movies and other shows that some might consider to be for girls. It is also not an issue, not to myself or my husband. I realize that to some narrow minded people this type of behaviour might be seen as odd and I can only imagine the thoughts of those more ignorant however I am not concerned by these individuals opinions, the only thing that concerns me is how my son feels and whether or not he is affected by what others think or say.
I do not want him to be bullied or teased because he chooses to do things that aren’t gender “appropriate” and I do not want him to feel embarrassed or weird or wrong in any way. I am glad that my son expresses his individuality, he always has and so far has never let the opinion or remarks of others influence that, I do not want that aspect of his personality to be tarnished. I want him to know that he is beautiful just the way he is, inside and out. I want him to know that those who do not understand or choose to pass judgement do not deserve recognition from him. I want him to know that he is so special in every way and I want him to be confident in who he is and to follow his heart. I want him to know that the world is full of people who will choose to be cruel, to pass judgement and who simply do not understand and therefore do not accept but that those people don’t matter because for all of the cruel, judgemental and misunderstood people in the world there are people who will be kind, loving and accepting to him and those are the people who matter; those are the people worth our time, energy and love. It is unfortunate, and perhaps one of the hardest aspects of being a parent that you are unable to shield your children from emotional pain. It is unfortunate that the innocence of children and the ability to see everyone as equal no matter what their differences are becomes diminished over time. It is unfortunate that we feel the need to define people rather than simply being and doing whatever it is that we want to or whatever feels right to us.

I am angry at society for ridiculing a 6 year old, I am worried about protecting my son’s feelings against those who are un-accepting, I am hopeful that he will be happy in his life, I am disappointed that others opinions may get in the way of this…I could go on but I will stop there.
Tonight I intend on spending some time alone with my son, maybe we will finish painting his nails or maybe we will do something else to finish off our typical day… I’m fine either way because I’m okay with whatever my son chooses for tonight and for the rest of his life.

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