Welcome to the Dungeon

Usually I write posts on my laptop from the comfy couch or the dining table, but since my laptop finally bit it, today I am borrowing my honey’s computer and writing to you from the dungeon. Dun, dun, duuuuuuuuun. Geon.

photoWelcome to the dungeon. I figure if I begin the tour of our house here, you can only be more and more impressed as I progress. Yes I said house tour. (It’s about time!) (Pictures, yay!)

This is a tiny windowless room at the back of the basement. The neat and tidy desk with a computer  on it is my husband’s. The desk that is upchucking all over the place is mine. We carried my new little white and birch Ikea desk in here the day we moved in, and subsequently started piling random stuff on it. The end.

I never come in here.

Actually I come in here to give my husband a kiss when I’m going out, or to get a new battery for my toothbrush, wrapping paper if I have a gift to give, and, even more likely, I come in here to dump more stuff on my desk.

Do you like the star light? There are also little glow in the dark stars all over the ceiling. I wanted those my whole childhood and now I’ve got them.

photo (2)I said this room was windowless, but it actually has a window! A glass block window. Leading not to the sunny outdoors, but out to the t.v. room.

Also, varied ceiling heights.

So quirky.

It serves a great purpose though. It is so nice to have an extra room for all this stuff. In our old house the computer and bookcase were crammed into the kitchen which annoyed me to no end. And, unlike most basements it isn’t at all dank, and it doesn’t smell. It’s not perfect but it’s fresh and clean and useful.

photo (3)

Random pipe in the floor! And now you’ve seen the dungeon.

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What I’m Reading Now

I have one big and uncomplicated pleasure in life, and that is reading. Sometimes it can get a little out of control. When I was young I would have a book in every room, one on the stairs, a few in my bag, and one stashed at work. Eventually I decided to rein it in a little and created a few guidelines for my reading life. I would try to have only one fiction and one non-fiction title on the go at once. I would also try to decide early on – say, the first quarter to third of the book – whether or not a book was worth sticking with. If a book doesn’t grab me fairly early I ditch it. There are so many awesome books out there and so little time to read, that I don’t want to waste my time on books that don’t either give me great pleasure or teach me something new and valuable.

But lately I’ve been on a little bit of a free-for-all. I’ve been digging in to all kinds of magazines. I ran into a favourite prof a few weeks ago and at my request he e-mailed me an academic paper that he is working on on two philosophers that I’m interested in, so I’ve been reading that. And I’ve suddenly got four books on the go all at once. I guess left my reading rules behind me this spring. Life has generally been feeling abundant and free to me lately. I guess those emotions have spilled over into my reading life too.

1. Draw the Circle; the 40 day prayer challenge

draw-circle-40-day-prayer-challenge-mark-batterson-paperback-cover-art  We are doing a 40 day prayer challenge at church for Lent. We’ve been reading this book together – it has a four to five page section to read each day for 40 days. I like it because it doesn’t actually have the prayers written in it. Each day is a short lesson or story – about prayer, about God, and testimonies of answered prayers. Each day you are expected to then pray your own prayers.

Maybe I’ll blog more about this experience in the future, but for today, I’l just say that it had been good.

2. There is a Season by Patrick Lane

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When I went to a writer’s festival on the Sunshine Coast last summer, Patrick Lane was there and he did a poetry reading. They were beautiful and haunting and that is no surprise, as he is one of Canada’s most well known poets. At the end of the festival I purchased a signed copy of his memoir. It stood in line in my ‘to read’ pile all fall and I finally opened its cover in January. It is slow going with this one, I think because the writing is so rich. But also, it is very sad. I can only take so much at once.

 

3. A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin

Unknown-1 The fiction I’ve read so far in 2013 has been somewhat unsatisfying. I wanted something to really engage the imagination. At my birthday party at the end of February someone pointed out the Game of Thrones series sitting on my bookshelf. I almost forgot I had it. I had purchased the set of 4 novels at Costco for some summer reading in 2012 and never got around to cracking them. So I finally did, about  a week ago. Great stuff so far. Lots of characters. Very exciting. It’s one of those books where you keep referring back to the maps printed in the front cover. At 200 pages in I’m only 1/4 through the novel, and there are three more after this one. Love it.

4. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Unknown-2As I wrapped up my philosophy degree I thought that if I could go back and take more courses, I might delve into psychology. Not instead of what I already learned in school, but in addition to. In January I thought I might intentionally do a little psychology reading in 2013, and when I found myself at Chapters with some spending money burning in my pocket a few weeks ago, this is what jumped out at me. I started reading it as soon as I got home. It is so interesting! The author looks at the two ways the mind thinks. It thinks quickly, automatically – that part that helps you to immediately recognize emotion in the face of another human being, or know the answer to 2 x 2. If english is your first language and you see a word written in english or hear a phrase spoken in english you can’t choose to not understand it. The mind also thinks slowly, the kind of process that is required in order to multiply 24 x 47, or count the number of times ‘the’ is written in this blog post. This book examines the relationship between the two ways of thinking, and the author seems to be arguing that while the slow, reasoning part of the brain thinks it is in charge, it is more like a back-seat driver. I’m enjoying it so far.

So that’s what I’m reading these days. How about you?

On Doing It All

In the life of a mother there is an endless list of things to feel badly about.

Mostly, I have left the mommy-guilt phase behind. I spent a lot of time in that head-space when my kids were small. Even as I spent so much energy trying to do right by them I also felt I was doing something to ruin them at every turn. Every time something went wrong for one of them, I, at least in part, turned the finger of blame upon myself.

Then I realized that they’re pretty great kids. And they have good lives. And that every parent makes mistakes. And that usually those mistakes aren’t that big of a deal anyway. And yeah. I let it go. Mostly.

Today I’m feeling guilty. Just a little – I’m not having a bad day. I’m generally happy. The sun is shining and I’m being productive and I’m having a good time and I feel like a good mother. I have a little girl sick at home and I’m enjoying caring for her. I’m so glad that I get to do it.

I feel guilty now. Not as a mother, but as an employee. Because last week I missed a day of work to nurse my other daughter while she was home sick, now I’m missing a second day, and I’ve already booked two days off later this month to travel with my family to Vancouver for our semi-annual trip to the BC Children’s Hospital. That’s four days out of the month – combined, almost an entire week of work – away from my office responsibilities to take care of my priorities.

And priorities they are. When I applied for my job there were two big reasons why I wanted it. The first reason was the place of employment. I love my church, I loved working there part time in another capacity, and I want to give my daily efforts to the cause of the local church. I am blessed to be able to be. I know it. But the other, equally weighted reason I wanted the job is because I knew it would allow me to make my family the priority. I wanted the job precisely for times like these.

I know I shouldn’t feel bad but I do. Why?

When I was out with run club after church yesterday some of us ladies were talking about work-life balance and about the guilt. There were about six of us in the conversation and each one of us has kids, ranging in age from 6 months to 12 years. Most of us work in the 20 – 35 hour per week range, and even the ones who stay home feel the pressure that they’re not contributing to their households financially. Returning to work is as much of a pressure for them as going to work is for the rest of us. A few of us, stay at home and working mothers alike, hire out certain jobs – the cleaning, the cooking, one of us even has a nanny. But every one of us who hires out feels so, so bad that we don’t just do these things ourselves.

We feel guilty about our mothering. We feel guilty as employees. We feel guilty about our lack of housekeeping and gardening and community involvement. We feel guilty about everything. We were wondering… why.

Then someone said it.

We want to give 100% everywhere.

I think that’s right. There are other contributing factors, to be sure. I also think that we women are much harder on ourselves than anyone else is. But that statement pretty much sums it up for me. I wish I could do everything better. I want to give 100% everywhere.

What do you think? Do you feel guilty? How come?

Resolutions Update

Ah the failures and fortunes of February.

If you’re reading this blog for the first time, just know that started 2013 with the plan to try a new resolution every month. In January it was my goal to blog every day. I didn’t, but I blogged most days, and the point of my January goal was to get me blogging regularly again. And I am. So I win.

In February it was “all about my body.” And well, I don’t even remember the goals I set. So, um, well, I suppose I fail them all. One good thing is that someone at church started a Run Club at church to train for an annual, local, and upcoming 5km. I joined, and I’ve been plugging away at my walk / run routine three times each week. We run as a group after church on Sundays, and I have to say that I love the camaraderie. The other two days I’ve been going alone, and occasionally with my sister.

I just realized today that March is upon us and not only did I abandon my resolutions in February, I haven’t even thought about what to do for March. It took me about three seconds to come up with something.

DO OVER!

I’ve decided to refocus and narrow down my ‘healthy body’ goals. These are my goals for March, starting tomorrow (March 4).

1. No drinking except for special occasions.

The rules basically go like this:

A friend’s birthday party out at a restaurant IS a special occasion.

TGIF and I need to unwind IS NOT a special occasion.

The reasons for this rule basically are:

Booze has hidden calories.

Booze makes me snacky, and every time I drink I inevitably eat more, and eat worse.

I drink too often for no other reason than, hey it’s dinner time, break out the wine!

And, while I know a nice glass of red wine has some health benefits, drinking is generally not a healthy undertaking and I could afford to do a lot less of it.

2. Run three times per week.

This should be pretty easy to keep up because I’m already in a pretty good routine. 

This time around I learned the trick of putting it in my calendar, in the same pen colour and with the same seriousness as any of my daughters’ activities. For too long I have been putting self care into the last family-priority slot. Every Sunday I look at the week’s activities, figure out which two days work best (Sundays are pretty much automatic because of our group) and write them down. Then, the morning of, I can think, okay, today we’re having x for dinner, g-child has b-activity and it’s run day. And then I do it.

3. Walk each day that I don’t run.

Long solitary walks are one of life’s greatest joys, in my opinion. Getting out there everyday will give me the double benefit of more physical activity and increased happiness and inner peace.

I do believe this will be my hardest goal to achieve, because it’s hard to do anything everyday, especially when life gets busy. But I will try.

4. Perfect eating Mondays.

I can’t eat perfectly everyday. I’m not even in a frame of mind where I could eat perfectly 5 days per week and cheat on weekends. But I can eat perfectly on Mondays. Hey, it’s a start.

I’m looking forward to updating you with my progress on these goals. I am employing a new habit-forming app I got called Life Tracker.