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Finding Gratitude

Finding gratitude. Being thankful. It’s a hard thing to do at times. We get consumed with all the unpleasantness surrounding us. We feel life is “unfair”, as my 7 year old would say. Or get caught up in having ourselves a little pity-party (like me when my husband travels and I’m single parenting while sick). And on and on it goes.

But what if we just stopped. Stopped the thoughts in our heads and the words that come out of our mouths. And instead just take a moment to be thankful. And maybe not just a moment. Maybe we change our focus and start to be more thankful than critical.

My moms group is currently tackling this very concept. It seemed so easy at first. I consider myself a pretty thankful person. I literally go to bed every night and thank God for all the blessings in my life. My two wonderful kids. My amazing husband, who is such a blessing and truly co-parents with me. My friends who are there for me, especially those far away that I miss so deadly. My family. Blah blah blah. You get the idea.

But what about the times when I’m not being thankful. When I’m feeling sorry for myself because I never seem to get a night out because plans keep getting canceled. The days I literally do not talk to another adult and feel so desperately lonely. Or times when life just really sucks. When tragedy hits us when we are least expecting it. Where is my gratitude in those moments.

It’s a challenging task to be truly grateful. Especially when you are an organized person who hates when plans go awry. The one thing I have learned is that sometimes when life throws you a curve ball and nothing seems to be going your way, it might just be an opportunity. An opportunity to do something new. An opportunity to change your way of thinking. An opportunity to just slow down for a moment.

I won’t pretend that I’ve completely given up my self pitying ways and that I live in a world of rainbows and unicorns. But I do try to keep in mind that while you can’t always control what happens to you, you can control how you respond. So try to find a little bit of thankfulness in each moment. I truly hope it brightens your day.

Until I write again…

x Shay

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Taking the Crazy out of Christmas

As a kid I remember the Christmas holidays being nothing less than pure magic!  They were full of fun traditions, lots of presents mounds of baking.  As a Mom, I still find the holidays magical but have also come to realize that to make the “magic” happen, it can be crazy, stressful and overwhelming. 

The year my daughter was born, we drove back to our hometown and attempted Christmas with the family. We ended up going from house to house and found nearly no time to slow down and relax. The next year I declared that from then on we would spend Christmas at our house, but anyone and everyone was welcome to join us. This was an over-welcoming success and also gave us an opportunity to start some of our own family traditions – new pjs on Christmas eve and a new Christmas ornament. But at the same time I also stared some time consuming and somewhat stressful traditions – a lengthly, picture filled family newsletter, various cookie exchanges and a family calendar.

As the holidays approached each year, I found myself getting more and more anxious –  trying to find the time to get all these added activities completed. One year I sent out nearly 80 cards and newsletters, participated in 2 cookie exchanges, created 10 personalized calendars and spent countless hours hunting down footed pajamas for each member of my family. While I love that all of these activities bring much joy to others, this year I decided to take a step back, slow down and do less. First I said “no” to a couple of offers to participate in a cookie exchange. Instead, I decided to bake a couple dozen of my favourite cookies and call it a day.  Next I decided not to do a family newsletter. It’s a huge undertaking, very costly and realistically most people have already seen all the pictures and know what’s going on with my life because they follow me on Facebook. For those who don’t, I will be sending a simple Christmas card, enclosed with a school photo of each of my children.

Another change I made last year was Christmas dinner. Typically, my Mom and I spent most of Christmas day in the kitchen. Making a giant brunch followed by a giant dinner. Last year my Mom suggest having Christmas dinner on Christmas eve. What a fantastic idea! As it goes, Christmas eve is pretty relaxed at our house. This gave us plenty of time to get dinner made and served nice and early. Still lots of time for new pajamas and singing Christmas carols. It also meant that after brunch on Christmas morning we weren’t scrambling to clean up and get dinner started. Instead we could let the kids play with their toys, stay in our pjs all day and eat leftovers whenever we were hungry.

At the end of the day, to me the holidays are about being with family and making great memories. But I’m still a work in progress – I will admit to staying up to 4am on Black Friday so I could finish my calendars and take advantage of the great sale prices 😉

Wishing everyone a crazy-free Christmas season!

Until I write again…

Shay

Vacation Getaway

I am currently on a vacation getaway with my husband. It’s our first vacation, just the two of us, since our honeymoon 8 years ago. I remember telling that to a friend recently and seeing the look of panic and horror on her face. She is young, newly married and has a newborn baby. As if reading her mind I reassured her with my favourite quote “the days are long but the years are short”. Time goes so fast before you know it it has been eight years. But it’s what you do with the days in between that matters.

I’m lucky. I married my best friend. I married a man who makes me laugh and smile and shake my head at his goofiness every single day. So while we may not have been able to get away on fancy vacations, we have enjoyed our days together. He always tells me something uplifting about myself. How beautiful I am. What a great cook I’ve become. What an amazing mom I am to our two kids. How lucky he is to be my husband. And it’s all those things and more that make our daily life an adventure.

We are currently on vacation in California. I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was when he surprised me with this trip. “Just you and me? No kids? Hot weather. Pools and beaches!!!” My daily life is constantly busy. Always trying to manage schedules and make time for everything and everyone. Planning, planning and more planning. And this trip was my chance to do none of that. To lay by the pool with trashy magazine and read books at the beach. Yet here we are. In California. Where it is so cold I had to go out yesterday and buy a pair of long pants and a coat. By the end of the day I was getting a bit down. Expressing to my husband my sadness of not being at the pool or beach. “Aren’t you having fun? Didn’t you have a great day?” He asked. “Of course! It was a really fun day. Just not the day I had hoped for.” “Tomorrow will be sunnier I’m sure” he replied. Despite my protests when looking at the forecast. He is ever the optimist. Now as I see it I have a choice. Wallow because things haven’t turned out as I hoped. Or be endlessly grateful that I am on a vacation with my favourite guy and make the most of our last few days.

So while I may not get to spend my vacation as I had dreamed. I am getting to spend it with my dream man. What more can a girl ask for.

Until I wrote again…

Shay

The lazy days of summer…or spring

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Technically it’s spring. But as I watch my kids in their bare feet rolling down the grassy green hill over and over again on this sunny, cloud-free, blue sky day – it sure feels like a warm memory from the summers of my childhood. Some days I feel as though every second of our day is so jam packed that my kids barely have time to just “be kids”. So I truly cherish a beautiful day like today where we have no plans and fun is left up to my kids imagination.

Until I write again…

Shay

The New Healthy Me

Question: How would you feel if you accepted your body exactly as it is today. Size. Shape. Wrinkles and all.

That is a question I asked myself one year ago today. My answer? Freeing! I’ve spent the last year loving myself. The scars, stretch marks, wrinkles, weight I see on the scale, hairs that grow out of my chin (ok maybe not those) and all. It’s been a year of loving who I am and being a strong, confident and healthy example for my daughter.

How I Got Here. Let me explain how I got here. A year ago today I reached weight loss goal of 68 pounds. Weight that I had gained over my two pregnancies. My decision to lose the weight started after I read a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It was a launching pad for me to make several changes in my life to lead me to a much happier existence.

Losing It. I am very proud of how I lost the weight. I didn’t go on any crazy diet or starve myself. I just made some very positive lifestyle choices which is why I believe I’ve been successful in keep the weight off. The big secret to my success? Eat less, more often; and move more.

Today. Today it’s been a year and I’ve maintained that weight loss and more importantly a healthy and loving mind set. I read that approximately 70% of people who lose weight gain it all back within three years.

The Future. For me the last year has been all about being happy with who I am. That’s a hard thing for women to do. To just accept yourself the way you look and be happy with that. But if I’m not happy with the person I see in the mirror what is my daughter learning from me. I want her to grow up confident and healthy and to make informed decisions about food and exercise. She used to see me skipping meals and eating junk food. I’m happy that now she watches me make a healthy smoothie for breakfast and sees me eating my veggies at dinner. We also love to dance together, play at the park and go for walks. I love the new healthier me and I hope that she’s sees that and grows up to love herself and all her imperfections.

Until I write again…

The Story of Stuff

The Story of Stuff.  I recently started reading a book called “The Story of Stuff”. Which is very fitting because I am not a fan of “stuff”. There are two parts to my dislike for stuff. The first is old, unused, taking up space stuff. Boxes of stuff that you own, and store but never use and which you refuse to part with. The second is people’s growing obsession with new stuff. The need to have the biggest, newest, and most expensive stuff when your old stuff works just fine. What most concerns me about people’s growing desire for stuff is how its going to affect my kids. Because truthfully, if you have a garage full of boxes of stuff, so much so that you can’t park in your garage, well I may never understand it, but I’ll never lose sleep over it either. But when I’m listening to people talk about the newest designer handbags and the latest tech toys it bothers me that my kids may value that kind of “stuff”. Until recently when I heard people throw around designer names and talk about getting Botox it was when I was watching an episode of Sex and the City or one of those Real Housewives shows. Now don’t get me wrong, I love every pair of boots that I own; I do my hair and make-up every day; and I don’t think I could live without my iPhone. I have no problem at all with people who like or have nice things. Heck I sometimes wish I had nicer stuff. But where do we find the balance?  The latest and greatest “stuff” does nothing to add to my personal growth but it does decrease my personal wealth. And with all the new “stuff” that people are collecting, it makes me wonder what is happening to all their old stuff? Is it filing up their garages, our landfills? Where does all the stuff go? Will people ever be happy with the stuff the have when there is always something newer out there? Will it ever be enough?

My husband has this saying that I love, “YOU are your child’s favorite toy”. I think about that all the time. Especially now that my daughter is going to school full-time and we only have a precious few hours together each day. I’m trying hard to raise my children to be confident, kind and caring people. And I hope that somewhere in this materialistic consumer based world we are living in, they end up caring a little less about stuff and a little more about what truly matters. I hope that when they look back and think about our time together, they think about the fun times we had playing together and not the “stuff” I bought them.

Favourite Quote: “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything”

Until I write again…

Shay

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