Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Let's Talk....

Today, being Bell Let's Talk Day with 5cents from every tweet doing to mental health initiatives in Canada, I wanted to do my part. The problem is I didn't know where to start.  In 140 characters, what can you say? How can you properly start the conversation?

How do I explain that as a parent I had to take my child out of school because her anxiety was so bad that she considered taking her own life? Or how the friends that she once had, all abandoned her because they didn't understand and thought that she was just skipping school? How I was not only my daughter's advocate but became her best friend? Now years later, through knowledge and experience we can recognize her triggers, understand that she is worse during the winter months. She can see that it won't always be so dark, that there is light on the other side. She has learnt to forgive herself and look to the future. Recently, she graduated high school. It took longer than she had expected, but she did it and for that we are both so proud. Now, out of school and yet to find a job, I find myself worrying and keeping on her case about getting out of the house.  That fear is still there for me as I'm sure it is for her, but I know that together we can get through this.

Perhaps, I should discuss my own anxieties.  Or about how a bully neighbour had me to the point that I constantly kept my curtains drawn and was afraid to leave my house. Afraid to actually live. Or how suddenly, following my 5th and final child, I suffered from overwhelming anxiety that required medication, and that now, 8 years later, I still have occasional panic attacks. Perhaps, I should mention how in my first year of university so many years ago, that I became incredibly depressed and simply stopped attending, while hiding it all from my own mother. Afraid of what people would think.

I could also mention my other daughter that is on the Autism spectrum, whose anxieties and emotional disregulation cause her to need to miss school and are met with a very unsupportive response from her school. They lack the understanding to help and prefer to get rid of the "problem kids", as opposed to helping parents and students work through the mental difficulties.  Now I realise that autism itself is not a mental illness, but the other disorders that she has (like anxiety and depression) are exacerbated by the way her brain is wired. And it is so hard to not be able to break through and reassure her that everything will work out in the end.

I just couldn't explain that all in 140 character segments! You see, once the conversation is started, sometimes it is difficult to stop.  And more than the conversation itself, which can be just words, my hope is for people to actually start LISTENING. Actively listen. Be empathetic. Don't judge. Invite those in trouble out for a coffee. Send them a text just to say hi. Be for them what you would want if you were drowning and needed a helping hand.  Be a shoulder to cry on. Be a true friend. And finally, be aware...a person in trouble may not always be able to ask help, but will surely appreciate any help you have to give.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

What's in a Name?

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." - William Shakespeare

In my case, it doesn't feel that way.  (Warning: I am actually seeking advice, though it may seem like I'm only ranting irrationally)

Here is my predicament - almost six years ago, when I was married, I decided too hastily to hyphenate my name to reflect my maiden name and my husband's last name.  Now my children also have hyphenated last names...predating the wedding, so I figured I would be all matchy-matchy with them.  I quickly, in my post wedding bliss, reflected this name change on Facebook (because things aren't official unless they are on Facebook!).

Fast forward a bit, and I realised that I really wanted to just keep it simple and stick with my maiden name. Years ago, I had been warned by one married woman of the hassle that is involved with legally changing one's name, so thankfully I never changed my official name.  Thankfully.

All correspondence reflected this epiphany, every RSVP to a wedding, Christmas Card, school form, email, etc. contained my original name.  I figured that I had been a Henderson for 35 years, that's who I am and always will be.  Yet, I still met with such resistance from people.  Some people refuse to accept this fact.  I find it so odd.  I read in Emily Post's Etiquette, 18th Edition - Manners for a New World that women should be addressed by the name that they choose, yet some people STILL insist on addressing me by the name THEY choose -  my husband's name. And I'm not talking people that don't know that I still go by my maiden name, I'm talking about people that simply don't care about my wishes.  We're not playing house here people! I'm allowed to choose my own name! My absolute favourite is wedding RSVPs.  It's almost like a game to see if people actually read the RSVP which clearly states my actual name....always an adventure to see what my name will be on the table plan.

Now, I know I'm sounding bitter.  I'm really not.....well, maybe a bit.  Afterall, the fact that people are imposing their views on what I am called, though I realise does not reflect who I am, is still irksome. But that is not what this post is about.  My predicament is that I feel like I'm sending mixed messages because my Facebook name is still the hyphenated name of my post wedding delirium.  I need to change it, but I don't know how to do so without offending people, or without starting the rumour mill that a divorce is looming on the horizon.  There is the alternate name feature, where a name in brackets appears below your actual name. I am wondering if that is a good option for me. Though my initial thought was to put "Not and so" in the brackets, that may be seen as offensive to the very people I am trying not to offend.  Do I simply change my name and not put an alternative name, using the no fuss no muss approach? Do I use the alternate name feature and simply put the hyphenated name to keep my husband's family from gossiping about me? Do I just change my name to "Jane Doe" and run away to Costa Rica? This is seriously stressing me out! STRESSING. ME. OUT. BIGTIME.

Help me, Obiwan, you're my only hope! I hope that someone with a clear logical head can help me. It would be such a hassle to have to get a passport in order to flee the country.  Especially if I were to legally change my name to Jane Doe.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Three (or Four) Things

I can't believe that it is already July 22nd. How did that happen?

My children are complaining about the lack of excitement in their summer.  My original plan was to give them a 1970's summer as advised by Melissa at 4boysmother, but that fell by the wayside as soon as summer actually began.  Especially once I realised that my cable provider no longer carries TV Land (What the hell, Rogers? What the hell?).

Of course, the children have done tons of things, but not enough apparently.  Two of them currently have fevers, so I really have no idea what they are expecting, but I have learnt to not to question the delirious minds of feverish children, so I ignored the sleepovers, cottage, pool, park and ice cream trips. Though much to their annoyance I brought up, as exciting activities of the summer,  my recent ultrasound, hospital appointments for two of them (dislocated/fractured elbow checkup for one and neurologist for another) and my check-up.  They didn't find me very funny, though Kiki found me hilarious.

Pre-fever, I came up with a brilliant idea.  An evil brilliant idea to occupy some of their time AND to have them keep their brains working during the summer months. I asked the children to come up with three things that they wanted to know more about.  It could be a person, a place, an animal, an invention...anything that they were curious about.

Well, Kiki was busy with her World Religion online course and grumbled something along the lines of not having time.  Whatevs...18 year olds that are taking a course that interests them in summer school are allowed to forgo research projects disguised as fun...I suppose.  Mexi was sleeping and I'm pretty sure would find the idea less than appealing.  Afterall, anything that she wants to figure out is as close as the Google home page.

The three little ones were quite enthusiastic though.  YAY! So enthusiastic that my aptly named "Three Things" project became not aptly named when all three chose FOUR interests. They are looking forward to heading to the library and finding books on their chosen subjects. I mean we could just go online, but the library is much more fun for them and it counts (at least in my mind) as a summertime field trip.

So, I'm sure you're dying to hear their topics of interest! Here they are:
Miss Hollywood chose Tigers, Amelia Earheart, Africa, and the Moon.
Boy 1 chose Greek Mythology (which he already knows tons about), Egypt, the Sun, and Jackie Robinson.
Boy 2 chose Albert Einstein, the Statue of Liberty, Koalas, and How The Earth Moves.

Luckily we already have books on the people that were chosen, so they can have a head start while they hopefully make speedy recoveries....and as we await for Mr.O to become ill too. (We all know it's bound to happen).

I find it cute that we have the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth involved.  They inspired each other with those choices! I think it will be fun for them to tell each other what they have learned.  Hoping everyone is well enough to get to the library later this week.

By the way, all three books that we own are 5% off on the Chapters Indigo website for my Canadian Friends. I love this whole series of books.  And more importantly, so do the children!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

When Anxiety Rears Its Ugly Head....Celebrate National Ice Cream Day!

Oh Anxiety, what would we do without you?

Well, today, we wouldn't have had delicious sundaes from McDonald's!

First let me take you back to last year.  A local church was having an Egyptian Festival, which piqued the interest of Kiki and Boy 1. Both are interested in history and the Boy just loves Egypt in particular (though Greece is his absolute favourite).  Unfortunately, last year Miss Hollywood was ill and we were unable to go.  So, this year, when the flyer for the Festival arrived in the mail box, we were giddy at the prospect of finally going.

Things didn't go quite as expected.....

First of all, as I stated yesterday, my two eldest girls were off to their grandparents for Friday night and most of Saturday. This left today, Sunday, as our day to enjoy the Festival.  Uh-huh.  Well, that was the plan. After getting four of my children out the door a couple minutes later than we had hoped, we arrived at St.Mary's Church, the location of the Festival.  Pulling into the parking lot, I first noticed a group of people, in the little yard.  People that obviously knew each other.  Hmmm, I thought.  Then I glanced up at the back of the church, where the entrance was located.  There were more people gathered....they all knew each other too.  They all looked as though they regularly attend St. Mary's.  They all looked Egyptian and that they were just attending their normal Sunday at church, which happened to be celebrating their culture this weekend. Now for a shy person like me, this was NOT cool.  Perhaps, if I had brought a group of people, it would have been fine.  I was interested in seeing all of the neat stuff that was advertised in the flyer, but felt very much like an outsider attending a church function.

I took a deep breath was getting ready to park the car, when Kiki had the biggest panic attack.  I mean, she slunk down in her seat and tried to hide, while constantly saying, "I can't do this, I can't do this..." And so I awkwardly, did a 3 point turn with curious eyes watching me, from both the back seat of my van and from the parishioners outside the car.

Instantly, I went into quickly-let's-come-up-with-a-new-plan mode. I immediately thought about the free McDonald's ice cream cone coupons that I had at home.  Then, I thought, screw it - let's go for ice cream sundaes instead! Now, Miss Hollywood never wanted to come to the festival, Boy 1 did not seem to mind after all, once he saw that the church had nothing Egyptian looking on the outside. Only Boy 2 was a bit ticked off.....until he heard about the ice cream.

I then took the children to beautiful Andrew Haydon Park.  It is gorgeous and peaceful there (future blog post to come shortly about the beauty of the park). The children didn't appreciate the view as much as I did. Boy 1 at one point exclaimed, "I feel like we're barbarians, out in the wild!".  (Someone has had a wee bit too much computer time over the past few days!!) Within five minutes, the same child was yelling, "This is the best place in the world!!!", as he discovered the wonderful play structures on the grounds.

Eating Sundaes on a Sunday

What fun it was to watch my children run and giggle while playing tag and, later, Sandman.  Of course, they squabbled during the games as well, but regardless, fun was had by all.  Even my 18 year old was running and playing.  It left me feeling grateful for my precious babies.  It made me feel blessed to have this life. And extremely fortunate that we didn't go to the festival, but instead spontaneously made our own fun.

Boy 1 & Kiki exploring the play structure.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Blame It On Maggie..

Sounds scandalous, doesn't it?

Well, it isn't really. Maggie is the name of our van. She is my faithful companion. I use her to chauffeur around my babies, to run countless errands, to travel to fun and adventurous places, and to go grocery shopping every Saturday morning.  Every single one.  Drop off hubby at work at 8:50 and then off to FarmBoy and to the supermarket. Every week is the same.  Except this one.  My eldest girls were off to their grandparents and it was just me and the three younger ones. I awoke early, as usual - stupid internal clock, and made the decision that I would allow my darlings to relax, Miss Hollywood could sleep in, and I would let hubby take Maggie to work, leaving me van-less for the day.

It is amazing the amount of work that I could get done when I didn't have to shop or drive the children wherever they needed to be taken. By 9:15, I had caulked around the bay window sill, otherwise known as the Kitty Counter. The kitty counter had been tiled three months ago. Finally, it has been caulked.  While in the kitchen I did general tidying and I even scrubbed the floor Cinderella style. Upstairs, in the boys' room, I hung a picture and a clock that had been waiting for me to pay them attention for quite a while. I moved responsibility charts that were too accessible to the babies I watch. I swept the stairs. I did laundry. It felt good to accomplish things, despite the children and pets trying to thwart my efforts every step of the way!

I started not only reclaiming the house that has become overwhelmed since the children started summer vacation, but I got to cross some items off my long term to do list that I had been procrastinating doing.  I accomplished so much that I may just let hubby take Maggie more often.

Caulking is not the ideal pastime for those with OCD tendencies

Boys' Room finally getting some finishing touches

Monday, 3 March 2014

Words of Inspiration and What To Do With Them

I have a confession.  I'm an inspirational quote addict.  I can be found downloading inspirational quotes from Facebook and Twitter daily. I just love them. Here is my favourite from today:

Yes, quotes in chalkboard writing appeal to me the most.   It's an illness, really.  All I can say is that I'm lucky my printer is broken, or else I would probably have these babies pinned up all over my house.

Really, I'm not sure that would be such a bad thing, because though these lovely words fill me with hope and determination, the craziness of day to day life cause me to quickly forget them.  And I NEED the reminder that I am strong and capable and more than what I seem.  I need that reminder to strive daily for greatness. To be the woman that I was meant to be in this one precious life I have.  To seize each day.  To practice patience. To forgive. To love myself.

So, maybe I will choose some of my favourite quotes, get them printed and decorate my home with them, so that life doesn't get in the way of remembering to live each day to the fullest.  And eventually, these reminders will become constant conscious thoughts.  And I will be able to embrace the wonders of each day, and, more importantly, embrace the beauty that is my life.