Thursday, January 28, 2010

North Renfrew Times

This is an article I wrote for a newspaper in the Ottawa Valley, which was published yesterday.

Deep River We Miss You

I miss Deep River the most in the dead of winter. When the excitement from the holidays has faded and we find ourselves faced with some long and cold months ahead. Most of our time is spent indoors, where our play naturally becomes quieter and more reflective; me with my knitting, my husband with his guitar and the boys playing with their trucks or in their little kitchen. There is always a pot of homemade soup on the stove and a hot cup of tea in hand. We try to get out of doors as much as possible, sacrificing the warmth of our home to bare the elements and get some fresh air and invigorating play time.

It is during these moments that my thoughts drift back to this time last year, which was spent in the Ottawa Valley. Even in the bitter cold, most souls in Deep River would brave the weather for some sunshine and exercise and we were always sure to find a friendly passerby with whom to exchange a warm greeting. The smells of our small town have yet to elude me and I can still quite perfectly remember the incredible, crisp, fresh air and the aroma of pine and wood smoke rising steadily from many a chimney.

I found Deep River to be a place where “common courtesy” really is still common and the sense of community is strong and vibrant. The people are kind, intelligent and thoughtful with a richer than usual awareness of the immense natural beauty that surrounds them. By and large, they seem also to posses a deeper respect for Mother Nature than in most other places in the country I’ve lived or visited.

Although as a family we only spent one short year in Deep River, I have never felt more at home or more a part of a community in all of my life. This idyllic little out-of-the-way town has shaped and changed me in profound and countless ways and I feel its presence in every fiber, cell and bone in my body. It has reached all of the corners of my heart, and I miss it’s very special people to no end.

My husband and I have both vowed that we will return to our beautiful home on Spring Avenue, in our beautiful town of Deep River just as soon as we are able.

Deep River we miss you and we will be home soon!

food for thought.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the challenges of feeding ourselves and our children nutritional, wholesome food.  All around the world, no matter what part of the planet we call home, regardless of our ethical,  political, or religious beliefs, the issue of fueling our bodies with healthy food for energy and nourishment is truly a global affair and one of universal importance. And is it not the case that our health, which is so importantly linked to our eating habits, is a real and true measure of the health of our society and culture as a whole?
I always enjoyed cooking and in particular, enjoyed eating, but before I had children I never gave much thought to where my food came from. With pregnancy came a deeper awareness of my body and the things going into it. The question of my food’s journey from earth to plate became a very important one for me.
I think most people would agree that in much of the developed world, we are a part of a culture where there is a real disconnection from the raising of our food to its consumption. For most, the days of growing much of your own food, making everything from scratch, ‘putting by’ for the winter and making due with what you’ve got are long gone. These wonderful, time honoured traditions have largely been replaced by processed and prepared ‘convenience’ food. Food that is prepackaged, genetically modified, loaded with chemicals, sugar, artificial everything and exceedingly long lists of ingredients which I cannot even begin to pronounce, line our grocery store aisles. I think this is arguably the biggest reason why we as a nation are plagued with an ever increasing number of diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer - just to name a few. 
It is in this critical time that the way we choose to spend our grocery money might just be the most important voice we have for change and for progress. What food we choose to buy, where and how we choose to buy it is an expression and personal declaration of our ideals and principles, and makes a statement about who and what we choose to support, and what we choose to oppose.
Personally, I’ve decided that this begins by educating myself about the origins and properties of the food I buy. Do the items on my grocery list line up with my values as a human being? Is the environment being respected? Is there fairness of trade? How were the animals treated? Does this support the local economy? I can't tell you how much joy it brings me, knowing that food I purchase at the Farmers Market, in some small way allows local farmers to work the land they have and do what they love for a living. It’s empowering to realize that the choices I make may help keep the local health food store running and support the people I share a community with.
I know that a lot of the time our food choices come down to dollars and cents. Eating organically, and when we can, locally, can be more expensive than the alternative. But by making from scratch the majority of the food that we eat, and growing as much as I can myself, I also save a lot of money. And what about the savings with respect to our social, environmental and ethical bank accounts? And most importantly, what are the costs and savings where our children’s future wellbeing is concerned? For our part, there are many times that we as a family choose to make sacrifices in our life so that our food decisions align more closely with our personal ethics. Because when it comes to the health of our families, I'm sure we all agree, it absolutely can't be bargained for.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

lifelong friends

There have been a precious few times in my life when I have met someone and instantly felt a warm and loving connection to them. Regardless of the particulars of our introduction - whether we met at a yoga class, play group, or party - this person instantly held a special place in my heart.

A few days ago I discovered a little box amongst our things and upon opening it, realized it was a gift from two such friends - Cam and Liz. Pete was supposed to deliver the package to me earlier, but amidst the chaos of our recent move, he had forgotten it's whereabouts. It's a beautiful piece of pottery intended especially for the pouring of maple syrup - we LOVE maple syrup!
Our dear friends Cam and Liz are living the dream. They own and operate Oiseau Bay Resort, a majestic off-grid eco-resort located on the Ottawa River just outside of Deep River, Ontario. Living sustainably isn't a catch phrase for this couple, its a way of life. They are such an inspiration to us. Living a simpler, less wasteful life and treading lightly on Mother Earth in virtually everything they do, these friends serve as a good reminder that what we choose to do with our lives truly does have an impact on our collective future.
This incredible place holds many special memories for us (we got engaged there!) and we can't wait for our next visit. Although we only see eachother a few times a year, they are truly lifelong friends and I am so very grateful that they are a part of our lives.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

parental ramblings.

Any parent will tell you that raising a child is a lot. A lot of joy, a lot of laughter, a lot of of work, a lot of frustration, a lot of love...
Raising a spirited toddler has been the most complex thing I have ever done in my life. I have never, ever been more fulfilled, yet I am pushed to the end of my rope on a regular basis. It is so completely exhausting and yet so wonderfully exquisite at the same time. Such a heavy and important task,  yet so light and natural.
I have this beautiful, perfect little human who is finding himself and learning so much everyday. Getting into mischief and at times, lashing out. As a parent, negotiating what is the right thing to do can be so daunting and overwhelming and beyond all reasonable expectation, but I know deep in my heart that this is his path he needs to follow and I am just here to support, love and help him grow. Some people would say that I am an unconventional mother because I still nurse my toddler, I choose not to discipline with timeouts, I try not to raise my voice at my children and we don't vaccinate. A lot of the time I feel very judged for my choices and it can make the job of parenting a very lonely one. Take the case of the lead nurse attending the birth of my first child in a Montreal Hospital. This woman told me I had no business deciding for myself whether or not to medicate during labour, but that only the Doctor (or indeed she, herself) had the "wisdom" and the "authority" to decide what was best for me and my baby. She even went so far as to proclaim that my "screaming" during labour was offensive and disruptive to other patients and staff trying to get on with their jobs. Times like those can make a Mother feel very isolated and it can be incredibly frustrating because that woman was closed minded in my opinion and had no desire whatsoever to listen to my reasoning.

"The ultimate ignorance is the rejection of something you know nothing about and refuse to investigate."
~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

The way I raise my children speaks to my heart. I feel that by listening to my heart, and raising them in a gentle way that respects who they are, I am doing right by my children. I do not need my children to "obey" me, or to "be good" and "not make a peep". They are absolutely good. Without question. Regardless of how they are behaving in a certain situation. And I don't want them to "obey" anyone. I want them to be compassionate individuals who think for themselves. To know they are loved for the "good" and the "bad". Its not enough that I know they are loved unconditionally, they need to know they are loved unconditionally.

During the particularly tough parenting patches, I find myself coming back to this excerpt from a lovely book I have referenced before, The Parents Tao Te Ching.

Seeing To The Heart

Some behaviour in your children will seem "good" to you.
Other behaviour will seem unequivocally "bad".
Notice both in your children
without being overly impressed by one
nor overly dismayed by the other.
In doing so you will be imitating the Tao
which sees our behaviour as a mask
and sees immediately beneath it
to the good within our heart.

Above all, do not attack your child's behaviour
and attempt to change it
by endless talking and scolding.
Stay at your centre and look beneath the behaviour
to the heart of the child.
There you will find only good.
When you see the heart
you will know what to do.

Of course some behaviour is dangerous to the child
and to others.
Express your concern with the behaviour.
Do not attack the child.
Consider now a particular behaviour that concerns you.
Meditate carefully and see through
to the heart of your child.
What does it tell you?


Be well, friends.

Friday, January 22, 2010

too tired for a title.

Hello Friends,

Sorry I've been away for so long.
We moved into our new home, Pete threw out his back (again) and was incapacitated for two days. We haven't even gotten unpacked yet (hence the bed sheet for a curtain), and now Henry has croup. Sick, sick, sick.

Its all about survival now. Popsicles for breakfast? Sure! Popcorn for lunch? Absolutely. Computer in the bedroom and movies all day? Why not!
Its honey, tea, vitamins and tons of cuddles for the next few days until my little champ feels better.
I'll be back in this space then. Promise.

Be well,

Thursday, January 14, 2010

knitting for self preservation

I began knitting just last year, when my best friend Martha gave me some gorgeous yarn and bamboo needles for my birthday. I'm pretty sure she knew that she was passing on a magical handcraft, because I know that knitting has a very special place in her heart, but I certainly had no idea what I was in for..
Since then, knitting has had a constant presence in my life and has had a wondrous impact on my soul.
Aside from the beautiful (and not so beautiful) pieces that I have created, it has also helped me to slow down and appreciate my life just as it is.
Although I am aware that I have so much to be grateful for in my life, on those especially difficult parenting days, when I feel stretched as far as I can go, and like I have nothing left to give, my graciousness is quick to leave me and I am left feeling alone and overwhelmed.
But, if I can get some time on my needles, a few brief moments of quiet amidst the noise - at the library, during naps or even while sitting on the washroom floor during bath time - it really helps me to clear my mind, gain some perspective and to simply smile at the chaos around me.
The laundry will get done, the mess will get cleaned up and dinner will (eventually) be made.
Because that is how life is, right?
One stitch, one row, one moment at a time.

Be well, friends.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Infinite Possibilities

"Go for a slow and mindful walk with your child.
  Show them every little thing that catches your eye.
  Notice every little thing that catches theirs.
  Don't look for lessons or seek to teach great things.
  Just notice.
  The lesson will teach itself."

-William Martin, The Parents Tao Te Ching

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


So I have taken on the One Small Change Challenge the next four months and I am quite excited about it.
I have decided to start small, so for the month of January I am committing to being aware of the lighting situation in my home. I am notoriously known around these parts for leaving every light on in the house (don't hate me!). I know it seems like such a baby step, but I hope that setting the intention and following through will be a good push to make a more substantial change in the months to come! Wish me luck!

Be well,

Thursday, January 7, 2010


My sister recently took a trip to Jamaica and was kind enough to bring the boys back a little doll. Henry instantly fell in love, naming him People (love that).
Well, the two of them go hand in hand now, and I am constantly hearing Henry talking or singing to him, teaching him things and getting mad at him, too!
Yesterday, Daddy threw People on the bed, and Henry got pretty upset. Quite seriously he started explaining to Daddy that you have to be gentle with People. You have to love People. Yes, my darling, you do.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

we are all one when we live from the heart.

I'm really loving Henry's new interest in "playing yoga" with Mama.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

these hands.

In the past few weeks Myles has really mastered crawling. He's everywhere! And I guess I just wasn't fully prepared for it, because yesterday we had quite the accident.
He flew over to the space heater when neither Pete nor I were watching (my god, he is FAST!) and climbed up onto it. With all of his weight on his little chubby arms, his hands pressed onto the burning hot grate, he started screaming. Screaming myself, I ran over to him. We had to ice his hands for awhile and after about an hour of nursing, he seemed to be in better shape, although he wanted to be held by Mama for the rest of the day.
It absolutely breaks my heart that I could have prevented this accident and he had to suffer in that way. A lesson to be learned, for sure.
So today I am most grateful for my little beans hands. They are so soft and sweet and it just melts my whole being when he sucks on his thumb to comfort himself.
I am so very grateful that he didn't hurt them too much and that the pain seems to have subsided.

Friday, January 1, 2010

twenty ten.

New Beginnings.

I always get a little giddy around New Years. There are so many possibilities that lay ahead for the coming year, and an opportunity to leave past mistakes behind and focus on the future...Its a magical time, really.
For the past few years though, I have tried moving away from resolutions that focus on results of a new behaviour, rather than the behaviour itself. You know, the typical "lose weight and get in shape" variety.
I want to make positive changes in my life with an intention of something wondrous and promising.
Here are a few of my ideas for a fresh start.
1. Give more love.
2. Find more time for my yoga practice.
3. Begin baking my own bread.
4. Send more hand written letters to loved ones.
5. Slow down. Breathe.
6. Knit a sweater.
7. Make another quilt.
8. Grow more of my own food.
9. Smile at complete strangers everyday.
10. Resolve to delight in life itself.

Be well,