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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Life in the Jumble

We have been home from Singapore for almost five months.  Life in the jungle was different but easy in many respects.  I spent afternoons lounging by my pool reading with the sun shining and palm trees swaying in the occasional breeze.  And, although I struggled with culture shock in the beginning, and although I had raging hormones from pregnancy, it was not so hard to be om.

The jungle has turned into a jumble.

Since moving home, I've raised a baby (ongoing of course!), bought and moved into a house, completed some renovations, picked out and bought furniture, purchased a couple of vehicles, got my teenager settled back into her old school, re-bonded with friends, spent time with family, received my Human Resources Professional Certification, had doctor appointments, chiropractor appointments, massage appointments, dentist appointments, baby immunizations, and, yes... two job interviews.  On top of it all, my baby was waking three to six times every night for two months.  And it's about to get busy.

Needless to say, Christmas is around the corner.  There are renovations left to do.  Family coming to visit.  Parties to attend.  Entertaining to do.  A tree to be decorated (I'm one of those that like to do it close to Christmas).  A house to clean.  Gifts to wrap.

And chemo to start.  My soon to be mother-in-law is finally starting her chemo tomorrow.  She's living with us temporarily and I'm sure I've said it before... I'm so happy to be back to be able to provide whatever support we can.

Years ago, all this may have stressed me.  There probably would have been some drama - at least in my head.  In recent years, I learned how to cope and not worry.  One of my coping strategies was to not have a tree.  I didn't cook.  I had a small house to clean.  I had only one child who was grown.  I did not have a partner.  I definitely simplified!

Today, I have the two kids and a partner and a house and a tree and am going to entertain.

Easy, no?

Of course not.  That's why I'm writing about it.  Maybe it should be easy?  But I'm not at that stage of enlightenment.  I do have to remind myself to enjoy the moment.  I stop to take in the cold, winter air when I'm walking or running in it.  I get completely enthralled by baby giggles and bubbles.  I focus on my teen and her friends having the time of their lives and try to contribute if I can (by the way, they bought gifts for women in the women's shelter and delivered them.  They felt fantastic - so did I.).  I listen to my partner when he needs to talk.  I take the time to be with my friends and family.  And I realize that a simplified life isn't about not having the things you want in it.  It's about being able to enjoy the things in your life without cluttering it up with non-important stuff.

So the tree won't be perfectly decorated.  The house won't be in perfect order.  My clothes may not always match (still lucky to get clean with an almost six month old!).  But our first Christmas together will be that - together.  And beautiful.  And fun.

Right now, life is a jumble.  Things are happening fast.  A lot of things are happening.  I have ideas for my blog every day and don't get a chance to write!  But life IS a jumble, isn't it?  My life is a good jumble and I am enjoying the things I CAN get done.  Because I can not get it all done.  And that's OK.

Thank-you to my daughter and soon to be mother-in-law for minding the baby while I write.  Now if only I can fit in a shower....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Flake

I am a self professed flake.  I have strange ideas sometimes.  I laugh at oddities.  Sometimes I am an oddity.  I've been known to bump into doors.  My team at work gave me poster one time that suggested I was a flake (and that was a good thing).  I'm a flake.  And I forgot how flaky you get in this dry weather!

Yes.  I'm writing about dry skin!  I always soaked myself in moisturizer, especially during the winter months.  But when we lived in Singapore, I got used to never using it (except SPF stuff on my face of course!).  When I shaved my legs I didn't have to exfoliate first.  I didn't have to cream them up after.  My legs were always smooth like you see on women on California beaches.... well, sort of.

Now we are back to Canada.  We're having a most beautiful Autumn with color in the trees and crisp, fresh air.  I love it!  It's a good thing we have to wear pants though.  Because my skin is falling off!  It's a small price to pay for the incredible trail walks with baby in the Snugli.

I also am slowly getting more accustomed to wearing socks and shoes again too.  I think my feet grew while I sported flip flops for a year.  I've had sore toes from closed in shoes!  And you can forget me wearing socks indoors.  They come off as soon as I take off my shoes.

As trivial as all this may sound, it's something people who move from a warm, humid climate to a cool, dry climate have to deal with.  And you just manage it.  I try to manage emotions like that too.  These days, with a lack of sleep (related to baby of course), moving house (a.k.a. temporarily living with my folks), and simply trying to be mom to a teen and a baby and a decent partner to Terry, I need a reminder to manage my emotions like I manage my flaky legs.  Sleep, time to shower without rushing to tend to baby, and some adult time would work too.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sparkles & Frills

I was a tomboy when I was a kid.  I wore as much black as possible when I was a teenager... with the odd red 'accent'... or aqua... aqua was in style at some point... so was peach.  As a young adult / student / single mother, I was practical, and still wore a lot of black and white because it was easy to 'mix and match'.  I liked blending in, yet being in simple style.

I spent a year living in fashion paradise (or hell depending on what part of the country you are in) in Singapore.  Heels (aka 4-5" stilettos) were a staple - worn with dresses, skirts, pants, jeans, shorts, you name it.  Frills, lace, floral, sparkles, and shine were IT.  When I worked in the financial district, ladies wore classy suits, but mostly skirts, dresses, heels, jewelry, and make-up.  They were girls!  And I think some of that girly-ness rubbed off on me.

I still love my Lu-Lu Lemons, t-shirts, black and white practical clothes, jeans, sneakers, flip flops, and hiking shoes.  But last night I attended an auction as a fundraiser for our local swim team, The Legends.  I wore a frilly purple shirt (purchased in Singapore), shiny earrings (a gift), and sparkly shoes (purchased gently used at Frenchy's).

There was a crowd in the house when I left - my teenage daughter's comment was, "Mom, you look great!  You're going to get compliments tonight!"  My brother tells me, "Where are YOU going?  I haven't seen you dress like that since.... your graduation or something."  Terry tells me I'm a Yummy Mummy.  Success!  :)  And off I go feeling like a million bucks.

Upon arrival, I realize I must walk slow... the floors are slippery and I'm not used to heels.  And oh, yeah, better monitor the shirt - it can fall a bit low.  But I felt good bidding on items at the silent auction along-side the well-to-do folk (I didn't outbid anyone on anything).  Then I feel something on my back.... and my friend accompanying me pushes something down my shirt.  Yep.  You got it.  My tag... a big red cardboard one... was hanging out of my shirt for all to see!  And I thought people were staring because I looked hot.

I carried on as if all was normal.  I did not slip on my sparkly heels.  My frills never fell too low.  I had fun bidding and meeting new people sitting at our table and laughing with the friends I went with.  And I realized how nice it is to be a girl sometimes.  Singapore was good to me.  I no longer have to blend in.  When you're a minority, you simply don't blend.  You have to accept that people will stare (not always in a good way).  People staring because I'm looking fine  (or have a tag hanging out of my shirt) is OK with me now.  I'm ready to show off my feminine side.  And I still have every intention of being CEO.

By the way, my teen is not like me.  She's having a Princess Party for her 18th birthday.  And one day maybe she'll be CEO too.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ms Miss Missus

How fantastic when a fellow blogger mentions your blog in her blog!  Ms. Demeanour (http://msdemeanoursingapore.blogspot.com/) is a fellow expat living in Singapore.  She ran into my Lucky Face guy (see http://snippetsfromsingapore.blogspot.com/2010/09/lucky-face.html) and she wrote about my experience in her blog!  As a result of her commenting on my Lucky Face post, I read some of my old blog entries and reminisced about Singapore.

After reading some old blog posts and looking at photos, my teen and I realized we miss Singapore.  A natural feeling I'm sure.  Although delighted to be home, that travel and adventure bug is still in me (and I doubt it will ever disappear).  Of course, there are things we don't miss.  The 'Excuse me Miss, you have a Lucky Face' experience ended up being somewhat fun.  But I also had an experience on Orchard Road one day that wasn't so fun (yet I'm writing about it so it was worth it!).

I was about 8 1/2 months pregnant.  It was hot.  Really hot.  I was walking (more like waddling) down Orchard Road after a yoga class and was, for some reason, rushing to get the train.  Who knows why I was rushing... I walk fast.  Anyway, I hear a voice... "Miss, do you have some change?"  OK.... asking a whale sized pregnant woman in the scorching heat while she huffed hurriedly down the road if she has some change was the first mistake.  I stopped... probably mostly because I welcomed a break from walking!  Nah... he walked in front of me and I didn't really have much of a choice.  I think I just stared at him (likely with imaginary bullets darting from my eyes).  He told me all about how he was not from Singapore and needed medicine and had no money.  I told him to go to the hospital.  He pulled up his shirt and showed me a fake tube and bag... then he showed me a piece of paper with Ibuprofen = $12 written on it.  He wanted me to give him $12 for his Ibuprofen.  I didn't know what to believe to be honest.  I told him to go to the hospital and I huffed off.  Oh yeah... I was meeting Terry for lunch.

I held onto the icky feeling for a while.  I was angry at being approached and lied to.  I couldn't believe someone had the audacity to approach a sweating pregnant woman.  Whoa, was I ever being self righteous, hey?  True, the guy who approached me was lying and taking advantage of people.  However, who knows what incidents in his life made him do what he did.  A short chat with Terry and I came down off my high horse.

And that's one of the reasons I'm marrying this truly wonderful man - Terry that is!  He can always win over the ego.  (Yes, I'll be a Missus!  Hard to believe for anyone that knows me!!)

That event in Singapore was a bit different from one from last Saturday in downtown St. John's.  An older gentleman was playing the accordion while I passed with my babe in my Snugli... he stopped playing and called out, "Oh, you're some cute!  You are sommmmmme cute!"  He was talking to the baby... not me;)

It's good to be home.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Boot in the arse

Is it a Newfoundland saying?  I'm not sure, but we say it around here a lot.  I never heard anyone say it in Singapore.

About a week after I moved here, I knew I had to get in shape post-baby and also meet some other new moms.  It's funny how you come back 'home' and have to meet new friends.  When I moved away in the 90s and returned, almost all of my friends had also moved away.  It wasn't a great time for young people to find jobs.  This time, a few of my friends have also moved, but mainly I need new friends because 1) I now have a baby and won't be living the same lifestyle, and 2) I'm not currently working so am on a different schedule (aka... I have time in the day!  Well... sort of... time with baby:)

Regardless of the friend thing, I still had to get in shape!  So I joined bootcamp.  Yep.  Cardio Fit Bootcamp - http://www.cardiofitbootcamp.com/.  A post natal class.  We bring the babies!  It's awesome.  It's outside in nature!  I absolutely feel a difference (I'm no longer falling to the ground a second into my plank!) and I'm only 6 weeks into it. I have also met some wonderful moms... not to mention a mom who is my age and whom I went to school with!  Our instructor pushes us just enough.  She knows we're still recovering from shortened hamstrings, changed center of gravities, loosened joints, incisions, breastfeeding backs, and many other things (I dare not bore you with the wonderful things pregnancy and birth do to the body!).  It's a fantastic class and I am quite enjoying the boot in the arse to get fit again.  Yesterday's class was postponed.  One of the moms and I decided to get together on our own.  Needless to say, we pay money for bootcamp for a reason.  We had a little workout for sure..... but it wasn't near what our class gives us.  We aren't sore today.

I managed to boot myself in the arse enough to get going... a good step of course.  However, self discipline has always been a bit of a struggle for me.  I have managed well with things like eating healthy, exercising, studying, etc.  But I've also often struggled with disciplining myself when I don't really want to do it.  An early rise is a huge struggle.  Baby seems to boot me in the arse to do it... so has my teen - although I don't proclaim to be good at the whole morning routine with breakfast on the table and lunch made and getting to school with time to spare.  A few early morning runs over the years have been successful, but I cannot seem to get into a regular early rise routine.

And this struggle with self discipline must be why I cannot seem to boot myself in the arse to study.  I've registered for the last part of my Canadian Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation.  The exam is in less than two weeks and I haven't touched a resource yet!  The CHRP designation is growing in demand for HR positions in Canada.  It's a good thing to have if you're going to be CEO someday (haha... may as well dream big).  Singapore had its own HR professional standards.  I fell into the category of Professional Member at the Singapore Human Resources Institute.  I think it was the second highest level for the organization.  That was simply based on my experience.  In Canada, we have to write a couple of exams and continue our learning each year with workshops, etc.  That's not a problem.  Right now, I need to prepare for this final exam!  And I'm writing a blog while baby sleeps rather than studying.  The epitome of procrastination, no?

I need a boot in the arse!  My om for today: procrastinate less and discipline self more.... but that would mean no blog....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Here's mud in your eye!

The universe gives us all that we need.  Today, while driving home from post-natal bootcamp (brutal, yet weirdly addictive!), I decided to call my next blog 'Here's mud in your eye.'  I don't know why, but it's what popped into my head.  So I thought I'd write about being 'here'... being 'home'.... being.  But that's the whole blog, isn't it?

So I googled this saying and whaddyaknow... a priest also googled it and titled his sermon the same and had the same question as me.  It turns out, the saying sometimes means 'haha, my horse beat yours'... or for farmers it means 'here's to a good season.'  However, according to the bible, 'mud in the eye' is a medium for healing and well-being.

And that's why the universe popped this saying into my head.

We are happy to be home for all the reasons anyone would be.  But timing could not have been better.  A few weeks ago, Terry's mom (Terry is my partner for those that don't know - this was disclosed in my first blog - Snippets From Singapore) was diagnosed with cancer.  We are positive that she will beat it.  And we are eternally grateful that we can be here to support her throughout her journey.  We love our families yet we move away from them.  It's human nature to want to experience, and that often leads us away from those we love.  And maybe that makes us love and appreciate them more.  It's the duality effect I guess.

Everyone needs healing at one time or another.  At times it's tough to deal with.  We fear we won't heal.  We fear we'll be 'sick' in whatever capacity forever... or worse.  When Terry first told me of his mom's disease, I shed tears (not surprising if you know me!).  Many people in my family have been sick.  Natural death and tragic death have impacted my family and friends.  People deal with it differently.  For me, I have to remain positive yet realistic.  I need to search inward for strength.  I have to remind myself that life is short and we must take small steps everyday to make it large.  It's not always natural, and I work at it, but it helps make the road smoother.

Last night when Terry and I debated paint colors for our new house, I started to feel low that maybe we won't agree and I'll live in colors I've compromised on.  What if I have to give in on something I love - a color, a piece of furniture, art, or the way we layout our kitchen.  So what?  Does that really matter?  Indeed, I want to be surrounded by 'things' I love, but more than anything I want to be surrounded by love itself.  And the people in my life represent love.  (By the way, I'm confident my colors are going to be just fine and I'll love them:)

So here's mud in your eye.  Here's to healing.  Here's to well-being.  Here's to being surrounded by love.  Right here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Being Om

Last year, my daughter, partner and I picked up our lives in Newfoundland, Canada and plunked them into Singapore.  It was a full year of adventure.  It was fun.  It was exciting.  It was full of life and learning.  We traveled.  We explored.  We loved.  Now we are back by choice.  We are home.  With a baby.

We chose to come home.  There are those that choose to leave and never come back (traveling is addictive!).  There are those that choose to stay and never leave.  And there's everything in between.  I left one time before and thought I'd never return.  I did.  This time I knew I'd return.  I've gained a bit of om over the years and I've grown to love this wonderful province in this amazing country.

This blog will be about being home after living overseas and a little about going om (my favorite cafe in Singapore is called Going Om - I'm sure that wasn't a coincidence;).  I have no doubt it will evolve as I do.  I hope you enjoy.

Namaste