Words after silence

It’s been a long time. Like a long time.

It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, or the desire to say it… more like by the time my day runs down, I don’t have the mental resources to be anything more than a receiver of mindless television plot lines and the occasional gluten free beer.

People told me-hell EVERYONE told me- that having a kid would change everything. Whether they were telling me with hearts in their eyes and a dreamy look on their faces about finding the greatest love of their lives, or arching an eyebrow in warning they all agreed that life as I was living it would be forever replaced by this new reality of parenting an infant.

“You will never sleep in again- at least until they are teenagers, then you’ll never get them out of bed!”

“You will never pee alone or take a shower without company!”

“Forget about having a neat house! Oh! And forget about making it out the door in clean clothes!”

“You will worry all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. About everything.”

And it’s not that I didn’t believe them. I did. In a tongue in cheek, “yeah raising kids must suck” kind of way. It is no joke that knowing something in your mind is a very different thing than knowing something by experience.

Even with all of those stories and warnings about the trials and pitfalls awaiting new parents, I was in no way prepared for how all of that would affect me personally. How crippling the exhaustion can become; how lonely the long days and interrupted nights would leave me feeling, or how sad I could feel about not being free to bathe myself, or make it out the door in clean clothes. It can begin to feel like all you can see are the things that have changed; the ways YOU have changed. You start to not recognize your life… and that’s exactly as it should be.

Think about it for a minute- I mean really try to think about how all you know has been replaced by something so much more complex, compelling and powerful than what you knew before. Settle into the beauty of the chaos of this incredible person being introduced to the world for the very first time under your watch. What an incredible privilege to have ringside seats to the blossoming of consciousness in another human being! It is going to be messy, loud, crazy and sometimes all-consuming. What you are doing is a bloody big deal. It’s okay to grieve the way life used to be- to feel lost and drifting , not having a clue what you are doing and holding on white-knuckled until bedtime every day.

But it is equally important and even more necessary to celebrate. You can let go of the perfect house, the right clothes, the social contracts. You are being given the chance to re-discover your joy, playfulness, natural rhythms and wonder all over again. You are being invited into the world of a young child- it’s a precious gift. The time will come soon when you can get free long enough to shave your legs or vacuum, and when it does, you’ll be thinking about these days when all you needed to do was to keep the tiny human clean, fed and entertained. You will miss the toys, and mud puddles and rock collecting way more than you miss the housework and to-do lists today.

Choose. Choose to embrace not knowing; choose to enjoy the cuddles and forget the way life used to work. Stop fighting how things ARE and wishing for how things WERE. See the blessings; be grateful. These years are short.


Sometimes my daughter cries

When I was preparing for the arrival of my daughter, I read a lot.  I mean- A LOT a lot. I had waited so long to decide to have a baby that I wanted to make sure I knew as much as I could about the prevailing logic of having, feeding, caring for and parenting a child according to the experts. Boy are there a lot of “experts”.

The tenderhearted, “never want to scar my child”, uncertain part of me was immediately drawn to breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing, nurse to soothe, and NEVER let her cry it out.

I’ve written before about how the breastfeeding thing went for us. As you would expect from the reasonable place of not currently being pregnant, I can see that to expect a textbook experience was naive and set myself up for a world of stress and unnecessary self-abuse.

I quickly learned that my daughter is very fiercely her own person with her own ideas, preferences and opinions- even at only a few weeks old- that weigh on our every decision as a parent/child team in the adventure of her growing up.

Olivia started having disrupted sleep from my hubby’s snoring or my own restless sleeping. So at four months, we moved her to her crib in her own room and all of a sudden she started sleeping 11 or  12 hour stretches overnight. On the flip side, she still doesn’t sleep for more than 15-20 mins through the day unless I hold her or lay down beside her. If I try to leave, she snuggles her little bum against me as  try to roll away, looking for the comfort of my presence to find sleep again.

Baby wearing went by the wayside when I realized my daughter is A FURNACE and she gets very fussy when she gets too warm pressed against me in a harness or wrap. She prefers the stroller, and so does my back!

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, she has decided- months ahead of my schedule- that she would begin to self-wean. So nurse to soothe led to cuddle to soothe, rock to soothe, or simply redirect her…. OR EVEN LET HER CRY! Many of the blogs I had read before she was born, asserted that a crying baby needs or wants something and that crying is the only way she would be able to ask, so I should always respond to the tears; try to find the clue that would lead to me solving her problems and ending the crying… I took it as my personal mission to make sure she never had to ask for relief in vain.

The more I get to know my daughter, and the better able I am to understand what it is she is asking for, the more I understand that sometimes she is just done. Overwhelmed. Tired. Annoyed. Hungry. Angry or just plain old fussy. There are some things I can do for her, but it is inevitable that there are some times when all I can do is ride it out with her; try to help her process her feelings and let her know she is loved and supported. Sometimes she is going to cry because crying is exactly what she needs to do in that moment. And that’s okay. There are times when I need a good cry and no amount of hugging, cuddling, shushing or anything else will solve that. I just need to cry it out.

I had myself in a dither of over analysis  about myself as a mother and her long-term mental health prospects until I came to this powerful and freeing conclusion. Who says tears are always bad? Who says crying will harm her self esteem or sense of trust in me? The same folks who said she would be better in my bed until she chose to leave it at 3,4, 5 years old? The people who said I needed to breastfeed exclusively for at least 12 months? Or the the experts who said a baby worn all day would develop more interest in her environment, more alert attention to faces and new things? My daughter is a person too. She is fully half of this relationship. Who she is, what she wants and how she needs to express herself are her rights. Even when what she really wants is a good cry.


All dressed up…


I’ve never been the kind of woman men so affectionately refer to as “high maintenance”.  I do not insist on branded clothes. I will not be seen in heels and full face at the grocery store, or with acrylic nails and false eyelashes. I envy those women in many ways- so prettily prepared. So fully done. In my mind, these women exude more self-assured confidence and femininity than I possess. They are photo ready and flawlessly coiffed and accessorized.It is powerful magic they perform just to get out of their houses every day.

It is this envy and appreciation at the core of my own rituals of self-enhancement. For many years I tried to hide from family and romantic partners the lengths I went to in the private temple of my bathroom to make of this raw clay something like their sculpted perfection. I agonized over every hair, pimple, mole and ounce out of place. I plucked, shaved, scrubbed, buffed, painted, weighed and measured incessantly.

I beat back the things I hated about myself again and again- and like anything so strongly resisted they continued to show up to try to teach me their  lessons of self-appreciation, self love and acceptance.

The changes in my mind, heart and body since the birth of my daughter have made both the noise in my head, and the peace in my soul stronger by turns. I have struggled mightily to love this body and the inevitable changes wracked upon it by pregnancy. This loss of “control” over the vessel of my body has brought to bear all the mean and ugly things I have ever said about myself as well as an incredible awe and gratitude for that of which it has proven itself capable.

I step from the shower or bath and see before me in the mirror the extra pounds, the looser skin, the tired eyes. I rise from sleep stiffly and bend more cautiously to lift my daughter than I would have done before. There is a grief. A deep and quiet sadness that creeps over me sometimes as I judge this Self to be not enough- pretty enough, young enough, thin enough, “mother” enough…

It would be so easy to let those judgments define me- sometimes when I am too tired to do better, they do define me. But at my core, I know I am not the sum of all those criticisms I heap on myself. I know the voice I hear mumbling and screaming is not my Voice- not the Voice of the powerful loving expression of the divine that I know my soul to be. It is merely the sounds of the insecure animal trying to name, define, and label its world in a way it can grasp and control using the limited vocabulary and ideas it has been fed. I try to find love and patience for that scared and struggling animal at the same time I try to tame it and silence it.

So I still pluck, if somewhat more haphazardly. I try to watch what I eat, but most days I’m jest relieved when I find time between diapers and naps to feed myself at all. I look at my face in the mirror and I say to her the loving things I say to the other mamas I know-

You are strong, loving and kind.

You are patient and forgiving of others and yourself.

You are powerful, courageous and amazing.

You are beautiful.

Some days I believe me. Other days I just take it on faith that I’m no bullshitter and trust that tomorrow will be better.img_0524





To my father


I am writing this letter to you for me. And for my son, daughter and partner.I know I will never say these things to you, and you will never read this. If I were to ever try to open myself to you like this, I don’t know that you would let me get one sentence out before you attacked…

For as long as I can remember us, there has been this tug’o’war between your will and my own. Your disapproval and criticism are the crucible in which my heart was annealed. The burn of your eye is the oldest measurement of my self worth. The sting of your words- or worse, your stony silences- are the soundtrack of my memories.

As a tree grows toward the light or away from the wind, my childhood was bent to the storms of your anger and punishments.I saw in you unconquerable strength; the power to shape the world to your will.  I became so twisted that all I could do was grow to resemble you. I spoke in anger and saw nothing but failings and insufficiencies in those around me. My words became knives and I stabbed at anyone who dared come close to me- close to my truth. I saw only weakness and it made me blind with rage.

When I’d built myself a fortress of righteous anger and blame, I challenged you- I stood chest to chest with you in the driveway of my childhood home and I dared you. I dared you to keep hurting me, hurting my mother. Burning the world down with every word I told you you were nothing and that I had grown so much greater than you. I told you I could take away your power with a gesture and I laughed as you sputtered in fury.

Jump ahead 20 years. I have worked so hard from that day to make of myself someone more whole. More human. Someone in touch with their motives who doesn’t lash out from a place of unconscious conditioning to hurt people just to feel strong. I prayed and cried and begged for a better way to find my power. I found coaching and found my voice.

And yet, I still long for you. I long for your love, your approval. I ache for a father.Despite all evidence to the contrary I hope that you will one day let go of the blackened filter through which you see all people and actually see ME. I fear you never will.

So here we are. You hurt me again today. I don’t know if you even realize there is a choice anymore. I can almost imagine what the noise inside your head must sound like. The bitter, repetitive monologue that points out the faults and failings of every person in every situation every time. The relentless disappointment in life, love and people…

I have to let you go. Loving you is like holding shards of glass in my bare hands. There is new love in my life now. Gentle, patient and forgiving. I am laying you down, Dad. You are too heavy. I don’t want to carry you anymore. Making you into the father I deserve is not possible. Wishing things were different only wastes energy and breaks my heart when the real you keeps showing up.

I am not angry. I am a little sad, but I know I am grieving a father I never had- just the idea of one. I am not building walls, I am just shutting a door. There is no malice in my heart; there is no crusade to change us. I am turning from our past and toward my future. img_0821I know this will not be a perfect process and I will find myself caught in the habit of wishing, but I will let it go again and again until it sticks.

I hope you find some peace. Your war is no longer with me.



5 Things Veterinary Medicine Has Taught Me

1. We are not all playing the same game

Some of us are moving through life to accumulate- wealth, renown, relationships, experience; these folks tend to reduce everything to that common denominator. Some of us move through life to push our boundaries; these folks like to be uncomfortable and tend to shake up the “norm” for those around them. Some of us move through life seemingly at the whims of circumstance or the decisions of others, falling “prey” to the whimsy of fate. Often these folks bemoan their lot, never fulling owning their own power.Some of us long for connection and spend all our days reaching out to fill a void inside ourselves that we feel lovers, friends, children or pets could fill. These are just a few examples.

Our motivations in this life have an undeniable way of shaping our experience of our time here, and our relationships with others on this journey.

2. You can’t force others to share your values or priorities.

As you would expect, therefore, you can not change the driving force of others you encounter. If connection is your raison d’etre, you will struggle with the boundary pushers, or the accumulators. You may find your relationships with them a challenge. You may feel like you are speaking different languages and that common ground is hard to come by. What we must realize is that these people do have values and priorities that resonate with them and to truly connect, it is the job of the evolved among us to recognize and speak to those values. Each of us has our own thought habits to overcome to allow us healthy and prosperous relationships based on mutual appreciation and non-judgment.

We may feel misunderstood, or frustrated when we try to appeal to others based on our motivators. That frustration is a foolproof indicator that we are not communicating in the ways the other person needs. This is not to say you should manipulate others feelings to get them to view things your way, but rather true communication can only occur when you are willing to occupy the other person’s thought space.

3. Sometimes the cost of doing the right thing makes the right thing impossible

In veterinary medicine, as in many areas of life, cost can be monetary, or emotional. To provide the highest quality of medical care, one must assume a sometimes not insignificant expense. And sometimes that expense is more than our financial reality can bear. We are forced to choose between paying for utilities or following the treatment recommendations for our dear furry friend. Other times, you may be asked to end the suffering of a friend although you are devastatingly, and gut-wrenchingly unprepared to do so.

Whether financial or emotional, we may find ourselves paralyzed by the “cost”.

4.  There is often more than one right thing to do

This requires the kind of thoughtful appreciation of another’s values and priorities we have already discussed. We may offer an option that we feel is medically, financially or emotionally sound only to have the other person respond with “I can’t”. It is our job as empathetic people to dig a little deeper. We need to understand the motivating factors that drive the way others think and make decisions. We need to find out what is really important to them- carefully, and compassionately- through dialogue as equals.

In veterinary medicine we must consider: Do they want to ensure a pain-free end of life? Do they need to be strict with their money and make decisions based on other outside pressures? Are they uncomfortable with invasive or extensive medical procedures and treatments? Is there another family member whose desires they are trying to anticipate?

Remember- we are not all playing the same game… We have to allow that in any given situation, there may be more than one way to proceed.

5. You can’t care more for others than you care for yourself

One of my favourite analogies is that you can not pour from an empty vessel. You can not give to others when there is nothing left inside you. Veterinary medicine, like other caring professions, can take a huge toll on it’s professionals. They are placed in constant flux between the joys of new pet ownership, and the heartbreak of goodbyes bid to elderly companions. Many times we have been on the emotional roller-coaster of life, illness, treatment and passing right alongside the pet owners we serve. This job is very personal and can leave us exhausted, angry, jaded and even seriously depressed.

You must take the time to nurture your spirit. You must feed your body with healthy foods and replenish it with quality rest and vacation. You must seek help and support to navigate the ups and downs and you must always put yourself at the top of your priorities- regardless of the outside pressures to sacrifice yourself on the alter of Caring.


Above all we must remember that people- all people- have a deep desire to feel loved, appreciated and valued for their differences. By extending yourself just a little, you may change someone’s experience in ways you could never predict. Be willing to embrace that responsibility. The life you change may just be your own.


Why 2016 didn’t really suck that bad

Everywhere I look these days- and especially as December 31 winds to a close- I see posts on social media wishing away this year calling it the worst year people can remember and saying we have had nothing but doom and gloom and disaster for the last 364 days…

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m going to miss David Bowie and George Michael and Alan Rickman (and the seemingly dozens of others)

as much as the next gal. Not to mention I’m still grieving the results of the US election. But I think these blogs and countdowns are a symptom of the failings in our current way of looking at our lives and the world at large.

As most of you have probably heard before, our memories are Teflon for the good but Velcro for the bad. We tend to forget the good stuff and focus on the negatives- the losses, the mistakes. We even say things like “Yeah, that was good, but…” We simply can’t allow for positives to outweigh negatives. We skew our whole recollections to one rude receptionist, the one unhelpful call center employee, the one billing error and allow those skews to become our story. We even find ourselves competing with each other to win the “whose life sucks worse” award. We have all had that friend who when we have a headache, they have a tumour. When we have a bad day, they have a bad week. And to one extent or another, most of us do this.

What would life feel like if we released the “negatives” as we label them, freely and calmly from our thoughts? What could we see is possible if we allow that there are no real “good” or “bad” events in our lives at all? What if we saw each event as just that thing that happened that has no control over our enjoyment of THIS moment?

We trap ourselves in unhappiness by repeatedly identifying ourselves through the “bad” things that have happened to us.

We can view 2016 in the context of the number of deaths, the struggles of the few against the powerful, strife and warfare in countries we would have trouble finding on a map. Or we can view 2016 in the glow of the art we have been given over lifetimes; the triumphs (however uncertain) of dedicated, average people over the interests of big business; and the hope spread by the loving people opening their borders and their homes to provide safe refuge to those in need.

I’m not advocating a Pollyanna approach of unrealistic, blind optimism. What I am saying is that we can re-energize ourselves and our world by giving the beauty we are capable of as a species its due. Make room for the abundance and gifts of the universe to shine in your life. What is tended, will grow. You truly do find what you look for.

What are you looking for?

Letting Go of Thought Habits

A bad day, a fight with a friend, a rude client, a harsh criticism. We try to put things back in perspective by telling ourselves that these things don’t matter; we can release the way they made us feel,and yet we rewind our minds and see, hear, smell and taste them over and over- reliving every nuance. Imagining what we would say if we could do it over.

We have all looked back and felt- “If only I could let that go”.  We identify incidents in our pasts; memories we keep reliving; pains inflicted upon us that we can’t seem to move beyond… we know if we could just process and release these things somehow, we could evolve; we could become happier, healthier, and more of who we thought we would always be if only… We rob ourselves of today by replaying yesterdays.

Our day to day lives are filled with any number of examples of how we beat ourselves up for not being good enough- and beat others up for perceived slights, indiscretions, and insults. These thoughts make up a good portion of the background soundtrack of our daily thought habits.

If we could silence the noise we could find love,peace, relief.

So how do we do that? How do we “let go”?

The answer is deceptively simple:  first we must realize that all of the painful thoughts we have about how things should be, or could have been are just that: thoughts. And although we do most of our thinking in an automatic way, we can CHOOSE new thoughts. We can choose to stop replaying past hurts. We can choose how we respond in any situation. Once we realize that thoughts are chosen (even those thought patterns that have become habit for us, were once chosen) we can embrace the full power of choosing to entertain new thoughts.

The powerful act of letting go of unhealthy thought patterns will shift the way we experience our lives moment to moment every day. The past is done. The future is uncertain. All we achieve by focusing all of our thought ahead or behind us, is to rob ourselves of the joy of NOW.

And NOW is truly the only time we have to be happy, feel love, give love, and create peace.

When you hear yourself blaming or judging, be aware that those thoughts are stealing your chance to be happy NOW. Interrupt those thoughts. Replace them. This is a conscious and purposeful exercise in creating new thought habits that will free you from the pain and frustration of your old habits.

No one is saying it is going to be easy or quick to shift from old to new behaviours. You have spent years doing things the way you do them now. Be patient with yourself and recognize that every time you make a new choice in the way you view your world, you are removing one more brick from the wall of habit that has been holding you back.