Retrospective

Oh 2012, I’ve never been so sad to see a year go. You were a fabulous year, my best yet. 

2012 saw me transformed mind, body and soul. I started as a single entity, lived three quarters of the year as two beings melded into one, will end it as a mother watching the best parts of me living independently in that squirmy, smiley little girl we call Olive.

Here are the highlights of the past 12 months.

                                    The Best of Sweet Madeleine: 2012

  • I made New Year’s resolutions, and kept most of them…for a while anyway. I wrote this list a full six weeks before I knew I was pregnant, yet wrote this about October 2012 (Olive’s birth month),

    “October: Whatever. Who Cares. I don’t care about October. October is a such a MEH month to me. In the context of my resolutions October will be a gimme month, a time to adjust to my wonderful new clean-eating yoga-doing gardening dancing social amazeballs creation I have become.

    And maybe to put time into creating a fabulous Halloween costume. Okay yeah, Halloween Costume. That’s it.

    November & December: TBA.  I’m leaving these two open because I can’t think of anything else (as evidenced by October) and I don’t want to just fill the months for the sake of filling them. These will be updated as needed.”

  • Needless to say, October was not a “meh” month, will never again be a “meh” month. I was unusually prescient in leaving these three months resolution-free. Had I known what was coming, my resolutions would have been “Shower once or twice a week. Try to not look like a homeless zombie person some of the time. Attempt to limit photos of Olive to less than 120 a day.”
  • I tried to tease apart and make sense of the KONY2012 movement and resulting backlash (oh god, remember that?)
  • I called my husband “Couch Satan” and lost two followers. Totally worth it.
  • I discovered this picture, drawn by a 17 year old Adam. Then I died from the laughing.

image

  • I felt the first kick from the baby who would become Olive
  • I found out that instead of my hippy-dippy home waterbirth, I’d be having a cesarean section (and freaked. the fuck. out. Obviously.)
  • My grandmother died. I miss her every day. I still cry when I remember that she won’t ever get to meet her first great-grandchild. She would have loved her. She would have pronounced her “divine”.
  • Adam and I celebrated our three year wedding anniversary, and our our ten-year “being together without strangling each other to death” anniversary.
  • I got ginormous

  • I struggled with feeling trapped, stilted, with a new baby
  • I started researching baby toupees

Olive turns 6 weeks old this Friday and I feel like we are just DAYS away from seeing her first smile. 

She keeps giving little hints at it, like this smirk, delivered this morning (and immediately disqualified being as it was followed by a diaper explosion)

  • We began to see the first inklings of a Olive’s smile
  • Olive slapped Adam with her poop hands. I got to write “poop hands”.
  • We took Olive to meet Santa

And that brings us to today, as we sit spending the last dying hours of an incredible year.

I can’t thank you enough for coming along for the ride. I have no idea why I do this, why I sit here and hammer out these words day after day, except to say that it stretches and deepens me in a way that I can’t properly put words to.

Thank you for reading.

Namaste

      

                                      Calm 2 by FoundStudio on Etsy

January in our little town was characterized largely by shades of gray, the palette ranged from charcoal to almost white, changing but never abating, rain never stopping.

Some days the ocean was indistinguishable from the sky, the two just blended together in a hazy monochromatic landscape of charcoal and dove.

It seems almost cruel that it’s the month many choose to begin exercising or eating better and the natural world offers so little in terms of motivation, you hunch your shoulders against the wind and the cold and the wet, the WET, you are just always wet. Your dog is always wet. Your spirit dampens.

It’s so heavy, so dark. Yet there I was, cleansing from the inside out. 31 days.

It went well. Actually, I will be so bold as to say that it went really well. (oh MY!)

I did the Dr. Joshi cleanse for two weeks then segued into eating whole foods for the rest of the year and possibly my whole life OMG (When I say whole foods I just mean focusing on the basics: fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts – little in the way of foodstuffs packaged or processed).

I was prepared to be gentle with myself during this month, allow for indulgence, but I never felt myself leaning that way. It’s not a stretch to eat like this, it doesn’t feel strict or limited or as though I’m depriving myself, I just want to. It makes me feel good.

And allowing that to sink in and become an entrenched habit – rather than a diet or a cleanse, with an end date- made it easier to do. 

So here we stand, February 1st, and it is so (SO) fitting that the sun came out this morning. I sit here typing with every single window and door in my house flung wide open to the soft air and sunlight and guys, I am one happy hippie right now.

So, January Resolution=Success! Today began Yoga month. I’ve had all January to mentally prepare myself for this, and last night I made an effort to get to bed earlier than my usual 2am turn in and I tried to create a successful morning by laying out my clothes and getting tea ready and just generally making it as easy as possible come 8am this morning to stumble out of bed into some leggings and shoot out the door.

I bought a three month pass and am planning on going twice a week (three would be lovely, but a bonus). And in an incredible display of self-awareness, observe: the studio is running a “29 Days of Self Love” thing, where you do yoga five times a week (at home or at the studio) and there’s a chart where you can write your name and you get to put gold stars (GOLD STARS! If ever there was a metaphor for my need for achievement) for each day you practice.

I looked at the calendar and the stars and I wrote my name but am determined to approach this gradually. Two stars a week is fine. Hear that Madeleine? Two a week  IS FINE!

I did a 90 minute class this morning that involved chanting “Ommm” (without a trace of irony) for five minutes at the end and I was struck by how very little eye-rolling this created in me.

I never thought I’d be someone who could get behind chanting. CHANTING.

This makes me worry- I don’t want to turn into a caricature of a “yogi”. I don’t want to be at peace with everything, I don’t want to do prayer hands instead of just saying “Thank You” when the barista hands me my coffee.

I like anger, I appreciate frustration, I don’t want to meditate those parts of me away completely. I don’t want to lose my sarcasm, my acerbic nature. Discomfort serves a purpose. 

BUT, there’s that, the sardonic wit and the eye-rolling, and then there’s that other part of me that sits there and feels so loose from yoga itself, who absorbs the reverberation of voices coming at me from all corners of the room, there’s that part who at some point is unable to distinguish between my voice and those of the others, and guys, that part of me just loves this shit.

Chanting and all.

Namaste, mothafuckas!

Be It Resolved

So let’s talk resolutions.

Traditionally (as in, the few years that I can remember through a haze of champagne hangovers and crushed confetti) I haven’t done New Year’s Resolutions. They seemed sort of defeatist, I found myself thinking “If you want to enact change, why wait for January 1st? Do it NOW!”

It felt like when people declared that they were going to quit smoking and then chose some arbitrary date a week in the future – why? You have that desire now, why not act on it? After all, who can predict how you’ll feel in a weeks time?

But this year, because of the overwhelming feeling I identified in 2011 and perhaps because I am getting older and wiser and less quick to judge and, yes, even because I am starting to recognize that change sometimes needs a small seasonal nudge, I am joining the millions of other hopeful humans resolving to change.

I’m starting to view the advent of the New Year sort of as I view Valentines Day. Yes, it’s cheesy and predictable to go the route of red roses and vows to lose weight, BUT both dates serve as valuable signposts, milestones, reminding us to take the time to appreciate the ones we love, take a look at this life we’re living.

I took the reminder this year, but I took it with a grain of salt.

I find it immensely difficult to enact change in small measure. I dive in the deep end, flounder for a few days and then drown, never to be seen in that particular pool again, having convinced myself I’m a terrible swimmer.

Remember when I started running? I was all “OMFG I’m a runner now, guys, I RUN” and I mean, I did. I ran hard for six days in row and then my whole body hurt and bile rose in my throat if I so much as tripped over my running shoes with my dead-legged franken-calves.

I literally went from 0-60 (okay, from 0 to like, 7) in a day. And then I quit and haven’t run since.

Because I’m anal-retentive I’ve broken down my resolutions into overarching goals to continue throughout the year, and then new goals to complete each month. I’m doing this because one of the first of the overarching goals is simple, Know Thyself.

And I know that this particular Thyself is a quitter and can not enact change on a sustainable level. For example , the old me would have started a cleanse, tried to do yoga every day, re-do her entire house and start composting all in the first month. With the predictable result that January 6 would have found me weak, angry, irritable and annoyed with my own failure.

I would then write off 2012 as a crapshoot and dejectedly drown myself in a large vat of warm salsa con queso. 

BUT, new, enlightened, dare I say it WISE, 28 year old Madeleine isn’t putting up with that booshit. I know better.

So. Without further ado, my 2012 Resolutions. ( I’ve popped them after the jump because they ran long and I know hearing the rambling self-improvement plans of a strange 28 year old isn’t everyone’s jam. If it is…

                                       Overarching General Changes:

This category is made up of a few nagging things that have been hanging around the base of my skull, hovering near the bottom of my to-do-list and generally bumming me out with my inability to accomplish them. They will be year long projects.

Start composting. I am a vegetarian and I have a LOT of vegetable waste. Throwing it in the garbage never fails to bring on a pang of guilt, however I live in an area where I regularly wake up to large brown bears trying to break into my garbage can and eat my delicious foodstuffs. So having an outdoor compost is difficult. I experimented with worm composts and I really enjoyed them, no mess, no smell etc. But the size of our current house and the fact that I inadvertently killed all of the old worms makes me think vermiculture is out for me.

Our local recycling centre has a drop-off for compost. I look at it every time I’m there. So. I’m doing it. I’M DOING IT.

Compostables will be collected and stored it in our freezer, taken to the depot once a week. This particular resolution is supremely boring but I never realized just how guilty it made me feel until I made a veggie lasagna today and didn’t feel that horrible pang every time I popped something else in the garbage.

Become a More Positive Person. This one is self-explanatory, but also tough to explain. This is a personal journey. (I am re-reading this for edits and can’t believe I actually typed “This is a personal journey” without the slightest hint of irony. I am leaving it in as a point of historical record: Observe! Madeleine’s inherent douchery, circa 2012!

Create Space For Growth. Also personal (At this point you may feel as though I’ve invited you to read my diary and am now inexplicably screaming “Agghhhh! Get out of my rooom!” No matter! Disregard the conflicting messages! Read on!)

Know Thyself. One of my favorite authors Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project often talks about the fact that you can change what you do, but you can’t change what you like to do. I wrestled with this one and even rejected it for a while. Until I found myself hunched over the table at a bar on karaoke night on my 28th birthday, wondering why I was there at all and then feeling guilty because I wasn’t having fun when really, I don’t enjoy going out. I haven’t for a long time.

I need to recognize that things that are enjoyable for other people sometimes aren’t for me. This all seems very basic but I find it quite difficult because of the value judgements inherent in a persons actions.

In my head, someone who dances on tables while belting out “Billie Jean” to a crowded bar is a far more fun and interesting person than someone curled up with a good book and in bed at 10pm. I don’t want to accept that I am that person, but guys, I AM. The dent in my mattress and stack of books masquerading as a side table prove that beyond a doubt. I need to get over myself and embrace this.

                                              Monthly Goals

This is how I plan to combat NY Resolution burnout. Initially I had all of these slated to begin in January but mon dieu, c’est impossible! According to The Internets, a habit takes 30 days to become a habit and so I’m hoping to just tackle one change each month and carry them through for the rest of the year, so basically December 2012 will find me to be a perfect human being. Realistic goals ACHIEVED.

January: Eating habits/Medication. I’m starting off like many people with a 3 week cleanse. Then I’ll transition into a more healthy pattern of eating that I’ll maintain throughout the year. I don’t eat badly now, and I think if I’m honest with myself there’s more wrong with what I DON’T eat, than what I do, as I’ve never been much into sugar or junk food, but I also tend to undereat and subsist for days on coffee and large gusts of air. This is not good y’all.

Also, I need to take my medication. All 12 pills and 2 liquid doses. Twice a day, every day. I hate this, I can’t tell you how much I hate this. The pills stick and scrape and there’s just so MANY of them. I constantly forget and my pill case takes up half my purse and the liquid is vile and leaves my mouth coated in a syrupy taste for hours.

But not taking it isn’t an option and I need to address my tendency to sometimes pretend that I simply don’t have a life-altering kidney condition at all when, I mean really Madeleine.

I’ve also made an appointment with a naturopath because, I don’t know, I’m just into that shit.

February: Let’s get physical! This is Yoga month. I purposely left this to February rather than January so I might avoid all of the other eager-beaver New Year’s Resolutioners. I’m going to try out a few yoga studios in town and pick one to practice at 2-3 times a week. (I almost just typed 5 times a week. Look! I’M LEARNING!)

March: Counseling. Ugh. I can’t believe I just typed that. This is one that might actually begin earlier but I’m officially giving it until March to stick. I don’t know why I think I need counseling, but I have it available to me free as one of the perks of working in Social Services, so I might as well take advantage of it.

I am the oldest of my sisters, my job involves counseling teenagers, I like to give advice, and so over the years I’ve found myself becoming deeply uncomfortable being on the other side of the equation, the receiver of counsel, rather than the dispenciary.

It’s funny how I spend literally weeks sometimes, espousing the benefits of counseling to the teens I work with, battling stigma and telling them that everyone can benefit from an impartial ear, yet I myself have so many reservations about doing this.

April: Socialize. I really enjoy being alone. I love it actually. I crave my solitary mornings, walking around an empty house, doing my thang. Sometimes I don’t speak a word until 3pm, those are good days to me. But I also don’t want to end up a crazy lady puttering around not talking all day, not by choice, but because I don’t have anyone to talk to. I can get lazy about maintaining old relationships with all of my friends/family who live out of province, and lazy about cultivating new relationships too.

So this is a month to bring back the Sunday potlucks we used to do, start getting into the habit again of writing emails, making phone calls. Reaching out. 

May: Start a garden. We’re fortunate enough to live in a little house, with ample space in front and back for a garden. Given my enthusiasm for being self-sustaining, “green”, eco-friendly etc it seems strange that I don’t have one. But for the past two years I’ve taught teenagers how to garden and in doing so, gained some valuable tools myself. Nothing extravagant, just the basics and maybe a few wildflowers.

June: Swim. We are so so so SO lucky to live in an area of incredible natural beauty with lakes like this

and this

just moments from my door. I love swimming, hate chlorine, so June is a month to start swimming at least once or twice a week.

July: Music. For listening and bedroom dance parties (in this scenario “dance parties” is not a euphemism). Like most other human beings I like listening to music, but I’m loathe to actually put the time in to discover new artists beyond what I find on my latest 8tracks mix.

Thus, I am outsourcing this months resolution to you, The Internet. Each week or month or something (whatever guys, seriously I have like 7 months to figure this shit out) I’ll post a thing asking for recommendations and then I’ll choose my favorite from the (presumably) thousands of suggestions and buy that artist’s album and in this way I will crowdsource the soundtrack to my life and live happily every after in musical bliss.

August: Go Shopping. For Myself. It’s weird that I have to put this on a resolution list, but I never buy anything, ever. before Christmas I splurged on a $12 Old Navy Sweater and it was so exciting that I have lived in it for every day since. Seriously. Starting in August I’m going to try to spend $50 a month on clothes. I am serious, I have to set a budget to SPEND money WHO AM I?

September: Celebrate. September will mark Adam and I having been together for an entire decade. This is both ridiculous and ridiculously cool. We need to celebrate! I am a strong believer in marking occasions like this. Relationships can be tough, and my god if you can’t have a little party for getting through another year then really, what’s the point?

Break out the bubbly and eat some cake to acknowledge the fact that neither one of us has maimed/killed the other even after ten years of loving and fighting and messy cars and cold feet.

Depending on what life looks like, I’d like to take a trip to do this, maybe venture out to the eastern provinces of Canada, road-trip styles. Just him, me and a trunk full of suitcases. 

October: Whatever. Who Cares. I don’t care about October. October is a such a MEH month to me. In the context of my resolutions October will be a gimme month, a time to adjust to my wonderful new clean-eating yoga-doing gardening dancing social amazeballs creation I have become.

And maybe to put time into creating a fabulous Halloween costume. Okay yeah, Halloween Costume. That’s it.

November & December: TBA.  I’m leaving these two open because I can’t think of anything else (as evidenced by October) and I don’t want to just fill the months for the sake of filling them. These will be updated as needed.

                                                           *****

SO. If you actually got to the end of this, I commend you. You have the patience of a thousand women and are obviously greatly intelligent. I thank you.

Are you making resolutions for 2012? If so, feel free to share (Bonus points if you outdo me and can list them in less than 10,000 words)

She’s An Artist, She Don’t Look Back

“Man, I could really go for a cappuccino right now”

– Me, eight times a day now since my family bought Adam a Tassimo for Christmas. Much coffee drinking (for Adam) and consumer guilt (for me) ensued. But damn, those cappuccinos are fucking fantastic. I’m drinking one now so I can stay awake until midnight. DON’T YOU JUDGE ME GODDAMN IT.

So, here we are on the eve of the old year, prematurely shooing it out the door eager to make good on our earnest promises to be somehow better, more, in 2012.

I’ve been reading a lot of summaries of 2011, stories of a year told in pictures, events, standout memories. I don’t know how to begin to start doing that, start rifling through a years worth of words, moments, actions. Wins and losses.

I don’t have the patience to do that, is perhaps a more accurate statement.

What I get from 2011 when I look back, is more of a general, overarching feeling, than a list of specific events.

Last Christmas we spent the holiday with Adam’s family. His sister had a video camera out and was doing mock-interviews in front of his parents sprawling Christmas tree.

After a few initial questions she asked “What do you hope for the next year?”

Adam was silent, and for a few moments so was I. Then, aware of the silence being digitally recorded for decades to come, I stumbled out an answer:

“Just to get through it, I guess” I managed to say, laughing uncomfortably.

That handful of stilted words has haunted me all year. I don’t know whether I cursed myself, created a self-fulfilling prophecy or just somehow sensed what 2011 would bring, but I was right on.

For me, 2011 felt like putting my head down and just getting through. I felt like I was waiting something out. Weathering a storm I can’t put a name to.

2011 was stagnant, immobile. 2011 saw me settling into a rut, not in comfortable repose, but reluctantly, angrily. I was, and am, frustrated with that rut. That (seemingly) forced stagnation. I felt like my wings were clipped and so I sat and brooded and raged, imploded.

And I got through it.

But, as dear Leonard Cohen says, “…That’s no way to say goodbye.”

So I just won’t. I’m letting last year go, without reminiscing, without anthologizing or summarizing. 2011 happened- there’s proof! Here in my archives! – I had many happy moments and many more that felt like I was repeatedly smashing my head into a concrete wall, blind to an open door just three feet to my left.

Tonight I’ve snubbed party invitations, turned my back on dressing up in gold and glitter. Tonight is me, Adam, Gus. Chocolate fondue. Champagne (but not actual champagne, sparkling apple juice because a) Champagne is repulsive. Does anyone even like it for real? and b) Ever since we watched this it’s become a private joke round these parts and it’s too good to pass up:

…Did you get it?)

Is it cliche to tell you that I have a very positive feeling about 2012?

This year more than ever yawns ahead like a clean slate, a blank notebook. And we love this chance to change, don’t we? It’s one of the best things about us as human beings -hope- the hope that with the passing of just ONE day, everything can switch gears.

When we wake up tomorrow morning, anything is possible. Just for a moment, we can pretend to be different. More, somehow. Better.

This morning I went to a 2 hour yoga class. Adam’s mom and sister came with me and we crammed ourselves into the crowded room and stretched and breathed and chanted softly, 32 voices melding into one single vibrating hum that left the walls resonating long after we’d stopped.

The teachers words were full and heavy, “Imagine yourself swimming inside of your skin”, “Be gentle with yourself” “Breathe”. She was every yoga stereotype come to life, but she wasn’t pretending. She seemed pure somehow. She existed in her own space, completely without ego.

As I moved through the postures, I tried to shake off that persistent feeling of simply enduring, of standing still in stagnant water. As the minutes passed I felt the pressure fall, I felt the rut easing. I could move. My wings spread and I stretched and breathed and as I exhaled I thought “Let go. Let. Go.”

Let go.

I have resolutions for 2012. Plural. I’ll join the rest of the world in posting them January 2.

Happy New Year darlins, and hold on tight- things are just about to get good.