Saturday, November 11, 2017

30 Of Some of My Best Decisions in 30 Plus years. My life hacks.

Preface: Due to a few people asking I am putting this post back up for awhile. These are MY considered best decisions. This list is PERSONAL. I don't believe it would be the same for anyone else nor should be. Even if I say it was the best decision for me, I am NOT saying it may be the best decision for someone else. Nor judge their lives as lacking. These are simply the most fulfilling or rewarding 30 choices in 30 plus years that came into my mind. They are also not in any particular order of importance but these were all game changers for a better lived life in MY Story. This is a personal post so skip it unless you are interested to see what choices made someone else feel that their life was well lived;

1.) Marrying young. I am all for careers, choice and autonomy, but life is short. If a person dreams of a committed love, the stats show that the good compatibility MATCHES for one's personality type, are usually (exceptions to everything obviously) all taken by thirty (or if they aren't they come with additional children, divorces or tragedies.) I encourage my children to seriously think about making room in their life for love in their late teens and early twenties while choosing wisely... ONLY if they actually dream of having a monogamous, committed love. There are many beautiful ways to live a life. I find marriage immensely satisfying except when it's not...but mostly, it was THE best decision of my life. I was the girl who spent hours in my room dreaming of a love story. I was obsessed with musicals, romances and my first kiss. My single friends have a life I value and see beauty in. FOR MYSELF, as this is MY birthday post about MY best decisions, I have ALWAYS wanted an epic love story. It's what I dreamed of, hoped for and obsessed about. Marrying young satisfied my need for partnership early and allowed for the rest of my life to settle in to this and enjoy other facets of being. It has NOT been all rainbows and musicals. I have written numerous posts about our struggles, but it is still worth it, and if I happen to live a long life, I am determined that it is with the man who chose me and I chose him. There is something valuable and beautiful about our committed partnership that I deeply cherish. I would rather not have to work through all the milestones with a new person ( because relationships DO have stages that eventually have to be worked through) and I value the beauty that is a result of communication, humour, dedication, loyalty and love in a relationship even if there ARE downsides sometimes.

2.) Reading a variety of books regularly. Philosophy and Teen Fantasy and all in between.

3.) Having children young. I know, I sound like a conservative, traditional woman who gives all of her rights away...but if you knew me, you would understand that this seems like a counter self choice. I never desired children. I definitely suffered through the early years with PPD. BUT the unexpected love, hard lessons, legacy, and the joy received from this choice has brought so much beauty in my early thirties. At their pre teen and teen ages we have our hardships, but I LOVE having these years of theirs while I am in my younger thirties. I love how they often say to me, "You're SUCH a teen mom." or "Look at her? Isn't she beautiful and so so cute?" and I scrunch up my face or stick out my tongue at them:) In many ways I feel older than my peers without children due to the issues we deal with, but in other ways with my children, I feel younger. Obviously, I can not imagine this choice any other way. I see such beauty in my childless peers or families - but FOR MYSELF- I consider having three children the most fulfilling decision of my life, besides marriage. As a balanced feminist I am not ashamed to admit this. However, being a parent is a serious consideration and lifetime commitment. There are some amazing people who will never have offspring because of choice or because the choice is taken from them (I am deeply sorry for this and hope there are other options to seek what is wanted)- there are many beautiful ways to live a life...this happened to be mine.

4.) Choosing seven different pre marital counsellors and following through with our preparation for a young marriage because everyone warned us we would fail. Being zealous teens, we wished to prove them wrong so we prepared. It probably seemed like rebellious overkill, but it DID give us a head start because we were fully on the same page to begin with. We enjoyed full, open and heartfelt communication when we got hitched which still stands today.

5.) Unschooling. I have written various blogs on this. It has been freedom in so many senses.

6.) Learning how to clean and manage the home in a way I could handle. A clean home does make living life feel easier...but this was a long road for me. I also learned how to delegate, what to leave, and how to keep it clean ish without a lot of time involved so that my time could be freed up for more enjoyable tasks like decorating the home:) It also helps to have children now who are part of the chore load. Adding in a treadmill for the home, when I was allowed to start light exercise again, has been immense in improving my life.

7.) Having my husband take over all the cooking. Yup. He can cook nutritious, delicious meals and more importantly, he does this safely. With Dyspraxia and my form of Autism struggles cooking was like MATH to me ( I have Dyscalculia so Math is almost impossible. Even with a calculator I often have mistakes with my reversals of numbers like 65 being 56 ect.) After a few accidental poisoning issues, burns, cuts and accidents that could have been far me crying in the kitchen with no idea what to do...we decided that he would take over all meals. I took over the budget, taxes (I realize that sounds strangely like Math, but in the end after some initial help and going over the budget at least seven times each session to make sure the numbers line up, I am good at delegating what goes where and how to be thrifty), organization of home, facilitating learning opportunities, appointments, fresh mentalities, and most of the chores with the kids. We also cut his work hours by an hour and a half each day to make up for that time he would come home to cook. It seemed unfair for him to work all hours, with me at home, and then cook. It works for us and we finally eat well. He doesn't have to do any clean up nor chores in the home other than carpentry maintenance and watering of plants ( unless he wishes too.)

8.) Changing our married last name, as a family, after more than a decade together. CLICK.

9.) Saying NO to a few medical procedures that were pressured but I ended up being fine without them.

10.) Researching everything that pertains to important choices. Besides books, I will forever also love the Internet for giving me this opportunity.

11.) Stretching myself by going hesitantly to see a Naturopath. My life changed for the better even though I thought it was weird and surreal. I was HUGELY skeptical and still am for some things. Yet, seeing the result in myself made the risk worth it.

12.) Learning about Personality types and Cognitive functions. This was a life changer. I am more gracious because I generally guess the basis of each person's personality (even if they test slightly off because of our years steeped in it- we understand the nuances) and can then understand their motivations even if I disagree. This helps me have peace with most people even if I have no desire for them to be personally in my life. Click on the INFJ link at the bottom of this post for more.

13.) Blood work of all types to rule out conditions and find others.

14.) Getting a mortgage young at a deal. Waiting to turn the starter home into a home of our dreams slowly as we began to be more stabilized. Being rooted was important to us and ended up paying off in many ways. We looked into moving multiple times. We had a few years of incredible dissatisfaction with where we lived. But then we realized, it's not WHERE, so much as it is HOW, one lives. Where matters to some degree, but some facets can be manipulated. We went a bit "off grid" so to speak and dropped out of our communities. At first this was hard, but then we made new ones that felt safer for the concept of home. We challenge ourselves still but we created a home that protected instead of infringed. We chose to see our home as both solitary and elusive. We see home as a concept we create that can be changed in our mind's eye together. Yet, we also see it as solid ( see point 30.) We realized we are NOT our chosen place of living, though it can shape us, but we are what we pursue in thought and heart. We view our home as the tiny world we created on our plot of land, along with in our vehicle when we drive to our favourite places, and within this a few pockets of home along the way. We are grateful that the place we live in, enables us to do this and are not ignorant to the part it plays, but we have also disassociated our place of Being as DEFINING us. If we were frustrated at the lack of trees? We planted numerous ones. If we felt it was too hypocritical? We found people who were not. If we felt a lack of beauty? We made beauty inside and enjoyed it in videos, travels or in the imagination. We searched out inspiration when we felt there was little. In the end, we realized our mindset matters as much as our place. Both are important. Then we chose to stay because we knew we do best when rooted. Some do best travelling and exploring. Find what is the truest to you for satisfaction.

15.) Discouraging my husband in a pursuit of a degree I knew he would not use fully and we really couldn't afford. Listening to my husband when he wished to do cheaper Trades school in conjunction with the job he had already in construction to become a Carpenter even if it was not his first choice of career, nor does it fully suit his philosophical personality. It became an important aspect of our life and fulfilled our need for renos, self employment and freedom over our work hours.

16.) Self Employment.

17.) Pursuing Neurological diagnosis for varied members of the family. This is when I met my key therapist who has been with me for almost thirteen years. He has changed our families life for the better in so many ways that I owe him a great debt. He has counselled my children and my husband at varied times and then found them other resources to aid. I was scared to sit in my first therapy session and I thought therapy for anxiety and not marriage, was only for "THOSE" people. How wrong I was! The first three years were hard, personal work of changing so many habits and thought patterns, but then when the breakthroughs hit, it became more about support.

18.) Opening up my mind to understanding varied neurological differences. Educating myself with material BY those who had the conditions instead of the "professionals" who studied them. Reading blogs like Musings of an Aspie CLICK or Everyday Asperger's CLICK, changed my life forever. I felt validated in my own existence while learning more to navigate the world at large.

19.) Changing our lifestyle and taking out gluten and processed sugar. Health is really everything. You don't often meet dissatisfied people who eat well, exercise and are generally a balanced sort of healthy. Most people don't regret being fit ( if possible- as we know, I understand chronic illness restrictions) but in GENERAL, eating well has improved our lives. We have less sickness and flu bugs than most of our friends ( besides the chronic illness factor). Some of this is due to intentionally doing LESS out in the world, hermit status at times ect but a lot of it is due to the healthy spices, honey, good bacteria, fermented foods, greek yugort and delicious home baked treats we consume.

20.) Therapy. Therapy pre problems, during issues, and post problems. Therapy for marriage, therapy for the children, therapy for neurological differences, therapy for grief, therapy for PPD and is hugely beneficial to speak to a neutral party. Also to find ways to be the change you wish to see in the world by realizing you can only work on YOU. In all problems, therapy provided a way for me to grow, change or take a more balanced stance while still healing myself as well.

21.) Going to Kindermusik because I met my best friend there when her daughter was in it. I usually hate and avoid all sorts of social events like that, but that choice changed my life. My best friend is the anchor to my soul. She accepts me as I am, has long conversations with me about our shared interests (it helps she is an INTJ and I am an INFJ thus we both value deep, perspective taking, abstract conversations), and is THE woman in my life. Ha ha, I know she is cringing at this statement while she reads it:) It sounds sappy to her because I tend to be slightly more expressive in feeling which balances out her slightly more expressive in thinking aspect and vice versa. Next to my husband and children, she knows me more than anyone else, understands, validates and challenges. She is another love of my life and I will forever be bonded to her.'s THAT strong and yet so easygoing. I dreamed of having a platonic relationship like Anne and Diana, but this one exceeds those expectations. But it took a few years to build a bond that deep and both of us often choose how we treat each other... it helps that we both are easily able to agree to disagree or shove petty annoyances to the side and that our personalities are different enough to not be boring, but similar enough to understand at deep levels. We both love our space so it works on so many levels.

22.) Pursuing hard extended family/personal friendship relationships and also setting boundaries and quitting other hard family or personal relationships. I am so thankful for recognizing seasons in friendships and honouring the cycles. I have relationships still in my life that for a time were not relevant but I am so glad they cycled back in! I am grateful for all the beautiful friendships in my life.

23.) Stepping out of cult like beliefs- oh the glorious love infused freedom!

24.) Challenging myself by listening and reading counter balancing material from intelligent, logical, clear minded sources. I noticed that most Christians I knew (which was most of my life context) surrounded themselves by like minded people and "challenged" themselves only in Biblical concepts. In our time in the faith, "Brain McLaren" was considered as leading people astray and anyone associated with his name was sanctioned. Which is interesting because he is STILL a Christian and many could not tolerate to even hear him out. I found this to be the height of ignorance. You do not have to agree with someone to see they have some good or logical points. But everything, including belief, seemed to be centered in emotion...and that emotion often could not be separated enough to have some healthy debate or counter balance in a compassionate, clear headed, calm manner.  Or WORSE faith was ABOUT debate, learning how to argue which defeats the point that it is "faith." We began listening to Brain McLaren as a counter balance to the Christianity we were currently following. We thought he was going to hell at first for the things he, out of the faith, ironically, he is not as shocking as we originally thought. But he ended up teaching us lovely and kind thoughts about love.

I sat in on MANY sermons, most of which are still the same today, Bible studies, Mom's groups, Prayer groups and "Truth Projects." Most of the time it was simply validation or challenge within one way of thinking. For example, the Truth Project looked open minded by bringing in Atheists and Scientists to speak their "truths" but what irked me about this, is that they picked idiotic, illogical, sensational or ignorant opponents and deemed them "professionals" of the opposing side, yet chose calmer people to present the faith side. Just like in Christianity, some Atheists are non intellectual, volatile, ignorant, or making the world a worse place in general. If one is going to seek out a way to sharpen their beliefs for heaven's sake (pun/irony intended) choose a well informed, strong opponent. The weaker the opposition, the weaker the faith. Because faith in it's technical definition SHOULD NOT be defensive with's FAITH after all.

I understand that some people can not handle thinking in opposites, however, we all should seek out some strong counter balancing opinions and literature from time to time to keep us honest...even if it's in small amounts. For instance, lately I have been listening to Stefan Molynuex. I needed the counterbalance to my liberalism because I started to see the flaw in some of my thinking patterns. It's no secret that I'm a little bit more freedom loving and tend to go to the realm of egalitarianism but there is a price to that, as in everything. I am aware always of where I stand. I try to search out intellectual and smart opponents of my thought patterns to keep my mind balanced and strong (like testing muscles with weights.) Thus entered Stefan Molynuex. While I don't agree with some of his opinions at times, I can see the merits in the logic. It has been good for me to rethink multiple stances even if sometimes I come back to previously held moral convictions. He is an Atheist with some conservative values, who is actually a fan of many aspects of Christianity in general, but he's logical and a moralist. Here is an an interview style that he comes across less aggressive in CLICK "Ruben Report Interview On Abusive Parents, Atheism, and 'Cult' Criticism.". He also has his own channel. Some of the videos that I enjoyed as morsels for thought were HERE "The Death of Kindness", HERE "Philosophy of Envy", HERE "Sorting Yourself Out"HERE "Leftist Fascism" and HERE "What pisses me Off About White Guilt" . Let me state again, part of the reason I listened to this guy WAS for the challenge. I do not hold many of his opinions YET, I am benefiting from some of his food for thought.

25.) Asking for help during PPD. I found a young pregnancy government program, which gave us milk coupons and emotional support as well as free prenatal vitamins. I was a teen and low income, so I qualified for this program. They kept me on when my other two were born because of how pregnancy and after wards affected me plus our age and income level. They helped me realize, along with a couple who were counselling us, that I had Post Partum Depression. I actually can't think of ages 18- to 25 without cringing. I was VERY affected by twisted hormones, thought patterns, and weird physical symptoms. I had constant nosebleeds, insanely painful haemorrhoid's that required specialists, nine months of severe morning sickness, skin conditions, uterine/ cervical infections that would not stop, multiple hospital enemas and many other traumatic events for a young aspie girl. I was already sensitive in my body and it felt like it was NEVER mine. Pregnancy for me was epically awful. I felt violated and betrayed by my own body. The emotional thoughts and crazy mindsets seem like an entirely different person to me. I think back and ask myself, "Who was that girl??" Yes, she was a version of me, but one I can barely relate to on any level. I am happy to report all of those issues and their lingering effects, disappeared five years after my youngest was born. Despite all of this, I STILL would say having children was the second best decision of my life, however it could have gone immensely wrong. I am lucky to have had the massive supports I did, the understanding and loyal husband, the kind friends, therapy and the other good decisions that made life better as we went along...

26.) My youngest child gets a point of his own, because of the circumstances involved. I miscarried three months before I became pregnant with my youngest. It was traumatic and involved a hemorrhage. It was also an unexpected pregnancy. After the grief process, my husband and I thought long and hard about our future and life goals. I realized that even though I had tough pregnancies and PPD, that maybe it was worth another life in the world? My mind was already adjusting to a family of three children. With great trepidation we decided to try for a third. It was my best pregnancy although it came with it's own issues like bleeding for the first three months...but I actually enjoyed a bit of being pregnant. I finally understood women who loved pregnancy or obtained a pregnancy glow from time to time. I also had a good labour without trauma and bonded well with him after because of that. He was my healing in so many ways. We decided after that to get a permanent form of birth control because we ended on such a positive note. I still had a few lingering effects of PPD but nothing compared to what I dealt with in the earlier years with the first two babies and other miscarriages. When each child passed five, my life became normalized. Now I LOVE having children in my home life. Even though the younger years are adorable I barely got through them, but passed five, the conversations, support and love I have with each of my children are worth the years in hell I endured because they make up for it a hundred fold. Plus, it wasn't the children's fault and I did my best during those years to make sure they were as unaffected as possible, though I was deeply affected...and so was my husband. We don't often speak of those years.

27.) Hiring a doula for my second and third labours. This changed my life for the better. I took back my own care and gained independence from the medical system with this decision. My health improved, I learned about patient autonomy first hand, and I did not take any pain medications for those births because she got me through. They were painful and tough, but my doula enabled me to be at my best. For a woman who is already sensitive, differently wired, and has chronic health issues, this was a huge aspect of my personal rights.

28.) Watching Glee. I know that it sounds odd...and in fact, I still have a hard time with parts of each season, but it stretched me into thought patterns and acceptance levels I would not otherwise have today. For IT'S TIME, it was a needed, new perspective. Now, the concepts are pretty old hat in some movements, but Glee paved the way in both music and acceptance and changed our culture. Most of all, it changed me, on many levels. Especially with a lot of the story lines in season 2.8 (Blaine and beyond) and Season 3. It was a show where I finally felt like I belonged. I felt accepted. I no longer felt odd...and it expressed my soul through all my favourite mediums of song, dance, film, and pop culture references. It also re introduced unrecognized music that finally has it's place in known culture today. It was irreverent and sometimes crazy outlandish but also deeply resonating, touching and heartfelt. It was sometimes remarkable, other times escapist, sometimes too raunchy for my sensibilities but other times the profane was purposeful to point out hypocrisy (and also remember the demographic- it was targeting 18-49 year olds) and then downright mediocre with some episodes...but I chose to stick it through, and although I would rather forget multiple episodes, the jewels within gave me food for thought, inspiration, and encouragement in my own life stances and choices. Plus, it made me cry and not a lot makes me cry. It was an outlet to my life when I was in the midst of making crucial life choices. ( I watch the christmas episodes every year with my children, except Previously Unaired Christmas, which actually came with it's own warning for being offensive on multiple levels- Do not watch that episode until you are well versed in Glee or skip it.) It also keeps me motivated now on the Treadmill because I see the young actors ( my age) doing these incredible moves while singing and acting, and I want to be able to at least sustain walks with my children at the same age. The songs are an added boon.

29.) Choosing to pay off debt and be intentional about money. The blog Mr. Money Moustache CLICK helped me in this regard. Money is security and a basic level of happiness in many senses. We have been poor, making 600 dollars a month in Canada while having two children in a low income rental house- I honestly don't think we would have made it without my parents and our support system's generosity from time to time. We have also known fairly good financial gain when we were able to focus on most of our debt...and the freedom that came from not having debt was HUGE. I encourage my children to choose decisions that enable them to be free with their money. So that they can work at any job they are able with hard work, but then take off a reasonable amount of hours to pursue passions and beauty in their spare time. I strongly encourage them to not spend money on higher education but to become highly educated. It IS a possibility in this day and age to search out both peer reviewed sources and original sources to learn about any given subject. I teach them that being a student and a lover of learning are two very different concepts. But if they chose higher education debt, that is also their choice and comes with some pay offs too. However, life is about choices, and I am so relieved my husband and I chose to quit our multiple programs for better stability. I am also glad we chose to live life mostly within our month to month means and focus on our financial goals as a family, as well as within our values.

30.) Renovating our "starter home" into a new version of our "dream home." I never wished for a bi level. I wanted a small, one floor cottage out in isolation. However, we realized with the deal we scored our home with, it was advantageous to make it matter, by staying in it. Thus, after five years of living on the top floor only, we managed to save enough to do basement renovations. Along the way, as we could afford it, we made small, enjoyable creative changes to the house. We built a gothic arch in the front wall for fun...and for that matter...a retaining wall that took five years for my husband to finish. I hated it at first, but now am glad he persevered with his vision. We built a library/rec room because we both thought a home should have a library and a garden. We dreamt and planned the layout ourselves and spent hours of our time creating. I look back at those years as my favourite. It was hard work and our house isn't what I would have originally thought out myself, but for what it is, it is creative and fun. Most people who walk in say comments to me like, "I have NEVER seen a house like this!" or "This is do you dust it all?" :) or "I walk in and it's twice the size it looks like from outside- I could get lost in the layout because it seems so huge." or "How much work was this? It's like a piece of artwork." or "It's like artists took over your home and created an interesting masterpiece that makes the collector wish to live in it and snuggle up in one of the hobbit holes." - That was my favourite comment.

There are many important small decisions that made our life better as a whole, as well as individually. It is impossible to sum up all of the life changing decisions of thirty plus years, but these are the ones that immediately came to mind. I am so grateful for my circumstances and privileges, but a lot of these aspects we also worked for. We worked HARD to make the life we have today. It was with great preserving, and hard choices. Changing mentalities is never easy work. I am proud of what we made even if we also unmade aspects of life as well. A good life isn't just handed to someone. Yes, there are many factors involved that we should be grateful for, but a life can be ruined or inspired with the varied choices. It takes grit, determination, responsibility, ethics, morals, and autonomy to create a satisfying existence. This is part circumstance, part mentality and part work. Your best choices could be the exact opposite of most of mine and still be fulfilling. Creating is half of the fun.

"Hope when the water rises you built a wall...Hope if everybody runs, you chose to stay... Hope that you fall in love and it hurts so bad, the only way you can know you gave it all you had. Hope you don't suffer but take the pain. Hope when the moment comes you - you'll say, "I did it all." I owned every second that this world could give, saw so many places the things that I did. Yea, with every broken bone, I swear I LIVED. Hope you spend your days, but they all add up. And when that sun goes down, hope you raise your cup. I wish that I could witness all your joy and all your pain. But until the moment comes, I'll say..."I LIVED."- One Republic

I know I can say "I lived and owned every second." How about you and your choicesI hope they feel just as satisfying and if they are not, that the choices in the future reflect whom YOU are.

Afterward: I finished reading the final sentence of this post to my family and my daughter jokingly goes "Hashtag Kmarie's life hacks" thus I added that for fun, to my title:)

Song choice:Being Alive- Barbra Streisand:

 I Lived- One republic ( The beautiful video about the 15 year old who has cystic Fibrosis is also touching)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Seven Weeks of Intentional Christmas Spirit. Christmas is Hygge to Me. Magic and Hardship Together. Snow!

* Our Christmas Cactus blooming.

"Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. And Since we've no place to go, Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow! It doesn't show signs of stopping, so I brought some corn for popping, the lights are turned way down low. Let it Snow, let it Snow, Let it Snow..."- Sammy Cahn

After Halloween hits in Canada, there are no major Holidays in the way of our Christmas crazy family from getting into our favourite festive season. It helps when our weather usually brings snow at the beginning of November. We are currently sitting at a foot and the snow is still falling. I have to admit, I was dreading the snow this year. After experiencing last year's winter of dry roads and brown grass until December 22, I realized the ease and convenience of life is improved drastically without snow...but I am a true Lorelei Gilmore and cannot help but feel the magic of the first smell of snow, even if it does hamper outings and such.

My favourite time of day is twilight when the snow is gently lit by the darkening sky. The world is quieted by the blanket. The air feels lighter and heavier at once. Soft crunch sounds are muffled through the windows. Street lights are dimmed from the piles of white fluff which enhances the glow from inside.

"I would be happy just to hold the hands I love, on this Winter's Night with you...the lamp is burning low upon my table top, snow is softly falling, the air is still in the silence of my room, I hear your voice softly calling. If I could only have you near, to breathe a sigh or two, I would be happy just to hold the hands I love. On this Winter's night with you."- Sarah McLachlan

I fall in love with every season. Each one brings a beauty and freshness to life I welcome. We have four distinct seasons where we live, but because of our place in Canada, our weather patterns can drastically change even within these seasons. While this can be an inconvenience and sometimes my chronically ill body curses the wind and weather, my soul secretly loves the unpredictability. It keeps me on my toes. It keeps me fresh. It encourages me to make knew goals. ( I know...I'm a complete 'J' type!) And I feel inspired.

Winter brings me back to my soul. Our home always feels the most like "itself " when it's decorated for the Holidays. Which is why one can usually drive by and see the flicker of two trees up by November first...and sometimes if the snow comes early and we are needing warmth...October... Which is crazy even to the well seasoned inhabitants of our vast land. Well, most of them anyway, except for the few holiday fanatics. But for us? Besides the fact that we are used to being the deviants, and never fully in the acceptable standards of majority public opinion, it's more about our souls. We have so many beautiful Christmas ornaments, trees, and Holiday decor that I like to have it up for at LEAST three, if not four or five months of the year. It depends on how white it is outside and dark and for how long. I need warmth, light and sparkles! My Autumn decor is up for three months, and I enjoy my Christmas collection even more- so why not? Truthfully, one can witness all seasons in my decor all year long, but the main theme changes depending on the upcoming Festivities.

 "It's all red and gold and Nat King Cole and tinsel on the tree. It's all twinkle lights, and snowy nights, and the kids still believe...."- Kacey Musgraves

Last year was excruciating. My husband tried to end his life last year around this time. I could not speak about the details back then while dealing with them but now it is easier to speak of. We had Christmas in November (CLICK) to give ourselves a taste of hope (and it was a good decision but one we will not be doing this year- each season needs to have it's own rhythm.) Our marriage was crumbling to pieces due to many factors but especially my husband's Jekyll/Hyde persona and rage. Luckily, that has all been sorted out and I can not stress enough the importance of support, professional help with the RIGHT med instead of the triggering ones, therapy, diligence, kindness and time. But it is hard for me to not hate him when I get some of those memories back. I couldn't hate him then, even when he was raging, because I knew it wasn't himself and that there was grief and wrong med involved...but now in hindsight, it's a struggle not to hate those moments. So instead, I am trying to focus on what we are recovering.

"It's the ones you miss, no one to kiss, under the mistletoe. Another year gone by, just one more that I could not make it home. And I know that they say- have a Happy Holiday and some years I sincerely try. Oh but Christmas always makes me cry. It seems like everyone else is having fun. I wonder if I'm the only one? Whose broken heart has broken parts, just wrapped in pretty paper..."- Kacey Musgraves

Recovery takes time. I think often people like to hear it's all better within a certain time frame. They want us to be back to the selves we were before, even though sometimes those people are no more. That hope for what was, while not always reasonable, is understandable. However, some circumstances change us forever. Always with a bit of positive and a bit of negative depending on the perspective.

How did I go from Winter's magic to the realism of the nitty gritty? To me, it is always both. Within magic there is a price. Within a price there can be magic. And in the magic of almost two feet of snow, I feel the depth of emotion, isolation, contentment, hope, misery, pain and joy.

"Twinkling lights on Christmas trees, kids up on old Santa's knee...bells are ringing everywhere, season's spirits in the air..."- Alabama

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, jack frost nipping at your nose. Yuletide carols being sung by a choir, and folks dressed up like Eskimos. Everybody knows a turkey and mistletoe, helps to make the season bright..."- Nat King Cole

We've had dark Christmases before for varied reasons...finances, death, depression. During those times, the festivities could sometimes enhance the sadness of the season. Luckily there are multiple Christmas songs for those feelings too. Music expressed my misery and kept me afloat. Also the glitter and glimmer was a stark contrast from reality and DID make it worse at times but also helped me remember the duality of life. If you are going into that season, find some hope, help and support. HERE, HERE and HERE are helpful posts on recovering finances, changing expectations and goals, and creating Hygge...I recommend them going into this season if you are needing some life hacks.

This year we are going tentatively into another type of Recovery season. Instead of Judy Crooning "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" or Dolly singing "Hard Candy Christmas" over and over, more mellow, hopeful tunes are turning on the record player. For Stateside people who still have Thanksgiving to anticipate I could see how Christmas is not on the radar. If I had a holiday in between I would feel conflicted...Halloween gets in the way of my Holiday mode sometimes. Seven weeks till Christmas feels like a large amount of time for some, but for me, seven weeks of my decor, warm lights, gently falling snow, Hygge and Christmas tunes sounds delightful.
The fireplace is burning bright, shining along me. 
I see the presents underneath the good old Christmas tree. And I wait all night 'til Santa comes to wake me from my dreams. Oh, why? 'Cause that's Christmas to me. >I see the children play outside, like angels in the snow. While mom and daddy share a kiss under the mistletoe. And we'll cherish all these simple things wherever we may be
Oh, why? 'Cause that's Christmas to me. I've got this Christmas song in my heart. I've got the candles glowing in the dark. I'm hanging all the stockings by the Christmas tree. Oh, why? 'Cause that's Christmas to me. Oh, why? 'Cause that's Christmas to me. I listen for the thud of reindeer walking on the roof. As I fall asleep to lullabies, the morning's coming soon. The only gift I'll ever need is the joy of family. Oh, why? 'Cause that's Christmas to me. I've got this Christmas song in my heart. I've got the candles glowing in the dark. And then for years to come we'll always know one thing. That's the love that Christmas can bring. Oh, why? 'Cause that's Christmas to me..." - Pentatonix

The kids went out into the snow with their daddy last night to build snowmen. The darkness encompassed our environment around Dinnertime but was brightened by the white glow of snow. They wrestled, made snow angels and threw snowballs for an hour while I took pictures from inside. I sat on the couch beside the window with my steaming cinnamon - topped tea in hand, the glow of the tree was in one corner and the fireplace warmth in another. My record player was pumping out Nat King Cole and I could occasionally hear a muffled squeal from outside. It was one of those moments when all was right with the world. I wish each person in the world could have more of those moments (an Idealist much?:)...and maybe if we did, if we truly savoured them and celebrated the comforts of home and family, maybe the world wouldn't get so crazy? Maybe...

I love the snow that keeps falling because I have nowhere to go. We have chosen a life of low commitments. We have chosen to focus on the brief season of children in the home and centered in the home. It helps that we have a treadmill given to us for the moments we require indoor activity. We have all that we need, and I know this story would be different if we didn't...I have experienced glimmers of THAT (CLICK) life too and I understand. But this is my current NOW. I speak from experiences that are ME. This weekend we are not planning on venturing out at all, unless it's to play in the large tufts of snow. It would be a different story if we had to go out on the roads or out in the cold by force...but we don't. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this season of our story. Christmas to me is more than just a day. It's a spirit of winter. It's more than seven weeks of Hygge. It's about intention, family and hearth. 
Last week we had plus temperatures of 18 Celsius and five days ago we mowed our lawn a final time. I admit that our home looks cleaner and probably fresher pre Christmas decor (See above) but when the white flecks fall, I need stuff around me...I need the visual reminders of what the spirit is about for me...
I don't expect most to understand our version of Christmas, nor to even accept the timeline we have for our particular brand of beauty. But I do wish for those who want more out of life, to understand the spirit behind what we do. I wish that, even if it is not something that can be done in certain circumstances or places, that the merits of 'WHY?' bring home that feeling of Hygge. Hygge will be different for all, depending on taste, weather patterns, and placement. But the Spirit of it? That is Christmas to me.

"Where the love circles around us, like the gifts around the's the only Christmas for me...Come on weather man, give us a forecast snowy white."- Amy Grant