Tag Archives: stress

Remembering The Things That Matter

6 May

I am participating in the 2012 Wordcount Blogathon, which means one post every day for the month of May.

Walking down the aisle with my brother

This week, my first wedding anniversary came and went without me really posting anything about it, other than a status update on Facebook, in which I tagged my beloved.

For about three months before my wedding I was fraught with stress. Had I sent out the invitations with enough time to spare? Would we get a DJ? Would the venue be OK? Where would I get shoes that were comfortable?

I worried about whether a wedding would be too overwhelming for a child with autism. I had a falling-out with the lady who was supposed to make the cake. We couldn’t afford to pay for decor and we hoped that what the venue was providing would be sufficient. My intended and I had silly little arguments over nothing.

My bridesmaid, speaking from the comfort of her decade-old marriage, assured me that no-one would care about the details. When people looked back on our wedding, they would not remember what colour the napkins were or the fact that I hadn’t been able to pony up the cash for chair covers.

To tell the truth, I barely remember those details myself. The stuff I do remember seems so much more important. Like the fact that my friend Fran, who was doing the music for the ceremony, arrived a few days in advance and along with my mom, helped me wrap the guest favours and take care of final details. Or the fact that her friend, who was accompanying her to the wedding, arrived two nights before and in spite of  being a complete stranger to me, cheerfully rolled up his sleeves to lend a hand.

I remember the fantastic respite worker who took charge of the kids for the day and helped them have a wonderful time. And my maid of honour and bridesmaid, who showed up on my wedding day and whisked me off to get my hair and makeup done.

I recall the humour in the fact that the only time Jehovah’s Witnesses have ever come to my house, it was on my wedding day. And how funny it was when various people had to take turns doing up the buttons on my dress.

And I remember – with such fondness and love – walking down the aisle on the arm of my brother, who looked so proud (and possibly relieved to finally be marrying me off) as he ushered me in to my future.

Non-Canadian Thanksgiving: Things I’m Thankful For

24 Nov

My social media feeds are making me hungry today. My Facebook newsfeed and my Twitter timeline are full of people in the United States talking about turkey, wild mushroom tartlets, various kinds of fresh-baked breads, pumpkin pie, sweet-potato-this-thing or roasted-carrot-that-thing. It all sounds delicious, and I am truly happy that everyone is having such a lovely feast. But you know, sitting up here in Canada, the ham and cheese sandwich that looked so nice while I was making it suddenly seems a little sad.

Yes, I know. We Canadians already had our turn last month. While I was Facebooking and tweeting about my own Thanksgiving dinner six weeks or so ago, I got a number of responses that said something along these lines: “Lucky cow!”

Anyway, even though it is not technically my Thanksgiving, I thought I’d take a moment, while everyone is in the mood, to reflect on things that I am grateful for. Because sometimes we get so caught up the busy-ness and stress and noise of life that we forget about the things in our lives that make it all worthwhile.

Like these:

  • I have two gorgeous children who are in perfect health. Yes, my son has autism, and yes, this affects both of my kids, but I get to hug them and cuddle with them and kiss them goodnight. I get to read to them, play with them, and arm-wrestle them into eating their veggies. They are there to wake me up early on Saturday mornings while I’m trying to sleep, and they are there to dump toys all over the house and then refuse to clean up after themselves. There are some parents who have buried their children, who can only dream of all of this. My heart aches for them, and I appreciate every second with my kids – the good moments and the bad.
  • My husband and I have arguments. I mean, who doesn’t? Every couple has arguments. There are times when he drives me crazy, times when he makes me cry, times when I feel overworked and underappreciated. But then there are the good times. The times we laugh together at some joke that only the two of us can understand. The times we go to meetings at our kids’ schools and work together for the betterment of their future. He calls me during the day for no reason other than to tell me he loves me, and when I’m on my way home from work, he walks to the bus stop to meet me because he wants to see me that badly. He is the love of my life and I cannot imagine life without him. And I am truly thankful that I sat in a park that day ten years ago and fell for the stranger who approached me.
  • The economy has been up a certain creek without a paddle for some time now. I know of people who have lost their jobs, who cannot afford a simple visit to the doctor, who struggle to feed their families. I spend a lot of time griping about my commute, but at least I have a job to commute to. It’s a good job, too. Challenging work, reasonable pay, good benefits and for the most part, people I enjoy working with.
  • I have some phenomenal friends. Some I have known for a very long time, and some are relatively recent additions to the fabric of my life. Many people talk about their online friends versus their “in real life” friends. I make no such distinction. If you have hugged me (either in person or virtually), cried with me, advised me, been there for me, allowed me to be there for you – you are my friend, whether I have met you face-to-face or not. Knowing someone exclusively through online media does not make that person any less real. So, to my friends – whether we have physically met or not –  I love you and appreciate you. Truly.
  • Then there are the people who I don’t really know well enough to be able to be able to call my friends – not yet, anyway. I hesitate to use the word “acquaintances”, because that word implies that I merely know these people. It does not adequately convey the idea that they are important to me, and that I greatly value their presence in my life. Many of the people I interact with on Twitter fall into this category. I cannot say that I know them, but they brighten my day, or somehow make me feel that I’m not alone; that no matter what I’m going through, someone understands and more importantly, cares.

Sometimes, life gets overwhelming for me and all I want to do is run away and hide. But when I turn on my taps, I get hot and cold running water that’s clean enough to drink. I walk outside and all of the buildings are standing. There are no bombs flying around and I haven’t lost all of my loved ones and possessions to an earthquake. I live in a house, not on the street. Although I live halfway across the world from my mother, I don’t have to worry about whether she is sick or injured, because through the magic of technology that I can afford to have in my home, I am in daily contact with her.

No matter how bad things may get from time to time, there is always something to be thankful for.

(Photo credit to http://www.flickr.com/photos/lonecypress/3264410416. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)

A Friend Who Saved The Day (And My Sanity)

12 May

I met my friend Fran about fifteen years ago. We met more or less by default: my boyfriend and her boyfriend were old high school buddies. We always got along well enough, but we didn’t really become firm friends until just over two years ago, when Fran emailed me to tell me she was moving to Canada. By then both of us had long split from the boyfriends who had been responsible for us meeting in the first place.

Despite living on the other side of the country, since Fran came to Canada she has visited me in Toronto several times. During her first visit we ran a race together. I did the 10km race and Fran – running in her first race ever – did the 5km. During that same visit, she assembled an outdoor grill that I had been given and that had me stumped. This is why you have friends who can put helicopters together. Seriously. That is what Fran does for a living.

During Fran’s visits, we always seem to go through an inordinate amount of wine. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Most recently, Fran came to my wedding. I can safely say that if she hadn’t been there, I would have been lost. She arrived three days before the wedding, when I was roughly halfway through a week-long nervous breakdown. By this point, she had already helped immensely, having offered to play flute music at the wedding ceremony (Fran can fix helicopters and play the flute like an angel).

On the day she arrived, Fran and I went driving all over the place, picking up the guest favours, sorting out a camera for the as-yet unconfirmed photographer, buying crafty stuff to make the guest favours look pretty.

The following day, while I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off and doing frantic last-minute shopping, Fran calmly took charge of the guest favours. She spent the day wrapping them, putting ribbon around them and even adding a bit of hand-written calligraphy to finish them off. They looked gorgeous.

I have to pause at this point to give credit to my Mom. She helped with the guest favours too. Enormously. For a day and a half the two of them – Fran and my Mom – were at it, working hard to make everything look perfect. If it hadn’t been for them, I honestly don’t know what I would have done.

Fran also helped keep me from unraveling completely at the seams. During the day, she was offering practical help with all kinds of things. During the evenings, she kept me supplied with wine, good humour and great conversation.

On the day, she drove back and forth to the reception hall with her friend Corrigan, dropping off things that needed to be dropped off and helping keep everything in line.

And of course, there was the music at the ceremony. It was beautiful, it was personal, it made the ceremony complete in a way that some random organist could never have managed. The musical interlude continued at the reception, where Fran and Gerard’s cousin Liam played a wonderful set of Celtic music. They played together effortlessly, despite having met and practised together for the first time the previous day.

Then there was the photography. We had a number of people present with cameras, many of whom are very capable photographers, and Fran was one of them. She took hundreds – literally hundreds – of fantastic pictures that are a wonderful record of a perfect day.

Fran, if you’re reading this, thank you does not begin to be enough. You came through for me in so many ways at a time when I really needed it.

Next time you’re coming to town, let me know and I’ll stock up on wine.

I Made It Down The Aisle!!!

9 May

Just married!

I tried, really I did.

I had the best of intentions to keep posting every day during the time leading up to my wedding. I thought it would be easy. Reposts. Pictures. A few sentences thrown together for the sake of getting something published.

Little did I know just what the final week of wedding planning would be like.

There was stress. There was much driving around getting things finalized. There were late nights spent at the computer finishing seating charts, printing place cards and drawing up itineraries as friends and family members helped wrap guest favours and keep me supplied with wine.

There was chaos, there were arguments, there were final negotiations with vendors.

What there wasn’t, was time. Not a scrap of it. Every second counted in that last week. The night before my wedding, I was still printing place cards at midnight.

So much for going for de-stressing runs.

So much for relaxing and going for a manicure on the final day.

Do you know what, though? On the day, everything came together perfectly. I had a beautiful, beautiful day. The flowers were lovely. The kids were absolute stars. I felt like a princess, sitting in the limo sipping champagne. The people surrounding me all day snapping pictures made me feel like I had my own paparazzi.

Even the weather cooperated. We got one perfect day of sunshine, that my Mom says was ordered by my Dad.

Best of all, most amazing of all, is that at the end of the day, I had the most amazing husband a girl could wish for. Every now and then, my heart flips as I look at my man and think, “I’m married to him!”

I feel like the princess who got her prince.

It’s My Blog And I’ll Cry If I Want To

22 Mar

Yesterday I received an email that was very upsetting. It was not upsetting in an earth-shattering kind of way, but it was one of those messages that creates an uncomfortable feeling. The email was fraught with emotion and drama that I found unwarranted for the circumstances. The tone was angry and the message was negative.

I simmered. After I had simmered for a while, I responded to the email. I would describe the tone of my response as “controlled anger”. I felt that I needed to let my correspondent know that I was angry and why, but I did not want to be insulting or rude. Having re-read both the original email and my reply, I believe that my response was reasonable.

Later in the day, a  mutual friend told me that the email had been sent to me in response to a remark I had made in yesterday’s blog post.

I confess that I was, and still am, mystified. I did not say anything derogatory or inflammatory, I did not say anything that this person did not already know, and I did not even refer to this person, either by name or by reference. I made a passing reference to something the individual had quoted me on for my wedding. I did not say anything bad about the quote. I did not even mention the quote.

My comment was, at worst, an oblique reference that drew one hell of a knee-jerk reaction. I am absolutely clear that there was nothing insulting in there. And again, I did not say anything that the person was not already aware of.

I was bothered by all of this, but to be fair, I was bothered by a number of things yesterday. This was just one stressor of many. I mentioned the incident to a friend last night during a Skype chat, and she suggested that maybe I should be careful about the wedding-related stuff I post in my blog, just in case someone involved in the wedding planning reads it and gets offended.

I value the opinions of my friends, but I have to respectfully disagree with that one. For a start, I am always aware of what I am posting. I try my utmost to never post anything that could be construed as offensive, malicious, derogatory or discriminatory. I’m just not that kind of person. I am, however, human, and I do remember one occasion on which I posted something that offended someone. I could see why the person might get offended, even though that was not my intent, and I apologized. The following day I posted a clarification and an apology. Both were accepted. No harm done.

This isn’t the same, though. I do not feel that any apology is in order. I did not say anything bad about any individual, group of individuals, profession, race, religion, anything. I made a passing reference while I was venting about the stress of wedding planning.

I feel completely OK about the fact that I was venting. I am using my God-given right, as a bride who is less than six weeks away from her wedding, to be stressed.

If I want to vent here on my blog, I will. I am not going to start walking on egg-shells on the off-chance that someone might blow a fuse at a general reference that is not insulting and does not even refer to them.

If, by chance, I do say something that offends you, please let me know nicely. If I feel that I have wronged someone, even without meaning to, I am completely fine with making a public apology. I’m a big girl. I can take responsibility for the things I say.

All I ask is that you be nice.

In Six Weeks It Won’t Matter

21 Mar

Yesterday – horror of horrors – I did not post to my blog. That’s right folks, I missed a day in my post-a-day challenge. But fear not – I have enough extra posts racked up to provide me with a buffer for those days when I just have too much going on. But still, going for a day with no posts does not sit well with me. It makes me feel uncomfortable and ill at ease, like when someone has moved my running shoes from their spot by the front door.

Most of my time yesterday was taken up by wedding planning. I had arranged for my maid-of-honour Michelle to come by for a makeup trial. Due to a combination of circumstances, my makeup lady was unable to come as arranged, but she had visited the previous day and left me with some samples. I considered telling Michelle that she didn’t need to come, but changed my mind because I still needed her to look at the samples, and I just wanted to see her and hang out with her for a while.

She arrived right on schedule, bearing gifts of coffee and donuts. I showed her the samples and we decided on makeup colours, and then we went through my never-ending checklist of stuff that needs to be done.

We celebrated the fact that everyone’s clothing has been sorted out, bar the fittings and measurements. We lamented the fact that my potential hairdresser had not yet responded to my messages.

We were happy about the fact that we have a confirmed DJ, and we’re pretty confident about the photography and videography. We stressed about the fact that we don’t have our transportation for the day sorted out.

We have a makeup artist for the day, but for cost reasons, I have to revisit the question of the cake.

The church and hall and booked and confirmed, but we have yet to think about flowers and decor.

For everything that’s been done, there seems to be something that’s still outstanding.

Who knew that wedding planning could be so involved?

It’s all very stressful.

To relieve some of the stress, I went for a run after Michelle had left. It was a tough run at a brisk pace, and included a big fat hill right at the end. By the time I got home I was so exhausted, and my legs were protesting so much, that I forgot all about the stress of wedding planning.

It is so strange to think that six weeks from now it will all be over, and none of this stress will matter anymore.

As long as great memories are made, it will all be worthwhile.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shelleyp/833463719)

Wedding Planning Worries

19 Mar

I have discovered an odd parallel between wedding planning and parenting. With both, you always have something to worry about, but the particular worries change and evolve depending on what stage you are in.

For instance, I look back on the day I first brought George home from the hospital. There I was, a new Mom with this ridiculously small human being who looked so fragile. I was terrified that I’d break him, that something bad would happen just because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

When it became apparent that I actually had the ability to keep him alive, I started worrying about different things. Was he sleeping enough? Was I feeding him the right stuff? What did that rash on his face mean? How did I know whether or not to worry about a fever?

Then James came along and brought with him a whole new set of worries. Now, I worry about stuff like sibling relationships, whether the boys are happy at school, and how to keep up with the fact that they seem to outgrow their shoes within the first ten minutes of owning them.

A year from now, I will no doubt be stressing about something else.

It’s been much the same with my wedding planning.

Right in the beginning, I was focused on getting the reception hall booked. I figured that as long as we had a place to party, nothing else would really matter. It took us a long time to commit to a hall, and throughout the whole selection process I was stressed to the hilt and being pulled in different directions by different people who wanted different things.

The moment we paid the deposit on the hall, a weight lifted from my mind. But soon another one settled there: the weight regarding my dress. A long story, the dress was. It involved a promise from my soon-to-be mother-in-law to make it, a retraction of said promise, and an argument before the promise was reinstated. There were discussions about whether or not I would wear a veil, and these discussions were more heated than one might expect.  Eventually, my wishes prevailed (and why shouldn’t they?) and it is now known by all concerned that I will not be wearing a veil.

Then I started to panic about the shoes. I had to go on several shoe-shopping trips, and I hated every one of them, because – well, I hate shoe-shopping. Just as I was starting to think that I would have to wear my battered running shoes to my wedding, I found a pair of shoes that I love.

Okay. Deep, soothing breaths.

When the shoes were sorted, it was time to worry about the guest list and the invitations. This caused me no end of stress. Initially I was going to keep it simple. I got plain but elegant stationery to print the invitations on, I had the invitations designed and I was just about to print them when…

…the hub-to-be announced that we should have a theme for the wedding.

It’s a great theme, I have to confess. I’m glad we’re going with it. But it meant that we had to change what we were doing with the invitations, and as a result they went out ten days later than I would have liked. But they went out, and all credit to Gerard, they are really nice.

We have a makeup person.

We have a DJ.

Everyone’s clothing has been sorted out.

Now, I guess because I actually have the time to worry about it, I have a new worry.

Who is going to do my hair?

I already know what my next worry after this one will be, but for now, I’m going to focus on the hair.

I can only worry about one wedding-related thing at a time, otherwise my head might just implode.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/saffy_suppi/4958417528)