Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The New Faith

I am exhausted. November and December, in hindsight, look like the insides of a tornado. Okay okay, that's not fair, November was actually really awesome, but December - December was certainly a tornado. In its mix: husband touring extensively, toddler cutting 8 teeth (which made him forget how to sleep), and a persistent cold that turned into a crazy sinus infection (I'm still coughing).
It is incredibly crucial to pay close attention to your anxieties. Why? Because all that anxious thought will bite you in the ass. If I had a bumper sticker which would have summed up my greatest anxieties of the past year, it would read: ALL ALONE AT HOME WITH NON-SLEEPING TODDLER. So what happened? I ended up all alone at home with a non-sleeping toddler. And here's the thing: it wasn't that bad. In fact, it forced me to finally surrender to all those things which are really out of my control. This is such a breakthrough for a control freak, to realize that there are things I can't control so can just stop trying. It's like a vacation!
I have a tendency to make busy. Plan plan plan, do do do, fix fix fix. I exhaust myself. I am certainly the culprit of my own insanity. My pattern has always been to fit as much as possible into each day, and do this for weeks on end, then take a trip somewhere by myself. I've always believed that in order to feel life at its peak, it has to be crammed full of experience. Then the vacation serves as time to unwind and reflect before heading into the next bout of creative madness. Here's the hitch: having a kid means that I don't take those trips by myself to decompress. So I am faced with two choices: stay on the crazy train without a vacation, or get off the crazy train and find a new way.
What I want to tell you, from the other side, is that what I gain from 5 minutes of open-hearted joyous play with my kid does not compare with a trip by myself to Tulum. Sigh. I think I just lied. Trips to Tulum are amazing, but my kid is even more amazing.
So what to do now that there isn't that chance for the getaway? I make the ordinary moments my salvation. I discovered this one night in the midst of December's madness when I had to drive to Canadian Tire in a rainstorm to pick-up a steam cleaner (long story). I get to Canadian Tire and am bulldozing my way through the aisles looking for lightbulbs, a stepladder, bob skates, all the while getting more worked up and stressed. Then I hit the customer service line-up to order the steam cleaner. It was a Sunday night. Long line-up. I could have lost it completely, but instead I took a breath and realized THAT was my moment to escape, to find some peace, to relax, to take a little vacation in my mind and pray. I prayed for things to calm down, I prayed for some patience, I prayed for Cedar to take up sleeping again. And a moment which could have gone awry went beautifully instead. I think I even listened to Hungry Like the Wolf on the way home at full volume and whipped my hair around a bit.
So take my advice: make life your temple. Make life your vacation. Listen to old Duran Duran. Eat more cookies. Be kind. Practice patience. Eat more cookies. Forgive your parents. Forgive yourself. Welcome a new year with open arms.
Off to bed.
xo BB

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

(Just Like) Starting Over

We got a new car last week. It's great except I don't know how to drive it. That's right, 14 years on the road in automatic cars and I've now decided to learn how to drive stick. The timing for this venture couldn't be more perfect; it is most certainly a fitting metaphor for where I'm at with everything these days. Here's an example:
This morning Bri and I had our coffee at home, sat in the living room with the boy, and perused the newspaper. 9:30 encroached and it was time for me to go to work. I took a deep breath and collected myself, for getting to work used to be a simple thing, and now it is a challenge. I have to wrestle with the new beast of manual driving, which brings humiliation, frustration, and makes me feel like a hormonal teenager. Yes, I know this sounds dramatic, but bear with me...
I got in the car, put on some music, and made my way along the regular route. There is construction on Dundas St. so when I arrived at the top of the hill there was back-up. I haven't yet been on a hill, stopped. There was a line-up of cars behind me. The light turned green: I released the brake, released the clutch, pushed the gas. I started rolling backwards. Did the process again. Rolled backwards. Car behind me with nowhere for her to reverse. Cars everywhere. I put the brake on and got out. Then I started waving my arms to the construction workers, and the cop at the top of the street. "Do you guys know how to drive stick?" No one knew how. Traffic was lining up, my heart was racing (yes, dramatic!). I saw my friendly mailman coming up the street and ran to him, "can you drive manual?" He said yes, and then I actually told him that I loved him. He said to keep the emergency brake on, and to gun it. The construction worker kindly said he would hold up traffic for me. So I got back in, waited for the green, and did exactly as he said. It was hilarious - I had a mailman, a construction worker, and the guy who owned the laundromat shouting "you can do it!" as I gunned up the hill. Once I knew I was in the clear and was headed downhill, I noticed the words of the song playing in the car "you're gonna neeeeed to be... patient with me".
I have a new life now. All the rumours about having a kid are true. I am truly learning a whole new way to drive. I don't know how just yet, and I stall all the time, and I get really mad, and it makes me feel so humble and so frustrated to be on such a learning curve with everything. But every day I get up and keep trying. I try to be patient with myself and with my little boy, who is changing so much these days and is also frustrated with the things he can't do yet.
Today I told him that he'll soon be walking, and that he'll soon have words to tell us what he wants, and that it will make things a lot easier. But for now, we're just going to be frustrated and that's okay. Me? I have to learn how to have balance. There is so much stop and go, and I find myself wanting to lurch forward into movement, to get back into work and doing and being busy. But it's too much; I'll burn out if I try to do things the old way. A little bit of clutch, and a little bit of gas - that's what I am learning. Hopefully I'll always have a team of construction workers, mailmen, and policemen to cheer me on...

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Crazy Going Slowly Am I

On Monday I had a playdate with two of my good friends and their two awesome little kids. While the kids drooled on blocks and tried to break out of the gates, we talked about the latest things we were grappling with. I find conversations with moms hilarious; we talk in the craziest circles, grazing over subjects because our brains seem to be newly wired for what I call "snack thinking". We simply don't have the kind of time we used to have, plus babies' attention spans are short, and in order to remain symbiotic I think we start to shorten our spans too. That's why I call it snacking.
What emerged in our conversation was a similar thread that all of us were feeling: stress. Stress over the little things, stress over when, what, how this would get done, that would be finished. Stress over packing a diaper bag, taking a shower, getting a meal made etc... We agreed that they were all small things which didn't matter all that much, but I found it interesting that we had been feeling the same way.
The next day I went to work for my three-hour stint at the bakery. My phone rang, someone texted, I started a spreadsheet, I checked my email, I texted back, I checked the cookies, I went back to the spreadsheet, I forgot to eat - and by the end of that three hours I truly wanted to rip my hair out. I got nothing done. I feel this way a lot of the time and find that it's a real challenge to get focused and accomplish something.
I am writing about it with the intention to bring some order into my somewhat chaotic existence.
My schedule is like a stop and go tornado. Not so different from my soon-to-be-a-toddler...
Here is a list of the things that make me crazy right now:
1) I don't eat properly. It's always lunch that gets missed, and this really affects my blood sugar and mood.
2) I feel like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly with the way I'm always texting, checking email, texting, checking email. I think Apple has kidnapped my brain.
3) My house is cluttered and disorganized.
4) I try to fit too much into one session at work and end up accomplishing very little.
5) Exercise always takes the backseat.
6) I always scramble to find something to wear in the mornings and it makes me feel like a bit of a schlump.
What I desire and crave and would drool over right now is having some kind of a schedule that I can stick to, and that isn't too ambitious. Why do I want this so bad? Why do the other moms I know want this? Why do most people thrive in this sort of condition? Because having just a little bit of control is nice. It makes me feel grounded, and sorted, and like I am taking care of myself.
So here's my list of solutions to get started with in response to the above crazy-makers.
1) Dedicate Sunday to meal planning and food shopping so that I can make a couple soups or stews for the week ahead. I do have a Crock Pot after all.
2) Choose specific times to check email and use phone. This is a hard one, but will help me to relax and focus.
3) De-clutter. Just get it done. Pick one area or one room at a time and move that s**t out!
4) Make a list when I arrive at work of the top 3 things I need to accomplish that day. Check them off as I go.
5) Make time to exercise. Seriously! Even 30 minutes every day.
6) Put my clothes out the night before.

Is this over-ambitious? I just want to find a flow, get into it, and feel as though I have some say in the way I feel day-to-day. Better to be on top of the wave than underneath it with a mouth full of sand.
xo BB
ps - the picture with this post is one I took while on my honeymoon in Big Sur. I want to feel how this photo feels.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Having the New All

Back before I had the little person in my life, I had concocted an idea of what it would be like to have a kid/be a mom. The concoction fit well with all the other things I had going on. You know, I could take the baby to work, still carry on the way I was carrying on, and everything would be dandy and unchanged - except I'd be blissfully happy all the time.
You know how people say to you that your life changes a lot when you have kids, and they say it in this kind of "you have no idea what you're getting yourself into way"? I used to scoff at those people because I was sure nothing could get in my way. Now I am one of those people, because it is so incredibly true: having a kid changes everything. And why? I'm going to say that it's the biggest emotional and spiritual shift I've ever felt: to be responsible for another human life every second of every day, for many years to come. It changed my relationship to everything.
For months I have felt very split, very conflicted, very unsure of how to do it all. The all being: take care of Cedar, take care of myself, run my business, feed my marriage, make soup, eat soup, pay bills, run errands, and also have a creative outlet. It is my way to think that I can do everything, and essentially, have it all.
But really, what is this all I am attempting to achieve? Where did it come from, and why am I so hard-pressed to live up to its expectation of me?
I made it, folks. I made that all. I made it so long ago that I didn't even realize it was following me around, tapping me on the shoulder, and not cutting me any slack. I've finally spun my heels around and am taking a look at this annoying creature who expects me to be this Superwoman.
I created an identity I could never humanly be. What a ripoff.

Everything I need to learn from life is coming straight from Cedar these days, and he doesn't need me to be a Superwoman. He just needs me to be his mom.
He is the most wise and patient teacher I have ever had, and best of all, he has no idea of his impact. Sure, he screams and whines and does all that baby stuff, but it pales in comparison to his zest for life (he goes down the slide head-first, I kid you not), his unabashed jolliness, and his fascination with the simplest things.
Where is it I feel I have to go, who is it I think I have to be, when the very most important thing of all is looking through the kitchen cabinets with Cedar? It's humbling, especially when the thrillseeker in me wants to get out in the world and scratch something together. It's humbling to realize that the only place I really need to be is on my kitchen floor, strumming a ukelele with dried avocado on my jeans.
The more I acquire, the more I want to shed. All these things amount to nothing when faced with my true self in the eyes of a baby. I mean that, and not in a granola way. This is some powerful stuff. This is what it's all about.
It's messy, it's wonderful, it's maddening, it's mind-numbing and hilarious. It's frustrating and rewarding, and sour and sweet. I wouldn't trade it for anything else. And well, I couldn't even if I wanted to :)

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Balancing Act

My lovely neighbour, who is a reporter, and who had a baby three months ago, sent me a link for this blog, A Cup of Jo. The writer, Joanna Goddard, interviewed seven moms about how they balance work/baby/life. I dug right in and read them all - twice. Since Joanna neglected to interview me (insert happy face) I decided to answer her questions here on my blog just for the fun of it.

What's your work schedule?
It's only in the last month that I have gone back to work in a more solid way. We've finally carved out a routine that is working for all of us. For now anyway...
So here goes: The Cedar alarm clock goes off at 7. We hang out in bed for a good hour and try to entertain him with lazy toys like diapers - yes, clean - or magazines, or the curtains. Anything to stay horizontal for as long as possible. Then we get up, head downstairs, make smoothies, shower, and head to Mitzi's for coffee. Cedar has a little buddy that we meet there in the mornings. It's the best part of the day.
At 9:30 I put Cedar down for a nap and then head to work. I work from 10-1. Bri is with Cedar during this time, doing fun mysterious boy things. I get home and put him down for his second nap. It's during this time that I either journal, blog, or do some housework. This is when Bri leaves to do his work.
When Cedar wakes up at 3, the world is our oyster... For a couple hours anyway.

How do you handle childcare?
Childcare is currently split between me and Bri. Bri does the 9:30-1:30 shift, and I do 1:30-5:30, then we reconvene for family time. Cedar is our boss.
In the fall, Cedar will start daycare 3 mornings a week, which will allow for longer stretches of time at work.

Where do you work during the day?
I work in my office up at the bakery. It's in a loft/mezzanine space above the staff area. I like working in an open space where I can have contact with my staff (love those ladies...)

What do you like least about your current set-up?
The 3-hour chunks at work don't feel like enough time to really complete a task. The day feels split up in a way that makes my head spin a little bit.

What do you find so-so/tricky/hilariously bad about your current set-up? What would you change if you had a magic wand?
The trickiness comes when trying to do too much. I used to put SO many things into a day, and I don't think it was healthy for me. When I try to operate like I used to, and end up dragging Cedar around in the car too much, it feels really crappy because no one is happy after a day like that. I also find it challenging to fit in the things that make a house a home: cooking, cleaning, beautifying. Food plays such an important role in how a day feels, and this is often neglected.
If I had a magic wand I'd probably break the motor on it from overuse. Not because anything is 'wrong' per se, but because I am kind of addicted to improving things.

How do you and your husband fit your marriage into the balance?
Cedar goes to bed at 7:30, so we have the evenings open for work or hanging out, or doing something that feeds us. We usually end up using this time to get things done, which isn't exactly feeding the marriage aspect of things. We went out for dinner last week for our anniversary and had such an awesome time. Our aim is to do that once a week.

Do you have any time for yourself?
I've carved out Thursday mornings as my time to go to yoga and perhaps even get a massage after. If I don't feed myself these things it is really easy to lose touch. I also use the evenings to do things like write, or read, or veg, but I find I am pretty bagged by the end of the day.

Do you ever wonder how other women manage the juggle? Have you talked to other women about it?
I am obsessed with this topic. And yes, I practically stop other women on the street to find out how they choreograph their days. I know that I've been looking for answers, and hoping that I am doing it 'right' but I don't think there is any right or wrong way. Each family is so different, and we all seem to create it as we go.

What advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?
I don't think things are in these neat compartments of parenthood/life/work - life is life and everything has to be treated as part of one whole or it's easy to fragment and feel disconnected. I want to feel complete and present with all of the elements that make up my life and not jump between personas. I especially notice this since having Cedar and trying to be "a mother" when really I just need to be myself.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Blogging for Bunchland

This is a great magazine/resource for parents and kids, and I am so happy to be doing some blogging for them. I'll be submitting a new recipe every week as Cedar and I journey into the land of food together... Cravings at Bunchland!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Showing Up

"Each day, we're given many opportunities to open up or shut down. The most precious opportunity presents itself when we come to the place where we think we can't handle whatever is happening. It's too much. It's gone too far. We feel bad about ourselves. There's no way we can manipulate the situation to make ourselves come out looking good. No matter how hard we try, it just won't work. Basically, life has just nailed us.
Most of us do not take these situations as teachings. We automatically hate them. We run like crazy. We use all kinds of ways to escape - all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can't stand it." -
Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart

While at work the other day, I opened up an old book in which I kept all my daily lists and brainstorming ideas and things to do etc... It was quite interesting to remember, and see proof of, how I was living my life before baby came.
From the outside looking in, things seemed a bit scattered and definitely overly busy. It was just the night before that I had read the above passage by Pema Chodron. It is only since having Cedar that I can fairly say that I intimately know that moment where I meet my edge and can't stand it, that moment that makes my skin crawl and makes me want to jump out of my seat: it is the moment of not knowing.
Funnily enough, I experience it when Cedar catches me off-guard and I don't have a plan in place. Maybe he wakes up early from a nap, or doesn't like the activity we're doing - I stop dead in my tracks with the thought of "What now?!" Maybe that sounds ridiculous, but it so happens to be my edge, and it's the moment I have avoided at all costs by being a very, very busy person. But now I can't avoid that moment, it's in my face, and it's great. Yes, I said great. Since I have time to swim around in this moment of not knowing, I am getting to know it. I am asking questions of it, like: what the heck am I so afraid of? What is it about not knowing what to do that makes me frantic?
The answer I got today is that not knowing what to do produces incredible fear for me; both fear of failure and fear of success.
So here's what I'm doing in the state of not knowing: I'm showing up. I go to work not knowing what to do and I just start doing stuff. Maybe I'll clean out my desk, maybe I'll answer emails, maybe I'll brainstorm. The point is that I'm showing up. I've also been writing for half an hour every day in my journal, and yes, there is a lot of boring stuff coming out, but so what? I'm showing up.
And then there are the moments with Cedar... I sit with him, he stands up on the garbage pail, or blows zrrrbrrts (Cosby Show term) on my arm, or looks at a leaf, and what can I do but surrender to his absolute Zen-ness?
Point I am making here is that showing up seems to be the most important thing I can do, no matter what comes out of it. The next big thing will come, it always does, and right now I am simply being humble in the practice of asking for it.

By the way, that's a picture of me and Cedar in a 29' foot RV that we took to the desert. Yep, I'm still on the adventure...

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Business of Baby

I remember, one fine summer day, sitting on a patio or something, and saying something really naive along the lines of, "I think I'm pretty well prepared for a baby considering that I own a business. I mean, owning a business is kind of like having a baby..." Then I probably took a sip of Pinot Grigio and felt really good about myself.
Ha! Okay, reality check: having a baby is NOT JUST LIKE owning your own business. But, to be fair to the comparison, I'm going to tell you some of the ways that owning a business does prepare you for the almighty job of motherhood.

1) Sleep Deprivation
When Shoshanna and I started up New Moon together in 1998 we worked 16 hour days pretty regularly, and would often get home by 3 or 4 in the morning, and maybe catch a few hours of sleep after playing a nice round of Mario Kart (it relaxed us).

I don't need to elaborate much on the sleep thing with a baby. We've all heard the horror stories. And they're true.

2) You're Not in Control
Okay, well, you're kind of in control because you started your own business, but when some jerk breaks into your truck and steals your freshly-iced cakes, or when a random smoldering fire starts in a basket of hot laundry (yeah, that was a weird one), or when your distributor rips you off and you can't pay the rent - well, then you're just really not in control.

The only thing I feel I have any control over with the baby are my reactions. And when I haven't slept, or forgot to eat, or feel kinda bummed that I wear the same clothes all the time and my hair looks like a Robin's nest, then my reactions aren't exactly as graceful as intended.

3) Change is the Only Constant
I'm learning that to succeed in business, you have to build an infrastructure that can hold the constant change. Back-up plans, and extra pairs of hands, and being incredibly resourceful when the s**t hits the fan - these are keys. Because just when things are lollying all lovely along, someone quits, or you lose an account, or the water is shut off for the day. Or - something wonderful and surprising answers your prayers (like big, unexpected cookie orders).

Same goes with baby. Our little guy is changing every day. Teeth, and crawling, and pincer grasping like mad, and making new sounds of approval or disdain, and giving me these huge open-mouthed kisses. I never know who I'll wake up to. At 4am. And 5am.

4) It's a Ton of Work
I think this is why I thought I could hack the baby thing; because I know how to work my butt off. Owning a business is like working three jobs all the time, and always having your attention linked to the wellbeing of your business - often in the middle of the night when ideas and/or stress start racing.

The work of a baby is altogether different. Yes, there is manual labour involved: wiping bums, making food, doing laundry, picking up, carrying, soothing, cleaning up after, lugging carseats and strollers etc... etc... But it's the emotional work that makes it all different. I want to say that it's easy to bust butt because you just love that little thing oh-so-much (which does make a huge difference), but you're still pooped, and while you're changing that diaper or making that food, you're also showering a little being with love and attention. Multi-tasking at its finest.

5) You do it Because You Love it
Now this is true: Over the 13 years that I have owned New Moon, I have done every job that the business required of me. I've been the janitor, the baker, the dishwasher, bookkeeper, packer, driver - all of it. And to be totally honest, even when I was dog-tired, I did those jobs with joy because I knew they were feeding my dream. Honestly.

And now, with rugrat in tow, I am sure I will do even more jobs: mommy, friend, entertainer, chauffeur, personal chef, guidance counsellor, soccer coach (yikes), janitor, dishwasher, all of it. But here's the difference: that will feed his dream, and if his dream can be fed, then I have truly done my work in this world.


Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Wherever You Go, There You Are

I've been pretty open and honest about my postpartum experience. I was at Cherry Bomb the other morning, and a mum asked me how I was doing, and I straight up told her I was having a pretty hard time. Her eyes softened and she went on to tell me about her experience, which had been very similar with her first baby. This is why talking about things, and being open about pain, is important; you never know where and from whom you will find some relief. Some days, a five-minute conversation with a stranger can be enough to change my attitude or give me hope.
It's been a long haul so far, and as the feelings of depression and anxiety continue to wax and wane, I simply have to go along for the ride. Some days that ride takes me straight under into the belly of the undertow, and other days I am on top of the wave, coasting along...
I was speaking with a dear friend/mentor the other night who suffered from a major depression when his wife left him and he raised their two kids on his own. He said, "You never really know your humanness until you go through something like that." That hit the right chord in me; suffering really sucks if there's no meaning to it...
I have been trying for months and months to "fix" this problem of depression/anxiety. I cannot tell you how many vitamin bottles and herbal mixtures have graced our counter, or how many massages, reiki appointments, acupuncture treatments, and DEEP conversations I have had - not to mention the regular presence of shamanic healing techniques. Everything can be helpful, sure, and it's so crucial to talk to people and get help, and keep the healing ball rolling, but when one (I guess that's me) is faced with huge personal upheaval, or simply put - pain - it needs to breathe and be alive so it can heal. And the only remedy or balm for this is time, and presence. Yes, being with it, even when it's too much to bear. I wish I could tell you different, I wish I could say that doing lots of running around and keeping busy, and looking for something, ANYTHING, to be a fix - works, but it doesn't. Not in the face of your humanness.
I am reading a beautiful book called, When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron. If anything is a fix, it is what she is talking about; being with your pain. Just being with it, listening to your mind think, and being kind to yourself. That's it. So easy, right? Painful thoughts and emotions are one thing, but the reaction to them is really where we get screwed.
Many years ago, one of my best friends lost her partner in a tragic bicycle accident. I wanted to help her, fix her pain - do anything to take it away. I ended up going down to this store on McCaul St called Native Stone Art (now gone...) to speak with the owner, who was learned in native medicines, about buying her some kind of healing animal skin she could use to help soothe her. I told him about what had happened, and how deeply she was grieving. He responded simply with, "sometimes you just have to grieve. There is nothing that is going to take away the pain."
This, I believe, may make things easier. Pain is only a nightmare when we lock it in the closet and hide from it under the bed. I don't think enlightenment is a fancy, supernatural experience - I think it's coming to grips - peacefully - with everything life has to offer, and still hanging on for the ride.
xo BB

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Anxiety is an Overpaid Middleman

You're probably wondering what I mean by that title up there. I tell ya, Folks, the soul-searching just keeps reaping more and tastier fruit.
I had never fully come to grips with my anxiety until after giving birth to Cedar. Sure, I knew I would get anxious and stressed, but it was relatively harmless because it was self-contained and my life still trucked along in a comfortable fashion. When I was anxious/stressed, I would get wound up, frustrated, nit-picky - but for whatever reason, it didn't bother me too much. Then baby came and the anxiety hit a peak that rattled my brain and nerves, and took away my oh-so-beloved sleep. Yes. The baby didn't take away my sleep - the anxiety did. With this critical need in limbo, I was forced to take a good look at the source.
So why do I say that anxiety is a middleman? Because I've come up with this: We have the outer world (let's call it day-to-day reality), and we have the inner world (how we think, feel, process and CREATE our reality). A healthy dynamic between these two worlds would be to exist in uncomplicated actions. Like - hey, it's garbage day tomorrow - and off you go taking out the garbage. But if the middleman steps in, it's more like - shit! it's garbage day tomorrow, I'll put it out in the morning, what if I can't fit all the recycling in? Do I even have those clear bags?
(Sorry - quick analogy. Seemed easy.) What I notice is that I often get anxious instead of taking action, or for things that don't require action, have faith that things will turn out well.
So when does anxiety come knocking the loudest? When I am in the unknown. And for the record, I think we're always in the unknown. Life is completely unpredictable in its finer moments. Here is what I have been asking myself - "Why when I am in the unknown do I imagine a negative outcome?" Anxiety. Things not working out. Catastrophe. Stress. If it's bound to be unknown anyway, then why don't I imagine and intend good things happening? Well that, my friends, is because I've been paying this middleman to help me decide upon how I feel in the world.
I was reading a passage from a book called, Everyday Parenting, and in it the author was talking about developing a meditation practice. He said that meditation practice can happen during any moment of the day (taking out the garbage even!) and it's simply being mindful of our thoughts and not identifying with them. The most genius thing he said was that "we practice anxiety" every day, so why not practice something else?
We go to what we know; I had always known anxiety (passed down through the family brain tree) and hadn't questioned it too much.
I am going to fire the middleman. He's still working for me, but I'm paying him less, and slowly reducing his hours. He doesn't even do a good job - all the things he says aren't going to work out, work out really well! So he's wrong most of the time too.
You know, people often say that when you have kids you lose your freedom. I am going to challenge that by saying this: Cedar is inspiring me to find true freedom - which is found in the mind. Once the middleman has cleaned out his desk and taken his ROE form, I believe I will have found a whole new level of freedom.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day. It's my first year being a mom on this day, and I didn't want to let it slide by without marking it somehow. So here I am - it's 9:44pm. I can hear the "waterfall" of white noise coming from Cedar's room (aka still sort of Bri's music room) where he is fast asleep in his crib, and I am sitting up in bed with the window open.
The thing about Mother's Day is that it applies to all mothers, no matter what "kind" of mother you are. It's not like, "Good Mother's Day", thankfully, because then we'd all be guilt-tripping ourselves. In all seriousness, this issue of being a "good mother" has been on my mind lately (yes, I like to think - so what?!). As liberated and independent as I have felt myself to be, when I became a mom I wanted to be the perfect mom. And strangely enough, the perfect mom is this woman I constructed in my psyche who:
1) Is selfless
2) Can sit for hours at a time with a baby, not feeling even a pinch of boredom because she's so blissed out
3) Bakes a lot (wearing an apron)
4) Can do it all
5) Doesn't get angry or impatient
6) Found her life's calling when she became a mom

Tall order, huh? Who is even like that? And why would I want to be that when that's not who I am? The only answer I have is that becoming a mom is no small feat. I think some women fall into it really naturally, and some of us have to find our way in a world that really wants that perfect mom. So on Mother's Day, I want to say this to Cedar:
Kid. I'm not perfect. And so you know, perfection is entirely overrated. I only learned this when I had you. What really counts in life is being real, and stepping up to the moment with the truth of who you are, right there, right then, and staying present.
I'm not a perfect mom. But I am your mom. I'm independent to the point of severe stubbornness. I like to have my way. I like to get out of the house A LOT, and I promise that you and I will be up to all kinds of great adventures once you're ready (hey, we DID go to Ikea last week...). I will bake for you, cook for you, do your laundry, and when you're old enough, teach you how to do all those things for yourself.
More importantly though, I will protect my self-ness so that I can teach you how important it is to be authentic in this world; to have your voice, your way, your truth. And with that, may you never fall into the trap of trying to be something you're not.
Most importantly, I will always do my best. Whatever that looks like. And I will always be carving deeper paths to an open heart so that I can love you more each day. Kid - this is all good stuff. You'll see. Life is not for the weak at heart.
Happy Mother's Day to all you women out there. And Happy Mother's Day to my mom, who is one of the most authentic, no excuses women I know. She was brave and creative in the face of change and taught me a heck of a lot. Thanks Mom.

And about that baking with an apron on. I never like wearing an apron. I prefer a little teatowel on my shoulder. It's sort of more hardcore than an apron.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

I Don't Know

I don't like not knowing. But whether I like it or not, this is a time of not knowing. I've had (and continue to have) a fair bit of time to think. When all the busy-ness of life stops and one finds themselves sitting for long stretches of time guided by a tiny being who is perfectly happy to chew on a speckled squeaky giraffe, well - let's just say that I've finally come head-to-head with my mind. What a beast, I tell ya... A dear friend of mine put it very well the other day when she said that the journey from maiden to mother is about going within. So what have I found? A restless mind. Oh so restless. Likes to lurch into the future and have a clear picture of what is going to happen, likes to dwell on the past to make sense and meaning of things. Likes to fixate, fix, think, do, keep busy. After operating in this manner for many years, it is a bit of a shock to be in a very new pace with self and life.
Today I went to work and found that beastly mind getting up on its haunches and starting to demand things: "what am I doing with my life? What is the next step for my career? I feel creatively blocked. I want to make great impact, what can I do? What is my true calling?" and on and on it went. Then I went to the good ol' YMCA and sweated just enough to break the hold of the busy mind. After that - an afternoon with my little guy, doing things like looking out the window and rolling around on the floor. It puts things into perspective.
This is not the time to know what's next. It's not the time to be lurching forward or looking back. I could find some solace in this. I think people call this "relaxing". Some people may also call it "having faith". I've pretty much cornered myself into this.
So what do you do when you don't know? What do you do when you're searching for that next piece of inspiration, or piece of the dream, or answer to life's endless search?
I don't know. I honestly have no idea. So here's what I am going to do:
Hang out with my little family.
Hang out with myself.
Chop wood and carry water.
Make prayers.
Unwind this mind.
Maybe take a few breaths.
And oh yeah, have faith. And when I say faith, I mean find the deepest place of trust within myself and just let go.
I have a sense that if I can get Miss Busy Mind to relax, the clean-up crew of intuition will finally have some room to kick its legs out.

ps - that's me and Cedar. I know it's not exactly the photo that goes with this theme, or maybe it is. I don't know :)

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Rise Up Rise Up

While sitting in the small waiting area to see my acupuncturist/TCM Doctor, a little girl of about 7 years came out from behind a screen. She was slithering around on the floor, and looking up at me without an ounce of shyness. "What am I?" she asked me.
"A lizard?"
She rolled her eyes, clearly unimpressed. "I have paws, but I also have wings to fly."
I felt kind of stumped.
"I look like a lion..." she offered me.
"I really have no idea."
"I'm a griffin!" she finally exclaimed, "a mythical creature!"
She then sat beside me and we went through as many of the mythical creatures we knew of. She knew a lot more than I did. I realized I need to start brushing up on my skills in all departments related to fun learning - I do believe Cedar will want to know about Griffins and such.
The doctor finally called me in, and I said goodbye to the precocious little girl who had reminded me of unicorns and sea serpents, the pegasus, and minotaur. We were, however, by the end of the conversation, stumped over one - one we couldn't remember the name of, but knew it was a bird.
I sat across from the Doctor, and he checked my pulse, and looked in my eyes, and also checked my tongue. "Are you feeling better? Your mood - is it better?"
"Yeah, it is."
"So it's time. Time is what you need. I could have increased your medicines, but really - it's time."
Just then the little girl popped her head in to the office, "The phoenix! That's the one we forgot!"
When she said it, I remembered bumping into a dear friend (and mom) on the street on a day when I was in my shell-shocked state. "Don't worry," she said, "you'll be like a phoenix rising from the ashes."
After the little girl left, my doctor said, "The phoenix is a very sacred mythical animal in China. Represents the Yin, and the dragon represents Yang. The phoenix comes from below and rises above, and the dragon comes down from above."
In that moment, I wanted him to tell me that my pulse was perfect, that I was healed, that I wasn't sitting in the ashes anymore, waiting for resurrection. But instead he stuck the needles in me and I lay in a cubicle for twenty minutes. I tuned in and realized that he was playing Kenny G really loudly. Life seemed kind of absurd in that moment, so I thought about the phoenix. I thought about how I wish I wasn't going through all this postpartum stuff, and could just feel like myself again. Suffering about my suffering. Learning to be patient. Letting the heart heal itself, allowing life to show me the way instead of blasting my path with determination.
Things go up and down. Control is no longer something I salivate over. Instead, I look for truth and humility in the everyday. Maybe when the phoenix rose from the ashes it wasn't a dramatic affair, maybe it was just normal for that kind of magic to occur. And maybe all it took was time.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Welcome Home

Spring is here. Really, actually here. Sure, we'll have some colder, wetter days until things really start rolling, but I am just thrilled that the sun is shining. Have stroller, will travel.
As the weather settles, and life starts to fizz down into a nice, welcomed normalcy, I figure it's time to share one of many gold nuggets I have found during the deep sea dive into my postpartum psyche.
See folks, I've always been a dreamer. I really thought I could be Olivia Newton-John. I thought I could be Annie. I'm a master fantasizer (sounds like an 80's instrument), and always have been.
And although my husband wouldn't necessarily want to admit it, he's a dreamer just the same.
So there I was, big dreams big dreams - dreams so delicious they were worth thinking about all the time. The operative word there is think.
So then this thing happens - baby comes. And baby, with his earthly needs, brings everything into a whole new place: reality.
At first I was under the impression that I'd have to let everything go - all those golden, sparky dreams I'd acquired - but now I feel that what is actually happening is bigger, better, and more real. I could have sat forever thinking about making a dream become, but now there is no other choice but to refine the meaning of those desires and choose them from a new place, with new energy.
I want to teach my boy how to dream and actualize, and to go for his true heart's desires with the confidence that he has the tools to achieve them - whatever they may be.
But first, it's time for me to take a good look at what my dream really is - in reality. And please don't get me wrong here - although reality can seem like a bummer when you're a consummate dreamer, it's actually the place where things happen.

As Little Orphan Annie would sing, "I think I'm gonna like it heeeere!"
xo bb

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Way To Go

When I was twenty-seven years old (wow - so weird to look back...) I took a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico by myself. This was my third or fourth trip to Mexico alone, but my first time in Oaxaca. On prior trips, I had always booked things in advance. Although I was bold by traveling alone, I was also fearful of just getting to a place and winging it - it seemed too risky for a woman to do.
However, I decided that for my trip to Oaxaca, I would wing it except for the hotel bookings for my first and last nights. I knew I would head down to the coast, and that was about it.

I arrived in the city of Oaxaca and it was sheer chaos; there was a protest march, and people literally cramming all the avenues. I decided to head to the coast right away and get to the calm of the ocean. After a five-hour insanely windy (as in turning a lot) bus ride down through the mountains (I feel nauseous just remembering it) I arrived in the very hot and wonderful town of Mazunte. I trudged through the sand looking for a place to stay with my way-too-heavy knapsack. It was sweltering and I was trying to make a decision about staying in a hostel or getting my own cabina. I went over to the road and sat on my bag. A beautiful, sparkly young woman approached me and we started talking. She was German, and had been living in Mazunte for over a year. We took to each other instantly... "You come stay with us, yes?" She said with a smile.
She lived in an incredible house up a small hill, overlooking the ocean. It was called Casa De Geni because a mother and daughter (the daughter was Geni) built it together as their dream home. It was one of the most amazing and special places I had ever seen.
I ended up staying at Casa De Geni for the duration of my time in Mexico. It was, and still is, the best adventure I've had, with the most easy, honest, and fast heart connections with strangers. It was probably one of the first times in my life that I hadn't planned something, but just trusted in the magic of what life dishes up when you let go.

So now. Oh dear. Now, more than ever, with a new human being in my care, with the future seemingly mysterious, with the ups and downs of my emotions, and the clutch of anxiety on a daily basis, and the incredible change of life I am in the midst of, now - more than ever - I think is a good time to trust.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Only Love Can Break Your Heart

When I first started up this blog I was intending to write about my adventures as an entrepreneur. You know like, hey - I got this new account, or the cookie machine broke etc... but I've been on this extended mat leave and I must say that the adventures I'm having now seem to be far juicier than a new scone recipe.
So here goes. I'm going to be honest about some things...
In my earlier posts I wrote about the anxiety and insomnia I'd been experiencing. Well, it didn't really let up. In fact, it started to get worse, and I went into some very challenging and scary places with the sleep deprivation. I understand why it is used as a form of torture. This all lead me to finally reach out and get some help. I was hoping it would pass, or thought it was normal, or was just completely out of my mind that I wasn't thinking straight.
So here's the diagnosis: postpartum anxiety/depression. On the assessment checklist, one of the questions is "are you a perfectionist?" That one really struck me. I had some extremely high expectations for what I thought new motherhood would be like, and how I'd be feeling in it. Instead, it seems the opposite has occurred. It's been heartbreaking.
Since I am still a baker, I am going to tell you the recipe for what I experienced:
1) High expectations of motherhood
2) Expectations of an easy baby who just sleeps and smiles and eats (ha ha)
3) Extremely high expectations of myself
4) Wham-bam cocktail of hormones
5) Idea that I could return to work and just be my normal old self
6) Total life change in the blink of an eye
7) Being really hard on myself for all the above things

Motherhood is a tricky one. It is showing me the complete range of human emotion, and my own capacity to hold these emotions without falling apart. On the one hand, being a mom is earth-shattering, and on the other hand, is the most normal and common practice in life. So what's wrong with me? Why am I not strolling around with a goofy grin on my face, drinking a latte?
And why has that become an icon for what motherhood is? And why are women generally secretive about their dark sides?

At this point, I've had many conversations about these postpartum symptoms. I've seen two naturopaths, two GP's, two doctors of Chinese medicine, and one Reiki master. I've also had many conversations with women who experienced similar symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Here's what I know to be true: in the midst of the biggest change in my life - emotionally, spiritually, physiologically, mentally - I cracked open. Nothing was as it was. Everything felt unknown, and that made me shake in my boots. In this cracking open, there is a lot of debris, there is a lot to let go of, and there is A LOT to feel.
And why did I crack? To make space for love. A new love for my new self, and a new, huge, crazy love for a human being named Cedar. I have never felt so vulnerable and unsure. This is the craziest adventure of my life so far. I have no misconceptions now of what motherhood is - it takes you to the edges and far reaches of yourself so that you can hold a space for another human being to thrive and feel safe in. It is a giveaway. An act of pure service. And let's be honest, for some of us this is not so much our natural way... It's a serious learning curve.

The doctor of chinese medicine I am seeing put it so beautifully, 'You've lost your spirit. And your spirit is looking for a way to come back in. You are homesick. Home isn't where you live, it's where you belong.'
Last night I lay in bed and had the overwhelming desire to get home.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Mrs. Fix-it

I like to fix things. No wait - I LOVE to fix things. I am addicted to improvement. I find it ultimately satisfying to see something that isn't working well, and to find a solution for it to work better. This is great when running a business; it creates breakthrough moments in which the clouds part and everything fits, and then onward ho to the next stage.
So um, this fixing obsession I have is not the greatest approach with a baby, or on myself. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been experiencing insomnia (for three months now!) and have been trying just about everything to fix it (except the exercise regularly component. Ugh. So tired). Baby has also been waking every 1.5-2hrs each night. Needless to say - no one is getting much sleep around these parts. Can I just say, to all you people who are thinking of having kids in the near future - SLEEP NOW. Sleep for the sleepless!
As I lie awake in bed, I think about these problems, and how to fix them. Fixing is an action that requires doing. Ah, how I love to do. But when it comes to the self, and definitely when it comes to another human being - it's not the best approach. Fixing can be scientific, and methodical, and human nature is not that. Maybe my body needs to experience insomnia right now in order to get my hormones leveled out. Maybe baby is waking every hour because he likes to party all night long. I really don't know. But I do know that I am making myself crazy in trying to FIX.
Outside of just wanting to get some sleep (naturally!), the impetus behind my fixing is to get a grasp of how life is going to work with a baby in tow. How will I go back to work? How will I get my needs met? How will Cedar get his needs met in the midst of all of it? I wish I could draw up a blueprint and follow a plan and know that everything will be smooth and perfect. But it's not so simple. Life is not smooth and perfect. I do know that everything will work out, one way or another - just not by means of planning and fixing and pushing. When I imagine the logistics of it all, I feel completely overwhelmed and hopeless. Here I am trying to plan out something I have never done before - something that revolves around the most precious thing in my world: Cedar.
Someone once told me that the heart - its feelings, workings, openings, and breakings - are like the eating of a pomegranate. It is messy. Let it be messy. Resign yourself to the juice on your chin. How many of us don't eat pomegranates because they just seem like too much work?
Life is a messy, juicy mystery these days. Almost heartbreakingly so. It doesn't need to be fixed - it just needs to be opened up into its many little seeds and lived - even if it's uncomfortable and messy.
There seems to be only one way to go these days: stop trying. Just stop. Dare I say trust? Have faith? Put intention into the sunshine of the spring and all the new little buds that are lying dormant right now. Nature doesn't worry, or plan, or fix. Nature just keeps on keeping on. Sleepless or not.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Hitting The Wall

This morning I went to yoga. It feels like a feat to get out of bed these days, let alone go to a yoga class. However, I also know that the two hours a week I go to a class by myself are really, really good for me. As I was on my mat today, I encountered a part of myself that I'm not incredibly fond of, but who usually wins in most situations. Let's call it laziness, procrastination, reluctance - all wrapped up in a tricky little bundle who is incredibly convincing in her plight to keep things easy and safe. Do you have a tricky little bundle in your self-repertoire as well?
I always admire people who go further, who push themselves not out of masochism but the true desire for excellence. I also recognize where I can be very hard on myself, and also where I don't push myself at all. Sometimes it's hard to know what to do - go easy, or push?
I was doing my practice, but then pulled the teacher over to ask him for a stretch to help my incredibly tense shoulders. Next thing I knew there were two chairs lined up against the wall, and me in a crazy shoulder-type stand, with all the blood rushing to my head, afraid to fall. But you know what? It felt really good to be upside down this morning. It felt good to look at the floor from that angle and to leave my comfort zone.
As I was leaving (and about to pick up my coffee - yummm) I thought to myself that my biggest wall is that one - succumbing to the procrastinator who likes to stay safe. I run into her so often, and she seems to usually win.
I often think that in order to stretch my edge I have to sell my business, my house, and pack up the fam and move to the tropics or something. But isn't that just another way of being tricky? Can't excellence be found in every moment (or at least a lot of them) if I just try to do things differently or reach for my personal best?
That's a lot of words just to really be saying this: sometimes you have to be uncomfortable in order to grow or change.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Good Grief

I don't know how many times I'd heard people say, "once you have kids, your life changes forever." That seems obvious, but one never knows until they go through it just what that may feel like. In my recent posts, I've definitely alluded to a bit of discomfort and shell-shock with new parenthood. I really wanted to be ga-ga-goo-goo all the time, but I'm not so sure that's actually my style...
Two days ago, I was driving up Roncesvalles and happened to see the New Moon van out on delivery. I started to cry. And last week I was looking for something in my closet and found a box of clothes I haven't touched since having Cedar. That made me cry too. These things hint towards something a very dear friend/mentor/wise woman said to me, "you have to acknowledge that you are grieving the loss of your old self."
Ah yes. The maiden. The busy, working-all-the-time gal. The consummate seeker. The go-anywhere, travel all-the-time entrepreneur. The maiden. Who felt incredibly free all the time.
I don't use the word "free" loosely - because we are going to look at that now. What exactly is freedom? I believe it might just be a state of mind.
I find it easy to list off the things I "can't" do anymore - like take off to Mexico by myself and drink watermelon juice on the beach. But I did that already (okay, it's awesome, and I'll do it again when I'm 50).
So here we are - no longer the maiden. No longer the flying-by-seat-of-pants girl. It's time for a new definitition of freedom. Here's one I just found: the power to determine action without restraint.
I don't want to fall into the thought trap of "I can't do anything now that I have a kid" but rather, "life has revolved 180 degrees, how can I align with the movement?"
If I try to go back and do things the way I used to, I'll only feel burnt out and disappointed. And the old things don't feed me anymore. This is a huge list of things: the way I approached my work, the way I ran my business, the things I did for fun, the socializing I did. I miss the old self, but I think the new self will be pretty amazing too. I just don't think she's quite here yet.
The new self needs some ti
me to form, time to hibernate, time to ga-ga-goo-goo all over my house. And then - watch out. Me and Cedar are taking the world by storm.
In the meantime, this is the good grief. Painful, yes. But necessary. Death gives life. Always has.

The photo at the top is me as the maiden. In San Diego. I don't really know how to surf, and in fact - that was my first time trying (and I dislocated my shoulder), but I think I look really cool in the photo. The photo below is the most recent shot of me and the Ceed, taken by fellow Mama and burgeoning photographer, Sara Marlowe.

Mamas can surf too. Probably better. One doesn't push out a ten-pound baby and not find a new will for the edge :)

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Is This All There Is?!

A couple of months before my dad passed away, I remember him calling me one morning to share one of his grand revelations. "So I was just sitting here," he said, "thinking about life...and well - is this all there is?"
"What do you mean, Dad?"
"Like, is this all there is?" He started to chuckle. And I chuckled too. It was a bit of a relief to hear those words from a man who definitely lived a full and interesting life.
Maybe it's getting older, maybe it's having a baby, maybe it's reaching this certain point in life - but I too am wondering about the "this" of life.
There's something about the stillness and innocence of a new life (and sitting for many hours in my living room) that really has me wondering what it's all about, and of course, the busyholic in me is scratching at the walls looking for things to do to occupy my brain to make me feel like I am DOING something. But here's what I think might be the raw truth of life (wow, I sure am getting wise): life is actually quite simple. There's joy, pain, indifference, wonderment, love, loss, grief, happiness - many states of being to run around with. But underneath those states, life is simply life, and it keeps on going no matter how we feel about it.
I find this a bit of a bummer, to be honest. That probably doesn't sound very Zen of me, but I never said I was good with humility. Why a bummer? Because I've always banked on life being a wild rollercoaster FULL of busyness. But I'll tell you something - and this is a confession - underneath all the busyness is a wildly racing mind that seems to be pretty uncomfortable with just being. I am taming a beast over here...
Why am I thinking so much about all this? Because something in me doesn't want to be okay with just biding time anymore, or getting incredibly busy, or worrying about everything, or being complacent about life. My little boy seems to be bringing this out in me; the desire to live life more fully, and to dive into the moment.
So over here in my 12-step program to living life more fully I can tell you that the very first step is to be with yourself. Just be still, doing nothing, for even ten or fifteen minutes, or many hours in a day. See who is there.
I am hoping step 2 is something really good, like - go for a massage. Or better yet - discover what your true dream is.

More ramblings from a cabin-feverish Baker Babe

Sunday, 2 January 2011

The Birthing Continues

I remember one fine summer morning, sitting outside at a local coffee shop, and being interviewed. I was about 8 months pregnant, and was asked how I felt about becoming a mom and also balancing work. I said something along the lines of, "I believe that a baby can make your life bigger, not smaller." Essentially, what I meant was that life expands and you meet it - head-on.
I had some pretty lofty ideas about how I would balance baby and work. I said to myself, "no big deal - you take the baby to work." But then see - I had never had a baby before...
So I took Cedar to work a few times and found myself scrambling to complete some bookkeeping while rocking his carseat so he wouldn't wake up from his nap. It was a bit of a challenge.
I decided to take a bit more time off.

It's been a stressful thing so far - this wondering of HOW I will balance everything. I miss the bakery, I miss working, but am also just getting into the swing of relaxing at home with my little guy (watching movies, going for walks, changing diapers - it's not so bad).
For a few weeks there it seemed impossible in my mind; I worried that the bakery would really suffer. Then I remembered something: many, many people have had babies. Many, many women go back to work. Many women do incredible things with their babies in tow. So if I'm going to expand, shouldn't it be towards the direction of dreaming and doing incredible things that encompass both being a businesswoman and a mama?
Here is the ultimate, true test of myself as an entrepreneur: I can make this anything I want it to be. I steer this ship. This is my dream - what wild and wonderful things can I do that Cedar will also love?
The challenge I face right now is in my own peanut brain. Either I stress - or I expand. Either I tense and worry - or I breathe. Either I envision small grey dreams or big, boisterous, bright ones. Do you dare me?

And now, I sleep...
p.s. that's Cedar in his carseat as I try to balance the books.