Family traditions

Summer, for me, is woven with family traditions – traditions that run deep.

I am fortunate to live in a place rich with berries just waiting to be harvested. As well as berries, some harvest mushrooms, hazelnuts, rose hips and even fire weed.

My childhood was filled with berry picking with my mom, grandmother and a few of my aunts. Our pantries and freezers were filled with the fruits of our labor…pun totally intended.

As an adult, I have continued the tradition and make preserves and freeze berries for baking for my own family, and I thoroughly enjoy learning more from the people in my life.

Just recently, I was introduced to a tasty and spectacularly beautiful mushroom called an Indigo Milk Cap.

I have been busy picking berries to freeze and have made jams and syrups to last until next summer. I anxiously wait for the chokecherries to be ready so I can make another batch or 5 of chokecherry syrup. Chokecherry syrup is not only delicious but, it holds sweet memories of breakfasts sitting beside my grandpa, with bread Granny had freshly made, toasted and smothered with peanut butter. We would poke holes in the toast and pour the syrup onto our toast, letting it seep through to saturate the toast from the bottom. My grandpa’s eyes would sparkle with mischief as he asked if I would like long or short syrup. Asking for long syrup always brought forth laughter that echoed through the home as he would jump on his chair or reach as high as he could to give me “long syrup”.

We would gather rose hips along our walks, snacking on them as we built wildflower bouquets for Mom and Grandma.

Picking berries with the adult women always made me feel part of something special and I will forever treasure those moments spent with my grandma picking berries, sometimes even hazelnuts.

Now, it is my turn, and I love creating tasty treats for my family and friends. I also find it a delicious excuse to get outside, enjoy the fresh air and chill out away from the chaos of the city.

Can it

Today my step-daughter and I made Saskatoon Berry jam from the berries that I had gathered last week.

Honestly, the smell in the house, as we stirred our berry/sugar/secret ingredient mixture, was divine.

Our first small batch of canning is done for the year. The list of to-do’s has been created, including some of our favorites from previous years and we have a list of possible and hopeful first attempts.

Are we ever looking forward to sinking our teeth into this delicious treat.

I love taking the time to teach my kids (bio, step or otherwise) about life, love and adventure, and imparting into them my adoration for nature and mindfulness.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is something we all need to practice more in our daily activities. Personally, I love living in the moment of every experience of my day. I spent too many years living in survival mode and unable to appreciate the little things that make life amazing and magical.

Now, life finds me with an amazing husband, my wonderful children and step-children, a job I enjoy and a circle of friends who are the bomb.

Living in each moment and absorbing all the magic is truly a delight.

The sound of our children’s laughter, the sparkle in their eyes, the smell of homemade pizza, a moment to cuddle, the warmth of the sun, the first notes of a sound check, quiet moments of reflection on a new hiking trail, biting into a still warm chocolate chip cookie… saturate yourself in the simplicity and magic of every moment.

Not only is this great for your psychological wellbeing, many physical health benefits have been discovered as well. Mindfulness can help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure (I can attest to this), reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.

My husband and I, from the day we met, love the simple moments of being together: story telling, cribbage playing, some local storm chasing, hikes along beautiful trails and at the end of the day, when our home has quieted, recapping our day and envisioning our tomorrow.

I would encourage us all to make more time to be mindful during our day to day activities. Far too often people are all about their work, building their business, scrolling Facebook or Pinterest and the say becomes a blur and their relationships become secondary. Personally, I set time aside to do social media or writing in order to optimize my time so I can focus on those people and moments in my life without other distractions. ❤

Focus

Sometimes we get tunnel vision. Our sites become set on the wrong targets.

A few months ago, my energies were on seeing the negative actions and energies that made their way into our, otherwise, very peaceful environment.

Where focus goes, there we will find ourselves. So, I made a shift.

People make choices. I can only be responsible for my own choices. Sometimes that is simply my reaction to their choices…

Once focus changed, life felt much lighter.

What do you want to spend your time, energies and focus?

I know what I choose.

Live and unplugged

I spent 4 absolutely glorious and magical days on 120 acres of the most beautiful and peaceful land around.

The minute you step out of your vehicle, you can feel your blood pressure drop and those burdens your weary shoulders carry fall to the ground. This little piece of “heaven” is a short drive from my home and worth every penny of gas money.

The best part of my weekend was in the being: being present, being together, being mindful, being unplugged.

My encouragement would be for you to find somewhere or something that allows you to do the same – wherever/whatever it is, just unplug and refresh.

One of the many pieces of art that adorn the outdoors.
Every evening was spent gathered around the firepit as we laughed and shared stories together
Bird watching off the deck with a cup of tea was first on the agenda each day.
The full moon made the scenery even more spectacular
Life bursts forth
Majestic sunsets
I could never grow weary looking at this view
The main house and art studio
Le sigh

Remember who you are

Having been a mom at the tender age of 18, I have been a mom to many for more than half my life. When I was 22 years old, my, now, ex-husband brought four other children into my life. 22 years old and I was a mother to five children, and they are amazing children.

At ages 26 and 29, I had two more of my own biological children. Not even 30 years old and I was responsible for 7 human beings (2 of whom lived with their mom full time and visited us when they could).

I love being a mom. I don’t think there is anything quite so rewarding, exhausting and nerve-wracking as parenthood. It is truly an adventure with many peaks, valleys and plot twists and sometimes we get so busy and so caught up in our parenting role and in what society thinks that should be that we lose sight of who we are.

Here’s what happened along my journey. As a teen mom, my daughter and I had a great routine together. Her father and I were very young and very immature and he simply was not ready for the responsibility of being a parent. He was angry a lot, neglectful and began throwing terrible temper tantrums that caused potentially dangerous scenarios. I chose to remove myself and my daughter from that environment. He chose his own path. I do not begrudge him for his choices. I don’t understand them but that is his burden to bear.

In those years of single parenting, I still had my friends and still had a social life with them (at times some would say too much of one). My ex-husband came into my life, and, as I stated previously, I endured many years of abuse which included being unable to have any contact with my friends and very minimal contact with my family.

Soon I lost who I was…other than being a mom. My identity was allowed to be in a few certain things: the children, his church and a few hand picked people I was allowed to speak with. I had zero idea who I was and, once I found my strength and freedom from that scenario, I began a major rebuild and put myself on the path of rediscovery – using the activities I once loved as my starting point.

I read something very recently “Mother is a verb. It is something you do. Not just who you are”.

This resonated within me.

I have met so many women who lost themselves during the active years of motherhood and were completely beside themselves when their children moved on to their next stage and adventure of life.

Moms, our goal is to work ourselves out of a job not to lose ourselves in the process.

Make time to take time for yourself – whether it’s connecting with a friend/your spouse, going for a walk/yoga class/painting, or locking yourself in the bathroom with a bath bomb, a glass of wine, soft music and candlelight or getting your hands dirty digging in the garden…just do something for you, for you to enjoy… Hell, I’ve even happily gone to a movie on my own if no one was available to go with me.

Don’t lose yourself to your other relationships, friends. Our relationships should be an extension of us not a consumption of us.

Take some time in stillness to meditate and reflect on you and your needs. Motherhood (Fathers this can be directed at you as well) does not equal martyrdom.