Wednesday, 30 January 2013


I say “I’m sorry,” about three dozen times a day – I accidentally step in someone’s path or accidentally cut someone off as they begin to speak. We all do it. I’ve occasionally even cut someone off while driving. I’ve said the wrong thing and hurt someone unintentionally, and worse – in the heat of the moment, I’ve said the right thing to hurt someone intentionally. I’ve sworn, flipped people off and generally been an unkind person from time to time, particularly in rush hour traffic and stress-inducing situations. I’ve asked forgiveness, and 99.9 per cent of the time, it’s granted. I accept apologies from those who’ve wronged me or hurt me and in turn, grant forgiveness.

But I almost never apologize to myself. I hardly ever forgive myself, and I know I’m not alone in this. Like everyone else in the world, I make mistakes. I screw up. It’s totally normal and yet I beat myself up over it.
You see, we all make a mess of our lives from time to time. That’s life – no one ever said it would be rainbows and sunshine all the time. Life is messy. A lapse in judgment, harsh words spoken and that full package of cookies don’t make you a bad person. Coming across a roadblock in your path doesn’t mean that your journey has ended – just that it’s time to find a new way.

The hardest thing you will ever do is say you’re sorry when you’ve truly done wrong – but the most liberating thing you will ever do is forgive. Let it go. You will feel lighter physically, emotionally and mentally. Apologize to yourself, forgive yourself, wipe the tears from your eyes and move on.

You are stronger than you know. Your shortcomings and mistakes do not make you a bad person: they make you human. The hardships you face do not mean your life is ruined, but that it’s real. Never sell yourself short when it comes to how special you are. Don’t dwell on the negatives.

Take, for instance, my baby brother. He is, without a doubt, one of the most wonderful people I am blessed to have in my life but he makes some dumb decisions from time to time. When a less-than-stellar decision disrupted his life recently, he felt miserable. He hid it from those closest to him, lost sleep and beat himself up. When it came to light, he was afraid he’d hurt his loved ones and he declared his life “ruined” and himself a “bad person”.
At 19, his life’s barely begun and it’s far from ruined. He’s got a great family (obviously, he has me for a sister!), wonderful friends and his entire life ahead of him. He also showed just how incredible he is earlier this evening when he found a kitten tied outside his apartment in the cold. He went house to house looking for the owners before taking it inside to care for it. A bad person wouldn’t do that, but my brother would.

And it’s time for him to forgive himself for those mistakes in the past, and recognize how wonderful he is. You should too.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Comeback Mom

In the midst of my January blahs, I've also had good reason to celebrate.

First, and certainly most important, is the fact that I am honestly and truly happy. I don't know if I've ever been able to say this with certainty before - and inspite of the general blahness of the past few weeks, I am at peace with myself more than ever. Sure, there are things I'd like to change but all in all, I'm in a good place.

I know who I am. I know what I want. I'm on the road to making my dreams become a reality and I've made some of them come true already. I believe fiercly in the importance of setting goals and holding onto our dreams. I let some of my dreams go in the past, and I've just managed to catch up to them again. Want in on the dream? Check it all out here.

I can still hear the snide remarks, feel the hurt from the blows that told me no one would want to read what I write so I stopped writing. Don't we all do that from time to time? We let the negativity of others beat us down. Have you?

Well, I think it's time for you to have your Comeback.

Saturday, 26 January 2013


They say that January is the bluest month of them all, and I'm inclined to believe it.

It's always the time of year that I fall into what I can only describe as "the blahs". There's no other way to explain it - I'm just blah. I feel blah. I am blah. It's as glamourous and fun-filled as it sounds, but with a little effort one can make the time a bit more enjoyable. Wine and nail polish HIGHLY recommended.

Not long ago, I read a magazine that suggested one not make any big hair decisions during the month of January (you know, like getting a pixie or dying your hair a totally different colour!) because you may just be swayed by seasonal affective disorder and the general blah-ness of the month. A hair cut, we all know, is a serious thing. Doubly serious is the fact that seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression, has symptoms ranging from sleeplessness to oversleeping, mood swings and suicidal thoughts.

For part of this January, I've contemplated dropping out of school. I've sat alone in my apartment feeling badly, feeling blah and questioning everything. Last January, I told J he needed to shape up or ship out. He left. I'm now wondering if my unhappiness was entirely related to our relationship, or if perhaps the blahs of January were to blame.

When I look at the facts, I feel more and more like I may have cheated us all out of our family. After looking forward to our wedding, then moving into our new home, and then Christmas there was very little excitement to anticipate following the New Year. Three months of trying to get pregnant had resulted in negative pregnancy tests. He was going back to school. Money was tight, and his time moreso. He wasn't coming home to see us, yet he was spending more and more time with his friends. Was I just stuck in the blahs when I lashed out at him that day?

Would we have worked everything out? Would I be happy now? Would he have been the Dad I really wanted him to be? I don't know. As much as our separation sucked, I think it was probably inevitable and as hard as it is to be going it alone with F, I can't imagine how much more difficult it would all be had we stayed together a few more years and had another child. There are days I feel that I'm barely surviving as it is, I don't know if I'd make it if I had two kids to worry about.

The January blahs are as real for others as they are for me. I'm no expert, but I do know that big decisions deserve big thinking. I acted emotionally when I decided to give J that ultimatum, and while it hasn't been a smooth road (and the month of January clearly doesn't count), I'm a lot happier now than I was with him.

I've also learned that what-ifs will make you crazy, so let the past be in the past. There's a reason why your rearview mirror is small and your windshield so large. Remember that, put on your favourite shoes and pound the pavement (or mud) every day knowing that amazing is waiting around the corner - and it might be the corner you least expected.

Stay warm out there, and be positive! XO

Thursday, 24 January 2013


2013 will be my year.

This, my friends, was the decision I came to while wearing my FANTASTIC onesie pyjamas with F on New Years Eve. We went to bed at 10:30pm, snuggled like two little bugs in a rug, and I promised myself that I would make the best of this year for both of us. Did I mentioned we went to bed at 10:30? Yeah. We're wild like that.
Yep. We're that cool.
Last year, for the first time in my life, I really looked inside of myself and I asked how I was feeling. I couldn't answer that question. It was too hard. I didn't want to admit that I was honestly living my life that way - a ghost of who I really could be, muted and pale. I'm not muted and pale. I'm obnoxiously bright, and possibly even neon. Fluorescent neon. I'm going to do that this year. I'm going to be aware of how I feel. I'm going to let the real me shine through.

When I woke up on January 1, I had only five days to get ready to start my "new life". The life where I'm not just Ashley, the Mom. The one where I'm Ashley, the Mom, Student, Public Relations Professional, Writer and Friend. That Ashley. The one that was hiding in there all along. I went to class (sometimes...), went to work every day, came home and did it all again the next day. I packed lunches before bed, cleaned the house and walked the dog. I puttered along - set in my ways of not coming up for air. I made a serious effort to get to know someone, and a great new friendship has emerged.

And it was all fine and dandy until I slowed myself down last night.

I didn't really have a resolution for this year, but if I accidentally made one and didn't proclaim it... well, I broke it already.

I forgot to check in on my own feelings, and January isn't even over yet. I forgot to ask myself if I needed a break or if I was tired. I've been as hard on myself as ever before, and (as per usual) it caught up with me at lightning-speed. It resulted in me sitting in my car in the parking lot sobbing. Otherwise known as the Ashley Meltdown. Oops.

February 2, 2013 will mark the one year date for my separation. We can file for divorce after that. It's a little scary to me, and a little liberating at the same time. I need to put it all behind me, once and for all and I need to be okay with not necessarily feeling like I'm okay every minute of the day.

Monday, 14 January 2013


"If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have none."

How many times have you heard or spoken that simple sentence? I know I can't count the number of times those words have crossed my ears or lips, and I often sum it up to being "my father's daughter" - The MacInnis curse extends even to the adoptees, it would seem. I've heard the "only fools believe in luck" retort about 5.8 million times, too, but let me tell you: bad luck exists. I know this because it likes to follow me around like a lovesick puppy, but that's OK. As angry as it makes me from time to time, I'd like to believe that it's my bad luck that makes me funny.

You might remember the eight weeks leading up to Christmas: my apartment was stripped by management, I lost countless things I needed, I had to live in a hotel for a week among a whole sleuth of crappy things to happen. Then, in mid-December, things took a turn for the positive: I landed a much sought-after PR job, found out I was getting some help with my schooling costs, met some great people, and full two-weeks to hang out with the coolest kid I know. I celebrated the overload of good with a new hairdo, bought myself some new clothes for my new job and floated along this newfound Cloud Nine.

I had it in my head that my strip of bad luck was gone: that it was all the fault of 2012. I mean, my husband and I split up, I had to leave my job, have a colonoscopy, leave the house I loved so much and then got robbed. Wasn't that enough? Apparently not. Whatever cruel being who hands out luck decided that I hadn't quite had enough of the bad, and threw some more my way last week.

It was a pretty exciting - though standard - week, last week. I started my new position, meeting new coworkers and feeling that sense of accomplishment that only comes from realizing a huge dream. After work on Wednesday, I decided to go running. It was mild, the dog was cooped up all day and there's nothing a good 20 minutes in the fresh air won't fix, right? After almost meeting my maker thanks to a stupid taxi driver, I walked the rest of the way home. Sheesh, that was close! I thought to myself. (Note: I will be purchasing reflective to wear on my white and blue running jacket before my next run!) Thursday was completely uneventful. I ate leftovers and did Zumba for over an hour.

Friday was full of excitement. I was visiting a location for work, going to Truro to get my baby brother and his girlfriend and then on to New Glasgow to trade some passengers: D and his girlfriend, R, would go on to Cape Breton with Dad while F and Mom would come to Halifax with me. I watched the clock, anxiously, waiting for 5:00 to flash. I locked the office door and started out to my car.

In the parking lot, I noticed a navy blue car with a massive dent in the passenger door. That sucks, I thought as I made my way towards where my car was parked... but where was it? As I got closer to the dented car, I realized that this was my car. I could feel fury rising from my toes. I'm not very tall, but it's still a long old way from my toes to my mouth when you're this angry!

"Are you FUCKING kidding me?" I half-shouted, looking at the damage to my car door. With rush hour traffic picking up, I angrily threw my bag into the car as tears filled my eyes and I dialed by Dad's number. I ranted for 25 minutes about the low-life who would back his or her truck into my car and then drive away without leaving a note.

Once my fury had (kind of) subsided, I joked that people won't park next to me because they'll be afraid I'll run into their car. The hole in the front of my car from hitting a moose was bad enough, but the dented passenger door is just too much. I cringe looking at it, and I'm pretty well convinced everyone who looks at my poor car will figure I'm a terrible driver. Which, arguably, I might not be the worst driver but I'm a long way from the best...

The good news is my car is ugly, but driveable. It means I still got to pick up F, and right now he's running around the way any newly-three-year-old boy would. Today is his birthday. In 8 hours, it will be totally official. My baby is three. In an hour, I'll be at work. Not even crappy luck can bring down the happy spirits in this house today...

...unless I find another dent in my car.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

How To Date A Single Mom


What a wonderfully terrifying rollercoaster of craziness that is.

It's no big secret that I've found myself back in the dating game over the past six months, though I can honestly say I made a premature return starting out. I was terrified of being alone. Terrified. I'm not afraid of being alone any more, but I'm totally ready to be independent and be in a relationship if it's right.

So, with my newfound independence and an open mind I've gone out on a handful of dates and I've experienced both sides of the "you're a single mom" reaction spectrum. You see, it's very different to date when you're a separated single mom. A horse of a different colour, you might say. I've had dates who were so disgusted by the fact that I had a kid that I'm pretty sure they went home and showered with bleach, and I've had guys completely overstep the bounds by essentially offering to be F's dad. WHAT THE WHAT? There have been guys who'd rather pretend that I'm a totally single, never-with-another, no-strings-attached kind of girl and then there's been a small handful who've been um, normal.

I thought maybe, just maybe, I could offer a little insight to all the men out there:

Single moms, like other women, are still people. Individuals. We are more than our pregnancy, breastfeeding, formula, diaper bags and potty training.

We don't need your help. We don't need your opinion on dealing with the dad or how to raise our kid(s).

If a Mom introduces you to her kid(s), she likes you. But know this: she's judging you every second of your first meeting.

You're never going to be the single most important person in her life, but if you're lucky you might find yourself in the top two or three.

Be yourself. Discuss your boundaries, how you feel and be open about your expectations. If you're not feeling it, go. We're big girls, but don't drag our kids down the road to heartbreak.

Good Enough

I've already said that I'm skipping the whole New Year's Resolution this year, but I still have high hopes and many goals to accomplish in 2013. Some of these goals will come to fruition mostly on their own, and some will take work and I know many more will take shape as the days, weeks and months come along. Even though I have no idea what lies in store for F and I, I know that after 2012 he and I can take on just about anything.

Like F turning three, for example. It seems like it was only yesterday that I was laying in the maternity ward of the hospital, flipping through my What to Expect When You're Expecting book and wondering what the Hell I was about to get myself into. The book prepared me for a lot of things, but there were many more "surprises" I was totally unprepared for. I'm not sure if anyone or anything could have prepared me for the sense that I'm never going to be good enough as a Mom.

I know I'm not alone in this. Mommy guilt takes over our lives before we've even given birth. It's the matter of whether or not we followed a certain diet and exercise plan while we were pregnant, if we had an all-natural, drug-free labour or a Caesarian, to the decision (or necessity) of formula vs. breastfeeding. It only gets worse as time goes on, from the music we play for our children, whether they co-sleep (GUILTY!) and what we feed them.

I'm sure there's a large community of mothers who would say I'm an awful Mom and I'm equally sure that there's a large community of mothers who would say that I'm a great Mom. Meanwhile, I'm on the fence.

I breastfed F until he was 18 months old and would have continued to do so only that he lost interest, but I supplemented with formula for eight months because it was too hard to pump while I was in class. I fed him the baby food from the supermarket because he didn't care much for my homemade variety, and quite frankly, a lot of the time I didn't feel up to making it for him. He slept with me from the get-go, and continues to enjoy sleeping in Mommy's bed. He stays up too late, sleeps in and eats junk food every once and a while. Sometimes, to avoid a fight, I'll even let him go to bed without brushing his teeth.

But he's happy and he's loved.

If I don't accomplish anything else in 2013, I want to overcome the feeling that I'm never getting it right. I don't have time to listen to that nagging voice in my head any more. I'm tired of comparing F and I to the mother and child pairs we see at the grocery store or the park. It's useless, and the truth is that she's probably thinking the exact same thing.