Saturday, 20 April 2013


There's a day in my future that I'm absolutely dreading.

I don't know when it will come, or how long I have to prepare for it but it is a day that I think fret about every day. It's going to shake me to my very core, and knowing that certainly won't make it easier. It's coming.

It's the day when F realizes that he doesn't have a Dad. And I have no fucking idea what I'm going to do when that day comes.

F is a smart little guy, and he understands the traditional mold of a family. Mommy, Daddy, Baby. When he plays with his gazillion stuffed animals, there is always a Mommy, a Daddy and a Baby. Even when he hung out with Red and I for the week, I was always the "Mommy Sheep", F was the "Daddy Sheep" and Red was "Shaun the Sheep". Most people would expect a kid to declare himself the "Baby Sheep" - especially since F usually does when it's he and I - but I wonder if F has already felt the loss of a Daddy Sheep, and doesn't want to set himself up for that again.

When J and I first broke up, F would often point to the photos I had left up for far too long and exclaim "Look, it's Daddy and Mommy!" and it would break my heart. As the days turned to weeks and into months, F forgot about J. When J started coming around again, F would call him "guy" or eventually by the same nickname I did, explaining it away as "Mommy's friend". I didn't know whether to let it break my heart or ease my pain. Is it easier that he doesn't know right now?

I know, as a kid who grew up knowing about my adoption, that coping with the unknown is hard. I felt inadequate. Why hadn't I been good enough for my birth family? It was irrational and wrong and knowing the difference doesn't erase 21 years of self-doubt, self-loathing and hurt.What if F feels that way? What if he thinks it's his fault his dad left? How do you undo that kind of thinking? My parents told me better, just as I will assure F, but I believed strongly in what I felt and there was no convincing me otherwise.

What if he blames me? Will he hate me? Will he harbour resentment? Is that going to be a phase in our lives? Even now, the thought brings a tear to my eye and pains my heart.

The day is coming when I have to try to tenderly explain to F that sometimes life isn't fair. Sometimes the people who should love us turn a blind eye, but that everything happens for a reason. I hope that I can promise F that the people who will hold our hand and not let go when things get tough will always be there for us. I hope I can be strong enough to tell him that his Dad just wasn't ready. It's not F's fault. It's not mine. I can't even say it's J's fault. It just wasn't right...

And I hope F can forgive him... but I wouldn't blame him for a second if he can't. I won't.

Thursday, 18 April 2013


Being in a relationship again is kind of weird – but in a good way.

As much as I was really beginning to enjoy hanging out in my sweatpants and being totally disgusting when hidden behind the walls and doors of my apartment, I have to admit that I’m a much bigger fan of having the companionship I've found in Red. It’s such a drastic change from my last relationship that I sometimes find myself overwhelmed with the urge to find a way to go back in time and smack myself upside the head. We just laugh all the time. There’s no nitpicking (except for the occasional, fun pick-at-each-other-sprees we tend to go on – but it’s all in fun, really), and I feel genuinely appreciated every minute that we’re together, and the warm feeling stays with me all day long.

Last night, after consuming far too much food, we laced up our sneakers, put Daisy’s leash on her and hit the pavement for a walk/jog together. I've never done that before. I've never wanted to spend that time with someone, and it’s a little bit overwhelming. I’m not an expert on relationships, but I've had enough of the shitty variety to be assured that I've got a good thing in my life right now. I’m not 100% convinced that I know how to keep a relationship on solid ground, but I think I've learned enough over the past few broken hearts to have a bit of a grasp on this notion.

1. Always think the best of each other. Believe strongly in the good, and doubt the bad.
2. Talk. (Crazy, right?) If you can't talk about it, you have no right doing it - whatever it may be. Sex, love, relationship, whatever. Just talk.
3.Go to bed angry. Go to work angry. Stew, if you must. Have a sip of coffee by yourself, and deal with it when you’re ready. It’s highly unlikely you’re going to solve whatever you’re facing when you’re both overtired, or when you have 15 minutes until you leave for work. Whoever said you should stay up arguing until 3:30 AM, sleep-deprived and frustrated was an idiot. 
4. Don’t complain about your partner to your friends. They don’t love him (or her) the way you do, and they’re less likely to forgive, assuming they ever do. If your friends hate your significant other, it makes your relationship a lot harder. Trust me on this. The same goes for your parents. Need to vent? Talk to his Mom. She'll forgive him. Yours probably won't.
5. Let. Shit. Go. Seriously. Those little things will drive you crazy, so check it where it needs to be and move on whenever possible.
6. Finally (even if a little contradictory to my point here): If it’s that bad, just leave. You’ll both be happier. Life's too short for a shitty relationship. Someone great is waiting. 

I strongly believed for most of my life that being alone was the worst thing in the world. It’s not. Being lonely in a relationship is the worst thing ever. Feeling unfulfilled or unappreciated breaks you down, and it sucks the life and energy from you. My year of singledom was enlightening, occasionally lonely, but it has been and will likely remain to be one of the most educational, fulfilling experiences of my life.

And I can’t wait to see what this next phase brings me.


Last week, I bought myself a diamond ring.

Yep. A diamond ring. For me. I spent weeks contemplating it, days browsing rings online and in stores and then finally, I went ahead and I did it.

I bought myself a ring.

It's been about a year since I slid my engagement ring and wedding band off for good. I left them in my jewelry box, and occasionally would peer in at them, or take them out and hold them. They're beautiful, but their meaning was gone. J was gone. I'd be lying if I said I want any of it back, but then, I'd be lying if I said I don't still feel a little funny without them.

Even after a year, I still expect to see my solitaire staring back at me.

So I'm bought myself a ring as a celebration of loving myself. I spent the last year figuring out how to love myself and it wasn't always easy, but I think I'm there now. There are still a few things I wouldn't mind changing, but I will when the time is right.

It's a celebration of growing into who I want to be and following my dreams. It's a celebration of finding my happy, falling in love and creating a life that's full. More than anything, it's going to be a reminder that I can do it. I deserve it.

In a lot of ways, it will hold the same meaning my wedding band used to: It's a commitment to myself, my son and my happiness. 

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Accidentally Anorexic

According to the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (, 1.5% of Canadian women between the ages of 15 and 24 has or has had an eating disorder.

That is a shocking number, especially considering that 10% of the population suffering from Anorexia Nervosa will die within ten years of the onset of the disease – the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disease. As parents, women and society as a whole, we’re now realizing that children are learning unhealthy, “mainstream” attitudes towards food and weight at a young age – no doubt thanks to the fashion industry’s stick thin models, photo-shopped images and the rapidly shrinking waistlines of actresses and singers . At 25, I am acutely aware of my body image, my weight, and healthy eating practices. I also count calories, mentally beat myself up, have “I’m so fat” thoughts and consider myself to be an accidental anorexic.

How do you become an accidental anorexic?  you may be thinking.
It’s actually very easy, and you may have even done it before. It may have begun with the best intentions, a diet or exercise regime to help you peel off that extra layer around your tummy before summer vacation, or it may have begun accidentally through illness or injury. If you’ve ever lost a lot of weight in a short time, you may have experienced the wave of “holy cow, you look so good!” comments that boost your ego and leave you feeling a type of high that comes only from a rush of excitement and pleasure, and the next thing you know it's all you can think about.
I consider that feeling of "I'm so thin" to be my heroin and I experience it every time I try on an article of my clothing that is too big, or buy a size small shirt or size 0 pants. I hadn’t been either of those sizes since high school and I have totally lost myself into the obsession of staying tiny. It's an addiction in every sense of the word.
 My obsession began many years ago, as a pre-teen gymnast and swimming lessons pupil. Spandex onesies on the gymnastics mat and tankini-style bathing suits in the pool highlighted my pre-pubescent body’s rapid changes. By the time I was 13, I had mastered the art of skipping breakfast AND lunch and managed to survive. At 15, it escalated. My parents were either oblivious or thought ignoring it would be best – kind of like I try to ignore Finley’s occasional outbursts. I could control my food intake and I could control my own body.

Until I turned 16, skipped meals were the norm for me. No one noticed. No one worried.
I grew out of the bad eating habits and grew into myself, at 16, as a basketball player, member of committees and lead in the high school musicals. Life settled. Food settled. I settled. University saw a resurgence of bad habits and anxiety, self-loathing and body-image issues. It wasn’t until I found myself pregnant that I let go of the negativity I had held onto for so long. My body was incredible enough to support another human being: what is more beautiful than that?
Fast forward to January 2012 and I’m watching my life fall down around me as my husband and I separate after nearly five years together, but only six months of marriage. It was devastating, and instead of coping or grieving, I micromanaged my diet.

I exercised because I could control the expenditure of energy and it occupied my time and my mind. I drank coffee, ate salads and counted calories like it was my job.

My Irritable Bowel Syndrome flared up thanks to the overwhelming stress I was under, and the pounds washed off faster than you can say “separation”. Over 40 pounds lighter, I felt amazing but I looked sickly. I’ve put weight back on since then, and while I reasonably know that I needed it to be healthy, I still wish I was 10 pounds thinner.
At 5’4, I weigh in at 120 pounds. My Body Mass Index, though certainly not the best indicator of health, is on the low end of the normal range. The thought of weighing over 120 pounds sends me into a frenzy of shameful worrying. I know better. I don’t believe my value is equated to the size of my jeans or the number on the scale, and yet I’ve let that number knock me down.

The truth is that, even in size 0 jeans, the skin on my tummy is soft and a little squishy, it is painted with stretch marks and I’ve noticed a dimple or two coming on my thighs. My boobs aren’t as perky – or as big – as they once were and my thighs aren’t as toned as I’d like them to be but I’m healthy. I’m strong. Being 10 pounds thinner isn’t going to make me a better person. It won’t pay off my bills or improve my marks at school. An extra 10 pounds won’t make me a bad mom, or keep me from getting my dream job.

Not too long ago, the Canadian Women’s Foundation tweeted this alarming news: “In Grade Six, 36% of girls say they are self-confident, but by Grade Ten this has plummeted to only 14%.”

It’s time we change that. It’s time we change how we look at ourselves. It’s time to change how we look at our bodies. It’s time to teach our daughters that all shapes and sizes are beautiful, that healthy is beautiful. It’s time we teach our sons that a woman’s value is not equated to her physical appearance but mostly, it’s time we teach ourselves that.
Be strong. Be positive. Love your beautiful body.

Monday, 8 April 2013


Let me start by saying this: Reasonably, I know that I am not fat.

Actually, I am far from fat. But I have a lot of body hangups, as do most women I know. I often forget that I had a baby, and even though I slip into my size 0 pants every day, I often feel like I'm roughly the size of a rhinoceros. I try hard not to let the soft skin on my belly or the stretch marks that paint my stomach, hips and thighs get to me but every now and again it breaks me down and I stand in the mirror exclaiming words that I know aren't true, but perfectly describe how I feel:

I'm so fat today.

I promised Red I'd never ask him if I look fat - mostly because I'm secretly terrified he might say yes, but also because I think it would drive him crazy if he had to deal with my constant body hangups. More often than not, I keep the comments to  myself - mentally berating myself for my own perceived flaws - but every now and again, I've let it slip. Other than the fact that I'm beating myself up, it's never occurred to me that saying those words could have a profound impact on anyone.

Until I heard my beautiful, healthy, rambunctious three-year-old say "Mommy, am I fat?"

As heart-breaking as it is for me to look at beautiful men and women beat themselves up over the ridiculous idea of beauty that our society has created, it doesn't shine a light to the fact that my three-year-old could have possibly felt that he should ask that question.

It's the result of every time I've asked my mother, "Do I look fat in these jeans?"

It's the result of every time I've explained that I'm working out because "Mommy's fat".

It's the result of every time I've stood in the mirror and said "I'm fat" to myself, when I didn't think he was paying attention.

And it's not OK. 

I've become a part of the monster that I complain about. The monster that lets our children grow up feeling insecure about their bodies, highlights flaws and airbrushes over imperfections to create an idea of beauty that is impossible, unattainable and completely unnatural. It needs to stop.

Am I going to be able to completely eradicate my body hang-ups overnight? No. I'm not. It's going to take work, and I may never get over them. I may never get rid of that soft layer of post-baby fat that covers my belly. I'll wear my stretchmarks until the day I die. 

But I will be more conscious of what I say in front of those impressionable little ears, and that begins now.

Sunday, 7 April 2013


I am a planner.

I like to orchestrate things. I always have, from planning out the way my friends and I would play our games as kids to planning (or, ahem, rehearsing) how I want important conversations or interviews to go. It's everything from attempting to plan my outfits to planning my career, my life, and possibly my death (I totally plan to live-tweet it).

For over a week it's been F, Red and I and it's been wonderful. As per usual, I made a solid attempt to plan everything out - from meals to adventures, swimming pool visits to movie nights on the couch. What I didn't plan for was F to get sick. Or for Red to spend most of the weekend laying in bed exhausted from the excitement of chasing a toddler around.

It was an impromtu snugglefest that reminded me that you can't plan for the best things in life. You can't plan the best way to fall in love. You can't plan for those magical, impromtu hugs that seem to grab your heart and soul and warm them up with a squeeze. You can't omit the occassional meltdown and hiccup from your plans, no matter how hard you try.

The beauty of life is that things come as they're meant to, whether we realize it or not. Timing is everything - we just don't have the clock. Blessings and surprises are hiding around every corner, but you'll never see them if you're trying to pencil them in somewhere else.

I didn't plan to fall totally head over heels this spring. I didn't plan on giving up so much of my independence to be a part of something bigger than just me. I hadn't planned on introducing someone so important to F. But, I would have missed out on a lot of I'd been so busily wrapped up in trying to plan it all out.

If there's anything I've learned so far this year, it's this:

Just let it happen.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013


I am lucky enough to live in a big, bright apartment in a fairly quiet neighbourhood just outside the city. My neighbours are mostly quiet, my building superintendent is lovely and I feel safe and secure inside the unit that I call home. But it’s huge.

Daisy, my loveable Beagle, and I cohabit a spacious two-bedroom apartment. In the run of an average week, I might pop my head into the second bedroom once (twice if I’m cleaning or need something), and I rarely use my 8-seater dining room table at mealtimes, but sit for an hour or two working at my laptop. I park my ass in the exact same spot on my couch every time I sit down to watch television or read. While I love my apartment and the neighbourhood, and even though Daisy is surprisingly good company for a dog who chews expensive shoes and pees on the floor, I often felt so incredibly alone within the walls of my place. Even with all of my furniture set up, paintings on the walls, music turned on and candles lit my apartment never felt cozy. It was just too big. Empty, even.

But, for the last 24 hours, my heart and my home have never felt so full.

After a fantastic weekend with our families in Cape Breton, Red and I packed my car – complete with F, lots of toys and that big-eared thing I call the dog – and we started the trek for Halifax. After arriving at my apartment, the process of settling in began: suitcases unpacked, beds made, laundry put away, groceries bought. Within an hour, my living room floor was peppered with toy cars and trains, crayons and colouring books were strewn across my dining room table and giggles could be heard from one end of the hallway to the other.

My apartment has never felt so small and cozy. 

As I made my coffee this morning, I could hear the gentle breaths from F’s bed, the occasional snort from the dog and the sound of Red rolling over, the sheets rustling around him. Standing alone in the dark I realized that my coffee has never tasted so good and being tired has never felt so rejuvenating. As always, the smallest things have the greatest impact in our day-to-day life.

I know that when F goes back to Chateau Grammy after a week with me, my apartment will feel big and hollow again but my heart will still be overflowing…

…and that crayon may never come off the chairs.

Monday, 1 April 2013


Easter has come and gone in a flash.

It's funny the way we anticipate events and holidays for weeks and weeks in advance. Just think of the craziness surrounding Christmas every year. I spent the last week or two worrying about this weekend - not because I had a lot to get done, but because F was meeting Red. My stress levels grew exponentially as we got closer and closer to the day.

My concern was certainly not that F wouldn't like Red. I knew he would. Red is funny and sweet, and he's a big kid himself most of the time. My concern lay in the fact that I felt there may be a real possibility that F would send Red running in the opposite direction. Don't get me wrong: I love F like there's no tomorrow, and I wouldn't change a single hair on his sweet, little head. But he's too much like me. He's wound so tightly that when he lets go, it's approximately the equivalent of letting 7.4 million bouncy balls (F's favourite) loose in a tunnel. He's often too smart for his own good, plus he has my red-headed temper and bull-headed stubbornness to boot.

In short, the kid is a handful.

But all my worry was for wasted. The boys hit it off right away, and within only a few minutes they were perched on the piano stool making noise music and laughing together. Before I could say "melt", F was telling me that Red was his friend. We're now about to head into a really big week - F will be coming to Halifax with me, and Red will be hanging out with him while I'm at school and work.

Watching F and Red blowing bubbles on the step yesterday afternoon, or seeing Red kiss F's head as they said goodnight at bedtime last night absolutely melted my heart. I couldn't have orchestrated a more perfect weekend if I tried. We enjoyed some quality time with Red's mom and dad, we watched movies and we snuggled a lot.

We're heading into a very big and exciting week, now. In a few short hours, F and I will pick Red up and head to Halifax for a week together. Red and F will hang out (with Daisy, of course) while I'm in school or at work. It's a little nerve-wrecking, but I'm sure it'll be fantastic. I'm packing away my fears while I pack extra big-boy pants for F.

It's hard - and often terrifying - but packing those fears away often helps uncover true happiness and wonderful surprises. What are you waiting for?