When we first moved to the farm, a row of forsythia bushes beside the driveshed were covered in blooms at the beginning of April. Since then, I’ve measured the progress of spring by the forsythia.
The forsythia flowers arrived last week–the most flowers we’ve had in years. Unfortunately, right after they arrived, snow returned. So I’m not sure that forsythia is my best measure of spring this year.
Here are some other things that caught my attention this month.
We’re finishing off April by picking the mudroom tile and paying taxes (worse than snow in the spring). We have a bunch of outdoor projects underway here, so I’m hoping that warm, sunny days return soon.
How was April for you? What signs of spring have you been seeing? Are you cooking any retro recipes?
March felt very full. The garage reno kicked off, spring arrived (with all of its assorted projects and adrenaline), sap was running, syrup was boiling, taxes were prepped, we spent nearly 100 hours outside (94 so far and three days to go), and daily life continued.
We also marked Matt’s birthday. I’ve made him a birthday cake for 23 years in a row, and I’m not ready to give it up. Plus, Ellie loves to bake and a cake is a way for her to connect with her Daddy. By her decree, his cake was exactly the same as hers from her birthday last month.
I am starting March’s round-up with an excerpt from a beautiful book that I read this month. It reminded me to find space in our full days, in my full mind, in our full life:
Here are some other links that have given me space, helped me deal with our world and find balance with the clamour of living:
I hope that you are doing well and have had a good month. We are looking ahead to a full Easter weekend (accompanied by three birthdays). There will be some hikes, egg hunts, traditional meals, new menus, candy, memories and fun.
Has March been full for you? How do you find space in your life? Do you make time to sit in silence?
Ontario is in lockdown again, but Ellie and I have been sticking pretty close to home anyways. Fortunately we’ve been bubbled with my Mom and Matt’s parents all the way along, so we’re still able to see some people and have help when we need it.
Our January highlights are celebrating my Mom’s birthday (complete with singing Happy Birthday over Zoom), skating with Ellie (she was a bit wobbly and nervous, but thinks hockey will be easier), some new clients and extra projects at work (and late nights as a result) and lots and lots of playing.
Like everyone, we’re doing the juggle. And we’re doing okay. I hope that you are as well.
Here are some other highlights that I came across this month.
It took me three tries to get through this book the first time I read it to Ellie. I still don’t make it sometimes, but I keep trying because it’s such a beautiful story. I see so much of Matt and her in it.
Setting a goal to spend 1,000 hours outside has been so motivating and made me much more conscious of how we spend our time. Also, we’ve had a lot of fun.
Hello. Happy new year. I hope that you are well and had a nice holiday.
Over the last three years, I’ve enjoyed figuring out a word of the year.
The word gives me some guidance for the year ahead. It reflects my mood and some of the things that are on my mind.
When I was pregnant with Ellie, my word was balance as I wanted to hang on to who I was and be open to who I was going to become. When we were in the depths of Matt’s illness, my word was slow. I was trying to savour moments with Matt and Ellie and not rush through our time together. Last year my word was resolve, as I was trying to figure out how to keep it together and keep moving forward.
This year the word that keeps coming into my head is focus.
I want to focus on what is most important to me. Ellie, this farm, myself, family, friends, my work. Knowing what I value means I know where to put my energy and time. By being focused, I give myself permission to spend extra time playing with Ellie, prioritize a home project or connect with a friend. I can also say no to things that don’t fit with what’s most important.
I also want to be focused in the moment. There are a lot of thoughts in my head and the to-do list is long. I am often rushing, distracted and multi-tasking. In simple tasks like tidying up from meals, I flit between loading the dishwasher, putting food away and clearing the table. Several times I’ve walked past the dining room an hour after we ate and discovered I left the orange juice or milk on the table rather than returning it to the fridge. I’ve learned I do better if I can focus on one thing–clearing the table–and then move onto the next. This goes for more complex tasks too, whether it’s work or Ellie.
My word of the year isn’t at the forefront of my mind every day. But it’s enough of a reminder most of the time to help me focus on what matters most and how I want to be.
What are you feeling as we begin 2021? Anyone else seeking focus or balance or to slow down or resolve?
How are you? How are you doing? What are you feeling?
If anyone asks me how I am doing, I rarely say only “fine” or “good.” I figure if you care enough about me to ask, I’m going to give you a full answer.
So how are you doing?
We’re in a weird time. A hard time. As Christmas approaches and virus cases rise, things feel a bit harder. As well, outside of a global pandemic, everybody has other stuff happening. Family stuff. Health stuff. Home stuff. Money stuff. Kid stuff.
In many cases, we don’t have a choice. You have to get through. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. However, it’s sometimes easier to keep going if you talk to someone about what you’re going through.
So how are you? I really want to know. Leave a comment if you feel comfortable. Or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or find someone else you feel comfortable with and tell them how you’re doing.
It may make a difference in how you feel about your day.
For me, I’m doing alright. I’m definitely overdoing it with late nights right now as I try to work, organize Christmas and keep the rest of this train on the tracks. Ellie has been going through a hard toddler stretch, so I’m working on finding my patience, positivity and energy.
But I keep putting one foot in front of the other and checking another thing off my to-do list. And find downtime in front of the fire, with our books, in a good podcast or in a few minutes every night when I find something else that inspires me, intrigues me or interests me.
Here are some of the things I’ve come across recently.
I have decided to become a hugger. After we’re through this pandemic, of course.
A friend and I were talking the other night about how much we’re missing hugs. We’ve never been huggy friends, but we’re going to change that.
Being in a situation where it’s not safe to hug. Being in a situation where you don’t have a partner whom you can hug and who will hug you back. I’ve come to realize how important physical connections are.
I am making renewed efforts to connect with friends and family. As the year and the pandemic progresses, these connections are helping me cope. Even if I can’t hug people yet.
What we need on any given day changes. I hope that you are finding what you need and finding your own ways to cope.
(I’ve also decided Ellie is going to be required to hold my hand forever.)
Here are some other things helping me cope this month.
“Our culture is very solution-oriented, which is a good way of thinking for many things… But it’s a very destructive way of thinking when you’re faced with a problem that has no solution.” Coping strategies for difficult times.
A guy who grew up down the road from Matt also died of melanoma (a different form) very young. His Mom recently reached out to me and shared this beautiful memorial. I hate that memorials like this exist. But I am grateful for all of the care and the love that leads to these tributes.
It is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. Thanksgiving is Matt’s favourite holiday. He loved the food and being together with family–and had very definite opinions on the importance of both.
It’s hard to mark Thanksgiving without him.
Yet, I am thankful.
I am thankful for our life. The choices we made, the things we have done, the opportunities we created.
I won’t say tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. I honestly can’t yet. It hurts a lot to lose this love.
There is this one terrible hole in my life. And yes, it’s a huge and terrible hole.
But there’s one. Only one.
In so many other ways, I am incredibly fortunate. I know that. I never take it for granted. I appreciate it so very much.
The kindness of the people around us, the peace of this farm, the joy of our girl, good food, a safe home, financial stability, the option to continue to make choices, the chance to feel like myself and do things that matter to me. I am thankful for this and so much more.
We have a good life.
I am thankful for everything that Matt did–and does–to make that possible.
I feel like this month was a time of ups and downs. Our first cold days and nights–so cold that I turned on the heat and plugged in the electric blanket. Then we spent the past week in shorts and sandals outside all day. Grief and joy. Fatigue and energy. Celebrations and disappointments.
Fall is here, with all its contradictions and challenges and beauty.
Ellie and I have been soaking in all the outside time we can, doing some pre-winter projects, working in the garden, eating our meals on the patio and visiting the farm across the road to watch the combine harvest the beans. We had our own little harvest when we picked some apples from the big tree in the meadow this weekend.
I feel like this month’s round-up is a mix of ups and downs as well. Perhaps it reflects my state of mind right now. I hope that you are well.
“… if the person I love has to endure this, then the least I can do is stand there, the least I can do is witness, the least I can do is tell them over and over again, aloud, I love you. We love you. We ain’t going nowhere.”