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Walk A Myelin My Shoes

Life, ideas, health

First blog post: There are many ways to live a life

Who am I? Hmmm… that’s a loaded question. For anyone, I guess. First of all, my shy, self-conscious side says, “who cares?” Does anyone really want to know the details? I know I always do, which is why I hate small talk. Don’t talk about the weather, give me the real skinny, give me the details. But people are reluctant, which I totally understand, we all have our walls, and maybe everyone worries the same thing I do: “who cares?” Then, there’s the issue of how to define yourself beyond the normal parameters of how people usually describe themselves. Well, maybe before going beyond, I should start there. Okay, here are my labels, all of which I wear proudly, I just take exception with being identified solely by the traditional definitions of those labels, if you know what I mean. No? Oh well, here goes anyway.
I am a wife, mother of three, daughter, daughter-in-law, (granddaughter, granddaughter-in-law – assuming one gets to keep the label even after those people have passed on), sister, sister-in-law, stepdaughter, stepdaughter-in-law, stepsister, stepsister-in-law, aunt, cousin, second cousin, niece, teacher, French-speaker, reader, writer(???), dancer, MS warrior, DIYer, crafter, gardener, hiker, beachcomber. And now I can add the label blogger as well -yay!
Without going into too much detail, let me personalize the most important of those labels. First, I have been married for twenty-one years to my amazing soulmate, which may sound really cheesy but it’s true, who I met at the tender age of fifteen, although it took much longer before we were ready for each other. We have three incredible children: a daughter 17, an accomplished singer and director who is planning to study education; a son 15, a brown belt in karate and an avid trumpeter; and a daughter 8, dancer, singer, actress, director and all-around whirling dervish. Am I bragging? Yes. The fact that we have built this happy, connected family, with teenagers who are so much better behaved than I ever was, that actually enjoy spending time with us, blows my mind every single day.
The hobby labels don’t need further explanation but the three that are outside the family realm but equally important for me as an individual because they shape my life every day are those of dancer, teacher and MS warrior.
I grew up doing ballet and gymnastics like many little girls. I adored gymnastics and frequently dreamed of going to the Olympics, though I was never nearly talented or self-disciplined enough. I loved dance as well, especially ballet, and was lucky enough to successfully audition into the Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede for three years, which was an amazing opportunity to be exposed to all sorts of dance, acrobatics and performance opportunities. Ballet has always been my first passion though and I pursued my exams in each grade level until I went off to boarding school in grade ten. Sadly, that was the end of any quality dance training until I began university. No regrets for going to boarding school though, since that’s where I met my husband! Oh, and I kind of did get to go to the Olympics, after all, when I danced at the Opening Ceremonies in Calgary in 1988. (Oh the costume – it was mortifying!)
After completing my B.A. in French Language and Literature, I went on a soul-changing four and a half month road trip through the States and Mexico, partially solo, then lived in Paris for six months before travelling around Europe with my soon-to-be-husband, who had just come back into my life before I left for Paris. It was during these two trips that I had the first two episodes of the bizarre illnesses that no doctor could or would diagnose for twenty-four years. The first time I laid alone in the back of my orange Westfalia on the streets of Puebla for three days, peeing in the sink. Lovely. The second time hit me just as we were checking out of a beautiful resort in Lagos where we had stayed for two weeks for free thanks to a family connection, and checking into a dusty campground surrounded by ten foot high cinder-block walls. The silver lining was that I knew my future husband really loved me after surviving three days in a tent with me too ill to walk to the bathroom so I was peeing in bottles, often not very accurately (ewwww…) with his assistance. Now that’s commitment!
On returning to Canada, I began studies in secondary education, unfortunately having another episode of full-body meltdown during my second practicum. I eventually ended up getting my first job at my old boarding school, which was a very strange but wonderful experience, before we moved to Christchurch, New Zealand for three years with our one month old baby for my husband to do his PhD. Nothing like moving halfway around the world to solidify a marriage! It was a truly fantastic experience and we met some wonderful people, though sadly we haven’t kept in touch.

Somewhere along the way, I decided I wanted to try teaching elementary and finally found the sweet spot in teaching grade one French immersion. So for eight years I dedicated myself to building the best program I could, taking Master’s classes and getting hooked on Pinterest for tips and lessons, and truly loving the direction my career had taken. Unfortunately the bizarre episodes returned during this time after having been dormant for fifteen years or so, and returned with a frighteningly cyclical regularity, every six months or so. The trigger was either the stress of full-time teaching or the birth of our third child, or both, we’ll never know. Doctors had all sorts of dismissive diagnoses; exhaustion syndrome, depression, ‘just a virus’, and finally, ‘idiopathic’ meaning no known illness or reason for illness, but none of them ever really listened and connected all the dots. It was a naturopath that solved the mystery and first mentioned that it might be relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, a diagnosis confirmed when I finally got in to see the neurologist nine months later. Welcome to Canadian health care. Free but absurd.
Before getting what was obviously a life-changing diagnosis however, I had a different kind of relapse in December 2014, one that basically ended life as I knew it, at the risk of sounding melodramatic. Luckily I had the best class of my entire career and the program was already set up and running smoothly so I was able to continue working, although taking many more sick days than I would have liked and constantly aware that I wasn’t able to do my job as well as possible. So, for the last year and a half I have been on disability, trying to heal my body through food and lifestyle changes, and here I am. I don’t know if my body and/or brain will ever return to even a reasonable facsimile of my previous incarnation in order to be able to teach again, so I’m trying to appreciate that I have this time to explore different facets of my personality. Hence, this blog. And, I’ve returned to dance class, which is difficult when my body doesn’t want to cooperate, but amazing.

So, that’s me. I never expected to find myself unable to work at forty-five years of age, and the last eighteen months have required a lot of soul-searching (the occasional pity party too, to be honest) but ultimately I’ve decided that there are so many ways to live a life, even for the same person. And, for me, that mantra works to flip any perception around. Life is amazing. I am so blessed. I am so grateful.

❤️😊

Featured post

GUILT

Guilt.
A useless emotion and yet
So pervasive

Sitting
Waiting                                 hoping
Wanting to move
To do
To work

Rational mind knows
It is what it is
You are where you are
Acceptance
Honour.

Sitting
Waiting                                                 hoping
Wanting to dance
To create
To educate

Body resists
Concrete in my bones
Static in my brain
Days doled out in
Cups of tea

Sitting
Waiting                                                                 hoping
Wanting to accept
To be
To honour

And yet
Guilt.

MS SUCKS!

 

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I am not a writer

img_4363I am not a writer. Not only am I not a writer, I’m not even an adult. I’m a fraud. I’ve been faking the adult thing for the past thirty years or so, but the writing gig? That’s pretty new. And sort of happened by accident, or at least by someone else’s design. It’s kind of an interesting story…
When I was doing my undergraduate degree, the primary consideration when choosing classes, besides building a sweet timetable, was to not take any course that required writing an essay. Give me an exam any day. I had no idea how to articulate my ideas in writing, let alone structure an essay properly. A thesis statement? The concept was totally beyond me, it just didn’t compute. That may make me sound like I have some serious learning difficulty but I actually was a very good student throughout my school career, at least in subjects that had concrete answers. If writers sometimes suffer from writers block, well, my whole life I had the Berlin Wall of writers blocks.
Then in my late thirties after my third child was born, I decided to get my Masters degree while I was working part-time. Surprisingly, I found that not only did I enjoy the writing exercises, I got really positive feedback from my professors about content, clarity, argument, structure, in short, all the aspects of writing that previously had me flummoxed and running scared. This did not make me think I was a writer in any way but it certainly chipped away at that colossal block.
Fast forward three years, Masters complete, no reason to write anything beyond lengthy emails to friends but those peter out because others prefer chatting on the phone to writing. Summertime, off work for several weeks and one night I have a dream about writing a book, complete with a title and a first line. It struck me as strange when I woke up but thought nothing more of it. Then I had the exact same dream the next night. Always one to believe in signs, I wrote down the first line and figured I’d just see where it went. Well, the story just took off and flowed out of me. Four weeks and I had the first book of what quickly became a three part series. Granted, it is a fictionalized account of my life so the content part of things was fairly straightforward but overall I was really pleased with the first draft. Partway through writing that first draft I was going through old journals and when I grabbed the one from the year where my story starts, it fell open to a page where I wrote about how much I would love to be a writer – I was floored.
The writing got put on hold partly due to health reasons but also because in order to write the second book, I had to face and talk about some embarrassing and difficult events in my life. So for two years I didn’t look at my book but I never stopped thinking about it, just letting all my thoughts and questions and fears percolate through my head, reading as many books as I could to see how authors do things, effectively or sometimes less so. Then I read the memoir of someone I know and inspiration hit to look at it again, revise the first draft and continue the story. So that’s where I am now.
So you see, I’m not a writer. A real writer has an insatiable need to write all the time, and wants other people to read what they’ve written, at least that’s what I’ve always thought. I have an insatiable need to tell this particular story, and now that I can no longer do my job I have the time to devote to it. I’m not sure I’ll ever find the courage to let others read it but at the same time I think it’s a story worth sharing. We’ll see…

I’m just a person faking it till I make it like everyone else. But then, who gets to decide? What makes a writer? When and how do you qualify?

In the words of Bryan Hutchinson from positivewriter.com:
If you write, you’re a writer. If you’re a writer, you have the right to write a book. Period.
Well, okay then. Thanks Bryan!

Harry Potter Party

 

*Disclaimer: Some of these photos are a bit blurry. Blame ‘old’ technology. Or maybe it’s shaky hands. Anyway, hopefully you’ll get the general idea.

When my youngest told me she wanted to have a Harry Potter birthday party for her eighth birthday, I have to admit to experiencing serious heart palpitations. Which, I soon found out, is a common reaction. Enter my frequent saviour, Pinterest. Bonanza!

This project ended up being both a blessing and a curse of my own making, which I’ll explain later. My lovely daughter adores doing crafts which makes me so happy and we do have so many hilarious moments together but I do find I have to balance my more anal personality characteristics with her eager, slapdash manner of approaching crafts. So, divide and conquer.

The  first project M took on was cutting out house badges, ones we didn’t ultimately end up using because they were a bit small but they gave her something to do and she loved it. The badges we ended up using I found here(link).

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Platform 9 3/4 

The first thing I took on was the platform 9 3/4 sign, the idea I got from Here  which is  obviously a far superior specimen, but I did say REAL DIY.

I didn’t really follow those directions though, as usual I made it work my own good enough way with what I had on hand. Simplify, simplify. I bought the wooden sign at the dollar store and gave it two coats of red acrylic paint on each side. I probably should have done a third coat but you know, the munchkin gets the impatience from somewhere. Then I used a basic stencil for the general letter outline, and as you see I didn’t bother measuring to properly centre the words. So I guess I’m not that anal – pretty sure it’s the MS because before I would have enjoyed doing the math. Anyway, using a very light pencil I filled in the letters and extended them according to the photo from the above link. I used the same paint for the border, then I just printed up the numbers, glued them on and gave the whole thing a couple of coats of mod-podge.

I made the ‘brick wall’ with a white tablecloth, red paint and a sponge, the idea for which I got from here(link).

The Great Hall

 

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House Banner –  http://unicornhatparty.com/tagged/printables/page/2

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Munchkin painted the paper towel and toilet paper rolls with two coats of white paint after I made the wax drips with the hot glue gun. I admit to touching up the second coat, just a bit. 😬 We found tall battery-powered tea lights at the dollar store and I stuck pieces of double-sided foam tape squares onto the candles, without removing the paper from the other side so that they were removable. Check out this amazing example Then I used black streamers and balloons and a silver star garland cut in pieces to complete the ceiling. Oh, and a Dementor in the corner. Of course you can see the masking tape holding everything together but who’s looking? Right?? Haha!

Aragog’s Lair

To discourage the kids from going upstairs, I made the stairwell Aragog’s lair, then we also pushed an armchair against the bottom of the stairwell. Of course, once the girls got comfortable, there were a few who had to push the envelope and see if death really lurked upstairs. The death lurking in my glare acting as MacGonagall was enough to deter them. 👿 I used a spider decoration we have for Halloween that has tulle ‘web-things’ hanging down, then got a couple more spiders from the $ store and hung them from the edge. TIP: I used fishing wire to hang the spiders. To make sure they stay up, tie a few knots at the top of the fishing wire then do a criss-cross of masking or painting tape below the knots, so the fishing wire doesn’t slip.

The sign in the photo below reads “The third floor corridor is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death. – Albus Dumbledore” the idea for which I got from here, but I just typed it up myself using ___ font which I got here.

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On the glass of the stairwell I used lipstick (from my wedding actually – ha!) to write “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened… enemies of the heir beware”. I could have spent more time making the letters look more like in the movie but it was one of the last things I did and I was just, D-done. I wanted to write this on the bathroom mirror, of the basement bathroom that I reno’d three years ago but I, ahem, haven’t installed the mirror yet. I did at least print up Moaning Myrtle and stick her on the toilet seat, and munchkin painted a rubber snake white that we put in the bathroom as well. I think the details were lost on most of the kids but we had fun doing it.

I also tried hot gluing these cute spiders onto the glass which I had read somewhere would work, but they started popping off after a few hours. I was wishing I had done it the day of the party because that would have been kind of cool but I didn’t have time to redo the day of. I used the little spiders in various places but my favourite was on the stair divider, I wedged their little legs into the burlap to mimic the spiders in the movie.

 

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In order to keep my own brain organized, I made a schedule for the party and displayed it with Hedwig, a white owl I happened to find at Value Village for a few bucks, and the cauldron where I put the house badges for the sorting ceremony. I used the cauldron to gather up any supplies during the party like their ‘school bags’, their ‘textbooks’ and their candy bags for Honeydukes so that it was easy to organize and hand out as the guests were leaving.

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I made little signs to put on doors that we wanted them to stay out of and found some great newspaper pictures here that I printed and tea-soaked before gluing to black poster board. I noticed that I lost a lot of the ink because I left them in the tea for too long so they look a bit faded but the munchkin decided she liked the effect.

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DIAGON ALLEY

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I used our library as Diagon Alley for the beginning of the party, where the guests came to pick their wands (Follow this link for a great tutorial), their ‘Hogwarts: A History textbooks, a photocopied book with some HP activities from here and covers made of brown cardstock that I printed (here’s that file). This kept the guests busy while waiting for everyone to arrive. They also got their school bags which were just brown craft paper bags that I stuck the Hogwarts logo on that they needed for the Dementor piñata in The Defense Against the Dark Arts class.

HOGSMEADE

I was lucky enough to have my lovely daughter and her friend helping with the party so after the all the guests had arrived they flipped the sign before closing the door and transforming the library into Hogsmeade, consisting of Honeydukes (I found the sign and labels here, found more glass containers at VV which was also an investment in my quest to get rid of plastic in our house), The Three Broomsticks where they could select between Pumpkin Juice (orange pop) and Butterbeer (cream soda – again we had plans to try out some of the great recipes out there but by the time we got to the party I had to simplify. We also had a big jug of ‘Elixir of Life’, otherwise known as H2O. Strangely, none of the guests asked for any. 😉 The labels for the drinks are available here.

Honeydukes Candy

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I went to Bulk Barn and picked out candy that I thought would fit the labels, then I just made it work. From left to right, here’s the list of labels and candies I used.

Acid Pops – sour gummy worms

Mad-Eye Moody Balls – chocolate peanut butter balls wrapped in eyeball foil. Bonus of the munchkin’s birthday being in October, but maybe they’re always available.

Frogs – jelly frogs

Drooble’s Best-Blowing Gum – gumballs

Fainting Fancies – candy corn

Chocolate Wands – made these with pretzels dipped in white chocolate then rolled in sprinkles. Not sure exactly where I saw this idea on Pinterest, lots of people have pinned these. Delicious!

Jelly Slugs – gummy worms

 

 

Classroom

We used the garage as the classroom and I didn’t worry about decorating it too much, some black streamers, the Dementor piñata and the potions bottles. I have an old bottle collection so that came in handy for the great potions labels I found here. Munchkin also cut some out and made some bizarre, ooey-gooey, sparkly potions in little glass vials from the dollar store. I hot-glued the lids on after to keep the yuck inside.

The first class was Charms and I kept it super simple, teaching them the Winggardium Leviosa charm and they used their wands to keep balloons in the air. They liked this activity and there was lots of giggling but it only held their attention for about ten minutes until I had to give them challenges to keep it going a bit longer since I had roughly planned for twenty minutes per class. I think a younger crowd would probably run with it for longer.

 

LINKS

Platform 9 3/4 sign –

House Badges – http://www.dealwisemommy.net/2012/06/harry-potter-crafts/

House Banner printable – http://unicornhatparty.com/tagged/printables/page/2

Potions labels –

Wands – http://boxycolonial.com/diy-harry-potter-wands/

Food labels – http://justsweetandsimple.blogspot.ca/2011/07/harry-potter-party.html

Moaning Myrtle printable – http://umeandthekids.com/harry-potter-birthday-party-ideas/

WEBSITES WITH LOTS OF AMAZING HARRY POTTER RESOURCES

http://totallythebomb.com/30-diy-harry-potter-crafts

About Me

I am a wife, mother, teacher, dancer, reader, gardener, crafter, DIYer, MS warrior and now, blogger, living on Vancouver Island in the Pacific Northwest. I have been on an interesting journey for the last few years and I thought I would document a few of the things that have had an impact on my life. Not known for my self-discipline, we’ll see how the blogger part goes!

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