• laser eye surgery is my thing

    laser eye surgery is my thing

    I have been pretty much blind for forever.

    Not *actually* blind. I can see. It’s just that I have to wear coke-bottle thick glasses or very strong contacts to do it.

    Me with my glasses. And my cat looking like a rabbit. And wine.

    I got my first pair of specs in Gr. 4, but I should have been wearing them years before that.

    When I finally went home with my very own (God-awful) spectacles (thick, pink plastic rims) my optometrist said to my mom, “I’m not sure how she hasn’t been running into things all this time…”

    I’m not sure if he was trying to make my mom feel guilty, but he nailed it!

    And so – drum roll please – in a couple weeks I am going in for laser eye surgery.

    I’m doing it. I’m willingly going under the knife.

    Intense close-up, but check out those pupils! Getting some tests to see if I am a candidate. I am!

    I am going to LET them cut my eyeball. I’m just going to let ’em do it.

    My apologies for being rather dramatic but this is a big deal for me. These are my EYEBALLS, after all.

    As I said in beginning, I have had very, very, very poor eyesight for as long as I can remember looking around at stuff. By the time I was 9 years old, being carted off to get my eyes tested felt like a fairly common occurrence.

    Can you read the top line?


    How about the next one down?


    Image credit: David Travis

    It felt like I was constantly going to get my eyes checked and they were constantly getting worse and I was constantly getting new horrid frames…

    … that were always pink for some inexplicable reason.

    Since they kept getting worse and worse, my child-brain came to the conclusion I imagine any child-brain might come to:

    It was only a matter of time before my eyesight would become so poor that I would just be completely and totally, 100% blind.

    And I was pretty freaked out about that possibility, but in the way that kids are quietly terrified by some things but still carry on. For example, I was also quite sure quicksand was going to suck me into the Earth while walking through the forest, and I regularly laid awake imagining how I would escape the kidnappers that would inevitably find me in my house in the night and lug me away. And that witch in the basement I *knew* didn’t exist TERRIFIED ME nonetheless, but I just stayed upstairs at night and willed her creepiness out of my consciousness and carried on with my cartoons.

    Since I was pretty sure I was going to go blind at some point I would look around and try to memorize my surroundings. The clouds, my street, my home, my family.

    I had no idea what I was going to do if my mom rearranged the furniture, but such are the silent worries of overly cerebral 11 year olds.

    When my husband decided to get the same surgery a few years ago his excited, “So! Are you going to get yours done?” was met by my horrified, “Uh, no absolutely no, no way. No.”

    I had spent the better part of my adolescence actively avoiding things that could possibly exacerbate the decline of my eye sight, I wasn’t about to invite the possibility of injury by laying myself out, wide-eyed and proclaiming, “Go ahead! Give ‘er a slice!”

    (Okay, gross. Sorry! Too far, I went too far with that last one. Yuck.)

    But, I am older and more reasonable now (sort of)? I would rather my eyesight decline from 202/20 as I get older than no-I-don’t-know-how-many-fingers-you-are-holding-up.

    And it will be *really* nice to be able to read the clock when I wake up in the morning. And not have to check and re-check and re-check that I brought my glasses when we go on a trip (I’ve forgotten them before! It’s the worst!). And not having to deal with random hairs getting caught in my contacts (it’s pretty gross and it happens).

    So, I’m doing it. I. Am. Doing. It. Yessir. We are going ahead and I am all kinds of jazzed. Yes I am, for sure.

    I also might be a wee bit nervous.

    But mostly jazzed!

    Please feel free to reassure me! **No horror stories please, this is happening!**

    Join me on Instagram for all the laser eye surgery fun!

    I hear I get some kind of drug that is going to make me super mellow for the surgery, so that should be neat!

    I am conducting an experiment: I have challenged myself to try something new each month in 2022. Here are my (self imposed) rules. Let me know if you have ideas on fun/ interesting/ novel things I could try in the comments.

    Or join me, that would be even more lovely actually…

    Me and a great big eyeball.
  • hysterectomies are my thing

    hysterectomies are my thing

    *Trigger Warning: Cancer scare. And hospitals. And drugged up poetry…

    It was a cold day in February when I sat in my doctor’s office and heard the words, “I don’t think this will kill you, Shauna.”

    “It doesn’t look like it’s spread.”

    My doctor said more, but I don’t remember much else.

    I remember feeling like all the air had whooshed out of my lungs and everything stopped. I could no longer see my doctor sitting in front me. The off-white walls of the little room I was sitting in evaporated. I could no longer feel my familiar winter jacket tight around me or the awkward standard doctors’ office chair under my legs. In an instant the whole room disappeared to be replaced by stark, empty whiteness.

    “But I have kids…” I whispered weakly in rebuttal.

    My doctor looked so sad.

    My husband appeared from somewhere and I was back in the room with the doctor and this impossible news that left me limply reaching for an escape.

    The following days and weeks slowly flowed like a river heavy with mud. A mass in my uterus. More appointments. Gynaecologist. CT scan. Ultrasound. MRI.

    And then good news. Likely just a fibroid. A large one, mind you, but “likely” not the C-word.

    Likely. Not likely. Probably not. It can’t be 100% confirmed unless removed.

    With two little humans at home I could not handle “likely” and I decided to get a hysterectomy.

    Since May is Hysterectomy Awareness Month I figured I would share some of my experience here with you in the hopes it will help you or someone you love.

    So here we go! If I’ve missed anything please be sure to post your suggestions in the comments and let’s make this a par-tay.


    HysterSisters.com: When you sign up you get this “what to ask and what to expect” cheatsheet that I referred to about a million times. Highly recommend.

    What to Buy

    • A whole bunch of pillows so you can sit and sleep comfortably
    • (Gentle) stool softener: what? This is VERY IMPORTANT. Depending on what kind of surgery you have (c-section incision, laparoscopy etc) your body can kind of freak out and get really slow with digestion etc. Help your guts out.
    • Pain medication: don’t be a hero, take the drugs
    • Belly binder: it helped me feel like my body was put together (I didn’t start using until the swelling went down)
    • Comfortable, non-binding pjs and pants

    What to Do

    • Relax! If the doc says it will take 6 weeks to recover, believe her! Don’t go and push yourself (like I did), it serves no purpose other than giving you something to whinge about.
    • Watch all the shows. Let me know if you need suggestions, I have suggestions!
    • Prepare food ahead of time
    • Accept help

    My Experience/Videos Etc

    Here is a video I shared a few years ago before my surgery (just a warning: I get teary! More than once! Just be prepared for my Crying Face!). I go into some lovely advice I received from a nurse in the community + some Asks for you.

    Post-Op IG post: Overall I had a really good experience in the hospital and the surgery. I was in the hospital for 2 nights and while I would not want to go back any time soon, for major surgery it was very doable.

    Surgery is done + things are going well! This photo is about 8 hours post-op. I was on lots of good drugs at this point so that smile is part delirium 😉
    The power of small acts: The nurses and doctors are so kind. Dr. Burridge sunny and positive; Residents Amy and James, engaged and sympathetic; Dr. Luch holding my face in the operating room reassuring me; my OR nurse, Chido, her warm hand in a cold room as I drifted off… Lindsay, Pauline and Stacy, my nurses ever-present and kind 🙏
    My body is amazing: I know it’s only the second day and pain meds are my BFF, but our bodies just keep evolving and trying, don’t they? 🦋
    Laughter: Before I went into the OR I sat with my husband, John, and we watched Aussie Man Reviews and laughed until there were tears and I wasn’t scared at all. I did get scared when it was time to be rolled away but I came back to my breath and it was fine 🌸
    I’M NOT TOTALLY DELIRIOUS. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows 🌈 😉 This hurts and I can’t stand up for very long. Saying goodbye to my kids was hard, tears strangling my throat through what I hope was a reassuring smile. By this stage in the game I would *really* like to have a shower (sorry Nurse Stacy!). I don’t have the attention span for the book I brought (The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer) + this post took me 3 tries over the course of several hours. But all in all, things are going really well 🌻 *
    Thank you to everyone reaching out! It makes me feel sunshiny and cared for, thank you! 🌞

    Pre-Op Photo… Post-Op Poetry… I was on really good drugs okay, I felt like writing poetry… My husband took this photo and I was feeling pretty scared and worried that my kids were worried. They were 7 years and 4 years and I wanted them to see me in the hospital doing a-okay so I asked John to snap this so they could see everything was just fine.

    This Body of Mine 🦋
    Oh, look at Her. My body. Reaching, reaching. Knees over toes, obedient.
    I haven’t been very generous with Her over the years, have I? I have starved Her of various necessities. Nutrients. Attention. Rest. I have driven Her harder and harder, generally dismissive of Her accomplishments, bitterly disappointed. The worst kind of mother. She keeps trying to earn my love, hope in clasped hands, enduring my tests.
    But She is crafted with some kind of magic, isn’t She? I think I can see shimmers of light dripping from her finger tips and cupping her calf muscles, sliding across bare collarbones and racing, tripping to Her toes, just for fun. Maybe not.
    They say She is made of stardust. Capable of building nations and bridges in Her gold mended heart and in Her discarded womb and in Her perfumed arms and in earnest. My relentless abuse of this being is a socially acceptable crime against vulnerability.
    Yet She persists. Dancing. Posing for children at home with Grandma, frightened by what “hospital” means. She smiles and scrunches her nose. Her own slippery fear is tucked away to be released in small salty oceans for her pillow to catch and take away when inky dark has taken over and it’s more convenient.
    She marches herself into the cold Operating Room unassisted. Obedient. Afraid. She does it anyway like the warrior She is. She climbs onto the sturdy table and offers her unblemished belly under brilliant bright lights for cutting.
    She is now offering organs to the merciless God of My Judgement. Is it enough? Maybe threatening me with an angry, ugly tumor was vicious payback. Maybe it was a last ditch desperate effort to get my fickle attention. Maybe it was an accidental clash of cells, a statistical fluke that means absolutely nothing at all.
    But in any case, is it enough, now? Will it be different in this After? Every climacteric event is a co-creative force of the yin and the yang and these things are so much more powerful leaning on each other, working in concert. I want to be generous. I want to appreciate this body of mine. She’s been through a lot.
    I like this photo. I think I look beautiful. 🦋

    Five Weeks Post-Op (3 things + 1 important thing): I was feeling very upbeat and like I could take on the world.

    Hysterectomy: 5 Weeks Post-Op (I got cocky): I was not feeling upbeat or like I could even take on a marshmallow.

    John and I after getting the news that all the tests were back and I definitely didn’t have cancer. So relieved…

    In conclusion: I am a couple years out now and I’m fine. One year later I came *this* close to running a 1/2 marathon (I injured myself in the 11th hour, so frustrating, but I was so proud of myself for coming so close to this physical feat), I am healthy and don’t feel like I’m going to pee every 2 minutes… and that gratitude and awe has not left me.

    If you are going to have a hysterectomy, it is going to be okay. Ask your questions, get your support and know that there are so many of us out here rooting for you.

    If you have questions, please feel free to ask!

    P.S.: Also, I haven’t gone into menopause yet! I had my hysterectomy when I was 40 and I was annoyed that I would probably go into early menopause, but I haven’t yet (and I’m 43 now)!


    I am conducting an experiment: I have challenged myself to try something new each month in 2022. Here are my (self imposed) rules. Let me know if you have ideas on fun/ interesting/ novel things I could try in the comments.

    Or join me, that would be even more lovely actually…

  • being 43 is my thing

    being 43 is my thing

    “This has been incredible. How do you know all this stuff?”

    I am comfortably sitting on the floor cross-legged at sunset with a glass of red wine in my hand. I am leading a strategic planning retreat for entrepreneurs and the team is feeling pleasantly tired from the focused work, and also fired up.

    I laugh. I stare down at my glass. I was feeling comfortable, but now my overarching sensation is really wanting to squirm.

    Sunset. Gorgeous.

    I don’t know how to handle this question. I hesitate and start to go with one of the 3 Ds: discount, distract, deflect…

    My first instinct is to tell her she must be mistaken and to discount what I bring to the table. That I don’t really know anything. That what has transpired over the last few days is really no big deal.

    Thankfully in a flash of self preserving insight it does occur to me that given this is MY JOB, not only would that be wildly incorrect (the weekend was super productive! and fun! there were Ahas and introspection and pivotal moments!), but it could possibly inspire them to question their investment in my services, which would be royally, royally, royally stupid on my part.

    I manage to hold my tongue. So far…

    I almost try to change the subject, distracting her from her curiosity with an, “Oh I’m not so sure about that! Tell me more about you…”

    And then I think to shift the shine by deflecting any and all praise that is coming my way off to the group to enjoy collectively. As if my experience and skills weren’t catalysts, when I know they were.

    Because as women, we do that all the time, don’t we? Pass our superpowers off as “nothing” or convenient accidents that the group should benefit from without attributing credit where it is due.

    Post-retreat. Out for coffee.

    As though saying, “I am really good at this” is the most arrogant thing I could ever say. Even when it’s true. Even when it helps others. Even when people want it.

    My goal is not to be arrogant. But my goal is no longer to be humble to the point of disappearing.

    I take a deep breath. I decide all at once to take a gamble and try throwing away my usual discounting/distracting/deflecting crutches. I decide instead to gratefully gather her compliments up in my arms, hold them carefully and step into uncharted territory:

    Boldly, I say ‘thank you,” answer her question, and I own her kind bouquets with the sincerest of appreciation.

    I am not in my 20s. I am not in my 30s. I am in my 40s. I have worked with absolute powerhouses and people whose minds astounded me. I have hunkered down in meeting rooms with leading brands hashing out ideas and in conference rooms pitching next steps. I have been lead by bosses for whom I would do anything and alongside teams I have wanted everything for. I’ve started businesses and supported many more. I’ve been inspired, I’ve fell, deflated… and I’ve done it a few times because I’ve been working for awhile.

    Going up and down and up again has given me some perspective. So has moving a few times. So has marriage and motherhood and family and illness and friendship… normal life stuff.

    I have noticed since turning 40 that when referencing my age I have starting saying, “in my 40s” rather than what my actual, exact age is. I’ve been doing it because I’ve been trying to hide in the decade, as if the act of suggesting that maybe I am 49 lets me slide by as possibly being 40.

    What an odd choice I’ve been making. I think I’m ready to just own it.

    Own the compliments. Own what I have to offer. Own my age. Own the truth.

    I am good at what I do.

    I am insightful.

    I am 43 years old.

    I am worth it.

    (okay, so that end part ended up sounding like a L’Oreal commercial but I am going with it because I AM worth it, damnit!!)

    We all are… and that’s not me deflecting, it’s fact…

    Follow me on Instagram for more…


    I am conducting an experiment: I have challenged myself to try something new each month in 2022. Here are my (self imposed) rules. Let me know if you have ideas on fun/ interesting/ novel things I could try in the comments.

    Or join me, that would be even more lovely actually…

  • is portland my thing

    is portland my thing

    As I write this I am hurtling through the air on a jet plane from Vancouver to Portland (for work and a little bit of pleasure, woot! woot!).

    This is my first time on a flight since the end of 2019 because of that whole pandemic thing, and it all feels a bit surreal, like a Hall Monitor is going to leap around the corner at any moment and boom, “Get back inside!” with gleeful intensity. 

    After extra laundry and cleaning and arrangements for the cat and dog and a pre-flight covid test and packing and submitting all my “I’m not a viral menace I swear” paperwork and extra hugs and kisses from the kids… I’m finally off. 

    Credit: Photo by Zack Spear

    I have never been to Portland before. A big New Thing for the month. The first few days I am in meetings and then John is joining me for some touristy coffee and beer and food cart food and whatever other cool things you do in Portland (I am hearing a lot about Voodoo Donuts so that will definitely be a stop). 

    I have never been to Portland before and I have feelings about this.

    I have feelings that I am supposed to have, and then I have feelings that I am not supposed to have and they are kind of confusing me. 

    It’s “both/and” situation. I am having both positive and, to be honest, reticent feelings about the next 6 days. 

    I am keen to kick off the professional portion of the trip, AND

    I am a little nervous doing this in person for the first time in awhile, AND

    I am looking forward to flexing my organizational planning muscles (I do strat planning stuff for work), AND

    I know all this one-on-one time is going to tire my introverted self out, AND

    I am excited to relax in a new city with John, AND

    I am looking forward to having some well-earned kid-free time, AND

    I know the kids are okay, but I still hope they are okay, AND

    I am bummed I am not going to sleep as well because that never happens and I love sleep, AND


    I’m not as excited as I thought I would be. 


    I’m not as excited as I thought I would be?!?!

    That feels horribly… rude and ungrateful and… what?!

    I love traveling! 

    What is going on? 

    I have been lucky to travel a fair amount for work and life and I have loved it. While in my 20s I jumped on every plane, train and automobile with zest and a willingness to work every extra hour and shake every additional hand… but somewhere along the line a shift has happened. That all-or-nuthin divebomb is not my reality any more.

    I am thrilled and motivated to rally the troops and roll my sleeves up, but it feels different. Being completely consumed by it all is… not as consuming. 

    I think what is happening is that now in my 40s, “excited” just feels different to me.

    In my 20s, “being excited” was more of an “all of me” tornado force of energy. I was all in with all my focus and attention. My exhilaration knocked every other possible emotion out of my sphere of awareness. 

    Now, I suppose I have the bandwidth to feel excited, while at the same time preoccupied with how my daughter’s softball game went and how my son is doing with his sore stomach and whether international relations are as dire as they clearly seem to be. 

    As I write all that, I guess my feelings of excitement aren’t as central to my overall state of being as they once were – so they aren’t more dull necessarily, just couched within the context of several other lives and experiences that are also important to me.

    I suppose this is what one might call perspective. And evolution.

    And growing up.

    Overall I would say it is a good thing to not be so solely focused on my own experience. But it does also mark a shift, a click into a new chapter.

    Although I know this already, I am not 20 or even 30 years old anymore. It was obviously never just about me… but now I understand that more. I experience that truth in a more nuanced way.

    So, yes I am very much excited about my trip to Portland… it’s just that this excitement feels a bit more gentle than what I was expecting.

    But it’s a nice feeling, just the same.

    Also: VOODOO DONUTS thank you very much.

    Credit: Photo by Cole Keister

    I am conducting an experiment: I have challenged myself to try something new each month in 2022. Here are my (self imposed) rules. Let me know if you have ideas on fun/ interesting/ novel things I could try in the comments. Or join me, that would be even more lovely actually…

  • being comfortable with myself is my thing

    being comfortable with myself is my thing

    So, now that we (I am taking for granted that you and I are in this together now) have decided that my goal for this challenge the next 9ish months is to figure out how to feel comfortable in my own skin… I (*cough* WE) need a plan.

    A structure of some kind so I don’t feel like I’m going in a million and one directions.

    I have been thinking this week about times in my life when I have felt completely at ease.

    However, there is a slight hiccup: I am not sure the way my brain works actually lends itself to a lot of ease.

    I have a mind that goes and goes and goes. My process involves thinking about the thing and then breaking down the thing and then breaking it down some more while simultaneously running possible outcomes/consequences for each sub-step.

    While I can appreciate that would sound exhausting to most (such as my husband, “You think a lot” is a refrain I hear a lot), for me it’s just normal. Every scenario feels like the set up for a practiced safecracker tasked with cracking a huge safe and I am the safecracker, à la that movie Army of Thieves. Sure, cracking a safe can be a lot of work and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t… but safecrackers crack safes. It’s what they do, they just have to.

    Safecrackers crack safes. My brain goes (and goes and goes).

    That said, it’s not like I never feel that warm hum of calm. I’ve had heaps, HEAPS of beautiful moments just like that (thank you very much):

    Summertime, I’m about 10 years old. Barefoot in the backyard after dinner in my pajamas, trying to teach myself how to do a roundoff with Madonna’s True Blue blaring in my ears. The evening dew plastering grass clippings to my legs…


    Buried under a slightly damp but cozy blanket on my Grandma’s porch with a stack of Sweet Valley High books at my side and a pile of graham crackers balanced on my knee listening to the rain…

    Flying down the highway on my way home from an evening cocktailing at the restaurant in my tiny Hyundai Excel, windows down, Hotel California blaring on the radio…

    When I think back on those times I just felt at complete ease. It’s not reasonable to think that the ease I had as a child can just be bottled up and sprinkled everywhere, I realize, but what is the right-now-adult version of that?

    Since I am needing a way to break this down more to help me tackle this in bite-sized chunks, what I’ve come to is the classic breakdown:

    When it comes to being comfortable with oneself, how does that translate when it comes to the body, mind and spirit?

    More specifically, how does a woman in her 40s who is a mom and a wife and a daughter and a friend who is trying to get 10,000 steps in a day, while also being a chauffeur to her children, and works, and is trying to be a decent human in the world while cleaning white cat hair off everything who should meditate more and take part in school activities more and plan a Date Night whose mind goes and goes… find peace and ease for the body, mind and spirit?

    The offending white cat.

    Body. Mind. Spirit.

    I think every belief system through the ages includes a mention of these categories in some shape or form so I am thinking this is a good place to start.

    Those are my categories. That is what I want to know more about.

    This is what I want to find.

    Work with me on this cunning plan, won’t you?

    I am conducting an experiment: I have challenged myself to try something new each month in 2022. Here are my (self imposed) rules. Let me know if you have ideas on fun/ interesting/ novel things I could try in the comments. Or join me, that would be even more lovely actually…

  • i made a mistake last week, sorry

    i made a mistake last week, sorry

    I wrote that whole “what is the point of this year long challenge of mine” post last week and within a few hours of it going live I realized it was all wrong.

    I came to conclusions, it felt tidy, it sounded reasonable more or less… but no. The happiness thing? I guess… not?

    Quick recap:

    • I am doing this year long challenge this year where I am trying something new each month
    • A few months in I find myself wondering, why am I doing this? What is the point of all this? This is a fair amount of effort… shouldn’t there be a point?
    • I come to think that perhaps this is my very own personal Happiness Project
    • I am feeling pretty solid about this conclusion and share it with you all…
    • … and then I am promptly not feeling at all solid about this conclusion.

    You’re all caught up.

    Am I happy?

    I think I am happy. I am happy mostly, I think. Sometimes I am really happy and contented. I think that pursuing happiness is an endeavour worth exploring… but I think I am a few degrees away from a year long trek towards that goal.

    I don’t think I’m ready to make that my daily focus, is what I mean.

    Like, if you imagine a line and on one end is misery and on other is the most complete joyful happiness, and you had to earn your stripes to make your way from one end to the other I feel like I don’t quite have my “Let’s Focus on Being Happy Everyday” badge quite yet. I feel like I have some (lots of!) learning to go yet.

    Of course, happiness isn’t a stage and any state of being can fall at our feet at any time… but hear me out on this:

    After I wrote a whole post basically saying, “I am trying to be happy. Or happier. Or something…” I started looking more closely at everything through that lens.

    Did the angel card reading make me happier? (well, I enjoyed it, but I don’t think it nudged in any direction permanently…)

    Did eating that chocolate-y DQ Blizzard make me happy? (not really, but it was definitely fun treating my son and sharing in his excitement…)

    Does it feel like my daily pursuit is one of seeking happiness around every corner?

    I mean, I don’t actively try to avoid happiness by any stretch, I’m not a masochist, but I can’t say I’m running (or skipping) around trying to be happier.

    So what am I doing?

    When I was a kid every time the teacher called on me in class my stomach would drop and I would wait for the burn. Unfortunately, I didn’t have to wait very long. I would feel my ears start to go pink, and then the outer circles of my cheeks and patches down my neck would burn up like land being cleared for planting. All the while my ears, not to be outdone, continued to get redder and redder until it felt like the tips of my ears had been stung by inexplicably furious wasps and my ears were now flaming weapons preparing to burn the whole school down… because my teacher had asked me what the capital of Ontario was.


    “Calm, cool, coooooool, you’re comfortable, this is no big deal…” I would silently coach myself/my ears to no avail.

    I think that is what I am doing.

    Ever since I can remember I think I’ve been trying to be okay. To be calm, to be secure… maybe even to be “normal.” To not freak out to the point where it feels like an important and appreciated part of my body is going to spontaneously combust.

    I want to feel comfortable in my skin.

    Feeling comfortable with Popcorn

    I want to spend more of my time feeling comfortable in my own skin.

    I think this pursuit fits where I am right now a bit better. A lot better.

    To be more specific:

    I want to know what it feels like to just be, more of the time. I want to feel comfortable in my body. I want to feel comfortable in my choices. I want to know what it feels like to feel at ease, in body, mind and spirit.

    That sounds like it would be heaven, really.

    Are there people like that? How do they get like that? Are they just born that way? Is it a practice thing? Or a choice thing? Or a maturity thing? Or maybe a life experience thing?

    Okay, this is feeling like it fits.

    I might change it all tomorrow, mind you, but right now it feels like we might be on to something…

    Maybe feeling comfortable in my skin is my thing…

    P.S.: My “thing” for April is going to be horseback riding because that is something my daughter is into and I want to better appreciate what she does. Stay tuned!

    I am conducting an experiment: I have challenged myself to try something new each month in 2022. Here are my (self imposed) rules. Let me know if you have ideas on fun/ interesting/ novel things I could try in the comments. Or join me, that would be even more lovely actually…

  • maybe being happy is my thing

    maybe being happy is my thing

    As I come to the end of the first quarter of 2022, I am wondering what the purpose of this challenge of mine is. Why am I racing to publish a blog post every Friday and analyzing every possible new thing I could dip my toes into and then researching and booking and planning and then actually doing them?

    Why am I doing this? What is the point?

    I’ve been mulling around a few possible contenders for The Point to All of This:

    • I am trying to learn to be fun? I wouldn’t describe myself as particularly fun. Fun must be good for you, new things are often fun…
    • I am trying to be a good role model for my kids? I think this is a pretty noble one. I want my kids to see their Mom getting out there and trying new things and sucking at them and meeting people and laughing at herself.
    • I am trying not to be old? I don’t think this really resonates, but it’s worth writing down. I’m in my 40s and I can see how deep in some of my grooves I am. I kind of just think of myself as 37 or 38 even though that is decidedly not true anymore. So I need to combat the groove settling.

    I’ve gone around and around, and when it comes right down to it, I think I know what this is.

    I think I’m trying to be happy.

    I wouldn’t be the first one to run a Happiness Project and I certainly won’t be the last.

    I think there is a bold mental health angle to all of this. I’m a little afraid to admit it, if I’m honest. It feels a little self indulgent and beyond that, it feels more than a little vulnerable to post on yet another Friday blog.

    But I think I want to secure my happiness. I think I want to DO something to help myself be happy and stay happy and I think I worry that I am not quite as happy as I could be. And there is this niggling awareness that this is a ME thing, not a situational thing or an anyone else thing.

    In the interest of dotting Is and crossing Ts, here is a running list of some of the planned and not so planned new things I have tried since the start of this challenge on January 1st and a glance at if the Happiness sticker fits:

    Random New Things I’ve Tried, Big and Small, In No Particular Order and Whether They’ve Impacted My Happiness

    1. Escape Room

    This was my “new thing” for March. It was my 7 year old son’s idea and it was all kinds of chaos. There were highs and lows, we thought we were doing really well… and then realized there was not ONE additional room to get through but TWO, it was pandemonium.

    The Harvard Study of Adult Development, started in 1938 and considered one of the world’s longest studies of adult life, has found that the people who lived long and happy lives are those who leaned into relationships, such as those with their families. Sure, analysis by sociologist Jennifer Glass (Parenthood and Happiness) found that, for women, having kids is associated with a 3 or 4 percentage point decline in happiness… but there is obviously so much to dig in there.

    I know it’s only one data point, but it made me happy to make one of my son’s life long goals, to discover an Escape Room (about pirates, no less!) a reality. Sure, it could have been fun to make a boozy evening of it with some friends, but tackling it with my family was sweet and I’m glad we could do it together.

    Happiness Rating: 7/10 I mean, it’s solving puzzles with children. I’m not the Dalai Lama or whatever…

    2. New Dairy Queen Blizzard Flavour: Oreo Mocha Fudge

    I ALWAYS get one of two things when I go to Dairy Queen: An Oreo Blizzard or a Reese’s Blizzard. These are EXCELLENT choices because Oreos are a comfy taste explosion that never gets old and chocolate and peanut butter is a match invented by a generous angel of harmony and happiness.

    From a scientific standpoint we are going to focus on the fact that sugar gets right out there and increases the action of dopamine and releases endorphins and endocannabinoids!

    Hey! Looky over here! Never mind those terrifyingly educational programs out there like That Sugar Film or Jamie Oliver’s Sugar Rush or Sugar Coated or Sugar Crash or whatever! Eyes on the prize, dopamine, baby!

    Happiness Rating: 8/10 Okay, I didn’t feel great after this one but it did taste so so good and I did do this with my son and he was so excited to have his ice cream cone!

    3. Tarot + Angel Card Readings

    My “new things” for February, both of these experiences were just lovely. Hugs of connection.

    Happiness Rating: 10/10

    4. Noom

    I signed up for Noom (“a subscription-based app for tracking a person’s food intake and exercise habits. The company is known for its emphasis on behavior change and mental wellness” source: Wikipedia) about a week ago. It’s only been a week, and I am not a sign-up-and-pay-for-the-app person but so far I am loving it. Beginner’s enthusiasm? Maybe. But maybe there is more to this:

    “Research suggests that ‘healthy’ food choices such as eating fruits and vegetables have not only physical but also mental health benefits and might be a long-term investment in future well-being. This view contrasts with the belief that high-caloric foods taste better, make us happy, and alleviate a negative mood” (source)

    I love, love, love Doritos and a glass of pinot noir, but there is no denying I have slept better in the last week than I have in ages and even though this last week has been a chaotic mish-mash of Spring Break kid activities and work, my outlook has been… sunny.

    Happiness Rating: 9/10 I would rather drink the pinot noir AND have the great sleep. This is obvious, right?

    5. Pizza: Mediterranean with Hummus

    John and I went out for dinner a couple weeks ago and I decided to try something different and for some reason I decided on this.

    No. Pizza is supposed to have cheese on it. This was a “new thing” mistake.

    Happiness Rating: 2/10 There was still pizza dough and wine, not all was lost.

    I bought a tarot deck and new pants (I rarely shop), I drank an Old Fashioned (I never drink whiskey, but I have been wrong all this time, they are delicious), I started volunteering at a food bank and I got myself one of those jade face rollers. I got a mammogram (rather than putting that appointment off forever) and booked a call to go over our finances and went axe throwing.

    Ready for my mammogram. Worried face!

    I am taking taking new roads and answering the phone and I am posting “publish” every Friday.

    I wouldn’t say I have happiness figured out by any stretch… but, when it gets down to it, I wonder if this is the challenge I am trying to solve with this 2022 adventure.

    Is this all about trying to find happiness?

    Post-mammogram. Nothing to worry about, woohoo!

    I am conducting an experiment: I have challenged myself to try something new each month in 2022. Here are my (self imposed) rules. March is Escape Rooms. Let me know if you have ideas on fun/ interesting/ novel things I could try in the comments. Or join me, that would be even more lovely actually…

  • being safe is (not) my thing

    being safe is (not) my thing

    Years ago I read that book, Start With Why, by Simon Sinek. It’s all about getting into the guts of what you are doing. Getting to the guts of WHY you are doing what you are doing. It talks a lot about business, but it applies to everything across the board from the personal to the professional.

    I was hooked. For forever I had felt like I was one hack away from really tapping into my professional groove. It always felt like something was just a little bit off.

    Was it the work? Maybe it was who I working for. Maybe it was the industry? Maybe I need to exercise more? Meditate? Volunteer?

    But a why, yes, this made sense. This could be it. This could be what I was missing all this time.

    Perhaps it wasn’t WHAT I was doing. It was WHY I was doing it in the first place.

    In case you haven’t read it, here is part of the blurb for some context:

    In 2009, Simon Sinek started a movement to help people become more inspired at work… Since then, millions have been touched by the power of his ideas, including more than 28 million who’ve watched his TED Talk based on START WITH WHY — the third most popular TED video of all time.

    Sinek starts with a fundamental question: Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers had little in common, but they all started with WHY. They realized that people won’t truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the WHY behind it…

    Start with Why, Simon Sinek

    It all comes down to 3 galvanizing and compelling questions, what Sinek calls the Golden Circle:

    The Golden Circle: credit Simon Sinek
    1. the WHAT is an explanation of what you do
    2. the HOW is getting into the guts of it, it’s not just what you do, it’s how you do it
    3. the WHY is the heart of it all, it’s what you believe in

    I read this sometime after my oldest was born and I thought, “Excellent! What more compelling reason to do anything could there possibly be but a child?!” And not just any child, but MY child. Becoming a mother made me realize I had the strength of a hurricane within me and when I heard those stories of mothers pulling trucks off children with only their bare hands and the ferocious power of a mother’s love I nodded in solemn understanding.

    Yes, my Why would obviously be my children. Of course it WAS my children. I would dedicate my life’s work, from the minor and mundane to the monumentally momentous to the unending importance of their future and their happiness and their potential.

    Except it didn’t work.

    My kids ARE the single most important thing to me. They are my top, top priority. They are my single greatest happiness, I love and adore them… anything I write here will fail to capture the waves of care and awe and sweetness I have for them.

    But putting my why on their shoulders was a cop out.

    Telling myself, “do it for the kids, do it for the kids, DO IT FOR THE KIDS DAMNIT,” didn’t inspire me to move mountains.

    Just telling myself that everything I did, I did it for them (while true in many ways) was letting me ignore what I was really doing.

    What my real “why” was for too long.

    When I was a kid into my early 20s my LIFE was dancing. Ballet, tap, jazz, musical theatre, I loved all of it. I loved my dance friends and my dance shoes and the costumes and the rehearsing and being “a dancer.” And I was pretty good. I spent almost every day at the studio including weekends from morning to night and my favourite time of year was competition season. We traveled from competition to competition and I came away with medals that would hang on my bedroom mirror and trophies that would be engraved with my name.

    Sure, I was good. I could have even been described as an excellent dancer. I was proficient. I was a technician. I could pick up any choreography. I was a a pleasure to watch on stage.

    But every now and then I would get an adjudicator that would call me on my safe pleasantness:

    “I want to see you go for it, Shauna…”

    “Push, just fall down if you need to…”

    “Just go ahead and really feel what this means to you. Tell us a story…”

    My all time favourite from a teacher I had in uni:

    “You need to go out there and live. Fall in love or get your heartbroken or GET LAID or something, oh my GOD SHAUNA, you need to loosen up.”

    When it came down to it, I know now what they were basically all saying.

    Why is this important to you? Why must you be on this stage? Why do you care? Why should we care?

    Why are you doing this? We want to know your story, your why. Tell us, please!

    And now, in my 40s, I finally get why I heard this so often. I finally get what my why has really been all these years.

    What I have really wanted more than anything… is to not do anything wrong.

    I have wanted to avoid making mistakes. To avoid being disliked. I’ve wanted to be good and be appreciated and to be found faultless.

    My why has simply been to stay safe, be liked, be small.

    No wonder I found it impossible to get into a groove, professional or otherwise. It’s no wonder my teacher was telling me to go and LIVE. While I often succeeded at avoiding making mistakes and being appreciated for dotting my Is and crossing my Ts, that motivation is hardly spark worthy.

    It’s hard to get swept up in a wave of passion and momentum when 80% of your energy is lasered in on not making waves.

    Now that I’ve noticed it it’s impossible to go back. Now I get to retrain this well-worn path of conformity and smallness.

    Because now that this is staring me in the face I am confronted with the very real and very loud awareness that I most certainly do NOT value being liked above all else.

    I am a mother. I am good at my job (really good actually). I have things I want to do and I being a doormat, thankfully, is no longer one of them.

    I am getting into the guts of this why stuff again and it feels bold and wild and personal. It feels good.

    What is your why?

    I am conducting an experiment: I have challenged myself to try something new each month in 2022. Here are my (self imposed) rules. March is Escape Rooms. Let me know if you have ideas on fun/ interesting/ novel things I could try in the comments. Or join me, that would be even more lovely actually…

  • naked in public dreams are my thing

    naked in public dreams are my thing

    I keep having this dream where I’m sitting on a plastic chair in a circle of people, mostly women. I am listening to someone speak. Eventually I look down and realize, much to my chagrin, that I am naked. It’s all hanging out there as I perch on my plastic chair.

    For some reason reaching for something to cover myself or getting up and running away as fast as I can is not something that occurs to me. Instead I sit there and squirm uncomfortably in my seat trying to find a creative way to cross my legs and arms in a fashion that will cover my bits so no one will notice I’m in my birthday suit.

    I don’t succeed. Sometimes my husband, John, is also featured in these dreams (fully clothed). I hiss at him impatiently, HELP ME, FOR CRAPS SAKE. He can’t help. My state is unsalvageable. 

    I used to have these dreams all the time when I was in school, usually I was giving a presentation in the dream and I would look down to see my clothes were nowhere to be found. I didn’t have these dreams for a long time. This was good because they suck. It’s just a dream but still, my subconscious self always feels so humiliated. It looked like I might be free of them forever…

    … and then I became a mom.

    Presentation with clothes on. Phew.

    I know what these dreams are about. When I was in university they were about feeling exposed and vulnerable. Now, as I go through different phases of my crash course in Parenting 101 they are, yet again, about feeling exposed and vulnerable. This time it’s about my parenting choices. Just making a seemingly innocent choice can make you a target.

    I was chatting with my mom at one point when my daughter was first born and I conspiratorially said her: Okay, so, co-sleeping… Just in case it comes up and someone says something to you … and then I proceeded to give her stats (ammunition) on co-sleeping and SIDS and you can just say this and that and x and y and… Before I really got going she stopped me and said that she wouldn’t be telling anyone anything. She said that it wasn’t anyone’s business. She said that I had to trust that I am doing what I feel is best and just do it.

    She was right. It’s parenting, not an exam or a debate.

    Sometimes parenting can feel like sitting in a group of faces, some friendly and some not-so, and looking down to see that your sweet cheeks are parked naked in a plastic chair.

    Exposed. Vulnerable. 

    Where does she sleep? Is she breastfeeding? When will you wean? Do you hold him all the time? Cloth or disposable? Will you go back to work? How much screen time? DO YOU THINK YOU’RE A BETTER MOTHER THAN ME?

    It’s hard not to feel exposed as a parent. Your choices are right out there. Even if you are careful to never ever bring up politics or religion amongst mixed company it is nearly impossible to avoid making reference to one parenting choice or another. Things you take for granted as normal others do not and BAM, there you’ve gone and unwittingly offended somebody. Or you suddenly find yourself feeling defensive over a remark that the author likely didn’t give a second thought to.

    Pregnant me getting ready for a water birth at home. So crunchy, I know.

    I think the mommy wars are bullshit; I really do believe that 99% of us are doing what we think is very best for our little ones and there doesn’t need to be a fight. Although it’s hard not to BE exposed as a parent, I don’t need to FEEL exposed by my choices.

    I have happy kids and a happy family and although we’re not always smiling and singing and tap dancing on rainbows, we’re doing alright. I wore my baby and breastfed and co-slept and I fed them hotdogs for dinner tonight and I let them eat as much Halloween candy as they want and I’m a vegetarian and I always wear makeup (hello, under eye concealer) and that’s how we (currently) roll.

    That’s not a battle cry, it’s just my life. What we have going on isn’t for everyone, but it’s working for us.

    Thank you to motherhood, for giving me a chance to own my choice, important choices… and actually grow up a bit.

    And thank you to my mom, for reminding me to have confidence in those choices, no matter how crazy they may sound to others.

    I’m assuming I’m going to continue to have holy-crap-I’M-NEKED dreams. I’m sure my kids will keep me on my toes with various things to push me beyond my comfort zone.

    Me, trying to learn to be chill.

    I am conducting an experiment: I have challenged myself to try something new each month in 2022. Here are my (self imposed) rules. March is Escape Rooms. Let me know if you have ideas on fun/ interesting/ novel things I could try in the comments. Or join me, that would be even more lovely actually…

  • arguing is my thing

    arguing is my thing

    There is a lot of fighting an invading going on. Considering this I wanted to share a book that I think would have an immediate and positive impact on… everything. Pretty much everything. I have gifted this book many, many times and if there happen to be any politicians or presidents who would like a copy after they read this compelling (non paid) endorsement, please let me know and we’ll make it happen.

    But first I have to share with you some background really quickly to give some context on why I think I have any business recommending this particular gem of a read and what it has to be with arguing and invading.

    So, I’m a mom. I became a mom for the first time in 2012 and a few weeks after my daughter was born I started an online community for moms. Eventually this community grew to support ~15,000+ members and I built a platform that connected mom communities across the country.

    Pregnant me with my dogs.

    Therefore, for many years (almost 10) I was deep, deep, deeply involved in conversations between moms. Sleep, lack of sleep, breastfeeding, formula feeding, bed-sharing, cribs, in-laws, socks that will stay on baby feet, relationships, pets, sweating, strollers, insurance, divorce, cravings all of it.

    Lots of support. Lots of arguing. Lots of learning. Sometimes lots and lots of arguing.

    More pregnant me with my hubby.

    I made a lot of mistakes moderating these discussions over the years. Eventually, I developed a system for myself that I found helped a lot:

    I would not reply to anything I read online until two conditions had been met:

    1. I had stopped shaking (when I get stressed out and the adrenaline is pumping my hands shake);
    2. I could understand where the other person was coming from (not necessarily agree with them of course, but I could see how if I was living their experience that perhaps I would have the perspective they did too).

    Given that Malcom Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours or approximately 10 years to become an expert in something… AND GIVEN that would mean approximately 3 hours of dedicated effort a day 365 days a year… AND GIVEN I am pretty sure I spent a LOT more time than that chatting away over the years (much to my husband’s chagrin, sorry ’bout that, babe), it may be that I have a very (very) niche expertise that is directly related to the book recommendation I am about to give: holding space for moms in online spaces, and by extension, moderating (online) arguments for this demographic.

    Me and my wee babe. Oh look at her!

    Now my book recommendation:

    Please read this book: Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg (here is a Goodreads link, here is an Amazon link (in case you want to read reviews – those aren’t affiliate links)).

    Nonviolent Communication (shorted to NVC) gives very clear guidelines on how to argue. The goal is for understanding to be had and for all parties to get everything they (actually) need. Rosenberg mediated conflict in marriages and political conflict zones and everything in between, so these techniques are legit.

    When I picked it up for the first time, after reading a few pages I applied what I learned to an argument that was brewing between John (my husband) and I and the argument STOPPED IN ITS TRACKS. I am not exaggerating. We were ready to dig in and get into it, but then I very clunkily went through the steps NVC lays out… and we dropped it. We felt heard and we moved one, issue resolved. John was amazed and he was fully aware that I was using a “technique,” which would normally be really annoying.

    Completely blown away.

    I find NVC particularly helpful to quickly get to an understanding of where others might be coming from (getting to a place of empathy… I run though a version of this in my head):


    • (1) Observe without judging:
    • e.g. You told me I am an unfit mother because I didn’t put a hat on my kid.
    • (2) Express feelings:
    • e.g. I feel angry. And scared actually, because I worry a lot of time that I am a bad mom, not about hats, but a million other things.
    • (3) Express and clarify needs:
    • It’s important to me that I be given the benefit of the doubt. I love my kid. I want to have one place where I don’t have to watch my every word.
    • (4) Express your specific requests:
    • e.g. Would you be able to please either keep your feedback to yourself, or if you really feel like you want to need it, try to remember that you are talking to a tired and scared fellow human who desperately needs to feel safe?


    (1) Observe without judging:
    e.g. You have bombed hospitals and destroyed several cities.
    (2) Express feelings:
    e.g. I feel angry. And terrified. I am so scared for the lives of my children.
    (3) Express and clarify needs:
    It’s important to me that my family and my community and my country feel safe in their homes.
    (4) Express your specific requests:
    e.g. Could you please stop destroying our cities?

    Again, the idea with NVC is to get to a place that works for both parties. Perhaps staying out of someone’s Hat Business is too difficult because they already told everyone they were going to be a Hat-Opinion-Giver and now they are feeling stuck and like they can’t back out now without looking weak. Being made aware of that challenge is helpful, because maybe all parties can opt for a different angle altogether that still results in… safety for tired and scared fellow humans.

    Me with my tiny humans

    I am not an expert on Hat-Opinion-Giving or war or troop morale or many things but I have learned that it is almost impossible for people to fight when they are presented with how much they have in common.

    And I have learned that we all have far more in common than we have differences.

    When it all gets right down to it, we all want the same things. We want our communities, our children to be safe.

    When presented with it, I believe most of us want our children to be safe not at the expense of other children, but alongside them.

    Learning how to argue effectively and fairly is actually a really important skill. I think we could all benefit from trying to get better at it.

    Even, perhaps especially, people who lead nations.

    I am conducting an experiment: I have challenged myself to try something new each month in 2022. Here are my (self imposed) rules. Let me know if you have ideas on fun/ interesting/ novel things I could try in the comments. Or join me, that would be even more lovely actually…