Time to take back the space. Do you remember when we wrote on our blogs and pressed publish and … that was it? There was no Instagram to cross-post on. No Facebook to load a link into and write a pithy caption to try and grab attention. There was just… this. Posting, and wondering if people would see it.
It is quarter to eleven in the PM. My child is asleep in his crib. I can hear him breathing. Lungs knowing what to do, over and over. A year and a half old and he has changed so much in just the year and a half since coming out of my womb.
(I made a PERSON. This astounds me over and over again.)
Not only did I make him, I cared for him since he was born. I do it daily. I take breaks so his father can do it for a few days. Then I tap in again.
I can hear the fan in his room. And the tapping of my laptop keys. Other than that it is quiet.
I can feel change coming. Artist? Paramedic? Both? The house I dream of - the old shingles, the wild roses, the view of the sea? Or something else, and these are just the things I think of now, that are leading me there?
What will I have for lunch tomorrow. I am bored of sandwiches. I am bored of preparing food. Remember how I made Adam’s sandwiches every morning? White bread. Sliced deli meats. Mayo and mustard. The same each time. I have blocked some memories out.
The two hot muggy weeks are over, I think. Pre-Fall is beginning. Funnily enough that is also a “season” in retail.
In the limitations of my busy schedule there is freedom.
It was a non-elimination leg of the race tonight.
In my last post I said I was going to try to write once a month and then… promptly forgot.
But with spring comes some fresh energy, some renewed excitement for writing, and more specifically, for blogging. I feel the urge to be in this space more. To renovate, to go through back posts, to tweak and to make mine again.
The other day I was walking from my car across a small parking lot to a store where a client was working, and I saw this arrow. I stopped short. I felt I had to take a photo there. So, I did.
And whenever I look at it I hear the words to the India Arie song “Headed in the Right Direction”:
Headed in the right direction
I can see the light of day
I've got love as my connection
There's an angel showing me the way
Been reaching for love all my life
I couldn't find it always one step behind it
Now I know it was mine all the time finally I am
Headed in the right direction…
So, an update. We’re three months into 2019. First quarter. Here’s a check-in with the various things in my mind, in my life, on my plate right now. Most of these categories will probably end up being their own posts sometime soon, as there’s more to flesh out about each of them, more I want to share.
Mama life - Aidan is crawling and pulling himself up on stuff. He is saying “CAT”. He is playing peekaboo with a towel. Coparenting is sometimes great, sometimes hard (the distance mainly, and communication). Feeling weird about Aidan having this whole other life half the time, that I really know very little about. BUT… 50/50 allowed me to feel human again. To bring back to life the other parts of me that were pushed aside by “mama”. Overall being a mom is amazing and I love my kiddo. I’m almost completely certain I don’t want to have another kid… but I’ve grown in my convictions as a feminist and my motivations to support mothers and parents. There’s so much more we can do as a society to support them.
One Little Word: The word for this year is TRUE and I’m doing a sort of meld of a journal and a scrapbook and a collage… so far I like it a lot. It’s messy, but it’s meaningful. I’d like to share more in a future post.
Creative Soul Weekend - wanting to grow this and morph it a bit. We just did a Mini CSW event and it went great. We’re thinking about doing a summer event that’s free, as well as the regular retreat in September. I’m feeling it gather energy, and collaborating with Emily like a sister on the other side of the island is a very special relationship.
Lumiere project - OK, so I think I’m obsessed with an icewall? And I’m going to apply to do a project as part of the Lumiere arts festival this year. Stay tuned for more on this, for sure.
Work life - My career. I’m wanting to get a birds’ eye view of it, see how I got where I am. See where I’m going next. I have an exercise from my friend Laura that I want to do that digs into some of my work projects and what I’ve liked best about them and what I want to do more of. I’m itching to do more design work and also writing and editing work… and could see myself taking on a few freelance clients in future. But I also really love my work with adults with disabilities, and the organization where I work full time, so… there’s lots to explore there.
Love life - That relationship I mentioned in my previous post ended, unfortunately. There’s new energy in this space but it’s not ready to be shared just yet.
Less phone time - I’m using screen time features on iPhone. I quit playing HayDay. Truly, I’m wanting to READ MORE. I read recently the line “Your life is what you pay attention to” and it is stuck in my brain. It’s working too - I’ve read several books since starting this experiment end of February. I’m tracking them with the hashtag #LCNreads2019 on Instagram.
Saving money (sharing Internet, cutting TV, eating more plant-based foods, etc) and fashion - “dress for the job you want to have” - are both things on my mind but that I haven’t done a whole lot about them yet.
Basically this is just a brain dump… like a real journal, only online. Like blogging circa 2004. Which I miss, and want to do again. So, why not? Why not just do it?
Why not, indeed. The hell with the algorithms. Let’s be real.
2018 was a big year for me. I mean, BIG.
It started out with me, pregnant, at my mother’s house. Freshly broken up with, keenly heartbroken. But if I’m honest, also feeling pangs of “this means I can start over”. Feeling relief.
I had looked at the apartment and said I would take it, but not yet signed the lease because the electrical wasn’t signed off on. That was fine - the baby wasn’t due until February 15th. I thought I had plenty of time.
A week and half later, the night of January 9th/morning of January 10th, Aidan came early. An ambulance ride through a snowstorm over Kelly’s Mountain, a panicked and painful (but quick) delivery and suddenly, I was a mom. Suddenly, I had a baby in NICU and was trying to breastfeed and was living in hospital.
We were out of there after a couple of weeks and the months that followed are a blur now. I’m glad I took pictures and videos, and jotted a few notes in my planner, because I wasn’t writing in my own journal nor was I blogging. I was, however, really active on Instagram, especially Stories, and that provided me with so much support. (THANK YOU.) Mainly I was obsessed with Aidan’s weight gain, which is kind of hilarious now since he’s in the 99th percentile for height and weight. But at first he was slow to grow. I have a whole notebook filled with my notes on each feeding, how much he ate, how much he pooped or peed. I can barely look at it now, to be honest, because it brings back all the fear I was feeling at the time.
Also in February my ex and I started the process of creating a legal agreement for our coparenting. We met with a lawyer (the awesome Danielle MacSween of Manley Law) and gave her our ideas, and she also gave us her advice and thoughts. I cannot stress enough how important this legal agreement has been to me since, and how worth it it was. I know the law can be daunting, especially if you’re going through a separation and you think you want to “not rock the boat for the kids’ sake,” so if you’re struggling, reach out and I can at least tell you I’ve been there.
In March things started to turn around. Aidan was gaining weight better. The weather was slightly better and I got a Huggaloops from a friend. I started taking Aidan for walks outside, wrapped up in the carrier and under my coat. I found out my ex was in a new relationship, and had been since Aidan was born, which was a hard knock emotionally, but I dealt with it. He also started taking the baby to his place for a few hours on the weekend, and I got to go see movies with friends, which was HUGE for my mental health. Admittedly it was hard to let the baby go but after the first time (and crying) it was fine.
I’m reading back over my planner for the year as I’m writing this post and while it seems easy in retrospect to sum up the growth and all the things I went through, reading my planner brings me back to the immediacy of it. How when you’re in it, you’re IN IT. The newborn phase. The issues with the ex. How I didn’t have all my stuff out of my ex’s place fully until April. How I used to write down what days Aidan would have his bath on (now he gets one every night as part of it his bedtime routine, and loves it). How messy my handwriting was because I was tired and didn’t care and didn’t have the time to be neat. How I didn’t know then what I know now - that it would pass. That it DID pass.
Summer came and by then I was feeling much happier. Much more ease. I took the baby to the beach a bunch of times, which was sandy and sticky and annoying, but still worth it. I was looking into daycare, thinking ahead to the following January when I would be going back to work. My ex was coming by my place 3-4 evenings a week for an hour and a half, to spend time with the baby, and I would go out and walk or do groceries. My apartment still didn’t feel super MINE, because I had so many other people in it all the time.
Summer was also HOT and humid. I spent a lot of time with Aidan in front of a fan, or sitting out under the tree between my neighbour’s place and mine. That was nice though because I saw a lot of them, the elderly couple that live next door, and we became close.
By the end of August I felt ready to start dating again - or at least dip a toe in the water - and signed up for Tinder. I just wanted some fun dates - I wasn’t looking to fall in love or have a big relationship again right away. I met a few fellas, went out a couple times, and started chatting with this one guy who seemed awesome, but our dates kept getting cancelled for a variety of reasons. (LOL… foreshadowing here people.)
September was the Creative Soul Weekend, which my dear friend Emily had done the lion’s share of the planning work for this year when I was “snowed under” with my newborn. It was the best one yet, I feel, and I felt strong and in my own power - like everything that had happened the past year, had for a reason. Also at this weekend I realized that I needed to go back to work sooner than January. I was starting to feel restless at home with the baby and I was really needing his father to start doing 50% of the care, which would only begin when I went back to work.
For me to go back early, I needed to find daycare. I had Aidan on a bunch of lists but nobody had spots for a baby under 18 months open. So I really had to ramp up my calls and find some new places to call. I ended up finding a dayhome for him that we’re really happy with, so thank goodness for that.
October 21st I finally went on a first date with the guy I’d been talking to since September. Finally our schedules aligned, finally it worked out. We met up again the following day and have been crazy about each other ever since. He’s kind, thoughtful, sweet, sexy. Smart and funny. We have a lot of things about our childhood and growing up in common, and I keep pinching myself, because sometimes it doesn’t feel real. Like what is this, fucking “Eat Pray Love”??! I was so ready, almost looking forward to, being single for years and years. I wasn’t expecting to legit fall in love. But that’s what has happened. So far, so good.
My date for back to work was set - November 5th. And it came and I transitioned quickly back into working full time. I honestly missed it so much. It’s hard to say, if my situation were different, if I had a loving awesome partner living with me and the baby, would I have taken the full year of mat leave or would I still have needed to go back to my job? Who knows. Time will tell if I end up having another child someday, but that’s such a big question mark at this point. But my guess is yes, I would have. I love my work and I love TO work. It makes me feel whole. Each woman, each parent, is different, which is the beauty of it - some mums or dads want to be with the baby at home for as long as possible. Some don’t. And it’s all OK.
Once I started back to work, the 50/50 schedule began. I was nervous for it, for sure, but two months in and Aidan seems to be doing great. I’m also doing great. Sure, there are times I miss him, when he’s at his dad’s for those 2-3 days, but having some real solid time to myself again feels so needed. Like filling a well that was running dry. It will take a while before it’s totally full again.
Also in the last couple of months I got my tattoo!! I’d been wanting a mama lion/baby lion tattoo for a while now but finally got the guts to get it together. I went to see Nikki Boisvert of Surly Mermaid Tattoos and they designed up a gorgeous piece with botanicals and geometrics and of course, a fierce mama lion and her baby. I have zero regret, 100% joy and badassness when I look at it on my arm. It’s like a badge, a decoration I have earned in the war of 2018.
So here we are. The end of 2018. It’s been a BIG year. The word I picked at the new year last year was GROW and holy shit, was it ever the right word. I feel like I’ve evolved, like a Pokemon or whatever - like I’m not at all the same Leah who started this year. Or I am, just a deeper, more real version of her. Or something.
So that brings me to my word for this year: TRUE.
I was originally going to go with the word COMMUNITY. In the One Little Word group on Facebook, I had written:
I want to be more active in my local community, helping those in need, volunteering some time. I want to be more aware of what is happening in my community, too, and not just hide away from the news. I want to explore the concept of "community" both in person and online, both local and global. I want to think about the community where I grew up (and where I may move back to), as well as the community I live in now. And I'm not sure what else but I feel like this word has some things to teach me, because it has been insistent on being my word for this year!
But then it started to feel stressful. It brought back the feelings of having to be available to the community all the time, which is frankly why I stopped blogging on my community blog Dream Big Cape Breton, back in the day.
So I did some journalling. Some thinking. And the word TRUE came to the surface. This is what I wrote in the group about the change:
I changed my word from "community" to TRUE. I was thinking about how what I really need this year is to not lose myself. Last year my word was GROW because I was going through a lot of stuff (separation, new baby, moving). Now that I've found myself again I don't want to lose my joy, or compromise it away. I've fallen in love and I'm so scared that I'll do the same things I did in my last relationship, which was try and be whatever I thought he wanted me to be. So with TRUE I think I will be able to stay true to myself, and speak my truth.
(I just want to say, too, that I don’t think my new love wants me to be anyone other than who I am. He’s cool like that. If I were to try to change myself it would be my own internal voice telling me I should. I’m realizing that’s what I did in my last relationship.)
I’d like to post here once a month with the stuff we do in the One Little Word course, just as a place to keep it and share it. We’ll see if I actually do it… but I’m hoping to keep with it. Stay tuned! LOL.
And… happy New Year. Thanks for reading. I hope you have a wonderful year ahead!