Posted by: Kate | February 24, 2021

In the Nest

Almost three years ago we became empty nesters. Bushboy graduated and moved out to begin the next chapter of his life story, which we totally support.

The first six months were hard for me. I experienced a lot of anxiety as he found his footing as an adult in his own space. But slowly my anxiety lessened as he proved himself able to forge ahead.

Mr. Kate and I took a trip to Hawaii, our first solo vacation since before we became parents. We rode the motorcycle more. We began to enjoy our life as parents to a young adult who didn’t live under our roof.

Life intervenes though, doesn’t it? Best laid plans, and all that. As the need to be a hands-on parent eased, a need for me to become a hands-on daughter increased.

Our empty nest journey has been a little waylaid over the past two years, both by a call to duty and by a global pandemic. But as all experienced parents know, adaptation is the name of the game.

Posted by: Kate | February 16, 2021

Slowing Down

Living on the west coast and in a natural paradise, a lot of our days off are spent getting outside. Having grown up on the island our outdoor spaces are woven into my psyche and definitely form part of who I am.

We get snow a handful of times a year, and every once in a while a cold front collides with a wet Pacific front and we get dumped on. Such was this weekend, when about a foot of snow fell in two days.

Because we get so little snow generally, snow clearing equipment is pretty low on our city’s budget. Which means whe. We get a foot of snow in a short time frame – we are snowed in. Even walking is difficult as sidewalks, etc aren’t cleared quickly (we all know it will usually melt in a few days).

This weekend we just… slowed down. We didn’t go anywhere other than outside to shovel the driveway and a short, laborious walk around the block. We enjoyed the pretty snow and chilled out. Cooked, pulled out a puzzle, read, watched movies, talked. We just hung out for two days.

It was lovely.

Posted by: Kate | February 8, 2021

Where Have All the Babies Gone?

I got a big bag of baby yarn a couple of months ago from another knitter looking to pass it on, in the hopes of giving my Mum some knitting projects to work on to keep her busy in the winter.

Seeing the yarn sitting in my spare room made me realize that it has been a long time since I knitted something for a baby. I have hit an odd time in life where my friends are too old to have babies but my son and his friends are not yet ready to have babies. We have a small family and no babies on the horizon. There is a baby drought happening in my sphere!

On a whim I have started to knit a baby blanket. Might tuck it into a box, might donate it.

I miss holding babies and cuddling with little ones, reading picture books and having nonsensical conversations. And it surprises me that I think of it even, but there it is.

In my world instead: my cat will cuddle in my lap and try to convince me she’s a needy baby.

Posted by: Kate | January 27, 2021

New and Delicious Things

What with all our time being spent at home these days, Mr. Kate and I have been coming up with projects as something different to do. For Christmas I gave him a meat attachment (grinder and stuffer) for our Kitchenaid and a recipe book for sausage making. Last weekend we got to it!

The first week of January one of our local stores always has pork legs on sale for around $20 a leg, so we knew this was the time to make sausages.

Mr. Kate chose Sage Fennel and Kimchi for the first two recipes. We had a blast spending the day mixing, grinding, stuffing, wrapping and eating!

They were delicious! This only used half the leg, so for $10 of pork and maybe $10 other ingredients (more like $6) we got 3 dozen sausages. (There are two layers in the container below.)

The recipes and general instructions in the book were excellent, clear and easy to follow.

Not sure what the next project will be (before Christmas we repainted our front room and stairway) but this one was fun.

Posted by: Kate | January 21, 2021

The Three Rs

One thing about spending so much time at home over the past year is that I have really looked at how we use and live in our space. Which means, if you’re me, plans and projects.

We are good recyclers – but recycling takes up space! Our program only lets us put some things in our blue boxes, the rest must be taken by us to the depot. That means organization which is what I finally got under control this year.

What the project got me thinking about however, was how we – as a society – have focused on only one of the three Rs.

Whatever happened to Reduce and Reuse? Those were supposed to be equally weighted but we in this large space and first world luxury don’t want to think about using less.

So, this year I am hoping to train my little household of two to think more about those other Rs. How can we reduce and reuse? I’d love to hear how other people incorporate the three Rs into their lives.

Posted by: Kate | January 14, 2021

Mind Games

Fear and anxiety are so strange. They are generally a construct of our minds and yet can hold so much power.

Culturally we witness a society’s fear of change, most recently in the U.S. but throughout history and in every country there are examples of this fear.

In a community fear and anxiety can become a divisive factor, whether over politics, social causes, sports, spending or even basic human rights.

And within one person, anxiety and fear can cause poor decisions, a retreat from society, a negative sense of the world around and obsession.

The current times of massive political, societal and pandemic unrest are such breeding events for fear and anxiety, which then creates a loop of poor decisions and behaviours.

I haven’t got the answers by a long shot. I am no less susceptible to the fear and anxiety, to the looping in the mind of thoughts that help no one. To the inner worries that block outer joy.

I fortunately am not a depressed person by nature. I live surrounded by beauty and I have a healthy amount of hobbies. I have a partner who has my back. I have a way out of the web.

But what of those who don’t have the tools and advantages I do? How do they break the grip of fear and anxiety? How do we, as individuals, as communities, as a society, get past it?

I think it starts with one positive. Follow animal feeds on social media. Listen to music. Turn off the news (go right to the source if you want information eg I go to our Island Health and provincial Covid19 websites, or to the World Health Organization, for information). Breathe. Find a hobby or pick up a neglected one. Play with something considered childish… building blocks or crayons. Make a new recipe. Make yourself a mug cake. Hang out with a pet.

None of this will change the big issues. But if you change your focus those big issues become less overwhelming.

Posted by: Kate | January 9, 2021

The Dark Days of Winter

Canada, as a northern country, not only has four distinct seasons of weather but also has very distinct seasons of light and dark. Our summers boast long days of bright light while our winters suffer through long periods of darkness. Here on the west coast that is compounded by our rainy season, where the short days are made darker by grey, soggy skies.

January in particular is bleak. The Christmas lights have come down, the sunrise isn’t until well after 8am, and it’s dark before dinner.

Add in days, if not weeks, on end of dreary weather, and it can all be a bit much.

This year there are no get aways to warmer climes, or even weekend shopping trips to the city for distraction. Instead, we are combatting the January blahs in whatever way we can.

New recipes, clearing closets, bringing light inside. Starting new hobbies, exploring colour.

And of course, as every true west coaster knows, you embrace it and simply get outside.

Warm rain gear helps.

Posted by: Kate | January 3, 2021

Get Outside

The one tradition I insist on is going for a walk on New Year’s Day. A storm blew through in the night and the day looked dicey but we persevered.

The trail was soggy, and we couldn’t complete the loop thanks to a washout, but it felt so good to be out.

The rivers are swollen with rain, rushing down to the ocean. The forest smells are rich and earthy and moisture drips off every branch.

When the water meets a barrier it goes around, over, under. It diverts its energy but continues on its journey.

Nature always grounds me, always brings me to a lesson I need.

The path ahead may be soggy, and slippery, and occassionally blocked… but it always feels better to get moving on it and to find the way.

And so I start my New Year in the best way I know… I get outside and I find my path.

Posted by: Kate | December 31, 2020

Self

Such a small four letter word. Self. But so big in meaning and so hard to capture.

I mulled over many words for 2021, but most of them I realized were things I already did, and was already pretty good at prioritizing. They were safe words. So I thought more and reflected on the year I’ve just gone through.

It’s been a year, my friends. Aside from the whole global pandemic angst (like that’s not enough, right?) there was losing my beloved cat in February, which hit me hard. I still miss Hubert every day, and I especially missed him this holiday season. My back pain and sciatic discomfort has been much worse this year, and having that be my daily reality is physically and emotionally draining, plus it almost completely kept me from working in my garden. And over-riding all of this has been becoming the head of household for an aging parent who lives alone (her partner couldn’t cope with her memory loss and health issues and had to separate which meant leaving the province to be closer to his children). I have become advocate, parent, bill payer, decision maker and yet still daughter for my mum. I am an only child, and her siblings live several provinces away, so that’s just the way it is. Then for two months late spring she was in and out of hospital with heart problems, to the point where none of us (including her and her doctor) thought she was coming out again. And we all know this can happen again, at any time (although right now medication and home help has her doing well, better than anyone predicted).

So, self. Self-care; self-respect; self-love; self-preservation. I was told many times throughout this year “remember to look after yourself. What are you doing for yourself?” and I realized I’m not so good at that. I’ve always been an even-keel person, a take-it-as-it-comes and get-it-done person, it’s the way I was raised and how I’m built. But this year, that was hard. And it took me a long time to start sharing the anxiety and fears I felt out loud.

I struggle with choosing this word (which tells me it’s a good word). I am so fortunate – I have an incredibly supportive husband and a loving son (with a lovely girlfriend) who have been amazing this year. I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth where I can get outside often, that has also been a fairly safe zone (relatively speaking) in this pandemic. I like the work I do, and I am respected and valued there. My whole family is financially secure at the moment. Who am I to say I need to focus on self? Isn’t that self-indulgent? Self-serving?

But. In the end, I had to go with what felt true. I need to learn to take care of myself better, to ask for help, to say when I need a break, to advocate not only for others, but for me. I need to listen when people tell me to take time for myself – that it is not me being selfish but me protecting my body and spirit so I can continue to support and help those around me who need it, me included.

This year will be learning how to help myself. We all know my big three outlets – knitting, reading and being outside, and those continue to anchor me. But when those aren’t enough, what can help me destress otherwise? How can I feel less shame about vocalizing my anxieties and finding ways to ease them? 2021 isn’t going to miraculously get easier, so I need to find ways to “look after myself”. Here’s to the journey.

Posted by: Kate | December 27, 2020

One Word

Every year for over a decade now I have chosen one little word to focus me through the year. I learned of the practise through Ali Edwards, who is a scrapbooker and journaller I enjoy following.

Last year my word was Adventure. At the time I was thinking of Mr. Kate and I exploring as empty nesters, playing with my crafting, trying new things. Who knew life would hand me hard adventures, like a pandemic or an aging parent in and out of hospital and almost dying?

There were good adventures though, some before the pandemic shut everything down and some after. Mr. Kate and I made time to explore local trails throughout the year, and in the summer we rode the motorcycle as often as we could.

So now I find myself mulling over a word for 2021. There are a few in the running, but none have spoken out to say it’s the one. By Jan 1 I’ll have it though.

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