Category Archives: Sickness/Wellness

Perspective & 5AM

You know that feeling you have when you’re with someone you totally love and adore, and they begin to share with you about how they feel inadequate, inferior, unworthy, and generally like the biggest loser you’ll ever meet?  Your eyes grow wide with surprise and shock, your jaw opens, and your lips form words like, “Are you kidding me?”  And, “You are so totally awesome – how can you not see that?”

I’m sure you know it.  It’s happened to all of us a few times in our lives.  And likely, you’ve been the one confessing your loser-dom to someone who thinks you’re the best thing in the whole universe, and they’ve said as much in response.

I think we all go through this, to some extent.  Life can be harsh; we take our experiences and we distill them into irrefutable facts about our selves, and thus: low self esteem is born.  I have spent the better part of the last15-20 years sorting through all of these so called truths and discarding those that do not serve me.  It’s a process full of pain sometimes, relief, fear… and ultimately wonder.  I thought I had it all sorted.  I faced my deamons and beat them.  I re-wrote my truths, and life was good.

Then I became a mother.

Turns out, I had only resolved part of my issues.  Who knew?!  Certainly not me.  And you can be sure too that the past 9 and a half years as been full of early mornings, late nights, wet beds, midnight feedings, middle of the night fevers and so on that I really haven’t had a chance to delve deeply into these newly surfaced “truths”.  It was only after coffee with a friend a few weeks ago that I decided that it was time to bring my issues to the forefront.

This is a fairly new friend, although I’ve known her for about 5 years now.  We’ve just started making the time to get to know each other, and as you do, you share your foundational stuff.  You know, what your job was before kids, how you met your husband, and so on.  It was during this “discovery” shall we call it, that I said, “I never wanted kids.”

She was shocked!  Her eyes were wide, her jaw hung open and she said, “Wow!  But you’re so good at it!”

Then it was my turn to be shocked.

Really, I know this parenting thing is tough.  I look at all the people around me with kids and I know that they are doing the best that they can for them.  I do not judge them, I accept them where they are, and honour their struggles.  I do not afford myself this compassion, however.

In fact, it’s been coming to light for sometime that I don’t afford myself much compassion at all.  I see my faults in glaring harsh light.  I count my failings continually.  I am fretting over the current interaction I’m having, hoping that the person I’m engaging with won’t run screaming when they realize it’s me they’re talking to.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You’ve got to get out of your own way”?  I have heard it a few times, and used it myself in fact.  Recently, others whom I respect and admire have said it to me, and so I’ve been pondering what it means and how to take it’s advice.  I asked a few people what it meant, and what came back usually was something about making excuses.  I asked MOMD – since wordsmithing is his craft – and he had an explanation that really resonated for me.  He said, “Having the awareness of the patterns and behaviours that prevent you from success or attaining your goals.”

Huh…  The key for me in that is “awareness”.  Have an awareness of your patterns and behaviours.

And so: I began to think on all of the instruction and teachings I’ve received over the past 5 or so years.  What do successful people do?  What patterns serve them to achieve their highest and best?  How do people who feel good about themselves behave?

How do I tell myself that I love me?

Which brings us to the 5AM Club.

The jist is that successful people get up early.  They spend the first hour or so of their day focussed solely on serving and nurturing themselves.  No emails, no texts, no phone calls.  No reports, no letters, no research.  They exercise.  They meditate or pray.  They read for their own personal growth and development.  They spend the first hour of their day caring for them.

Two days ago, I joined the club.  They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and I am committed to this for that long at least.  When I was practicing yoga yesterday at 5:20AM, I had a salient realization: I had nothing to think about but me.  I knew where the kids were (sleeping), they didn’t need anything from me, no one was expecting to see me for another hour at least, and I could set it all down and care for me.

Sure – I’ve taken a day here, a day there, to relax and rejuvenate.  But really: over the past…  really 10 years, I haven’t had a moment where I was not concerned with someone else’s needs, someone else’s expectations of me.  In that moment, that unexpected moment at 5:20 in the morning, I drew in a deep breath and cared for me.

In doing so, I am telling myself that I love me.  I am supporting myself so that I can stretch, reach and achieve my personal highest and best.  I am inspiring me to greatness.

And that….  that is awesome.

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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Oversharing, Self Love, Sickness/Wellness


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It All Comes Back So Fast

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I’m sorry.  It’s just that I was busy with this:

My baby, 12 days old

I suppose she’s not a “this”; she’s a her!  My daughter Elise was scheduled to be delivered via c-section on July 5, but on June 27 I went into labour, and so she was delivered that day.  It’s been a wonderful, exhausting, overwhelming (with love, of course), amazing 16 days.  My family feels complete now.  We’re all here and ready to face the world – Team Scrimgeour-Brown!

The title of this post might lead you to believe that I’m going to write about parenting a newborn.  I’m not.  What has “come back so fast” for me are all the bloody body issues…  I delivered a baby 16 days ago, and yet just yesterday I found myself fretting over how I look.  You know the routine: standing face-on in the mirror, checking the angles for ripples, rolls, bulges and then searching the side view for the same things.  Once the inventory is complete, you rip those shorts off your body and hurl them to the floor, stomping on them and then on yourself for how you look, how did you get there, get yourself under control… I’m sure you know the litany.

How quickly the pattern returns…

When I came home from the hospital 2 weeks ago today I was wearing pre-pregnancy yoga pants and a tee-shirt.  The yoga pants were giving me muffin-top before I was pregnant, but were not post-delivery.  The tee-shirt I was wearing, I was able to squeeze into last year but really: it was a squeeze.  Not the case on Friday, June 29.  I felt really good about myself.

My first day at home, with access to my entire wardrobe, I picked a long-time favourite sun dress from my closet.  It came from Marks’ Work Warehouse, and has a built in bra and everything.  I love this sundress so much that I have since bought another one.  They are both super-comfy, and they look really good too.  So I pulled the green dress out of the closet and put it on.  And damn!  I looked awesome.  So sleek and almost svelte!  Which is a big deal for someone who – before being pregnant – was about 75lbs overweight.  Again, I felt really good about myself.

A few days later, we had some company come to meet the babe: 2 of my cousins.  One of whom is pregnant, and the other is a mother of 3 herself.  They were both impressed by how good I looked.  Not just because of the weight I shed while growing a person, but also because I had had major surgery just 5 days earlier.  I was up and moving, hosting and entertaining, all without seeming to be in any pain at all.  Yet again, I was left feeling good about myself.

Those of you who have had children know what comes after delivery: the inevitable hormone crash.  Well it hit me with a vengeance, around the same time as darling little Miss Ellie decided that sleeping at night was for the weak.  The past 5 days have been tough.  And in their wake, the daemon inside of me has surfaced: to mock, to ridicule, to hurt.

I heard in my head the other day the voices of my 8th grade classmates calling out, “Sha-MUUU” down the hall to me (Shamu was the name of a whale at a theme park when I was younger).

I look in the mirror and instead of seeing skin that has been stretched to hell and back while creating the miracle of life, I see fat.  A flabby, lazy girl who cannot get herself under control.

Why?  Why do we do this to ourselves?  How is it that I can so easily and readily see the truth for others, point it out to them, and encourage them to be gentle with themselves and yet be unable to do the same for me?  Why am I habitually so hard on myself?  And more importantly: how do I change the internal dialogue?

So many self-help gurus talk about changing your self-talk.  They all agree that the first step in doing this is to  monitor what is going on inside, and then to replace those negative comments with positive ones.  I agree with the concept, and readily encourage those around me to engage in the process.  I am a firm believer in positive framing and re-framing, applying it to areas of my life on a regular basis.

I thought that I had this weight-daemon licked; I thought we were through.  And yet: here it sits, at my side, providing a running commentary.

Truly: it all comes back so fast.


Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Food, Food Issues, Sickness/Wellness


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Doing Less to be Better

So yesterday I shared with you about my recent pregnancy-related scare.  Today when I woke up, I started thinking about what I could do today to maximize my “sitting down” time, thus taking it easier*.  MOMD came into the room to say good-bye to me at 6:40, telling me that the weather man was promising rain, rain, with rainy periods.  With that cheery news he kissed me goodbye, and suddenly I had the first thought of how to maximize “sitting down” time.

Connor would take himself to the bus stop!

This isn’t the first time he’s done that, there have been instances over this past year where it’s been prudent for us not to go with him.  Today though, today it felt different.  When I told him that we (Sam, the dog and I) would not be going with him, he asked why.  I reminded him that I’m not feeling my best these days, with the baby and all, and he got a concerned look on his face.  This wise old voice came out of him and just said, “Oh.”

MOMD & I have created a fairly transparent family.  When we are having issues or emotions – dare I say fighting? – we experience the moment exactly where we are.  We do not remove ourselves to another room to have “adult discussions”, we do not remove ourselves to resolve the issue either.  I read somewhere once that while it is distressing for children to witness their parents arguing, it is more problematic when they don’t see it, and even more troublesome when they do not get to witness the resolution.  Children learn that it’s okay to argue, and how to resolve disagreements when they happen, by watching their parents.  This resonated for us, and we strive to practice it.

Anyway — so we’re transparent.  Which means that Connor and Sam are both aware (as aware as an 8yo and an almost 4yo can be) that this has not been a great time for me.  They know I’m tired, that I’m hurting, that I’ve been sick, that I can’t always do all the fun things I like to do with them.  So it wasn’t really a shock to Connor I’m sure when I said that we weren’t going to go.  And too, it’s not that he’s not ready for the independence – he totally is.  In fact he craves it.  The look in his eyes this morning though…  the concern that flashed across his face…  In that moment, I felt awful.

I felt like his face was saying, “Another thing you can’t do?  Oh Mom…”  I felt like I was letting him down, robbing him of those few moments where I was his parent in the morning.  Those final moments where I was caring for him – even from a distance.  I felt like he was sad to be dropped from my list of things to do.  I said, “I’m sorry buddy… there are going to be a lot of things that I just can’t do in the next few weeks until the baby comes.”

He nodded his head, telling me that he understood.  And when we went to the door to see him off, I knew he did.  “So Mom – can I take myself to the stop every day from now on,” a big grin on his face?  Sure you can buddy, sure you can…

*May I just say how ridiculous it feels to me to say “taking it easier”?  I mean, what do I do all day?  I take Sam to the park or the drop-in centre, or his Early Years Centre programs; sometimes we run errands; mostly though I’m sitting on the couch or at the kitchen table surfing the web!

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Posted by on June 1, 2012 in Raising Kids, Sickness/Wellness


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Dental Work

Oh, I won’t regale you with all my pregnancy-related aches and pains…  because believe me: there are many.  This morning it was evident that I needed to clear my schedule and make time for an emergency massage.  What requires an emergency massage?  Well…

In a nutshell: a woman’s pelvis separates a little bit when she’s in her 3rd trimester, to make delivering the baby easier.  My pelvis began to do this a few weeks ago (it resulted in a trip to the hospital because of the pains it caused – third pregnancy is totally different from the first and second) and just this weekend, it has caused immense strain on my thigh muscles.  Pain was running from my thigh to my knee on my right leg, all weekend. This morning I woke up crying from the pains.  So – an emergency massage was in order.

I got an appointment booked for 9:30, got Sam to the sitter for 9 and between the two I stopped at the Early Years Centre and registered him for his May programs.  It was a busy but productive couple of minutes.  And the massage?  Oh…  oh it was heavenly.  I got off the table feeling completely relaxed, needing to get home to have a bath and continue to derive the benefits from the treatment.  After the bath I was hungry, so I got a banana, took a bite, and…  What is that crunchy bit?

(You forgot this piece was called “Dental Work”, didn’t you?)

I rooted around in my mouth to find…  a piece of my tooth.

Holy God…  my tooth just broke on a piece of banana… WTH?!?!

In the interest of full disclosure, this isn’t truly shocking.  I’ve known for probably 3 years now – maybe more – that this particular tooth needs a crown.  I have put it off because of the cost.  While we do have a fairly decent dental plan, it will only cover half of the costs for the procedure.  And really: aren’t things you would rather do with $400?  Never mind the fact that I have 2 kids who need clothes, shoes, winter snow suits, boots…  the list (and the associated costs!) is truly endless.  So yeah, I’ve been neglecting my mouth for a while.

Last summer I was eating something and this particular tooth chipped.  I knew the day was coming when I could no longer put off the work.  And now…  the day has come.  I have called my dentist and I have an appointment to see him tomorrow at 8:45 and assess the damage, as well as build a plan.  Because just to add to the pleasure of the moment, you may recall that I am also pregnant.  What can they do for a pregnant woman?  Am I allowed – at the 7 month mark – to lay on my back for the duration of an examination and subsequent treatment?  Do they need to take x-rays?  What do they do for pain management?  Can I have freezing?

So many questions… and just a little more stress… Can’t this just wait a few more months?  Please?

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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Randomness, Sickness/Wellness, Vexations


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Hi there, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?  There’s a good reason for it: I’ve had pneumonia.  It’s true – me, a pregnant woman, caught pneumonia.  And yeah – that was highly shocking for me and I’ll admit it, a little scary too.  So here’s what happened:

It started out as a little tickle in the throat on a Friday morning.  I gave in on Sunday and let the illness run rampant, ruining all my plans for the day (including attending Connor’s 8th birthday party… very sad about that).  I decided on Sunday night to send Sam to daycare on Monday, just to recover some more.  Blessedly, I was feeling better that afternoon.  My voice was still on the fritz, but I wasn’t as tired as I had been on Saturday & Sunday.  In fact, when I tried to take a nap that afternoon, I could not sleep.  “I’m on the upswing,” I excitedly told MOMD!  On Tuesday morning though…  on Tuesday I was worse.  And when I woke through the night on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning coughing up blood, I knew it was time to see a doctor.

So it was Wednesday that I got the diagnosis of pneumonia.  I’ve been on some pregnancy-approved anti-biotics and I would say that I am much better.  The exhaustion is still hanging on, but I’m sure that will pass in the next few days.

Over the last week though, I’ve returned to something I’ve not done in a long time.  Comfort eating. Do you know what this is?  You feel like garbage, so you think of something to make you feel better, and you come up with food.  Sometimes it may be a recipe from my childhood, or it may be fastfood.  It might be just something I love.  This past week was full of these indulgences.  Which, if I’m honest, was okay since I had no apetite and was not eating otherwise.  There was Taco Bell on Monday, butter tarts and potato chips on Tuesday, chocolate croissants on Wednesday and pizza on Thursday.  I’m sure that if I had felt up to cooking (I couldn’t stand for more than a few minutes at a time last week – bloody exhaustion) there would have been a mac n’cheese casserole in there somewhere.

There has been a lot of research done on comfort eating.  The basic findings are that from the time we are born, we are comforted with foods.  If an infant is crying, the first thing we think of is, “Is baby hungry?” and we try to feed it.  You fall down and scrape your knee, you get a bandaid and a cookie.  You bring home a good report card, and you’re rewarded with ice cream.  Comfort foods are simply the foods that have been used to help make you feel better.  The list of these foods will grow as you do, because as teenagers we often don’t talk to our parents about what’s upsetting us.  So we find foods to comfort us: chips, twinkies, pizza, french fries, chocolate bars, DQ Blizzards, and so on.

A friend of mine recently learned that too, a comfort food can be something that you ate when you were profoundly happy.  Which makes a lot of sense to me: your brain remembers that moment of utter happiness and associates what you ate at that time with the feeling.  Since we had mushroom soup at my wedding reception, mushroom soup is very high on my comfort food list.  And now I understand why.

The thing is, comfort eating goes together with mindless eating.  And if I’m going to make this weight-loss stick* (I always loose weight when I’m pregnant; I am highly motivated to listen to my body’s wants and needs when I’m caring for my unborn child) I have to analyse these desires, and consciously convert them to mindFUL eating moments.

As I said before, I didn’t worry about too much analysis this week.  The point was that I needed to eat something, because a gestating woman cannot subsist on water and Emergen-C alone.  Interestingly though, I was really aware of what I was trying to recreate as I put the chocolate croissant in my mouth.  I was thinking about the memories that came with that flavour and I wonder if simply honouring them was enough to be mindful.

Have you ever dealt with comfort eating?  Did you overcome the tendencies?  and if so, how did you beat it?


*Do Not PANIC: I am NOT trying to loose weight while I’m pregnant.  I don’t count calories, I don’t exercise, I don’t eat “low fat” options.  My OB is very happy with my health (in fact, at my last checkup she said – and I quote – “You are like, the perfect pregnant woman.”) and please don’t fret about me.  Okay?  Okay.


Posted by on April 8, 2012 in Food, Oversharing, Sickness/Wellness


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Underweight? Hmmm…

It’s a funny thing, becoming someone’s parent.  You start to think about all kinds of things that you probably never thought about before.  And if you find they become thoughts you think a lot, they become Worries.

When I found out I was becoming a Mom, I didn’t have a lot of Worries.  Really, I just had one.  As someone who has battled her weight for all of her remembered life (really, I was about 7 or 8 when I started gaining; and I know why that happened too, but we’re not talking about that today) I knew I did not want to raise an overweight child.

No one actually wants that, I’m sure.  Many people think about it I’m certain.  Some people become actual Worriers about it.  I?  I became obsessed with this thought.  Every day we talk about food in our house.  When Connor was 3 or 4 we started talking about the food guide and how many fruits & vegetables we need to make sure we have in a day.  If he asks for a treat, we talk about what’s been eaten so far today, and what’s to come, and make a decision based on these facts.  My kids are very informed about healthy eating and unhealthy eating.  My intention is to ensure that food does not become a crutch (because man-o-man am I an emotional eater), nor something forbidden (because I’ve also been a horrific closet eater).  I want my children to have a healthy relationship with food.  And I think we’re doing really well.

Take, for example, a conversation that happened in the car today:

Sam: “Connor, what’s your favourite food?”
Connor: “Wow Sam, that’s a tough question!  I can’t pick just one thing…”
Me: “Okay Connor, top 5 – go!”
Connor: “Okay: strawberries, pancakes, bacon, french fries, broccoli.”

Sure – it’s not the healthiest list, but c’mon.  The kid’s just turned 8, and on his list of favourite foods are strawberries and broccoli???  That’s a pretty great list, in my opinion.

So imagine my surprise when we went to the pediatrician for his 8-year checkup today and she commented that his weight had “flatlined”…

For the last couple years, Connor has been tracking in 75th percentile for both weight & height.  His height stayed in position on the curve (52.5 inches, for those who are interested) but his weight is back at the 50th percentile (64lbs).  I say “back at the 50th” because when he was born, he was in the 50th for both height and weight.  And for the first 3 months of his life, he was always below that marker.

hmmm…  I may have just uncovered why this upsets me so much…  ok, I’ll come back to this thought later, because I want to STRESS loudly that the doctor did NOT say that she was worried.  She did NOT say that he needs to be fattened up and to start main-lining trans-fats ASAP.  She did NOT say that he has an eating disorder and should be checked into a clinic STAT.  All she said was, “Huh, his weight seems to have flatlined.”  And too, I want to stress emphatically that I am not in dire straits over this comment.  I am not headed for a bridge, nor am I looking for a high place to hang my rope from.  It’s just sticking with me, is all, and I wanted to try to uncover why that is…

Which, you may recall from the start of the previous paragraph, I think I have.

So here’s my revelation: Connor was very close to starving in his first 5 months of life.  He was born a healthy 7lbs 3 oz, and by the time we left the hospital (3 days later) he was down to 6lbs 8oz or something like that.  Breast feeding was not going well (it rarely does with the first child, so I’ve since learned), and he was tongue-tied, which I did not know made it almost impossible to latch.  I talked to the pediatrician about switching to, or supplementing with, formula but she was not supportive of this.  After his 4-month checkup, when he weighed in at less than 11lbs (I can’t remember exactly) I decided to forget her advice and go with my gut: we started formula.  When we went back for his next checkup, he was like 16lbs and she was thrilled to see him so big and happy.

So as it turns out, my barometer for how I’m performing as a parent to Connor is totally tied to his weight, and where he sits on the damn curve…

Well, that’s just crazy.

Here’s what I know: I have a kid who is very happy and jovial.  He is effective at expressing his emotions, generally in healthy ways.  He is reading almost at grade level (which is HUGE since when he started grade 1 last year he really couldn’t read at all), and he excels in math and science.  He loves gym, has lots of friends, can ride his bike and he even likes to work in the kitchen with me.  He’s a great kid.  And I’m a great Mom, 50th percentile be damned.


Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Family, Food, Oversharing, Sickness/Wellness


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You guys, what is it about doctors offices and their row upon row of sample products that so entices me???

Backtrack: Sam is sick again.  Yes, it’s true.  He spiked a fever on Friday evening and we haven’t been without fever since then.  So when he started to loose his voice yesterday, I got worried that he actually had strep throat.  Because this is exactly how he manifested strep last time he had it (which was almost 18 months ago now).  So I am taking no chances this time: if it’s strep, I wanna know about it ASAP.

Which is how this morning we found ourselves in our pediatrician’s office in downtown Toronto.  We have been seeing her since Connor was born (which incidentally, was 8 years ago today!  Happy birthday big guy!  Momma loves you, and wishes you’d let her kiss you) and I really love and trust her.  Plus, she works at Sick Kids too, so if we ever wind up there, she can continue to care for my kids, which I think would make everyone feel just that much better.

Anyway!  Back to samples.

Ever since we have been going there, the same thing happens.  You get there, you maybe wait in the waiting room, you are maybe called right away.  Always though, without fail, you wait in the treatment room you’re assigned for that visit.  Now, being a nosey, sneaky person (like I am), who gets bored when left waiting for more than say…  5 minutes (yep, that’s me too), the allure of cupboards can be too great to resist.  And that was how on my first visit to our pediatrician, I discovered that those cupboards are with stocked to the gills with stuff.  Infant or children’s Tylenol, infant or children’s Advil, spectro gel, topical ointments, inhalers, lotions and potions…  and all of it free for the taking.

I bet you know what I do, right?

I take it!  That’s right people: whenever I’m in the office you can be sure that I’m leaving there with a pack of both tylenol and advil.  And when my kid are under 12 months, you can be sure too that I’m taking any samples of the vitamin D drops too!  What about you?  Are you as susceptible to the lure of free stuff?  Not just any stuff though – stuff that you know for sure a time will come when you’re going to need it, and you either (a) won’t have it or (b) what you have will be expired.

Which is how my purse currently contains a box of children’s tylenol, as well as a bottle of children’s advil.

And just in case you were worried, I’m happy to share that no it is not strep throat.  The Doc thinks it’s the tail end of the flu, which is now becoming a cold.  So…  yay…  Sam’s had the flu twice in the last couple of weeks…  See??  I told you he could be sickly.

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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Family, Sickness/Wellness