My Treadmill Inner Dialogue

“This isn’t so bad. I can do this for 30 minutes. No wait….I’ve changed my mind. I hate this. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!”

“Please. You’re not even running yet. You’re still warming up. You can’t hate it already.”

“Don’t tell me what I can and can’t hate. I hate this. This is not fun. People who claim to enjoy exercising are psychopaths.”

“Zip it and run. You only have 24 minutes left to go.”

“Only? You can’t just put ‘only’ in front of a number and make it sound good. 24 minutes is not ‘only’.”

“Whatever. Just keep going.”

“My back is chafing. I want to stop.”

“It’s not chafing. Keep going.”

“It IS chafing. My fat rolls are rubbing together with every jiggly step. It’s annoying and I want to stop.”

“That is pretty much the universal sign that you actually need to KEEP GOING.”

“The universe is stupid. I hate it.”

“Mutual, I’m sure. Pick up the pace, Jabba.”

“One does not pick up one’s pace when one is on death’s precipice.”

“Speaking all uppity like that is not going to intimidate me. You know we’re the same person, right?”

“Then stop being so mean to us!”

“I am helping us. This is good for us. We want this!”

“Please. Stop. Making. Words.”

“Look, you’ve been running for 5 minutes now. 5 minutes! Last week you couldn’t keep up this pace for even 2 minutes. Look at all those calories you’re burning. The faster you go and the longer you keep your heart rate up, the sooner you’ll meet your calorie goal.”

“Calories…Great. Now I’m thinking about ice cream. I need ice cream.”

“You do not need ice cream. You don’t even really like ice cream.”

“I do so like ice cream! It’s not my favourite go-to snack, but I like it. And right now I’m hot. I’m so hot and my mouth is all dry. I need ice cream!”

“No, you need water.”

“…to wash down my ice cream?”

“You can MAYBE have ice cream later IF you meet your calorie goal now. (And by the way, I’m going to talk you out of the ice cream later).”

“What was that? A whisper? An aside? You can’t do that inside my own brain.”

“I just did. You can stop me…if you catch me first.”

“That doesn’t even make any sense. Wearethesameperson!”

“But you’re still running, so it’s working. And now you’ve been running for 9 minutes!”

“9 minutes? Consecutively? Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.”

“I know, right? If you keep it up for 3 more minutes, then you can drop to a fast walk for the rest of the time.”

“Oh, if I can keep this up for 3 more minutes, then maybe I’ll just keep it up for an EXTRA 2 minutes!”

“Maybe. But not likely. Let’s just be honest, okay?”

“Listen. You didn’t even think I could keep going for 9 minutes. And you were wrong.”

“I knew you could do 9 minutes. And I know you can get to 12 minutes. But after that, I’m pretty sure you will want to drop to a fast walk. Especially because then you can pick up your book and I will stop ‘making words’.”

“Yes. Books are better. Your words make me angry.”

“My words make you motivated.”

“Same thing. Anger is motivation.”

“Exactly. Oh look. 12 minutes of running. You may slow down and read now. But tomorrow you’re doing 14 minutes.”

“Okay. Thank you.”

“No, no. Thank YOU.”



Posted by on January 7, 2016 in Beauty, Humour, Personal Growth


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Things I Learned in 2015

My husband can still surprise me. We’ve been married 19 years. By now he is well-versed in the little things that make me happy. All the examples I used in my previous post are ideas that he has used many times over the years. I am delighted that he takes the time to get me things that he knows I’ll love, but I am not usually surprised by gifts from him.  Well, this Christmas, he knocked my socks off with a gift card for a new tattoo. That’s not something I had hinted about or was secretly hoping for. It had never crossed my mind that he would get that for me, as he’s not interested in ink at all. But I love it and I’m so excited for my appointment next week!

Old dogs can learn new tricks. It’s hard work; old brains don’t absorb and retain information like young brains do. But it can be done! In 2015, I finished my aromatherapy certification, did my aroma-massage certification, and almost completed my reflexology certification (my final exam will be early in 2016, but I did all the book-work and most of my case studies in 2015). Old brains that have worked hard deserve a rest.

I can’t go back to the previous version of me. I realized that I’ve been functioning in crisis-mode for the seven years that we’ve been struggling with our son’s toxicity. Many of the people who are in my life now have only known the crisis-mode me. All this time, I kind of had it in my head that this isn’t the real me, and therefore most people don’t really know me. I expected that once the crisis was over, I could get back to being me again. It’s been six months since we instigated some healthy distance in the toxic relationship, and it’s been six months of healing. Somewhere along the way, it dawned on me that I don’t get to revert back to pre-crisis me. Seven years of crisis have changed me. They have changed my relationship with my husband and my relationship with my other kids. They have changed who I am. And who I am right now is the real, current me.

The new me is pretty great. Surprise, surprise! My mourning over the previous me didn’t last very long. I quickly discovered that I don’t really want to go back. I can have sadness over how things transpired with our son, but at the same time, it’s okay for me to be joyful about how I have grown because of it. When God promises to bring beauty out of ashes, He really means it! It’s not a cliché. It’s deep and profound and humbling and awe-inspiring. He is so good. All the time. He is working. All the time. And He has done good work in me!

I still have a ways to go. I don’t mean to say that the new me is perfect. I’m still a work in progress. Long-term crisis-mode bent me a bit out of shape, and some of those kinks still need to be worked out. I am more cynical and more short-tempered. But I am also more relaxed about being changed. I don’t need to be in a constant, panicky, fix-me-now state of mind. One day at a time is okay. One step at a time is okay. Temporary derailments aren’t the end of the world. I will press on towards the prize.

“Fappy” is better than “hangry” – but only for a little while. The battery in my scale died in late October. Good-bye, accountability! Hello, fudge and Doritos and white bread and shortbread and gingerbread (basically ALL THE BREADS) and cheesecake and bacon-wrapped ribs and egg nog. It’s been fun. But now it’s time to act like a grown-up again. A grown-up who can wear the jeans that she already owns. Okay, maybe “now” is not the exact time. Tomorrow is the exact time. Or whenever tonight’s leftovers run out. So, you know…soon. Ish.

Happy New Year, friends!


Posted by on December 31, 2015 in Uncategorized


How to Buy Gifts for Someone Whose Love Language is Gifts

Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas… You know you need to buy something “meaningful”, but…


What does “meaningful” mean???

The pressure is on. And it makes you wish for an alien invasion, the second coming, Armageddon and the zombie apocalypse all at once, just to get you off the hook.

Well, Muffin, I am here to help you out. Take a deep breath. You can do this. And it won’t be nearly as hard as you think.

When buying a gift for someone whose love language is Gifts, the gift needs to say one of three things:

  1. “You are worth listening to.”
  2. “You are worth thinking about.”
  3. “You are worth spending time/effort/money on.”

Pick one; it does not need to say all of those things together. (Although on those ultra-special occasions when you know it is absolutely imperative that you hit a home run, then yes, these are the three bases you need to hit.)

No need to panic, Pumpkin. I will explain further. Please note that I will use feminine pronouns because I’m speaking from my own perspective on this and I am a girl. But I’m pretty sure the same logic could be applied to guys, so don’t let the “she/her” vernacular confuse you.

  1. “You are worth listening to.”

Your loved one wants to know that you listen to her. She probably says very obvious things in everyday life that will help you know what kinds of things she loves and hates. If she says, “Sweet Chili Heat Doritos are my favourite junk food”, make a mental note of that (or a physical note. It shows you care.) Now you know that you can pick up a bag of Sweet Chili Heat Doritos and make her day anytime!  If you know you need more than that for a bigger occasion, then a compilation gift of several of her mentioned favourite things will score big points. (IE. A bag of Sweet Chili Heat Doritos, a pound of maple fudge, a bottle of Inniskillin Late Autumn Riesling, and a pair of fuzzy socks.) These are easy-to-find, inexpensive gifts. You don’t need to overthink it. Just pay attention when she talks.

Caveat: don’t pay half-attention. If she says how much she hates wasabi and all you hear is “blah blah blah wasabi” and then buy her wasabi everything…You have to know that this is just about the most hurtful thing you can do to a Gifts Love Language Person.

  1. “You are worth thinking about.”

Gas station gifts that you grab on the way home from work on December 24 send the message that you weren’t thinking about her at all. And THAT sends the message that you don’t love her, not even a tiny little bit. That will not make for a merry Christmas. You can pick up something completely dorky and inexpensive and if you tell her you bought it in October because it reminded you of her and you’ve been looking forward to giving it to her all this time, that says you think about her.

Ordering something online in the wee hours of Christmas Day and wrapping up the order confirmation will make her think you hate her. Telling her on December 2 not to open any of your emails that say “order confirmation” will prove to her that you were thinking ahead. And thinking of her means you love her.

Bonus information: In one brief shopping trip, you can buy an assortment of inexpensive token gifts and keep them hidden somewhere so that on any given day through the year, you can just hand her something and say, “I was thinking of you” and she will melt like coconut oil.

  1. “You are worth spending time/effort/money on.”

This is probably the one that is the most daunting for gift-buyers, especially if you assume that spending more means more. Relax, Cream Puff. That is a myth that I can dispel for you right here, right now.

Your goal here is to take resources that you have and show her that she is worth spending those resources on her. If you have some spare time and you choose to spend that time working on a gift for her instead of doing something you want to do, that sacrifice of time says she is worth more than your hobbies or bros. And her expressed gratitude will likely outweigh the joy gleaned from hobbies and bros anyway.

If you have a special skill set or craft that you use for everyone else’s benefit, and she expresses interest in that particular thing, but then you’re tired/bored/annoyed after expending all that effort for other people and so you don’t really want to do more of the same for her…that tells her that she is the least important person you know. Do not expect special expressions of gratitude. Duck and run, my friend.

If your general MO is to save/budget/skimp/reduce/do without, and you actually do have financial resources to spare, then the occasional extravagant gift is a good thing. Hopefully, if this relationship is of a marital nature, then you’re on the same page with the whole saving/spending thing – so frequent overspending will cause stress and turmoil. But once in a while, you would do well to knock her socks off. Just make sure it’s something she actually wants (Back to that whole listening thing. An Alaskan trekking adventure for someone who hates being cold and wishes all snow would die…bad idea.).

In conclusion, dear reader, how you present your gift can make a world of difference in how it is received. If you can show that you were thinking of her and that you were listening to her, it really doesn’t matter how much you spend. At all costs – put duct tape over your mouth if you have to – resist the urge to make excuses for a crappy, after-thought gift. Laughing off your forgetfulness says, “Not only did I forget to buy you something because I hate you, but I think it’s hilarious how much I hate you. Come on, that’s funny, right?”

Post-script: I have one more point to make. There is a right way and a wrong way to do a gift that’s something you share.

Right way: A glass of wine for her while you make dinner for both of you.

Wrong way: “Hey, this thing I got you was in the super-reduced clear-out bin so it only cost me a buck. And with the money I saved on your present, I went out for lunch. Win-win, right?”

Merry Christmas everyone!

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Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Family, Humour, Marriage


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Stupid Christmas Lyrics

I love Christmas. And I love Christmas music. I have my favourite CD’s that I listen to over and over again. (Yeah, that’s right. CD’s. I’m old, remember?) And I get so excited when the local radio stations start playing Christmas music. But…we’re two days in and I am already over it.

First: Mariah Carey, all I want for Christmas is for you to be quiet.

Second: there are some lyrics out there that make me wonder if the writers forgot to add the egg nog to their rum.

Yesterday I heard a new song that I hope to never hear again. The lyrics were:

Merry Christmas, merry Christmas, merry Christmas, merry Christmas
Merry Christmas, merry Christmas, merry Christmas, merry Christmas
Merry Christmas, merry Christmas, and happy holiday.
It doesn’t matter what your holiday, it’s a time to celebrate.
Merry Christmas, merry Christmas, merry Christmas, merry Christmas
Merry Christmas, merry Christmas, merry Christmas, merry Christmas
Merry Christmas, merry Christmas, and happy holiday.

Lyricist, is that supposed to be an attempt at being inclusive? Because ya kinda suck at it.

On the other hand, there’s this share-the-joy-with-the-whole-world classic that makes me cringe every time I hear it:

There's a world outside your window 
And it's a world of dread and fear 
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears 
And the Christmas bells that ring there 
Are the clanging chimes of doom 
Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you 

And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time 
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life 
Oh, where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow 
Do they know it's Christmas time at all?

Cheery, ain’t it? Okay, I know the song was originally written and recorded to bring awareness to the Ethiopian famine in the 80’s. It accomplished that goal and raised a lot of money for relief efforts, so yay for that! But playing it out of context year after year after year only serves to perpetuate a horribly inaccurate and inappropriate stereotype of Africa. It makes it sound like we Westerners think all of Africa is a God-forsaken wasteland, but at least the people living there are too stupid to know they’re missing out on the snow and presents. So let’s raise a glass to them. That’ll help.

Then there is this poignant and brilliantly penned verbage:

Hey, yeah
Yeah-ahhhhhhhh, whoa
Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, yeah-ahhhhhhhhhhhhh

That festive joy is brought to you by Christina Aguilera…in every.  Single. Song.

To finish my tirade, I present to you The King. No, not Jesus. The other King. Elvis.

Let me preface this by saying that I think there is room in the festivities for some cultural stuff and joyful commercialism. I am not against Santa Claus, presents, Christmas trees, and overabundant meals with the family. But I wish we could keep a protective boundary around the holiness of the holiday’s origin. The birth of our Saviour, the manger, the shepherds and wise men…I want that celebration to have a special spot: central, but separate. I don’t like the Santa/manger overlap. Not in people’s lawn decorations, and not in my Christmas carols.

So every time I hear that line, “Let’s give thanks to the Lord above, ‘cause Santa Claus comes tonight”, it doesn’t really fill me with gratitude. It makes me want to poke Elvis in the eye. And that’s not quite what Christmas is supposed to be about!

And now, I hereby release my negativity as I go to my happy place where the air is filled with the magnificent splendour and glorious tones of Michael Buble, Josh Groban, Pentatonix, Holly Cole and Michael W. Smith. God bless us, everyone!

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Posted by on November 27, 2015 in Humour


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What It Is I Actually Do

Now that I’m a for-real grown-up with a for-real (albeit rather part-time) job in my own for-real office, I thought I should clear up some misconceptions about what I actually do.

Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is not scented candles, bubble bath, and air fresheners. It is not witchcraft or hippie voodoo. Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils for improvement and maintenance of health and beauty. It is very scientific, but it is also considered an art. Essential oils can be applied topically (for example, you could drop lavender essential oil on an infected cut instead of using Polysporin) or aromatically (meaning you inhale the oils and the molecules get into your bloodstream via the lungs and into your brain via the limbic system).

When I first started experimenting with essential oils, I was hugely skeptical. But after a few months of trying to stump them, I finally had to admit that they really do work in many wonderful ways. That’s when I headed back to school to learn the how’s and why’s. In the course of my studies, I learned a lot about proper dilution and blending, and now I have my own line of essential oils and products!

Next came Aromatherapy Massage. Sweet, naïve, little me had no idea that the term “aromatherapy massage” is used much more broadly than the clinical, therapeutic technique that I learned at school. I have had a very rude awakening to that reality. And oh what fun it is to explain to creepy guys that no, there will be no fancy finish. No, not even for a generous tip. That is not the kind of massage that I do.

Nor am I a Registered Massage Therapist.

Aromatherapy Massage focuses on the nervous system, with some lymphatic drainage mixed in. There is some musculoskeletal work, and it is indeed very relaxing, but it’s not the deep kneading that one usually expects from an RMT. Specific essential oils are used depending on the client’s health needs (pain management, insomnia, digestive problems, stress…). It is a full-body massage and it takes an hour.

Reflexology.  This does not involve me hitting your knee with a little rubber hammer to see how far your foot kicks out. You and my children can ask as many times as you want, but I still don’t have one of those little rubber hammers. Reflexology is the stimulation of reflex points in your feet that correspond to all the organs and systems throughout the body. Gentle pressure on the foot stimulates nerve messages and blood flow to the part of the body that matches that spot on the foot, thereby encouraging the body to heal itself of various ailments. All the areas of both feet are covered during treatment, so it feels much like a relaxing foot massage. If there are specific health concerns, those corresponding reflexes can be worked a little more and a few subsequent treatments would probably be beneficial.

There are a bunch of other modalities that are often associated with alternative health care. Reiki, tarot cards, crystal readings etc. I will not be adding those types of treatments to my practice. As a Christian, I have a firm desire not to open myself or my clients to spiritual influence that is not directly from Creator God. I know there are a lot of spiritual people who feel I’m being too judgmental or restrictive. I have, in fact, treated many people who are very interested in Reiki and the like. They are still welcome to my care; I just won’t be offering those services. I need to draw a line, so that’s where I’m drawing it. I also want fellow Christians to know that my office is a safe place for them to come for the treatments I do offer, without being pressured to participate in treatments that they may not feel 100% comfortable with.

So there you have it, folks. That is what I do. Someday when I don’t have to drive the carpool at 2:30, I may actually be able to do it for a full, for-real, grown-up workday!

And if anyone is still reading and wants to give any of these services a try, you can contact me via email ( or follow me on Facebook  or Twitter.


Posted by on November 24, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Long Lost Writer

Do you ever have one of those weeks when too many all-consuming things in life are happening at the same time?  That’s pretty much what 2015 has looked like for me. Hence, the lack of writing.

When last we chatted, I was writing my final exams for my aromatherapy and anatomy courses. And mere seconds after that, I flew off to Cambodia for a couple of weeks with a team from my church. And then I blinked and I was in Myrtle Beach for our first ever family beach vacation. And I’d barely unpacked from that when it was time to take my aroma-massage course, and then complete the requisite case studies for that certification. And then school ended for the kids. And one kid moved out while the rest of us went camping for a week.

Summer was a whirlwind of kids going back and forth to various camps and activities, another mission trip (husband and daughter to Zambia plus a short visit with friends in Ethiopia), a road trip to Halifax, and the blissful distance from the drama created by the one child who is no longer living with us. Praise the Lord and pass the gravy!

School started again before I was ready (that was a new experience for me) and then I launched right into my next course: reflexology.

Oh, and in the middle of all that, I moved my aromatherapy practice out of our house into an office downtown, painted our old home office and moved a daughter over into that room, ran into some trouble in the building I’d just moved into and had to move my practice AGAIN… And I think that’s it.

I thought about writing almost every single day. But honestly, whenever I had time to myself to sit (aside from studying), I only had enough mental capacity to play Candy Crush. I am on level 1087 now and I missed you.

But look! Here I am! I have been managing to look after my new baby business, AND be the plexus that holds all the carpooling constellations in order, AND sometimes remember to put the laundry in the dryer, AND make food for all the people that still want to eat every single day. Now, today, my resting heartbeat is slow and steady, my facial tics have relaxed, my brain is allowing me snippets of sleep, and my fingers are typing words and sentences.

I have no great theme to expound on. No brilliant witticisms or side-splitting hilarity. No deep theology or cultural challenges. Just a long-awaited (by me, if not anyone else) greeting. We will talk more soon, dear friends.

Oh, and you should probably get a massage or reflexology treatment and let me help you with your Christmas shopping.


Posted by on November 6, 2015 in Uncategorized



Over the past 14 months, I’ve been taking a 12-month course in aromatherapy. (If you’ve noticed that I haven’t been writing as much, it’s because I’m “studying”.) Let me tell you two things about going back to school as an old person.

1. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Every single morning, I write a to-do list for the day. It usually includes things like shower and breakfast. Not because I’ll forget to do those things, but just so I can visualize everything and plan my day around time-inflexible items and priorities. Study is also on my list. But you know what? There are five other people in this house and even though they are unreasonably demanding, I am nice. So once or twice a week, I prioritize going to the grocery store over studying so that they can have food. And every now and then I prioritize laundry over studying so they won’t be naked or stinky. And at least once a day, I have to prioritize driving over studying so they won’t have to sleep at school. I am nice. And they should at least rub my feet or brush my hair or something.

My point is this: by the end of the day, I have often crossed off a whole bunch of things except study from my list. And then I go to bed and the next morning I write study on my new list. This has been going on for fourteen months.

2. My brain is mush. Being old means remembering stuff is hard. Recalling simple things like people’s names and important dates is teetering on the periphery of my mental capabilities. Memorizing botanical names like Vetiveria zizanioides and anatomical terms like occipital mastoidal suture is an excessive load for this mushy, old brain to bear.

I will now regale you with an entertaining story that happened just this week. My husband and I won a cool prize in a draw. (It’s an elite icewinemaker’s dinner at a winery in Niagara-On-The-Lake. Very fancy-schmancy. We are sophisticated like that.) One of my children commented, “Wow! You’ve never won something before!” I told him that’s not true at all and proceeded to list a bunch of things I’ve won over the years: a TV, my high school letter jacket, Taylor Swift perfume, a walk-on role in Les Mis, and I even won a pair of round-trip tickets to anywhere in the world that Air Canada flies – which I never got to use.

They wanted to hear that story! I explained that I won the tickets when I was in high school, but they had to be used within a fairly short period of time. I had already just missed a bunch of school for a conference that I was at and couldn’t immediately take more time off to go flying away to some random destination. “What conference?” they wanted to know. It was a student-focused citizenship conference in Ottawa, and a bunch of schools across Canada were allowed to send one student to represent their city.

Here’s what my precious offspring asked: “Why’d they choose you?” (Sometimes their preciousness is underwhelming to me.)

I answered, “Because I used to be smart.” I might as well have fabricated a tale about my years as a Russian spy, for all the credibility they afforded me. This image before them now – the woman who CANNOT EVER remember to turn on the dishwasher before she goes to bed at night – does not jive with the image of someone who once had potential.

Why am I telling you all this? For two simple reasons. One: I enjoy giving you a laugh at my expense. Two: if you are a praying person, I am begging you – BEGGING YOU – to add me to your list for this month. My aromatherapy exam is on February 5 and my anatomy exam is on February 12. My mushy, old brain is desperately trying to memorize 12 (going on 15) months of intense information and I need supernatural help to do it.

I’ll leave you with this interesting little note. There is a specific essential oil that stimulates the brain in such a way that if you smell it while you’re studying and then smell it again at a later date, it increases your ability to recall what you studied. Thing is, I can’t remember which oil.


Posted by on January 9, 2015 in Humour, Personal Growth


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