queenheroical thenandagain

Play #wholemama


I come to the blank paper, timid and unsure. The pencil feels awkward and unfamiliar at the end of my hand – I try to let go of my tight writer’s grip and shift my eyes up and away to the object in front of me. I breathe carefully and begin – trusting that somehow my mind and hand will find a way to recreate the tangible object of my gaze into a mostly recognizable 2 dimensional representation on the paper.

I feel vulnerable and I am tempted to hide the messy results – I am embarrassed by my halting attempts, my unsure hand. But I remind myself – this is important, every hesitant mark, every messy smudge. There is no wrong here aside from my own condemning criticism – the voice which echoes on “you are not good at drawing – this is foolish – this is a waste of time” so I try a speak out against the hurt in me – I take my little stand against my inner bully and in a tiny, new voice repeat “This is play and play is important, play is opportunity. Play is freedom. Play is growth. I am allowed to play and fail and be bad and never become great. There is no agenda here – there is only play and play is fun.” And the breathing becomes easier and I feel the thrill of joy trickle up my spine.


I had forgotten the importance of play – I find I am rusty at it. But still I gather about me all sorts of playful things – canvases, watercolour paints, tubes of acrylics, dusty bottles of inks, sketch books, crayons – I place them all over my desk top – cluttering my space. I feel the urge to plop them all back into the cupboard – tidying them away. But I leave them – I need to see them there – like little questions all about the surface – asking me to play. Remember – this is important too. Remember who you are too – remember what sparks light and life in you too. This too is important. Remember.

The pages in my sketchbook are slowly filling up – rough and lopsided, with rare moments of “success,” regardless each leaves me with little reminders of time well spent – of the sense of time between time – lost moments steeped in wonder and wide open spaces. I am slowly remembering what it feels like to play – it is serious and important – and closer to God than I have felt in a long time.

sketching collage

The current #wholemama word is Play – find more inspiration from lovely #wholemama storytellers here:


Togetherness: #wholemama


On the Bus:

I am content sitting here being gently jostled about as the bus meanders its way along my neighbourhood streets. All four of my children are sitting in seats ahead of me and I can hear them guessing at 20 questions, unhurried and engaged with each other despite the increasing percentage of teenagers amongst them. I take note of their relaxed smiles, patient continence – they don’t seem to mind this routine of bus travel despite our leaving the house an hour before we have to be where we are headed, despite the sometimes sudden herky jerky starts and stops, and despite the diverse company who climb both on and off the bus as we travel. My children smile and are untroubled, moreover, they are happy.

They sit here together – just being. This is the hidden treasure which traveling by bus affords us. Like a magical chariot – we climb aboard and enter into a world rid of anything else but going – here we play games, we watch the wide world outside the window while chatting about the clouds, the sky, and all the thoughts which float about our ears. Or we sit together watching and saying nothing. All this while we ride along familiar streets.


Added to this is the before time – the time we wait, we chat, we stand (or sit) as one unit without any other goal. Stolen time when we enjoy a bubble of unimpeded togetherness. We watch the leaves bumble by, we make predictions about the weather, I answer questions about the day before us, I listen to stories which would otherwise fall between the busy moments of home – between learning musts, house chores, daily dishes, and laundry piles. This waiting for the bus brings us out of the house, out into a space where the clutter falls away and we see each other, look each other in the eye, and stand breathing in unison.

Minutes rife with togetherness.

What comes to mind:

I am blessed. I love these moments. I may not always be looking forward to the destination but I know and treasure the time which I have had with my children because we take the bus together. And I am aware, deeply aware in my heart, that these stolen moments are coming to an end – I know changes are afoot which will further divide up our time and will eventually render these moments moot.

I could not have guess that being a non-driver would prove to be beneficial for my kids and I. I don’t doubt that we have missed out on opportunities and experiences because I could not get to certain places by bus. But we have also been given the great luxury of these stolen in-between times, times which have taught us how to wait, how to simply be present together, and how to steal time away from the busyness of life.


I am together with my children all the time – but we do not always engage in “togetherness”. I am grateful for moments which draw us outside of our norm and bring us into a space of time when we are fully present and engaged. These moments can come in many forms: family dinners, bus travel, shopping together, etc etc etc. Regardless of how they come along, they are precious so enjoy them.

#wholemama word:  Togetherness.  To read more stories by other fabulous mothers find the link up here:  Overflow

Humility #wholemama


Every time I spotted her, I cringed. She needed washing, but to wash her would destroy her. To destroy her would be ruination and despair – but she was nearing ruin regardless. Something had to be done, her eyes told me something had to be done – her days of providing nightly cuddles to a precious daughter were not over, her comforting presence essential still to more than one of us.

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Looking at her was like having split vision – Her “self” was beautiful, precious, luminous but her “physical” presence struck terror along my spine. She was both things – a most beautiful ugly.

I have been avoiding the task of repairing her, fearful and timid. Fretting that … it couldn’t be done. I struggled to see how I was going to repair her while preserving her being in the process. So worn through were her layers, layers I had already patched over, and over through the years.

I had covered her face once already hoping and praying at the time I would never have to do it again. Each time, I lay my heart out and pray I will not erase her, extinguish her. She is family, she is loved.

But I was mindful that even as she was, all tattered and torn, my daughter wrapped her up tenderly in a blanket each night before cuddling her close to her heart, breathing over her nightly prayers. She was loved despite everything, loved to tatters, loved through the tatters. A love beyond all.

Love which could not be smudged out because of some fabric and alterations. And so it has been days of turning her round and round, pulling up old stitches and patches, testing the fragile underneath bits, fashioning new coverings, gingerly stitching around the foundations of our much beloved Foophie, and trusting love will hold us, will carry us through.

It has felt important.

It has felt … personal.

The image of her ragged self – reflective of my own ragged, tattered self. The one beneath the layers. The one I hide with the skill of a master of disguise – the one I am careful to wrap up in blankets, but buried instead of held, whispered about but not prayed over, hidden.

But loved? Loved over despite my need of washing, my fluff spilling out, my stains, and worn out patches?

This,too, a most beautiful ugly?

The answer is ever and always there, gently pulling out stitches.

Yes. You are loved. Beautiful, precious, luminous.


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The #wholemama word of the week is: Humility.  Read more words about humility here at Overflow.

Fear and Adventure #wholemama

fear and adventure


Alice wasn’t looking for an adventure – she chased a rabbit and she fell down a hole. She tumbled down a long tunnel without hope of crawling her way back up to the top. The lesson here – the best way to find yourself in Wonderland is to trip into an unalterable present.

I have been pushed into holes before but I have seldom chased one down and let it envelop me. Except the one I tumbled down next to him. We ran; we plunged into a life together and I, like Alice, haven’t been the same since. I am ever grateful.

But tunnels and rabbit holes still abound and I’m quite good at avoiding these unalterable situations. I am good at holding back, talking myself out of these possible forever transformations. I, thus, remain in an impossible inbetween place looking into dark tunnels, unable to commit myself to the adventure therein.


Fear is like the elixir Alice

Drank -it shrinks you down to

The size of a mouse;

Let’s you slip through, unnoticed,

When obstacles loom large,

And dangerous.

But mouse sized is only helpful

For a time –

Stay small too long,

You might find yourself

Scrambling after crumbs instead,

Of feasting at the table, as intended.


Pass me then the cakes

That I might grow tall – crashing through the ceiling

Bulk me up to such a size that I might

Knock about, go tumbling into the careful

Constructions all around

Jarring my way about the world

Without care or consideration.

But, then again, nobody ever invited

the Giant Girl over to play.


Bring me then the fan –

to ease the bumbling about –

bring me back to my right size.

Guide my steps toward tomorrow –

as myself unburdened,

Fitted out – as I am

to fall into what is ahead,

unalterable and ripe with adventure.

The #wholemama word for last week was fear and this week it is adventure thus the combination today🙂 Find more adventure stories here:  Overflow

Thankful Thursday #8

thankful thursday 8


I find having free time to think to be a blessing and a thorn. I love the freedom I have been enjoying, and all the opportunities to read and make and wonder. I need these times to refresh my stores of energy, creativity, empathy, and joy. But too much time to ruminate without direction leads me along dark thorny paths and I can get tangled up.

Ultimately, I need both the blessing and the thorn to remain focused on all that is real and worthy in this life. So I am thankful for time to explore and for the reminder that it is finite.

Remembering a simple truth

I didn’t know I was inclined to art while in school – I took guitar and drama while my wildly artistic friends took art.  I hung out with them in the art room – feeling at odds – I was envious of their projects and materials and obvious skills, wishing I could “play” alongside them, because it looked like the best kind of play I could imagine, but I had categorically labeled myself “unable.”  They had art skills, I didn’t. It was a simple definition based upon how well they could draw and … I couldn’t.  It is a time when I wish  there had been someone in my history who could have pointed out my early tendencies toward making and “playing” with colours and paper and twine and glue.

I still shy away from pencil and paper type things – but I love colour.  I love the way paint colours blend together, I love jars and piles of floss, I love the transparency of tissue paper.  But I forget these things when life gets busy – I forget how I enjoy “playing” with colour. But this week, a friend, unbeknownst, reminded me about colours – about watercolour paints and how much I enjoy holding a brush, dipping it in water, picking up colour, and spreading it across paper … small simple actions which bring forth great deepness from within. I am thankful for colour.

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Words of encouragement

Thanks Rumi🙂

Birds and squirrels

Lively evidence of the season hopping about the trees in front of my windows. I am thankful to exist amongst the wild things, to be a witness to it, even while buses zip up the street, ignorant of the squirrel highway above their heads.

Friends and their families

Thank you friend, mother of friend, children of friend for the walk, the lunch, the Easter Egg hunt, the tea, and the visit.  I am lucky in my friends – and their families.


Oh how I have missed you!  I am thankful for my near family – and I am thankful for long conversation with far away family and for the anticipation of seeing them again soon too.

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Brave: #wholemama



It can’t be planned or prepared for …

It can’t be staged, played out by actors with props and prepared speeches.

It can’t be bragged about or heralded aloud and … remain.

Brave risks much – yields more.

It stands before destruction despite fear, despite ruin.

Brave is brokenness and vulnerability living themselves out loud against everything which could crush and exploit them.


The bravest act of all is remaining steadfastly true to one’s own self.

It is vulnerable to be different – to calmly and insistently remain honest; without diversion, without compromise, without acquiescing one’s own true self.

In the face of, not the enemy, but before those whom we love and cherish the most.

Pt. 3

Brave requires a trust outside of our own understanding, experience, and knowledge.

Opportunities for bravery rears themselves up around quiet corners, in everyday conversations, and in silences.

Brave lies within us shut in by walls and layers – like pavement over the heads of sleeping dandelions.


Three truths and the lie –

I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse.

I label my abuse as “not that bad.”

I love the person who perpetrated these acts and often wish he still had a place in my life.

Pain, confusion, bewilderment, forgiveness, and love all weigh out in this life, not always in equal amounts, and not always in ways we think they should.

Pt. 5

I love the way dandelions don’t care about the pavement – and push their way through to the sky -regardless. Because the light beckons.

This week’s word for #wholemama is: Brave. Read other brave stories Here

Build: #wholemama


I woke up recently to a powerful realization –

It has been 20 years since I graduated – with my second post-secondary degree.

This was a “OH MY GOODNESS I HAVE BEEN AN ADULT FOR A LONG TIME NOW” kind of realization.

20 years – it is an undeniable amount of time. It is solid and weighty … 20 years. If you have done anything for 20 years – you get a plaque or pen or watch or something. Right?

Graduating with my teaching degree 20 years ago – I felt I had my tiny tool belt fitted out and I was ready to start building a life. A real adult-y life – one which would include a full-time teaching position, eventually a husband, and probably 2 kids …maybe 3. The blueprint was simple, clear, and “god willing” achievable.

But isn’t it interesting how a simple, clear vision is emptied out of all “upset”, all “unevenness,” and anything “unexpected.” Who would enjoy reading that predictable story? But my head/heart desired as normal a life as I could muster considering my early beginnings were rife with “upset,” “unevenness,” and all things “unexpected.” I wanted a TV simple life.

But 20 years ago … all within a 10 month span … my little plan proved inadequate, my tools insufficient to the task, and my vision too small for all that was to come.

First, there came the “upset” — the world’s crowbar prying up my life, my home.

A sister plus a baby after trauma equaled an irrevocable decision to uproot and move back to a place I swore I would never return. Thus opting to leave my established sphere and the groundwork of the life I foresaw. My careful plans – thrown into boxes, rolled away in hopes that I would find myself back again – barring that – at least somewhere equally desirable. Despite it all – I knew it was the right decision, despite my misgivings about the place I was headed, I knew I was moving toward something. My plan could still work out, perhaps with a new view.

Next, there came the great “unevenness” – the tilting of the world upon its head, the shaking out of broken bits, the gutting out of the structure, and then the rough process of preparing a surface for repair.

A father diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer equaled a world changer. The staring down of the inevitable – the long slow walk toward a new reality charging forward relentless, the light of a train barring down. Months of waiting for what came too quickly, too hard upon a heart unprepared. There was nothing to be done but wait and see what remained, to see what the bones of life look like after been stripped bare. My little plans so small in the light of loss – but still they were the warmth beyond the cold, the embers smoldering within.

Finally, my plans fell to the “unexpected” – the plans righted, reworked, and readied for what I had not anticipated.

His eyes; the ones which looked with such intensity, curiosity, and tenderness upon this timid and independent creature. Eyes which could only have been found in the place I had not wanted to return to. Eyes which took in my new life as auntie, full-time sister, and grieving broken daughter and wanted to see more. Eyes which would look upon my plan and ask to add to them his own – building together a new plan. Equally unexpected, was my own willingness to forego my original plans – to let them be rewritten, to be shaken up, and to let the new into my life. Ultimately, building toward a much more interesting story.

20 years ago … my life was turned upside down. I am fortunate to look back at the wondrous underside of it all, alongside the man behind those eyes and our 4 kids, in a place I have grown to love. Our roots go back 20 years – and I am still reaping the rewards which upset, unevenness, and the unexpected have built into the plan, and I am ever grateful. It is all much better than a plaque or watch or pen.

20 years from now – I anticipate there will be even more upset, unevenness, and unexpectedness – I still shake and tremble at their potential to re-write my plan, to turn everything upon a dime. But … I cannot anticipate the winds instead I will need to trust and have faith that my days are in hands greater than my own. The ones which have been re-writing the plan since the beginning, which turned my pale plans into a world of colour and texture and wonder.

This week’s word for #wholemama is: Build. Find us here – Overflow


Thankful Thursday #7


It has taken me time to adjust to the slowed down pace of life in the house – no extra guests, no classes to teach = time.  I limped around for about a week trying to figure out how a person walks without her “have to” list dominating her mind.  But I remembered …


Oh books, I have missed you.  I finished a book, I read another one, and I am fully immersed in another one.  It feels very indulgent and wonderful.  I am thankful for talented, diligent authors who create interesting, intriguing, and funny stories and share them with the world.

Buddha Bowl-esque fooding


Colourful veggies and fruit, tasty sauces, healthy grains, and proteins –all in a bowl, together, for me.  Yup – I am enjoying this honeymoon phase of eating “clean.”

Longer light hours (soon to be even more)


I am enjoying the pinks and purples outside my kitchen window while I prepare meals … I am thankful for the seasons, each in their turn.

Teeny tiny buds on the lilac bushes around my house

Anticipation!  I am thankful for things to look forward to.

A happy kid


Rewarded for his generous “helping” nature – also his giant smile and sincere “disbelief” over having “won.”  And his long limbs.  (The yellow jersey was his prize for being the most helpful kid in his soccer group.)


Thankful Thursday #6



For 35 days – we had extra bodies in our house; some staying short term, some staying longer term. It was busy and often full of chatter and laughing and sound. So I am thankful for quiet – but not necessarily because I was unhappy with a house rife with talking. I enjoyed our guests. I miss their presence and my regular super-human hug-snuggles and laughter which could fill a stadium with joy. But quiet means they can be with those who love them best of all – and together is good, together is right. So I am thankful for quiet, returning to normal days; days which mean we are where we should be.

Notifications that my “order has shipped”:

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Stacks and piles of new wool blend felt in all colours bright and cheerful are coming. They are in a truck, in a box, on their way to me. Potential and possibilities all wrapped up in a box winging its way to me right now. I am thankful for fresh materials and reasons to create.

Percolating Ideas:

Although I just finished a round of homeschool group classes, another one is just around the corner and I am already dredging Pinterest for ideas. I admit that this is my favourite part of teaching classes – the potential stage. I might, just might, go a little overboard with the ideas and struggle to bring them back down into realistic proportion. But oh the books, and crafts, and projects, and … I am thankful to have an outlet for my obsessions and reasons for new children’s books, and a husband who grins and agrees that new books are a “wonderful idea” and means it.

Pain medication:

It is hard to see pain flicking its way across your child’s face – her pale skin turned almost translucent, watching her crawl into bed in a darkened room to bury herself under blankets despite friends, despite food, despite anything. My youngest daughter suffers from migraines which come on with visual and sensory aura and they hit fast – if she misses the pain medication window, the pain is bad. Sometimes it can’t be helped and she suffers but still I am thankful that the medication works eventually and she finds her way back out from under the blankets, comes back out into the light with tired grin and light butterfly hugs, and grows stronger before my eyes until she is soaring again.


(Gosh, I am so very thankful for her too🙂 )

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