Sunday, November 24, 2013

Finding Space

I’m lucky enough to live in a neighbourhood where I can walk to practically anything.  School, groceries, bank, coffee, LCBO and most recently my favourite destination, a yoga studio.  I try to make it there as often as I can but find myself in the same predicament as most parents – the studio schedule needs to perfectly align with not only my schedule, but that of my kids and my husband too.  Unfortunately for me, that means I’m not there nearly as often as I would like to be.

Yesterday, the yoga studio hosted a 2-hour meditation workshop.  With some help from our village of family and friends, I was able to drop the kids off for playdates and attend it.  I am so thankful that I did.
I learned more in those two hours about meditation than I have in all the research I’ve done on my own.  There were eight of us there and we meditated as a group for fifty minutes, broken up into four separate blocks.  FIFTY MINUTES!  I was amazed.

We were taught the three important instructions of meditation:
1.      Be still.

2.      Relax.

3.      Let go.

I’ll go deeper into each of those instructions another time but for me, the most important thing I learned was actually a realization.  I realized that I’ve always considered yoga as a chance to do something for myself.  And it is exactly that.  I get out of the house for a couple of hours and spend that time just on me.  Stretching, breathing, and focussing on nothing but the practice.  Finding space in my body.   
In contrast, meditation is doing nothing for myself.  Deciding to be still, relax and let go.  Finding space in my mind.  Something that I have needed in my life for a really, really long time.

And so begins my newest journey. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

GoldieBlox, Pink Lego...What's the Diff?

We’ve all seen this ad for GoldieBlox, right?  It’s making its way around social media these days and seems to pop up on my Facebook feed a couple times a day.  Everyone is mad for it and I can definitely see why.  It looks to me like a pretty good product with an amazingly spectacular ad.  It’s empowering young girls to stop playing with princess toys and start becoming the engineers we’ve always known they could become.  And all while a bunch of girls sing their rendition of Girls by the Beastie Boys.  As an advertisement, it’s genius.  As a product, I’m not so sure.

My problem with it is this:  How is this any different than the pink Lego everyone was enraged about a few years ago?  Why are the same parents that were rightfully complaining about the pink Lego now promoting GoldieBlox on their social media pages? Why do building blocks and tool kits have to be given a cutesie name and have pink and purple packaging for parents to buy them for their daughters?  And let’s not kid ourselves, as catchy and cool as the commercial is, the packaging is still super girlie and you will absolutely find this product in the “girl aisle” at the toy store, right next to all the princess gear.  You want to empower your daughter?  Let her watch Star Wars, read comic books and encourage her to choose toys from the "boy aisle" once in a while.
And while I’m at it, why is this product just for girls?  According to the GoldieBlox site, they are “tapping into girls’ strong verbal skills” by including a book with every kit, allowing girls to build according to the story line.  Brilliant!  My five year old son would LOVE that!  Thankfully, we have raised him to know that he is not too good to play with pink things or to read books about parades and puppies so he would absolutely play with this toy, purple packaging and all.  The thing is, I don’t need to be tricked by a catchy ad in order to encourage my kids (specifically my daughter) to play with construction kits.  We already have lots of blocks and building toys (in all colours) that both kids love to play with when they’re not already setting up dinosaur land, playing dress-up (both dressing up as fairies, princesses, pirates and superheros!) or having dance parties in our kitchen.  I’m all for empowering young girls but I don’t think GoldieBlocks is the product to do it and they will definitely not be under our Christmas tree this year. 
I’ll likely still watch the ad every time it pops up on my Facebook feed though, but that’s just because it’s awesome.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Dreaded Junk Drawer

It starts on the counter-top, a little bit at a time.  A bill here, a school newsletter there.  Then every few days, the paper pile moves from the counter to the top of the fridge.  There, it just keeps growing and growing.  Magazines are added, books, toys and nail polish, too until eventually, it looks like this:
Then, every month or so, (usually whenever company is coming), the ugly pile gets moved from the top of the fridge and thrown into the junk drawer.  You know the one.  Every house has a drawer just like it.  Bobby pins, tools, gift wrap and stickers all find their way into this drawer until one day, you start to find random pieces of junk that have escaped down the back of the drawer and into the cupboard below. 
Today was that day for me.  I opened my junk drawer this morning to find this:
Thankfully, I had already had my second cup of coffee and rather than feeling defeated, I felt motivated.  I started with that nasty drawer and then made my way to the top of the fridge.  And now?  Now the junk-collecting spots in my kitchen look like this:
But for how long?  While I was sorting, shredding and filing, I vowed to deal with each piece of paper as it came into the house from now on.  Now, I’m wondering if that was a realistic promise to make myself.  Is it even possible in a busy household?!
Where does the junk collect in your house?  Do you deal with it right away or let it build up like I do?  Please share your tips, as I clearly need them.  Or, better yet, let me know about your junk drawer and how long you leave it before you’re forced to clean it out.  You know, to make me feel better about my messy habits.