Angela Writes http://angelawrites.ca Mom of 5, Writer, Content Creator, Personal Trainer Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:03:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 Not Accepting Responsibility is Ruining Us http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2017/06/22/not-accepting-responsibility-ruining-us/ http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2017/06/22/not-accepting-responsibility-ruining-us/#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:03:07 +0000 http://angelawrites.ca/?p=282 This morning, a particular relationship caught my attention and it got me thinking about marriage and our society in general. Over the years, marriages in the more affluent countries have […]

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This morning, a particular relationship caught my attention and it got me thinking about marriage and our society in general.

Over the years, marriages in the more affluent countries have struggled.

Divorce rates are at around 50% in the United States and Canada.

Cheating is nothing new and marriage is changing.

Changing to accommodate same-sex marriages.

Some marriages are now open, so that cheating, once deemed the unthinkable marriage sin, is now out in the open.

 

I say that’s like giving drug addicts clean needles. And Narcan.

If people want to hurt themselves in the pursuit of bliss, should we willingly protect them?

I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking.

 

It really makes me realize that the lines between right and wrong, good and evil, are so blurred, we don’t even know the truth anymore.

We’ve made all our wrong choices sound like mere inconveniences that are in need of a quick solution.

Not the right time for a pregnancy? There’s abortion.

No longer “in love” with your spouse? There’s divorce.

Not enough money to pay the bills? File bankruptcy.

 

This is not the end of the list.

I could talk about how our schools are failing our children by not failing them.

Or how we applaud children, who we know have underdeveloped brains, to experiment with various gender identities.

 

Aren’t we supposed to protect our kids? Why are we trusting them with big, adult decisions?

 

We cry out in anger when poachers kill pregnant animals and yet we want women to have free choice when it comes to their bodies.

Even unborn animals have protective laws.

No unborn humans?

 

Polygamy used to be disgusting. And now open marriage makes polygamy seem old-fashioned.

 

What’s the problem here?

Why are we so unhappy that we’re blurring the lines to remove the responsibility from the results of our decisions?

Isn’t part of growing up learning to own up to our choices?

Aren’t we supposed to be done with playing the victim after we move out on our own?

Hopefully sooner than that.

 

If you’re going to make a mess, clean that shit up!

 

The people I see today are consumed with trying to make themselves happier.

Feel better. Live all their dreams. Get all the shit they want.

Live all their dreams.

Get all the shit they want.

Nearly forgetting, losing sight of the fact that, as they pursue all these things that make them “happy,” their own selfishness often has a profound, negative effect on the lives of those around them.

 

What if…we stopped looking outside us for things that make us happy.

 

What if we sat with our own unhappiness and discontent and decided to make the best of things.

To own up to the decisions we have made thus far and clean up our messes rather than looking for a quick escape.

To deal with the shit that we have, instead of shoveling it onto the road for someone else to deal with.

 

I know this is hard to do, especially in a society that tries to pull our attention in a million different directions.

We are left with no time or energy to deal with our own thoughts, feelings, problems…our lives.

 

Life is made up of the good and the bad.

The messy and the wonderful.

You can’t take the good and push away the bad.

 

When you signed up for marriage, you chose to say no to everyone else.

Make the best of it. And by “best”, I mean make your marriage so good, everyone around you is jealous.

 

When you decided to have sex, you chose to take the risk that you might get pregnant.

If you get pregnant, give the baby to someone who has yearned for a baby for the past 40 years.

Make someone else’s dream come true instead of seeking the easy way out.

Did you even consider that giving up 9 months of your life to make someone else’s dream come true might actually give you an even better sense of happiness than can be found in a new phone?

 

Bad advice: Do what makes YOU happy.

 

Better advice: Take responsibility for your choices. Instead of playing the victim, remind yourself that you made the choices you did and you’re going to be a grown-up and deal with the consequences.

 

Sometimes the only choice we have is what kind of attitude we’re going to bring to our lives.

Choose to water your grass instead of envying your neighbour’s yard.

 

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The Reason Why I Stopped Writing About Parenting http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2017/06/14/reason-stopped-writing-parenting/ http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2017/06/14/reason-stopped-writing-parenting/#respond Thu, 15 Jun 2017 01:13:46 +0000 http://angelawrites.ca/?p=280 I haven’t been a freelance writer for very long. Just over a year. And it’s been quite a year, both as a writer and just…for me. As a human and […]

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I haven’t been a freelance writer for very long. Just over a year.

And it’s been quite a year, both as a writer and just…for me. As a human and as a parent.

Nothing in my life has been particularly bad or good.

But I’m not a person who easily sails through life because of my particular personality.

My brain likes to fill my mind with garbage.

Some call it depression. Or maybe anxiety. And I call it both those things at times.

But honestly, I’m quite a high functioning individual and I’m always learning new things which help me push through the tough parts of life.

Anyway, back to writing.

When I started freelancing, my intention was to get work as a certified personal trainer. Because I actually am. I love talking about fitness. Just today I struggled to contain myself at the chiropractor office when I saw a “beginner” workout posted on the wall.

I love talking about fitness. Just today I struggled to contain myself at the chiropractor office when I saw a “beginner” workout posted on the wall.

It included squat jumps and burpees. For 20 seconds each, times 3.

If you’re a true beginner, please don’t do squat jumps and burpees during your first workout. You’ll either hurt yourself or be so sore the next day, you’ll never want to exercise again!

I get passionate about this stuff and I thought combining fitness and writing made sense with having a family and my chronic foot pain (plantar fasciitis).

Well, I ended up getting more job offers on Upwork for parenting articles. I’ve written close to 100 parenting articles in the past year.

And, at first, it was okay. I mean, I’m a mom of 5 KIDS!

I must be an expert, right?

That is so, so wrong. I don’t even pretend to think I’m an expert!

And it seemed that the more time I spent in front of my laptop (writing parenting articles), the worse my kid’s behaviour became.

Just a minute there. I have 2 teenagers – 16 and 14 years old – one almost-teen (age 12), one emotionally-charged daughter (she’s 10), and my baby who is 8.

If you have never parented a teenager, you can’t even begin to guess what it’s like.

Pre-teens and “threenagers” don’t even come close to the attitude my husband and I have dealt with this past year.

Then again, I readily admit that my 10-year-old daughter is in a class of her own and I dread when she hits the teen years. I’m wise enough to not say, “If she’s bad now, she’ll get it out of her system before she’s a teenager.”

No, that’s not how it works.

If she’s difficult at 10 years of age, she’ll be five times as difficult in five years.

I know, because she has a lot of anger issues similar to my 16-year-old and he’s been giving us a run for our money since has about 14 months old.

So you might say I’m passionate about parenting.

I mean, I do have a lot to say about it!

Or rather, I have a lot of complaining to do about how insanely hard parenting is!

But the more cumulative parenting years I gather beneath my ever-widening belt, the worse I feel as a parent.

Teenagers will do that to you. They will humble you in a way that a toddler could not even dream of!

They will also crush your heart and stomp on it, grinding it into the ground. And you’ll tell yourself it’s just hormones and you can kinda soothe yourself with that theory, but by 14 years old, they know exactly what hurts.

So much more than a three-year-old know.

I hear you toddler-mom. I’ve been there, done that too. Five times to be exact.

I know the road ahead of you seems long and confusing, but trust me, the toddler years are hysterically funny compared to the teenager years!

So here I am. Struggling to parent my five kids. Being asked – paid! – to impart my parenting tips.

Ha. Ha.

I do not have any solid advice.

Because just when I think I’ve got it figured out, my best advice back fires on me!

I can no longer give advice. At least, you can’t pay me to give advice.

I’ll give it for free because then you won’t really care if what I say doesn’t work for you.

I’ll tell you my stories. My parenting battles.

My crazy, true life stories that make me wonder if every single day is a full moon.

All I can do is hang on and do the best I can, how ever that looks on any given day. Usually pathetic.

But if I do have one piece of advice, it would be this:

Never, ever lose your sense of humour as a parent.

Otherwise, they win and you lose.

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There’s An App For That! http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2017/05/31/theres-an-app-for-that/ http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2017/05/31/theres-an-app-for-that/#respond Wed, 31 May 2017 16:10:24 +0000 http://angelawrites.ca/?p=278 I like to listen to a variety of podcasts when I walk my dogs each morning. I listen to podcasts on writing, podcasts on parenting, and podcasts about life in […]

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I like to listen to a variety of podcasts when I walk my dogs each morning. I listen to podcasts on writing, podcasts on parenting, and podcasts about life in general.

One of my favourite podcasts is Note to Self. The host, Manoush, a mom just like me, says at the beginning of each episode that it’s “a tech show about being human.” Cool, I get that. (but did I get the byline right? I suddenly feel like my brain has shamed me!)

Cool, I get that. (but did I get that byline right? I suddenly feel like my brain has failed me!)

Technology feels like it has taken over our lives, right? And when you have teenagers who think they *have to have* cell phones and laptops to stay connected – or maybe just play games 23 hours a day, it kinda gets me overwhelmed.

Anyway, Manoush has opened my eyes to a lot in the tech world that I knew nothing about. Like privacy. If you’re not sure how to – or if you should – protect your online identity, take a listen to some of her previous podcasts.

Like privacy. If you’re not sure how to – or if you should – protect your online identity, take a listen to some of her previous podcasts. Lots of great information.

Anyway, right around Mother’s Day, the Note to Self team put out a podcast mini-series about two women – two busy moms – who created an app to help other busy Moms Do It All.

Honestly, I only listened to the first two and a half episodes. I got to the part where one of the moms is feeling overwhelming guilt because her daughter has told her point blank, “I want you to spend more time with me.”

Hmmmm, what’s a busy mom to do?

Of course, it’s a catch-22. Right?

A mom working hard to make an app to make her mom-work-life balance more manageable. So this app is supposed to do things like help her schedule child care.

Organize supper.

Help with grocery shopping – maybe online ordering?

Help her keep track of all the events on the family calendar and make sure she does not miss a single one.

Bottom line, the purpose of the app is to help busy working moms who are struggling to do it all.

Now, I’m not down on working moms. First of all, because all moms work, whether or not you get paid. But that’s beside the point.

Career women.

I’m not exactly a career woman. I’m a 41-year-old woman – with 5 kids – who has tried to make a living from working at home – and has suffered for it. Physically and mentally.

I know I’m not alone.

There are moms younger than me who are completely burned out and they’re also feeling the negative effects. Then again, there are women older than me that probably do far more than I do and seem to be just fine.

But as I get older, I’m finding how women in my circle are feeling the physical effects of the pressure to do All The Things.

I also listen to a health podcast called “Better Everyday” by Dr. Brooke and Sara Fragoso. Both Sara and Brooke have dealt with the physical side effects of pushing themselves too hard. Trying to do too much. They know firsthand the ill-effects of being Too Busy. It’s not pretty. It’s not fun.

If you constantly tired and you can no longer recover from a late night or a few drinks or a hard workout like you used to, you’re not alone!

This is common but should it be normal?

Moms. Why do we feel like we have to do it all?

Don’t you think that if we’re looking for an app to “help us”, maybe we’re…dare I say it, Just Too Busy?

I get that a lot of women want to have the career And the family.

But at what price? Your health?

If you keep up a frantic pace, eventually you will crash and burn.

In my eyes, it’s not worth it.

Of course, that’s just my opinion. But let this be my little, “I told you so.”

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Something Is Wrong With Me http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2017/05/27/something-is-wrong-with-me/ http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2017/05/27/something-is-wrong-with-me/#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 16:09:29 +0000 http://angelawrites.ca/?p=276 Something is wrong with me. As much as I despise cancer, I can’t seem to find the right words – or the sincerity – to sympathize with someone who has […]

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Something is wrong with me.

As much as I despise cancer, I can’t seem to find the right words – or the sincerity – to sympathize with someone who has cancer and has lived a fulfilling life.

For example…

If you were cancer with a conscience and I gave you a choice of which person you would pick to infect and slowly, inevitably kill, who would you pick?

a. a 4-year-old child,

b. a 36-year-old parent with young children,

c. a 68-year-old person who has seen their children grow up and the birth of several grandchildren.

If it was me, I’d pick person C. Only because they have lived a full life. Their children and grandchildren need them LESS than person B and their loss, although huge, does not have the same kind of devastation the loss of person A.

Any and all deaths are hard to take and cause life long grief. And all cancer is brutal and ugly. I freely admit that.

But where I falter is to find the compassion within me to offer comfort when people are openly devastated by a cancer diagnosis of an “older” person in 2017.

I can’t help but think back to 1995 when my 52-year-old mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. There was absolutely no chance that she would live longer than 5 years. Despite her best attempts to cut out sugar and try all the naturopathic cures out there – because surgery, chemo, and radiation were not options to her; why?! – she died 8 months later.

I was 19 when she was diagnosed. 20 when she died.

She never met my husband. She did not meet my five children. She did not comfort me through my two miscarriages or help me when we had a house fire. So many times I have yearned to call her up and ask her advice on some parenting matter – or apologize for being a selfish, jerky kid – but that is not an option.

Maybe I’m still grieving over her loss (obviously). Maybe I am (admittedly wrongly) comparing my situation to someone else’s.

I know it’s wrong to not feel a lot of sympathy for you, Person C, and I freely admit I have issues.

So rather than offering words that mean nothing or even worse, say my truth and hurt you with my words, I withhold comment.

I don’t say anything.

But please know that I hurt too. That, in some ways, I do feel your pain.

Cancer is never fair. But death is inevitable. For all of us, cancer victims or not.

Something is wrong with you. You have cancer. Cancer sucks.

Something is wrong with me. And usually, I keep it to myself. Please excuse my silence.

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A Different Kind of Writer’s Block http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2017/01/24/different-kind-writers-block/ http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2017/01/24/different-kind-writers-block/#comments Tue, 24 Jan 2017 17:28:07 +0000 http://angelawrites.ca/?p=257   I haven’t written or worked on my fiction story for several weeks. And I’ve been kinda feeling guilty about that. So guilty in fact, that I’ve stopped participating in […]

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I haven’t written or worked on my fiction story for several weeks. And I’ve been kinda feeling guilty about that.

So guilty in fact, that I’ve stopped participating in the Twitter games #authorconfession and #WIPJoy even though I wanted to use them to make me stay connected with my story.

True, I’ve been busy. I was in a three week book study and I completed an intense cram session to get my Continuing Education Credits to keep my Personal Training certification. The kids got back into school and I got back into my regular walking routine. However, life is still busy with volunteering at school, multiple appointments for multiple children and myself, and a general lack of energy for me with the post-Christmas blues.

I find myself procrastinating a lot during the day.

You know what that’s like; the kids are at school and I finally have an hour to sit down and write/work? Yeah, I find myself hanging out on Facebook wasting away my time instead of getting down to work.

But this is all beside the point. Well kind of.

This is not the kind of writer’s block I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the Writer’s Block that comes from questioning why you write what you write.

During each month, the month’s of October, November, and December, I wrote a smallish fiction piece. The first two were around 55,000-65,000 words and are almost finished and completely unedited. My December story is approximately 30,000 words and I kind of edited it and was brave enough to post it online.

However, since then I’ve felt weird.

I can’t believe I am writing romance stories. I’m so embarrassed.

 

Romance! Are you kidding me?

 

If you asked my husband, he’d probably tell you I’m not exactly the romantic type. Then again, I’m definitely not the type of person to write horror or sci-fi.

 

I have Genre Writer’s Block.

 

Now, I know better than to say, “I write Romance and that’s all I’ll ever write.” Truth be told, my desire has always been to write children’s books. But NaNoWriMo made me consider other possibilities.

So I wrote what I knew. I wrote what I was comfortable with.

 

Honestly, I wrote the kind of book that I would want to read.

 

And yes, I like to read romance novels. Preferably romance novels with good characters and a story plot that captures my attention. I don’t want to write or read a flakey romance novel.

But…did I just write a flakey romance story?!! And post it online for everyone to see?!!

What are people going to think about me?!

 

Like I said, I’m not the world’s biggest romantic. However, I do have a very tender heart. And today when I watched this, I understood why I wrote what I do.

 

 

I literally sat on the couch and cried with a kleenex box on my lap.

I don’t know why I spend so much time on Facebook. For every kind person and funny joke on Facebook, there are about ten nasty people and twenty ugly memes that attempt to cut someone down.

If you’re on Facebook, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. People are downright mean! Judgmental! They say nasty things and it makes me sick!

So here I am, piddling my time away on Facebook, home of the People-With-No-Filters-And-No-Love, avoiding writing a story that is the complete opposite.

Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love despite various struggles. In the end, there is hope that boy and girl will make it all work out. I don’t like “happily ever after.” That’s not real life and I don’t like being unrealistic. Well, not completely unrealistic.

I want to write a story with characters and situations that other people can relate to. And I don’t know if I’m there yet. I know I have a lot of writing to get out of my system before I get to the place where I’ll be proud of the work I do.

But right now, to me, writing romance stories is what works for me.

For me, it’s a way to avoid the nasty people out there. (Stay off Facebook!)

It’s losing myself in a world where people actually care about each other.

 

It’s a way to restore my faith in humanity. When I write, I am happier because I’m not on Facebook looking at all the political garbage that makes people say and do hateful things and leaves me feeling helpless. Feeling like no one has a conscience anymore.

My intention is, after I finish my next big writing gig (which should be done this afternoon), that I will once again pick up my writing my story that just happens to be a romance. And I will not be ashamed to say that I’m writing a romance story.

Because the world needs more love, not more hate.

 

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From Niche-Search to Tribe-Find http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2016/12/31/niche-search-tribe-find/ http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2016/12/31/niche-search-tribe-find/#respond Sat, 31 Dec 2016 18:03:08 +0000 http://angelawrites.ca/?p=252 It’s the last day of 2016 and like most people, I’m contemplating the past 365 days of my life.   2015 Recap I began 2016 as an injured personal trainer. […]

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It’s the last day of 2016 and like most people, I’m contemplating the past 365 days of my life.

 

2015 Recap

I began 2016 as an injured personal trainer. 2015 had been a good year for me. I’d taught over 30 people how to safely swing a kettlebell while wrangling five children, two dogs, and fostering puppies. I also volunteered at my kids’ school and occasionally worked the lunch program. Even though I wasn’t reeling in Personal Training Clients, I had plenty – of everything – to keep me busy.

2015 ended with me getting into coding, building websites, and taking time off my feet as Plantar Fasciitis made walking excruciating at times.

 

2016 – The Downfall

2016 has been different. I’ve taught fewer people to safely swing a kettlebell – as far as I can tell anyway. I ran a free “learn to swing” on Instagram and Facebook in June and the response was pathetic.

I had a handful of new clients come and go while one long time client has stuck with me for two and half years now. I’ve gifted and borrowed kettlebells to my friends and I’ve encouraged other women to just do something to get moving.

I’ve done lots of free consults for various people who’ve kindly valued my opinion. I love doing that because I love talking about fitness!

 

Then I Started Writing

In February, someone encouraged me to check out Elance/Upwork for freelance work. He was thinking I was going to try to get online personal training clients. However my first Upwork job was a paid contract to write an article on running during pregnancy. Ah! I felt like I had hit the jackpot! Sure, I only made $30 minus Upwork fees, but I got paid to write about something I loved!

It felt amazing!

Since then, I’ve had many other writing contracts through Upwork. Most you won’t see when you view my Upwork profile because I’ve had several repeat clients. One of my clients has paid me for 62 articles. Each of those articles has been over 1000 words.

It took me a while, but I made the transition from calling myself a Personal Trainer to a Writer. True, I am both. And I prefer to write about fitness than anything else.

Right now, I’m undecided whether I’ll renew my PT certification this February. I have a feeling it would take some studying and some money on my part to get in my Continuing Education Credits on time. I can do it…but do I want to?

 

“Find Your Niche!”

At one point, I was trying to break into the online fitness industry. In any online business, you’re encouraged to “find your niche!” So I looked for my niche.

I wrote articles targeted at Moms who wanted to workout at home.

I wrote Facebook statuses to encourage women to love their bodies.

Why?

Because I am a Mom who also needs to learn to love her body and I work out at home! I wrote for myself, hoping that other women who find my message and resonate with it.

Eventually, I burnt myself out. I was putting a tonne of pressure on myself to make an income as an online fitness trainer and it wasn’t happening.

And yet…at the same time…I was making money – not a lot, but some – as a freelance writer.

And you know what they tell Writers…

 

“Find Your Tribe!”

I hadn’t had much luck as a Fit Pro on Twitter so I shut down my Twitter account and started a new one. As a Writer. I wasn’t out looking for work or clients. I was looking for fellow writers. Writers like myself who were giving this writing gig a go.

And man, Twitter delivered! I have found nearly 200 writer friends on Twitter in the last three months and let me tell you, I like them better than any of the Fit Friends I’d had. (That’s a bit of an exaggeration, so if you happened to be one of my Fit Friends on Twitter, please know that YOU are the exception.)

Writers on Twitter are supportive. They’re interactive, they reply to tweets, and they retweet your tweets to help you celebrate your successes. And by golly, they should be writing back to you, right? Words are their life!

Thank You, Twitter Friends!

I jumped into NaNoWriMo for the first time this November. On September 30th, I had no idea what I was signing up for. I had some help preparing in October and without that help, I wouldn’t have survived 30 days of writing 1667 words a day.

I got onto Twitter and used the hashtag #nanowrimo and #amwriting and before long, other NaNo victims popped up in my newsfeed. We were making our way through the grind of NaNo together and their encouragement was amazing! Fit Pro’s could learn something from NaNo writers.

We slogged our way through thirty days of writing in November and fell into December, tired, exhausted, but feeling like we had conquered the world. We celebrated our successes, whether or not we made it to 50,000 words. We had written more words in the month of November than we would have without NaNoWriMo.

So Thank You, Twitter #amwriting friends! You helped a sad, depressed Fitness Trainer find her new passion. With your encouragement and love, I know that 2017 will be a great year.

If I have New Years Resolution, it is to support you as you have supported me!

 

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The Uproar of 2016 Grief on Social Media http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2016/12/30/uproar-2016-grief-social-media/ http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2016/12/30/uproar-2016-grief-social-media/#respond Fri, 30 Dec 2016 21:12:05 +0000 http://angelawrites.ca/?p=248   For weeks now, social media has been saying, “Enough already! 2016 has taken too many lives! The movie and music stars we loved are all dying!” Hmmmm.   Two […]

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For weeks now, social media has been saying, “Enough already! 2016 has taken too many lives! The movie and music stars we loved are all dying!”

Hmmmm.

 

Two things come to my mind.

 

Number One – They may have changed your life, but did they really change your life?

Has their death/absence going to significantly impact your every day life? Probably not. Not unless you knew them personally. Tell me your story!

 

Number Two – They lived life long enough to be well-known.

When I looked at a lengthy list of all the “celebrity”, high profile deaths of 2016, I saw a lot of the deceased were in their 80s and 90s. Many of them lived a long, somewhat successful life – otherwise, why would their names be everywhere you look?!

These people lived their dreams. They are well known. They accomplished much.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that their goal was to “make it” in their chosen industry. Clearly, if you knew their name, they achieved their goal.

Whether or not they actually achieved true happiness is not for me to judge…

 

That being said, 2016 has been a year of tragedy.

There were two funerals of significance that I went to this year. This people didn’t have fame or fortune. They never “made it” in their chosen careers. I bet that most of you who don’t know me won’t even know their names.

But I want to tell you their stories.

 

Rob Scott

…was a devoted father and husband. He was in his early thirties when he was first diagnosed with oral cancer. He underwent numerous surgeries as well as radiation and chemo in an attempt to lengthen his life. In the end, he died a very slow, painful death. Those of you who have seen someone die from cancer know exactly what I’m talking about.

I can imagine that a cancer death is excruciating to go through. I know first hand that, as a surviving family member of a cancer victim, it’s excruciating to watch.

And to be the young child, the young wife, or the parent of this adult child, must be absolutely heart-breaking.

Do I see these people blowing up social media with the words, “2016 has been so cruel! It took Princess Leia!” No. These people may not be saying it, so I will.

Let Carrie Fisher be. It’s okay that Leonard Cohen is gone. Florence Henderson may have been an amazing mother to some, but she was a solid 82 years old. And in all honestly, if my daughter died at the age of 60, I wouldn’t mind if I was dead the following day. Surviving the loss of a child is an unimaginable pain that I hope to never know.

Back to Rob, before Hollywood takes over the brief spotlight I’m giving him.

My husband and I knew Rob from church and from working with him at Youth for Christ. Rob made a huge difference in the lives of teenage boys. Through football, through his work at YFC, through his involvement at church, and in his job at a high school one of my son’s now attends. He may not have been famous to you, but to his wife and son Isaac, he was the most important person in their lives.

Was he gone too soon? That’s not really my place to say, but since this is my platform, I’d say yes. I spent hours praying that he would be healed. Not so much for his sake as for the sake of his family who was left behind to attempt to live a normal life without him. The new, unasked-for, normal life.

Grieving is a part of life, and when you hold up a celebrity death and yell, “This is not fair!”, are you saying that the lives of these lesser known, much younger, still highly loved and valued people is not as significant?

I know you’re not, but hear me out.

Ginger Dusk Koslowsky

Ginger was a young mom whom I had known for about four years. Her oldest child was the same age as my youngest and they went to school together. She had cancer three times, and the third time, it was the chemotherapy treatments that caused her body to shut down.

It was a slow, painful death. Excruciating for her to endure, and dare I say, twice as excruciating as it was for her husband, three young children, her parents and sibilings, and all her dearest friends to watch.

Her youngest child will have at best only have a faint memory of his mother. Her oldest child is a darling but she has been left treading water in the wake of her mother’s early departure when she was only seven years old. Her middle child is a delightful handful that makes me smile every time I see him, but I can imagine the struggles the young husband who has been left in charge of these beautiful children faces every single day.

 

For Those Who Are Grieving, Please Grieve Thoughtfully

When I think about the surviving family members of Rob and Ginger, I can acutely imagine their pain, especially now during the holiday season. Another round of firsts as they wade through the first Christmas without their husband/wife/father/mother/sister/brother/daughter/son. I hope to heavens they are not on social media seeing masses of people complaining that George Michael, Alan Thicke, and Prince are no longer with us.

Yes, it IS sad that these people have died. I’m sure their families are in just as much pain as Rob and Ginger’s families are.

But let them grieve in their own way. Your expressions of disgust and lament will not change what has happened. It may not even ease their suffering. I dare say it won’t, but I could be wrong.

Before you post about a celebrity death, consider other people who you know IRL who have suffered loss this past year. The personal loss of a loved one or ones whom they loved dearly. And not even a death, but other tragedies that have turned their lives upside down. I think of a young woman who had a stroke during the birth of her first child who may never be the same again.

So, if you so desire, go write your own blog piece on how your world was changed by your favourite deceased celebrity. I would honestly love to read that a million times more than if you just stated, “Are you done, 2016? Not another!”

 

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My First Mandela http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2016/12/27/my-first-mandela/ http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2016/12/27/my-first-mandela/#respond Tue, 27 Dec 2016 22:54:14 +0000 http://angelawrites.ca/?p=244   After my daughter was born in 2007, I struggled with fairly severe depression.   That summer was hot and we didn’t have air conditioning. I remember one day in […]

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After my daughter was born in 2007, I struggled with fairly severe depression.

 

That summer was hot and we didn’t have air conditioning. I remember one day in particular where I felt like giving up for good. I stayed in bed almost the entire day, in my hot, second floor bedroom that faced the unforgiving sun head on.

 

My mind was suffocated by the worst thoughts I could possibly think. At one point, I remember looking into my baby girl’s eyes and knowing I had to do something. I knew how painful it had been to lose my mother of natural causes when I was twenty years old. I didn’t want to subject my four children to the pain of knowing their mother had killed herself.

 

I eventually ended up seeing a Counsellor and she introduced me to Mandela’s before they were cool. This is how uncool they were – I couldn’t find a single Mandela colouring book anywhere. Not online, not in bookstores, no Mandela books were to be found.

 

But that wasn’t my introduction to the Mandela. My Counsellor had me draw my own Mandela’s. It was as simple as drawing a large circle in my sketch book, closing my eyes, and focussing on a single thought or emotion. There was a larger process to it than that, but this is the bare bones version.

 

After my uncensored drawing was complete, I needed to journal about it. I took note of the colours I used, the pressure of my pencils, the angle and severity of my lines.

 

I still remember one of the first Mandela’s I drew. It featured this Christmas delicacy my Mom baked every single year:

 

Banana Gumdrop Loaf

 

If you’ve never had it, I’m not surprised. If you think it’s weird, you need to try it before you knock it. As much as I love Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, banana bread with gumdrops is equally as delicious. You need to have the right mixing technique and of course, you should not over bake it so it’s dry.

 

It needs to be moist. And you need to mix the gumdrops in with the flour mixture and cover them completely before adding the wet ingredients.

 

One of the cool things about Mandela’s is that they are most informative and healing when drawn without censorship. When you purchase a colouring book, you’re forced to conform to someone else’s lines. Sure, you’re free to colour the entire page one colour, regardless of where the lines are, but you lose the opportunity to create your own shapes.

 

When you can begin to draw or colour a thought or emotion, you give yourself freedom to explore your unconscious thoughts. Many times, I was surprised not only by my drawing by the words that came up as I journaled about my Mandela drawing. It ended up being one of the first steps I needed in order to realize that I wasn’t “over” the grief of my Mom’s death.

 

And I never would be.

 

And that’s okay.

 

Some people like Chocolate Chip Banana Loaf and will never substitute gumdrops for chocolate chips. They stay within the lines and limitations of their recipes, their colouring books, and their lives.

 

My mom took a chance. She basically create a whole new recipe by throwing baking gumdrops into her tried and true banana loaf recipe. I still make it for my family every year!

 

Why do we think we need to conform? Have we lost our freedom to explore and express? And in doing so, in refusing to stray from the clean lines and limitations set by someone else, are we losing ourselves?

 

Or are we just looking for someone to blame when things don’t turn out as we want them to?

 

 

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How to Make Your Child Feel Special http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2016/12/22/make-child-feel-special/ http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2016/12/22/make-child-feel-special/#respond Thu, 22 Dec 2016 21:18:40 +0000 http://angelawrites.ca/?p=240   I have one lonely daughter. She has four brothers. I used to feel bad for her, but then I talked to the resource teacher at school and found out […]

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I have one lonely daughter. She has four brothers. I used to feel bad for her, but then I talked to the resource teacher at school and found out she had grown up with eight brothers. I think she was the youngest of twelve children, so she also had sisters.

My daughter seems to think that her life would be exponentially better if only she had a sister.

I tried, I really did. But for whatever reason, God decided that one girl was enough for me. And I always say that I’d rather have four boys and one girl than one boy and four girls.

Not that there’s anything wrong with having four daughters. I am a bit of a tomboy and I guess God figured I could handle boys just a fraction of a hair better than girls.

 

Girl Drama

Maybe you know this, especially if you’re a Mom of daughters, but school-aged girls come with drama. I had heard about it. I had been warned that it would happen. But up until this year, grade four, I hadn’t heard much drama from my daughter. Other than the high pitched shrieking that happens whenever one of her brothers touches her or any of her “stuff.”

About a month ago, she came home from school at lunch and she told me about a girl in her class who was being mean to her. Even her youngest brother had witnessed firsthand this girl mimicking my daughter in a way that was clearly meant to hurt.

A few days later, another story came home. Same girl. Trying to make my daughter feel bad herself. Trying to let my daughter know that she didn’t belong in her very elite circle of friends.

Ugh. The Mama Bear in me was ready to rise up and fight. To let the mother of the Mean Girl know what her daughter was doing. I mean, if MY daughter had been doing that to someone else, I’d want to know about it!

 

What’s a Mom to do!

Rather than following my instinct to blow this all out of proportion, I chatted with a couple of my mom-friends about this. I left it for a few days before I finally decided to:

A. talk to the teacher about it, and

B. write my daughter a letter.

In my letter, I told her how much I had wanted a girl. How, after three boys, I had thought it was impossible that I could give birth to anything other than a boy.

How I didn’t believe the ultrasound technician when she said, “No penis.”

How I had bought a cute little “girlie” sleeper and brought it to the hospital…along with a blue sleeper. Then I decided to tell her about the pregnancy I had had with her. It wasn’t all fun and games. None of my pregnancies were, but hers began with a month of bleeding and passing clots. I had assumed I was having another miscarriage (I had already had two in 2004).

But a miracle happened. At 7 weeks, we saw the heartbeat, despite the bleeding.

My pregnancy continued on and the bleeding eventually stopped. I had a consult with a OB/GYN since I was under the care of a Midwife since my belly was measuring small. I had always measured 1-2 cm over “average.” They sent me for an ultrasound close to the 30 week mark and that’s when I was told I was pregnant with a girl.

I wrote this all out for her. I told her about the emotional rollercoaster I went through during my pregnancy with her.

Then I told her how she and I had had to stay in the hospital a few extra days because she was acting like a premie and sleeping instead of eating. I told her how I had worked hard to force her to eat.

I told her how the Doctor’s had threatened to put her into the NICU if she didn’t start gaining weight.

Then I told her how I had been sent home with the instructions that I shouldn’t hold her. I should just feed her and let her sleep.

Of course, I didn’t listen. I cuddled her and she began to thrive.

 

I have lots of stories about her that only I can tell. I have the important stories about all of my children. The stories that happened because I loved them enough, even before they were born, to put my physical and mental wellbeing on the line in order to meet their needs.

I made my daughter feel wanted and special because I shared with her the story of my pregnancy with her.

I think I made the best decision, all things considered.

 

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Everything I Learned About Baking… http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2016/12/21/everything-learned-baking/ http://angelawrites.ca/index.php/2016/12/21/everything-learned-baking/#respond Wed, 21 Dec 2016 20:52:52 +0000 http://angelawrites.ca/?p=234 I learned from my Mom.     It’s true. Even before I began taking Home Ec. in grade 7, my Mom had taught me how to make chocolate chip cookies […]

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I learned from my Mom.

 

 

It’s true. Even before I began taking Home Ec. in grade 7, my Mom had taught me how to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch. Sure, I didn’t do absolutely everything by the textbook, but the cookies turned out delicious. I even ate cookie dough and never got sick from it. But don’t tell my kids!

I remember when I started helping my Mom with the Christmas baking. This was after my formal baking education in school. And yet, that education didn’t help much.

Have you ever made sugar cookies? You know the kind where you roll out the dough to exactly one-eighth of an inch before cutting them up with cookie cutters? My mom told me it was best to cut the cookies as close together as possible so I wouldn’t have to roll the dough out as often.

Initially, I didn’t care. This was going to be fun! But I quickly learned that rolling out dough was a lot harder than it looked!

I struggled through the first few years of baking sugar cookies, but I liked them so much, I wouldn’t give up. The dough stuck to the counter. It stuck to the rolling pin. Then I’d add too much flour and the dough wouldn’t stick to anything including itself! I’d be pushing it together, trying to get a cookie shape out of it but it would still come out of the oven in two pieces.

Eventually, over the last twenty-some-odd years, I’ve perfected the craft of making sugar cookies. I can roll out a double batch of dough and bake eight dozen cookies in about an hour.

You’d think the hard part was over, but no.

 

Next comes the icing.

 

Getting the icing to the right consistency for spreading – not too thin, not too thick – and don’t take your time or else it will harden up on you before you’re done!

And if you are very brave, you’ll allow your child/children to decorate the cookies with the sprinkles.

 

One year, one of my kids dumped an entire container of sprinkles all over the floor. The sprinkles went everywhere. Everywhere. Even under the baseboard. One day when someone decides to renovate and pull up the kitchen floor, they’ll find Christmas coloured sprinkles underneath it. It could be worse, but it will be interesting.

 

This Christmas season, I just finished baking my second double batch of sugar cookies. The kids love them and so do I, despite all the work involved. They’re such a simple cookie when you look at it, but man, they require a lot of patience!

And the worst part is, my kids’ll eat them all up within two or three days. I suppose I should feel honoured that they love my baking so much, but honestly, I’d love it if they could ration the cookies. You know, two or three cookies – not handfuls – at a time.

But I’ll keep making them. I have a binder of Christmas recipes that I got from my Mom. We have a few favourites from her recipes that I bake every single year.

 

Cherry Chocolate chip cookies, Banana Gumdrop loaf, Peanut Butter Kisses, and Christmas fruitcake.

 

I’ve added on to my family’s list of favourites but I’ll never feel like I’ve done my Christmas baking unless I’ve baking sugar cookies.

 


SHAMELESS Plug: If you like sugar cookies and want a fun Christmas story to read with your kids this Christmas, I self-published a book on Kindle. Check it out here: Billy Beaver Saves Christmas. I priced it as low as I possibly could under Amazon’s terms.

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