Little Rebel

I’ve always had a little bit of rebel in me, just the teeniest tiniest amount, but enough to want to be different and not follow the crowd.  I remember as a kid I would wear baggy t-shirts when the other girls would wear dresses, I listened to rap when everyone was listening to pop, I got my tongue pierced before it became popular, and I would always be nice to the kids that were bullied even if it was in a cowardly way where no one would see. I thought caring about clothes and hair and make up was superficial and that poetry, peace, and justice were important. I remember being about 11 and staying up all night with my best friend talking about world problems and brainstorming ways we could help solve them – haha! In high school it got harder and harder to nurture that little rebel in me and so I just gave in and gave her up. It was surprisingly easy but it’s been a struggle ever since.

You see, I don’t want an alcoholic for a mother. I don’t want my brother & cousins to suffer from addictions.  I don’t want to be frightened from a loud & sudden sound like the crack of my mother’s cheekbone connecting with my stepfather’s fist. I don’t want to have to count how many glasses of wine I’ve had in fear of losing control and blacking out. In this way, I want so badly to be different so I end up just being the same as everyone else.

I get lost in the trends, in the materialistic wants, in the workout obsession & clean eating phenomenon, in the status updates & Insta likes… I let myself get completely wrapped up in it all but it’s just a front, a fake, an armour I put on to cover up the fragile me, the broken me. I read somewhere once, that when you’re feeling lost, or questioning your purpose in life, to think about someone you want to be a role model for, someone you want to inspire and to think about what you want that person to learn from you.  For me, aside from my girls, it has always been my niece.

She just turned 9 yesterday and has been through a lot in her short life.  She has this way about her though, this kindness, this gentle courage to always to do the right thing. She reminds me a lot of myself as a child and in a lot of ways she inspires me.  I started thinking about what it is I would want her to learn from me and it woke me out of my pretending-to-be-someone-else state. Do I want her to care about how many squats she does or the calories she consumed? No. Do I want her to value her self-worth on the amount of likes she gets? Hell no. Do I want her to follow the crowd and not stay true to herself? Double hell no.

I want her to love herself and her life no matter how crazy it becomes.  I want her to forgive those who have hurt her and to always remember to forgive herself too.  I want her to be brave, speak her mind, and always tell the truth no matter how hard it may be. I want her to wear her scars proudly and without shame no matter how painful.  I want her to keep that kindness, that innocence, and that gentle courage to always do the right thing.  I want her to always stay true to herself, to be who she wants to be, and do what she wants to do.  I want her to be happy being different from the rest. I want her to find that little rebel within and never let her go ❤

 

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Petrichor; the smell of rain

Six days before the anniversary of the Fort McMurray Wildfire I sit on the sidewalk in front of the house I grew up in and watch in a paralyzing daze as the fire fighters run in and out and around my family’s house putting out the flames that consumed it.

I was coming for dinner.  My Dad had been working non stop nights and my step mom invited us over for something to eat before he went to work.  When the flashing red lights of the fire truck, ambulance and police cars blocked off the entrance to my street stopping me from turning in I knew.  I didn’t know what exactly, but I knew it was my family they were there for. It always was. My heart dropped and I turned the truck around and sped to the back entrance where I found more flashing lights – it was blocked from both ends.  I started to panic. I parked the truck, the two girls in the back and ran ahead a little.  I saw my uncle’s truck parked and my suspicion was confirmed. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I ran back to the truck. Then I ran forward a bit again. I couldn’t leave the girls alone but I couldn’t think straight enough to take them out. I must have went into the truck, opened the door, shut it and walked towards my house and then back about 4 times before I talked myself into just getting them out of the vehicle and bringing them with me.

I was trembling as I inched closer to my house. Please let everyone be okay. Please let everyone be okay.  I saw my Dad. Then Angie, my step mom. Thank you, I thought, my stomach still tying into knot after knot.

“It’s gone, Alyssa” my stepmom said walking up to me.  “It’s burnt. It’s gone.”

“Fuck off” I replied, “No, it’s not”

“I’m sorry, Alyssa, I tried to call you. It’s gone. It’s burnt.”

I stared blankly tears welling up. I shook them off. This is not happening. It’s not fucking happening. It can’t be. I look around. My Dad is talking to a fire fighter, the neighbours are bunched together standing on their lawns taking it all in, my uncle and aunty are walking towards us now.  There is so much commotion but it is silent at the same time like watching a film with no sound.  My mind wanders to the first time we stepped foot in our house. I was 11 years old and my parents had just bought it. I was upset we were moving to Thickwood, I didn’t want to leave the Timberlea area. Angie thought it would be fun to spend the night in our first house before we actually moved in (we never lived in a house before, only apartments and mobile homes) and it was so much fun! We had no furniture, it was completely empty, but we ordered pizza, chased our dog, Peanut, around our new big house and slept in our sleeping bags on the living room floor…

My heart is sinking, closing, figuring out how to put up yet another wall around it’s tender flesh. This feeling is all too familiar.  I hate it. But I’m comfortable in it.  Used to it. It’s sickening.

I’m trying so hard not to become bitter over the loss of my parent’s house, the house I grew up in.  There are so many reasons to become bitter and I have to admit there is still an anger inside me about it all. I can list a million reasons why it is unfair, how it shouldn’t have happened to us, how my parents have worked so hard and been through way too much to have this happen to them, but since the wildfire last year that claimed so many people’s homes in its rage, I am humbled in the fact we are not alone.  The kind words, the phone calls, the text messages, the support we’ve received from family, friends, organizations,  and complete strangers is remarkable.  I love Fort McMurray, my family, my community… we are a different kind and I am beyond proud to call this place my home.

In my quest to keep my heart from closing off completely, I am trying to feel. Feel it all. Feel to heal.  And search for God, for joy, for meaning in the little things.  Yesterday,  after it rained I took the girls out for a walk in the Birchwood trails.  The sun was shining through the misty air.  It was hot and cool at the same time.  The grass was drying but the soil was still wet and gave off that sweet earthy smell just after it rains, my favourite smell of all. I closed my eyes and breathed it in.  It was all so beautiful. The contrast between hot and cool, damp and dry.  Mother nature has it figured out and God always gives little glimpses of hope if you look close enough. There needs to be this balance between forces. There needs to be a storm before a rainbow, despair in order for joy, heartache for happiness.  And so, I wait patiently for the light to come from this darkness ❤

xo,

Alyssa

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Hands Free Living

One thing I have always been concerned about is this loss of connection with the people sitting in front of us from being over connected to people a million miles away.  Social media/the internet/texting has always been a double edge sword for me.  I wrote about it before, here. Since Malakai was born I vowed to show her the importance of real human-contact relationships as well as being present in this ever distracted world of ours. But how could I possibly do this if I myself was so dependant and very much addicted to this distracted way of living? I couldn’t! I would be a total hypocrite. Like when parents tell their kids not to smoke in between inhalations of their export A golds.  And so, not knowing how to approach this, I do what I always do when in doubt – ask Google. (A very positive side of the double edge sword 😉 )

I started reading this book that google recommended (thank you, Google <3) by Rachel Macy Stafford called Hands Free Mama about a month ago now and have been practicing (TRYING to practice) her weekly intentions of living a “hands free” life. Basically a Hands Free way of living is throwing out any distractions that cause you to lose sight of what really matters in life such as favouring your phone/computer/work/to-do lists over your relationships with the people around you.  BINGO – this is exactly what I needed!!

I bought a cute little basket specifically for our phones that sits in the kitchen by my coffee pot and our family rule now is that the phone goes in the basket during every meal time and no matter if it rings we ignore until we are finished eating together.  I gotta say, I was the one that initiated this – telling Nick everything I was reading in the book – and he totally jumped on board and has become even more vigilant than I am with this rule!  Which can be annoying when he’s reminding me to put my phone away when he used to be worse than I was with it!

A few other things we’ve been trying is zero use of the phone while driving (this has been surprisingly easy), putting the phone away (in the cute lil basket) when someone is visiting, and not going on social media when the girls are awake.  This has been super hard for me but this book asks you to reflect on each attempt at living hands free and to count the things you would have missed if you were distracted by your phone/to-do list etc.  such as your child’s smile as she/he stacked that one last block atop a swaying tower, the look of excitement on your child’s face as she/he slides down the slide, an intimate talk with your husband/friend/brother/sister that could have been ignored except you noticed the look on their face that day and were present long enough to ask them what was wrong and to truly listen.

These moments are so simple but so important. It’s the little things that make life so incredibly great, isn’t it?!

Yesterday, we were at the indoor play park and there was a mother of three that was on her phone the entire time.  Her children were older, but they were begging for attention with “look-at-me”‘s and “mom-mom-mom”, and at one point the youngest even slipped hitting the back of her head so hard it echoed through out the place and both Nick and I were completely shocked when we glanced over at the mom, who did not even look up from her phone once, and watched as the little girl picked herself up holding her head and walked over to her mom to tell her what happened.  Now, I don’t know the woman’s situation and quite possibly that could have been me a few months back, but it just filled me with so much sadness and anger that I know with all my heart living hands free is the right thing for me and my family.

If you’d like to join me on my hands free journey, order the book or see if your library has it and we can talk about all the ups & downs along the way together! Or if you’d like to do this on your own, feel free – I am rooting for you!

Just a warning – this book will stab you in the heart with all it’s truth and make you feel guilty asbut it’s the truth that sets you free, right? And, I wanna be free! Hands free! 😉

 

Xo

 

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