January 10, 2015

Winter Break

We've been back at work for a full week already, but my mind is still on the two weeks of vacation that we had before because, to be honest, those two weeks were a dream. After a year spent living at a crazy pace, the winter break was a much-needed and so-very-welcome slow down from it all.

It was full of....
puppy cuddles; family time; movie watching; kitty cuddles; being home; cooking yummy things and eating yummy things; late wake-up calls (or no calls at all really) and late bedtimes; more being and less doing; belly laughs; puppy play time; blog reading and social media reviewing; online shop building (!!!); simply enjoying.

and sprinkled with little bits of...
blog writing; house cleaning; holiday decorating; puppy walks in the snow; kitty play time; 2015 planning and dreaming.

and lots of other things that just don't come to mind right now, but that I know were equally enjoyable and relaxing. These two weeks fully convinced me that all vacations from now on must include at least a few days of the same.

December 30, 2014

The Beginning of Something New

For the last five or six months, on the side of my full-time job (and of studying to become a health coach), I've been working on something new and really special along with my family: a new business called Josephine Yarns. It is an online shop where we sell yarns for knitting, crocheting and all sorts of other handmade projects. To stay true to what I (and we) believe in the most - a beautiful, healthy and sustainable world - the yarns that we are stocking are all in some way natural, organic, and/or sustainable.

The shop is not quite ready yet, as there are still a few details to iron out. It's been quite a long-winded process so far - certainly much longer than we had initially hoped and wanted - but we are slowly inching our way towards opening day. I wanted to share the news here now regardless because I've learned an important lesson during these last few months: sometimes it's better to reveal works-in-progress and allow people to root for you along the way and take part in the experience as it is unfolding (with both successes and setbacks alike) than to keep everything under wraps in hopes of having a pleasant surprise later on. Though I generally tend to do the latter, I've learned throughout this process how much pressure it can build up, and for me, it got to a point where it was causing quite a few tense moments and where I just couldn't move forward anymore. Only once I started to accept help and to talk about what I was working on as I was working on it, things started to turn around and progress more quickly. Even though it might ruin the surprise at the end, having another (or a few) ear and perspective during the million little and big decisions that need to be taken is so much more valuable.

Now, the excitement is building up, and though I'm realizing that I have absolutely no idea what running this new venture will actually look like, I'm ready to let it happen and start the journey. It wasn't planned this way, but I can't help thinking how wonderful it is that the beginning of a new year will be the beginning of a new chapter as well.

December 22, 2014

Thoughts on 25

This month was the official halfway mark of my 25th year of life. Just like the last few years, these six months have been filled with an unbelievable mix of emotions and happenings, both good and not-so-good.

I wrote a version of the words below a few months ago, and I've been having similar thoughts in the last few days and weeks, so I thought it would be good to repeat them here - to myself, first and foremost, but also to anyone else who might want or need to hear them.

"The other night I was feeling a little down. It was a mix of being tired and dissatisfied with how things are now; it was nothing too serious then but something that often can (and has many times in the past) go into a downward spiral all the way to thoughts like  "I'm not good enough" (or simply not enough) or "I've failed at (insert goal)". I've been reading and learning enough in the past few years to know that these thoughts are not based in reality, because in fact each one of us, as we are in this moment, is (good) enough.  This is a great point to remind myself of in moments like this, but I've found that it doesn't always work. That particular night, I actually got to the point in my downward spiral where I thought to myself, "This isn't the life of a 25-year-old".

Thankfully, in the very next moment came my saving grace that night, and for many nights after. As soon as my mind finished thinking "This isn't the life of a 25-year-old", another thought popped in, and I was asking myself: "But what IS the life of a 25-year-old?". This might have been the quickest turnover I've ever had from a bad mood to a much better one, because the answer is so obvious: there isn't a single answer to this question; there are 25-year-olds who have travelled far and wide to all four corners of the world and others who have never stepped foot out of their small town.At the same time, there are 25-year-old mothers with two, three or even more children and 25-year-old women who have never even held a newborn; girls (and guys) who have never worked a day in their 25-year-long life, and ones who got a job the first chance they had; and finally, 25-year-olds who still live at home but also ones who have been on their own for nearly a decade.

Life is different for each one of us, and as much as society is trying to give us lists of things we should have done by a certain age, it just doesn't work that way. Life is much more complicated and unexpected than that. I've struggled with thoughts of this kind for a long time, but I think that now, at 25, I am just starting to grasp what the saying "Age is just a number" really means."

November 9, 2014

Spectacle of Colours

We're already at that point in the fall season where the leaves have almost completely fallen of the trees, the temperatures keep dropping and we keep bringing out the cold weather essentials one by one: thick scarves, fur collar jackets, and boots. On the weather channel, there's mention of the first snowfall getting to us any day.

It's not the greatest feeling knowing that another few months of even colder and darker weather awaits us, but I'm trying not to think of it too much yet. Instead, I'm just happy and thankful that the fall we had this year - the beautiful part, with colorful trees everywhere you look, fallen leaves crunching at your feet everywhere you go, and just a little crisp in the air - has been much longer than the quick two weeks we were consistently getting for the past few years.

For anyone interested, I loved the way this photo turned out so much that I have made it (along with a few other ones) available for sale as an art print!

I feel like this year, despite the crazy schedule I have had, I was able to really take in all those beautiful parts. I noticed all the shades of orange, yellow, red and brown, and I really enjoyed seeing the progression from week to week; for instance, the colorful branches from our backyard that I posted on Instagram a few weeks ago were practically empty just a week later!

October 30, 2014

My Two Sweethearts

 It's already been more than a year and a half since these two boundless personalities have joined our family. I've been meaning to write more about them - more than just a quick mention here and there - for equally as long. But somehow, putting my love and feelings for them into words seems like such a daunting task. I don't know if I have the writing skills to do them justice. But, I am ready to try and I will do my best.

These past two years have been some of the toughest of my life so far - filled with long struggles and hard falls as well as, if I allow myself a bit of dramatic exposition, gut-wrenching heartbreaks and some personal tragedies too. Through it all, so many times, these two sweet souls have been the bright light in my life, the reason to keep going and sometimes even smile at the end of a tough, long day, week, or month. The amount of love that I can feel now has grown into proportions I never knew existed.

I could spend this entire post in clich├ęs, and I actually might because now I understand how true they are. Even though I don't have any kids of my own just yet, I feel like this whole experience of adding Toby and Mikka into my life has been so much like what I've heard, read, or witnessed new mothers experience with their babies.

I knew I was in trouble the first week we brought each of them home. Since I was still job-hunting back then, I was the one spending the entire day with them, mostly by myself. They knew from the very beginning - don't all kids?! - how to drive me crazy with unlimited amounts of energy and a sense of curiosity that knows no boundaries, only to make me forget about it in a second when they fell asleep and cuddled next to me in the most adorable ways. I will never forget how crazy good it felt when Toby would fall asleep with his head on my feet after a marathon session of being a little menace, or that time Mikka laid next to me, in my bed, with her head resting on my arm and we took the most glorious 2-hour morning nap together before really waking up for the day. I don't have pictures of any of these instances, but they are so well-imprinted in my memory that it almost makes them even more special.

Now that I am working, I also feel like I am starting to grasp what the "mom guilt" is all about when I have to leave them for the entire day, especially knowing how long it will be before I come back home again. It breaks my heart a little every morning when Toby tries to grab my hand as I walk down the stairs to the front door, or when Mikka gives a long look to our car backing out of the driveway, perched on top of the living room or bedroom window. And it doesn't help when at night, once I am finally home again, I don't have enough energy left to play with them or give them the attention they need and so deserve after being the best pets and doing nothing but napping all day.

And the worst thing about it all, the one that I hear all mothers lament about?! It's without a doubt the feeling that, in what feels like the blink of an eye, they've turned from two tiny little furballs that I could cuddle with all day, into the full-sized and much more independent cat and dog they are now. I get a little sad just looking at the few pictures I managed to get when they were little and I wish I could still squeeze those tiny, wide-eyed bodies now. But then I squeeze their much larger bodies, and play with them and laugh at all their antics. And then it's all ok because I know that even in their old age, many years from now, to me they'll still be the same two little furballs who've changed my life for the better - the so-much-better, to be precise.

This is all just to say how grateful I am for my darling Toby and Mikka, and how happy I am with the choice my family and I made back in March 2013 to bring them both into our lives.

October 26, 2014

Right Now

These days, and these past couple of weeks especially, I've been doing a lot of the following:

experimenting with pumpkin recipes for the very first time; crustless pumpkin pie and pumpkin cashew cream to be more specific, both of which were spectacular successes;

knitting my very first raglan sweater - a cardigan! - on my commute to and from work as often as I can (read: whenever I can stay awake) and getting so excited to see it come together (and planning on writing a bit more about the process soon over on Ravelry);

figuring out my target market for the health coaching practice I am (very slowly) building as a result of my IIN training; if I'm completely honest, I might be a bit overly excited about this;

cuddling my sweet munchkins, Toby and Mikka, every chance I get;

dreaming of, planning and little by little building a thrilling vision of an entrepreneurial future;

wishing for more time to myself so I can work on all those passion projects that are brewing in my mind.

Disclaimer: the IIN link used in this post is part of the Ambassador program, which means I get some compensation if a sign-up results from it.

September 28, 2014

Lucky Girl

Last week, I watched the first episode of Red Band Society, one of the new fall shows. Though it's not the type of show that this borderline hypochondriac generally watches, I thought it was an interesting beginning. Beyond the storyline and the characters, there was one thing, one line, that really stuck with me. Even now, more than a week later, it still pops in my mind on multiple occasions every day, and it seems to gain more meaning each time I give it more thought.

It's easy to become aware of our luck when something good happens, but so often, it's much more important to realize that we're lucky during the tougher times. Every bad day that we leave behind, every challenge and every struggle - however big or small - that we're faced with and overcome, they're all examples of the luck we're blessed to have. It's in these moments that we forget to remember how lucky we are, but it's in these moments that we need to the most. I know because that's what I've been doing for the past couple of years.

To say that this period, this transition into adulthood and everything that came with it, has been a struggle and a challenge at times would be a big understatement. And so often, I've been guilty of forgetting, or at the very least overlooking, just how lucky I actually am and how good life actually is. Having this quote on repeat in my mind (and my notebook!) is a great reminder.
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